Monday, October 31, 2011

autumn sunshine

I have a confession to make.

I never really cared for fall.  Not that I disliked it--it was more that I just didn't have any feelings for it whatsoever.  Well, this year, it's changed.  I love autumn.  At least I've loved this autumn.  I'm not sure what has changed, but this in-between season has just captivated me with it's golden glory.


Yup, you could say I've fallen in love with the autumn sunshine.

Sadly, as of now, sunshine doesn't necessarily mean warmth.  We had our first frost yesterday--which made driving to church in my icy car somewhat interesting.  But at the same time, even though I would rather have been asleep at the time (wonderful night the one before: dancing, teasing, eating, movie-watching, laughing with friends...until after 3am), I couldn't help but love seeing the morning light glisten over the frost.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."  -Albert Camus

This October has been an odd mixture of nasty & rainy, sunny & breezy, and now it has turned to bright (or wet) & cold.  I'm having a hard time coping with the fact that the month is over; didn't autumn just begin?  And now here we are, facing November head-on.  Crazy how time flies.

And despite the constant busyness--the homework, the cold, the everyday difficulties amid the laughter, the beauty, the friendships--I am loving it.


ps--any epic plans for Halloween?  I've never been big on the day--never done anything huge or exciting--so tonight just calls for a run to Chipotle.  always a good thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

only Love

This is something I have been meaning to write for a long while.  I suppose I've been gathering the courage, because it is a topic so vast, so broad, so unfathomably deep that I have trouble understanding it.  And yet, I so desperately want to be able to grasp it.  And what is this thing?

Love.




I believe it was in August that I read Till We Have Faces, a myth retold by that mastermind hero of mine, C.S. Lewis.  Whenever I think about this concept of love, something draws my mind back to this book.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: Lewis was a genius.  I devoured this book cover to cover, but it's one of those things that you have to take time to process afterward.  I'm certain I didn't understand half of the message that Lewis put in there--it's a confusing but riveting tale.


"A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end.  You live several lives while reading it."  -William Styron

To start, let me summarize the myth it centers around.  In ancient Greek tradition, Psyche was a mortal woman who was so beautiful that Aphrodite (the goddess of love) was jealous of her.  In an attempt to get rid of her, Aphrodite sends her son Cupid (the god of love) to do the dirty work, but Cupid falls in love with Psyche, takes her to a hidden valley, and there only comes to her in the darkness of night so that she does not see his true form as a god.

Meanwhile, Psyche's two jealous sisters come visit her, convincing her that her lover might be a horrific beast.  They persuade Psyche to light a candle in the night, but when she does, Cupid awakens, enraged.  He punishes the sisters and leaves Psyche, who is forced to flee to her enemy, Aphrodite herself, for help.  Aphrodite sends Psyche on a number of impossible missions, each of which Psyche miraculously completes.  In the end, Cupid returns for Psyche and she is granted immortality, becoming a goddess.




Till We Have Faces tells the story from the perspective of Orual, one of Psyche's sisters.  Ever since she was a little girl, Orual has lived knowing three things for certain: Psyche was beautiful, she was ugly, and she loved Psyche to death.  Literally, to death.  Orual's love for Psyche is desperate, reckless, and mostly, selfish.  When Orual persuades Psyche to undermine Cupid, it is not out of spite.  It is out of her dangerously great love that wishes to protect Psyche, and her dangerously great fear that some brute would seek to destroy her sister.  Plus, Orual cannot see the beautiful valley, the lovely place where Cupid has brought Psyche--she sees only a desolate, lonely place inhabited by her hallucinating sister.

Orual is punished.  She becomes hardened, bitter.  She becomes queen, and yet she is so unfulfilled.  She never sees Psyche again, only later discovering that she has become a goddess and that Orual's own name has lived on in infamy.  And through it all, she is possessed by a confusingly massive amount of love for Psyche.  At least, she calls it love.




But I suppose that is where the book ends and the imagination begins.  Orual never did anything for or toward Psyche except what she meant to be for her good.  But Orual's love was selfish--so, so selfish.  She did not love Psyche for love's sake; she loved to be loved in return.  She wanted to get some sort of reward from her devotion, and in the end, it led them both to ruin.  And that just makes me wonder: where is the fine line between selfish and unselfish love?


"Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness."  -C.S. Lewis


More stern?  Stern.  Hmm.  As in serious, Lewis, is that what you're trying to tell me?  Because yes, love is more serious than kindness, than simply attempting to do good to someone.  Love is a commitment, an act.  And like anything else, messing up is all too easy.  Acting out of line comes much too naturally.


And more splendid?  Yes.  Oh yes.  Especially in His love.




"God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love."  -C.S. Lewis

The other thing that strikes me is Orual's need for love.  She goes about loving and trying to find love in all the wrong ways, and they ultimately fail her.  She seeks for something greater than herself so desperately, yet she is blind to the beauty that Psyche has found.  And here I suppose the line between reality and myth is blurred.  The whole book I could not decide what was real and what was story--and I'm pretty sure that's right where Lewis wanted me to be.  Because in his eyes, Jesus is a story, salvation is a myth.  The only difference is that it's a real story.  It's a true myth.  (More coherent musings on that and this book here, part one and part two.)  And either way, Orual still needs, desires, craves that crazy little thing called love.  Or rather, Love, for God is love.

"When we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy."  -C.S. Lewis



I'm not really sure where I'm going with this now.  I guess it's just so easy to slip into the mindset of loving selfishly.  Loving because I want something in return, and not loving because I don't think there's anything in it for me.  And watching the story unfold as Orual does just that, it struck me how easy it is to not even realize when I am in that mindset.  I really felt for Orual--sympathized with her even--wanted to scream at Psyche that she had no idea what she was doing.  But the next moment I wanted nothing more than to beat some sense into Orual who is obviously missing some great truth that Psyche has found.  Orual is completely unaware, and she not only makes Psyche suffer, but she does harm to herself as well.


Ahh, this selfish loving that we're used to is not Jesus love.  It's not agape love, unconditional and sacrificial.  We don't think about it.  In a world that clamors for rights and equality, we don't realize that if life was fair, we'd be dead.  Sinful, hopeless, unloved, and dead.


"If there is equality it is in His love, not it us."  -C.S. Lewis



And that makes me infinitely grateful.  For various reasons, but namely that I was blind, but now I see.  That I have Love.  That I don't have to desperately seek fulfillment in loving a Psyche or being a queen.  That my identity is in Him, however great the amount that I don't deserve it.  That he is my lover and beauty and truth.  And I must seek to love as unselfishly has He has loved me.  His love is so great, so vast, so unselfish, so important, so good, so necessary to my existence.

"There are four questions of value in life...What is sacred?  Of what is the spirit made?  What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for?  The answer to each is the same.  Only love."  -Johnny Depp

And I would change that a bit to say, only Love.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

my best friend (aka sister)

It was cloudy and getting late, I was hard at work studying my American civ book, and it had already been a long day.
Enter Cassie: "Come take some of my senior pictures!"
Me: "NONONONONONO."

...You can see for yourself who won that argument.




I was dragged out to a lovely little cove on the reservoir near us.  Cassie had scouted out this location weeks before.



Yes sir, she can be a bit silly.  Especially upon discovering dirty old glass bottles on the ground.


But oh, can she be serious.  Heheh, there's some sort of lasting joke about Cassie's "model look."  I'm not really sure what or why, but there is.



Ahh, I love fall colors.

{linking up the above photo with all things autumn}


There also happens to be a joke about her foot-popping skills.  They're not too keen to put it mildly.


Oh my dear, this girl.  I love her.  I don't even know if there are words to say how much.
Not to say that we don't have our moments (because, ahem, trust me, we do), but she's always there for me.  It's scary how she can read my mind sometimes.  It's wonderful how we can laugh about almost anything. 

how we come up with our own inside jokes...
how we choose our men (I get Chris Hemsworth and she gets Hugh Jackman)...
how she tells me to shut up at 1am when I'm rambling on and on...
how I tease her about her "perfect" nose...
how she leans over my shoulder and tells me how to edit that photo just so...
how we talk about everything and everyone...
how she's blonder at heart than I am...
how she's my only family member that actually reads my blog...
how every time she asks me how she looks I say "ehh, okay" when she looks gorgeous and when she doesn't ask me because she just woke up and is in her robe with her hair up in one of those ridiculous buns I say "you look beautiful" and we start to laugh...
how we continue our inside jokes without even remembering what they're about...
yeah.

She's my best friend--always has been and always will be.


She's priceless.

Monday, October 17, 2011

sometimes

Sometimes it's so easy to get in a depressed and overwhelmed mindset, focused on the wrong things.

Sometimes every little thing makes me so warm and fuzzy inside and full of joy and contentment and happiness and gratitude.


Sometimes I wonder if it’s humanly possible to do with my life everything I want to do with my life.

Sometimes I think I’ll be able to achieve great things and do and be all I want.

Sometimes I don’t even know what it is that I want.

(iLove flowers and colors...linking up to Francesca's challenge and Katie's challenge)

Sometimes I think I’m a pretty cool person.

Sometimes I look back, shake my head, and think, Man, am I deluded.


Sometimes I want to shove everyone away and sit in my room all alone.

Sometimes it hits me--how good life is--and I want to give everyone I know the biggest hug they have ever had in the history of the universe.

Sometimes hugs solve everything, you know.


Sometimes I think I will never be able to mark off every single thing on my ever-growing bucket list.

Sometimes I know I can conquer the world.


Sometimes I think certain segments of humanity are intolerably stupid.

Sometimes I smile and sigh and realize how much I love people in the end--how my friends make my life.


Sometimes I forget, but that's my own problem.

Because despite everything, when I will only remember to recognize it, Someone is always making life beautiful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

oreo stuffed heaven

Would you like to hear about something delicious?  Of course you would.  Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  It's like a Cookie Utopia.  Almost too good to be true, right?

Fortunately, no.


If you consider yourself an Oreo-lover in any way, shape, or form, do yourself a favor and make these.  I'm hardly the baking type (at least not very often), but when I saw this recipe I had to try it.  These are made with chocolate-creme-filled Oreos since that's all I had handy.  I hid them away in the back of the pantry, hoping they'd last longer.  (:



Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
from the recipe at Very Culinary

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package Oreo cookies

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl mix flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.
With a cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.
Place one ball on top of an Oreo cookie, and another on the bottom.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping with hands until the Oreo is fully enclosed in dough.  (Note: use just enough dough to cover the whole Oreo, no more...they end up big enough as it is.)



Place unto parchment lined baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 13 minutes or until golden brown.  (Note: mine definitely took long than 13 minutes, so check as you go...but don't over-bake or the bottoms will burn.)
Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 24 ginormous cookies.



And friends, when I say ginormous, that's exactly what I mean.  So huge that if you eat too much cookie dough during the baking process, you won't even have room for a whole one.  (Yes, I speak from personal experience.)  Grab them with a glass of milk for the ultimate midnight snack.  Perfection. <3