Saturday, April 22, 2017

Magical Places

There are places I feel connected to, places that my restless heart grabs onto like a wandering magnet finding its match. I can't explain how or even why, whether it has to do with being an INFJ or if it's just me or if it's something everyone experiences. But there are places in this world that feel like home.



[Pinterest]
Firstly and most obviously: my actual, physical home. When I've been traveling or even just busy, and I finally drag myself through the front door, my whole self just sighs in contentment. (Or relief, let's be honest. #hobbit) It's lived in, our stuff is everywhere, it's comfy, all the sunshine streams through the picture windows in the front, and there are usually the voices of the people I love most filling the rooms.


[sorry, this one and the remaining pics are from Google Images; I saved them
on my phone and neglected to keep the URLS, so I can't give proper credit]

Trees. I'm not a super outdoorsy person, I'm not into camping (though I love the idea of being capable of roughing it), but there's something about a forest that draws me in. Green everywhere. A quiet thrumming of insect wings and birdcalls and paws rustling in the undergrowth and life growing. In a forest, it feels like an adventure could be hiding around any given corner, but it's also a place to pause and drink in the peacefulness.


Water. Not being in it so much as being near it. Put me on the shore of a lake or the bank of a river; send me on a wild goose chase to track down a trickle of water, and I'm happy. The sheer bigness of a body of water whose opposite shore is somewhere unseen past the horizon fills me with awe. Even the sound of snowmelt running down the drainpipes in springtime awakens hope in me.






Mountains. These crop up in my stories all. the. time. and I don't even live near any. I've been amongst mountains so few times I can count them on one hand, but they fill my imagination and utterly fascinate me. Just like forests, they practically sing adventure; and just like water, they are awe-inspiring.




Someplace in the middle of nowhere, on a clear night when the stars are bright and close and the Milky Way breathes brilliant dust across the sky. Living in the city, I don't get to experience this much, and sometimes I stare longingly upward and wish to be away from streetlights. But there was one night in particular, at a tiny cabin with my family, when we lay on the grass and just gazed at the stars for a while. I felt so small. So at peace. So full of wonder.


Cutesy coffee shops awaken a little bit of hipster in me. The smell of coffee grinds . . . the hum of conversation . . . the clink of dishes . . . oftentimes, the rustic timber and adorable knick knacks and the atmosphere of people pausing long enough to enjoy each other's company. Plus, it's kind of the picture-perfect place for a writer to pen those words. (At least, the romanticized writer that proooobably doesn't exist in real life.)


Great architecture & history. Preferably a castle (I've never visited one YET), but I'll settle for legislative buildings, museum buildings, cathedrals, anything made out of stone, anything with arches or domes or spires or tall, skinny windows. Yep. Take me there, and let me stay a good long while to soak in the stories seeping through the walls.





Whichever place on my list I visit, once I'm there, I want to be there long enough to enjoy it. These are the places that make my heart sing, that seem to speak a language without words. Somehow, they fill me with inspiration--magic tingling in my fingertips and fire glowing in my chest.


What are some of the places you love with all your heart? Do we share any?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Worth the Cross



Today we celebrate a cross and an empty tomb. A death and a resurrection. The darkest night of all, when the hope of the world seemed to be extinguished, gone forever . . . and the brightest morning ever beheld, when that Hope returned victorious.


We wear crosses around our necks and hang them from our cars' rear-view mirrors. We sing about the empty tomb and the risen Savior, and these things are beautiful--truly. But I, for one, often forget the power behind these symbols and lyrics. I forget that Jesus went to the cross for me.


"For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2


He surely had seen Roman crucifixions before--the excruciating pain of the lashing, the slow suffocation--and I'm sure He could well imagine the spiritual pain of bearing the sin of the entire world on His shoulders. But knowing all that, He still gave Himself up willingly. And as the whip fell, as the crown of thorns dug into His scalp, as the nails were driven through His wrists, as a hail of insults flew, as He lost sight of His own Father . . . He could have put a stop to it at any time. He could have called legions of angels to His aid (Matthew 26:53), and who knows what He could have done Himself. Going to the cross was not one single choice. It was a choice He made moment by painful moment--again and again and again:


YES.

For you, yes.



"For the joy set before him he endured the cross." What kind of joy would keep the Son of God nailed to a wooden cross? What kind of joy would fuel His walk up the hill of death? What kind of joy would He hold inside though every nerve screamed for relief and every crevice of His heart reached for a Father He couldn't see through the darkness?


I'll tell you what kind of joy. It was the joy of redeeming you.


The possibility of bringing you home, of building a bridge across a chasm you could never cross, of wiping the dirt off His precious child's face and crowning you royalty: that is what brought Jesus joy.


You are worth the cross.



God said so. His Son showed you in a way more powerful than anyone ever could: you're worth it. And I sincerely hope that you and I let Him convince us that's true. We all struggle with feelings of unworthiness, of thinking we're not good enough. And honestly, our behavior isn't good enough. Our thoughts and attitudes and actions aren't good enough, and that's why Jesus had to die.


But don't for a minute feel guilty because of that. Those burdens aren't yours to carry anymore. Because through all of the sin, all of the mess-ups and brokenness of humanity, He saw who we are.


His.


And by the very nature of being His, we are worth it. You are worth it.


Happy Easter, dear friends! He is risen!



(I'll leave you with this beautiful Easter medley by Anthem Lights.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Two Year Blogoversary + Blogger Recognition Tag + Musings

On March 31st, Adventure Awaits turned two! Being as all my energy was directed elsewhere last month, I had no time to prepare a blogoversary celebration quite like the first time. It was fun taking a survey and hosting a giveaway in 2016, and for a while I expected to do something similar this year, but alas and alack, dear questers--circumstances are different.


I do fully intend to come up with another giveaway sometime. I'm also getting the inklings of a plan for breathing fresh life into this blog come summer. But for now, we'll have a quiet little party with as much chocolate cake and gingersnap cookies as you can imagine!*


*Because sadly, I have yet to figure out how to deliver sweets through the computer screen. So you'll just have to pretend, okay?


[image via Pinterest, text my own]




The Itinerary of This Miniature Blogoversary:

  1. Blogger Recognition Tag
  2. Stats (because measuring growth is fun and motivating, yes?)
  3. Some musings about my blogging experience


1. Blogger Recognition Tag


See, I didn't quite finish catching up on tags last month. Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate gave me this Blogger Recognition Tag, which says:


  • Tell us a little about how you started blogging.
  • Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.


How did I start this thing? Well, let's see if my homework-muddled mind can think back to two years ago . . . Ah, yes, I remember. For some time already, I had wanted an online platform for my writing/a public place to put my thoughts out there. But I was taking my own sweet time fiddling with Blogger until Bryan Davis wanted to share my book review of To Kill a Mockingbird on his blog and asked if I had a website to link to. That provided the motivation to pull myself together and finally launch Adventure Awaits.


And that's how it started.


It took me a while to find my groove, and to be honest, I'm still finding it. But now I can see more clearly how almost everything here centers around story somehow, whether it's reading them, writing them, or living them. As time goes on, I hope to hone my focus even more.


If you want to read more trivia on the beginnings of the blog, check out my first blogoversary post.


Advice for new bloggers:

There's the usual "be careful how much personal info you share," and "be consistent," but you can find those tips everywhere, so let's talk about the fun stuff instead.


1. Be yourself! Yes, it's cliché, but that's because it's true. Don't bother copying another blogger's voice or style, but don't get too caught up in originality either. Just write the way YOU write (or the way you speak, if you want to be more casual). Figure out what feels natural to you, and don't be afraid to experiment. Maybe you're sarcastic or nonsensical or practical or poetic. Maybe you do lists. Maybe you tell stories. Maybe your posts are mainly photos with a handful of succinct thoughts thrown in. Maybe reading your blog feels like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend, or maybe it feels like a drive-through classroom where readers can learn something new during a five-minute break in their busy day. I don't know! You get to figure it out!


2. Write about what's on your heart. What do you ponder? What makes your pulse race and your chest tighten with anticipation? What makes you question? What makes you dream? What matters to you? You have something to offer. For me, I see life through the lens of story. It's more than the books I read or the tales I type: it's the adventure I'm living that's headed toward a beautiful ending. So that's what I blog about, because ultimately all those different kinds of stories, whether read or written or lived, all intersect. You get to blog about what matters to you. When you do that, you'll write with passion, and you'll attract people who care about that subject too.


This tag didn't have any rules for how many new people to tag, which is fine because I've almost exhausted my list of available bloggers! If you feel like ruminating on the blogging life, feel free to steal it for yourself. :)


Stats & Things



78 followers across GFC and Bloglovin'--an increase of 40 since last year, hooray!
133 posts
2,938 comments (half of them are mine, LOL)
81,738 pageviews, over six times as many as last year (although I know I've been getting a lot of views from spammy URLS, so I'm not sure how much that actually counts)


Top ten countries from whence the pageviews came:
1. United States
2. Canada
3. Russia
4. France
5. United Kingdom
6. Germany
7. Ukraine
8. Australia
9. Brazil
10. Singapore


A collection of odd search results:
- wallpaper photos (I wonder which photos?)


- Tracey Dyck author (Yes! One day!)


- can I read eyes wide open without r . . . (Blogger cut off the sentence, but I'm assuming it would be "without reading [insert some other book in Ted Dekker's Outlaw series])


- quest adventure awaits (I love the word quest. Also the word adventure.)


- tracy dyck hayd [insert swear word] (What?!)


- adventure awaits (That's the expected search result, yes.)


- a girl walking alone in the road picture (I think I remember which post that was from . . .)


- pictures of people walking alone (See above.)


- tracy dyck accurate scale (Maybe learn how to spell my name accurately, hmm?)


- dekker "the creative way" writing course (Highly recommend!)


- Riley and Tracey Dyck [insert name of nearby town] (The fact that a local community name led to my blog is somewhat concerning. And who's Riley?)


- bleck crying spm (Say what now?)


- the silmarillion 2016 (Ahh, that was a good ol' time.)


- content (What do you mean? Being content? Offering good content? IS IT A NOUN OR AN ADJECTIVE? CONTEXT, PEOPLE.)


- tracy dyck Edmonton (I've never been there.)


- bryan davis dragons in our midst (You have great reading taste, my friend.)


Ten most popular posts:
Again, I'm really not sure how accurate this is with the amount of spammy views I've been getting, because these posts are pretty random.


1. Book Review: Five Enchanted Roses
2. Subplots and Storylines - October 2016
3. Subplots and Storylines - November 2016
4. Beautiful Books - Writing Goals
5. The Cage // a spooky story
6. A Glimmer of Hope (Happy Birthday, LOTR!)
7. Why Fiction Matters
8. The Silmarillion Awards 2016: Riddling and Poetry Nominations
9. Problematic Opportunities and Opportunistic Problems
10. First Lines (Part 1)


I'd say the blog has definitely grown since March 2016, but like I mentioned earlier, I want to freshen things up around here in the coming months. Make this place even more inviting for you dear questers! (And if any of you have tips for minimizing the annoying spammy stuff, please let me know.)


Musings on Blogging



I've been thinking about the nature of social media lately. It's so incomplete. We read each other's updates and blogs, see each other's photos, and think everyone else has it all together. Even the ones who openly confess they're falling apart seem to be doing so gracefully and oh-so-photogenically.


Subplots and Storylines goes up near the end of every month, and while I thoroughly enjoy reflecting on the happenings of my life and the ways I'm growing, even those journal-like entries feel incomplete. Not only that, but I seem to give the impression that I'm super productive, accomplishing all sorts of things in the midst of a busy life. Is that true? Yes. And also no.


For being an INFJ, I'm terrible at analyzing myself. I never know if I'm too harsh or too lax, and thus in this case, I'm not sure if I actually am as "superhuman" as I seem to portray, or if what I do is actually pretty average and summing it up in one breath just sounds cool.


This is in NO WAY a critique on any of you wonderful commenters who encourage me! I love you guys! I'm just saying the whole concept makes me think. It makes me wonder about the inaccuracy of our online facades.


That being said, the internet is not the place to dump every single detail of one's life, whether it's in the name of being genuine or not! Even if I did do that, the picture would still not be complete. I think even with the people we see face-to-face every day, our pictures of each other are incomplete, because in a sense only you know your life. (You and God, of course.)


So maybe the point is not to try to offer the complete picture on your blog or Instagram or Twitter or whatever.


Maybe the point is to offer a sliver of the picture as honestly as you can, in a way that helps and uplifts as many people as you can. And if we all approached our online lives this way--as millions of slivers intersecting and touching and twining around each other--we would do a better job of it.


Well.


That got all introspective and challenging, and not very party-like, but that's how I think sometimes, y'all.


Now, just so you don't think that I've fallen out of love with blogging, you must know that I am so grateful for this little adventuresome community! I love interacting with y'all and sharing stories both on the page and in real life. THANK YOU ALL for your kind and encouraging comments, your feedback, your readership, your presence here. I'm not throwing words into a void; I get the chance to sit around the bonfire with real people and exchange real stories. Real embers of hope. It's your names, your faces, that make blogging worth it. I'm truly honored to have you here.


Here's to another year of well-spun tales and adventures waiting around every corner! Huzzah! Now pass around those leftover gingersnaps, why don't you?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - March 2017



According to the saying, March is either a lamb or a lion, but I think this time around it was much more lion than anything else. I mean, yes, the weather exhibited the kind of schizophrenia I expect of March: whiteout conditions one day and a balmy ten degrees Celsius on another. But life was consistently lion-ish.


Life

I gave my third speech in my public speaking class (yay!), met with a friend out from Mexico, went to a fun wedding show with my peeps from the creative ministry (in order to get décor ideas and stay on top of the trends), and went to another Business & Leadership seminar thingie where I learned about the habits of a great leader.


College had an info night, at which I got a chance to share my experience in the program and hopefully convince potential students to attend this fall. That was a great evening--from a spontaneous Olive Garden dinner with classmates, to standing out in the cold drizzle to welcome guests to the event, to the hilarity of cleaning up afterwards amongst laughter and friends.


Other than that, day camp pretty much swallowed up life! Planning and running that camp was my college class's final project--a chance to put everything we've learned about leadership, organization, people skills, public speaking, and relationships to work in an intense environment. We've been working on it since the new year, and this week it all came to a head. Sixty-some kids (grades 1-6) showed up for five days of fun.


It was a ton of work, and it meant giving up a lot of my free mornings/evenings/breaks this month. Being in an admin role was a very stretching experience, and I may have melted down once or twice, but I had an incredible safety net of people around me to pick me back up and remind of important truths. I honestly need to post about some of the things I've learned through this experience . . .


The camp itself was fantastic! So many precious kids showered me in hugs, giggles, artwork, and homemade bracelets. I loved doing lessons and skits, playing with the kids, and directing my team of fellow students. Waking up at 5:30 am and coming home at 7 pm was exhausting, but so incredibly worth it.


Movies

Still watching and rewatching various Once Upon a Time episodes, as well as going through season 2 of The Flash. There's not much more to add than what I've been saying for the past few months. (What can I say? I watch shows pretty slowly.)


I didn't watch any movies this month, actually. At least not full movies. I did see the first ten minutes of Transformers: Age of Extinction with a classmate, then had to leave abruptly in an attempt to beat the blizzard home. That was quite the drive.


I also saw the middle third of Trolls during day camp, but missed the beginning and ending. From what I saw, the trolls themselves were cute, but those Bergen creatures were just plain weird. I don't really have a desire to see the rest of the movie.


Books

Somehow I finished three books this month despite the busyness, so hooray for that!




Winter//Marissa Meyer


Okay, folks, I LOVED this one. I've really enjoyed the whole Lunar Chronicles (despite the slight let-down that was Scarlet), but the conclusion? So good! Overall, I'd still say Cress was my favorite book of the series, yet Winter wrapped it all up wonderfully.


A small list of awesomeness:
  • a barrage of problems and obstacles had me thinking "uh oh . . ." on multiple occasions
  • the character interactions positively crackled with depth and sass
  • Winter was such a fascinating POV character, what with her craziness (I adore loopy charries) (some people say she's an INFJ, which . . . gives me pause, heheh)
  • Cinder + Kai
  • Thorne + Cress
  • seeing Levana lose control and get angry was so satisfying
  • a revolution plot gave the story a dystopian flavor amidst the fairytale elements
  • ALL THE CHARACTER INTERACTIONS (I had to mention it twice because Marissa Meyer is brilliant at this)


The Spirit Contemporary Life: Unleashing the Miraculous in Your Everyday World // Leon Fontaine//(college assignment book)


I've heard this pastor speak before, and it was so neat to read about a topic close to his heart. The Spirit Contemporary Life was a really easy read, but don't mistake the material to be fluff and stuff. It's challenging, in a good way. It challenged me to get out of my safe little bubble, and to live in a way that attracts people to Jesus.


Rather than some books that make evangelism seem scary and hard, this one reminded me of how natural and amazing it can be when I'm just open to people and open to God! The world is waiting for Christian's to rise up and live lives full of the Holy Spirit's power, in a way that's relevant and understandable to those around them.


Some quotes I loved:


Change always feels strange, even when it places you smack-dab in the middle of God's will.
Your personal story of how Jesus made a difference in your life is your most powerful tool for sharing the gospel.
Being Spirit Contemporary isn't about pleasing people so they will like you. It's about being so confident, strong, and secure in your identity as a child of God that people notice the different in your life and are attracted to you as you direct them to Jesus.




The Shack//William Paul Young


I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. It's almost like one has to split the book in half when evaluating it: there's the story, and then there's the sermon. I'm not interested in adding to the already-muddy waters surrounding this book recently translated to the silver screen, nor am I prepared to do that. Like I said, I didn't read it studiously at all. It was a quick book I used to unwind between all the rehearsals and day camp prep.


That being said, I do have a few thoughts.


First, the story. The writing is mediocre. The dialogue felt mostly stilted, which is a problem when probably 70% of the book is dialogue. I felt very distant from Mack, the main character, never getting a real chance to hear his thoughts or feel what he felt. The only reason I felt anything was because the concept of one's daughter being brutally murdered would tug at anyone's heartstrings. To me, the author missed a chance to dig into the messiness of that kind of pain.


Not only that, but the dialogue of the black woman representing God was inconsistent. Sometimes it was written like it sounds (you know, words like ain't, or jes' instead of just), but most of the time there was none of that.


Now for the sermon aspect. Rather than being mostly story with some sermon, it felt like mostly sermon with some story. Some aspects were powerful. Others were heavy-handed and contrived. I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing the rightness or wrongness of the theology, but suffice it to say I fall somewhere between the this-book-is-wonderful-it-changed-my-life camp and the burn-this-sacrilegious-piece-of-heresy-to-ash camp. I don't agree with either extreme.


Some of the statements this book made could be interpreted multiple ways. Take this, for example. It's Jesus talking to Mack.


"Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved."
"Does that mean," asked Mack, "that all roads will lead to you?"
"Not at all," smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you."


That could be taken to mean that the author believes all religions are correct, or it could mean that Christians have come from all those different backgrounds and chosen to follow Christ (which is true). I'm not sure which meaning the author intended, and he didn't clear that up.


One of the biggest issues I see people debating is whether it's right for God to be portrayed as a woman. I believe the Bible refers to God as He on purpose. But male and female are both made in God's image, so He must embody the best masculine and feminine qualities. Again, it's a little difficult to tell where the author stands on this issue.


However, there were a small handful of things that I found thought-provoking, in a good way.


[Jesus] "If you try to live this without me, without the ongoing dialogue of us sharing this journey together, it will be like trying to walk on the water by yourself. You can't! And when you try, however well-intentioned, you're going to sink . . . It's extremely hard to rescue someone unless they are willing to trust you . . . That's all I ask of you. When you start to sink, let me rescue you."


Although this book has made a big impact on some readers, and although I liked a few aspects, I wouldn't hand it to a new Christian or anybody struggling to figure out their beliefs, and neither do I feel like rereading it. I may see the movie at some point.


Well. I was not intending to write a review, but it looks like I kind of did. Oops!


Writing


It was abysmally quiet on this front, thanks to everything else going on! I worked a little bit more on using the Snowflake Method to plot out The Brightest Thread, and that's it.

And now for a break . . .


Spring break, that is! I'm so happy to have a week to relax a bit, recover from an annoying cold, read some books, hopefully finish the abovementioned outline, and get back into proper blogging. Thanks for you patience, dear adventurers!

How was your March? Like a lion or a lamb? Do you enjoy working with kids? Have you read any of those books? Tell me about your sundry quests of the month!