Thursday, December 5, 2013

Faith is bigger...

My friend and I on Thanksgiving

In my last post I couldn't believe it was Thanksgiving and now I can't believe it is December, however I am very much look forward to going home for Christmas (I always look forward to that).

A few years back I did a study on the word "hope" and what it meant when I say "I hope in the Lord."Well lately I have been questioning my faith, I don't mean to I don't have faith, but just questioning what it means to say the word "faith" or "I have faith." Faith is such a small word for all the meaning it has.At the heart of the word faith is believing in something we can't see or in our limited view understand. Last year my co-worker asked me "why do you believe in God?" and I answered "at the end of the day He is the only one  that make sense." Since then I have though how many time God (from my very limited perspective) doesn't make sense, like I can't understand why natural disasters happen, or why there are diseases that can't be cured. So sometimes God doesn't make sense. If I say that does that mean I doubt God? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I am not expecting God to make sense from my view point. So maybe at the end of the day I don't have faith because He is the only one that make sense, but because He is the only one that has kept my life together.

Let me go back and explain... Have you ever felt you got everything together? That you are in control and things are going well. I usually feel this when I have been good in my bible study, strong in having spiritual conversations and I feel I can sit back and cruise, and for a little bit... just enjoy life. Well that is when I start to falter because when I feel I can cruise problems erupt (okay that might be an exaggeration), but I do have a feeling things are falling apart. I have used the analogy of first swimming along just fine, then feeling like I am treading water, then potentially drowning.

So back to faith, as I feel myself like I am treading water, I realize something is not right, and I know immediately I have tried to take control. Why do I do this? Because I am human with arrogance and pride. Depending on how much pride I have at the momen. I either keep treading or try to turn back to God. God is good about reminding me how small and weak I am without Him... to be honest I am okay that. Then He usually sorts things out, and I am saying my life gets better, but He reminds me who and what should be the true focus of my life. Who should be the focus? Is God. What should be the focus? Is His Will. I am not saying I understand all this over night, sometimes I spend months where I feel I am treading water and sometimes I feel I am trying to get back to God but I am blocked. It is not easy to let God break me down and let myself sink until I give up my ideas of control... but it is always worth it.

So why do I do this? More and more as I go through this journey of faith, that having faith in God is believing He will work it out... even if you are not sure what the "it" is. As I am wrapping up this semester and facing my last semester of school, the future is really looming over me. Right now my "it" is the future. I have faith in God because He is working out my future, He has had a plan for me (even before I was born) and I know His plan for me is perfect. In this His ideas of perfect and my ideas of perfect are different, but I know His ways are right and true. Therefore, I have to constantly remind myself to give up my control and give it to Him. I am learning more and more I have faith in God because He will never let me go and I am never on my own, He is always with me, He will always be with me, and I needn't worry because he is taking care of me.

Right now my life seems pretty up in the air as I pray and think about my future, but I am totally eager to see what God has planned for me. I will keep you posted on this journey.
Happy December!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful For!

Oh my goodness I am still in shock that Thanksgiving is this week... of course today it feels like January.

Anyway today in church we were talking about being Thankful and my pastor quoted the passage...
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."- 1 Thessalonians 5:18. 

Then he encouraged us to make us while we are going throughout our days to make a list of things we are Thankful for, so here some things on my list.

Thankful for being an aunt...
it is my favorite role
1. I am thankful God is in control... Most of my life I have always tried to live by a plan, for example in college I knew I was going to take a year off and then go to Grad-school, well a year turned to a year in half (because of personal circumstances) and for awhile I felt I was behind in my plan. Now I am preparing to graduate in May (hopefully) and I have no idea what I want to do with my life... you would think it would be Library Science, but I don't know, I have a lot of passions and I want to do a lot of things so I am not forsure. The awesome thing is I am not in control, He is and He has a perfect will for me. So I am praying God to guide me in my future.

Song: Your love is strong
By: Jon Foreman 

2. I am thankful for God's love... I am single, and sometimes I wish so hard I was in a relationship with "the one" and that I would be looking forward to my wedding day, and sometimes it hurts to be single and feel alone. But God's love is bigger than my singleness and He is giving me this time to really be nurtured in Him and learn how cherished I am to Him.

3. I am thankful for my singleness... as much as I want to be a wife and mother I am thankful for my singleness because I am still uncertain what God has in store for me and being single I can be more open to His desires and callings.
Thankful for my friends who have become a second family 
4. I am thankful for all the support and love I have been given, rather it comes from parents, my sibling, my friends (who are my second family) I am never at a loss for support and love.

Darcy and I snuggling last year during Nemo
5. I am thankful for the hope I have in God. I don't know how everything is  going to work out but I continue to put my hope in God and He continues to see me through even when I feel things are falling apart.

6. On these cold days I am thankful for my apartment, my cat who snuggles on me, and hot tea.

The next thing my pastor encouraged us to do is to "Fix your eyes on the truth." I know for me it is easy to wish my life was different and be discouraged that its not the way I want... but for us to be truly thankful we have to be thankful for what we have instead of wanting something more. What we choose to focus on can make all the difference.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer, and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 4:6-7

I wrote a post last March very similar to this and I shared this collage...
I'm thankful for the people in these pictures. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thankful for the meaning

My nieces first ChristmasDear readers,
I like Thanksgiving, I have some traditions of Thanksgiving that stick with me like watching the Macy's parade and the National Dog Show. Since moving to Boston I have not always had the typical family Thanksgiving, I have made my own traditions of finding friends and spending the day with them. I am not a cook but I love making recipes that I remember from my childhood like pecan pie and sweet potatoes. I love watching my first Christmas movie over hot coco, most of my life we as a family always watched White Christmas, but now as an adult I like to start my season off with A Muppet's Christmas Carol. Sadly however Thanksgiving is often overlooked at least for me personally because it is the start of finals stress season.

Last Christmas...holding nephew
a great gift.
So as much as I like Thanksgiving I love Christmas, so it makes my heart hurt when people say they don't like Christmas. So I will admit I don't like how consumerism Christmas is. I love Christmas because it is a time for me to go home be with family. I will admit even though I hate consumerism, I like picking out gifts for people, this does not always mean buying. My two favorite gifts I have ever given have been to my dad one year it was a photo of us when I was younger and I am just resting my head on his shoulder, another year it was a poem I wrote that made him cry. Now that my niece and nephew are getting bigger I like seeing them on Christmas and seeing the joy they have. So yes I enjoy buying gifts but I set simple rules 1) I don't just buy random gift (usually this means I don't buy everyone I know a gift)... if I buy gifts it means something to me for that person, even if it is a gift card. I gave my friends a gift card to a restaurant so they could have a date night ( and as they had a baby I knew they needed a date night... of course I also offered myself as a babysitter). 2) I don't spend money I don't have... as I am one of the few people in America that don't have a credit card this is easier to do, but I set a budget for myself to keep my spending to a minimum. Yes, Christmas can be tense but it doesn't have to be. Remember a Charlie Brown's Christmas and what Christmas is all about...

I don't mean to stand up on a soapbox... every year my church goes through a series on Advent Conspiracy and it a series that really challenges us to get back to the roots of Christmas (video below explain). The first year we got involved in it... I felt guilty because I like getting gifts, but I mostly like giving gifts, and this felt like more pressure to spend less. I didn't really understand and I couldn't imagine telling my family I wasn't going to buy them gifts especially since I had already sent off my Christmas list.
Over time, I started to understand the idea of Advent Conspiracy. For one I stopped wanting things really. I might want things but instead of asking for things that might seem kind of pointless, I ask for things that I have put a lot of thought into. And as I get older I feel my gifts get more practical, like asking for luggage or shoes. Since I don't buy random gifts I don't like asking for random gifts. Also since I don't buy every body I know I don't expect gifts from everyone. So if you are reading this and think you need to buy me a gift... don't. And if you read that sentence and still think you need to get me a gift... I ask you to give to LIVING WATER.

I don't think I truly understood Advent Conspiracy until my pastor said something to the effect "make Christmas mean something more to others." I have never tried to sugar coat my life on this blog, but I know I am blessed in my life and I thankful that I don't fall into the group of people that just want Christmas behind them (according to a statistic given in my church it was more than 50%). I understand stress can come with Christmas, the travelling, seeing people who you may not want, buying people gifts you don't want and sometimes there is a deep pain if you are alone. I know those feelings even in a small amount, but I want to ask what if we made Christmas about more than ourselves? Christmas is consider the time of giving... what if we could give to others who couldn't give to themselves. I have found my passion for Living Water, but I know there are other organizations out there that are helping others meet basic needs around the world and in our own country... I think if we pushed ourselves to spend less on meaningless things and actually gave to others our Christmas might mean more.
I owe this picture to opening my eyes to the true plight of the thirsty, it was this picture and the fact "A child dies every 15 second because of clean water," and I thought "not on my watch." It was after this I decided to go to Honduras, on a Living Water trip.

Sorry this post was not meant to be a soap box, I just meant to encourage you that if you are feeling down at Christmas, this wonderful time of giving, that we give more than just gifts and presents but we give love... because love can change the world.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Song for Saturday

One of our dance parties 
In honor of my friend getting engaged... I wanted to share one of my favorite "hopeful romantic" song.
Song: May Waltz
By: Brooke Fraser 
The video is a little sappy, but I like the fact it has the lyrics.

Monday, November 11, 2013

6 degrees of separation in period dramas

If you have been reading this blog long enough you know I have an obsession for Jane Austen, Dan Stevens, and other period dramas so I often play "6 degrees of separation" with these obsessions so here you go...
Colin Firth acted with Julia Sawalha in Pride and Prejudice.Julia Sawalha was Lydia Bennet who liked to make to trouble and she grew up to be Dorcas Lane in Lark Rise to Candleford, who loves to meddled causing trouble. 

Brendan Coyle and Claudie Blakley
in Lark Rise to Candleford.
In the show Lark Rise to Candleford Julia Sawalha acted with Brendan Coyle.Before Brendan Coyle was the stubborn but wise Robert Timmins he played the stubborn but wise Nicholas Higgins in North and South with Richard Armitage. 
After playing Robert Timmins, Brendan Coyle went on to play Mr. Bates in Downton Abbey with Dan Stevens. 
Brendan Coyle as both Mr. Bates and Robert Timmins 

Before Dan Stevens played the lovable Matthew Crawley he played the lovable Edward Ferrars in a version of Sense and Sensibility with Hattie Morahan.
Fan made video of Edward and Elinor

Hattie Morahan also made a guest appearance on Lark Rise to Candleford. 

 Lark Rise to Candleford also stars Claudie Blakley who played Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice (2005) with Matthew MacFayden. 
Lark Rise also features Victoria Hamilton, who was also featured in Mansfield Park starring Jonny Lee Miller as Edward Bertram. Jonny Lee Miller also plays Mr. Knightley in Emma. 

Victoria Hamilton is on the right 

Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai in Emma proposal scene 

Romola Garai stars in a lot of period dramas including Daniel Deronda, which stars Hugh Bonneville who is also featured in lots in of period dramas. She also worked with Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair. 
Reese Witherspoon has starred in numerous films, but sticking with the period drama theme... she starred in The Importance of Being Earnest with Colin Firth. 
Woo lots of connections... and I know this  post has gotten long but I think there two good side notes.

1) Going back to North and South it features Anna Maxwell Martin, who also is in Becoming Jane
and we all know who stars in Becoming Jane
Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy
2) Going back to Lark Rise which also stars Ruby Bentall 
who is also in The Paradise currently featured on PBS Masterpiece

Hope you enjoy all this wonderful period dramaness

P.S. I have wanted to do this post for awhile... so I am glad to finally post it. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another month another update

Highly recommend this chapter book
Hello my loyal readers,

You have to be loyal if you are reading this blog still. I feel I have no words, when ever I want to write my mind gets overwhelmed with how much work I have to do, how many papers I have to write and how many books I have to read. So actually I have a lot of words.

I am surprised it is November, I can't believe that people are listening to Christmas music and  must admit that as I made my Christmas travel plans I too wanted to watch Christmas movies. However, for most of my life my family has not watched Christmas movies till after Thanksgiving. So I would feel just wrong watching a Christmas movie until then. So I'm awaiting that time.

But in the mean time... here is what is going on my life. My semester is winding down (as I only have a month left). Winding down makes it sound as if it is relaxing... I wish I have 3 more projects due in my Children's Lit Class. I know Children's Lit is not in my degree of archiving. But after last semester (where I wanted to drop out of school) I decided to try something completely new and fortunately my advisor was okay with it. We started with reading picture books, then easy reader, and now we are in chapter books. I am always impressed with my classmates, they truly have a passion for this. People might be shocked by this but I wasn't always a big reader, at least not when I was a kid, I only remember reading a book called Third Grade Detectives, and Matilda. I did not really like reading until 6th or 7th grade and I read  Ella Enchanted and something inside me clicked. Anyway I feel I am spending a lot of time doing catch up....

with my Harvard ID
My other class is my internship class, where I get to work at Harvard Art Museum Archives. Everyone thinks it is cool I get Harvard next to my name (which it is), however I liked the job of being a reference person more so. I really like interacting with people and doing research, so I feel reference will be a good spot for me. Sadly the museum is closed as it is under renovations, so I am getting more interactions with emails than in person people. However, I'm loving doing research and touching documents that are close to a 100 years old. One thing I am surprised about is though I am working in an art museum archives, so little of my research actually is about art, it is mostly about the history of the museum.  I am sad to say with the number of hours I have to complete I will only be at this internship till Thanksgiving.

An aerial shot of the Fogg museum
The brick part was built in 1927
The glass is to add more more natural light
my stack of books on my desk
Other than my classes... I am happy to say my semester is busy but it is going well. I am not feeling too overwhelmed or feeling the anxiety that I felt semester. I am also happy to say I turned in my thesis proposal, I haven't heard back from them if it was approved or not, but just doing my thesis proposal feels quite accomplished. Last semester I was so burnt out from taking 2 history classes (yeah not a good idea) that writing my thesis proposal was a big struggle, and then I had a little break down where I thought of dropping out of school... I was talked off that ledge. Through some encouragement I went ahead and pursued my ideas, found sources, and I felt more confident writing my thesis proposal.  I hope to write on working women at the turn of the twentieth century and how they used fashion to liberate themselves (before they had the vote). It is interesting I spend some time reading books about clothes then I spend other time reading books about working women. I will also be using letters and diaries.

The look below is an example of women wearing the shirtwaist style (comparative to a modern day blouse) and a dark skirt, very popular for working women. Though this look might look restrictive... it was actually more freeing than past styles. The shirtwaist was worn by all spheres of society, it was the working women who really used this style to liberate themselves and potentially move up in the world. 
Okay loyal readers, I feel this post is long enough and while it has been fun to get some writing some in, I have to begin my day. 

Hopefully will post before next month.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Confession

Hello readers,

I have a confession to make in the past I have been a "negative nelly" about autumn because autumn means winter is coming, but this year I have been enjoying it. The street I live on has lots of trees and they are all changing colors and it is great to be walking and having leaves fall down around you. Last night I was kind of having a "ho-hum" day and as I was walking a bit of breeze hit and leaves fell down. I said "Thank you Lord." It was just a little moment of calm and happiness.

Us waiting for the bus at the airport...
we were so happy to see each other
Also this last weekend my sister and niece came to visit and watching her enjoying the fall--crunching on the leaves, drinking hot chocolate, and every thing else was just made my heart so happy. (Plus just being with my niece makes me happy).

Walking through the Gardens
Visiting Mrs. Mallard
"Make Way for Ducklings"
Enjoying the sun... playing on the Greenway
I had a great stay-cation and I love showing off this city that I love so much.

Also I think right now God is teaching me to live in the present and enjoy it, not just to keep thinking about the future. I am going to enjoy this fall (even with the knowledge that winter is coming) and be thankful for the present.

This will be hard because I know I spend a lot of time thinking of the future, I have a weird nostalgia about the future thinking things will be better or that things will make sense. But I have to remember God is preparing and molding me now for what He has for me. So NOW my focus should be to learn what He wants from me in the present and not be so focused on what is beyond my control.

Hope you guys have a great fall!

All three of us enjoying the sun. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Figuring some things out...


I am sorry I have not posted more, I do not know how professional or even non-professional bloggers post every day or even once every week. I did it during the summer but now my brain is frozen. So I posted a life update  in September (actually my only post from September), but looking back on it the post seemed a little light and fluffy and I have been adamant that my blogs are not just going to be light and fluffy. So here is what has been going on behind the scenes...

In August I wrote a "Dear Anne" letter but I never published it because it seemed a bit "boo-me", however I feel I am still working on some of these emotions... 

Dear Anne,

I know it has been awhile since I have written, I was beginning to feel confident in myself and writing about my deeper thoughts without having to write to a fictional person. However, right now I feel I can only express myself if I write to you.

Best Buds
Dearest Anne, I am feeling a little lost, a little lonely, and a little empty. I would like to say my mind is just being overloaded with my move and packing up my place and that could be it... but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it started when I got back from my family reunion, as great as it was, I will say I felt very lonely during it. My younger sister and cousin, I kind of felt we grew up together and whenever our family got together it was the 3 of us together... one year we went to Branson, Missouri and we made the shirts that said "Best Buds". This year I went and my younger sister had her husband and my cousin had her finance... and I didn't have anyone and I think it hit me truly that I am very single and I felt a little left out. I don't want to be all "boo me"... so sorry. (L and C if you read this please know I am completely happy for you and nothing I said about being lonely takes away that feeling of happiness I have for you.)
We so silly

Lately I have been coming to terms with my insecurities and how low I feel about myself. My co-worker and I grabbed dinner one night after work and she called me out. She said "Blaire, your faith is about loving people, but I don't think you love yourself as much as you love others." I couldn't even respond because if I did I would have to say "yes" and then cry. Then in my bible study we are going through some questions we have with our faith and I was inquiring about "humility" vs. "insecurities". I was reminded that 1)God created me in His image 2) God makes His home in us and 3) calls our bodies a temple... I have a warped since of image if I cannot see that and I need to trust my image and hand over my insecurities more and more to God. So I have been reading passages about being made in "God's image" so far my favorite has been from Colossians 3:1-17.

I have also been looking into passages about purpose. After last semester I have felt a little passion-less for Library Science, for school, and really life. I am putting a lot of hope in this semester with taking a children's librarian class and my internship... I am really wanting these classes will spark my passion for libraries. Earlier this summer I was really feeling like dropping out of school, and what was holding me back was the knowledge I only had a year left. Right now my plan is to finish school... hopefully May 2014. Then when I am working full time look into creative writing classes. Even if it doesn't become a profession when I am writing, writing feels like it is the only thing I should be doing. That fulfills one plan and sounds great on paper, but it is not all of me.

Lately (even pre-move) I have had these feelings of being un-settled. I know I am "stuck" in Boston at least until I finish school, but after that I don't know what is going to happen. To be honest I have thought about packing up and moving. I have thought about moving to Texas to be closer to sister and her family, I have thought about moving to D.C. to pursue my dream of working for the Library of Congress, and I have thought about going into overseas missions. I am not sure if I really want to be doing overseas missions, but when I was in Honduras I just fell in love with being in a completely new culture and being filled by giving to others. The other week I was talking to my dad and he joked I could end up in Uganda, he then said "I don't know what library you would work for in Uganda" and I quickly responded "Oh if I went to Uganda, I wouldn't be doing library work, I would be doing Living Water." "So nothing related?" he asked. "Nope, nothing related." There is still so much I want to do with my life. Of course I think about staying here in Boston, sometimes the thought of leaving Boston hurts too much. I have made friends, a second family, I know and love Boston.
old pic...this is my best friend's baby
and my heart melts every time she calls me
"Aunt Bear"
Since the first time I came here I have felt like Boston is my home (where I fit), but lately it hasn't felt true. So I am praying right now for God to direct me, but that is all in the future... 

I am wondering what God wants in my life right now. I know God has a reason for me to here in Boston and in school, even I don't know that that is. I am asking God to show me.

I know one thing I need to work on is being more social. I don't think I need to make more friends, though I have loved the new friendships I have made over this summer, but I think I need to go deeper. I have a hard time being vulnerable with people, and admitting I need help. Lately I have felt very overwhelmed with life and kind of want to run away and hide but that is not a reality and I don't think that is what God truly wants from me. So I have had to ask people for help and it has been really hard, but I am hoping through God is teaching me about his control and to rest in his strength.

Sorry this is so long I guess after not writing for so long, I guess I had some words to say.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Literary Fear Conquered

Back in July I wrote a post about my Literary Fear where I admit I was afraid to read anything by Charles Dickens (among others)... well I am happy to say as of Sunday night I conquered that fear by finishing Little Dorrit. It took me long enough I must say, but to be fair I did read The Fault was in our Stars and The Secret Garden  while I was reading that book, and the book is about 780-800 pages (depending on the edition). Even with all this going on I still felt like this book took me way to long to get through, so I am happy that I had the miniseries to watch to remind me a) what was going on because Dickens is very wordy and b) why I am actually reading it. Anyway, I am happy to have my first Dickens behind me and maybe now every summer I will conquer on more literary fear.

For those who don't care about my literary fears I am sorry I have posted so little lately... I do have a blog post in mind, I am just trying to think of the words to say.