on Harry Potter

Hi guys. Sorry for disappearing—my arms have kept me from writing (more on that later). But I have been doing lots of reading, and as you’ve probably figured out, I’ve delved into the (in)famous Harry Potter series. Here are some of my thoughts on it. 

Also, I’m on Goodreads! It’s so awesome; I love it. I’m Aberdeen; come and follow meeeee. 


SO. Harry Potter. I was originally not allowed to read it, but my parents recently said I could if I watched out for certain things and discussed them with them. So I began, filled with both excitement and skepticism. “Harry Potter” is such a controversial, connotation-ridden phrase in Christian circles, I didn’t know what to expect.

When I finished book 1, my reaction was, “This is it?” Like, this is what we’ve been shunning? Good grief, it’s positively innocent compared to the dark hints I’ve heard about it. And I’ve read (and enjoyed) many books with much fishier worldview (looking at you, Christopher Paolini and Brandon Sanderson. Not that they’re not awesome, but you need discernment while reading them.). If you’re not sure about HP or have heard such hints, here are some things you should know:

Witches are girls who can use magic; wizards are guys. That’s all “witch” means (no, we’re not talking about the witch of Endor that Saul was condemned for meeting in the Bible). Speaking of magic, it’s not calling up spirits (which I believe is what the Bible was specifically condemning); it’s just turning things into other things or manipulating physical objects to do stuff (like fly or be impervious to certain substances).

There is a very clear distinction between good and evil; the kids at Hogwarts take classes to help them fight Dark Magic, and there are rules about what spells are allowed (for example, you’re not allowed to use the death spell on people).

Not only do these books not have bad stuff in them, they have a lot of good. There are so many beautiful in themes in them—the power of love and sacrifice, the beauty of families who love each other, the value of love over riches, the danger of immortality, courage, loyalty, what it means to be a good friend, looking beyond appearances, being kind to “inferior” people, choosing what’s right over what’s wrong, did I mention courage?…

The first book didn’t super grab me—the writing and plot felt a little simple. But it was good enough to keep going, and by book 3, I totally get why so many people are into them. Her writing, characters, and plot get so much richer and complex.Don’t stop at book 1, peeps (this goes for a lot of series, actually. Authors learn and grow like the rest of us.). Also, her humor is amazing, and I love the British feel of them—reminds of Narnia in that way. Also Quidditch.

I’m not saying these books are perfect or even on par with Lord of the Rings or that I totally agree with every decision of the characters (but is there a book where I do?) but the reputation they’ve cultivated seems to have come from hearsay, fear, and rumors rather than truth.

Also, here’s an incredible article on the series by Andrew Peterson: Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me.

So—what do you guys think? Have you read them? What do you like/dislike about them? Have you, like me, shied away from them because of stuff you’ve heard? (Also, I’ve missed you all. *waves wildly*)

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Reading Recap 2016

Hi guys! Here is the full list of all books I’ve read in 2016. The bolded ones are those that made my favorites list (see yesterday’s post), and the ones in brackets are rereads. The list starts with the first book I completed in 2016, so the most recent ones at the end.

Which of these have you read? What are some of your favorite reads this year? Let’s talk books!

1. Walking on Water ~ Madeleine L’Engle

2. Lightless ~ C. A. Higgins

3. Updraft ~ Fran Wilde

4. Not Without Honor ~ T. Elizabeth Renich

5. Ink and Bone ~ Rachel Caine

6. Nicomachean Ethics ~ Aristotle

7. The Westing Game ~ Ellen Raskin

8. Poetics ~ Aristotle

9. Paradise Lost ~ John Milton

10. The Tattooed Potato (And Other Clues) ~ Ellen Raskin

11. The Apocrypha (selected books)

12. Bands of Mourning ~ Brandon Sanderson

13. The Innovators ~ Walter Isaacson

14. Mission Possible  ~ Marilyn Laszlo

15. Middlemarch ~ George Eliot

16. Calamity ~  Brandon Sanderson

17. Sense and Sensibility ~ Jane Austen

18. Simply Tuesday ~ Emily P. Freeman

19. Thrones, Dominations ~ Dorothy L. Sayers

20. Hood ~ Steve Lawhead

21. The War With Hannibal ~ Livy (selections)

22. David Copperfield ~ Charles Dickens

23. Foundling ~ D. M. Cornish

{A Ring of Endless Light ~ Madeleine L’Engle}

24. The Small Rain ~ Madeleine L’Engle

25. On the Nature of Things ~ Lucretius

26. Lamplighter ~ D. M. Cornish

27. 100 Cupboards ~ N. D. Wilson

28. selected readings by Cicero

29. Factotum ~ D. M. Cornish

30. Dandelion Fire ~ N. D. Wilson

31. The Chestnut King ~ N. D. Wilson

32. A Circle of Quiet ~ Madeleine L’Engle

33. Dragonflight ~ Anne McCaffrey

34. The Wand in the Word ~ Leonard S. Marcus (editor & compiler)

{Troubling a Star ~ Madeleine L’Engle}

{Outliers ~ Malcolm Gladwell}

35. Wuthering Heights ~ Emily Brontë

36. Eclogues & Georgics ~ Virgil

37. Frankenstein ~ Mary Shelley

38. Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle ~ N. D. Wilson

39. The Jewish War (selections) ~ Josephus

40. A.D. 30 ~ Ted Dekker

41. Immanuel’s Veins ~ Ted Dekker

42. To the Lighthouse ~ Virginia Woolf

43. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict ~ Trenton Lee Stewart

44. Meditations (books 1-7) ~ Marcus Aurelius

45. The Chosen ~ Chaim Potok

46. The Apostolic Fathers ~ trans. by J. B. Lightfoot & J.R. Harmer

47. Alexander Hamilton ~ Ron Chernow

48. Mistborn: Secret History ~ Brandon Sanderson

49. The Promise ~ Chaim Potok

50. My Name is Asher Lev ~ Chaim Potok

51. Art and the Bible ~ Francis Schaeffer

52. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe ~ Chris Taylor

53. Dear Mr. Knightley ~ Katherine Reay

54The Wednesday Wars ~ Gary D. Schmidt

55Lila ~ Marilynne Robinson

56. Hamilton: A Revolution ~ Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

{Ender’s Game ~ Orson Scott Card}

{North! Or Be Eaten ~ Andrew Peterson}

57. A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold ~ Anne Elisabeth Stengl

58. The Selection ~ Kiera Cass

59. A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape From North Korea ~ Eunsun Kim

60. Vinegar Girl ~ Anne Tyler

61. Lavinia ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

62. Challenger Deep ~ Neal Shusterman

63. Storming ~ K. M. Weiland

64. The Dean’s Watch ~ Elizabeth Goudge

65. Amazing Grace ~ Eric Metaxas

66. Rise to Rebellion ~ Jeff Shaara

67. Originals ~ Adam Grant

68. To Get to You ~ Joanne Bischof

69. Two From Galilee ~ Marjorie Holmes

70. Stargirl ~ Jerry Spinelli

{When You Reach Me // Rebecca Stead}

71. Silas Marner ~ George Eliot

72. A Student’s Guide to The Core Curriculum ~ Mark C. Henrie

73. Salt to the Sea ~ Ruta Sepetys

74. Between Shades of Gray ~ Ruta Sepetys

{The Fellowship of the Ring ~ J. R. R. Tolkien}

75. Things Not Seen ~ Andrew Clements

{The Two Towers ~ J. R. R. Tolkien}

{Antigone ~ Sophocles}

76. Burial at Thebes ~ Seamus Heaney

77. The Railwayman’s Wife ~ Ashley Hay

{Oedipus Rex ~ Sophocles}

{The Return of the King ~ J. R. R. Tolkien}

78. Fierce Convictions ~ Karen Swallow Prior

{Oedipus at Colonus ~ Sophocles}

79. The Bird in the Tree ~ Elizabeth Goudge

{The Way of Kings ~ Brandon Sanderson}

{Words of Radiance ~ Brandon Sanderson}

80. Pilgrim’s Inn ~ Elizabeth Goudge

81. The Heart of the Family ~ Elizabeth Goudge

{selections from Plutarch’s Lives}

82. Sweet Mercy ~ Ann Tatlock

83. Promises to Keep ~ Ann Tatlock

84. A Time to Die ~ Nadine Brandes

{most of the Mitford series ~ Jan Karon}

{Inferno ~ Dante}

85. A Time to Speak ~ Nadine Brandes

86. Purgatory ~ Dante

87. A Time to Rise ~ Nadine Brandes

88. The Thief ~ Megan Whalen Turner

89. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ~ Rebecca Skloot

90. Paradise ~ Dante

91. Star of Light ~ Patricia St. John

92. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street ~ Jeanne Birdsall

93. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette ~ Jeanne Birdsall

94. The Penderwicks in Spring ~ Jeanne Birdsall

95. A Long Walk to Water ~ Linda Sue Park

96. The Right Thing ~ Scott Waddle & Ken Abraham

{100 Cupboards series ~ N. D. Wilson}

97. The Hawk and the Dove ~ Penelope Wilcock

98. The Butterfly and the Violin ~ Kristy Cambron

99. The Secret Keepers ~ Trenton Lee Stewart

100. Five Glass Slippers ~ Ed. by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

101. Five Enchanted Roses ~ Ed. by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

102. Wingfeather Tales ~ Ed. by Andrew Peterson

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

3wygakaeqc-simson-petrol

  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

hjwkmkehbco-alvaro-serrano

  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

ef1h5yttmz8-annie-spratt

  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!

save us

yay for an acrostic, rhyme, and free verse mash-up. a very merry christmas to you all. ❤

lonelyxmas

Can’t you hear the silent screams and loud laments

Haunting these decked-out streets tonight?

Right when peace is said to have arrived,

Instead this world is wracked by evil’s blight.

Some cry joy in fake fluorescent-light voices,

Too many others cry in corners of despair.

Mary, did you know that your Child’s birth

Accounts for the pulse of unspoken pain in the air?

Still, we need saving. Even now, we need saving. Save us.

you shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins

__from their fears (Everlasting Father)

__from their frailty (Mighty God)

__from their folly (Wonderful Counselor)

__from their pain (Man of Sorrows)

__from their loneliness (Emmanuel)

__from this dark, dark world (Prince of Peace)

you shall call His name Jesus

for He

shall

save

We Cannot Reach Him

We cannot reach Him.

We have tried. Oh, we have tried.

We built Babel, in a vain effort to touch that which we worship, to transcend this mortality, this immorality.

We crafted idols, straining desperately to bring our gods near. (But though they were physically present, they could not bridge the gap between divine and dust.)

We sent men to the moon—how great are we now, this race that can conquer the stars! And yet whenever we stare into space the smallness of us, the loneliness of us, the frail futility of us is all that is reflected in the vast alien expanse.

We stand on the moon and find that we have not reached Him. Instead the yawning divide between us and Him screams out in the blackness, in the infinitely distant galaxies. Stare into the telescope and face the void humanity ever rebels against, the void humanity ever falls short of crossing.

We work and learn and build and theorize and fill our lives with words and ideas and goals and tasks just to hush the haunting ache inside that whispers from the day we were born: We cannot reach Him. 

And still His siren song sings. Come to Me. 

How? We cannot.

We cannot come to Him.

And so, instead, He comes to us.

He reaches us because we could never reach Him.

He destroys our Babel so that we would find Him here, down here on this fetid earth. He overthrows our idols so we would not be content with lifeless, life-sucking lies. So that we would want Him, the life-giving truth. He sprawls out the cosmos so unattainably wide so we would have to confront our smallness.

So we would stand on the moon, facing the frigid night, and then turn to gaze back on Earth.

Earth, where he showed us Emmanuel.

God with us. 

From the stars to the stable, from glory to gore, from infinite to infant. For a people that once spit on the gift of His presence and still rebel, still try to reach Him on their own.

Earth, where he showed us Jesus.

Savior. 

On the cross in the shame and the pain, He forms a bridge. A path appears above the gaping canyon, a way lights up through the void, a hand reaches into your life.

We cannot reach Him.

So He reached us and now when He says come, we can, because He came.

the people walking in darkness have seen a great light // isaiah 9:2

 

i want to know your story

so we were traveling a few weeks back and one thing I love about touring cities and just being in new places (or old ones, for that matter) is people-watching.

and no, I’m not a Whovian but I have friends who are (which I guess is almost the same thing?). 

peoplewalkingcity

I look down from the bus, see one gray-sleeved arm hanging out of the car window next to us

draped casually, holding a cigarette

one seat over, two pale hands clasped, thumbs moving nervously, restlessly

shiny black leather coat, teal scarf, blonde hair in a messy bun, glasses, green-blue eyes, narrow chin, clear skin

looking out her window, face turned slightly away

he has a gray sweater, short “hair-colored” hair, staring out straight ahead

calm but not peaceful

the car is a black BMW, very nice, shiny silver controls on a black dashboard, pulling a trailer behind it

dirty old trailer behind shiny new car

what is going on behind your calm face, casual arm?

why do your fingers fidget and fret for peace?


in the square, I see a girl in a blue coat, smooth, sleek, felt-like, above her black tights

her face, hidden deep within the hood, is very pale

she stands, hands shoved in that lovely coat’s pockets, looking off to the side

I think, “Aloof. Affected.”

then, she smiles

eyes light up, bright blue, like her coat, the smile sliding across her whole face like a sunbeam across a polished wood floor

I look for who or what her eyes have lit upon, and I think I see her, a friend

laughing as she crosses the square

brown hair, round face, joyful

does she know how she makes the other girl’s face, once cold, even frightened, light up like that?

does she know she has the power to part the clouds over a human soul?


who are you

where do you come from

what is your name

what do you seek

why do you cry

what makes you laugh

what fears flood you at night

why do you get out of bed each day

who are you

i want to know your story

after all,

we are all stories in the end

love letters

I like to think of all the blessings, little and big, that are woven through my days as letters of love from God to m.e Each one is rolled up, tied with a ribbon, and laid somewhere that I’ll stumble upon in the midst of my daily routine. Sometimes I miss them. In fact, I’m sure I miss most of them. But here are some that I have found.


  • the red squirrels here in Germany, with those adorable ears
  • Nutella crepes
  • Nutella
  • holding hands with little sisters
  • elibraries
  • music that sends shivers down my back and makes me say “Yes. Yes!”
  • finding just the right word
  • the various shades of red, orange, and gold on trees, mingled together into a kaleidoscopic harmony
  • gazing deeper into the woods, tree upon tree

fallwoods

  • YouTube videos that help with science experiments
  • playing games at night as a family
  • a break from school
  • old Christmas decorations in a new house
  • colored pencils gleaming in the light
  • listening to Christian music while working out
  • family jokes
  • falling asleep to the kiss of cool from my window
  • my calculator
  • memorizing and quoting poetry—an activity I love that doesn’t hurt my arms
  • carpets of leaves
  • sweeping a messy floor & the gratification of actually seeing something cleaner after you’ve worked on it
  • cold cheeks
  • fingerless gloves
  • moss
  • emails from friends just when you needed them
  • knowing you’ve encouraged someone
  • looking through old photo albums as a family
  • the chirping of the cuckoo clock each hour
  • beautiful posters of characters in one of my favorite books
  • mail days

stacks-of-letters

  • Skype calls
  • notes from my mom
  • hugs from my dad
  • stockings hanging by the fireplace
  • family movie nights
  • my dad’s pancakes
  • admiring the graphic design on college brochures
  • Van Gogh’s paintings
  • the sight of my bookshelf, rows of shiny, colorful books, books upon books …
  • VidAngel
  • the Flamkuchen restaurant
  • the bakery down the street
  • the supermoon
  • cards hanging on my wall
  • finding the perfect pair of boots (they actually fit my small feet, gasp)
  • “teaching” my sissies ballet
  • alone in the house for an hour
  • Christmas music playing while working on school
  • warm showers
  • stretching tight muscles
  • my favorite snack of craisins and cashews
  • Bible verses on scraps of paper
  • a stash of new books to dive into
  • a home where stuffed animals are valued and technical appliances have names
  • playing games by flashlights and eating dinner by candlelight when the power went out

dinnercandlelight

  • my dad reading The Chosen to us every night
  • the happiness of my favorite football team winning lasting the whole day (well, week, actually)
  • nerdy classmates
  • Studio C
  • working out a Latin passage till it’s perfect
  • my Sherlockian coat
  • foggy early morning runs
  • birch trees tall against the autumn sky
  • walking in the rain at night
  • forgiveness, again and again and again

Thank You for Your love.

what are some love letters you’ve found? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone (even if you aren’t in America)!

to the moon

Hi, everyone! I just wanted to thank you all for your comments—as always, they mean a ton to me. I’m still trying to figure out how to help my arms, and at this point, it’s all I can do to stay on top of my school work. I really miss chatting with you all, and I feel awful about not replying to comments. I’m making sure to like them to let you know that I do read them and that they bless me. Thanks for being awesome, guys, and I look forward to when I can get more involved again. Until then, I’m going to post poems/musings when I can. Enjoy!

the supermoon last Sunday
the supermoon last Sunday

if I was offered Saturn’s rings

or Neptune’s diamond rain

or Jupiter’s many moons

 

if I was given Andromeda

or the North Star

or Halley’s brief brilliance

 

I’d turn them down for you

I’d turn it all down for you

 

’cause it’s you who smiled at me

when I first stared at the sky

on a sacred night long ago

 

’cause it’s you who witnessed

when I wrestled with

my midnight monsters

 

’cause it’s you who shone

through my window and

lulled me to sleep with a song

 

’cause it’s you who stood still

when my whole world spun,

you my beacon of home

 

I just want the rings you make on the sea

I just want the diamonds you make of my tears

I just want you, holding the darkness around us at bay

 

I’d turn it all down for you

paradoxes

So I’m turning eighteen tomorrow—

*shrieks* MWAHAHA watch out world I can vote now (such a great first election, eh?) 

—and I figured these thoughts I wrote down a few months ago fit that occasion. 


girlfieldswalking

 

 

 

 

 

 



They say I am so mature, so old now. They shake their heads over the car keys and college applications. They give me more and more tasks, more and more privileges and responsibilities.

I feel it, myself—I walk into strange schools to take tests that determine my future (at least, that’s what it feels like). I make plans about college and careers and life. I drive myself around now. I even chauffeur others. I have a job and coworkers and a paycheck. Every day, there’s one more step to take that makes me bolder, more confident, older, more independent.

And I like it, mostly. I like stretching my wings. I like facing something scary and overcoming it and thinking, “Wow, look what I can do!” Or, rather—“Wow, look what God brought me through!” I like looking ahead and dreaming and have the world at my fingertips. It’s like in The Perks of Being a Wallflower—and in that moment, I swear we were infinite.

But sometimes, I feel like a fake. Like my life is duct tape around a crumbling stone, and how long can even duct tape support this sand? I swing the keys and save my salary and sell myself to colleges, and all the while, even while I revel in the new brightness of it all, I’m terrified, grasping at the remains of my childhood. It’s like stardust, so beautiful, so alluring, but so elusive, just slipping through my fingertips.

I’m not ready for this. 

Because inside, I am a little girl still. A little girl who wants her mommy and daddy to hold her during the scary movies and the sick days and the long nights. A little girl who wants to catch fireflies and swing on the swingset and dance in the dewy grace. A little girl who doesn’t care what others think about her, who is, in a way, braver than this big girl who’s so often shackled by people’s perceptions.

I have always felt pulled in two directions, like a walking paradox. Maybe that’s why I like paradoxes, because they remind me of myself. They give me hope that maybe being an oxymoron is okay.

I want to open up and go deep, but I’m terrified of vulnerability.

I want to be at peace with everyone, but I also want to stand up for my beliefs.

I want to cling to the light, but I’m so aware of the reality and even necessity of the darkness.

I want to laugh and dance, but I also want to be serious, focused.

I want to be smart and I want to be simple, and I want to be somber and I want to be joyful, free and controlled, kind and honest, famous and unencumbered, savior and saved.

I want to be old, and I want to be young. I am old, always felt older than my years like I could see and understand things few others could, and yet I’m also very young. Very foolish, very shy, very naive and helpless and simple.

These years, they are this delicate, fragile balance between the old and young. Between so many of those dichotomies—but that’s the thing. Is it too impossible, too unrealistic and idealistic, to believe that maybe I could just be both? Somehow reconcile both together or embrace both or, I don’t know, just be? Just be me, contradictions and all.  I’m not sure if I like the idea, because I like order and answers and reasons, and just being one person with so many conflicting parts doesn’t really fit that.

Maybe it’s like what Madeleine L’Engle says:

Be!

Sing for the glory

of the living and the loving

the flaming of creation

sing with us

dance with us

be with us

be!

And maybe it’s about trust.

Just trusting the One Who made me this way, Who is Himself far more complex and a paradox, too—mercy and justice, majestic and meek, Lion and Lamb. Just living in the present, not worrying about the future when I’ll have to be even more “mature” or yearning for the past when everything was easier.

Maybe that’s what infinite is, after all. It’s the combination of growing up and staying young at heart—“we have worlds ahead of us,” that thought celebrates both. Ahead of us—growing up. And yet, the essence of growing up is that you haven’t grown up yet. You’re still young.

So I am going to relish working and driving and test-taking—okay, not relish it, but enjoy the sense that comes with it of doing important, “big person” stuff. And I am also going to splash in puddles and ride on a carousel and be willing to show how clueless I really am about the world.

I don’t know why I’m afraid of this whole thing, really, because God is still here, with me. I forget that—I look ahead and don’t see Him there, in the future. But He’s there, too, just like He was in the past. Just like He is right now. And actually, He’s in me. He made me. He understands me, better than I ever will myself. And He accepts me. He revels in the paradox and calls me to surrender it to Him so He can do His beautiful-mess-order-from-chaos miracle.

Surrendering sounds all complicated or vague, but I think it’s just a moment-by-moment—there it is again, living in the present again—saying, “What do you want me to do, God?” and “Thank You for this, God,” and “Thank You for who You are, God,” and “Forgive me, God” kind of thing. When I do that, when I think about Him, I don’t worry about myself. And then I can truly just be. I can be me best when I’m focused on Him the most.

I think I could embrace a paradox like that.

prepare for the changing of the leaves

 

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prepare for the changing of the leaves

cover the sky in its shroud

of soft and stormy cloud

and hide the sun so proud

and let drop the rain that groans, that grieves

prepare for the changing of the leaves

~

this whisper, this wind, this dancing breeze

turn it cool and clear

let it tear away all fear

and sing for all to hear

and let loose this goddess in the eaves

prepare for the changing of the leaves

~

in the fertile fields, the golden sheaves

polish them with light

woven from the stars of night

this fiery, faerie sight

and flood the tables with rainbow feasts

prepare for the changing of the leaves

~

let the scent of the air,

so fresh and so fair

let the hue of the heights,

deep blue blinding bright

let the taste of the fruit,

in gratefulness brewed—

let this all be a herald,

autumn’s flaming carol

in death a celebration now He weaves

preparing for the changing of the leaves