Sunday, March 26, 2017

When You Weren't Invited

Dear friend,
You weren't invited. You weren't noticed. You weren't chosen.

It's past midnight and you're scrolling through Instagram, seeing the fun photos and exciting captions. And you weren't there. 

Why? You wonder. After all your effort and time spent, they overlooked you. And the lies seep in. You're not funny enough. Not pretty enough. Not fashionable or thin or curvy or good enough. The friends you thought were your best stop responding, stop speaking.

But friend, this is not who you are. I've met Rejection a few times, and he's not a nice guy. He weasels his way in and replaces your expectations with disappointment and pain. He steals joy and brings down weeks.

When this bully walks into your life, there are a few things you must remember:

1. You are accepted.

Darling, there is a love, a friend, who will always accept you. Yes, you've heard it before. He may not seem like enough now, but when you but your hand in His, Jesus will be with you where you go because that's where true love goes. He doesn't give His heart in pieces because he is faithful even when we are not.

|| I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you. - Isaiah 41:9 ||


2. You don't have to be "enough."

No, not everyone will like you. You won't be everyone's best friend. And that's okay. There are and will be people who place unfair, unreal expectations on you and that's stupid. Who you are, who you really are, is who you're made to be. You will never meet everyone's expectation of enough. But you are not in competition with any one else. You are your own kind of enough that no one else is because someone else's enough-ness does not change yours.

3. They weren't trying to hurt you.

Those people who rejected you? They've been rejected too. There's a 99.9% chance they didn't mean to exclude you. They weren't trying to point out your flaws or make you feel bad. From what I know about other people--they're battling the same things as you. Their fight may look different, and you probably can't see it, but it's there. People are just people. It doesn't matter how exciting their Snapchat stories and Instagram posts are.

4. You can rise above it.

Don't let rejection define you. Instead of focusing on the loss, focus on the new. Growth happens in the breaking. I'm not telling you to get revenge or become a passive-aggressive subtweet-er or block them on every social media. I'm telling you that you can move on. Move on from the hurt into a new day. And yes, there will come a time when you hurt again but it's not because something is wrong with you. It's because life hurts sometimes. Don't let yourself get caught in the hurt. Keep living. Keep trusting God.


There isn't an easy answer to rejection. It hurts. But if no one else has told you, and even if they have, let me tell you: you're beautiful. You're lovable. You're unique. You're needed. You're wanted. You will be okay.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt #17 - Book Review

4.7/5 Stars

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

Tornado sirens went off while I was reading the Lost Girl of Astor Street. My first thought was that I’d have to keep reading in the bathroom safe area.

This book had me at the edge of my seat even before Lydia went missing. From Piper to Mr. LeVine, each character came alive within the first words they spoke. I was enveloped in the 1920s, not with flashy name dropping but with living, breathing people who showed me around without showing off.

The Plot
****
The primary plot is the mystery of Lydia LeVine’s disappearance. Piper refuses to be useless to the investigation, gradually doing more and more to aid the officers involved. But the mystery isn’t the only thread pulled through the novel. Plot lines surrounding Piper’s family, friends, and enemies work together like players in a jazz band.

The twists and turns caught me off guard, exactly as a mystery should, and yet were set up so well beforehand. I laughed, I cried. There were moments I wanted to throw the book across the room but couldn’t because I was reading on my laptop. I loved it. The only issue I had with the plot was that, towards the end, it slowed down before speeding up a little too quickly. Things could’ve taken a little more time to wrap up.

The Characters
*****
Oh. My. Gosh. The characters were my absolute favorite part. Stephanie Morrill is a master of characters. Each one, major and minor, spoke and acted like people. Everyone was a person, with their own goals and motivations. Piper was the spunky, strong lead. Detective Cassano foiled and fit with her in the perfect way. All of Piper’s relationships with everyone Personalities and backgrounds were established without jarring info dumps. I rooted for the heroes and understood the antagonists.

The Setting
*****
Lost Girl didn’t take place in the 20s because it’s a fun time, and it didn’t take place in Chicago because it’s an interesting city. 1924 Chicago was part of the plot, the true home of the characters. Social class, mobsters, locations, and even fashion painted the picture without becoming overwhelming and distracting. It was perfect.

I’m in love with this book. So much so, that even though I got a free ARC on my computer, I pre-ordered a hard copy so I can force it into my friends’ hands and make them read it.



I received a free copy of this book. The review is mine entirely.


Everyone


Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah's Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White

Monday, January 23, 2017

New Season

This is my last semester of high school.

Last year, I was desperate to get out of high school. My junior year was, in a word, terrible. There were good moments. It got better towards the end. But I was miserable for a significant portion of my 11th grade year.

My sophomore year, I saw my high school career ending a whole lot differently. I imaged a graduation ceremony with my friends, staying in touch and even as close friends with several of my current high school friends. Now, I'm not good friends with most of the people I was friends with that year.

Six months ago looks much different than right now. I had no idea what the semester would look like. I didn't know who my friends would be, what dual credit classes I would take, or when I would get my license. I didn't know I would get a smart phone, a job, and a two hour drive to debate club. I had no vision for the rest of the year or the next.

I spent the fall semester figuring things out.

I found myself doing something I dreamed of since I was twelve and getting paid for it.

I found myself with stress and pressure and learning to deal with it.

I found myself making friends with just the people I needed and feeling included again.

I found myself preparing for a new season.

That's what senior year is all about, right? Getting ready, planning, figuring things out. What I've figured out? God knows what's best.

Trusting God doesn't mean knowing what's happening next. Trusting God is believing that whatever happens, God knows what's happening next. He isn't surprised by that heart break, that disappointment, that choice. He knows you, He knows what's best for you. And for me.

I'm still figuring things out. Which was my excuse for blogging like, never. So for the sake of figuring things out, I'm going to put some things on this blog I wouldn't have before (like the occasional book review, or photography experiment). Basically, I'm going to blog every week I can with whatever I want to post. (You probably don't care, but I feel like it'd be weird if I started posting different stuff with no warning.) 

New seasons are scary, but they're also super exciting. Yeah, I'm nervous. I'm getting ready to go to university, and I don't know how that's going to treat me. But I'm not scared.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Can We Please Skip to Christmas?

In case it slipped your notice, we just had an election here in the US.

On an unrelated note, the planet is exploding and the world as we know it has ended.

It seems that wherever someone stands on the election, this is their view of the situation. Each side is spewing acid at the other. I got so tired of the endless Facebook posts about the election results I delete the app off my phone. Of course, I'd been sick of the election since March.

Like any reasonable person, I started listening to Christmas music after Halloween. Meanwhile, everyone else was freaking out about that wonderful Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning.

And now everyone is freaking out because everyone else is wrong and how dare you have that reaction to the election? Are you crazy?

Here's a novel idea: no, they're not crazy. They have a different opinion from you.

You know what we can agree on? Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate it, the season surrounding it is straight up wonderful (I mean, the most wonderful of the year amiright?). Aside from the commercialism--a mindset that should be thoroughly gone after a rewatch of a Charlie Brown Christmas--the mood seems to lift. I find it very hard to listen to Christmas music and be in a bad mood.

So maybe we should take a break from this election. Let's celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, awkward as it may be. We can all agree that this election was wack, so let's just settle on that and stop there. Let's talk about what we're grateful for--living in a country that offers way more freedom than many other nations, having people around us to love, being able to love others without getting angry about their "wrong" opinion (*hint hint*)--and not what we wish were different.

Let's pray more than we complain, give more than we take. After all, we learned when we were kids that giving is more satisfying than taking. Let's take a break from the division forever for a season, and gather around what we share in common.

Let's stop spreading hate and start spreading joy, okay? The world isn't going to end. Things may change, better or worse, but you're still in America and that's a blessing. Fill in the gaps hate created with the love God sent to earth to save us.

Let's celebrate the One who actually can save us--not a politician or businessman. Jesus.

So yeah, I'm listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Because I like it and it's a breath of fresh air after this election season.

Now excuse me while I dig my Christmas tree out of the garage.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Let This Be Where I Die

I don't like busy.

There are big things--elections and terrorism and school shootings. But there are also things that seem small--biology tests, writing speeches, keeping the kitchen clean. The noise that was once in the background grows, quietly growing until it's all I can hear.

This is the busiest I've been in my life. It's my senior year of high school, and there's so much to do. I have dual credit classes, speeches, more speeches, work, writing, more writing. Which is why I haven't written a blog post in almost two months.

I don't know how to be busy. I need time to slow down, take a breath. If I don't have time, I get anxious and I'm still learning how to handle anxiety. I barely know how to talk about it.

There's another reason I haven't written here in so long. I haven't been sure about what I wanted to write. I've had writer's block with a lot of things lately.

People think I'm good with words because I'm a writer. And sometimes, I feel that way. Other times, there are a hundred thousand things running through my mind and I don't know what words to say and what words to write and what words to forget.

I don't really like having a lot going on.

Maybe I'm just lazy, or maybe I just like quiet. I prefer listening or writing to speaking. It takes me time to figure out everything in my head.

The worst, though, is that I get so caught up in thinking about everything I have to do, and trying to figure out how I'm going to do everything I have to do, I forget to pause. I forget to take a moment and come close to my King. I forget to start my 6:30AM days with time in His presence. And I become exhausted, stressed, anxious.

With Him, there is peace, hope, grace. He tells me I don't have to get everything right, I don't have to be perfect

|| "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20 ||

I have been crucified with Christ.

My brokenness, my sin, my inadequacies, myself. Nailed to the cross.

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

I don't have to define myself by my poor communication skills, or anxiety, or fear, or sin, or what my shame tells me is my definition.

The life I now lie in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.

My heart isn't mine. My faith is not in myself. My identity is not my past. I am found in faith in the Son of God.

I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I am not who I was because Jesus loved me enough to say, "I'm not going to let you stay here. I have something better for you."

How easy it is to forget how much better He is. So right now, I want to let go, let the castles of brick I built fall. I want this to be where I die, crucified with Christ, so that it may be Him living in me. 

O let this be where I die

My Lord with thee crucified

Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall

Once and for all, once and for all


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Where Home Really is

We've all heard it said that "home is where the heart is."

In my loneliest moments, crying on my bathroom floor, the cry of my heart has been I want to go home. It didn't matter where I was. It didn't have much to do with who was with me. I wanted to feel home.

There's more to home than where our heart is. Our heart can be anywhere. I know my heart has been with the wrong people before. It's been focused on the wrong things before. My heart has been wrong before. My heart is wrong a lot.


Our hearts are fickle. They change so often, especially as teenagers. We think we know what we're doing, we think we know what we want. But things change and suddenly what we thought we knew is gone; what we wanted is broken. In the last year I feel like I've watched person after person get exactly what I wanted. It's broken my heart again and again.

If our home is where our heart is, our home is on fragile ground.

When I started writing this, I was coming to the conclusion that home is just the place, the people with whom we belong. That's isn't necessarily wrong, but it's still unstable. I've lost friends, people I felt I belonged with to, time or miscommunication or a complete lack of communication. Friend groups drift apart. Maybe that's not true 100% of the time, but for me that's been the reality most of the time.

So in those moments, when I'm crying out for home, what is it I want? Yes, I want people to belong with, friends who won't leave me. But what I really need is truth.

A few weeks ago, I started believing lies. Lies that I didn't belong, that I didn't deserve to serve my youth group, that who I was wasn't good enough for what God needed from me. I feared that my words, spoken and written, wouldn't be enough

Home is a place that ought to be secure. A place we can go when everything else falls apart. Where can we run? Where is our hiding place when the battle isn't ours?

|| "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." -Psalm 91:4 ||


Rampart is usually a word we only hear in the national anthem. What it is is the first defensive wall around a castle. God's faithfulness is our first defense, the castle wall, and our last defense, the shield we carry.

This year, the most heartbreaking of my life so far, has been held together by one thing: faithfulness. When I was angry at God, I still held on to the truth that He is God, and He is good.

God's faithfulness is where my hope is fulfilled, where my courage is found, where my confidence stands. where the grace I so desperately need is found. Home is not where the heart is, where we slip and lose and fall without a light.

Home is in the steadfast defense of the Father's faithfulness.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast."
Psalm 139:9-10

Friday, July 08, 2016

When it Hits Home

I don't usually write responses to these sorts of things, even the biggest ones. Not because I don't care, but because I don't ever know what to say.

But this time it hit 20 minutes from my house.

Twelve police officers, twelve people shot, five killed. In Dallas.

How many times can we stick #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter on our tweets before we actually realize that's true? The value of life can't be summed up in a million hashtags. Prejudice exists, and it's good that we've brought attention to that. But now all we're doing is bringing attention to it instead of fixing the problem.

The problem didn't start with gunshots and protests. It didn't start with national outrage or Twitter trends.

It started with hearts. It started with people.

It started with people who didn't know the value in others. Maybe because they didn't know the value in themselves. The more we shout "#LIVESMATTER," the less we hear "you're valued."

Regardless of how many times we demand that lives matter, if we don't know why, it won't last. When we view people behind filters of race or occupation, when we push people into categories, we no longer see them as people. We no longer see them as lives. They become numbers and statistics. We can't love numbers and statistics.

Shouldn't that be what it's about? Instead, we've made it about tearing every other side down.

In the midst of this, my favorite social media post is from Olan Rogers. It isn't long, but it means more than a lot of 1000 word Facebook posts out there.


There is so much potential for this country to be something special for generations to come but it all comes down to this one. We start listening to one another. We start to understand one another. We start to love one another.


We need faith to believe that God is still working. We need hope to see that change can happen. We need love know that lives matter.

Lives matter because each one was individually crafted by God. Lives matter because each one is loved deeply by Jesus. Lives matter because each human being on this planet is worth dying for. Maybe if we realized that, people would stop killing people.

I hate that things like this happen. But I have hope that we can get better.

"Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13