Thursday, August 15, 2019

how to talk to people (and not die)

Here are some questions I've thought of to start deep conversations with people if you're an introvert like me and are deathly afraid of dislike small talk.

p.s. they actually work- I've tried them myself and it really helps me when I'm in a social situation and I don't know what to say or how to start a conversation.

--

What's your favorite way to appreciate God? 

Should you ever regret caring, even if it made things worse in the end or it seemed to not matter?

How do you maximize the positive and minimize the negative without ignoring the negative or pretending it doesn't exist?

How do you tell if your way of 'helping' someone becomes enabling to them and their toxic/bad behavior? 

What does spiritual and emotional maturity mean to you?

Do you think we choose God or did He choose us?

Do you think that miracles run out for a person or situation? 

Do relationships define a person? What about a person who doesn’t have a lot of friends? 

Do you think a person's personality changes as they get older? Or do you think it just advances and evolves, while remaining still the same mainly?

What's the best way to learn about something? 

Do you think hatred exists or is it just the absence of love?

At what point do you give up trying to be friends with someone?

What do you like about (or dislike, if they're not a believer!) Christianity? 

Is sharing an opinion worth the risk of embarrassment if you’re wrong? At what point do you think you have enough information to share an opinion and stand by it?

Do you see video games as ultimately good or bad for a person/s character? 

In your opinion, what makes a good movie?

--

Photo Credit: Me
Well, that's all you guys. Let me know if you use any of these and if they help you at all/what you think of them.

~ Amaris // ☆

Thursday, July 25, 2019

// spending time with God : //

You guys; I can't 'recommend' God enough.

In all the hard times I've been through in the last 9 months or so, I could NOT have gone through it without God.
I mean, I barely got through it at all (for example : I've never had anxiety attacks before, yet so far this year I've had three -_-), but as hard as things were (and still are), God was there for me every step of the way, and I grew to love Him and rely on Him like I never have before.
And I'm still learning!
I'm especially learning that growth with God never stops. Even when I feel like I've learned so much and think I've come so far with Him, He will show me through something in my life that I have still so much to learn!
A relationship with God is never ending, and that's the best thing about Him in my opinion.

Top reasons I love spending time with God:

// spending time with God : puts my problems back in their place //
To me, this is one of the sweetest things about spending time praying to God and reading in His word. All my troubled and anxious thoughts are put into an amazing perspective that only God can give. What things am I worried about, anxious about, angry about, obsessed about that really don't matter very much? Turns out, quite a few.

Photo credit: Me
// spending time with God : gives me ways to relate to other believers //
Ever heard of church friends? My life has improved in countless ways since I started asking advice from mature Christian friends in my life! God has blessed me with several people in particular at my new church who have helped me grow as a woman in God, all because the LORD moved in my heart to open up to them and ask!

// spending time with God : calms my anxiety //
If you're new here, here's a fact about me. I have anxiety. It's rather bad, actually. It comes and goes in waves throughout different periods of my life. For example, in 2016-2017, I was having a really good two years and I had almost no anxiety. For real, I had almost none. It was awesome. But, things in my life started to change (not necessarily in my external life, but actually largely internal) in 2018 and this year, and it's gotten truly bad and difficult to deal with yet again. But during these times, the word of GOD is even more of a comfort to me! I am incredibly blessed with verses such as these :

Psalm 34:17-18
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Photo credit: Me
// spending time with God : reminds me who i am //
As a girl in her early twenties, I am still learning who I am in this life. Who am I living for? What is my purpose? What paths should I take to glorify God? What friends should I try to make? What friends do I let go of? What kind of friend should I be to others? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Why do I struggle with this or that? You get the idea. Going back to the perspective thing, spending time with God helps me to hear from Him about who I truly am supposed to be, and puts in perspective the things that I am worried about. That post that I published a bit ago about being single? That came from many hours worth of praying to God and asking Him how He wants me to live my single life, whether it be just for now, or the rest of my life. He has helped me - and is still helping me - see that I don't need another person to be a better version of myself. Believing the lie that I am not complete without "mY oThEr HaLf" would be coming from a place of insecurity and not trusting that God has good plans for me whether they include a significant other or not.

2 Timothy 1:7
for GOD gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


// spending time with God : reminds me who He is //
I truly believe with all of my heart that God is the best thing that can happen to a person. I think this pin describes my thoughts well:
I like those words. "If you KNEW". God is so mighty, and full of blessing and satisfaction! When Paul went to visit the city of Athens, he noticed that the Athenians had many false gods. They were SO religious, in fact, that they even had a statue dedicated 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD' for whatever god they might have missed! Well, needless to say, Paul had their answer. He was passionate about showing the Athenians that the One True God is here! He is not unknown but wants to be known by us! The Athenians worshiped the created things when they could be worshiping the Creator! Of course, some of the Athenians scoffed at Paul's words (you can read the full story in Acts 17 if you want), but the concept is rather simple: having the 'unknown god' but not discovering who He is or getting to know Him is like having an amazing subscription box delivered to your house with all the incredible things inside but not opening it! It doesn't make any sense to do that.
I truly believe that the LORD is the answer to all problems and He is full of blessing, and reading His word and spending time with Him helps me learn and remember all the ways that He is amazing.

I will close with this verse, from one of my favorite books of the Bible during this time:

Psalm 116:7
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

Photo credit: Me
~ Amaris // ☆


What does GOD mean to you? What is the best thing God has done for you lately? What is your favorite way to get to know Him?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sunshine Blogger Award ☆ (warning : wordy)

Hello, friends!
Emily from Altogether Unexpected tagged me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I kind of feel like I've maybe done this tag before, but I don't really care if I have because, 1. I'm too lazy to search my published posts and see if any post comes up under "sunshine", and 2. I wouldn't care anyways because the questions change with each blogger!
With that said, here we go!


Below are the rules for this award:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them. See above! :)
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts. I can already tell you it's not going to be 11 bloggers XD
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions.
The Questions:

In what city were you born?
St. Louis, born & raised, and still living here. I've always liked STL!

Which book made you a bibliophile?
All of them. Haha, just kidding. But for real, there was no single book that created a love for reading in me. My love for books really began to take off when I was around 12-14, and some of the most notable books that I enjoyed during that time were the Anne of Green Gables series (which I adored), The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Elizabeth George Speare's books (she only wrote four in her lifetime.. which I am forever remorseful about).

Photo Credit: Me
What is your favorite film?
FOR-REST. GUMP. (*claps on each syllable for emphasis*)
Seriously tho, it's the best, in my opinion. At least so far. There are so many amazing movies out there that I have yet to see.

What is your favorite Bible verse?
I don't really have one specific verse. The LORD has used so many unique and wonderful passages in my life during the last few months to speak to me in a special way.
A few that have been close to my heart lately are:

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:17-18

Many plans are in a man's heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
Proverbs 19:21

Photo Credit: Me
Favorite episode of Sherlock? (I know you have all seen it)
UUugh I can't even really talk about my favorite episode cause I know I'm gonna spoil it.   O.o
But I loooove the one in Series 4: The Lying Detective. I haven't seen that particular episode in awhile but the acting is so brilliant and the plot so riveting it gives me chills just remembering it. The Final Problem was also astounding. Stunning. Awesome. Just... all the amazing adjectives. Bless that show.

First foreign country?
I haven't traveled much; I went to Niagara Falls when I was, like, 5. So, Canada. That's it. I'd love to go to Paris someday.

Favorite food?
That's a very hard question! I have many foods I like. The LORD has been laying it on my heart to eat healthier the past few months, so my tastes have all rather changed! I still love me a good bowl of ice cream. And I've been cooking more, so homemade foods are always good. I love cooking with limes. Just, anything that has lime juice in it, I love.

British accents or Scottish accents?
I can't really say because I haven't heard enough of Scottish to distinguish it from British. I can tell you this, however: whenever I watch a show with a British accent I have to put on subtitles. *shrug*

First Marvel film?
I tried Captain America a few years ago and *hated* it. In fact, I kinda hate the whole Marvel franchise. I feel like it's just a big money-maker anyways. But there are some things I like. Spider-Man, for one. Take any Spider-Man and I could watch it on any evening chilling at my apartment and that would be an enjoyable time for me. Any other Marvel movie.. can't say the same thing.
But anyways, to answer the question, the first Marvel movie was Captain America, but the first one I liked was the first Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire.

Who is your favorite British actor/actress?
Aiden Turner // Ross Poldark. I never thought he was great as Kili, and then when I saw him as Ross I was absolutely sure of it. The man was BORN to play Ross. UuGgh I just get chills thinking of how freaking good he is as Ross. Let me put it this way; you haven't gotten the full Aiden Turner experience until you've seen him as Ross Poldark.
With that being said, here are a few notable others:
Helena Bonham Carter (A dazzling and uniquely lovely woman of the industry)
Benedict Cumberbatch (because Sherlock and The Imitation Game)
Among others. I know I'm probably forgetting a few that I love.

Photo Credit: Me
When did you start blogging, and why?
When I was around 16-17, my best friend told me about Hayden Wand's then current blog, The Story Girl. If you can believe it, at the time I didn't really know what a blog was. But I started reading Hayden's and soon others, and became fascinated with the book-reading, period drama-watching, story-writing girls who put their thoughts and little tags on blogs to share with their small corners of the internet world. I thought "I like to write, I like to read, I like period dramas. This looks rather fun, I could do it." I was a bit nervous to start and wanted my writing to be like everyone else' I read, so I set everything up and published my first post in September of 2015 (here it is if you're interested notice how much different and rather fake and airy the writing is compared to now because back then I was writing like all the blogs I loved because I didn't know how to express my own voice [which I'm still learning, btw]).
So yeah. I've been blogging since without being consistent at all, but I think I've come a long way, and I'm happy with my current 30 followers. It's never been about numbers for me; I definitely wanted the bloggers I loved most to love my blog (namely Naomi Sarah from Wonderland Creek and Hayden Wand from her blog back then The Story Girl), but as the years have gone by and God has taught me many things about the various social medias I have been apart of, it doesn't really matter who loves me or my writing and who doesn't.
I'm blogging and writing what I want to say because I enjoy it and God sometimes speaks to my heart things to write. Maybe you're encouraged by what you read here, maybe you're not. I will keep blogging until the LORD says stop. <3

Well that turned into a huge backstory, haha.

But anywho, that is the end of the list of questions from Emily! Thank you again, Emily! :)

For this award, I nominate:
Tessa // This Great Adventure
Natalie // Starry Eyes
Abbie // Chronicles in Bloom
Lissa // An Attempt to be Classic
Mary Liz // Sunshine and Scribblings
Rachel // A Girl's Place

I'm very behind on my blog-reading (I've got all I can handle just to post on my own blog every once in awhile, haha), so I don't know if any of the above bloggers have answered the questions for this award before! If you have, feel free to skip. Or you can do the award again with my questions!

Here are my 11 questions: 
1. What is your favorite season of the year and why?
2. What do you want to be "when you grow up"? (and if you're already grown up, what are you doing or what do you want to do someday?)
3. What's the most obscure and unique song you love to listen to?
4. Do you prefer sunshine or rain better? (I expect a detailed explanation as to why you feel the way you do! *insert intellectual emoji here*)
5. How do you usually listen to music (Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, Apple Music, etc.)?
6. Favorite black-and-white 'old timey' movie?
7. A fun fact that most people don't know about you?
8. Best memory of 2019 so far?
9. What's your favorite thing to do on the internet?
10. What's the longest you've ever gone without internet?
11. What's the most obscure piece of information you remember from school?

Photo Credit: Me
~ Amaris // ☆

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Flower Fades

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but so far 2019 has been crazy for me. I don't mean bad, necessarily... well, a lot of it has been, unfortunately, bad. But a lot of it is good.
And a lot of it is neither good nor bad, just different.
I'm trying to keep up with it all, to be honest. 
There's too many changes.

The most recent change being... I lost my job at the embroidery place that I have worked for 2 years.
Oh, don't worry- I didn't get FIRED exactly. They just had to let me go because the business is (sadly) dying. Our owner was busy trying to run another business, and as a result we weren't able to get the maintenance we needed to fix certain issues that were keeping us from getting business, such as faulty phone lines, faulty (and very old) email accounts, our software which was infected with a virus, among other things.
It's a sad way to end, but that's the way it is sometimes.
Businesses die.
The strong becomes weak.
The rich become poor.
The first become last.

Everything changes.
Everything.

I think there's a sort of brain complex that people get- I'm not sure the psychological term (or if there even is one), but I feel like the human mind tends to think as if things will never change. Oh, we believe that change exists, and we even look forward to it at times. We are not surprised when the season of the year changes, or when we buy a new device, or when we get a new haircut. We look forward to and even plan for those changes.

But I think when certain things actually do change, we're caught off guard.
Especially when the things we thought never would change, do. Like relationships. You're with someone you love, and you imagine as you laugh together that things will always be this way. But chances are they won't. Time goes on and you watch them become a stranger. Changes like that are a unique level of pain. And yet, they are surprisingly freeing..?
I don't know. It's weird to think about.

Anyways, that's happened a lot with me this year. Literally every month so far in 2019, there has been a change so in my life. Some of them quite major.
Being let go of this job being one of the major ones, especially since it was unexpected.

There is a verse in the Bible that I think of during times of change.

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our GOD will stand forever." Isaiah 40:8

Rather poetic, isn't it? It is sad, yet hopeful. That is the way with most seasons of change. It is sad, and often a very difficult time, but where would we be if we never moved on? How would we learn, grow, and flourish, if we are never torn from our comfortable cubby holes? (am i channeling Gandalf's energy right now..? i don't know.. but if i am, it wouldn't be a bad thing).

Life isn't meant to stagnate. It's meant to flow and change course and ripple... like a stream on a spring day.

I will always look back fondly on that job. It wasn't even like a job. I never clock-watched there. I never wondered or waited impatiently for my "shift" to end because there were no shifts. I went to that old house in the morning and opened everything up, and at closing time I closed everything down and locked the door behind me. I didn't pay attention to the time there because I loved all my various tasks there and never wondered when or wished I would be finished.

If it was a slow day (the kind which increasingly grew towards the end of my employment), I would do my Bible study or read a book at the front counter, stashing it away if a customer came up the front steps.
While being employed there I went through some of the hardest times of my life, and some days I loved being at work more than I loved being at my own cramped home. They say home is where your heart is most happy and comfortable. If that is true, my job was my home.
So, in a way, I've left not two, but three homes in the last year and a half.
Take the emotional (and physical toll) that moving once puts on a person, and triple it. Now you can understand why my heart feels like I've lost a dear friend.

I'm only 21, but honestly I feel so old
What will I feel like at 71, I wonder.

I know I care about things too much. I put care and love into things and then it changes or gets taken away. Why do I do that to myself? It's as if I like letting myself down. To quote Michael Scott: "I am ready to get hurt again."

Last year, Owl City (one of my favorite musical artists since I was 16) finally came out with a new long- awaited album, Cinematic. One of the songs was "Firebird", and in it there is a lyric:

Tell me why I look back, and I want to cry,
Sometimes I feel like we grew up too fast.
 
You and I had the time of our younger lives,
Sometimes I sigh and think about the past.

But it's alright, 'cause everything changes.

If 2019 keeps up like this, I think I might have to name those lines the official lyrics to describe my 2019. We'll see when I post my new year's post in December. *shrug*

Well anyways.
I'm gonna end this post now. It's admittedly sappy and sad and if it's all the same to you I think I'll just post this and forget I ever wrote it.
It is a lovely evening. It's summertime and almost twilight and the sunlight is streaming through my window, casting golden stripes onto my stacks of books on top of my dresser. So I want to go take a walk in my backyard and enjoy the cool evening temperature.

Here's a picture if it seems like I'm just making the golden sunlight part up to sound even more sappy:


Goodbye, friends.

~ Amaris // ☆

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Spring // 2019

I got to hang out with my best friend:
It was really good to connect again because our busy lives kept us apart for almost 3 months... which is too long. We also decided to read 'The Circle Series' at the same time (a re-read for me) so that we could compare opinions. It's quite a series to swallow, but I am excited to go through it again.

I went to my third ever baseball game and rather enjoyed it:
Watching baseball in real life is more fun than I remember, and definitely more fun than watching it on TV. Apparently the STL Cardinals haven't been doing well this season; but I wouldn't know. All I know is they creamed the opponent on the night I went with my mom and sister and it was very enjoyable.

I spent a lot of time sick:
I endured a miserable three weeks with nausea, constipation, and jaundice, and it eventually put me in the hospital. They never did figure out what it was, and I got better naturally soon after the hospital visit. Most of the doctors thought it was Hepatitis A, but every time they tested for that it was negative. I am feeling great and I'm back to normal now, so... whatever it was it's gone now *shrug*.

We moved:
This time last year we moved into an apartment, but but as soon as our one year lease was over in May, we moved to a slightly larger (and nicer) townhouse, which I'm very happy with. I have my own room again! And I have a perfect view of the Western sky, and have been enjoying the sunsets every evening I'm home. God has truly blessed me in many ways.


I watched some movies and shows:
Five Feet Apart (2019)
It was ok- but not great. Pretty cliche and melodramatic. I feel like I would've liked it better had I seen it when I was closer to 16, but I'm 21 and it didn't do much for me.

The Office (2005-2013)
Not the cleanest show, and I'll probably not re-watch certain episodes, but it's very funny and extremely quotable. I can see why millions of people like the show. I feel like it's almost worth a one time watch-thru at least. For appropriate audiences. Idk.

Breakthrough (2019)
It was ok. It was kinda surreal watching a movie about an event that happened very close to my own hometown. It wasn't great but it wasn't a bad movie altogether.

Julie & Julia (2009)
What a sweet and heartwarming movie!! I watched it late one night with my mom, who also loved it.  I love Amy Adams soo much! I don't love Meryl Streep as well but she was good in this movie. I think there was a few cuss words but definitely worth a watch.

Smokey & The Bandit (1977)
Kinda funny, a little bit exciting, a tiny bit sweet, overall not really my thing. Sally Field helped a bit, as she is one of my favorite actresses. Overall, probably won't watch again.

The Matrix (1999)
Very intriguing. It wasn't my type of movie, and it didn't "change my life" the way some male family members told me it would, but I can see why it was revolutionary for it's time and why it was a huge hit, and it did get me thinking a little bit. Also I'm a Keanu Reeves fan now. Bless.

The Founder (2016)
SO FRUSTRATING AND UNFAIR. But also good. I loved it an hated it. Ugh.

Julie & Julia (2009)


I started reading books again:
~The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (currently reading)
~Scarlet - Marissa Meyer (finished)
~Cress - Marissa Meyer (currently reading)
~Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl's Heart - Bethany Beal & Kristen Clark (currently reading)
~Conscience - Andrew David Naselli & J. D. Crowley (currently reading)
~Where We Belong - Lynn Austin (finished!) Here's a post about it.
~The Circle Series - Ted Dekker (just started)


I am writing VBS lessons:
My VBS partner and I will be teaching the VBS lessons at our church again this year- we are teaching from the book of Acts about Paul's second missionary journey! The theme of this year's VBS is Athens - so everything is Greek themed! We're going to wear togas and leaf headpieces. It's coming up soon.. on July 15th. I can't wait!

On June 19th, my favorite job I've ever held had to let me go:
A small post is coming soon about that.

I tried being positive:
A post is coming soon about that as well.

A Few Other Things:
~It rained a lot, and some tornadoes almost tore apart my city. But we survived.
~God is faithful when I am faithless. He's also unchanging.Thank God.
~I have the best friend I could ask for.
~I discovered arguably the greatest most practical YouTube channel for introverts and people with social anxiety (like me...): Charisma on Command. Check it out. The psychology is super intriguing. And there's a recent episode on Keanu Reeves and introversion... i am cri.
~God used 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 32 to change my life.

Music:
~Bee Gees "Too Much Heaven". I love those chill vibes. ☀
~Studio Ghibli Piano Music. Perfect for taking a walk with a twilight sunset.
~BTS "Make It Right". Pretty much any BTS song is guaranteed good vibes.
~Queen "Spread Your Wings". A newly 'discovered' Queen song for me.

Spring Words:
Sunsets
Crescents
Chills
Chopin
Ablaze
Golden
Quiet
Change
Wait


☆ // Amaris // ☆

How was your Spring? Did you do anything you've never done before? What has God done in your life lately?

Friday, June 14, 2019

Where We Belong // Lynn Austin

I just finished the book and wrote the review on Goodreads, when I decided to post it here as well. 
_____________________________


My Review:
Overall, the book wasn't my favorite Lynn Austin book. She is such a good writer, and I admire so much of her work. This book wasn't badly written. It wasn't boring. It wasn't frustrating.
It just wasn't great.
It wasn't 'Hidden Places', it wasn't 'Wonderland Creek', and in my opinion the execution of each character's backstory was better carried out in 'Eve's Daughters' than in 'Where We Belong'.
BUT.
This book was special in it's own way, and had it's heart-wrenching, heart-warming, lovely and moving moments that left me thanking God that He is the way He is. Yes, this is a fiction story. But God is very real. His love is the realest thing you can experience.
Austin did a stunning job with this book in particular of bringing His loving and redemptive nature to life throughout the story, in the way the sisters cared, served and shown incredible mercy, grace, and love to certain characters in the book.
I also really loved the way everything came together at the end of the book. This happy ending story wasn't without heartbreak, which is a reminder that we never know how God will work. You never know how He will use you in ways that you can't imagine, and might never comprehend until heaven. It was a blessed reminder that it doesn't matter where you've been, what you've done, who you were in your past. Jesus flips that upside down. He's dying (literally- and rising again) to reach out to those very people.
In the words of 'The Pilgrim's Progress':

"Apollyon accused, "You almost fainted when you first set out, when you almost choked in the Swamp of Despond. You also attempted to get rid of your burden in the wrong way, instead of patiently waiting for the Prince [GOD] to take it off. You sinfully slept and lost your scroll, you were almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions, and when you talk of your journey and of what you have heard and seen, you inwardly desire your own glory in all you do and say."

To which Christian simply replies:

"All this is true, and much more that you have failed to mention...But the Prince [GOD] whom I now serve and honor is merciful and ready to forgive. Besides, these infirmities possessed me while I was in your country, for there I allowed them to come in. But I have groaned under them, have been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon from my Prince."

The LORD only can say who you are, what you are. No mistakes you've made can define you, as well as no good thing you can do. You will find this nowhere else, including religions. When religion demands "do", Christ states simply, "done".

But back to reviewing the book.

To be honest, the book helped me in my personal journey of loving and submitting to God in my own heart during this particular season of my life, and I've been a 'believer' for close to 10 years now (I've been churched all my life and I said "the prayer" at age 9, but I didn't really begin to grasp God's love for me and live my life for Him until I was closer to 12-14)! Who knows what God will do with my path as the years go on and my journey of life continues. It is my resolve to trust Him as He guides me along the way.
I love how so much of the sister's life was included, and how it all came to a beautiful and satisfying conclusion of how God brought things together, as is His way.
That's why, while not as good as some, this book has a special place in my heart and I will always connect it in my mind to the season that I am personally walking through right now.


_________________________

Well, that is all. I just wanted to share my thoughts. This book holds a special place in my heart for another reason - when I first received it for my birthday in January of 2018, I was still in my old childhood home. Everything in my life has prevented me from reading and enjoying books since then - including moving twice. I tried reading this book several times, only to read a chapter or two and then leave it for weeks untouched before being able to pick it up and focus again. It's been a difficult year and a half since I read the first chapter and so many things in my life have changed I can't even count them all- but a few things have remained constant. The LORD, and my underlying love for books, reading, and imagination, even while not having the time or the  mental energy to focus on enjoying them. My heart for those things was still there-lying beneath the surface as everything I thought I could count on in my life practically dissolved before my eyes.

Only in the last month, I've finally started to come back to my old way of doing things. My old hobbies, my old enjoyments, my old state of mental health. It's still rough, but God is still there. He is my constant Companion when everyone around me fails me or lets me down- and in being so, proving He's different and can be trusted. I don't ever want to take a break from books again- I hope that in the future, no matter what difficulties or trials I walk through, I will always come from a healthy place in my mind where I can focus on and enjoy a well-written story.
This is the book that I began at the beginning of that 'taking-a-break-from-books-and-everything-i-found-pleasure-in' season, and 'Where We Belong' ended just now... as that season is coming to an end. I'm not sure of very many things, but I'm quite sure that Lynn Austin books will always mean a lot to me.

That's all, friends.
I hope you've having a good day!

What about you? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? What book or author means a lot to you?

-Amaris ☆

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Waiting for Nothing

When I was 14, I read all the best Christian books about purity and singleness.
You name it, I read it.
"How to wait for God's best with a romantic relationship", "How to serve God while waiting", etc. (those aren't actual titles but you get the idea).
I felt really good about reading those books. And what's more, I felt confident in my ability to 'wait for God's best'.
Life went on, and I waited, like the books told me to.
It went pretty well. I kept waiting.
To be honest, it was easy. I was 15, 16, 17, who needs a relationship anyway? Certainly not me! None of my friends had boyfriends and they were were single too. It was all good. I kept waiting.


I'm 21 now... and I'm still 'waiting'.
Yeah, I know I'm still young, and a lot can happen as the years go on. But the problem is, for some reason back then I thought that 'waiting' would get easier the longer I did it. Well, that's not true. It actually gets harder. 
The main reason it's harder is because many people my age are getting into relationships. They're kissing each other. They're getting engaged. Married. And they're my age.
What's more, most of these couples are clearly following God's will and serving Him - together.
To be honest, it would be easier if they were all pursuing sinful relationships.
But they're not.
They're serving God, and they're working hard.
But wait...
I'm doing those things too.
So... where's my godly romantic relationship?
Man that's hard.
Feelings of doubt and fear and even anger and jealously make a home in my mind.


I entertain anxiety: by wondering if I'm not good enough. What can I do to be good enough so God will give me my heart's desire? I might struggle with social anxiety because I'm afraid no one will like me. (Philippians 4:6)

I struggle with doubt: I ask myself if it's truly God's plan that I never meet someone and marry, what if being single all my life is not going to be good enough? I don't know if I trust God with my happiness. (Proverbs 3:5-6)


I battle anger & jealousy: why should other couples have what I want? Why should they have their romantic desires fulfilled when I am serving God just as much, maybe more? I'm the one who deserves this. I find myself getting annoyed when people talks about couples. I struggle praying for other couple's relationships. I try to avoid hanging out with couples because spending time with people who have what I want is hurtful to me (mostly my pride). (Philippians 4:19, Philippians 2:3)


I don't know if any of these sound familiar.
Maybe you're struggling too. Maybe you're not.
In my case, I have to learn, first of all, to recognize the entertainment of these thoughts for what they are; Sin. Specifically, discontentment. (Isaiah 64:6)
Discontentment is the umbrella sin above every sin listed above. Anxiety, fear, worry, doubt, anger, jealousy, bitterness. It all stems from not being content in what God has given me. You know what they say, the grass is always greener. So what's at the root of discontentment? Unbelief.


Being discontent is not believing that God has this under control.
It's not trusting that He knows best, and knows what He's doing with my life. Like I said above, it's worrying that God's plan for me isn't good enough.
What a distorted, twisted mess sin makes things!
The good news is, no matter the struggle, there's always hope.
I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. (Psalms 42:11)


No matter the lies, there are always truths from God to replace them.
The first thing I want to point out is this: Sin distorts what God meant to be good. It's ok to want a romantic partner. It's ok to desire an intimate relationship. It's natural and healthy. That's why God created romance! He is the Founder and Author of romantic intimacy.
But when they are allowed to mix with negative thoughts and fester in the mind, these natural and godly desires can turn into so many unhealthy and sinful desires.
So, what can we do? What can I do?
I am still struggling with this; every single day. (Romans 6:17)


But here's what God has been telling me about being single.
First of all, let's clear this up: No matter what you've heard in Hallmark movies, there's not 'someone for everyone'. If you're single and hoping to get married some day, listen to this. You. Might. Never. Get. Married.
I know... I'm a dream crusher. But consider this for a second:
What if you start living your life as if you'll never get married? What would that look like?
What if you begin making a better life for yourself right now; instead of waiting to make a life with someone else (the 'love of your life') some day?
Believe me, you don't want to look back one day (married or not!) and wish and wonder why you didn't grab hold of God's best life for you while you could.
Live your best life for God NOW!
Create a life for yourself that you are so in love with that even if you don't get married, you'll barely miss it.


Because:
Imagine the flip-side.
Imagine spending years 'waiting' and 'preparing' yourself to be married one day, only to discover at one point or another that it's not in God's plan for you to be married... ever?
All those years I spent holding onto that romantic movie quote; 'There's someone for everyone'?
What an absolute waste of time. (Proverbs 14:12)
The truth is: I am a whole person; a beautiful, amazing, complete, happy person, without anyone else. I should not be spending my time waiting or searching for 'my other half' because I'M NOT A HALF. This is true not just for me, but everyone who reads this.



You've probably heard many people say that life is about waiting.
It's true, we wait for many things in life. Life includes waiting. But I believe that life is, in fact, not about waiting. Especially for things that might not ever happen.
Life is about growing in the LORD, and trusting Him no matter what He gives. It's about taking what He gives me and relying on Him to help me make the most of it. Because what I have, what you have, is truly amazing with or without a relationship. (Psalms 9:10)

Will I be happy if the LORD gives me a husband one day? Yes.
Will I be happy if I never get married as long as I live? Still yes.

And guess what? You will too. (Psalm 37:4)
So that's my message for you. That's my takeaway from this post, and I hope it encourages someone. Trust God with your future, as He is reminding me, every single day, to trust Him with mine. (Psalm 115:11, Matthew 11:28) Maybe not everyone who reads this post will have these same struggles. But I certainly do. And if you do too, this is for you.


Wait for nothing.


// Amaris //

p.s. Thank you for all the sweet comments on my last post <3

Friday, May 17, 2019

felt depressed, might delete later idk

Some things I miss:
 
I miss having time to read.

I miss helping people.

I miss working with children.

I miss my friend Maggie.

I miss my best friend.

I miss the times before certain people betrayed my trust.

I miss the times before certain people manipulated me.

I miss the times before certain people got in the way of some of my relationships.

I miss how things were before people evolve and change.

I miss being a light.

I miss good times before things got messed up.



Most of all...

I miss places I've never been.

I miss people I've never met.

I miss spending time with God.



Amaris

Disclaimer: These things are not directed toward anyone or anything specific. I'm just speaking generally cause I was a lil depressed today; that's all. I'm ok.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Small Writing Tips

A few tips I have picked up from being a story lover for many years. 
Disclaimer: I've never actually written a book.

Unfulfilled Desires
If you're going to kill off a character, consider killing them off before they've achieved something important to them. Let the reader know exactly what they're leaving behind. For example, they couldn't wait to see their mom after many years, but they died right before being able to make the trip, and their mom will never see them again. Or, it was their lifelong dream to see the ocean. They wanted to tell their best friend they loved them. It really rips the reader's heart out because they weren't finished with life.

Powerful Villain
Be sure we know how powerful your villain is. Before your hero must confront the villain in the climax, make sure the hero (and your reader) sees first hand the kind of damage the villain can do. You have to instill that fear of the villain as organically and early as possible in the story.

Keep Old Drafts
Never throw away your old drafts, even ones from story ideas you've trashed. Keep them, and re-read them occasionally. You never know what important things you will want to go back and use.

Model Real Personalities
Be real. Especially with your main character. Figure out your hero's personality, and learn as much as you can about that personality. It will help you write your character more authentically. (I like to take this test through the eyes of my character. One of my favorite powerful characters I worked with back when I was still writing was an ESTJ personality and I loved using all the ESTJ information I found online to strengthen her characteristics). But don't forget to make your hero change and grow overtime (a.k.a. a 'character arc'). That's what real people do.

Watch Movies & Read Books
Watch movies and read books. Make notes of what you like/dislike about the stories and the characters. Remember them when you write your own stuff.

Reference
Don't forget to use references. You'll never get anywhere if you expect to figure out what to say and how to say it all on your own. Where do people go these days when they need inspiration? The internet. Welcome to the future, people. You want your character to express how they feel without being cliche? Go create a Pinterest account, follow some 'writing reference' boards.

Write Horribly
At the top of the rough draft of your story, label it 'The Dumbest Version'. It will help your mindset to allow yourself to write terribly because the rough draft doesn't have to be good it just has to be written.



Thanks for reading- I hope some of these can help you out sometime. :) 

// -Amaris //

Thursday, April 11, 2019

New Blog Look // Spring & Summer 2019

Good day, peeps! I just wanted to share that I have a new blog look! I was going for cool toned Summer vibes, with a hint of sunshine.
It will be fun to look at this post in years to come and see what the blog looked like, so that's the reason for this post, and this picture:



I hope you like the new look, and I hope your Spring is gong well, peeps!
-Amaris

Monday, April 8, 2019

Psalm 86 // Aesthetic

Well, peeps, this year has been hard so far. 
2016 was really good.
2017 was pretty good.
2018 was ok...

But 2019, man. 
Big oof.

But anyways, in spite of some interesting things going on in my life, the LORD has really been a comfort to me in the last few months, and I think my relationship with Him has grown in ways like it never has. 
The Psalms, especially, have been a place of refuge to me.
As you read, try to just take a deep breath, calm your thoughts, and let these beautiful words speak to you.
Now here you are. A post. 
To praise the God of Psalm 86. (NASB) 



// Psalm 86 //


Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy. 

Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
  
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.

Instagram: @est._1998
Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!

In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Instagram: @est._1998
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.

 For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

Instagram: @est._1998

  Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Your name forever.

For Your lovingkindness toward me is great,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set You before them.


Instagram: @est._1998
 But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
  
Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.
  
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Instagram: @est._1998

-Amaris

Monday, April 1, 2019

Some Drawings

If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen me post drawings in the last few months. You might also know that since the Summer of 2018, I have taken my drawing hobby more seriously (I even took a class! It was quite fun), and because of that I have improved in recent months!
I have been posting most of the good ones on my art Instagram @sketching_smee, but if you're not on Instagram, here is a glimpse into some of the drawings I have done lately, and plus I think it'll be fun for me to look back at these one day on the blog.

They are in no particular order. :)

~
 Avocados
The cutting board is slightly crooked, and it bothers me every time I see it. I like how the shading and texture turned out tho.


Breakable
 This was for an Inktober drawing. The prompt was 'breakable'.


Broken But Free
This one kind of went along with what was going on in my life at the time.


Christmas Bell Still Life
One of my favorite still life drawings! I'm really proud of how the shading turned out.


House in a Bottle
It was Christmas season when I drew this.


Jolt
Another Inktober drawing. The prompt was 'jolt'.


A Lonely Seashell
I did a few drawing requests on my art Instagram. This was inspired by my best friend's prompt, 'beaches'.


Minimal Mountainscape
Fooling around with a pencil one evening. I wasn't trying to make it good but I like how it turned out.


Shaded Pumpkins
One of my favorite charcoal pieces.


Snow Bird
The chickadee is my favorite kind of bird. :)


Soul Butterfly
I combined a few ideas from images I found on Pinterest, and ended up with this tattoo-looking zen-esque butterfly.


Space Shuttle Launch
Another favorite piece done with charcoal. Sadly, I didn't have any fixative spray at the time I made this, so it was ruined when I closed my drawing book. I only have pictures to prove the piece ever existed.


Sputnik 1, October 4th, 1957
The rightmost antenna is slightly crooked and it bothers me to death.


Star
One of my favorite Inktober drawings, the prompt was 'star'.


Sunshine Flower
A piece I drew and gave to a very special friend, because to me she is sunshine.


Tropical Arrangement No.1
Another piece I gave away to a friend. I like drawing things for people, because I can now. :)


That is all, my friends! I have so much to learn with drawing, but things are going well. I must keep practicing. 
Thanks for reading! 

-Amaris

Which drawing is your favorite? If you draw, do you have any drawing tips for me? :)
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