Latte Art

There will be more of this as I try to improve my skills… But this was first attempt at Latte Art at my coffee shop this morning… I am kinda proud of it.

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Impromptu Adventures!

Today my dear friend Laura and I spent the day together. First off, we went to lunch, our fav, Pho. If you do not know what Pho is, it is a Vietnamese Noodle soup made from Beef Broth with noodles, the meat of your choice, onions, and your choice of how much sweet basil, jalapeño, sprouts, lime, and Sriracha you wish to include. It’s delightful, spicy and surprisingly light. Low calorie and full flavor.

Then we ran around down in Bricktown, OKC for a while. We walked up and down the riverwalk and over to the Centennial Land Run Monument. This is a pretty legit monument, or rather series of monuments.

I took some pictures for you.

Enjoy!

OKC_Fotor

OKC2_Fotor

I edited them all separately, so they all look a bit different… And I am not a photographer… or an editor. I am using Fotor on my MacBook Air for crying out loud… I do what I can. Lolz!

OKC3_FotorOKC5_FotorOKC7_Fotor

[I also included lots of pictures to be nice, because my next entry will be a poem that is a heck of a lot longer than I meant for it to be… but I want to share it anyway.]

After wandering around Bricktown (Home of The Thunder), we went to mall, which got evacuated for a false fire alarm, then back on home for me to finally finish my personal joy task for the holiday season, re-watching the LOTR originals. Finished Return of the King today. Ya know… Samwise Gamgee! I mean, wow! I need a friend like Sam in my life.

I am off for bed now… working at the Coffee Shop tomorrow bight and early.

Christmas Time?

Merry Christmas from OKC!

OKChristmas_Fotor

On this Christmas Eve, I am sitting at home, sipping on some Hot Chocolate and watching one my favorite Christmas movies of all time, The Family Stone. This is such a funny movie and the family in the movie just reminds me of my family in all their quirks and insanity, but there is also a deep undercurrent of love and fierce loyalty that only grows out of surviving pain and life together. This movie just encompasses all the fears that I have of ever taking anyone home to my family for the holidays, and I am sure that the first Christmas will be an adventure (I may make sure that the first meeting is not Christmas just to ensure that this kind of thing never happens!). Wonderful quotes like this…

 I hate to see you miss out on something… because you have this picture in your mind or you thought you can change something you can’t. I’d hate to see you not find what you really want. -Sybil Stone

I generally love Christmas! The Lights. The Music. The Family Time. The Wonder of the Season. All of it! But this year has not felt much like Christmas. Maybe it’s the fact that Oklahoma is 60° in December. Or perhaps its that I am working way too much and haven’t been able to slow down enough to enjoy the holidays. No matter the reason, I still cannot believe that tomorrow is Christmas. Like at all.

Having some downtime to myself is allowing my mind to run wild, which isn’t always the best thing, I am thinking about the bizarre nature of our emotions. I mean, seriously. Emotions are the very core of us, but how often do they betray us, contradict us and drive us mad. We use them to justify our actions and decisions, but at the same time, we fight them and try in vain to banish the ones we do not want. Personally, the thing about emotions that drives me so very insane is how we can know something, like really KNOW something to be true, but our emotions can make us doubt this truth. Emotions can cause us to question and second-guess ourselves like nothing else in all creation. Emotions are fickle beyond words and vastly irritating. How dumb a thing, emotions.

Anyway… I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and that if your emotions try to ruin your Christmas, just focus on the small things in the holiday that bring joy, and let the rest roll on by. The holidays will be over soon and there is a whole new year to seek out and find Hope.

[A follow up Blog on Hope to come soon!]

Longings of a Would-be Novelist

Backyard_Fotor

This is my view from my room, right outside my window. I love this view when it rains. it’s so pretty. This morning, I work up and started working on my French Lessons (getting ready for my trip to Belgium!) and enjoying the rain. Dreary weather like this always prompts me to two different actions. Either I want to curl up with my favorite book and my favorite blanket and get lost in another time and place. Or, I want to go to a small hole in the wall coffee shop, get either a London Fog or just black coffee and write, write, write. As it turns out, I am usually working as my coffee shop, or I have far too many plans to call and audible and cancel things. Today for instance, Dentist appointment, mentoring, meeting with my supervisor, counseling session, meeting about my trip, cooking for a christmas party, then Christmas Party.

I just wanna stay home and write. I want to write my book. I want to write about how Miriam meeting Russell, and how Petru begins to believe Dominik’s conspiracy theories may be more than just that. I want to write about Stefan’s worry for the future and love for his family. I WANT TO WRITE!

Can someone take all my responsibilities for a couple of days so I can just write for a bit? No… No Takers? Oh well. I get a break from school starting next week for a couple of weeks, that will be nice. Maybe I can find some time to write then. So far now, I will appease my writing fiend by blogging, until the time comes to be able to throw myself head first into my book for a few hours.

Any other writers struggle to be able to write in their novels in short spans of like 30 minutes to an hour? It takes me so much time to get my mind wrapped back into the story, remember what I wrote and get back into character (for lack of a better phrase) before I can actually get ready to put substantial words to paper (or computer). Anyone else know this struggle?

Why is Sin Bad?

[Long one… Buckle Up!]

My church is going through series on 1 John right now, and honestly, it has been amazing, very challenging, but amazing. Today’s message was encouraging, challenging and refreshing. It was a shouting “Amen” real loud kind of service.

The sermon today was based on 1 John 3:4-10

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:4-10 ESV

This is one of those passages most of us read and the guilt begins to sink in and sometimes Christians can begin to doubt their salvation. We begin to see the seriousness of sin and how God views it. That was the main focus of today’s message – the seriousness of sin and the importance of guarding against sin. It was so good I decided to post a recap/breakdown of some of the main points. [Clarification point – We discussed in the message the difference between sinning as failure and due to weakness and human nature vs. a practice of intentional sinning – a lifestyle marked by sin. The majority of this is directed as those individuals claiming to be Christians, but still allowing their lives to be marked by sin and regularly practicing sin.]

Sin is lawlessness!

But why is sin so bad?

Most people know that sin is bad. It’s rebellion against God’s law and His rules. But I believe it goes much deeper than that. Sin is an act of rebellion against God Himself, not just His laws (rules). It’s an outright defiance of God. It’s a rejection of his Authority and Godship.

Sin is bad for the following reasons:

1. It ignores the Sufficiency of Christ

Scripture tells us that Christ is Sufficient for all of our needs (2 Cor 12:9, Eph 1:3, Col 2:10). This means He is enough to bring up peace, joy, security, love and completion. When we seek out things in the world to meet these needs for us (relationships for love and completion, money/financial security or abundance for security, ect), we are showing in our actions that God is not enough. We dismiss and disregard Christ’s ability to be enough and satisfy us.

2. It denies the omniscience of God

Intentionally sinning and choosing to live a lifestyle of sin causes us to think that we can hide certain parts of ourselves from God. Like we can hide anything from God. That’s one of the scariest things about God, we are exposed before God because He knows all – even the stuff we do not want Him to see.

3. It shows Ungratefulness

Anyone who knows anything about Christ knows that He died an excruciating death. He, the God-Man, humbled himself to be born as a child – fully dependent on broken humans – and live a sinless life, only to be viciously murdered by the very people He came to save. Not only that, He rose again and defeated sin and death. Why did He do this? To set His people free from the bondage of sin – For Freedom Christ has set you Free (Gal 5:1). When we willing choose to live lives of sin and willing place ourselves back into bondage, we show our ungratefulness and, personally, I believe that we are tell Christ that we do not care about his sacrifice – we would rather do what we want. We demean the very cross and sacrifice of God when we choose to practice sin.

4. It is outside the Will of God – and it does not promote the Will of God.

God’s plan for us is sinlessness… but sin our sin separates us and removed us from the Will of God. God leads us back to his will through discipline and growth, but its a process that can be painful and difficult (I can tell you all about my own story with discipline and how sin removed us from the Will of God – It’s true and its real, and the road back is painful). Furthermore, Sin will never promote and encourage the Will of God – so we cannot justify sin as a “necessary evil” to do something for God.

5. Sin hurts other Believers

When other believers, especially younger (in age and spiritual maturity) see us in a lifestyle of unreported sin, it gives them passive approval for their own sins. This causes thoughts like, “Well if Morgan can do this, then it must be OK.” We must we careful to not lead brothers and sisters into temptation (Matt 18:5-7, 1 Cor 8:9). Furthermore, often times sin is seeking out own good/will/needs over that of others and we can hurt and discourage fellow believes and even lead them into temptation when we are not battling the sin in our lives.

6. It makes the things of God and creates them into Idols.

Sin causes us to value the created things of God over God Himself. We begin to place the focus on what we get from creation (pleasure, security, satisfaction, ect) rather than seeking out these things from the Creator, the one who created it! This is a major theme in both Hosea 2 and Jeremiah 2 – We begin to seek after things of this world and the things that “satisfy” in this world, rather than God. Jeremiah 2 says

“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

We forsake, turn our back on, the living water that is Christ, ultimately satisfying and good, and dig out cisterns (literally, holes in the ground to collect rain water to be used a reserve/back-up if the people needed it – stagnant water that is not good) to care for ourselves. We have such a habit of this as people… trying to provide for ourselves. We strive for self-reliance to a point of sin. We were created for dependence on God.

In light of there seriousness of sin, questions to ask yourself Christian!

  1. Is it your desire to escape sin?
  2. When you fall (fail), do you desire to stop it?
  3. Are you growing in your strength to resist sin?
  4. Is it important to you to repent when you sin?
  5. Are you struggling with sin?

Answering yes to these question is an indication of a Relationship with Christ. We are not called to perfect, but to gradual sanctification (the process of becoming more like Christ and gaining victory over sin in our lives).

As the late Puritan John Owen said, “be killing sin or it will be killing you”.

What do we Christians do to deal with the seriousness of Sin?

  1. Ask God for greater sensitivity to sin.
  2. Read Scripture (Stories of Biblical Characters to learn from their mistakes)
  3. Develop deep godly Christian friendships.
  4. Study Biographies of Christians, and read Church History.
  5. Single out a sin for special prayer in your life.
  6. Consider the consequences of your sin.
  7. Confess sin quickly, to God and to other Believers.
  8. Celebrate victories over sin!
  9. Ask God for Grace and Help.

Last thoughts. Non-Christians who read this. Please do not be offended. I promise you, anything harsh is meant to edify and spur my brothers and sister’s in Christ on to further purity and to battle the sin in their lives. If you do not believe in God/Christ, or do not have a relationship with Him, you are living under different standards. I would love to talk with you, answer questions and simply tell you my story if you wish. You can send me an e-mail or just comment and I would love to talk with you.

[This is pulled from my notes on a message preached by Dennis Newkirk this weekend at Henderson Hills Baptist Church. I did not come up with this on my own (blah blah) and I will edit this post and put a link to the message as soon as its up.]

Fall Moving to Winter

Do you ever have those days where you just want to be alone? That was me today. I spent all last weekend alone because I was sick and quarantined upstairs in my room. However, since then, I have literally had almost no down time to relax and unwind. I need to be alone for a while!

[I am not sure when I became this introvert version of myself… really. This is new to me!]

As a result of this need to be by myself, when I got home from work today, I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I spent 45 minutes walking and enjoying the 65° weather in December and the time alone. While I was walking, I was astonished by the beauty of the muted colors of the fall moving to winter. Everything is a strange mixture of grey, brown and random pops of red and orange. It’s simply beautiful.

So I took some pictures.

Red 121314 Fotor

And I like to share!

RedSky 121314 Fotor

Enjoy!

Orange 121314 Fotor

More Poetry

I found some more of my old poetry the other day, so I’ll begins to put some more up here ever couple of days. This one I wrote out of frustration and being fed up with the lack of transparency and honesty in the relationships we have in our lives. We must dare to be exposed, even just a bit, in order to know one another and to be known by others.

Enjoy

Masquerade

Smiling faces all aglow
Joyous laughter fills the void.
The void of things not said
Never to be uttered
Clinking glasses filled with sin
As they pretend to be all friends.
Pretending holds who they are,
who others think they are.
The truth is cloaked as gems do shimmer
A glistening image forced into its place.
No one sees the flaws or scars,
or even gives a second glance.
Boisterous gowns and tuxes quiet fierce,
Topped off with mask, embellished with fear.
Nimbly hiding all the insecurities and pain,
or so they wish to believe.
Dancing carefully with one another
All steps that have been rehearsed and learned.
All the right steps,
All doing the right thing.
As the music begins to fade away
And attendants begin the journey home
Does the facade melt away,
Or has it been seared to their hearts?
Lovely exchanges of peace and fair travel
Announcing excitement for the next swell ball.
And snide comments being
Before their shadows fade from the door.
It’s time for bed, and rest is nigh,
Respite from the evening of fabricated lies.
Prayers sent up for courage to last,
To keep up the guise, but hope slowly dies.
Masquerade! Paper faces on parade, Masquerade!
Hide your face so the world will never see you…

Writing…

I really enjoying writing.

Sometimes, I don’t really know what to write, but far more often, I don’t know where to start because I have so many ideas in my head and I just want to see the finished product, but getting to that point is overwhelming! That is how I have been feeling about this book I am an trying to write.

A couple of years ago (yes… years) I decided I wanted to write, so I asked my dear friend Hannah for a prompt. She responded to me with the following 10 words.

“We named it.”

“What?”

“The silence when you were gone.”

From those few words, a whole novel began to form in my mind, and now, it often consumes my thoughts. I have so much mental, and paper, work put into the novel so far… especially for only 14 actually pages typed up. I am ashamed to admit that after two years of work, my novel only has 14 pages written. The entirety of the main plot is written out in my mind, and significant amounts of secondary storylines as well, it has just yet to make it to paper. There are tons of reasons and excuses for why such little product exist, I mean I am very busy and generally function in a state of overbooked.

But I hate it.

I want to run away for a month, or even a week, and just work on my book. Forgo technology, with the exception of my laptop (for typing purposes), loaded with a dictionary, thesaurus, Romanian-English dictionary (the book is set in Eastern Europe) and pictures from trips to Romania I have taken, and write. And write. And write.

That’s just not possible, not for me, not in my life right now. Maybe after Belgium, but not right now. But I am trying to take 10-15 minutes a day to just put something on paper for it. Add even just one line of dialogue or one description, one plot point, or one conflict.

Here is a description of my book, a teaser (?) if you will. Let me know what you think.

Despite losing her mother and father in the Raze, the failed attempt at independence ten years ago, Miriam’s life is everything that she expected it to be, and things are going exactly as they should. Until the government of Timis begins to hear whispers of a new revolution, and concludes that those of Faith are the points spearheading this new revolt. In an attempt to suppress this pending revolt, the government imposes rigid sanctions and restrictions of gathering and movements of Church. Can Miriam, her remaining family and the Faithful adapt and fortify themselves enough to survive in the coming storm? Is Miriam’s faith strong enough to bear hope despite suffering, persecution and the horrors of this reality? Is it enough?

Je vais en Belgique!

I have not been at this blog writing very long, and I do take long absence from time to time, mostly because my schedule is demanding, and free time is limited and cherished. However, I wanted to take sometime to share with you all something that I am very passionate about and something that I love. Belgium, and the wonderful people that I have met there.

Bel1

I will be spending 3 months in Belgium this upcoming spring and I am beyond excited for this unique and special opportunity. I will be coming alongside my friends that are already there teaching English Classes, as well as working with a local church and helping wherever needed there. I am also hoping to work with the Youth Group there, which is ultimately my passion. I love working with Youth, in Belgium and at home, so that will be just wonderful.

This will be my fourth trip to Belgium, but my longest stay yet. My first two trips were just shy of two weeks, my third trip was a little over two weeks, and now this trip will be 3 months. I have made some dear friends, some which I have been able to keep up with due to the marvels of modern technology (Viber and Skype are amazing), that cannot wait to see again and I look forwards to having the privilege of spending a longer and more intentional time with them.

So why am I telling you, my blogging audience about this? One, because this is why I blog, to vent, ramble and spew about the things I love, and two, because I am in need of help. I need prayer to help make this trip successful and effective, more then anything. So be lifting this journey up in prayer and me as well. But also, this is an expensive venture and I will need financial help to make this a reality.

Below I have provided a way that you can help, if you so desire. There is more information about my trip and my plans while I am there on this website, so please feel free to read up, and give if you can. Any amount is a blessing and I thank you for your prayers and your gifts.

http://giftforgood.com/campaigns/belgium-bound

Thank you so much for however you are able to support me and I’ll keep you updated as thing progress. I plan on blogging much more regularly while I am in Belgium, with slightly more free time than I currently have.

Much love!