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Just a twentysomething living my life and, as most my age, figuring it out as I go,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

4 Things I Want to Say to Teens

For the past two summers, I have been given the opportunity to work as a youth intern with a youth group in my hometown. It has been a tremendous blessing and I am still in awe that I got to do it not only one, but two summers! I have got to see those teens grow and be challenged by different things in their life, and have truly come to love them more than words can say. I also am excited to be doing a different internship this summer with a new group of teens, and cannot wait to come to know them in a way that I have my OLY kids! 
In my time working with teenagers, although I am not far removed from being one myself, I have noticed that I am more sensitive to the things teenagers are encountering. From the tv shows they-and even I-watch to the clothes they wear and the messages our culture feeds to tweens and teens. My heart breaks knowing that they are being fed some of the same lies I was when I was their age-lies that so many others older than me have experienced. And I have spent the past few months just having that unsettling feeling eat at me. I speak directly to my OLY teens in my statements, but I also want to shout a proclamation to any other teens out there when I say these things. 
Maybe these will be helpful to you, maybe you have other things to struggle with, but I felt the need to share some tiny bits of wisdom from someone who was just there not long ago. When I graduated high school, my church-on Senior Sunday-had us leave a bit of advice from our experiences to those kids still in the youth group. So maybe that is what I am trying to do: share some advice from my experiences, especially now that I have been out of high school for a few years and have been able to reflect on the person I was throughout my teenage years.
1) Embrace your quirks!
Once you accept that you are weird and that's okay, others will accept it too. In case you hadn't heard, WE ARE ALL WEIRD!
Just look at some of the most popular celebs now (Ex: Jennifer Lawrence). 

Our favorite famous people are our favorites because they have accepted that they aren't always gonna come off as cool, and that's totally okay! Everyone has stupid moments-I have had more than my share today alone. So accept those weird things you like to do, don't be afraid to say you like something because you think other people will judge you, and move on with life. People will respect that you know yourself well enough to know what you like, and aren't just trying to impress others.  You were created to be a unique person-crooked nose, ant farm collection, odd sense of humor and all. In the words of my favorite poets "That's what makes you beautiful." Embrace it!
2) Being 18 does NOT make you an adult.
Trust me on this-I am almost 22 and I can't even tell you that I've fully reached adulthood. You will learn that there is no checkpoint for when you really feel like an adult (or so I hear). I have heard so many teens utter the words "I'm 18, technically I'm an adult and I can make my own decisions." Or even worse, "I can drive, I'm responsible now." No, you're not. I'm not.
So check the attitude at the door, accept that you are not fully ready to make adult decisions, and enjoy not having the responsibility that comes with adulthood while you can. 
 Wish someone had drilled that into me when I was a teen.

3) Don't lose your love for reading.
This may seem like a silly thing to share, but I have rediscovered my love for reading, and maybe its because I live with education majors who constantly talk about how important reading is to development, but I wish that I had never stopped. I would make a nice little bet that most teens were like me and as soon as reading became a requirement for school, you stopped liking books and (admittedly) spent a good number of nights on PinkMonkey or SparkNotes. 
Which is wrong, don't use SparkNotes...
[Parent moment: do as I say, not as I do. Okay, glad we're past that.] 
But I urge you guys, find books you like-take time on the weekends or instead of sitting back watching TV or Netflix-whatever newfangled mode of entertainment you kids have these days-and dive into a book you enjoy. Books are cool. Trust me. 
Reading takes you on more adventures than any movie ever can (and I am definitely a movie lover). There is nothing like living in book-world for however long it takes to read one. It seeps into every part of your life and you almost forget you're not actually living in book-world. It's GREAT! Plus books make you smarter. I can tell a difference in how I talk to other people, how I do on assignments in school, and how I think when I have been reading more frequently. So try it out. Go find a good book and chill in a library instead of on the couch one afternoon. Besides, one day, you'll be a twenty something year old, sitting in a coffee shop reading your new favorite classic literature book and meet the person you're going to marry. So that's always a plus.

4) Don't waste your energy on popularity.
First of all, popularity is incredibly relative (if you don't know what that means, Google it.)
Find who you enjoy being around, who makes you be the person you want to be, and stick with them. It will be more beneficial in the long run anyway. Friendships are such an important part of life, especially as a teenager. And that makes friendships a very fragile thing. As much as you don't want to admit it, bad friends will make an impact on you. Not that you can't be friends with everyone, but your inner circle will affect how you view life and how you feel about yourself and others. So be careful who you let into that circle, and realize that sometimes you have to cut strings with friends who don't influence you in the best ways.
Secondly, don't waste your energy trying to impress those "cool" people. It is distracting from actually finding out who YOU are as a person when you are trying with everything in you to fit into what their mold of cool is. Don't wait til later to really sit down and figure out who you are. That is something I never looked at until I was in college. I "thought" I knew who I was in middle school and high school, but I was really just trying to be acceptable enough for other people. And like I said in #1, spend time figuring out how to to accept your quirks. Ask what your strengths AND weaknesses are-not just your strengths. Figure out what you want to do with your life-not just career and college wise either. What are some things you want to accomplish in life? Even if they're absolutely bonkers, aim high! Maybe you'll never go to the moon, but it's fun to dream about it. Figure out what YOU want and who YOU want you to be.
That's a much better use of your energy than the negativity of trying to impress someone else.

I personally think teenagers are some of the most powerful people in the world. You guys just need some refocusing and encouragement! Enjoy the time you have as a teen-you're more responsible than a child, but not quite as responsible as an adult. It's the best of both worlds!

Friday, January 17, 2014

World Wide Wonder

Two years ago today, I stepped onto a plane to begin my semester abroad in Greece. 
Two years ago today, I left America for the first time.
Two years ago today, my life was absolutely changed. 
That may sound like an exaggeration, but I truly have never been the same since that day. The next time I stepped foot in America, my heart had been broken and rebuilt into something new. It's still being built new all the time-but that's another conversation. 
Two years ago, I did not know what wanderlust was. Now, it fills every part of my being. Some days-like today-I can barely live life without feeling like I am going to burst. Some days, I can only dream about leaving everything behind and getting on a plane to a different place. My desire to travel was spurred by getting on that plane two years ago. 
I have been incredibly, amazingly, surprisingly blessed to have been to 10 different countries since that day. I have been overwhelmingly blessed to now have friends in countries all over the world! When I think about that, I can barely breathe through my joy. I have friends now who are currently living in a different countries-whether through study abroad, mission work, teaching, etc.-and when I think of the things they are seeing right now, I can hardly hold myself together. There is something so incredible about being in a new place, taking in new scenes, experiencing new cultures, and especially meeting new people. I long for the day when I can step into a new place and experience life with different people. Sometimes my wonder creeps into my bones and pushes out through every part of me, making me feel like I'm going to explode. I am still amazed that one step two years ago inspired that in me. 
I wonder if I would have ever felt this way if I had not taken a risk to sign up for a semester abroad. I am thankful for that experience because I fear where I would be if God had not shaken my world in that semester. I fear that I would not be as fearless in the world and in God had I not gone abroad for that first time. I am so thankful for the experiences, friendships, and memories I have from two years ago. I am thankful for the people who challenged me to rethink how I love. I'm thankful that I can feel more gratitude in the difficult times now. I'm thankful that I am learning to take a step back from my culture every now and then. I am just immensely, overwhelmingly thankful that God has given me this wanderlust, and that He has given others the same desire to go and get to know others in different cultures. 
This is the place where my heart was changed. I am now filled with a world wide wonder.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feeling Adventurous

In the obsession of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack, I decided to build my own adventure playlist. Because I'm feeling whimsical and daydream-y and such. And because, why not? It's pretty much just a folksy mix of songs that would be good for coffee shops, plane trips, car rides, falling asleep to; whatever suits your fancy. So feel free to follow it if you have Spotify, and even moreso, feel free to add your own tunes to it. 

If all goes well, I've posted a link to it for quick access.

22 Favorite Quotes from the Screwtape Letters

I made it a goal this break to read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, finally, considering I finally had time to sit and absorb myself in it. I apologize to everyone on my Facebook and Twitter, I really tried to keep the quotes at a minimum, but they were just so good I couldn't help but share sometimes. Anyway, in an attempt to keep myself from copying the entire book into Facebook statuses, I kept a note on my phone of some of my favorite quotes from the book, which I will share momentarily.

In the two weeks I took to sit and read and absorb this book, I was given so much insight into how Satan works in our lives. I am amazed that a man could sit down and write an entire book from the perspective of a being that is absolutely the furthest thing from the reality he believes in, but thankful that Lewis had such a brilliant mind as to contribute these Letters to the world. It was such a surreal moment reading each chapter as Screwtape addressed almost every sin I have ever dealt with and many I didn't even realize were something I struggled with. A huge part of me felt peace rush through my body though as I read the words that admitted I wasn't the only one in the world who experienced these moments of weakness. Clearly Lewis understood the struggle enough to address it, which I can only imagine means he must have faced the same things I have and, even more, currently am dealing with. I sing praises that C.S. Lewis was such a brilliant man, and even more that God was able to use him to reach into society through his literature. 
So without any further ado, my top quotes from The Screwtape Letters:

"All mortals tend to turn into the thing they pretend to be. This is elementary."

"Indeed-the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

**"When [God] talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of slef-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I'm afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever." **

"The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack."

"Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble!' and almost immediately pride-pride at his own humility-will appear."
----this one appealed to me cause I have often caught myself double-thinking my motivation for doing something. It made me aware that this type of double-thinking is one way Satan tries to steal glory from God.

"Let him think of it [humility] not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely a low opinion) of his own talents and character...By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools."
---God created us perfectly and our doubting ourselves does not mean we are being humble.

"For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."

"He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it."

"Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they 'own' their bodies."

"We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun..."

"And all the time the joke is that the word 'Mine' in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father [Satan] or the Enemy [God] will say 'Mine' of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong--certainly not to THEM, whatever happens."

"There are things for humans to do all day long without His [God] minding in the least--sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before its any use to us."

"On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything--even social justice."

"Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere 'understanding'."

"...Love is not enough, that charity is needed and not yet achieved and that no external law can supply its place."

"Anything, even a sin, which has the total effect of moving him close up to the Enemy, makes it against us in the long run."

"If the thing he prays for doesn't happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don't work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and 'therefore it would have happened anyway', and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective."

"To watch a mean do something is not to make him do it."

"Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it', while really it is finding its place in him."

"He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality."

"Pilate was merciful till it became risky."

"...the act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin and, though we enjoy it, does us no good."

**Absolutely my favorite quote from this book! Truly a moment of really grasping how God works in His desire for us to give up ourselves and put Christ on. It is not a selfish request, but one that will give us even more freedom and joy than anything we could ever give ourselves in life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Precious Things

Sometimes I just get so excited about the smallest things in life. Tonight, while out with my mom, I found the most precious journal for $6 with "Enjoy the Ride" scribed across the cover. So tonight, I bought another journal-as if I don't have enough already. And tonight, I came home and made a Pinterest board dedicated to journaling tips and prompts. And tonight I wrote my name and this little quote on the inside of my new journal. So tonight, I embarked on a new journey of keeping my mind alive through journaling--all because of a little thing I like to call "impulse shopping". And maybe this will fall through like my other attempts at keeping a journal have in the past, but I have a different feeling about this little precious thing. But maybe that's just because I'm feeling inspired by my impulse buy and the Walter Mitty soundtrack I've had on repeat on my computer.
So enjoy the ride...cause that's really what life is, right?

Quote: "My journal is a storehouse, a treasury for everything in my daily life:
the stories I hear, the people I meet, the quotations I like, and even the
subtle signs and symbols I encounter that speak to me indirectly."
-Dorothy Seyler

Friday, January 3, 2014

As good a time as any

Last week I shared about my conviction to really focus on living in the future. I wanted to follow up and share this quote that came across my Pinterest feed. Thought it fitting for the idea of really living now.