Thursday, December 26, 2013

truth

 
Freedom had been hunted round the globe;
reason was considered as rebellion;
and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth,
that all it asks, and all it wants,
is the liberty of appearing.

~ Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

Friday, December 20, 2013

more completed reading

In an effort not to post anything about Phil Robertson or where Christmas really came from, I shall post about the last three books I've read.

Night by Elie Wiesel
This one was really sad. Eleazar Wiesel was just a boy when his family was crammed into a cattle car and shipped off to Auschwitz. Wiesel was a devout Jew, praying and studying for hours a day. Suddenly, in this Holocaust hellishness, he comes face to face with doubt. Doubt in the God he's always been praying to, doubt that he will be able to stay strong enough for his father, and doubt that he will ever make it out of this alive. He does, but not before watching his father die, along with his faith in God. This book, while beautifully written, really shows the awful hopelessness of someone who has not made Jesus his savior. When there is no solid foundation, the moment trouble comes, any "faith" cannot stand the test. 

Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns by Glenn Beck
If I read anything even slightly political, I usually get my brain tied into a knot within the first chapter. That's how confusing it is, or how uninformed I am. :P Glenn Beck is my new best friend for actually writing stuff that is understandable to an average 20-yr-old violin player. This book is not one to read in one sitting. He divides it into two parts, with the first taking up the majority of the book. Basically he lists many accusations or controversies on the whole gun control issue and then counters them with stats, quotes, and of course, his own opinions. All his sources are listed in the back for further research. Obviously, we like to read or listen to people we know we agree with already, and while I already shared most of the author's thoughts on gun control, I now had significant stats to back them up. Very, very good book.


Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government by Glenn Beck
I tell ya, I like this guy. Something about his sarcasm and satire just kind of lures me in every time.... This book was even better than the previous one. The presentation is awesome. Glossy, colorful pages full of hilarious comics, "A.D.D. Moments," and caricatures of *ahem* the man in the White House all make this highly educational book a super fun read. Each subject is a different chapter - "The Constitution," "Unions" (that one was awesome!), "Owning a House," etc. He follows a style similar to the Control book, taking assumptions or arguments and following them with statistics, quotes, and history. Thick book, but totally awesome. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Psalm 73

I like to think of myself as on a spiritual plateau, even though I know our spiritual life is a river: you're either paddling upstream or lazily floating down. It's like staring at a water bottle when you've just chugged one. It's not like you don't like water; you're just not thirsty. I feel like there are so many things I already know to work on that reading the Bible would just throw another 20 things on the pile that already feels impossible. I feel like the typical teenage "question everything" hit me kinda late, and now I want to know just why I do what I do, why I think what I think, why my first answers are my first answers. I've read my Bible through 5 or 6 times now, I think. And yet, when I read Psalm 73 for the first time in a while a month ago or so, it felt like the first time reading it EVER. It's like Asaph (or whoever wrote that one in particular) crawled into my heart and did a sketch of what he found. I don't need proof that the Bible is a living book. It's intensely personal and definitely not out-dated! Here is Psalm 73 in its King James glory. It's ugly, it's exposed, it's truthful, it's victorious, it's hopeful. Someone poured out his heart thousands of years ago and this morning I'm logging in to a computer, and copy-pasting to my blog. It's still alive, and so is the God Asaph prayed to.

     Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 
     Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
       Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 
     Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. 
     Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 
     Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

my favorite things...from Trader Joe's

Brought to you tonight by a cold and slightly bored 20-year-old who recently started loving this hippie, left-winger store. Let's face it. They have a huge organic selection and pretty good prices, and all that fun chalk art and lettering? Totally cool. 

So here we go. My favorite things to get from Trader Joe's:

1. Organic Mini Cheese Crackers
2. Organic Fruit Leathers
3. Organic Vanana Yogurt
4. Mandarin Orange Chicken
5. Chicken Fried Rice
6. Organic Super Sweet Corn

Do you shop at Trader Joe's? Do you find it worth it moneywise? What are your favorite things to get there?




Friday, November 29, 2013

completed reading

Being sick for almost a week + a holiday + a great library 10 min. away + Goodreads = TIME TO READ! 

1. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
This was required reading for the Suzuki Book 4 training I recently completed. This non-fiction book is written by a guy who wanted to know: where does "talent" come from? What's the secret of getting really good at something? He traveled all over the world observing students and coaches in all areas of the arts: music, sports, etc., and relates the patterns he found. 
What I liked: Daniel Coyle wrote a sciencey book without it feeling suffocating, dry, or incomprehensible. He compiled lots of awesome quotes by famous artists, and included stories of well-known performers today. His revelations helped give me ideas of how I could be a better student AND teacher. 
What I didn't like: Apparently Mr. Coyle believes entirely in evolution and fate, as these were two themes heavily mentioned. As a Christian, I know that it is God that gives ability and strength to persevere and become good at something, and He is the One that created this myelin within us that helps us remember what we need to know through practice. The book also contains some colorful language which makes me glad I don't have to read it again. :P

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This beautiful work of fiction tells the story of a young girl (Liesel) who gets adopted by a German couple during the Holocaust. Shortly after their little family is formed, they are forced to hide a friend of the family, a Jew, in their basement. Through her new-found love of reading and her friendship with the Jewish boy, Max, Liesel learns about love, death, and continuing to live strong in the face of terror. 
What I liked: First of all, Mr. Zusak has an unbelievably raw and gorgeous style of writing. He personifies death, and does it so beautifully and understandably that it will stick with you long after you finish reading. He believes in leaving "a nugget on every page," and he has done just that. Very deep thoughts. Although the way he personifies death is my favorite part of the book, I also appreciate the many different ways love is portrayed. Not everyone shows or needs love in the same way, and Markus lets us look into lots of windows of people's hearts here. 
What I didn't like: Real and relevant as it may be, I never like to read about dysfunctional families. The German couple has marriage problems, the wife has a foul mouth, and their true son leaves home after arguing with his father. Obviously, from the title, Liesel begins stealing books to quench her thirst for reading in a time when Germans did not allow any literature apart from propaganda. While the person she's stealing from knows she's doing it and doesn't mind, it does not make it okay. 

3. The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel
A minister's daughter, Livvy, is found pregnant out-of-wedlock and is sent away to Colorado to marry a bean farmer, Ray, who believes this situation may be God's will for everyone. Although Ray loves Livvy and her unborn baby from Day 1, it takes a little over a year, lots of deep self-evaluation, and learning to rebuild trust for Livvy to return his love and realize that, with forgiveness and love, she can have a fresh start. 
What I liked: Ray to me was a picture of Christ's amazing redemptive love for people who have known what was right and instead chose to sin. His faithful, calm, and quiet love for Livvy made me ever more grateful for God's great love for us. I also loved Creel's descriptive writing style. Not overly flowery but fresh and interesting. 
What I didn't like: Livvy never really talks of God except to mention she had turned her back on Him, and her regret over the entire situation is more of a sorry-for-herself thing, instead of viewing it from a Christian point of view and asking forgiveness of the Lord. Also, although it is brief, there is a section not recommended to unmarried people, especially. If you've read Christy, you know what I mean. 

4. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
America has been gone for about 20 years, and now the Republic is in its place. Emmeline's father has died and her mother has just been taken away, so she must learn to live in the completely controlled, oppressive, totalitarian world alone except for her partner, David. When the time comes for David, Emmeline, and her daughter Elsa to escape, will they make it past all the guards, Gatekeepers, and Authority leaders to the unknown world of freedom that lives just beyond the fence? 
What I liked: Suspenseful and Animal Farm scary, Glenn gets his point across clearly without preaching. The whole idea was to open people's minds to the idea of Agenda 21, the wording of which is softly trickling in to some big cities' plans here in the U.S. Awareness is the first step, and by writing a novel with Agenda 21 taken to the extreme, he gets people's attention and (hopefully) opens their eyes to what the world could someday become if no one speaks up. 
What I didn't like: Obviously, this book is a slightly disturbing one, as it's supposed to be. Innuendo and mild language add to the conclusion that this is 100% not a book for children or even young adults. Highly recommended, however, for more mature readers. 



So, as I always ask, what have you read or been reading? Any suggestions? Hey...and let's be friends on Goodreads, 'kay? :)


Friday, November 15, 2013

thoughts

Winter is coming and I can't wait. Fall was weird this year. Less like a friend and more like a mysterious question. 

Family doesn't necessarily mean you're related by blood. Can you love, laugh, care for, accept, pray with, cry with them? They're family.

Death is a new beginning, both for the dead and the living. 

You're given thousands of second chances every day. Notice them.

Just because the skies are gray doesn't mean the day is. Splash it with your own color. Prisms of blessings are everywhere, but only you can take the time to shine light through to make them noticeable. 

These are the days for poetry. Break out the Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. 

Anticipate the holidays. Make gift lists and plans early. Meditate on what you love and appreciate about your friends and family so spending time with them is an anticipated joy. 

Don't ever forget to give thanks. Not everyone woke up healthy, or with a husband or mother or father, or warmth, or all their limbs. You're blessed beyond measure. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

and so it begins.

My Grandpa Paul died tonight. 

This is Day 1 of eternity for him. 

Thank you for praying for him, if you did. While I expected this, it still was shocking to hear, and really it still doesn't feel real. 

Just wanted you to know. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

it's one of those days.

Because next to no one reads this little space where I randomly, haphazardly throw my thoughts into the cosmos, I often feel free to do just that. No one reads, no one comments, or if they do, I don't know about it, so I might as well just be me and get words off my chest.

I just got home from a perfectly flowing day. In spite of getting out of bed 20 minutes later than I had planned, everything was on schedule. I showered, threw dinner in the crockpot (it's some serious comfort food), drove to Naperville to visit my grandma in the hospital, drove to Bolingbrook to get stuff printed out, drove to Aurora to finalize permit garbage, and got home before 1 PM. As I'm getting out of the car, my mom calls and tells me my grandpa (who just had lung cancer surgery) is in the ICU on a ventilator because his breathing stopped, and he has abdominal bleeding. This is in addition to several other complications that have arisen since having the surgery. 

I'm calm. I don't cry on the phone. I have that terrible habit sometimes of keeping my voice the same so I don't upset the person I'm talking to, then melting as soon as I'm alone. As soon as I hung up and got in the door I crashed. My throat hurts. Where do all these tears come from? Verses, doubts, trust, anger - it all surges. Everything all mixed together. I like things organized and in labeled folders. I'm not ready for this. 

Both sides of my family have died from some form of cancer. Seriously. Almost all of them. When I was old enough to finally understand, this fact is what prompted my obsession with the more organic, natural way of eating, especially. I hate hospitals. I've been to the doctor only twice since I was 8 years old (that's 12 years). Needles and surgery and mistakes and money. I hate it all. 

So my grandpa's in the ICU in AL. My grandma is in the hospital recovering from a double mastectomy (cancer strikes again). These are my only grandparents. My dad's parents both died of cancer in just a few weeks - one in 1993, the other in 2007. I'm really and truly tired of cancer destroying and taking my family. 

While visiting my grandma this morning, I read her a poem. It's called Tulips and it's by a woman named Sylvia Plath. Look it up. Clicking a link is too easy and passive. I want you to want to read it. If I'm ever in a hospital bed with cancer (heaven forbid), I believe this poem embodies some of the feelings and thoughts that will be running through my mind. 

I'm shivering, not just with the cold and the damp. I am afraid of "I love yous" left unsaid, and poems left unread, and smiles held back, and words kept bottled up. The time is now. Don't waste a day. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. And whether it's cancer, or a car wreck, or simply old age, God will choose some way for us to go. As Tuck says in Natalie Babbitt's beautiful book Tuck Everlasting, "Don't fear death. Fear the unlived life." 

I want to make every moment count. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Matthiessen State Park

Saturday Chris and I finally had a day to ourselves. :) That morning we had planned on driving up to Starved Rock to go hiking. On our way, someone recommended Matthiessen. We had never heard of it, but it's only a few miles from Starved Rock. We went to S.R. first, but it was completely packed. (Oh yeah. It's (stupid) Sweetest Day! :P) We had a picnic lunch there, but it was crowded and freezing and windy, so we decided to keep driving till we reached Matthiessen. We got a front row parking spot (thank you, Lord!) and we were off! 

This is the inside of a fort that is right at the park's entrance. 



There was enough rain to make it totally muddy, but not enough for ANY waterfalls. Go figure. :P


Had fun getting some ring shots. :)










Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jonamac Orchard

On Monday I went with my aunt Mary, my cousin Cole, my "cousin-in-law" Jenny, my aunt Laura, and Jenny's two kids Madisyn and Kolten to the Jonamac Orchard in Malta. We had a wonderful time!







 We waited in line for something like 40 minutes for the apple cider donuts. Was it worth it? YES.

Then we see this random piano in the middle of a field. I had to get pictures with it. Had to. Regardless of the little "No going beyond this point" sign. So, flinging caution and obedience to the wind, we three ran out there and got some pictures before racing back.

 It looks like something The Piano Guys would do. ;)

It was a beautiful day, and the first time I had gone apple picking since I was 5 or 6. It was fun to hang out with family and eat donuts and kettle corn. We had a blast! :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I take them.


I take at least three vitamins at least once a day. Combine that with a little exercise and no extra sugar, and I'm set for a day of better-than-usual energy. Here are the five capsules/vitamins I took today.

Women's Food Based Multi - (This is the horse pill. :P) I use the Whole Foods brand. This is my favorite overall vitamin as it gives you well over 100% DV of some top vitamins such as A, C, D, E, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, etc. 

B12 - (This is the round pink one.) I use the Nature Made brand. Even though the multi gives me what I need for the day, occasionally I'll take an extra dose. It helps with energy, concentration, immune system, allergies, and a healthy heart. 

Calcium - (The white one, of course.) Again, I use Nature Made. The top use of calcium is strengthening teeth and bones. It also helps lessen PMS symptoms (can I get an amen??), works as an antacid, and studies are being conducted to see if calcium working together with Vitamin D can prevent breast cancer. Pretty cool.

Olive Leaf - (The black capsule.) I use the brand Gaia Herbs. Olive leaf supports a healthy immune response. I usually take this when I get sick, which is dumb because at that point it's kind of late. But it does help me get better faster! I've now started taking it every few days just to help me STAY healthy.

Vitamin E - (The prettiest one of the bunch, and easiest to swallow.) I use Nature Made. This antioxidant boosts the immune system to help fight bacteria and viruses, and helps prevent blood clots. 

Now, I'm interested in knowing --

Do you take vitamins? 
What do you take and how often?
Do you like any particular brands? 
Do any stores have better deals on these things than others? 

Feedback, people. Feedback! :)


Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Tulle Wreath - a (kind of) tutorial

If you know me at all, you probably know that making crafts is more like a punishment for me than an excitement. It sounds terrible, but the thought of getting together with ladies to "make crafts" provokes an instant groan from the depths of my soul. :P Who knows why. Anyway, for me to make a craft, I have to 1) need it, or 2) really feel like I can do it and not fail. (We're talking major perfectionist here.) So when I saw this on Pinterest, I felt like maybe just this once, crafting and I could be friends.

I was off to Hobby Lobby - the place I always forget about and yet love every time I go. They have everything, it's a Christian company (yay for "Merry Christmas" and "Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving"), and are affordable. 

The fantastic tutorial I followed called for the following items:

a foam wreath
fall colored tulle
fall decorations (leaves, flowers, a scarecrow, etc.)
glue gun

Thanks to God's perfect timing, everything I needed (minus the wreath and glue gun) was 40-50% off. (It still is, so hurry out there!) I bought 6 different colors of tulle: green, crimson red, glittery orange (this added sparkle and texture), brown, cream, and basic red. You could also use burlap or wide ribbon for some more fun with colors, texture, and sparkle.


I didn't use any specific pattern with the colors; just kinda eyeballed it. I also eyeballed the length of each strip of tulle that I cut. The longer you go the better, in my opinion. You can always cut down, and it makes the evenness easier. I tied them on using the method the lady in the above tutorial used. I liked how wide it made the tulle, thus covering up more of the foam wreath.


So I tied and tied. It is a good idea to do something else as you tie, otherwise you might go a little loopy. For instance, you could memorize Scripture or pray through your family members. Or, in my case, watch River Monsters with your husband. :D Eventually it was finished!


As you can see, I still had some evening (?) out to do with the lengths. I did a little, but my anticipation of using a glue gun for the first time got the better of me, and I went right along to the decorating step. 

I bought a small clump of artificial leaves, as well as a random flower that I thought could go nicely with the colored tulle I bought. Snipped off a few leaves, completely de-stemmed the poor flower, and glued everything on. Then I tied on a bit of brown ribbon with which to hang the wreath, and...

Voila!

I'm pretty happy with it, and I can't wait to hang it on our front door. The coolest part? It's a craft I made. The fact that I blogged it all shows how rare this occasion is. ;) But I'm ready for another one. 

I have all the stuff I need to make these pilgrim hat cookies, so maybe there will be a blog post about those in the near future. :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

1 John 2:6

It's amazing how much can be packed into a tiny verse. I read this one this morning and was quite convicted. 

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  {1 John 2:6}

Friday, September 13, 2013

one year :)


One year ago, on September 8th, I walked down the aisle to the man I had dreamed for years of marrying. In his smiling eyes - for yes, they always smile - I saw the love, passion, joy, truth, and goodness that had made me fall in love with him in the first place. 

If it's true that happily ever after is made up of todays, then I am well on my way to living a fairy tale life. :) 

Because happily ever after is full of details the stories don't tell you about. How he puts an ice cold water bottle on your nightstand every night without you asking. How he is so careful to detail to make sure the house stays looking nice. He comes home from work and works some more, so you have shelves to decorate and pictures on the walls and a yard that looks kept. How he teases you just to make you karate chop him. ;) How he bears the brunt of a difficult situation and gives advice. How he selflessly will watch something girly just because it's something you enjoy. How he patiently teaches you to cast a line and reel the fish in. How he forgives, like Christ, over and over, patiently, lovingly, accepting. 

Chris is my darling, my dream come true. How I hate cliches, because what Chris is to me cannot be put into words. He's like a constant strength, an absolute blast, and a gentle preacher all in one. :) I am so, so thankful, both to God for putting us together, and to Chris for choosing me. :)

When I am down, and oh, my soul's so weary; when troubles come, and my heart burdened be...


...then I am still, and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit awhile with me.


You raise me up so I can stand on mountains...



You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.



I am strong when I am on your shoulders.



You raise me up...to more than I can be.

I love you, Christopher Ryan Marsceau! I thank God every day for the perfect husband he gave me. I see Jesus in you every day and it pushes me to be a better person, a better Christian. Thank you for everything.



*All photography by the lovely Jessica Shae
*"You Raise Me Up" lyrics by Brendan Graham

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thy Way, Not Mine

Ever heard of Horatius Bonar? To me, it was just a name I barely recognized. I didn't know anything about the man himself. A friend of mine recently sang a song in church (I've copied it below), and I loved the words so much I had to find out who wrote it.

Came to find out the Scottish churchman and poet Horatius Bonar had a pretty trying life. After marrying his wife Jane at the age of 35, they had 5 children, all of whom died one right after the other. His sixth child, a daughter, lived, only to be widowed with 5 small children. She later moved back into her father's house.

Horatius's wife died when he was 68. He lived 12 years without his best friend before dying at the age of 80.

To the non-believer, this is a pretty grim and hopeless story. To the believer, it is grim, yet not without hope! Bonar had faith in his omniscient and sovereign Lord, Who works all things to be good and best. Bonar penned these words in 1857. Their truth is just as applicable today.

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

The kingdom that I seek
Is thine; so let the way
That leads to it be thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Take thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to thee may seem;
Choose thou my good and ill.

Choose thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be thou my Guide, my Strength,
My wisdom and my all.

Monday, September 2, 2013

resolved...

  • to keep a food journal every day.
  • to eat no extra sugar, besides that naturally occurring in food. 
  • to spend no longer than 2 hours 1 hour per day on recreational internet time.
  • to drink at least 10 oz. of water each morning before breakfast.
  • to allow myself only one movie per week, if that. 
  • to drink zero pop, colored or otherwise.
  • to speak only if my words are more beautiful than silence

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hayward, WI

Wow. Kinda forgot I had a blog. :P A few weeks ago my family, Chris and I, and my Aunt Laura and Uncle Jeff went up to Hayward, WI for a quick weekend trip to their cabin in the woods. We had SUCH a nice time! Got a bunch of pics, so here they are. :)


Walking down to the lake.

Their shared dock.

Their cabin!!

Choosing fishing gear can be a daunting task. ;)





We saw several bald eagles while we were there. It was the first time I saw them in the wild. 





The delicious bakery. 

The candy shop!


From a very natural, organic store called Abundant Life. I bought up a bunch of these super cheap spices and herbs!

We stopped in a little dairy for some sundaes. :)

My favorite picture from our trip. The morning we left, God blessed us with this phenomenal sunrise!