Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Written Word Tuesday: The Utter East

Since last week's poem was quite a mouthful I went with something short and sweet this time.  This little bit is not from a book of poems but instead from a tale most of you have at least heard of.  In C.S. Lewis' Voyage Of The Dawn Treader the character of Reepicheep (a talking mouse who's valiance is greater than most larger beings) recites a sweet little tune that was spoken over him as a baby.  I've always like the simplistic essence of it.

Reepicheep's Prophesy

Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,

Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter East.

-C. S. Lewis

-XO Juls

Friday, January 24, 2014

Darlin' Do You Love Me? - Mixtape

I'm starting to get excited for next month, specifically Valentines Day.  Not because I have a valentine, but because of the parties and the joy of just being overly affectionate.  In that spirit I put together a mix of songs that aren't too lovey-dovey, (cause that's just gross) but do have a feel good, let love sort of vibe to them.  And to my single pals, I feel ya, sometimes you just wanna go anti-valentines and protest relationships in general.  But instead of doing that I like to embrace V-day.  I like making my friends feel special on Valentines day, and I even wear pink.  (gasp! I know, me voluntarily wearing gads of pink? shocking.)  I'm not saying that there isn't a part of me that's like "hey, it'd be cool to know I've got someone to spend Valentine's with." cause most everybody wants that.  But I am saying that I like to be happy, and why shouldn't I be able to do that on V-Day like every other day.  This mix is my way of saying that.

Darlin' Do You Love Me?

1::Darlin' - The Branches::
2::Stuck In My Head - Wolf Cove::
3::This is an Adventure - The Lighthouse and The Whaler::
4::Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John::
5::Every Day - Magic Man::
6::Cameo Lover - Kimbra::
7::Heaven - Bryan Adams::
8::More Than Just A Little Bit - Thomas McGuire::
9::Something I Need - OneRepublic::
10::Be Your Man - Ivan & Alyosha::
11::Heartbeat - Kopecky Family Band::
12::High Heel Leather Boots - Baby Bee::
13::Maple Leaves - Charlie and the Foxtrots::
14::Fireworks - Sera::
15::Speed Of Dreams - AlO::
16::Do You Love Me (Live Acoustic) - Guster::

-XO Juls

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Written Word Tuesday: A Sort of Runic Rhyme

One of my favorite poems is quite a doozy.  Most of you probably read it at some time or another in grade school.  I like trying to read it really fast, but when read slowly and with the right beat it can be quite ghoulish.  

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!


Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!


Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. 

-Edgar Allan Poe

Maybe I should have mentioned it was a four-parter at the beginning, oh well.  The rhythm of this poem is just spectacular even if most people do think it's creepy.

-XO Juls

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Newsies The Movie: Is It Historically Accurate? :Final

An evaluation for my English Comp class.

Newsies The Movie: Is It Historically Accurate?

            In 1899 a stand was made against the rising prices of newspapers by the boys who sold those papers, the newsboys (or newsies) made history.  Years later Disney decided to tell the story of the newsboys of New York by making a feature film about them.  The film, Newsies, told the story of the group of newsboys that began the strike.  Is the movie historically accurate though?
            In the year 1898 the price of newspapers in New York rose from 50 cents to 60 cents for 100 papers because of the Spanish American War.  Once the war ceased and most other prices began to lower, two newspaper owners did not want to give up their increase of income.  Joseph Pulitzer who owned the New York Evening World and William Randolf Hearst who owned the New York Evening Journal refused to bring the prices back down.  A handful of newsies were so distraught about the price that they decided to boycott.  Life was tough on the newsies.  Most of them lived in lodging houses with other newsies.  Selling their papers for a penny a paper they could make on average 26-35 cents if the headlines were good or the newsie knew how to sell.  It was easy for the small group to grow in numbers; holding rallies to convince more newsies to join they were quickly able to organize hundreds of others and form a massive strike.  They amassed a group of around 5000.  They marched the Brooklyn Bridge halting traffic for hours and causing paper deliveries to be difficult.  The newsies succeeded in making it hard for the papers to continue.  Pulitzer and Hearst finally had to agree that even though the price would remain the same for newsies they would buy back unsold papers which they previously refused to do.
            When Disney created the movie based on a true story of course certain facts would have to be left out as it is with any movie.  How accurate is Newsies though?  Were they able to keep to the basic premise and slip some clever details in or were they completely off the mark?  First, let’s look at the characters themselves.  Was there really a boy named Jack Kelly that led the newsies to strike along with his friend David Jacobs and went by Cowboy and wanted to move out to Sante Fe, New Mexico?  

           Jack Kelly unfortunately did not exist.  His character was a combination of two well-known newsie leaders, Morris Cohen and Kid Blink.  Morris was said to have helped begin the strike and lead the rally at Irving Hall.  Kid Blink is probably the most famous of all the newsboys from the strike.  Kid Blink was named after a legendary man named Blink who had one eye.  Kid Blink also supposedly having one eye was known for sporting an eye-patch (though he possibly wore it for sympathy).  Kid Blink, like Jack Kelly encouraged other newsies to join the cause through rallies.  At one such meeting he was awarded for having the best speech and was quoted in the New York Times article “Newsboys Act and Talk:  Fight and Champion Their Cause in Mass Meeting.”  Similar to the scene where Jack agrees to work for Pulitzer because of threats towards the other newsies Kid Blink along with his pal Dave Simmons ended up turning on the newsies. 

            Racetrack was another character based off of a real newsie.  This time the boy was his namesake.  Racetrack Higgins is alike his namesake in many ways.  He was a gambler and spent most of his time at the tracks.  The real Racetrack however did not live at a boarding house with the other newsies like was portrayed in the movie.  Higgins lived with his grandparents and was forced to go to school.  He would usually skip class to sell the morning edition or go to the track.  The movie did a good job of showing how the price jump affected Racetrack.  It was said to have bothered Higgins the most causing him to gather the newsies and propose the strike.  Kid Blink took the reins from there, or in the movie, Jack Kelly. 

            Spot Conlon was also quite accurately portrayed.  He was in fact the infamous leader of the Brooklyn newsies who were known to be the toughest group of newsies around.  He was known by the pink suspenders he always wore, which Disney made sure to include, though in the movie they’re red.  Unlike the movie, Spot was actually quite excited to help with the strike and encouraged other newsies to join.
The character of Mush was based off of Mush Meyers, a trouble maker often found defacing other people’s property.  He was known to be very romantic with the ladies but obnoxious towards everyone else.  Boots was based off of Boots McLennan who started out as a shoe shiner and started selling papers to make more money.  Another character was based off of Kid Blink along with Jack Kelly though this time they let him keep the moniker.  Kid Blink in the movie wears an eye patch and is one of the crew that surrounds Jack and Davey in most of the scenes. 

Disney does like to add characters into stories that aren’t really supposed to be there though.  Davey Jacobs, Jack Kelly’s right hand man in the movie, his little brother Les Jacobs and sister, Sarah, did not actually exist.  It is possible that Davey was based off of Dave Simmons, the other newsie that turned on the strike with Kid Blink.  The lack of accuracy with the names of newsies is understandable though since many of them were orphans and didn’t live by their given names, instead going by names like Barney Peanuts, Crazy Arborn, or Crutch Morris. 
In the film the newsies came up against many hardships during the strike that reflect the hardships the actual newsboys went through.  Rumors amassed that threats and bribes came by the boys in an attempt to get them to turn on the strike.  The boys that worked for Mr. Pulitzer would threaten the newsies and Pulitzer himself threatened and bribed Jack Kelly to work for him and stop striking.  Rumors also started that Hearst and Pulitzer hired large men to bully the small children into submitting.  This was showcased in the movie when the newsies trashed the newspaper wagon and had to come up against the ‘cryps’ that were sent out with clubs and bats to scare them off and beat them up.  Luckily in the movie the Brooklyn newsies showed up to help out.  “Spot Conlon: Never fear, Brooklyn is here.”
The movie displayed the hardships that the actual newsies had to go through.  In actuality the boys often had a hard time selling papers on days when the headlines were bad.  Sometimes they would fake sicknesses or disabilities to coerce people to purchase a ‘pape’.  They would embellish the headlines sometimes to the point of the extreme and they would also act younger in order to garner more sympathy.  The movie demonstrated this with Crutchy, a newsie with a limp, who asks Jack is people think he is faking his disability.  Jack asks him why he would think Crutchy was faking it.  Crutchy responds with “I don't know... It's just there's so many fake crips on the streets today, a real crip ain't got a chance. I gotta find me a new sellin' spot where they ain't used to seein' me!”   In one of the many songs in the movie the newsies sing about the many hardships that kids in their time had to go through to make some money to live off of. ” This is for kids shinin' shoes in the streets with no shoes on their feet every day.  This is for guys sweatin' blood in the shop while the bosses and cops look away.  This is to even the score.  This ain't just Newsies no more.  This ain't just kids with some pies in the sky, this is do it or die, this is WAR!  Once and for all, we'll be there to defend one another.  Once and for all, every kid is a friend, every friend a brother.  Five thousand fists in the sky, five thousands reasons to try. We're going over the wall.  Better to die than to crawl.  Either we stand or we fall, for once, once and for all!” 
While the price change in reality was due to the war and it was Pulitzer and Hearst’s refusal to lower it that sparked the strike, Newsies portrays a darker story.  In the movie Pulitzer makes the decision to ‘up the price’ for the newsies just so that he can make more money than Hearst and maintain power.  Pulitzer, who in real life’s paper was known for sticking up for the underdog, was portrayed as a power-hungry tyrant that refused to accept that the newsies were suffering and had a right to be heard.  “Joseph Pulitzer: ‘Anyone who doesn't act in their own self-interest is a fool.’  David Jacobs: ‘Then what does that make you?’  Joseph Pulitzer: ‘What?’  Jack Kelly: ‘Oh, this is my pal, Davey. The Walkin' Mouth.’  David Jacobs: ‘You talk about self-interest, but since the strike, your circulation's been down 70%. Every day you're losing thousands of dollars just to beat us out of one lousy tenth of a cent. Why?’  Jack Kelly: ‘You see, it ain't about the money, Dave. If Joe gives in to nobodies like us, it means we got the power. And he can't do that, no matter what it costs.’”  Jack and Pulitzer have an all-out power struggle at the end of the movie until finally, by opening the windows in his office so he can hear the thousands of strikers yelling to be heard in the streets below, he convinces Pulitzer to give in. 
The movie may be factually flawed in some ways, (the reason for the price change, character names, or even missing the march onto Brooklyn Bridge) but the story of strength in the face of hardship still remains.  Sometimes when we look at historical content in entertainment we focus too strongly on the individual details.  We strain so strongly to see the individual details that we miss the big picture of the overall message.  In my opinion, Newsies is about as close to accurate as a Disney musical can get without losing its entertainment factor.  And that’s not because of the color of Spot Conlon’s suspenders or because there really was a newsie named Kid Blink, though the accuracy in those details adds richness to the movie.  It’s because it is able to capture the spirit of the newsboys and their journey. 

Whether it is Jack Kelly or Kid Blink, these boys stood up for what they knew was right and were able to make a difference in not only their community, but in an entire city.  Now with the movie being sold around the world, the story can inspire many others to do the same and to take a stand.  In the song Once And For All the newsies sing of their actions making a change “See old man Pulitzer snug in his bed, he don't care if we're dead or alive.  Three satin pillows are under his head, while we're beggin' for bread to survive.  Joe, if you're still countin' sheep, wake up and read 'em and weep.  You got your thugs with their sticks and their slugs, yeah, but we got a promise to keep.  Once and for all something tells me the tide'll be turnin'.  Once and for all there's a fire inside me that won't stop burnin'.  Now that the choices are clear, now that tomorrow is here, watch how the mighty will fall, for once and for all.” 
The real newsies often shared encouraging speeches as well, though probably not in the form of song and dance.  They held rallies and large meeting to gain attention and to convince other newsies to join the cause.  Kid Blink spoke at many of these meetings as the leader of the cause.  At one such meeting The New York Tribune featured him saying, “Friens and feller workers. Dis is a time which tries de hearts of men. Dis is de time when we'se got to stick together like glue.... We know wot we wants and we'll git it even if we is blind.” 
“Sometimes all it takes is a voice, one voice that becomes a hundred, then a thousand, unless it's silenced.”  The reporter character shared this wisdom with the boys, encouraging them to raise their voices and demand that they be heard.  While minor details may have been misrepresented Newsies captured the heart of the newsboys of New York and the power of their story.  It only takes a spark to start a blazing fire.  So, was the movie Newsies historically accurate?  In one word: Yes.

 -XO Juls

The Last Battle: Final

A visual analysis for my English Comp class.

The Last Battle

     My initial reaction to the book cover for C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle is that it is stoic and intense.  The unicorn pictured looks out over its shoulder seemingly with a look of longing or regret.  Dark clouds fill the sky and blood drips from the unicorn’s horn alluring to a dark mood for the book.  The scene seems to be on the cusp of a big change coming.

The image takes place in the land of Narnia, one separate from our own.  Created by British author C.S. Lewis, Narnia is a land where magic exists, and creatures the likes of which do not appear in our own world except in tales.  In Narnia there are talking beasts, moving trees, unicorns, giants, witches and so much more.  The Chronicles of Narnia series, 7 books in all, covers many adventures that take place in the land of Narnia and the surrounding countries.  Throughout the series the land of Narnia might go through some trials and wars, but always ends with the King or Kings and Queens restoring Narnia to its place of glory and peace.
     The cover to the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series centers on Jewel the Unicorn who is surprisingly a secondary character in this title.  Jewel is wearing a chain of gold that could signify his close association with the present King of Narnia.   He is standing on a hill looking over his shoulder at what is presumably a battle or perhaps the land of Narnia as a whole.  The cover has very little action going on in it.  The unicorn is standing still with no other characters on scene.  The wind seems to be still or blowing only slightly.  The entire piece has an eerie stillness to it.  When you combine the stillness with the overwhelming dark sky it seems that the piece is conveying that a change is coming.  A dark presence has settled over Narnia and from the title and the fresh undried blood on the horn you can presume that a battle will ensue in the story.  

     The artist has positioned Jewel’s head so that it is at the center of the piece, with the bloodied horn drawing your attention.  Your eye gets drawn right to the horn when you first look at the piece.  The overall piece uses muted colors to pull you towards the bright red blood as well. 

    Even Jewel’s legs create a triangle (known to artists as the Golden Triangle) with the top point being Jewel’s face and horn.  The contrast between Jewel’s light face and the dark sky also makes it ‘pop’ and makes it more noticeable to the viewer.  

     The book series being primarily marketed towards children during a more conservative time obviously means that the presence of blood would be small and only allude to violence.  Lewis also wanted the series to be for adults too.  The image entices enough mystery and fascination for young children as well as adults.  Since the book is for adults and children it stands to reason that the title on the cover is not overly complicated.  The font uses serifs but is still simple.  It is not overly fancy which helps it maintain its readability.  

     Jewel, a character known for his friendliness and peace loving nature, maintains a stoic and regal like demeanor in this image.  He was known to be fierce with his horn if he did engage in battle.  With his calm presence and the blood on his horn signifying a battle, Jewel creates juxtaposition in and of himself of two natures; peace and chaos.

     The image, seemingly done in colored pencil, signifies an important shift in the land of Narnia.  Jewel, standing regal atop a hill is looking back at the land that the reader has come to love through the other books.  The darkness in the background and the lightness of the grass at the unicorn’s feet signifies he is moving forward and leaving what they once knew behind.   He looks to have a calm nature which leads me to believe that the danger they went through is over, only the blood on his horn remaining.

     As a whole the piece is communicating a sense of leaving what you once knew.  That change has come and it’s time to move on leaving the world of Narnia behind.  This cover seems to be whispering “Things are about to change in Narnia and nothing is going to be like you remembered it.”  The cover leads well into the beginning of this book which is written in a way that almost seems to create a sense of un-belonging.  It’s still Narnia, but something has changed.  We can dissect every detail of this image, but it won’t change the fact that this cover emboldens the ideas of a harrowing and intense battle that will lead to a complete turn-around for the life of Narnians.

-XO Juls

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Look At My Favorite Tweets

I took a look back at some of my own tweets recently and put together a couple that are my favorites.  (I also just like compiling lists.)

As a storyteller I would describe myself as a painter; creating a fuller and more colorful piece stroke by stroke or sentence by sentence.

One of the most humbling things in life is tripping up the stairs.

I don't care if everything I eat tastes gross right now. I want a taco. Tacos taste amazing always. Or a burrito, that works too.

The normal temperature of a cat is 101.5 degrees. "Selena! Get over here and keep me warm!"

My imagination is all like, let's write a novel and draw some pictures! & the rest of my brain is like, dude it's 2:45, shut up.

The problem w/ opening up the gates to my creativity is that it's more like floodgates and I have to try and sleep w/ my thoughts everywhere

The idea of writing is the scariest part. Once you're past that it starts to flow.

Why can't hibernation be an option?

"Simply destroying ugly evil doesn't solve a thing. There has to be a way to make what was once ugly beautiful." -Skin, Ted Dekker

"The one who endures to the end will be saved."

"Let all things be done for building up." 1 Cor. 14:26u

We tend to think of as an emptying of ourselves; but it's actually a filling of ourselves with the word.

Torture = having to walk past the Chinese place in the good court when you're hungry & have no money to spend on food. :(

Studying what I learned in Psych today about sleep...

Littlefoot, let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely.

Ok, that's it for now.  If you want to see more feel free to follow me on Twitter.  Also feel free not to.  It's your choice.  

-XO Juls

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Communication Age: The Effects of Technology on Social Interaction: Final Copy

A report for my English Comp class.

The Communication Age: The Effects of Technology on Social Interaction

As the years have gone by technology has blossomed from phones the size of small bricks to tablets almost as thin as paper.  Communication has become available worldwide in the age of the internet, through Facebook, e-mail, and many other forms of social media.  But is this the age of communication or of disconnection?  

A study done in 2012 shows that on a daily basis 63% of teenagers exchanged text messages; 39% of teens made phone calls but only 35% engaged in face-to-face social activities outside of school.  Research suggests that 39% of Americans spend a larger amount of time socializing online than they do face-to-face.  75% of teens are members of at least one social networking site, but what about clubs and organizations where there is face-to-face interaction?  The number of internet users around the world has risen from 16 million in 1995 to 2280 million as of March, 2012.  If the number of people communicating online is rising then why does the number of people communicating face-to-face have to start dwindling? 

The amount of technology that we are consuming as a society could be deterring us from real face-to-face interaction.  The ease of sending a text or status update might be enough to keep us from meeting up with people and having actual conversations.  The effects of a lack of interpersonal interactions could potentially hinder our skills of communication.  Seeing and reacting to other people’s faces and emotions on a regular basis strengthens our abilities to read emotions and communicate effectively.  A study at the University of Michigan shows that college students are 40% less empathetic today than 20 years ago.   Becoming less empathetic means that we can’t relate to people as efficiently as before.  We aren’t able to understand the people we’re communicating with if we’ve lost our empathy.  The result would be that we would become socially inept because we won’t be able to understand where a person is coming from which affects the message they are trying to get across.  

When using technology to communicate there are always aspects of communication that will be hindered.  When we communicate via a phone call, text message, e-mail, etc. we cannot make eye contact with those we are communicating with.  Eye contact is one of the many cues we use to determine proper social behaviors.  We also utilize it to reflect emotions.  Along with eye contact there is the inflection of one’s voice.  When texting or updating a status it is difficult to determine intention.  That is mainly due to the lack of inflection.  If we communicate mainly through technological medias then our abilities in recognizing social cues and other people’s emotions will dwindle.  

Employers have also realized that the need for good communicators is important.  Employers have recently been complaining about a lack of interpersonal skills in their employees.  Communication skills has been pushed to the top of the list of qualities required of employees.  When you have the ability to conduct yourself properly in social settings and can empathize with others you can become a great communicator and a more effective employee.

Technology is right in the palm of our hands, literally.  77% of teens in America have cell phones.  23% of those teens have smart phones which enables them to access the internet and social media like Facebook and Twitter.  People, especially young teens, are also starting to use technology as an escape from what’s around them.  They could be surrounded by people to communicate with but instead of engaging they are caught up in their phone focused on something or someone who is not even there.  While the strides in being able to stay in touch with people no matter the distance is remarkable, the constant communication over the phone or computer causes the physical act of meeting up with people seem unnecessary.  If you’ve already caught up with them through a text then what is the need for meeting face-to face?  This is causing a decline in the quality of relationships.  Melissa Nilles, the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Bottom Line said it like this, “While technology has allowed us some means of social connection that would have never been possible before, and has allowed us to maintain long-distance friendships that would have otherwise probably fallen by the wayside, the fact remains that it is causing ourselves to spread ourselves too thin, as well as slowly ruining the quality of social interaction that we all need as human beings.”  

Our use of technology to communicate doesn’t have to be the path to social isolation.  If we can balance our communication between face-to-face and over the phone or computer to a healthy level then we can begin to reverse the anti-social behaviors that lack of interpersonal interaction can cause.  

The Filipino Adventure: Final Copy

A memoir for my English Comp class.

The Filipino Adventure 

7th grade is a bit of a blur for me.  It was so long ago that I barely remember the good parts and they probably weren’t that important anyways.  It was middle school after all.  There is one memory though that is vivid and clear.  Part way through my 7th grade year I went on a 2-week mission trip to the Philippines with my parents, cousin, aunt, uncle, and our church.  It was a long process going from flight to flight; large planes progressively getting smaller.

One flight in particular sparked my sense of wonder.  It was my first flight out of the country, from North America to Hong Kong, China.  The experience that comes from being able to see the moon out of one side of the plane and the sun setting on the other all while floating over a seemingly endless sheet of snow is almost unable to be put into words.  We then got to Hong Kong waited around 4 hours for our next flight and eventually we made it to Manila, the capitol city of the Philippines.

The driving in the Philippines is nothing like North America.  Stop signs are more like suggestions than laws and horns are used frequently if not regularly.  Even with the intense roadways our van did make it to the camp we would be staying at and working with.  The camp was the Word of Life Camp one of many branches of an organization that partners with missionaries.  The missionary couple that ran this camp was Jon and Dawn Fogle.  They knew our group would be tired from our flight, but it was morning in the Philippines and the best way to combat jetlag is to dive right into a normal schedule for the new time zone.
Our team’s main goal was to make a new sidewalk for the camp leading from the pool area, across the field, and up to the ‘snack shack’.  The new sidewalk was needed since the camp was expecting a group from Johnny and Friends to be coming to stay which meant that the camp needed wheelchair accessibility.  Being one of the younger members of the team I only helped with the large project a little bit and mainly took on odd small jobs here and there like painting bunk beds and clearing brush.  I also befriended the children of the missionary family.  The work was made harder each day due to the large amount of humidity in the Philippine climate.  The men sweat continuously as they worked and my hair became a monster of frizz.  As a 7th grade girl I remember that being my least favorite thing about the Philippines.  I quickly learned my new favorite word in the native tongue Tagalog, “Marienda” which was the time between lunch and dinner when you ate a snack, and my cousin whose name is Bobby befriended a man who was building a wall at the camp, his name was Boi.  

On our teams’ day off the Fogle family took us out to the markets.  We rode in a van like vehicle called a jeepney to go to town.  Jeepneys had two bench seats in the back onto which we piled on.  Sitting leg to leg with the youngest on laps we eventually made it through the bumpy roads to the market.
Then they took us to visit the island of Corregidor which has cannons on it left over from fighting the Japanese.  The boats we took were small and had open walls.  We could look out over the ocean, practically nothing in sight except water, and sea breeze blasting our faces.   Another island we went to we enjoyed the beach and went snorkeling.  I even found starfish while snorkeling that were bright blue.

When I look back on the collection of experiences that this trip blessed me with I realize how important it is to get out of your comfort zone once in a while.  If I had stayed home and just continued my regular school schedule I never would have come to know how miraculously beautiful stepping out of your comfort zone can be.

5 Fortunes I Have Kept

I don't really collect fortunes, you know the kind you pull out of a fortune cookie, but I do keep the ones I like or find funny.  I know where 15 of them are, though it's possible I have more scattered about.  I initially started keeping them because I had the crazy idea that I would start learning some Chinese vocab from them.  We all know how that turned out... I won't share them all with you, but I do want to share me top 5.

1.  This one is my favorite.  I even have it taped to my computer over my webcam.  That way I can remind myself of it every day. 

Your mind understands what you
have been taught; your heart,
what is true.

(I have no idea what's on the back of this one since it is taped down.)

2.  One of three on my inspiration board.

Focus on trusting your intuition
and you will get through it.

(Chinese for Orange is cheng zi.  Lucky numbers- 46,37,35,11,25,31)

3.  Two of the three on my inspiration board.

Old friends, old wines, and old
golds are best.

(Chinese for Chocolate is qiao ke li.  Lucky numbers- 50,14,31,53,26,11)

4.  Tres of tres on my inspiration board.  (Btw, my inspiration board is a ribbon board that has pictures I've drawn, notes from friends, verses, and other odds and ends to inspire me.)

To conquer your flaws, you must
first accept them.

(Chinese for Ice Cream is bing qi lin.  Lucky numbers- 43,53,24,20,41,56)

5.  Last but not least, 

Talent knows what to do; tact
knows when and how to do it.

(Chinese for Headache is tou tong.  Lucky numbers- 42,38,50,24,10,25)

Well I hope you found them as inspirational as I do.  Or at least found them to be good sayings.  Do you have a fortune that you've kept with you?  If so feel free to share it in the comments, I would love to hear it! 

-XO Juls

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Want To Be More Than I Am

Something I really needed I received tonight.  I didn't know I needed it, at least not specifically, but God knew.  He always does.  

Tonight our young adults pastor at my church presented a message called Renovation of the Heart.  The message circled around the verses of Matthew 12:34 and Luke 12:34.

Matthew 12:33-34
"33Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.  34You brood of vipers!  How can you speak good, when you are evil?  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

Some might look at this verse and say "well I just need to watch what I say" but instead the verse is speaking to the fact that what's inside us is what's going to come out.  If we have hearts of love then love is going to flow out abundantly, but if we have blackness inside, then that's what's going to come out in forms like guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy.  The fruit's condition is a portrait of the tree's condition.  The outpouring of ourselves reveals what we are like inside.  The anger or guilt we experience reveals in us a heart problem.  

Luke 12:34
"34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

How true is that statement?  Where you spend your time, your thoughts, your energy is where your heart truly lies.  Is it with God or is it with your job...relationship...school...friendships?  

Ben, our young adults pastor, gave a demonstration.  He had a cup full of black beads which represented us.  The cup sat in a truck that represented life.  The truck proceeded to 'hit some bumps as it headed down the road'.  Black beads flew all over the stage again and again.  Did the bumps cause the black beads to come out of the cup?  No.  The bumps spurred a reaction, but the fact that black beads came out of the cup is because they were in it in the first place.  What if the cup had had something else in it?  Then that would have been what would have showed itself.  "The black beads came out of me because they were in me."

Work on the tree needs to be done.  It's a heart work, and no one else can do it for you.  It's between you and God.  Only you can do it.  It's a work that takes place behind the scenes.  No one can see the condition of your heart, other than by looking at your fruit.  And eventually they can put the pieces together.  If you don't do the work then some day down the line everyone's going to see how ugly the condition of your heart is.  

If that doesn't hit home I don't know what does.  I personally know I have some work to do on my heart.  If you don't make changes as far as being, then all of your doing will be pointless.  One of Ben's quotes from the evening was "I am not who I want to be." which reminded me of one of my favorite quotes said by a character on a show I watch.  The character of Kate Beckett on Castle said "I want to be more than I am."  which is so true of me.  The first step in making a heart change is recognizing you need it.  The next is prayer.

So the questions that we were left with tonight and that I will leave you with are these:

Do you know the condition of your heart?
Are you willing to do the work necessary to find out the condition of your heart?
Are you willing to make yourself available to your Heavenly Father so that he can do the work only He can do in your heart?

-XO Juls