Facebook-Like-Button

I’ve noticed a recent influx of articles from various venues such as Relevant Magazine and USA Today College telling me I should give up or attempt weaning off of the internet.

For example, I watched a 10 minute long video promoting #nointernetweek (see video No Internet Week). And yes, it was worth my time. Believe me, I have a short attention span and am convinced I’m slightly ADD when left alone to be “productive” or at least appear productive.

Did I mention I had seven tabs on Google Chrome, Outlook, and Microsoft Word open? Twitter, Facebook, and just to balance things out a bit Wordle and Dictionary.com were among a few things I was reading/skimming over.

But, come on, I had Microsoft Word open. I was being productive! In fact, I was multitasking A.K.A. being “multitastic” as my little brother enjoys calling it.

OK, point taken. I’ve been using the dumb phone excuse for two long now. New Year’s resolutions: evaluate my face-to-Facebook ratio, write more, read more, experience more. I’m pretty sure people could survive without me posting a daily status or changing my profile picture. Everyone knows it there was snow on the ground in Washington yesterday.

Did You Feed Me?

From Left to right: Me, Kay, and Brianna.

Meet Kay. Kay turned 86 in May. For over twenty years, Kay has been serving the homeless men and women of Downtown Seattle. Mission: serve the soul, not just the stomach.

Kay’s ministry is titled The Lord’s Table. The location is at 6th and Columbia, directly underneath the freeway. On the second Thursday of every month, my church: Northshore Baptist Church in Kirkland serves with Kay. Our branch of the ministry is called Isaiah 58.  Sixth and Columbia is home to many big hearts of the people who flock from the Union Gospel Mission, Pioneer Square, and all (literal) corners of Seattle for a warm meal of hearty Spanish rice.

Kay's 86th Birthday

In sixth grade, my friend and I were both looking for a ministry to become involved in. We stumbled upon Isaiah 58 after asking our youth pastor’s where we could serve locally. We’ve missed a few months here and there, but we both agree that it seems just yesterday, Kay was 80. I suppose it’s because her stamina and passion hasn’t wavered from year to year.

Kay thrives off of this verse:

Isaiah 58: 6-7

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

A cup of coffee is capable of going a long way. Or tea. Or water. Or Kool Aid. Jesus constantly reminds us that the issue isn’t a matter of liquids. It’s a matter of the heart. The Lord of the universe can dwell in your heart if you allow Him to. He is the only free gift on earth that you don’t need to work towards. There is no checklist to acceptance.

Seattle wants Jesus. They crave Him.  They flock to 6th and Columbia because Jesus is evident in Kay. She treats them like her equal. She doesn’t turn anyone away.  She knows many patrons by name. More importantly, she bleeds the gospel.

Over the years I’ve encountered many fun characters. Seattle is a colorful place. I remember the man who could pop both eyes out of his sockets, the woman who asked me if I could give her pet mouse, Phoebe, a chocolate cookie. The regular  who walked through our line and always asked for “Bill’s Famous Tea.” I remember gazing up through a space in the freeway where the two lanes came apart and feeling as if I were in the movie The Dark Night. I remember when in junior high, Brianna and I collected donations from the youth group to buy Christmas gifts. I remember the British security guard with an Australian accent. Did I mention he dressed in a way that made him look as if he were the captain of a fine vessel? We’ve seen some interesting characters walk through those food lines.

I tease Brianna endlessly for passing out too many desserts. To say Kay is frugal would be an understatement. “Just ONE cookie Brianna” and  “Oh those  will  last until Monday,” is common phraseology around her. Her influence (among others) has made me think twice about waste. I’ve poured perfectly filtered drinking water down the drain with my only pretense being that it had been sitting out too long.  Thrown away food because I’m too full. Ditched socks because of one hole in one toe. Once monthly, for almost seven years I’ve served with Brianna. Last month I served with her ONELASTTIME. (Indefinitely).

New volunteers have made their  appearances! Over the years as the youth has been a part of this great opportunity and we’ve begun spreading the word through social media,  a large variety of people show up each month. It’s always exciting to see volunteers come and go. But to see those who stay? Ahhhh, now that is quite a joy to see.

While Kay may never be replaced, the organization is looking for a new leader to take over all responsibility. The vocation has become an immense responsibility for just one person. We trust in God’s provision. Always.

This one is for you Kay!

Kayla

What to Write When You Can’t Write

I’m going to cut straight to the chase. I hate writing prompts. “What is your earliest childhood memory?” or, my personal favorite,“Write about a memory associated with a certain smell.”Um, what?!With all the books and websites out there dedicated to overcoming writer’s block, I’ve found very few helpful.  Not only are these prompts unhelpful, they’re also constricting. Instead of using the bank loaded with our own ideas, prompts tend to produce cookie cutter results. Where does all the extra dough go?! With roughly 15,700,000 search results for “writing prompts” on Google alone, I expect more original and fresh ideas. Writing often feels more complicated than it actually is. Depending on who you’re writing for–yourself, an audience, or both– you shouldn’t feel the constant need to crank out a novel every time you sit down with a piece of paper. Every bestseller, freelancer, blogger, and journal-keeper had to start somewhere. So, instead of suggesting cliche writing prompts, I’m going to take you on a trip back to the basics. 

I’ve come a long way in my writing–at least I’d like to think so–but one thing I know for sure is that I still have an incredibly long way to go. My starting point included lists of my favorite foods and games of MASH from long, hot, and non-air conditioned bus rides to camp.  My journalism journey–if you even consider lists and games of MASH journalism–moved from the Little League team to the All Star team. I waved goodbye to “listography,” and in ninth grade  I committed to being more consistent. I wrote down as many details, big and small, that I could remember from each day. Although I was fairly consistent, the amount of content in my entries varied. I found that when I attempted to write lengthy and wordy entries, I ended up writing LESS. I had to face the fact that some days, my most exciting activity might very well be having a dissection in science class.

Moral of the story? There is no shame in lists and “Dear Diary” entries. Trust me, inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky the way rain falls in Seattle. That would be waaaay to easy.

What to Write When You Can’t Write

1. Lists– lists and sub-lists are great ways to brainstorm.

2. Thought bubbles.

3. One line a day. This can be useful if you feel you don’t have time to keep a journal. I often leave space in mine to go back and expand on entries. Record something such as a Facebook status or something that will trigger your memory when you go back. Try and be specific. Just writing “I ate Cheerios for breakfast today” isn’t going to be of much assistance to you if you plan on going back and expanding.

4. The Method (Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser). This is an exercise my English 101 teacher in college had us do often. This really helps turn gears. I don’t read poetry, but we had an in class essay where we read a poem and analyzed what we read. The Method asks four questions. 1) What repeats? 2) What goes with what? (strands) 3) What is opposed to what? (binaries/opposites) 4) What doesn’t fit? (anomalies). For all of these questions, ask the “SO WHAT?” question. It sounds like homework, but trust me, it is a really helpful tool.

5. Your mom’s grocery list.

6. Book reviews/reports/summaries.

7. Letters. There is nothing I love more than receiving a handwritten letter. I’m sure you know someone who would love to receive one.

8. Stories. If you want to make yourself known, sign up for a free account at cowbird.com, it’s a pretty awesome website.

9. Your school schedule.

10. Take notes in class. This is just a good habit. It doesn’t necessarily spark creativity, but repetitive learning skills improve memory.

What to Read When You Can’t Write

1. Garner’s Modern American Usage. The title is sounds big and scary, but it is a WONDERFUL reference. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, you might as well take the time you’re not using to write to improve your grammar.

2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. Etymology at it’s best. Great for advancing vocabulary.

3. Books, books, and more books. If you don’t read, you’re writing is lacking its full potential.

4. The Newspaper. If I were you, I would choose something more wholesome than the Seattle Times. But, that’s just me. Flipboard is a great FREE app if you’re on the go often.

5. Word Dynamo (dynamo.dictionary.com). This is what nerds like me do over Christmas Break: expand their vocabulary count to and estimated +30,000 words.

6. Magazines. Try out Relevant: Faith, Culture & Intentional Living

7. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. This is a great book and very easy to read. I have yet to finish it!

8. Read a picture. I bet you didn’t know you could do that! “A picture is worth a thousand words”~Napolean Bonaparte.

Where to Go When You Can’t Write

(Breaks in recurring schedules are very relieving)

1. NOT Facebook.

For those in the greater Seattle area:

2. Green Lake Park. I went here just the other day. It had been forever since I’d been there. Which is a shame considering it is only about a fifteen minute drive from my house.

3. Alki Beach. If you have a lot of time on your hands, this place is awesome.

4. St. Edwards Park

5. Bothell Landing

6. Seward Park

7. A coffee shop. I find inspiration in listening, talking, and observing. The Aloha Cafe in Edmonds or The Lyon’s Den in Bothell are ideal–unfortunately for me only one of these two is convenient. Because Starbucks is overrated, just more convenient.

I don’t splurge very often, but when I do, I consider the small indulgences as money well spent. If you’ve never owned a Moleskine notebook, I highly recommend investing in one. I usually use college ruled spiral notebooks, but these often give me motivation, especially if I’m close to wrapping up a notebook. I’m sort of obsessed with gel pens as well. They bring a whole new meaning to “color the rainbow.” (I especially enjoy using them for my school planner). They add some excitement. My #1 tip is to keep a notepad with you at all times. There is nothing worse than letting a great idea slip through your finger tips. My #2 Tip is to share your writing–whatever type of writing it may be– with other people. Tip #3 Not everyone scrapbooks. I am one of those who does not. instead, I tape memorabilia into my journals with photo adhesives and/or scotch tape. You’ll be glad you did! Last, but certainly not least, Tip #4! If you’re writing for an audience, big or small, DO NOT cater your words solely to their tastes. Many people try so hard to keep up with the newest trends in the media and whatnot that their writing loses its passion. Especially non-writers. Your writing probably has a bigger effect on people than you think. We are often our biggest critics. Every expert in any field of work began with the basics. Don’t forget to review them!

P.S. I need to take my own advice more often.

I hope this inspires you!

Kayla

Shoes

Feet
This quote and picture inspired me to write “Shoes.” Photographer unknown.

Shoes speak.  Shoes define each and every individual.  Shoes tell the story of where people are going and the places they’ve been. Shoes show the wear and tear of each journey. Shoes display the hardships, the trials, the good times, and the bad. Shoes show where and how each occupant has attempted to make repairs when times became tough; these repairs are evident in patches, in clumsy stitches, and crisp white laces.  Behind  every brand name and every sandal, slipper, sneaker, and stiletto is a story.

What about that person without shoes? How is his or her story told? Their story is told in the cuts, scrapes, blisters, broken toenails and callus upon callus. Their story is told by the layers of dust, dirt, mud, and sand which coat every inch of tough leathery skin. No one questions a person without shoes. They’ve walked down every path, battled every storm, crossed every valley, and climbed every mountain. The person without shoes has more stories than the person with a closet full of them.

On average, every American buys 8 pairs of shoes each year. 8 PAIRS. What do your shoes say about you? Does your story simply say you are returning to the mall for yet another pair to add to your collection?

P is for Purple

Today is “Purple For Epilepsy Day.” I love purple. My favorite childhood classic book-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- is bound with a purple cover. I have a purple raincoat, purple bible, purple water-bottle, purple toothbrush, purple, purple, purple, purple….. I think understand the picture. Only recently,within the past couple of years, did I actually connect the color purple with epilepsy. At this point I can imagine you are thinking, “So what?” So, I have epilepsy. I’ve thought about writing a post-or a few pages in my journal- for some time, but I didn’t want to come off as someone looking for attention or be labeled ‘epileptic.’ Is it obvious yet I have a severe pride issue? OK, I thought so. (I’m so glad God blessed me with the gift of sarcasm, otherwise I’d be a mess.) Anyways, I put off writing about my epilepsy for purely selfish reasons. Then, I realized that there is easily a gazillion other people, NOT sharing their stories-whether health related or not- for exactly the same reasons. This is why I’m asking YOU to share your stories.

OK, hold the phone right there. A story or testimony doesn’t have to be something heart-wrenching. I’ve seen to many people demean their own stories simply because they thought it wasn’t “moving” or “shocking.”Heck, the most relatable stories are in the form of “little” everyday problems.I.e.

Person 1: You received a D on you Spanish test?

Person 2: Dude me too. 

If you have struggled with serious issues in the past or are struggling currently, here is my message to you: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. That thought is a lie. Only you can make the choice to believe it.  Keeping your fears and feelings bottled up is the worst decision you could possibly make. If you don’t believe me, believe Dumbledore when he says “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” Trust me, Albus Dumbledore doesn’t lie.

I’ve had epilepsy for over ten years. It’s definitely a reality, but it doesn’t define who I am. What defines me is how I respond to the ups and downs. The hospital visits, the sick days, and the days when I ask “Why me?” And then I look around me. I could be so much worse off. I have so many things to be thankful for. Best of all I love knowing that no matter what kind of situation God puts me in, it’s only to refine me! We should bear these challenges-even something as insignificant as a Spanish test- knowing that there is definitely a to be learned so that next time, you can do better. If you think you can fight this battle on your own, good luck with that. I’ve tried and failed. It’s easy to look strong on the outside and inwardly destroy yourself. When people tell you “Wow you are so strong!” Things begin going to your head. Society tells us it’s not okay to be weak. I’d like you to consider otherwise.

Remember, there are always consequences for going against the grain. Humbleness isn’t a trait valued by most. I don’t know about you, but when people ask me how I’m doing, I enjoy testing their sincerity by telling them the flat out truth. I may say “Well actually this week kinda sucked.” I know people who I know are going through hell and still respond with “oh I’m doing just dandy.” Sorry to break it to you, but nobody’s perfect.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Wear purple and share your story! I want to hear it and I’m sure others do too!

S is for Seattleite, Sleet, Snow, Sunshine, Spring Break, and Other Such Things

Snow and Sunshine
Kaylab Photography

When I first rolled out of bed at 8:00 am this morning, snow was  falling. Washington’s seasons seemed to have been mixed up.  I wasn’t all that surprised. the past few days we’ve had everything from sun to sleet. Once I drank my morning mocha and ate my Nutella toast, I tried not to let the weather get the best of me. How could one possible be upset with such a well-balanced meal?!

Snow and all, the beginning of a bluebird day was on the horizon.

Right now my feelings regarding this type of weather is neutral  Not one day of school was cancelled during the winter quarter. Now that I have a nice long spring break, it is 38 degrees outside with a chance of snow, rain and thunderstorms. Funny how that works

This picture was taken around 8:30 am or 9:00 am and now-pushing 3:00 in the afternoon- everything is exactly as it was yesterday.  Wet and Cold. This combination seems to be the perfect excuse to not be productive. However if every seattleite chose that easy way out it would not be a pretty picture.

 You Know You Are A Seattleite When:

  • It’s February and fifty degrees outside and everyone orders their beverage of choice at the coffee shop iced. 
  • In March your Facebook news feed is filled with instagram pictures, phone pictures, tweets, and statuses complaining about classes not cancelled, pictures  of snow either present in your yard or absent, and road-trippers on their way to Disneyland or some other warm sunny place.
  • Residents wear flip-flops beginning in February at the first glance of sun.
  • Within the same day of snowfall,the phrases “spray tan” and “yay it’s snowing are used interchangeably.
  • You take Zertec and Vick’s because your allergies are awful and you think you might be coming down with a cold as well.
  • Your vitamin D level is thirty, which would be normal if you lived anywhere BUT Seattle. The “new norm” is fifty. (Not even joking, my doctor put me on a daily supplement.)
  • Breaking of the “normal” weather cycle is actually normal.
  • On a near daily basis you comment to your friend,
  • “Aw man, it’s raining outside.” They reply, “What’s new?”
  • If you live in the suburbs, umbrellas are reserved for tourists and foreigners only, except on rare occasions.
  • Groundhog’s Day means nothing to most people. It merely remains a great excuse to watch the movie.
  • Being snowed in on spring break is very easily a potential problem.

Smile!

Take One, Please Do

“If you smile a lot, when you’re older all your wrinkles will be in the right places.”~Terra Gilbert

I’m one to talk. I don’t smile nearly enough.  Maybe it’s the fact that finals are in two weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that I got a C on my last economics test. Maybe it’s the fact that it has been rainy in Seattle for five months straight. Maybe I have a problem with excuses. There are so many things to smile about!

Where do I start?!! Where would you start?!

1. Jesus loves me. I could just end there.

2. My family loves me.

3. My friends love me and ALWAYS give me an extra dose of laughter.

4. My  teachers care about my success.

5. Psych is back!I just need to catch up on the past seven or eight seasons….

6. Only ninety-nine more days until high school graduation!

7. No schools on Friday next quarter!

8. Only twenty more days until spring!

9. My bed is awesome and my pillow is even more awesome

10. Coffee and tea exist.

11. The sun came out yesterday.

What have you smiled about today?

-Kayla

~

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