Words for the Holy Week

I wanted to write something for Easter, but it just wasn’t working. The well of words ran dry. And you know what? That’s okay. I don’t always have to say something great to commemorate a special time or interact with issues I care about or––well, basically, I don’t always have to say something, period. That’s something I’ve been learning recently. And I guess I did just say something by saying that. Oh well.

The point is: for this Easter, I’m showing up not as a creator but as a connoisseur. I selected some of my favorite songs and quotes for each day of the Holy Weekend. (Is that a thing? I know Holy Week is, but I’m not sure about the weekend. It should be anyhow.) Most of the songs and quotes relate directly to the events of each day, but some are a little more, idk, less obviously about Easter, especially for Saturday. But the cool thing about Easter story is how deeply it has permeated all of art, not just explicitly Easter stuff.

I hope these words can make Easter little more real and meaningful to you this year. ❤

i. friday | weep

For all the pain you suffered, my mama. For all the torment of your past and future years, my mama. For all the anguish this picture of pain will cause you. For the unspeakable mystery that brings good fathers and sons into the world and lets a mother watch them tear at each other’s throats. For the Master of the Universe, whose suffering world I do not comprehend. For dreams of horror, for nights of waiting, for memories of death, for the love I have for you, for all the things I remember, and for all the things I should remember but have forgotten, for all these I created this painting—an observant Jew working on a crucifixion because there was no aesthetic mold in his own religious tradition into which he could pour a painting of ultimate anguish and torment.

~ Chaim Potok, My Name Is Asher Lev


More I recall not, yet the vision spread
Into a world remote, an age to come­
And still the illumined name of Jesus shed
A light, a clearness, through the enfolding gloom­
And still I saw that sign, which now I see,
That cross on yonder brow of Calvary.

What is this Hebrew Christ ? To me unknown,
His lineage—­doctrine—­mission—­yet how clear,
Is God-like goodness, in his actions shewn!
How straight and stainless is his life’s career!
The ray of Deity that rests on him,
In my eyes makes Olympian glory dim.

~ Charlotte Bronte, “Pilate’s Wife’s Dream”


He was pierced and scourged and mocked. He was cursed and raised up on a tree, but He was in that ancient pose of victory.

An old man on a hill, a blind man between two pillars, the God Man on a cross.

Glory is sacrifice, glory is exhaustion, glory is having nothing left to give.

Almost.

It is death by living.

The earth shook. The roof came down. The world changed. The armies fled.

That Moses kept his hands up.

~ N. D. Wilson, Death By Living

Last Words (Tenebrae) | Andrew Peterson

Today you will be with me in Paradise
You will be with me today

How Love Wins | Steven Curtis Chapman

This is how love wins
Every single time
Climbing high upon a tree
Where someone else should die

Mercy’s War | Jon Foreman

Oh, the wonderful blood of Jesus
Maker is unmade
Love succums to hate
Life himself is slain

ii. saturday | wait

“Belief isn’t simply a thing for times and bright days, I think. What is belief—what is faith––if you don’t continue it after failure? … Anyone can believe in someone, or something, that always succeeds, Mistress. But failure…ah, now, that is hard enough to believe in, certainly and truly. Difficult enough to have value, I think.”

~ Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn: The Final Empire


“All that is made seems planless to the darkened mind, because there are more plans than it looked for.”

~ C. S. Lewis, Perelandra


You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?

~ C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

God Rested | Andrew Peterson

So they took His body down
The man who said He was the resurrection and the life
Was lifeless on the ground
The sky was red as blood along the blade of night

Remember When It Rained | Josh Groban

Oh, remember when it rained.
Felt the ground and looked up high
And called your name.
Oh, remember when it rained.
In the darkness I remain.

There Is a Plan | Twila Paris

It was a very dark time
It was a very dark place
There was a visible force
And an invisible grace

iii. sunday | wonder

“Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

~ C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

~ J. R. R. Tolkein, The Return of the King


What seemed to the disciples the final acme of disappointment and grief, the vanishing of his body itself, was in reality the first sign of the dawn of an illimitable joy. He was not there because he had risen.

~ George MacDonald, Miracles of Our Lord

Alive | Natalie Grant

Alive! Alive!
Look what Mercy’s overcome
Death has lost and Love has won

Christ is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed | Keith and Kristyn Getty

For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen.

Hosanna | Andrew Peterson

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent
You have carried to the grave the black stain
You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain
You have beaten Death at Death’s own game

PSA: Andrew Peterson (who, you may have noticed, got a lot of showtime in this post) came out with a new album today, called Resurrection Letters, Vol. I. It’s all about the resurrection (no kidding) and I am insanely excited for it. He also released a five song prologue to it all about the crucifixion––I used two of those songs for Friday and Saturday here––and you can listen to them at this YouTube playlist.

Have you listened to/read any of these before? What are some of your favorite songs and quotes about Easter? How are you celebrating this year?

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a celebration of spring

A few weeks ago my family, aunt, and two cousins went to Keukenhof, a huge garden in the Netherlands with literally millions of flowers. The weather was perfect, and I took 400+ photos. *sheepish grin* My family kindly put up with me stopping every foot and snapping more pictures. There was just too much GORGEOUS. Anywho, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you guys since I want to share more of my photography. Enjoy my little celebration of spring. 

(Also if you click on the pictures you can see a bigger version, which I’d recommend since I think they look better bigger. =D)


 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

~ e. e. cummings

So, dear readers: How’s your spring coming? What kinds of natural beauty have you enjoyed? Which picture is your favorite? *hands out some lemonade and cookies*

 

Out With the Old, In With the New {2016}

Ah, 2016. It’s certainly been a year, hasn’t it? For me personally, it was a good year. I earned a lot of money teaching swim lessons in the first half of the year; I traveled to South Africa on an amazing mission trip; I got to visit family, colleges, and the beach (THE BEACH, guys. My favorite thing in the world.). These past few months in Germany have been wonderful—not only have I loved living in this beautiful country, but somehow my school schedule this year has let me be way more productive and actually have more free time than last year. I feel less stressed, even with college apps and my arm pain. So praise God for all of that.

But as for the world, it’s been a rather rough year. Every day I was in South Africa, there was a new report of some shooting in America. At least, that’s what it felt like. Terrorist attacks cropped up sickeningly often. And the election, all the anger and accusations, the chaos and confusion, all the tension and bitterness that have left us exhausted. The death of Carrie Fisher seemed to seal 2016’s doom as a particularly rotten year.

I don’t have anything particularly eloquent or profound to say to all that except that, well, it’s a new year. Isn’t it just like God to give us a fresh start every twelve months? He’s the God of second chances, the God of working redemption in the dark. His story—in you personally, in this wide, aching world at large—is far from done. So right now I’m going to take a breather and think about some of the things that went right this year. Will you join me?


Reading Review: 2016

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  1. I failed my goal of 110 books. This failure of my book count goal is becoming a tradition, it seems. And while I’m not overly concerned with the number of books I read, I do feel like this was a dryer reading year. I certainly found many books to enjoy, but overall … I don’t know, it just wasn’t as spectacular or earth-shattering as years past. But that’s okay. I know every year can’t be like that. And I did stumble upon some treasures …
  2. THE LIST. So last year I picked my top six books for three genres—non-fiction, fiction, and speculative—that I’d read that year and that were new to me. This year, I read wayyy less speculative stuff than before, so I felt like I couldn’t really find six stellar books for that category. Instead, I’m going with my top eighteen books in those three categories, but the categories can have unequal numbers of books. (I’m probably the only person who cares about the number of books, but whatevs. It makes my OCD happy.) Here ya go:

Non-fiction: 

  • The Innovators ~ Walter Isaacson
  • Walking on Water ~ Madeleine L’Engle
  • Art and the Bible ~ Francis Schaeffer
  • Alexander Hamilton ~ Ron Chernow
  • Amazing Grace ~ Eric Metaxas
  • Originals ~ Adam Grant

Fiction: 

  • Vinegar Girl ~ Anne Tyler
  • The Chosen ~ Chaim Potok
  • Challenger Deep ~ Neal Shusterman
  • Middlemarch ~ George Eliot
  • David Copperfield ~ Charles Dickens
  • Paradise Lost ~ John Milton
  • The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict ~ Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Salt to the Sea ~ Ruta Sepetys

Speculative: 

  • A Foundling’s Tale series ~ D. M. Cornish
  • 100 Cupboards series ~ N. D. Wilson
  • The Thief ~ Megan Whalen Turner
  • Wingfeather Tales ~ Ed. by Andrew Peterson

Writing Wind-up: 2016

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  1. NaPoWriMo. This was my third year doing the National Poetry Writing Month, although I did it in May this time, so I could do Camp NaNoWriMo in April. A few other bloggers joined me in my May excursion, which was really fun. *high-fives my rebel buddies* As always, I loved NaPo, and I hope to do it again this year.
  2. Phoenix. *minor squeal because this story just makes me happy and excited* So for Camp NaNo in April, I wrote a short story called Phoenix. Except that it ended up being not so short. Its current version is sitting pretty at 22k, which I guess is novella length? I finished it in July (I think) and have started editing it. I’m not sure when I’ll finish that and how/where I’ll reveal it, but I’m just glad that I actually finished a longer writing project.
  3. Um? *coughs* So yeah. I didn’t really do much else, mostly because I was super busy with my job and traveling in the summer, and my arms have been hurting since. But I’ve also been working on college applications and being the senior editor for my online school’s e-magazine (shameless self-advertising there, mhm). I feel like I’ve got a story brewing in me, but it’s pretty deep down in there. It’s going to be big, I think, and right now I’m content to jot down notes and read and just let it germinate. My arms couldn’t handle a big project now anyway. I’m trying not to get discouraged that I’ve done so little compared to what other people are doing. I know God doesn’t waste anything, and maybe this time is a learning, rejuvenating time. Maybe when my arms heal, I’ll have a lot of story ideas and inspiration that I’ve accumulated during this waiting period.

The Best Is Yet to Come: 2017

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  1. This blog. I just have to say, I love this blog. I love posting on here, I love your comments, I love interacting with you guys. This whole experience has been a huge blessing to me. For now, I’ll be posting when I can, probably a few times a month, with whatever poetry, stories, and musings I’m able to write. It’ll be nothing like last year, when I posted about three times a week and had a fancy schedule, but it’s something. I also want to change my theme at some point; I’ll update you when that happens. *bounces*
  2. NaPoWriMo & more. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be able to physically handle NaPo, but I’d really love to. Maybe I’ll tailor it to what I can do, like three poems a week instead of one a day. We’ll see. NaPo is one of my favorite things ever, so I’m going to fight to make it work. Also, depending on how my arms are, I really want to try to enter Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s yearly fairytale retelling contest. I finally bought the previous collections (her Christmas sale on those was amazing), and they’ve really inspired me. *more excited bouncing* Oh, and figure out what to do with Phoenix. That’s another goal for this year.
  3. 100 books. Yeah, my book count for each year keeps getting shorter. But hopefully also more realistic. Besides, 100 is such a nice, round number. It makes me happy.

* all photos from unsplash

And that’s all, folks! Here’s to another year of doing hard things and looking for the light—and, of course, writing a lot and reading even more. How was 2016 for you, personally or otherwise? Any favorite books or writing projects? *hands some sparkling grape juice* Let’s chat!

A Blogday Celebration

Welcome to my blogday celebration!

gandalffirework

Well, oh-most-awesome-readers, the day has come! I’m so excited for it. While no birthday party can match that of Bilbo and Frodo, I hope to capture some of its excitement and cheer here. *admires the fireworks*  *tosses confetti* *hands out cake* Let’s celebrate!

{ fun facts}

In honor of A Glimpse of Starlight’s second birthday, I thought I’d share some fun facts about it:

  • It’s at 296 followers (email-only included)! Two hundred and ninety-six people with their own stories have taken some precious time to click the “follow” button and share a little bit of life with me. Thank you, every single one of you.
  • My first post on September 21st (the day before Hobbit day, I’ll have you know) was a short story, Worldchanger. It’s still one of my favorites.
  • This is my 248th post, which means I post roughly ten times a month. Yikes. I think, however, that the data is skewed from March 2015 when I posted a NaPoWriMo poem almost daily. I can’t believe you guys withstood that deluge. xD
  • I haven’t gotten any horribly strange search terms, but here are a few odd ones: “isabella morganthal” (not sure who/what she is or when she ever appeared on my blog, but hey); “roger burton beach scene” (this sounds like a painting?); “i’m obsessed with the word miscellaneous” (*cackles* yay for miscellany); “what does ponderful mean” (I love that my blog showed up for this)
  • It’s gotten 12,184 views. I honestly have no idea if this impressive or not (probably not but hey), but I feel like it’s an important piece of data so there.

{Qs and As}

So I was utterly blown away with all the questions I received. Seriously, guys, I was not expecting such a torrent, but I love it. I had bunches of fun answering them. Because I didn’t want this post to become too massive (which, heh, looks like happened anyway), I wasn’t able to answer every single question. I just picked my five-ish favorites from each person (if they gave me more than that). Thank you to everyone for these wonderful Fragen (German word for the day). Let’s hit it!

Abi:

If you could smell one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That autumn scent—the sweet, slightly tangy, fresh, clear scent of crushed leaves and crisp wind. That’s probably my favorite smell in the whole world, and I don’t think it would get old like other scents might.

~
If you could meet a single person of historical significance (dead or alive), who would you choose?

Ahhh. The first person who comes to mind is William Wilberforce, because not only is he my hero and I’d like to ask him about how he did everything he did and tips he has for people who want to emulate him, but he sounds like a genuinely fun, witty, delightful person to hang out with.

~
What is one of your writing quirks?

I never know how to answer this question, but something kind of quirky about me is that I’m a huge morning person—I work so much better and faster in the morning. However, I do my best writing at night. I write way faster then, too. ‘Tis a strange phenomenon.

~
If you had to choose between saving your stash of handwritten manuscripts or your cat (*insert some other pet you might be more attached to*) from a house fire, which would you choose and why?

This sounds kind of bad, but I’m really not a pet/animal person. However, if I were, I’d save the pet because it’s a life. I’m not going to lie and say, “I could always write the story again,” because I know from experience that that’s not as easy as it sounds. But it would still be easier to rewrite a story than, you know, resurrect an animal.

~
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do before an audience?

Play the piano. I kid you not. I love acting, and I even enjoy public speaking. But playing the piano? Nope. I’m just not naturally gifted at it, so I feel less confident at it, and my first piano recital ever, when I was seven-ish, was a humiliating disaster. *shudders at the thought*

Sarah:

If you could, would you?

Without a doubt. Unless it was eating artichokes.

~
Pie or cake? Whichever you chose, what’s your favorite kind?

My only answer is to this tortuous question can be: Chocolate cake. Red velvet cake. Apple pie. Lemon merangue pie.

(Have you noticed that I can’t pick favorites of anything? It’s ridiculous.)

~
What’s one thing you like about living in Germany?

I love lots of things about Germany, but one special thing that I’ve really been enjoying is how there are gardens and plants everywhere. Even in cities, every house has a garden, and they can fit so many plants and beauty into such small spaces. Stores and office buildings have pots of flowers outside or window boxes. It lifts my spirit to look around and see so much natural beauty.

Would you rather live in Rome during Nero’s reign or Paris during the French Revolution?

I really love this question, for some reason. It’s my nerdiness coming out. In terms of being able to survive, I’d pick the French Revolution because I feel like I could, I don’t know how to put it, play the game and make it through. I could figure out which way the tide was turning and just go with that. But part of me things it would be so cool to be a Christian during Nero’s reign—like, to see the unity between the Christians and the courage they showed in the face of such danger and to really have to stand up for what I believed in. I guess I’d like to see if I could stay strong. So I’m actually going to go with Rome.

If you were given a chance to live in the world of the Goldstone Wood series, or the world of any other fantasy book/series that you love, would you take that opportunity? Or would you remain on Earth?

Ahhh, those places all would be amazing to visit—but that’s it. Visit. I’d want to stay here because, well, that’s where I’ve been put. This is where my destiny lies, to sound all dramatic. This is where I can best make a difference, it’s a place I want to change for the better. This Earth isn’t my home, but it’s where my path lies, and I don’t want to leave that path (permanently. I’d love to visit those other places. =D).

~
Do you know how awesome you are? *hugs*

Awww. Thank you so much. I hope you know how awesome you are. *hugs back*

Elle:

What song(s) would make up the soundtrack of your life?

“You Will Find Your Way” // Andrew Peterson

“Nothing is Wasted” // Jason Gray

“Reaching” // Carolyn Arends

“Sound of Silence” // Celtic Thunder version

“O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” // Selah version

“Penholder” // Flyleaf

“Hold Me Now” // RED

 

What would your lightsaber’s color be?

If we’re going by what the colors traditionally symbolized, I’d be green, used by Jedi who fight more mentally/spiritually. But in terms of just color, I’d prefer purple or blue. Let’s go with purple.

~
Which spren would you attract the most of?

Oooh. Probably creationspren or anticipationspren.

~
What color do you speak in?

Purple, with a tinge of hot pink or spicy red or brown depending on my mood (hot pink for when my inner extrovert comes out, spicy red for when I say things I’ll regret later, and brown for when I’m in the dumps). But ideally and usually just purple.

Do you have a favorite number?

I have two (surprise, surprise). In my mind, nine is purple and two is blue, which are my favorites colors, so they’re my favorite numbers. They’re also the numbers of my favorite sports players (9, Drew Brees; 2, Derek Jeter). I also really like three because the pattern of three is everywhere, from nature to music to theology.

Sarah II

What are your favorite pens/pencils/journals?

This question makes me happy. =D I just got these new colored pens, and they’re perfect—they write smoothly but don’t run. I also have this really nice purple mechanical pencil (it’s actually Really Nice Purple Mechanical Pencil II, because I lost the first one, to my deep dismay). As for journals, I found this gorgeous Moleskin notebook at Barnes and Noble (I am so in love with that store) with a scene from The Hobbit embossed—in color!—on it, and then Tolkien’s illustrations from The Hobbit (plus quotes) inside. That’s where I write down any random story ideas, scene snippets, lines of poetry, etc. I call it my Conlatio Notionem, which is Latin for gathering of ideas.

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What kitchen untensil are you most like? 

I asked my mom about this one, and she said a spatula because they’re helpful, thorough, and come in pretty colors. =D

~
What’s your goal this year for your blog?

That’s actually something I’ve been thinking about recently. I’d like to branch out and be brave and try some things like hosting a link-up (I actually have an idea for one that I’m really excited about; I’m still working on the details, but hopefully in the next few months I can try it out). If I had to put it in a sentence, my goal for this year is to deepen the community here, continue to write the very best I can, and venture into some new territory.

~
What’s some lessons that God’s been teaching you?

That it’s more important how He views me and not how I view Him—but also that I often think of Him the wrong way. He’s far bigger than I let Him be and far more loving than I let myself believe. That it’s not about what I need to do but what He’s already done. That the Christian life is not a checklist, it’s a relationship. That He’s the only one who can condemn me, and instead, He has declared me innocent.

~
What do you do when you’re stressed?

Go off by myself and either read and listen to music or pray and think. Writing helps, too—I often journal more when I’m stressed, and I tend to write more poetry when I’m stressed too. And I cry too, if I’m stressed enough.

Shoulda Broughta Book:

How do you find inspiration for your posts?

Oh, goodness. I’m always pondering something, and I always have a lot of thoughts about things I’m learning or books I’m reading, so sometimes it’s pretty easy: I just have to take an inventory of what I’ve been thinking about recently and go with that. I also just try to be aware of the world around me and what that triggers inside me. Like, if I notice how the sun makes a pretty pattern on my quilt, what does that make me think of? Maybe the little gifts of God or the beauty of everyday life, which ends up getting turned into a post.

~
Assuming you enjoy writing, do you have any goals or dreams for your talent?

I do enjoy writing, quite. =D Well, I plan to study some kind of writing in college—technical writing/communications. While I love creative writing, I don’t feel that I could make a good living off of it. xP I’ll always continue it on the side, but for a career, I want to write some kind of non-fiction. I’m still trying to figure the exact details of that (someone remind me that I don’t have to have my whole life figured out yet). ANYWAY. Short answer: I want to write for my career, and more importantly, I want it to help people somehow.

Why is reading important to you?

Reading is important to me because it both refreshes me and challenges me. It lets me explore worlds I’d never otherwise be able to, and it teaches me about my own world. It’s a way of connecting with others—both the author and my fellow readers of that particular book. It puts me in the shoes of others and teaches me empathy. It feeds my imagination and nourishes my soul, while also inspiring me and strengthening my brain. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally—it’s one of the most important things I can ever do.

Is there a novel you wish more people would read?

All the ideas I’m getting are books that I feel like lots of people do read. Let’s go with The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge because of the characters and everything they learn or Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgumery because it’s a lovely story with many inspiring themes. Go read both of those, guys.

Lydia:

What fictional character are you most like?

Oooh. The first one that comes to mind is Janner Igiby of The Wingfeather Saga, because I can just really relate to his struggles and personality, even his place in his family—and of course his love of words. Leta in Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Dragonwitch also reminds me of myself, with her struggle between wanting to stand out/ pursue her own dreams and wanting not to draw attention/cause tension.

~
If you had to listen to one song on repeat for a whole day, what song would you choose?

Probably Andrew Peterson’s “Romans 11 (Doxology)” because those words of praise set to that peaceful yet inspiring music would be such an uplifting background for my day.

~
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

When my friend and I were traveling to South Africa, we had a six-hour layover in D.C., so we decided to take the metro to see the monuments. Unfortunately, the bus ride to the metro station and the metro ride itself took so long that we only had time to dash (with our gigantic backpacks) to the Washington Memorial, take an awful selfie with it (and lovely construction stuff) in the background, and fly back to the metro. I was so proud that we figured out how to navigate the metro by our little selves—and that we made it to our flight in time. xP

~
What’s something on your bucket list?

*grins* I’m going to pick a few:

  • visit all 50 states (I’m over halfway there, I think)
  • see the northern lights
  • learn sign language
  • have some writing of mine published

If you could broadcast one sentence to the entire world, what would it be?

Whoa, what a question. Either Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” or something like, “You were meant to live for so much more” (credits to Switchfoot), because sometimes I wish I could just wake people up and show them how fragile and fading the things they hope in are, and how there’s truth out there and real salvation and an incredible purpose for their lives.

Lakunsterlin

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen in your travels to Germany so far?

*flails* I guess the Alps. We vacationed in an Alpine village last time we lived here, and just being able to look around me on any side and be surrounded by these massive mountains was incredible. Walking in the mountains was even cooler (literally and in its popular usage), and the town was so quaint, with gorgeous windowboxes on every house.

Would you say that so far Germans have proved to be “unfriendlier” than Americans, “friendlier,” or just “other”/”different”? (this question has come up several times in my experiences, but I don’t know if I’m objective, so I would love to know what your experiences have been so far)

So, you’re walking down the street in Germany, and you pass a strange. I the American smiles at them and says, “Hallo.” And they either ignore me or frown at me like I’ve committed some crime. That’s the type of thing that makes me feel like saying they are kind of unfriendly. But I’ve met many nice, helpful Germans, who, once you start talking to them, are just as “friendly” as Americans. So when I think about it, it’s really not unfriendliness. It’s just, like you said, otherness, a different culture. They might not wave at strangers on the path like Americans would, but if there’s a reason for you to be talking to them, they are very kind and open. It’s just different cultural norms/social customs that make them seem unfriendly. Once you can look past those, they’re no less friendly than Americans.

 What would you say is the best way to keep yourself focused while reading? How do you not drift off into your own imagination whilst trying to enter an author’s own imaginary world? 

Hmmm. I’m often so engrossed in the book that my own imagination doesn’t interrupt me that much. However, when it does, I sometimes just accept it. Like, clearly my brain needs to imagine and consider all these things, so let’s roll with it. Reading becomes a vehicle for my thoughts to soar. Sometimes I welcome that. Other times, when I really want (or need) to read, I do a lot of underlining/writing notes in the margins. Interacting with the book on the physical level helps me ignore my rowdy brain, and because I’m on the lookout for good quotes or places to converse with the author, my mind stays more focused on it. If I’m getting story ideas from the book, I write them down in my Contatio Notionem. I find that after I’ve done that, my imagination rests because it knows I’ve catalogued whatever it so desperately wants me to know.

Victoria

Would you rather live in Rohan or in Gondor?

By the Valar themselves, what a question. I love hills. Rohan in the movies stirs my heart. But Gondor has mountains and ocean, which I love even more. So, Gondor. With a vacation cottage in Rohan.

~
The doorbell rings. You answer it. Sherlock Holmes and Lord Peter Wimsey are standing on the doorstep. Each one wants you to come help them with cases they’re on. With whom do you go?

*squeaks* Help? But no, I know which one. Lord Peter Wimsey.

~
Favorite ice cream toppings?

Chocolate fudge. Whipped cream. NO CHERRIES EWWW.

~
Waffles or pancakes? (Or more importantly, TONS ON MAPLE SYRUP OR NO?)

PANCAKES. And ABSOLUTELY NO MAPLE SYRUP. That stuff makes me sick. And also, only my dad’s pancakes. They’ve ruined me for any others.

~
You’re walking down a street, and a girl with a knife runs out of a house in front of you and looks wildly around. Your first impression is most likely a) AHHH SERIAL KILLER RUN FOR MY LIFE b) is an horror movie being filmed here? c) oooh how can I write a story about this? d) I was too busy daydreaming to notice anything.

B & C, with a combo of both, like “Whoa, is one of my favorite books coming to life?”

{party favor}

You asked for a short story, so here you go! I wrote it for a contest, so the first paragraph is the prompt. 

sunsetoceanpainting

Oliver stared at the ground as he walked swiftly through the hallways toward the office. He was aware of the whispers and snickers directed at him. The students’ stares bored into him like tiny needles. He felt his face flush. Did they know his secret?

All the lies he’d worked so hard to build around the truth were about to come crashing down. His hand trembled as he grasped the doorknob, the plaque above, engraved with “Office of Ms. Arnolds, Vice Principal,” glaring down at him.

~

Lynette Arnolds stared wearily out the window at the tall prairie grasses undulating in a dance that reminded her of ocean waves—oh, dear! She shouldn’t think things like that!

Shaking her head, she rose and paced across the room. Just the other day, she had been secure in her job, confident that she and this whole institution were involved in a noble task. Now?

Now, Oliver Olsen had ruined everything. She’d found his painting that morning, cleverly hidden behind a shelf of books in the mustiest corner of the library. She should punish him, she knew—in fact, she should not even be seeing him at all. Mr. Heisman should, as head principal. Everyone knew how he would handle the situation.

But that was precisely why she was meeting the boy first. Because, bother it all, his painting was beautiful.

~

“You know why I have called you,” Ms. Arnolds said to Oliver, safe behind her desk.

He shifted, unwilling to sit down. “Yeah.” He opened his mouth to say more and then shut it.

Ms. Arnolds raised an eyebrow at him.

“Well,” he said. “I just—it’s just that, why not send me to Mr. Heisman? Isn’t this offense worthy enough for his attention?” The sarcasm in his voice pooled in the air.

She shifted her eyes away. “Nothing artistic—literature, music, movies, none of it—is allowed here. Why?”

He answered by rote. “The arts entangle our feelings and distract us from reality.  Only  math and science provide us with the practical tools necessary for—”

“But do you know why,” she interrupted. “The real reason.” Her eyes bored into his.

He shrugged, uncomfortable from her strange mood. “I could guess. For some personal reason, Mr. Heisman doesn’t like art.”

She nodded. “I knew him before all this,” she told him, softly. Then she began speaking quickly, nervously, her hands fiddling with papers on the desk. “He and his wife—she was everything to him—lived by the ocean near the art school where he taught. One awful day, she got caught up in a rip tide. She was never seen again. He moved here, started this school.”

The art school where he taught? Oliver shook his head. “I don’t know what to …” He tried again. “Did his wife like art?”

“Yes. They met because of their love of art and the sea. She’d sing to him, he’d write poems to her. I remember stopping by their house one evening to find them painting on the beach together.” Ms. Arnolds stopped suddenly and glanced at her watch. “Listen, I can keep our meeting and your transgression from him until tonight.”

He frowned.“What do you mean?” What did this all mean?

In answer, she asked, “Have you ever seen him cry?”

“Never.”

He was about to snort at the idea of Mr. Heisman crying when he noticed the expression on Ms. Arnold’s face. She was frozen there, behind her desk. Her eyes bored into his, begging, and he had no idea what she wanted.

“Ms. Arnolds…?” He faltered as she suddenly came around from behind her desk to grip his hands.

“He needs to cry. It’s the only way to save him. He’s never grieved for her. He just bottled up all his feelings, stuffed them in a cave along with anything that reminded him of her. Please, you must make him cry.”

“What—how?

“Beauty,” Ms. Arnolds told him. The pressure of her hands hurt. “Reveal your truth. Save him.

~

After lunch, Oliver entered a small study room. All sound and motion stopped. Sweat coated his palms, and he contemplated turning tail and running. But Ms. Arnolds’ words echoed in his mind, and all he could think of was Mr. Heisman’s stone cold face, never smiling, never crying.

Jeff, the math geek, glanced up from his calculator and asked casually, “So, Jacobs. What did you see Ms. Arnolds for?”

Oliver swallowed, stepped forward. His walls were about to collapse completely. He could hear his heartbeat in his ears, his heartbeat and Ms. Arnold’s save him.

“She found a painting of mine.”

“You … paint.” Jeff’s eyes had grown huge.

Oliver lifted his chin, feeling strangely free.“Yes.”

The word reverberated through the room.

Then Jeff shrugged. “Hey, I read fairy tales. Got a whole book of ‘em under my bed.”

Oliver stared at him, bewildered. Trying to speak and finding that he couldn’t, he glanced around the room at the sea of wide eyes. Then, above his pounding heart, he heard them: other confessions tumbling out. It was as if his and Jeff’s confessions were daggers hurled into the glass barriers between them all.

“I’ve written poetry.”

“When I’m alone, I dance.”

“I found a way to listen to music. Guys, it’s amazing.”

This last revelation captured the attention of the others, who clamored to learn the secret. As they did so, Mary, a quiet chemistry whiz, turned to Oliver.

“I love colors,” she said, and he knew what to do.

~

Mr. Heisman’s hands were clasped behind his back as he surveyed Mary, Oliver, and Ms. Arnolds entering his office. Behind him, the fading sun slithered through always-closed blinds. Oliver tightened his grip on the shrouded package he carried, and by his side, Mary shivered beneath the principal’s steely stare.

“What brings you all here?” Mr. Heisman’s voice was a blank page.

Stepping forward, Oliver said, “We wanted to show you this.”

Mary and Ms. Arnolds took the each side of the package so he could remove the covering.

Mr. Heisman folded his arms rigidly. “I really don’t have time for any frivolity. Is this at all useful?”

Oliver lifted the cloth. A last ray of sunlight fell through a slot in the blinds and bathed the painting in a golden glow.

Beneath a rosy, fiery sky, waves danced in a thousand swirling hues of blue and green and gold. Mary had chosen the colors perfectly, Oliver thought, grateful. One wave in the foreground was tossed into a light spray, silver specks glittering across the canvas. In the center at the horizon the sinking orb of the sun blazed a brilliant benediction on the day.

Oliver felt himself gasp at his own work. How could someone want a life without this beauty? Then he glanced at Mr. Heisman. For one horrifying moment, the man’s face stood cold and chiseled like an icicle. Oliver felt bare, naked, with this child of his soul—this vehemently forbidden child—exposed before strangers’ eyes. If this doesn’t work, if this was all for nothing …

Then, through the door, came a sound Oliver hadn’t heard in years. One of the students, freed from their fear by his example, was singing.

My love has gone across the sea …

A strange tightness filled Oliver’s chest, and Mary’s hands holding the painting trembled. Then Mr. Heisman’s face crumpled, and he turned from them and wept.


And there we are! Thank you guys for being such fun, faithful followers (alliteration, yayyy). You’re the best. Enjoy the refreshments, and let’s chat!

Slight Change of Plans

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to write you a brief note and let you know that I’m going to have to push back the blogday post. I really, really tried to avoid this, but it looks like my only option right now. I’m struggling with tendonitis again, so by the end of the school day, there’s little to no “fun” typing that I’m able to handle. Again, I am terribly sorry about this—I hate disappointing you guys, and I hate not being able to fulfill what I said I’d do. However, hopefully it won’t get pushed back too far—the end of this week to the beginning of next, if all goes well. I’ve also identified some things that will hopefully prevent these flare-ups in my arms, but right now I just have to work on healing them. Thank you all so much for your understanding and for being such faithful readers. I can’t wait to celebrate with you—it is going to happen, just a little later than planned.

See you at the party!

~ Aberdeen

You’re Invited!

Something very exciting is happening here at A Glimpse of Starlight next week. *drumroll* Yep, that’s right—it’s my blog anniversary! Two years ago on September 21st I posted for the first time. Two years. That feels like a long time, a big deal. I didn’t do a first-year party last year because I was still figuring out this blogging thing and hadn’t really been introduced to the custom of celebrating blogoversaries (spelling?). This year, however, I’m super excited to celebrate with you guys.

On a side note (because I can’t refrain from noticing patterns and theorizing about them #infjproblems), it seems like a lot of people have had blog anniversaries recently, like within the last month or so. I’m wondering if it’s this time of year—maybe some people have to set up blogs for school, or maybe it’s the last hurrah of their summer? You know, those last few weeks in August when you realize that you had all things you wanted to do this summer but ohmystorms I haven’t done a single one of them let’s get going! Who knows. But I find it an interesting phenomenon.

Anyhow. On to the fun stuff. As the title says, you are invited to celebrate my blogday (like birthdays. but for blogs. it’s easier to spell than blogoversary, so we’re going with it.). The main festivity is a Q & A time with me. I’ve seen a lot of blogs do this, and while I’d love to be original, I think it’s a great idea. It’s really fun to get to know you, my awesome readers, by reading your questions, and I’ve found it delightful to get to know the blogger through their answers.

So, please comment with questions you’d like me to answer by this Saturday, the 17th, so I can get together my celebration post by the 21st.

I’m open to anything (as long as it’s respectful and appropriate, of course)—books, music, hobbies, memories, facts about me/my life, hypothetical situations, politics, religion, writing … the sky’s the limit! From random trivia to what I believe about certain issues, from life tips to future dreams—ask it all. I can’t wait to chat with you guys.

But that’s not all. I don’t want it just to be all about me. I want it to be about this blog, a huge part of which is you, my readers. You’re the reason I keep doing this, and I want to give you something on this special day. Consider it a party favor. Ideally, I would have done a giveaway but since I’ve just moved to another a continent (and since shipping stuff from Europe is expensive), it’ll have to be in the form of words. As for what kind of words, you get to pick! Please vote in the poll below about what you’d most like to see in the celebration next week.

Plus, I’m going to list some fun facts about my blog. It’s going to be awesome. Let the questions flood in, and see you then!

{Monthly Miscellany} August

What a month, folks, what a month. I began it in Kansas, spent parts of it in various states in the East Coast, and am now ending it in Germany. But more on that later. Let’s start at the right place—with books. Of course.

{reading} 

I’m still trying to refine how I want this section to go, and because I didn’t read that many books this month (better than July, though!), I figured I have room to write a little summary of each. Here we go:

amazinggracecover

Amazing Grace // Eric Metaxas

This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read. Ever. I’d skimmed it once before, but actually reading it this time was incredibly rewarding. William Wilberforce is one of my heroes, and his story actually helped me make some big decisions as I looked at my future.

riserebellionshaara

Rise to Rebellion // Jeff Shaara

Rise to Rebellion was fantastic, as all Jeff Shaara books are. Plus, it was amazing to be reading about the American Revolution while I was visiting places like Boston and just after I’d read Alexander Hamilton’s biography.

originalscover

Originals // Adam Grant

Originals was another top-notch non-fiction read. Its subtitle is “How Non-Conformists Move the World”—right up my alley, with tons of fascinating stories and practical advice about how to literally change the world.

ToGetYou

To Get to You // Joanne Bischof

This doesn’t look like a book I’d normally read, but after I blogger I respect enjoyed it, I decided to give it a try. It was a great vacation read and so much more than just romance. I loved seeing the main character and his relationship with his father grow and heal.

twofromgalilee

Two From Galilee // Marjorie Holmes

This is an old book I picked up at my grandparents’. It’s the story of Mary and Joseph. Like many Bible retellings, some parts made me uncomfortable, but I did enjoy journeying with them through the crazy adventure God set them on.

Jerry_Spinelli_-_Stargirl

Stargirl // Jerry Spinelli

Ah, Stargirl. It’s about being yourself, being different, being shackled by desire for people’s approval. It’s challenging and beautiful and inspiring.

whenyoureachme

When You Reach Me (reread) // Rebecca Stead

Here’s an old favorite of mine, and if any of you have not read it yet, you must. Simple as that. It’s mind-bending and fascinating and powerful. I love the humanity of the characters and how it challenges the way we think about time and how the world works.

And the million-dollar question: Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

{writing} 

*maniacal laughing that fades away as I flee this question*

Okay, I did do one thing: I created a Stuff-to-Keep-Track-of-So-I-Stay-Sane document for Phoenix and listed characters, places, and words/phrases that I made up for that world. I also wrote down some notes about things I want to change or include when I go back through it and edit. Although, now that I think about it, that might have happened at the end of July. I’m not sure. Heh.

Anyway, I did enjoy blogging on here, and I’m thankful that I was able to keep it up while traveling. I love interacting with you guys, and sticking to my blogging schedule helped me feel more stable and normal in the midst of the craziness.

{music}

Oh, it was a good music month, folks. I discovered two amazing new songs (look below), plus Switchfoot came out with a new album. Ahhhhh, so much happiness. So much goodness. I may have to devote a whole separate post to it later. We’ll see. Anyhow, you gotta love friends who introduce you to masterpieces like these:

“To the Dreamers” // For King & Country

The music is catchy and the lyrics are perfect—what more could you ask for?

“Saturn” // Sleeping at Last

This song, guys. This song. Oh my storms, I love it so much. I’ve played it on repeat basically this whole vacation. The cello + piano sound is absolutely gorgeous, and the lyrics literally stopped my heartbeat when I first listened to them. Please, please listen to it. Look up the lyrics. And watch its amazing video.

{life}

Whoo, boy. Okay. So my family is moving, which I’m pretty sure you all know by now, but just to clarify. From Kansas to Germany. Yeah. I’m terribly excited, but it’s been crazy and a tiny bit stressful all the same. Thank God for bringing us out safely on the other side.

We left Kansas early August and spent several weeks touring colleges, visiting friends and family, and—most importantly—going to the beach. The colleges thing was super exciting and also a little freaky, like ohmywordthisisreallyhappening?! It also stressed me out a little, but I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to make any decisions until this spring—and you never know, God might make it easy for me by not letting me get in to some places. Anyway, I’m so thankful for those opportunities.

And the beach! The beach. I’m in love with the beach. The ocean, the sand, the horizon, the shells, the waves … the beach. I saw God’s love for me so clearly in letting me go back and have several good days there.

And now? Now I’m in Germany, a little majorly jet-lagged, overwhelmed, and excited. I can’t wait to live in a house again, ditch the suitcase, and settle into normal life.

{blogging}

Hello and Goodbye and All the Moments in Between // on moving and relationships

{Fireside Fridays} My Favorite Settings in Fiction Books // basically … that

Star-making // a haiku

{Fireside Fridays} The Book That Terrified Me // art and faith and terrible choices I might face

I Am the Girl With the To-Do List // and why that isn’t a good thing

{Fireside Fridays} My Five Favorite Books for Teen Girls // book reviews

Into the Mist  // a memoir musing sketch thing

{Fireside Fridays} 5 Reasons Why Ebooks Help You Read More // pretty self-explanatory

{quotes} 

Ooh, let’s see. Several of the books I read had some great quotes. Here’s a sampling:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~ Margaret Mead in Adam Grant’s Originals 


She’s alone, they kept telling themselves, and surely she danced in no one’s arms, yet somehow that seemed to matter less and less. As the night went on, and clarinet and coyote call mingled beyond the lantern light, the magic of their own powder-blue jackets and orchids seemed to fade, and it came to them in small sensations that they were more alone than she was.

~ Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl


[George Whitefield] saw that the Bible didn’t teach that we must work harder at booming perfect and holy, but that we must instead throw ourselves on God’s mercy. Moral perfection wasn’t the answer: Jesus was the answer. Jesus had been morally perfect and we weren’t supposed to save ourselves—we were supposed to ask him to save us.

~ Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace

So, good readers—how was your August? What does September hold for you? What did you think of the songs? Let’s have one last summertime chat!

{Monthly Miscellany} July

What a month, guys. And August isn’t going to let up the craziness or new experiences. But that’s good. I’m grateful for adventure and for all the opportunities God’s giving me. I’m also grateful that I got to spend two of the hottest weeks of the year in the Southern Hemisphere, where they were the coldest weeks of the year. Yay for cold. But now I’m back in the heat, so grab some lemonade with me and settle in to hear about my July.

{reading}

So, yes. Five books. Ahem. But I have a good excuse. And they were all great books.

vinegargirlcover

Vinegar Girl / Anne Tyler

Lavinia_Novel

Lavinia / Ursula K. Le Guin

challengerdeepbook

Challenger Deep / Neal Shusterman

stormingweiland

Storming / K. M. Weiland

dean'swatchcover

The Dean’s Watch / Elizabeth Goudge

I already wrote reviews of each of these and rated them, so there’s not much else to say. Just go read them, and if you’ve read any of them, I’d love to chat in the comments .

{writing} 

21,821 words. 60 pages. 4 months. Phoenix is finished.

*cue major cheering and awkward jigging and the handing out of much chocolate*

Here’s the crazy thing about this: This past Thursday, I started typing up this post, and I wrote about how stuck I was and how I couldn’t find motivation to finish Phoenix and how yet again I had nothing to say in this section. I guess that made me feel really guilty, because that night, I got the sudden urge to start writing it again. Snatching up the moment of inspiration, I opened the document, reread what I’d written previously, and realized that the big dilemma I’d been hiding from wasn’t so big at all. In fact, I’m honestly not sure what I was so concerned about. I wrote a bunch more on Friday, and on Saturday, I wrapped it up and wrote the final words. I can’t believe it’s finished, especially since just a few days ago I was moaning about how I couldn’t write a thing. God is good.

I’ve started working on editing it, which shouldn’t be too bad. The big thing I have to figure out is how to share it with you guys—I’m considering a blog series. If you have any ideas on how to share a novella without turning it into a book, I’d so appreciate them. I’m also wondering if I should have some people read it over first, since there are some areas I’m unsure of, plot-wise and writing-wise. I’ll keep you all updated. Thanks for all your encouragement as I’ve shared snippets and dragged my feet about finishing it.

{music}

Music is what enabled me to keep my sanity on those long flights (the one from D.C. to Johannesburg was seventeen storming hours long). But I didn’t really discover anything new. Oh! I did listen to “Africa” by Toto while I was there, which was pretty appropriate. I love the sound of it, and the lyrics mean a lot more now that I’ve been there.

{life}

Well, now. On the 6th, my friend and I left for a two-week mission trip in South Africa. We were supposed to leave on the 4th, but apparently the rules changed recently, and unaccompanied minors traveling to South Africa need a bunch of documents. Fortunately, God helped us gather them quickly, and the rest of our traveling was problem-free. I’m still processing everything that I learned and experienced there, and I’m sure it’ll come out in bits and pieces on here.

I got back a little over a week ago, and since then I’ve been busy with church activities and spending a few more precious days with my friends. This morning, I said goodbye to everyone since they’re all leaving on a short mission trip. I’m a little bitof a quite a big mess inside right now. These goodbyes are so hard, even though I’ve had to go through them so many times in my life. You’ll probably get some more posts about moving in the coming weeks, too.

So life has been quite busy and recently quite painful, and it’s not going to let up, but God is good. He kept me safe and healthy on my trip, He’s given me tons of fun things to do with my friends, and He’s watched over the many logistical parts of moving.

{blogging}

{announcements} // I’m going on a trip, I’m not dead, I’ll be back

To Love is to Be Weak // poetry

My Vacation Crew // bookish fun

10 Ways South Africa is Different from America // what the title says

They Sing of Sunshine and Shadows // poetry

5 Amazing Books I’ve Read This Month // book reviews

{quotes} 

The Dean’s Watch had so many great quotes. Here are a few:

Loneliness made or ruined a man. It frightened him so that he must either sing and build in the face of the dark, like a bird or a beaver, or hide from it like a beast in his den. There were perhaps always only two ways to go, God or the jungle. And all men were exiles. It was a common bond between them, the bond between himself and this man and woman.


She thought [reading] must be wonderful and it surprised her that the gentry who were able to read could be bored. Yet they were. What was the matter with them?


Why should we always want a light? He chose darkness for us, darkness of the womb and of the stable, darkness in the garden, darkness on the cross and in the grave. Why do I demand certainty? That is not faith. Why do I want to understand? How can I understand this great web of sin and ugliness and love and suffering and joy and life and death when I don’t understand the little tangle of good and evil that is myself? I’ve enough to understand. I understand that He gave me the light that I might turn to Him, for without light I could not have seen to turn. … If it is Him I want He is here, not only love in light illuming all that He has made but love in darkness dying for it. 


Happy August, friends! What’s going on in your lives? Which was your favorite quote? Have you read any good books lately?

10 Ways South Africa is Different From America

One of the coolest—and hardest—parts of my trip was experiencing a different culture. I’ve lived in Europe, so I know what culture shock is like, but I have to say that South Africa is far more different from America than Germany is. Sure, they speak English (which really was a huge blessing), but it’s a whole different world. Here are ten differences, big and small and in no particular order, that stood out to me.

10 Ways South Africa is Different From America

 

1. They have a British accent.

So it’s not a pure British accent, but it’s way closer to British than it is to American. I loved listening to it. It was also pretty strange to be the one with the accent. I’d open my mouth, and people would look at me funny and say, “You sound like you’re from America.”

There’s a reason for that.

2. They drive on the left side of the road. 

This reveals my embarrassing lack of research, but I was not expecting this. I could not for the life of me figure out which side my seat buckle was on, and I kept freaking out when we turned onto the left side of the road. Actually, the driving there in general was freaky. Everybody is a bad driver, and I won’t even go into the terrors called taxis. Let’s just say if they got fined for running red lights, they’d be bankrupt in a day.

3. Everything is gated. 

Because the level of crime is so much higher there, everything—homes, stores, you name it—is gated. The sight adds to the atmosphere of fear there. No one walks too close to each other, everyone’s clasping their purses tightly, and when you ask someone anything about themselves, they get a wary expression and answer guardedly. It’d be an obvious lie to say America’s anywhere close to crime-free, but I know I at least take for granted how safe I feel in day to day life. If I avoid sketchy parts of town, I can into any store and not even think about getting stolen from or hurt in any way. But in South Africa, threats of theft and danger are a fact of life.

4. Whites are the minority. 

I have to admit, this was strange. It was also really, really good for me to be in the minority. And honestly, after a few days it didn’t feel that abnormal anymore. But it was eye-opening to live in a place where I was by far in the racial minority and to realize that that’s perfectly okay. I loved the racial diversity of South Africa. I’m realistic enough to realize it causes a lot tension and trouble, but it’s also a beautiful thing everyone should experience.

5. They have no insulation or central heating. 

Yeeeeah. And we happened to go during their winter. It’s not like their winters are all that bad—it was sixty-ish degrees Fahrenheit during the day while we were there—but there’s nowhere you can get warm. It’s nice in the sun during the day, but the minute the sun sets, it’s freezing again. And I mean freezing: At night, it gets in the low thirties. Fortunately, the missionaries gave us a space heater and tons of blankets, so we got through those chilly nights just fine.

6. Apple sauce is baby food.

No kidding, this was one of the first questions South African teens asked us: Do you guys really eat apple sauce? Some Americans had visited them a few years ago and wanted some apple sauce. And apparently, apple sauce is baby-only food for South Africans, like those mushy carrots and peas in glass jars in American stores. They thought it was hilarious that adults in America still eat it.

They also thought our obsession with pumpkins was strange (I wasn’t aware we had one, but they couldn’t believe we ate pumpkin pie and cookies and carved pumpkins for fun).

7. Robots = stoplights 

And jelly is jello and jam is jelly and flat phones are dead phones and serviettes are napkins and pacifiers are dummies and chips are fries and biscuits are cookies and buggies are shopping carts. Et cetera.

8. People clean your car while you shop at the mall. 

Because poverty is so rampant, they create jobs wherever they can. You pay people to watch the parking lot so people won’t steal your car. You pay people to walk your shopping cart—excuse me, buggy—to the car and then someone else to load the groceries into your car. And when you’re in the parking garage about to go shopping, people ask you if they can wash your car while you’re at the mall.

9. They have eleven national languages. 

Okay, but this is so cool. Here they are (thank you, Wikipedia): Afrikaans (basically African Dutch), English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Most South Africans can speak more than one language, which is so impressive. Traveling always makes me wish English wasn’t my first language, because then I’d have to learn it in addition to my native language. If your first language is English, it’s so hard to learn another one fluently because you usually don’t really need to.

10. They are good at dancing.

I’m not saying Americans aren’t good at dancing, but everybody there—well, blacks primarily but they’re the majority, so—has amazing rhythm and moves. As I’m stiffly trying to shift from side to side, they’re shaking their hips and clapping and stomping their feet and just … moving in such a cool, graceful way. Ugh, it makes me so jealous. It was amazing to watch, and I love the energy and spirit they put into singing.


and pictures:

 

scenery from a game reserve
scenery from a game reserve
at the camp we went to
at the camp we went to
a real live zebra (they pronounce it zeh - bruh)
a real live zebra (they pronounce it zeh – bruh)
at camp
at camp

There you go! Ten (of many more) differences between America and South Africa. Let me know which ones surprised you or interested you most!

{ announcements }

Hello, dear Starlighters!

Okay, that nickname won’t work because it makes me think of Bryan Davis’ Starlighter series. But I really do want to find a name for you guys. Until I do, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind O-Most-Awesome-Readers-Who-Are-Above-All-Others, right? OMARWAAAO, yes?

Anyway. The super busy part of my summer is fast approaching, so I need to alert you guys before I disappear from the face of the blogosphere (temporarily, have no fear).

First off, this Monday I’m leaving on a missions trip to South Africa with a girl from my church. We’ll be shadowing a missionary family there, working in orphanages, and putting on VBSes for kids in rural areas. I’m so excited about this opportunity—I’ve always wanted to go on an overseas missions trip and see what it’s like to be a missionary day-to-day. Of course, I’m a little nervous, too, primarily about the travel (the trip there takes about forty hours. yikesters.), so I’d really appreciate prayer for safety and no complications. I’ll be back on the 21st, so you can expect some posts after that!

Then, the first week of August, my family and I are packing up and spending a few weeks visiting family, colleges, and the beach (I cannot tell you how much I’ve missed this). At the end of the month, we’re flying out to Germany. Yep, Germany. It’s my second time living there, although in a bit of a different situation, so I know what to expect and I’m super excited. I love Europe and traveling and adventure. I hope to post a few times during August, but I honestly have no idea how much free time I’ll have, so don’t expect too much. Hopefully, once we arrive in Germany, I’ll be able to get back into a normal schedule.

So, in summary: I’ll be on periodically for the rest of the summer, mostly with updates and musings about what’s been going on. I’m going to miss all of you so much, but I’ll be stalking your posts and connecting with you when I can. Stick around! 

One more thing: I’m on Pinterest! I’ve had lots of fun exploring it and pinning stuff (man, you can waste so much time on there. I’m trying to avoid that.). My name is River City Girl. Let me know what yours are in the comments so I can follow you!

Happy early 4th of July, everyone! I hope you have a great rest of the summer. Thank you all for being such fun, loyal, and inspiring readers. You truly are most awesome and the best.