Being a Water-Walker

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The Double-Minded College Student September 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 9:14 pm

So, I know it’s been forever, and I do apologize for that. Life got so crazy that nothing went up here anymore. But now, I’m creeping up on a week since my family dropped me off at Appalachian Bible College in Beckley, WV. Since then, I’ve had SO much going on. So much stress, so much craziness, and at the same time so much fun.

Yesterday was the first day of classes. I only had three classes and chapel, but it turned out to be the most stressful day I’ve had, well, since I can remember. My classes were Bible Doctrine Overview, Fundamentals of Speech, and English Grammar. BDO was pretty good, but there’s plenty of work involved. It was when I got to Speech that I got overwhelmed. As the teacher, Mrs. Parvin, said, it’s a hard work class, not a hard class. Quantum Physics is a hard class. Speech is hard WORK because there’s so much to do. And, quite honestly, it’s very overwhelming. It doesn’t help that I’m terrified of speaking in front of people.

English Grammar was fun–as I expected–but the syllabus was just one more to add to the stack, and only increased my syllabus shock. Later that day, I had to go to a work meeting a grab 5 shifts in the kitchen during the week. I need the job in order to afford school, but it cuts my study time by at least 8 hours a week–daunting. By the end of the day, I was almost in tears, evaluating all the work I was going to have to do and just how overwhelming it was. Actually, I was almost in tears several times throughout the day.

I called my mom and vented a little, still not quite able to let out the tears (I’m stubborn like that). Finally, I hung up, with the assurance that she would pray for me, and did some more studying before I went to bed.

I was looking back through my English Grammar notes and I saw a line that just hit my heart (as I was sitting there panicking). Mr. Chesley said, since we all feel that we are called by God to be where we are at ABC, that this is my ministry. My MINISTRY–the way I’m serving God right now–is by being a good student. Just like in a ministry in the church, I would do my work for the glory of God, being conscious that everything i did would be a part of my good testimony, the same goes for my schooling here.

It also occurred to me that I came here on faith that God would provide the money for me to be here. Even though it’s still hard to see that happening, I know it’s not my way, it’s God’s way, and my earthly eyes are
blind to that. God WILL provide, if this is where He wants me.

WHY, then, am I sitting here panicking, anxious to the point of feeling nauseous, every time I open my speech book or glance at a syllabus? If God has the grace to enable me financially to be here, won’t He do the same for my academics? I justify my faith in the provision of finances by saying that God wants me here, therefore there’s no way He won’t provide.. Well, if I have full faith He’ll provide money, then He WILL provide the academic capability–and the time to get things done–as well. He wouldn’t give me the financial ability to survive, and leave me hanging in the academics.

So, I was still almost in tears. You know how sometimes the emotions build up so much that you just need to cry to get it out, and then you go on with your business? I needed to do that, release those hormones. So I wished my roommate would just go to sleep so I could. Despite the tears, however, I felt a good measure calmer than I did. I fell asleep–without crying–and hopped up in the morning to go to class again.

The peace I felt was unbelievable. My first class was my 2nd, dreaded Speech class, but it went by so well. I made Mrs. Parvin cookies and wrote her a note explaining my fears and my hope to learn a lot and do well. She emailed me later on that day and thanked me, expressing that she actually feels much the same way when she begins to teach a new class, and that GOd is the only way she is able to do what she does! It was quite an eye opener.

Throughout the day, despite receiving two more syllabi for two more classes, I maintained a calm and even a joy throughout the day. I returned from classes, did some reading, oral Speech practice, and the first draft of my speech due on Tuesday.

I still have a lot of reading to do tonight and I’m feeling a little bit of the strain, but I think–no, I know–I’ll survive. I’m sure this course load, compared to others’, is nothing.  To me, however, it’s a great deal, and it’s all I can handle right now. I was supposed to be adding a 3-credit Spanish class, but I may have to drop it. It may be just too much.

Please, continue praying for me. There is still a lot of potential for me to forget God’s provision and once again slip into fear.


Apologies April 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 10:03 am

Life is interesting. It’s strange how the smallest things you say can really mean so much to other people–even when you didn’t mean them that heavily. It’s interesting how what seems like a casual question can really have so much riding on it, and then it causes problems when you don’t answer it with the same gravity, when you don’t think about a question before answering it (well, that’s intelligent, I know).

And then, once you say things, you can never take them back. I’m a writer. I’m used to being able to write something, decide that’s not really what I meant to say, and hit the backspace button until I’m free to express my heart correctly. But there are some forms of writing that aren’t conducive to fixing mistakes. And the worst thing is, once that writing is out there, you can’t make the people who see it believe that it wasn’t really what you meant.

Do you just apologize? Maybe that’s what they want to hear. Maybe they want to know you’ve cried over losing them.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. And it has occurred to me that, often enough, the downs are a result not of true conflict but of simple misunderstanding. Emotions are so hard in an IM, aren’t they? Late nights, tough days, and distracted thoughts can produce incoherency and saying things you don’t mean, or that are meant so differently than they were said. And something “losing magic” can simply be because someone had the worst day she’s had in weeks.

And the more I try to fix it, the more I know it needs to be fixed. If it hasn’t become blindingly clear by now how much I need what you think I don’t need or don’t want, then I shouldn’t call myself a writer after all. I certainly haven’t expressed myself clearly, if that’s the case. Would I try this hard to fix it if I didn’t need you? If I didn’t desperately love you?

Me = stupid sometimes. A lot of times. I’m only thankful I have a God to forgive my stupidity. But God’s not the only one whose forgiveness I have to beg sometimes.

I should stop rambling and get to my point: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I guess that’s the most I can say. I can’t make you believe it–but I can beg.



The Cycle Continues January 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 3:33 pm

I realized yesterday that it’s been forever since I’ve written something here. Frankly, there hasn’t been much to write. I’ve been working as a waitress, which is pretty mundane, four days a week, and life is pretty routine outside of that.

The mundaneness of life currently, plus the fact that it’s winter, might be why I’m struggling with some depression right now. I’m not motivated to do anything, I have a hard time getting out of bed, and oh my goodness, the mood swings. Anyone who knows me knows I’m usually level-headed and cheerful, and I’ve been far from that lately. This funk I’m in is changing who I am and I hate it.

Yet out of it has come some good. To escape the routine and get myself feeling good, I learned to play guitar and latched onto a favorite band whose music makes me feel happy (see the Jonas Brothers post below). I’ve been writing a lot of songs and even finished two novels that I’ve been writing for several years. Even while I struggle with feelings of self-worth, irritability, and just plain sluggishness, I’m opening up new things in myself to fight those symptoms of depression.

And, as usual, when something like this happens that causes me to realize my own human frailty, it draws me back to my Father. It’s definitely a cycle. I’m strong, doing well, and relying on God. I fall away. I weaken and realize I need to rely on Him again (even if it sometimes takes a whack on the head!). This one has scared me more than most. I’ve seen both of my parents deep in depression several years ago. It made them into people they weren’t, people their children were afraid of and who drew away from not only the world, but God as well. I feel myself clinging to the edge of a cliff, and I’m not going down that way. I can’t save myself, so I must rely on God to save me instead. As usual, he’ll pick me up, dust me off, and set me back on my feet, then wait for me to throw myself off a cliff again.

But right now, I’m just so thankful I have a patient God, a merciful Savior, who is willing to save me, not once by washing me in His blood, but every day, over and over again.



Relient K: A long way from “K Car” December 13, 2007

Filed under: Bands,Music,Review,Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 10:21 pm

Relient K. Different generations will see different things in that name. Those who were teens or adults in the 80’s will say, “Oh, cute little car” or something to that effect, followed closely by, “But they spelled it wrong.” Some will say, “Huh?” Others (mostly Gen Y-ers) will exclaim, “I love that band!” or perhaps “Sadie Hawkins Dance!”

Relient K is a band that has been around almost ten years now. A punk rock band with a happy feel somewhat uncharacteristic of the genre, they were named after the Plymouth Reliant K, which was the guitarist’s car. Yes, it was intentionally misspelled; no one wanted copyright infringement. They started out humbly in Canton, Ohio, 5 teens who had known each other for years. Lead singer Matthew Thiessen, who also plays guitar and keyboard in the band, along with several other instruments, is definitely the life of the group. Wacky, fun, and charismatic, the blonde 27 year old’s personality is reflected in the band’s songs, of which he is the primary writer. Songs such as “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, the humorous tale of a guy getting a date to the dance, have become legendary classics among the fans, played at most if not every concert. Even Christmas gets their comical attention, as evidenced by their 2 Christmas albums, Deck the Halls and Bruise Your Hand and Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer.

The band does not classify themselves as Christian, rather as Christians in a rock band, much akin to the Jonas Brothers. Despite that, many of their songs, mixed into fun and thoughtful mainstream music, are direct worship songs or challenges against a complacent and sinful life. “What Have You Been Doing Lately”, a heavy, loud rock melody, rebukes fallen away believers with the words, “What happened to the salvation you claimed? It breaks my heart to see how much you’ve changed. “Down in Flames” lashes out at the selfish and arrogant feuding between Christian denominations with the view that it will bring about our destruction. “Give”, “These Words Are Not Enough”, and the acoustic “Getting Into You” are a few of their wonderful worship songs whose lyrics give me chills.

Relient K is a fantastic influence on the teen and young adult crowd that makes up its fan base. Many of their fans are not Christians, yet they get ehat could be a soul-saving dose of Christ thrown into their fun, as well as challenges to live well no matter their religion. “Marilyn Manson Ate my Girlfriend” is a whimsical look at girls caught up in today’s raunchy patterns of behavior. “Forgiven” talks about bitterness and holding grudges.

For girls (and guys, I guess), Relient K is not without romance. “Best Thing” tells how precious his girl is to him (“we should get jerseys cause we make a good team. Yours would look better than mine because you’re out of my league.”). “My Girl’s Ex Boyfriend” sings how grateful he is to his girlfriend’s ex, because all of his happiness is owed to how blind the ex was to the girl’s value.

Relient K is spinning a very positive message. They have come along way from their humble beginnings and “K Car”, their ode to their namesake. Six albums from the start, they have only two original members remaining. The others have been skillfully replaced by others who can also rock it and haven’t modified the group’s sound. It tells you something about the strength of a band when their makeup can change so much without affecting their fan base. Undoubtedly, Matt Thiessen is the backbone of the group, but a backbone is pretty useless without a body.

Bottom line: Try out Relient K! Even if you don’t become a fan, you’ll be amused. Who knows? You may find yourself knowing the significance of the squirrel, Youtube and Woodland Forest, the 80’s, and Sadie Hawkins’ “Oh, oh, oh!”, in which case you could be considered a loyal fan.


Jonas Brothers: Answering Hollywood’s S.O.S.

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 3:03 pm

Britney Spears loses her kids, has a nervous breakdown, shaves her head, and continues to reveal more of herself with immodest clothing. Amy Winehouse deals with a drug addiction, eating disorder, and self-harm. Mary-Kate Olsen continually struggles with anorexia. Keisha Castle-Hughes, child star of acclaimed film Whale Rider, expects a child at seventeen years old with her boyfriend. Rapper 50 Cent tells proudly of his drug-dealing, inner city, gunshot-ridden past and proclaims that he will do whatever he needs to do to make a living. Hollywood is a mess. The people I named above, and many more with similar stories, are the role models for today’s kids and teens: half-dressed girls with no self-respect; immoral guys with no decency.

That’s why I like Disney Channel. Yeah, they push a liberal agenda, and the shows tend to be corny, juvenile, and even stupid. Still, they are shows I can turn on in front of my brothers and two year old sister and not feel embarrassed. Some of the humor is too dumb to be funny, some of the characters are annoying in their brainlessness, but many of the shows still make for clean, funny entertainment.

Even Disney, however, has fallen into the trap of declining morals. Life With Derek shows Derek with posters of bikini-clad women on his walls. Suite Life of Zack and Cody has one of the boy stars trying to “get alone” in the apartment with a girl (he’s 13!). The stars’ lives outside of the shows aren’t any better–in fact, worse! Ashley Tisdale bumps and grinds in a miniskirt and teensy tiny top to the raunchy He Said She Said, while acting as sweet brainiac Maddie on Suite Life and vicious but clean Sharpay in High School Musical. Vanessa Anne Hudgens croons some suggestive tunes, then takes nude photos of herself which are accidentally leaked to the public, including young fans. While it was not a purposeful release, she did take the pictures, supposedly for boyfriend and HSM costar Zac Efron. When children, teens, and even adults become a fan of an actor or singer, they become interested in the person’s life. This is what even Disney Channel gives children as role models! How saddening. I do feel sad for these young stars growing up way too fast, and in all the wrong ways. The fans and viewers aren’t the only ones suffering.

Enter the Jonas Brothers. Super-cool, highly styled, and crazy with energy, the three boys, ages 20, 18, and 15, are creating a place for themselves in Hollywood with blinding speed. They are a pop-punk rock band signed by Hollywood Records and promoted by Disney Channel. There is a marked difference between these guys and their Disney and Hollywood peers, however. Kevin, Joe, and Nick are Christians and–get this–they live like it! The sons of a former pastor, all three wear bands on their left ring fingers pledging to themselves and God that they will be sexually pure until marriage. They have clean mouths, respectful attitudes, and mature personalities (with an admittedly hyper edge). Their music matches their lives. Instead of glorifying sex, drugs, profanity, and disrespect towards women, they talk about issues relative to their lives in a decent and clean manner.

Easily half, if not more, of their tunes, described by oldest brother Kevin as “music on Red Bull”, are love songs. From the sweet, acoustic “Hello Beautiful”, a ballad about missing a long-distance sweetheart, to the upbeat “Australia”, about leaving behind a bad relationship and waiting for the loving, caring dream girl they are sure will appear, their lyrics ooze undefiled romance that melts their countless fangirls. Even the several breakup songs (the famous S.O.S; Broadway-inspired “Goodnight and Goodbye”) aren’t done in a mean manner, but rather express sorrow for what could have been and an eagerness to start anew. An exception to this would be the unnerving “Move On”, not on either of their albums, which is uncharacteristically spiteful. Most of their songs, however, portray sincerity in their relationships and a genuine desire to do what is best for the other–something uncommon in today’s music.

The Jonas Brothers are not a Christian band; they define themselves as “Christians in a rock band”. This is despite Nick’s hit solo singles “A Christmas Prayer” and “Dear God”, the subtly spiritual “Time For Me to Fly” and the blatantly Christian, stirring “Eternity” (listen to this on Youtube; it will give you chills every time). However, they are bringing a much needed cleanliness to Hollywood. Currently a part of the best-selling concert tour in the nation and perhaps the world, the Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds tour, they brothers are taking America by storm, and with only their second album. It took me a while to discover these guys, but once I did I was lost. I have the bonus edition self-titled CD, the bracelet, and the email updates. I’m searching futilely for a moderately priced edition of their first CD, It’s About Time, which, because of its limited initial success and consequent low production, is now selling for $80-200. My family calls me obsessed, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say I’m at least addicted.

I find no shame in the fact that at 17 years old I adore a band whose primary fan base is preteen girls and who are promoted primarily by a “children’s” TV station. Fact is, their music can relate to me and even to adults, and can do it while keeping it clean. I choose a band who prays before every show and sings innocent love songs over the Satan-glorifying bands the world says someone my age is supposed to adore. For the record: no, I don’t like them for their looks, I like them for their music, lives, and integrity–that sets me apart from 75% of their fans already!

Bottom line: Give the Jonas Brothers a listen. You may come away hyper, energized, encouraged, and even–be careful–addicted.


How Confused! December 2, 2007

Filed under: Dating/Courtship,Family,Growth,Marriage,Prayer,Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 8:23 pm

I don’t know… life is just crazy right now. I’m so weirded out by things in general. I guess it’s also known as stress. I quit my second job because of situations I don’t feel like talking about. Trying to find another, knowing my options entail either a suffocating, greasy work atmosphere or a harassing, verbally abusive boss, is not encouraging. Work in general is getting to me, even though my other job is relatively pleasant.

I got sick on Thanksgiving, and I’m still trying to recover my voice. It’s not going so well, even worse now that I sang (pitifully) in the choir today and wore out my vocal chords more than usual. My college application is stressing me out, because I have to get a doctor’s appointment scheduled for it, which is bad enough, but it includes a shot and I’m scared stiff (and shaking) of needles.

Finally, I’m having some spiritual struggles. I’m still in the letdown after the spiritual high summer camp gave me. All the commitments I made over the summer are throw into sharp relief against the reality of my life and my own humanity. Specifically, turning the pen of my love story over to God has turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. It’s not as scary as it was, I’m committed to it, and I love the ease of knowing it’s taken care of. Still, it’s so hard for me to keep my emotional sanctity. I’m a female, which means I tend to be emotional; I’m 17, which makes it even worse; and I’m also a hopeless romantic. So it’s really hard for me to keep my heart out of things. I’m trying, I really am, but I keep thinking, “What if he’s the one?” and just taking it too far emotionally. I’ve also been receiving some tough criticism about my standards from people very close to me, which hurts a lot though I think it’s meant to be joking.

What’s left, then? When I don’t know, I’m too weak, and I’m glaringly helpless, what do I do? I can only do one thing: turn back to the One who made me. Just as I relied upon Him to write my love story, just as I rely on Him for providence in my future education, just as I rely upon Him to strengthen me again Satan’s attacks, I must turn to Him when my own humanity gets in the way. My self-reliance and selfishness is doing the opposite of what I need; it only weakens me further. It hurts so much to ask God to break me when I already feel bruised, but if I just let go it wouldn’t hurt so much!

I need to realize just how much I need God and just how little I need myself. The significance of God casts such a shadow of insignificance upon my own abilities that it’s quite the reality check. So, God will handle the stress. I remember the old chorus, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus/ Look full in His wonderful face/ And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/ In the light of his glory and grace”.


A “Bella” Portrait of Christ November 18, 2007

Filed under: Movies — judgedbyhim @ 3:42 pm


I had read several endorsements for the new movie “Bella” from the Rebelution and other places, but had a feeling it wouldn’t be playing in my area. I was excited when my mom discovered it was in a theater only forty-five minutes from us! She and I sneaked away from the house this Friday night and took a girls’ night out. We saw the movie, and I thought it would be good to write a review. WARNING: There may be some spoilers, though I’ll attempt to avoid them.

When the movie started, my first thought was, “This is going to be weird.” The camera angles are very strange (there was actually a scene that gave me a touch of motion sickness). The scenes seem fragmented, skipping around from one scenario and decade to another. However, there is something about it that grips you. Maybe it’s just a desire to know
the history behind what makes these unusual and angst-ridden characters the way they are. As the plot developed, its scene-skipping and odd camera work did not decrease, but gradually faded into the background, giving way to an engaging story.

Jose is the head chef at his brother’s upscale restaurant. With a painful past he keeps carefully hidden behind an overwhelming care for others, he is the subject of a lot of worry from his family and friends. Your introduction to this character is a full bearded, long haired man in a loose shirt and jeans. My first thought was, “That looks like Jesus!”

Nina is a waitress at the same restaurant, embittered by life and jaded towards love, family, and the value of life. She has found herself pregnant by a man she doesn’t love and, just after that revelation, quickly fired from her job. Shattered, with nothing to hold onto and no family to fall back on, she desperately accepts Jose’s offer of friendship.

That starts a day of walking about the city together, exploring both of their painful pasts as he quietly and gently counsels her on what to do about her pregnancy. My image of Jose rarely strayed from my first impression: a Jesus figure. The allegory is not seamless, and there are plenty of things that are not characteristics of my Savior. However, I was struck by Jose’s passion for hurting people, his gentle rebukes, and his loving, gentle counsel. His eyes, deep and expressive, are constantly filled with the pain of his burden for this young woman and her baby.

Nina was a hard character to like in the beginning, so hardened and callused. She never established herself completely in my affections. I pitied her, I wanted to see her helped, but I could not latch onto her character with any love. Perhaps that’s what makes Jose’s care for her so Christlike. She was unlovable, and he loved her enough to give up important things (like his job). With each kind thing Jose did for her, each way he showed he cared, she softened just the smallest bit, opened up, and began to trust.

One of my favorite things about this movie was its vagueness. While you know Nina’s situation–pregnant, unloved, alone, fired–you don’t see much more of her life than the one day the film highlights. You never meet other people from her life, or even hear mention of them, outside of those from her job. It emphasizes her loneliness. Jose’s past and family are important to the film, so more of his life is included, but you only see what is necessary in fragmented bits and pieces. What could have been a film disaster, this inability to get to know the characters’ lives as a whole, becomes a poignant device to let you relate to the characters more than would be possible if you knew their history. Nina is not a character by herself; she stands for single mothers, children of dysfunctional families, broken-hearted women, and orphaned daughters. Jose is not a definitive person; he represents people with shattered dreams, sons of strong marriages, children in adoptive families, older siblings, sensitive listeners, wise counselors, guilt-ridden lives, and victims of tragic accidents. In each and every character, there is a piece of us. Because we do not have a complete picture of the lives of the characters, we can associate our own struggles and strengths with theirs. This brilliant device, hard to pull off but powerful when it works, draws you emotionally into the film.

Finally, throughout the whole movie, the themes of the sanctity of life and compassion for others is prevalent. It comes through in the characters’ thoughts and actions. We have the glaring contradiction of a pregnant woman saying, “I can’t deal with a kid. I have to take care of it,” and shortly thereafter saying, “I can’t carry a living thing in my body for nine months and then give it away to strangers. That would be worse than anything.” It points out to us the selfishness of abortion and the fact that people do know in their hearts that it is wrong. The care that Jose and his family show for Nina, a woman most of them hardly know, shows Christlike compassion and hospitality. For a movie in theaters today, it is shockingly bold and positive on the importance of family, love for others, the priority of people over money or success, and the need for companionship.

All in all, I was very impressed with this film and would recommend it to anyone. It is not a “feel good” movie, and I left feeling sobered, even slightly depressed, but sometimes you need that kind of reality check: people are suffering out there! It’s not a simple or entertaining film and is confusing in parts. I would watch it again, but it’s not one of those movies you feel you can pop in the player for fun. Watch this movie. If you can, go with strong Christian friends and discuss it on the way home. Someone with a gift for it could write a good study guide for it. Once it comes out on DVD, watch it with a Bible study group and spend some time discussing what was good and bad about it, what messages you thought were strongest or best, and anything you did not understand.

This film definitely lives up to its name: Beautiful.

By the way, it’s playing at Loewe’s theater in the Rio in Gaithersburg, MD. If you go there, the Hamlet is a good place for dinner and their slice of chocolate cake is almost a foot tall! Six people could eat it comfortably–my brothers loved my leftovers.