Friday, November 18, 2011

Renovations Galore!

As you can see, my blog has been undergoing a lot of renovations lately. I made myself a bucket list, I made a page for my "snibbets of writing," and, to make it easier for you guys to know when I've posted, I've added a "Subscribe" button. Thingy. Which will send all my post updates to your email. Guaranteed to clutter your inbox.

I'm thinking of making another page. This one will be for suggestions for YOU to give ME. All you need to do is comment and let me know what you think of my blog layout, suggest blog backgrounds, suggest ideas for posts, give me challenges, all that fun stuff. I would love to hear from all of you! I want my blog to be highly entertaining for you guys. So, please let me know!

Last week was a very unproductive week. I was sick, which made it difficult for me to accomplish my schoolwork or get much writing in. For NaNoWriMo, I have only just passed the halfway mark (25,000), which makes me at 28,000, but I have a week to go. Only! I should be able to get to 50,000 if I write 4,000 words a day. Right now, I can't see that happening, but.... I'm determined. I'm going to try. I will push for the goal! And if any other WriMos are reading this, take courage, my friends! It's not over yet! I know you can do it! Yes, even you, Bethany. ;)

Despite an unproductive and cold-infested week, the weekend was fabulous. Full of dancing, and writing, and piano playing, and chatting with some really great friends. The dancing part of it was a youth Scottish Country Dance at my church. It was a blast! For once, we actually had almost an even ratio of guys to girls. There were only 2 more girls than guys for the first little while, but then 3 more showed up and it was 5 more girls. We usually have WAY less guys than girls, making it somewhat of a pathetic dance. :P Only about 20 something people showed up, but like our dance teacher, Rebecca, says: "It's not the quantity, it's the quality."

The dances we did included the infamous Virginia Reel, Strip the Willow, the Dashing White Sergeant, and the Postie's Jig. We also did a circle dance at the beginning, but I can't remember what that's called. They were all super fun! Rebecca taught us the steps and then we danced away. :D

On Saturday, we got a new vehicle! I will post a picture of it if I can. It's a green GMC suburban, an 8-seater. The seats are super comfortable and there is a lot more space than in our old safari. I heartily approve of it! :)

While the rest of the family went out to test the new vehicle, I stayed home and wrote at least 3,000 words for my NaNo and practiced the hymns for Sunday (I played piano in both services). Sunday was a stressful, yet beautiful day. How can that be so, you ask? Well, it was stressful because I led the congregation in song by playing all the hymns. I always get slightly nervous about that. It was beautiful because it was the LORD's day, and the LORD's day is always glorious. We get to worship God in His house! I always look forward to that. In his sermon, my pastor said that the days of the week were created for the Sabbath, and not the Sabbath for the days of the week. I thought that was an interesting point. The entire sermon was about how we should rest on Sunday from our productive work, the work we do on the week days. The work we do on Sundays should be for pleasure, and not for producing. Good sermon. It really made me think.

Tuesday was pretty much an awesome day. I got up at 6am and worked for 3 hours around the house as a surprise for my mom. I cleaned up all the main areas and organized some things. Work gives me a great sense of satisfaction and is a wonderful stress-reliever. It helps me to clear my muddled thoughts. I also was able to get a good start on my schoolwork. I'm trying to make up for the lost time of last week.

Hope this post wasn't too boring for you! :) I'll try to spice up my future posts. But first, I'm going to need super creative suggestions from all you creative peoples!

Question of the Post! (since I've decided to do that from time to time, just to be a copycat :P)
Have you started listening to Christmas music yet? What are your favourite Christmas carols?


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends! :) May it be filled with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc., lots of fellowship with friends and family, and above all, God's abundant blessings!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daydreams of a Fall Afternoon

As I write this blog post, I am sitting here in my room, dreaming. My mind is far from the biology book on my desk and the notebook waiting for notes to be written. I'm staring outside. At the bare trees, and the cloudy sky, and the slight wind rustling the remaining leaves. It is a normal fall afternoon, filled with the last bits of school and many hours of music practice. Yet I sit here in silence. Thinking. Dreaming. And dreaming big. Dreaming of my future, dreaming of the past, dreaming of the next words in my story. But most of all, I'm reflecting on the numerous blessings God has given me. The countless friendships he has allowed me to make, the wonderful summer I had, both at home and in Poland. Weekends of pure joy and days of learning more about God's amazing creation. These dreams and reflections fill me with hope. A hope that through God's mercy and love, this hurting world will be transformed into a God-serving nation. That the hearts of a depressed and sorrowful people will be conformed to the light and will begin to see God's love in its fullest. That is my earnest desire.

I dream.

I hope.

I love.

I live.

I live for God.

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
~Psalm 18:2

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
~Psalm 20:7

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
~Proverbs 3:5-6

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
~Romans 8:28

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Day is Past and Gone

Yes, I have stolen the title of a hymn to use for my post title. But not in vain. The exciting weekend is over, the wedding day a thing of the past. Rebekah has taken on a new name and she is happily off on her honeymoon with her husband. It was an amazing wedding. Everyone looked gorgeous and picture perfect! Not for MY camera, though. My camera never takes perfect pictures. Never. Even if I bang it up and scold it and threaten to throw it in the creek. :P
Everyone was in good spirits at the wedding, especially me. I felt truly blessed to be able to reunite with several of my friends who travelled with me to Poland, and to meet two people who I have been longing to meet for ages: Elisa and Nathan!!! I only knew them over the internet, but finally got to meet them in person this weekend. :D They were awesome!! I also got to meet many of their awesome friends! :) We had a crazy time at a table in the far corner of the reception hall, tearing up the table decorations and mixing a "drink," if you could even call it that. :P It was a mixture of sauce, water, candle wax, and other weird stuff.

The third day of the weekend in Oregon was Sunday, so we stayed for church and then for their fellowship meal afterwards. The awkwardness of meeting people for the first time was over and I found myself having quite a lot of fun! After the meal, a bunch of the teens walked over to a gym and played basketball and volleyball. My sister and I joined in volleyball until we had to leave. Our last moments together were sad. At least for me. I didn't want to leave. :( But alas, all good things must come to an end. All good earthly things, that is. If you know what I mean. :)
Yes, that was my weekend. Very, very exciting. And epic, if I may use the term. :D One of my biggest dreams has become a reality! And I will always be thankful that God has allowed this amazing thing to happen, after so many prayers. :)

NaNoWriMo has been going downhill lately. I am currently only on 14,654 words and slowly making my way up, but I'm supposed to be at 23,000 today. The weekend was a pleasant distraction. I don't regret it in the least. But I really have to procrastinate about my procrastinating and get serious about this again. Another problem is that my ideas are running dry. My imagination is failing me for the first time this month. I have reached Chapter 5, but I have no clear picture what is to come next in the story. I'm really having fun with my characters though! They're my favourite ones yet! :D So, that's a plus.
Alright, I have decided to give in and post my short story. I will do small sections at a time, as it is much too long of a story to post all at once. Please let me know what you think! I always like feedback!

by Julia Duke

I stared at the crumpled letter lying in the corner, neglected by all in the room. Tears stung my eyes and I clenched my fists in anger. I glanced round at my family. Jerry sat in a numb state on the sofa, fixing his gaze on the ground. The half-empty coffee mug on the table left evidence of Mother’s previous presence in the living room.
I returned my gaze to the letter and shut my eyes, trying not to believe it, trying so hard to forget it. The delivery of the yellow telegram had dashed so many hopes to pieces. From the moment the officer placed it into Mother’s hands till the time she opened it and began to read, I knew. The way her eyes pooled with tears before she even came to the fatal words. The way her gaze drifted towards the wall, her face growing pale and her grip on the paper loosening. My heart racing, I snatched the letter out of her hand and read it out loud, not believing at first. Not wanting to believe. My eyes scanned the words again. Walter Tarnika. Killed in action.


Mother’s face peered around the corner of my bedroom. I tried not to look shocked as her thin form came into view. Her hair lay in tangles, while her dress was dirty and worn, the top buttons missing from their usual places. I closed my book and leapt up from my bed, placing the hardcover back on the shelf among many others.
“What is it, Mother?”
“We need to talk. All of us. Jerry’s waiting in the living room.”
“What about?”
“The future. Our family’s future.”
I nodded and followed Mother out of my room, watching as her feet dragged along the floor. Jerry hopped out of the rocking chair as Mother entered, and plopped himself down on the sofa. I took my place beside him, while Mother stood beside the rocking chair, resting a hand on it. She heaved a sigh.
“Children… As you both know, things haven’t been going well for us lately. Money is running low, and we’ve had to ration our food.”
“I’ll say,” Jerry cut in, rolling his eyes.
Mother flashed him a look. Jerry grew silent and dropped his head.
“The thing is, there’s not much for work here and I can’t raise enough income to pay the mortgage for the house.”
Her eyes darkened, contrasting with her pale face.
“It’s been two weeks since the funeral. I think it’s high time we start a new life.”
I glanced at Jerry, then fixed my eyes back on Mother. “Meaning?”
“Meaning we’ll be moving. To another state. To a new town. We’ll meet new people and start a fresh life for ourselves.”
Jerry leapt up, his eyes widening. “We can’t move!”
“And why not?” Mother asked, her complexion weakening from the reaction.
“Because… All my friends are here! All of Celia’s friends! We can’t just leave them!”
I laid my hand on Jerry’s arm, attempting to stop him, but he slapped it away and continued.
“Please, Mother. I’ll find work. I’ll do anything!” He pounded his fist. “Oh, if I could only join up, then I wouldn’t have to be a burden on you two.”
Mother stepped forward. “Don’t speak that way! You know you’re not a burden on us. Listen to me.” She paced in front of the wireless, one hand on her hip, the other on her forehead. “I don’t want this any more than you do. But times are hard and this is the way it has to be.”
“Then I don’t want to be a part of it. I’ll leave if I have to. I’ll fake my age. Others have done it!”
I sensed a cue for me to speak, and stood up. “Jerry, you’re only 15! They’ll never let you through! And anyway, you can’t leave us. Dad’s gone, and you’re the man of the house now.”
“Well, I don’t want to be! Dad abandoned us! He left us alone in this world to fend for ourselves!”
Mother’s voice cut in, quiet yet sharp. “Don’t ever say that again, you hear me?”
A dull silence filled the room. Jerry stared at Mother, his mouth open in preparation for his next words, but they never came. I sensed the tension between the two and stepped back a little.
“Mother, I—I’m sorry…”
Without answering, without her face so much as flinching, Mother drifted towards the hall and disappeared.
I glared at Jerry. “Nice going.”
“Oh, you think I’m going to have pity on you? Just because of you and your friends? Jerry, we’re a family! We have to work together! Can’t you even try to understand?”
Jerry had nothing to say. At least, nothing worthwhile hearing. I turned and left him to dwell on his own thoughts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happiness Overcomes Stress

Hello, my fellow bloggers and critical readers! I see you have left many comments for me, making my decision to put my story up an easy one! Okay, SINCE you were so kind, I shall ask again. Would anyone like me to post my short story? Please comment below, in the little comment box thingy, expressing either your desire or your repulsion for such a thing as that.

Today I'm going to be weird and not talk about what the title means until close to the end. So, stay tuned! I have some very exciting news, and if anyone cares to read further, it MUST be any and all of you Oregonians. :)

Last Monday, as you know, was Halloween. Although, we like to refer to it as Reformation Day, the day when we celebrate Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Church of Wittenburg. My church had their annual celebration on this night, while hundreds of children around us trick-or-treated and celebrated the gathering of candy. We, Christ Covenant Church, had our own method of getting candy, however. Several booths were set up, with games for the kids and even some for the ambitious adults. I helped my friend Katelyn with a game called the "Holy Do Nots." The objective was to name the 8 Commandments in the Bible that are "Do Not..." or "Thou shalt not..." and then you would win a donut. It was surprising how many people couldn't remember the Commandments, even some of the adults!

Reformation Night lasted for three fun-filled hours. We had warm blueberry crumble, donuts, and the kids ate lots of candy on top of that and were bouncing off the walls. xD Fiddle music was playing in the background, but when they announced that Reformation Night was officially over, an upbeat song broke out on the loud speaker, making the cleanup part fun and dance-worthy. :D

You have made it to your destination! I will now talk on a subject that relates to the title, and how very exciting and happy news overcame the general stress of my life. First, the stressful part of it. Currently I am doing a thing called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the entire month of November. It's actually not as stressful as I'm making it out to be because I'm doing surprisingly well! It's been one week and I'm already almost to 12,000 words! :D But it can get stressful at times, especially when I start getting behind and life catches up to me.

But, anyway, on to the news!! Oregonians, are you ready? :) I. am. going. to. OREGON!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D This weekend, for a very special friend's wedding! Her name is Rebekah U. and she's getting married to Benjamin F!!!! I'm so happy for them and even MORE happy that I get to come to their wedding!! All of you people following me that go to the RCC church..... I WILL SEE YOU THERE!!! :D

Oh, and one more thing. Here's a link to my brother's blog again. The poor guy only has 3 followers and he has such awesome posts and pictures! They can't go to waste! If you wish it, follow him. He would love you forever! :)

~Julia, your extremely excited and hyped up blogging friend~ :D