Monday, October 28, 2013

Motivational Monday #7

This is such a great video. It's pretty much impossible not to smile! Also, I'm sure we could all benefit from the pearl of wisdom, "You've got to keep on keeping on. Get on a pig and hold on tight!" ;)
Have a splendid Monday!
Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Power of Music

I've always loved music. It's so amazing to me that a bunch of sounds in different arrangements can lift spirits, move one to tears, bring people together, and provide a safe haven in a world that seems so unsure. Music is a huge part of my world, and the world in general. It's woven throughout every culture, and I think there's a reason for that.

I've been researching the effects music has on us, and I've stumbled upon some very interesting facts. For instance, it seems as though music is tied quite strongly to our reward system. When we listen to music, dopamine (the feel-good chemical) is released and it makes us feel good, so we naturally want to continue. Therefore, it has been concluded that people who are more driven by rewards, and less by thrill and adventure, are likely to more frequently get "chills" when listening to music they enjoy.

Music also reaches out to strong memories we have. We all have songs that immediately take us back to another time; a vivid memory locked away in our minds. For instance, what do you think of when you hear the Theme from Gilligan's Island, Mission: Impossible, We Will Rock You, The Macarena, or It's a Small World? It's usually songs like these that so easily become stuck in our heads, like an itch that we can't stop scratching.

Music has been helping us out for longer than we may think. According to my good friend, Wikipedia:
+Apollo is the ancient Greek god of music and of medicine.
+Aesculapius was said to cure diseases of the mind by using song and music, and music therapy was used in Egyptian temples.
+Plato said that music affected the emotions and could influence the character of an individual.
+Aristotle taught that music affects the soul and described music as a force that purified the emotions.
+Aulus Cornelius Celsus advocated the sound of cymbals and running water for the treatment of mental disorders.
+Music therapy was practiced in biblical times, when David played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit.
+As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates played music for his mental patients.
+In the thirteenth century, Arab hospitals contained music-rooms for the benefit of the patients.
+In the United States, Native American medicine men often employed chants and dances as a method of healing patients.
+The Turco-Persian psychologist and music theorist al-Farabi (872–950), known as Alpharabius in Europe, dealt with music therapy in his treatise Meanings of the Intellect, in which he discussed the therapeutic effects of music on the soul.
+Robert Burton wrote in the 17th century in his classic work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia.
+Music therapy as we know it began in the aftermath of World Wars I and II, when, particularly in the United Kingdom, musicians would travel to hospitals and play music for soldiers suffering from war-related emotional and physical trauma.

How cool is it that God would understand us so completely, and love us so much that He would give us such a beautiful form of art that actually heals us, inside and out? :) The more I learn about the world and myself, the more I am amazed by the Designer. Too cool!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


"Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness."
~Dag Hammarskjold
This week, I have been learning what loneliness is.
I have developed a very good defense mechanism for myself, in the fact that I can block out negative feelings quite easily, and ignore them. Sometimes without even being conscious of them. I have lived in Nicaragua for three months now, and haven't felt the least bit lonely. Until now.
It's ironic that I only noticed the dull ache when I was having the first heart-to-heart I've had in a long while, with a new friend from our Spanish school. In that moment, I felt the least lonely and the most heard, but it forced me to remember reality, and that was painful. It was comforting to find someone who felt the same way, who could understand the mixed emotions of picking up and leaving everything you know. Someone who saw behind my mask, and didn't run away. I'm immensely grateful for that, perhaps more than he will ever know.
Amid the insecurity, there is something beautiful about this pain. Acknowledging it for what it is has been difficult, but also freeing. Admitting it to myself and to God today, I feel like I have stopped running. And there is beauty in the fact that I can now rest securely in God, and know that even when life feels terrifying, He is always there. He wraps His arms around me, and never lets go.
I will never be alone. <3


Monday, October 21, 2013

Motivational Monday #6

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Top 10 : Film Soundtracks

1 :: Nemo Egg (Main Title)

2 :: Avengers Theme

3 :: Titanic Theme
4 :: Pirates of the Caribbean (He's a Pirate)
5 :: Tarzan (Two Worlds)
6 :: Up (Married Life)
7 :: The Truman Show (Truman Sleeps)
8 :: Chronicles of Narnia (Only the Beginning of the Adventure)
9 :: Lord of the Rings (Concerning Hobbits)

10 :: How to Train Your Dragon (This is Berk)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Favorite Blog Posts This Week

I haven't checked in on my favorite blogs lately, so when I looked yesterday I found a ton of really fantastic posts! They are way too amazing to keep to myself, so I thought I would highlight some of the best. These have not all been posted this week, but I discovered them this week, so it still counts. :P

The first is "Writing on the Web" on The Daily Simple. In this post, Aubrey writes about some lessons she has been learning concerning her writing. She has some really great ideas. I was reminded that writing should not be stressful, and sometimes it's better to leave something half finished and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

"Can You Read Emotions? on A Cup of Jo. This was so fascinating! "New studies have found that if people read literary fiction for even a few minutes (as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction), they perform better on tests measuring empathy and emotional intelligence." I also took the quiz that finds out how well you can pinpoint people's emotions just by seeing their eyes, and got 30/36.

"Work in Progress" on Vintage Lolipops. This blog is where artist Bella Harris shares updates on her artwork. She is such an amazing artist! I'm completely inspired. This "work in progress" is so wonderful. Here is another one of my favorites from her.

"Photo an Hour" on The Dainty Squid. This is a project I have been thinking about doing for a while now. Maybe sometime I'll have to try it! Too cool :)

"Our Home // kitchen before and after" on Delightfully Tacky. I'm a huge fan of their kitchen. I love chalkboard painted walls any day. :) Plus, her entire blog is amazing, so you should check it out!

"Art Journaling" on Everyday is a Holiday. This couple does various forms of art for a living, and I was super inspired by all these art journal pages! I follow them on pinterest as well, and they post a lot of cool stuff.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivational Monday #5

Happy Monday! :) For your very own personal enjoyment, I'm sharing a neat little music video made by Youtubers Meekakitty, Nanalew, and Lancifer.

When We First Met- hellogoodbye
If you like what you see, check out their Youtube channels! They're always posting new and interesting stuff. :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Creative Writing: Floating Forest

The city lights glimmered against the ocean, the reflection disrupted only by a solitary ship gliding through. She stood tall on the bow, holding onto nothing as she let the breeze sweep her hair back. Afraid to shatter the perfect silence, I stayed where I was, half hidden by the low hanging tree branches. It was the image of a dream, and I couldn’t bring myself to believe that something this surreal could be true. When she told me she lived in a floating forest, I thought she was crazy. But no, here it was, just like she said.

When all traces of civilization were long forgotten, she turned to me. “Come with me,” she said, smiling mischievously as she brushed past me and into the thick forest. She strode through the undergrowth gracefully despite the complete absence of light. I could tell she knew this ship and all that dwelt on it with her. They were one. I could hear her running her fingers over the leaves as she passed, like a mother lovingly caressing the face of her child.
Credit for the inspiration goes to:
Credit for the photo goes to:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It Takes a Long Time to Grow Young

When we are born, we have infinity written on our hearts. We hold nothing back, we take nothing for granted, we learn without embarrassment, and live without fear of rejection. The world hasn't yet had a chance to lay its hands on us, and our time with the Creator is still fresh in our memories. When they look at us, they see nothing but a pure, honest soul, and they are surprised to see such depth in eyes that have seen so little.
As we grow, we gradually lose our connection to ourselves, and to God. As children, we create and imagine and explore, but as time ticks away, we forget how. We get caught up in the daily grind, our ever-present worries and woes. The world somehow loses its magic. It ceases to amaze us as it did when we were children. We turn our eyes away from the sky and look instead at our feet, searching desperately for the next step. We are left trudging through life, numb, dragging our feet as we go.

I think that part of wisdom is remembering how to use our imaginations. It's the ability to recognize the things that are unseen with absolute confidence. It's the ability to create and explore, without feeling self-conscious. It's knowing the world by more than just it's name, more than just it's history and politics and scientific discoveries. It's knowing the world intimately, and knowing God intimately, and choosing joy over pain every day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thoughts on Swearing

So many times, I have heard this question: "What's so wrong with swearing? They're only words, just like anything else we say." When you really stop to think about it, they have a point. If words are just a combination of sounds we make, how can some be so terrible?

I do not claim to be an expert, and I certainly do not have all the answers, but I have noticed a few things. When we read the bible, there are a lot of things we read that we shouldn't do. Some we can understand, while others we simply have to trust. It's different for everyone, but I think this is one of the things that a lot of people follow blindly. At least, that's what I've been doing, but I don't think that's what we ought to do when it comes to God's Word. We should be digging deeper and deeper, and testing everything. We need to search for answers, not just constantly say, "Well that's just the way it is." Why is it like that? Why is this information so important that God would put every writer in these specific situations, and organize space and time so perfectly, so that He could get this message to you? Why is swearing even a big deal? I mean, we know it is. God wouldn't have warned us against it if it weren't crucial information for us.

"Do not use foul or abusive language..." ~Ephesians 4:29

The thing is, words are not just a combination of sounds. We know that. Words carry deep meaning. They can cheer us up, and tear us down; they can instill fear or conquer it. Words can show us things we have never seen with our eyes; they carry the weight of ideas and dreams. There is no way that words are only sounds. Swears in every language are different, but they all carry with them the burden of an idea. The literal meaning may not be harmful, but through time these words have picked up hidden meaning. A hidden meaning that is not honorable and really ought not to be shared.

People have all sorts of reasons why they decided to pick up the habit, but it usually seems to boil down to appearances. It looks cool, it's rebellious, it helps to dissolve the "goody-two-shoes" look, or maybe it's simply normal. Whatever the reason, people don't usually swear for themselves. It needs an audience.

One of the messages society tells us on a regular basis is, "It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Be yourself and let the world deal with it." It sounds great in theory, but this is probably one of the hardest things to actually do, because every moment of every day we are constantly aware of how people react to us, and we wonder what they think. It may not always be consciously, but it's always there. It's a part of our human nature. It's a part we often long to abandon.

We also notice others in the same way. When we meet someone, we create an image in our mind of who we think they are inside. Call it prejudice, first impressions, call it whatever you like, but it's there. Every action they make influences what we think of them.When we swear, it changes how people think we are inside. Their impression of us is shifted. When we swear, no one around us will assume, "Oh, they must be a Christian!" The Good News is shared when people notice how different we are from the rest of the world. So why pretend to be like everyone else?

When a Christian swears, it sends mixed signals. Christianity and profanity are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It's like a fireman who is a serial arsonist, or a cat that barks, or a medical doctor with no credentials. It doesn't make sense, and it doesn't instill confidence. We don't go to someone like that for help, because we don't know if we can trust them.
We are called to be the salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Because Jesus has saved us from the toil and burden of sin, and given us abundant life, we are changed forever. Our home is in heaven, not the earth, and we are not like the world anymore. We carry this Good News around with us wherever we go, and God longs for us to share it with everyone, to save more of the children He so loves. When people see us living differently than the world, and they see us staying true to what God tells us, even when it's difficult, they will come to wonder if there is more to it. God will give us opportunities to share His love with them. We are also ambassadors for Christ; we are His face in the world. Whatever impressions they get of us will transfer to Him. God tells us, "Do not use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be an encouragement to those who hear them." (Ephesians 4:29) With God's light and love in our hearts, we are supposed to encourage those around us! God can use our words to encourage each other profoundly, and make an eternal difference in the world. Everything we say changes the world, and "with great power, comes great responsibility".

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”   
~Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
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