lifestyle

Winter Favorites 2016

9:07 PM


The snow has started to fall here in Michigan, which means a lot of things, but it also means Winter Favorites!

Favorite verse:


Galatians 1:10 -

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."

This last year has been a season of great transformation, from a life of little meaning and thought to one of great complexity and growth. I've realized along the way that I cannot people please or placate as much as comes naturally to me. When I do things, I need to ask myself whether it's for others or for God.


Favorite food:


Raspberry chocolate chunk cookies. I make them and they are delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Maybe I'll share the recipe on this site soon :) 


Favorite memory:




This feels tough for me to think about right now. I've just gotten home from college for Christmas break, and looking back on this semester it all seems a haze of good and bad moments. 

Sometimes the good moments are hard realizations. What's really important. Who your real friends are. What you believe to be true in the world. I've had a lot of these hard moments this semester, and they've both worn me down and built me up. 

This season I have enjoyed the simple things: making things for loved ones, eating warm food, long drives home, grace, patient and helpful people. 

Favorite book:


As mentioned in my previous post, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist has been a very transforming book for me this season. Holy cow am I grateful for that piece of writing. 

Favorite quote:


"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." 

Favorite song:



Currently Reading: 


Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys: A story of a girl and her family taken away by the Soviet army during World War II. So far, it hasn't been bashful or shy on the horrors of this war. It shows a side of WWII that most people don't hear about, the other side of the evil. It's one of those books that you just can't put down. 

Thanks for reading! I'm hoping to make a few more blog posts while I'm home for the holidays, see some friends & family, and take some visits to others around the state. 


books and reading

"Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist / Book Review

9:04 PM


A friend of mine gave me Present Over Perfect last week as a gift. She knows me well; I don't even have to tell her when something is wrong, she just knows. She knows my deepest struggles, which is why she bought me this book.

The struggle with having it all together, trying to please everyone but those who I truly love, and not having enough time in the day for God is very near to me.

I picked this book up at the perfect moment. I'd just finished having a meltdown, thinking about next semester and all that it will bring. I teared up, but I didn't let them drop down on my cheeks. I simply blinked the pain back until I could contain it, numb it.

Little did I know that this book would hold the answers. Or maybe not the answers, but a path. A path that I believe God wants me to be on. I've been paving a way for myself that I thought met His needs, when I actually didn't have enough time for the most basic thing God asks of me: to walk with Him, to talk with Him, to have a relationship with Him.

I haven't been doing that.

Shauna Niequist wrote the book that tells people how to slow down, how to appreciate life for all that it is and not all that we want to make it. She shows us how to focus on our body, soul, and relationship with God. She emphasizes relationships with our family and friends versus a "busy" life that prevents us from cultivating meaningful relationships.

This is a book about living life the right way, they way that I've struggled to pinpoint for so long.

I highly recommend it to anyone who feels like their life is too hectic, who regrets not creating meaningful relationships with those who matter, or anyone who just wants to slow down.

It's not going to be easy, that's for sure. And not everyone is going to agree with the decisions you make regarding making peace in your life. It's not about them, though. It's about you and God.

The one thing I didn't like about the book was the unorganized feel it had to it. I understood the goals of each chapter, but not necessarily how they were interconnected within each part of the book.

Besides that, I give it 5/5 stars. What a great way to start the New Year.

And yes, that is my mermaid blanket underneath the book in this photo.


faith

The First Snow

8:33 AM



I've woken up to the first snow this morning, water freezing just enough to be made something different. I am reminded, like a lot of deep thinkers, that snow is a symbol of death, and quite frequently, realizations of one's own disappointments. 

Too often I feel like a disappointment to everyone around me. I feel like I'm not good enough, not outgoing enough, not supportive enough, not friendly enough; not enough. I've recently had a friend tell me: you cannot give 100% to everyone you love or like. That would be insane. You simply cannot be everything to everyone. All you can do is be good. Not good enough, just good. And you are, she said. 

Yet I woke up this morning still worried about the things that I am always worried about, and I remembered a verse that I read just yesterday: "Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ."  (Galatians 1:10). The fact is that my people pleasing nature has followed me and been nurtured throughout many phases of my life. It is time that I say no to my instincts and impulses and look to God for real approval. And like many times before, He has brought me rest and peace. 

Snow is also a symbol for tranquility, and its melted form stands for renewal. Snow and change will come but we will always have God. I'm reminded that in Christ, I am made new, and I can only do my best for others while I seek God's approval, not everyone else's. 

We use salt to melt snow. Maybe life, like snow, needs to be taken with a grain of it. Perhaps God froze me in the moment as well, to guide me as usual toward what really matters. 

faith

How to: Respond to this election as a Christian

9:13 AM

I've been waiting to make this post out of the idea the Dean of Chaplains at my college implanted in my mind this week, "Quick, slow slow." Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19). I feel ready and level headed now to share, not how I felt about the result of the election, but how I feel we can move forward from hate, no matter what "side" you're on.

The day after the election, I had many (well-intended) Christian friends tell everyone that "God's got this!"

While I think that that's an appropriate response for a lot of Christians, it mixed poorly in my stomach. People were frantic, scared, and lost, and I did not feel like telling everyone a version of "It's going to be okay," was right. To them, it wasn't going to be okay (and still isn't for many).

It's very hard to make a case of faith for someone who does not see hope. Telling them these religious mottos only told them this: I don't think that you should be worried about this because it's all going to be okay. And therefore, that you weren't there to listen to their worries or their fears. You shut down their doubt with your own certainty.

Quick, slow, slow.

I wrestled with scripture, trying to make sense of it in light of all of the hate in our country the past few days. I knew that responding to hate with hate was not the answer. At the very core of Christianity is love, loving God and loving your neighbor.

And here is what I've gathered thus far:

We are meant to be a light to those feeling in the dark right now. We must rise above the fear, have courage, and be what God needs us to be in this time of uncertainty. We must not belittle others with our faith by showing them that their feelings are unjustified, because every feeling post-election is justified. Some people are scared and worried, and some people are upset at being labeled something that they are far from. Every feeling is okay.

"You are a light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

What we must do is this: fight evil with good. Get to the root of the problem and solve it there. Don't go to the oppressor, go to the oppressed. Find their needs and meet them. When you see someone experiencing an act of hate, remove them from the situation. Volunteer for organizations that need help. Stand up for others. Be a listener and friend.

There is no use fighting hate with hate, because then hate wins. I have a hope that love will always win.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)


As Christians, we are called to be different. The world is no longer a good representation of our faith. No matter who won this election, there would have been pain, aching, sorrow, and backlash of some sort. This is not new. But we are called to be different, to respond to hate with love, and to persevere in times of trial and persecution. We fight for justice in a different way, a way that does not provoke, but brings peace.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

This is a time of discernment in many areas: the media, feelings, the future, and faith. However, it's becoming more and more clear what I am called to do in a time like this. I must love, even when it's hard, even when I'm told not to.

This is the way I understand things, the way I make sense of all the hate going on around me. We must come with love. Let me rephrase that: we MUST come with love and light, and meet people who are feeling down and in the dark.

"Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." (1 Corinthians 16:13)

It isn't about shoving my faith onto someone else. In most cases, unless I know a person is Christian, I will not do so. I will simply act out of love and show them that I care, and that I am there for them.

That is all I can do, and I have great hope that it will ease the pain of this world long enough for people to sigh and catch their breaths, to breathe long enough to have hope and see that love is the answer, long enough for love to prevail and hate to shrivel into the darkness.

Thank you for reading.

Love,
Brooke

fall

Fall Favorites 2016

10:18 PM


Hey y'all, it's fall!

I'm going to be starting a new type of post on the blog, seasonal favorites. These posts will be like the ones you see on other blogs, and a bit unlike them. They will consist of:

Favorite verse:
Favorite food:
Favorite memory:
Favorite book:
Favorite quote:
Favorite song:
Favorite clothing trend:

As you can see, some of these are similar to what other people might put in their favorites, but some of them are different. I've put my own personal twist on this classic blogging style :)

Without further ado, here are my Fall Favorites.

Verse: Daniel 3:1-24. 


This is actually many verses summarized into one small saying:

And if not, He is still good. 

Life can throw you curveballs, it can get hard and trying. But no matter what, God is still good. If that job/relationship/friendship/risk/class/etc. doesn't work out, GOD IS STILL GOOD. I love that so much. I write it in a lot of places just as a reminder. God is good all the time.

Food: Apple cider slushes


If your town doesn't have these anywhere, I am so sorry. I'm not usually a fan of apple cider, but when it's in a slushy form, I am all over it. In my college town, we have a restaurant that serves these. It's a refreshing drink on those fall days where the sun is still beating down a bit. Perfect.

Memory: The gas station.

 

I was about to leave to drive home two and a half hours. My boyfriend and I left at the same time (in different cars, since we're from different home towns). We both went to the same gas station to fill up before getting on the highway.

The wind tore through my hair as I slid my fingers beneath the nozzle and started pumping my gas. Kyle stood on the other side, doing the same with his car. He finished and came over to my side, where he began "helping me" fill up my gas tank.

"This is how you do it," he said, putting his arms around me and holding the nozzle to my gas tank.

I pushed him away. "People are going to think you're some creep trying to help me with my gas."

"Shoot," he said. He stood next to me while I finished. "I love you," he said, as he says very often, in the same tone as usual, with a slight smile on his lips.

I paused for a moment. Normal girlfriends would have just told him they love him too, but I looked around me and asked, "At a gas station?"

I didn't realize what an important question it was, until a few seconds later it clicked in my head, of course at a gas station. I told him that I loved him even at a gas station.

He mad a joke about what if we just stopped loving each other because we were at a gas station. But I saw it as more than that. Even when life throws you in metaphorical gas stations, places that smell like gasoline and chemicals, dirty bathrooms and smoke, you still have to love the person you're with. I hope that you still love your person when you're in the armpits of life. Yuck, right? But how much nicer is it to get through with someone standing next to you, holding your hand the whole way?

So we went inside and got snacks for the road before coming back to our cars to say goodbye, at the gas station. Keep in mind, I'm not that fussy of a girl, but gas stations are not the most romantic spot to say goodbye.

He hugged me and planted a kiss firmly on the top of my head. "I love you," he said again.

I opened my car door and grinned. "I love you too, even at a gas station."

He rolled his eyes and got in his car. We drove down the highway together until I switched highways. Later, on a FaceTime call, he told me, "I watched you drive away until I couldn't see you anymore."

I'm not saying that a gas station is a place where you stop loving someone, but it is an unusual place to be affectionate toward someone. Which brought the thought to me, are there times in life where it is a bit unusual to be affectionate? When we're in the slimiest troughs of life, we should show each other love (in a relationships or just a friendship). It makes life much better. He is so good at that.


Book: "To Autumn" by John Keats. 


Instead of a favorite book this season, I'm going to do a favorite poem. "To Autumn" -- "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness."

Quote: 


"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." [Marcus Aurelius]

Song: "This Town" Niall Horan


So now that One Direction is all going single, I just have four new albums to look forward to, right? Jokes aside, I really do love this song. It's so basic and raw.



Favorite clothing trend: Booties. 


What can I say? It's just too cute to ignore.





Thanks so much for reading :)
I hope you are having a great season so far.

faith

How to love everyone, even the people you don't like

10:37 PM


Sometimes people just annoy you. They scratch their head the wrong way, they don't agree with your opinion on frozen dairy products, they can't see your side of the story, or they're just plain rude to you.

Every time someone bothers me like this, I think something along the lines of,  I'm going to be sent to hell because I can't stand Sara and the way she treats me. Or, Dear God, please grant me the patience to withstand Emily and her constant whining today. 

As mentioned in my previous post, this summer I'm reading the New Testament. In the Gospels, we are constantly commanded to love everyone. Over time, I grew stressed reading this over and over again, thinking that if I wasn't happy with everyone in my life and treating them like kings and queens, I was doing wrong.

On my last day of work, the kids I nanny were bickering in my back seat and I asked them to stop fighting.

"She started it!" the boy screamed.

"I don't care who started it, you're brother and sister and you should love each other even when the other does you wrong."

That was partly when I realized that you don't have to like someone in the moment to show them love. Sometimes, showing love can simply mean turning the other cheek when someone is angry at you. It can mean offering patience and respect. Most of all, it means not screaming at someone else just because they provoked you.

But these two are brother and sister, I thought, they have to love each other.

And another thought dawned on me. Under God's roof, we're all brothers and sisters in Christ. And I don't know about you, but I'm not always 100% happy with my annoying little brother or bigger older brother. But I would lay down my life for them all the same, just like Jesus did for us.

Here's something I never realized as a Christian: I'm allowed to not like people. That's right. I'm allowed to be disappointed, sad, and angry with people who I don't jive with. I should still be praying for patience with Emily, but I'm allowed to not like the way she whines about every little thing.

Tonight, I stumbled upon this article on loving people you don't like. My thought process on this topic has become a lot clearer since. To sum it up: everyone has people they don't like; even Jesus did. We are allowed to dislike people and still show them love, because agape love (the love that god shows us) is an action, not a feeling. That's why being patient with Emily (action, or rather the suppression of a negative reaction) is much more important than my feelings of annoyance toward her. That's why the older brother showing kindness to his sister is more important than his feelings of anger toward her when she poked him.

Agape love: action, what Jesus showed us when he died for us.
Phileo love: feeling, a love between friends.

At this point I realized that I won't be sent to hell for not liking someone. We can be justified in not liking people, but we must show them love still.

Here are some simple ways in which you can show everyone love, even those you don't like:

1. Pray for others. Pray for their health and happiness, their family and friends. If you know they're struggling, reach out to God through prayer for them.

2. Be kind to others. Smile at strangers, at the girl in your physics lecture who bothers you, at the cute boy you have a crush on. Use kind words instead of sarcastic or angry ones.

3. Help out. Whether it be in your community or in the household, show others love by giving them help.

4. Forgive. The more you forgive as our Father forgives us every day, the less grudges you will hold, and the less your feelings for this person will bother you.

The more you show God's love in your life, the more you will feel God's love in your life. So reach out to that person in need, forgive the person you're angry at, pray for everyone, and always be kind. Share God's work through your actions and the world will be a better place.

Thanks for reading! Have a blessed week,

Brooke

1 corinthians

Individuality and Spiritual Gifts

8:28 PM



This summer I have been tackling the New Testament (altogether) for the first time. It's been a journey, one where I've learned a lot, and I've finally made it to 1 Corinthians. Something really special in 1 Corinthians is the talk of spiritual gifts and our individuality and importance in the big picture of God's plan.

With so much going on in the media and politics, it's important to remember that we of faith must stand together.

We are individuals that must work as one.

God has blessed each one of us with unique gifts- faith, patience, speech, knowledge, mercy, giving, service, etc. These are gifts that we as Christians can use to be apart of His plan and the bigger story of life.

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body we think less honorable we clothe with great honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect... (1 Cor. 12: 22-23). The most beautiful thing is that no one is left out- no matter their weaknesses or failings, everyone has spiritual gifts. We are all needed. Not one person is more important than the others. God needs us, everyday, average people to change and mold the world in His image.

The body does not consist of one member but of many (1 Cor. 12:12). It cannot be done alone. Without the eyes, we cannot see. Without the legs, we cannot walk. There is too much at stake to be so full of hate that we cannot work together.

We're at a time of great divide in the country and in the world, just as Corinth was at the time of Paul's letter. It's ironic, because it's times like these when we need to stand together in order to make things better.

It's up to us to use our gifts for the common good. Everyone is worthy of God's love and gifts, and we need everyone.

A few months ago, I was really unsure of what my spiritual gifts were. I can see them now, but at the time I was introduced to a spiritual gifts test online. I took it and discovered a few of my gifts- mercy, serving, discernment, and wisdom. You can take the test here too!

What are you spiritual gifts and how do you plan on using them?

Bye for now,

Brooke

blog

Things I know to be true

9:34 PM

There are more than three things I know to be true. In an effort to re-start my blog, I'll tell you about the top four:

1. God is good.

That's the most important truth. Before you continue on with this blog, know that I love Jesus with all of my heart. It wasn't always that way, but maybe I can tell that story another time. If it feels preachy to you, I'm going to kindly ask you to leave. I want this space to feel positive for those who visit. I'm also a firm believer in cutting the negativity out of your life, so if you hate this, get out and find something that makes you happy, please.

2. Life is not fair.

This summer, I'm working as a nanny for two children. "That's not fair!" is something that comes out of their mouths on the daily. If you're a mother, father, nanny, babysitter, brother, sister, etc., you've probably heard those exact words, in the exact tone that I intended them to be read.

I usually turn around in the front seat of the car or glance up over the kitchen counter and say, "Life's not fair." Not in a mean, bitter way, but in an honest, patient voice. I'm not trying to tear down their childhood dreams or anything, but kids need to know that one day, life's going to feel a lot more unfair than the time Sam* got ten pretzel chips and Nina* got eleven.

But I also am sure to remind them that just because life isn't fair, doesn't mean it isn't good. Which leads me to my next truth:

3. Life is good.

Life is hard, unfair, and sometimes it really takes you down, drags you into a ravine and ten miles past where you wanted to be. You're also probably naked and stranded in a desert, metaphorically of course. But sometimes, life is slow and easy. Sometimes life shows love, compassion, and builds you a pillow fort to read Harry Potter under with a flashlight. Sometimes life is a popsicle or getting to see your grandma. Sometimes life is seeing someone you love turn to God in a hard time.

Nothing is ever perfect, but the more we understand that perfection can be more about perspective than flawlessness, the more we can understand that life is beautiful despite the messiness.

4. Truths do not have to be neither cold nor hard.

I don't know why everyone thinks that truths have to brutally suck. It's like every time you're being told the truth, you have to be hit with it. Let me tell you, it's the cold, hard truths that can take a good stab at your heart. But the good truths, they flush inside your chest and make you feel alive.

We only notice when we don't get the truth. But what about when we do? Do you notice when your significant lover tells you they love you and they truly mean it? That's the truth. Do you notice when someone tells you you're beautiful? Or when the news comes back better than you thought it would be?

There are some truths that, yes, are cold and hard. You find out that your boyfriend has been cheating on you, or your best friend said something nasty about you behind your back. I'd call the truth of evil in the world cold and hard, but the truth of God joyful and rejuvenating. They don't all have to be so bad.

Sometimes you get the short end of the stick. Sometimes you pull out a whole freaking lollipop (one of those rainbow swirl ones that you always wanted when you were little). And it is wonderful. Yes, it is.

Life is full of give and take. I'm learning that the more I find God in my life, the more I see life as good, the more I understand the unfairness, the more I see the beauty in life's flexibility between stable and unstable, scary and safe, or hard and fuzzy. The more I see and discover God, the more I know or don't know, the simpler it all seems to me, the happier I am.

I'm not sure what direction I'm going with in my blog. I'll probably just write about whatever makes me feel happy to be here.

Thanks for the read,

Brooke

*Names have been changed.



austria

Möbisch, Austria: Days 1 and 2 of Study Abroad

4:45 PM

Hello from the little Möbisch, Austria,

As it turns out, jet lag is a real thing and I'm not as immune to it as I thought I would be. Go figure. Not being invincible to this matter has caused me quite the exhaustion the last couple of days, but I have a good feeling about tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I began my adventure at the Detroit airport with a fresh but scared feeling of traveling on my own. I teared up in the security line as I watched my mom, waving to me from just outside the ropes. The high stress of the security officials made me tense, but also helped me to focus on that task at hand. None of them would care if I, an almost 20 year old adult, broke down in the security line because I was going to miss my mom.

So I sent myself into big girl mode and went through that queue. After that, I recomposed myself and head to the gate. I wish I could tell you about all the exciting time I had at gate D4, but unfortunately there weren't any. I started reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and nervously tapped my foot for 45 minutes until my friend Ella showed up.

We flew to Chicago, where we met the rest of our group. By this time, I felt pretty okay about traveling across the ocean, but my patience for lines was small and I hadn't eaten since 7:45 that morning. It's safe to say lunch on the other side of security hit the spot.

I'm going to skip all of the waiting around for the plane, and the part where I only slept on the plane for about 1.5 hours and finished the book I'd started that morning. That stunk and it really isn't interesting. Refer to the first paragraph for a summary of how tired I am. My body felt depleted of everything good, especially chocolate.

Despite that exhaustion, our professors told us to try and make it through the day. I did, with one or two short naps to get me through. We drove the bus to Mörbisch, a small town on the border of Austria.

Sometime that I've noticed about Austia already is how beautiful it is. Even the fields, various shades of green that stretch on for miles until the reach hills and continue over them as well, are better here. There are many vineyards as well, something Austria is known for. The amount of windmills shocked me too. How can something so massive and man-made even add to the beauty of the fields? I'm not sure. But they do.

In Mörbisch we settled into our hotel and had lunch, which is quaint and only has wifi in the lobby. While I've considered this an inconvenience, I think it's better for immersing myself and being a part of the group.

After lunch we cleaned up and decided to make the trip to the Austria-hungarian border. The border to Hungary is a pretty short walk from our hotel.

The town of Mörbisch reminds me of any small fairy tale village. The streets are somewhat narrow, with the houses and businesses in small, colored and tall buildings. The architecture is a lot different than the united states. Houses, for the most part, look more geometrical and modern. Buildings in the city look a bit older.

We walked through the town a little and then head toward the border, which is mostly a walk through trees and foliage. The border itself is marked by a painted line on the gravel and a sign that I can't actually read. It was still pretty cool to be in two countries at once, though. Crossed that one off the bucket list.

After dinner and a long meeting regarding Austrian phones, I head to bed.

Today has been filled with meeting learning German; my favorite world is zwolf, pronounced, tsvolf, and it means twelve. My class met as well. It's an Austrian art and architecture class. We're going to be touring all around Vienna, with few lectures in order to fully enjoy the city. I'm not that into art, but the class is going to be a really good experience still. We talked about the question, what is art? I thought this had a simple answer but, as it turns out, it's much more complicated. Is nature art, or is it only inspiration for art? Does art have to be intentional?

For dinner, we went on a boat cruise on Lake Neusiedl, complete with sausage, sauerkraut, bread, and some other type of meat that I don't know the name of. It was a pretty good, Austrian meal.

That pretty much brings me up to date, sorry for the long blog post. I should probably learn to filter out the boring things and the exciting things.

Take care,

Brooke

adventure

Adventure in Vienna Awaits + Reading List

12:13 PM

Hi friends!

A new chapter of my life will begin on Tuesday, when I fly from Detroit to Chicago, and Chicago to Austria for three and a half weeks. I'll be spending my time in Vienna taking a class for school.

How do I feel? Well, nervous. I keep reminding myself that God is with me wherever I go, but the unknown is before me, and I think we can all admit that it's hard to give all of that up.

I know that it's going to be a great trip, though. I'll be journaling every day to keep track of my adventure, and hopefully posting lots of blog posts on here when I have internet connection.

I'll be staying in the 17th district of Vienna, which is fun because 17 is my lucky number. I'll also be celebrating my 20th birthday over there! Wowwy.

While I worry about leaving my family and friends behind, I know that they'll be here for me when I get back in early June.

I've made myself a worldly reading list for my study abroad time. All of these books take place in different places:

1. Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland, set in France.
2. A Handbook to Luck by Cristina Garcia, set in California, about girls from Cuba.
3. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, set in China.
4. How to Write a Novel by Melanie Summer, set in Geogia.

Have you ever been to Vienna? What are some must-see places?

Thanks for reading,

Brooke

faith

Faith Remodeled

9:10 PM


Over the last two years at college, my faith has become almost the center of my world. The overall goal is for it to become the complete center of my world, but I cannot say that I'm there yet. The progress that I've made since high school has been immense, though.

I started writing this blog as a lifestyle type blog. It has come in and out of my life during busy and not so busy times. I think about this place a lot, though. It has evolved the same way that I have, I like to think.

Recently I took a trip to Highland Park, NJ on a mission trip with a group from my school. I only knew one person going into the group. Coming out of the trip, I miss each and every one of them and get the biggest smile on my face when I see them around campus. I learned loads about what it truly means to serve the Lord and how to keep an intentional relationship with God. I picked up some pretty good faith habits as well.

On the Jersey Shore, we worked to dry wall one house and demolish another to prepare it to be lifted in accordance to state law. We stayed at a church that was super involved in social justice, especially concerning immigrants and refugees. The church helps as many as they can get out of detention centers and find homes, jobs, and support within the church.

I heard stories from refugees who had been persecuted for their faith, thrown in what is essentially a jail for no reason, separated from their families and children, yet still kept such strong faith. I've seen the ways they escape their situation, which they attribute to the grace of God, and jump right into serving God with their whole being.

I think about and pray for these people often.

It has really changed my perspective on life and the world. Seeing people give everything they have, not even five dollars in their pockets, is inspiring.

I don't think the Lord has it planned for me to drop out of college and serve him on my hands and knees. I'm not exactly a physically inclined person. However, I see my strengths that He has given me and want to use them to serve Him.

Coming out of a trip like that feels like a culture shock. How can I continue to pursue my faith in an active way that serves God?

I have pinpointed a few ways to do this, yet they all require intentionality and support.

  1. Doing a daily devotion. I find devotions helpful in the area of my faith that I lack the most in, scripture. This really helps me to stay focused on God's work and keep him in mind throughout the day. 
  2. Prayer. Daily prayer, once or twice a day, is a healthy way to talk to God and stay close to him. I usually make a list of prayers in my journal and pray about them there. Sometimes I just send small prayers to God throughout the day, sort of like a conversation in my head. 
  3. Being kind and supportive. Every one struggles in their daily lives. I can help even a little bit by remaining kind and supportive to those around me. 
  4. Outreach. This one is the most difficult. I want to find places-- soup kitchens, house building and clean up organizations, classrooms, food drives, that I can help. 

None of this can be done without God and the faith community that surrounds me here at school. I would really like to make an effort to keep all of these things in my life. 

Without them, I feel a bit empty. 

Thanks for reading,
Brooke

book

A Series of Breakdowns and Breakthroughs - A Memoir

9:08 PM

Picture this: your life flashes before your eyes, all you see is a series of every breakdown you've ever had. Do you laugh or cry?

I like to think that I'd laugh. When I write about the times I blew up over something so small, or even big, I get a good kick. Why? Because it's in the past and self-reflection has allowed me to see both how that event worked its way into my current life as well as how minuscule it was in the long run.

A young Brooke pronounces her love for chicken and
fries at a young age while simultaneously imitating
Deb from Napoleon Dynamite without even knowing it. 
I've had more than my fair share of breakdowns, and I think it's time I share them with the world. I tend to be a quite vulnerable writer and this allows readers to relate. It soothes their inner worries about similar experiences they've had. I think I have a lot of wisdom to share via these horrendous meltdowns I've had.

Here's a quick preview: me, red-faced, mouth screaming, on the floor of old navy, a skort (Good riddance, am I right?) crumpled in my hands, my mom in the corner with her head up against the wall, her best friend scolding me for not slipping that torturous garment on, and the rest of the store wondering what the hell is going on in that dressing room.

Or this: Eating leftover spaghetti for dinner when my mom tells my brother and I that she has something to tell us, that our father is in jail and the news has been published on a local news site that most people in town read.

The events vary in degrees of seriousness, but each one felt just as real as the next in the moment they were happening.

I'm not sure if this is something I'll ever try to get published, but I sure am excited to write about it. Sometimes writing a memoir seems conceited, but I think it's really good reflection that could possibly benefit others if done correctly.

Life hasn't always been easy and it never will be. I intend to share that with whoever ends up reading my pieces.

Best,

P.s. Sorry for the lack of posts lately. My sorority is going through the rush process right now, which is very important to me, though it doesn't feed me in the same way that writing does. I'm hoping to get back to more blogging soon. 

P.s.s. I'm probably going to redesigning the layout of this page soon, so don't be surprised if you see changes! 

P.s.s. I've been experimenting a ton with watercolors lately for a class I'm in right now! Would anyone like to see?

2016

Books I Want to Read In 2016

4:33 PM

Hey!

I thought I'd take my TBR pile and make a list of books that I plan on reading in 2016. None of these are exactly new releases, but they are books that I have been planning on reading for a while and just haven't gotten around to.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. 

How have I not read this? I graduated high school and took all honors classes and not once was I asked to read this book. That shocks me given it's amazing reviews and that it relates to young people.

Half Broke Horse by Jeannette Walls. 

I loved The Glass Castle and have read it three times. I bought this book at the used book store connected to the library I worked at in high school. Don't ask why I haven't read it yet. I really relate to Walls' story and find her writing inspiring.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. 

I'm going to be honest, I know nothing about this book. However, it was given to me as a hand-me-down and I'm determined to read it. UPDATE: I just read about it, and it sounds like it revolves around the reclassification of Japanese Americans. That's going to be a new read for me, but definitely one that I'm looking forward to.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. 

So I started reading this book, and it's soooo pedantic. I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I was told it was incredibly witty. I find it hard to even stand the main characters. I might pick it up in a few weeks.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. 

Again, why haven't I read this?

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. 

As a lover of many types of genres including fantasy, I've been told that I should read this for a long time. I've very recently acquired the series as a hand-me-down from my aunt. I'm so pumped to finally hear this story!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Read) by Douglas Adams. 

I read this already. It was hilarious but at the same time made a point. In the beginning I thought it was going to be some super ridiculous story that made no sense, but it ended up actually having meaning. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Another one of those books that I'm just not sure why I haven't read. I need to keep up with these books.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. (Not pictured, to-buy.)

Every now and then I really enjoy a good graphic novel. This is one that I've heard a lot about through the bookstagram community, booktube, and Goodreads.

Winter by Marissa Meyer. (Not pictured, currently reading)

I started reading this final book in the Lunar Chronicles this weekend. I'm only 100 pages in, and it's going to take me a very long time (especially given that I'm a full-time college student), but it's going to be worth it.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman. (Not pictured.)

Last year I read If I Stay and loved every word of it. I have yet to watch the movie, but I'm really excited to read this book from another point of view!

I hope you've enjoyed my little blurbs on what books I look forward to reading this year. You can find all of these books and more on my Goodreads account, where I not only rate but review books for anyone to read.

Thanks for reading,




book

Review - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

7:22 PM



I began this book after seeing it countless times on Instagram. Around Thanksgiving I visited my aunt and uncle's house in Ohio only for them to send me away with books upon books that they didn't want anymore. The Night Circus was one of them.

This is a very peculiar book to describe, because it is a quite peculiar book indeed. What you must know is that it is unlike any other book you've ever read. The narrative is beautiful, as well as the story that it tells.

The premise of the adventure is that two "magicians" have been battling for years over which format for performing magic is best. They challenge each other by teaching students their methods and then placing the students in some type of an arena (not often a typical one) where they must see who can perform the longest. The winner of the challenge is proven to have the best method of teaching magic. Celia Bowen is only six when she's taken to her father, Hector Bowen. Hector decides to make her his student, and challenges Alexander, otherwise known as the man in the grey suit, to find a competitor. When he does, marvelous plans for a circus evolve. The circus is magnificent and stands apart from other circuses. There are many tents, all filled with amazing and breathtaking acts and talents. There is a draw to the circus, so much so that some people never want to leave. However, the circus is the arena, and Celia and her opponent, Marcus, must hold it up until the other cannot do so anymore. You must be warned: this is a story of unrequited love that may or may not be solved.

I found this book to be magical, for lack of a better word. It simply was. The circus is described in a way that makes your mouth water. The characters' relationships keep you hanging on for what's at stake. There is an ever-present air of mystery around every action that happens in the book.

Here's how I rate it:

The writing - Simply wonderful. I haven't read a book this poised in so long. Morgenstern makes the circus real to the reader, even when such a spectacle has never existed. When she describes the food at the circus, it is almost like reading J.K. Rowling describes the feasts at Hogwarts. And that is a high standard. What exists in that aspect exists in others. Morgenstern makes you want to be at the circus, just as her characters cannot stand to be without it. I'm amazed at how her descriptions came to life. 5/5.

The plot - The plot was magnificent toward the end of the book. I felt that it was a bit slow at first, and had trouble reading through this as fast as I could other books. However, this is because there had to be a lot of buildup in order to get what needed to be done set up. I did feel that some parts could have been taken out to shorten the book, but I may not have as deep an understanding of the plot as the author does. Surely, everything in this book happens for a reason. 4/5.

The characters - I loved the characters in this novel. They felt real, full of life, and I was drawn into them from the beginning. The love between Celia and Marcus felt so tangible, like I too could feel the tension that followed them wherever they went. I also loved Poppet and Widget, who became a part of the circus the day they were born- they quite literally started and ended their lives with the show. Even the characters that I didn't like- Hector, Alexander, Isobel, and Chandresh, were still so well developed that I had to admire the author's work. 5/5.

In total, I give this book 4.5/5 stars. I highly recommend it to lovers of well-told stories. It is not a book you read to quickly pass the time, or one that you can read mindlessly. Read this book with the intention of being amazed.

As for age-related content, please note that this book does contain one scene involving sex. However, it is not realistic. I believe it could be handled by ages 14+. 

Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images