Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hezekiah Tunnel Incident

My sister is visiting us in Paris for Christmas and tomorrow is her last full day here. We've been cramming in as many fun sight-seeing events as possible in the time we're here and tomorrow is supposed to be proceeding in much the same fashion.

First on the agenda is the catacombs. Now I've heard little tidbits about the place before, but we haven't been yet. It's basically these underground caverns full of arranged bones. They were cleared out a cemetery and put on display down there years ago. Now it's a huge site for tourism. I even found out they have a sign that says, "Stop! This is the empire of death!" (That's what it says in the picture.)

Sounds awesome, right?

Wrong. It's not awesome because I can't go and I'm super pissed about that. Okay, it'll probably still be awesome for my brother, sister, and dad-- but it sucks for me. You see, I'm claustrophobic. Like, I have panic attacks from claustrophobia. Panic attacks including tears, snot, and plenty of hyperventilating. Turns out the caverns are pretty narrow, which means it's definitely a no-go.

We don't need another Hezekiah Tunnel Incident.

"What's that?" you ask. Well, the Hezekiah Tunnel Incident is basically the story of what happens when I underestimate my level of claustrophobia. When I was told my tour group in Israel this May was going to walk through the Hezekiah tunnel, the tunnel Hezekiah travelled when he and his army were attacking Jerusalem in the Old Testament, I thought, "Sounds like fun."

I should have known better.

My first red flag was when we watched the informational video at the beginning. I saw a clip of some guy having to crouch to get through part of the tunnel. I quickly asked about the narrowness of the tunnels, but was assured that it wouldn't be bad. I'm thinking, "Oh, they must've just been exaggerating. The tunnels are probably pretty big. I mean, if an army is going through them, it's probably, like, five people wide."

Oh, how terribly mistaken was I.

It only took about five minutes of walking through the tunnels before it was narrow enough that I only had to move my shoulder about three inches to the right or left to hit the walls. Then the roof lowered to only a foot above me. I tried to stay strong, I really did; but it wasn't long before I was reduced to tears.

I cried for twenty out of twenty-five or thirty minutes of the journey. God, it was terrible. The only thing that kept me from hyperventilating the entire time was knowing that if I managed to make myself pass out, I was going to just get trampled as I drowned in the calf-high water. By the end, I was practically pushing the others out.

That was probably THE most terrifying ordeal of my life. I was shaking at the end of it. Then some of the adults on the trip had the nerve to go laughing about how I was probably over my claustrophobia now. Yeah? Far from it. If anything it's probably worse.

So that's why I'm not going to bother trying to "tough it out" in the catacombs. It was a bad idea the first time and the sign of insanity is to do the same thing multiple times and still expect a different result. No thank you.

I think I'll just meet up with them at the Napoleon Museum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Le Louvre

Well, I currently have a jacked up right wrist that may or may not be broken and a swollen and scraped up left knee. In case you're wondering, I'm typing with my left hand right now.

These injuries are the result of a bike ride around Paris with my siblings and dad which culminated in three near death experiences on my part along with the aforementioned injuries. The last one was when I acquired the injuries. I'm still not entirely sure what happened-- one moment I was riding my bike skirting around some heavy traffic and the next, the bike was flying out from under me. I hit the pavement, looked up to see headlights, and scrambled to my feet and off the road before I could become roadkill.

Anyway, the injuries made wandering through the Louvre, packed to the brim with tourists and art fanatics alike, a tad less enjoyable than usual. Still, I enjoyed it immensely.

I spent most of our time there wandering through the Italian paintings, gathering as much information as I possibly could on each new beauty I chanced upon. Dad is always sure to get the audio guides where you type in the numbers by exhibits and the narrator fills you in on all the history, details, and quirks. God, I love wandering through there. There's something about those paintings that just reaches out and takes me captive.

Art museums like the Louvre appeal to me for two major reasons.

The first is my love of beauty and my love of art. I don't know how to describe it as thoroughly as I would like. Everyone appreciates beauty, of course, it evokes an emotional response in the viewer that few other mediums can. It's something about the colors, the lines, the lighting. It's quite similar to music in that way. Some pieces inspire one person and leave another impression less, yet the power and force of that beauty remains.

The second is probably the geek in me talking, but I love to learn. I love amassing knowledge and museums make me feel like a dry sponge plunged into a bucket of water, ready to soak up as much information as my brain can manage to process. I suppose that's another of the many reasons I enjoy reading. I love to learn.

Overall, it was a good day, even with my arm in a brace and pressed so close to my body that I could nearly absorb it in order to keep it from being jostled about by the crowd. I had the privilege to witness a ton of awesome all together. One word of advice, though? Go somewhere else for lunch. The food there is terrible.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Throwing Rocks at Rats

My sister's in town for Christmas, which means my entire family has deemed this week visit-anything-worth-visiting-in-Paris week.

As such, we went to the Arc de Triomphe as our first stop of the morning. It's a cool monument, I suppose, but the stairway is a spiral all the way up to the top. Mitchell decided to walk up it backward because, "How many people can say they climb up the Arc de Triomphe backwards?"

The top has a spectacular view, though. It's really neat to be able to see the Eiffel tower on one side, La Defense and Champs Elysees on another side, and the rest of Paris filling in everything else. It's just gorgeous.

Our next stop was Notre Dame. That one was Miranda's (my older sister) idea. I'm not a huge fan of cathedrals-- they give me the creeps and they're pretty boring-- so mom went with me to Shakespeare & Co., a gorgeous English bookstore just down the street while Miranda, Mitchell, and Dad went inside Notre Dame.

I enjoyed myself. I can never get enough of old bookstores. I'm absolutely convinced that books are one of the greatest devices known to man. I wandered the store for a good twenty minutes, dodging customers that seemed to crowd every inch of the place. It wasn't until after we left that I learned the owner had died just recently, thus the influx of people.

I walked out with Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, inspiration for the new movie "Hugo") as well as another book entitled Stop What You're Doing And Read This Book.

Mom was complaining about needing to use the restroom, so we sat down for a drink hoping the little pub would have a restroom, but finding that it came up short. Instead, we had to walk back over to Notre Dame and use the restroom allotted to the tourists gathered around it.

I waited nearby and read while she relieved herself. Or, at least, I tried to read. However, I ended up being approached by a man in his mid-thirties carried a nearly empty bottle of Heineken, the rest of the six-pack located securely in a grocery sack on his arm.

He spoke to me in French at first, to which I responded, "Je ne parle pas Francais." (Aka. I don't speak French.) So he switched to English in saying, "You are very beautiful." It was sweet, but still a tad creepy. He asked to sit beside me and I, not wanting to be rude, said sure. He ended up talking to me for about five minutes, asking where I was from and telling me that he drinks too much on his days off. Needless to say, I breathed a little sigh of relief when he left.

We went to dinner at a creperie near our church that is a favorite of mine and we had gelato afterward before going home. I thought the night was going to end there, but my siblings had other plans. Instead, they dragged me out of the house and midnight to go find a party to crash.

That didn't work out as planned, either. We rode the Roue de Paris, the huge ferris wheel at the end of Champs Elysees, and then ended up wandering around until the Metro was closed. We couldn't find a bus, so we ended up walking along the Sein all the way home, making what would have been a twenty minute ride home an hour and a half long walk.

The one break in our walk was when we discovered a buttload of rats climbing all over some dumpsters by the river. I noticed them, we all freaked out, and Miranda had the lovely idea to start throwing rocks at them. We probably spent half an hour being entertained and disgusted by about 200 rats scurrying back and forth through the trash. I'm sure the 3 people who came by are convinced that all Americans throw rocks at vermin for fun.

It was quite an eventful day. . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not for Those with Weak Constitutions

Well, it's 4:30 in the afternoon here in Paris and I've only been awake for maybe an hour.

Oh, the wonders of jet lag!

My plane ride over here was probably the worst travel experience of my life. How so? Well my original flight was meant to be DFW>HIA>DFW>CDG. That means I was supposed to take a plane from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to the Houston International Airport, then board a plane there for DFW which made a pitstop there (where my brother was going to get onboard) then take us to Charles de Gaulle.

What ended up happening was that I made it to HIA and had to collect my luggage and recheck it because that's what the American Airlines guy at DFW had told me I needed to do. That was fine and dandy except for the face that when I made it to the American Airlines baggage check, they told me I was too late to make the flight and I would have to make other arrangements-- that was the last flight to Paris today.

I got out of line and found a seat nearby, promptly bursting into tears as I called my dad. Now, I'm not the type to cry in public if I can help it. However, this is an exception for a number of reasons:
1) I had pulled an all-nighter the day before and I was over-exhausted.
2) My brother was sick and cell phone-less. I had no way to reach him so he would know what was happening.
3) I just wanted to go home and see my family.
4) I didn't know what to do or where to go.

When Dad picked up the phone, I explained the situation to him and he handed the phone over to Mom while he figured out my flight with the airline people. In the meantime, a sweet older woman saw me crying and dabbing at my eyes with my sweatshirt, so she came over and handed me a pack of tissues. It was rather sweet of her and it helped me calm down a tad. I don't know why. It's just the little things like that that really make your day just a bit brighter.

Finally, Dad came back on the phone and informed me that he found another flight for me with British Airways. It took me another half hour just to get the the terminal where their airlines were located and then I had to grapple with a pissy baggage check lady who seemed to be irritated by everything and kept trying to hurry me along as if I could help the fact American Airlines was taking so long in getting my ticket to come through on the computer system.

Finally, she got it and I made it through the security line after having to go through the metal detector about four times. It was only when I realized my iPod was still in my pocket that I finally got through.

My flight was delayed when I made it to the gate, so I found an outlet and checked my phone, only to find a voicemail from my brother, who had called from the DFW airport to let me know that the gate had changed in case I needed to know. I tried calling back, but it was a pay phone call and therefore pointless. I then called my dad, trying my hardest not to panic. He was still working with American Airlines to get a message to my brother. I hung up and tried not to worry.

Let me give some context here in explaining that all of the previous night during which I had pulled an all-nighter, my brother had been throwing up from some stomach virus that had him feeling miserable. Dad had given him the option of staying behind a day or two in order to recover before his flight, but he didn't want to get left behind in Texas when his family was in France. He didn't want to be sick by himself. Let's face it- who does?

So I sat there, worrying about him until my dad called back and told me he had gotten the message through and my brother wouldn't be worried. With that burden off my shoulders, I managed to relax long enough to eat some chocolate and do some reading until it was time to get on the plane.

My trip lasted about eight hours before we landed at the London-Heathrow airport. I had enough time to use the restroom, brush my teeth, and spruce up my makeup before I had to jump on the plane. I spent about an hour and a half on that plane and slept through most of it. I declined breakfast, as I had on the other plane. Airplane food makes me nauseous and the dinner I had eaten hours before had been enough for me.

I reached the airport with barely suppressed glee. I had my passport stamped and hurriedly grappled with my bags before heading out to where everyones' families were waiting. . . only to find mine missing. I stood there awkwardly, then moved off to the side to where I wasn't in the way. My phone had died before I made it to Heathrow and I started to panic wondering how I would reach my family. Sure, I knew how to take the metro home, but that would take hours and I didn't know the address for a taxi to take me. I knew Mom had told me to call them when I was in London. What if they were still waiting for that call and assuming my trip over the Atlantic had just taken longer than expected?

I moved off to the side and waited for twenty minutes, scanning the crowd for my dad's face before I finally saw him walking over with my brother. I jumped up and wheeled my bags toward them as quickly as possible. Turns out, they hadn't expected my flight to be in so soon and had gone to sit down where there were more open seats.

Exhausted and ready to finally be home, I let them pile my things in the car for me. My brother claimed shotgun because he was still feeling nauseous after the flight and such. I settled into the back, complaining about wanting to sit next to dad.

The car ride took about forty-five minutes, but the worst bit wasn't until the end. It's a well-known fact that I suffer from motion sickness. Thus the reason I generally get shotgun when we go on family road trips and such. I can't even swing on a swing set for more than a minute or two.

So near the end of this car trip home, I was feeling intensely nauseated. I kept asking how long it was until we got there and complaining that my stomach hurt. I didn't start gagging, though, until we made it onto our street. Dry-heaving is never pleasant, but a panicking father who's driving the car can always make it worse. Not only was he freaking out in the front seat, but he pulled over IN FRONT OF A CROWDED BUS STOP. And that was about the time my stomach decided to release its contents. Talk about embarrassing.

My brother and I were both yelling at him to move the car while my head was still sticking out the door and he finally moved further down the road, still throwing up out the door. I rinsed my mouth out with Dad's sweet tea he offered and jumped out of the car over the emptied contents of my stomach, keeping my head low since we weren't far from the bus stop at all.

Mom was leaning out the window with the cat calling down about how excited she was that we were home. I ignored her and hurried into the building, dying to brush my teeth and praying I wouldn't vomit all over the floor on my way up.

Finally, I made it upstairs and after changing and thoroughly brushing my teeth, I got plenty of water and promptly passed out for the equivalent of nearly twenty hours.
And that, my friends, was the worst travel experience in my life. I hope I never top it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Air

Well I'm writing today's blog post from my brand new Macbook Air!
My other laptop died a few days ago and I was able to buy the new one with a combination of my Christmas money and my Savings. I love it!
The only downside is that with the crashing of my previous computer meant I lost all of my files-- which means that book I was five chapters into writing and the FanFiction Newsies story that I was 9 chapters into. Thank the Lord, though, for uncles who are technologically savvy! I gave my laptop to my uncle and he promised to extract my files and photos (and possibly some of my music, though most of that survived via my iPod. Still I lost some good albums like Coldplay and the Killers.)

In other news, one of my very best friends got married yesterday. It was a beautiful ceremony and I cried through most of it. I never thought I would be that bridesmaid, but it was more than I could handle. Then, of course, I nearly lost it when the Maid of Honor (another of my best friends and also the bride's identical twin sister) choked up while giving her speed. In fact, I'm pretty sure half the gymnasium choked back a sob at that one.
Everything about the wedding was wonderful. The bride was able to have a friend of hers sing "All I Ask of You", her favorite song from Phantom of the Opera (her favorite movie) and the song she's been telling us since Junior High was going to be in her wedding.
I love her to death and am so excited to see her starting the rest of her life with a man who loves both she and God so deeply. I pray they have many long, joyful years together.

Only two more days until it's time for my brother and I to head back to France and there's plenty I need to get done in the meantime. Just today I need to dye my hair, have lunch with my grandparents, go to Northpark, hit up my LCS (local comic bookstore), and start packing. Let's not mention how many people I need to visit and say my goodbyes to ASAP.
Arg, I'm getting stressed just thinking about it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Condom Vase

Well, I just pulled a Charlie.
For those of you who aren't big YouTube watchers, that means I just spent eight minutes recording a vlog only to find upon playing it back that the microphone wasn't working. Am I going to bother re-recording? Of course not. Now I know what everyone I Skype with has been talking about for the past few months. It's one of those times that I seriously wish I had a Mac. . .
Well, I'm currently exhausted. Today has consisted of throwing a lingerie shower and all that entails. Let me tell you, that's a much harder feat than I thought it would be. I feel accomplished, though. Even if only five other people showed up besides myself and only I and one other weren't related to the bride. We can probably chalk that up to poor planning and major procrastination on the part of the Maid of Honor and myself (mostly the latter, since it was mostly my responsibility).
It was a fun ordeal, though. We played pin-the-sticky-rhinestone-on-the-bride's-finger using one of their engagement pictures, guess how many condoms are in the jar, design panties for the butt-shaped cookies, and a game with bangle bracelets where if you said "sex", "honeymoon", "wedding", or "marriage" whoever caught it got to steal one of your bangles.
The Maid of Honor won the condoms but refused to take them home, so now I'm stuck with a vase full of condoms in my room. Guess it's the new decor? Wow, that would be interesting. No, I'm thinking of either using it to pull pranks on unsuspecting friends or giving it to the Best Man so he can litter it in the bride & groom's getaway car.
In anticipation of the wedding, the Maid of Honor and I went to get our nails done yesterday. We got tips at a place her mother suggested. It wasn't until afterward that we found out she only got her eyebrows done. Great. My mutilated fingers are overjoyed to know they do eyebrows well.
The guy who did mine even had the gall to say, "You bleed a lot." Oh, thanks. Pretty sure that's your fault-- not mine! They don't hurt as much today, but that salon is never seeing my face again. . . or my aching cuticles.
T minus 6 days until the wedding and I'm stoked. It's going to be a busy week, but I'm excited. This time next week, one of my best friends will be married to the love of her life. There's nothing more beautiful than that!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

5 Things I'm Thankful For Today

Yeah, I know it's way past Thanksgiving, but is it ever a bad time to count your blessings. Today just seems to be one of those days where I notice all the little things I'm thankful for and I thought it was worthwhile to share those things with you!

1) Glasses/ Contacts
-I mean, seriously, what if I had to go around running into walls and being unable to see anything just because glasses and contacts hadn't been created. Life would be incredibly less awesome if I couldn't tell who you were when you were more than five feet away from me. Yes, my eyesight is honestly THAT bad.

2)Warm chocolate chip cookies
-Since Kerri & Aaron's house doesn't have Internet connection, I have to drive to either Starbucks or McDonald's in order to get online. I know I could probably get away with just plunking down and opening my laptop, but I find that extremely rude, so I generally at least order a Dr. Pepper so I don't feel like a complete bum. Today I added chocolate chip cookies to that order and they were too good to not brag about.

3) Getting to see my brother tomorrow
-For those of you who aren't aware, my brother is my best friend in the entire world. He's pretty much the coolest person you'll ever meet and I'm of the personal opinion that we should have been twins. Anyway, I've been in Waxahachie for these two months that he has been in Paris. This is probably the longest we've ever been apart and I miss him. I get to pick him up from the airport tomorrow and I can't wait!

4) Internet Connection
-Living without internet connection is the weirdest thing ever. Honestly, I've probably gotten a lot more done since I've been without it, but I will definitely be super happy when I can get it in my apartment when we get back to France. At least I'll get to catch up on all the vlogs I haven't had time to watch since I moved here.

5) Cell Phones (smart phones in particular)
-They're just the best. There's really no need to point out why. I think you're well aware.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Neglect

I've decided that it's high time I stopped neglecting this blog and use it for what it was intended to be-- an outpouring of my quirky and strange personality into print.
So here's what's going on in my life right now:
1) I'm currently living in a town called Waxahachie with my soon-to-be-married best friend, Kerri. I work at a daycare that she found me a job at and I love it. The kids can be terrors sometimes, but I adore them (most of the time). I spend most of my time with Kerri and her fiance (who spends every waking moment of his free time at the house), except when I go visit my hometown on some weekends.
2) My family (aka. My parents and younger brother) is currently living in Paris, France. No, we're not French-- which is very obvious if you've ever met my very Texan self. No, we have only been living there since August (as well as the three months spent thee in 2009). I go back on December 20th and will be staying there until roughly April.
3) For the few of you who read my post at the beginning of the year concerning my wanting to read fifty books this year-- I'm currently a fourth of the way through book fifty now! Maybe I can hit sixty by the New Year?
4) I participated in NaNoWriMo this year. (Google it.) Sadly, I failed, seeing as I kept rewriting because I didn't like the first few chapters. However, the program did give me enough of a push to actually start writing the story that's been bouncing around in my head for months now. I'm 7,849 words into it and it's titled, "Loyalties". So let that jump-start your imaginations.
5)Lastly, for those of y'all who follow me on FanFiction, I'm still working on the "We Run the Papes" sequel. I haven't scrapped it or anything, so you can stop holding your breaths. Oh, and I've titled it, "How the World Turns". It might change, but I like the sound of it. So, then again, it might not.
So there's your five point update on the life and times of Kirsten Erin. Hope things are interesting enough for your tastes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Judging a Book

"Don't judge a book by it's cover."
How many times have you heard that saying? For me, it's one time too many.
I was at W.H. Smith, one of two English bookstores in Paris, today. I probably spent about two hours there, because I am one of those people who haunts the store until I'm sure I've seen every book. I like to know my options and am especially fond of finding a good book I haven't heard of yet. 
Since we moved back to Paris a month ago, I have hardly stopped reading. I just bought the last book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins today; I'm currently reading Brisingr, the third book in the Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini; and have read more than a few novels. It's like a feeding frenzy of books. I'm just devouring them systematically and loving every second of it.
Anyway, the point of this post is the fact that this phrase popped into my head while I was perusing the merchandise in the bookstore. I realized that I almost always judge books by their cover. In fact, it's pretty rare that I don't. Let's face it, though. How many books have you picked up recently with crappy covers and fantastic stories? Probably not too many.
I don't do this intentionally. An interesting cover tells me a lot about the story inside of it. If the cover is captivating, I at least have to pick it up and read the back. If the cover is boring or creepy, it's highly unlikely that I'll even bother with it. That is, unless I've heard a few great reviews. 
(Example: Looking for Alaska by John Green was a good book. It wasn't fantastic, but I liked it. The cover is extremely cheesy, though. I wouldn't have even bothered to read the back if I hadn't heard so many good reviews for it. Then again, I almost didn't read it because the back didn't convince me any more than the cover did. . .)
Moral of the story?: JUDGE EVERY BOOK BY IT'S COVER, KIDS.
Just kidding! Sometimes it's okay to judge a book by it's cover. The cover says a lot about what's inside of it. It's the same way with people. You can find out a lot about a person by the way they look and the clothes they wear. But don't be deceived! That's not all there is to the story and sometimes covers can be deceptive. Sometimes it's worth the plunge to find out maybe the cover wasn't so representative of the story after all. 
Basically, there is no moral to the story. This is just the rambling thoughts of a nineteen year old girl who's a little too introspective and reads way more than is probably healthy. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Hunger Games: A Legitimate Review

I have now finished the Hunger Games.
"Wow, that was quick!" you may be thinking. I'd have to agree.
I devoured this book. (Figuratively, of course.)
Those of you who read my First Impression post are probably confused. Did something in the book change? Did Suzanne Collins's writing suddenly transform? No, the truth is that a great plot can even salvage bad writing.
Now, to be fair, it wasn't terrible. I followed most of it easily and I can easily say that I've read worse, just not in a published book. The story itself was captivating and had me riveted, though. I could wait to see what happened to Katniss. I was eager to find what lay in store for her in the final pages of the book. Mrs. Collins proved her skill in creating both an enthralling story line and a slew of fascinating characters with more depth than I had expected. I found myself connected to Katniss, Gale, Rue, Peeta, Haymitch, even Effie.
While her odd writing style, fragmented sentences, and obnoxious punctuation were irritating; they didn't detract from the story nearly as much as I had expected. They certainly prove that her footing is firmer in the television industry she is emerging from. Yet, her feet aren't stuck there and she seems to be prying them loose.
By the way, I will be shelling out those extra euros for the second and third books in the Hunger Games trilogy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Hunger Games: First Impression

I have heard so much about this book that I suppose I was expecting something on par with any of my favorite books. Ever a fantasy lover, I picked up the Hunger Games after the many raving reviews I heard and expected a great literary thriller on par with Starlighter by Bryan Davis or something of that nature.
What I received, after reading only the first chapter, is a thick wave of disappointment. Now before you start attacking me here, I am only on the first chapter and I do plan to continue reading. Prim has just been chosen for the Games (don't act like that's a spoiler-- it's on the back of the book) and I want to know what happens next.
The plot line itself isn't what bothers me. Up to this point, it's kept my attention, which is more than I can say for the first chapter of quite a few good books.
No, what irritates me is Mrs. Collins' writing. Her style is odd and disconnected, though written in first person and hard to read. Perhaps I'm expecting too much, having just finished the second book in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini only hours ago, but I still can't rid myself of this distaste quite yet. Her grammar is atrocious and makes me feel like I have that itch that's just under my skin, so that no matter how hard I scratch, the irritating feeling can't be eradicated.
Okay, I'll stop ranting before the pitchforks and torches start lining up outside of my apartment. I would like to be able to go to the bookstore in peace. However, if the novel continues in this fashion, I doubt I'll be shelling out any more euros for the rest of the trilogy.

See my review upon actually finishing the book here. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worthy of Love

I don't have a crazy salvation testimony. I was saved when I was five and rededicated somewhere around the age of nine. It wasn't anything spectacular. There was no chorus of angels or near death experience. I just realized I loved Jesus and wanted Him in my life forever.
Thus, when I was asked to write my testimony for a personal tract when I was in an Evangelism class at CFNI, I was a little worried about what to write. I know so many people that have had these crazy things happen to them  and while I've gone through my own share of crap, it's never been something astounding or even something I'm cool with sharing.
Finally I decided on an experience that actually happened to me while I was in attendance there-- the Lord dealing with my insecurity. It's a journey and this was only the catalyst. I still deal with insecurity and likely will have to fight it for the rest of my life, but I'm okay with that because I know Who I have beside me.
So here's my story:

I sat in a chair in the middle of the room, tears streaming down my face as my body convulsed with sobs.
Two minutes ago, I'd been avoiding my youth pastor's eyes, desperately hoping I wouldn't get picked next for prayer. I knew I needed it, but that was exactly why I didn't want it. It had been my mentor who ended up calling me out, though.
Two minutes ago, I'd been focused on holding in my stomach so everyone wouldn't see how fat I was. I'd been focused on keeping myself from crying so no one would see how ugly I looked when I cried and so no one would know what I was feeling. Neither mattered now. The only thing I could think now was, "I'm in so much pain! It hurts so bad!"
I'm sure I looked a mess. No one else sat down in the chair and started sobbing before anyone started praying. But it didn't matter anymore. All I knew was that a burden had been wrapped around my shoulders for so long and I just wanted it off. I wanted nothing more than to be rid of this pain that encompassed nearly every waking hour.
That night, the Lord healed me from my self-hatred, self-condemnation, and massive insecurity. I carried that burden of feeling worthless, disgusting, and ugly for so long that the burden had become a normal weight- I can't remember a time before then when I didn't shoulder it.
The emotional scars came the way scars usually do: careless words; a comment here, a rejection there. As a child and later as a young adult, I had unwittingly harbored these things in my heart. Satan whispered his little half-truths until I would accept the full-blown lies as truth.

"She's so skinny, yet she keeps talking about how she needs to lose weight. She probably thinks you look like a cow."
"No one's ever going to like you. I mean, what is there to like?"
"You're just irritating them. Why would they want to hang out with you?"
"Ew. Look at that stomach. No one will ever find you attractive."
"All those people who rejected you before? They obviously had a pretty good reason. Get over it."

On and on they went, spinning their little webs around my heart until it was entirely ensnared. I had my good days, where I thought a dress looked pretty good on me, or hung out with that one person that I knew actually liked to hang out with me, though I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.
I knew that God found me beautiful and fun to be around. I knew He loved my personality and my body. I even knew that thinking badly of myself was insulting His handiwork, figuratively spitting in the face of God. Still, I groaned when I saw myself in the mirror. Still, I cried when I finished a beautifully romantic movie, because I was certain that could never happen to me.
But on that night, the people on the Paradigm leadership team called it out of me. They "read my mail" and cried with me when they saw what I was going through. They helped me give up that little girl who saw a whale when she looked in the mirror and that young girl who couldn't figure out why no one wanted her around.
Then we were silent as I listened to what the Lord was speaking to me. It was one sentence, but it sent me into an entirely new set of tears- tears of joy. In the deepest part of my heart, He whispered, "You are worthy of love."
My countenance changed immediately and I knew that the pain had stopped. I felt so light. I've never felt that light in my entire life. The weight slid off and I suddenly felt like I could fly because I didn't have to carry that burden anymore. Jesus had picked up up, thrown it over His back, and I don't have to carry it ever again.
It's so easy to listen and agree with Satan when he feeds you lies. He's constantly doing it. He uses people to make little digs at the things we struggle with the most. He whispers half-truths that seem whole, all the while using it to eat away at our souls. He masks condemnation as conviction, hiding behind twist Scripture and twisted Truth to prove a point.
You don't have to believe Him!
God finds you beautiful/handsome! He sees you as worthy of time, effort, love. He finds you intoxicating when you worship Him with your whole being. He cries with you when your heart is heavy-laden. He cares about us in a world that would rather cover up our flaws than help us fix them. He calls you His treasure and sees you as more valuable than life.
That's why He gave His life for you on the cross so many years ago. He thought of you as He was executed for sins He did not commit- sins you did commit. He died so you could have a life with Him, because He enjoys your heart! He loves you enough to want to spend an entire eternity loving on you and spending time with you. How can you feel worthless or of so little value when the King of Glory calls you beautiful and His own?
It doesn't matter what anyone else says. Your family, your friends, those people who shaped your insecurity, they're all just as jacked up as everyone else. They don't know what they're talking about and through that, Satan will take whatever foothold he can get in your heart. The lies of Satan are potent and the longer they are left without dealing with them, the more they fester, the more they grow, until they threaten to take over your whole world.
Hand it over to God. You know what those lies are.
What's holding you back?

Monday, April 11, 2011

deviantART Favorites

I feel like a heathen.
Yes, I'm fully aware that I haven't updated in about two months. I'm sorry... I just had nothing to write about. Hopefully I'll be able to amend that soon. I have plenty of ideas running through my head right now. Yay!

I love deviantART.
It's such a creative outlet for artists who just want to put their work out there and bless us with the fruits of their labors. You can even buy their work there! Whoever had the idea must be banking right now.
I was first introduced to deviantART through FanFiction. I'm a writer and reader of quite a few categories on FanFiction.net and many authors/readers use deviantART to post visual representation of characters, scenes, and ideas from what they read/write.
I was re-introduced, however, by Girls Gone Geek, a fantastic blog by two women who are deeply in love with comic books, like myself. They have made some great finds that have gotten me back into perusing the deviantART world again!
Therefore, I would like to show you a few of my favorite art pieces found on that very site, in hopes of giving y'all the opportunity to share in the sheer giftedness of these artists.

6. Bat Kids by MeesterFinchy
Featuring Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Robin (Timothy Drake-Wayne), and Red Hood (Jason Todd). I love how deeply this symbolizes their relationship as brothers/friends/enemies. Poor Dick is always having to run around and keep his younger brothers in line. Jason's always causing mayhem- half the time causing Tim bodily harm. And poor Tim, who seems to always be hurting emotionally and, most of the time, physically as well.


5. Sapphira by RenaHikari

Sapphira Adi is a character from the Raising Dragons series by Bryan Davis. This picture represents exactly how I imagine her, which is awesome, but beyond that- look at that pencil work! The sketchwork is simply breathtaking.


4.Catty Titans- Dick's Underoos by JBadgr

Years ago, when Robin was first introduced, this is what his costume looked like- "scaly underoos" and all. In fact, it took three Robins to change it. Tim was the smart one who finally said, "Hey, why don't I add some leggings to the this insanely awkward getup."
So it's not beyond belief that the Titans would have a few things to say about his "scaly underoos". I mean, put those glowstick thighs away, please!
Beyond the hilarity of this piece, I have to admire the way JBadgr draws Roy and Wally's faces. They're fantastically well done!

3.Jingle Bells etc. by Tragic Ballerina

Disclaimer: There is a thinly-veiled curse word in the second panel.

Tragic Ballerina has quite a knack for "crack" comics (aka. crazy, weird, the-artist-might-have-been-on-crack comics; see "crack fiction" for more information). The hilarious take on the ever-popular Batman-ized Christmas carol will have you cracking up!
The artwork is great and very cartoonish, a perfect fit for the nearly cartoonish humor.


2. Cold Combat by Jackademus

Batman (Bruce Wayne), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), and Robin (Timothy Drake-Wayne) battle Dr. Freeze in this chilling* piece. This piece looks like it came straight out of the pages of a Batman comic book. Each character is done near perfectly. Amazing work!

*C'mon, you knew I wouldn't be able to resist the pun!

1. Kid Flash by m-lin

Go ahead. Make it your wallpaper and send it to all your friends.
I already did.
This is my absolute favorite so far and I doubt that'll change anytime soon. Not only does this breathtaking portrait feature my all-time favorite comic book character- Flash (Wally West)- but the shading is to die for. And don't get me started on how gorgeous those brush strokes are!
Kid Flash wins as my number one deviantART piece!!!

There were plenty of other pieces of art that nearly made this list that I found, but these are my final (and, I think, well made) decision. So now that I've piqued your interest, why don't you do some browsing and find yourself some favorites of your own!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Thoughts on Fan-Based Movies

There are thousands of movies out there and even more coming to theaters every week. Nearly all of us watch them. Nearly everyone has a favorite. I, personally, have watched about 6 movies in the past two days, since I've been confined to my dorm room attempting to stay warm. (In case you haven't heard, Dallas has been ravaged by ice in the past few days.)
I digress.
Many movies, both recent and old, have been based off of sturdy fan-bases. From the popular Batman Begins to the disappointing failure of The Last Airbender, from the fan-freakin-tastic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian to the disappointing Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we've all seen them.
There's a danger in adapting our favorite comics, books, and cartoon shows into movies, though. And it seems that the 'misses' far outweigh the 'hits'.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, with major comic book names like Green Lantern and Superman on the horizon, trying to live up to hits like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, while battling the shadows of Eragon and The Last Airbender (and for Superman in particular, fighting tooth and nail to get past Superman Returns)- I am legitimately concerned.
This is the reason I've never been one who begs for big screen representations of my favorite fandoms. I know Hollywood and I know that far more often than not, they make me wish I wasn't a fan in the first place. Sure, I'd love to see my favorite comic book character, The Flash, in his own feature film IF THEY DID IT RIGHT. However, I'm far too scared that they'll botch him up so badly that no one will have respect for him any longer.
I'll not give the lecture on accurate representation of the actual characters, no matter how much I want to strangle the creators of Green Lantern already. (The ring chose Hal Jordan because he's virtually fearless, and yet they're already saying in the trailer that he's never been fearless and now the responsibility of being a Green Lantern scares him. Are you kidding me?!)
My point is, by looking at the history of movies based on previously established fanbases, don't expect too much.You'll probably be disappointed. I've learned from one of my best friends to go in with low expectations. If it's bad, you won't be as disappointed; if it rocks, you have something to be excited about.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be the bearer of bad news. And you'll definitely find me standing eagerly in line outside of the midnight showing of Green Lantern, the Superman reboot, the Spiderman reboot, and many others (even Marvel movies, of whose comics I am not a fan, but I have trouble resisting anything superhero-esque when it comes to entertainment). I'm just prepared, after seeing all that I have, for it to be ill-represented.
So, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, even if the ridiculously hot Ryan Reynolds doesn't do you justice, I still know how awesome you are!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

10 Things I've Learned in My 1st Week of Nannying

1. The proper way to do the splits.
2. Bring band-aids to any exercise-related activity.
3. There's a difference between ballet tights and "regular" tights.
4. When lost, ask the kids for directions. (And be ready to turn around alot, because they won't tell you you're supposed to make a turn until after you're past it.)
5. There are two Dallas Public Libraries.
6. I am old enough to be married, therefore, I ought to be married.
7. Some candy canes are spicy.
8. Superheroes are for boys.
9. Male best friends are automatically "boyfriends". (And if you tell the girls one of your best friends is, in fact, a boy, they will sing, "You have a boyfriend!" together until they get distracted by something else.)
10. Nothing cool ever happens at school.

My first week as a nanny has been fantastic, though still quite tiring. I'm so grateful that I was able to get this job and can't wait to earn money doing stuff I love with two great girls. I actually get paid to drive, color, read, and watch TV! Of course, the job still has it's challenges, but it's totally worth it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nanny Diaries: I'm Gonna Marry Him!

My first day as a nanny was yesterday and I already love it. I watch two girls, H (8) and L (5), and they are ridiculously fun to hang with. From my first day, I can already tell I'm going to love this job, even if it wears me out at times.
For my first day, I stayed for 3 hours. Only getting 30 minutes of TV a day, these girls are crazy creative and keen to do as many things as they can lay their hands on, often forgetting about one project when they dream up the other. We even found ourselves playing Sorry and putting together a Spongebob puzzle at the same time.
All in all, we have fun. We walked to the park, colored, put together puzzles, played with Aquasand, ate lunch, and went to ballet class.
It was after the aformentioned ballet class that the girls and I had this conversation:

H: I love him, he's my boyfriend.
L: But I thought Luke was your boyfriend.
H: I have two boyfriends, L. Two boyfriends.
Me: I'm pretty sure you can only have one boyfriend at a time, H. *long pause (we were getting in the car and getting buckled)* Does this boy know he's your boyfriend?
H: No, I've never told him.
L: I'm gonna tell him!
H: No!!!
Me: L, don't tell him she likes him if she doesn't want you to tell him.
L: *huffs loudly* But if you don't tell him, how are you gonna marry him?!
Me: I think she's got plenty of time for that, sweetheart. It'll be a while before she's old enough to get married.
H: Yeah, L, I have to be, like, older than a teenager. Right, Kirsten?
Me: You have to be at least 18, which is as old as me.
*both girls ponder this new information for a minute*
L: Then why aren't you married, yet?
Me: I haven't found a boy I wanna marry yet.
L: Can the girl ask the boy if he'll marry her or is he supposed to ask the girl?
Me: The boy is supposed to ask the girl.

I'm still laughing over it. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Reading List

Edit (4/14/11)
*Books that have been struck out are the ones I've completed now

As some of you already know, I have a journal that logs each book that I read. I've kept it since June of 2007 and have since read 118 books. This seemed like a monumental accomplishment to me, up until I checked Oxford University's English Department website. They're required to read 100 books per school year.
Talk about making me feel dumb.
I started making goals for how many books per year I read last New Years Eve, when I realized that I'd read 30 books in 2009. So I made the goal to hit 35 in 2010. Sadly, I slacked off during the summer and fell just out of reach at 29. *shakes head sadly*
*Edit 6/25/11: Turns out, I actually hit 31, but forgot to record 2 in the notebook, having written them in my phone instead. :)
Since I don't see myself hitting 100 right off the bat, for 2011 my goal is 50 books. I'm already working on book #1: The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks.

In honor of my challenging New Year's Resolution, I'm going to fill y'all in on my reading list for 2011. These are the books currently waiting on my (and my brother's) shelf, just dying for me to read them.
Here they are:

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks [almost halfway through it and loving it!]
Comma Sense by Richard Lederer and John Shore [this is more of a read-a-few-paragraphs-and-set-it-back-down kinda book]
Elyon by Ted Dekker and Kaci Hill [last book in the Lost Books series]
The Princess Adelina by Julie Sutter
What He Must Be by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Inside a Cutter's Mind by Jerusha Clark with Dr. Earl Heslin
Honor's Reward by John Bevere
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen [read about 1/5 of it so far and didn't quite get into it, though I thought it was good. I'm sure I'll like it once I'm invested in it.]
How Fiction Works by James Wood
Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar
DragonKnight by Donita K. Paul [3rd in a very good series!]
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott [somewhat of a sequel to Little Women]
When I Don't Desire God by John Piper
Yours, Jack by C.S. Lewis
Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Now obviously, that's not 50 books, but there'll be plenty more for me to read soon enough! Speaking of which, The Rescue is currently begging me to delve into it's pages again. What's on your reading list?