Attacks, Battles, Faith, and Trust

I just got back from Poland a couple of weeks ago, so forgive my lack of posts. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts in order.

This mission trip to Poland was my first time going somewhere without my parents – well, first time going somewhere besides the grocery store. Frankly, I was just excited. It wasn’t until the night before I left that I realized what I was really doing. I was about to fly halfway across the world with twenty other people who aren’t related to me. I was going to go to a completely foreign place (in the most literal sense of the word) without anyone or anything familiar to ease the shock. Still, even through that realization, yes, I wanted to cry, but my excitement never faded. I was exhilarated. So we left. All twenty of us, on a little plane out of a nearby city.

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For months leading up to the trip, I had felt “under attack.” This is christianese for Satan was trying to keep me from going on this trip. I felt anxiety, fear, doubts, but through the attacks, God would always give me little words of encouragement. They would be short, they would be simple, but oh they were true, and they were exactly what I needed to do battle. The attacks continued throughout the trip, and the primary doubt that took root in me was the fear that God wouldn’t do anything in me or through me. I had been so excited to go to Poland because I felt so strongly that there was a reason I was going, but I still had this lingering fear that I wouldn’t feel a change. Finally, one day, this fear and others bubbled over to the surface, and, well, I spent a lot of time crying that day.

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The next morning, I was reassured once again that there was a reason I was in Poland. God challenged me to stretch my faith in Him. Plus, that was a word He had given me time and time again leading up to the trip: “FAITH” and “TRUST.” So I trusted. From that moment on, I had a renewed trust in my Father. I was able to trust that I was there for a reason. I was able to trust that I was making a difference, even if I couldn’t see it. I was able to have faith that God was making changes in me and through me. AND HE DID. Even if that is the only change He made, He did renew my faith and trust in Him. Now that I am home again, I want nothing more than to go back. Back to that place of isolation with God. Still, I know that this is where He wants me right now… and I am able to trust Him in that.

After Poland, I do feel changed. I have a new fellowship with God like I’ve never had before. I have a new trust and a new faith and for that, I am so thankful.

I am thankful to be home safe, but I can’t wait for my next adventure.

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My Magical Wonderful Happy Place (a.k.a. OSF)

As promised, here I am with my post on the one… the only.. Oregon Shakespeare Festival!!!  Now, all of you, go back and read that sentence with the “20th Century Fox” fanfare in the background.  Done? Good. Thanks.

Now, let’s talk.  I know I linked this in my last post, but read it, if you haven’t.  If you have, read it again.  It’s important.  Anyways, for those of you who don’t know, “Oregon Shakespeare Festival” (OSF) is a festival of approximately 10-12 plays that run from February to November every year in Ashland.  Over the past 5 seasons, I’ve had the privilege of seeing such plays as Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, As You Like It, The Heart of Robin Hood, and many more.  This year, I got to see The Cocoanuts, The Tempest, Into the Woods, and A Wrinkle in Time.

So dang excite.

I loved ALL of them, as I always do, and I’m really not going to go into it now, but seriously, I had SUCH a great time on this trip.  I was able to take it with the lovely Emory as a carpool/elbowing buddy, and in addition to enjoying these plays with me, she also took the time to pleasure me in partying around Ashland, shopping, sitting, and even singing and dancing down the streets of Ashland, Oregon. (“Nothing suits me like a suit….”) She even obliged me in reading Chapter 1 of A Wrinkle in Time out loud in preparation for seeing the show, AND doing all the voices (I readily forgive Charles Wallace’s brief time as a 50-year-old man because Emory couldn’t quite voice a 5-year-old boy).  PLUS, she listened to and gave her much-valued opinion on a monologue I needed to practice for an upcoming audition.

Fun fact: Monologues and reading are much more enjoyable in a place like Lithia Park in Ashland.

We got to see all of those plays, we got to do all of that singing, and we got to have my favorite time in Ashland so far.  Sadly, however, it had to end sometime.

PLOT TWIST!!!  About a week after our return, my sister called my mother up with news of $10 rush tickets to OSF plays, and since she hadn’t gotten to go with us the first time around, she suggested we go back to see A Wrinkle in Time.  AND IT WAS MEANT TO BE.  So we returned to Ashland, and we were the first in line for those last few tickets.  We got tickets that would normally have been over $100 dollars for $10. This means I got to watch closing night for my favorite play this year with my favorite sister, after already watching it with one of my very favorite people.  This also means that I got to see my favorite OSF actor, Joe Wegner, play Calvin O’Keefe all over again.  AND THEN, we went to a Q+A afterwards, where we got to talk to Alejandra Escalante (Meg Murray), Sarah Bruner (Charles Wallace Murray), and Joe Wegner.  I had one of my less proud moments in my life during this Q+A… so, it is the story time equinox.  And I think we all know what that is.  It’s a made-up event, just to give me a valid excuse to tell a story!

I usually don’t ask questions during these things, but I made the decision to step out and ask if these three actors were returning to next season.  Sadly, Alejandra is not, but Sarah and Joe will be coming back!  In fact, and here’s where my moment comes in, Joe announced that he is going to be in Guys and Dolls.  Let me just take a moment to say that literally the one and only reason I asked that question was to find out if Joe is going to be in Guys and Dolls, so, the moment he said that, I… how do I put this… sqeaked. Loudly. If you have any doubt as to the volume of this squeak, a friend of mine, who was sitting in the back, told me afterwards that she “loved my sqeak.”  That’s how it went down.

Oh, and lookie here!

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Walked away singing

Let me just end this post by saying this: Please, for the love of all that is good and pure GO TO OSF NEXT YEAR.  The new season is released and stinking GUYS AND DOLLS, COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.  SO MUCH GOODNESS.

Lastly, a great big, ginormous, THANK YOU SOOO MUCH to Emory, her mother, and my mother and sister for making the trip the most wonderful Ashland experience so far.

Who wants to join us next year?

Seattle Adventure

I don’t know if you remember (I didn’t until just now), but in my Guardians of the Galaxy Review, I mentioned that I had been on a mission trip to Seattle and would be blogging about it soon. Ladies and gentlemen, soon has arrived. Let’s begin.

Our team of about 20 teens and 4 adults left for Seattle on August 3rd and arrived back on August 8th. Over the course of the trip, we helped out in the local food bank, sorted endless amounts of shoes in a confined space tailored specifically for 17 people or less, painted, weeded, chainsawed (definitely a word), just generally were very helpful. At each place we volunteered at, we received the same comment: “There just seems to be a real unity in your group.” Maybe they knew this, maybe they didn’t, but we all firmly believe that the unity they saw was unity in Christ… I group coming together for one common goal: to do God’s work. It was an amazing thing.

The working was awesome, but my favorite part of every day was the evening, because every night, after we were done working and we all had gone to the showers (the church we were staying at, sadly, didn’t have showers on the premises, so we had to drive to separate public showers), my youth pastor had hand-picked a place for us to go and worship and have devotional time. The first night we went to Gasworks Park, the second night we went to Ballard Locks, and on third day we went to Golden Gardens, on the Puget Sound, and did church on the beach. No matter where we went, though, it was just a great experience to go out into those public places and feel God so strongly. As people walked by, sometime they would just stop for a moment and watch us ascribe to the Lord glory due His name.

On the last day, we got some free time and we were able to go to a Mariner’s Game and take an afternoon at Wild Waves before we headed home, but through every moment of the trip, it was just amazing to be able to form such strong, Godly relationships with everyone on the trip. It was incredible.

–Gracie

To Be a Grown-Up

Every child has their moment. That moment, in the midst of a temper tantrum, where they scream at their parents: “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up so I can do whatever I want!!!”

For me, I remember distinctly, as a young’n, thinking, “I can’t wait until I grow up, so I can chew gum whenever I want.” Little did I know that, not only would the opportunity to monitor my own gum chewing come sooner than later, but, also, that wasn’t even close to everything being a grown-up has to offer.

Now, as I approach my senior year of high school, and am still not by any means a “grown-up,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the future has in store. Where will I go to college? What will I do for a living? Will I get married and have a family of my own? All of these are questions that I ask myself often. Still, the desire to be a grown-up comes in waves now. There are days, often, where the future is really very intimidating, and all I really desire is to crawl under my covers and return to those days of a nap per day and limited gum chewing.

But still, more often than not, the future is an exciting place. Just this evening, as I walked home from my big sister’s first real show with real actors for a real job, I was struck again by that desire. That little voice, saying, “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up!” This time, it wasn’t the desire to “do whatever I want,” necessarily, and definitely not the desire to chew gum all the live long day, but simply the desire to go off on my own. To have that independence that I’ve never experienced before. To live in my own home, have my own job, my own car, my own food. All this to say, I am immeasurably greatful for the blessed life God has given me so far, and the family I was born into… but not a day goes by when I don’t long to know what the future holds.

I think that’s something that’s really a privilege of a relationship with God. Because, thanks to Him, I don’t hold my own future. If I made my own plans for my own life, it would, quite frankly, suck. But He holds my life in the palm of His hand. This is something that I’ve recently found an awful lot of hope in: the fact that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, because my Heavenly Daddy has it all figured out. Just the other day, He showed me this verse:

1 Corinthians 2:9, “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

God has huge, AMAZING plans for me, and for you… and who knows? Maybe his plan for me involves all the chewing gum my little heart desires(:

–Gracie Isabella–

Haircut Addictions

Lately, I’ve heard a couple times that cutting your hair is addicting, and I have to say… I believe that completely.

Anybody who knows me well or has known me long knows that I get bored with my hair very easily. Ever since I was a young’n, I never let my hair just grow or kept it at a certain length for more than a year or maybe two. When I was about 12, I had grown my hair out pretty long:

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I was an awkward 12-year-old…

and I decided to have it bobbed.

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Yup… still awkward…

After that, it only made it to my shoulders

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At least I’m wearing a cute dress.

when I got a pixie cut at 13.

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Model-status sisters make the awkwardness lessen.

After that, I was REALLY patient and let my hair grow for about 2 solid years, letting it get nice and long.

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Tree.

My plan was to honestly let it get to about my waist, but my hair is CRAZY thick, so when it started getting too long, it started getting hard to take care of… still, I kept it long, only got some side bangs cut.

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Sissy got a haircut too (:

Then the addiction returned, so I felt I needed more of a change. It began with these bangs:

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Banyan Tree for the win!

And then I really got sick of it, so I cut it to my collarbone with real bangs

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BABY GOATS

And… then… this happened.

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hehehe my face is swollen because of wisdom teeth ^_^

So that’s where I am now.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how this blog post happened… but there it is. The past 4 years of my life, documented through haircuts.

All that to say, I love my new pixie cut. And I love having people tell me I look like Hazel Grace Lancaster.

And if any of you know of a haircutters anonymous support group I could go to… let me know.

–Gracie

Happy Anniversary to Me!!!

Today, I got my blog and saw a tiny orange trophy in the upper right-hand corner. My first thought was, “What? I’ve never seen that shape on my blog before…” So I clicked on it, like, “Whatever… maybe it’s a special comment…” and it’s like, “CONGRATULATIONS OH MY GOSH YOU’VE BEEN BLOGGING FOR A YEAR pleasekeepbloggingwithwordpress FANFAAAARE!!!!!!!!!!”

My response: “Oh… I had no idea… okay cool.”

So, I guess it’s “officially” this blog’s one year anniversary, but I feel like it’s a bit of a cop-out since I fell off the face of the earth earlier this year. Still, props to you guys for sticking with me, all my faithful followers.

I guess what I’m most excited about is just that I gave “Peculiar Treasures” a little facelift a few days ago, and I felt a little bit guilty about it at first because I felt like I needed an excuse to do something like that. But now I have an excuse, so… yay me?

To many more adventures!

-Gracie-

A thing about firsts.

This is my sister’s first post on her blog!!! Follow her!!! She’s amazing!!! 😀

Once Upon A Time.....

There was a book I used to read when I was small: “The Very Last First Time,” by Jan Andrews, apparently. It was a book about the first time a little Alaskan girl went under the frozen ice of the ocean to harvest clams. Alone. I used to read that book over and over, thinking about my own “last first times.”

First steps.

First birthday.

First sleepover.

First day of high school.

First drive, all by my self.

They never stop. But they do change. And, like that little girl under Alaskan ice, they get lonelier.

Yesterday, I spent my very last first night more than 2o miles from home without any one member of my beloved family. Alone.

(Backstory: I thought it would be a good idea to spend a month away from my family while rehearsing for a show. Why I though it would be a good idea…

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An Adventure in Powell’s Books

Let’s talk about happy happy places… like Disneyland… and the theatre… and POWELL’S BOOKS.

I’d only been there once, and I was pretty little, but I actually had an old gift card to this lovely place, and I happened to find myself in Portland yesterday, so… I just put two and two together.

You might remember in my last post how much I’ve really grown to love books in this past year. This being said, it’s no surprise that I would really enjoy a place that looks like this:

Powell's Books || Portland

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^^Look how inviting it looks, guys.^^

So, basically, for those of you who haven’t been acquainted with my lovely friend, Powell’s, it’s basically a GIANT (like, picture the biggest bookstore you can imagine, and multiply that… by SIX) bookstore… filled with… books… yeah. Soooooo like I said, I missed it a lot, even though I didn’t really like it that much the first time (SORRY POWELL’S) so it was really refreshing to step through that door and catch a long whiff (such a fun word) of that irresistible book-smell.

So myself, my sister, and my cousin meandered around the various rooms. Red room first, then purple room, pearl room, rose room etc… we really didn’t have much strategy, but we really enjoyed our disorganization. We even stopped off in the “Rare Book” room.

Powell's Books Rare Book Room. I've never seen this cool sign...hmmm

Seriously, the sign alone was enough to draw me in. In this room, my cousin and I had a friendly little competition to see who could find the most expensive book. I won, with some old set of two books, priced at $14,000.

In addition to simply wandering, I did manage to pull together a nice little hoard of treasures.

If I Stay Gayle Forman

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I picked this one up for it’s regular price of $10.99 as one of my little paperback splurges, and I’ve already started reading it… expect a review soon!

Maze Runner James Dashner

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As you can see, this copy is a different cover, which a wasn’t too excited about, but I thought I’d go ahead and save a few bucks, picking up this one for $4.99. I’m super excited to get into it before the movie comes out.

No Fear Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet [If You Don’t Know the Author You’d Better Leave Now]

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This one I mostly got just to feel super intelligent. Seriously, though, I’ve been wanting to read this for along time, even more so after I saw the newest movie take on it with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth (HIGHLY recommended and TOTALLY clean). I was still pretty intimidated by it though, but now I have… NO FEAR *ba-dum-chh* (I have to admit I prepared that one in advance). OH and it was $4.50.

Love DoesBob Goff

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This one was my big splurge, at $16.99, but I’ve been wanting to read it for forever, and carrying it around made me feel super cool and Christianese.

I was also planning on picking up a copy of The Fault in Our Stars, but they only had it in a paperback, and I’d really like to invest in a hardcover of that one, since it’s very dear to my heart.

So that’s pretty much the gist of my Portland Powell’s adventure. If you’re free anytime, we should head up there, because not only the books, but let’s be honest here, Portland is FANTASTIC.

You in?

An Ode to Black Maxi Skirts

I bought my first maxi skirt the other day… well… actually a lovely friend bought it for me… but the point is, I adore it. So I think I’ll write a tribute to it.

Here is what I love about my black maxi skirt:

1- It’s the most versatile piece of clothing next to blue jeans. So this never happens:

2- It ‘s deathly comfy. Like, I usually out on dresses or skirts in the morning, and then end up at the end of the day feeling something like:

Katniss's Elevator SceneBut that don’t happen with my maxi skirt.

3- It’s machine wash and tumble dry.

4- It makes me feel like I look pretty darn elegant even thought I don’t have to feel like I’m wearing elegant clothing on me.

 

That’s all.

Thank you.

I saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 today. Review coming soon!

-Gracie (:

No Fault in Our Stars

I went to my first movie premier today. I went to see The Fault in Our Stars.

I almost feel like I shouldn’t write a review on it… simply because I feel like anything I could possibly write wouldn’t be worthy of it. But I think I need to. If for no other reason but to recover from my emotionally decapitated state.

As per usual, please don’t read on unless you have read the book and/or seen the movie. Thank you.

 

As I stated before, I feel like anything I might try to say wouldn’t do this movie (or the book) justice… so I think I’ll just say what Hazel Grace would say… or at least do my best.

There are some movies that you watch and you just feel like you wasted two hours of your life. There are others that you immediately want to watch all over again. Then… then there are movies like the one I just saw. Movies that effect you in such a deep way that you can barely move from your seat afterwards. Movies that you, deep down, want to see again, but you can’t even move yourself to think about that. I feel so emotionally wrung out. I don’t feel like talking or moving or even breathing… but I’m not depressed. I feel emptied, and yet completely full. Like someone just gave me a gift that I can’t even comprehend. I feel like I didn’t cry enough, but that was only because I was so wrapped up in all the emotion I couldn’t. My body was trying to cry just to get some emotion out, I was even shaking with s0bs, but I couldn’t get any tears out.

From the meeting near the literal heart of Jesus

to the staring scene in the literal heart of Jesus

to the “Okay? Okay.” scene

to the Funky Bones scene

to the Oranjee scene

to the Van Houten scene

to the Night of the Venn Diagram

to the egg scene

to the gas station scene

to the pre-funeral scene

right up to the very last “Okay”

scene by scene it tore me to pieces in the best possible way.

They included everything they possibly could, but never too much.

The acting was utter perfection.

Thank you John Green for writing that wonderful piece of art. Thank you Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort for portraying so flawlessly those beautiful lovers. Thank you to the director, producer and everyone else. Thank you my theatre for whispering during the commercials, crying when you needed to, laughing when you wanted to, and being completely silent when nothing was necessary.

You all taught me to cry when it’s okay. You made me fall in love with Augustus Waters. You made me love love. You taught me to be thankful for moments. Because not everybody has as many moments as they wish for. The world is not a wish-granting factory.

I am, as I said before, emotionally decapitated, and I couldn’t be more content.

 

Okay?

 

Okay.