jbwordsmith: (Default)
“He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Psalm 103:5).

“When You send Your breath, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).

The first verse is the promise of youth being renewed. The second talks of God renewing the face of the earth – a broader promise which reminds me of the verse in Romans 8 about all creation groaning for redemption.

An amazing concept, renewal. It means God actively intervenes to repair damage and make something new again. Someone’s heart. The entire face of the earth. That is a beautiful picture.

This year, I’ve experienced what I’d term renewal in several areas of my life. It has meant a return of optimism. It has meant a fresh bubbling of hope. It has meant leaving behind difficult, painful past experiences and reaching forward to new pursuits and friendships.

For me, renewal looks like this in real life. I spent two years, from summer 2006 to summer 2008, in Germany. A barrage of experiences created a wealth of memories. My mind needs only a tiny trigger to trip the hammer and fire off a blast of images, emotions, laughter, and tears. When I moved to the States and began a challenging new job last fall, I did not realize what tempest still raged inside me. For months, I cried frequently and experienced an ache and longing I’d never felt before. I longed to go back, but I knew it was not the place for me any longer. I missed the places, the language, the missionary culture. Most of all, I missed the people. Seeing a group photo of my dorm girls, much less watching one of the year-end videos my coworkers produced, could instantly prompt a fit of weeping. Part of my heart was ripped out, savagely, and the wound continued to throb and fester for a long time.

Because my departure and transition to the States was so emotional, I neglected to fully recognize what had happened. I saw only its immediate effects, like a trauma victim who is dazed, feeling only pain and seeing blurry images. Now, after many months of healing, I can look back and see the experience more clearly. I can see that I invested a lot at Black Forest Academy; very slowly, sometimes unintentionally, and then deliberately. I loved many of my dorm girls and coworkers to a great depth; I embraced them as family. No wonder, after such investment of myself, it devastated me to leave.

“Devastated” is a good word for how I felt. Although I knew life would go on, I had a hard time picturing a community or a job as fulfilling as those I found at BFA.

But after devastation came renewal. As I look backward now, not from any great height or spiritual vantage point, but still, as a more stable person, I see that God began the process as soon as I reentered the States. As I nursed my wounds and cried my tears, He began to surround me with a community of friends and family here. As I complained to Him that no one here understood what I’d been through, He showed me that there were plenty of people willing to listen to my stories. As I stumbled through the first few months and struggled in my first year of teaching, I often felt cynicism creeping close. I experienced hardship. It was difficult to see that things were getting better – but they were. I was adjusting. God was renewing me.

This fall, I’ve recognized the renewing work and seen it come to near fruition. My second year of teaching is wonderful: I love it. I’ve recently moved out on my own, with a dear friend as a roommate, and am loving the settled feeling it brings. I look around and see people to love, a community to belong to and invest in, and new opportunities to pursue. I don’t know what the future holds, or even what is around the immediate bend in the road, but I know this: that my God is a God of renewal. Restoration. Rebirth. Re-creation. He has healed wounds I once thought irreparable. He has restored hope where it was dead. He has melted away cynicism and replaced it with trust in His abundance.

(As an addendum for LJ readers, I mainly blog now at I Wonder as I Wander, my Wordpress blog. Please catch up with me over there!)
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Lately, I've been anxious and scattered in my thinking. My schedule seems to fill with unexpected items that clutter my mind and increase my anxiety for fear I'll forget to fulfill a commitment or not do it well. As always, I fear failure. I cringe when my imperfections are brought before my eyes through mistakes. And, I've realized, the rising anxiety also reflects a fear of my life becoming a waste -- an unfruitful existence.

There's a bookmark shoved in my Bible at the start of 2 Peter, and for some reason I keep flipping to that page. Verses 3 and 4 of chapter 1 are underlined, with the reminder "BFA 2007" written in the margin. Those were the theme verses of my second year at Black Forest Academy. I pondered them then, with bland thankfulness, but they return to me now with a greater force. As I read the whole passage this morning, I thought about the practical side of what Peter is saying.

For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. It helps me to narrow the focus and recognize that these are the fruits of a life lived in Christ. Maybe part of my recent scattered-ness comes from emphasizing the wrong qualities, or seeking after false satisfaction? I don't know. But it heartens me to know that I have permission to narrow my focus to these fruits as the most important. And, of course, the best part is the promise in verse 3 that I don't have to conjure them up. His divine power has given me everything I need.

The tools, the means, are present, but... am I using them? In many ways I feel "blind and short-sighted" like "the person who lacks these things." Once in a while I get an epiphany of His perspective but so much of my life, I feel, is in the fog of human misunderstanding.

book review

Oct. 6th, 2008 11:33 pm
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Give Me the World Give Me the World by Leila Hadley

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Since I can't give this book 4.5 stars, I rounded it up to five. This is the travelogue of Leila Hadley, a 25-year-old who embarks on a journey around the world via plane, train, and (mostly) sailing vessel, with her small son in tow. She does this in the 1950s, when such an action raises eyebrows. But throughout the book it's clear Hadley does not mind what people think of her. She's spunky, but she has limits.

The appeal of this book, for me, lies not with Hadley as an individual but with her capability as a writer. She is brilliant. Her descriptions of India, of the Middle East, of Greece, and of sailing for months on a schooner with four scruffy Americans -- all are astonishing in their clarity and beauty. More than almost any other author I've read, Hadley painted complete pictures in my mind. I feel like I went along for the ride and emerged, at the other end of her book, with my own vivid memories of the streets of Bombay and the ruins at Rhodes. Travelers or not, everyone should taste Hadley's prose: it's like eating a slice of literary cheesecake.

View all my reviews.


Oct. 2nd, 2008 11:31 pm
jbwordsmith: (write)
Did you watch the vice presidential debate tonight? Do you think Palin did well?
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal by Alexandra Johnson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book very inspiring. Those of us who love the idea of journal keeping but have a hard time with consistency will enjoy Johnson's lavish descriptions of stationery shops and various types of journals, not to mention her numerous ideas and prompts to help you unlock creativity and start writing. She writes a book whose main premise is to sing the praises of keeping a journal, asserting that those who do are "leaving a trace" not only for the next generation, but for themselves. Johnson highlights the ways in which journal keeping assists in self-understanding. Not only is writing a therapeutic exercise, but it preserves your thoughts and impressions in a way that's impossible through means such as photography, videos, or mere memory. Journals preserve what you felt and what you thought, not merely what you saw.

View all my reviews.

A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue by Wendy Shalit

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is excellent. I love the way Shalit confronts liberal ideologies about sex and turns them inside-out, exposing the destructiveness of our culture's "anything goes" mindset. Every woman who has grown up in the last 30 years should read this book. Even those of us who were raised in a protected subculture (in my case, homeschooling) can glean a lot from Shalit's exposure of the social norms in public schools (I never encountered the peer pressures she and many others faced). More importantly, this book helped me understand why there seems to be no dating culture outside of religious subcultures, and why the "free love" touted by 1960s feminists is anything but "free": on the contrary, it comes with the side effects of rampant divorce, abuse, abandonment, and emotional pain.

View all my reviews.

oh, yeah.

Aug. 30th, 2008 04:27 pm
jbwordsmith: (inconceivable)
Bring on the chocolate. So I have a legitimate reason to love dark chocolate. And perhaps this explains why most Swiss and German people are healthy and fit. Mmmmm.
jbwordsmith: (write)
1. Where is your cell phone? upstairs
2. Where is your significant other? where?
3. Your hair? curly
4. Your mother? tired
5. Your father? yellowjacket-murderer
6. Your favorite thing? books
7. Your dream last night? hmm
8. Your dream/goal? love
9. The room you're in? living
10. Your hobby? thinking
11. Your fear? danger
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? hmm
13. Where were you last night? Sullivan's
14. What you're not? dating
15. Muffins? mmm
16. One of your wish list items? back-massager
17. Where you grew up? K-ville
18. The last thing you did? Olympics
19. What are you wearing? pajamas
20. Your TV? off
21. Your pet? sleeping
22. Your computer? on
23. Your life? transitioning
24. Your mood? decent
25. Missing someone? LOTS
26. Your car? Corolla
27. Something you're not wearing? contacts
28. Favorite store? H&M
29. Your summer? fun
30. Love someone? yes
31. Your favorite color? umm
32. When is the last time you laughed? today
33. Last time you cried? Monday?
jbwordsmith: (write)
Who knew Jerome K. Jerome could be so profound, especially in a book entitled Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow?

Let us have done with vain regrets and longings for the days that never will be ours again. Our work lies in front, not behind us; and "Forward!" is our motto. Let us not sit with folded hands, gazing upon the past as if it were the building: it is but the foundation. Let us not waste heart and life, thinking of what might have been, and forgetting the maybe that lies before us. Opportunities flit by while we sit regretting the chances we have lost, and the happiness that comes to us we heed not, because of the happiness that is gone.


There is no returning on the road of life. The frail bridge of Time, on which we tread, sinks back into eternity at every step we take. The past is gone from us for ever. It is gathered in and garnered. It belongs to us no more. No single word can ever be unspoken; no single step retraced.
jbwordsmith: (contemplative)
As humans, we like to categorize. Compartmentalize. As Christians, we like to talk about “learning a lesson” and imagine filing it away in our cabinet of spiritual accomplishments. We say, “God taught me a lesson about patience.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could check off that box, sign the paper, and file it away – finished forever? “Yep, I’ve learned that one. I’ll never be impatient again.”

It gives me a sense of control to think of my walk with Jesus as a college course with a syllabus. God lectures me and I complete the assignments. Once I turn them in, they’re done. Never to be revisited. I might get a good grade or a lousy one, but either way I’m moving forward and can lazily forget what I’ve just learned. I only learned it so I could do well on that test or paper, right?

The Christian life is too complicated – too mysterious – to comprehend in this way. It’s not a series of papers to be completed, or a hallway full of magical doorways to walk through. I have no tangible way of measuring my progress.

There’s a paradox here that I don’t understand. On the one hand, God tells us that we have everything we need for life and godliness. He tells us to be perfect as He is perfect. In some sense, every believer already possesses perfection of character. God chooses to see us through the lens of Christ, omitting our flaws because He paid for them on the cross. On the other hand, we’re living in an imperfect world surrounded by imperfect people. We mess up. We fall down. We get up. We say we’ve learned our lesson, but we often make the same mistake again. This is the frustration of life on earth.

So I can’t say how I’m doing or how far I’ve come. I dare to suggest that those questions don’t matter. I can’t improve my character. God has to do it. I am “improving” only as much as I am surrendering to His work in me.
jbwordsmith: (happy group)
This is the same test that we had all the girls in our dorm take for a dorm fellowship last year, and most of them were heard squealing "ewwww!" from the computer room when they reached the question about being "kissed unexpectedly." ;-) (We tried to find a test online that was related more to friendship and familial relationships, but this one was the best we could do and it has, well, kind of a romantic twist, doesn't it?)

I feel loved when...

The Five Love Languages

My Primary Love Language is Quality Time

<th colspan="2">My Detailed Results:</th>
Quality Time: 10
Words of Affirmation: 7
Physical Touch: 7
Acts of Service: 6
Receiving Gifts: 0

About this quiz

Unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. It can be helpful to know what language you speak and what language those around you speak.

Tag 3 people so they can find out what their love language is.

Take the Quiz!
Check out the Book


Jan. 9th, 2008 12:21 pm
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Hey friends,

I am wanting to change my public blog from Xanga to something else... I've decided that I just don't like Xanga. I'm looking for something cleaner and more professional looking. Any suggestions? What's better -- blogspot? Wordpress? Something else? Please drop a comment if you have any suggestions or input. (Also, if you are gifted in graphic design and enjoy it, I would love to have you design my layout once I get the new blog account. I'd love something with a brown/sage green/soothing earth tones theme. Kind of artsy. But I am not at all gifted in that area.)

Many thanks in advance!
jbwordsmith: (Default)
INFJ -  "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

(My comments in parenthesis.)

creative, smart, focus on fantasy more than reality, attracted to sad things, fears doing the wrong thing, observer, avoidant, fears drawing attention to self, anxious, cautious, somewhat easily frightened, easily offended (nah, not really), private, easily hurt (not so much), socially uncomfortable (eh, not really), emotionally moody (not often), does not like to be looked at, fearful, perfectionist, can sabotage self, can be wounded at the core, values solitude, guarded, does not like crowds (got that one right), organized, second guesses self, more likely to support marijuana legalization (what a random thing to put on here, lol), focuses on people's hidden motives (unfortunately ), prone to crying (sometimes, but really not that often), not competitive (ohhh yeah!), prone to feelings of loneliness (uh-huh), not spontaneous, prone to sadness (contemplation, maybe, but not sadness), longs for a stabilizing relationship, fears rejection in relationships, frequently worried, can feel victimized, prone to intimidation, lower energy (yeah...yawn), strict with self

favored careers:

psychotherapist, artist, art curator, bookstore owner, freelance writer, poet, teacher (art, drama, english -- oh yeah!), library assistant, professor of english, painter, novelist, book editor, copywriter, philosopher, environmentalist, bookseller, museum curator, opera singer, magazine editor, archivist, music therapist, screenwriter, film director, creative director, librarian, social services worker, art historian, sign language interpreter, photo journalist, makeup artist, photo journalist, homemaker

disfavored careers:

airline pilot, race car driver, businessman, information technology consultant, executive, administrator, supervisor, bartender, lab technician, restaurant owner, strategist, ceo, bar owner, marketing specialist, business consultant (notice the disfavored careers cover everything business or marketing related? haha, so true.)

jbwordsmith: (contemplative)
So Jaime and I were speculating tonight, and decided that:

A. For girls, it's true that "absence makes the heart grow fonder."

B. For guys, it's pretty much "out of sight, out of mind."

In other words, girls analyze relationships much more than guys do. Or so we think. But we don't really know.

Anyone want to weigh in on this topic? Is our theory based in fact, or is it flawed in some crucial point?
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Because everyone else is doing it... and of course, that is a good reason to do anything.

Make a post to your LJ. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fun ("I'd love a Snape/Hermione icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.

If you wish for real possible things, make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.

Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ so that the holiday joy will spread.

Step Two
Surf around your friends-list (or friends-friends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:

If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--or even know where you could get someone's dream pure-bred Basset Hound for free--do it.

You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.

My wishes:

1. To be home for Christmas (and praise God, I have an airline ticket for just such a purpose!!!).

2. For Jana to come visit me next semester. (Praying hard for this one.)

3. Starbucks giftcard.

4. Find a job for next year (lol, not like anyone can really grant this wish for me)

5. Miss Potter DVD.

6. Cheesecake on my birthday.

7. Bagels. :-)

8. Mexican food. (Can you tell I miss some facets of American life?)

9. A new purse (brown or black, canvas bookbag style).

10. A good haircut.
jbwordsmith: (BFA)
Hey look, they posted my yearbook pic online.

Read more... )
jbwordsmith: (contemplative)
I suggest traveling light
It's the only way to go
Whether you take the highway
Whether you take the byway
Always take the narrow road
Whether by sunshine
Whether by moonlight
Enjoy your view
That's something that
No one else can do for you

There are rolling green hills
You've never seen
And there's so much blue
Waiting around the corner for you
So don't weep too long
'Cause you're almost home
Just sing a pilgrim song
As you travel on

Put one foot in front of the other
And pilgrim, you will soon discover that
There will be cold streams when you're thirsty
There will be sunshine even in the clouds, so
Don't look back, don't get sidetracked
Just walk on

And pilgrim, when you walk alone
Think about, sing about, dream about home

(Josh Bales, "Pilgrim Song")

This song has been my theme for the past year: a wanderer far from all she's known for the first two decades of her life, assured by God that there are "rolling green hills [I've] never seen" and that despite the dreary days -- the Novembers of life -- there remains "so much blue" around the corner. At certain times it is easier to believe that there are good things around the bend than at other times. Just now is one of those other times.

Why is it so easy to fall into a downward spiral of doubt? How can I question my worth when I know that Jesus saw my life as worthy of His ultimate sacrifice?

Because I have an enemy who is the father of lies. Because he not only goes around like a roaring lion, but also disguised as an angel, whispering lie after lie into my ears under the guise of "self-deprication" or "humility." True humility does not involve wallowing in my shortcomings. It does not mean assuming every problem is my fault and bearing a load of guilt on my back. True humility creates joy because it means I stop thinking about myself and start thinking about others and their needs.

I want to be acceptant of the past, excited about the present, and peaceful about the future. Show me how, Lord.
jbwordsmith: (me jaime)
Those of you who have Facebook should check this out. I have this song hopelessly stuck in my head... Listening to it again probably isn't going to help. Oh well. It's hilarious. :)

If you like silly videos and have time to spare (or just need something to lighten your mood), also check out Rhett & Link. They grew up making silly movies together and are now making a career of it. Some of their stuff is hilarious, and they remind me of my brother and his friends, always making goofy short films and commercials. My other favorites are their songs about Bluetooth phones and water dispensing tabs, and their Subway commercial and the Megatator.

Edit: I don't know them personally. Due to a poorly worded sentence, which I've now edited, some people got the idea that they are my childhood friends, which they are not, LOL! Just thought I'd clear that up.
jbwordsmith: (Default)
Your Inner European is Russian!

Mysterious and exotic.
You've got a great balance of danger and allure.
jbwordsmith: (Default)

White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino

One of a kind and forward looking, you're the first to introduce a wacky new trend to your friends. And even if your ideas seem weird, they get adopted pretty quickly.

jbwordsmith: (lilacs)

Take my quiz!

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