May 10, 2018

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

6388239I just finished reading this book for the second time this month, and I'm determined to review it before the library demands its property back. :P

I grew up hearing about this book. I mean, you know, it's one of those award winning books you see in the children's section at every library ever, but I never looked into it. a) I didn't know anyone who recommended it, and b) it said "witch" in the title, so....I had lots of other things to read that didn't sound iffy.

But when I heard about it via Olivia's lovely post I knew I had to read it. And I don't even think I was half way through reading it when I knew I had found a new favorite book friend. :)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare isn't about a witch at all. It's about a girl whose grandfather dies, leaving her with no alternative but to travel to New England and make a new life for herself with her Puritan relatives, a strict and joyless group of people she finds nearly intolerable to be with.

It's about her friendship with an old woman everyone else would shun, merely because of her Quaker faith.

It's a story about understanding others despite different beliefs, about family and friends, and doing the right thing, even when those closest to you think it's wrong.

From the first, I related to Kit's intense dislike for Puritan behavior. From the minute she sees America for the first time, she is struck by how gray and gloomy the people are, in dress and conduct and manner. When she proves she can swim by rescuing a toy for a crying child, she is instantly thought of as foolish and thoughtless. Her ability to swim—a rare skill in Puritan New England—prompts people to suspect her of more heavy crimes than foolishness: witchcraft.

Of course, Kit is disgusted with this narrow view and so was I. I've always had a hard time being patient with Christians (usually in books or movie, haha, I haven't known many in real life thankfully) who think life should be dull and solemn and that any bit of colorful joy is a probably a sin.

*grits teeth* UGH. No.

Kit further clashes with her new family, especially her stern Uncle Matthew. From the beginning, he is cold and distant and stern with her. He refuses to allow his daughters—Kit's cousins—to accept Kit's gifts of pretty gowns and gloves. He forces Kit to attend Meeting (church), and sneers at her fine clothing, something he sees as nothing but vanity. He begrudges her presence, and treats her with a manner only short of contempt.

Spoiler alert. I was totally prepared to dislike Uncle Matthew throughout the entire story. But this book turned my expectations upside down and taught me, alongside Kit, that there is much more to a person than their initial actions. I actually came away from this story feeling humbled—because as Kit was learning to understand and respect her uncle, (for reasons I won't go into because of spoilers) I was, too. And I found that amazing. A story that can help you see someone else's point of view is rare and special. I still don't agree with everything Matthew Wood supported—but I don't dislike him anymore. I may even consider him a favorite character now.

Thankfully for Kit, she finds like-minded friends to encourage her and lift her up. One of them was Hannah Tupper, an old Quaker woman who dries childrens' tears with blueberry cake and kittens. The other is Nat, a seafaring young man whom she met on her voyage to America.

*smiles and suppresses a squeal*

Nat. NAT. I just....words fail to describe how much I really like Nat. ;)

I found it super cool that there were different guys in Kit's life, all of them gentlemanly and nice and good in their own way. It seems like usually whenever there's a story with "multiple love interest possibilities", one is shown as "ahh so amazing there's not even a choice HE IS THE ONE"....and the rest are shown as jerks. Besides being slightly unrealistic, this also makes the heroine's choice a little less exciting and interesting. :P

But in this story, it's clear that any of the young men Kit knows are nice young men—but all three have startling different personalities. William is staid and steady, John studious and kind, and Nat a bit of an unconventional adventurer. None of the boys are shown as infinitely superior. They all have strengths and failings. But only one is right for Kit.

And that is of course Nat who is the legit best. Yes, I know I just said all the boys are just as good as each other, blah blah, and it's true, but it's also true Nat is the best, so there.

(I never claimed to be logical. :P)

This boy is a bit mocking, a bit standoffish, and unruffled by what others think. But he's got a heart of gold, a determined spirit, and I love him to bits and pieces. I mean, CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HE BRINGS HANNAH CORAL AND MOLASSES AND CUTE FIREWOOD FOR HER AND THATCHES HER ROOF?? *melts*
*end spoilers*
this guy totally reminds me of Nat, sans the medieval armor :P

Anyways.....'hem. Let me talk about Kit's other friend, Hannah Tupper, the "Witch of Blackbird Pond" herself. Hannah is a steadfast, kind old woman who lives alone by Blackbird Pond. She is shunned by nearly everyone in the surrounding area, merely because of her Quaker faith.

Now, I have no clue of what the particulars were that made Puritans and Quakers disagree so strongly. (It probably said it in the book...but now I forget. :P) But whatever their differences, if these two groups are trusting in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their one and only Savior....then they are one in Christ. Everything else doesn't matter compared with that. It reminds me of a saying my dad likes to quote:

"in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

(I tried to google who said it originally, but it seems to be rather unknown. Augustine seems a popular choice, though.)

Yeah. I don't think the people of Wethersfield had heard of that quote. :P

Long story short, it's Hannah who is thought to be a witch, and when illness strikes the town of Wethersfield, a group of angry people look to her as the cause. Kit too is soon drawn into the trouble, due to her unwavering friendship with Hannah and her own involvement in the life of one of the village children, Prudence. She is accused of teaching Prudence witchcraft that she learned from Hannah, when all Kit ever did was befriend the lonely child and teach her to read and write.

Now, my lips are sealed as to the rest of the story. Read it yourself to find out what happens. :) But, before I end this post, let me mention just a few other things...

•The writing style is simple and matter of fact, and yet beautiful phrases line the pages. Behold some of my favorites:

In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.
The girl looked about her. "'Tis a pretty room," she said without thinking, and then wondered how that could be, when it was so plain and bare. Perhaps it was only the sunlight on boards that were scrubbed smooth and white, or perhaps it was the feeling of peace that lay across the room as tangibly as the bar of sunshine.
"...thee has never escaped at all if love is not there."

I loved Kit's methods of teaching school with Mercy, and I was very frustrated that she was chastised by the schoolmaster simply for having the children act out a Bible story. She was bringing the children a new perspective on learning, one of joy and enthusiasm....and then the rigid Puritan rules ruined it. #annoyed

•Referencing the above situation, Kit's patience astounded me. Granted, she had to go cry in the field and meet Hannah to gather the courage to apologize to the schoolmaster. But even before that, she exhibits more patience with her uncle and the other hardened Puritans than I would hope to have. Her self-control is inspiring.

•The way Nat acts like a stranger to Kit whenever she hurts or annoys him didn't fully sink in the first time I read the book, but I'm completely appreciating his passive-aggressive snark this time around. ;)

•Nat's pride in The Dolphin and later The Witch is too sweet. <3

•Speaking of sweet, I need to mention poor little Prudence and awww, her friendship with Kit. *happy feels* ♥♥♥

*The below points are all spoilers*

•A certain love-triangle-catastrophe upset me so much I had to take a break from reading the book for a few hours. You know what I mean.

John was going to ask for Mercy's hand and Judith ruinnnned itttt aghhh.

Actually, I guess if we included everyone who goes through some ups and downs in their romantic lives throughout this book, it'd really be a love hexagaon. Because boy, it gets messy before everything is sorted out at the end. :P (But I love it. The relationships in this story have some difficult moments, but it's presented in such a realistic, heartfelt way. It's not "dramatic" at all.)

•So, since I just mentioned John and Mercy, let's take a moment to *fangirl* because JOHN AND MERCY, GUYS. They are so adorable and perfect for each other ahhhhhhhhh. ♥♥♥
Between his line about "not wanting a wife to wait on him" and being perfectly willing to do for Mercy whatever she can't do herself and her understanding of why he had to go to the militia and their quiet love for each other despite everything being against them.....

And then he returns home and runs straight to her arms and...and..

I just....words fail. THESE TWO ARE SO SWEET AND PRECIOUS. Love without end, amen.

•William and Judith have their problems, but I'm super glad they ended up together. <3

•When Nat shows up at Kit's trial with Prudence. #yesss

•"When I take you on board The Witch, it's going to be for keeps." <3 <3 <3 

*end spoilers*

Weellll, is that it? I suppose it 'tis. ;) My end recommendation? READ THIS BOOK. It's appropriate for any age, is beautiful and powerful and special, and holds an important message for us all.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Have you read The Witch of Blackbird Pond? What did you think of it?
Who are your favorite characters?
What do you think is the message of this story?

May 4, 2018

"take the road less traveled on"

Roads are fascinating. Some are twisty, some are straight as a pin. Some go up over hills, some go between mountains, some cross bodies of water on these death-defying things called bridges. (Seriously though, bridges are kind of scary sometimes.)

Some are quiet. So quiet you could pull your car over to the side of the road, let your windows down and just sit while summery twilight air fills your lungs.

Others are crazy. So crazy they scare you and put that tense feeling between your shoulders as you try to be aware of every car in front of, behind, beside you.

Why am I talking about roads, friends? Because life is a series of roads. (Wow, cliche, right?) (But it's true.)

A lot of new things have happened to me lately. Or are happening to me right now. Or will be happening. One of them is that I'll be starting some college classes this fall (I hope). "What??" you say. "Wasn't this the girl who practically swore off college as 'not for her'? The girl who said, 'who needs it anyways?' 'I want to be independent and unique and go against the grain'?

Yeah. Well. I feel the same way. In a lot of ways, I haven't felt as if I've KNOWN myself lately. Things I used to be adamantly against I'm now open to trying and things I used to want to try now seem unimportant, etc etc.

Being the anxious worrier that I am, I can't help but panic and think that the last two years have been all for naught. Maybe I SHOULD have gone to college right away instead of spending my time trying to start a photography business, working on my writing and keeping up a blog and doing all sorts of odds and ends. I tried a lot. And while some of it is still stuff I am determined to work at, some of it isn't what I want anymore. And I guess that's okay.

Sometimes I fall into seeing life as only straight paths, point a to point b. So when I find myself on paths that have seemingly NOTHING to do with point a or b I get discouraged and think that path was a waste of time.

But I can't help but think that maybe God's way IS the way with the bumpy dirt roads, narrow bicycle paths, and broken asphalt back roads. Because then we see things we'd never see if we hadn't turned down those side roads. We'd never see that field of colorful flowers, we'd never explore a winding trail through the woods where sunlight is sparse and shadows thick, and we'd never pass that beautiful view of the ocean that you'd never find from the expressway.

(I'm just making this all up, I have no particular roads in mind right now haha)

Everyone's path in life is different, and everyone needs to go at a different speed. But personally, I've found that I'm grateful to have taken "the road less traveled". (I don't agree with everything that song says, but the general point matches my post. :P)

If I hadn't, I might not have had to think and ponder and pray about my life so much. But that's the thing. I've learned to trust God and His timing and His plan in ways I'm not sure I'd have learn otherwise. I'm learning to find my purpose in Him. I'm learning to be satisfied by Him. And along His way, He also surprised me with joy and happiness and experiences I never thought possible.

God will teach us what we need to be taught, no matter where we are in life. But I think it's worth remembering (for me, anyways) that no amount of worldly "success" in life compares to experiencing God's love and trust.

Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?
'cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
-By Your Side, Tenth Avenue North

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The above post you just read was written more than a month ago. Things have changed quite a bit since I wrote it, and yet I felt that I should share this post regardless. Learning to trust God is something I'm always dealing with, so I still wanted to share it with you all. I hope it encourages someone. <3

PS. What think you of my new blog design? (Yes, I know it changes constantly. I just can't figure out what I want my blog's "look" to be.)

April 13, 2018

One does not simply get a job and keep it

Hi, my friends!

Well. I know I've been gone from the blogosphere for longer stretches than this, but it feels longer. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.

Before I go on, be warned that this post is heavily laced with sarcasm and overloaded with gifs. It's all true, but my reactions may be a little...exaggerated. :P
This is exactly Peter's thoughts right here. << sooooo perfect!

It's also full of craziness. Because my life has been crazy lately.

Onward to insanity!

-My family just moved across-the-state.  (Without professional movers, mind you. You don't realize how much junk everyone owns until you're packing it all in boxes and wondering how people lived back in the 1800's when apparently we can't live without ten thousand picture frames, five seasons of Little House in the Prairie (which we rarely watch), a record player and our old childhood train track.)

-Days after moving into our rental house, I (stupidly) began applying for jobs on, thinking it would take at least two or three weeks before getting a call. Guess what? I proceeded to get interviews set up in a matter of days.

-I got two interviews, one for a hotel front desk position that asked stupid questions like "what's the most constructive personal criticism you ever received?" "where do you see yourself in five years?"

-The second interview was way more laid back and normal. It was a hostess position at a popular "family" restaurant that you can see on every other exit sign across America. (No, not Cracker Barrel, the other one.) The manager actually offered me the position about halfway through the "interview" and....after going home and talking about it with my parents, I accepted. I mean, why not, right? I've been trying to get a job for practically a year now, and I was always kind of intrigued by the restaurant business. (Basically because one of my favorite childhood computer games was Diner Dash.)

Sooooo....I finally got a job! I could earn money now!

-I went in to do scary paperwork like taxes and stuff; things I've never had to deal with before. It wasn't actually as bad as I thought but that's only because mommy helped me understand it all BEFORE I went in. (haha)

-I went shopping for all-black shoes and black shirts for said job because apparently they have a dress code. *shrugs*

-I started my first day....the same day my dad started HIS first day at his job. (I DID NOT PLAN THIS. We all were pretty much sitting around looking at each other the night before like, " did this happen?")

-I got up at 6:30 for said job. Ugh. (Let's be real, that's when I started to think about quitting. haha)

-I started work. I guess I was really scared because a customer told me I looked terrified. I laughed and told him "well, it's my first day". He was nice about it and actually made me laugh at myself and relax a bit. But still. YEAH I'M TERRIFIED I'M A CHILD.

-I also got scared stiff by the "map" that shows where guests have to sit, according to how many waitresses are working. On the outside I was like....

But on the inside....

I. would. never. learn. how. to. do. this. Dishonor on me! Dishonor on my family! Dishonor on my cow! 

-Funny thing happened. By about noon I had learned the chart so well that I was practically seating all the guests. :P (See how I overreact?) Later on, the shift manager even told me I was doing such a good job and that she felt confident enough to give me my own register tomorrow, so that I could be responsible for handling customers' pay. It was so nice to hear!! Someone had confidence in me. Ahh thank you, Mrs. Lynde, I shall always consider you a benefactress.

-Speaking of benefactresses, there were plenty of people who didn't seem to care at all that it was my first day (like, I'd say, "sorry, it's my first day" and get little to no reaction. Thanks, people. :P) But there was one lady who was SO SWEET and every time she saw me she'd ask how it was going and would say things like "you've got this!" and I was just...agh. There are still nice people in this world, guys. <3

 -But now for the bad news. At the end of my measly 6 hour shift, I was in a lot of physical pain. See, I had scoliosis surgery when I was young and since then chronic back/neck pain is pretty much something I deal with on a daily basis. It varies day by day, and thankfully most normal days aren't too bad. But certain things (sitting for a long time, uncomfortable chairs, dehydration) can trigger it and I was definitely feeling it after standing for pretty much 6 hours straight.

I really hate to use this pain as an excuse, because my pride rebels. :P I hate feeling "weak" or unable to do what everyone else my age can do easily enough.

I wish I was one of those farmgirls who can lift hay bales and do manual labor, no problem. But....yeah, I'm not. I can't even stand around for 6 hours.

I'm sure my pain was partly due to stress and tension as well, but when I came home and told my parents all about it and we weighed out all the pros and cons (biggest con being that my pain didn't go away until nighttime, even after some painkillers. My shift only ended at 2:00!) I decided I was just going to quit. Being that I was on training, I didn't need to go in the next day. I kept going back and forth, stressing about it. I didn't want to quit. I wanted to give it a second chance. But just one day was enough to tell me I wouldn't last long at this job anyways. My pain was the deal breaker. But there were  dozen other things I disliked about the job, and I knew that if I stuck it out it'd be only a matter of time till I found a new one. And that wouldn't particularly be fair to the restaurant, to train me and invest time and money into me for only a month or two of work.

#me quitting :P

-This sounds pretty wimpy, but another major thing I disliked about the job was the amount of responsibility the hostess has. I would have to seat guests, check them out at the register, box bakery items, do some light cleaning, and take carry-out orders on the phone. And if I messed one of this things up, I could have a bunch of angry waitresses or customers on my hands and THAT'S JUST SCARY.

And I hadn't even started to learn how to do carry-out orders yet.

And that involved answering the phone.

-I called the next morning and told them I wasn't coming in. They were way cooler about it then I expected, especially due to dreaming about it the night before. I frequently dream about things I'm stressing out about doing. Like later that week when I dreamt about going in to drop off my apron and name badge. But when I did that, it again wasn't as bad as I thought. I'm such a drama queen.

But yeahhh. Anyways. To say my life has been strange lately is an understatement. 

(And that's only the condensed version of SOME events. I feel like more craziness has happened to me in the last month than in some years. It's been insane.)

To balance the craziness of this post, here on some happy things:

 I just read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and ahhhh it was so good. I may review it sometime. (I WANT to.....but there's been plenty of blog posts I've wanted to write and never did. RIP.)

• When my parents are gone my brother and I have such crazy parties. The most recent time they were gone, we played a Lego video game and rented Jurassic World on clearplay and when mom and dad came home they brought pizza. Ahh, that was great. We're off the chain. :P

•Watching the 4th season of Road to Avonlea and shipping Gus and Felicty HARD. They're so cute. <3 <3 <3 (That part when he said, "That's my girl" after she came back from Kingsport? AWWW FEELS.)

•I recently made some cinnamon scones and blueberry scones and ohhh they were so good. Here's the cinnamon recipe and here's the blueberry.  (Hint: I used heavy cream instead of milk for the blueberry glaze and that made it like 10x even better.) (But either way, that recipe was pretty amazing.)

Words of encouragement from mr adam young himself

•I bought The Greatest Showman on dvd and just watched it yesterday with my parents (who hadn't seen it yet) and brother. It was just as good as the first time. And my parents liked it!!! Yay!! :D

•This video that some friends ( this person and this person) showed me and my brother:

I know it's crazy, but I laugh every time and my brother and I quote it WAY too much. 

This video is just so darn cute, awww. YOU CAN DO IT, PUPPY! ♥

•Owl City's new song New York. Ahhhhhhh GUYYYSS. I LOVE IT. And the music video is just perfect. Here you go:

•This meme, below. It's so true.


All right, I have to stop and save some of this for my REAL "lately" post. Which may be a long time coming, because spring does NOT want to seem to arrive. :P

Love y'll so much!! If you made it through this post, congratulations! You're a trooper. have YOU been lately?