Sunday, January 30, 2005

Top Ten Words of 2004

blog: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks.
incumbent: the holder of an office or ecclesiastical benefice.
electoral: of or relating to an election.
insurgent: a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially a rebel not recognized as a belligerent.
hurricane: a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (118 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.
cicada: any of a family (Cicadidae) of homopterous insects which have a stout body, wide blunt head, and large transparent wings and the males of which produce a loud buzzing noise usually by stridulation.
peloton: the main body of riders in a cycling race, such as last summer's Tour de France.
partisan: a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.
sovereignty: supreme power especially over a body politic.
defenestration: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

An Essay for English
John Keats, a poet of the 18th century, once said “A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” and I agree with that statement. I think Keats is saying if something is truly beautiful, the joy it brings will last a very long time. When he said beauty, I don’t think he meant the physical beauty but the kind of beauty that gives an outstanding example of its kind. So I think Keats is saying “a thing that gives an outstanding example is the emotion of great happiness forever.”

When I find something I think is beautiful I cherish it, like a treasure. Things of beauty are very common for me to find but things of true beauty, that bring joy that is not temporary, are rare and far between in the world. Joy is beautiful and I think as long as you look at it that way, as being beautiful, joy will last forever.

In my life I have encountered many things that I would consider to be ‘joy forever’. The most impacting beauty I’ve found is the love of the Lord. The love God has for me is so beautiful and so true it brings joy to my heart that will never fade away. The love God has for all of us is an incredible example for us to look to. Over the summer I went on a mission trip with my youth group to New York City. Our purpose in going was to spread the truth of the gospel and it was truly beautiful to see this indescribable amount of joy pierce the hearts of the people who accepted Christ. Revelation 21:4 says “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” My outlook on that verse is ‘what better joy can anyone search for than the eternal joy, promised to us in the bible, if we just accept His truth?’

Recently, the ‘National Church Life Survey’ found that Christians tend to be happier than people who don’t have something to believe in. In my opinion, this proves God is the only thing that can make anyone truly joyful for a long period of time. The joy I get from trusting in God does not compare to any other joy I get from things in the world. I have talked to people in my youth group about the joy we’re developed since we accepted Christ and we agree it is incomparable to any other.

I read a story in “Extreme Devotion” by the Voice of the Martyrs and it established an idea, for me, of what joy really is. The story was about a prisoner named Soon OK Lee from North Korea who heard Christians singing praise on their way to being put to death. She said “While I was there I never saw Christians deny their faith. Not one. When these Christians were silent, the officers would become furious and kick them. At the time, I could not understand why they risked their lives when they could have said, ‘I do not believe,’ and done what they wanted. I even saw many who sang hymns as the kicking and hitting intensified. The officers would call them crazy and take them to the electric-treatment room. I didn’t see one come out alive.” After reading this story over and over again, every time I was feeling down, I began to grow stronger and found the kind of joy that lasts forever.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” John Keats said that in the 18th century and I think it’s a statement that will live on for a very long time. Beauty is something that gives an outstanding example of its kind. Joy is the emotion of great happiness. Therefore, Keats is saying “a thing that gives an outstanding example is the emotion of great happiness forever.” I’m saying God is our example and His love is the outstanding emotion that brings us joy forever.
I dont know if that's good or bad or if it even makes sense but I turned it in so I hope its worthy of advanced english standard! Lol. Well, I started my new classes. Earth Science isn't bad so far, though I cant say much because its only been two days. PE is fine, nothing I didnt expect. It's less than I expected actually. I thought it would be pretty hard but my teacher is really laid back so its pretty cool. English is alright. Im excited because I know Im going to learn a lot but its a lot of work. We have at least 100 index cards for vocabulary a week. The essay I wrote (above) was a sample of where we stand and what we need to work on to improve. And Seminar.. There are some people in there that I just do not like. This one girl today kept jabbing at my faith. From how I look like a "preppy christian" to my jesus freak hoodie. It was just, not cool. I was getting kinda upset because.. 'hello, where does she get off coming to the table I was at first and jabbing remarks about me?!' but whatever. I came home, read Voice of the Martyrs newsletter and Im just, taking it as it comes. its nothing compared to the persecution people around the world are going through so I know I can manage.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

When Light Strikes

So on Sunday at church I talked about the mission trip to Chicago. I wasn't all that nervous but I did speak really fast. Afterward a few people said Im a good writer, very deep. Hah, that's exactly what I wanted to hear! Well, here is what I said (word for word!)

I faced a lot of challenges when we went to Chicago for the weekend.I knew, going into it, that it would be a turning point for me in my walk with God. I knew I had to choose if I wanted to completely commit myself to the Lord for the year or let myself just be content.
This alone was hard to realize because I love to be content. Usually, I choose to settle, rather than strive for something better, because I dont want to risk bringing myself pain or tribulation.
Like a lot of people, I have a fear of change. But when looking at the bigger picture, its so clear that commiting myself to God completely is far more worth it.
Matthew 6:34 says "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble."
This verse was in the Saturday devotional that Julia made out for us. And it was so applicable to me because lately I've had a real problem with change.
I know Im not alone in this problem. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's a problem for a lot of us. To stay exactly the same for as long as possible, it feels safer somehow. And if you are going through some trials, atleast the struggles are familiar. Its hard to take that leap of faith and go outside your box. Who knows what attacks the enemy may have planned? Chances are, it will be even worse.
So, I choose not to change. Choose the road already traveled. Most of the time, I dont want to risk taking the wrong road so I stay still where I am. I always seem to forget that God has an even bigger plan than I or the enemys and its so much better than anything I can think of.
This weekend the Lord really challenged me to take a look at myself. He placed the concept of change infront of me so many times.
On Friday night, at the youth group in Cabrini Green, they talked about commiting our lives totally to the Lord. Taking that leap of faith. He youth leader said, "How do you expect to help someone out of quicksand if you get in yourself? Similarly, how do you expect to lead someone to Christ if you aren't growing in Him also?"
On Saturday, God put the concept of change infront of me a number of times.
At Kids Club, an organization in Cabrini Green, I realized all the changes these people have to go through as their community is being uprooted for improvement. I cant imagine how much faith it takes to be able to completely change your way of life. Just for some background information, Cabrini Green is basically being redone to get rid of all the drug dealing and bad reputations it has had for a long time. The housing situations for a lot of people there are just, unbelivable. Living with roaches, their houses are moldy, just really bad. Kids are abused, and a lot of times the only way to fit it looks like joining gangs. Its just all very messy. So this town is going through massive changes.
At the womans center Heidi talked about Gods faithfullness and that really helped me listen more closely to what God was telling me.
Also at the womans center, I witnessed the work of this woman named Rosie. She served food to the woman there everyday. Her faith was such an inspiration to me. She is serving other people and remains happy, no matter how greusome the work, it as so awesome.
Another thing I was challenged with at the womans center was my willingness to be an example. We were served first at lunch and the food wasn't exactly up to my standard. I did not want to eat it but I kept thinking about that missionary who ate maggots and a lot of other really horrible things to prove herself worthy to the people she was witnessing to. If this lady can eat maggots, why cant I eat what was served to me? So that was really challenging to get past.
Finally on Saturday, we went to the South Asian Friendship Center. Their vision is to .."maintain a positive and active Christian presence and to proclaim the uniqueness of Jesus Christ is Chicago's prodominately Hindu and Muslim marketplacees on Devon Avenue." If this community could hear the gospel and answer to Gods call, the change would be amazing. A change like that would be huge.
Another trial that came up when we were working with the South Asian Friendship Center was when we went to a bookstore, to get an idea of what they're culture is like. Inside the bookstore, they had books on how to witness to Christians and what the bible really says, and just some really strange things that I'd never even thought of before. But the main challenge I came across was when we were leaving, there was a little girl looking at some childrens books that completely denied Jesus Christ. I was so ashamed at myself for nor praying for kids around the world just like this little girl, everyday.
Looking back on all these experiences and examples of God faithfullness to us through change I decided Im ready to answer to His call in my life. Im ready to be changed for His purpose.
I dont think it will happen like an explosion or an earthquake, where all of the sudden Im like a different person. I think it will appear smaller than that. The kind of change most people wouldnt notice unless they looked really closely, which thank God they never do. But God notices this change. To Him, and me, it's like a world of difference.
Now, I am ready and more receptable to the plans God has for me.
Already, only a week since the mission, I have faced a lot of trials. My Dad went back into the hospital and immediately I was worried. Straight away, I knew it was an attack from the enemy, trying to stop the changes in me that the Lord was beginning to make. But Matthew 6:34 says "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble."
God has been so incredibly faithful to me through the experiences I had in Chicago to the trials I faced when we got back. I know challenges are hard to face and often times scary but looking back, I think it's scarier to remain in one spot and not continue along my path. Who knows what sort of attacks I'll be facing later in life if I stay where I am?
Another thing that I was challenged with was looking at my mountaintops and valleys. Julia's main questions for us to look at throughout the weekend were "What gets you caught by the tide? What gets you caught up in the world? What do you spend your time struggling with? And, What does your valley look like?"
When I started to think about what gets me caught up in the world and what my valley looks like, I began to get really challenged on how to change that. I realized that when Im on mountaintop I have trouble climbing down. So I just slide down into my valley. Instead of taking Gods hand to ease me down to where He needs me at that point in my life, I just take it into my own hands and slide straight down, where I'll have to climb my way out of later. I spend so much time climbing up the mountain because I let myself slide that Im not serving God the most that I can be.
My challenge now is not forgetting everything I learned and realized. It's to not get caught up in the flow of the world or the flow that other people are in. I need to follow my own path and embrase Gods will for me.
In closing, Julia gave us and verse from Isaiah 43 that leaves me very hopeful. It says,
"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."

So, Dad came home from the hospital on Wednesday, the 19th. He had four visitors. Mr. Puskar, our landord came to look at the sink that I accidentily clogged, Dawne, our downstairs neighbor, Robert, a guy who brought him a breathing machine, and Dave, one of Dads friends. On Wednesday morning, I was in my room, putting on my hoodie before we left, and the glass light on my ceiling came crashing down. It hit my chin, chest and hand, but I jumped back enough so only my hand was cut. Cleo was so startled, it was kind of funny. I have a small cut on my hand now. Crystal was freaking out. So now I have no light in my room. Also on Wednesday I received a letter from Heidi. Inside the letter was a black jeweled pin that I can wear this weekend. Its really nice, I can't want to thank her.

So Today was my last day in drawing and journalism. Tomorrow is my last day in Photography and Geometry and then I start all new classes next week! WOOH!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Praise to the Puppet Master
So today was actually a very productive day. It started out rough, finding out Dad went to ICU and all, but after praying a few times this morning, God really put me in the right spot to handle today according to His will. In my first class, photography, I worked on my KJ-52 video and finally finished the main video thread of it. Second class, drawing, I gridded my mechanical and started tranfering. Third class, journalism, me and Sancha went to interview a Mr. Kern, who is playing the close friend of suspect "Mr. Hawkins who was found early Friday morning breaking into the Democratic Headquarters at the Hyatt Hotel." We are definately learning a lot through this project and it's fun, but at the same time I dont think I could ever be a journalist because I dont love it as much as writing stories. Maybe I will though, who knows? Fourth class, geometry, I took a quiz on volume and I think I did pretty dern good. So, now my mom is taking me to the grocery store because Crystal is working and Dads obviously gone. But today, specifically this morning, I was really convicted about worrying. Why should I worry if I know its all in the Lords hands? For the first time, that I can remember, I trusted in Him completely today and gave it all to Him to handle. I know if I didnt I wouldn't have made it through the day in such a positive mood and I just gotta' say, Praise the Lord! He is so awesome and so amazing and its so cool that once you seek Him, He draws near to you! I am just in such awe of Him right now. I talked to Lidna yesterday who seems to be doing a lot better than before. And I saw Peter in the hall yesterday so I know hes okay. And Alyssa is sleeping over Sunday so that should be cool. Pray about her sleeping over, that we can be good examples and really show Christs love to her. Speaking of showing Christs love, yesterday in geometry James and Candice were looking through the prayer book I made for the girls study and they saw theyre names in it. I was kinda' nervous about them looking but it's just what I pray for and I dont want to be ashamed of it. So when they saw they're names, they reacted so happily and so honored to be "in my book." I was so happy the Lord opened that door and it's been really cool to see Him do a work in them right infront of me. I love being his puppet.
Pray for Faith
So Dad went back into the hospital. He has been having trouble breathing since Monday and went in Tuesday. Yesterday my aunt Marla called and said they put him in ICU, intensive care unit. So I dont know what going on at this point but please lift his salvation up, his health, and his faith in God. Also pray for me and Crystal please, because I realized this morning that it has to be an attack from satan, after the mission to Chicago, so everyone else, be on guard because he is attacking like we knew he would. Well, I have to get to school but I'll post longer afterwards.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Mission Chi-town
So we went to downtown Chicago for the mission and did some work for the Lord. It was really awesome, I thought, and I got a lot out of it. Friday we went to a youth group in Cabrini Green. Saturday morning we went back to that organization, Kids Clib, and helped clean the place up. A few people vollunteered to clean the closets while I went outside with Tony and Jason to shovel and clean around the dumpster. After Kids Club we went to a Womans Center. From what I understand, they feed lunch to the woman everyday and possibly they give a service everyday about God. A lot of us were downstairs helping Rosie, the woman who coordinated the lunch serving. I volunteered to wash dishes. What I had to do was rinse off the food and pass it on to Allie, who would scrub, and then Jackie who would dry. After that we went to an Asian Frienship center and learned a lot about theMuslim and Pakistan culture. We were taken to two stores, a figurine store and a book store. There were some interesting things in the figurine store but I found the book store to be especially intriguing. They had books on how to witness to Christians, and children stories about the crusades and things like that. I was surprised to find out that the Muslims are evangelical also. I dont think I ever really thought about that before so it was cool to learn. We went to a pakistan restuarant for dinner. The food was good, but a bit too spicy for my sensitive taste buds, lol. I was pretty open to trying new things and Im so glad the Lord put that willingness in me when we got there. I kept thinking about the woman Pastor Jeff told us about, who ate maggots and a lot of other horrible things to prove herself sincere to a culture when she went there as a missionary. If she can eat maggots, why cant I try a new kind of chicken!?!! It sounds so silly when you put it like that. So that was an awesome experience. Later, after dinner, we went back to the bookstore, Asian Friendship, and heard the testimony of a Christian man born and raised in Pakistan. When he was there he was beaten for his faith and thankfully, the Lord was continuously faithful to Him and gave him ways to escape so many situations. On Sunday morning we left Chicago and came back to our church. A man from Voice of the Matyrs came and spoke to us about persecution. He had a slide show and a lot of it was funny but a lot of it was very serious and very hard to hear and see. Crystal bought "Jesus Freaks" and I bought "Extreme Devotion." I think the money spent on the books goes to support them. Im looking to buy Operation World, which give numbers and statistics about christians in many countries. It sounded very awesome. I think overall, the Lord totally answered my number 1 prayer for the mission, which was that I would learn. So often I pray to be made closer to Him but its such a vague prayer for me that I decided to pray specifically to learn. And boy, did I ever! One of the coolest things about the trip was that all three organizations we partnered with asked us to come back. Im excited to see how the Lord opens doors for us to partner again with some of those organizations.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


In fourth block today Mrs. Niwa handed out the test. The room was silent. Everyone was wrapping up with the first page of the test. Thoughts of circumference and area running through our heads as we try to pass. Everyone is in a very 'blah' mood, taking a test of course. A screaming, rechid sound fills the room. Everyone gasps and jumps in their seats, hearts pounding rapidly, extremely startled. A white light was flashing in the corner of our eyes. The loud speaker comes on "Everyone please report to the gym! Go to the gym! I repeat, GO TO THE GYM!" the person shouted, trying to be heard over the screaming noise. [Normally we report outside when the fire alarm goes off but the weather outside was not permitting such an exit. We were in the middle of an ice storm.] 3000 kids and teachers made their way to the gym where we all stood for about 20 minutes. The screming siren reverberating in our heads. It was almost maddening if you concentrated on it. Soon enough it began to get hot, People were sweating and complaining. Everyone trying to shout to their friends over the siren. Sick thoughts were running through my mind. Thoughts I did not want to suffer with alone. I turned to my friend James and said "Just think, were breathing in everyone else's air right now." He was disgusted. He said "Not only do I have to be cramped together with no elbow space but now I have to worry about breathing!" It was funny. Finally, the sirens stopped and 5 minutes later, after we crowded around the door, they let us out and we went back to class; rushing to finish our test.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A day in the life
Today was our first late start. School started at 9:10 and classes were only an hour long. It was good, I liked it better. I felt more rested, for the most part. We filmed so extra footage in photography for our video but things have so wrong that it will be hard to salvage something good. You see, they had to completely re build all the computers in the lab so everything we had saved on our drive was deleted. I didnt have time to finish backing up all my video clips so I only had 2. Lauren, Ruth, and Mickey thought they had it but it turned out they dont so we lost the three base clips with Ruth singing the whole song, the day we went out in the snow for behind the scene footage, and the black screen Mr.Beattie helped us do. It stinks much but Im sure I can manage to pull something together. On the plus side, we only have dancing so I can put the moves to a KJ-52 song or something.
Drawing class was so stressful. We had to put this static page over our projects (assetate or something). Mrs. Surtz told us to hold it one inch above our project and line it up before we put it down. Four of us did that but it was too close so the paper picked up the lead and when we put it down there was a huge smudge. Mrs. Surtz started freaking out, making a gigantic deal out of it. I mean, I know its a lot of money but it doesnt help to freak out. Well, I gave her a dollar and a few other kids owe her a dollar and she gave us a second one. I finished and it's all good now. So Im just working on my figure drawing of Jill which I'll color of pencil, not pastel!
In Journalism we had to critisize some articles in the paper before lunch. After lunch we had to write four stories by the end of class. Me and Sancha finished (we were partners) but I know mine weren't written too well.
At lunch I was doing my math homework when this guy walked up to me. I would see him come into the computer lab for second block when I was leaving first. One time I asked him to let this thing finish loading for 5 minutes and then log me off the computer because I had to get to class, and he did. But I didnt really know, so when he came up to me in the library I was a bit surprised. He just asked if I got the thing loaded in and everything and I just said yes, but the truth is I didnt check yet. lol. He sat down at the table I was at and said his name was Josh. We were just chatting for about a half hour about random stuff.. Music, Books, Classes, and a small bit about religion. Then he asked for my screen name so I gave it to him and left for class.
In Math class I was going to show James the verse that says not to hold grudges. I thought it was in Matthew 5 but it wasnt so I was looking for the verse that says to forgive 7 times 70 or something, but couldn't find it. So we were jokingly calling eachother liars and what not. I said I'd show him tomorrow and it turned out to be in Matthew 18:21-22 (I think.) This is why scripture memory is so important!
So Ma' picked me up from school and we listened to "Downhere." They're actually a pretty awesome band. Mom was laughing a lot about their hidden track. Listen to it sometime if you get the chance! Then we pulled over because there was a lose black lab with a blue collar and I wanted to help it, somehow, but it ran into a backyard which I assume is his so I left it alone. I came home and signed online to check my mail. Josh instant messaged me and we were chatting for a bit. He told me he liked me and asked me out but I told him I had a commitment to God and such and he seemed to be understandable. So were just friends now. But I gotta' admit, I was extremely surprised by his asking me out because I didn't even know him. He did mention that when he met me there was something very different about me that most girls and I know it is Christ's light so I thought that was pretty cool. When Crystal got home I told her and it turned out they know eachother. They used to be friends but things kind of fell apart so he was anxious to talk to her again. I guess they're cool now. He was happy about that.
I did some layouts for my book. Like for "Rock Beats Scissors" I wrote on index cards a short sentence about a scene I had in mind for the book and when I finished (24) I put them in an order and now I have a basic plan for the book. I also started doing some intense profiling for "Inside a Shoebox" but I have problems with developing real characters so its going to need a lot of work.

Monday, January 03, 2005

When the police come knockin'

On Sunday, my Dad's friend, Mike, was trying to get ahold of him. My Dad isnt too fond of this Mike guy so he didnt answer the phone, plus he was sleeping. Well, Mike [my dads friend] called the police "in fear dad was dead." lol. So the cops came and went into my dads room with flashlights and such! Funny stuff. But anyway.
I've been thinking about "New Years Resolutions" or goals Im making for myself in the coming year. Im pretty glad it's a new year because it's a fresh new start (which, we actually get everyday but it doesn't feel the same!). I decided I am going to write a page a day, with the exception of up to six poems, replacing one of those pages, per day. I have to get in the habbit of writing even when Im "not in the mood." Makin' it a habbit.
Much like the prayer study Heidi is leading. We're learning how to make constant prayer throughout the day a habbit. I'll admit, it's hard but doable. I was Definately slacking over winter break but Im getting back in the swing of things now that school started.
I realized I cant change my schedule too often because it throws me off a lot. Why is it that we can train ourselves to stay up late within three-four days but it takes months to train ourselves to go to bed early? Yeah, getting up this morning for school was pretty HARRible. But luckily we have a late start tomorrow; we start at 9:10 so we can leave the house at 8:45 instead of 6:45. Yay. And classes are only an hour long instead of an hour and a half.
So I really love this Simple Plan song, "Welcome to my life." It's so catchy! Hah. Constantly stuck in my head, but Im sure not about to go out and buy the CD. I have other things I want to spend my money on, not to mention I have to start saving for a lot. (A computer, a tv for my room, upcoming missions..etc)
Speaking of missions, I have one this weekend! We're going downtown for two nights -friday and saturday night- to help out with things. As far as Im aware, It's not so much about witnessing but about learning and helping, lending our hands for things. Which is great, Im so glad to help and Im excited to see what I learn. On the plus side also, we are not going to miss 'The Voice of the Matyrs' coming to our church on Sunday, since we'll be coming back that morning. It's all good, it's just all good.