You taught me the courage of stars

It has been almost an ENTIRE YEAR since my last post on this blog. Wow. The past few months have been incredibly…intense? Just, a lot has happened and I don’t know if I want to talk about all of it. It’ll probably come up in future posts. But anyways.

It’s my senior year at university and the class of 2019 is started to prepare for graduation. Terrifying? Yes.

I’ve jumped on WordPress to kind of play round with my blog’s look, and the theme, because customizing and finding new templates is pretty addicting. But I’m returning to this blog to just talk about my plans for this year–what you, my lovely followers, can expect from me, content-wise. I really want to write more about MBTI, true crime, conspiracy theories, in addition to my focus on literature. I want to continue posting essays on here and other creative works, but 2019 is going to be the year I

  • start a podcast!!!
  • start a youtube channel
  • start a graphic novel about Lewis and Clark
  • (eat 1000000x more healthy than I do right now 😏)
  • graduate university!!
  • build my art portfolio

Yes, that is…a lot. If you’re doubting all of this will actually come about, I’m right there with you. But I’m setting these goals up just as a kind of vision, to let ya’ll in on what I’m hoping to tackle in the coming months.

I was looking back into this blog’s dusty archives and found old posts about my past writing endeavors, including a historical novel with a main character named Diana. I actually have a printed and bound version of this story that I finished when I was 14. It’s truly horrendous, but it’s also quite entertaining to flip through when I need to laugh. 😁

Anyways, I’ve kind of shifted into trying out different mediums, such as the graphic novel/webcomic? I really think this will be a fantastic way to develop my skills and push myself out of my comfort zone. Right now, all I draw is people (usually Kylo Ren and Rey from Star Wars). Just the people. White background. Yeah. 🙄 I have a lot of territory to cover.

Also, I really want to kind of change my brand? Or my vibe that I put out online? Or at least kind of…upgrade it? That sounds so unnecessarily technical. But yes, I have a good number of ambitions this year, as far as content-creating goes.

I think back when I wrote about attending college, like four years ago….I was planning on majoring in literature and getting a concentration in studio art. The studio art part of this plan did not happen. I’m not sure why…but I just struggled to enjoy the assignments or projects for whatever classes I was taking for art. I was wanted to draw what I wanted, and the professors were really great, but the classes were way more technical than I preferred. I think I was looking for more of a CalArts style education, but my university is very traditionally focused (i.e. ceramics, oil painting, sculpture), and all of it is very centered around emulating an abstract style. I think I could’ve benefitted more from it, but I just felt stifled and wanted to do my own thing in my own time. Sooooo, yeah. A long-winded explanation about my lack of an art concentration.

So, what did I even DO since last March when I posted my last blog entry?

It has been a year. Last summer my grandmother, Mary Ellen, passed away after suffering multiple strokes. I miss her badly but I know she’s with my grandfather, they’re together again in the presence of Christ.

My grandfather passed away when i was 4. I don’t remember him too well since I was so young, but over the years I’ve loved listening to stories from my mom, grandmother, aunts, uncles and older siblings about how my grandparents met in Munich, Germany, married overseas, and started a family in Texas. My mom is hoping to write a book about my grandmother growing up in the Depression-era Bronx, and her very full, wonderful life that is detailed beautifully in her “Grandma book” that she gave my older sister years ago.

It’s still really odd, going home and knowing she’s not there anymore (she lived with my family). I can’t forget that day in July, 2018. My mom told me I should come home–I’d just moved into my new apartment near school, but my grandmother was fast fading, and the doctors knew she didn’t have much more time. We’d known for months that she most likely wouldn’t be with us much longer. The strokes she suffered took a major toll on her health. It was kind of a slow, long process of grieving, because the months leading up to the day she passed away, my grandmother lost the ability to walk or move around on her own and talk clearly.

Honestly, I’m getting a lump in my throat writing about this…

So, last July, I was on the way home because I wanted to say goodbye to my grandma one last time. I was at a stoplight and my mom texted the family group chat, telling us that a few minutes before, my grandmother had passed away, that she was now in heaven with Grandpa. I remember just…sobbing. I could barely drive…can’t believe I even made it home. I still wish so badly I’d stayed at home the night before so I could be there when my grandmother passed on. It is still so painful to think that if I’d just left a little earlier, I could have made it to see her in her final moments. When I got home, I went into my grandmother’s bedroom. I remember seeing her. Gone. I knew that she was in a better place, her soul freed, in Christ’s presence. But walking into that room, seeing her lying there on the bed. It’s haunting. I have nightmares about it sometimes.

My grandmother was always full of spirit, life, vitality–I got my creativity from her. Throughout her life, she poured her heart into her family and her hobbies and of course her faith. She was a devout Catholic–she met my grandfather in Mass, actually. She knew so much about history and books and she could always quote poems off the top of her head. She stenciled every room she could in lovely little designs. Her shelves brimmed with knick-knacks and books. My mom called her tendency to collect mountains of books “The Book Pox”. Definitely something I’ve contracted since birth! 😂

I want to reminisce more about my sweet little grandma in a future post but I thought I’d wrap up sharing a little Spotify playlist that I made for her–songs that I’ve listened to when thinking of her.

An imitation of “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

tumblr_nwxuu0JbuO1sqxh5do10_540
source

Last semester, for Junior Novel project’s final, we were supposed to write an imitation poem of one of our focal poet’s works. I chose “Crossing the Bar”, in which Tennyson wistfully spoke of the pilot who directs us into the beyond, to the other side–to Heaven. Here’s a few points I wrote as the accompanying notes to my imitation! It’s not the greatest by any means but I love Tennyson’s poetry (thus my reason for choosing him, and I love this bittersweet poem with its hopeful overtone)

  • Tennyson used nautical terms when writing Crossing the Bar, to create a metaphor for God—the pilot—and crossing “the bar” of life into the next, to see the pilot face to face. I attempted to emulate this in a Dante-like way, as a wanderer lost in a dark wood, seeking reprieve and salvation.
  • Tennyson said of “Crossing the Bar”: “The Pilot has been on board all the while, but in the dark I have not seen him” (Tennyson’s Poetry, 578, note 1). I try to capture this in my poem as well, when I write “Moonbeams and starlight//may yet break past the roof//defeat all dread and light the night//for doubt needs proof”. Even in the darkness the light exists—though it might not be as obvious in the day when the bright sunshine—or the proof is vividly evident—it still shines and it can ‘break past the roof’ of the forest (dark times in life) and “light the night”.

Without further ado…

 

Shadows and twilight

And silence comes for me!

And then sun’s breaking dark gives holy sight;

The demon’s just a tree,

 

But dawn on forest floors is lost in shades,

Even with glory on gloom,

Just stars of sun-specks pour into dim glades

Yet dreams still bloom.

 

Moonbeams and starlight

May yet break past the roof,

Defeat all dread and light the night,

For doubt needs proof;

 

Once proved, this mortal coil will free at last

A pilgrim wand’ring on,

Before dawn and dusk unite and nightmares passed,

To memory, then gone.

It’s all about waiting

Ever since I was very small, I’ve had a powerful aversion to waiting. Always. As long as I can remember, impatience has been my biggest stumbling block and barrier, especially in my walk with Christ. When I was a little girl, I struggled in the depths of my soul when my parents made me wait to go somewhere, when I wanted to buy a new toy, or when we were going to buy a new puppy. I didn’t want to wait for school to start, or to go visit Grandma, or to see my best friends. As a child, on a car trip, I would always be the one to ask my parents, “When are we going to be there?” and be supremely disgruntled when they answered, “2 hours” or even “thirty minutes”! So much in life seemed to take forever to reach, and even now, at age 21, I still struggle with my frustration over simply waiting.

And now, I’m praying to God about His will for my life, asking him where I’m going, and why I can’t just find out what will happen already? I worry and ask God repeatedly, “When are you going to give me the desires of my heart? When will you say yes? Or could you just go ahead and say no if that’s the answer?” My mom has spoken one truth over this struggle of mine as often as I’ve prayed to God for the green light or a yes to my wishes. My mom told me, “You think of God as a genie. That’s not how He works, you know.”

“But He’s God! He knows everything in my future, and with God, nothing is impossible! I just don’t get why he can’t do this one thing for me!” I sighed. I know God can move mountains. He is the director of our lives, He directs our steps, He is omniscient and omnipotent, and since going to college, as I try to spend more time praying to Him, I’ve been torn between my desire to trust in Him, and my desire to know, to see God in action in my life. Perhaps this intense need to see God answering a prayer comes from my teenage years wherein I simply balked and tried to be Miss Independent.

But in the last couple of years, with the grace of God, my mindset is changing. Of course, I would still love it if God sent me a little letter detailing exactly when he intends to give the green light or the red light, if something is meant to be or not, what my future looks like, et cetera. But this summer especially, in a daily wrestling match with my Lord, I’ve come to see His mercies in the small, daily things. My love and devotion for the Lord should not hinge on whether or not He says yes or no, whether or not He informs me of His will directly and when I’d like. No. God’s ways are not my own. And coming to realize that alone has been so incredibly freeing.

I’m a long ways from being completely still in the Lord. In these hectic years as a college student, it can be a challenge to simply rest in His presence and wait on Him. So, incredibly challenging! I’m still learning, and looking to Him to be my all in all. My heart is ever the butterfly, difficult to settle and seemingly impossible to keep from flying ahead as my daydreams color my days with that rose-tinted hue that confuses things quite a lot.

I wish I had all the answers. As a writer I yearn to know the plot of my story. But God reminds me, quietly and gently, to be still and rest in Him.

Whenever you’re tempted to doubt or rail against the Lord whenever He is silent, or simply says, wait, don’t slam the door on Him (I’ve done that too many times, honestly). It’s hard to steady oneself and reflect on all the good He’s done. All the prayers He has answers, all the blessings, both small and large, He’s given you. I’m alive today because of Him. There are many times I nearly lost my faith, but God pulled me through. He’ll pull me through this season of waiting.

In Christ alone, my hope is found.

 

 

Summer 2017 playlist

I decided to share some of the songs that set the mood of this summer (so far). Everything still seems a bit surreal after studying abroad for four months of this year, and nothing’s quite the same after returning to Flower Mound, Texas after such an adventure abroad! Sometimes I still wake up and think for a second that I’m back at Due Santi, the UD Rome campus. Very strange.
 

This song is especially meaningful as the lyrics become more true over time. Sometimes, in my daydreams, it’s easy to stray into my own little world that I fancy is my own, and I think I could be quite happy writing my own life story. But in the end, all I need, all I rely on, is God, not myself.

“I will wait” is an original Valley Creek Church worship song and probably one of my favorites, since it is a prayer for the strength to wait on the Lord and His timing in everything. As difficult as that might be for somebody like me (patience has never been a strength of mine :D)

And now for some less spiritual songs, here are some that I’ve been listening to a LOT

(Africa by Toto) basically the only 80’s pop song I’ve ever listened to, but I really really like it, so who knows? Maybe I’ll discover others that I like

(Thunderstruck by Owl City) a lot of people dislike Owl City because of Adam Young’s more whimsical sound, but that’s exactly why I enjoy his music so much! This song particularly is beautiful and sweet, sort of romantic and I love the male and female vocals together.

(Lost in my Bedroom by Sky Ferreira) I just like how it captures the mind of a daydreamer. “Lost in my bedroom . . . it’s just what I imagined . . .” as someone who gets lost in my head a lot, without needing to go anywhere, this song sort of speaks to me.

(Blew my Mind by Dresses) “Because most of the time, the thoughts in my mind get to me”

(Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran) I really wish I’d made it to Ireland this semester, but it wasn’t to be, alas. Still, listening to this song is amazing and I listen to it a lot driving on the Texas highways, daydreaming of the future when I DO make it to Ireland to find my grandmother’s family.

Now, I will not be moved

The other day I turned 21. I look back on these 21 years of my life and reflect on how many great and terrible things have happened, how many memories I have with my family, my friends, and especially in how God has tested me beyond measure. And in these 21 years He has made me His own. When I was fifteen I struggled with doubt and questioned God’s sovereignty. It’s taken a long time to fully grasp what He has done for the world, what happened on the cross 2000+ years ago, and how it has changed history, all of creation. One of the most precious things to me is how God has protected me in the midst of life’s natural turmoil. For instance, the boat accident when I was six.

Now, that day on Grapevine Lake (which we now call God’s Lake), is all a blur. I only remember bits and pieces. I don’t remember any pain, but worse than that is the fear and panic in the voices of my family and loved ones there on the boat that August afternoon. I believe it was worst for them, to see the damage inflicted by that coiling rope as it pulled my best friend Megan and I off the boat into the water. My mother had to hold my arm together, as the rope had nearly severed it in half. And my Dad and Megan’s Dad had to get the boat back to the marina for the paramedics. My older sister called 911, and my younger sister and Megan’s sister watched everyone fall apart. Now we can all look back and tell this story from a safe distance. But that day is one that defines my life. There’s always Before the Boat Accident and After the Boat Accident.

But now I have full use of my right arm! Our church prayed for its healing and for the complete recovery of Megan and I. God and His angels were watching over us that day, and I’m sure they guided the hands of our surgeons in the following reparation surgeries. Megan and I now sport scars, which are stories to tell of God’s care and faithfulness. I have the one around my right arm and on my back, from the rope lashing against me in the water. Megan has them on her thigh and ankle.

All of this to say…I can see God over the course of my 21 years. He gave me exactly the parents I needed, the family and friends who teach me and push me to become a better person. We came through the time of the boat accident, stronger than ever. God lead me through a time of spiritual darkness, when doubts and frustration plagued me constantly. Now I hope to glorify Him in everything I do, whether it be academics or relationships, or my passions for writing and drawing.

This past Spring semester I studied abroad in Europe, and there as I stared up in awe at the intricate majesty of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Notre Dame, and countless other churches that have stood for centuries. The beauty in those sacred places, and the centuries old history that abounds in Rome, where the early Christians worshipped underground, drew me closer to God. How strange and wonderful it was to kneel and pray in a beautiful Dominican church in Florence. The peace of those moments will stay with me forever, and throughout the course of that semester we read of the Church fathers and patriarchs. For the first time, this Spring 2017, I completely surrendered to God. It was slow, gradual, but undeniable like gravity, pulling me back to Him and His will. In April I attended a Catholic silent retreat, near the Rome campus of Due Santi. Mass was held multiple times over the weekend and each time I found myself increasingly drawn to the solemn reverence in the quiet environment. I cannot begin to express how glad I am that I chose to go that weekend. Bottom line, this retreat made me more excited to pursue further knowledge about the Catholic church, and it taught me to find God in the silence. It taught me to be still, and know that He is God.

God bless and Happy Fourth of July,

Rebecca