Tuesday, September 19, 2017

So...College. And Randomness.

So college happened again, like it will for another two years (I hope), and it's left me with little time to blog. To update, however, I'm taking three English classes toward my major, pondering some potential study abroad opportunities, and finding myself increasingly involved in my university's Baptist Campus Ministry. Sophomore year is off to a great start, and I look forward to having things to blog about because of it!

It's been one heck of a year, you guys. And it's starting to wind down. 2018 keeps ticking closer. How does this happen? 

Song recommendation: Ghost of a King by The Gray Havens

Also, I think I have the most professor-y professors I've ever had this semester, and I appreciate them all, despite their quirks. At some point I intend to share about them. 

I apologize for the very random blog post. To be honest, I'm avoiding homework at the moment. Hopefully I'll have something longer and more focused for you all soon! (Mainly I just wanted you to know I'm still alive over here, and that I appreciate you, despite my absence.)

Cheers,
Alicyn

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Just Some Thoughts


It's August and I'm tired and there are crickets singing and I just finished reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. 

/

There's a fantasy novel brewing inside me. It's teaching me to jump into writing without worrying about quality or a complete plan. I'm starting with some haphazard world-building, a few characters I like a lot, some bad guys with motives yet to be discovered, and an epic soundtrack in my head. 

*shrugs* I'm a writer. It's a start.

/

This morning I woke up in a tent with friends, sore from hiking 13.5 miles yesterday. We drank coffee together around a campfire, most of us in jackets because the air had a bit of a chill snap to it for deep summer. We talked about Jesus and relationships, two topics right now that at once feed a desire inside me and make me squirm. 

/

I'm home, doing laundry, reminding myself to drink water, picking my way around objects in a messy room, wrestling with big life questions but for once leaning into them and wrestling instead of running away. Sometimes the biggest battles are fought in the midst of laundry and trying to find something edible in the fridge.

/

I've been thinking about seasons. God didn't have to give us seasons, but He did, just like fireflies and waterfalls and sunrises. Spring, summer, fall, winter, if you're in the right places around the world, you get all four and it reminds you that change is good. I need change, a change from sluggish warm air and the memories trapped with it. I need air with that fresh snap I got a taste of this morning, air that promises new things. 

/

2017 has felt out of sorts. It's been a year of exploration and learning, and of discovering emotional pain strong enough to be felt physically. It's been a year of discovering how to befriend that pain rather than ignore it, fight it, or submit to it. If pain is my friend, I can learn from it, it can be the iron that sharpens me as one man sharpens another. 


Last year, I was the person content to stay far back from the edge of the cliff. Thirty feet away was close enough. Yesterday I discovered that now I'm the person who army-crawls up to the edge of the drop-off and peers over, nose against dusty rock, watching the treetops sway fifty feet below. I am new and I don't know who the old me was last year and that is good and normal and okay. 


Is it so hard to imagine that the Creator of the universe might actually know what He's doing in my life, that He might actually know what's best? Is it so hard to imagine that life comes in seasons because He has things for me to learn and experience, and that He gives me the strength to walk and breathe through each one? Is it so hard to imagine that He is wiser and has been doing this Father and Savior thing for eternity, in which there is no beginning or end, and I have no reason to distrust Him, is it so hard to imagine that He is outside of time and true comprehension and is not limited to anything, let alone my circumstances or my failures? 

How prideful it would be to think that my failures could limit God. 

/

The TV is in front of me, but I think I'll start another book. Out of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey. Appropriate. I need a book that I can relate to right now and I have a strong feeling that this will be one of them. 

/ / /

Just some thoughts, friends. Feel free to share yours.

Cheers,
Alicyn 

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Cycle of Daily Life


Some days, I wake up in a fog. I see that the sky is blue and I want nothing to do with it. I stumble into the shower, I'm too queasy for a real breakfast, and my chest is tight as I try to pray during the car ride to work or class. My smile is restrained and my laugh is forced. My shirt collar is a noose. I want chocolate but I don't want acne. I listen to some music but it brings back sad memories. I text a friend only to realize I'm texting for attention. I eat bread at all three meals (which tastes good for me but probably isn't when it's not paired with fruits or vegetables). I should sit down and do some writing, but the page remains freakishly blank, considering I'm a creative writing major. Then I have a small existential crisis and eat a cookie. 

Those days come around a little too often. 

But then there are other days. I get up early and meet a friend for breakfast and a Bible study. Then I run errands. I buy a pair of gym shorts for jogging and a file pouch for budgeting. My favorite worship song comes on the radio and the sky is mottled blue and gray, both pleasant. I get home and do some budgeting (because of my big-girl job) and laundry. Then I call a friend for a needed conversation that lifts my spirits, after which I go for a walk/jog (*cough* for the first time in years *cough*) in my new gym shorts, feeling very fit and healthy as my jogging playlists pulses through my earbuds. I go home, find I've walked/jogged 3 miles today, and eat some watermelon instead of a cookie. Then I get invited to 2 different events, on top of a third I was planning on attending. "So many social engagements, so little time." Then I write this blog post. 

These kind of days just come without warning and I meet them face-to-face with, "Well, it's good to see you!" 

It's the cycle of daily life. Not every day is going to be breakfast/Bible study/jogging/watermelon/budgeting-productive. A lot of days will be consume-chocolate-and-fake-a-smile days. You've got to take them as they come and accept yourself no matter what day you're having. Sometimes there will be reasons for the bad and the good, but I honestly think that often it just depends on how much sleep you get, and which side of the bed you wake up on. 

Just some Friday thoughts. Whether you're stress-eating a cookie or prepping a playlist for your next jog, love yourself despite your ups and downs. And remember that Someone loves you more. 

(Now excuse me while I go sniff out the cupcakes my grandmother HAD to show me just now).

/ / /

Does life seem to have this good-day-bad-day pattern for you? If so, how do find yourself handling it?

Cheers,
Alicyn

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Curiosity...in 100 Words


We are “curiouser and curiouser.” We are questioning beings, we seek answers, we wrestle with truths and mysteries and new discoveries and circumstances. We want to know

what
when
who
where
how
why.

But it isn’t our place to know everything.

So we’re free to wrestle with the big and small questions of life that are kneaded in our minds and come to settle on our tongues for the moment we can ask them. Hallelujah, we are free to struggle with situations, curiosities, the whens and hows, wheres and whys.

The paradox is,

we strengthen our faith in our questioning.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fruit


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. 

The last few days have been a little difficult for me. I haven't been in the best place spiritually or emotionally, due to some issues I've been working through for a while now. It comes and goes, some days better than others. The biggest problem is that instead of trying to pray my way through all of it, I sometimes don't even want to talk to God.

Why do we act this way? I've been given the unbelievable gift of being able to talk directly to the God who created me and the earth and galaxies and universe I'm wrapped up in, and sometimes I just don't even have words. I give Him the silent treatment. Thank You, Lord, for your everlasting patience. 

The other morning, though, I did some praying. The urge to pray started pretty much as soon as I left my bed, and carried a good fifteen minutes through my morning as I got ready for the day. I'm not sure where the inspiration came from, but I started praying through the fruits of the spirit. 

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.

I think that often, part of my reason for not wanting to pray comes from not knowing WHAT to pray. And this is where Scripture can help. I've learned in the past couple of years that Scripture doesn't have to just be read - it can be used as powerful prayers when the words and requests we need to speak just won't come to us. I think in these moments, when we are at a loss for words, Scripture and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) combine to help us along in our prayers. God knows we are weak even in prayer, and as He always does, He offers us the help we so often forget to ask for. 

So in this post today, I want to write a basic skeleton of what I prayed yesterday morning, based on Galations 5:22-23. I like to write out my prayers - sometimes it helps me answer my own questions (or reveals God's answers to me, I suppose). I'd encourage you to try both if you're struggling in prayer - write it out, or find a Psalm or a favorite verse and pray through it, for yourself or for someone else. It might make all the difference. 

LOVE
Lord, show me how to love, and how to be loved. I know that love covers a multitude of sins, and that love is the greatest gift we've been given and can give. Help me to love fiercely and unconditionally, to accept love, to let my daily motions be driven by love. Let love grow in my heart and my mind, and let those I spend time with walk away feeling loved. Show me how to make a home for love in my spirit, and to remember that You are the definition of love. 

JOY
I pray for my joy, that you would renew it every morning. God, I am rarely as joyful as I should be, considering how many things I have to be joyful for. I let my heart blacken and harden and then try to use it from such a state, and all that does is feed negativity into my life and into other's lives. I don't want it to be that way. Please give me a joyful heart, a heart that always returns to joy even after bad days, attitudes, and situations.

PEACE
God, peace is something I rarely feel these days. I know You give it, though - sometimes in the most unexpected of moments. I pray for peace in my soul, not just for me but for those around me, especially people that I'm capable of influencing. Help me to inhale and exhale peace, and to let it be a way of life, especially when angered thoughts fill my head. Let there be peace in the world, starting within our own souls.

PATIENCE
Lord, You know how bad I am at this one. I've never been a patient person. I want to know what, when, where, why, who, how, and I want to know it NOW. But lately, you have been calling me to seasons of waiting and trusting, and those seasons take patience. Please instill patience in my heart; let it be something that grows as I find myself not wanting, but needing to practice it. When we are waiting, You are active, and I pray for the patience to wait well.

KINDNESS
I've always considered myself a kind person, God, but can I say that when I ignore the homeless person shaking a cup of coins at my feet? Can I say that when I look down on those facing different life situations, as if I am somehow superior? Whether I act upon what's in my head or not, I can be so unkind, and God, please change that about me. Or show me ways to change it. Give me opportunities to change it. I pray for small acts of random kindness to become a habit in my life, small kindnesses that can lead to seeds planted, which You water and tend until there is fruit.

GOODNESS
I am not good. God, I am not good. My nature is to sin. My heart is crippled by sin. And the only thing keeping me from dwelling in sin is this faith that there is something more to all of this, a faith that says there is Someone to which I am held accountable. But because of my relationship with You, I have a desire for goodness along with my desire for sin. God, let the desire for goodness rule in my heart, so that my faith can be fruitful and I may be a mirror of Your goodness.

FAITHFULNESS
You have taught me so much about faith these past few months, God. It used to just be an abstract noun that I talked about in church, or a word I used in reference to my relationship with you. But I've come to realize that faith is so much more than that. Faith takes a strength that is supernatural. It takes being braced for anything that You may present to me, any situation, person, command, or altered plan. It takes humility and grit to be faithful in all things, and I fail so often. God, forgive my moments of weak faith and help me to strengthen that same faith daily.

GENTLENESS
God, I live in a world that is not gentle. But there is something about gentleness that is unexpected. Help me to practice gentleness. When the world is raging, help me to be gentle so that it may see something different in me, something beautiful that doesn't fit the status quo. Show me how to be gentle in mind, body, and soul.

SELF-CONTROL
*and this is the part of the show when Alicyn starts sounding less "Christian-y" and instead, really, really human*
Um. God. I have zero self-control. Well, maybe I have some, but only because I'm aware that You hear every thought that flits through my head and that if it weren't for Jesus, those thoughts could separate me from You eternally. I pray for self-control, in my actions, my speech, and my thoughts. Sometimes there is freedom in limitations, and in this case, freedom is found when I control my nature of sin and submit it all to You for a relationship with You. That's where freedom is found, in knowing my soul is safe with You for eternity, no matter what happens here until I'm home with You.

/ / /

Got any thoughts on prayer? I'd love it if you'd share them in the comments!

Cheers, 
Alicyn


Photo by loli Clement on Unsplash

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Taste of Summer...in 100 Words


Summer tastes like cold raindrops in mellow heat. Like guitar-string-metal on my fingers. Summer tastes like a blade of grass between my teeth, like the sweet glassy rim of a soda bottle. It tastes like cotton candy from a fairground, French fries and fizzing root beer, overpriced snow cones and fire-roasted hotdogs. Summer tastes like kissing freckled cheeks, it tastes like daisies smell, tastes like chlorine and sea salt. It tastes earthy like backroad dust and the warmth of a strawberry fresh from the vine. It tastes like bonfire smoke and mango chap stick, like the effervescent thrill of adventure.    

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Study Away is Cool


From Arlington National Cemetery

I'm back! 

And I've just completed a study away course for two weeks in Washington, D.C. I stayed in a large house in one of D.C.'s prominent neighborhoods with nine other college students and two professors, and between trips to the National Mall and as many of the Smithsonian museums as we could cram into our schedule, we researched assigned areas of D.C., figured out how to use the Metro, and made it to a surprising number of cupcake shops. (I almost feel as if I came to D.C. solely for the food, especially when I found a vegan bakery in our neighborhood [I'm lactose-intolerant] and went for a milkshake twice). 

I got to hang out with some pretty stellar people. Not only were they hard-working and serious about their research, but they were hilariously fun to travel and explore with (and have movie and game nights with). They were also dependable in such a way that I would probably still be lost in some Metro station in the guts of D.C. if it weren't for them. We may have all gotten mildly tense when the food stores were reduced to Lucky Charms cereal, a pack of turkey, and a giant bottle of hot sauce in the last couple of days, but we worked together well and, most importantly, had a great time. 

Honestly, it was the trip of a lifetime. Rather than seeing just the big stuff (National Mall, Smithsonians, etc.) we got to know D.C. as a whole culturally, historically, and demographically. My heart belongs to country air and visible stars, but I enjoyed all of D.C.'s murals, monuments, memorials, cafes, diversity, and even the bustle of the Metro system. It was a world full of new experiences for me, and a step toward future travels (if God so wills). I'm thankful for the big things, such as saying hello to the Lincoln Memorial, and for the small things, such as chowing down on pizza and milkshakes with my newfound friends in a city six-hundred miles from home. 

I may write more about the trip eventually. I just got back from flying in today and I'm still processing the whole thing. For now, I'll share some pictures. I'm glad to be home, and glad to be blogging once again. 


Eyes from one of the murals in downtown Columbia Heights


'We the People'


Inside the Capitol


Orangutan with his blanket at the Smithsonian National Zoo


And what did we do with one of our last days in D.C.? We rode the tallest escalator in the Western Hemisphere. 

/ / /

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?

Cheers, 
Alicyn