Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Favorite Blogs //List Week

It'd day 2 of List Week, and today I'm bringing you five of my very favorite bloggers! Since I can't be bothered to write out an entire post today, I thought the least I could do was direct you to some people who are probably doing their blogger job a little better than I am.  Say blogger one more time.
Hope you enjoyed these as much as I do!  If you did, you should probably go follow them all so you don't ever miss a post.

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Not Like High School Musical // List Week

Monday showed up this week with a side of headachiness and sore throatedness and otherwise gross feelings, so I'm going to be using more of my extra time these next few days trying to get unsick and less of it on blogging.  If getting sick can come at a good time, this is that time, because just a couple days ago a list of 50 "list post" ideas showed up on The "Florkens."  For those of you who are unaware, list posts can be written a lot faster and with more ease than pretty much any other kind of post, but, in my opinion, they're still fun to read!  Sounds just about right for a sick day.  

We'll start List Week on a more serious note: a list of the most valuable things I've learned about myself in high school (so far.) 

|  I'm an introvert.  I need some time away from people or else I start to turn really horrible, to the point where I avoid all signs of human life at all costs and snap at anyone who tries to intrude on my self-imposed solitude.  

| I can't not eat - I have to have breakfast and lunch or else things don't go well.  Occasionally I'll wake up feeling really horrible and, almost out of spite, refuse to pack myself a lunch.  Having no lunch to eat at lunch time is not fun for anybody. 

| I always have to make sure I have the right mindset.  For example, if I have to take an awful math test or run a hard workout in track, thinking of it as a challenge rather than meaningless torture makes things 100000000000% better.  I'm not really into meaningless torture, but I like to be challenged.  You get the picture. 

| I'm not good at learning from the computer.  I'm currently in my third semester of online classes, and, for the third time, am sprinting through videos and e-textbook reading to catch up.  I've always done well in school, but for some reason online classes are really hard for me.  I need structure and deadlines and a teacher that I know for sure is real and will be really disappointed in me if I fail.  

| I'm kind of a nerd, and that's good.  I fought the fact that I liked learning and reading books in my spare time through those awkward middle school years where being smart is taboo and into freshman year before I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I'm not saying Ashton Kutcher's "Smart is Sexy" speech at the Kids' Choice Awards didn't influence me.  Jk, I totally laughed through the whole thing, but I appreciate the sentiment.   

| It's cool to have a personality.  I spent a lot of time letting my friend group, or whatever group I was currently with, define my words and actions, and if got old fast and I'd like to think that by senior year I've gotten past that.

| Technology is not my strong point (says the girls who chose a hobby that involves almost daily use of technology).  I cannot tell you how many times I have lost papers on a computer or how big of a dent there is in the wall that I used to kick in frustration while sitting at my desk in Computer Apps 1 freshman year.  I like it, but I am in no way a natural. 

P.S.  The fact that I kicked the wall makes me sounds scary and angry, but I promise that the wall was right in front of my desk, was very solid, and I didn't kick it that hard.  It was more like quickly swinging my legs than actual kicking.  

And with that, I think I'll get off of my laptop before it crashes or explodes or finds a way to delete this post.  See ya tomorrow for more listing!


Friday, November 21, 2014

25 Things // Week in Review

Friday is for lists: I present to you 25 things that made this week a lot cooler than it would have been if they never would have happened.
1.  Starting "The Office" on Netflix.  I'm mostly watching it for Jim and Pam, because clearly I'm a hopeless romantic.
2.  Spitting out my tomato soup because I can't control myself when mildly funny things happen.  Even more, the fact that I definitely did not regain control after the fact and ended up a teary, tomato soup-y mess.
3.  It snowed today!
4.  And now I am up to my neck in Christmas spirit and I don't hate it.
5.  The fact that school ended 45 minutes early today.
6.  This quote: "Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention."
7.  The purchase of a Mountain Lodge scented candle from Bath and Body Works.  It's gone now, but it was fun while it lasted.
8.  Running.  I haven't run in, like, 35 years, and I'm enjoying it a lot more than I should be, which is always a pleasant surprise.
9. Chocolate chip nutella pudding cookies happened, and also banana nutella upside down cake.  That's a good, good week.
10.  Frozen yogurt got gotten, baby gummi bears included.  All about the baby gummi bears.
11.  My nail polish isn't even that chipped.
12.  The school week had once less day than it normally does, so Friday is one day earlier and I am all over that.
13. I've worn pants (as opposed to skirts, not as opposed to going pantsless) every single day, and I have been so much more comfy and warm than I thought I could ever be. 
14.  Receiving a surprise valentine.  Valentines are so much more exciting when they're given on not Valentine's day!
15.  Long, lazy weekend, complete with late sleeping mornings and pajamas all day. 
16.  Learning how to lead my small group at school devotions better by listening.
17.  On that note, the chapel that spoke right to my heart yesterday.
18.  And the crazy story of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14 that keeps on showing up in my life.  "Perhaps the Lord will work in our favor." Yes!
19.  The Insagram hashtag #doginablanket, courtesy of The Daily Tay. 
20.  Little to no homework, erreday.  Hellloooo, senior year.
21.  On that note, time to laugh with friends and to work out after school and to write in this place.
22.  I don't know about you, but we've had some mighty fine sunsets where I live (ahem at like 5:30 which I'm not okay with.) Premature, yes, but they've been beautiful!
23.  Hearing two of my teachers talking about a song being "their jam."  I love it. 
24.  Getting enough sleep.
25.  Filling out job applications.  It's not that fun, but it's helping me get a job and I can get behind that.
Have a great weekend!

Why You Don't Need to Stop Procrastinating // 9 Reasons

It's Friday (you came here to check the day, right?) and I hope you're really excited about it and have a weekend of doing tons of exciting things or nothing at all or somewhere wonderful in between ahead of you.  

I, for one, am ready for the week to be over.  It's been kind of rough.

This week's events included, among other things, basketball tryouts.  It's the time of year when most of the girls that I play volleyball with during the fall begrudgingly switch to long shorts and high tops and sprinting and I resign myself to winter of making and eating cookies running the hallways or hitting the weight room and watching a lot of basketball games.  And even though almost every female basketball player I know will readily relate the horrors of running sprints or zig zag dribbling (whatever that is), every year I find this tiny part of me wishing that I could play, because eating running endless cookies laps around isn't actually as fun as it sounds.  The only problem is that basketball and I don't really know each other.  I've never played, except with my little brother in the driveway (I usually win, FYI) and I'm pretty sure I'm completely oblivious to most of the rules and all of the strategy.  This week was rough because I started thinking about everything I don't know about basketball the other day and ended up feeling pretty inadequate.  I'm trying to fix that by remembering that there are quite a few things that I do know stuff about. 

For example:  The Office, Mean Girls, how to pack the maximum amount of deliciousness and calories into dessert foods, personality types, Instagram, how to stay warm when it's -223482 degrees outside, finding the shirt I want in the sea of clothes that is my floor with my eyes half shut, standardized tests, Harry Potter, and procrastinating.  I've been especially on top of my procrastinating game lately. 

If you're feeling inadequate because of a lack of basketball / driving safely in the snow / applying the perfect cateye skills, never fear!  (Except if you can't drive safely in the snow.  That's kind of dangerous.)  You may very well be a fantastic procrastinator. 

9 Ways to Tell That You're Great at Procrastination

1 | If you have a little bit of extra time before you absolutely have to head out the door to get somewhere, you use it . . . usually to do something that takes up more than the extra time you had.  You know, like washing, drying, and curling your whole entire hair or writing a blog post.  

2 | When you hear a deadline, you count backwards as many hours as the task will take you in order to plan your time wisely.  You might even subtract an hour or two to take your amazing efficiency into account.

3 | You plan your routine around what will allow you the highest amount of procrastination time.  I.e., waking up earlier so you can lay on the couch with your dog and pretend you're procrastinating for a while before actually doing anything. 

It's especially easy to procrastinate when the dog happens to look like this. 

4 | Getting things done ahead of time, all the time makes you uncomfortable.  I tried it for like a week last year and I guess I missed the adrenaline rush of scrambling to get stuff done, because something felt off and I was force to revert to procrastinating.   

5 | You don't turn in your volleyball uniform until a week after the rest of the team and the threat of detention.  Or maybe that's just me trying to avoid the reality of basketball season. 

6 | You turn in forms the day that they're due and not a second sooner.  This includes, but is not limited to, completing three college applications in one day or whatever the grown up equivalent of that is.  

7 | You have to rake the snow off your lawn in order to start the leaf raking job that you've been putting off. 

Fin fact: this picture was taken while taking leaves.

8 | Your friends can expect their birthday present at any time within 12 months after their actual birthday.  I might still be working on a painting that I started for a friend whose birthday was in December.  

9 | The mind of those who don't regularly practice procrastination is completely baffling to you.  You find yourself saying things like "Already?" "I haven't even started that,"  or  "What are you working on?" frequently.  

Procrastination requires a very specific skill set and years and years and year and years of experience.  (I mean, procrastination takes a while.)  It takes dedication and a little bit of guts. . . kind of like basketball.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Add Social Media Buttons in Blogger // Getting Technical

If you've been around here, you've probably witnessed at least one reference to my complete lack of technological know-how.  (Most recently here.  I don't know much, but I can shamelessly link back to my own posts with the best of them.)  I would love to have the kind of brain that can read HTML like it was English and care about details enough to have everything just how it's supposed to be, but I have the opposite of that brain.  The result is that, in order to keep my blog in one piece of something that kind of resembles a blog, I've spent lots of time Youtubing different Blogger formatting techniques and Googling "How to easily blahblahblahblahah on blogger" or "shortcut for a asfkjas;lkjf widget."  Pro tip:  throwing an "easy" in front of just about any blog thing that you Google (or Bing, if you're into that) saves lots of time.  

If you're as averse to computery stuff as me, you'll appreciate this method of doing things.  It involves no know-how in regards to HTML code whatsoever and doesn't take too long - for me, the hardest part was finding social media buttons that I liked!  You can watch the video that I learned this stuff from here , or if you prefer words I've got the steps written out for you!  Happy blog layouting!

Step 1 | Download social media buttons that you like. 
Surf Pinterest and all the internet places for social media icons.  I prefer the free kind; here are some of my personal favorites:  these, these, these, and these.  You can make your own, too, if you can't find anything to fit your blog or are feeling adventurous.  That's what I did, using Picmonkey.   Once you've picked out the perfect style for your blog, download the icons and save them so that you can easily find them again. 

Step 2 | Insert the icons as picture in a blog post. 
In Blogger, start a new blog post.  In the top left corner of the new post window, just below the title of your blog, there are two buttons:  Compose and HTML.  The default setting for creating a blog post is the compose option, so click the HTML button to switch to HTML mode.  (This keeps the icons aligned correctly and eliminates unneeded space between the images.)  Insert all of the social media buttons that you're going to use in our blog layout.  

Step 3 | Link images to your social media pages. 
Switch back to compose mode by clicking the button in the top lefthand corner of the window.  You should now be able to see the images that you have inserted into your blog post.  Now, link each icon to its appropriate social media page.  (For example, navigate to your Twitter profile page on your computer.  Copy the text that appears in the search bar when you are on your profile page.  In the blog post with the social media icons, click on the Twitter icon.  Then, click the Link button in the toolbar.  In the window that appears, paste the URL to your Twitter profile in the box labeled, "To what URL should this link go?" and click OK.)  Do this for all of the social media icons that you will be using.  

Step 4 | Insert icons into blog layout. 
Keep your new blog post open.  Open up Blogger again in a separate window.  From the Blogger home page, click the drop down arrow for the blog that you are inserting your social media icons into and select layout.  In the layout editing page, click a box that says "Add a Gadget" in the area of your blog that you want your social media icons to appear.  Choose the "HTML/Java script" option from the list of gadgets (it's the 11th one down.)  Click back to your new blog post and switch to HTML mode.  Copy the entire HTML code and paste it into the "Content" box of the HTML/Java script gadget window and click save.  Your social media buttons should now appear on your blog and will navigate to your social media accounts when you click on them! 

Step 5 | Not publishing or deleting your new blog post.
Save your new blog post as a draft so that the code for your icons is available in case of emergency.  I named my post "Social Media Icons - Do Not Publish Or Delete!!!" and that's working pretty well so far.  

I hope this was helpful to you!  If you have any questions or if I've left anything out, please let me know so that I can fix it. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Most Important Thing // On Brokenness and Hope

You know when you're talking to someone about something and you can tell that they really are just not interested in what you have to say?  Like Kelly from The Office? I'll tell you now that this post might involve a lot of The Office references, because I've watched a record number of episodes this weekend thanks to Netflix on my phone.  For those of you who haven't ever watched The Office, 1. Get Netflix on your phone or anywhere you can get it right now. 2. Kelly sometimes goes on these long, really girly monologues and whoever she's talking to usually really doesn't care.  So now you're all caught up until I reference something else.  I'll try to keep it to a minimum. 

  .            (That's Kelly up there ^^^^^^^^)
When it comes to certain topics, I can sometimes feel like I'm Kelly and God is Ryan.  And Jim.  And Michael.  And everyone else who doesn't really care that much about what Kelly has to say.  I know that God cares about me, but there are some aspects of my life that I just don't think are a big deal to him.  I think we all have them, whether it's how our sports team does or what we eat or what kinds of grades we get.  Somehow, the things that constitute a big part of our lives seem much too small to even register on the radar of our all-powerful God. 

For the longest time, I was convinced that my relationships were one of those things.  I don't know when the idea entered my mind, but I assumed that friend drama, family disagreements, and boy trouble didn't matter that much to God.  I thought that since He knows so much, my little human conflicts wouldn't matter to him similarly to the way that a child's struggles can seem minute to an adult.  Through some circumstances in my life, I got to know God better.  I got to know that not only does God care about my relationships, but they are of utmost importance to him. 

You see, God works in relationships.  That's how He gets into the hearts of His people and it's how He shows up in amazing ways.  I mean, He created us to relationship (that's a verb now) with Himself and the people around us, after all.  One of his first projects after man was made was to establish the companionship between husband an wife.  His entire plan for salvation was based on reconstructing a relationship that the people He loved had dashed to pieces.  So, um, I think that He most certainly cares, very deeply, about the way I connect with other people.  

That knowledge is so comforting in a world that brings heartache in waves and where relationships stand gingerly on a basis of fragile human merit.  To know that God is the creator of relationships and kind of an expert at fixing them, along with the now undeniable fact that He always desires for bonds to be forged instead of broken, has allowed me to walk on rocky seas of angry words and miscommunications and hurt hearts over and over again.  When I'm running out of my own reserves of hope for a situation, all I have to do is go to God's heart for that hope to be renewed again, because I know that, above all, God is a God of wholeness and love and community, and that He is always working to that end. 

I was reminded of that truth again yesterday morning over coffee at our weekly Sunday morning family Bible study.  We were working through 2 Samuel 14 on a whim of my little sister.  I don't know if you know it?  It's one of many parts of the Bible that deals with the ungodly actions of King David's kids; it starts out with a rape and a murder and ends with a beautiful reunion.  David's son, Absalom, has just killed his brother (after that brother had raped his own sister, mind you) and run away from his father and his kingdom.  One of David's higher-ups, Joab, in an effort to reunite father and son, sends a woman to talk some sense into David, who isn't acting to bring his son back.  (There's a lot more to it than that, but we won't go into it right now.)  The woman speaks to David of God's heart, saying, 

"But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast."                                                                                               
   -2 Samuel 14:14b

It takes a lot of encouragement from Joab and more than two years of waiting, but eventually what the woman says proves true:  God orchestrates a plan that brings David and his son back together into the closeness that God intended originally, because that is what's at God's heart.  That is what He cares about. 

As usual, God's timing is perfect and this reminder came just as I am struggling through a hurting friendship of my own.  In the face of what seems like overwhelming damage, it's really, really hard not to simply give up in favor of an easier path.  With God, though, hope enters the picture.  I know that He is big enough to overcome any obstacle; He knows the words that need to be said and He, the potter, can soften hearts of clay.  I know that with Him, things are possible that never would be otherwise.  That's probably the most important, amazing, counter intuitive thing about God and relationships:  only when they're broken beyond repair can God truly show his full capacity to restore and bring us to experience Him to the fullest.  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pictures of Elephants and Cookies for Days // The Sunday Paper

Sundays are for church, long walks, big dinners, last-minute homework, and clicking all the links.  I can provide for one of the four (and, no, I will not be making my specialty (that'd be these brownies) for dinner tonight.)

Isn't this beautiful?  And the story behind it makes things even better.

 Tiffany Han is doing one of the coolest things I think I've ever heard of, ever.  As in, she's making me actually want to get rejected 100 times.

 "I would like to look at this from a perspective of not being idle or a gossip/ busybody at any stage of our lives as women who have surrendered to Christ. Because really, we have so much more to aspire to. ...There is a major difference between investing in friendships and inquiring (or stalking), thinking ' "what's her deal?" '." She's so right.

True confessions.  One brave blogger stops lying to herself ... and then shares it with the world.

What do you think? This is a tough one.

Taylor Swift has me singing nonstop and making plans to book a plane or a train or walk or whatever it takes to see her in person.  Multiple times, if possible.  And I'm completely justified - here's why!

I made the chocolate chip version of these this week and was told that they had "the perfect texture and THE ABSOLUTE  most proportional cookie to chocolate chip ratio, EVER!" (At which point I humbly accepted praise for the recipe that I obviously invented myself.)  So, her you go: all the pudding cookie recipes.

Have the best Sunday ever!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Time I Got Trapped in the Meijer Bathroom // Survival 101

Pre-post half hearted apology note:  Meijer, I'm sorry that you struggle with bathroom maintenance.  I'm sure that, most of the time, your bathrooms are well cared for and prepared to be used; I probably just came at a bad time.  Please don't take this personally. 

I generally choose not to believe most of what I hear about public restrooms because, well, sometimes I have to go.  When I'm in public.  And if I knew everything there is to know about public restrooms AND BELIEVED IT, I'd probably never use one again, which would add a lot of unnecessary discomfort to my life.  I choose not to believe that I can get diseases from the toilet seat or that the soap dispenser is teeming with germs, and, as of today, what I do or don't know hasn't hurt me.  Most of the time, I'd recommend ignoring most unreasonable warnings and just going to the bathroom.

And then yesterday happened.  No, I didn't get a deadly disease from the toilet seat - that warning can still be ignored.  I just got trapped inside the bathroom stall.  Let me explain.

I had just stopped at my local Meijer to buy some produce.  Dun dun duuuuuuun.  I'd had a bottle of water and cup of coffee on the way (it's a 10-minute drive - don't ask me how that happened) and so obviously the bathroom had to come first.  I headed to the very clearly marked bathroom, which was otherwise unoccupied giving me free reign to choose the absolute cleanest, most sanitary stall available.  It wasn't until it was too late that I realized I had made the wrong choice.  My stall was out of toilet paper. 

I was trapped!  What was I supposed to do?  It was every bit as horrible as it sounds.  I asked out loud if there was anyone else in the bathroom, hoping that someone else had come in or had been hiding when I first arrived.  Nope.  I tried to send a text to my friend who was at Meijer with me.  Did you know that T-Mobile doesn't cover the Meijer bathroom?  No again.  I started considering other options.  Would it be better to crawl under the divider between the two stalls or to make a mad dash around the outside?  Maybe I could reach far enough to grab some toilet paper from the stall next to me. 

Fortunately, just as I was preparing to execute my best plan of action (run into the stall next to me as quickly as possible seemed like the winner so far) my text miraculously sent and my friend came and saved the day.  We decided that there is most definitely a market for travel-sized toiled paper in case of emergency, thanks to our school janitor and Meijer.  Next time you use a public restroom, don't worry about how gross it is; worry about whether you'll be able to get out or not! Or bring a friend.  You're welcome.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Her Tragedy; Our Action // Do Something

It's the kind of thing that we don't like to think about, let alone speak of.  It's the news that sank my heart in an instant and made me so painfully award of how helpless and finite I am, and we are.  It threw a shadow over a school and showed two hundred and twenty-two students that life is so much more complicated than they ever thought or hoped it would be.
She killed herself.
The words themselves sound ugly; they talk about such a horrible tragedy, something that was never, ever meant to be.  A person who seemed to always have an uplifting word to say and who so, so many people called friend isn't supposed to just stop.  High school students were made for living, for laughing with friends and learning to drive and going to football games and dreaming about the future; those days aren't supposed to be cut short and we all know it, and I think that's why the reality of suicide sits especially uneasily with us.  We know, instinctively, that something has gone wrong in the very worst way.
She was clinically depressed, that's what they said.  That's the cut-and-dry explanation, the one that's supposed to make everything clear and wrap it all up in a neat package to be filed away so that we can go on living comfortably.  But for friends and family and anyone who's touched on what happened, that explanation isn't nearly enough, and I'm glad it's not.  I don't want to be comfortable if it involves turning a blind eye when a teenage girl is driven, for whatever reason (it doesn't matter) to take her own life.  I hope that being faced with a harsh, hard reality makes us uncomfortable enough to get involved when we see things like this going on.  
As I scroll through my Instagram and Facebook and talk to friends, I'm encouraged by the love that I see expressed for her and her family.  The support pours out to overflowing, and it's absolutely incredible.   To be completely honest, though, the paragraphs upon paragraphs of kind, kind words, and even the words I'm writing right now, also make me sick to my stomach, because they're a couple days too late.  We didn't know that she needed them, and that hurts me more still - as I watch yet another repetition of the cycle of tragedy and coping, tragedy and coping, I find myself wishing that someone would show up and break it.  It seems like I've gotten better at dealing with the aftermath, but I'm so slow to do anything that could change a situation for the better before it gets worse.  I'm good at talking, but doing is something that I'd much rather leave to someone else.   The world, as a whole, is great at talking and analyzing events; we're experts in speculation and could probably graduate with high honors from the school of  Knowing What's Going On; however, we aren't as good at paying attention to people - something has, indeed, gone wrong in the very worst way.  That's not to say that heartbreaking things can't happen under the watch of the most compassionate and attentive of people; they can and do, because life's not the way God made it to be anymore.  It is to say, though, that hurt and destruction erupt too often without our notice, and the world keeps spinning smoothly on its axis while all over things are anything but smooth.
My prayer for this situation is that it would move us to action; that we'd be unwilling to let another moment pass in which we could have done something and didn't.  I hope (and maybe this is morbid but I don't care) that she'd stick in our minds to the point that we can't help but take the very next chance to say the words we've been meaning to or do that thing that we know we should, and that because of it we change the way we act.  I want us to care to the point that her death deeply affects us, even if we didn't know her.  I don't want her life and death to be for nothing.  What I want most, and what I think really has to happen, is for us to take a long enough break from our worried discussion and endless speculation to finally do something.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Am Committing a Faux Post // Blogger Appreciation Day


I'm bringing up the topic of blogging today.  Here.  On a blog.  And while I don't personally have a problem with blog posts about blogging, word on the street is that it's a sin on the same plane as wearing your 100% Target-bought outfit to Target.  Or maybe wearing your Target outfit in front of a friend who doesn't have Target where she lives? 

 Something like that.  Come to think of it, I don't really have a problem with doing those things, either.  Clearly I have no sense of propriety, but that's okay because it allows me the freedom to charge right into the faux pas at hand and enjoy it thoroughly.  If ignorance is bliss, knowing and not caring is a close second.  

Remember that next time you go clicking around the internet, looking for things that you're not completely sure you want.  Before you Google, "free ebooks about blogging." Because you will find free ebooks and you will find them by the zillions, and they will all be filled with invaluable information presented by the 10,000 brightest minds in all of the blogosphere.  And then . . . 

Just kidding, it doesn't work that way.  While you don't stand any danger of getting chlamydia from blogger pro tips, you do run the risk of thinking that you need to not only read them all, but commit them to memory and adopt them as your life's mantra.  That's what just happened to me, and it kind of messed with me.  By the time I clicked the last red x on the last of the "10 Free Blogging EBooks You Must Read" I had no idea what in the world I was supposed to write a post about.  I'm supposed to be controversial enough to spark conversation, but respectfully controversial - I don't want to offend anyone, because blog readers these days are just waiting to close out the window and make my words disappear as soon as they don't like them.  Which begs the question:  What am I writing for?  Am I writing to spread ideas to the entire internet-using world, or do I just want to tell a couple close friends about my SAT experience? (Not that I'd probably do that anyway, because the only notable thing that happened was me not being able to find the room.)  Do I even care if people close out my window? 

 Should I? 

On top of that, there's all of that technical, computery stuff that my brain is just not good at.  I don't know if the concept of RSS feeds is supposed to be simple, but trying to grasp what exactly they are and how they affect my blog made my head hurt.  Learning HTML is like learning some dead ancient language from a Mandarin-speaking teacher: just about as foreign and out-of-reach as it gets.  (Background information: I speak neither dead ancient nor Mandarin.)  And all of these blog-analyzing websites and hosts?  What even is Alexa?  And how do I convert people?  Blogging is sooooo not just about writing.  

I'm not telling you about all of the blogging things that I'm bad at to gain sympathy. (Although if you're feeling compassionate, chocolate might be a nice pick-me-up.)  I'd just like to share my amazement that there are actually people out there who are good at this stuff.  Like, really good.  And after learning what a huge blogging world  it is out there, I think they deserve some recognition. 

My hat's off to you, HTML interpreters and page view converters.  May your fingers never grow tired of HTML coding things and your conversion rate never slip below 95%.  GIF masters and RSS feed-ers, you rock.  May your GIFS run smoothly and your RSS feed do exactly what RSS feeds are meant to do, whatever unfathomable thing that might be.  (If you know things about RSS feeds and want to tell me, I'd owe ya one forever.)  Most Popular Bloggers - may your thousands of readers grow to become hundreds of thousands, your hundreds of thousands become millions, until everyone who speaks your language reads your blog.  May the demand to read your blog be so great that you have to hire a guy to translate it into other languages, including, but not limited to, dead ancient ones and Mandarin Chinese.  May your posts look really, really cool in Mandarin Chinese.  

May you have the balance to effectively walk the line between consistency and boredom, boldness and jerkiness, honesty and way-too-much-honesty.  May your blog posts never be too long or too short.  May you always create content that is useful and interesting.  May you write promotion posts that people actually enjoy. 

MAY YOU - ahem.  I don't know where this turned into some kind of blogger blessing, but it happened so let's just hope that it comes true and not let it weird us out, okay? Because apparently "weirding-out" is something that can cause people to sentence me to the red x, and while I'm still a little unclear on whether I'm supposed to care about that or not, I'd like to keep my options open.  After all, blogging is hard, and I can use all the help I can get.  Especially with that dang RSS feed. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Being #Blessed and Empty Gold // The Sunday Paper

It's Sunday, and I'm happily in sweatpants and a thick sweater and drinking hot chocolate on the pull out couch (which is a lot more comfortable that it sounds) - I hope this finds you in a similar situation.  Assuming that you are, you have a second to talk about some of my favorite / most thought-provoking / yummiest internet finds this week, right?  Let's do it.  

Something to think about:

"There are about 50 words and phrases I'd like to banish from the vocabulary of the North American Church forever and ever - 'missions/missional/missionary' and 'it's a God thing' among them - but way up there at the top of my list is the term “blessed” . . . We've created a culture in which we measure God's “blessings” in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being."

"Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could meet a nice girl that shares your values and settle down." 
                                                                                  BRIAN KAMMERZELT, "THE MOST ELIGIBLE CHRISTIAN BACHELOR"
"Fatal diagnoses. They're suffering in themselves. The choices, the conversations, the preparing one's self. It's terrifying, it's humbling, it's real life shit. So why, in our self-righteousness, must we add our opinions to the mix?" 

Something to listen to:

You may already know electro-pop's freshest face, Halsey, from her singles "Ghost," and "Hurricane."  She recently released her debut EP, Room 93, and I can't stop thanking her for it!  I mean, we don't really talk, but if we did our conversations would definitely be mostly me praising her profusely for her newly-released five song collection.  It's got her first two singles plus three more simple, powerful tracks that have the music world holding its breath to listen.  Here, check it out - this one's my personal favorite!

Someone you should meet:
Everyone from Delight, which is my new favorite internet place to be.  I mean, look at them.  They all just hang around wearing stylish coordinating outfits and laughing together and being creative and blogging about God, so if I can't be them, I am definitely forcing my friendship on one and all.  Their space is dedicated to God and the creative arts, and it is just lovely.  

Peter Kassig, also known as the guy who was helping bring aid to Syria over a year ago when he was taken by Islamic terror group Isis.  We've heard about his parents' efforts to bring him home, the implications of doing so.  We don't really know him, though - if you haven't yet, read these words  written by one of Kassig's friends overseas.   

(image from here)

A one-step plan to breaking your diet:

Candy corn in a cookie.  Ohh, my gosh, do you need this in your life.  The recipe comes from here originally, but I made a couple small changes and it's all right here so you can spend less time clicking and more time making and eating candy corn cookies. 

YIELD: About 20 cookies PREP: 10 minutes IN THE OVEN: 8 minutes TOTAL: 3 hours, because chilling


1/2 cup unsalted butter, soften
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg                                                                                                                                                  1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract                                                                    
2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 1/2 cups candy corn (1o to 11 ounces)
1 cup white chocolate chips (or salted peanuts)                                                         


  1. Beat butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, peanut butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer until it's all light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the next 5 ingredients (through optional salt), and mix on low with the mixer or use a wooden spoon until just combined, or about 1 minute.  Don't overmix it!
  3. Add the candy corn, white chocolate chips (or peanuts), and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Form dough into 20 ish heaping mounds. Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter. Important note - make sure the candy corn is on the top or middle of the cookie.  Otherwise, it will melt and stick to the pan or burn.  It might be best to place the candy corn on top of each cookie after placing them on the cookie sheet instead of mixing it into the dough.  
  5. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a cookie sheet. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Cookies will become firmer as they cool, so take them out when they look just a little too soft.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet  for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack so that they can finish cooking.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Desire Which Nothing Can Satisfy // Chasing After God

Did your jaw just drop?  Mine definitely did when I read that quote yesterday.  Recently, God's been teaching me a lot about how to let him satisfy my needs, and it's really cool and so different from anything that I've ever learned about God before.  Part of letting God satisfy my needs, every single one of them, is to get rid of anything else that I'm using to fill the space in me where God should be.  It's what Elisha did when he literally burned his ticket to earthly success and cooked his livelihood for dinner over the bonfire. 

"So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant." 
1 Kings 19:19-21

This idea of giving up things that keep me from depending on God in order to follow him better isn't something that I figured out myself.  It's coming at me from a couple of awesome Jesus books that I'm ready (and, of course, actual Jesus), and God's used them to show me some things in my life that I desperately need to get rid of if my goal is truly to follow him.  As I work my way through the areas that needed cleaning up, I'm faced with hard decisions followed by difficult actions.  I've had conversations that have left me breathless and my heart pounding on my rib cage like it's trying to bust out of there.  Apparently, following God is anything but easy - it's downright uncomfortable.  It is nothing like anything I've ever done.

It's not just the official giving up of the God-substitutes that's hard, though; it's sticking to that decision once I've made it.  Unlike Elisha's plows, most of the things that I attempt to put in God's place aren't burnable.  Committing to keeping them out of God's place isn't the end of it, even if I tell my friends so that they can hold me accountable and try to keep myself out of situations that will tempt me.  It takes a lot of self-control; in fact, self-control is pretty much the key to chasing God day after day after day, forever.   Broken record here:  self-control. is. hard.  I'm seeing that first hand as I struggle with keeping my commitments, and the fact that self-control is so unnatural to me forces me to rely on God to give the willpower that I so do not have.

Despite the struggle, or maybe because of it, learning how to follow God is exhilarating.  Doing scary things makes life exciting, doesn't it?  Also, doing things that I know matter in the long run . . . that makes life satisfying.  It's humbling, because I keep messing up, and it's making me thankful, because God keeps on picking me up.

Maybe you have something that you know is keeping you from being like Jesus?  A hard, potentially (in my case, probably) awkward conversation that needs to be had or a habit that needs to be kicked?  I'd recommend praying about it, and hope that God calls you to act on it.  I highly recommend that as well, by the way. //



P.S. M from The Life of Little Me was awesome and nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award.  I got a chance to check out her blog, and I liked it a lot and I sometimes like to share things that I like so here ya go: click here, here, and here to read some of my personal favorites!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Are You Looking At? // The Image Issue

HAPPY SATURDAY!  Saturday is one of the few days that I can almost always slap a "Happy" in front of in complete sincerity, because it usually means that there's either something fun or nothing at all going on all day, and that is like a new TSwift single to my ears.  Well, like the "Style" kind of TSwfit, not the "Welcome to New York' kind - I'm just not feeling that one as much.  That's me being extremely picky, though.  If we're being honest here, and we usually are, I've done little but listen to 1989 on super repeat for the last few days since its release.  In the shower?  "Clean" is blasting.  "Style" plays while I'm choosing my outfit in the morning, and it's all about "Blank Space" while I stare at my computer screen trying to create some more bad puns.

All of this intense Taylor time has lead to an extreme lack of productivity.  Like, I may have gone to school without a lunch this week as an indirect result of my obsession.  (Don't worry, I have a dad who works at my high school and usually lends me money for lunch when I'm on the brink of starvation.)  It's not just the fact that I'm constantly listening to every song as closely as possible in order to get all of the lyrics down, though.  It's also the fact that the music is on my phone, and so my phone is with me constantly, along with all of the fun little distracting features it has.  Exhibit A:  Instagram.  I have spent more time than I care to admit with that app lately . . . you know how that goes, don't you?  You scroll through your feed and then you click the little explore button and find a bunch of people you kind of know and before you can double tap you're at school the next morning without lunch.  I promise there's a point to this, that point being that the extra Instagram time I've been logging has ended in me seeing some really, really sad stuff.

It's Saturday, and it would definitely be easier to sit here and argue the merit of "Style" vs. "Welcome to New York" until the clock strikes midnight, but we've got to talk about other things.  Things like the fact that there are dozens and dozens of Instagram accounts around which were created for the sole purpose of validating anorexia, and that I scrolled through one of them while Taylor was singing her face off on my phone the other night and it broke my heart. 

I don't know if you've ever seen anything like it - pictures of girls with flat, flat stomachs and a thigh gap; pledges to eat less than 500 calories for the next 30 days tied to hope for satisfaction; hashtags like #suicide, #cutting, #anatipsandtricks to bring together everyone who's struggling so hard.  Impossibly low goal weights, unattainable body types, and most of all a scattered collage of broken people.  Overwhelmingly female teenage people, girls who are beautiful and talented and loved and, from the looks of things, don't know it at all.  

I don't know a lot about anorexia.  I know that it starts with a simple choice but quickly grows to become a disease that takes more than a choice to get rid of.  I know that it's destructive - to the body, of course, but also to the mind and relationships of the person affected.  I know that it can be triggered by a huge variety of things, and I know that it's been a big, scary black hole in the lives of people that I'm close to.  I know that many times, it's tied to some kind of deeper hurt or emptiness, and that a lot of people who are in that place are searching desperately for a way out.  

My chance happening across that Instagram account left me with an acute sense of wanting to do something about it.  I'm under no delusion that me writing a blog post about why anorexia is horrible and every girl who has struggled with it should just go eat a sandwich because she's beautiful no matter what the scale says is going to do any good.  I really don't have any business writing something like that; I've never walked in those shoes, so I can't pretend to know how they fit.  I'm writing for those of us who have friends who need our support, for myself and for you.  I don't know a lot about anorexia, but I've got to think that it's got something to do with the culture we're immersed in and that we, the people who create the culture, can do something to change that. 

Something like complementing our friends on the way they talk and act instead of the way they look.  I mean, what message does it send to my friend when I frequently tell her that she looks good, but keep silent when it comes to her kindness to other people or how creative she is?  Building each other up is vitally important, but I think we're doing it wrong.  We'd never, ever say in so many words that we choose our friends based on how they look or that their worth comes from their long hair and perfect body, but the way we complement them sends a totally different message.  

Looks are only important as indicators of where the heart's at.  For example, if I start to gain or loose a lot of weight and break out a lot, the problem isn't that I'm too fat or too skinny and acne-prone; the problem is whatever's causing that.  Maybe I'm overwhelmed or depressed or angry, and that's causing me to turn to food for comfort.  As friends, that's really the only reason that a person's appearance or weight ever deserves to receive much attention.  We need to care about what our friends look like only if that's helping us to better care for their other needs and to give attention to a place where they're hurting.  We should be able to put whatever presumptions we have about what people should look like aside in order to get a better look at what's really going on with them and to build them up as they need it. 

Phrases like, "I look so fat in that picture," or "I wish I was as skinny as you are!", too.  Those have to go.  It seems safe enough to self-deprecate in front of our friends - it will make them feel better about themselves to know that we think they're prettier, right?  Wrong.  All those words do is contribute to a culture that worships appearance and laughs at anyone who doesn't.  We've all had our skinny friend make a negative comment about her weight and wondered what that says about us, right?  That's what talking ourselves down in front of other people does - that attitude spreads, like a really dangerous mental wildfire.  Demeaning thoughts can't be allowed to enter our minds, take root, and escape our mouths anymore.  

This all sounds good, but in reality, it's really hard to act this way.  Most of us, I think, are so immersed in a society that tries with everything that it has to put outward appearances first and foremost that it's hard to behave apart from it.  The truth is that I'll probably publish this post with full intentions to be a blogger of my word and ignore what people look like, then turn around and mess up within the hour.  It won't be easy to make changes that affect everything from the way we interact to the way we think, but it is so, so worth it.  To have friends that focus on one another's unique abilities and traits and care for each other on a deep level? To have an entire culture that shifts its gaze from the outside in?  To make Instagram accounts that encourage image-driven starvation obsolete?  I'm more than willing to give it a shot!  You, too? Great.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...