Monday, March 28, 2011

What do You Seek?

Someone asked me the other day, "If you could ask God for anything you wanted, what would you ask him for?" And I knew the answer right away.

No, it wasn't the answer to a deep and confusing theological question.

No, it wasn't for world peace (although that would be nice).

No, it wasn't for more stuff.

Give up?

My answer: Him!

Reading the New Testament is fascinating, because I've been paying attention to how Jesus reacted and acted towards the people around him. It is interesting to look at how people approached the carpenter from Galilee. Some called him "teacher," and looked to him for answers. But some, like Zaccheaus, just wanted to know who he was. The cool thing is, those that looked to him for who he was got the opportunity to get to know him better! Very cool. Those that looked to him strictly as a teacher and wanted to know life's most perplexing questions Jesus still helped... but in a different way. I see over and over again that whenever someone asked him a question, he would give a hard answer. Like Nicodemus, who wanted to know the secret to eternal life. Jesus said one had to be born again, a weird answer. Or the rich young ruler, who had kept the law and wanted to know the same thing. Jesus told him to sell all his stuff and the man was sad because he didn't want to. The theme there is that Christ raised the bar so high that people couldn't get over it. This doesn't seem like a loving thing to do, but it is; because it showed them their need for Him, and that He is the answer Himself.

What a merciful thing! And how interesting.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Blessing of Solitude

I'm in the process of writing a song for someone, and I learned some things from it.

First, that I can't focus very well while the tv is on. When the phones rings, or when anybody else is home. For an accomplished multi- tasker, I can't even begin to tell you how very frustrating that is! I am used to doing a hundred things at a time usually with no problems, but this discovery amazed me. Even I need solitude to think sometimes. Creating something from nothing is hard work, especially in music. At least, when you're trying to convey a message it is. I've written songs before, and usually they just flow out of me, an overflow of the joy that God brings to my life. Other times, they come out of sadness and respect for something I can't express otherwise. Rarer still are the times when I sit down and music comes not from me, but from somewhere within me-- and those are perhaps the most beautiful ones of all. The ones that are slightly reminiscent of old hymns mingled with contemporary praises to God, that are tinged with loneliness and sprinkled with a little whiff of the eternal. But all of these come naturally, without any effort really, a gift from above (trust me, I know I don't get the credit for that ability, that goes to Him). However. Writing something for another person, as opposed to amuse myself or songs written in worship, has proven to be a completely different experience. It exposes things in me I'd rather not look at-- insecurities, struggles, impatience, and most of all the desire to throw my hands up and say "forget the whole thing." At least, that's how it goes when I am constantly interrupted. But sometimes, even my thoughts are intrusive to the creative process. Has anyone else ever felt that way? I try and concentrate, but I can't turn down the volume of that never- ending to- do list. Sometimes I can, but not always. Those times I've tried to force myself to be creative have been fruitless.


Even stranger, when I feel lonely I can't produce anything worthwhile, either. But that is why English has two words to describe the subtle differences for being by yourself: "alone," and "solitude."

"Alone" encompasses a longing for someone else's presence, for a companion.

"Solitude," on the other hand, has the connotative meaning that you are not wishing for someone else but are comfortable where you are, how you are,in your surroundings. How beautiful.

This frame of mind, I have found, is best for creating something special. Music, after all, is love in search of words; the language of the human soul. How could I possibly have expected to produce anything worthwhile at all in the company of noise? Of distraction? Of pressing agendas?

Now I know better. What a blessing solitude is to the creative spirit!

Friday, March 11, 2011

On a More Positive Note...

Ok, now that I've had a pity party about Spring Break, how about something positive?

Here are some of the reasons that I am having a happy year so far.

Scot bought the puzzle I was going to get, and we managed to get some of it done at Tempe Marketplace. Yes, we got some strange looks. But it was so fun.

Scot and I hiked the Superstitions a little!

And he had to show off, of course.

Showing the trail we took. :)


I love my AWANA junior high girls!!! So precious!!

I was invited to attend ASU's Founder's Day at the Biltmore (third year!! Whoo!!), and it was of course heavenly. I sat with the Coca Cola company, and coincidentally next to ASU's other Hannah Jones (weird much?!).

Here I am with Dean Lester (Dean of Humanities) at Founder's Day.

I got to celebrate my Grandma's birthday (she's the vibrant one in the middle) with her, my aunt, my mom, and a friend. Fun times!!

And I keep discovering things in unexpected places.

There is so much more, but this will do for now. I already feel better.

Spring Break


-At least, I wish that were what I was writing about. Unfortunately, I'm broke and my to -do list is getting rather long:

  • do research project for Hebrew
  • complete 20- page, single- spaced (minimum) paper
  • do analysis project for Document Production
  • complete internship work that I have been putting off
  • go to advising appointment Monday to ensure graduation happens in fall
  • plan more banquet details for Medallions
  • plan music extravaganza for ASU's Project Humanities (yes, Dean Lester put me in charge of coming up with that)
  • complete power point or prezi presentation for Hebrew as well as lesson plan
  • try not to be bitter that I never seem to get a break.
  • check with women's center guy about junior Medallion service project
  • plan next colloquia and check to see if we got funding approved yet
  • spend two days in the library deciphering books in Hebrew
So, how's that for a "break." I know, it's not. Yes, I'm kind of sad I don't get to take a break, but I guess if I work hard now I can always play later, right? Right? (please say yes, or I will go crazy!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel, and thoughts about the tongue

It's there! I can finally see it! After much prayer and consideration, I have decided that I'm going to graduate a semester early. Whoo!

It means taking another 18 credit hour semester, but they won't all be upper division (I'm taking 18 this semester, and they are, and it's kind of killing me), and then I will just be done!

I can't wait. I'm so excited. To be DONE with college for a while! Do I want to go to grad school? Yes, but only if I can find a fellowship/ scholarship, or better yet a company who wants to send me and will pay for it. But for what I want to do, it really doesn't make that much of a difference. At this point it's more of a want than a need, so we'll see. I don't want to be a teacher unless I have to be, so a master's degree in English won't take me much further in my career. I love school. But I am ready for a break... and honestly what will benefit me the most is if I can break into the field and start making some real money.

Anyway, on to other things.

Yesterday was a great day. Work, then homework, then time with Scot. He patiently waited for me to finish my homework, and then we found a bench outside and talked for a while. It was a beautiful day yesterday. The sun was warm, the grass green, and the trees are starting to come alive again. In fact we looked at one, and it was neat to see the little shoots of leaves beginning to grow on a sycamore. Then we went to his Bible Study, and we talked about James 3, and had a discussion on how important it is to be mindful of our speech and its effect on others.

The tongue is a powerful thing. With it, we can shred someone to pieces or build them up. I can recall a lot of painful things people have said about me, but I can also recall positive, encouraging things people have said as well. Guess which people I have better relationships with? It's good to think about.

Growing up, I was raised that you treat others the way you want to be treated. I did my very best not to speak badly about people no matter what, and to speak positively whenever I could. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it takes practice. But you know what? I don't take credit for it, because it isn't anything I do out of my own strength. Rather, Christ living in me makes it possible.

What you say is a reflection of your thoughts, and your thoughts come from what is in your heart. Even when I joke about things, I am very careful about what it is I'm joking about.

How is it possible? For me, it takes two things. The first one is prayer. If there is someone in my life that I am having an issue with, or has done something to make me mad or whatever, my first reaction is usually defense and irritation. I want to correct them, tell them how they're wrong, etc. But then I pray for them, and something happens; God gives me His heart for that person, and suddenly I see everything in a different light. The situation may not have changed necessarily, but I have. This is key. That's why Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us-- not because we're guaranteed they will change, but because we will. I think this is far more valuable in God's eyes anyway... it produces a closer relationship with Him.

The second thing is just "Jesus" in the moment. What do I mean? In the moment, when you are physically in the thick of things, to just call on the name of Jesus with a proper attitude. There have been many times, in my own experiences, when I really want to make a cutting remark or say something hurtful, but then I can feel in my spirit that it isn't right and that I shouldn't. And I have a choice. Do I say it? Or do I make the effort to ask God for wisdom in the moment? Sometimes it is very, very hard. It's a test of where my heart is, right then. And I don't always like what I see, that's for sure. And yes, there have been times when I have failed myself and failed other people. But you know what? It's worth it to ask God for help. Because if my heart is in the right place, God can use what I say for the benefit of someone else, and I can be an example of Him to others. And if it isn't, then it acts like a spotlight to show me what I need to go to Him about character- wise. It is hard. I have to be honest about what it is I think, and why, and line it up with God's word to see if it is good.

I have to say, my life has undoubtedly been greatly affected by my decision to be careful with words. I think it is one of the main reasons I have so many great people and relationships in my life, and I know for a fact that it has helped me be successful in everything from school to work to a whole range of areas. In fact, my boss once was telling someone about me, and noted that one of my assets is that I always build others up. She noticed! But I guess that's the point: people notice how you talk, whether you know the impact of your words or not. I have a friend who once told me, "Hannah, I just feel safe with you. I know I can tell you anything and you won't use it against me." Wow, what a compliment. I want to be someone that people feel safe with, someone that people can trust. Because I really care about people. Or rather, God in me cares about them, and I have a choice to take care of His people or to tear them down, and I would much rather build them up. Well I think that's all for today, this is getting long. :)