Dreams Do Come True

Do you remember my first blog post, when I mentioned my goals? I really achieved maybe one of those short term goals, and I really haven’t achieved any of the long term ones. HOWEVER, I am one step closer. I still have a year of college to go until I graduate, which also means I have a year to go until I move to China, but I can proudly say that I am writing this in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China. I am interning at DT Club, having the time of my life. I have laughed a lot (admittedly gotten angry a few times), and successfully haven’t cried yet (though, I did want to at one point). The Lord has rested his hand on my shoulder and lead me to here. It is not a mistake, it is a fulfilled dream.

Shall I lead you through everything step by step?

“Elizabeth, I am incredibly interested in your life and what you’re doing. I love living vicariously (mostly boringly) through you and what you write, but I am busy. I do have a life outside of the few blog posts you remember to type out. Please, do try to keep it short.” (I’ll admit, I imagined this with a posh upper state New York voice.)

Fine. Short it is.

The plane ride was fourteen hours. I took the whole flight with a stranger who quickly became friend and soon roommate. We sat in a McDonalds in the Shanghai airport laughing and crying while trying to play card games for nine hours. We arrived in Wenzhou shortly after, and leaving the airport, stepping outside the doors onto actually ground, not another tiled flooring was like stepping through the door to my house after a fourteen hour car ride from Oklahoma to Michigan.

You know that feeling, surely. You’ve been sleeping in a hotel bed or one of those springy cabin beds at camp for a week or longer, and you can’t wait to get home to your bed. You walk through the door of your house and all you can think about is sinking into the memory foam under your cotton sheet and allowing your head to fall into the three pillows and five stuffed animals lining the headboard. At the same time, you are so excited to tell your family about your vacation that you don’t want to go to bed. You don’t know what to do so you kind of talk in circles and you don’t even know if your awake anymore. (No? Just me?)

That’s what it was like.

Everything I had ever seen in the dramas, been told by my teachers, and dreamed of for three years seemed to collide all at once, and everything I had prayed and begged God for, eagerly seeking after, was real.

That night, my new friend and I were thrown into meetings and work. DT didn’t waste time introducing us to classes and getting us teaching. I experienced little to know anxiety, pushed myself into stores alone so I could practice my Chinese (since I can only talk to the students in English), and enjoyed every minute.

Funny stories:

1) A girl leaned close to my ear and whispered, “Is your hair made of gold?”

I said, “Yes! It’s blonde.”

“Your hair is so pretty. I like gold. It looks like my dog.”

2) I kneeled down in front of a table of girls working on their discussion questions and asked, “Do you guys need help?”

“Yes!” the girl in the middle said.

“What is it?”

“Is your hair real?” All the girls leaned in. (Because blonde hair is so real, it’s important that they know.

“Yes, it is.”

They all gasped. The middle girl said, “It’s so pretty!”

Needless to say, my day was made both times.

What else should I tell you about?

Even now, my host family here are speaking in Chinese (Wenzhou dialect) to each other. I love it though. This is all the exposure I have been craving, and I am now receiving it.

“Did you experience any culture shock?”

Not really! I was a little surprised that they don’t flush their toilet paper. It’s taken me the week to get used to that. (OH MY GOSH IT HAS ONLY BEEN A WEEK.) I’ve been doing a lot of lesson planning, and trying to get my homework done too. I have loved the crazy, maniac like driving. Crossing the road is like a hit and miss. (Hopefully miss. I would hate to get hit.) I have really loved every second. Like I said: It was instantly home to me, and there has never been a moment when it hasn’t felt that way.

Here are some pictures. If you want more specifics let’s create some dialogue!

We were so tired after all of the plane rides! It was exhausting, but we powered through smiling, laughing, (and sleeping).

This was my first 包子steamed bun. It was delicious. Although my kids made fun of me for eating it before dinner, since it’s a breakfast food.

Here are some of my kids and I. I have no idea where we’re at. They gave me a tour around Wenzhou. We got on a bus, got off and ended up here and played some fun claw machines. (Also, I am guilty of talking to them in Chinese. But they talked to me in English, so it’s okay, right?)

Here is a night city view from my friends apartment. (It’s not that good, but it’s what you get. Although, the view from my new place is MUCH better.)

Here is this lake a few of my friends have been swimming in everyday. (I have not. They swim laps, and I like to float.) It is by far the most beautiful place I have been. It looks like a blue lagoon of sorts. (I think this is the first place I also heard someone call me a 老外 foreigner.

This is where I had 火锅 It was delicious delightful food. Also, I ate pigs brain! I ate a few other things too, but I don’t remember much. I was too busy drinking have a container of apple cider and two bottles of water. (I only ate from the spicy side.)

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Prayer is Grievous

Prayer

I want to encounter this idea that prayer is grievous.

Thursday night I went to this dance performance. There was one dance that was about prayer. It was beautiful and I cried. In this dance, there are four girls passionately praying. They are pouring everything they have into sending up incense before the Lord. Every so often in the dance a girl would “pass out” and the other three girls would pull her up and they would continue praying. As I watched that, I felt the Lord just speak to me, “Prayer is grievous, but despite that, it is the most important thing you could do.”

When I heard that, my reaction was, “Grievous? Lord, I think you’ve got the wrong word. Prayer is a battle. It’s where we fight. I mean, come on. Use a word that actually makes people want to pray. Grievous? Lord, I’ve been to funerals, and grief isn’t pretty.”

What did he say back? “Neither is battle. In theory, fighting sounds great because it’s a call to action, but when people start to bleed, they back down and leave. Prayer is grievous.”

I still didn’t think that was the right word. But as I’ve been praying about (not grievously,  I might add), I am realizing that God couldn’t be more correct. (As if God could ever be wrong.)

I am reminded of the most grievous prayer prayed in the Bible:

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olive; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if though be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

Luke 22:39-45KJV

There a few things I notice in this:

  1. I have never prayed so hard that I sweat let alone sweat blood.
  2. I have never seen an angel come minister to me in prayer. The Holy Spirit has revealed things to me in dreams and given me clarity and revelation through scripture, but I’ve never actually seen an angel.
  3. WHAT A LAZY BUNCH OF FRIENDS HE HAS!, but I must admit, I’ve fallen asleep on Jesus in prayer too.

What grievous prayer that was for Jesus to pray. He knew he had to die for my sins, and yet being human, he still asked God for another way, yet being fully God, he still asked for the Father’s will to be done.

I know how I pray. I either pray for only my will (98% of the time) or I’m only praying for God’s will, which isn’t bad, but I don’t tell him the desires of my heart. I’m either telling him to give me everything I want, or I’m saying that the wants he has put in me he doesn’t care about.

Let’s look at Anna:

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscour and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Honestly, if I was married for seven years and then lost my husband, I would not have remained that faithful to God. Heck, I get upset about a little thing and I tell God I’m gonna take a break from being a Christian for a day. There are absolutely times I don’t want to live in the Joy of the Lord. There are times I don’t want to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I’m not saying Anna didn’t have those days, I’m saying the Bible says she didn’t depart from the temple. Me? I go to the prayer tower and take a nap. Anna? She is fasting and praying night and day.

I’ve never dated in my life, and I’m having a hard time trusting God to fulfill those needs that a man is meant to fulfill that I’ve never experienced before but crave. Anna was married! Then he died, and now she marries her life to God, the temple their house. I’m not Anna, but boy is she a role model.

Let’s take it back a little further.

And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is they faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lamentations 3:18-25

Here’s a little background to Lamentations if you don’t know what’s happening in Jerusalem: mothers are eating their babies due to starvation, their armies are destroyed, everything has been taken from them, and Jeremiah has the audacity to say God’s mercies are new every morning let alone their souls are humbled?

How many times have I chosen the Valley of the Shadow of Death? How many times have I chosen to quit when I couldn’t see my salvation? Honey, it’s not about what we see, it’s about what we hope for by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is our evidence of what we cannot see, and by God, Jeremiah was believing a lot of things he didn’t see.

Now to Genesis:

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, they name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (Penuel): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Genesis 32:24, 29-30

How grievous of a night it must have been for Jacob to actually wrestle with God. I mean, I fight God a lot, but I’ve never seen him face to face. I’ve never even heard an audible voice.

Also, I wonder if anyone called Jacob out on his comment of being alone. I believe that just goes to show that in our most mountainous situations, God is with us whether he is comforting us or wrestling with us.

Now, to Abraham. The Lord is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Genesis 18:23-26

Ya’all! Abraham talked God down to ten! Who wants to risk a bargain with God? (I mean, I do it all the time, but it never works.)

I get this doesn’t look grievous. “Elizabeth, you’re getting off point.” OKAY, if you found out, your only living relatives were going to die, your most beloved brother (although Lot was Abraham’s cousin) was going to die in fire and brimstone, would you not also grieve? The significance in this though is that Abraham drew near to God. A voice echoing from the heavens, and Abraham drew near. I don’t see that a lot in the modern age. I see people who hide and shut down. It’s time for our people to become a people who draw near to God.

Guys, it’s all over the Bible. Most of Psalms is a grievous prayer.

Save me oh God for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep water, where the floods overflow me….But I am poor and sorrowful: let they salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:1-2, 29-30

Look at Judges. People even got petty with their prayers, what with Gideon testing God with a fleece. The audacity people had in the Bible.

  1. Jesus politely asks God for a way other than the cross, and sweats blood.
  2. Anna marries her soul to the temple of God, whom she did not yet know was walking the earth.
  3. Jerusalem is dying, still declaring hope, and on occasion blaming the Lord for their own sins.
  4. Jacob just doesn’t care and full on wrestles God. (Even if he didn’t know it was God right away, who just randomly decides to wrestle a stranger on the mountain?)
  5. Abraham draws near to God and bargains with him.
  6. David is always going back and forth between praying for salvation and thanking God for it.
  7. Gideon has the guts to test God.

How do you present your requests? Have you yet married God, and dedicated yourself to the Gospel? Is the Lord your hope even when you can’t see? What’s your Penuel? Where’s your blessing? Have you drawn near to God? Have you seen your salvation? What’s your fleece?

Prayer is grievous, but

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Prayer is grievous, but the Lord is faithful and does not break his promises.

Let’s go back….

Elizabeth:

It’s a little to get sappy, but I was just thinking back on the summer we graduated. Summer of 2015. Honestly, that has so far been the greatest year of my life. I was motivated and doing things. I was routinely taking my vitamins, running outside (almost) regularly. We went on our first vacation by ourself in another state. That summer I was so happy. I took on the world that summer. We both did.

I dunno. I still am. I still can. But now, I just feel a little less motivated.

A lot less. Everything has fallen so perfectly into place, even with the hardships. I’m so thankful for everything God has done in my life. He has blessed me so much, and I know Hew will continue to do so. But now I don’t feel like I have anything to work hard for. The world has already been conquered. There is no Sherif for me to fight, no poor to give back to. Naturally, I want to si I’m lost, but I’m not. I know what God has called me to, but I don’t feel like there’s much to do if, anything to reach that now.

I’m just kind of really restless.

I want to go back to 2015 and feel that rush of excitement and success as we go down the highway in your sketch van with John Farnham and Ed Sheeran blasting through the speakers. If just for a moment, I want to feel that rush again.

~~~~

Abby:

I get that. I dearly miss that summer with all my heart. But it’s normal to feel restless. I know that’s a cliche thing to say that doesn’t help much, but it’s true. Feeling restless doesn’t mean you don’t still have adversity to face and opposition to conquer, it just means you’ve gotten used to it. You’ve gone through the training period, like in all those movies where the hero trains, and is finally ready for the battle. You’re ready now to face what’s been planned, so look forward to that. There is still so much unknown and I’m very excited to see how you excel in everything God throws at you.

No matter what age you’re at, it’s easy to feel restless. I think what my friend said applies to all of us. There is still so much unknown that God has yet to reveal to us for us to adventure into. Don’t give up.

IHOP Mom – Narrative

This is based on a lot of truth I heard as I talked to IHOP Mom–rather, as IHOP Mom talked to me. She inspired this short piece, and is the star of this narrative.

IHOP Mom walks by and swiftly removes everything from the tables. She had been around for seven years and isn’t about to make a mistake on her job. She is fast and efficient. She loves the students who come in during their freshman year, and she watches them grow and graduate from the college down the road. She calls me baby, and says she heard me reading. While she talks to us, their is a smile that lights up her face. It carves crow’s feet around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. When she turns around I watch the smile fall from her face. She is focused on the work ahead, and the long night she has to get through. After she is done here she still has a home to go to. There are other people to feed, not just random strangers and college students that wander in past curfew. She has a family too: grown children and grand babies that require her attention and stretched smile. She is worn thin, but she is far from frail. She is a strong cornerstone. She is someone who remains consistent in the passing students with last minute homework and the police officers that come through the doors for a late night coffee pick-me-up. She is here at two in the morning, and it will be a while yet before she goes to bed.

My Forest

I am really pushing it on this one post a day thing.

Here is a poem I wrote at three in the morning back in December of 2015.

 

Green dollar bills

Silver nickels

Copper pennies

Rusted leaves

Dying trees

Where soul isn’t currency

 

I sold my heart for a little bit of love

And I traded my mind for little bit of trust.

All I had left was my soul

Covered in dust

Blackened by bruises

Hours of untamed lusts

Hidden in corners

Covered by night

Untouched by light

Breathing

But not living

Hoping

But not dreaming

Slowly

Losing

Sanity

 

outdated

over-rated

Just say it

Metal buckets

Molded books

Fraying shirts

Ripped hems

Muddy boots

Broken hearts

Shattered glass

Shredding statements

To pretty nothings

 

I am nothing

Not worth keeping

Not worth selling

Not for petty green slips

That forfeits morality

pays for pleasure

gives a sense of stability

making for silence

That creates cruelty

 

No longer

I will not listen to your kisses

I will not bed on your roses

I will not willingly lie to cover your inconsistencies

I will not compromise my worth

For your sake of guilt

That you built

On zero monetary value

 

Take your green bills

Silver nickels

And copper coins

Ruin your leaves

Kill your trees

But sure as hell stay away from my forest

I grew it from broken pieces of mismatched hearts

I watered it with mismatched blood types

And I built it with scattered dreams

Cracked trust funds

And my own damn hands

 

I’ve already lost my heart

And I’ve already lost my mind

I will not lose my soul

It cannot be sold

I will fight with desperation

Searching for restoration

Grasping for redemption

In a place of desolation

 

It’s not pretty

But it’s all I’ve got

And I will fight for everything I have

With everything I have

I will fight

Empowerment

I was at the gym last night, and went for a 20 minute run. I had just come around the track and finished a lap when three other girls were just getting on, and as I passed them one of them clapped and said, “Keep going! You got this!” That pushed me to run just a little bit further.

That’s not the first time that has happened to me at the gym, but let me tell you, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should: from me toward other people, and from other people toward me. In fact, I should be hearing it from someone at least once every time I’m there, whether it is directed toward me or not. I know some people go to the gym with headphones and use that time to get alone and to think, but I hear groups of friends there all the time, and instead of encouraging each other, they tease each other and make heavy competition, as if that’s going to make a person work harder. I get a little competition is good, sure, but sometimes a person needs to know they’re doing well or that they can do well. Even my sister and I, while competing, always encourage the other saying how good she’s doing or by telling the other we’re proud of her.

With that in mind, I want to challenge you to encourage someone today, tomorrow, and this week. Whether it is at the gym or at Walmart, let someone know that they’re doing a good job, that they’re beautiful (you too men), and that you believe in them. Sometimes that is all a person needs to keep going.

Swimming with Sharks

In this moment, the world is engulfed in dark blue. Giant leathery creatures cut through the water observing me just as much as I am observing them. I watch them in wonder, at times face to face and at other times, through the lens of my camera. These sharks are powerful. I watch as their bodies ripple when they turn and the fast movements of their fins. Toddlers are running back and forth all around me, screaming the delight that I am feeling but not vocalizing. There is one girl talking loudly to her father about random facts about these massive sharks. A part of me wants to listen and learn, but the rest of me just wants to watch.

The light hitting the water breaks apart and shoots everywhere giving the place a more majestic feel. There are times when the light touches the rocks on the bottom of the tank, and they look like gold doubloons. These white sharks are only guarding their treasure, I tell myself. These sharks have stories, and I want to know them. I want to know what battles they have fought and what scars they have earned. I read on a sign that the people who clean the tanks have to wear a chain mail so that they do not get hurt. I look at the sharks in wonder. I am captivated.

Somewhere in the tunnel is a family speaking Spanish. I am distracted from the fantasies I am creating. I look around me and notice how surrounded I am. Everyone is talking loudly, pointing their flashing cameras at the sharks. The flashes light up the otherwise dark room. I squint my eyes and cringe; I feel small and trapped. I glance at the sharks and nod my head in acknowledgement of their condition then I leave the tunnels. My swim with the sharks is over.

Character Profiles!

My favorite thing whenever it comes to writing is sketching out the character until it comes to life and can finish creating itself. Have you ever had that happen? You’re happily writing along until a character makes you backspace a few words and gives you a few new verbs so that they can act according to their personality, or maybe they pack in a few more adjectives so that you can describe them the way they would prefer to be described. Even in dialogue, sometimes you can see your female character pop a hip out to the side, cross her arms in front of her chest, and ask you, “Would I really say that?” Sometimes as writers we raise our characters, argue with our characters, and fall in love them. Before all that happens, though, we must first give birth to them.

I imagine the process of us giving birth to characters is very similar to how Athena actually gave birth to her children. We think them up, design them in a very specific way, and soon enough there it is going on adventures and fighting dragons, and it isn’t long until they’re doing that without our assistance. One day we’ll wake up from a long coffee induced night of writing and find a complete manuscript staring at us from whatever word processor we’re using. So where does this imagining process start? How does it begin?

For me, it starts here:

Name:

Every character must start with a name. And so this list continues until sketched out before me is a person about ready to step off the page. All that’s left is teaching this new character how to walk. Here is what a complete character profile looks like for me:

Earth Name: Beatrice Glasser

Other Name: Averice Glasser

Nickname: B and Ave (probably Rice when she’s being teased.)

Eye color: Stormy blue-gray (sapphire blue eyes)

Hair color/style: Strawberry blonde hair cut in a neat bob, with permed curls that rest neatly along her neck and around her ears. (Long, curly white hair, with lowlights so that it is not completely bleach blonde.)

Age: 22

Height: 5’ 7”

Build: She is tall and lithe from running. She is not overly muscular since she prefers cardio more than weightlifting. Her shoulders are rounded forward slightly from sitting hunched over her computer or sitting on the floor reading. She has the most spectacular legs with curves to die for and small ankles and feet. (Still tall, but a more narrow than straight waist, and more of a muscular build than just being lithe.)

Clothes: Imagine every K-Pop artist. She mixes and matches various styles. Probably one of her favorite outfits is her ripped, boyfriend jeans paired with blacks heels. She will wear either her green or red and black plaid flowing tank top with either a short sleeved, long jacket or a colorful kimono over the top. (Black lace up boots, that go to the knee, black and white striped leggings, and a lacy, high-low, black skirt. To literally pull everything together is a full torso, black corset clasped in the front. As a separate piece, she has flowing, lacy, black sleeves that tie in front of her neck.)

Profession: She is currently a student attending ________ going for a degree in Creative Writing, and possibly thinking about getting a masters or doctorate in linguistics.

Characteristics: Averice is bubbly and witty with a dry sense of humour. She smiles a lot and loves people. Although, behind all of that she struggles a lot with self confidence and pride.

Residence: Xi Nu Theta (At school) Her house is in Michigan.

Extrovert or Introvert: Ambivert. She loves people, but she definitely gets her fill of them. She recharges from being alone, and honestly loves curling up with a book than with a person.

Hobby: Reading; watching T.V.; updating her blog on the rare occasion she remembers; learning languages in her rare spare time.

Favorite activity: Running. She could run for days, but classes and social situations normally demand her attention.

Favorite Meal: French Toast or any Asian meal, but normally French Toast.

Favorite Season: That middle moment in between Winter and Spring when the snow is melting and everything is muddy, and there is that slight smell of rain water and slushy snow in the Meijer parking lot, but there are also shoots of grass popping up, and Robins start appearing everywhere.

Darkest thought: Maybe if I took like eight of these Benadryl I wouldn’t have to wake up for a few days. No more people.

Deepest secret: HELLA GAY. Nah, not really. She loved a man once, but things got ugly, and now she hates love. Unless it’s on other people.

Friends: Taryn (Tarence) and a bunch of other useless acquaintances.

Mortal enemies: That stupid cat.

Achilles heel: She wears her heart on her sleeves and trusts everyone she meets.

Goal: Find the cat and graduate with a degree. Possibly survive.

The profile is always different depending on the project. Sometimes I take away some of the questions and sometimes I add more. It depends on how detailed or how basic I want my character to be. For example, all my characters don’t have two names. This character does because she goes between two different worlds.

An empty character sheet looks like this:

Name:

Nickname:

Eye color:

Hair color/style:

Age:

Height:

Build:

Clothes:

Profession:

Characteristics:

Residence:

Extrovert or Introvert:

Hobby:

Favorite activity:

Favorite Meal:

Favorite Season:

Darkest thought:

Deepest secret:

Friends:

Mortal enemies:.

Achilles heel:

Goal:

Please feel free to copy it, or go to this google doc. I want to share this with as many people as possible.

Creating characters is one of my favorite things and this is how I do it.

Are there any other methods that you use? I would love to hear them! I would also love to see what types of character you’ve created! Comment below or shoot me an e-mail, and let’s get some dialogue going.

Keep writing! You can complete the story inside of you. 加油!

Treasure Hunting

I was out in this place called Brick Town the other day. I was with a group of my friends, we had just gotten done with a retreat, and decided to go have some fun and take pictures. While we were there we came across some wonderful murals. This was one of them, and when I was filming it for my snapchat story, I saw this guy and waved to him. When I saw him I wanted to take a picture of him in front of this wall. When I was on my over to him, I just had this thought of “I found the treasure.” I didn’t think much of it, asked the guy if I could take his picture then I prayed for him, and walked away. A couple of my friends had seen and patted me on the back. I was flustered because I didn’t think much of it, and it was awkward for me to be praised like that. I didn’t do it for recognition. Even now, I’m not telling you for you to praise me. Rather, Matthew tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. The Gospels tell us not to be like the pharisees standing on the street corners proclaiming what we have done. I actually prayed a lot about whether I should just delete the photo instead. But as I was thinking about it, I was reminded of this thing I know several churches do called ‘treasure hunting.’ A group of people or several groups will gather and pray. Sometimes they will get an image of a person, a place, or a small word from God and then they will go out and look for who God is leading them to. As I was thinking about that concept, God just whispered to my heart, “He’s my treasure. You found my treasure.” This really spoke to me because I was beginning to get upset at myself for not asking him for his name. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if it was a man or woman at first. I didn’t go out planning to pray for someone or take pictures of strangers. I didn’t pray about it before hand. I didn’t ask God to lead me to someone. This whole thing was spontaneous to me, but as I prayed about it afterward and thought about it further, I realized that it was exactly what God had planned. You don’t need to set a specific time to go treasure hunting. In fact, it should be a lifestyle. Everyday, as christians, we should be intentional about finding God’s treasure. So many people are buried, and we are meant to bring them to the light. Who knows what treasure you will find today. It’s all about intentionality. Live Heaven on Earth, and love with the love of God, and you’ll see victory and miracles everyday.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn – Book Review

I am so in love with this book right now. I just finished it yesterday on the way back home. I started it in the car, and I finished it in the car. Haha. Reading like a beast. (Is ‘Lolz’ appropriate in a book review? Asking for a friend.)

Emperor of the Eight Islands was so well written. I think the only thing I didn’t like about it was the character development was slow and almost non-existent. I get that it is one book in a series, but I expected more. Another thing about this book, was each chapter switched between point of views among the characters. It made it semi hard to keep track of everything, but I did it.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands is about Shikanoko and basically the abuse he went through to become what he does in the end of the book. This poor kid is basically left for dead in the mountains by his uncle, is then found by a sorcerer who binds him in one place by a spell to make him “Shikanoko,” and allows the kid to basically be raped multiple times for the spell to work. (Let me tell you, this woman who “rapes” him is horrifying. Whatever you do, don’t trust her.) Then he ends up working for the King of the Mountain. Then he ends up working for Kiyoyori (He’s cool) and then he ends up with the Prince Abbot who he leaves in the end. There is so much that happens all against Shikanoko’s will, and he just goes with it. He’s just like, “Whatever. As long as I can kill my uncle, I don’t mind being forced to become the most freaking powerful sorcerer ever.” And in the end, he’s still as immature as if he never learned anything the past year and a half or however much time passes in the book. But, despite the immaturity, he’s still cool, and I seriously love the kid.

Look, if you don’t read this to get to know Shikanoko, at least read it for the beautiful cover. That’s honestly why I bought it in the first place, and I’m happy I did buy it. The book was good, and so well written I was taking notes in my head on what I can learn from the writing style. I really recommend you read it. Please do so. Let’s all talk about this book together. I would love to hear what you think about it.