Monday, December 29, 2014

Grasping the Wind

I sit on the couch in my own home. A book in one hand and cinnamon tea in the other. I have a pencil handy for the discoveries in these words. A boy who is supposed to be napping snuggled up beside me. This is home.

Although I have spent a lot of my break longing for school--the people, the atmosphere, the excitement-- I love this place I am in. It is a strange place, one where everything is familiar yet slightly different. Home is where I am comfortable and people know me, but they have gone through four months of change that leave all the familiarity slightly altered so I have to relearn my old environment.

I have gone through changes also. I cannot define exactly how I am different, but I know the joy and pain of the last four months have imprinted themselves into who I am. Yet coming back I feel dangerously the same. My life at college feels like a dream.

This is an uncomfortable space. I feel like I am neither here nor there. Cuddling my nephews and niece are things I desperately missed and love soaking up, but I still ache for my other home.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fasting

Fasting is probably practiced the least among all the spiritual disciplines. After all, we live in a culture of excess where satisfying every impulse and desire is seen as a positive. Yet fasting is promoted in the scripture as we see Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Paul and even Jesus Christ fasting and Jesus teaches how to fast in his Sermon on the Mount. Freed from the law, Christians are not required to fast and the Bible has no direct commands to fast, still it can be a beneficial discipline to draw us closer to God.

We fast because Christ has ascended to heaven and we are awaiting his return. “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matt. 9:15). When we abstain from food our physical hunger should point us toward our more serious hunger for Christ to return and our need for God over anything else we may consume.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fun Facts Friday

I think with all the things I am learning and discovering in this crazy place called college I should bring this back.

1. Ed Sheeran, you never cease to amaze me! This is my favorite song from my favorite artist and they are dancing..... Ah!

2. Keeping things in perspective is a really good idea. Usually I don't read thes kinds of articles and I never share them because I often think they are silly and give you too high of expectations or make you feel like you really need a guy. But this one did a good job of keeping everything in perspective, a nice little read... The Kind of Man You Deserve.

3. Track season! I can't believe my first week of collegiate track practice is almost over!
Throwback to the first year me and Bekah ran together at ICA!
4. Just yes. You have to appreciate a good mix of Christmas spirit with grammar snobbery. Apostrophes make a difference! My sister sent me this article earlier this week and I am in love: How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season.

5. I get to go to Christmas at Northwestern tomorrow! I love Christmas carols and having them sung by Northwestern's crazy talented choirs backed up by the orchestra just makes it even better :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1989

Taylor Swift has another hit on her hands with her newest album “1989.” In this album Swift proves she is a grown-up whose learned the ropes of the industry and is taking control of her own love life.


Swift has become one of the biggest pop artists in the world and she proved it when her fifth album debuted at number one in six countries. The country darling who stole the hearts of America eight years ago in her debut self-titled album has grown into a full-blown pop sensation. Her na├»ve tunes about finding Mr. Right have shifted to honest, brave songs wondering if “it's gonna be forever/ Or it's gonna go down in flames.” Her heavy country influence and Tim McGraw references have transformed into what Billboard describes as drum programming, synthesizers, pulsating bass and processed backing vocals. The change is working.

Although Swift is growing into a new sound, her relatability has not disappeared. She is still singing about love and, although it is a more mature and less innocent, her audience can still share in her plight.

In the popular track “Blank Space” Swift acknowledges she is not the innocent girl she was in “Fearless.” She has grown into a successful young woman with a lot of intense, high-profile relationships on her record. This song is a dark acknowledgement that time has turned her hopeful infatuation into an acceptance that love is not going to be a fairytale. However, it also plays on irony shown in the music video where Swift acts like an insane, possessive girlfriend illuminating the exaggeration of the media’s portrayal of her. This song shows that Swift has grown up enough to be self-aware, but also to stand up for herself and be self-defined.


The edginess of “Blank Space” is contrasted by songs on the other end of the spectrum “How You Get the Girl” and “This Love.” In these songs listeners get a reminder of the Swift who still believes in true love, even if it doesn’t come easy. “How You Get the Girl” paints a portrait of what every girl wants: a boy to come to her door and say “I want you for worse or for better/I would wait for ever and ever.” Furthermore, “This Love” is a perfect example of the restless desire for beautiful, imperfect love. The chorus – “This love is good, this love is bad/This love is alive back from the dead/These hands had to let it go free/And this love came back to me”—and the more acoustic sound give listeners the wistful feeling Swift is known for.

Critics may say Swift is straying too far from her country roots or her intimate, sometimes dramatic lyrics are over the top, but these are both things that have made Swift a success. Even in her earliest albums she was not the typical country artist and has been pushing the bounds of the genre. Likewise, “1989” does not fit the pop stereotype with R&B and hip hop influence but has a more 1980s take on pop. It is not country or mainstream pop; it is a brand all its own which is why it appeals so deeply to its audience.

 The appeal can also be attributed to Swift’s honesty on her albums. Her fans love the intimacy with their idol and those who aren’t fans are interested to see what she will reveal next. Although it is her greatest critique, Swift’s honesty and vulnerability keep people talking about her and listening to her. Swift breaks the norm of what is expected of artists in music today in how much of her personal life is public, but this is the very thing that sets her apart and make it impossible for us to let her go. Her unique style is irreplaceable.

Swift and her musical style have reached maturity in “1989.” She has left the country music characteristics behind and blossomed into a pop artist who combines edge with wistfulness to shake up the music industry and make people talk.

There is no stopping Swift as she kicks off her “1989” world tour May 5 in Tokyo. Swift will do three shows at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis in September, tickets went on sale Nov. 21 and can be purchased at TicketMaster.com.


So this is not really a typical post for me... At all. Writing a review was an assignment I had for my Persuasive Writing class I am taking and this is the result! I am posting it here simply because I love Taylor Swift and I worked hard on the assignment so having people read it makes it worthwhile! Thank you for taking a break for my usual content to give me an audience for my assignment :)

Prayer, part 2

When we first begin to pray, we may not always feel like praying. But if we are consistent and pray even when we don't feel like it we will realize how much we really need prayer.

This is how I felt when began my week of intentionally practicing the spiritual discipline of prayer. It was hard and awkward at first, yet I know it will get easier and that it is teaching me so much about trusting God for everything. The two main things I learned were to worship more frequently and offer my worries up to God.

When my mind was pointed toward prayer as a priority I found myself praising God more frequently. Instead of merely thinking, “Oh I like snow!” I would pray, “God thank you for sending this beautiful snow!” I think this helped me to be more aware of how God is working in my life. He is blessing me every day in more ways than I can even recognize, but when I do recognize them my appreciation of them deepens when I acknowledge that they come from a Father who loves me.

Not only has my Father given me blessings, but he also wants to care for my needs and hear my requests. During my week of practicing prayer more intentionally I tried to take note of those needing prayer and raise petitions to God on their behalf. Along with this I also had my own personal requests to God. When I was doing this I understood much better that God is in complete control of circumstances. I began to see everything I experienced as a gift of grace and an answer to prayer. Even if it was not what I had intended, I knew God had heard my plea and he was working in a way that was more than I could have asked for.

Although I learned a lot about worshiping God and giving my worries up to him through my week focused on prayer, I did not do as well as I had hoped of keeping constant dialogue with God and setting apart time for deep prayer. However, what I gleaned from the praying I was able to do showed me that this is a discipline I need to continue practicing.  As I get more comfortable praying I believe it will become easier and I will learn to listen to God’s responses better.