Holiday Update

Hey everyone! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving yesterday! Since yesterday was a pretty big holiday, and since it’s ushered in another holiday that we all know and love (You know what it is!), I decided to do an update on my Thanksgiving and the aftermath of Christmas decorations that is happening even as I type.

Both for your enjoyment and for the further advancement of my writing career.

Yesterday, I woke up, immediately grabbing a a leftover biscuit, in all of it’s soft and buttery goodness, and sat down to watch the annual Macey’s Day Parade. I enjoyed the performances of Carole King, Mariah Carey, and MercyMe. Immediately after the parade, my family got into my dad’s truck and headed to my grandparents house. There, we ate a pretty big feast. And, I had a slightly nontraditional meal of spaghetti, being that I’m a vegetarian. But, I did have stuffing, which was awesome.

Once we got home, I retreated to my room to digest and work on a novel. I sent out a mass text, and heard back from a friend that I haven’t talked to in a long time. We texted for a little while, catching up on old times, and lastly, I watched a couple of TV shows before bed.

Today, I composed a song that I wrote on my acoustic guitar, ate lunch, walked on the treadmill, and worked on some homework. Following that, the decorating begun! We put up the manger, Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Christmas Winnie The Pooh, and a Precious Moments Christmas village. Currently, my dad is stringing the Christmas tree with lights as Christmas music plays cheerfully from the radio.

To set the mood for the holiday season, I decided to conclude this post with a Christmas song.

I’ve always loved this song, and it’s a great reminder of the true reason for the season. 🙂

A Thanksgiving Post

Hi everyone! Since Thanksgiving is on the horizon, I decided to do a post about some of the things that I’m thankful for.

  1. Grace-Where would any of us be without God’s amazing grace? Because of His death and resurrection, we have the opportunity to be forgiven and spend eternity with Him in a place of everlasting joy and peace. Furthermore, we never have to walk this world alone because God is always with us. Who could ask for more?
  2. Family-Family is an awesome blessing from God. I’m thankful both for my immediate family and my extended family (And, of course, my cat Precious). I’m also thankful that most of my family lives in the state, so I get to them fairly often.
  3. Friends-As always, I’m super thankful for the crazy, quirky, awesome friends that God has brought into my life. Many have become close enough to be like brothers and sisters. I’ve learned so much from the friends that God has blessed me with.
  4. Church-I started attending a new church this year and I really love it there. The messages are great and I’ve grown a lot. In coming months, I’d love to get more involved there.
  5. Classes-Another thing that I’m thankful for the classes that I’m in, where I’ve met a lot of my closest friends. As I’m getting older, I realize how little time that I have left before college. I know that I’m really going to miss all of the crazy, off-topic discussions in english lit and the hilarious moments in theater when I graduate.
  6. Great opportunities-This year, I’ve had a lot of really great opportunities, such as singing a song that I wrote live, acting in Our Town last spring, becoming more vocal about a social issue that I’m passionate about, and starting a blog. I’m very thankful for these things and I’m sure I’ll have more great opportunities in 2016.
  7. Books and written word-I am seriously grateful that we can speak, write, think, and feel. Think about it, without communication, we would all be walking around like a bunch of cavemen/cavewomen. We wouldn’t get to appreciate conversation, stories, or song lyrics. The world would be far different without communication.
  8. Food, water, and shelter-I know, I know, this is one that I think most of us take for granted, but many people around the world go without these basic needs. To simply have food, water, and shelter is a great blessing.
  9. Freedom-I’m thankful to live in a country where I’m free to voice my thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I’m also thankful for the brave soldiers who fight for that freedom that we enjoy.
  10. The small things we take for granted-I know there are a lot more things besides the ones that I listed, such as trees, animals, music, seasons, etc., etc., etc. I’m also thankful for all of these things.

I’m sure that you have some great blessings that you’re thankful for too. Feel free to post them in the comments section, I’d love to see how God is working in your life!

High School, Movies, and Real Life

Good evening to everyone reading this post. Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted.  Things have been pretty crazy here, between school, homework, and preparing for a talent show that I sang in tonight. In part, that’s something that I’d like to talk about. Nonetheless, that’s only a small portion of what I’d like to talk about in this post. In this blog entry, I’d like to talk a little bit about what God’s been showing me over the past couple of years.

I’ve always loved movies, namely, underdog style movies. One of my favorites to this day is a movie called Lemonade Mouth. I know that if you haven’t seen the movie, the title probably sounds a bit weird. Truth be told, it’s not so much about lemonade as it is about making a mark on the world, and speaking up. The storyline follows five high school students with different lives, conflicts, and personalities. Through a series of twists and turns, they all end up in detention together and form a band. They face opposition both from the “cool” kids at school and the principal (The principal, because they protest the removal of the school’s lemonade machine). Nonetheless, in the end they rise above their circumstances and make a difference at their school.

Honestly, that’s only one example. I could easy name of plenty more movies like it. Nonetheless, that movie gives you a bit of a glimpse into my psyche. As I entered high school in my freshman year, I knew I wanted to have one of those moments. I wanted to have a shining moment that would encourage others in a positive way and make a difference. A movie moment. I began working intensely hard towards that dream. I began writing song lyrics, learning to play instruments, and taking voice lessons. After hours and hours of hard work and dedication, I achieved my goal. However, somewhere along the line with some personal reflection, I realized something.

It’s not just in the grand events that our light shines through, it’s in our every day life.

I based the song that I sang tonight around the Bible verse Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Hopefully, people in the audience were uplifted and inspired. I got some positive feedback from some of the people there, which was encouraging. But, it shouldn’t be just one moment that we let our light shine and make a difference, it should be something that we do in our daily live. Both in the extravagant, and the mundane. It’s the times that we befriend a new student, speak out about something that’s important to us, and show kindness to others. In the movie Soul Surfer, an inspirational Christian movie about overcoming trials, Bethany’s character (portrayed by Sophia Robb) says, “Surfing isn’t the most important thing in life; love is.” The same could be said for singing, or writing, or acting. Those things are definitely important and definitely fun but at the the end of the day, those aren’t the most important things in life; Loving God and loving people is.

Secondly, I’ve grown to understood more deeply the value of hard work and perseverance. There were times when quitting would have been easier than pushing through. I was advised as I worked tirelessly on my instrumental track to choose a different song, but that only pushed me to work hard and get better. It’s been a very exciting experience to see where I was three years ago and where I am now, as I’ve improved with my singing and composing. Sometimes things in life aren’t going to be easy; My song wasn’t. Neither is acting, getting up the courage to talk to new people in a new environment, or public speaking. There have even been points in writing (which is pretty much second nature to me) that have been difficult, as I’ve had my share of “writer’s block” moments. But, all of these things have been worth it. Not everything in life will come easy to us, but in the end, hard work pays off.

Lastly, I’ve found that God has a special way of shining through each and every Christian, and that’s deepened my faith. For a while, I came to a really frustrating point in my life. I had some negative experiences that made me feel like an incredibly weird Christian. I had a lot of questions and I wasn’t quite sure where to go next in my walk with God. In short, I felt like something was wrong with me. Nonetheless, in gaining the courage to ask questions and and be real with God, I ending up growing in my faith. I came to realize in my heart, the way I already knew it in my head, that God gave me my personality and passions for a reason. I began attending a new church that has helped me grow leaps and bounds and I’ve found a diverse group of role models that have proved that God really does shine through people in different and incredible ways. Because of my deepened faith, I was able to make this song, and this night, about God. Not about me. We shouldn’t ever be afraid to commit our dreams and goals to God, because in the end, He works in ways that He couldn’t have if we had kept them self-focused. There have been times that I’ve been afraid to surrender different aspects of my life to God, but I’ve found that God doesn’t take away from you when you do that, he helps you become more of you. The you that you were created to be.

In a way, completing such a big goal is a bit like the closing in a chapter in the story of my life. But, unlike movies, it’s not the end. I know God has more plans for me in the future. Do I know what they are? Not entirely. I like to think that I have some speculation, but only God knows the future. All I know, is that whatever God calls me to, I want to be faithful. And, I want to keep “letting my light shine”, whether it looks like singing or taking the time to talk to someone who’s having a bad day. I know that God allowed tonight to come together and I’m truly thankful for the opportunity to sing a song that I wrote live, and, I trust that whatever’s next for me is going to be good. In the here and now, the future looks crazy and uncertain. But, from God’s view, I know it’s a story that’s just waiting to unfold.

For you. For me. And, for every single person on earth that God created.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

New Beginnings

There’s no denying it, the new school year is right around the corner. I start back in less than a week and I’ve already gone back to school shopping for clothes and school supplies. As the new school year begins, it often brings about changes. As crazy as it still sounds, I have two friends who are going to be in college this year. For some people, this new school year might mean a transition from middle to high school, or like some of my friends, high school to college. For others, it might mean new goals or anticipations. I know that I personally have a couple of things planned this year, such as a talent show in October, a concert with one of my friends, and a new project that I’m planning to jumpstart next spring/summer. Plus, I’m going to be on the yearbook team and in a theater class again, which I’m excited about. Since this blog is about the new school year, it feels appropriate to give my advice about what I’ve learned so far

1. Stay true to yourself. Throughout my teenage years, I’ve seen so many awesome people try to be what they thought others wanted them to be. A cookie cutter version of you will never be better than the real deal. Making friends is important, but you want them to like you for who you are, not who you’re pretending to be. Acting is for the stage, not real life.

2. Do unto others…Bullying is a huge problem in America. I’ve dealt with bullies myself and I’ve seen my friends and classmates deal with it too. For whatever reason, some people always try to make themselves appear bigger by making others feel small. If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. And, always think before you speak. Sometimes words carelessly thrown around can having lasting consequences.

3. Keep up with schoolwork. I remember how in my freshman year, I was shocked with how much more homework I got; It was a good deal more than I was used to in middle school. Nonetheless, I urge you not to panic. It’s difficult keeping on top of everything, but it does teach you the valuable lesson of time management. Honestly, I’m bad about procrastination. I know that this school year I’d like to try to get better about it. Even though I always get everything finished, it’s ten times more stressful when I procrastinate than it would have been if I had started earlier.

4. Spend time with those who build you up. One of the most difficult things about high school is finding true friends. There are some people in high school (and life) who are more self-interested than others-interested. At times, you may deal with unwelcome drama that will make you question whether you have any true friends, but hang in there. Just because you’ve had friendship problems with some people, doesn’t mean that all of your friends are like that. True friends are sometimes rare, but they do exist. I’ve found some great friends in high school and I trust that you will (or already have) too.

5. Don’t let fear hold you back. Now, obviously, there are some things we should fear. If you fear doing something dangerous, illegal, or harmful, hold on to that fear. It’s there for your own protection. Nonetheless, sometimes fear can also hold us back from good things. Don’t let fear stop you from trying a new hobby, pursuing a dream, talking to new people, or speaking out about something you believe in. In my theater class, before every performance, I always get a little jittery. However, the feeling afterwards is incredible, and acting is really fun. If I had let fear stop me, I would have missed out on a whole lot. I’ve decided that my theme for this upcoming year, is going to be fearless. There are things happening this year that I’ve worked towards for a long time, and I’m not going going to let fear rob me of those things. I urge you to not let fear hold you back either.

On a final note, always remember to trust God, be kind to others, stay true to yourself, and work hard. If you do those things, you can get through every change you’ll have to go through.