Saturday, August 31, 2013

Turning Worry into Peace

If I had to pick a word to describe last year for me, if would be Worry.  Not a good word, not a word I'm especially proud of, but it's what characterized the year for me.  I let it overtake me at times.  I was so stressed out about the future.  I felt so small and impossibly insignificant, like I had no control over everything that was going on around me.  Not like my life was spiraling out of control and I could do nothing about it -- but I'm a teenage girl, and it's easy to dramatize life and blow it up bigger than it is.  Because learning to drive stick is not an impossible situation, just a hill to climb.  And the enormity of college costs and the vast future before me is not something to stay up nights, my stomach in knots.

But lately I've felt a distinct peace wash over me.  As I sit here filling out college applications and scholarship forms, as I drive myself to the grocery store, as I start to make decisions that directly affect my future -- I find a sort of stillness.  A bit of quiet.  Because I've decided life is sort of like knitting lace.  The charts are long and confusing, but if I tackle it one stitch at a time, I can conquer the entire shawl.  It's a weird analogy, but it makes sense in my head.  If I decide to live each day at a time, without worrying too much about the day after today, I find peace.  Because today is about writing a blog post, and filling out a form, and grocery shopping, and reading Psalm 31 -- and that is all.  Whatever else happens this day is a blessing.  If I find more time to read the Bible, or to sit and reply to emails, that is a blessing.  Because I want to live in this day, the one and only day created just for today.  There will never be another day just like this one, never a day with the same words or thoughts or clouds that drift out of sight.  And everyone knows that tomorrow never comes, there is always another "today" that comes and replaces the last.  So I want to decide to leave tomorrow to my Father, who is the only One who can reach tomorrow today.  And that gives me Hope.

"But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!"
(Psalms 31:14-15)

Monday, August 19, 2013


I've blogged quite a bit about my family, but I don't think you've been formally introduced.  Today I'd like to take the time to introduce you to my wonderful family!

This is me!  When I first started blogging a couple summers ago, Elizabeth and I agreed to use pen-names.  I chose Aylin, and my friend became Elizabeth.  It wasn't a big deal with just the blog, but because I created a Gmail account under that name, my G+ went under that name -- and so I made my Ravelry account under that name.  And so it was complicated -- mostly when I circled friends on G+ who didn't know who Aylin was...  So now I've decided to gradually shift everything back to my actual identity.  Just thought I'd let you know ;)

Lizzie is my sister and my best friend.  She entered the blogging world last year and has since gained more followers and connections than me.  But guess what?  She totally deserves it!  Lizzie is ridiculously passionate about helping children in poverty and she has found a deep connection with the advocates and sponsors associated with Compassion International.  She's started her own line of sponsor bracelets and even an annual fundraising event to help impoverished children.  Beyond that, good things to know about Lizzie are: she will become your most devoted friend if you feed her ice cream, she is great at packing clothes into extremely small duffel bags (especially mine!  She may have my mom's magical organizing abilities), and she will persuade you to sponsor/correspond with a Compassion child if you know her long enough!

Belle is my youngest sister.  She is everything I am not -- tall, tan, and freckle-less :)  I am not sure where she got the genes from, but I think she'd make a great basketball player.  She's only ten, yet she's as tall as me.  Besides that, Belle is the resident cheerful person.  She always sees the good in people and loves chatting with anybody about whatever they want to talk about.

My Mom
My mom is the all-round amazing person around here.  She is the professional organizer, scheduler, nurse, teacher, manager, chauffeur, chef, and consultant.  She makes the most amazing food, too!  Nothing beats her bolognese, made with linguini noodles, carrots, and tomatoes.  And her carrot cake.  And banana bread with little chocolate chips...

Ahem.  Moving on -- my mom also is my teacher in every subject, because she homeschools us.  So she's taught me how to write essays, figure algebra equations, and study for exams.  The only thing she has not been quite so involved in is biology labs.  And by that I mean frogs, worms, and fish dissections.  But can you blame her?

My Dad
My dad is the hardest-working man I know.  He owns his own business, which takes a lot of hard work and commitment.  Beyond that, my dad loves the outdoors, and has passed that love on to me and my sisters.  He especially likes fishing, hunting whitetail deer, canoeing, and camping.  Hiking and kayaking are my favorite things my dad's introduced me to.  He also builds perfect bonfires and cooks perfect venison steaks ;)

Although she is not a biological part of my family, May is practically a sister of mine.  We watch her five days a week.  May is just about as smart and tall as I am (well...not quite).  She is an escape-artist, too.  Like, you know those magicians who chain themselves up inside flaming boxes and escape alive?  That's May.  Doesn't matter if she's in a play-pen or blocked into the livingroom by two couches, an ottoman, a baby gate, and my watchful eye -- she'll eventually manage to escape.  Oh, and she has a strange fascination with sheep.

So there you have it!  My strange, wonderful family condensed into a couple of sentences.  And you are?

Friday, August 9, 2013

5 Things About Kingdom Bound 2013

This year I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Kingdom Bound Music Festival at an amusement park near my home.  It was four, amazing days where I was able to go and worship my Creator along with some of the greatest Christian bands in existence.  Here are five things that happened at Kingdom Bound this year:

1.  NEEDTOBREATHE singer Bear was in a car crash and couldn't make it to the festival.  In their place, Mercy Me came and played the last concert of the final night.  They were great -- even without any sleep within the last 24 hours, without half their equipment, or without much of a clue what they were going to perform.  And we worshiped together, because it didn't matter that everything didn't come together perfectly on stage.  They were there, their hearts were passionate about God, and they were honest and open and willing to come and serve even during their time off.

2.  Amusement park rides are terrifying.  And I've discovered that it's more fun to watch everybody else scream than to scream myself.  I think that people who ride rides like being scared.  I think they like the rush of adrenaline that accompanies fear.  Me?  I prefer laughing at the screaming masses while I eat Dippin Dots in peace.

3.  I learned that 3 out of 4 Christian teens will leave their faith during their first year of college.  And I learned how to equip myself to thrive in college, not just try to survive.  The seminars at Kingdom Bound were very awesome, and the one by Chris Kiegler gave me practical ideas about college.

4.  for KING & COUNTRY is such an awesome group!  Even though Luke Smallbone couldn't be with them, because he is very sick, the group did a great job together.  They were selling these bracelets and necklaces that have an amazing message.  The bracelets say "respect and honor" and the necklaces say "priceless" on them.  Basically, the idea with them was for girls to remember that they don't have to do enough, be enough, or look enough of a certain way to be loved.  They are priceless.  The world wants girls to feel cheep.  Like they have to give themselves away to be loved.  It isn't right and it isn't true.  So Joel Smallbone encouraged all of us girls, and told the guys as well, that we are priceless in the eyes of our Creator and that we never have to sell ourselves short of that.

5.  I got to see so many people!  I got to see my friends from camp and from the church I used to attend and just people I hadn't seen in forever.  And all the bands!  Mercy Me, for KING & COUNTRY, Audio Adrenaline, Thousand Foot Crutch, Colton Dixon, Hillsong United, Newsboys, and so many other groups that just blew my mind.  They have such a fire for Jesus, such a passion for ministry, and I'm thankful that I got the chance to see them and be a part of all of Kingdom Bound.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pardon Me, as I Spew My Thoughts onto the Internet

I have come to the part of my high school career where I must decide what path I'm going to take for the next four years of my life.  I'm applying to colleges.  Although I still have several months to decide between the ones that (hopefully) accept me, it's still a decision that's been on my mind a lot right now.

A couple weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit a state college that is about five hours away from my home.  It was a great college, in a rural setting with beautiful buildings and a good academic program.  It also has its drawbacks:  it really is in the middle of nowhere -- no Wal-Mart or fast food or anything, and the dorms aren't that great.  One bathroom/shower per 10 students.  Count it -- TEN.

Tomorrow I get to visit a college a little bit closer to home.  It's near a large city.  It has tunnels connecting its buildings for easy winter walking.  It has a stellar academic program and study abroad opportunities.  I don't know the state of it's restroom facilities, but I'm sure they're good :)  Of course, as with any private university, it costs a fortune.

And then there is a college out of state that I likely won't be visiting.  It's a beautiful, Christian college with just about everything you could ask for.  Nice campus (from the pics), the admissions counselors are very helpful, and the Christian values are exactly what I believe.  No legalism, no passiveness.  But it's so far away.

And I wonder, how do I decide?  How do I figure it out?  Will I ever know enough -- will God shout it from the clouds -- so that I can sign my life away for four years with confidence?  It isn't just four years, either.  It sets the projection for the rest of my life, almost.  It affects who I marry, what job I get, where I live, what church I attend.  It matters.

And yet, maybe it doesn't.  Because God said go and do, and glorify Me there.  Will I screw up my entire life by attending the wrong college?  Not if I glorify God there.  Not if He is more important than a Bachelor's degree or an insignia on a sweatshirt.  I am just a teenage girl, scared about the great, black void of the future.  Wondering what it will hold.  What it will do to me, where it will take me.

But if I glorify God there, if I glorify Him here, does it matter?  If I make choices with the wisdom I have been given, if I pray and pray, if I let God take care of the future -- because He's been there already --then maybe it fails to matter.  It is but a dot on a globe swallowed up by the immensity of the Omnipresent One.  And He ought to be enough.