Friday, August 29, 2014

My Favorite Laughs

        I've been doing a lot of posts on rather serious notes lately, so I figured it was time for some funnies. Now, if you follow me on Pinterest, or are on Pinterest at all for that matter, you've probably seen these before. Hopefully they're still funny. ;) So without further ado, here are your laughs for the day:

        And lastly, Benedict Cumberbatch getting spashed with water for the hundredth time:

        Hope you enjoyed it!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

So The Ground Shakes...

        Some of you may have heard about the earthquake that hit the SF Bay Area last Sunday morning. Earthquakes are pretty commonplace here since we're basically sitting right on a bunch of fault lines, but this one was the biggest we've had in a while. A long while. Like, since the Loma Prieta in 1989. That was a 6.9, and this was a 6.0. We usually just get quakes ranging from about 1.5-4, so this was huge. It's being called, I think, the Napa Earthquake, since that's where the epicenter was. There was quite a bit of significant damage in Napa itself, and also in American Canyon, which is only about fifteen or twenty minutes from our house. A few fires started as well and a main water line broke, causing even more extensive damage. There were over 85 injuries, and many, many buildings were severely damaged. There were no deaths, although four people are in critical condition, including a young boy who got buried under a crumbled brick fireplace. Please pray for all of the people who were injured and for their families, and also for all of the people who now don't have homes. It really puts into perspective how blessed I am that my house is still intact. Being just over fifteen miles away from the epicenter and the severe damage, I can't be thankful enough that my family and our house are safe.
        Here are some pictures of the damage in and around Napa (I didn't take any of them):

        At my house, there was damage enough, although thankfully it wasn't exactly to the structure of buildings. I actually wasn't at home when it happened; my brother and I were staying the night at our cousins' house and going to the American River the next day (which was, by the way, super fun!). I hate earthquakes. Immensely. I think they probably scare me more than anything; even a small 1.6 frightens me to death. Well, that one was centered basically right under our house, but anyway... I get extremely tense while they are happening, waiting to see how big they will get, and then when it is all over I get this feeling I can't describe, but it is so unbearable. So I was glad that I wasn't at home, but a bit farther away so it wasn't nearly as bad. My mom said that the earthquake itself felt like someone was picking up the whole house and then dropping it on the ground repeatedly. Lying in bed, she didn't know it it was going to get stronger or not, as it went on for almost a minute. They could hear stuff crashing and breaking in the house as it shook violently for what seemd like, I'm sure, forever. When it stopped, they got up and inspected the damage. We had a bunch of broken glass in the kitchen and pantry, since we keep most of our food in jars. The small cracks in our walls had widened immensely, and furniture was displaced as much as six inches. Books were off of the shelves, and anyhting that had been sitting on dressers, tables, etc., had been either knocked over or completely off. When I got home, most of the glass had been cleaned up, but I took some pictures of what was left to be seen.
        Here are the cracks in our walls (some of them):

        Here is some other damage I came home to:

My bookshelf

A dresser moved out from the wall

This statue had falled behind the TV and broke

(those shells had been on shelves above)

         This is my dad's root beer bottle collection that was on the kitchen cabinets. They are all different kinds, from all over! Unfortunately, they fell over in the quake, but thankfully only two broke.

        My mom said she went outside to check on the animals afterwards, and the goats had come out of the side yard where they usually sleep - it's a pretty enclosed area with several tall cabinets and shelves - and into the open. I thought it was good, and interesting, that they knew to get away from stuff that could fall. We have had a ton of aftershocks, and a few I could feel at home. One woke me up a few nights ago and I freaked out. It was only about a 3, so I didn't get up. I just stayed huddled up in my bed and cried. :( I just wanted someone to hold me and make me feel safe, but I was just alone with my the-house-is-collapsing thoughts.
        I've talked to several neighbors and and they all had a lot of damage in their houses as well. One said he tried to get up during the earthquake to stand in the doorway where it's safest, but got thrown back down onto his bed by the shaking. The police radios went out as well, which is NOT a good thing. People who work in stores such as Home Depot and such were being called in to work extra to help with the cleanup, as most things got knocked off of the shelves.
         So y'all in other places may have tornados and hurricanes and things like that. We don't have those, but we do have earthquakes! This, as I said, was the biggest in twenty years, so they're not usually like this. And I can't say enough how thankful that God spared my town, my family, and my house.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

They're Coming!

        Who's coming? Why goatlings of course! It is my pleasure to announce that my darlin' Eponine is expecting and is due to kid mid November. We received word yesterday, although Eponine herself (and Thorin as well, it seemed) has probably known for quite some time. :)
        She's already been pregnant for over two months, but we had some complications with the bloodwork and pregnancy test. You see, we didn't want to draw blood and send it in until we were sure she was pregnant, so we waited to see if she would go into heat every 21 days (or rather, for her, 19). When we noticed that, we drew the blood and mailed off the vial in layers of bubble wrap and paper towels. I think we sent it on a Monday, USPS, and it was meant to arrive at BioTracking in Idaho on Thursday. Well, days went by, then a week, and we figured it got lost. The tracking said it left the post office in our town the day after we mailed it, and then, nothing... So we had to draw the blood again, my mom and I both yelling disparaging things about our postal service as we backed the squirming goat into a corner and stuck her with a needle. It's really not the easiest thing, and we usually end up with more blood on ourselves and the ground than in the vial. So we packaged that one up and sent it off. Again, nothing. We insured this one, though. After two weeks of the post master trying to track our packages down, one finally reached Idaho. Granted, it was three weeks late and the blood is only guaranteed for two, but it got there. The lab inspected it and it was unspoiled, and they ran the test and got the results to us the next day. Pregnant is anything above a .21. Eponine is a .90. Yay! 
        Although it was a huge hassle and cost us a hundred phone calls and walks across town to the post office, we have the results and the babies are on their way! I am bursting with excitement for November! We're pretty sure Lily is pregnant as well, and she should kid about a week after Eponine. I'll be leasing Thorin out to a lady with 4 does for breeding November-December, and I'll see if anyone wants to lease him after that as well. Since he is double registered and comes from good milk lines, he's worth a lot. I personally couldn't care less about the whole registering thing, but since I'm not keeping the babies I need to be able to sell them easily. 
        I'm so excited for the goatlings! I've already started thing about names for them, which is going to be so fun!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Times Of Change

There's just so much going on. So much is changing.

I feel like I'm losing things I'll never be able to get back.

It's all going by so quickly, and I can't stop it!

I'm holding onto things, feelings, people, as hard as I can, yet it seems that the tighter I try to hold them and keep them safe, the more quickly they slip between my fingers.

And I'm left clutching my sorrow and jumbled emotions to my heart.

It's so painful.

But I know that if I lose even the sorrow and tumult within me now, there won't be anything left.

I'll have nothing.

So I'll hold onto the past just long enough to get myself anchored in the future.

And then I'll start walking again, turning now and then to watch past events drift away like scattered balloons in the sky. Those last glimpses will hurt, as I reach vainly for the strings I once held and grasp nothing but cold, empty air.

I do believe, though, that somewhere I have a cloud of memories, like a lost bundle of balloons, that I am only able to find when I desperately need to.

When, in the business that the future holds, I stumble and fall, God will, with His gentle power, reach down and hand me one of those strings I lost so long ago.

And I'll be able to hold on just long enough to be pulled to my feet.

Before it floats away forever.

Finally, this time I'll learn that I'm not the one who makes the wind carry it away.

And I won't look back.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recent Thoughts On Youth Group

        I know this is a rather controversial topic, but I've been wanting to share my musings on it with y'all for a while now. At the moment, I don't really have anything else going on to post about, so it's time. I'm still getting over the lazy blogging spell I had this summer too, and posting more is the cure. Firstly, let me say that if you had asked me my thoughts on church youth groups fifteen months ago my response would have been very different than what you are going to read now. I'd had a couple of bad experiences with different church youth groups, but more on that later. So I suppose we should start out with some basics. 
        What should the purpose and intent of a God-centered youth group be? The answer to that question is remarkably simple - to shepherd and teach young people to love and follow God and to prepare them to do His work. In short, God. God should be the purpose and intent. (Many youth groups run into problems right here in the beginning). Some might say, well, they don't need a separate group to do that. If a church has sound doctrine and pastors who are delivering it, there is no need for a separate youth function; the youth should be right there in with the rest of the the church, the body of Christ. There is nothing wrong with this reasoning, in fact, it is perfectly correct. Here's where we get into the real issue, what a youth group should not be and do. 
        On that same topic, a youth group should not take away from the young people's fellowship with the rest of the Body of Christ. This is where a lot of youth programs go wrong. Instead of going to the church service and being with the older (and yes, more wise and responsible) church members, the youth go off and has no part of the actual church. Families especially shouldn't go to church just to separate into their different age groups for an hour and a half, and then get back in the car and drive home together. That's not what church was meant to be! "And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers", Acts 2:42. That is what church is meant to be. Does it seem like I'm going down an anti-youth group path? Well, I'm not. I'm just saying it shouldn't take away from fellowship with the Body, the rest of the church. For instance, at the church my family goes to now, there are two service times, one from 9:00-10:30 and one from 11:00-12:30. There is a church service ("big church") at both, so everyone has two options as to which one they want to go to. This works out well, because the youth functions happen during first service, and then we can go to the service as well. There is no choice, do I want to go to youth group, or do I want to go to the service? Really, I'm guessing if there was, most of the youth would not go to the service. I have overheard our youth pastor (who is, by the way, completely on fire for God and is a great teacher of His Word) telling some of the guys that if their families only go to one service, they need to be in the sanctuary hearing the Word preached by the senior pastor and fellowshipping with the rest of the church. He plainly said, I don't want you to come to youth group if you are not going to the actual service. Yes, he told someone I don't want you to to come, if it's going to take away from the rest of church. 
        Youth group is just an extra, really. A very helpful extra, I might add, if you have Godly teachers. It most likely saved me a lot of grief when I started going! You see (little side story here), about two and a half years ago, I stopped taking ballet pretty intensely. I did have some 'friends' there, but I knew that they weren't actual friends, only acquaintances. That became apparent when I was then only going to one class a week and not being around them as much. They pretty much only gave me a few sentences, maybe asking how I was doing or something of the sort. Then, perhaps eight months later, I stopped taking that class as well, but continued to help out with a Ballet 1 on Fridays. I think it was about that time that I started really wanting to be friends with some of the other girls, but being the quiet person I am, I didn't quite know where to start. I didn't have any other friends or any other place I could meet friends, so I was pretty desperate. Looking back on it, I would not want any of those girls as my friends. I was so desperate that my standards were in the dust and I was willing to do whatever just to have someone to talk to. And if you ask me, that is not a situation you want to be in. Ever. You see, I am very much an introvert, but I need my small group of friends to talk to. When I don't, I lock myself in my room and write and write and write about all of the things I would otherwise be telling people. It's not quite the same to tell a piece of paper, though, if you know what I mean. It's kind of just like keeping the thoughts in your head, which I didn't want to do. Right when I was really in pretty bad shape because of this issue, my mom suggested that I start going to the youth group at our church. I was skeptical, because of a couple of other ones I had gone to with friends. They were, to say the least, bad (and I'll touch on this later). Anyway, I went to the youth trip to Clear Lake, and it was such a relief! I made several friends, and was pretty much shocked by how different it was than what I expected after going to my cousin's church a few times! People were polite, actually acted like they were following God, and there was absolutely no inappropriate nonsense going on. Now I know that's because the leaders are very strict and the teaching pure, but oh my goodness it was nice! Even if I didn't have a whole lot in common with the people I met there, at least we shared our faith and that was enough. I'm almost sure that if I hadn't started going, I would have made some very bad choices, and friends. Getting back  on track now, what else is youth group not supposed to be?
        It should not, in any way, be a stumbling block to the young people there. I mean, that sounds straightforward, ya know, like it's church! Shouldn't that be a place of spiritual growth and purity? Well yes, it should be. But often, it isn't. Besides, of course, "church" pool parties where bikini clad teens parade around in what might as well be their underwear, and other unsupervised functions that can easily lead to sin, even simple social functions can quickly become pathways to sin. How to eliminate this? Number one, strong Biblical teaching. Pastors need to encourage people, especially at a young age, to make time in their busy schedules for God. This is hard when we're held down by school, sports, and other activities, but guess what? God is more important. Than anything. It's important to build discipline in this area early in life, and youth leaders should be stressing this. What better way to learn than from the Word of God itself? Secondly, rules. This may sound legalistic, but it's really the only way to do things. Have rules. Have guidelines. To tell the truth, most people will follow them without thinking, and the youth, for the most part, will not be leading each other to sin in any way.
        Now, I don't want at all to seem like I'm one of those "my church is better in all ways than your church". Yuck. The reason I attend this certain youth group is because it meets my standards and I like it, I don't like it because it's "my youth group". As I said, I went to a few with friends throughout the years and did NOT like them at all. At my cousin's old church (now she goes to the same church as my family!), I remember the youth group was held in a dark room with loud music and the "pastor" was like nineteen or something and acted like he was eleven. There was no discipline, gossip fluttered around the room like a flock of birds, and even the teaching was hardly Biblical. Maybe I'm used to pastors preaching straight from the Word, but it was strange for someone to just get up and talk without coming from the Bible. I did not feel like spending time there was helping my (or anyone's) spiritual growth, and on top of that, I felt uncomfortable there. That was the main reason why I was skeptical about any youth groups until last year. When I went to Texas to visit Kayla, by the way, I loved the youth program at their church! Going there really helped me sort out what I like and look for in youth groups and what they should essentially be to shepherd young people.
        So, to sum up this very long (sorry!) post, I just want to say that I don't mean to bash anyone's youth group at their church. The examples I have given are my own and apply mostly to my own feelings and what makes me uncomfortable; they are only to explain my main points about what a youth program should and shouldn't be. If you want to comment and tell me your opinion, discussion is welcome!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Texas Trip!

        Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I got back last Wednesday, and have just been getting back into my routine of chores and other obligations, and now, blogging. Those of you who follow me on Pinterest may have noticed that I've been on quite a bit, but I simply haven't gotten around to writing up a blog post yet. This one will probably be pretty short, as I don't have much time, but it's still something. Hopefully y'all like it!
        So where was I? Oh yeah, Texas! I was staying with Kayla's family for twelve days *squee!* Let me tell you, it was all I hoped and expected, and more than that! Firstly, the landscape was scrumptious! I have been so deprived of rain and green grass here in the California drought, and to see the lakes and streams and green pastures was a luxury! Here are some pictures that I took, both from at the Alexanders' place and just around.

        Being used to living in the SF Bay Area suburbs, it was nice to live out in the country for a few weeks, surrounded by fields and small towns. And oh! the dirt roads! I love dirt roads, and there were certainly enough for me there!

         Aside from the lovely landscape, I like the people there too! Even though I was only there for a short time, I think they are a lot more like me than the people here near San Francisco. Of course, they all think California is crazy, but hey, they're completely correct! It was actually rather funny to hear them say something about CA and then realize I was there and apologise, "No, it's fine!" I wanted to tell them, "You can say all the bad things about my home state that you want, I don't care a bit." The sad thing is, it's pretty much all true. However, there are some people who aren't completely crazy, such as myself. ;) Well, I'm crazy in a different way. Ya know? 
        We stayed around the house for the most part while I was there, which I liked a lot. As you may know, Kayla has none siblings, including a month-old baby, so that was loads of fun! I only have one sibling, and there haven't been any babies around here for about five years, and it was really nice. I love kids! 
        Both kinds of kids, actually, and it just so happens that Kayla's Jitterbug kidded a few months ago and has this gorgeous little girl!

         There were also chickens, guineas, and ducks running around. Oh, and cows out in the pasture.

        As for things I did while I was there, we did some dancing with the youth at their church, which I thoroughly enjoyed, spent a few days out on the lake, and watched a bunch of movies at the house. Some new ones for me were Miss Potter, Captain America, Frozen, and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. (Am I forgetting any?) Those were all beyond awesome, and I also got indoctrinated with Tim Hawkins and Duck Dynasty. Whoohoo! And guys! THE TEASER TRAILER'S OUT!!!!!  I died watching it!

         That's about all I have time for now, but I'll try to post soon. I want to get back into the swing of blogging before I start my college classes next week. I have a few letters to write, and a bundle of other things that need to get done (including working an extra day this week), however, so I'll be busy. So long!