Life’s Surprises: Trying New Things

Never be afraid to try something new quote

In the past week, I have done two things I don’t typically do. First, I got my nails done with my grandma, which I had never done before, Then, I got a haircut. Haircuts aren’t necessarily new to me. Nevertheless, their frequency is.

For instance, I cut my hair for the first time in five years in 2016. During those five years, I mainly went in for routine trims. Of course, I did not realize how long my hair truly was until I cut it. Last year, I cut off 14 inches of hair. I still can’t believe it.

Fast forward to earlier this week…I cut my hair a little over a year later. I wouldn’t have even considered getting a cut that soon again, say three years ago. But, cutting my hair and getting my nails done taught me a few things about life.

Getting my nails done and getting my haircut taught me all women have their own forms of refreshment and feminine self-care. Getting my nails done is usually not on my list, but it is for my grandma. The experience was just about as slightly uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to understand life from grandma’s perspective.

Getting my haircut isn’t typically high on the list either. But, it was one of those times I could desperately feel the need, regardless of my normal tendencies. I was a bit nervous to go at first, as I went to a stylist I’d never been to before. Lo and behold, I am so glad I went. The cut was incredible.

There’s something intimidating, yet utterly refreshing about trying new things. It’s intimidating to have no experience to look back on as a reference point. Yet, it is refreshing to leave a new situation and realize not only was it fun and exciting, but it was beneficial even in the smallest capacity.

As I continually try new experiences, I further realize a bad haircut or a bad nail day are fixable. Maybe not instantaneously, but not all hope is lost. Hair will eventually grow back and nail polish will eventually chip away.

Much of what is in the world is temporary, even us. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful are all temporary. Their seasons will come and go just as the blowing wind.

My call to you is this: Try new things. Anything. It can be baking, it can be reading a different book genre, it can be getting your nails done, it can be trying origami. The possibilities are endless. The point is, go for it.

You may end up leaving a situation with no difference of opinion or you may be pleasantly surprised. The point is to try it. Don’t live in fear of something going badly. It is only temporary.

Blessings,

Renata

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Literature: Genres, Eras, and More

James Earl Jones-literature-quote

As some of you may know, I studied English Literature in junior college. Like most incoming students, I was not entirely sure what I wanted to study when I started college. Yet, I knew I wanted it to somehow involve reading and writing. After changing my major a few times, I stuck with English Literature and I loved it.

As I’ve said before, I chose to study English because I love the ambiguity and opportunity for deep discussion. As one can infer, because I studied literature, I enjoy reading. After all, I greatly look forward to being able to read more after I finish my undergraduate degree.

Nevertheless, even though I love to read, I am quite picky about what I read. I do not consider myself a potluck reader. Much like my music selection, I prefer to invest in one category, era, or author at a time. I want to fully divulge into what they offer.

I don’t think I could be a full-fledged English major without a favorite era of literature or favorite category of novels. My favorite era is 20th-century literature, while my category within that era is the classics.

I strongly believe today’s writing is nothing like the 20th-century. Today’s writing seems dull and unpassionate. Today’s writing is too easy to read. I love reading books that have chapters, paragraphs, or phrases that require deep thought and mulling over. I love reading something so powerful that you must stop right then and there to take it all in.

I think another reason why I prefer older classics over today’s myriad is older classics provide a slew of thematic elements in them. As a reader, you always learn something. Reading a classic is never the same each time. There is always something new. Some detail always stands out.

A few books I like to read include Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The above-mentioned novels may suggest I like military-like or somewhat gory books. But that is not entirely true.

For me, the quality of writing and how the story is told are far more important than the topic of focus itself. The quality of writing can make even the most challenging or obscure topics interesting.

Sadly, though, I am guilty of half-starting a book and not finishing it until a few years later. I also find myself rereading a lot of books. For some reason, I tend to enjoy a book far more the second or third time around than I do the first. This is especially true with the books Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Maybe with a few more years under my belt, I can better appreciate those novels than when I did in high school. We shall see one day. Nevertheless, my list of books I have yet to read is ever-growing. I look forward to one-day diving into countless others.

Nevertheless, it should be no surprise my favorite book of all time is from 20th-century literature either. My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. We’ll talk more about that book later. It deserves its own post.

For now, I want to simply say thank you. Thank you for reading this blog and for being part of my audience. I do not have a grand lesson or takeaway for you this week. Regardless, I am still the same writer I was when I started this blog nearly two years ago, just with a few more scars and life stories to tell, and an even greater passion for all things English.

Blessings,

Renata

The Power of Prayer: Come As You Are

1 John 5-14

Prayer is an interesting topic. It is one of those things we talk about, yet still feel somewhat awkward about. I think when it comes to the Christian faith, prayer is something we continually must remind ourselves actually works. I myself was reminded of this while on a small excursion this past weekend. We’ll dive more into that later.

Anywho, you know what I mean. We are in a frazzled state; we have reached what feels like the end of our rope; we do not know what to do. Then, we think, “Oh, I guess I could pray about it.” Prayer is almost like a second thought. We forget it’s an option. But, most importantly, we forget the power of it. I identify with the scenario quite a bit.

Nevertheless, I am here to tell you, prayer works. It truly does. Prayer isn’t some magical equation or formula. It is simply a conversation with God, as it would be with anyone else. Prayer does not have a lengthy list of requirements to make God hear you. He will hear you in every kind and form, whether it be a short or long; filled with despair or overflowing with joy.

God doesn’t care how or when you come to Him. He calls us to pray incessantly because we can pray anywhere at any time. I used to think prayer had to be in the form of kneeling at my bedside, head bowed, eyes closed, and hands together. It doesn’t have to be.

Most of the time, I find myself praying whilst at work or completing the most mundane chores. If I think about something or someone that needs prayer, I silently pray for them right then and there. God already knows our thoughts, so it shouldn’t be awkward to silently speak to Him.

I am also not a longwinded person when it comes to prayer. My prayers are short and to the point. Although they may be short and to the point, my heart is fully invested in the conversation of thanksgiving and supplication with the Lord.

In my walk with God, I have continuously learned God does not want an equation, formula, or set of rules when we come to Him. He simply wants us. He wants our hearts. He wants our deep, longing desire to know Him and love Him more with each passing day.

He wants our heart, mind, and soul invested in Him utterly and completely. The manifestation of complete surrender is unique to each follower and child of God, just as He intended. We are not cookie-cutter people. Therefore, we need to stop treating ourselves as cookie-cutter children of God.

All this to say, pray as God calls you. Don’t force it. Don’t try to fit some mold you learned in children’s church. Be present with God, in whatever form or habit is most suitable for you. Most importantly, trust that God hears you. I can assure you He does.

If you are uncertain if God hears your prayers, recall a moment in your life when you felt a sense of peace or clarity after praying about it. For example, last weekend, my husband and I went on a small excursion. During the trip, he forgot to take his medication one night.

We both woke up freaking out, anxious, and stressed. We somewhat beat ourselves up about it, simply wondering how two people could neglect to remember something that important (we are human after all).

After the initial response, we both realized we could not change the previous night’s events. Therefore, instead of being stressed and anxious until the following evening, we decided to pray about it. It was a quick little prayer. It was not fancy, but it was heartfelt.

We asked God to protect my husband’s health throughout the day, that the both of us would have a sense of peace, and that we would be able to comfortably enjoy the plans we had for the day if it was His will. God provided. God answered our prayers. We stuck to our plans for the day…and my husband even got to enjoy some cheesecake! Best of all, he did not forget to take his medicine that night.

My call to you is this: Pray. Talk with God. Share your thanksgiving and supplication with Him in whatever way works best for you. Be rest assured, God already knows what’s on your heart. He isn’t surprised. Don’t act like you must get your words perfect for Him, then. He already knows. Who do you think placed those thoughts on your heart and mind in the first place? God did. Therefore, come to Him as you are.

If you are new to prayer, take it one prayer at a time if that’s what works for you. God will continually show you His faithfulness in His perfect timing. One day, you will be able to look back at your life and pinpoint all the moments when God has proven His faithfulness. The answered prayers may not come in your intended form, timing, or method, but they will come just as God destined.

Be rest assured, God is the power behind prayer. It’s as simple as that.

Blessings,

Renata

Our Bodies: Not Just Loose Counterparts

1 Corinthians 6-20

Recently, someone made quite the observation about me. It was not a bad one. In fact, I am grateful for the observation. Not only was I grateful for it, but it also made me respect the person more. I respected this person more for their assertiveness in the regard.

It showed the person cared about me enough to make sure I knew. Some people may take the directness as poor execution, but the circumstances made it completely acceptable and welcomed. I learned some lessons from it as well.

The direct observation showed me just how quickly life can go by without us truly noticing a change within ourselves, good and bad. It can be hard to somewhat self-evaluate oneself. Nevertheless, the recent experience taught me it is more necessary than we think.

On the flip side, it showed just how much the everyday hustle and bustle of life can wear down our bodies. It’s easy to convince ourselves we aren’t overworking or we aren’t too stressed. But our bodies respond to how we treat them and the experiences we go through.

Therefore, if you are going through a tough patch in life, your body will probably show it, even you do not intend it to. Our bodies are fine-tuned instruments designed to help us live each day. A fine-tuned instrument will eventually start to wither with enough wear and tear.

I am not trying to say avoid stress or life in general, entirely. I am simply saying, know your limits. Let go of what is out of your control, regardless of how much it may eat you up. If a situation is not out of your control, focus on the real crux of the matter. Disregard the loose ends that may come with it, if possible. Focus on the heart of the issue one step at a time. Don’t try to solve your problems overnight.

The experience also taught me how important it is to see medical professionals on a yearly basis. It is important to continuously see people outside of our personal circle on a regular basis. They can see us in a way no one else can. They can look at us, listen to us, observe us, and help us understand our lives.

Most importantly, the experience taught me our bodies truly are temples for God’s glory. God did not intend for us to abuse and use our bodies. He meant for us to honor them as part of His Kingdom. Therefore, treat them well. Live a balanced life. Eat well. Exercise. Relax. Laugh.

My call to you is this: Be aware of your body. Watch it change. Listen to what it’s telling you. Just know, your body is feeling and experiencing whatever emotions or situations right alongside you. Your body is not just some loose counterpart. It is YOU. Therefore, do all you can to care for it, nourish it, and treat it well.

Also, find someone in your life who can be there to make observations when necessary. Most importantly, be okay with direct observations from medical and psychological professionals. Your care is their ultimate goal, no matter their specialty or area of expertise.

If it sounded vague in any way, please forgive me. I am still trying to learn from the recent experience. Nevertheless, one thing is clear, it is worth taking the time and energy to care for oneself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, in whatever means may deem necessary or most suitable.

Blessings,

Renata