**Most of this blog is for girls only! Any boys, please only read the posts linked to in the "For Boys" page on the sidebar. Thank you.**

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Hey guys! Happy New Year!!!! Hope 2015 is glorious for you. Stay close to Christ.

Also, go check out this awesome New Year's Day song. It is simply wonderful. Lyrics here.

Cassie xoxoxo

Monday, 29 December 2014

Studying the 20th Century

 This year I studied the 20th century in both History and Literature/English. It was incredibliy intense, emotionally rough, and absolutely fantastic. I know this is kinda a strange post, and I don't usually do things quite like this, but I thought it was worth sharing what I loved about it, what I've leant from it, and what I would absolutely recommend. (Or you could re-phrase that as 'lessons, joys, etc and reconsiderations from the past year.' :P)

What I have loved about studying the 20th century
  1. It's generally fascinating. There are so, so many important things that happened during the 20th century, and leaning about them all is highly interesting. 
  2. It helps you make sense of the world today. What happened during the previous century has massive ramifications on today. I loved gaining a deeper understanding of my world by studying the recent past.
  3. It's mind-opening. Studying the 20th century has opened my eyes to a deeper reality than that I face day-to-day. I've been faced with events that have left me utterly appalled, disgusted, or numb with grief. I've been faced with things that have made me smile with joy. My mind has been stretched like never before. 
  4. A lot of the literature is incredible! I don't know about you, but I'm an avid reader. My curriculum was very literature-based, both for English and History. By the end of this year I had read 40ish books, and most of them are amazing. Being exposed to fantastic literature from the 20th century has been awesome.

What I have learnt studying the 20th century
  1. The stories we hear probably aren't the full picture. Boy, that's a recurring theme in the 20th century! There's a back-story to almost everything, and studying the 20th century has both alerted me to that fact and helped me be able to dig it out.
  2. I have learnt more about humanity. In truth, probably mostly about humanity's depravity, but also about what a light in history those who strive for good can be. In amongst the dank, horrid truth of our corruption, truth and love shines.
  3. I have learnt more about God. When I feel like screaming because of the grief and anger that tears my heart into shreds as I read of Stalin's atrocities, I suddenly remember that I, too, am just as deserving of wrath as Stalin. And yet God, in his unfathomable mercy, has forgiven me. "No-one is good but God alone" has indeed be proved true throughout studying the 20th century. That's only a few of the things I've learnt (or re-learnt) about God through this year's school.
  4. A whole range of other things from the books I've read. Every single one of the books I've read for school this year have themes (obviously). And so I've learnt stuff from every one. 

My top 20th century book list
(Note that this is only from the books I've read this year. Obviously many other books were published in the 1900s that I have not read, and so cannot include in this list. Also note that this list is in chronological order, not in order of enjoyment.)
  1. The Road from Home. Topic: a young girl's journey through the Armenian holocaust of 1914-1918. (Anyone else have no idea this holocaust occurred?) Why: Shattering from it's first page. Maybe the only thing I can use to describe it properly is the fact that the very word 'genocide' was coined to describe this atrocity. So, so many truths this book brings out.
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front. Topic: a young German solider's journey through WWI. Why: I often say that this is the most literarily perfect book I have ever read. It's shattering too. There are no words to describe what your heart goes through as you read this, what unspeakable horror fills it. Absolutely heart-rending, but absolutely flawless (in my opinion). Warning: I'd get your parents to look at this first. It's fairly graphic.
  3. The Great Gatsby. Topic: the obsession of Jay Gatsby with old flame Daisy Buchanan, told from Daisy's cousin's perspective. Why: while some love this book and some hate it, I found it a great read in terms of literary quality. It is quite a tragic, pathetic story, but that in itself is eye-opening. It's a classic of the 20th century, and give you a great feel of the 1920s.
  4. Brave New World. Topic: Like Orwell's 1984, it's a grim description of a 'utopian' society that warns of a similar future for our world. Why: this book is intense, and in many ways scary, but incredibly eye-opening. A bit of a slap in the face, delivered with fine literary skill. Warning: DO NOT read before letting your parents check it out. It's highly graphic. 
  5. Cry, the Beloved Country. Topic: the journey of an old South African parson whose son has gone off track. Why: it's a rich, deep, beautiful book, and an awakening look into racial injustice, especially in South Africa.
  6. The Moves Make the Man. Topic: explores the friendship of a basketball player and an emotionally troubled baseballer across racial boundaries. Why: my goodness, the style of this book is so cool! Down-to-earth and quirky, and the themes make you think. You don't have to like basketball, or baseball, or even sport in general to like this book.
  7. The Wednesday Wars. Topic: On Wednesday afternoons Holling Hoodhood has to say at school with Mrs Baker, who he believes hates his guts. She makes him read Shakespeare, through which he ends up learning a lot about the world he lives in. Why: Fantastic fiction. Funny, and serious, and beautiful. And if you love, or even just know a bit of, Shakespeare, you'll love it even more. 
  8. Fallen Angels. Topic: the journey of a young solider in the Vietnam War. Why: while different from the almost-lyrical style of All Quiet, this book is just as shattering. The Vietnam War was a tragedy, and this book shows you exactly why. An incredible depiction of the thoughts and feelings of US soldiers in Vietnam. Warning: DO NOT read unless your parents say it's OK! It's highly graphic (gory) and also has a lot of swearing. 

 So that's what I've loved about and learnt from studying the 20th century, along with my favourite 20th century books from those I read this year.

Cassie xoxoxo

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lessons, joys, etc // Week 6

 ~ Seeking God must be a choice we make, regardless of our mood and feelings.
 ~ Submit. Everything.
 ~ [From journal] My God is greater. My God turns lost causes into testimonies. My God is a miracle worker. My God changes hearts, minds. Even if I can see no solid basis for change, my God has a plan. My God hears my prayers. My God makes Pauls out of Sauls. With my God, nothing is hopeless. Nothing.
 ~ "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus' name."

 ~ Constructing a spring-free trampoline with a bunch of friends.
 ~ Kids bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing....
 ~ Young goat wandering into our friend's house.
 ~ Friend with chronic fatigue having energy to bounce.
 ~ Trading book suggestions. 
 ~ Camera protected from rain when I foolishly left it outside.
 ~ Awesome photos of a quintessential Christmas tree.
 ~ Automatically connecting to wifi.
 ~ Fish market trip. 
 ~ Watching the carols in one state via TV in another state, talking to a friend in a third state - ah, the beauties of technology.
 ~ Trading prayer requests.
 ~ Presents, presents, presents - too many to list.
 ~ "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5.)
 ~ Braving the Boxing Day sales - and winning!
 ~ White tops, black tops, red shorts.
 ~ Watching the Boxing Day cricket match.
 ~ Extended, extended family get-together.
 ~ Re-reading the Kights of Arrethtrae books.
 ~ Siblings and Dad going through a revolving door.
 ~ CHRISTMAS. Christ-mas. The miracle. The joy. The love.

Cassie xoxoxo

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Lessons, joys, etc // Week 5 + a special occasion

Photo credit to JAB Productions

 ~ 'Still choosing to obey and pray when it seems like God has left' is an awesome concept (see Screwtape quote from this post). However, it is not an excuse for wishy-washy, dry prayer as a direct result of not deliberately seeking God.
 ~ FOCUS => GOD. Always.
 ~ God answers prayers. (Wow, I know - another revolutionary concept!)
 ~ Although I am a mature teenager... I can still be wrong. And my parents still have to correct me sometimes.

 ~ 4 days out of 7 seeing friends in person.  
 ~ Discovering I can actually still play in the pool with friends - twice this week, actually!
 ~ First actual proper horse ride. Complete with a few seconds (note - few) of trotting and cantering.
 ~ Getting a kick out of going 30km/h on a farm buggy. (Still not sure how this is, when I can go 110km/h in a car....)
 ~ Cricket in the blazing sunshine (ah, the Aussie Christmas season).
 ~ Being back in the air-conditioning, watching actual cricketers play in the blazing sunshine on TV.
 ~ Book recommendations from a very well-read woman. 
 ~ Last minute-invitations.
 ~ Boys being crazy in the pool.
 ~ Teasing friend. 
 ~ Normal heart-rate (you don't know how awesome this is unless you have a heart condition that makes it race for a few minutes every now and again).
 ~ Gorgeously decorated house interiors. 
 ~ Chatting with friends about movies and The Rebelution.
 ~ Book titles running down a page.
 ~ Rolling rumballs.
 ~ An absolutely unexpected and absolutely lovely chat with one of my younger brother's friends whom I know (i.e. about 4 years younger than me).
 ~ Stir-fry vedgies saturated in butter and flavoured with chicken stock.
 ~ Carols night.
 ~ Friends coming to the carols night.
 ~ Singing carols with friends and family (especially when they're really good singers).
 ~ Siblings in the Nativity tableau.
 ~ Picnic food.
 ~ Camera tripod. 
 ~ Waking up early to write this (better than I expected the experience to be :P).
 ~ My 100th post (this one).

Yes, that is the aforementioned special occasion - my 100th post. I've been anticipating this for a while.... and now it's here, I'm not exactly sure what to say. I feel like an award recipient being prompted to make an impromptu speech. Oh well, here goes.

This blog came out of my crush experience. Having come out the other side and God having given me a passion for purity, I wanted to tell someone. Well, make that everyone. So, my mum said, why not start a blog? And so I did. I started with a welcome post and two pages on purity and crushes (on the sidebar. Actually, they're pretty old now... I'm in the process of re-writing them). And it went from there. Whenever God lays something on my heart or teaches me a lesson appropriate to share with the blogging world, I jump on here and create a post. And you guys read it. And comment (which I LOVE!).

So really, I guess I have three people/groups to thank:
  1. My Mum, who suggested this, and who (with Dad) took me through the process of starting a blog, being safe online, etc. Actually, before that, she was the one who taught me a bunch of stuff about crushes and purity etc. And before that... (that's another story).
  2. You guys - my followers. I can post all I like, but nothing happens in no-one reads. So thanks for reading, and commenting, and sharing. 
  3. God. Of course. None of this would have happened if He hadn't been working. And He's still at work - teaching me stuff that I then share, encouraging others through the posts, etc. Thank you, my Awesome God.

And now, let the wild rumpus start! (a.k.a. let next hundred posts commence!).

Cassie xoxoxo

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

So it's Christmas time again! Isn't it wonderful!?

Truth be told, I don't have anything deep and meaningful to say about Christmas. Many people write glorious posts and articles around this time of year that capture why Christmas is so special. And I could follow in their blogging footsteps and write about how awesome this time to dwell on the miracle of God With Us is, how sweet is this time of community with family and other around us, or how we need to slow down amidst the rush. But honestly, we all know that. I'm sure each one of us has had those reminders many times throughout this month. And God has not laid anything new or especially incredible on my heart. So I'm not going there, however wonderful 'there' is. Or at least, not quite.

I did want to say, Merry Christmas!!!

And I did want to share something God laid on my heart last year, when Christmas did not feel as Christmassy as it does this year. I shared it a few weeks ago, but I want to put it here again:

Christmas began with pain: the pain of childbirth, the pain the wrenched God's heart as He watched His dear Son enter this messed-up world.

Many people will be feeling pain as well as joy this season. How well I know that. My prayers are with you, and I wanted to remind you that God knows and feels your pain. Even as I write that, it feels... unsatisfactory. But it's truth. And I know I was comforted by that truth last year, and still am whenever I feel pain.

I also wanted to share some fave Christmas carols. Feel free to add yours in the comments!

  1. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by Sleeping at Last. #1 carol this year, no doubt about it.
  2. "Mary Did You Know?" by Pentatonix. Popular this year, and it brings out absolutely glorious truth. This sleeping Child you're holding is the great I AM.
  3. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Sleeping at Last. The quote in my 'Lessons, joys, etc / week 2' post was from the wonderful carol.
  4. "Carol of the Bells" by Pentatonix. Amazing a cappella talent in this song!
  5. "12 Days of Christmas" by Reliant K. Crazy, almost-head-banging, upbeat version of possibly the worst and most repetitive Christmas song ever written. I seriously feel like laughing every time I listen to it.
  6. Favourite to play on the piano: O Holy Night.

Have an awesome Christmas!!!
Cassie xoxoxo

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Lessons, joys, etc // Week 4

Photo courtesy of JAB Productions

 ~ A mindset of purity is not pure if it judges others.
 ~ Emotions are fleeting (wow... I know... revolutionary idea, huh?!).

 ~ Antihistamine medicine.
 ~ Rebelution discussion forums (so totally awesome!!! Go check them out!!!).
~ Polite discussions and debates.
 ~ A most welcoming Salvo church.
 ~ Advent candles.
 ~ Finding an iron in the holiday unit.
 ~ Dozens of boogey-board rides (huzzah for awesome waves!).
 ~ Twilight beach capers with my family .
 ~ "Fix My Eyes" by 'for King and Country'.
 ~ Fans (as in the whirly things that keep you cool).
 ~ A hilarious account of a friend's roller-coaster ride.
 ~ Sister finally surfing after persevering for almost a week.
 ~ Shrieking like a 5-year-old for the fun of it.
 ~ Discovering a like-minded brother-in-Christ's blog.
 ~ Picking gorgeous flowers and arranging them.
 ~ Taking photos of the flower arrangements:

 ~ Mum's rhymes to help us remember a balanced holidays (and life): move (exercise) and groove (make or listen to music), read and meet a need, create and relate, think (do something like a game that works your brain) and sink (into a couch, or bed, and just be quiet and think thoughts).
 ~ Catching up with a friend I haven't see in a while for a few hours, and talking, talking, talking...
 ~ Time. 'Free' time. I'm relishing the holidays, this time to chill after a crazy school year, to catch up on a year's worth of spare-time activities, to bless, explore, create, learn in different ways (much as I have absolutely loved this year of school).
 ~ Dead Poets Society (if you have not seen this movie, you MUST watch it. I mean, MUST).
 ~ Christmas spirit, Christmas carols, Christmas clothing, Christmas stage set, Christmas sermons, Christmas trees, Christmas street parties, Christmas food, CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Cassie xoxoxo

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Lessons, joys, etc // Week 3

 ~ We seek the 'highs' of the Christian experience - the feeling of deep connection with God, the joyous emotions of feeling His power work through us. But actually, I think God most seeks the 'troughs' for us - because it is there we are best moulded into His likeness. Quote from 'The Screwtape Letters*: "It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be... He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles... Our [the devils'] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's [God's] will, looks upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, but still obeys."
 ~ Feelings are second-rate, and in fact their significance come to almost nothing, in the Christian walk. Of course, feelings are involved - joy and pleasure comes from Christ, and passion for Godly things, etc. But (see above lesson), when they are not there, when the dreaded 'dryness' (i.e. lack of emotion and desire to do God's will) strikes, it actually matters little. The important thing is continuing to bend to Christ's commands, and seeking Him no matter what.
 ~ I must choose to use the weapon of prayer diligently, not just when my feelings dictate.
 ~ If Satan can't get me to give up a Christian practice, he will try to get me to take self-righteous pride in it.
 ~ Other lessons... hmm... just read The Screwtape Letters, and you'll discover a myriad of things I've been challenged about in the past week. (P.S. The Screwtape Letters is an absolute joy to read; the literary brilliance of C.S. Lewis is absolutely incredible!)

 ~ Two friends giving up things (work and rest respectively) to come see the musical I was in - the last ever with that company. (I think I mentioned something about that last week...)
 ~ Panadol (can't give enough thanks for this wonderful medicine).
 ~ Frangipani flowers
 ~ Chicken BLT.
 ~ Floating down the creek with my family. Literally. In life-jackets (all the better to float with), drifting down with the current.
 ~ Squash. (As in the sport. Not the vegetable. And not the action. :P)
 ~ Little brother's birthday.
 ~ "The Screwtape Letters." (Oh my word... SO GOOD!!!! Ah yeh, see above.)
 ~ 1/2 price!!! cheap off-cuts from hand-made lollies! Think: two big chunks of solid sugar lolly goodness for under $4.
 ~ Long nails.
 ~ Music by Josh Garrels.
 ~ "The Screwtape Letters." (Wait, did I mention that?)
 ~ Holidays. Ahhh, relaxation.
 ~ God healing my runny nose.
 ~ Grandparents.
 ~ Games of 500 (the card game) with grandparents and parents. Incredibly pressure-filled, and incredibly brain-zonking (or should I say stimulating), and incredibly fun.
 ~ Agatha Christie novels.
 ~ Road-side rose farm. And subsequent 'windfall' buds brought into the car.
 ~ Safe driving.

Cassie xoxoxo

*For those who may not know, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is written from the 'perspective' of a 'senior devil' (Screwtape). Basically it's fictional letters written 'by Screwtape' to a junior devil, Wormwood. Hence the 'our' meaning Satan's forces, and 'Him' or 'the Enemy' meaning God.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Lesson from a TV show

So, I was watching a Nickelodeon TV show on holidays... (yeh, that's a separate discussion :P). And two of the girls on the show fell for the same guy. And start arguing over who should date him. Yup.

And then they strike upon a solution: "Would it be so bad if we both went out with him?"

"Yeh, it's not like we're going to marry him!"

Woooaaahhh!!! Hang on a second! Stop right there! Pause! Rewind. Did you catch that? Let's recap:

"We're not planing on marrying the guy or anything, so why don't we both date him now?"

Or put in another way: "There's no long-term goal with dating, so we may as well BOTH do this thing that has no long term goal."

OK, question time: If there's no long term goal.... WHY ON EARTH DO YOU WANT TO DATE HIM?

Oh, oh, wait. Don't tell me. I get it. You want both want to indulge your temporary fancies. You want to give your feelings free rein, unleash them to gain instant gratification. Right now. With nothing else in mind. No intention of anything in the future, really. But that's OK. Because it's expected. Why not? And if you both want that, why can't you both have it? No harm done.