The World Needs More Love Letters

The 12 days of love letter writingHey y'all. One of my favorite bloggers, is this fabulous girl named Hannah Brencher (or HB for short).

A few years ago, HB started a super cool thing called More Love Letters (MLL). It's mission is simple: spread love to the world through love letters. I'm not talking about romantic love letters, though a little old fashioned romance is never a bad idea. What I'm talking about is leaving a letter for a stranger to find in your favorite book store or at a coffee show. The idea is to sprinkle the world with words of love.

In addition to encouraging people to send letters on their own, MLL takes requests of love letters to send.

This Christmas, I have the honor of telling you about a great lady you can send Christmas love to this season as a part of The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing.

Her name is Verna and she is an 83 year old widow. Verna is one of those older ladies who has chosen not to sit around and morn. When her husband died a few years ago, she learned how to take care of household finances. Verna went on living. She even went on a hot air balloon ride with her grandkids recently because it was on her bucket list.

But doing awesome things during the day won't keep you warm at night. Verna needs to be reminded of how much love is in the world.

This Christmas, add one more Christmas card to your list. Send a letter to Verna and cover her in words of love.

Verna's address is:

Verna’s bundle

℅ Jennifer K.

7660 Audubon Meadow Way

Alexandria, VA 22306

USA

 

For more information about this go to moreloveletters.com or hannahbrencher.com.

(P.S., Know someone who could use some cheering up in the form of letters? Check out the requests page for More Love Letters).

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (12)

And I'm off to write my letter to Verna!

Love, Jackie

Disney Princesses Can Be Good Role Models

disney-princesses.png

I get tired of hearing people complain about Disney princesses being too thin or similar or not independent enough, etc. That very well may be true at times but when I watch a Disney princess movie, I am not expecting to watch a movie that will change the way I look at society or affirm important cultural values. I go watch it because I want to see a fairy tale. I want to see a girl in pretty dresses meet a handsome prince/beast/scoundrel.

It's like peanuts. Sometimes I really want peanuts. Sometimes I want almonds. They are both good and both have value. But it wouldn't be fair of me to be disappointed that a jar of peanuts doesn't have almonds in it.

I have another bone to pick with people who complain about the princesses not rescuing themselves or being independent.

First I would assert that all the characters are a product of their time. Back in the 50s, people thought the way Snow White sang was enjoyable. But in 2010, we had a pop singer as the princess in Tangled. Times change and the princess change with the times.

Second, every single one of the Disney princesses has something in common other than being pretty. They are FIERCE. They are TOUGH AS NAILS.

Snow White's step mom tries to get her assassinated but Snow White doesn't let that get her down. She cries for a little while and gets over it and starts living her new. Sure later on Prince Charming saves her but in the beginning the very first Disney Princess saves herself and set a great example for all for her successors.

Ahh. Cinderella. Good ole Cinderella. She was the first I remember watching and I think she sets a great example that Snow White would be proud of. She takes care of herself and she gets things done. Cinderella wanted to go to the ball so Cinderella found a way, despite incredible adversity, to go to the ball. She wasn't afraid of hard work, and even though her Step Mom was a bully, Cinderella never saw herself as a victim.

Next came Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty. I've only seen the movie all the way through once so I can't really defend Aurora. Honestly, she's the only one I'd say was too passive because it seems like all she does is walk around all la di da. I do love the scene with the fairies fighting over whether or the the dress should be pink or blue though.

And then in 1989 came one of my favorites and, in my opinion, one of the best Disney movies, The Little Mermaid. Ariel is a much different princess than Snow White. Ariel actually has a living, loving parents. But the generation that grew up with Ariel no longer thought "father knows best" or that parents were infallible. This generation tested boundaries - as did Ariel. She made some poor choices fueled by passion and infatuation for a fantasy and not logic. But you know how she responds to the consequences of those bad choices? She goes on living her life. She realizes the depth of her father's love for her.

Three years later, came my favorite Disney Princess, Belle! To be fair, I should explain that my mom always extolled the virtues of Beauty and The Beast because Belle fell in love with who he was and not what he looked like. But that's not the only good thing about Belle. Belle has substance. She's ok with being different. She won't marry the most handsome man in town just because he deigned to look twice at her. Then when danger comes and her dad is missing, she doesn't go ask anyone for help. She goes out and saves him. She sacrifices herself for father. Then later she saves her father from being thrown into an asylum by greedy people. Belle is TENACIOUS.

But she is also tender, and I think that's so important. She shows this unloved, terrifying creature that he is lovable and he is worthy and through that he's able to show his more vulnerable side. I think it's important that little girls and little boys see that treating someone with kindness and respect is the right thing to do, no matter who the person is.

Next come the ones that are more recognizably fierce and tough.

Jasmine stands up to and for her father. She refuses to be bullied by Jafar. Plus she has a pet tiger. Anyone with a pet tiger is fierce.

If you're questioning whether or not Mulan is tough... Just go rewatch the movie. And if you're still unsure, then I don't know what to say to you because Mulan joined an army to save her father. And yes, I realize she isn't a princess and doesn't marry a prince BUT Disney calls her a princess so she's included. Plus I love her and "reflection" totally resonated with me with a teenager.

I have pretty much the same thing to say about Pocahontas as I did about Mulan. She's got a little bit of Ariel in her too. Overprotective father, curiousity, the need to be free. But more important than all that is her need for the world to be just. She doesn't try to save John Smith because he's handsome, though it doesn't hurt. She tries to save him because killing him would be wrong and she's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel and Anna and Elsa are obviously fierce and strong. I think there are important lessons to be learned from all of them.

Tiana might be the most impressive of the princesses. She gets things done. She doesn't whine and she doesn't quit. She makes life the way she wants it to be #goals

Rapunzel teaches the lesson of having and going after your dreams. Frozen is all about family and the importance of that love.

I haven't seen Brave but from what I hear it's about independence.

I do have one qualm about the pervasiveness of the Disney Princess movies in the last 25 years. From 1937-1988 we got 3 princess movies. From 1989-2015, we've gotten eight new princesses and one queen. I think that says more about society than the way the princesses dress or the way they act. Part of the reason for the increase may be due to technology advances or an increase in animators.

Regardless of the reason why, let's quit criticizing the Disney princesses, even the ones from past who seemed passive. If you have a problem with the pervasiveness of princess memorabilia, encourage your child to watch Doc McStuffins or an educational show on PBS (that's totally what I grew up on and I think I turned out fine). Get your girls to read historical fiction like the American Girl doll series or the Girls of Many Lands books also by American girl. Laura Ingalls and her sisters make excellent role models in the Little House series. They are so many more options. Let them watch Cinderella and then follow it up with something more obviously empowering towards women.

Be on the lookout for a post about books all kids should read because I just got really excited revisiting my childhood!

Tips for surviving the post grad entry level job hunt. Part 1: living with your parents

The Post Grad's Guide to living with parents after graduating from collegeIn May, I moved back in with my parents and started getting serious about my job hunt. While I still don't have a job, I've learned a few things about how to handle living at home when you're at an age where you feel independent. This will be the first post in my series on navigating the post college world without going crazy.

Dear Mama and Daddy, I am so thankful to be living at home for free. I love you both very much. You might want to skip ahead to the end where I talk about the good parts of the experience, though.

Here's what you need to know about living in your parents home

  • Say goodbye to privacy

For the past 2 to 4 years, you lived on your own and did whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. But now you're not paying rent... Or living with roommates who don't care if you stay out late or stay in bed for an entire weekend. You're living with the people who created you and who are paying all the bills for the house you're living in.

If your parents are anything like my parents, they will walk in your room without knocking. They will ask you where you're going when you leave the kitchen even if you're only going to the bathroom.

And God forbid you ever want to be lazy for no reason and lie in bed all day watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. Being a parent means being a responsible adult. They don't quite understand the urge to be extremely lazy every so often (though to be fair, I have many peers who also don't understand it). Which brings me to my next point...

  • Say hello to judgment.

Don't get me wrong. My parents are great. But my roommates didn't judge me for doing stuff like binge watching Netflix or being on my cell phone too much. If I wanted to be bad and get Oreos, my roommates didn't tell me I need to be healthier, they got their own package of Oreos and were bad with me. Your parents probably will judge stuff. I mean it's because they love you and want the best for you. I have this suspicion that they think you're wasting all the wonderful potential they gave you when you waste your time on inane or unhealthy things... They're not necessarily wrong so try to take it with a grain of salt. Feel free to rant about it to your friends or siblings when you need to get it off your chest though.

  • Expect to be the errand runner.

"Oh, my grown up child lives at home? I can make her/him do anything I want! I need groceries? Let's give our child the list. Left something in the other room. No need to waste energy on stuff like standing up and walking. The graduate can get it. S/he's young and capable."

This is the monologue I think occasionally goes on in my parents head. The same goes for personal maid. How the parents did things like load the dishwasher and set the table before you moved back in, I don't know. But you parents will not waste free labor. So get used to things like doing other people's laundry (gasp!).

  • Junk. Junk everywhere.

During college, your room became your room + the extra storage room. There's also the issue of your room having embarrassing journals from when you were 12 and a whole lot of other stuff you haven't touched in years plus the extra stuff you accumulated throughout college. *This one probably doesn't apply to everyone, but it was definitely an issue for me. 

While living with my parents has been an adjustment for sure, it's been good. Most of what I've mentioned are the downsides, but there are so many upsides. I love getting to know my parents as a grown up. There's a whole other dynamic to our relationship now that I'm old enough to take care of myself. My mom and I have Boggle game nights. Last week, I was sick, and I was able to whine to my mom. That's probably the worst part about college: when you're sick you have to take care of yourself and be a grown up. But if you live at home, you can act like a child when your sick. So it's a struggle and a learning experience, but it's definitely rewarding and fun.

Comment and let me know if you've had a similar experience moving back in with your parents. Did you have issues I didn't mention? Let me know. I'd love to let you vent :)

Don't forget to share if you know of anyone who needs to know this or would appreciate it!

Be on the lookout for the next tip in the Post Grad Guide next week. Let me know if you have any particular topic you'd like to talk about!

The Post Grad Guide is a series on entering the real world after graduation because it's a jungle out there

Authenticity

Sometimes I don't like to blog because I know that not as many people will read it unless it's accompanied by the perfect graphic or if the layout of my blog doesn't scream "Jackie." I get so bogged down by the design aspects, of which I am good but not great at it nor do I have the right programs. I get so bogged down by my blog not being pretty enough that I forget that my words can be pretty. Because I am not a cutesy, artsy person who always chooses the right Instagram filter. I am not always wearing the latest designer or fashion trend because I like what I like whether it's popular or not. Wanting to dress in your own style and not just what's popular can be REALLY tough. But I do it. There are many fads that I never participated in simply because I didn't like it for myself. There were ones that I did participate in because I like it. I own and often wear a pair of Chacos. I like them, they're comfortable and they work well for my flat feet.I know it seems like I'm rambling but my rambling has a point. It is SO important to be authentic. To be genuine. People want to see the real you. They don't want to see the perfectly polished version you put forth on social media. There's a reason people like celebs like Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift. When you see them in magazines, tv, social media, etc. you get the feeling that you could be friends with them. We feel that way about them and other celebrities, because they are genuine. They are real.

Wanna know something fun? Nobody likes it when you or I are disingenuous.

People want to see the real, raw, messy you. This is me giving you permission to share with others that you're not that great sometimes. This is me telling one of my favorite youth Sunday School teachers that the job search is really hard and it's really frustrating instead of my stock answer of "it's going good."

This is not me giving you permission to only complain though. Celebrate the wins when you have wins. Celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones. Yesterday, I texted my sister telling her how excited I was that I finally made it through a barre pilates class without starting to black out. That's a victory. That's progress. It's small but small things are important to you. Sometimes the highlight of your day is getting a good parking spot or getting in a short line at Walmart. And that's okay. That's more than okay. That's awesome. Celebrate it. Own it.

I'm learning lately to be okay with who I am, strengths AND weaknesses. They all make up who I am. They all offer me room for growth and ways to glorify God. A few months ago I wrote in my journal how I wanted to be like a couple of famous writers who are known for their words. I wanted to be big. And I just had this overwhelming assurance from God that he didn't need me to be big. He needed me to be small. He reminded me that my role models were small before they were big and that now was my time to be small. So here I am. Living in a small state, in a small town, in a small bedroom learning to be okay with being small.

I don't know if this makes much sense to anyone but myself but I think it's important to share what's on my heart sometimes and this is on my heart. In the spirit of authenticity, I am sharing this without a picture and I am letting you know that I had trouble spelling authenticity because I am a HORRIBLE speller. Seriously, I would have had a lot more trouble in English classes had I been born prior laptops and spellcheck becoming the standard practice.

Is anyone else going through a season of life that seems counter intuitive to culture? Let me know!

How to Succeed in College Without Really Trying

My college career has ended, and my little sister is preparing to leave for college, even though she's still a baby who can't be old enough for college. I've been reflecting on the things I've done during college. Some are things I am thankful for, while others are ones I wish I had been wise enough to avoid. So without further ado here are my tips to succeed in college.

1. Find your place and find yourself

High school can be hard and limiting, socially. College, on the other hand, has a place for everyone. I found my place in the Mississippi State University Ballroom Dance Club and with the Baptist Student Union (BSU). BSU allowed me to grow spiritually and gave me the opportunity to do missions in Orlando for ten weeks. The ballroom club helped me get in shape, develop better posture (my posture used to drive my mom crazy) and gave me something that makes me feel joy. I cannot imagine my life if I hadn't had an RA who was involved with the club. Thanks, Liz!

You don't have to do these things but you should do something. If you wanna join a sorority, go for it. If you wanna be a member of the Brony Club, I won't judge you. Well, maybe a little but that's the great thing about college. It's the time to do what you what to do and say, "I don't care what other people think. They can think I'm weird but I'm okay with that." One day, my freshman year I wore a frilly pink shirt and pants with low heels and a headband that looks like it belongs to a medieval noble lady. I shamelessly told people that today was princess day and didn't care if they thought I was weird, and it worked.

Both the BSU and dance club have given me opportunities to grow as a person and given me the opportunity to meet awesome people. In fact, I found my junior year roommates, Claire Cook and Krista Smith, through my family group at the BSU. Which leads me to my next point...

2. Choose your roommates wisely

You don't have to be best friends with the people you live with. You don't even have to like them. But you do need to be able to live with them. If you like things to be clean, don't live with your super fun but super messy friend, and, of course, vice versa. If you want a quiet home, live with your mellow friends. If you want home to always be exciting and fun, live with people who are lighthearted and fun. Basically, just figure out what you want home to feel like, and see who you know that fits in that. I don't like to talk in the morning so I need roommates who understand why I seem moody at 7 a.m. They have to know I don't hate them; I'm just not ready for the world yet. Quiet mornings with roommates also getting ready is one of my fondest memories of college.

However, I want to dispel a myth. It is totally possible to live with your best friend. I lived in a small dorm room with my best friend during my sophomore year. And you know what? She's still my best friend. We had to be mature enough to let things go sometimes. But the only recurring issue was that she is hot-natured, and I'm cold-natured. There were times when I froze and she burned up, but we lived to tell the tale.

3. Be a good roommate

It's not all on them to make you comfortable. Living with people requires give and take. You may know their worst qualities but that just means they know yours as well. Keep that in mind and try to be someone easy to live with. If you have a problem, don't be passive aggressive. Get it out in the open!

4. Make friends with people in class and your major

My sophomore year I sat by a girl named Caroline Caver in Intro to Communication Theory, one of my favorite classes (Shout out to Dr. Nicholson). Eventually, we worked together at Chickfila and ended up in a handful of classes together. Even though we didn't hang out or anything, when I missed classes or couldn't remember due dates, she's someone I could rely on to help me out. There are a handful of other people that I always looked for on the first day of class or tried to pair up with during group projects. It's always comforting to know there's a classmate you can trust to proof your grammar.

5. Find someone a year or two ahead of you in your major

Seriously, this is one of the most important things that helped me. Through the BSU, I met Jamie Lott. Jamie was also getting a degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, but Jamie was a year ahead of me. While we were both students at MSU, Jamie was constantly giving me advice about which teachers and classes to take. Even during my senior year, she was an invaluable help, always there to talk me off the ledge affectionately known as "PR Orgs."

6. Internships

Now, we come to the regrets. I was involved in a couple, low-key internships in college, but if I could start over now, I would definitely take off a summer and get an internship that gave me tons of experience even if it was unpaid. Looking for jobs is hard, and I wonder if I would have a better chance with more connections and more experience. Maybe things would be exactly the same for me, but who knows.

7. Work out

Take advantage of the gym membership included in your tuition. Chances are this is a much nicer gym than anything you've used. It's also a great stress reliever, and if you're in college, you need stress relief. But more than that, get in the habit of being healthy and working out while you still have a decent metabolism. You will gain weight in college unless you make a real effort not to stay in shape or have super awesome metabolism and most of us don't. Fun fact: you can't eat a #1 from Chickfila every night in the Union and not gain weight. It's just not possible.

8. Get Involved

Wait, Jackie, didn't you already cover this in point number one when you said "Find your place?"

Hold your horses! When I say get involved, I don't mean you should be associated with just one or two organizations. College campuses have such a vast array of people and opportunities. The more involved you are, the people you meet. During my first BSU meeting at MSU, the president of MSU, Mark Keenum, spoke and said,

"Five years from now you will be the same person except for the people you meet and the books you read."

So meet as many different people as you can. Meet and develop friendships with people that have opposing views or different backgrounds than you. It will make you a better person.

I loved BSU and ballroom dance club but if I could start over, being more involved is something else I would change. There were so many things I thought about doing but for whatever reason, some valid, some not, I didn't, and who knows what I could have gained from that experience.

So to all you soon to be college freshman, especially Mikayla, go out and enjoy and succeed in college! I am here for you and rooting for you.

P.S. It's ok if you change your major, and it's ok if it takes more than four years to graduate. Seriously, a big percentage of people have to go an extra semester or two. It's not the end of the world.

Hey people who've been there, done that, what advice did I leave out that would help someone else? Let me know in the comments!

Now, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from college including a lot of the people talked about in this post.

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say cute?

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say cute?

picture of me and both my sisters
picture of me and both my sisters
Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.
Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.
Roommate senior year:
Roommate senior year:
Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!
Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!
Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She's gorgeous, talented and super smart
Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She's gorgeous, talented and super smart
Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.
Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.
This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She's from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.
This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She's from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.
Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.
Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.
This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel
This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel
I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn't argue
I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn't argue
At orientation getting ID's with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.
At orientation getting ID's with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.
Dancing the tango with DJ
Dancing the tango with DJ
Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch
Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch
This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber
This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber
My rock ministries family! I miss y'all!
My rock ministries family! I miss y'all!
Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.
Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.
Picture of a sunset and the American flag on Mississippi State University's gorgeous Drill Field

Picture of a sunset and the American flag on Mississippi State University's gorgeous Drill Field

Updates and Changes

Hey Y'all, I have a few things to cover today.

For those of you who don't know, I graduated! Huzzah! On May 1, I completed my last assignment as an undergraduate student at Mississippi State University. Talk about bittersweet! Starkville and MSU will always hold a special place in my heart and I will forever look back at my time with a smile in my heart. I'll talk more about that soon. But for now here's a site update!

Because I am entering into a new stage of life, I have chosen to change my site from "thequotesdiary.wordpress.com" to "jackiegiles.wordpress.com." I've been considering doing this for a while for many reasons.

First and foremost, my focus on quotes as inspiration for posts has been waning. My love of quotes and it's influence on so many of my early posts no longer shapes the way I write. I will continue to incorporate quotes when I feel it is necessary to strengthen a point with others words. However, somewhere along the way my style of writing evolved from building off of others words to standing on its own to feet. With this in mind, I no longer felt comfortable writing under the name "The Quotes Diary" and not focusing on quotes in my writing. I stopped feeling free to write what I wanted.

Second, I want it to be something people can remember and understand. I do not write for notoriety; however, I want people to easily recognize who is behind the words. If something I write resonates with people, I want them to be able to return to the site and not have to remember both my name and the site's name. Now they are one and the same.

I have also changed the site layout to something a little more sleek and sophisticated. It's a simple and clean payout that, in my opinion, allows the reader to focus on the words rather than the layout.

I hope you'll continue to keep reading. I am going to attempt to write more consistently. I hear from all the greats that writing is a job and you have to sit down at the keyboard and write whether you are inspired or not. Soon I'll update you on my post grad life and maybe even create a book list for those of you looking for recommendations.

Love, Jackie

Value.

Have you ever noticed how when you're closer to God, you literally see the world thru a different lens? It's one of those things you forget both when haven't been close to God in a while and when you've been faithful for a while. You're only aware of the lenses in that twilight space. I am in that twilight space and it's kind of astounding me.

One of my favorite TV shows is called Community. It's this quirky TV show that's occasionally self aware and is constantly talking about other movies and TV shows. It takes place at a community college that somehow gives out four year degrees... Don't question it! It's perfect for someone like me who enjoys consuming media. However, it's not the cleanest show. In fact, it can be offensive and irreverent, though, always in a clever way.

I started rewatching it this week because it felt like a good ending to college.

In the first scene of the show, the main character Jeff Winger is having a conversation with Abed Nadir. It ends like this: Jeff: "Now I see your value, Abed." Abed, as Jeff walks out of hearing distance: "That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me."

And it hit me. At our core, that's what we're all looking for. We look for it in every interaction and every relationship. We're secretly, subconsciously waiting for someone, anyone, everyone to say: "I see your value. You have value and I have noticed it."

But the thing is others aren't here to give us value. If they were, we'd be in a sad state. Think about it. You're more concerned with others affirming you than you are about affirming others. With a few exceptions, everyone else is doing the same thing. We get so wrapped up in our heads that we quit worrying about others.

As a Christian, you should seek to find your value affirmed in Jesus, the one who said "I value you, you so much I am going to subject myself to torment so that you can avoid it."

Your value is in Christ and nothing else. You are valuable because he loves you and saved you and gives you value.

Your value doesn't rely on your talents or how smart or how pretty or how strong you are. Your value doesn't lie in your ability to make friends or your relationship status. Those things are good but they do not give you value. And when we choose to find value in these things, we cheapen Christ's sacrifice and give away some of our real value.

You have value. It is given to you by Christ. Acknowledge it. Revel in it.

And while I don't think we should find value from others, maybe we should start acknowledging the value we see in others.

Tell her she is clever. Tell him he is passionate. Point out the good things you see in people. People are often blind to their own strengths and weaknesses, be their mirror. See value in people. See value in everyone.

March is my mother's month

Did you know that March is colon cancer awareness month? Probably not. It's not exactly common knowledge even though it kills more than 50,000 people every year, which makes it the second leading cause of cancer related death, behind only lung cancer.  In fact, it's almost the end of March, too late to be writing a colon cancer awareness month post. But I forget. Nobody reminded me. I didn't see blue (colon cancer awareness color) everywhere. There weren't commercials on the tv or radio. 

But there should be. It's the second most prevalent type of cancer. I should hear so much about it, I'm sick by the end of March. 

Ok, so what? Why do you care? 

Valid question. I have a good answer. 10 years ago, my 41 year old mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. 

For those who don't know, Cancer has 4 stages. Stage 4 is the worst. There is no best when the word "cancer" is involved, but you have a pretty good chance with stage 1 and not much if it's stage 4. Still, you never know if cancer is gonna be a tornado -tearing down things down it's unpredictable but narrow path - or a tsunami -devastating everything, quickly and unexpectedly. 

Actually I don't know if that's true. I'm not an oncologist but it seems to me that, regardless of the diagnosis, cancer is unpredictable. 

I'm going around the world to tell a simple but emotional story. 

10 years ago, with irony befitting a book or movie, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in the middle of colon cancer awareness month. She's been in remission for I guess 9 years now which is amazing. My mother is a fighter. She's strong. Maybe because she's strong or because she had so much to live for or because that's what you do when you're attacked. I don't know. To be truthful, I don't remember it well. I remember staying with a family friend the day my mom had half of her colon removed. I remember all the food people sent to help take care of us. I remember the metallic smell of her breath most vividly of all. I still hate the smell of my hands after holding change. The smell envelopes me in overwhelming fear and sadness. But I don't really remember how I felt or what I thought or even understood. 

It's also national women's history month. I've been wanting to honor the ladies that impacted me and shown me what true strength is. No one has impacted and has more strength than my mom. She showed that the most when she had no strength and fought anyway. 

To all the cancer patients: keep fighting. No matter the odds. Don't go down without a fight. 

To all the family members: life is hard. What you're doing is one of the hardest things to face in life. You will make it. No matter what happens you'll get past it. 

To my mom: thank you. Thank you so much for beating the odds. Thank you for teaching me how to deal with illness, attending my high school graduation, giving wisdom during my first heartbreak, dealing with meltdowns, and everything else you've done in the past ten years since cancer tried to kill you. I love you.

So go get colonoscopies and honor the women who've made a positive impact on you. 

Happy women's history and colon cancer awareness month. 

The Beginner's Guide to Audrey Hepburn Movies

The Beginner's Guide to Audrey Hepburn Movies
The Beginner's Guide to Audrey Hepburn Movies

In a recent post, I talked about how great Audrey Hepburn was, both as a person and as an actress. One of my friends read it and said she'd never seen any Audrey Hepburn movies except for the beginning of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Since Breakfast at Tiffany's is a bit slow and somber, my friend got bored and quit watching. While I think everyone should watch Audrey Hepburn movies, Breakfast at Tiffany's, contrary to popular opinion, isn't my favorite of her movies and I could have told my friend that she would get bored watching it. Having been a fan from a young age, I am going to use my knowledge to create a guide for Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn walking down the stairs for a photo shoot in Funny Face
Audrey Hepburn walking down the stairs for a photo shoot in Funny Face

Funny Face

The first Audrey movie you should watch is Funny Face. In this delightful, light-hearted flick, the editor and the photographer of a prestigious fashion magazine scheme to get an intellectual, too good for plebeian things like a fashion magazine, funny looking girl to model in Paris for them. Hijinks ensue. People fall in love; it is Paris, after all. It even won an Oscar for best costume design. The costumes were designed by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy, so no surprise there. The outfits are absolutely sumptuous. It's also a cute musical without having too many long or boring singing scenes. Bonus: It features Fred Astaire dancing and being suave. Seriously, I could fall in love with Fred's dancing.

Sabrina

"I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.- Sabrina Fairchild"

The next movie newbies should watch is Sabrina. However, if for people that aren't big on musicals, an alternative is to watch Sabrina first. Sabrina is about the daughter of a chauffeur who is hopelessly in love with the David Larrabee, playboy extraordinaire and son of the family her father works for. Sabrina's father sends her to cooking school in Paris for a twofold reason: to learn useful skills and to forget about David. However, Sabrina returns still in love with David and no longer looking like a little girl. When David notices her, nobody else besides Sabrina is happy. Things get a little complicated and crazy in the best way possible. This costars William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. It also won an Oscar for Best Costume Design so it won't be a disappointment after the fashion world in Funny Face. Bonus: There's a remake made in 1995 starring Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear. It manages to stay relevant to the times and makes changes without straying from the integrity or feel of the original.

My Fair Lady

Clip From My Fair Lady

The next movie I think people should watch is My Fair Lady.  This is my personal favorite Audrey Hepburn movie and in my top 10 favorite movies overall. However, it is a little long. The plot revolves around Henry Higgins, a phonetics professor who makes a bet that he can make Eliza Doolittle, a lowly flower girl with a STRONG cockney accent, presentable in high society by teaching her to speak with a different dialect. Of course, they fall in love despite their differences. The above scene in the YouTube link is one of my favorite scenes in all the movies I've ever scene and the main focus isn't ever on the main characters. That says a lot about how great this movie is. Every single detail is golden. There's even one scene where Eliza imagines getting the king to chop off Henry Higgins head. This film is a great example of a movie that's really well done, lots of fun to watch and makes people think about society and how little things like language affect the way we perceive others. It was directed by George Cukor, the original director for Gone with the Wind who secretly coached Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland after he was fired. The movie got 8 Oscars including best director, best actor in a leading role (Shout out to the great Rex Harrison) and, you guessed it, best costume design by Cecil Beaton. Bonus: This movie is adapted from the book Pygmalion.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany's

"I'm like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other."

The quintessential Audrey Hepburn movie. The movie that popularized the "Little Black Dress." This movie, based on the book of the same name by Truman Capote, is sad and moving and deep while also managing to be fun and visually gorgeous. You feel for Holly Golightly. She breaks your heart and makes you cry. This is a movie that has to be felt rather than seen. One fun part is when she helps out the Mob without even realizing it.

Bonus: you'll want to go to Tiffany's and eat breakfast to get over the mean reds.

How to Steal a Million

The most unknown and underrated Audrey Hepburn movie is How to Steal a Million. Also set in Paris, this fun heist flick costars the young and ever so adorable Peter O'Toole. I can't really go into the plot without taking away some of the fun but you should definitely check it out.

So there you have it. The first five Audrey Hepburn movies you should watch. The good news is all except for My Fair Lady are available to stream on Netflix. After you watch these, check out Roman Holiday and Charade* then go to amazon and buy What Would Audrey Do or How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World.

*The first time I started Charade I only watched the first 30 minutes and got bored and gave up. The next time I made it through the beginning to where it gets really good. It a great, very underrated caper movie. It will have your head spinning! Check it out.

Obviously, this is all subjective. Please share if you agree with my opinions! I'll leave you with the words of the lovely lady.

"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible!' "

How to Survive Valentine's Day with Grace

Valentine's day. Probably the most controversial and divided holiday. For couples, it's a wonderful chance to just dwell in each other's love and be adored. For singles, it can be a sad reminder of the fact that no one special person constantly cherishes and adores them. Or it can be a day engage in love - no matter the type of relationship. There is no special guy who cherishes me right now and there may never be. But that's okay. Because I have a loving group of friends who care for me and show me love anyway they can. I have a mom who is my biggest fan and manages to have high hopes for me without pressuring me to be or do anything I don't want. I am so grateful I have a father who showed me how a man should love a woman and support her no matter the circumstances. He has told me he loves and that I am beautiful for as long as I can remember. I have two sisters who are my best friends in the whole world and get me better than anyone else.

So yes, Valentine's day is about love, but it doesn't have to be strictly about romantic love.

To the Couples If you're in a relationship, take the time to show your love for someone who's single. But promise me this: don't do it in a condescending, "I was worried about you because you don't have anyone to love you like I do" way. People in relationships, I love you but it is so easy for some of you to get wrapped up in a love bubble and forget that it's possible to live without romantic love. Take time for your single friends. Cherish them and thank them for being there when you weren't in the love bubble. Last, don't forget to spend some time adoring your creator as well.

To the Singles Dear one, don't dwell on the sad parts. You are beautiful and precious and unique. Don't ever tell yourself something is wrong with you because you're single. You are completely lovable and worthy of love. I can't make your day better but you can. Instead of saying, "woe is me," look for someone else to love on. Maybe it's a friend who's struggling more than you are and needs someone to remind them that they are wonderful. Maybe it's a stranger you know nothing about. But I challenge you to dig down deep in your heart and take a handful of you to bless someone with. Show love. Show love hard.

Last, love and adore your creator and savior. The one who loved you so much he endured excruciating mental and physical pain so that you might go free. Someone does cherish and adore you, thank him and love him back.

An Unpopular Confession: Why I don't worship Marilyn Monroe

A picture of Cary Grant looking attractive
A picture of Cary Grant looking attractive

I love old Hollywood glamour.

Cary Grant is a dreamboat and I've loved him since I was probably 7 or 8 watching An Affair to Remember, Thanks, Mama for the introduction!

Doris Day and Rock Hudson look lovingly into each other's eye on the beach from the movie "Lover Come Back"
Doris Day and Rock Hudson look lovingly into each other's eye on the beach from the movie "Lover Come Back"

Doris Day and Rock Hudson are adorable in every film they are in and Doris Day's character in Lover Come Back is one of the reasons I considered and chose to major in public relations.

I could go on and on about how much I love old movies and old actors and actresses. I fell in love with Fred Astaire in Swing Time, Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, Frank Sinatra anytime he sings. I want to be Lauren Bacall as Schatze Page in How to Marry a Millionaire, Grace Kelly was classy, beautiful, a great actress, and a literal princess.

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

But let's not forget the greatest of them all, Audrey Hepburn. If you can find someone who loves Audrey more than I do (and by love I mean has seen more than just Breakfast at Tiffany's and understands that she was also a huge humanitarian) send them my way so we can fangirl together.

There are so many famous people from the 30s, 40s, and 50s who I absolutely adore that I could go on forever and should probably write a separate post about my favorite leading men and ladies or favorite movies from before the 1980s sometime, but that's not what I am saying here.

So many girls idolize, obsess over, and quote Marilyn Monroe. I can't. I refuse to worship her.

She was a beautiful lady and I am so sorry about her rough life that led to her suicide. It is heartbreaking; I wish I could go back in time and hug her and save her from bad people and from herself but I can't.

So while I feel great pity for her life, I do not go around quoting her and I don't buy things with her image on them.

Audrey Hepburn played roles that variety and had character and grew. Side note, she was a hipster 50 years from before it was cool in Funny Face. Katherine Hepburn plays strong, dynamic women who are in charge of their own destiny. Marilyn Monroe played promiscuous, dumb blondes who was on the prowl for wealthy men.

She is not a role model. I repeat, Marilyn Monroe is not a role model.

If you want a beautiful actress from Old Hollywood to adorn your walls with, buy some Grace Kelly merchandise. If you want to quote a gorgeous actress from the glamor days, look up the words of wisdom from Audrey Hepburn. If you want a tenacious role model from then, look at Katherine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall.

Y'all, I'm a passionate person. I am passionate about dumb things sometimes. I care way too much about grammar and how Coke always beats Pepsi and Sprite is a million times better than Sierra Mist. On this issue, however, I don't think I'm being silly. I look up to strong women who have made things better for me. I read a biography about Susan B. Anthony when I was 10. It's possible that not all the women I endorsed made things better for me. I don't know a ton about Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn but I do know that neither of them played roles that objectified women. The studio system was really intense and crazy back in the day and actors didn't have the freedom to pick and choose as they do now, so it may not have been Marilyn Monroe's fault that she played parts that objectified her. Nonetheless, she didn't contribute to making Hollywood view women as people rather than sex objects. Honestly, I view her life as more of a sad "what not to do" than a life to be admired. Please, watch one of the movies I listed or research some of the ladies and find a more worthy role model!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

To leave you on a positive note, go fall in love with Ole Blue Eyes gem of a voice, here

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

"Delight yourself in The Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." -Psalm 37:4

Recently, my grandfather sent me a text message first thing in the morning saying that I was precious and that he prayed that God would give me the desires of my heart. First, I'd like to point out that getting a message saying you're precious and that someone is praying that God gives you the desires of your heart is one of the best ways to start your day.

Initially, it put a smile on my face. And I am I very thankful to have someone who prays that prayer for me. But then the message changed from an encouragement to a mirror. What are my desires anyway? Are they the ones God wants me to have? Hmmm, I don't desire inherently bad things like ultimate power or taking over the world. But let's be honest, I wouldn't mind some shallow things. Like a wardrobe containing everything I've lusted over on Modcloth's website. Or to be graduating college debt free. Or to be in shape without working out. Although I'd settle for being in shape because I love working out and being outdoorsy.

Of course, not all my desires are shallow. I want to use words to show love and change the world or at least a few people. I want to be healthy. I want to get a fabulous job where I can help make the world a better place. I want to marry a man who will romance me like my dad does my mom and Jesus does the church and who helps me show the gospel to a lost and hurting world. I want to have children who love history and knowledge and reading. I want to live in a place with arts.

But ultimately, I want my desires to be what God desires for me. Because that's what Psalm 37:4 is about. When you are delighting in The Lord, your desires will be his desires. So for now, my ultimate desire is to delight in The Lord more. I know I'm not where I need to be.

C. S. Lewis once said, "I pray because I need God. The need flows out of me, waking and sleeping. Prayer doesn't change God. It changes me."

I've been praying a lot this past week about the future and my vision of what I want it to be. I committed to praying about this issue every day for a week. At first, my prayer was, "God I really want this." Then my prayers changed to: "I really want this but I understand if it's not your will. But I really want this." Then the prayer changed to: "God, right now I want this. But I don't want you to give it to me because I keep asking. I want your best for me. I want this to be the best but I understand it might not be. And that's ok because I want your will in this."

My prayers don't need to change God. They need to change me. My heart needs to be calibrated back to God's best. Maybe after a few more days of praying, I'll be ok with saying completely "Thy will be done Lord." When I delight in The Lord, my desires change to his and during the process while I still have my selfish desires, I begin to become aware that they aren't God's best for me. Psalm 37:4 is so much more than God giving you want you want. It's about reading on to Psalm 37:5: "commit your way to The Lord and do good; trust in him and he will do this." It's about aligning your desires with God's will.

I am so thankful for a God who will give me what I want when I begin to want the best for me. Just like your parents wouldn't let you play with matches as a kid, God won't give you things you want that will burn you, at least not without a purpose. I am so thankful for grandparents who are prayer warriors committed to my future and inspiring me to examine my inner self... Never a fun thing.

I hope you read this and begin to let the self-examination slowly begin. Stand in front of the mirror and honestly examine yourself. Be brave enough to admit the truth if you aren't delighting in The Lord and his best for you. Then go out and do something about it.

For Such a Time as This: 21st Century Edition

To preface, I wrote this aimed at bloggers. However at the end, I realized that these issues also apply to the people who sit in the pews, discontent with the state of the church and either do nothing or, worse, complain. It's time for the Church to be doers of the Word and not merely seers.

I have a bone to pick. I am so sick and tired of blogs about how the Church is doing this or that wrong and they need to change and step up their game.

To clarify, I am not saying that the Church is without fault or even that some of the issues brought aren't completely valid issues that need to be addressed. Additionally, it's completely possible that some of the bloggers are called by God to be catalysts by using their words. But I feel like words can also easily turn into a copout.

I have, at times, been distraught with the current state of the church and unable to reconcile this issue in my heart. My, albeit flawed, decision has been to not go as much because I felt hypocritical to go somewhere I saw flaws in. However, as I've grown up, matured, and become a bit wiser, I've realized the futility in avoiding church because I was not happy with some of its practices.

In my opinion, all these call to action type posts are doing the same thing. The authors of these posts are aware of an inadequacy in the church. Since the church is full of people, we are constantly facing mistakes and flaws and scandals. That's just how it is. However, I wonder if maybe God is showing these authors the inadequacy in the church for a different reason than writing about it. If you see an issue that needs addressing, don't address it to the internet. Go to the leadership at your church and say, "Hey, this isn't right. We need to change this." Pray about it. Find out if others agree with you. If they do, get them to help you change things.

THEN write about it. Tell the world how you were dissatisfied with the way certain things weren't glorifying God the way they should. Tell the world how things changed and whether you think it's an improvement. Tell the world even if it's a failure. God doesn't call you to be successful. He calls you to be faithful. And I know that's a cliché but it's a cliché I couldn't be a Christian without. A ruler who cares about your obedience more than your talents and lists of successes is so much more beautiful and accessible than one who requires you to get it right. Listen to James 1:22: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

This makes me think about what Mordecai says to Esther when the Jewish people are in mortal danger. I'm paraphrasing here... He says, "Don't think that if you stay silent you will escape. Deliverance will come from somewhere if not you. Maybe the reason you here at this moment is to save the Jews."

If God shows you an issue in the church, I fully believe it is for a reason. I also believe that we have a God of action not inaction. A few years ago, my former youth minister, Joseph Bird, made the comment that the church is spiritually obese. We eat and eat God's word but we don't go out and do.

The irony in my post calling out those who call out others is not lost on me. However, God laid it on my heart and I had to share. I apologize for any hypocrisy. I give my promise that from now on when I am discontent with issues in the church, I will try to change things rather than complaining. I challenge you to do the same.

The life of a sick person

Me with a hive (*technically angioedema). 06-16-14
Me with a hive (*technically angioedema). 06-16-14
2014-06-26 22.16.28
2014-06-26 22.16.28

 From June 2005 until August 2014, I have suffered from chronic urticaria and angioedema. For all you non-medical people reading this, chronic is considered anything that lasts more than six months, urticaria is hives and angioedema is a hive in the tissue of the first layer of the skin-like the lips.

After nine years of dealing with hives on any and every part of my body, I had given up all hope of ever getting better. When I say I had given up, I am not being overdramatic. I am not trying to give my writing more of a punch. In terms of hope, I literally had none. No faith in doctors or medicine or anything. I honestly believed I would struggle with one day waking up with my eyes like they are in the pictures above or with my foot being so swollen I couldn't put on shoes to walk to class to take a test. I honestly believed for the rest of my life I would deal with randomly being unable to do simple stuff like write or hold a fork with my dominate hand because my hand was swollen to five times its normal size. Once again, nothing I am saying is for dramatic effect; these are all real examples. Fall semester last year I missed a geography quiz because my foot was so swollen I couldn't put on shoes to walk across campus and no one was around to drive me. Countless times, I have struggled to eat with my left hand because I was unable to bend the enormously swollen fingers on my right hand. One time, I had to get my dad to cut my chicken for me. At the time I was 18 years old. I ask for no pity- only understanding.

On top of this, I was told by people close to me that if I prayed enough and if I trusted enough, God would heal me. So of course, when he didn't what those same messages conveyed to me was that I didn't believe enough, I didn't pray enough. I fully believe God works miracles. I also believe that sometimes God works through doctors. Let me tell you something: there is absolutely no shame in not being healed through a miracle. God does not fit in the palm of your hand. God does not fit in your box and he is not limited by you. While I encourage anyone with health problems to pray consistently and fervently, I want you to know this: if God doesn't heal you, it is not necessarily a reflection of your faith.

In Matthew 16:33, Jesus said in this world you WILL have trouble but take heart for I have overcome the world. He did. You can. Suffering is a part of this life. Sometimes you get better. Sometimes you don't. Never let anyone tell you that's indicative of your faith in Jesus Christ.

After nine years, I have been hive free for 82 days. 83 days ago I literally couldn't remember the last time I hadn't had at least one hive on my body because it had been literal years.

In the middle of August, I began to get Xolair injections. Xolair is this wonderful new drug that combats chronic hives for people who don't know what causes it and nothing else works for- I was a perfect candidate. I vividly remember the day my mom called to tell me the doctors wanted me to try it. I cried in the parking lot. I sat there and bawled because I had hope and it overwhelmed me. In The Hunger Games, President Snow explains that the reasons for The Hunger Games is because the only thing stronger than hope is fear. I don't think I have ever felt an emotion more strongly and wholly than the hope I felt in that moment. I fully believe that Jesus gave me this. Just because it came from Christ through doctors doesn't make it any less sweet for me. If anything it makes it more so. I know what it is like to struggle with looking like something from a freak show on a weekly basis. I've gotten countless second glances and innumerable, "Oh my goodness, what is wrong with you?" I struggled to be ok with it. I don't know that I ever became content with it. Resignation doesn't equal contentment. But I can tell you one thing for sure. I am far more grateful now than I would have had I been healed seven years ago or even three years ago. And since God has chosen to heal me through modern medicine I have been blessed by more people. I have doctors and nurses who care about me on a personal level. They want to know how I'm doing in school. They want me to succeed on every level.

I am writing this for 10th grade little Jackie being told hives could last who knows how long: 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years and never believing it would actually be longer than 6 years. I am writing to every person who is in the middle of a seemingly endless tunnel. I am writing this to the person who goes to doctors and gets 13 tests that all come back negative but is still living with a broken body.

My love, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep fighting. Get out of bed and tell the world and the pain and the shame to go to hell. I use strong words because I have strong feelings and I refuse to sugarcoat it- even for naive little Jackie. She deserves the truth. It will suck. It will hurt mentally and physically. At one point in your life you'll take 11 pills a day and feel shameful but it's okay. Make it to October 23, 2014. Sit in the doctor's office and laugh as Jeanette Arnold and Richard DeShazo casually talk about weaning you off your medicine- something you thought would be a lifelong crutch. Fight til you get to August 17, 2014, and your hives are literally nothing more than a bad dream. Become the girl who can feel UGLY and still take a selfie smiling to document a painful hive. You get to be her one day. And I'm proud of her.

I've given you Jesus's words now here's something from Taylor Swift because TSwift knows angst AND how to be classy.

Hold on, baby, you're losing it// The water's high, you're jumping into it// And letting go... and no one knows// That you cry, but you don't tell anyone// That you might not be the golden one// And you're tied together with a smile// But you're coming undone.

People mock her but she knows her stuff. I just want you to know that there is hope. It will not come when you want it to. It may not come til heaven. But one day, everything will be fine and you will know the full value of a working body. You'll want to cry sweet tears of relief when you can do normal things without consequences. Until then, I'm here to chat with. I understand, at least to some extent, what you're going through. Talk to me. Tell me what makes you cry and jaded. Get it out if you need to. I'm without judgment: jackiegiles93@gmail.com Or do it your own. Cry. Journal. Blog about it to let someone else know they aren't alone. Let it teach you grace and patience. I wanna hear your story. Love, Jackie

P.S. Please share if you know anyone else who needs to grace and encouragement!

Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pastor

Yesterday, my church said goodbye to a wonderful pastor, Wayne Edwards. He wasn't just a preacher. He was a pastor who cared about people. He genuinely loved everyone at Midway.

He means a lot to everyone but he has really treated my family and me with love beyond comprehension in times of trial.

Shortly after beginning his time at Midway, my mom had surgery in Jackson. I still remember waiting for her to get called back to surgery and then to be done. Bro. Wayne, His wife, and our former music minister sat with us the entire time. It's one of those little, tiny things that mean so much.

Unfortunately, my mom had complications from surgery and was in life-threatening condition for several days. A three day hospital stay turned into a week and a half. Through it all, Bro. Wayne and Mrs. Patty made multiple trips to Jackson- just to see us and sit with us.

This encounter shaped the rest of Wayne's time at Midway. It was always clear that he cared, and he's one of those special people that understands something really important- it's not what you do. It's where you go. He understood that sometimes people don't need anything more than someone outside of the situation to sit and talk about the news. People don't always need you to do something in times of crises. They just need you to sit there and silently convey, "I am here for you. Everything might not turn out all right but through it all, I will never leave your side."

While I am sure that God has a wonderful replacement lined up for Midway, he won't be my friend. He won't be my Old/New Testament teacher from MCC. He won't be the man who called on me to do the before/after for Jeremiah in children's Bible Drills. He won't be the man who offered to beat up my first ex-boyfriend when we broke up. He won't be the pastor who got onto me for not telling him when family members were sick.

I may not ever get to know this man who will be replacing the wonderful pastor I love so much. But that's ok. Because someone else needs the new man like I needed Wayne Edwards.

Maybe God will decide to bless me again and eventually I'll find another pastor who loves me and my family like Wayne did. But I'm not holding out for that. Greatness is hard to replicate and if anything describes Wayne Edwards, it's great.

Why I, an MSU student, root for Ole Miss

Davis Wade Stadium, Fall 2015
Davis Wade Stadium, Fall 2015

Image Source

Yesterday was a good day for Mississippi. MSU beat Texas A&M and Ole Miss beat Alabama. Both teams are undefeated. I won't insult your intelligence and pretend I know about sports but I know that this was a pretty big win for both teams.

Unlike some of my classmates, yesterday I was ecstatic when both teams won and not because I'm a closet Rebel.

ole-miss-football-field
ole-miss-football-field

Image Source

I am born and raised in Mississippi. I love my home state. I want it to succeed and be seen in a good light. There are so many bad stereotypes about Mississippi- some true, some not. I promise you- we wear shoes and don't marry our cousins. I won't go into the bad stuff because, well, there's been enough of that and I am choosing to focus on the positive.

But you know what we do have in Mississippi?

Great writers for one. William Faulkner. Eudora Welty. John Grisham. Tennessee Williams.

Even better musicians. Jimmy Rodgers, the father of country music. Elvis, a man so successful he can be identified by only a first name. BB King. Hayley Williams. Faith Hill. Charley pride. Leann Rimes

And of course can't forget about the entertainment greats: Jim Henson, Oprah and Morgan Freeman.

Obviously, I have a lot of pride for Mississippi and could go on and on. I want my beloved home state to do well and be viewed well. So you know what else we have? Sports. Football. Baseball. Basketball. none of the foreign Yankee soccer, though.

When Ole Miss plays any team besides MSU, I want them to win. I know many would consider what I'm saying to be blasphemous. Maybe they are our rivals. But rivalry should be a good, healthy thing. It's like fighting with my sister- I am the only person who can talk to her that way. I am protective of Ole Miss the same way. I don't want people from out of state trash talking it. I don't want it to lose to another team. In my book, a win for Ole Miss is a win for Mississippi. And let's be honest, we can always use that.

Furthermore, I'm an SEC girl. So even though I wanted Ole Miss to beat Alabama today, if Alabama plays someone from the Big 10 conference, I will root for Alabama.

I know I'm an idealist so I understand if you can't wrap your head around the crazy idea of cheering for the Rebs til Thanksgiving week. I get it. I'm also a passionate person and have many issues I wouldn't go halfway on. If you agree with me and are happy for both teams, go ahead and click share. If you disagree, feel free to leave a strongly worded comment about how/why I'm wrong.

But for today I'm happy saying, Hail State and Hotty Toddy!

Star Gazers and Rainbow Seekers

Van Gogh once said, "For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

Most people are rainbow seekers. They get so excited in the midst of a rainy day when they get to see the sky painted brilliantly in a one small, crescent-shaped area. I love rainbows. They are beautiful and wonderful and a statement of God's love and protection. But I am not a rainbow seeker. God does not put rainbows in the sky to woo me. Maybe that's weird. I mean, first it's not like the whole sky revolves around me. Second, who doesn't fall in love with rainbows? Jackie Giles. That's who. You know what does makes me swoon and weak in the knees thinking "God, you are so amazing!"? The night sky. A full moon. Pinholes of light sneaking through the so dark blue it's almost black of the night sky. I hate cold weather to the point that I nearly cry BUT you know what I love about winter? The sky and the stars at night are never more clear and beautiful. Do you remember how you felt when you first fell in love? Everything in the world makes sense and you find yourself sighing with happiness in the middle of the day? That's how a full moon makes me feel. I look up at the glorious light shining down and I know that God loves me and wants me to be wholly his. Last night, on what I had already deemed the first official day of my senior year (I'm back in Starkville- but school hasn't started yet), I saw two shooting stars. And maybe it's superstitious and conceited of me, but I felt like it was God's present to me. It was God saying, "Everything may not always be ok but I am here for you and I adore you." So here's to my senior year. Everything will not go as planned. I will struggle and potentially feel like a failure but through all the ups and downs, God will be there saying, "My child, look up and gaze at my glory. I made this and I am making you into something even more spectacular." Because that's the thing about God. His creation is GLORIOUS and we are his ultimate creations. Be you a rainbow seeker or a star gazer, Christ died on the cross to save you and wants you to be apart of his family. Know this: you are not perfect and that's ok. Christians aren't hypocrites when we mess up. We are real human beings, struggling to become more like Christ every day but we try. For weeks, I've been wanting to write something to preface my senior year or something that was "15 things to do or not do your first year of college." While that would have probably garnered a larger response, it wouldn't have been true to me. I had to wait til I saw the shooting stars to be able to write this. And really that feels like a metaphor for life. You can't skip steps. I have to do everything I will go through this upcoming year in order to be ready for my career or whatever I do afterward. Maybe life is like a Jenga tower. Take one stick out and the whole thing might topple over. I know this for sure: everything I have done and experienced has made me who I am.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. Galileo

For me, the future is like the night sky. Dark, vast and unknown. But the moon and the stars will be the light to guide me safely home.

Are you a rainbow seeker or star gazer?

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20140814-231804-83884353.jpg

Failure is the Pathway to Success

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So this week I've been at LeakyCon in Orlando. For those of you who don't know, LeakyCon is a convention where people interested in nerdy stuff gather and revel in said nerdy stuff. I am here with Sara Creel and in addition to doing to Harry PotteR, LOTR, Doctor Who, etc. stuff, we are doing the lit track. This means we have access to all the stuff I listed before PLUS panels with famous authors like John Green, Scott Westerfeld, Maureen Johnson and many, many more. This morning I sat in on a panel called "I Was a Teenage Writer." In this panel, these super talented and successful authors read poems or stories they had written as teenagers that were supposedly horrid. The room filled with anticipation as the writers hesitantly brought out papers and shamefully read to us. But the major plots twist? None of them were altogether horrid. In every single one of them, you could see the potential. Some stories had symbolism that no 14-year-old should be able to understand. Others were rich in background story. Some showed the writers ability to turn a phrase, albeit not as well as the writer can now. At first, I left feeling almost discouraged. These people clearly had talent from a young age. That's not to say that they didn't have lots to learn, but talent nonetheless. And I want to be writer, yet I have no written short stories as a child that make me cringe. But don't ask me about the stories I made up in my head to go to sleep. Maybe I won't be a novelist in the future, maybe I will. One of the writers read from a high school newspaper column she wrote because she had no examples of fiction so I'm not completely out of hope. But that's not what stuck with me the most. Later in the day, I came to a greater realization about the panel. Life is about growing and changing and constantly evolving. So many times we look back at the dumb things we did and just cringe. We think, "How could I be that stupid?" The thing about life though is it's a process. You have to do the stupid things to work out your potential. One of my favorite quotes is: "Try and fail but don't fail to try."- Stephen Kaggwa. The greatest writer in the world once wrote did a middle school project that is cringeworthy now. The best cellist in the world started out playing scales. Picasso had to learn how to paint portraits perfectly before he could go crazy and do his own thing. When things are hard and you keep going, you improve. To be cliche, there is no shortcut to success. At the end of the day, I wanna be the person who tried hard not the person who played it safe. Another quote I love is: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett. You don't become the best or even good at something by giving up. So work hard. Be your biggest critic but also be your biggest fan. Keep going and keep working hard. I'll leave you with a Pablo Picasso quote.

Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.

5 reasons why every student at MSU should go to ballroom dance classes

All pictures in this post were taken by the lovely Raeley Stevens. Find more of her pictures and thoughts on art here. First, let me clarify something. MSUBDC is not strictly "ballroom dance." We also have latin and swing and whatever other partner dance floats our way. MSUBDC doesn't discriminate against any type of partner dance... Unless it's a stupid dance.

Source: Raeley Stevens
Source: Raeley Stevens

1. It will impress your parents and your parents' friends and basically every other adult you meet. Working the MSUBDC table at orientation organization fairs, I discovered a common theme. Almost all the parents wanted their kids to learn ballroom dance. So go ahead, butter your parents up for whenever you get a C in a class that you really should have gotten an A in. So what if you didn't get a 4.0 GPA, you'll be able to waltz effortlessly.

Source: Raeley Stevens
Source: Raeley Stevens

2. It's FREE and we college students are all about free stuff. I feel completely comfortable in saying that this is probably the only time in your life that you will get the chance to take dance lessons for free. Unless you happen to become famous and then forgotten about by the general public and ABC contacts you to do season 47 of Dancing with the Stars. But I wouldn't hold out for that.

3. It's a great way to meet people. I'm gonna be completely cliche here. Some of my best friends are people I know through the Ballroom Dance Club. Also...

4. It's been known as a great way to meet a significant other. Hint hint, cough cough. What better way to bond with a super attractive person who can't walk away without being super rude? I'm not just saying this. I actually know of a few relationships that grew out of a mutual love for ballroom dance.

Source: Raeley Stevens
Source: Raeley Stevens

5. It's a fun way to exercise. The freshman 15 is a real thing. It is a serious thing. It has not been exaggerated. If you don't have an awesome metabolism or a love of exercising, dance is a great way to burn some calories and have fun. Dancing east coast swing for an hour burns almost as many calories as running for an hour.

Bonus for the die hard sports fans: In April, we competed against 4 other schools including Alabama and MSU pretty much dominated.

For the record there are a few reasons I will accept as sufficient excuses for not coming: 1. You do not go to MSU. 2. You are missing limbs. 3. You have no desire to learn, in which case, you are missing out but I respect you for simply saying you don't wanna come.

Dancers: any other good reasons to dance I forgot about?

Source: Raeley Stevens
Source: Raeley Stevens

Perfectly Imperfect

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Reading through my old blog posts, my heart began to hurt. My pride was hurt. My self-identity was embarrassed.

"Here is Jackie Giles!" shouted my blog. " She struggles with being content in Christ's love, living in the present and dealing with loneliness."

At first, I wanted to start over- get a clean break. Blog about my successes. Like when I got an "A" in a class I struggled in or when something good happened and I was genuinely thrilled which is something I don't get often and show even less often or that one time I had a spark of creativity and put pictures in the shape of a heart on my wall and it looked GOOD.

But then I remembered why I blog. I remembered what I am called to do.

I do not generally write for the masses. I do not write to present myself in the best possible light. I am egotistical and conceited enough in my current state (and isn't that what Instagram is for anyway?).

I am called to write about my weakness for in that, Christ's perfect strength is made known.

So yes, I have struggles. And yes, many are the same struggles that I think I have overcome. But if I could get over something that easy, it wouldn't be a struggle. It wouldn't be called "dying to self."

So yes, I have struggles. And I am unashamed.

My name is Jackie Giles. I do not have a 4.0 GPA. I am a little overweight. Sometimes, my inner voice curses. I am judgmental. I am discontent with my wonderful life. I sin. I neglect my savior. I have asthma, chronic hives, mastocytic colitis, migraines, and probably a connective tissue disorder.

But that's not all I am.

I am intelligent. I am witty and funny. I am strong. When a problem comes my way, I deal with it. I am, at times, wise. I have a great memory for people's names and random facts. I have wonderful friends and family. I am truthful about my faults and I am dealing with my issues openly. And in our modern society that encourages perfectly posed snapshots of life, choosing to reveal your weakness is incredibly brave.

Maybe I will start talking about successes more, but one thing is for sure. The minute I start hiding my faults on here is the minute I quit being true to myself and my purpose.

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I challenge you to live openly.

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