Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 11, 2017

Today, on the last day of spring break, it snowed. There will probably be snow on the ground tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is also daylight savings, which is stupid for the record.


It was 90 in Phoenix today, and Arizona doesn't participate in daylight savings.

Maybe I'm just super tired from school and life, but I kind of really miss my friends and my old house and my piano and my youth groups and just my old life tonight. I understand that had we stayed in Phoenix or if I go back it wouldn't at all be the same, but it would be Phoenix.

(Surprisingly, this is the first time I've missed Phoenix HARD (and it was short-lived), but here we are.)

And there's my problem. I'm too wrapped up in place. I'm taking a geography class, and aside from the work, I love it! Geography and maps has always been something my dad, brother, and I have really enjoyed. I just love learning about different places even if I don't really like to travel. Weird, I know. I just enjoy the concept of place and the different stuff each city offers.

I also get really connected to places I've been too. Cities, stadiums, buildings, libraries, gyms. You name it, I probably have a memory with it.

I've recently realized that I've been struggling contentment this year, and I think I just understood why. I don't like the city I live in. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Nashville so, so much. But I don't live in Nashville.

I live in Springfield, north of Nashville, where we try not to go to the Walmart because there have been serious safety incidents. Springfield where it takes 10 minutes at least to get to anything you need. (That sounds near, but I used to live 3 minutes from like 2 shopping complexes...) Springfield where they have to take down a city sign because somehow they didn't get a permit from their own city (?!?!). Springfield with 1 high school and like 3 funeral homes. Springfield where roads are barely wide enough for 2 cars in some places near my house.

I'm not discontent about the cross-country move per se. I mean sure Southern culture is something I'm not sure I'll ever completely assimilate to, but I've made so many memories in TN and the surrounding states that I wouldn't have EVER been able to make if I were still in AZ. And Nashville is the perfect spot to be for a gospel pianist. And have I mentioned that the city is beautiful?

I'm just struggling with driving past the tobacco fields and cow farms for 20 minutes to an interstate to get to school.

I don't know about you, but that's usually what gets me. The small things. Yeah, I'm in one of the greatest states in a suburb of my second favorite city but I can't handle the lack of customer service. God has provided for my family a home and jobs in an amazing way, but I get bent out of shape over daylight savings time. God is miraculously providing for my education before my very eyes, and I get frustrated because I haven't seen an interstate for days. God has given me so many amazing friends but I can't handle that I don't know a lot of people in my own city yet.

I know this is petty, stupid stuff. Maybe some of it is a somewhat of a big deal, but not in the whole scheme of how blessed I've been. I DON'T want to be like this. I long to be content in Jesus WHEREVER He has me. And I thought I was.

I appreciated my big blessings. I took the initial big changes of church, school, and house in stride. I know just how blessed I am to have the friends and influences I have. I am so grateful for my job and my house.

But contentment doesn't have a size limit. And what kind of person am I if I can't see past my tiny problems to how awesomely my God has blessed me.

They say the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it, and I guess this post helped me do that.

Learning to be content is NOT the same as trying to stay where I am forever, but it is trying not to thwart God's plan. If He wants me to live here for forever, I know He's gonna give me the strength to do it. He's given me SO MANY other things. I just gotta wait and hope on Him.

Faithful is He that calleth you who also will do it.

(I hope I didn't come across too negative in this post. It's how I've been feeling lately, and tonight in typing this I realized the root issue of it all. Life has hard parts, but life is also crazy and fun and awesome. Sometimes, you gotta acknowledge the hard parts to move on to the fun. Like realizing that your hand smells like chlorine for some reason which means SUMMER!!!!!)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Grayness (Or Greyness for my Readers Across the Pond)

Cuz it's black and white
What is not black and white all over?

Life.

My friends, in the past year I have learned an important lesson. Life is not sharp, crisp black and white (or red for that matter). It's actually pretty fuzzy gray.

Now, before you shut your brain off completely and write me off as a humanistic heretic, hear me out.

Yes, there are black and white issues in life. Sin is sin and truth is truth. There ARE absolutes. But what about things that aren't morally right or wrong. What about politics? What about history? What about issues?

Now, I know the Bible is our guidebook for life, and I believe it is true with all my heart. However, there's a lot of issues the Bible doesn't specifically address. As long as the issue is not something the Bible tells people to do or not to do, you have to do what God tells you to do. As a friend of mine said, "You do God, and you do you!"

Disclaimer #1 of many: When I refer in this post to people who believe differently than I do, I don't mean in salvation and major moral issues. I mean in stuff like creation theories, political affiliations, and denominations. I actually wasn't referring to Biblical "gray" areas when I started this, but I thought I should get this disclaimer out of the way.

Let's take a trip through life, shall we. (Specifically my life written in the 2nd person)

Growing up, the world is black and white. You disobey - you get punished. You don't disobey - you don't get punished. That's basically all you have to concern yourself with for a while.

Meanwhile, because you're (I) surrounded with people who believe pretty much the exact same things as you and everyone else around you, you tend to view people who believe differently than you as people you could never see yourself associating with in a million years. In fact, people who believe differently than you've been taught have to be humanist scientists or heretical preachers or people who just don't have a clue how the world works.

Disclaimer #2 of more: As a kid, because I had like 3 friends who were not in my church and Christian school, I kinda grew up in a bubble. This was not a bad thing at all. I think parents should be very discerning and involved in who their kids are friends with, and I think my parents made wise choices. Even as you get older being around people who believe the same as you is beneficial and I highly recommend finding at least a few friends that share most of your beliefs so you can hash out stuff together.

However, you start to grow up. You get tired of always hearing the same stuff so you try to look at issues from other people's point of view for a change. And guess, what, you get where they're coming from! You don't agree with a lot of their methods or thought processes, but you can see why they think that way, and you can agree to disagree, and you can have empathy, and the world is wonderful!  It's like a whole new world opens up, in color!

*Louis Armstrong impression: "I see trees of green, red roses too..."*


Then, through different life and growing up circumstances (including but not limited to changing churches, geographical locations, and hobbies), you meet new people who believe different stuff than you, but, surprise, they're some of the best people you've ever met! And guess what, they're saved, and they love Jesus and they're super cool!

Literally the past 52 weeks have been the most enlightening and stretching for me in this way. Through going to concerts and singings at different denominational churches, to becoming friends with people of opposite political views, to realizing that continually hearing what you've heard all your life and believe ain't gonna help you (I can put my the news through my own worldview without anyone else doing it for me, thank you very much!), I think I've grown a lot.

I know I still have a long way to go, and sometimes my opinions get swayed too much by my friends, but I'm trying to make sure that my beliefs are mine because I think they make sense, not because a friend believes it.

Now, I should probably say that I still don't necessarily agree with most of these people's choices and opinions, and I most certainly am not talking about accepting or condoning sinful choices, but there's a lot of choices in life that aren't sin or not sin.

Being a meat eater does not make you better than vegetarians (or vice versa). Not having a credit card does not mean you're automatically more financially responsible than someone else. Being a Republican or Democrat does not make you any better of a Christian. Going to church on Sunday night or not going to church on Sunday night does not make you more spiritual. Being a Baptist or whatever you want to be, does not make you saved or holy. It's what JESUS did for you. Guys, all of our life choices should be based on JESUS!!!!

And that's what I've been learning the past year :)

Final disclaimer: My parents are wonderful and are the reason that I've grown up with strong absolute values. They are also the reason I've learned to branch out and meet new people and look at new ideas. They are legit the best parents I know.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wind

The desert wind is warm and friendly, like a hug. 

It is also a warning: cover your eyes! "Times!" 4th graders on the playground holler as they pause their game of tag to turn their back to the wind and cover their eyes. Teachers hold their skirts down and feel the pricks of the grains of sands on the back of their legs. The gust stops within a few seconds with nothing the worse for wear. 

Sometimes weaker gusts come to pick up the dust in an empty lot and give it a spin in one of nature's most amazing phenomena, the dust devil.

Inside, if windows have screens, the wind is loud and annoying. It shrieks in the screens for hours at night, only letting up if the window is cracked open.

Sometimes, the wind brings rain. It throws the rain down in waves that bounce down the road, not deterring kids running through the neighborhood. It sticks the combination of rain and dust in the screens, leaving a peculiar smell that can only be described as monsoon aftermath. The desert wind and rain are rarely chilly, inviting you to go out and take a walk and revel in their friendship.

Here and now, the wind is cold and bitter. It makes bare ankles sticking out from leggings start to freeze. It drives people inside to their warm houses and cars. It makes noses and cheeks red.

But the wind is still special to me.

It's like a meaner cousin of the big, friendly, warm desert wind. There's not usually much wind here, at least not on the grand "haboob" scale. Days like today are cool because I can hear the wind running through the neighborhood, just like in the desert. It's nice to feel it try to push me over, no matter how cold it is.

The wind is still a gift.

And how blessed I am that I have the big, comforting wind to remember when the chilly, bitter wind freezes my ankles on days like today.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How Nice of 2017 to Show Up

I actually saw ZERO fireworks on New Years this year so that's a first
Well, 2017 is here. First of all, let me say I'm extremely glad it's an odd-numbered year because I love odd numbers, and I will be turning an odd number this year.

Anywho, I just need to talk through what I want to accomplish in 2017, and why not do it here?

I've realized that I don't have BIG goals for 2017. Because I'm a freshman in college, everyday is trying to reach the big goals I have for my life through studying, networking, and practicing. I understand I'm in a preparation stage for the next few years, and I'm pretty okay with that (most days).

I do need to work on making my tiny goals measurable however. For example, I want to be better at piano, but that's not really a specific, measurable goal. However, making sure I have a piano schedule throughout the week and becoming better at one thing today than I was yesterday is a measurable goal.

So here's what I want to do better or more of this year and how I'm going to attempt to accomplish these goals.
Goals also I love this movie

Need: More rest. My sleep schedule is messed up anyway because it's Christmas break so I'm sleeping in and staying up late, but that needs to get under control realll fast.

Goal: I'm going to try to get a bedtime routine down. Turn off the phone by 10, read/journal until 10:30, get a bedtime playlist/podcast on a timer, and hopefully fall asleep by 11, giving me 8 hours of sleep every night except Tuesday nights cuz I have to get up at like 5:30 Wednesdays. I struggle falling asleep cuz I just lay there and my mind races and I want to DO something.


Need: More piano skillss. Have you ever been at that point where people are telling you they're impressed with your talent or art but you know it could be so much better and you just feel mediocre? That's me right now. I could be sooooo much better at soooo many things. I had an epic almost 3 hour piano schedule the first half of 2016, but I'm not sure I can get back to that much time. At least until the summer. However, I do need to get so much better to be prepared for what God's got for me!!!

Goal: To start, I'm going to make a piano practice schedule for every week because my days are kind non-consistent so if I have a weekly schedule I'll just make sure it gets done, even if I have to play all day Saturday. Also, as mentioned above, I just want to get better at something from day to day or week to week. Also, I want to do 2 new arrangements a month.

Or money. The college student's motto
Need: Better time management. Okay, I get a lot done in a day, but I know I could get more done.

Goal: Make a weekly list of goals because like I said up there somewhere, every day is different. If I learned anything in 2016 it's that God loves to come shake up the schedule (in a good way!), and I want to be prepared for that while still getting stuff done.

Love. This. Gif
Need: Read more.

Goal: I've already started doing this actually. I check 5 books out from the library at a time. I have some sort of ratio of like 1 non-fiction, 2 series books, 1 younger kids book, and 1 fiction book, but that's pretty loose. Going to the library and checking out 5 books from my Goodreads list for the month is a totally doable goal.

If you wanna laugh, watch the 1966 Batman movie
Need: Run more.

Goal: Once I get the whole time-management thing worked out, I'll start by running 1 mile 2 days a week (the days I wash my hair lol), and increasing my mileage as I strengthen my stamina. Let's just say I want to easily run a 10k (little over 6 miles) by next year. (I could probably run it now because I'm stubborn and my body will literally run itself to death if I make it, but it wouldn't be easy.)

In conclusion, I know that New Year's goals are a big cliche and that New Years is just an arbitrary date that people use to change themselves, but I think it's good to take a periodic stock of how you're doing developing your talents and relationships. Why not do this on New Years?

Anywho, that's what I want to do this year. I may morph my end of the month posts to how I'm doing on this stuff.  January looks to be a busy month getting ready for a Fine Arts competition and hopefully attending some singing conventions (blog post coming soon). Here's to 2017 and all the awesomeness it's gonna bring!