Friday, August 28, 2015

The Fruit of the Spirit: It’s Not About Me

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”Fruit of the Spirit

If you’re like me and grew up in the Church, you’ve probably heard these verses a few times. You probably memorized them. Maybe you even did activities related to the fruit of the Spirit. Reading this passage recently, though, I realized something. It’s not about attempting these attitudes on our own. It’s about drawing near to God and letting His Spirit fill our lives.

Too often, I treat this list in Galatians as a checklist: I was patient yesterday, so I’ll work on goodness today. It makes me think of Benjamin Franklin, who had a literal checklist just like that for virtues. It doesn’t work like that, though. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit, which is a) singular, a package deal, and b) a result, not an action.

A Package Deal – As the phrase “fruit…is” implies, we can’t really separate the fruit; it comes together. Love, joy, and all the rest are not separate fruits to work on. They are one fruit that all works in tandem. Not perfectly, of course; we are human, after all. But if I’m growing in patience, I’m becoming more gentle, too. Think about it: as you become a more loving person, are you becoming less self-controlled? Of course not. Progress in one area is progress in another. Now, of course, we all struggle with some aspect of this more than others. Some may struggle being faithful, while others have difficulty being patient. Like I said, we’re human. But if you’re growing in closeness to God, all the fruit will begin to grow.

A Result – I can’t force these virtues on my own. Sometimes I wish I could, but that’s not the point. Fruit grows as a result of a healthy plant. The fruit of the Spirit is no different. It flowers when my life is connected to the Source of Life. Without being connected to God, that fruit is not going to develop. He’s the One Who makes it grow, not me. I want to seek Him with all my heart, to stop concentrating on trying to become a better person in my own strength. I just keep failing when I try it that way. He brings love and goodness into my life. He grows the fruit of the Spirit.

What do you think about the fruit of the Spirit? Have you ever tried to treat it like a checklist? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thoughts on the Wall: Creating My New Writing Center

I honestly have no idea why it took me so long, but, for the first time in my life, I’ve put a bunch of stuff on my walls. Posters, a calendar, and, most excitingly, a writing center.

Writing Center

I’d had an idea for a while of an organizational center on the wall, specifically for my writing. So, I did some research, did a bunch of store-searching, and bought a bunch of materials I thought I might like to use. Then, since this stuff is expensive, I pared it down to my budget and took the extra stuff back. Having everything in front of me helped me to visualize how it would look and what I actually needed.

Ultimately, I ended up with four square cork boards and two white boards. I discovered that the cork isn’t quite as thick as I would like, but it works. The white boards are exceptionally light, which was handy for mounting them on the wall. Best of all, I didn’t have to use any screws or nails. I put everything up by means of picture strips and poster putty.

I quickly discovered that the process was much harder than I expected it to be. The cork tiles came with adhesive stickers, so I initially used those and put the left two tiles up. I was stuck between leaving them as squares and rotating them to diamonds. Once I decided that I didn’t like the latter, they were already on the wall. Problem number one: those stickers were extremely sticky, and they didn’t come off the wall well at all. I was left with about sixteen little squares that looked a lot like this:


Very annoying. Thankfully, I was able to get them almost entirely off with a combination of rubbing alcohol and lemon essential oil.

Next, I had to figure out what to do with the cork tiles. I didn’t like them as diamonds, but they were boring as squares, too. What they needed was colored backing! Enter scrapbook sheets, stage left. By turning the paper into diamonds and leaving the cork as squares, I got an effect that I like. Fastening them was a time consuming, but ultimately successful, endeavor involving the aforementioned Poster Putty.

P1020419 P1020418








Yes, my work area was a mess. Necessary at the time, but it’s all cleaned up now, so I’m a happy camper.

Getting the cork lined up and level was an unexpected hassle. I ended up drawing guide lines in pencil on the wall and using the level to fit them in carefully. I’m quite happy with the result:


It’s not crooked, trust me. That’s just the angle I took the picture at. Yeah, yeah, I know. Poor planning on my part. I was just trying to document the process as quickly as possible. Anyway, after getting the cork up as a frame, I was able to add the white boards. More guidelines and quite a bit of grunting later, everything was up:


Then came the best part: accessories!


Buying accessories was definitely my favorite part of the shopping expedition. And they add such color to the ensemble!


 Aren’t these magnets adorable? Honestly, I probably went overboard with the magnets, but I keep thinking I might need them. P1020426And the Pin-It magnets? Oh my goodness, aren’t they cool? The moment I saw them in the store, I decided that they were perfect. They have magnets on the back, so you can put them on the white board. But then they have cork and a little pin on the front, so you can pin papers to them. You might be thinking about the cork tiles I already have, and you’re right. I probably have enough pinning space without these. However, I can see using them to highlight particular pieces that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. And they’re so cute!

I also got a utility cup to hold extra stuff, and it’s magnetic, so I can stick it right on the white board. It ended up being smaller than I needed, so I added another container on my other wall, which, while holding extra markers and push pins, can also hold stuff related to my wall calendar. So, a win all around, basically.











Again, it’s not crooked, I promise. Just me in a rush to take pictures. Anyway, I am really happy with the extra container. I’ve had that basket for quite a while but have had no specific use for it. Thus, I was ecstatic to discover the perfect role for it!

Of course, anything involving a white board isn’t complete without markers. P1020428I’m so excited to use the different colors to make things jump out and separate sections.

Although this project started out simply as a writing center, it has morphed into a general organization center, which will probably be more helpful in the long run. A few days after finishing it, here’s what my wall looks like:


The bottom left section of white board is for blog stuff, so the bottom left corkboard is also for blog-related ideas. The top left section of white board is divided into daily to-do and upcoming school projects, while the entire right white board is for current writing projects. The remaining corkboards are for writing ideas and inspiration. I really am immensely excited about the potential of this area. Eventually, I want to put wooden letters above it all that say “WRITE.” I may also string pictures on these cute little clothespins I found. I want to make this exciting and fun as well as functional.

Do you have any kind of writing/organizational center in your room? What’s it like? Have you ever thought about making something like this? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Entertainment of the Week: August 11, 2015

Book of the Week:

Honestly, the book that would define this week would probably be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I’ve decided not to use Harry Potter examples all the time. So, since I haven’t read much else, this week I’m going to spotlight instead a few books that I’ve bought recently.

The Zion Chronicles series by Bodie and Brock Thoene – I just acquired the last few, so I now own all five books of this series set in post-WW2 Israel. I’ve probably mentioned before how much I love the Thoene’s historical fiction; if you like that genre, then I definitely encourage you to check this series out.

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke – I recently read the Inkheart trilogy to its conclusion for the first time and loved it. This is the second book in the series, and I am excited to start my collection with it. You can find my review of the trilogy here.

The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke – This is an incredibly riveting, sweet story set in first-century Judea. It looks at the birth of Christianity through the eyes of a Roman centurion and a Roman serving girl related to Pilate. To be honest, I basically grew out of Janette Oke books years ago, but I’ve read this one twice, and I love it.

Movie of the Week:

The Hunters, starring Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids), Robbie Amell (The Flash), and Victor Garber (Argo, The Flash), is a fun adventure film with a good dose of cheese and a likeable cast. Exactly my type of movie. It reminded me strongly of The Librarians TV series, which I love. The main characters, Paxton and Tripp Flynn, have grown up constantly shunted off to boarding schools and convinced their parents don’t care about them. When their parents go missing, they learn that they’re actually part of a secret society that protects legendary items like the Golden Fleece and Cinderella’s glass shoes from the clutches of power-hungry people. With the pushing of Paxton’s former girlfriend, Dylan, also a Hunter, they set off to find their parents and save the world, with dashes of humor and romance along the way.

Music of the Week:

"Magnet and Steel" by Walter Egan

I heard this song at a wedding I was involved with over the weekend, and it was rather catchy, so I thought I share it with y’all. It’s from the late 70’s and, essentially, talks about the deep connection between the singer and the woman he’s in love with. It’s simple and fun and out of my ordinary genres, so it was fun to discover.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Truth in Space, Part 10

Well, we’ve reached the end of my short story, Truth in Space. I wrote this over a period of ten days, recording each day’s journal entry as if I were experiencing it myself, and, in the end, I was quite satisfied with my efforts. I hope you have enjoyed reading it! If you haven’t read all the installments, catch up:

Parts 1 and 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Parts 6 and 7

Part 8

Part 9

Truth in Space Part 10

March 8, 3022

Eventually, consequences always manage to come around and make themselves known. Mine have been creeping in quietly over the last two months. The angry warpagrams finally stopped about two weeks after we turned around; they must have realized that I wasn’t planning to answer them. We stopped on Veritas as planned, and, honestly, it was a lot more sobering than I expected. Even more so was our stop on Vortega. Fergus wanted to pick up his crewmates’ bodies, since I refused to bring them when he first came on board. This time I agreed. But digging up those bodies was one of the saddest things I’ve ever done. I kept to myself for several hours after we took off, since Fergus offered to pilot. Knowing that Fergus survived a horrific crash is one thing; seeing the broken remains of those who didn’t was quite another.

About halfway home, two long-distance cruisers met us and wanted to board. Evading them, we didn’t encounter anyone else until we were about a week out from Earth. That’s when the furious radio messages started. I ignored them for a couple days, and then I calmly informed them that I was headed for a landing at the main NCSP launch base. They didn’t appreciate that. I was fine until they threatened to fire on me near Neptune. At that point we were still four days out from Earth. Under threat of imminent destruction, I was ordered to land at the nearest lunar colony, the outpost Corona. I didn’t know what to do and was thinking it was all going to end on this sparsely populated moon. I wouldn’t be able to get the journal out to anyone.

Then Fergus disappeared and, next thing I knew, a cloud of thick white dust surrounded the ship. Next thing I know he comes racing into the cockpit, yelling for me to dive hard to the right. According to all logic, I shouldn’t have. But I did. And we managed to escape the ships. For the rest of the day, we did all right. But early the next morning they confronted us again. This cat and mouse game lasted another day and a half, and then we couldn’t run anymore. As Fergus and I gave each other worried looks, I realized that we needed to get the media’s attention. Rummaging through my supplies, I concocted a violent reaction and threw it into Earth’s atmosphere. The deafening explosion rocked the ship and left my ears ringing. But, sure enough, two news fliers appeared near us. I dipped and wove to make sure I had their attention. With cameras trained on us, the hostile ships were forced to let us land at the main base instead of the secluded areas they tried to direct me toward. I was lauded as a returning hero.

But it couldn’t last forever. The intense press scrutiny on me the first ten days protected me. But yesterday Fergus disappeared. The public assumed he was part of the crew. And the bodies? The press never saw them. He’s definitely missing, though. I only hope he’s still alive.

I discovered that he was right, after all. When everything is stripped away, you find your purpose. Aborting the mission took me straight into my fears. I’m under virtual house arrest here at the compound. My supervisors have threatened my parents’ safety at every public appearance I make in order to keep me quiet, but I have yet to see them in the two weeks I’ve been back. And about a week ago I realized that I’m not going to get myself out of this mess. Only God can. When I finally cried out, begging Him to help me, He came. And I realized how much I’ve missed Him. Every time I get scared, He tells me to trust Him, and that brings a peace I haven’t had in years. I’ve finally found my purpose.

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write in here again. Obviously, it’s not safe here. But yesterday I found the file documenting Fergus’ mission. There are some details that have been erased, but I’m including it with this journal, along with part of my own mission orders. I could only copy part of them before nearly being discovered. I think I’ve found a way to get this out of the compound and into the hands of someone who won’t destroy it.

My name is Cassidy Hope Bridges, the only crewmember of the starship Galaxy. I was tasked by the National Coalition for Space Progress to travel to and chart Zako Sector, where I was to find a planet suitable for building a secret military base. From this base, the government of Western Earth, controlled by the NCSP, intends to annihilate the entire eastern side of the planet. On February 21, 2022, I returned to Earth with Fergus Darby, navigator and only surviving crewmember of the starship Wanderer, a ship tasked with the same mission five years before me.

To anyone reading this, I pray you make the right decision and receive the message the Wanderer’s crew tried to send so long ago: speak the truth. The fate of entire nations rests with you.


Two hours after writing her final entry, Cassidy gave it to a NCSP employee who snuck it into the hands of Johnny Davidon, a reporter whose brother had disappeared into the NCSP system years before. 3 days later, Cassidy was forcibly included on another mission into space. This time, the public wasn’t informed of any aspect of the trip. And no one knew where she’d gone. Because of the story told in her journal, investigators turned their eyes toward the NCSP. It took a great deal of maneuvering, since the government was incredibly tainted by the group’s fingers. After two years of investigations and hearings, though, the National Coalition for Space Progress was disbanded and its leaders imprisoned on charges of treason, conspiracy, and impeding an investigation, among other things.

Despite the success, no one could find Cassidy Bridges. Fergus Darby was mysteriously rescued about a week after her disappearance, but he knew no more than anyone else. Investigators were able to determine that a mission had been launched into space, but all documents relating to the mission had been destroyed. Using Fergus’ knowledge of the Zako Sector, a space fleet was dispatched to the area, prepared for anything. They finally discovered a base hidden on Laos after months of searching. Because it hadn’t been restocked in a year, the base was undersupplied and put up little resistance. Still, a squadron of fighter pilots was the first to land on Laos, nearly three years after the base was first established. The lead pilot? Trevor Maxoff, Cassidy’s former boyfriend. They would be married a year later.

I was born in October of 3028, once my parents had retreated from the public eye. The press still followed us throughout my childhood, though. Today they reside in peace and periodically speak about their experiences. My mother’s decision to stand up for the truth saved millions of lives, and my three siblings and I have tried to live up to her example. I pray that, by reading her story, you will be inspired to do the same.

Rena Dazine, oldest daughter of

Trevor and Cassidy Maxoff

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Entertainment of the Week: August 4, 2015

Ah, what a week it was! Work, weather, sickness… All kinds of things have been going on. Yet entertainment still finds its way into my life.

Book of the Week:

I first saw the movie versions of Harry Potter a few months ago and loved them. I’ve had every intention of reading the books, as well, but after finishing this first book yesterday, I can’t believe I waited so long! The Harry Potter series is famous worldwide, and it is easy to see why. The story of an abused and unloved child finding friendship and meaning in a magical world far removed from his everyday drudgery is charming and highly enjoyable. It’s easy to see that this series was first intended for children; it’s written simply and concisely. Yet it still carries its own magic within. Just because it’s for kids doesn’t make it less in any way. J.K. Rowling has created an incredible world with deep characters and a riveting story, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books.

Movie of the Week:

This movie is adorable. Featuring the voice talents of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, and Christopher Lloyd, this film fictionalizes the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Knowing the story of the Communist revolution and downfall of the Romanovs, the entire premise of the story is inaccurate. Yet it revolves around a mystery that persists through the years: what if Anastasia survived? In this film, she doesn’t die with her family, instead growing into a young woman with no idea who she is. She falls in with the delightful characters of Dmitri and Vladmir, who are planning to con the real Anastasia’s grandmother into giving them reward money by delivering “her granddaughter” to her. The situation is clearly headed for a fairytale ending except for the evil presence of Rasputin, who is determined to wipe out the Romanovs forever. This is one of animation’s lesser known gems, and I’m very happy that I found it.

Music of the Week:

"Once Upon a December" by Liz Callaway

The movie Anastasia is full of music, but this is far and away the best song in the film. It’s incredibly haunting, sweet, and nostalgic all at the same time. I had it distinctly stuck in my head after finishing the movie.