Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm Young.

Day 30: How have you grown in your faith this month?

I feel like the Lord has shown me so much this month.  Several perspective-altering things have happened since the beginning of December, like my first finals week of college (and all the stress involving that), leaving new friends, coming back home to live with my parents again (for a month), and reuniting with high school friends.  It's strange, and I'm not sure if I can accurately express this all in words, but being home is so much the same that it's almost odd.  And then, little things are different that also make things feel odd.

Like my brother.  He has to have grown a foot in the last four months.  He's as tall as me now.

My friends are all a little different too.  Not necessarily in bad ways.  They've all grown and matured in these last few months, just like I have, but it's just a difference, you know?  Things have changed.  They have new friends, new habits, newly formed beliefs.

And for the first time in a while, I'm living back in my parents' home.  I'm being told to drink my milk, eat my veggies, clean my room.  And that's different to me.  It's not horrifying or anything like that.  It's just different.

I've always been terrified of change.  But in the last year and even in the last month, God has really formed my heart and shown me that change can be a good thing.  It'll be hard sometimes, but it isn't bad.  I have to change in order to grow in Him.  And He is a solid rock in my life throughout it all.
The Lord has shown me what it means to truly rely on Him.  During difficult tests and moments of confusion, He is there.  He is holding my hand.  He loves me unconditionally.

It's difficult to know what to say to answer a question like this because I feel like I have so much left to learn.  I'm so small and so young.  But I do feel like the Lord is constantly showing me things and that I'm growing.  Slowly, I'm growing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Day 29: What are you excited about?

Oh man, it's only three days until Christmas, so I feel like everything in my life is chaotic and busy and fun and exciting right now.

I'm excited to see Ali late tomorrow night when she finally comes home for her break.  It will have been exactly two months to the day since we've seen each other, which is rough.  We've already planned a book to write, crafts to create, movies to watch, and videos to capture.

I'm excited for my lovely friend Stephanie to come stay with me for a day or two next week.  We haven't seen each other in a little over a week, which has been torment for two girls who have enjoyed spending time with one another every day.  My friend Alex is also coming... it will be a mini-college reunion!

I'm so very excited to see Mission Impossible 4, which is out right now (but I'm waiting for Ali to see).

I'm excited to share my Christmas presents with my family in two days.  I'm so excited about everything I've gotten for everyone.

I'm excited to spend a couple of days with my family, relaxing and spending hours in conversation, board games, and feasting.

I'm excited because I'm getting into better shape over the break.  I found out I've gained no weight this freshman year, which is a relief... and now that I've been working out every other day since I've been home (for a week), I've actually lost a pound.  That excites me.

I'm excited to see what will be waiting under the tree for me on Christmas morning.

I'm excited to continue eating delicious food for the remaining time I'm home.  (Cafeteria food isn't the best!)

I'm excited for the premiere of the new season of Sherlock to come out on BBC on January 1.

I'm excited to make another yearly video with my wonderful friends on New Year's Eve.

I'm excited about life.  I feel like each day, the Lord is blessing me with something new and beautiful.  He fills my heart with joy.

And all I can say is... I'm excited.

What are you excited about?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Much Smiling?

Day 28: Five odd or unusual things about yourself.

This shouldn't be too difficult to think up.

1.) In a public setting, I have a nearly constant smile on my face.  I love to smile.  That's where the title "Emily is Smiling" came from... and I'm often teased about it from casual friends.

"Do you ever stop smiling, Emily?"

"No way!  I love smiling!"  And I do.

However, Ali and my mom call me a pessimist.  How can this possibly work?  Here's how I see things.  Perhaps I'm a happy pessimist.  Don't start arguing about this concept right away.  Let me explain.  I expect the worst to happen... but I figure I might as well make the best of it.  Does this make sense?  Probably not.  Oh well. :)

2.) I dislike chocolate immensely.  Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, fudge, chocolate syrup, chocolate milk, a lot of fancy chocolates... but I DO like Hershey's Kisses, M&M's, and Reese's.  Don't ask me why.

3.) I'm not big on the idea of having my own children.  People always ask why and I always reply, "I'm not a nurturing person!"  But in some ways, I am, because I love inner city kids and children in Africa.  But raising a child of my own sounds terribly frightening.  And possibly even awful.

4.) I take pictures of EVERYTHING.  Ali calls me a picture hoarder because I probably have more than fifteen thousand photographs on my computer.  I am terrified of having a wonderful experience and not being able to capture those memories with a photograph.

5.) I'm a very nervous person when it comes to things like driving, water, fast objects, and... well, most things.  However, I'm quite brave when it comes to situations involving people.

I wasn't afraid at all when I was walking through the slums of Kenya and Mexico City.  I wasn't afraid at all when I hopped into the back of a pickup with a bunch of strangers who then, to my dismay, proceeded to take me to a liquor store... because I needed a ride.  (Long story.  Looking back, I know what I did wasn't the smartest... and I'll write about it if I get enough requests.)

Of normal things, I'm terrified.  Of certain pointless and even reckless things, I'm not scared at all.  (For another example, I ADORE scary movies.)

Well, there's my list of five odd or unusual things about me.  What's yours?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Chilly Winter Air

Day 27: A picture you like of yourself.

One of the more recent pictures I like of me is here:

I love posing for pictures.  Don't you?

Monday, December 19, 2011


Day 26: Where would you like to live one day?

I don't think I want to live here for all of my adult life, but I do feel a little calling to live here for a year or two out of my life, maybe more.


Well, my heart sings for a continent filled with huge smiles, big hearts, and incredible poverty.

Lately I've been aching to go back to Africa.

I would love to live there one day, at least for a while.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

City Lights

Day 25: A worry or problem you have right now.

Finals are over, I made it home safe and sound last night, and I am here with my family and puppy.  My worries have all floated away.

I suppose the only shadow in my mind right now is the day.  December 15.

Four years ago today, I lost a friend to suicide.  I never thought it could happen.  I can't believe it's been as long as it has been.  And you know, I think this is the third year I've written about it on this blog.

Time flies by so quickly.

I've dealt with some sadness and tears today, but nothing that Jesus couldn't cover with His love.
And I know this isn't a whole lot to say, but I feel emotionally tired right now... and my computer is messing up.  I don't know what's wrong with it, I'll probably have to take it in, and I'm writing this from another computer.

Lately I've been enjoying the song "City" by Sara Bareilles.

(Also, just so you'll know, I'm not quitting the 30 Day Challenge.  I'm adding a couple of Christmas lists here and there in between a few days starting tomorrow.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Puppy-Less Life

Day 24: Something you miss.

What I'm about to describe is kind of a someone, but oh well.  I can't help myself.  I miss my puppy Jack so much!  Tomorrow night I'll see him for the first time since October!  (I'll appreciate the travel prayers as I have a ten hour drive with my friend Stephanie tomorrow).

There are so many things I miss about Jack.  I miss his smiles (yes, Jack can smile).

I miss his fluffy fur.  I miss how soft he is and how much he enjoys when I carry him around (okay, he doesn't always enjoy it, but he pretends to so I'll be happy).  I miss how small he is.

I miss playing with Jack.

I remember when he was a puppy and was the size of my hand.  He was SO SMALL.  Even now he's only four pounds.

Last night, Stephanie and I visited the Puppy Store at the mall.  Stephanie held a Puggle and I got my hands on a baby Yorkie who was soooo cute.  Check this little guy out.  Look at his tongue!

I really miss Jack.  Never in my life have I lived without a dog until now.  Only one more day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ohhh, I miss you so!

Day 23: Someone you miss

It's finals week and I am exhausted.  I had two finals today: one at 7:45 in the morning and one at 10:15.  So tiring!  I have one more tomorrow and then I'll be finished with my first semester of college.  Hooray!

Right now, I miss so many people.  I've been away from home since my birthday in mid-October, so I'm craving some family time right now.  Also, I'm really, really, really missing my friends.  Here's a list of SOME of my friends I'm missing so much right now.

Rebekah, my love, my fellow-Lost-fanatic, my partner in pranking, my former next door neighbor...

Zeek, the tallest and most talented and funniest person I know!

Muber... without him, who do I have to torment?!

Brently, one of the sweetest and most Christlike people I know.

And of course I desperately miss Ali, who I haven't seen since October as well.  Sadly, Ali has to work, so I won't see her for another week and a half!  But soon.  We will be together again soon.

Only two more days and I will be HOME.

Do you know what's different from the last time I went home?  This time, I'll really, really, really, really, reallllllly miss my friends here in college too.  When I come back in January, I'll have something to look forward to.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Day 22: A poem or song you've written.

If you want to hear songs I've written, check out my YouTube channel.

Otherwise, here is a poem I wrote about a year ago.  It's kind of... touchy, and I wrote it during a time in my life when I was pretty frustrated with the church as a whole and with the name Christians have been making for ourselves.  I actually wrote this on a day when I felt like church was becoming less of a fellowship experience and more of a routine (which I see now depends a lot on how I've prepared my own heart beforehand).

After I've had time to reflect, I don't know if I agree with everything I said in this poem, but I do agree with several parts of it.  I am pretty sure I've never posted it on this blog and I figured it could go with my last post.  Here goes.

When I walk into the church,
The lifeless people, empty ears,
All these sheep, bleating, bleating,
I wonder, "Are You here?"
We greet each other: plastic smiles,
Sometimes a brief embrace.
Why can't church be something more
Than meaningless handshakes?
Everyone is pressed and clean
And white and so content.
No one stops to truly see
The heavy price You spent.
Your assembly, God, it often fails,
Where are the seeds we've sown?
We need more than weak handshakes
To see Your children grow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crying at a Concert

Day 21: A quote or Bible verse you try to live by.

Now that I'm finally back to blogging (it seems like it has been an eternity), I'd like to share one of my favorite verses in the Bible, James 1:27, which says:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Let me share a story with you I don't think I've ever shared on this blog before.

About a year ago, I attended a Christian concert at a fairly large church in my city.  This church had recently made some huge renovations, apparently spending millions of dollars on building upgrades, including a huge circle-shaped auditorium created solely for concerts and performances.  While looking around, I was informed that the two huge screens on each side of the room cost half a million dollars... each.  The church had an indoor arcade, skateboarding arena, multiple basketball courts... I couldn't believe my eyes.

About halfway through the concert, they began to play a video.  It was for Compassion International and it contained typical tear-jerking scenes: African kids standing in the streets of their slums, ankle-deep in sludge and dressed in nothing but rags and flies.  Heartbreaking video footage, a couple of Christian celebrities asking the audience to sponsor a child... if you've ever been to a big Christian concert, you've probably seen something like this before.

Anything Africa tends to fill my heart with fire, but I rarely cry when I see those videos.  (Okay, I might tear up a little now and then.)  However, as I sat there and watched the Compassion video, I immediately began to cry.  Pretty obviously crying too (tears rolling down my cheeks, sniffling, lip quivering kind of crying).  My mom turned around and gave me a look like, "What on earth are you crying for?"

The reason I cried was because I was disgusted.  My heart felt like it had been snapped in half.  In that moment, I felt horribly embarrassed and was glad no one from the slums of Africa was there to see what was happening.

On two half-a-million dollar screens played a video sharing statistics about poverty and starvation.  The video was asking the audience to donate $35 dollars a month, but imagine how many children could be helped if they'd sacrificed one of their luxurious screens... or their arcade... or their Wiis... or their skate plex.

And you can say, "It's their business.  It's their church."  But we're the church.  Every one of us.  We are the body of Christ and as a member of this body, I'm calling a problem out into the open.  We're so focused on prosperity and the American dream... and serving the poor comes second.  How is that anywhere near what the Lord has called us to be?

I've been told that the reason all of these huge attractions have been put into churches is to attract more unbelievers, and I do believe we should keep our churches looking nice out of respect for the Lord.  But what I keep hearing, in a nutshell, is... as long as we focus on the things of the world--material possessions, the American Dream--we'll get more members?  Sure, if we act like the world, the world will eagerly embrace us.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

We've kind of forgotten that part.  I wish I could plaster James 1:27 on the walls of every church to remind everyone (including myself) about what God intends for us and calls for us to do.  He has called us to help the needy.  His heart is with the hurting and the suffering.

After visiting that church, a song came to mind.  It's by Todd Agnew and it's called "My Jesus."  Let me share a few lines with you:
I want to be like my Jesus.  Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus. You see, I'm tired of living for success and popularity. I want to be like my Jesus.
It's Christmas time.  It's easy to become absorbed in gift-giving and possessions.  I'm not saying that getting and receiving gifts are wrong.  They make special memories and they are a nice part of Christmas, as long as they aren't put first.  Let's make sure to give some of our time volunteering this Christmas season without expecting anything in return.  Let's give a portion of our--or actually, the Lord's-- money to the poor.

Let's follow James 1:27.  No more forgetting.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I'm looking for in a boy.

Day 20: What you are looking for in a significant other.

You know, I've posted lists about what I'm looking for in a guy before and not a whole lot has changed.

I'm really looking for someone who loves the Lord more than he'll ever love me.  He'll have high standards.  He won't cuss with his friends, just because it's the thing to do.  He'll stand up for what he believes.  He'll not back down from conversations about his faith.  He'll have integrity.

He'll respect me: my physical boundaries, my beliefs and opinions, even when we disagree.  He'll respect his mom and my friends and his sisters (if he has any).  He'll be a gentleman, willing to give his seat up for a girl or hold the door open for a lady.

If he doesn't play any instruments of his own (which would be preferable), he'll have a deep appreciation and a love for music.

He won't only see beauty in outward appearances.  I won't feel pressured to wear a lot of makeup or fancy clothing all the time when I am around him.  I'll feel comfortable being myself when we're together.

He'll be protective.  Not the "Edward Cullen" kind of protective where I'm protected obsessively like an object or a child rather than a human being, but he'll make sure I'm safe.

He'll know how to laugh, but he can also talk about serious things.

He'll have a passion for helping the needy and traveling, like me.  I want to be able to travel the world with whoever I end up with, so I'm looking for someone with a similar love.

This might be silly, but I'd like someone who appreciates the things I write, someone I'm not hesitant to show a new song or story and who'll enjoy getting a chance to see them, even if they're not always the best.

He'll be eager to spend time with me.  Not every moment of every day, but when we do spend time together, it won't be because he feels pressured to do so.  It'll be because we're friends and like to be around each other.

What are you looking for in a significant other?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Funny Words

Day 19: Five words that make you laugh.

1.) Bubble.  Why?  I don't know.  It just makes me laugh.
2.) Onomatopoeia.  Because for a word that means a word that sounds like what it is (this sentence is making no sense), onomatopoeia doesn't really sound like anything, does it?
3.) Discombobulate.  I've always enjoyed this word.
4.) Typhoon.  It's just awesome sounding.
5.) Smock.  Again, it's just weird.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Embarrassing Picture

Day 17 and 18: Describe yesterday and an embarrassing picture of yourself.

First comes the describing yesterday part.

7:30 - I reluctantly wake up... I stayed up late studying the night before and don't want to get up for the day!  But I must, so I check my phone and Facebook for new messages and then climb out of bed and start to get ready for the day by getting dressed, fixing my hair, eating a bowl of cereal, and putting on some makeup.

8:30 - After I finish getting ready, I gather my backpack and books and leave for school.

8:50 - I arrive on campus a little early and go to the computer lab to work on an essay for ASL.

9:10 - My first class of the day, ASL, begins.  Today we watch a wonderful documentary called "Through Deaf Eyes."  I learn a lot.  I also get an evaluation by my professor.  He says my biggest strength in signing is sentence structure and ASL GLOSS and my biggest weakness is my facial expressions.

11:25 - Class is over. I run back to the computer lab and quickly write a few paragraphs over group efficacy due in an hour.  I print it out and slip it under my professor's door, which he told me previously that I could do if he wasn't there.

12:00 - Government class begins.  We are given the assignment of writing a typed essay by the end of class.  Panic ensues.

1:15 - Somehow we manage to write the essays and turn them in and class is over.

1:30 - I meet with a professor about an interest group some classmates and I have formed.  The first thing he says to me is, "I don't mean to be sexist, but are you the leader of your interest group or are you their secretary?"  Oh dear...

2:30 - I grab some Rosa's (one of my favorite fast food restaurants) and head back to my dorm to eat lunch.

3:00 - After eating lunch and watching an episode of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," I take a much-needed nap.  I've been sick the last few days, so I need the rest.

4:30 - I wake up and finish reading a novel for my English Literature class.  It's called "Never Let Me Go" by Ishiguro.  Although sad, it's a great story and I enjoy it, even if the ending is sad.

6:15 - I go to have dinner in the cafeteria.  I sit and talk with friends for over an hour, even after I finish my grilled cheese sandwich and salad.

8:00 - I meet Stephanie at our favorite coffee shop.  Every Thursday, we have a Bible study/together-time together.  We figure out Stephanie's love language and talk about other things as well.  We pray together, share stories from the previous week since school was too hectic (and I was too sick) for us to spend time together.

11:00 - We've talked for a few hours and decide to start looking for adventure.  About this time, a friend calls and asks if we can pick him up and help him look for his wallet at a movie theatre.  We pick him up, sadly do not find the wallet, and take him back to his dorm.

1:00 - Stephanie and I spend a little more time together... and then see a shockingly scantily-clad girl (lingerie and fluffy boots only) walking by our car... and then a strangely hooded man passes by three times.  We decide it's too dangerous to be talking in a sketchy parking lot after midnight, in a car our not, so we leave for the night and plan to see a movie together tomorrow.

2:30 - After showering, checking Facebook, and texting Stephanie to let her know I arrived back in my room safely, I go to bed, tired and ready to start the next day.

Now after that long description of yesterday, here is the embarrassing picture.  Enjoy.

Yes, I was a strange child who loved my pet rats and had interesting fashion choices.  Oh, eighth grade, I do not miss you.