Wednesday, December 31, 2014


this is a random tag I picked up somewhere in 2013, and wanted to use today. :) 

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
3 semesters of medical school. XD

Watched eye surgery (and knee surgery and more...eye was fascinating, though).
Went to a doctor on my own (about time, considering all the time I've spent in medical facilities, good grief). ;)
Learned in a way I'd never felt before how unbelievably important being open and honest with people is...and how excruciating a thing back-stabbing is. (That's why it's called that, I guess. I didn't know.)
Finished version 1 of my novel Contract to Time Travel.
Ran my first 5k. 
Found myself in tears in the presence of so many people (stranger's illnesses, non-strangers sin, above-mentioned back-stabbing incident, friends enduring hardship, friend's death...I used to cry mostly by myself. (Not that I didn't do plenty of that this year.) But this year seemed particularly emotionally draining.
Met my second niece.

*tries to think what else* My little sister says I've "done pretty much everything there is to do" LOL. While nowhere near true, I appreciate her estimation of my accomplishments. XD

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make one this year?
I don't really make resolutions. As I wrote in this post, though, I do have certain words for the year.  :D 2014 was Focus and Dream. (Dream to inspire my focus, focus so that I could reach my dream.) 2013's was Awake, Aware,'s only been in the later part of 2014 that I started to get better at the Awake bit.
Really, once I know what word I'm choosing to focus on, and I begin to understand the importance of it over the year...I just want to keep that word my focus forever. XD (2011 was love, which now is just one of my favorite words of all time.)

As to how well I managed to focus and dream in 2014...I certainly did better than in 2013. And I think I managed to I managed to recapture some of the dreams that were buried in the craziness of starting medical school. I am entering the new year very excited about where I am and the opportunities that are before me, and more willing to let myself dream of anything and everything. The focus part I found harder. Sometimes I let myself dream I could do everything I wanted to in a given day, which was usually not true. Dreams on their own really don't go anywhere, and the focus required to give dreams wings, or at least feet, is a skill I am still working on obtaining.
Tomorrow I'll post 2015's. :)  

What countries/states did you visit?

Canada this summer! Otherwise I have stuck very close to my little border area and run back and forth between the two states I've called home quite properly. :)

Did you move anywhere?
Yes, I did...from the marvelous family I spent my first year in med school with to a house closer to school where my own marvelous family could come and my siblings could also attend school. :) And you know what my room looks like. XD (I still head over to my other family's house at random times...before Christmas I learned how to make wontons and this week we're having a Japanese dinner. :D)

What was the best month?

how do you pick a best month?? maybe July because I didn't have as much school... XD also that's when my niece was born, so that was a pretty good month. 

Did you suffer illness or injury? 

nothing spectacular or worth mentioning, thankfully...

Where did most of your money go?
 um...not really having any I don't know where it went...XD Most of the [other people's] money I spent went to school. Like a ridiculous lot. Otherwise, with the money I was given as presents...I spent it mostly on presents for others. I spent some money going out to eat/to watch movies with friends, but otherwise I think it was all presents. (Other than a parking ticket that made me want to cry.)

So yeah. School. Presents. :)

What was the best thing you bought?
hee. Well, of school things, my favorite is Memorang, which lets me review stuff and pretend I'm not studying. XD
presents, you'd have to ask the receivers of them. (my little sister was quite pleased with the flying iron pig I just gave her for Christmas.)
money I spent on myself...going with friends to a Thai restaurant and then to a movie afterwards was probably my favorite. XD

Whose behavior merited celebration?
My younger brother getting serious about skiing and going from a decent cross-country skier to someone whose race times people have to come up to me and comment on. Also his yard-work business raking in more money per afternoon than I've earned in years. XD [that kid works hard]
My other younger brother making it through a semester of business classes and then working for 8 months - and getting claimed as best dock boy ever at the resort he worked at...
My mom getting through spring and fall classes in her advanced practice nursing course and doing every assignment almost perfectly, while still homeschooling and running a house. [now you know where my brothers get it]
My nieces being beautiful...(wait, that's not a behavior, is it?)

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The world in general. There were a few particular people I guess, but I'm pretty sure a blog is not the place to address that. XD My own behavior managed that a few times, but I am very slowly learning many things. God is unbelievably patient.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
...Lots of things? :D I'm realizing that excitement is not a fixed quantity, and there is no reason to hold back from enjoying all of life to the fullest extent possible. The more I love the more I can love, and rejoicing with people over anything from their new baby to their new favorite movie just makes everyone happier. We're called to abundant life, and as someone who often sees the negatives first, simply choosing to love the positives is a whole lot more fun. XD

What song/album will always remind you of 2014?

Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? 
my mom. XD for sure.

What was the best book you read?

Well, the Bible... 
Due to poor planning and falling asleep a {few} nights while listening to it on CD, I ended up with almost all of Deuteronomy left to read today, if I wanted to complete reading the Bible through in a year. (Which, given my love of reading, I kind of figure if I can't do it at least once there is something seriously wrong with me.) I thought about not doing it (since I didn't figure there was a whole lot to be gained by rushing through the book of Deuteronomy) but there was today and I am stubborn sometimes. If I planned on reading through the entire Bible (and I always seem to), then I'm going to unless I'm stopped. 
There was something quite beautiful about reading all of it at once, instead of spread out over the year, and really, it was kind of like seeing God condense my whole year into It's not you, it's Me. Get over yourself and get on with the fight. I brought you here and I will take you home, no matter what you think stands in your way. :D Quite good.

As far as new books...for fictional I think I will go with Jenny Frietag's Plenilune, which I hope to actually post a review for shortly. Wait for it.
(Though I read Stengl's Shadow Hand after Deuteronomy. You'd be surprised at how well those two fit together...)

For nonfictional, if in 2015 I finish any of the 3 best books I started and was unable to finish due to time and library due dates and mostly school, I'll be able to let you know which was best. :)
Did you fall in love in 2014?
define love... ;) 
I love many more things than I did last year...the strange thing is, the more I love the more I find myself able to love
And yes I am playing stupid with the question. No, I did not meet a boy. (I met lots of boys. I'm still not in love.)

What was your favorite TV show/movie?
watch it here...^
difficulties....Liar Game.

It's the Korean version of a Japanese show based on a manga, and it's about a girl who wants to believe the best about everyone and an ex-con who is the human version of a lie detector (and who knows exactly how many lies humans tell every minute...) Low on romance (somewhat sadly so), high on tension...the shifting relationships and trying to figure out who to trust as the game progressed was fascinating to me. 

Also Kang Do-Young is one of the the most terrifying villains I've ever seen. 

And the ending was brilliant. Korean shows don't usually have 2 seasons, and usually I wouldn't want them to.(American shows drag on way too long, and the stories get wrecked.) But this one was gorgeously done, and I could be very happy with more than 12 episodes. XD

Who did you miss?
My family at the beginning of the nieces whenever I saw babies...most of my friends all the time because they LIVE FAR AWAY FROM ME...the friends close by when they went on vacation or we/I got busy with med grandparents whenever I got busy with life...basically if I like you and I didn't see you this week, I miss you. (That's quite a few people.)

Who was the best new person you met? 
I don't know if I particularly met anyone - it's been a lot more getting to know people I met last year better and wishing I made friends more quickly, because it takes me a long time to get close to people. And I know a lot of cool people that I don't necessarily have a long time to get close to. 
I did meet my niece, and she's a pretty best person so far. :) 

Compared to this time last year, are you:
1. happier or sadder?
2. thinner or fatter? thinner, I think.
3. richer or poorer? poorer... XD (can't have everything)

What do you wish you’d done more of?
hard-core studying {as opposed to half-hearted partial studying}...
being present in the moment with people in my life...

What do you wish you’d done less of?
random reading online. Books at least can never fully be wasted time (unless they're total trash books); even movies end up being used in my own stories in some fashion. 
Time on pinterest or tumblr can end up leading to nothing, though...and unless I'm commenting on blogs and getting to know people...nothing comes of it. Mostly, however, I wish I'd focused more on the things that had to be done, rather than the things I could do...even in my 'free' time.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
my sister-in-law! to little miss gorgeousness here -->
I love my Tal-Tal.

Did anyone close to you die?
A close friend of my family's died this month - if you could take a moment to pray for his family during this horrible time for them...He was the same age as my older brother, and it's been hard for me let alone them. His life was a gorgeous testimony of God's faithfulness, and the picture I have added to my quote wall is not just a beautiful one, but is a reminder of a man who lived only six years longer than me, but who had 1000 people come to his visitation because of how he allowed God to use his life. The world has one less good man in it, and I am challenged to fight sin harder and to more fiercely love those around me because of his death.

having his art and music at the funeral was painful because
of how much he will be missed, but a beautiful showcasing
of all the talent God had given him

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?Well, my niece's birthday will hopefully stick - 7/30/14 (though I've already mixed it up with her sister's at least once. :P).
The funeral I went to on my birthday will probably not be forgotten.

What was your biggest failure?

Being fearful. 
Not willing to jump into things or say things I felt I should say or volunteer or...I let fear of failure cripple me way too many times this year, and I think I'm only understanding how much now that I've reached the end of it. 

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Looking at the year from the short vantage point of right now, it's probably finishing my first year of med school and graduating from college. Which equates to so many prayers I don't really feel like it is an achievement of mine
Otherwise I think it's been learning to use the gift of words God has given me, and claiming it when I want to help someone, instead of blindly fumbling and wondering what I can possibly do. I know how to instead of always fighting my weaknesses it has been good to actually use my strengths. Yes, trying to get better at it means I've written some stupid things to people. But it's been one step towards rebuking fear and being brave.

What kept you sane? 
awesome friends and the best mother I've seen around.
mostly God. :)

Valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
This is going to be its own post in 2015. Stay tuned. :) 

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
I want to see growth in myself as a person, as a Christian, as a medical student, as a writer. As me. I don't want to spend another year just making it - I want to see progress happening, to know my Lord better, to walk more closely with Him each day, and to use the time He has given me for His glory. 

Five things I want to remember from 2014: 
1) Fear is failure unless it is overcome.
2) The view from my window.
3) Being close to someone is worth the risk them hurting you. (You don't escape that hurt by shutting people out.)
4) Everyone is beautiful and anyone can be loved.
5) Reading is vital to my existence and should not be so neglected. :) 

Five things I want to do in 2015:
1) Ace my Step 1 Board exam.
2) Do the RPAP program for my third year and learn to throw myself headlong into whatever I need to in order to become the doctor I want to be.
3) Learn to concentrate and focus in the way that I need to do well in my studies, instead of simply just okay enough. (Improve my class ranking is a short way of saying that. XD)
4) Do something with my writing. (Specific, I know...but either publish a poem or find an agent for one of my novels or do some serious marketing of Ransomed...or something. XD)
5) Pray more. I don't know how much more yet, but definitely more.

When though goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest [overwhelming things], be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought you [to this place through many difficulties already]. 
Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is He that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'

Shadow Hand - Anne Elisabeth Stengle

I kinda love this cover...the light and the vibrancy...
and then the thorns hinting at what else is there....
I also love the title. :) 

After finishing Moonblood last year (short review: I liked it. Eanrin. Cat. What can I say?), and helping with promotion of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's next book, I begged for a review copy and immediately started reading Shadow Hand, only to have my year completely run away on me. The number of fictional books I've read this year is tragically few...but I am glad that Shadow Hand was among them.

It's good. 

This is a story about blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.

By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. As her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal parasite. 

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

It is the story of Foxbrush and Daylily...but the world and those who live there are indeed hauntingly familiar, no matter how many turns the time-twisting story takes.

If you remember my first impression of Lionheart...I wasn't a huge fan.  Do you know how incredibly satisfying it is to see him now following the Prince of Farthestshore, growing, and working to become who he should be? I absolutely loved that aspect of this story - it takes a lot of talent to take a character I was so upset with and turn him into one I wholeheartedly enjoy, but Anne Elisabeth has done it beautifully. Sometimes a single POV is best, but the marvelous intermixing of story threads here allows you to follow everyone through their journeys (all of which are fascinatingly different), while bringing in new storylines and new themes for each novel. Lionheart's journey may be one of my favorites.
I vowed to follow you, his heart whispered desperately. Is this right? Is this what you would have of me?

Not that I was not happy to see the others. Felix was back, which made me ridiculously happy. I've always rather adored that boy. :)
And really, was it any of Felix's business whom these dragon-eaten foreigners chose to make their king? He had only to stand here, representing his nation with dignity (or boredom), as was right and proper.
 "Yes, I know, I know," Felix said impatiently. "I've sprained and broken my share of limbs." And I've killed a dragon, so put that on your plate and eat it!
Eanrin and Imraldera were both back, to my joy and sorrow. (Sorrow because...ow, ow, ow...even Knights of Farthestshore stumble sometimes as they follow their Prince. And it hurts when they do. Joy, these quotes.)
Sir Eanrin, clad in scarlet with a gold-edged cape and a feathered cap, removed said cap and ran a hand through his tawny hair, as much a cat in this form as he was when more blatantly feline. "I am first and foremost a Knight of Farthesthore, even as you are yourself, my girl," he said with an easy grace and confidence that never failed to make Imraldera want to smack him. "Servant of Lumil Eliasul and all that."
"I've begun composing a new ballad, you'll be interested to know," he said. "An epic.""Lights above save us," Imraldera muttered without looking around.
"It's high time you did a bit of work around here again.""Aye, because we wouldn't want goblins breaking through a gate unguarded now, would we?" said Eanrin, pausing in the doorway. "Not like last time. Oh, wait! Whose fault was that?"He ducked before her inkwell struck. 
"Eanrin?" she called. "What's wrong?""Oh, nothing much," he replied. "Just lions and gore and fainted youths. The usual, you know." 
 I would keep going, but you really just need to read the book. XD

Foxbrush...was incredibly well done. How his story circled around was a delight to a reading writer, and I will say no more of it except that I much enjoyed it.
He grabbed his nose and caught the sneeze so that it burst angrily in his head and ears. "Um. Pardon me," he gasped, rubbing his eyes.
The woman stared at him. "Did you explode?" she asked.
He shook his head.
Her eyes narrowed. "I think you exploded."
In the darkness of this place under that midnight sky, Lionheart's face glowed. A glow of change, of growth, of life beyond anything Daylily had ever known or experienced. The closest thing to it she remembered seeing was in the face of a newly opened lotus flower just as the first breath of morning touched its petals. It had seemed to respond with a song of color and vibrancy that Daylily herself could not hear but could just barely see. It was a sight she hated, for she could not share it. And she hated it now in Lionheart's eyes. 
Her story is terrifyingly dark, and seeing the cost of refusing to listen when the Prince spoke...the result of fearing to surrender...was not pleasant. But seeing with it the patience and persistence of that Lord was a beautiful thing, no matter how her story went, and in the end, all was as it must be.
But she had known, even in that distant glimpse she'd had, that this person, this Man, was someone she must either love or hate. There could be no other response to him.
I think it is when the Prince of Farthestshore appears that I love the story most. The Tales of Goldstone Woods are not strict allegories, but they are pictures, and in the pictures I see myself and I see my Prince, and it challenges me to walk His paths wherever they lead me, no matter how much or how little I know, so long as I am obeying His voice.
"Let it go. Release the wolf into my care and keeping, and I will show you how the worst in you, all that you most fear, may be transformed. Let the worst be made the strongest, the truest, the best!"

In looking at what some other reviewers had to say about Shadow Hand, it seems the ones who did not like it were not expecting fantasy or were not expecting a book in the middle of a series. So be aware that is a beautifully complex fantasy world, and if you're expecting a breezy read before you fall asleep, this isn't it. And the richness of the intertwining stories is only increased by reading them all in order. (I haven't, and still loved it. But I can conceive of loving them all more were I to read them close together. XD) But if you're willing to take the time to enter Goldstone Wood and to explore the truth and beauty that awaits you...Shadow Hand is certainly one in the series that will well reward that time.

"Such is the truth of stories. It all comes back to blood and love in the end."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


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