Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Job Interviews and Why I Love Them

I went to a job interview for a tutoring position yesterday and had so much fun. I usually don't get too nervous beforehand, which is odd but nice. This time I felt a little flutter in my stomach right before I walked in but they dissipated the moment I met the interviewers.

I guess interviews because 1. I get to talk about myself, and 2. It's fun to act confident and feel like you're really being looked at as a professional. This time was nice because as the interview progressed, I learned interesting things about the people interviewing me. All three of us laughed quite a bit, so that was a contributing factor to my overall satisfaction with the experience.

Here are a few tips I try to remember for the interview process:

Preparing to be interviewed is important for young people because sooner or later, a potential supervisor is going to want to meet with you about a job or some other kind of position. You need to look sharp, be polite, and always be ready to speak well of yourself, even if you aren't feeling particularly confident that day.

My experience with public speaking is a definite leg up for this potential job. I absolutely love breaking information down into understandable concepts that an audience can grasp. I LOVE watching people walk away with a smile on their face and knowing I did my best to help them think critically about something. Make sure you think on your feet and mention things that could contribute to the job for which you are applying.

Obviously, your attire is important. I wore a light blue pencil striped shirt dress with a bow that goes around the waist. I love that dress because it makes me feel confident and feminine. There's nothing wrong with looking sweet and approachable for a job interview. Wear what makes you comfortable but something that is also sharp and professional. First impressions are always important and attire that is pleasing to the eye is always a good choice.

I don't usually wear makeup, but yesterday I wore some eye shadow and mascara for a touch of color. My skin doesn't really show it and I don't ever wear heavy makeup, but it made me feel a little more confident to wear some.

Smiling pleasantly and breathing deeply is important if you want to appear calm and collected. I laughed quite a bit (because that's me) but not too much. I didn't want to seem silly or like a person who is unable to control their emotions. Just keep yourself a little more in check than usual and you'll be fine.

Just my thoughts on the interview process. I hope it helps.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thoughts for Today: Deniers of Jesus & the Bible

I've been attending Bible Study Fellowship for a few years now, and this year we are studying the book of Romans. Apart from it being wonderful, there are so many things that come to my mind as I read and study it and also listen to and read other things about God, Israel, Atheism, the faith journey... just so many things.,

As I study these things, I am more and more convinced that the Bible is true. Not just in my heart, but also historically and philosophically. People who refuse to listen to a Christian explain God to them, or who brush off the Bible as "an old book, written by men," don't take the time to truly consider the evidence we have for it's truth.

Why not take the time to think about it? I guess they are fearful of what that would mean for their own lives. Because once you consider it and are changed, there is no going back to your old life. To me, that is a very scary position to be in. I am the kind of person who wants to know the truth about something because (especially in this instance) it could mean life or death for me and those I love. The worst thing you could possibly do is "hope" that you're right about what you think. I guess they could say the same about me and what I believe, but there is real evidence for the Bible, Jesus, and God. Why not consider it?

I know a lot of people who have grown up in church and after going off to college, either changed their beliefs somewhat or abandoned them entirely. In many ways, I know how they feel. The voice of the world is much, much louder than that of the church nowadays, BUT, there is a solution that no one seems to consider anymore.

No one studies the Bible. It seems they think if you are "caught" going to a study or reading it on your own, people will think you're stupid and you need some kind of faith crutch to get you through life. Bottom line, they only care about what others think of them. What will the thoughts of others matter when we are all standing before God one day, giving an answer for how we lived our lives? We won't want anything but to know we'll be safe in eternity with him.

This kind of peer pressure kills.

Then there are the intellectual types who say the Bible was written by men so why is it so groundbreaking? I have even had people say to me that Jesus and everything he said and did, changed the world. Then why, why do you deny the truth of the Bible? A bunch of lowly fishermen and a mixture of other kinds of people, gave up everything to follow this man who said he was the Messiah and had come to save people from their sins. Okay, but if you say God was not involved with the writing of the Bible, then where did these lowly men get their ideas? Their "groundbreaking," "world-changing" ideas?

It would be impossible! They were uneducated followers of Jesus. They had no formal training except what they learned in the Jewish synagogue. It just doesn't make sense to me. Frankly, it irritates me that people let their future hang on this one thing. If you are so right, then prove it to me. Prove to me that you are right and God is wrong.

Mohammed's ideas have not advanced Western society. Why do you challenge Jesus and the Bible, but not Mohammed's book? Why do you act like they are on the same, level playing field? They are not. Jesus words changed the world for the better. His words gave hope for eternity, they brought women up (Mary was the first to see Jesus resurrected. A woman's testimony, at the time, counted for half that of a man, yet God chose her to break the news to his male disciples!) and a myriad of other things. The unresurrected, dead Mohammed did nothing for humankind. NOTHING. So why don't these people speak out fiercely against his totalitarian religion, the one that is male-dominated? Why?

Just a snippet of my thoughts today. Thanks for playing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Character Study

I mentioned finding out what the world needs in my last post. I've had a little more time to think through what that means and how I can quench this desire to fulfill the specific need I am thinking of.

Without giving much away regarding what has been rolling around in my brain like a bowl full of marbles, one of the things I've been thinking about is character or the lack thereof in our society today. When I say character, what do I mean? The Google definition is "The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual." I understand this definition, but I think there is more to it than just the qualities each person has.

I am doing a study (bit by bit) of Os Guinness' book, When No One Sees. I have just begun to read it, but the title alone makes one think about the concept as a whole. What do we do when we think no one is watching? How do we act? What do we say, think? Are we aware of a wrong we might be committing even though our minds tell us "No one will ever know"? In a biblical sense, we do know right from wrong and I'm sure Guinness will touch on that fact in later chapters. Each one of us has a moral compass inside that essentially pricks our souls when we do the right or wrong thing. There have been (and still are) moments in my life when I think I can get away with something because no one might be watching, but the guilt I feel after having done the wrong thing is excruciating.

That guilt has been so bad in the past that it has bled over into my actions when I know I am being watched. I would rather do the right thing, no matter how hard, because then I can be free of the guilt that comes with choosing the wrong thing. Going left when you should be going right will haunt a person. I lie awake at night sometimes worried about what I've done and whether or not anyone will ever know or tell someone else, and that exposure is horrible to think about.

I know this sounds like I am saying I do the right thing at all times, no matter what, but I don't. Sometimes I choose wrong. Sometimes I hurt others with my words, actions, and even my thoughts. In hurting them, I hurt myself and ultimately I grieve the heart of God. Going my own way never works out. Never.

When I bring this subject up or tell someone "Hey, that's wrong and you shouldn't go that way," they tell me I am "preaching at them." It might sound like that, and to them it does. But here's the hard thing: what if I'm right? I won't give the details of when someone told me that and whatever issue they were dealing with at the time, but when they eventually took that road, it hurt them. I don't know all the answers, but I do know what choosing the wrong path does to a person and how the guilt will cripple you.

Character matters. It matters that we choose the right thing even when we know it is the highest mountain to climb when we want to go downhill, into the valley of ease. If you take the more difficult road that leads to a life of fulfillment and freedom from guilt, you will reap the benefits. It's hard to choose this because most of the time we feel pressure from friends, family, society, and so many other places. But doing the right thing makes us more spiritually healthy in the long run.

I'm not talking about taking a yoga class to cleanse your mind and body, or making the "right" choice to eat well or do a mindfulness exercise every morning upon waking up. I'm talking about not talking about someone behind their back (Me = guilty), stealing what isn't yours, coveting someone else's possessions or a person that belongs to them, having rude or condemning thoughts about another person even though you might never speak them out loud.

You can't make the choice to live a good life on your own, because none of our human efforts will ever live up to the standard of what is good. Only surrendering your every thought and action to the lordship of Jesus can you do this. Call me preachy, but this is the ultimate truth. People have tried since the dawn of time to get around this, to sweep it under the rug, to make believe it isn't there. But none of them worked. The difficulty lies within our sinful selves. No one is righteous, not one. So no one can make it to the Father on his or her own. We need Jesus to cover us so we can approach God and ask for his help in the matter.

As I can, I will continue the study of When No One Sees and update then. Character is such a big issue in our world today, and with the fall of character (the moral bearings that only God gives) we will continue to fall too. In the meantime, I will try to be mindful of what I am thinking, doing, and saying when no one is around, and also build my godly character by studying the Bible on a regular basis and agreeing with everything it says, because it is only there that we can find the answer to this question of character.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Quest

I have been thinking through a lot of questions lately.

Sometimes sitting quietly and pondering over where your life has been and where it is going is a good thing to do. I have found it to be quite beneficial to my well-being. It can be difficult to find time in your day to make this exercise a habit, but if you can and when you do, you will see what I mean when I say it is good for you.

The podcasts I've been listening to at work lately are mostly centered around how to live creatively, how to find your path in life, and where to begin doing these things. In the past it has been hard for me to pinpoint what I am supposed to do with myself, but events in recent years have really pushed me to consider the hard things in life and how I am going to navigate this road that is all my own.

First of all, this blog has served as a sort of accountability partner in my quest. I am not the best at writing one or two posts a week, but knowing it is there and always available to use as a tool for my creative development has brought me into a deeper understanding of myself and who I am becoming. There are lots of people out there saying blogs are not the "thing" anymore, which I understand. But From the Mouth of a Prophet is not here to make money but to be used as an outlet for me to share my thoughts (with myself mostly) and any other readers who might stumble upon this page.

As I consider my life up until this point, I can't help but think about my gifts and what I can do with them. One podcast I listened to said you need to look at the world and see a need and, using your gifts, try to fulfill that need if you feel strongly about it. This is basically where I am in my journey at this moment.

My gifts, taken at face value, aren't what you might call marketable in a capitalist society (which is the best system in my opinion), but there are ways I can make money using them. For instance, I've been asked to sing for a wedding in April and will be paid well for doing it. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to sing and have used this particular gift for many, many years to bless people. So do you see what I mean when I say these talents aren't marketable per se, but you can make money using them? I am not a full time vocalist, but I know enough (thanks to many, many voice lessons in middle and high school)to offer my services and be paid well in return.

Another example, and this is more marketable, is my writing. A few days ago I was asked by a friend whom I worked with at the Media Research Center to do some freelance work for the news site where she is now an editor. The offer was totally out of the blue, but it came at a very interesting time when I was thinking about how to use my writing to make money and get my name out there. More on that (because I've got some ideas) at a later date.

To add to all of this, I've been spending more time studying. I will tell you that the combination of homeschooling and college (mostly homeschooling) taught me how to study without being in school. The basics of it are: Read a book, talk about what you've read, then write down what you learned from the text and what it brought to your own mind. As far as I know, not many people do this anymore. Most individuals don't necessarily have the time to read three to five hundred page books about figures of the 18th century and I completely understand that. It takes me months (sometimes) to get through an entire book unless it is really good. I like to read slow so as to take in every idea and mull it over in my mind to essentially "get the full effect" of what the author or biographer is trying to say.

Most recently, I've been reading about writers and other historical figures that specifically inspire me, as a young woman, to WRITE. These women, Hannah More and Fanny Burney, were groundbreakers in their day. What could be more inspiring than reading about women who tore down barriers to knowledge in a time when you were expected to quietly embroider a hanky in the corner while the menfolk talked politics and philosophy? I say, nothing!

And to be good at what one does means spending time with pen and paper, or in my case, at the keyboard. It is even easier for us now to churn out creative work because we don't have to rely on the fading light of a wax candle to keep the page illuminated for as long as it possibly can. We need only to turn on the light (that's a Tolkien reference if you didn't catch it).

I want to live up to the example of Hannah More, Fanny Burney, and Jane Austen, not to mention the countless others, like Ida B. Wells, who came after them.

Life is good right now because my God is in control of it so I don't need to fear anything. But there are moments when I have to step out in faith and know he will meet me there, even when I'm not sure where exactly I am stepping out in faith to go. Therefore, I will continue to be creative, look for ways to learn, read my books, exhaust my pen with writing, and consider any opportunity that comes my way.

I can see how the creatives long dead and gone thought this life a romantic one, sort of in the sense of falling in love not with a person, but with a craft and the God who gave you the ability to do it.

Until we meet again.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Friend Jane

I am thinking of England. The gently sloping hills of Hampshire County. The stately home of the Knight family where Jane Austen spent many wonderful days reading in her nook upstairs and dressed in her finest gown to attend parties in the moonlight.

I can see her arm in arm with her beloved sister Cassandra walking up the lane to the great house its windows lit with candlelight and the warm glow of the dancer’s faces as they hopped and stepped past each other in revelry.

Is it odd to miss someone you’ve never met? My pilgrimage to her home fulfilled something in me that I wonder if it will ever be filled again. How can the Bronte parsonage compare? Or the Alcott’s Orchard House? They are equal in stature when it comes to the literary world, but Jane’s home is something special to me.

Sometimes when I lie in bed at night, my mind again wanders through her cottage in Chawton. How small the doorframes were, how cozy and tightly knit the rooms where she lived and breathed. It is difficult to imagine my life now had I not been there and learned so much from her, though she has been but a ghost in the house for many, many years.

In their dream state, my eyes rove over the beloved pieces she left behind: a ring with a lock of her father’s hair curled inside, a lace collar she made herself, the books on her father’s shelves she touched and loved. How alive I am when I think of that special day! How precious is to me is the memory of setting my own feet on the stairs she ascended and descended time and time again. How many times did she look longingly out the window on the landing where I stood, watching the rain and snow fall gently in the garden beyond?

If only walls could talk! If only I could somehow transport myself back to a day where I would find her sitting in the garden reading aloud to Cassandra, their rosy faces entranced by the text, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. How I wish I could see that scene with my own eyes.

Did Jane run into the great house and find shelter from the rain? Surely. She did touch the staircase I touched, the dark would slick with the oil of many hundreds, even thousands of palms. My heart beat so fast as I ascended the staircase, my eyes trying to take in every detail of the old house as I walked through with my guide. The place where she was said to find the inspiration for Northanger Abbey, the alcove with the tall window, took my breath away. It was there she sat, there that she believed in herself enough to write what would become one of her most famous novels.

She would probably laugh at me if she knew how I felt about being in her cottage and the great house where she spent so many happy hours. But part of me believes she'd understand. Women want to be understood, as Elizabeth wanted Darcy to understand, as Marianne needed Colonel Brandon to understand.

Do you see? This is the power of a writer. To create and breathe life into beings that only live in the stars, far away in the galaxy of imagination. So far away that if we don't give them words to speak or places to go or feelings to feel, they remain lost and suspended in the air of uncertainty. They ask themselves "Who am I? Where am I to find my rest?"

I think Jane knew these people well. I believe she knew someone would understand them someday, and so they are. Millions of people around the world have taken them into their hearts and loved them. And in loving them, they love their creator. Just as I do... My friend Jane.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Life, Simply

I woke up this morning worried that I wouldn't be able to remember it all today.

But remember all of what? That is the question.

Spending time on social media and the internet can rob us of quality time spent with the humans who are right next to us, walking through life with us. We spend time reading articles and posts about a plethora of subjects which sometimes only confuse us further about the subject. I read a lot, and I'm sure that if I added up the time I spend reading Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I would probably have read about a thousand books by now.

When I think about it that way, it makes me feel terrible!

So trying to remember facts, figures, and quotes we read on social media isn't as important as we think it is. We (I) waste too much time reading random things that don't pertain to my life.

Here's a question for you: Why do I need to have an opinion on all of these issues? Am I a government official who gives weekly briefings on said subjects who needs to know what I'm talking about in case someone asks me a tough question? No. I'm just me, trying to live my life to the fullest. I'm just trying to love God, serve people, and find my way in this world.

I think knowing the answers to tough questions is important, but it is pointless to exhaust ourselves trying to make sure we pack all the answers into out brains "in case someone asks." I serve a God who has all the answers. I am merely his vessel of love to those around me. And yes, I do think it is important to have answers, but I don't think I should see it that way. Common sense is an antiquated idea these days, so maybe that's all I really need to focus on. Reading too many opinions and facts may seem like a good way to know everything, but sometimes it just clouds our view. Simplifying (I am coming to understand) is the answer to a life of peace and honest common sense. Kind of like an old farmer who gets up with the sun and goes to bed with the setting of it. He doesn't ask why, he just follows its lead every morning and evening.

It is possible to simplify. It is possible to read less while still reading more (things you enjoy that fill your soul, not your mind with randomness).

We'll see how well I do with simplifying this new year. Already I have done fairly well, making time to write, read beautiful books, and focus on certain texts that aren't all over the place but are focused on one specific subject. I've had meaningful email discussions already and have cut down on the news and difficult things I read on social media.

I plan to just BE more as time ticks away. Be as in take it slow, think it through, and love the ones God has surrounded me with on a daily basis. The past six months have shown me that I can avoid getting involved in things I don't have time for, even though my sinful nature may want to "put my oar in" as the old saying goes.

No, going forward I will try to keep rowing by and be available without opening my mouth or my mind too much.

At the end of the day, what really matters is whose eyes I brightened with a joke, whose face I helped put a smile on, and who I helped to understand a difficult concept or truth by using the common sense God gave me. I love him deeply and want to serve him by not wasting the time he's given me and being more prepared every day to engage in a prayer conversation with him and listen when he talks back.

Finding satisfaction in him and what he has for me is more fulfilling than allowing my brain to run wild while gathering information I don't need.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hannah More: Continued

Not five minutes ago, I finished reading Karen Swallow Prior’s biography of the 18th century writer and abolitionist, Hannah More.

When I was young, I read biographies of famous historical figures but I don’t ever remember reading about her.

World changers like More should be the prime examples for our young women to look up to. I know some would say that my thinking on this is old fashioned, out of date, and “Come on Amy, it’s all about movie stars and pop stars now,” but I just can’t help myself.

What would happen if we did teach our young people about individuals like her?

More started “Sunday Schools” for the poor living near her and these schools became very popular throughout England. The schools taught children (and sometimes their parents) how to read, recite the catechism, and other exercises in morality. Although More met with much skepticism from the rich upper classes who deemed the poor unworthy and wished them to remain in their place, the More sister’s endeavors to lift the minds and hearts of the poor working class eventually paid off. Lives were changed because of their efforts.

More was also an instrumental figure in the abolition of slavery in England during the 18th century. Although the barbaric practice was not totally outlawed until a few months before her death, her writings and relationships with the movers and shakers of parliament at the time had a significant impact on the movement. She, along with the well-known William Wilberforce, brought the cruel realities of the slave trade to the forefront of public knowledge. More distributed pamphlets and showed engravings of the goings on on the slave ships to dinner party guests. Anyone who had ears was liable to hear her damning opinion of the practice anytime she was near.

A good movie to watch on the subject is Amazing Grace.

I find it fascinating that More was heavily influenced by philosopher John Locke and many other great intellectuals who also influenced the American Revolution. For a woman to be interested and hold a substantial position on such subjects during the 18th century was virtually unheard of. Her inability to allow the strict societal rules of the time undercut her intelligence and opinion on things that mattered astounds and fascinates me.

After reading this book, I lean back in my chair and think “How can I emulate Hannah More?”

As a 21st century woman, I sometimes feel that my voice is a tiny, insignificant peep compared to hers because of how the world of words churns out opinions these days. The internet is full of women my age, trying to outshine one another. But More helps me realize that although I may think my voice is insignificant, someone out there will read it and be helped forward by it.

I don’t want to re-write the book here because you need to read it for yourself, but I will say that it has affected me in ways I didn’t expect. Much like Prior’s work, Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen ripped me apart. I cried in the final chapter after reading her dying words while her head lay in Cassandra’s lap, “Pray for me, oh pray for me.”

After witnessing a scene such as this, albeit through text, my heart is weighted down with grief for these women.

Hannah More died much the same way as Austen, surrounded by loved ones. But More’s sisters had all died in the years before her own death, and it was on her death bed that she reached out her arms and said her youngest sister’s name “Patty!” then, “Joy!”

What an effecting sight to behold!

The intellectual crowd More considered her friends included figures such as Edmund Burke, William Wilberforce, and John Wesley. During her life, her works were explosively popular and read widely by rich and poor alike. There was no one who could write quite like Hannah More, and the public loved her. A few of her works were published anonymously, but her name was revealed later on. Critics at the time hailed her genius, especially with the success of her only novel, an art form much the opposite of what we have today. More’s Coelebs In Search of a Wife was a huge hit.

In the years leading up to Jane Austen’s success as a novelist, the novel form was used for writers of thrill and mostly smutty romance. Fielding’s Tom Jones, now a classic example of the 18th century novel, was considered by More and her friends to be a work Christians should avoid exposing themselves to.

But before being scolded, More did read it. As I should at some point!

Her novel is credited with giving the form a moral advantage, a way to teach the masses virtue in a way they had not encountered before. The novel itself is mostly about the choosing of a wife, a practice uncommon at the time for people married out of convenience or in order to climb the social ladder.

What a revolutionary book it must have been!

I find myself fascinated with her life, her work, and her Christian faith. She loved God all her life, but Prior makes the changes in More’s faith a significant part of who she ultimately became. I identify deeply with More in this aspect because there are pockets in my life regarding my faith that I have left behind upon further study of the Bible and how God works in the lives of his children. As a Christian, sometimes it is hard to be cut and dried. We must and need to change sometimes, that is if it does not compromise the word of God. As Hannah proved throughout her life, remain consistent in your faith in God, love him, and he will teach you all you need to know as you journey on life’s road.

Hannah More was an spirited, inspiring woman. Someone whose name will be forever etched on my mind as a monumental gift to the world at the time she walked this earth. Her life challenges me to be like her.

And no matter how cruel and unforgiving her critics were, she stayed the course and finished the race well.

May my pen endeavor to write words that lift and edify, and may my mind remain fixed on my Savior’s face forever as Hannah More’s did.

Job Interviews and Why I Love Them

I went to a job interview for a tutoring position yesterday and had so much fun. I usually don't get too nervous beforehand, which is od...