Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whistle While You Work

Whistle while you work... do-do-do-do-do-do-doooo...
  One of the shifts I work at night allows us to listen to music on a boombox or through iHome speakers (or anything that loud music can come out of).  For the past two weeks that my friend and I have worked together on this shift, we have completely forgotten about this rare right!  Well I decided that I would burn a CD, maybe two, with music that both of us like so that we can pop it in the disc player each night.  She asked me what kind of music I listened to... and I wasn't exactly sure how to explain!  I don't listen to weird or bad music, just not music people know or would consider listening to at first hear!  I told her to send me  a list of songs she really likes so that I could comprise these discs.  And these are a few of the tracks, videos possibly included, which I have selected to jam out to while preparing people's pasta:

1.  Heartlines by Florence + the Machine

2. Cameras by Matt & Kim

3.  Cheap and Cheerful by The Kills

4.  Not Your Fault by AWOLNATION

5.  Fuckarias by Those Dancing Days pronounced, "fook-are-EYE-us" (Swedish for "a nag" basically) (Go Sweden!  Don't worry, they sing in English.)

6.  The Difference Between Us by The Dead Weather
7.  Tigerlily by La Roux
8.  Lonely Boy by The Black Keys
I aspire to dance like this man!
9.  Mercy by Duffy
10.  Rearrange by Miles Kane (or "Come Closer" - it's a close tie)
So obviously, the music I listen to - just by this small sample - may or may not have ever been heard before by most people who actually listened.  There's more where that came from!  But these are only 10 of the 30 tracks I have chosen to go through to decide which would be best and fast-paced to work to.  Honestly, I chose some of these songs because I figure more people than none have heard at least a few of them - these are the most culturally popular songs in my music library other than Justin Beiber.

As far as type of music I listen to?  I think most of my personal library is blues rock.  Folk music and 'indie' would come in second place.  Everything else follows.  Here's a list of possible genres in my library and a few artists to check out that go with each:

  1. Blues Rock: The Black Keys, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, Dan Auerbach, Dr. John, Miles Kane, Rival Sons, Dr. Dog, The White Stripes (not really, they just say they are.)
  2. Folk music: Fleet Foxes, John Denver, First Aid Kit, Lindi Ortega, The Tallest Man On Earth, The Last Bison, Loch Lomond, Matrimony
  3. Indie music: The Kills, The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Tilly and The Wall, Ingrid Michaelson, Imagine Dragons, Saint Motel, Local Natives
  4. Hip-hop-ish?: Matt & Kim, Beastie Boys
  5. Other...: AWOLNATION, Young the Giant, Taken By Trees, Gabrielle Aplin

I think blues rock makes up most of my library, or some sort of soul sounding rock like it.  I also really like ...folk music, indie?  I really like reminiscent 60's-70's era music.  I like when there are multiple band instruments involved.  I really like music that has a good beat, a good dancing impulse to it, and the pyramid of sound is balanced (yes, I still have the band geek in me).  Eclectic.  That's how I always put it.

The Black Keys will always and forever be my absolute favorite band, though - no matter how popular they become.

So, for those of you who come through the Grille line on Tuesday nights, you may hear some of these classy people boomin' through the stereo speakers! ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Try New Things

  I knew a wise and eclectic man in my hometown who proudly encouraged his self-promoted campaign, "Try New Things."  He had bumper stickers he would give to random customers and post on the walls of the bathrooms in the coffeeshop where I often saw him.  He encouraged people to try things they normally wouldn't, and I admired his push towards this mentality.

  Although, I have found myself on occasion not entirely giving in to his philosophy of trying new things since I avoid doing anything that makes me look like I'm "jumping on a bandwagon."  So, in an effort to attempt trying new things, I am doing just that with this blog.  I am a blogging lover and I have always used Blogger (Blogspot) to embellish my thoughts and practice 'speaking' to an invisible audience in order to organize my thoughts before I actually speak them.  I still have a few blogs on Blogger that I maintain, some that are obsolete.  However, I never fancied even trying a new blog-engine, such as WrodPress.  I often thought that too many people I know use this engine, so I didn't want anything to do with it.  However, while there are uniques details that Blogger provides me with that WordPress cannot, the versa is the same - there are some things that WordPress can offer that Blogger cannot.  I am here to find out what each pro and con of these writing atmospheres are.  I'm trying new things.
  I also include with my attempt at this philosophy the show I have been observing: Doctor Who.  I figure it is something out of my natural tendencies to view, but it looks like something I could possibly enjoy if I try to.  While it has never been a 'popular' show amongst the general public, or even my friends, I have never been drawn to it for the mere reason of enough people knowing about it.

  To clarify from the beginning:  I admit that I do not always sway towards the interests of pop-culture.  I don't like jumping on bandwagons because it's a 'cool' thing.  I am not a member of the whole "hipster culture" that seems to be growing in popularity these days.  I have simply always been this way.  It's a part of who I am, throughout recollections of when I was very young.  I have always been this way - and that is what has seemingly prevented me from approaching things that are new.  While I am considerably eclectic in taste of music, fashion, entertainment, etc., I have always kept a closed-mind to things that people already know about.  Well, here's my effort to go against that regular norm of mine!

  I hope that anything I say in this blog might spark an interest in some way, so happy reading as I happily blog! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thoughts While I've Headed Back To Class

I have officially started back to class!

My morning started off
with a beautiful flower from my RA!
And a sunny blue day!
Classes kicked off on August 21 (on my wonderful fiance's 20th birthday!!!) and I began with Dr. David Olshine in learning how to communicate to youth.  I didn't voice this in class when asked as a group, but my goal from this class (Communicating to Youth) is to learn just that! Over the past 14 months while staying at home back in Hartsville, I have led the college Bible study, obviously working with college students.  Communicating with college-aged students is very easy for me.  Not just because I'm a college student myself, but because our generation, our age group, is more of the Seeking age group out of all human being developmental stages.  Our age group longs for something real, for some sort of Truth or purpose that isn't made up.  It is also the highest rate in age group to fall away from religion and stop going to church.  There is nowhere for them to plug into because they are caught between high school and adulthood.  They are in limbo between the two, yet so so so many adults expect them to fall right into a "more mature" adult crowd because they are 'adults' now.  There is so much young life still in college-aged students that older crowds just don't have room or understanding for.  This is where I feel called - the callous between the teen world and adult world so that the transition isn't a legalistic one.

Fortunately enough, I feel like God set me up right with classes this year!  My classes consist of Communicating To Youth, Communicating God's Word, Issues In Contemporary Youth Culture, Marriage and Family, and Sea Adventure.  The first three all have to do with learning different ways to effectively communicate God's Word to young people while keeping in mind the experiences and responses each of them have based on their past.  That is SO great to sit in each and really practice all the skills I'm learning at the same time to get better at what I'm called to.  The same skills I'm learning from Issues and Communicating To Youth are similar to the skills I need when handling a marriage and a family.  Effective communication of feelings and respectful approaches to confrontation on every level are crucial to strong bonds and relationships between spouses, and parents and children.

First kayak class with Julia!
Sea Adventure is learning how to scuba dive, kayak and do other water sports while incorporating such things with ministry to youth (PS. I'm a Youth Ministry, Family, and Culture major - just in case you were wondering what all these classes are coming from.)  Scuba diving was fun, but scary because I had to tell my body that it's okay to breathe under water... as I inhaled water through the nose in my mask... and sunk to the floor of the pool multiple times... I know that if I happen to return back to the pool for scuba, it would be a little easier because I'll know what to expect.  I LOVE kayaking, however, and I cannot wait to go again! It was hard learning how to handle rowing up-stream through the rapids, though, but just like the scuba diving - next time I'll know what to expect!  AND, I stood up in my kayak in the middle of the deep water!
I stood up in my kayak!!

Another thing I've been keeping up with on the side is my regulation of exercising and eating right.  I'm not a big person, but I have developed a pooch on my belly from eight months of parking my butt behind a desk in an office.  I build muscle pretty quickly because of my thick German-Scandinavian heritage, so the muscle-strengthening part shouldn't be hard.  It's just the whole losing the fat that has collected like dust on my belly! I have kept a regular exercise pattern, running a mile a few nights a week, biking a few times a week, using machine weights for toning my muscles, and using the elliptical for the first time ever.  For eating, I have been doing my best to take it easy on the desserts, bread, pasta, and potatoes.  The only reason I allow myself to have large amounts of the latter three are if I plan to workout right after to burn all the energy I get from the carbs and startches in those foods.  I reward myself with sweets once a week depending on how well I did that week taking care of my health.  Other than that, I've been choosing the right foods to eat - that are not southern-deep-fried, or covered in a stick of butter or margarine.  Fresh veggies are delightfully mixed in all different ways, and I am always too full when I'm finished eating.  Slimming up!  And I'm excited!  Wedding coming!

The Hobbit
One more thing I have started this semester: reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in preparation for the movie! ;D  I can tell you more about how that's going here!  86 more days until it is in theatres!!

So that is how my first few weeks back to school have been, my thoughts, and what I have been up to - busy, busy!

Getting Ready For The Hobbit!

  The closer the time comes, the more excited I am getting about the up-coming movie, The Hobbit!!  Frank and I watched the extended version of Fellowship of the Ring a few nights ago, and it was like dousing a small kindling flame with oil!  I am reading the book by J.R.R. Tolkien in preparation for the cinematographic motion picture adapted from the book!  At the current moment, I am only beginning, so I am at the part where Bilbo tries to hide away from the dwarves' company in his hobbit hole; They're singing a lyric when they catch him sneaking off.  Instead of returning to their beautiful deep vocals chorus, they begin talking about dark business that many won't survive.  Not much has gone on yet, but I am so far intrigued!  I remember reading Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter) for the first time and craving more every single time I felt I couldn't be doing anything better!  Same feeling!  It's possible that I could update the world on where I'm at on this journey throughout the next semester.  I am getting more and more pumped about December!!

I realized in my Issues In Contemporary Youth Culture class the other day that I have really slacked on blogging lately - which I know was not exactly the point of us talking about blogging in class...  But the more we talked about it, the more I really really really wanted to get on and blog hard!  I really do have so many things to talk about since the last time I actually posted anything at the beginning of August, but I just haven't seemed to find the time to sit down and spill all my thoughts  out onto my keyboard.  I want to try and at least post something weekly, maybe even more than once weekly - even if it's just an update on life, or where I'm at in reading The Hobbit.  Gosh, I seemed to forgotten how good this feels to blog!

Quite so awesomely, The Hobbit comes to theatres on mine and my fiance's two-year dating anniversary!  Just weeks before our wedding!  So you can guess I'll be dropping hints like bombs about what we should do to celebrate! ;D

86 more days until it comes!!!

Take a look if you haven't already!  If you have already, look at it again!!!!

Counting Down!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Effects of Prayer and Fashion

Sent By Ravens
the effects of fashion and prayer
  Now, the statement my title makes is almost an insight to the "Christian" world I live in here in America.  Coined by a great band,  Sent By Ravens, I have borrowed the title from their "Effects of Fashion and Prayer" only reversed - to make my point.  I have adopted this title to express the way I feel about what I've seen around me lately, as well as the descriptor for the way my heart feels now.

  As a beginner, effects are the results of a cause; something that happens because of a prior event.  Such events can be, but are not exclusive to, relationships, friendships, socializing, concerts, driving, etc.  So to begin with prayer...

Prayer: our personal phone call to God.

Relying on God is something that is becoming more obsolete as time goes on.  We, as a people of earth, find that it's easier to rely on ourselves and then put God's name in front of our success so that it appears that we have such a relationship with the Lord.  When we actually hand every aspect of our lives over to God, even if it's one-by-one, we truly grow to understand the work of God's hand over our life.  Lately, I have witnessed this to my own mom as encouragement for what is going on in her own life.  Taking her life and choices to the Lord in prayer, she has shared with me how she has seen the God truly works in her life when she trusts Him.  Knowing that God's hand is constantly in her life is such a satisfying relief to me!

As far as prayer goes for me, I have experienced the verse in Romans 8:26 which says: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  I have a hard time collecting my thoughts sometimes when I'm talking to people and I try not to let it show while I talk.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time thinking of what words to bring to God in prayer and I know in my head what I want to ask for but my spirit cannot put it to words.  When these things happen, I usually end up saying something like, "God, you know what's on my heart right now; please take care of it - I don't even know what I want to ask you..."  Not such a great idea, Jessica... Charles and John Wesley have both said before: "God does nothing without prayer."  Jesus encouraged us to pray for everything, as well as Paul encouraged us to constantly pray, for though God knows the troubles and desires of our hearts, He will not work unless we ask Him to.  Think about a human relationship; your friend is so exhausted with all of her responsibilities in school, and work, possibly in her family, and she does not have any down time for herself.  You want to help her in some way, but you know that she would rather stay independent and work on her own.  All the while, your friend is telling you all these woes and stresses thinking, "I wish she'd offer to help..."  Since she never asked, you don't help her although you know she needs it.  It's not until she asks you to help her in some way that you willingly accept the burden she's asking to share, bringing her some peace.  Make sense?

Well, recently, I have decided to take Romans 8:26 seriously, and I have asked the Holy Spirit to speak to the Lord through me on my behalf... Wasn't sure how that was going to work... As I sat there praying, though, I felt these words come into my mouth, into my mind, that were the exact things I was trying to think of saying!  As if with a different voice, I heard the words I needed to say come so perfectly, only in a way that I would have never worded, words that were not my own but said exactly what I could not seem to think of.  And I know for a fact that the Holy Spirit was working in my favor before the Lord.  I can see Him truly working with my request based on how the words I have spoken effect the situation!  What an amazing God!  I wish every human being could experience such love and peace!  I wish Christian would swallow their pride and actually understand who God really is and long to live for Him!  But this brings me to the effect of fashion...


Fashion is what we see when we want to impress people.  Often times, fashion leaks into our so-called "Spiritual lives" and that's when the Message gets confused.  We start thinking that showing up at church and praying before meals means that we are going along with the whole 'religion' thing.  Well.  You're right.  Going to church is a part of religion.  Praying before meals is a part of religion.  Going to Sunday school is a part of religion.  Reading and owning a Bible is religion.  Sermons on Sunday morning is part of religion.  This is truly religion, you are correct, and if you take part in these things 'religiously' then you are definitely a religious person!  Yay for you!  That doesn't mean you know Christ and His work in your life.  That doesn't mean you have allowed God to speak to you, or rather, that you have listened to Him.  That doesn't mean you know what it;s like to be in His presence.  That doesn't make you holier than everyone else who does not do those religious things.  That does not necessarily make you a Christian, or even a better person.  While for a few people, these things all fall hand-in-hand with each other, there are many many more whose lives speak the latter reality.  Only they realize it and therefore don't believe it to be true.

Now, I am not calling out any individuals, for overall the relationship one has with God is between them and God.  However, it is evident when people follow all of those religious things and then aren't very sure how Christ fits in to all of that.

"It's better to be hated for what you are,
then loved for what you're not."
-Kurt Cobain
Christianity, the religion, has become SO fashionable in our society because it makes people feel happy, look good, and earn a reputation for participating in such selfless activities.  The misleading point comes when you look at how not selfless these people are being with their intentions.  And this is where the rest of the Seeking world is led astray - getting to God and finding purpose is by follow rules and regulations of a Spiritual culture, and Christ might be thrown in there somewhere, probably attached to how happy life is because of Him and yet few really understand why.  When asked what God's purpose for us in life is, most would say something like, "He wants me to be happy and so He makes sure I'm happy."  The answer is, "God wants me to humble myself because of the amazing sacrifice HE made for ME!  Therefore, in everything I do - even if it leads to my death - I want the whole world to hear about the freedom I have in Christ!"  But that's above many people's heads.  So often, I hear about how happy God has made a person their whole lives and how He's never let harm come to them, He's always made life so enjoyable and wonderful.  There may have been a time or two when these people were sad, but God didn't want them to be sad, so somehow He fixed it.  I think that is wonderful to know that God is the Almighty Comforter of the mourning and weeping, and I say, "PRAISE GOD!" for that act of Love in your life!  I truly believe that is wonderful!  But have you ever really lived if all your life has ever been is happy and pleasing to you?

Selfish and happy?
Or selfless and giving the glory to God?
It's not a selfish 'religion' - if you think about it, every other religion in our known society focuses on "me," revolves around how "I" can be better, how "I" can be happy and content.  Jesus came way out of His comfort zone to talk to stubborn thieves and prostitutes who didn't seem to understand what He was talking about while He was here, got frustrated and angry at all the greedy selfishness the world displayed, was framed for doing something He never did, had His skin ripped apart and His clothes gambled off in humor as He lay there bleeding, and then got His hands and feet nailed to a plank of wood as people beneath Him mocked Him and spat on his bloody wounds.  THIS is the reason we are Christians.  Not so that we can be happy.  Jesus' purpose here was to show us how to really love another person without expecting anything in return.  He taught us countless times how to pray and how to truly please God without offerings.  He taught us what life is supposed to be about - God, others.  Not anything to do with us.  Jesus Christ taught us to forget about anything to do with ourselves and what makes us happy so that we can live for HIM and serve OTHERS.  NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH US.  That is holiness.  That is God's purpose for our lives.  Our 'religion' is about something other than ourselves - unlike every other faith in this world.  Christ was selfless in hopes that we too would be selfless.  Not selfish.  Why don't we get that, people!?

His example: serving others.
Christ-ian translates to "Christ-like" or "little Christ" and was originally meant as mockery of those who followed the teachings of Christ.  As we have adopted the name as truth in our lives, we have lost the real reason that we were ever called Christians.  We have lost sight of God, His Will, His sacrifice, others around us, everything to do with Christ because we are more concerned with which dress will be the cutest on Easter Sunday and what gifts we will be getting on Christmas morning.  We are so caught up in all the social activity at church that we forget about Church and our purpose for going to church in the first place - communion and fellowship worshipping God as one Body of believers.  Being a Christian is about being broken people that God loves, shows mercy to, accepts just as we are, molds your life from the inside out and then uses us to show others the love and acceptance we can get from Him.

Christianity is now merely fashion in our culture.  It's something that dresses us up as good and happy people and nothing more.  We can't bare the thought of being looked down upon by the world to give God glory.  And most don't even understand what that means.  We have nothing to do with selfishness, nothing to do with legalism, nothing to do with mere socialite activities for good reputation.  My hope and prayer is that the effects of God in this world through who really know Him will be enough to reach everyone wrapped up in the effects of fashion.  Nothing is more disheartening to me than someone who has never truly met God right where they're at.  Take seriously the calling we give ourselves when we claim the name of Christ-like.  Christian is not who we are intended to be, Christ followers are who we are based on the love, mercy, and sacrifice Christ taught us through His life, words, and examples.  Don't be ashamed of that!  And don't let our lovely fashionable Christianity control you.