The End

Today is the last day of October, and that means that it’s the last day of “Blog Every Other Day October”. Thanks so much to all of you who came along for the ride. I enjoyed it. I hope that you did too. October went by so quickly. I can hardly believe that it’s over. And you know what? Remember how I had a list of things that I wanted to blog about? Well, I didn’t even touch half of that list. I got distracted by other things. So there are still things that I want to talk about sometime, but don’t know when it will happen. Possibly not in November. Or December. Um. Well. Sometime there are things that I want to talk about.

Here is the last post of October. I feel that it sums up nicely what God has been teaching me this month. I even included some random pictures that I’ve taken and loved but didn’t know what to do with. 

In the past week, I worked my way through the book of Romans. An excellent book that talks about claiming freedom, power, and victory. A book that made my head swim at times.

One verse in particular stood out to me. Oddly enough, I didn’t think about it’s wonderfulness when I read it in the Bible, but when I saw it on Pinterest later. (That’s Pinterest for ya.)

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It just was what I needed.

Let your hope make you glad.

Have you ever thought about that before? Let your hope make you glad.

It means not depending on present circumstances to be happy. It means being happy because of something that has not happened yet.

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My Bible puts this verse under the heading “Marks of a True Christian”.

It sounds crazy.

But we can pull this crazy thing off because of Jesus. The ability to overlook the present pain or doubt and still feel joyful because we know that beautiful better things are coming. I think that this applies to an “eternal perspective” (enduring pain and struggles on earth because we know that there is eternal life waiting for us). But I think it can also apply to any situation that we might face on earth. Being okay with hurt and work and uncertain circumstances because we know that it’s all for a purpose.

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Be patient in time of trouble. Am I the only one whose first instinct is to run from trouble? To fix it as quickly as I can. To avoid, to worry…

We are called to be patient in those awful times. Wait it out. I don’t think that God wants us to completely ignore or disregard issues, or be neglectful of our duties. I think that we need to follow His leading and be attentive to his prompting. But to be patient is to acknowledge that it’s in God’s hands, and to be okay with being there, in trouble, because He’s taking care of it and you.

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Never stop praying. It’s for our own good, really, that we are called to pray all the time. We need God, and we need to be reminded that we are not the end of ourselves. There’s infinitely more to us than just humanness.

 

 

Prompted

I have this wonderful book. A book full of writing prompts. Exactly 642 things to write about. 

I love it. I haven’t used it often, but I love knowing that it’s in my life and on my bookshelf. I want to sing to it, and the song that I want to sing is “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift.

 This book tickles my imagination.

What an awkward way of phrasing that.

It does though. I pick it up and I feel the weight of all the things that I could write about. The possibilities are endless. I wasn’t sure what to write about tonight, and so I decided that I would open this book and write about the first prompt that I saw. Plus, I never do any real writing for you guys. I like to write stories and use my imagination, but I just never post that kind of thing. I figured that this would be a good opportunity.

So I opened the book…

And decided that perhaps I would write about the second prompt that I saw.

So now, I have ended up writing about the sixth prompt that I turned to. 😀

(Prompt #1- Write about your favourite pair of shoes. …I couldn’t do this one because I would want pictures to go with it, and my feet just weren’t up to it.

Prompt #2- Write a letter teaching a child how to do something. …Tempting… but after the way today was, I don’t think that it would be prudent of me. I could only think of unkind things to write.

Prompt #3- Five things that you see out the nearest window. …It’s uh… dark.

Prompt #4-You are in a department store in another city, and you see one of your teachers weeping. Write out the scene. …Don’t you prompt people understand? I can’t handle writing about children tonight. All I could see in this prompt was myself being the weeping teacher.

Prompt #5- “Let’s go, sugarbeet,” he said and snapped on the light. He was holding two duffle bags, one very light, the other very heavy. It was her car, and she had slept with the keys. … This one was very tempting. Why was one bag heavy, and the other light? And she slept with the keys! I must ponder this one. Plus, the use of the word sugarbeet is always an attention-grabber.

Which brings us to prompt #6.)

Write a letter to the reader of a novel that you haven’t written yet.

Dear (dear dear dear dear. Dear dear dear dear DEAR) Reader,

If I told you right off the bat that I love you, would that scare you?

Please don’t go away. Don’t run.

I just mean that I appreciate you. I appreciate that you want to read my words, and that you believe that I have things to say and the proper way to say them. I appreciate the way you appreciate the cover of my book. I know that we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers. But the cover is there. All in your face. Did you know that I always used to think that if I ever had a book published, I would make sure that there was a picture of the main character on the cover, because I hated never being sure if I was picturing the main character the way that the author intended for them to be pictured? Well, I’ve changed since then. I’ve become okay with some ambiguity. I like the thought of readers taking this character that I describe and creating their own person. I think that one of the secrets to being a good reader is being able to do that- read what the author says and then letting your own mind go nuts. I like to think of us as a team. You and me. We need to stick together. It’s my responsibility to create something interesting and inspiring and motivating. I have done what I can- my very best.

My heart and my soul and many cups of tea were poured into the creating of this story. This story that I want to be real to you.

I’ve done my part.

Now, you get to do yours.

I give you permission to do what you want with this book. Read the story. It’s yours now. I hope that you enjoy it. But I hope that it serves a deeper purpose than that in you. I don’t mind if you pick it apart. It’s okay if you don’t like how I ended it. It’s okay if you don’t like the choices that my characters made. (They can pretty strong-willed. You don’t know how hard it would be to change their minds on some matters.) It’s okay if you don’t think that one character should have died. (Does this deserve a spoiler alert?)

I hope that my words direct you to God.

I do.

I want to do that for you- bring you to Him. You gotta do your part though, cause I am only a very flawed human.

Also, I think that you’re pretty, and I like your scarf.

(Just kidding. I don’t know if you have a scarf or not. But I know that you’re awesome, and so if you would have a scarf, it would clearly be awesome as well, because you would never have a scarf that is not awesome.)

Also, watch out for that main character. She is quite the girl. She is made of the things that I wish I was and the things that I hate that I am. I hope that she teaches you. See, I don’t know what it is that you need to learn. So this part really is up to you and God.

I hope my thoughts make you think your own thoughts. I hope that the parts that made me gray inside make you feel gray. I hope that the peaceful parts make you feel content. I hope that you feel the changing of seasons and the changing of hearts, and that you feel a little bit achy inside while you read. I hope that my simple story can bring big thoughts and feelings to you. I hope that they’re so big that you just cannot keep them to yourself, and I hope that you share them with others, and that those people feel big things because of the big things that you felt.

I hope that it makes God so real for you.

I hope that it makes you want more of Him.

Thank you again. For being wonderful and willing and for listening to me talk about my book for a while.

I hope that you enjoy it. May it entertain you, delight you, and inspire you.

Love,

Jasmine Shantz

 

 

 

Why Everyone Should Have Big Brothers (by Kayleen Martin)

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the wonderful Kayleen Martin (list-making extraordinaire). She speaks with experience on this topic of brothers, because she has two very nice big brothers. (One of which happens to be my boyfriend.) You should read this list and feel all warm and fuzzy and thankful for your brothers (or other people in your life who fill this role).  And then, you should go give your brother a hug. Whether they are a big or little brother. If they let you. Not all brothers are huggable. Thank you for sharing your list, Kayleen! It’s so wonderful. I think that Kayleen (and Kerra!) probably have an increased appreciation for their brothers because both Ricky and Rolin have, at some point, been away from home for approximately a two year period. 
from left to right: Rolin, Kayleen, Kerra, Ricky
from left to right: Rolin, Kayleen, Kerra, Ricky

 

Why Everyone Should Have Big Brothers
1. You have someone to cheer on in baseball and hockey.
2. You have someone to get advice and a male perspective from.
3. You learn to accept and enjoy teasing.
4. You have someone to help you with math.
5. You have someone to quote movie lines with.
6. You have someone to teach you the ropes. (ex. going to youth, volleyball tournaments)
7. You have someone to make sure you don’t get lost. (refer to Cincinnati Reds game)
8. You have someone to show you what it means to be a good, strong guy.
9. You have someone to miss.
10. You have someone to share silly jokes with. (ex. white man jokes)
11. You have someone to sing with.
12. You have potential for more sisters.
13. You have someone to give fashion advice to.
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For Gallimaufry use only
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When It Is Time to Wait (Love Is Patient)

Before I begin, I would like to say that I’m not doing this post to complain. I just wanted to talk about how a long distance relationship can feel, and the way that it is, because  it is one of the biggest things in my life right now. There are pros and cons, that’s for sure. I find that it’s easy to allow the cons to guide my emotions (sometimes I don’t even realize that it’s happening, or perhaps more accurately- sometimes I don’t realize why I feel the way that I do, and it’s usually because my perspective is off), and it was good for me to write this and think about some of the pros as well.

Also… all the awesome drawings in this post? I have Ricky to thank for those. Thank you, Ricky. They’re just cool. He can do awesome things like that. It’s pretty amazing. 

Ahem-

Forward…

MARCH!

 

 

Remember that boy? The one that I reallyreally love? The one whose name is Ricky?

The one who lives in Guatemala right now?

In Guatemala this summer. Photo credit- Trish
In Guatemala this summer. Photo credit- Trish

Mmmmhmmm.

We’re going to talk about that today.

The most recent photo of the two of us.
The most recent photo of the two of us. Photo credit- Ricky.

Ricky and I started dating last December, just before Christmas, and there were three exceptionally pleasant (more pleasant than I ever could have dreamed possible!) weeks where we were together. We saw eachother for several weeks this past summer as well.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to develop a few thoughts on long distance relationships.

Thought #1

Sometimes, you just really want to be with the other person. But guess what? You can’t! Haha. And it’s like your present circumstances are mocking every positive trait and attitude that you have been trying to hold on to. Take that, Patience. Deal with this, Optimism. Contentment, I’d like to see how strong you really are. There may not be an ocean between you but there sure is a lot of land! Sometimes I would give anything to be with Ricky. Well, actually, a lot of the time I would give anything to be with Ricky. Sometimes I wonder if I am slowly going crazy.

I have found that the best thing to do when I feel as though I absolutely must be with Ricky or else I will shrivel up and die is to find something yummy to eat. Either that or just sit down and write about him. Or look through all my pictures of him/us.

It all comes down to this:

Photo credit- Pinterest
Photo credit- Pinterest

Thought #2

Being far apart from eachother- going months without seeing eachother- has a way of making you realize just how much that person means to you. And even though you feel that constant craving to be with them- it’s okay. I’m so glad that longing feeling is there, because it reminds me how much I love Ricky and how blessed I am to have him in my life. I wouldn’t want to be without that feeling, even if the aching feeling just starts to feel sad after awhile. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There’s definitely something to that old saying.

Thought #3

Written words are so important. They are your way of spending time together. Your way of letting the other person know what is going on in your life. They are the way that you bring two very different lives together. Sometimes, written words are all you have to work with. I am so thankful that Ricky is so good at expressing himself through writing. I’m thankful that his messages sound like himself- like things that he would actually say.

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Thought #4

A long distance relationship causes you to grasp at creative/different ways of feeling close to eachother. You aren’t going to necessarily share common experiences. You aren’t going to face the same kind of struggles. You aren’t going to go to the same church or hang out with the same people. So you find ways to make sure that you stay connected in the ways that matter. Ricky and I do this thing, where one morning, he sends me thoughts about what he read in his Bible that morning, and then the next day, I send him my thoughts about what I read. I love those emails. I love knowing what he is learning. I get to learn my own lessons, plus his. It’s just so efficient. Other things that help are sending lots of pictures and voice notes.  Let’s say that I’m eating a really good piece of pizza. Send a picture to Ricky! I have a new pair of shoes. Send a picture to Ricky! I made soup. Send a picture to Ricky. (The way to a man’s stomach is through his heart? Or something like that. :D) I am drinking a green tea latte and marking tests at Williams? Send a picture to Ricky! Ricky says that he is thirsty? It officially becomes my job to email him pictures of tall glasses filled with water. Deodorant was on sale, and so I bought four of them? Naturally, I must send a picture to Ricky. I picked up a book that I had ordered from the library? Better let Ricky know that. Send a picture.

It’s kind of fun sometimes. 😀

But I’d still rather be with him.

Thought #5

You learn that it is technically possible to survive without that person. Not always pleasant, certainly not desirable- but it is possible. I have found that I feel a little bit lost. It seems silly that you can be used to functioning on your own (I have done that all my life!) and then BAM- you spend three weeks with a person at Christmas and all of a sudden you feel like a part of you is not there when they are gone.

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Thought #6

All the time spent talking, but not actually spending time together leads to a rather strange phenomenon which I have begun to think of as “knowing this person very well but not knowing how to be with this person.” It occurs when you see each other for the first time after a long time apart. It is the strangest feeling. To see this person, and hug this person, and know lots of things about this person… but yet feel kind of like you don’t really know them. It just takes a little bit of time to settle back into being with each other. (Or it does for me, at least. I adjust to change very slowly and awkwardly. It’s very unfortunate.) It’s wonderful when that happens. When you make the connection between the “far away” person and the “right here” person and suddenly they become the same person and it is the person that you love so much that you can hardly stand it. You realize that this person is right here with you and you get to spend time with them and see their face and read your Bible with them and go places with them and it’s better than you could have ever imagined.

 Thought #7

You realize that you love talking to this person. It’s just fun to talk to them. Whether you are talking about a big thing or about nothing. You notice lots of little things that you love about them. (Like their laugh, and their eyes, and- well, everything.)

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Thought #8

One would think that it gets easier as the time for you to be together draws closer… but we are discovering that it somehow feels harder. The distance feels more and more frustrating. You hate the goodbyes more and more. The last goodbye… the one where I left Guatemala? That was hard. It’s awful to want nothing more than to be with a person but find yourself on a bus filled with Spanish-speaking Guatemalan ministers driving away from them. (Nothing about the ministers was awful. Just the circumstance seemed tragic.) It’s also awful to take them (the person that you love… not the ministers) to an airport in Las Vegas and say goodbye, and have to walk out of the airport into the stiflingly warm, dark morning and be without them. Instant loneliness. The good news is… ideally, there will be no more goodbyes where we don’t see each other for months for us. I mean, really, who knows what the future holds? But ideally, we have said the last long goodbye.

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Thought #9

Sometimes it’s not easy to believe that this is the way that is best. Sometimes it seems plain old not fair. It brings up things like jealousy and loneliness and impatience. But those things can be conquered with just one truth from the Bible. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” It’s so easy to get stuck in my own understanding of a situation. To turn to myself and try to figure it all out from my perspective. But it’s comforting to realize that it’s okay if I don’t understand this. To know that it’s okay, even though sometimes I think that it can’t possibly be right for Ricky and I to be so far away from each other. To know that God has a plan much bigger than mine, and he has placed the two of us exactly where he wants us to be. Places where we are meant to serve him fully. This is our job right now. To see him and serve him where we are.

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Quiet in the Land

Sometimes I can feel it inside me.
Something small.
A beginning.
Squirming.
Writhing.
Little words and thoughts.
Yawning sleepily.
Stretching their arms.
Rubbing their eyes.
Slightly disgruntled by their abrupt awakening.
And I think, “A thought! An idea! Could it be that I have an idea?”
For a moment, I feel alive and excited and like a writer.
Just like that, the thought of turning that idea into a sentence, and that sentence into more sentences, and those sentences into more sentences becomes overwhelming.
I don’t know how to do it.
Those little words and thoughts?
The darling, sleepy little ones?
They turn over and rest their tired heads once again (all that potential is so exhausting) and it is not long until they are fast asleep again.
All is quiet in the land.

He is Here

“In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk their own ways. Yet He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” – Acts 14:17
He lets us do what we want. That’s the way that He is.
It’s not that He doesn’t care about us, or that He can’t control us.
It’s simply that He has chosen to let us choose, and so that’s the way that it is.
Unfortunately, a lot of very wrong choices are made, resulting in a world swaddled in so much pain and dissatisfaction and searching.
He holds all of that in His hands.
Tenderly.
Sadly.
Hopefully.
Faithfully.
He is never absent.
He never removes himself from our world.
He leaves pieces of his goodness sprinkled like rose petals or snowflakes or raindrops or rays of sunshine or stars in the sky. He leaves them for us. To remind us.
All those good things are from him.
Even the things that don’t seem to be particularly “Godly”.
It says that He “satisfies our hearts with food and gladness”.
Please see Him there.
See Him in those beautiful moments where your heart feels satisfied and warm.
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When there is a tiny pumpkin pie brought to you. When your burning candle smells so good. When your tea is hot and milky and sweet. When you get a kind text message. When church is so peaceful and refreshing. When you’re happy that you’re wearing heels even though they make you really tall. When the day dies beautifully. When the air is perfectly cool. When there’s bacon. When your dress is stretchy and stripey. Like when a student thoughtlessly reaches up and takes your hand. When a student waves timidly and hopefully at a fireman. When a student is smiling so big that you both giggle when you say good morning to him, because there’s just so much happy. (Those students… they get me every time. I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about them. They’re just such a part of me right now.)
He is here so often, in so many ways.
Those things- they are God.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

The Phorgotten Fotos

It has come to my attention that there are pictures from this summer that you have not seen yet. Over two thousand of them, if you want to be technical about it. I have decided to post a few of them.

Did you know that we have had our picture taken with Eyore? Question: Which Shantz is sticking their tongue out in this picture?  I guess that some people don't understand that having your picture taken with Eyore is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But he says that he didn't do it on purpose, and there are no hard feelings.
Did you know that we have had our picture taken with Eyore? Question: Which Shantz is sticking their tongue out in this picture?
I guess that some people don’t understand that having your picture taken with Eyore is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But he says that he didn’t do it on purpose, and so there are no hard feelings.
It's Ricky and Renee! Two of my favourite people! In the same picture! It's just so pleasant to look at a picture and see two people that you love very much.
It’s Ricky and Renee! Two of my favourite people! In the same picture! It’s just so pleasant to look at a picture and see two people that you love very much.
Oh look. Jasmine's making a face.
Oh look. Jasmine’s making a face. Perhaps if we take another photo…
Oh look. Ricky's making a face.
Oh look. Ricky’s making a face.
Kenton and Ricky. Sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Two of my favourite people again!
Kenton and Ricky. Sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Two of my favourite people again!
Thing that you do not need to know about this picture: My mouth is full of water in this picture.
Thing that you do not need to know about this picture: My mouth is full of water in this picture.
Some of us are better at acting like the sun is not shining in our eyes than others of us are.
Some of us are better at acting like the sun is not shining in our eyes than others of us are.
Reminiscent of French Fries. Don't these rocks look like French Fries? Of course, almost everything reminds me of French Fries these days.
Reminiscent of French Fries. Don’t these rocks look like French Fries? Of course, almost everything reminds me of French Fries these days.

 

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This is not posed. My dad is just so cool that he looks like he's posing even when he's not.
This is not posed. My dad is just so cool that he looks like he’s posing even when he’s not.
The coolest part of the Peterson was the wall of license plates. Nobody shoot me.
The coolest part of the Peterson was the wall of license plates. Nobody shoot me.
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I like that Kenton’s arms can go around all of us.

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Jelly fish. Jelly fish. I hear Jeffrey Dallas's voice in my head.
Jelly fish. Jelly fish. I hear Jeffrey Dallas’s voice in my head.
The Mom and the Dad.
The Mom and the Dad.
Nothing makes me happy like a field of yellow flowers and bright sunshine.
Nothing makes me happy like a field of yellow flowers and bright sunshine.
A beautiful sunset leaving Yellowstone. It was a wonderful, curvy drive. Yellowstone is an unexpectedly large place. I had no idea. I remember feeling very happy after leaving Yellowstone, and then the sunset was beautiful, but somewhere along the line things went downhill (literally and figuratively) because by the end of the night, I was forced to eat a happy meal and it struck me as so ironic because I was definitely not happy.
A beautiful sunset leaving Yellowstone. It was a wonderful, curvy drive. Yellowstone is an unexpectedly large place. I had no idea. I remember feeling very happy after leaving Yellowstone, and then the sunset was beautiful, but somewhere along the line things went downhill (literally and figuratively) because by the end of the night, I was forced to eat a happy meal and it struck me as so ironic because I was definitely not happy.
Driving is much better when you have cute things like this that peek back at you every once in awhile.
Driving is much better when you have cute things like this that peek back at you every once in awhile.
This is the very last picture that I took on our trip. It's my brother, in case you couldn't recognize him under all that facial hair.
This is the very last picture that I took on our trip. It’s my brother, in case you couldn’t recognize him under all that facial hair.