YouTube Channels For Procrastinating Writers

Overly Sarcastic Productions

Myths summarized with chibi animations, classics reviewed, history explained engagingly, and literary tropes analyzed in a way that helps me, personally, know how best to make use of them. This is definitely one of my favorites.

Terrible Writing Advice

Heavy, heavy sarcasm. This channel is brutal to cliches and I love it.

ScreenPrism

This channel features video essays analyzing the cultural context, symbolism, theme, characters, setting, and much, much more for a variety of movies and TV show. It’s incredibly helpful for writing screenplays, but much of their analyses are also applicable to other kinds of creative writing.

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Things I Think About: Trapped

It’s more socially acceptable for women to wear androgynous fashion than it is for men. Are women simply more likely to wear androgynous clothes and/or is this more of a byproduct of patriarchal values (is masculine considered the “ideal” and androgyny a step-down from masculine but a step above feminine?)?

I wish I dressed more androgynously, but I can’t really afford it.

At the same time, I like wearing dresses.

Yet here I am, categorizing them as feminine.

They aren’t feminine. They don’t have a personality. It’s a long piece of cloth with arm and neck holes. Why does it have a gender?

I don’t believe gender exists.

Well, I do, in the same sense that I believe race exists.

A man-made socialization created to enforce power structures and now plays an irrevocable role in the lives of the oppressed forced into it due to systemic violence, socialized presuppositions, and lack of awareness/care on the part of the powerful within the society.

I hate gender.

You know what I also hate? Deadlines.

The word ‘deadline’ sounds like some noob fantasy writer trying to think of a scary name for his subpar cliche villain.

I’m flashing back to the amazing roast of Kilgrave’s name in Jessica Jones.

And yes, I referred to my hypothetical fantasy writer with masculine associated pronouns because honestly, where is the lie??

Deadlines make me angry. Not because I think they shouldn’t exist- they should because they have to- but because they have come to represent, in my mind, everything wrong with the current education system of US universities.

Why am I writing page after page after page analyzing the stupid Scarlet Letter, a book which is over-hyped, over-analyzed, and given more importance than it deserves, when I could be doing literally anything else?? (I’d rather read about poor orphaned chosen one Gen’Eric Whithero battle the Dark Lord Deadline for the throne of Definitelynotcamelot right before the Mystical McGuffin destroys all of Center-World)

No but seriously. Isn’t it a bit arrogant, and a bit ridiculous when you step back, that I am resting my entire career future in the perception employers have for a piece of paper with some numbers on it and a college name? Their biases and perceptions based mostly on hearsay from their biased friends about perceptions gleaned from the media will determine the choices offered to me in the future.

College shouldn’t be about deadlines for nonsense papers so that I can watch the little numbers go up or down on my Important Nonsense Paper.

It ought to be about building a portfolio. My work should speak for me. For English, I should be writing short stories, novels, video games, collaborating with other students to create films and art, screenplays, plays, one-acts, songs, poems, paintings. For Anthropology, I should be participating in archaeological digs, working in a lab, picking a subject and researching it myself, conducting interviews, assisting researchers, traveling, seeing, talking, experiencing, documenting.

But instead, I’m in the library. I just finished one assignment which I will never look at again in my life. No one will. I’m about to go start on another assignment which will have the exact same fate. I’m quickly typing these thoughts out because I need some form of creative expression somehow, to do something which I think might have meaning someday. Yet every second I spend here, I just feel more and more guilty about the time I am wasting away from Pointless Assignment #3 (Pre-Final Wrap Up Review).

It makes me feel like my mind has been hijacked by capitalistic robot bumblebees determined to make me into their submissive cog.

So here I sit, typing on a Little Blog looking at androgynous fashion, wishing I could afford it, yet wondering if that wishing is indicative that I’m already a lost cause, or worse, if the wishing itself is admitting defeat.

 

I thought about ending with a joke about how millennial I am, but honestly, I’m too tired. Besides, I’m tired of giving in to the narrative that my generation is The Worst thing to happen in HIStory of this GReaAT and BEAUitiful CountRYU. I’m just trying to be honest.

Things I Think About: My Family

My Dad:

I like him.

He might be the most similar and dissimilar person to me in the family.

We’re both quiet, sarcastic, kinda petty, loyal, and hardworking.

He’s conservative. I’m liberal. He’s selfless for his family. I’m selfish in my family. He thinks about his family, I think about the world. Different worldviews fuel our different politics.

Sometimes, that’s hard to talk about. Sometimes it’s easy.

We both don’t like hearing different point-of-views. I say I do, but I don’t. I’m trying to work on that so that we can have better conversations.

He’s really funny.

He laughs so hard he has to take his glasses off to wipe away tears while watching Seinfeld and Friends, especially anything to do with Kramer or Chandler. I love that.

He likes nerdy movies, but he’ll never give me a decent answer when I try to start a Serious and Analytical conversation about one. “Dad, who was your favorite character?” “Oh Umbridge, definitely, she was awesome.” “Dad, what did you think about the family dynamic of those characters?” “Denethor was just trying his best, I think he’s great.” “Dad, which Avenger is your favorite?” “That blue guy from Guardians of the Galaxy. Not Yondu, but the one with the hammer and the infinity stone. Best character Marvel has ever made.”

Gahhhhhhhhhh

Randomly surprising though, he watched Queer Eye with me??? And liked it??

My Mom:

She’s great.

Like, really really great.

When I was thirteen, she said I could just read whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to run it by her. That was awesome and exactly what I needed at the time. She knew I was responsible and would never read anything inappropriate. Her vote of confidence insured I never did.

She listens and she’s really good at adapting to my and my siblings’ various interests.

For her entire life, she never read any books. Not in high school, not in college, never. Then one day, she picked up The Picture of Dorian Grey and read the whole thing. She loved it and we had a great conversation about it. Next, she read Jane Eyre. Then, she read all 1000+ pages of The Count of Monte Cristo. She’s moving on to Frankenstein next. I’m astounded.

(Yes, all of those books were suggested by yours truly. Victorian Literature is the best genre I will fight you on that)

She really likes bees. I don’t know why, but it’s pretty cool. She knows a lot of random bee facts.

She really likes Raleigh, NC. It makes me slow down and appreciate where I am. I’m always waiting until the summers so I can just leave. I’m always waiting until after college so I can just leave. She makes me not want to just leave.

familyyy

my brother purposely looking weird to ruin our perfectly good meme pic. rude.

My Brother:

One of my favs.

He’s the only person who has made me laugh until I cried until I hurt my stomach until I laughed some more.

He’s smarter than me and I try to be pissed off about it but honestly, I’m just proud. I lie and tell people I helped him learn all he knows (I didn’t).

Probably the person I feel most “me” around.

We agree on a lot, so it’s always surprising to find anything we disagree on.

Turns out, he thinks AI could and should possibly take over the creative writing industry. I think very little could be worse for humanity than that. He thinks human thought patterns or something could be uploaded to computers. I think very little could be worse for humanity than that. Our arguments aren’t really arguments though. He cites interesting and relevant information while I just yell “NO!” repeatedly.

I don’t know why he puts up with me sometimes.

We go to the same college and I thought he wouldn’t want to see me that often, but instead he joined the same family group I’m in (kinda like a Bible study but really not sorry non-Summit peeps). That made me really happy.

He makes me want to do the things I love to do.

My First Sister:

When she was born, I actually felt like a big sister and that’s the best thing to ever happen to me.

I’ve always been kinda mean so people just assumed she’s the “sweet one”. There’s a lot of sexism wrapped up in that and she and I talk about sexism a LOT and it’s great.

PSA: She’s not the sweet one. She’s the strong one. You’d be better off fighting me. I’m the loud one. I’ll make your soul shrivel up and rot, but hey, at least you’ll still be technically alive. Can’t say that would be the case if you messed with the First Sister.

I’m not about to test it, anyway.

She lets me and Second Sister play The Sims on her computer. The three of us together have a town comprised of nothing but shenanigans. We made a character who was an amalgamation of the three of us (Krisaree Flemizalaine) and she married Ben Solo because First Sister and I were going through a post-Last Jedi crush on Adam Driver and we outranked Second Sister so Krisaree married him and then had four kids named Marijuana, Casserole, Armitage, and Sandwich Flemizalolo. It’s wild.

Speaking of, we are both feminists so that’s cool. After much discussion, we have decided the most equalizing way to handle the last name situation is to have both parties involved change it to either an amalgamation or, if that sounds stupid, something that represents your relationship (If you both like stargazing, change your last name to “Gazing” or if you’re both feeling boldly extra “Star”).

She’s lowkey romantic lol

My Second Sister:

If memes had a physical embodiment it would be her.

I don’t really know if she likes me or hates me most days but that’s okay, I like her.

She wears Simply Southern shirts and always has Starbucks and has blond (highlights?? lowlights?? Streaks?? Ombre?? idk!) in her hair. I, uh, don’t do any of that.

She fell asleep watching The Last Jedi.

For Christmas, she gave me a beautiful silver bracelet engraved with a phrase she selected and ordered herself. The message? Get Shreked m8!!

I wear it a lot. I like it.

She loves animals so much. She takes care of the Dachshund and the Chihuahua so well, she has two guinea pigs, and a fish named Keith.

She’s devilishly witty. No thirteen-year old should be as quick with a sardonic response or a subtle roast as she is, it’s too much power.

She can sing really beautifully but she only will in the shower when she thinks no one is listening, she typically sings in a way that can only be described as Nasally Opera Meets Hugh Jackman Wannabe Who Has Never Heard Hugh Jackman Or Anyone Else Sing. It’s a particular brand of awful.

Her favorite song to sing in this ethereal tone? Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco.

Her favorite song in general? All-Star by Smash Mouth.

The Dachshund:

YES he’s a member of the family fight me

He’s the only dog we have ever gotten as a puppy so we got to name him. There was a lot of fierce debate. I suggested “Sirius”. First Sister suggested “Padfoot”. I suggested “Chewbacca”. Mom shot down all of those and said we could not name him after a Harry Potter or Star Wars character.

So we named him Teddy. His middle name is Lupin. hahahahHAHAHAHAHAHA take that mom and your naming dictatorship the rebellion will rise.

This dog knows how to do nothing. He doesn’t know to sit, how to stay, how to not bark at nothing, how to not jump on people, nothing… except for two things.

He taught himself how to play fetch with a red rubber ball. And he knows how to go to his bed at night.

He likes to cuddle when he gets tired.

He gets brambles caught in his long fur and he needs help picking them out but he doesn’t like getting help, he’s very stubborn, he’d prefer the branches just stay.

The Chihuahua:

Rescue dog. Normally, we don’t rename rescue dogs but his name was Gizmowing and that’s just awful so First Sister changed it to Milo.

He will also respond to Baby Milo, Milu, Meelo, Meelu, Milos, Milos Milosovich, Dos Bub Bub, Malroe, and Baby Malroe.

(This dog has no idea what his name is)

I’m trying to get him to respond to Malfoy. He kinda looks like a ferret.

Very nervous.

Very shaky.

Always needs cuddles.

My Family:

We have a collaborative Funko pop collection.

We all love film. Everything from Marvel films to Oscar-nominated films to sitcoms to TV dramas. Even if we don’t all love a certain thing, we all love to talk about it and share our opinions. It’s fun.

Everyone is introverted except for Mom.

We all love Jesus a lot.

Everyone supports everyone.

The worst part about missions is leaving your family but the best part is leaving knowing that your family encouraged you to do it and is so, so proud of you.

The way our family works now is very different than the way it worked when I was a little kid and the only explanation for the change is the grace we all found in the Gospel.

I really, really love my family.

I think they’re the best people I could have possibly spent the last 21 years with.

Looking forward to another 21 years. (42 better watch out!)

I think there’s a lot more I could say about them, but I’ll stop there.

***

I still need to raise a bit more for my summer missions which you can read about HERE.

If you’re interested in contributing, you can donate online HERE.

Thanks for reading!!

familyyy2

a terrible selfie

me ugh

Very Long Post About Politics and God and Then I Ask for Money

In my last blog post, I referred to myself as a stubborn pea-brained chickadee. You want more evidence to the fact? I’m about to talk politics and religion and then ask you for money. I don’t care what party you are, I’m sure you can all agree that there is not much dumber than that.

Aaaand typing the above has not stopped me from continuing to type so I guess I’m doing this.

From the earliest memory I have on the subject (an incident when I was 7 which I’ll get to momentarily), I have always been intensely, and at times obsessively, interested in politics.

I think my interest stemmed from many different factors, but the most influential aspect of my life that served as gasoline for this fiery obsession was probably my sex combined with the patriarchal community of homeschoolers in my area.

When I was 7, my friends and I were playing in the woods behind their house. We were playing pretend, building forts, I was making muddy sludge to dump on their neighbor’s playset (I was a delightful child), when one of them asked what we all wanted to be when we grew up. “A cowboy!” “Fairy princess!” “A nurse!” “A guy who lives in the woods and eats beetles off of trees!” I waited until everyone else had finished, smirking condescendingly. They had such ridiculous aspirations.

One of the boys turned to me. “What about you, Kaycee?”

“Oh, me?” I feigned surprised at being asked. “I’m going to be president.”

He doubled over laughing.

I glared at him. “What’s so funny?”

“You can’t be president! You’re a girl!”

I was too surprised to be angry or hurt. I ran away without replying. Over the years, especially after puberty, it became a norm. “Girls shouldn’t wear pants, put on a skirt.” Silently seethe. “Girls shouldn’t go to college, they should get married.” Cry inside. “Girls are disgusting, they have periods.” I hate myself. “Girls can’t pray in public, only boys can.” I hate God. “Women were invented for men.” Go kill yourself. “Once you get married, you must have sex whenever your husband wants. It’s what you’re there for.” I’ll kill myself first.

My parents tried to combat these toxic ideologies. They told me I was smart, talented, and independent,  but they couldn’t possibly have known everything I heard and felt. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t open up much to anyone. I avoided everyone outside of my family and a few choice friends. I spent most of my days in my room. I finished my schoolwork in the morning and then spent the afternoons reading book after book. I spent most of my evenings babysitting. It gave me a reasonable excuse to avoid any social event I might have been invited to.*

Fortunately, God saved me from some of those darker thoughts by literally saving me. The anger and isolation I experienced drove me to believe that God did not exist. I became obsessed with logic and science during that time, and this obsession eventually caused me try reading the Bible for myself, something I hadn’t done before. I read John and by the end, I believed that Jesus did exist, that he loved me, died for me, and offered grace to me but it was my choice to accept it or not. Choice, acceptance, and love was all I wanted, and it was all there multiplied infinitely in Jesus. I still had (and have) a lot of questions unanswered from the twisted and cultish theology presented in my childhood, but I believed in him and so I was saved. It’s scary to consider what I might have done had I not found him. I don’t like to think about that too much.

“Can we get back to politics??!?” “pLEase!” “Yo.” (props to anyone who gets the reference)

I always felt like the homeschool community was wrong about women, but now I had absolute proof. With my newfound faith, I delved into researching every stance on women the homeschool community deemed evil. Soo… feminism. I researched feminism.

Feminism is the concept that men and women are inherently equals and therefore deserve to be treated as such. On a more practical/active level, it’s about undoing patriarchal structures. This includes everything from rape culture to gender roles to male suicide and much more. I don’t want to spend time defining everything feminism is about, but I’m more than willing to have a (rational and adult) discussion with you about it.

After prayer and studying the Bible, I became a feminist. All the people around me were Republican so I started paying attention to Republican ideologies towards women. They sucked. They didn’t care about women’s reproductive health, they taxed tampons and pads as luxury items while condoms are not taxed thusly (you can refrain from sex but you can’t from periods sooo??), they continued to push abstinence-only education with poor information on female biology, and, worst of all, many used blasphemous interpretations of the Bible based on antiquated cultural norms rather than the text in order to justify their personal misogynistic beliefs. And that’s just the US. Don’t get me started on the horrific things that happens to women in many other countries. I was both outraged and confused (not a great combination). My entire life, I had heard the Republican stance on economics and capitalism and I would have said, at the time, that I agreed with them, but I struggled to reconcile my economic agreement with the moral disagreement I held towards their perspective on women.

Then I turned 18 and a form arrived in the mail with 3 obnoxious little check boxes that forced me to confront this mental incongruity. Democrat. Republican. Unaffiliated. After monologing extensively to my poor mom (“George Washington SAID not to make parties but stupid Jefferson and Hamilton just HAD to make parties and isn’t this how oligarchies arise? through the limitations of options? UGH everything SUCKS America is the worst I can’t believe I’m subjected to this”) I actually considered the options. After some deliberation, I hesitantly checked “Unaffiliated”. I generally agreed with Republicans, but feminism was too important to me and my life to justify my aligning with them.

College arrived and I loved it. It was kinda nice to finally be in a situation where the word “patriarchy” was not generally accepted as God’s greatest gift to womankind.

I had spent so much time in isolation, I never felt the need to purposefully be around people. Nevertheless, I signed up for my church’s college ministry in order to check the “went to a Bible study” box off my mental to-do list, but God had no intention of letting my mind chill for a minute. Summit’s community was so far beyond a “Bible study”. It was real, true, active Christianity, the sort I thought only existed in Acts and never again. People hung out, people talked about difficult things, people listened, people worshiped, people didn’t just believe in Jesus they loved him, people cared about and loved those who weren’t Christians, people volunteered, people shared the Gospel. My mind was blown, and I was a little scared. I thought I had known all there was to know about being a Christian, yet here I was, faced with a faith that was actually doing things and not just thinking things.

God lead me to do City Project, a summer long discipleship program. In my last post, I listed some of the things Jesus changed in me through that summer, but one thing I did not mention was my political beliefs.

The very first week of City Project takes place in New York City. All of the students get separated into groups with students you don’t know from different colleges, you’re assigned to a staff member, and then you go out and share the Gospel with people. If Summit were a video game, it would be like playing Christianity on hard mode, because on the FIRST FREAKING DAY, someone decided, on a subway in NYC, it was a swell idea to discuss who we each planned on voting for. This is the middle of 2016, okay, and 2016 was just the worst.

Someone asked for my thoughts. I shrugged. “I don’t really know.”

That is not an acceptable Summit answer. Everyone stared at me, waiting for me to elaborate.

I tried to go on. “It’s just… I tend to be Republican economically but I hate Donald Trump because of how he treats women. Like, really really hate him. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Everyone listened. Then someone said (I’m paraphrasing a longer discussion), “You know, Republican economics and policies are systemically harmful towards racial minorities.” This was said in a kind, matter-of-fact way, not patronizing or condescending at all. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but throughout the summer, he and others explained his point: the hidden meaning behind “tough on crime” rhetoric, the cycle of poverty due to lack of assistance for single mothers combined with poor education in schools near areas of lower socio-economic status combined with the criminalization of certain kinds of drugs over other kinds, the moral incompatibility of the “American dream” with the current difficult immigration procedures and “illegal alien” rhetoric, the historic and current treatment of Native Americans, the false narrative presented by the media of crime statistics regarding different races, and so much more.

Please don’t take my rapid-fire list of political atrocities as evidence that I know anything. I don’t and could never understand the true extent of the injustices. But I learned more and it overwhelmed me with conflicting emotions- disgust with myself for being exactly like the male politicians I had spent so much time judging, gratefulness to the many amazing people of color who out of sheer grace took the time to explain when I did not deserve their kindess, confusion at realizing a system that I had always considered praiseworthy was actually corrupted by fickle and bigoted emotion, and, most intensely, I felt anger.

Sophomore year went by. Most of my Junior year has gone by.

And I have spent so much of it being so angry. You can only direct your anger outward at the system and inward at yourself for so long before you direct it upwards to the heavens.

Before I was saved, I blamed God for the injustices I felt directed at me. I began blaming him for the injustices against other people. I had so many questions and I angrily started yelling them at Him.

God’s cool, because he yells back.

Job 38: 4-5, Job 38: 16-19, Job 40-42

Job was a righteous man who loved God and then he lost everything. He lost his children, he lost his friends, he lost his riches, he lost his health, and he had no idea why. Some of his friends came to him and insisted that he must have done something wrong, that he must have angered God and that he needed to repent, but Job knew this wasn’t true and demanded an answer from God. 38 chapters in, God answered, but He didn’t really answer. Instead, He questioned Job. Can Job make a universe? Does Job understand the thoughts of animals, the processes of plants, the cycle of space? Can a faultfinder, a nit-picking human, contend with God?

In Job 40: 8, God says, “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (ESV)

I wasn’t really angry, at least not completely, on behalf of those suffering injustice. I was angry because I wanted to be righteous in my own sight. That’s disgusting. I was using the suffering of others in order to bolster my own sense of morality, desiring to stand equal with God.

The book of Job ends with Job regaining all he had lost and more. Yet, he still lived with pain. He had lost children and he was never given an answer as to why. Those reading the Bible know why, of course. Through Job’s life, we know righteousness does not mean a suffering-free life. We know that when suffering comes it is not a punishment. We know that even when God seems silent, He’s still there and that is plan is still permanent.

Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 8, Proverbs 14:6

Job says there is no possible way humans could ever fully understand God and His ways. But then, what can people understand? Politics demands an answer, so if I am incapable of fully understand everything, then what can I trust myself to know and how do I act according to that knowledge?

I’m glad Proverbs exists. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” This verse seemed so weird to me. From my earthly perspective, it seems like if you want wisdom you go get wisdom. You do research, you talk to people, you read history, you do things and that makes you wiser. But instead, this verse says that fearing God, which essentially means being in awe of Him, is the beginning of wisdom. I admit, I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how resting, doing nothing, in an emotion causes me to find wisdom, but I do know that it is true. Stopping and just talking to God and remembering His amazing works throughout all of time and throughout my personal life has always, always, helped me know what the right course of action is, especially politically.

Romans 12

Finally, God gives a very clear depiction of the behaviors Christians will have towards others. In his letter to the Romans, Paul repeats the Gospel over and over and over again (Romans 1: 1-6, 3: 20-25, 4: 24-25, 5:7, all of 8, I could go on) and then in chapter 12 he clearly and succinctly lists behaviors that those who believe and understand the Gospel will have towards others. These “others” are not necessarily just other Christians, other nice people, other people who share your political beliefs. The others are everyone. Romans 12 says to live in harmony with each other, to live peaceably with others as far as you are able, to not be wise in your own sight, to never avenge yourself, to be kind to your enemies, and to respond to evil with good.

I know myself and I know that I could never do these things apart from Jesus, but I also know that being angry has hurt me far, far more than it has furthered any of the causes I believe in. I have lashed out at my parents. I quickly launch into debates and I make the other person feel stupid. I have cut people out of my life. And at the end of it all, nobody changed their minds and I feel nothing but regret and guilt and still that ever-present anger.

I’m not saying I’m necessarily wrong to be angry about injustice. There’s nothing wrong with righteous anger. I’m just saying that I am so ready to trust Jesus with the words to say rather than my own impulses. I have turned a lot of my relationships into a battleground of ideals and I would much rather change people’s minds than destroy their spirits. I don’t know exactly what this looks like. What if I come face-to-face with a neo-Nazi? A white supremacist? An extreme homophobe? Someone from my childhood who believes women are nothing? Honestly, I don’t know. I know I will never waver in the knowledge that all people are equally sinful before God, all people are wanted and desired by God, all people have been offered grace by Jesus, and that all people are intensely and perfectly loved by him, but I don’t know what that conversation will look like. All I can do is understand that I don’t know the answer to everything. I can rest in awe of God. And I can seek grace for my behaviors, especially towards people I would consider enemies.

Because hey, God looked at me once and saw an enemy and yet He still loved me and He still chose to reach out to me, even though I stood opposed to everything He stood for. It’s a much lesser thing for this fallible human to do that for another fallible human.

If you made it through to the end of this post, I applaud ye.

Now here’s the part where I ask for money! Yay!

I mentioned City Project in both this post and in my last post. City Project is a program that completely changed my life, and now, I have the opportunity to serve as an intern. I need to raise $1,500 dollars in order to participate. I would really appreciate your support, but if you can’t, honestly, I’m just impressed you read this whole post. I didn’t read this whole post and I wrote the stupid thing.

Buuut if you’d like to support me, here’s the link! summitrdu.com/supportcityproject

Thanks for reading!

*Note about homeschooling. I didn’t put this in the post because it is not relevant to the topic at hand, but I think it’s important for me to say something about it since it effected me so much. There are two vital aspects to homeschooling- home life and community life. The home life portion of homeschooling is your personal education as arranged, presented, and taught by your parents. My mom did a phenomenal job. She researched and found the perfect curricula for me, she encouraged me to pursue the subjects I enjoyed, she made learning fun and accessible, she put me in challenging classes, she managed to be both mom and teacher and to this day I have no idea how she balanced that. She basically did everything perfectly. Unfortunately, community life was something outside of her control. When you are homeschooled, the homeschool community is inescapable. While people in school might have school friends, church friends, activity friends, etc., homeschoolers see the same people at all of those places. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if you have a good community in your area, but if you don’t, then it can feel suffocating. I don’t want to generalize homeschooling as either “good” or “bad”, but I definitely would not encourage anyone to be homeschooled unless both the home life and community life are edifying. Fortunately, the homeschool community has grown and become more wholesome, so my siblings are having a very different experience than I did.

Also, if you are reading this and you were a part of that homeschool community, odds are, I’m not talking about you and I probably like you pretty well, so hi! I seriously doubt the people I had issues with care enough to read anything written by me. Basically, if you know you didn’t say the things I listed, then you’re good, so please don’t feel like I blame you or anything.

Ghost Slugs 2018

It’s been awhile.

I kinda sorta forgot this blog existed.

I did that last year too, right up until SUPPORT RAISING reared it’s beautifully ugly head.

(Side note: If support raising had a physical manifestation I think it would be the ghost slug. Ethereal in a very weird way, but I definitely have no actual desire to touch it. Interesting to hear stories about, but I’m glad it’s generally for people on the other side of the ocean)

Anyway. Guess what reminded me of this blog again?

Yep. Support raising. But you know what? Unlike the past two years, I am really excited for support raising. God has done and is doing so much in my life right now. My life has become quite the adventure.

When I was a little girl and I thought of adventure, I always pictured the happy endings: the destroyed evil, the victory celebrations, the inseparable friends, the dragon hoard, the hero’s glory. Despite my desire for these things, I have never once in my life skipped to the end of a good story, and I’ve been realizing I wouldn’t have it that way in my life either.

Thus, support raising.

God has given me the amazing opportunity to be a City Project intern. City Project is a two-month intensive discipleship program designed to help college students better learn how to be with Jesus, be changed by Jesus, and be on mission with Jesus. It does this national, local, and international contexts. First, students will spend one week in NYC learning to share their faith, often for the first time. Next, students will spend four weeks locally, near their colleges, taking discipleship classes and applying Scripture in practical and meaningful ways. Finally, students will travel to an international location and serve with a field partner for two weeks.

It’s almost a bit painful for me to write about City Project in such clinical terms. I did City Project two years ago and Jesus used it to absolutely change the entire trajectory of my life.

I had been painfully disconnected from others, now I genuinely enjoy befriending people and getting to know them and their stories.

I had been terrified to travel, now I love it.

I had been incapable of vulnerability, now I’ve been told by a mentor that vulnerability is one of my strengths.

I had been ready to shrug aside my writing in exchange for a more lucrative job, now I’m prepared to take any crazy risk God calls me to take.

I had been frustrated with Jesus because I knew that he existed but I didn’t love him, now I love him because he first loved me and even when I fail he still loves me which makes me love him more and gahhhh he’s just so awesome I can’t articulate the things.

I had assumed Jesus’ death for me was a decently logical decision by God, but now I know that the only thing more absurd than my painfully sinful existence is Jesus’ willful decision to sacrifice everything he rightfully and righteously earned in exchange for giving me, an active rebel and enemy to him, the chance to choose him and the salvation offered to me. It’s absurd and holy crap I’m so glad it is.

City Project changed everything, and now, I get to be a part of that for others. I love it when God uses motifs.

As an intern, I would lead a team in NYC, lead a small group of women locally, and then help lead an international team. I would help plan and set up special events, assist the other staff members, and be a part of a discipleship program specifically for the interns.

In this new adventure of mine, I need both prayer and monetary support.

Please pray for myself, the students, and the staff participating in City Project. Even though the program doesn’t start until the summer, God is not relegated to any particular time in order to change people. Pray that we would all actively seek to know him through the support raising process, and that we would see it is a blessing. A difficult blessing, but one nonetheless.

For me in particular, please pray that I don’t attempt to take on my worries alone. School is very stressful this semester, family is stressful, ministry is stressful, it’s all just stressful and, like the stubborn pea-brained chickadee I am, I keep attempting to handle everything solo even though I know it’s always so much better when I give my cares to God. Literally, I’m able to chill AND I get everything done. Why I don’t naturally always turn to him is beyond my comprehension. I’m a stubborn pea-brained chickadee.

Monetarily, I need to raise $1,500 by March 30th. Any little bit counts and I could use all the help I can get! If you’d like to donate online, here’s the contribution form: summitrdu/supportcityproject.com

For your financial privacy, Summit Church will not disclose how much you donated, they will only tell me that you did donate so I can thank you. Also, if you’d prefer to send a check, just tell me and I’ll get in touch to let you know how!

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this post! I actually have some more posts planned (shocker I know) including a short story I’m looking forward to sharing.

I am so excited about this summer. God is going to change so many lives, God is going to start and continue so many adventures, and God is going let his Gospel be known to many.

I might even see a ghost slug.

 

Second City Beginnings

Have you ever had a friend who was the Sarcastic Friend(c)? You know the one. It’s the friend who always pipes in, no matter the conversation, with helpful exclamations like, “Awesome! Wow!” or “Thanks a lot!” or just simply “no.” When speech is inappropriate, they still manage to mumble dry comments beneath their breath, or at least to compensate with exaggerated facial expressions. I’m the Sarcastic Friend(c) to a lot of people. But I’ll let you in on a Sarcastic Friend secret. It’s a deep, emotional struggle that every Sarcastic Friend is forced to face at some point in their life.

Ready to know the inner turmoil of your favorite bundle of snark, memes, and nihilism?

It’s hard for the Sarcastic Friend to find their own Sarcastic Friend.

Fortunately for me, I settled the issue years ago. God is my Sarcastic Friend(c). And I’m actually not being sarcastic about that, I’m completely serious. Want proof? Here’s some dialogue throughout the last year of my life.

***

January 2016

Me: I’m going to study abroad in England. Deal with it.

God: You do that. I’m sure it’ll be great. You’ll go there in an attempt to quell your wanderlust, but instead, you’ll just be faced with the reality that your life is pointless and vaporous everywhere in the world, not just in your current boring reality of America. Have fun!

great_gatsby

Me: >_>

God: Lol. Or, I dunno, you could do City Project.

Me: I don’t want to.

God: You know? You’re right. You’d only be spending your summer growing closer to me and the community I’ve placed around you. You’d finally see that the change you’ve been trying to make in yourself can, and will, only come from me. You’d only get to share the Gospel with the lost instead of just sitting around and talking about it like the good Pharisee that you are. You’d only get to finally realize that I love you.

ce2

 

Me: Fine! I’ll go!

God:

Me: —well?

God: What, are you expecting a “well done good and faithful servant”? That’s cute.

Me: Shut up.

God: No.

September 2016

Me: Well, that was an awesome summer! Thanks for making me go, God. I learned a lot, grew a lot, completely changed the trajectory of my life, and learned to trust you in everything.

God: k

Me: That’s not really fair. I went, didn’t I?

God: Did you? I thought you just randomly found all of those minimalist Christian T-shirts and merch from South Asia.

Me: Okay, you’re clearly in a weird mood. I’ll just be over here working on my study abroad application…

God: You do that. I wouldn’t waste the time though, if I were you.

Me:

giphy

God: Oh, did I not mention? You are not going to study abroad this summer.

Me: Of course I am! You can’t stop me!

God: Ah, there’s that infamous ‘trust in everything’ you became an overnight expert in.

Me: Okay, hypothetically, if I weren’t to study abroad in England, where would I go? What would I do this summer? There’s nothing else really available, other than summer school or an internship.

God: Second City.

A Snape Reaction Gif Obviously - Imgur

Me: But, God, I already gave up one summer and now you want this one too?

God: ‘But, Father, I already washed their feet now I have to die too?’ quoth Jesus, in the Message Bible, probably, circa never A.D.

Me: Don’t bring Jesus into this!

God: Oops, right, I forgot about the “don’t bring the guy who saved me whom I then voluntarily asked into my life” clause in this, apparent, democracy.

Me: Look, I’ll admit, I really want to go back to South Asia. I want to spread the Gospel, I want to live my life missionally, and I want to obey you. But I’m scared.

God: —do you want a sappy spiel that includes the “never shall I leave you”, “hope and a future”, etc. verses, or do you want an Aladdin reference?

Me: Aladdin reference, please.

God: Good choice, fam. Do you trust me?

Me: Uh, not really. But yeah, kinda.

God: I can work with kinda.

***

My relationship with God is unconventional, but I love it. I have friends who talk about how God is gentle and comforting to them. I have friends who talk about how God is fatherly and wise to them. I love hearing their stories, but honestly, if God had tried to approach me as some cuddly, quiet friend or as one of those dads always giving good advice, I would have run screaming. But that’s not how he saved me. He first proved his existence, then he proved my sin, and then he basically said, “I’m here. I love you. I died for your sins and you can accept the free gift of grace, if you want. It’s your choice.” 1 John 4:19 says “we love because he first loved us.” It’s so strange and so wonderful that God knows the best way to love each person. The family and friends with which I am closest are the ones who treat me with bluntness and humor. Needless to say, God loves me more perfectly than anybody else ever could.

Which is why I am returning to South Asia this summer!

Last summer, I participated in a program through my church called City Project. City Project taught me how to spread the Gospel in local, national, and international contexts (North Carolina, NYC, and South Asia), it taught me how to leverage my career for the glory of God, and how to live on mission. I took theology classes, had my first internship, and learned what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Without a doubt, it was the best experience of my life.

My church offers a follow-up program to City Project. It’s called Second City.

During Second City, I will spend the entirety of my summer in South Asia. I have the privilege to return to the exact city I was in last summer. I can not share all of the details of the trip, but essentially, I will be partnering with Christians in the city to better spread the Gospel among a people group in which over 90% of individuals have never even heard of the Gospel. I’m so excited, and so blessed, to be a part of this incredible trip.

You might be a bit confused at the last part. After all, I did not sound very excited during my little dialogue with God. Do you want to know why I was scared? I was scared because going to South Asia means I’m going to get sick again, I’m going to be rejected, I’m going to navigate an enormous city, I’m going to be immersed in a culture utterly foreign to both me and my personality, and I’m going to be completely denying the American culture that insists I will be a failure if I don’t get a job RIGHT. NOW.  It will be stressful, people will break my heart, and I won’t see my family for the entire summer because I’ll be on the freaking other end of the world.

When God first tells me to do anything, doubts and insecurities flood my mind. Excuse after excuse try to drown out the truth. All of the excuses essentially say the same thing: you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. 

They are right. I can’t. God can. That’s the whole point.

I don’t go on mission trips to do stuff for God. I don’t go on mission trips to earn anything. Both are impossible. God doesn’t need me for anything. As Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14 “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place. …And who knows whether you have not come to kingdom for such a time as this?”. If I did not go, God would raise up someone else. If they did not go, God could make a rock declare his truths, as Jesus said in Luke 19:40 “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”. He doesn’t need humans to do anything for him, because we can’t. We are too weak. Strangely, paradoxically, that’s why God wants to use us.

When I went to South Asia last year, I was struck with how weak I truly am. I had spent years studying apologetics and memorizing logical arguments and researching scientific evidence, but this particular culture had no interest in my pretentious Western thought. I was ripped of every strength I thought I had, forcing me to pray ceaselessly for God to provide me with the words to say because I had none on my own. He did more than I could have ever asked or imagined. He let me see people understand and accept the Gospel. He let me see my own sinful heart, arrogance that I did not know was there, and he changed me. He taught me how to love and how to finally believe that he loved me.

I don’t go on mission trips to be a “good Christian” or to prove something to God. I go on mission trips because God knew I was weak, yet he still loved me and sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross, the punishment that I deserved, so that I would not have to. He offered to give me Jesus’ perfect record as my own so that God might be able to have a relationship with me. Then, he pursued me so bluntly, so relentlessly, that I came to believe in him and I accepted his grace. Now, he has given me a purpose, and that purpose is to go. To go where God calls me to go and to do what God calls me to do. I don’t do this out of obligation or fear; any attempt to make me feel either emotion immediately makes me feel and do the opposite. No, I go because I love my God and I love what he has done for me. I go because I trust that his intentions are for my good. I go because I believe God desires all to know him, but how can they know him if they are not told?

Which leads me to the point of this entire blog post (yes, yes, I DO have a point, stop rolling your eyes, you wannabe Sarcastic Friend(c)!). I would love to have the privilege to partner with you in this mission. My final support deadline is April 9th, and I need roughly $800. If you believe that God is calling you to monetarily support my mission, click on the link below. It will lead you to a contribution form. I will not be able to see the amount donated, but I will be able to see your name (if you so choose), so that I can write you a thank-you note!

www.summitrdu.com/supportsecondcity

More importantly, if you would partner with me by praying for me, I would be extremely grateful. Here are some prayer requests during the weeks of preparation before leaving for the trip:

  • Pray for unity in the team. Missions are joyful and loving, but they can also be stressful and difficult. Pray that my team will be unified in Christ, that we will keep our focus on Christ, and that we will treat each other as Christ treated his team of disciples.
  • Pray for the people. God already knows exactly who we are going to meet. Pray that each individual we speak to will already be searching for truth, for meaning, for Christ, before our plane even lands.
  • Finally, praise God for the undeserved blessing of this opportunity. As I said above, God does not need us to do things for us, but in his kindness, he allows us to be a part of his mission. It’s like a dad baking cookies, and his toddler child begs to “help”. The father joyfully complies, even though he could accomplish the task without the “help”. Yet, he still holds the daughter’s hand to help her stir, or he patiently teaches the son how to properly measure ingredients. The cookies would be made regardless of the child’s involvement, but the child benefits because they learned something about the world, and more importantly, something about their dad.

Thank you in advance for your support. I cannot wait for this summer!

LeFou

A few days ago, Disney announced that LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast is the first openly gay character in the company’s film history. Though I will not go so far as to say I have an issue with it- I’ll have to see the film first- I will say that this decision and announcement leaves something to be desired.

I’ll start with the announcement. Disney seemed to imply that they had planned this all along, but Josh Gad, the actor who plays LeFou, recently stated that the script never said ‘LeFou is gay’ (SOURCE). Perhaps I am reading into this too much, but this seems like Disney is distancing themselves from committing to representing the LGBTQ community. From a business standpoint, this probably makes sense. There will no doubt be a lot of opposition from traditionalists. However, why announce it at all if the company would prefer to leave Josh Gad with the “blame”? It’s an almost two-faced approach to the idea of a gay character- they announce it just enough to gain acceptance and notoriety from the LGBTQ community, but leave the actual creation of such a character to the actor, rather than the company. My issue with this type of announcement lies in the non-committal standpoint on the part of Disney. Either represent LGBTQ people in your films, or don’t. Pick a stance and commit to it. Perhaps my frustration stems from the fact that whenever I decide on a belief, I am more than willing to sacrifice anything for it. Businesses aren’t like that. The bottom line is the bottom line, and I doubt that will ever change. This situation has caused me to realize my frustration with greed more acutely than usual.

However, my frustration with greed does not come close to comparing with the frustrations I feel towards thoughtless writing.

I can think of three scenarios for how LeFou’s sexuality can be incorporated into Beauty and the Beast, and only one of them is positive.

Scenario 1: LeFou is openly gay for the entirety of the film, and is in a relationship/ wants to be in a relationship with a character that is NOT Gaston. His sexuality is of little note or mention within the film- it is, apparently, commonplace within the context of the film.

If homosexuality is accepted within the world of the film, it completely contradicts one of the driving forces of conflict within Beauty and the Beast. The “poor, provincial town” in which the first part of the story takes place thrives on enforcing traditional gender roles- Belle is ostracized and mocked for being intelligent, showing no interest in marriage, and in being assertive while Gaston is lauded for being extremely masculine, brutish, and domineering. If the town’s people can’t handle seeing a woman with a book, how much less so a man with a man!

Problems with this scenario: Sloppy world-building, halfhearted pandering to the LGBTQ community, and inserting sexuality/romance when it does not benefit the plot.

Scenario 2: LeFou is secretly gay for the entirety of the film. He is in love with Gaston.

This scenario would, frankly, just be insulting. LeFou, at least in the animated film, is habitually mocked, abused, and hurt by Gaston (In the same article I cited above, Josh Gad implies that his abuse at the hands of Gaston is significantly lessened. However, “lessened” does not mean the same thing as “removed”, so my point will still stand). Yet, LeFou continues to cower and obey upon Gaston’s every word and deed. In the animated film, the audience attributed this to LeFou’s stupidity, desire to be like Gaston, and just general cowardice. If the live-action film implies that LeFou has feelings for Gaston, then this quivering and submission will be attributed to LeFou’s sexuality. Since LGBTQ characters are so rare, audiences often misinterpret an LGBTQ character as being a representation of ALL LGBTQ people. This is an unfortunate reality, but it is a reality, and one Disney ought to be well aware of. Audiences will illogically assume that gay people are willing to put up with anything, even abuse, because they are slaves to their desire. Not only is that assertion completely and utterly false, but it’s also dehumanizing.

Also, the verbal abuse directed at LeFou from Gaston was, in the animated film, often perceived as comedic. If LeFou is gay, audiences may interpret the abuse as “acceptable” and “funny” when directed towards a gay character, rather than the actual meaning of “villains verbally abuse people”.

Speaking of villains, do I really need to explore the implications of the first openly Disney character being a villain? Do I? Because it seems fairly obvious to me.

Not only would this scenario dehumanize the LGBTQ community, but it would also affirm a common, and illogical, argument often made by traditionalists in opposition to LGBTQ marriage: homosexual marriage will ruin heterosexual marriage. Towards the end of the film, Gaston and LeFou attempt to blackmail Belle into marrying Gaston, which would by extension, effectively ruin Belle’s relationship with Beast. If LeFou is gay and the live-action plot progresses comparatively to the animated film, then a gay man will be attempting to destroy a heterosexual relationship to satisfy his own goals (gaining Gaston’s approval).

Also, this scenario would add nothing to the plot.

Problems with this scenario: It dehumanizes the LGBTQ community, implies that abuse directed towards gay people is acceptable, vilifies gay people, affirms illogical traditionalist arguments, halfhearted pandering to LGBTQ community, and inserting sexuality/romance when it does not benefit the plot.

Scenario 3: Scenario 3 is the same as scenario 2, BUT there is a scene in the film where LeFou expresses his turmoil to a sympathetic/good character- ideally Belle, who gives guidance on the right course of action.

This is the only scenario that would redeem the problems I listed for scenario 2. If, towards the end of the film, LeFou explains the attraction he feels towards Gaston, his hurt upon being abused, and his fear of the town’s people to Belle, or perhaps to Beast or Maurice, and also apologizes for the role he played in hurting them, it would solve all of the problems I listed above, and then some.

Instead of dehumanizing the LGBTQ community, it would humanize them. It would show the struggles that some people may face, and the internal conflict that comes with it. It will put an extremely sobering twist on all the abusive “jokes” at LeFou’s expense, causing the audience to feel bad for laughing and to rethink the gay “jokes” they might tell on a regular basis. LeFou would have  a redemption arc, effectively making him an anti-hero rather than villain. The traditionalist argument would be turned on its head because, after this scene, LeFou would essentially be turning against Gaston and seeking to help Belle and Beast. This would no longer be halfhearted pandering, but instead, would add a final, poignant twist to the theme of grace, diversity, and acceptance that is so sweetly demonstrated in Beauty and the Beast.

I hope this is the route Disney takes. I hope this is the “openly gay scene” they have hinted at. However, I am not optimistic. For this scene to exist, Disney would have had to have planned LeFou’s sexuality. It would have been scripted, but Josh Gad has said that LeFou was not intended to be gay. It could have been added later though, so there is still hope.

There are probably other scenarios that I have not thought of, but these three seem the most plausible to me, with scenario 2 being the most likely, especially since Josh Gad has confirmed that LeFou has feelings for Gaston and the fact that Disney did not write LeFou as gay.

With all of that said, what do you think about the reveal that LeFou is gay? Are you excited about Beauty and the Beast? I know I am!

Note: I plan to do a follow-up post explaining my stance, as a Christian, on representation for the LGBTQ community within fiction. I know I made no mention of it in this post, but that’s because I did not want to bore you with even more of my opinionated verbosity! If you have any questions that you want answered now, I am more than happy to discuss it with you in the comment section.

Note Number 2: Here’s an interesting article on LeFou’s sexuality from TeenVogue. Surprisingly, considering it’s source, it is one of the more thoughtful articles I have read on the subject. Disney Making LeFou Gay Isn’t The Representation I Need

 

I Love Fantasy Because…

  1. Fantasy is any Time. Fantasy is medieval kingdoms or wizarding boarding schools or ancient pantheons among men or urban sport cars crashing through a magical countryside. It does not have the pretense of era-boundaries.
  2. Fantasy is magical.
  3. Fantasy is thematic.
  4. Thematic magic illustrates intangible morality (what if Power was a Ring?), it enables symbolic conflict (Expelliarmus or Avada Kedavra?), and it delves into philosophy (“If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”).
  5. Fantasy has taught me to view the world with sympathetic eyes. Could that sullen girl, always glaring, be a princess forced from her kingdom? Could that loud and obnoxious boy, always seeking attention, be a minstrel who hides his pain behind a smile? Could that flirtatious person, always seeking romance, have been forced into this personality by a primeval society that makes them believe it is their duty to act in such a way?
  6. Fantasy is fun.
  7. Fantasy is absurd.
  8. Fantasy is ridiculous.
  9. I want to ride fire-breathing dragons. I want to turn my enemies into ferrets. I want to wear a tasseled cloak and soar through misty nights. I want to speak friend, and enter. I want to believe the world was named because Adam said, “Well, here we are”. I want to live in the fun, the absurd, and the ridiculous. I want to, because I need to escape.
  10. Fantasy is anywhere. Fantasy is frozen tundras or grass-danced hills or volcanic wastelands among ash heaps or mysterious jungles teeming with supernatural forces. It does not have the boundaries of reality’s science.
  11. Fantasy is horrifying
  12. Fantasy is scary
  13. Fantasy is dark
  14. I don’t want to catch myself considering, even for a moment, if I would create a Horcrux. I don’t want to admit that my obsessions might have caused a two-sided personality to emerge within me. I don’t want to catch myself hoping for the villain’s success simply because he’s charismatic. I don’t want to read about the death of good people. I don’t want to think about the evil parts of me. I don’t want to admit that horrors, fears, and darkness plague reality as well as fiction. Yet I need fantasy, because I want to learn.
  15. Fantasy is any Thing. Fantasy is pure unicorns or riddle-prone dragons or elephants! but bigger! with two more tusks! or Rodents-Of-Unusual-Size? I don’t think they exist. It may not be scientific, but it is extraordinary.
  16. Fantasy has taught me to approach the world with an adventurer’s mind. A long night of homework is no different for me than it is for Kvothe- it’s the stepping stone to get where I want to be. A boring shift at my job does not define my life just like the years Aragorn spent wandering the Shire-outskirts did not define his. Eowyn broke rules, Hermione never changed, and Lucy’s faith saw her through to the end. I can do the same.
  17. Fantasy is heroic.
  18. Fantasy is a story.
  19. Heroic stories- stories about good, evil, and everything in between; stories about internal dialogues manifested in outward conflicts; stories about people but with the masks of reality torn apart- are meaningful.
  20. Fantasy is anyone. Fantasy is Chosen Ones and dark-cloaked rangers and oppressed women turned warriors and all of the intricacies and complexities of the human soul described through elves, dwarves, fairies, mermaids, orcs, nobility, orphans, and dragons and so much more. It is Extraordinary manifested with no hindering pretense.

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