Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love Brings Knowledge

Philippians 1:9-11
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”

I have always enjoyed knowledge; being intelligent is something that I thought would fulfill my life and keep me from making the same mistakes that my mother made.

My first reaction to reading Philippians 1:9-11 was that a love for knowledge would help me discern what is good and pure; but upon reading these verses a second time, I realized that God was trying to tell me something very different.
In these verses God is saying that our love will help us see the world differently (with the knowledge that God’s love brings us), and then we will have the ability to discern what is best and how to be pure and blameless. My love of knowledge is not what is going to make me wiser and fulfill my life; a love for God and God’s love for me will make me wiser and will truly fulfill my life.
I’ve struggled with this a lot and am still struggling. I have fooled myself into believing that if I don’t know every answer to every question I have then I am going to fail at life, but it’s not about knowing everything because it is impossible for any human being to know everything. I need to come back to my first love, my love for God.

Crazy Californians

Last summer, I had the privilege of taking a trip to Israel with my school. We ate a lot of interesting foods and saw many beautiful places, but we always seemed to have the most fun at the hotel.
One morning in Galilee, Faith, Cassie, and I were very excited for the day’s activities and were acting very silly. We imitated the unicorns from the YouTube video “Charlie the Unicorn” and danced around as we rode the elevator up and down.
While we stood in the elevator with our backs to the door singing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a family from Wisconsin walked in. We kept right on signing and making funny faces into the mirrors until the mother of the family asked, “Where are ya from?”
California,” we giggled in reply.

The woman gave us a that-explains-it smile and stepped off the elevator.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Only a Cold

I hate being sick. I hate how my voice sounds gravelly, cloggy, and low. I hate that my nose gets as runny as a faucet and as dry as the Sahara Desert at the same time. But despite all that I hate about colds, I also see them as an odd little blessing. I am blessed because I am not always sick and I know that I have a healthy immune system that can fight off my cold germs. Being sick reminds me not to take my days of good health for granted, which I do often. It reminds me also that there are many people who have worse illnesses than I do and I should be glad to have only a cold.
Of course, being glad is easier said than done. Because although I am grateful that I don’t have the flu or AIDS, I am still slightly annoyed with the inconvenient time that Mr. Cold decided to visit. Tomorrow, I have tryouts for the spring musical and I sound like a bass, though normally I am a soprano.
If someone only heard my voice and didn’t see me, he or she would think I was an old man who has smoked for seventy-three years of his life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nonconformity, Good or Bad?

We all conform to something in one way or another. Most people conform to the rules and laws set forth by the government, which, in most cases, is a good concept to be grasped. Many of us conform to the likeness of our friends; we start laughing at the same jokes and wearing the same types of clothing. When we stop making our own decisions and start relying on others to tell us what to think, conformity becomes an undesired quality. I’m not saying that, in order to be nonconformists and to think for ourselves, we can’t agree with those around us or ask for advice; but rather, we need to be able to take in what others say, process it, and make our own educated decisions. If a nonconformist is one who thinks for his or her self, then “whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” (Emerson)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if "I became a transparent eyeball" as Emerson describes in Nature. I could see everything, but no one could see me. I could be a fly on the wall or a bird on the windowsill. If I could see what someone is like when I am not around, then I would know if that person were truly trustworthy.

Which reminds me of one of Emerson’s main beliefs that a person should trust no one except for herself, that she should do whatever is pleasing to her. Does not a person have to trust Emerson in order for her to believe that what he says about trusting only oneself is true?

I do believe that it is good to think for myself and to go against the norm when the norm goes against what I believe, but I also know that we must be able to trust other people. If we did not have trust in our lives, then how would we be able to learn and to know ideas to be facts? Everything would be a matter of self. There would be no reason to share ideas with other people because no one would believe that the other was right. The world would be in chaos because everyone would do what was right in their own eyes rather than following rules. It’s like saying that truth is relative and that there is no absolute truth, but that in itself is an absolute.

I’m not trying to sound arrogant or say that I know more than Emerson and that his ideas were completely wrong.
I like much of what Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists had to say especially about thinking for oneself; and thinking for myself is all I am trying to do.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

At the Risk of Completely Embarrassing Myself

Reading has always been something that I’ve enjoyed. There’s something about opening a book and letting the word’s fill my imagination with new tidbits of information and stories of new places. As a child, I would read stories about girls who solved mysteries or who pursued their passions without a care in the world. Their stories meant a lot to me because reading about their lives made me forget about my own.
I loved going to the library; and when I was in the third grade, my class had a once a week visit to the library for thirty minutes. It was the only time that we were allowed to go, but it was the best thirty minutes of my whole week.
On one such visit, I found a great book that sucked me into its story right away. After a few minutes had past, I realized that I needed to make a trip to the little girl’s room; so I placed a bookmark in between the pages to hold my place and walked quietly to my teacher to ask for my library card. Unfortunately, she could not find the magical little piece of plastic. Instead of asking for permission to leave, I resolved to ignore nature’s summoning in order to finish my book since I couldn’t check it out.
As I continued to read, the need for a restroom became more urgent; and I found myself in quite the predicament. Library time was soon to be over, I still had three pages left in my book, and I had only three seconds before my bladder exploded.
Of course, I chose to finish the book then ran to the restroom to clean up my mess.

Ross and Me

I have the misfortune of being blessed with Spontaneous Social Awkwardness or SSA. It’s a common condition among Marcelina’s and is sometimes called the Marcelina Disease. An easy explanation of this rare, fictional disease would be to say that Ross from Friends and I have a lot in common; we both find ourselves saying, “I just heard that the way you must have heard it, and that’s not what I meant at all.”
One such situation is brought up almost everyday in conversations among my friends; although, it happened in September of 2008. It all started when my good friend Max wore a pair of colorful stripped pants. Personally, I liked them; so when I saw him at lunch, in an effort to compliment his interesting choice in clothing, I said, “How’s your day going, in your pants?”

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Dangers of Sales

I tend to be a fiscal person; when I find something I like, I’ll put it back on the shelf for an hour before I consider buying it. I don’t even try on clothes that cost over thirty dollars. I have avoided many impulsive purchases this way; but recently, I discovered my weakness.
Allow me to start at the beginning; I was sitting at home staring at my door thinking about what else I could draw on it and how much I hate long vacations from school, when I received a phone call from my friend Faith. Knowing how board I was, she proffered an invitation to go to the mall with her and our friend Julia. To be completely honest, I don’t like going to the mall very often. I’d much rather peruse downtown or see a movie, but I desperately needed to leave my house.
I made sure that I had thirty dollars for dinner, and met them at the entrance. The first store that we hit was having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on already reduced price clothing. At first, I just looked around and tried on some sweaters and jackets with no intent of buying any of them, but then I saw it. A gray wool button up coat hung on the sales rack. Originally it was seventy dollars, but that day it was only thirty. I tried it on and knew before I looked in the mirror that fate had brought me to the mall that day.
Normally, I would have made my purchase and been content for the rest of the day, but now I had the task of finding something I liked to be my “get-one-free.” I found a blue and white knit sweater and absolutely fell in love with it only to find that it wasn’t on sale. What was I going to do? I only had thirty dollars with me. It was then that I remembered that there was an ATM machine around the corner. I could withdrawal another thirty dollars and buy both of my exciting finds. I handed my soon to be new clothes to Faith and Julia to watch over while I went to make my transaction. When the ATM asked how much I wanted to withdrawal, something compelled me to take one hundred dollars from my account, which was a mistake.When I arrived back at the store, I still needed to find something to be my free item. I ended up trying on two dresses, another sweater, and a sweatshirt. I bought them all. I went to the ATM one more time that day to pay for dinner.
In the end, it was a great day; and I received some pretty good deals, but I’ve learned the dangers of sales.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Speedy Cleanup

The two weeks that I spent at a volunteer camp this last summer was definitely the highlight of 2008. While I was there, I had the privilege of working in the conference center bakery with my friends Heather and Jesse. I can still smell the fresh bread rolls and pumpkin pie. As we worked, Jesse and I would have races to see who could frost the most carrot cakes in one minute. Our most favorite past time, though, was to make up spoof songs by replacing different places and people that we knew. One such song was set to the tone “Get Low” and went something like this:

“Heather got the plates and the pie made from pumpkin. (Made from pumpkin) She put the oatmeal cookies in the oven. She hit the whip cream. (Hit the whip cream) Made us all scream, ‘Better clean the floor or or or or or or!’”

One day we had a fight with the leftover peanut butter cookie dough. My hands were all sticky and gooey, and there was peanut butter clumped in my hair. We used trays a shield and dodged back and forth between the counters, and just as Jesse was about to throw a huge fistful of cookie dough at Heather, we heard someone say, “The food inspector just called. He’s going to be here in five minutes!”
We froze, dough still oozing from our hands, and looked around the room. It was a complete disaster. Frantically, we raced around the bakery scraping peanut butter from every crevice we could find. Jesse filled buckets with soapy water and looked for rags while Heather and I swept the floor. Once the floor was swept we wiped down every surface we could reach. Not once did we pause to check the time or sit down; and when we finished, the bakery was pristine. Our manager Beth walked in just as we set our rags down.
“Wow, the bakery looks nice, guys,” Beth complimented.
“Is he here yet?” I asked completely forgetting my manners.
“Is who here yet?” She asked.
“The inspector,” explained Heather. “A few minutes ago we heard Annie say that the food inspector was coming.”
Beth looked confused. “I wasn’t informed that he was coming.” A chuckle came from the doorway as Annie walked in. “Wow, you cleaned up fast,” she said with
a mischievous smile.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Too Many Hobbies, Zero Commitment

Having many talents and interests is generally seen as a good thing, but I have to disagree. I have an innumerable amount of hobbies from playing guitar and crocheting to horseback riding and acting. Currently, I am saving money for a Digital SLR Nikon D40 camera so that I can peruse digital photography; unfortunately, I also want to take piano lessons and learn Hebrew and Greek and make a quilt. I have too many ambitions and can’t seem to stick to any of them unless, of course, I am being graded and have a teacher to impress. So I figured that I could start taking classes at the community college in the things I’m interested in, but classes take time and money, of which I have very little.
Who would have thought that a love for knowledge would be such a bad thing? I can’t commit myself to one major because I don’t want to be stuck doing one thing for the rest of my life. I want to go places and learn things. If I had the money, I’d have multiple degrees in Chemistry, Psychology, English, Forensic Anthropology and Pathology, Biology, Education, Theology, and Journalism; and I’d receive them while traveling to places like England, France, Russia, and Israel. I’d learn as much as I could about this world that God has created for us. Although I doubt that I will ever be able to earn nine degrees, I know that I will never stop learning. I will continue to amass knowledge until my final breath even if it doesn’t take place in an official classroom. Besides, life itself is one of the best teachers I know.

Monday, January 5, 2009

True Beauty

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I love these verses; I find them encouraging and reassuring.
Our main goal in life should not be about looking good physically or attracting other people because of the way we look, but it should be about showing others who God is by letting our inner beauty and character shine through.
The most encouraging thing you can do to help some one else have a great day is to show some kindness. Smile a little! Say “Good morning!” to that kid you pass in the hall every single day. Ask someone how he or she is doing and actually listen for his or her response.
The things you do everyday show your true character, and inevitably, your true character shows your true beauty as well.
This does not mean that you can’t wear nice clothes or you can’t look cute. Those are great things. Show your creativity through style, but let that be a side note. How you dress and do your hair should be an accessory to your already beautiful character.
So, share a smile or an encouraging word today, and let your character radiate your true beauty.