Cross Cultural Friendship

When most people think of significant moments, they start to search for that world-changing, pivotal moment in their life. These moments can be good and and help shape who we are. However, if we spend all of our time looking for that one big moment, we can forget to open our eyes in the midst of everyday life and take opportunities as they come. My opinion firmly stands that sometimes the little moments in life, the seemingly small things in God’s kingdom can have a bigger impact than we realize. One of the moments in my life that comes to mind happened on an oversees mission trip that stretched my faith and altered my worldview, yet it was something that could have just happened right down the street from me.

The summer after my junior year of high school, I took a very long awaited mission trip to the Philippines. Our team had been spending our time with a newly developing church and the community that surrounded, connecting with the adults and children that lived nearby. We had also been blessed to have a few bibles to give to people while we were there. Near the end of the week, we only had a couple of Bibles left, and the leader of the trip asked me if I had anyone in mind to give one to. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but instantly Elisa popped into my mind. She was a young high school girl that I had had a few conversations with and I remember being impressed by her genuineness. I remember asking her about how she digs into God’s word. She told me that they only had a family Bible to share, but that she tries to read and study it most nights.

Handing her that Bible is a moment that will forever be engraved into my memory. She seemed so genuinely thankful just to have her own copy. A smile instantly spread across her face and she went off to share it with the other kids. We are still in contact to this day. In fact, my parents even help to fund her education. She tells me that I inspire her, yet from my point of view, it is always the other way around. I constantly see pictures of her involved in the church that we spent time at, showing other kids her pink Bible and the joy that she has in the Lord.

Elisa has taught me to be grateful for the little things in life, sometimes those are bigger than we realize (“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” –1 Timothy 4:4). She has taught me that there is no way to justify taking my education or access to faith building materials for granted (“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching…” –2 Timothy 3:16). Lastly, and probably more importantly, that true joy is never circumstantial. Rather, it comes from true and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and others (“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have…” –1 Peter 3:15).

As I begin to prepare to go back to the Philippines in a few months, I look back on all of the memories from the past three years and think about just how much my life has changed since those moments. I am thankful for how those moments have contributed to the change within me and given me a new perspective to approach life with. Mostly, I just look forward to seeing a friend face to face once more.

Writing With Success

Success can have a multitude of meanings when it comes to writing. Each writer has different goals they set out to accomplish with their individual piece and in their writing careers over all. Personally, I have come to define a successful writing piece by asking two questions. First, did the writer give their best effort? Second, does the piece accomplish the purpose set out for it by the writer?

As to whether or not the writer gave their best effort, that can mean many different things. Are we talking in terms of time put in, quality compared to other pieces by that writer, how many parts of the writing process they went through, willingness to be vulnerable? Each of these aspects can represent a good effort by the writer, but it is going to be different for each author in each context. I think the level of effort is known best to each writer themselves because it is revealed in the decisions they thought through and made in the formulation of the piece.

When thinking about whether or not the piece accomplishes the purpose set out for it, that is up to the writer as well. Was their purpose to be vulnerable, was their purpose to spark some sort of social change, to simply put their thoughts on paper, even if they were never read? How do the results line up in comparison to their selected purpose? If the piece accomplishes its purpose, but they still don’t feel satisfied with their writing, then perhaps their purpose needs to be adjusted so the writing can improve.

It’s Not Always a “Yes!”

After my long-awaited senior year of high school filled with applying for colleges and scholarships, sports seasons with unknown endings and graduation ceremonies, I somehow allowed myself to think that waiting to be accepted to so many things would be over. Well, at least for a little while right? Well not long after my first semester away at college, I was faced with the fact of how dreadfully wrong I was about that assumption. In fact, senior year was not the end, it was only the beginning. Most likely, an immeasurable amount of decisions about my future will be made in these coming years of figuring out adulthood (aka: the rest of my life). From student leadership positions to more scholarships, graduate schools, jobs, even relationships and friendships, the list goes on and on of things I am going to have to put myself out on the line for. It was so tempting (still is) and so hard to resist being overwhelmed with the status of my acceptance, and I imagine the same is true for many of you as well. But the truth is, our worth is determined by so much more than a “We are happy to inform you…” or a “Thank you for your application…”.

 

So here is the call I am committing to take up, and I challenge you to do the same. As I am given answers to the things I hope for, faced with open and closed doors, as I am accepted or turned away from whatever comes my way, I will not let my worth be determined by that bottom line. I am taking up this call because Christ died for me and I have chosen to follow Him. Therefore, my worth is not found in my own abilities. Rather, my worth, my whole identity is found in God. In Luke 10:16, Jesus tells His disciples “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me” (NIV). Because we are Jesus’ present day disciples, I would venture to say that we are included in this. This is proof enough for me that my identity is found in God, and I hope it leads you to the same conclusion.

Because we are Jesus’ disciples, we have also been given the same counselor that came at Pentecost many years ago. In Romans 8:14-15, it is written: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit that you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” This is the only bottom line we should be concerned about. Because we are followers of Jesus, we have the Spirit of truth, which tells us we are children of God. This means that we are ACCEPTED BY GOD, and if we are accepted by Him, we never have to worry about whether or not we measure up, ever again. Jesus closed that gap of imperfection when He died for us on the cross, and now we get to spend the rest of our lives loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves freely in light of that.

Go In peace my friends, know that the gap is closed, you are accepted as a beloved child of God, you have been given new life. Celebrate and rejoice in that!

Audience Analysis

“The Writer’s Audience is Always Fiction” describes the writer’s readership as much more distant and imagined than the audience of a speaker. When a speaker delivers a speech, they know for the most part the audience whom they are speaking to and the place and time the speech is being delivered. With writing however, there can be a much larger gap. A writer can intend a story or article to be read by certain people, but someone else outside of that context, even years down the road could pick it up and read it just the same. When a speech is delivered, the direct audience can act collectively, reacting to the speech and to one another’s reactions, all creating a certain atmosphere. When a writer piece of writing is read, it is typically in a much more individualized state. The writer intended a certain message to get across, but each reader takes and interprets that message in their own context, causing many a disagreement in book clubs around the globe.

From my own standpoint in the field of communication, I have never really thought of my audience as fictional, rather I have come from more of an “audience addressed” standpoint, as referred to in “Audience Addressed, Audience Invoked”. I tend to think of the particular audience I am addressing and their likes, dislikes, beliefs, and so on, mostly ignoring questions regarding the reality of my audience. After spending some time in thought over that very question about the audience, I wonder how my writing might change if I started to view the audience as more fictional. For now however, I think I am somewhere in the middle. I recognize that their is an audience whom I am writing to, I recognize that the audience I imagine represents real people who will be reading my work, and I recognize that my imagined audience may not always be exactly the same as my actual readership.

Through Another’s Eyes // a Response to “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

In the first paragraph of Carver’s “Cathedral”, the reader is introduced to an old friend who is coming to visit. An old friend of his wife’s who seemed to be very dear to her heart, though they had not been face to face in years. We are then brought to an abrupt stop in the story. Carver is not comfortable with this beloved friend of his wife’s coming to their home. You see, this long lost friend of hers is blind. Carver’s idea of a blind person at this point is completely made up  by what others have described, from the slow moving, cane using, laugh-less blindness in the movies. Carver didn’t have any blind friends, or according to his wife, any friends at all for that matter.

As soon as Robert, referred to as the blind man by Carver, enters their home however, the reader begins to see Carver’s preconceptions completely altered. Robert has a full beard, he doesn’t use a cane or wear dark glasses, his eyes look like anyone else’s at first glance, he smoked, he ate without trouble, he had two TV’s. All of these little pieces of the friend he had never met, seemed to shock Carver and in doing so, began to slowly alter his idea of blindness.

All of these shocking factors however, Carver could only come to realize through experience. He began to slowly alter his perceptions of a whole group of people through an experience with one, a drawing on a fresh page if you will. Ironically, these men who did not know much of each other, were possibly more alike than Carver ever realized. Before meeting, Carver only knew of blind people what he had heard on TV or read in a magazine. It took an experience with one man to more clearly draw the picture for him. Likewise, Robert only ever knew of Cathedrals what he had heard on the TV or how others had described them. It took an experience with Carver’s drawing for his idea of Cathedrals to be more fully formed. While Carver thought he was helping the blind man get a full picture of something, it was actually more so the other way around.

What Blogging Has Taught Me

Back in 2011, Lee Laughlin wrote a blog post about how blogging has taught her to be a better writer. As a blogger for the past couple of years, I would have to say that I agree with her about how much you can learn from blogging. Though This blog was only recently started for a college writing class, blogging is not new to me. You can find my personal blog site here. I started my first blog as a 17 year old in the spring of 2015.

While Laughlin tells her readers that blogging has helped her to become more disciplined and to deal with rejection well, I would say that it has taught me to become more fearless and to trust in God with the gifts He has given me. When I first started a blog, I had to learn to put myself out there into the big, wide web and be comfortable with not always knowing who would come across my posts. At first, not many people came across my blog and I am still not sure who all reads it. What I do know is because I am giving my gifts for God, He has a purpose and He will do something great with it even if I don’t know what it is, and even though I am far from worthy.

Like the author of Isaiah 12:2 proclaims “…I will trust and not be afraid…” And God continues to show me that when I am vulnerable in my writing and don’t let my fears get in the way, it can be used for something awesome in His kingdom. A few months into starting my blog, out of God’s provision, I was able to have my voice heard by an even larger audience by being featured on a blog for Deeply Rooted Magazine. Since then, I have also been lucky enough to be published again. Once more in Deeply Rooted, and through my marketing internship as well. So I encourage you to speak your mind, trust God, don’t be afraid of worldly judgement and just see how much farther your writing, or anything else for that matter, might take you.

Indroducing … me

Here’s a little introduction, before you make assumptions.

I was told to make a blog for my writing class, you see.

That’s why you’re reading this.

And if you stay on this journey with me, I’ll share my thoughts about assignments, the world, and even a little about me.

This blog was a requirement, but is it meant to be?

Let’s not rule out that possibility, for writing actually brings me much glee.

I suppose that’s why I chose it as my minor.

Plus my future will be bright if my writing skills get finer.

They say that writing skills are essential.

In any job, if you’re without them, it could be detrimental.

Especially with my communication major.

These writing skills they speak of are a very important player.

But if I am only writing to write, to make my future bright.

To make more money and live pleasurably.

Is that really right?

If that’s all there is to writing, then how did it ever come to be?

You see, true writing should come from the heart.

Without that key ingredient, it will likely fall apart.

And true writing should spark change.

The process is important, but only when it leads to the end game.

So I’ll try my best to include these key components, hoping in the end I won’t have blown it.

And missed the opportunity to write truly.

To produce good works that you can read on here for free.

Thanks for staying with me to the end of this cheesy rhyme.

I look forward to this journey and appreciate your time.