Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The big picture

In my attempt to reopen this blog, I am going to start out with pieces of writing that I have already completed. My goal is to continue to do daily free-writes and then select a few to post here. It's not going to be pretty, and it may not make sense at times, but these are words coming from my head, and if I feel like sharing them, then this is where they will be. I leave several gaps in my writing and I encourage you to fill them in with your own imagination when/if you feel the need to.

The world is one big picture. Somehow it seems that people try to exclude themselves from the portrait. They tend to think that life is an individual photograph or a small family picture, when in fact it is so much bigger than that. The inner eye is very strong. If only we could use that inner eye to look at things bigger than our immediate surroundings. That is when we will be able to worry less, focus more and feel more content. I love being surrounded by young people who have figured this out. It makes it so much more enjoyable to be around them! I want to represent that mindset. That is why worry will not be a part of my life. I will find a way to do whatever needs to get done in order to accomplish my goals. But I pray that I do not stray from the Big Picture. The whole world is in his hands. He's got the whole world in His hands! Just imagine his hands outstretched, holding the globe.  Can you see yourself? Of course not. That is how small our worries should be. And for those of you who don't believe in God, let's look at this astronomically. Imagine you are standing on the moon looking back at earth-That swirly marble orb in the midst of endless space. You can't see yourself either. This is the framework we should carry with us daily. We can work this into how we approach our friends, how we set our goals and how we choose to live our lives. God is good, and we can see that when we look at the Big Picture instead of bickering about the pimples that we see on our self-portraits. It is pointless and time-consuming.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A phenomenological analysis

Beauty is all around us. This last spring I traveled to Montana to meet my dad for the first time since I was a toddler. I was very nervous, even though my brothers were there to support me, as they had been in contact with him for years.  We drove for ten hours straight and in my mind I kept wondering how he would accept me. I was afraid of disappointing my father who never got the chance to raise me. The main reassurance that came to my mind was that because I was beautiful on the outside, he would more readily accept me and love me.  He didn't know about the beauty that I hold on the inside. My nerves subsided as I walked into the restaurant and into my father’s embrace. I knew then, that it didn't matter what I looked like on the outside, only that a father’s love is beyond appearance. How could I have predicted the value my father would place on me based on this first meeting?
A lot of what I was feeling came from uncertainty of my father’s reactions.  I felt nervous because I didn't know how he would judge me.  I wanted his first impression to be a good one, and I assumed that the best way to do that was to look beautiful on the outside.  I juxtapose beauty and success and see them as a valuable combination.  And when I think of success I think of status and money.  I came to this assumption through seeing this in the business world. Personal research led me to find the difference in the average lifetime earnings of attractive people versus unattractive people.  In 2009 the Journal of Applied Psychology published a research paper on the influence of appearance and intelligence on income and financial strain. They found that attractive people earned $230,000 more in a lifetime than unattractive people (Judge). Therefore I assume that beauty is valuable. I wanted my dad to see that I grew up successfully and I wanted him to be proud of me.  I also wanted him to know that I could take care of myself, and reassure him that I will be okay, even though he wasn’t there to raise me.  I thought that his first impression of me would determine how he placed value on me. And by being beautiful on the outside I could show him I was beautiful on the inside.  I felt a little better because I believe I am beautiful. This brings me to the core belief that I discovered through this experience; I believe that I am valuable because I am beautiful. 
If I am valuable because I am beautiful then I am constantly depreciating as I grow older. I assume this because it is said that beauty fades with age. This is a negative implication but when we look at beauty in a different perspective we can see a positive outcome. In 1 Peter 3:3-4 it says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner-self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”   This is what I choose to believe to be true. In this way beauty is judged by God and not by the standards of this world.  Instead of our beauty fading with age, our beauty grows with wisdom as we grow closer to God.  I may believe that outward beauty is valuable but I do not believe it is as eternally valuable as inner beauty.  When I hugged my dad for the first time I bypassed the presuppositions that my dad would value me more because of my appearance. By simply being me, and being his daughter, I already had great value to him, and I believe it to be the same with God. 

Through this experience with my earthly father, I was able to grow closer to my heavenly father. I learned what a father’s love feels like and I found that I could better understand what I had been told my whole life; that my heavenly father loves me. I was better able to identify how God loves me by comparing the two types of beauty: internal and external. I can see plainly how my physical beauty and success is relatively worthless to God compared to my inner beauty and relationship with Him.  God loves me without expectations.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  God is truly magnificent and fully beautiful because he created beauty.  So why do I find myself worrying about my physical appearance and my value when I believe that God values my inner beauty more, and that his value is unmatched?  I must constantly be reminded of what is truly important to God, as it is very easy to be caught up in the ways of the world. Beauty is all around us, but also within us. Where do you value it most? 

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm Home Now...In America

Those last few months after the Bus Trip went flying by. They told me it would.
I did so many things in that time though! I went to Mt. St. Michel with the Northern Rotary district for a weekend to see Aja and Kelley and Julia and the others one last time before leaving France.

It was a rainy day, but the castle is still super impressive

Exploring Mt. St. Michel

My Seattle buddy Aja
I also went to Germany for a week to visit my friend Jordan who spend her year there in the south-east. The village is called Mindelheim and it is so small, but so cute! We visited the castle and went to her high school (where I went with some of her friends to a french class, where I could actually understand things), visited the Mindelheim castle and went on a road trip with Jordan's Rotary. We went to a city called Heilbronn, and saw a castle there and a wild bird show overlooking the German countryside. To top it off, we went shopping at a market in town and found beutiful things to wear to the beutiful dinner we ate that evening (we were staying in a gorgeous hotel).  We had so many cool adventures. I can't describe.

So now it's been two whole months since I've been home! It feels like much longer than that. It's strange to think I was just walking the streets of Paris not that long ago, and now i'm in Yakima, walking the hallways of my high school.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update #2 Spring Vacation 1/2 :)

I'm back again with another summary that I have yet to type of my adventures in France. This post will cover the FIRST two weeks of my four week Spring Vacation spent here in France.

I don't quite remember the order of events, but briefly I will tell you what I did.

Around April 6, 2012 spring break began.

Lots has happened! We had been back in school for one week after my Annecy weekend and afterwards Spring break began for our region of France. Friday, the first day of break I changed host families. I lived with the Fengs for one whole week. They were so nice! They have three kids, two of which go to school in Paris, and the other goes to my school whose name is Benoit and is a good friend of mine. (in picture below ;) Their family is quite unique as everyone in the family speaks Chinese as well as French and passing English. The father, Liqun came from China and married France, (which is the mother's first name) who is, of course french. This would only be a temporary host family, as my normal new host family left on vacation for a week and I stayed in Laval. This worked out, however, because on this exact same Friday Henri Leclef came down from Belgium to visit Chloe and I here in Laval. It was Easter weekend and the older Feng children were home as well, so i got to meet everybody. We had delicious Easter meals and played lots of board games. On Easter Sunday, Henri and I went to my little church, where they had a nice Easter sermon instead of going to the Catholic mass with the family the night before. There was also a carnival in town this weekend, so the next day we spent going around there and hanging out with friends. We went laser tagging and bowling and played lots of board games.

During the second week of vacation I moved in with my new host family the Rupins. They're my last host family here in France. I have two host sisters and two host brothers and a host mom and dad. Just like my first host family! However, this time I live right in front of my school and my host sister Marie is in the same grade as me and we have been friends since the beginning of the year. Marie went to Ecuador on exchange last year and absolutely loved it. My other host sister, Anne Claire, lives in Paris for university, and Louis Hubert, my oldest host brother was in Poland for a year, and just got back last week. Mathieu is in the grade younger than me and goes to the same school. It really is perfect living right across the street! I literally wake up 40 minutes before I have to be out the door and I'm good to go. :) My host sister Marie invites me to all kinds of parties and get together with her friends, which is super nice!

I almost touched Nicolas Sarkozy, the (now ex) President of the French Republic! Benoit and his friend Olguerde invited me to come to Paris with them to see Nicolas Sarkozy give a speech for his reelection to Presidency. Marie came with and we all got to go to Paris for free on the train with a group called Youth for Sarkozy (or somewhere along those lines.)  We were giving free T-shirts and flags and were put right in front of the stage when Sarkozy was speaking. It was a really great experience. The speech took place at the Place of Concord in Paris. Our group got its picture taken and we were put on Mr. Sarkozy's official facebook page! Hahaha hooray for small fame. :)

The rest of the vacation was filled with other little good things, such as going to Rotary dinners (always delicious) and visiting family members of the Rupins. At the end of the week I packed my bags for the Europe Trip! Which deserves a whole other post... For now, however, here are some photos from spring break: part one.

Benoit! My one-week host brother! He is super nice and invites me to play basketball and go to friends houses with him.

Exploring Laval avec Henri

All of the stuff that I have accumulated since the beginning of the year. I think there were 11 bags in total.

Parading in the train station shouting "Nicolas Sarkozy. Nicolas Sarkozy!"

She's crazy ;)

Our little group of friends :)

We waited quite a while for the speech to begin

Ex President Nicolas Sarkozy

Cassidy, a Canadian here on a short term exchange. We got haircuts together right after this picture! :)

La place de la concorde

Before the speach began right in front of the stage!

Afterwards waving our french flags proudly :) This is the picture that went on the official Sarkozy facebook page. 

"Free to write whatever I please"
My events journal, where I write instead of typing blogs. ;)
I'm beginning to enjoy it more and more... Possible career option??

Until next time,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh la la, how time can pass: #1 Rendez-vous ANNECY

Good day everyone! I haven't written for an entire month so you can imagine all that I have to tell you! I will break it up into different blogs.

Let's start this summary off with a bang. ANNECY. That is the name of the city we went to, but it now holds many more meanings than just a name. On Friday, March 30th our weekend began. With little to no knowledge of where we were going or what we were going to do, we packed a small bag and headed to the nearest large train station. When I say we, I'm including over 430 exchange students living in France this year.  From each district of the country came all types of foreigners from around the world.

Annecy is a beautiful city in the South of France, surrounded by beautiful countrysides, lakes, and the still snow-capped Alps to the east. The weather was beautiful and warm the entire weekend. If you can imagine every good thing that could happen during an escapade like this, you would not be dreaming. Imagine sitting on a ferry floating across beautiful mountain lake while para-gliders soar over you with the majestic Alps in the background. Imagine relaxing in a park, soaking up 
the sun while enjoying pleasant conversations in so many languages with so many different peoples. Back at the camp we had our own little apartments to share with only one other friend. We had two beds, a TV, a large closet, a desk, and a big bathroom with a little shower and sink, equipped with towels and soap. I don't know about you, but that really surprised me. You would think that with hosting over 430 students + however many supervisors and Rotarians were there, the living conditions would be a little cramped. But it was quite the contraire!  The food was amazingly french and delicious and nobody ever went hungry. 

Friday night dinner :) 

We were only forced to go to one conference meeting, and the topic was actually interesting! Olympic sports, my kinda interest. :) I got a picture with the guest speaker who is World Champion in chair snow-skiing.
With the Champion :)

The nights we had parties and danced and ate and had a great time. Each night the DJ's were great, but the greatest night was Saturday night. Right after a super chic dinner and talent show, where each district was represented with something they had prepared for everyone.
My district did a tradition dance of Brittany and we sang a song with our neighboring district after walking the runway posing as super models. The party that followed was crazy. The DJ's took the stage and we took to the dance floor. However, as the dance progressed we began to  dance on the stage, on top of tables and some lucky ones went crowd-surfing! Yes, I was among the lucky ones. Definitely and experience to try! Let's do some more imagining. You remember, there are over 430 exchange students in one room, ALL of them dancing and drinking WATER, POP or JUICE and having the time of their lives. Take any party you've ever been to and multiply it's coolness factor by 10 and you might have an equivalent to this one.


The next day was the first of April. April Fools day!! Except, in France it's called, Poisson d'Avril, which literally means "Fish of April." It's called this because the goal of the day is to stick as many paper fish to as many people's backs as possible without them realizing.  We also went on a paper fish hunt while getting organized to leave, and my group found all the fish first and we each one a basket full of chocolate! Of course we shared it with our entire district and it was dispersed through the crowd within minutes. Except for the giant chocolate hen that we decided to keep as our mascot, and surprisingly didn't melt at all until we ate it on the train. It was sad to see everyone go. But nonetheless after swapping pins and saying our goodbyes we were off to the train station once more for the trip home. Don't forget that the voyage is also super fun. :) We sang songs and played guitars and cards the whole way back with our newly-found or newly-close friends.

It was a fabulous weekend and I need to thank Rotary with all my heart. This weekend only happens once every three years and it just so happened to fall on the year that I would be here in this beautiful country! I'm so grateful, especially since the entire weekend was paid for by Rotary. 

Flag ceremony 

All of the Americans, we were the biggest group.

Traditional Brittany dance

Eating some mar-mite that an Australian gave me on the train

On our way to the lake! :D

the famous free-styler from the talent show

Vive La France!
Sadly, our weekend ended the 1st of April, 2012.

Love, Faith

P.P.S here's a video that another exchanger made of Annecy that you can watch on youtube. :)