Monday, May 30, 2011

Braided Hair!

This might not actually apply to the men as much as it applies to the women, but today, I’m going to explore the idea of a French braid. Some women know how to French braid, but most men don’t, nor do they ever wear French braids in their hair. And even if a woman knows how to French braid, it still takes practice for her to get it right.

A French braid is not like any ordinary braid. The special thing about it is that, as you braid, you add more strands until all of your hair is enveloped in this sweet braid thing that runs down the length of your head. You begin with three strands of hair at the top of your head, and begin to braid as normal, but each time you add some more hair to each strand.

French braids are generally an awesome and clever idea for a hairstyle. It’s a way of putting up hair that keeps your hair out of your face and looks cool at the same time. Additionally, French braids are neither strictly casual nor fancy, and can be worn to virtually any occasion or celebration.

However, there are also cons to French braids. These negatives are primarily a result of the way some humans actually French braid hair. If the hair is not French braided tightly enough, then strands will fall out and the braid will become partially ineffective, leaving strands of hair in your face. If this happens, there is really no easy fix, and you must completely redo the braid to ensure that it is braided tightly enough.

And of course, if you do it right, you get this really cool braid. To me, it’s a beautiful intertwinement of hair that reminds me of princesses and castles. It’s probably my favorite hairstyle ever. Plus, there are different types of French braids and there are tons of different ways to braid French hair. Take a look at these sweet examples:

But one day, I was French braiding my own hair when I realized that French braiding is a lot like the church described in 1 Corinthians 12. Usually, I wouldn’t post the whole passage for the sake of avoiding long passages that disinterest people, but this is totally necessary to fully post, and is also totally interesting:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

So, In accordance with the fact that the body is one but has many parts, the French braid is also one but has many parts. There are many pieces of hair that make up the French braid, but they are all combined into one, tight knit formation. A French braid obviously can’t just be made up of one part. That would be called a ponytail.

And what makes a French braid if there aren’t different parts? Imagine each different strand involved in the construction of a French braid as a different part of the body and of the church. Each different strand can represent an eye, a nose, a mouth, a leg, an arm, a torso, etc. Without these parts, there would be just one solid part, like for instance a whole arm or a whole torso. What use is that for?

Also, each strand can represent a different member of the church. One can be a healer, another a prophet, another a teacher, and so on. If the whole church were one teacher, then what kind of church would that be? There would be no prayer, no worship music, and no behind the scenes people.

And the coolest aspect of this is the fact that, if one part of the church suffers, all suffer, and if one part rejoices, all rejoice. In the same way, if one part of a French braid is falling out of the hairstyle, then the whole thing fails and has to be recreated. But if one part is holding on strong, it can keep the whole braid together strongly.

One very important thing to remember about the members of the church is that al should work together as one, and no one should try to be exalted or prideful. No one should try to do things alone so that they may receive the glory for themselves. In the same way, all strands and parts of a French braid look the same and should be about equal (well, it really depends, but you know what I mean). There is usually not a French braid with one outrageously large strand and the rest all small and puny. Similarly, one strand of hair will not look better than another. There won’t be a strand of hair that is just randomly purple and sparkly. Hair doesn’t just do that randomly, unless you’re a Unicorn. Maybe.

I think the most important message in this illustration is the true picture of the church and how it should act. There should be many differently blessed people that are part of the church, and they should all support each other. If one person is suffering, then all will mourn, and if one person is rejoicing, then all will rejoice. The body functions as one, but requires the help and input of many people. All should work together equally, and none should be exalted like sparkly purple unicorn hair.

Of course, don’t mistake the equalness of service in the church as the indifference of the people. Everyone will be awesomely different, but all will serve in different ways, avoiding self-glory.

And here’s a sweet website that attempts to follow this example of the church:

Also, It’s really cool to understand the way the church works by actually watching somebody French braid and thinking about the illustration that I just explained. So here’s a video of how to French braid if you would like to do that:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've decided that i'm going to start dedicating my blog posts to certain people that have made this blog possible in my life, but I won't dedicate every post to someone. I just feel that one large post thanking everyone who has made a difference in my life would just not be fun for everyone else to read.

This particular post is dedicated to my former high school english teacher, Mr. Tim Clutter. For the year and a half that he was my teacher, he never gave up on helping me improve my writing, and I finally listened. Thank you for never giving up on me, helping me become a better writer, and teaching me how to "make connections!" I will never be able to thank you enough.

I think most of what we know about salmon is that they are a delicious type of fish that most people enjoy eating on occasion, usually at a fancy restaurant or during a special event or celebration.

According to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Salmon are found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with a wider variety of species being found in the Pacific. Salmon are typically born into bodies of fresh water. After birth, they migrate out to whatever ocean is closest to them, and then spend about 1 to 5 years, depending on their species, becoming sexually mature before returning to their place of birth to spawn.

What’s particularly fascinating about salmon is that they swim upstream to return to their place of birth in order to spawn. According to Wikipedia, “Salmon can make amazing journeys, sometimes moving hundreds of miles upstream against strong currents and rapids to reproduce. Chinook and sockeye salmon from central Idaho, for example, travel over 900 miles (1,400 km) and climb nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m) from the Pacific Ocean as they return to spawn.”

That’s ridiculous. All I can say from this bit of information is that Salmon are amazing creatures that make the impossible, well, completely possible. That’s a pretty badass sea creature right there.

The journey of a salmon upstream to lay its eggs in the place that it was born has got to be a journey of insanity, struggle, hardships, surprises, blessings, and downfalls. Although I am personally not a salmon, I could predict that it’s probably a very tiring and tough journey. Salmon have to fight to swim upstream for such long distances. Let’s face it, they are simply not going with the flow of things. I bet if fish could talk, they would look at all salmon and make fun of them for trying to do this. They would probably wonder why they were doing this. I mean, why waste your time trying to go against the flow when you can just go with the flow and life could be so much easier?

Another special thing about salmon is that they don’t give up. They don’t just decide to lay their eggs in a different place because it’s just too hard to swim upstream. Some salmon may end up dying on their journey, but that doesn’t mean they ever give up. To salmon, the goal they are trying to reach is much too important to simply give up on. It’s really strange that they do that, but it’s pretty much in their instinct to do this, just like dogs somehow naturally know how to swim. Salmon naturally know that they need to swim upstream, no matter what the cost is.

And thinking about salmon makes me think about the typical life of a Christian man or woman.  The life of a Christian is so similar to the life of a salmon. First of all, the life of a Christian is going to be tough. It brings insanity, struggle, hardships, surprises, blessings, and downfalls, just like that of a salmon. Following Christ is definitely not an easy task at all, and I know that many of you reading this can testify to this just as I am able to also.

In the same way, Christians don’t go with the flow of anything. They make the conscious decision to go against the normal tide of things. Let’s be honest, the lifestyle of a Christian is very strange and different from the lives of most people, and they are often persecuted for it. Swimming with the tide of the river symbolizes the way of the world and swimming against the tide symbolizes the ways of God and his kingdom.

And in a place where the world is the norm, going with the ways of the kingdom is tough. It’s obviously not normal, and it doesn’t appear normal either. And like I said before, it’s definitely not easy. And the people who are truly committed to the mission of Christ never give up and never will give up, even though sometimes they may want to give up. 

And do you know why they will keep holding on? Why they won’t abandon this cause? Because they truly believe it is worth it, just like the salmon believe that their mission is worth it. They believe that the mission of Christ is absolutely real and is absolutely worth it, and they won’t stop following Him just because life gets hard. They know there will be peace eternally.

For me, suffering presently for an eternal peace is completely worth it, but what’s even more worth it is spreading the love of God to all of the places I possibly can. Because truthfully, life sucks without knowledge and acceptance of God’s love. I mean really, think about it. Why the heck are we here? Do we just live here, do what we feel like, and then die?

We think about these questions because we were created to have a purpose. We were built with a compartment inside of us that is specifically for our purpose, but we always have trouble finding it.

And with God's love we are able to find our purpose, because that's what we were made for. Even though it may be tough, it is absolutely 100% worth it in the end. And I’m not just saying this because I’m crazy. People all over the world are saying the exact same thing. People in your town, in your state, and in your country are saying the exact same thing. People everywhere are following the exact same thing. And they’re not giving up.

People everywhere are deciding to take on the difficult lifestyle of a salmon, because they know it will be worth it. They know it is the purpose that they have been made for.

And if you ever feel like giving up, read this passage from 1 Corinthians:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wealth, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So, just keep swimming, like all of those salmon do for distances up to 900 miles. Don’t give up, because you know that living for Jesus and running for the prize at the end is worth it. After all, “They never promised it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stereotypical Reflection Time

1. This might be a bit out of line from my usual blog format but I felt the need to do it
2. This is also unusually long, so beware!

I finished my first year of college. YEAH!

But I honestly look back on this and ask myself, how? How did I actually finish my first year of college? How did that go by so fast?

But most importantly, how did I have an awesome first year of college?

Let’s go back to fall of my senior year. I was searching for colleges, or was I? Yeah, not really. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like searching for places to go to college. I could have done a much better job. And I could have done a much better job at looking for scholarships too. I look back on it and realize that fall of my senior year was sucking really badly because I was still dealing with the death of my father, so I partially don’t blame myself, but really, I should have been working a lot harder on my college search.

I visited a good number of colleges, and only really liked Ohio University. The only other school I visited that I also applied to was Bowling Green State University. The other two were Northern Michigan University and the University of Cincinnati. Ohio was my top choice, NMU I really just applied to for nostalgic reasons, and Cincinnati was my backup school. Then there was BGSU. My mother made me visit and apply there. Let me tell you, definitely not my choice. I had been there twice before for a summer music program and had vowed that I would NEVER go to college there. EVER.

Well, I was lazy and didn’t apply for scholarships, plus my ACT was only a 24 and my SAT, well, let’s not talk about that. My score was garbage. However, in my defense, I am generally not a good test taker, as shown by other tests I have taken (I got a 2 on my AP English test). So, I was smart, but I was lazy and I was a mediocre test taker.

So, what ended up happening was that Ohio gave me no money, which was my top choice school. Cincinnati also gave me no money, which I actually didn’t really care about. NMU gave me a pretty good scholarship but they were out of state and my mother was not going to let me take expensive plane rides to go to school in the land  that I love (Surprise, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), and Bowling Green handed me $7,000 in scholarships.

So, since we didn’t have a lot of money, which school would I choose?

Surprise! Bowling Green. I still had some hope for OU, but my mother told me that we couldn’t take the chance with trying to get a loan to go there. So I ended up going to Bowling Green. When I sent in the letter saying that I was going there, I was sort of excited. And then, that summer, I was just dreading college because I hated BG so much. It was UGLY. It had a severe lack of trees (and still does), the campus was ugly, and it felt strange.
I moved in on August 20th. That sucked. It was hot and miserable. I had no friends. Then the first few weeks, they continued to suck. I still had no friends.

But, just after about a month of school, I decided to go through sorority recruitment, hoping to make some friends. I was excited for it.

But that sucked too.

…And finally, here’s where the story gets awesome. I decided to drop out of sorority recruitment before the third round because I didn’t get my top choice sorority back. I was pretty confident that I didn’t want to continue, and was sure I would be fine. But of course, I cried that morning. Since I was up so early, I decided to go to a church on campus called H2O. I went to church and was really upset the whole time. After church, I sat in the union, really upset and about to cry. And then one of the church pastors walked past me and asked if I was okay. Of course I said yes, but then I asked if he knew anything about the well, which is a six-week program for freshmen and new students that teaches about how to live life as a disciple of Christ. So, he sent me over to this table where the two people who are in charge of the well were meeting. I asked about the well, and I decided to do it. Then I cried in front of them (It was going to happen sometime).

I threw myself into the well that night, and suffered many traumatizing injuries. It took rescue workers 5 hours to get me out of the well, because it was really deep, and I spent five days in the hospital.


I threw myself into the well that night, and it was awesome. I met some awesome people, and afterwards, we were forced to go to the student union for fellowship (really to meet new people), and there I spotted a sign for Young Life First Year Fellowship.

And there we go. God turned everything around in one day. He saved me from getting involved in something that he knew would have ruined my faith. And by saying this I am not trying to disown sororities, it was just not what was right for me. I have plenty of friends who are in sororities, and they love it. It was just not what God had in his plan for me.

After that point, God just provided so many awesome things. Through the well, I had the opportunity to be mentored, which I had previously never had a very solid chance to take part in with anyone who was older than me, and it worked out awesomely. As college continued, I met a lot more people through the well, H2O, and Young Life First Year Fellowship. God has given me such a solid fellowship through all of these, even though I decided to stick with H2O. Then, I became really good friends with a girl who lived down the hall from me, and we were able to basically be in constant fellowship and accountability the whole year, not to mention the Alpacah jokes. I then found an opportunity to try out for the H2O worship band, which I have always wanted to do. I ended up making it in the band, and God provided me with a place to serve in the church. Later in the year, I decided to apply to be a Resident Advisor. Despite the fact that I was thirty minutes late to my case study, I still got the job. Second semester proved to be incredibly distracting because of all of the friends God had blessed me with. We had some fun Alpacah times at dairy queen and some memorably stressful times where we thought death was upon us.

And now, here I am, done with my first year of college. I have literally been reflecting on this for the past 2 weeks, partially because the anniversary of my father’s death was on April 29th. I truthfully can’t believe I’ve come this far from where I was 2 years ago. That was a terrible time, a time where I thought God was angry with me. From that time, fall of senior year was not good, but then it got better. I decided to attend BG, which I wasn’t looking forward to. The summer before college, God did awesome things of course. And then, I went to college. And I finished my first year, millions of times more blessed than I thought I was going to be.

I truthfully believe that God provided everything for me. There is no way that this could have happened without Him because I hated BG so much. And so I can only sit here and think of the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin ( LISTEN TO IT!). I couldn’t have done this by myself, and it’s still hard to believe that God would love me so much as to bless me like that, because I am a terrible person. Most of the time, I suck. But God still loves me.

And of course, I have to thank my mother for putting up with my lazy college search ethics. I have to say, thank you for putting up with me when I did not feel like searching for scholarships or applying to schools. And thank you for making me go to BG because we simply couldn’t afford college without the scholarships. And I mean, who can? College is unnecessarily expensive, and financial aid gives us the lowest amount of money they can. So don’t feel bad. You have done me a favor without even knowing it. Thanks so much Mom! I love you! You’re the best!

And so I find myself sitting in my room at 2:30 on a Sunday morning reflecting on all of this. I have an awesome church fellowship in BG, I’m part of the worship band, I have a Resident Advisor job for next year with my room and board all paid for. I still have the scholarship money that I had before, I have a job here at home, and I have an awesome family.

I have an awesome God. We have an awesome God. If he has blessed me, one of His children, like this, then of course he will bless the rest of His children in the same way.  It might take some patience, but,

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”- Hebrews 10:23