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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Gratitude is the Key to Living in Joy

By On November 23, 2016
HELLO YES I AM HERE TO FAITHFULLY DELIVER A THANKSGIVING POST TO YOUR FEEDS. And we all know that when I try to write something that's not in a list it ends up being just a tad rambly. So. Be warned. 



Sometimes it's easy to feel like everything is going wrong in the world, am I right? It's easy to feel like no one cares about how you feel, or that nothing will ever work out. It's easy to get stressed out about things (*cough*NaNo*cough*) and lose sight of what's really important. But you know what I think is easier than all of those? 

Failing to be grateful for what we've been given. 

Just think about. Right now, there at least four things you can be thankful for, no matter who you are. 1) your heart's beating, 2) you have wi-fi, 3) you have the ability to read, 4) you're reading my blog. (lucky you! xP) 

Alright, alright. That was more or less for the sake of humor- but the point is still important. 

No matter your situation, there's always something to be grateful for.

Even when it seems like your world is falling apart, there's always something, something that you can choose to recognize and choose to be thankful for. 

And I think that's key- because gratitude is a choice. It's not something that comes naturally. 

You, as an individual, have a choice to make. 

Are you going to choose gratitude, or discontentment? Are you going to choose to find the things you can be thankful for in your everyday life, or are you going to choose to ignore the gifts you've been given? 

It's only once you've chosen to become thankful in everything can you take the focus off of yourself and your own problems and instead begin to see the world in a new light. To see the struggles of others around you. To find beauty in the least expected places. To choose that instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong, you can find the joy and meaning in life.

Just as Jesus chose that instead of being served He was going to serve- you can do the same. You can recognize hurting now that you're not so focused on yourself, and you can reach out to others around you. 

And all this starts- just when you choose to be grateful and count your blessings. 

Stop focusing on everything that's gone wrong in your life, and start focusing on everything that's gone right. 

Your sins are forgiven. Your old man has been crucified. God will never leave you nor forsake you. You can know where you're going when you die. If God is for you, no one can be against you. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. (and if all that doesn't make any sense to you, PLEASE don't hesitate to drop a comment or shoot me an email with the contact form, I'd love to discuss it with you!)

When you're ready to focus on the blessings God has given you, that's when you can truly show others the love of Christ. That's when you can get your mind off yourself and start sharing the Gospel. 

Because in the end- our joy doesn’t come from your self worth. It comes from what Christ has made us and what he's doing for us. 

Which may seem like a foreign concept to many of us. Joy that doesn’t depend on ourselves? Joy that is completely disjointed from our self worth? 

But that’s exactly what Jesus gave us when He died on the cross. He gave us true life, true meaning, that doesn’t come from ourselves. It comes from Him. It comes from outside of our changing, shifting, undependable selves, and shifts the focus to someone who never changes. And because our joy isn’t found in ourselves or our circumstances, but instead in Him, it’s constant. Steady. 

This is the greatest blessing of all- a blessing we can choose to accept when we trust Him as our Savior. 


WELL THAT'S IT. Kinda long, but hopefully some of you liked it! xD NOW TELL ME ABOUT YOUR THANKSGIVING PLANS, NINJAS. Anyone going out of town? :D

~ Jonathan 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Confessions of a Guy Blogger: Seven Secrets You Never Would Have Known

By On November 18, 2016
(Edited version of a guest post I did for Abi aaageeess ago)

Today we’re discussing GUY BLOGGERS. Yes, those strange creatures with blue and green and brown blogs that float conspicuously through the crowd of girl bloggers with pink and purple and red blogs.

Yup. We’re on the same page now, aren’t we? (that was rhetorical; don’t answer that)

There’s a certain amount of mystery about these finicky creatures; a certain amount of wondering. What do these mysterious bloggers use as motivation? Why do they blog? Are all of them agreed on the fact that Pinterest is feminine? WHY DO THEY NOT USE A PINK OR PURPLE BLOG TEMPLATE?



SECRET #1: THE ONLY REASON WE HAVE A SEMI-SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF FOLLOWERS IS BECAUSE WE STICK OUT. SHH.


Because apparently we stick out. We’re basically just the ducks paddling through a pond 85% full of swans.  And while normally you wouldn’t want to stick out, in the blogiverse, it just means more publicity. And more publicity = followers. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BLOGGING SKILLS.  (Ok so maybe that helps a little? But that’s not relevant so moving on.)

SECRET #2: WE’RE PROBABLY NOT ALL AS TECHY AS WE SEEM, EVEN IF WE HAVE NERD GLASSES.

While some of us are extremely techy, this definitely IS NOT a general rule. Not all guys are super into computers and tech things. Of course those of us who are super techy are the ones who never have problems with their blog. (*cough*notme*cough*). So if the dude’s blog is imploding, he probably broke his blog html so give him a break. (DO NOT LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT THIS MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT HAPPEN TO ME) If his blog looks gorgeous and you’ve never heard a reference to any problems whatsoever, he’s got this tech thing in the bag.

SECRET #4: SOMETIMES WE DON’T READ EVERY POST FROM EVERY BLOG WE SUSCRIBE TO.


But let’s be real, guys. NOBODY DOES. LIKE WHO EVEN HAS TIME FOR THAT? So this point probably shouldn’t even be here because it’s more of a general blogging secret, not just something that applies to guys. Don’t tell anyone I let the cat out of the bag and I won’t have to hypnotize you, kay?


SECRET #5: WE ONLY KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING ABOUT HALF THE TIME. OTHER THAN THAT, WE JUST WING IT.

I would give more details on this but basically this post is a perfect example in and of itself. You’re welcome.

(ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF ME WRITING THIS) 

SECRET #6: FANGUYS ARE ACTUALLY A VALID THING. SURPRISE, SURPRISE.

I KNOW. ALL THIS TIME YOU THOUGH THERE WAS ONLY FANGIRLS. *pops that bubble* Yes, fanguys are definitely a thing. Although we definitely don’t have the numbers that fangirls do. Basically though this just gives what we say more weight. FEEL OUR POWER MWAHAHAHA.

SECRET #7: OUR SECRET IDENTITY = WAFFLE-ADORING DRAGONS. JUST SO YOU KNOW.

#SHOCKVALUE. HA I GOT YOU FOR A SECOND DIDN’T I?  Because I’m actually just kidding. Maybe.

SECRET #8: SOMETIMES WE ARE DEVIOUS AND WE SKIP REASONS. JUST TO SEE IF WE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT.


WE’RE BRILLIANT MASTERMINDS, WHAT CAN I SAY? We don’t always employ this tactic though. Just sometimes. And when we do, we tack an extra reason on to the end. But hey, if you realized there was a missing reason, kudos to you. I applaud your skills.

Of course, now that I told you all of this, the secret society of guy bloggers will have to send an assassin after me. The same assassin will probably come after you also, now that you have this secret information in your mind. HEAD FOR THE HILLS.


But hey, before they find you, you might as well find out everything you’ve wanted to know about guy bloggers. Anything you want to know? Ask me in the comments! Also, what’s your biggest blogging confession?

~ Jonathan

Friday, November 11, 2016

Saffire: Intriguing Historical Mystery (but with a Number of Critical Flaws)

By On November 11, 2016
And here I am, faithfully bringing to you another book review. Go me. Also, does anyone else notice how this isn't actually at the end of the month and is instead towards the beginning? (of course you did) MAYBE I'M ACTUALLY STARTING TO GET ON A SEMI-SCHEDULE? (instead of frantically pumping out a book review at the end of the month in order to meet my goal of one review a month.) Don't get your hopes up though.

plot summary

I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it's difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway. 

Image resultFor President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to 'let the dirt fly' and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats. 

It's in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt takes that first step to protect a mulatto girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course or bring an end to it. 

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to vibrant life the most impressive and embattled engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.


my review



I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED RIGHT NOW. Because to be honest, this book had a lot of potential. But, in the end, this was a definite no for me. 

For one, that synopsis? It doesn't represent the book very well at all. It labels this as a 'love story' (psshttt it's 95% mystery/historical and 5% romance). Also it kinda overemphasizes Saffire's influence in the book. She's honestly really not even in that much of the book. It also doesn't capture most of the main events of the book, which revolve more around James' being hired as a private investigator of sorts instead of his search for Saffire's mother. (which is prominent at first, but quickly fades away) 

Also, the pacing in the book was uneven. I can take a slow or a fast-paced book, but I can't stand those books that inevitably drag in the middle. It starts off fairly fast paced, gets super slow in the middle, and finishes off with a bit of a bang. 

Another issue I had was the romance. Like I said, there wasn't very much at all (which is a good thing), but the little bit of romance that was present was utterly ridiculous, based ENTIRELY off externals. It wasn't an accurate depiction of a relationship that would actually work. 

[SPOILER ALERT] I think I can safely say there's probably less than six or seven scenes together between the guy and the girl, and at the end, they're getting married. Excuse me, what? [SPOILER OVER] 

It was super aggravating to see this, especially in a 'Christian' (more on the quotation marks later) book. 

On the bright side, the plot was really well done. It was thick, filled with an intricate web of names, faces, locations, and events, and the author obviously did a lot of plotting. I think the setting was one of the book's biggest strengths, a rich historical setting that I knew nothing about, which was interesting. But unfortunately, I felt almost completely lost towards the end of the book. I'm sure the events all tied together perfectly, but it's just super hard to follow, and extremely confusing at times.

Although another bright spot is that the author writes amazing prose, crafting beautiful sentences and descriptions of the setting that made me feel like I was really there. However, the lack of character development alone was enough to nullify the benefits of the setting. I didn't notice any changes in any of the characters.

And speaking of characters, the main one (James) wasn't particularly likable, and I couldn't relate to him at all. (actually when I think about it that applies to most of the characters) He's... hard to describe. Not quite cynical, but overly sarcastic. 

On top of all this, there was a number of other things that were just plain unnecessary and had me raising my eyebrow going "Really?" Not the least of which was when one of the characters makes a joke about homosexuality. Just to clarify, none of the characters are homosexual, and it's definitely not promoted, but still. I was shocked to find a 'Christian' author (now you know where the quotation marks come in) who would make a joke about such a serious issue. Excuse me, sir, but that's just not okay. 

And because of that, I'm basically 95% confused as to why this book is considered 'Christian.' There was pretty much nothing that held even a close resemblance to a Christian theme of some sort. I'm sorry, but this is kinda a pet peeve for me. 

If you're truly a Christian, WHY DOES YOUR BOOK NOT REPRESENT CHRIST? The world is looking at books like this by authors like Mr. Bruower, and what are they seeing? They're seeing fiction that's nearly indistinguishable from secular fiction. That's not okay. As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, and you're not being a very good one when you write something like this that hardly mentions God at all or doesn't even include Christian themes. 

So yeah. This one's getting 2 stars for those reasons. XP I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 


Weellll I think we can all honestly agree that THAT WAS A RATHER DEPRESSING REVIEW. *throws glitter everywhere and passes out sour patch* And if you feel like commenting, feel free because I've got no questions today.  XD

~ Jonathan 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Let's Stop Stressing and Start Trusting

By On November 04, 2016
Well we all know what time of year it is, right? (And no, don't say 'autumn' or 'fall' we've covered that already. Although bonus points if you said 'Christmas' because I'm also totally ready for Christmas.) It's time for E.L.E.C.T.I.O.N.S. Yuuup that big scary time when we have to choose another person to run our country.

And unarguably, it's a big choice. I mean, it's not an easy thing to cast a vote for the person (I had 'guy' there. Whoops.) who's going to attempt to run our country for the next four years.

In the end, it's incredibly easy to become stressed. To worry.

To become fearful of what the future may hold.







Now, just to set things straight here at the beginning, this is not a post that's going to be me expressing my political views. There's just really no need for that, to be honest. 


But what I am going to do is talk about fear. And God. And trust. And choosing to place the future in the hands of an almighty, sovereign God without stressing about the future. 


Sometimes it's easy to get so caught up in the world that we lose sight of God. Because I mean, let's just take a moment to think about it. No matter who wins the election, is that going to phase or surprise God in the least bit? Is He going to have to resort to a 'back-up plan' of some sort? 


John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 


Absolutely not. God will always be in complete and total control, and there's nothing anyone can say or do or think that will change that. 


Now, don't read into that and think that I'm trying to make a point about why Christians shouldn't vote. Because yeah no that's definitely not what I'm trying to say here. My parents vote, and my older sister who's 18 will definitely be voting this year, and when I'm 18 I'll be voting also. 


But what I am trying to say is that, no matter what your political views are, no matter who you're voting for, and no matter who wins the election, there's no need to live in fear of what the future may hold. God's got this one, just like He always has. 


When we truly understand as Christians who God is, there's no room for fear. When we're truly placing our trust in the hands of a God who created the world, there's even less room for fear. And when we truly realize that no matter what happens, God's in control, the fear is crushed. 




Alright. I'm done. *tiptoes of soapbox* That was probably more or less a rant, BUT I HAVE NO REGRETS. 

Thoughts? Comments? SHARE WITH ME YOUR OPINION, DEAR READER.

~ Jonathan 

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