Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ultimate Outsider Challenge

I'm using April as a novel writing month, so I've been so busy that I forgot to blog this week!
Just dropping in to inform you all of my new challenge!

I have decided to do the Ultimate Outsider Challenge with the South Carolina State Parks. The objective is to visit all 47 parks...and there is no time limit!

Since starting the challenge in February, I have visited three parks. Excitement!

Here are some of the best pictures:

Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville
(Trails, Boat Rentals, Camping, Historic Ruins)

Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba
(Trails, Boat Rentals, Historic Ruins)

Oconee State Park; Mountain Rest, SC
(Trails, Overlooks, Waterfalls, Wildlife, Boat Rentals, Camping)

Here is a list of all 47 parks!

Aiken State Park, Windsor
Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster
Baker Creek State Park, McCormick
Barnwell State Park, Blackville
Caesars Head State Park, Cleveland
Calhoun Falls State Park, Calhoun Falls
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Charleston
Cheraw State Park, Cheraw
Chester State Park, Chester
Colleton State Park, Walterboro
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, Summerville
Croft State Park, Spartanburg
Devils Fork State Park, Salem
Dreher Island State Park, Prosperity
Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island
Givhans Ferry State Park, Ridgeville
Goodale State Park, Camden
H. Cooper Black Jr. Memorial Field Trial and Recreation Area, Cheraw
Hamilton Branch State Park, Plum Branch
Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, McClellanville
Hickory Knob State Resort Park, McCormick
Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island
Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet
Jones Gap State Park, Marietta
Keowee-Toxaway State Park, Sunset
Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg
Lake Greenwood State Park, Ninety Six
Lake Hartwell State Park, Fair Play
Lake Warren State Park, Hampton
Lake Wateree State Park, Winnsboro
Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba (x)
Lee State Park, Bishopville
Little Pee Dee State Park, Dillon
Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, Clinton
Myrtle Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach
Oconee State Park, Mountain Rest (x)
Oconee Station State Historic Site, Walhalla
Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville (x)
Poinsett State Park, Wedgefield
Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site, Beech Island
Rivers Bridge State Historic Site, Ehrhardt
Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, Union
Saddlers Creek State Park, Anderson
Santee State Park, Santee
Sesquicentennial State Park, Columbia
Table Rock State Park, Pickens
Woods Bay State Park, Olanta

More to follow! How long do you think it will take?

Monday, April 10, 2017

I Used to Be Embarrassed of my Testimony

I used to feel embarrassed of my testimony.

It’s the typical childhood story. I was extremely blessed to have parents that both loved the Lord and each other fiercely. I was in church at 8 days old, and asked Jesus into my heart when I was six at an Awana meeting.

My transformation as a six-year-old was deep and real, at least as much as it could have been at that time, and I truly believe that I went from death to life at a very, very young age. I was passionate and bold, sharing Jesus with anything that moved and continuing to read my Bible and grow into my teenage years.

This used to be where I stopped telling my story, shrugged my shoulders, and said “Welp, that’s it.”

I was embarrassed because my fellow youth group and college ministry friends had dramatic changes and emotional movements where Christ came in and turned their lives 180 degrees around, and I had this simple, quiet story of a six year old who just loved Jesus with her entire heart. And no matter how many of those friends said, “Be happy you didn’t do the things I did,” I felt like somehow I was cheated out of a cooler story.

As a seventeen year old, I had a wonderful youth pastor who asked his high school leadership team to live out the truth of 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Before each youth sermon, he would give one of us a few minutes’ notice before we had to get up in front of our 150+ youth group to tell our Jesus story.

I remember the first time he asked me to give my testimony. I was so confused. I told him that surely someone else’s story would be better, or get more responses…but nevertheless, he asked me to get up on stage, and said,

“Just say what God is telling you now.”

I closed my eyes, opened my mouth, and let the Lord speak. I can’t remember exactly what I was going through at the time, but I was able to speak to some of the very struggles my fellow believers were going through.

Since then, I have looked at a testimony as not just the story of how I came to know Jesus as a little girl...but what He has done to bring Himself glory in my life. Each time, my story is just a little different.

I am reading through the Bible this year, and God is speaking so many truths and promises over me about my identity as a daughter in Christ and His ability to overcome my fears and anxieties.
God is also showing me that having questions and doubts doesn’t mean that I’m not a child of God. It’s okay to acknowledge my questions and doubts and bring them to the spiritual figures I trust and ask for insight and counsel.

Life is hard. Change is hard. I’m in a time of my life when things are uncertain and unable to be planned out (but isn’t life always?), and it is essential to trust in God. And most of the time, I don’t.

God keeps bringing me to this place, at the bottom of myself, where all I see is dust, dirt, and grime, and He sweeps away those layers to show me beauty. 

I am still journeying, and God is good.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March Book Review

Another month has come and gone, which means another month of reading has come and gone. And with it...April has arrived. 

My reading has been much, much less this month, due to a reading slump. And for April, I will be focusing more on my writing (which is okay, since I’m almost halfway to my year’s reading goal, and it’s only April).

So without further ado… March’s books!

  1. Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 120 pages
  2. Jesus Is by Judah Smith, 168 pages
  3. The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang, 355 pages
Total Pages: 643 pages

It’s hard to pick a “favorite book” this month, because my book count is waaaay down, and all three of these books are drastically different. Last weeks post (here) was mostly focused on Jesus Is, so I’ll go ahead and talk a little bit about Jade Chang and The Wangs vs. The World.

My book club has been focusing on reading books from all around the world, and The Wangs vs. The World is a fictional book about a Chinese immigrant who makes it rich in the makeup industry, marries and has children, and later falls from fame and wealth. The story is set in the year 2008, right around the time of President Obama’s election, and switches perspective between family members as the massive loss of money affects each individual. 

If you’re super conservative and never like to see curse words or sexual references in a book, don’t pick this one up. In my opinion, the language was mild, and didn’t take away from the point of the book. 

It was really interesting to read about not only the elite culture in America, but also the views and standpoints from an Asian American family.

 The outlook and mindset that the older generation of Chinese Americans has also intrigued me, as the father figure in the book is very focused on heritage, land, and wealth. This book kept me captivated from the first page to the last page and man...isn’t the cover gorgeous? I love it.

I don’t want to give much more away, so if you’re interested, just pick it up and give it a chance. 

Currently Reading:
  1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  2. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Up Next:
  1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Happy reading!