Friday, January 27, 2012

Guardian Angels

   This is a bit off-track from my recipe idea...not to mention it's been ages since I've last written. Forgive me, dears! those of you who read this, anyway ;) it's late...I've grown to be a night owl, and am currently trying to break myself of that habit with little I'll keep this brief.
   Guardian angels. Who believes in them? And what do you believe they are? Angels personally assigned by God to keep you from all physical harm, keep your life bright, and respond to your beck and call? Loved ones who have passed on and can't quite stand to leave you alone in this world? A passing fey or spirit who took an attraction to you and now desires to keep you safe? Theories range all over. I've looked into the matter, and tried finding references in my Bible. I'm one of those Christians who prefers some solid Biblical fallback, you know.
   There isn't a lot on the subject, but I found what could be described as personal angels mentioned once or twice. Now, I don't believe the first theory I mentioned is a very credible one. Everything happens for a reason, including the bad things. If something unfortunate happens, it isn't grounds for people to go pointing fingers at the Heavens and becry God's "lack of presence"...ironically, most people who do that are the ones who ignored His existence. ANYWAY. Moving on. I have a small bit of personal experience with "guardian angels", and I felt the desire to share it with you.
   My family is one of four members...well, seven if you count our cats. My parents, myself, and my younger brother. I have the joy of being the oldest child. To be honest, it's become a bit of a pain as I hit my senior year. I'm the guinea pig, the one Mom and Dad will use for reference when my brother gets old enough to apply for colleges, scholarships, and the like. Needless to say, there've been some mix-ups, frustrated arguments, and many more pleasantries in this process of my growing up. No, I never considered it any fun being the oldest. As the oldest, I want to look out for my brother...but because I'm a girl, his pride would never allow such a thing. I often wish our roles were reversed, because while I play it off tough, I often find myself wishing I had the opportunity and excuse to show some weakness. I've always wanted an older brother, someone to come charging in when I'm down and demand the name and address of the one responsible. Even as a child, I felt I should have one, that my rank as the oldest was mistakenly assigned.
    I actually learned rather early on in life that my intuition was correct; I wasn't originally supposed to be the eldest. I wasn't born as the oldest child...I was simply the only one to survive and meet that quota.
    It was during the summer of my first grade year that my grandmother, who often watched over my brother and myself, told me that I had once had an older brother. He had died of complications that occurred during his development inside my mom, only three days after his birth.
    I actually cried when I heard that; I was an odd kid. After that, however, my older brother that I could never have possibly known became my childhood confidante. When life got tough...which it did quite often at that point in time...I would escape to my little corner of the yard outside and talk to him. I'd pray, too...ask God to say "Hello" to my big brother for me. It never struck me as odd that he died as a baby, and that I was an eight-year-old. In my mind, he was two years older than me, strong, and clever. I guess you could say he became my imaginary friend. Cute, right? Eh.
   Well, years passed, and while I outgrew the imaginary friend deal, I still secretly yearned for an older brother. My dad was always at work, my younger brother was quiet and reclusive, and I was mostly friends with girls. Strong male figures I could rely and lean upon simply didn't exist; even my grandfathers had both died when I was two. I'm a girl of vivid imagination; I had some fun making up what my brother would look and act like in my head, and how life would be different if he was around.
   As I got older, I started pal'ing up with the guys around me. I was a bit of a tomboy, and enjoyed acting tough with them. It made life much less complicated. Subconsciously, and later a bit more determinedly, I reached out in search of one person I could adopt as a big brother. I never really found that person. Some would come and go, and things would be especially painful when they left, so I stopped looking. I stand on my own to this day.
   Still, over the summer, something miraculous happened. My mom, my brother, and I all went with another youth group to a mission trip/week long camp called MFuge. It was full of community service, bonding with kids from other states, and fantastic worship experience. Often, these sequences of worship would find more than half of the many hundreds of attendees on their knees, crying, praying, and giving glory to God.
   After one such experience, Mom pulled me aside and said with shining eyes, "God just told me that your big brother has been interceding for you two. You've got eyes up there in Heaven."
   When I heard that, it felt as though a small hole inside me was filled with the warmest sense of peace and happiness I could imagine. Since then, whether I've decided to officially believe in them or not, I consider my brother a guardian angel. I'm not saying he's a genie, or some magical body guard who will keep me from getting a concussion, disease, or worse...I just know that he's in a better place, and even though that place is better, he cares enough to look down and watch my back, and my brother's back. This is one of those things I can think back upon...and smile.
   Pretty random post, I know. But it was on my mind. Basically, don't dwell on those who have passed. Look to the future, and don't doubt for a second they've stopped loving you just because you can't see them anymore. God bless, everyone.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ingredient: A Cup of Confidence, Sift it with Some Self-Respect

   Disclaimer: you should know, this one is going to be pretty long ^.~
   I'm sure that, speaking as a teenager, I can relate to quite a few of you out there when it comes to the matter of confidence. Not only that, but I'm a teenaged girl. Ladies, I'm sure you can empathize here. We all have those days. You just feel like hiding your hair in a super-quick-and-simple updo, putting on a mask of makeup, and exchanging those skinnies for a pair of safe, baggy pajama pants. It just tends to happen; our hair is too frizzy, those break outs are too prevalent, and our legs just aren't shaped up enough for those cute new jeans we got. No, we all have those morning inspections, and some days we just can't make the cut, in our opinions.
   Believe me, I know. And I'm sure guys have their insecurities as well...and since the poor dudes can't get away with makeup without turning in their "man cards", they apply a nice layer of ego to patch the job.
  Regardless of what we do with it, our self-consciousness always gets the better of us. But let me tell you something profound: your zits are not the zenith of the universe.
   ...let's tone that down to something a bit more modern-style English. Pardon my folklore tongue ;). An average human is somewhere between five and six feet in height; the average pimple doesn't exceed a few centimeters in length. You do the math. What will another person notice first? The reader-friendly, large font of your face, or the easily-missed subtext of occasional break outs? On that note, a friendly heads up: makeup clogs your pores, and can cause even more defined skin problems. you. I understand it's fun to get dressy; I to experiment with beauty products myself. But makeup is just something with the sole purpose of accentuating the beauty that's already there.
   I've been taking vocal lessons for two and a half years now, and I can proudly say that my teacher is one of the most amazing, gifted, and blessed women in the world. She's from Africa, so she has a delightful accent that's a mix of British and something else; even when she speaks it sounds like she's singing. She's one of those bright and cheerful stars in my life that won't go out, no matter what, and I'm grateful beyond words for the measure of confidence in myself she's helped me find. One of her favorite phrases to say when referring to a performance I might be feeling nervous about is this: "Be fabulous, honey!"
   There's something about the way she says that; I'm not sure what it is, but it fills me with strength and a desire to do my absolute best. Maybe part of it is due to the faith we share, and the philosophy that if God gives you a gift like music, you should always perform with His glory in mind. It guarantees a personal best effort, and a fantastic finish. When you're not singing for yourself, your voice goes further; it reaches not only the audience, but their hearts as well.
   The point I'm trying to make is this: our lack of self-confidence stems from a focus on ourselves. Just stop and think. Imagine a perspective outside the box and beyond the mirror, because even a mirror isn't too reliable. It's just a reflection of how you see yourself. No, try to imagine how everyone else sees you. For example, one of my dear friends has the most beautiful hair I've ever seen. it's long, chocolatey brown, and full of volume and enviable curls. On top of that, she is beautiful from the inside out, so it's understandable that I would chuckle when she apologizes for a "bad hair day". Sure, her hair might not be as perfectly curled and spot-on as it could be, but to me, she's too beautiful for that kind of thing to make a difference. The reason for our conflicting points of view is she focuses on the hair in itself; I'm focusing on her as a person. How odd would it be for someone else to focus on one thing about you? Quite. So think about others, and how they see you. You'd be amazed at how small a deal a bad hair day becomes. 
   Now, for self-respect. It's clear and understandable that if there's on thing in high demand right now, it's respect. Everyone wants everyone else to respect them, and that's an admirable desire.
   Respect who I am. Respect my decisions, because it's my life. If someone doesn't respect me, they can't expect me to give them my respect; who gives something for nothing?
   Respect. It's in high demand, like money and job positions. What else do these things have in common? They're becoming increasingly rare in this day and age. Respect is in recession too, and don't say you haven't noticed. Lack of respect for one's parents, for one's social standing...even the environment isn't getting the respect it should have. It's all going down the drain of animosity and chaos. So what's the deal? Where is the source to this shortage of something that was once so common it defined us as Americans and respectable human beings?
   I believe it can be traced back to a lack of self-respect. It's a misunderstood malady that has far-branching consequences people couldn't even begin to imagine.
   That gossip diva who makes your school social life a living Hell when you get on her bad side? The junkie that comes to class wasted past the point of caring how much he disrupts everyone else? The internet troll whose very existence seems to revolve around pissing everyone off? The scum of society that degenerate into a life of crime and substance abuse until they either overdose or are thrown in jail? Those are just a few examples. Their blatant lack of self-respect drives the common masses away from them. Reputations are assigned, and any hope of earning this thing called "respect" is lost. They spit at the world like wounded animals, and the world shuns them as such.
   It's a pitiful mire of disrespect and disdain, isn't it? They don't get respect from themselves, and according to the world, they don't "deserve" respect from anyone else. But let me ask you this, and I want you to consider respect a right we have to earn? Or is it something we ought to owe every living thing?
   Sometimes, circumstances beyond their control strip people of any self-respect they might have been born with. Where could they regain it, then? Children born into abusive households grow jaded and bitter before they grow up, rape victims are robbed of their self-respect in more ways than one, and a child bullied in primary school could easily join his antagonists in high school because they scarred him into believing he wasn't worth anyone's respect, and therefore ought to give none in return. No one offers them an unexpected gift of respect to replenish their sadly depleted supplies.
   For me, this is as much a reminder and a self-reprimand as it is a blog. One of my flaws is my natural disdain for those who have no self-respect. They have a certain repugnance to me, and while I occasionally tolerate them, I always walk away knowing that tolerance isn't what they need. They need something more, and it's something I can give them if I put enough effort into it. I'm not proud of how I've treated people up to this point, and I offer you to join me in this challenge.
   To wrap this up, confidence and self-respect go hand-in-hand, and they also go a long way. They make you more appealing to other people, and make it easier to get along with your fellow man. I feel that if we focused on improving these two elements...not only in ourselves, but in others as well...we as a generation, as a people, could improve many other things in this world as well. So, those are two major ingredients in the Recipe for Humanity: Self-respect and confidence. They're like flower and sugar, so sift them together as a base for your final product. That's all for now ^.^ God bless, everyone!

The Recipe: There's a Method to My Madness ;)

   Oh dear. I should probably be honest about my failure at limiting words and call this "Introduction Part II"...but really, that's an incredibly lame title. It wouldn't catch your eye at all ;)
   I have a ton of ideas for this blog already, and I originally planned on posting another tonight...however, my body is reminding me that it's low on something I like to call "sleep". Consider it a mix of traffic on the way back from my aunt's house, Skyrim, and the after-effects of a rather epic sleepover. ANYWAY. Excuses are generally reserved for the inexcusable, so all I should really be doing is asking your pardon.
   Don't you love how I took up more than three paragraphs' worth of space and time without fully getting my intentions across? Well, if there's one thing a sleep-deprived mind is good for, it's getting down to the point.
   You may notice my URL. "Recipe For Humanity". I didn't just pick it out on a whim. First off, I feel the need to be honest and confess something truly shameful to you, my faithful and wonderful readers: I don't cook. Nor do I bake, really, unless there's a shortage of cookies in the house, which is unacceptable. Why focus on a recipe then? I found some wonderful wordplay that we'll get into later. But basically, the main focus of this blog happens to be the elements humanity has in common. I mentioned them in my previous post: things like dreams, worries, desires...there's a basic recipe to humanity, and I think things would go so much smoothly on so many different levels if people knew that recipe. So, cook or not, I want to do my best to put that recipe to words; after that, all I can do is sit back, cross my fingers, and pray that it gets out there. What a waltz with chance we writers have ;).
   So, let me tie up some loose ends: I'll be posting "ingredients" on here for the recipe, but of course, because this is a blog, I'll be posting other miscellaneous thoughts and curiosities, the likes of which are prone to wandering through my mismatched mind. Bear with me. If you can do that, you deserve a medal...and a cookie. I make a mean batch of cookies.
   This is the point at which my shoulder angel, which I fondly dubbed "Common Sense" is whispering, "You're getting off-topic. Cookies aren't really related, it was just an example. Go to sleep!"
   Ah! Before I actually listen, however, I want to add one more thing: my blog's name. I'm not exactly sure how many of you are familiar with the phrase "Take it with a grain of salt", because my mother taught it to me once upon a time, and while I adore my mother, she tends to stick to the phrases of olden times...we're alike that way ;). Still, for those of you who are unaware, I'm going to educate you. The phrase was intended as a warning: listen well, but don't be too trusting. Again, this can lead back to my first post. It's a hard time to be trusting anybody, and anybody who decides to trust people is inevitably going to be burned for it every once in a while. I learned that the hard way just recently myself...and for a while, I wanted to give up. Just lock myself inside, and never fully trust anyone again. That's the easy way to do things, right?
   Still, what kind of a life is that? I believe the way we view and treat others is a reflection of how we view and treat ourselves...another ideal that will be quite prevalent in this blog as it progresses, God willing. In the end, people can't even trust themselves. They might not even be aware of that fact, but it's there. Trust is a leap of faith, but nothing worth doing or having is going to be easily got. Thus, the name of this blog is my challenge to you: Take this with a grain of sugar. Trust. Trust me, if you will; I'll be honored. Trust other people. You'd be surprised at the angels in disguise you'll find out. Trust yourself; it'll give you a strength you never knew you could have. Also, trust God. This leads back to trusting me, because I can vouch for the Big Guy Upstairs. He's my Father in Heaven, and He has never fallen through on me. We're talking a relationship that's going on seven years now; give me one human example of someone who can go seven years without betraying your trust in even the slightest way. So, please, enjoy the read. Thank you for bearing with me on this failure of fitting these ideals into one post >.< God bless <3

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mere Formalities, Love

    It goes without saying, but I'm sure we've all been taught it's only polite to introduce ourselves during a first-time encounter. I've grown so used to this engrained custom, I've even done it on sites like Facebook, where your name and the face that goes with it are already a known. I feel a bit silly, but at the same time, I think there's a personal touch that gets added with this age-old tradition. So here we go. My name is Erin, I'm seventeen years young and a senior in high school. I'm an avid bookworm, proudly considered a nerd by most, and I'm awful at picking favorites in anything, so I'm sorry for not putting out the generic color preferences and such. One more thing I want everyone to know about me straight off: I'm a Christian. I'm not sure what that means to you personally; it's become increasingly apparent to me through experience that people read the word differently every time. I'll just say it's a pitiful ambassador of the one element that changed my life and continues to do so, and you'll be seeing proof of that quite often if you read my blogs. But besides that...ta-daa! There I am.
   Now for something a bit more important and interesting: why are you here? I'm so happy you are, for starters. I'm not exactly psychic, so your motives are all yours. Let me try again: why is this blog here? That much I can answer. I mentioned before that I'm a bookworm. Well, books aren't the only things I enjoy reading. I have a fascination with humanity in general. To me, people are stories. There isn't a single pair that's exactly alike, and there are so many differences out there it's dizzying in a wonderful sort of way. I'm writing this blog because, for starters, I think too much, talk too much, and most certainly write too much. That's a lot of words gone to waste on a daily basis, so I figured I'd throw some out here and see who else can make use of them. I hope with all my heart that even one person will read this and consider what's here. If that can happen, I'll die with one more little goal in my heart satisfied.
   See, I'm on the verge of "growing up", as some would call it. Halfway through my senior year, thinking thoughts of college and's a bit scary, exciting, and wonderful all wrapped into one fantastic sandwich of life. It's also been ensuring that I see more of the world. When we get older, we begin to realize life isn't exactly the walk through Candyland we'd been entertained into believing it was as children. Epiphanies like this can really jade some people; have you ever fallen into your comfy couch after a nerve-wrackingly long day and thought you were sick of people? I'm sure I'm not the only one. Then, there's that whole genre of "This world is going to the dogs, and so are the people who live in it" that's been spreading around. Let's face it, times are tough, and people get tough with the times. Trust is running just as thin as the economy is, and stores aren't the only things closing their doors. I've seen the signs, and I know enough reclusive and exclusive people to recognize them: people are closing their hearts. Ironically, with the age of social websites at its height, people are hiding more from each other than ever. Perhaps these interactive networks are making that easier than ever. After all, when control over the kind of information you can put out there about yourself is at your fingertips, a disguise is easy to craft.
   Don't mistake me; I know people have reasons for wanting to protect themselves. There's a lot of pain in this world, and I suppose that's not something that's ever changed, but as I said I'm growing up. I've become more aware of this, and whether or not this is something new to my generation, I want to say something about it. I feel that, in their efforts to keep themselves safe, people are losing something important. We weren't created to be alone, and after being hurt, that's all a body really wants to be. Let me reiterate: there are so many hurting people out there. So, without any further ado, let me say this: this is a blog not about me, but about you. All of wonderful, curious, diverse mass of humans out there who can access and read a jumble of thoughts and dreams a little soul like me is willing to step out and create. See, I can't help but have a hope for humanity; it's something I've noticed is dwindling. Hope. Faith. The nerve to step out and say, "We can move forward." You have so much potential, and all I can see that's wrong is the lack of trust that's stifling it. So, I'm going to strive to write up a recipe of sorts, because even though each and every person is different, there are certain things we have in common: dreams, desires, secrets, fears...this list can be pretty lengthy, and I want to discover it together with you. So. thank you for reading, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you'll follow through with me on this. I just want people to get this message: no one is alone.
   Well, there you have it. My formality, a simple introduction. I hope to hear some feedback from you lovelies out there. God bless you all <3