J16

I’m Going on an Adventure!

Interestingly, I had already written up my answer to this week’s prompt! At the beginning of the school year when I was champing at the bit to start working on my writing blog, I read through the list of assignments a few times and this prompt in particular really inspired me. I ended up being so inspired by this prompt that before this school year even began, I had already written a Facebook status to answer it, which turned into a blog post (by that point I had forgotten it was a prompt!). So, I decided rather than try to go a different direction with the prompt, that I’d rewrite my original blog post and repost it for class. I hope you enjoy!

Since I was very little, my answer to boredom has been to look at my bookshelf and grab myself a book. When the time comes, I’m sure my answer to the infamous question, “I’m bored, what should I do?” my children will pose will be to shove a book into their hands. I will be happy to provide them with any of my lovely selection of amazing books! You say you’re feeling lonely? Let’s take a trip to Narnia with the Pevensies! You’re feeling a little blue? Let’s go on a quest with Sir Gawain and Terence! Their silly conversations and colorful adventures will be sure to cheer you up. Somebody told you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not smart enough, or that you’re not big enough to do something? Then let’s go on an adventure with Bilbo Baggins! Nobody thought he was good enough either, but I’ll tell you a secret –he proved them wrong. You don’t like your chores? How about we have a chat with Taran, Prydain’s only Assistant Pig Keeper! He can tell you the importance of doing your job, even when it doesn’t seem very important. You say you’re a little tired of reading fantasy books? Oops! Then why don’t you read a Hardy Boys book instead. Frank and Joe are always fun companions to solve a mystery with.

My mother once asked me why I have so many books that I have read three or four times apiece when there are so many other books to read. My answer is that I can always count on them. I know which books make me laugh, which make me cry, which make me feel like I can take on the world, and which have me quietly pondering my personal character. The words on the pages aren’t merely words to me –those places, the people inside them have become familiar, like visiting old friends. After all this time they still make me laugh, still make me cry, still make me want to jump up and down, or knock some sense into one of the characters. That’s why I like love those books and that’s why I can’t wait to share those books with my children.

Advertisements

J14

Attaining the Impossible

My adventures as a writer

There was this Disney Channel J14-Jamie's Journalsmovie I watched one time when I was younger called “Read It and Weep” about a girl who accidentally submits her personal diary for a writing contest at school and ends up having her book published. At this point in my life, I already wanted to be a novelist, so seeing her shelf of completed journals made my eyes bug out. I couldn’t imagine having so many notebooks on a shelf of my writing!

J14-JournalsWhen I saw the movie on Netflix recently I realized something absolutely mindboggling. My eyes flickered up to the floating shelf over my computer desk and I saw a shelf like hers! Though my notebooks aren’t personal journals, and only nine or ten of them –out of twenty-four–are significantly filled, they are filled with my words. I’ve become the writer I envied when I was younger!

Writing plays such a huge part of my life. I cannot explain how utterly excited I was at the beginning of this school year to start a dedicated writing blog. Writing is my passion and to get to share that with others? And get school credit for it?! It was like a dream come true and I haven’t been disappointed either. I hope to be able to continue updating and sharing my writing on this blog until I stop writing –which I assure you, won’t be soon.

J13

A New Chapter

Sarah’s Wedding

I recently had the chance to take part in my friend and Reading Scripturementor Sarah’s wedding. Sarah was the small group leader of our girl’s bible study group,  G.R.I.T.S., or Girls Rooted In The Scriptures, for two years. It was a fairly small group consisting of only four girls, Sarah, and her mom. We were one of the first people to know when she started dating and one of the first to know when they got engaged. As soon as the wedding arrangements began, she asked all four of us girls to read scriptures during the wedding ceremony. Thus the flurry of preparing began. Most of us had been to at least one wedding before, but being in a wedding was something entirely different. The four of us texted back and forth about what dress to wear to the wedding, how we should do our hair, whether or not we should ride together, and then suddenly we were told we were supposed to come to the rehearsal too, so the texts flew as we discussed what we ought to wear to the rehearsal. None of us had ever been to the church where it was being held either, so we decided to drive together.

Our Small GroupWe were ten minutes late to the rehearsal. It was fairly simple directions, only, for the life of us, we couldn’t find the chapel! We drove up and down the street several times, searching for any sign of the church. Around our fourth –or maybe fifth—drive down the street we found the entrance we’d been missing and everything was smooth sailing from there. Or should I say smooth flying? Sarah’s husband is in the Air Force after all.

The next day, despite our jitters, the wedding was beautiful. The only hitch came when our pastor forgot to say the traditional, “You may kiss the bride,” but that didn’t really matter, because they kissed anyway. The scriptures we read were selected by our pastor and contained all of our hopes and prayers for our friend as she set out on a brand new chapter of her life.

J12

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…

It took me quite a while to decide on just one favorite Christmas tradition, so I’ll be attempting to add a new, shorter entry about the rest of my favorite traditions every day up until Christmas Eve.  

The BIG TreeTo ask me to pick a single favorite Christmas tradition is to give me a near impossible task. I love everything about Christmas. I start listening to Christmas music off and on throughout October and November despite my family’s Christmas-decorations-go-up-and-Christmas-music-gets-turned-on-the-day-after-Thanksgiving tradition. I absolutely adore our church’s Christmas Eve service and our drive through neighborhoods afterward with cups of hot chocolate looking at Christmas lights. I still stay up late talking with my brother every Christmas Eve because I can’t sleep. There are so many things that I love about Christmas that at first my absolute favorite Christmas tradition may seem trivial –even commercialistic.

My favorite Christmas tradition is putting up our Christmas tree. Not the presents –that’s The Elegant Treeanother tradition altogether, and one that is a couple of places down the list of my favorites—but everything about the actual tree itself. We have three trees in our house, each decorated in a different theme, but the one I mean is the 7 ½ foot tall tree that always gets put up in our living room. When I was younger, the tree was my favorite because every year when we got out our decorations I couldn’t wait to get out the box of ornaments. Inevitably, every year I would find at least one ornament that I loved that I had completely forgotten we had owned, so there was always this air of discovery that surrounded that box. My mom picks out a new ornament for each of us each year too, so there was always a new pretty ornament to “ooo” and “ahh” over. But the tree holds a special place in my heart for a different reason now that I am older.

The Jesus TreeAs the oldest child, the job of helping my dad put up the Christmas tree fell to me as soon as I was old enough to actually do any good. Every year since then my dad and I have settled down in the living room, methodically, as is our way, taking the tree out of the box and separating the branches by their lengths. My dad is an engineer, and I inherited a lot of my personality from him, so we have a very specific way of putting it up. We put up a row of tree limbs, then wrap lights inside, then put up another row of limbs, then wrap more lights, and so on. Once we get to the top we start from the bottom with the twinkling lights and wrap them all the way up the tree, filling in any gaps we may have missed the first time around. It is a bit of a monotonous task, but with a little Christmas music or a movie playing in the background, neither of us gets easily bored. Knowing every year that I can look forward to spending time with him doing something that we both enjoy is what makes our Christmas tree my favorite tradition.

J11

J11-Butting HeadsDifficult Confrontations

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they will be called children of God.”

As one of the seniors and a leader in my youth group, I am often put in charge of groups of people younger than me. It’s usually nothing too formal, but my youth director knows he can count on me to keep everyone working and at least mostly focused on the job we are doing. Sometimes, like in the case of a few Sundays ago, I have to do a little more than gently redirect a middle schooler’s attention to a task.

Here’s the scene: Two middle schoolers, my junior friend and I were working on writing Christmas cards for a local nursing home. As we worked, the two younger girls began discussing a third sixth grader behind her back, criticizing her harshly for something she had said. My friend and I looked at each other across the table in surprise. Finally it got to the point where I couldn’t keep from saying anything, so I gently tried to point out how they would feel if someone was saying these things about them.

Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. They argued with me and my friend for a minute, not understanding why we would even bother saying anything. The discussion even began to get a bit heated as they got defensive. But eventually they calmed down and saw our point. Confrontation, no matter who with, is always difficult in one way or another. It is easy for people to become defensive, to feel attacked by the other person’s accusations, and feelings can get easily hurt. However, sometimes confrontation is impossible to avoid. In that case, the ability to speak calmly and gently is the most valuable skill in a peacemaker’s toolkit.

J 10

Over a Cup of Tea

The one famous person I would love to meet

Most girls my age would jump at the chance to tell you what actor or singer they’re dying to meet, but you wouldn’t catch me waiting in a line for hours to meet a celebrity. Sure, it would be cool to meet the star from my favorite television show or movie, but I doubt I’d be able to enjoy it very much in the moment. I’d most likely be so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t be able to make a decent conversation to save my life. And really, who wants to feel like an idiot in front of someone they admire like that?

However, there is one famous person I’d have loved to have the chance to meet. J. R. R. Tolkien has been a writing role model of mine since I read The Hobbit when I was twelve. I would jump at the chance to get to meet him and talk about writing with him. I’ve always had a few burning questions that I would love to ask him. What first inspired you to create Middle Earth? How did you think up all of the layers and details that are woven into your stories? What did your writing process look like? How do you feel like you contributed to God’s kingdom through your writing?

I would love to have had the chance to sit down with Tolkien with a cup of tea and talk about books and writing until we were hoarse. To be able to talk to someone with that kind of writing experience would have so much more of an impact on my life than meeting some actress. Meeting him would truly be one of those one in a lifetime experiences that I would treasure for the rest of my life.

J9

The Day My Life Began Again

A Royal 440 Typewriter's Story

When the girl who looked just like my Sarah opened my torn-up, dusty box, I thought I was being given the chance to be loved again. I knew by the sad, remembering smile on not-Sarah’s face that my old companion would not be joining me for any more adventures. Though this knowledge saddened me greatly, I couldn’t help but revel in the bright rays of morning sunlight. I dreamed of being cleaned and polished, my keys gleaming and ready to begin the first line of a new story. At least, that was my dream until I was replaced in a newer box and dropped off somewhere far from my familiar home.

When my box was finally re-opened, I wasn’t even give the time of day, merely put on a shelf surrounded by useless knick-knacks and other trinkets. A second coating of dust covered the first and I began to despair of my dream ever becoming reality. One day, however, my luck seemed to change. A young woman, even younger than not-Sarah, found me sitting behind a few candlesticks and was soon pulling out a man’s wallet from her pants pocket. She scooped me up and brought me home with her, giving me a place of honor in her already crowded room. At first I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I loved Anna, as my new companion was named, and she loved me. Gradually though, she forgot about me.

I began to gather a layer of dust once more as I sat sadly on her table, watching her day-by-day as she went about her life without me. She still showed me off occasionally to her friends and family, each agreeing that I was a terribly interesting machine. One of the other young women even looked upon me with longing, asking Anna where she had gotten such a beautiful machine. But still Anna did not embark upon any adventures with me. One day I could hear two voices coming up the hallway, chatting excitedly. The girl who had looked longingly at me burst into the room, picked me up gently, and carried me triumphantly out to her car.

The ride home was long, but my new companion draped a loving arm over me the entire trip to keep me from sliding. I have my very own spot on her desk now, right next to the new-fangled contraption called a computer. I try not to let it know how jealous I am that Christine spends more time typing on it than she does on me. When I start getting green I just remember one important thing –she loves me just the way I am.

J8

From Captain’s Log to Journal

Looking at journaling from a fresh perspective

How am I supposed to pick one favorite journal entry when all of my entries this school year have been my favorite? I know, I know –it seems like a cop out answer, but it’s true! Before I started my Creative Writing class this year, I had tried and failed for many years to keep a journal. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I think the problem boiled down to the fact that there was no pull for me to write in a journal. I was the only one likely to ever read my journal, and I could be as truthful as I wanted. But instead of writing about the things I truly cared about –instead of writing about my thoughts and opinions, and about things that truly mattered to me—my journal was really more like a Captain’s Log from Star Trek. I wrote about what I did, not what I thought.

Every time I decided to try to write again, to pick up my journal and begin to record what was going on in my life for my future self to read, I didn’t get far before I started leaving off entries without finishing them and leaving monstrous gaps between writing. It made me feel terrible that I couldn’t keep up with a journal because I really wanted to be a writer and everything I had ever read on how to become a better writer included a section or two about keeping a journal. Mine was a hopeless case –I just couldn’t seem to connect with the monotony that I wrote about. I didn’t have any real desire to write what I was writing.

96cb3a2a3c70cb81e0787bb544e6e450Though I have only written eight journal entries counting this one, I feel like this “journal” that I have taken up is a much better picture of who I am at this point in my life than any of the multiple other journals I have written thus far. The prompts that I have been given have forced me to look at events in my life through new eyes, and to explain exactly what I thought about them and why I thought that. I have gotten the chance to share the things that I love through my favorite medium –words. Things that I have never had the chance to fully collect my thoughts on became the focus for a journal entry, letting me both collect my thoughts and share my opinions with others. Through these entries I have written I have begun to show who I am instead of simply what has happened to me and that makes each and every one of them my favorite.

J7

Waiting on a Love Story

Something I wrote a few months ago: Though I am a writer, I confess that my true joy is not in writing my love story, but in watching the Creator of the Universe reveal HIS love story to me, one chapter at a time. No matter how much I write, rewrite, or edit the script to my own love story, it could never be as perfect as the one God has in mind for me.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of being a part of the wedding of a dear friend, mentor, and role model of mine. As a member of the small group that she was the leader of, I was blessed to be able to watch as she struggled with being single, her heart’s desire to serve God through her singleness, and her joy as God revealed her husband-to-be. I wish every young woman I know had a chance to watch such a lovely woman of God go through this time of their life, and learn the powerful lesson I learned on waiting patiently on God’s timing.

One of my favorite quotes about relationships is by Maya Angelou, “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek Him first in order to find her.” I was able to view this first hand through my friend, encouraging me to wait without anxiety for the Lord’s timing. Instead of spending my time worrying over the fact that there aren’t any boys asking me for my number, I strive daily to follow after God in everything that I do, to become the young woman He desires me to be.

Waiting is still difficult however –I am only human after all. But I take comfort from Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I know God has a plan for my future more amazing than I could ever imagine.

J6

Unlocking the Enchantment of Poetry

The story of how I became a lover of poetry

Before this year, if someone had asked me if I liked poetry, I would have probably shrugged and given them a non-committal, “It’s okay, I guess,” before moving on to a different topic. It wasn’t that I disliked poetry in any way; it was just that I hadn’t spent enough time reading poetry to truly form an opinion on it. I knew from my experiences studying poetry in English 2 that I enjoyed Robert Frost’s poetry, but that was based on reading a few of his most famous poems such as, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, and my favorite of his, “The Road Not Taken.” Could I really say that I liked poetry based on such a narrow pool of works?

Finally, after borrowing the complete works of Robert Frost from the library and not being able to make a dent in the 607 page volume, I took the plunge and bought a copy of the book so I would be able to read it at my leisure. When I caught myself speed reading through the book instead of catching the lyrical quality of the verse, I realized I had been looking at poetry all wrong. The next time I read, I did so aloud, albeit in my bedroom with the door closed as I muttered the words to myself. I began to do this more often, sometimes sending myself to sleep as I softly read the soothing poetry.

I added a volume of the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe for my birthday, carrying it with me when I pet sat to read the eerie poem, “The Raven,” aloud in the empty house. Soon I was combing the local used book store for more titles to add to my rapidly growing collection. Now hardly a week goes by that I am not pulling down one of my poetry collections to read a poem or two, enchanted by the graceful dance of the words.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.