Friday, December 16, 2011

The Weary World Rejoices

The other day, my boss at work gave me my first Christmas present of the year – a jar of honey that he made (you don’t really make honey… you extract it? Whip it up? Coagulate it? I have no idea).  I got into my car to leave that day and put my lovely present on the seat next to me, drank some warm coffee and turned on the radio to Christmas music. The spirit of Christmas filled me to my toes and I couldn’t help but smile.

There’s something electrifying about Christmas. Lights go up in shops, snow reflects the moon at night making the night world glow with eerie joy. People are nicer to each other (except on Black Friday), people feel compelled to wish each other joy. People give gifts with curly ribbons, spending more than they have but giving with a full heart (Gift of the Magi, anyone?)

Is it ironic or not so ironic that Christmas is filled with joy when it represents one of the greatest days (only equalled to the Resurrection) mankind has ever seen? The explosive joy felt over two thousand years ago when Planet Earth received its Savior continues to spill over into the present. The magnitude of the significance, thousands of years later cannot help but touch us still. Whether we know it or not – that is the reason why joy is felt. Earth received her King. If the earth had feelings like a human, what sort of nuclear reaction went off when it woke up to find God had come back to its mortal soil? That the perfection it had experienced during the Eden years made a re-appearance on a moonlit night? Joy to the world!

With our twinkle lights, and our tree skirts, we feel the warmth of a season of joy. But WHY? Because Jesus Christ came back for us, refused to abandon us to our hopelessness. He came to die, and then to defeat death, to do great things...all for us. THERE IS NO GREATER REASON FOR JOY. And with the joy in remembrance of what He's done comes the hope of the promise that He will come back for us again if we don't leave this earth to join Him first.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.  Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Reading List

It's that time of year. The end of it. I used to post this list on facebook, but it looks a little more nifty on here. You'll notice a lot more YA fiction than the last list, due to the fact that it was readily available at the Library - and I'm a sucker for it. Let me know if you've read any of these and your opinions!

Here we go.

1. Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff
2. The last five books of the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
3. The Return of the King by Tolkien
4. 1984 by George Orwell
5. A Christmas Carol by Dickens
6. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - very, very good.
7. Shades of Blue - Karen Kingsbury... eek. why?
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney - loved it :)
9. The Professor's Daughter by Sfar and Guibert...a graphic novel about a woman falling in love with a mummy. Really good :)
10. Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys - Kate Brian - courtesy of Carolyn Myer :)
11. Fast Forward to Normal by Jane Vogel - also courtesy of Carolyn
12. How to be Popular by Meg Cabot - I have no recollection...
13. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
14. Let it Snow - 3 stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle - excellent
15. Girl Overboard by Maureen Johnson
16. Suite Scarlett by Mauren Johnson
17. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde - the long awaited.
18. Tales from the Perilous Realm by Tolkien (AMAZING)
19. Cannery Row by Steinbeck
20. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
21. the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson (worst. series. ever. gag.)
22. Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton - excellent.
23. The Winter of our Discontent by Steinbeck. Excellent.
24. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
25. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. YES!!!
26. Quitter by Jon Acuff - read my review for Relevant here: Quitter
27. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
28. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
29. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
30. Let Me be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot - excellent
31. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
32. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Rowling - reading back through these :)
33. Life Itself by Roger Ebert

So...that's that! I promise more meaty blogs to come soon, as a lot of my writing/reading projects are over. :) What have you read this year?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Long time no see...

I publically apologize to the planet for falling off its edge. NaNoWriMo is over, and after a month of late late late nights and word sprints and caffeine, it's over. So for the first Blog Post Friday back, I wanted to share with you a polished edition of a segment of my NaNoWriMo novel, Untopia. :) Enjoy.

Chapter 4

I started to understand six months ago, last year in school. My Life Learning teacher had a special presenter come in and speak to us about an exciting advancement from the government. I guess because the sickness had been hitting mainly my generation, the government found it necessary to encourage us. Before I came to understand, I shuffled through life with Scott, with homework, with reading because it was the only life I’d ever known. But this presenter talked about how the government was constantly working, not only to sustain life but to improve it. We’d heard it a million times before but never really knew what it meant. The man brought with him a small metal spoon. It was like an ice cream scoop, with a metal canister at the end of it. He made us all come outside and stand around him in a circle. Through his air filter tube, he told us he was about to do something amazing.

He reached down and scooped some hard ash from beside the pavement into the bowl of the spoon and tipped it into the canister. We went back inside and he put a powder into the canister and pressed a button, which made the whole thing buzz and mix I guess. Then he dumped the ash and powder into a glass cup that was half filled with water. The water bubbled and orange foam filled the top of the glass cup. When all the bubbles popped, the man dumped the whole mess onto a tray and soaked up the rest of the water with a towel. It had become dirt, brownish orange, mushy dirt. Nobody spoke. We stared at it and at the man who seemed very happy with himself.

We left the dirt in the room for a few weeks on the tray, letting it “stabilize” as the man had told us to do. Then we were going to try to find some seeds online and plant something in it. But a couple weeks after it had finished drying the whole class got started to show signs of illness. Kids who sat in that corner started coughing up blood; everyone got the flu and a strange orange tint in our skin.

Jason, the boy who sat closest to the dirt, didn’t recover. He’s still alive but he suffered massive brain damage and is kept alive by machine. It turned out the guy who came to speak to our class wasn’t authorized by the government to show his experiment to the public, but he wanted to give hope to our generation. When it went sour he killed himself and the soil experiment was scrapped.

Jason made me realize the truth more than anything I’d seen before. I realized we were all kept alive by machine, by chemical, by things that weren’t real. Kids my age didn’t even know what was real because we had never experienced it. I became very angry at anyone who had experienced life before the fall. They bragged and reminisced about the days when things were beautiful and they had summer nights and bonfires and lightning bugs and real food. I hated them. I hated them because they wouldn’t shut up about it. They talked and they did nothing to change it. They are the ones that destroyed the world but they would do nothing to fix it, but punish my generation by spreading their malcontent.

I couldn’t focus well in class anymore and my heart was bitter. I stopped hanging out with Scott as much after school. I suppose nothing major really changed. It was the ceasing of change that made it obvious to me. Healthy development involves change, I have been told, and healthy development is what ceased.

And here I am. I thought about all of this as I lay on my bed. I used to think one day I would bring hope to my generation; I would find a way. There had to be a way to undo what we had done. But I had come to understand finally. There is no way, and that is what’s understood by those who leave. I shut my eyes and crossed my hands over my chest, letting out a deep sigh. Tired emotion in water form streaked lazily down my cheek and dreamless darkness swallowed my head.

Chapter 5

When I woke I was warm. I knew I was awake because I could feel it, though my eyes weren’t open and my hands were still on my chest. A new smell poured into my room. At first I thought it was my mother’s cooking, but it couldn’t be. It wasn’t the smell of something packaged and revived. It moved and changed.

I bolted upright, opening my eyes. I was definitely not in my room.