Sunday, August 13, 2017

Youth Group Camping Trip // Zip-Lining + the Book of Daniel

~Day 1~

Wind poured through the windows as the bus flew down the highway.  The seats were full with over twenty teenagers, along their duffel bags and backpacks.  One boy blasted strange and annoying music from his phone in the back, making it even more difficult for my friends - A, B, C, and N - and I to tell weirdly hilarious stories via taking turns with sentences.  One of them involved unitigers (the offspring of a tiger and a unicorn), and another involved rats taking over the world because all the humans had moved underground.

Finally, we reached the state park and unloaded.  Unfortunately, the memory of that first day is a little foggy.  I'm almost certain we went swimming, after setting up tents and getting a bit settled, and I'm 100% positive we had our first Bible study from the Book of Daniel that evening.  A also showed us 300+ pictures from her previous trip out of the country, in our tent after dark when most everyone else was at the campfire eating s'mores.  Another of my friends, L, got annoyed at me (good-naturedly) because I wouldn't stop making sarcastic comments and then laughing hysterically at myself, which made B laugh hysterically as well.  

Eventually, poor A made it through the pictures.

~Day 2~

After morning devotions (taught by the eccentric youth counselor M) and breakfast, we went ZIP-LINING.  The highlight of the trip, if you ask me!  I had never been zip-lining before, so it was a new and surreal experience for me.  There were five lines total, all with varying speeds and views and lengths.  Looking down at how far away the ground was, one thing was certain.  If any of us fell... we'd be dead.

But I wasn't thinking about that.  During the first line, I looked out across the view as I zoomed by and shouted "I love You, Jesus!"  My voice was lost in the wind, so it wasn't like anyone else could hear me, though.  Except God :)  

One of the best places to see the Lord is out in the wild, in the nature.  Away from the distractions of technology and everyday life.  That's the purpose of the youth retreats we go on.  To escape for a few days.  We took advantage of the trip by having two Bible studies per day, as well as an early morning devo and assigned evening readings.  The stories in Daniel are well-known, but even after studying Nebuchadnezzar's dreams AGAIN, and the golden image story AGAIN, and the lion's den story AGAIN, God had new things to share, new lessons to teach.  He never runs out of things to say.  

via Pexels

Here are only a few of the notes I took from our Daniel studies, many of them little quotes from the pastor that he emphasized or that spoke to me.

My mind will convert my heart.

The bands of Babylon are always trying to entice me.

Having a relationship with God costs me time.  Something else is going to lose out.

~Day 3~

Team Royal Coffee
Team S.A.P. (Saved And Powerful)
Team Fro Breez (my team, because one of our teammates had an afro.  I did NOT suggest it, but it kinda just happened...)

And there were a few other teams, but I can't remember what they were called.  Anyway, the group divided into these teams for challenges.  We had a relay race in which each member of the team had to create a tower of cups with a base of six cups working up to one.  You had to put them all back in a stack before the next teammate could do it.  

We also did a really hard challenge in which each team had to create a stack of cups with a base of four.  The thing is, you couldn't use your hands.  Five strings were tied to a rubber band, and each member held the end of a string.  To make the tower, you had to work together to pull the band apart by pulling the strings and then slacken it once it was around a cup.  Lift the strings and balance the cup on the tower.  Pull the strings as one and carefully lift the band from around the cup.  If any cups fell off the picnic table - and some did - we had to somehow pick them up using the rubber band device.  No touchy.  

Does that make any sense?  If not, just realize that it was extremely difficult, requiring a lot of patience and team cooperation.

God decided to dump rain on us in torrents during our mini Amazing Race, which wasn't exactly convenient, what with all the running.  In flip-flops.  Up hills.  Then aaaaaallllll the way back to the campsite.  Team Fro Breez finished first for that particularly challenging challenge (whoop-whoop!), and in the end, we made second place XD  Right behind S.A.P. and right above Royal Coffee.

via Pexels

Nights around the campfire were fun, with guitar music and s'mores.  N and B always went to bed earlier, but C, A, and I liked to sit around the fire for a while.  One girl plays guitar a lot and has a really pretty voice, and she led us in "Came To My Rescue" and "Heaven Song" and "All My Tears."  Plus many more, but those are some of my favorites, and we sang them kinda frequently during this camp-out.

I called, and You answered
And You came to my rescue and I
Want to be where You are

       ~        

My soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can't wait to join the angels and sing
My heaven song

~

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home, and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

I could say more, but this post is long enough.  I'll be keeping this youth retreat tucked into my memory as an unforgettable experience, and I pray that the fruit from it endures throughout all the rest of our lives on this earth, both individually and as a close-knit group of young people on fire for Jesus.  Now I can't wait until next year's!

So, what about you?  Have you ever been on a youth retreat?  What was it like?  Where did you go?  Leave a comment or two!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Rebellious Writing Website is LIVE

Today I am ricocheting off the walls with excitement!!!  Why?  Because today marks the launch of a new website called... Rebellious Writing.


We believe
In light 
In truth
In goodness
We believe in tomorrow's generation
In creating a better world
Through words
Through books
We believe in fighting for what we believe
We believe in high expectations
That we are capable of anything we set our minds to
We the youth...
Believe in Rebellion
Rebellion for Righteousness
For light
For verity in a world of lies
For beauty in a world of darkness


Today.  Is.  The day.  The start of something special, enduring, and eternal.  *confetti and fireworks and thunderous applause*  

Friends, here is what I highly recommend you to do.  Go to rebelliouswriting.com and read our first post, then - if you like what you see - comment, follow, and share :D  The website will soon be filled with all sorts of bookish and writerly things!

The movement was founded by Gray Marie Cox.  Now eight other people have joined with her, including myself, and let me tell you something: it is a GREAT privilege to work with these ladies.  Soon, I'll be doing a post thanking each and every one of them for being such wonderful teammates and friends.  For now, I'll simply acknowledge the remaining seven :)


They're so amazing.

If you're a writer/reader and are tired of filthy YA, then we ask you to join us.  We need to speak up about this sometime, and tomorrow isn't promised, so we choose to lift our voices today.  Lord, make Your voice heard through us - Your sons and daughters, Your hands and feet.  Use us for a mighty work that pleases Your heart and gives You the glory.  

Hear are more places to click "follow," to help spread the word about Rebellious Writing!

NOTE: Gray made the lovely headers, and I copied Anna's format.  Forgive the weird whiteness...





https://plus.google.com/u/0/114959755765537963485







*sets off more celebratory fireworks*  Eep, guys, I can hardly believe the day has come!!!! XD


via GIPHY

Monday, July 24, 2017

YouTube Video + My First Official Hiatus

The time has come for us to rebel!  Check out this epic YouTube video announcing the launch of a website called Rebellious Writing on August 9th.  I'm super, super, super excited about it, and if this video doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will :D

I'm unable to embed videos at this time, unfortunately, but here's the link!

It's Time to Rebel ~ Rebellious Writing YouTube Video

Thanks, Catherine, for putting the time and effort into making it!!!

Also, I'm going to take my first official hiatus.  I say "official" because I've taken hiatuses before.  It's just that there were only three other people reading my blog (my mom and two of my best friends).  Now I have ALL YOU LOVELIES, and since I've been posting pretty much every four days, I would hate to disappear without saying anything XD

I'll schedule a post for August 9th, but it might not work because I remember trying to schedule one before and it never posted.  But we'll see!  If it does work, I'll reply to any comments on August 13th, when I return to the blogging world.  Until then, I won't be commenting on any of the blogs I regularly comment on, but I'll catch up on reading the posts I've missed once I get back.

I won't be replying to comments for this lil post either, but if you want to leave one, by all means do!  I'll see it when I come back, and it will still make me happy!

See you soon, O readers.
~ Lila Red

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Summer Fun Tag // Owl City + Whale Crackers

Welcome, everyone, to the Summer Fun Tag!  This lovely list of questions was created by Mikayla@Making Music for the Maker.  I was tagged by Gray@Writing Is Life.  Prepare to learn some strange things about me that don't relate to books or writing, for once.


1.  What's a nickname only your family calls you?

My dad likes to say my full name, except replacing my actual middle name with "Fred." It doesn't annoy me - he's been calling me that since forever :D

2.  What's a weird habit of yours?

This is going to sound really weird, but I tend to curl my top lip up so it touches my nose. That way I can smell my Chapstick  *everyone looks weirded-out*  What??  I like Chapstick!  And the cake batter one smells great.

I have tried to break this habit, but it's hard.  It just... happens.

3.  Do you have any strange phobias?

*beads of sweat gather on brow* It's an insect, but not just any insect.  It loves my basement and has long legs.  Whenever I try to kick at it, it jumps the exact opposite direction I want it to go - toward me!  They're terrifying beasts that are most likely hiding downstairs plotting my death and probably world dominance at this very moment.

They.  Are.  Invincible.

And they are camel crickets.

(If you've never seen one, I dare you to Google them.  They're hideously disgusting.)

4.  What's a song you secretly love to blast and belt out when you're alone?



*shouts over the loud music* I LOVE THIS SONG.

Click the red button.  Do it.  I've made it super easy for you to experience the awesomeness of Owl City right here, right now.  Then you shall know what I blast and belt on a regular basis.

Owl City is my jam, people.

5.  What's one of your biggest pet peeves?

Hashtags.  These days, you can have a normal conversation via hashtags only and it wouldn't be #weird.

BOB: #Hello #HowAreYou

LOIS: #Good #HowAboutYou

#HashtagsAreAnnoying

#Don'tWorry  #It'sJustMe

6.  What's one of your nervous habits?

Nail-biting.  It's a regular habit, but I bite them more viciously when I'm nervous.

7.  What's a YouTuber that always makes you laugh?

Blimey Cow!  Jordan and Josh are so annoying, and yet they're so funny.  Messy Mondays is great, but Jordan's Messyges are my favorite.

8.  What was your first stuffed animal, and what was its name?

Her name is Spotty, and she's a stuffed owl. (I'm holding her in my lap right now because I haven't given her much love the past, erm, five or six years.) I won her in a reading contest at my library a long time ago, and I hope she's grateful, because I chose her over a super cute stuffed husky dog.

9.  What's a drink you always order at Starbucks?

I never get anything at Starbucks.  Whenever we go, though, my mom always orders a chai tea latte.  ALWAYS.

10.  Do you have any weird body skills?

Well, I can curl my tongue.  That's about it.

11.  What's your favorite comfort food?

I never turn to food for comfort, but I do munch on Whale crackers a lot. *stage whisper* They're better than Goldfish.

Chocolate chip muffins, too.  You know, I'm really just answering this question as if it said, "What do you regularly snack on?"

12.  What is a phrase or exclamation you always say?

I used to say "I lurve it so murch" all the time, until I realized how stupid it was :D

13.  What did you use to wear that you would never wear now?

Pigtails.  My hair is curly and short-ish, and I used to wear it in bouncy pigtails for soccer games. Now I wouldn't dream of it.  For years now, my look has simply been jeans, a T-shirt, and a low, loose ponytail.  Clearly, I'm not big on fashion.

14.  What did you want to be when you were younger?

A singer, even though I knew it would never happen.  My sisters and I would strum tennis rackets like guitars while I sang songs I wrote myself.  We even had this pink toy microphone that makes your voice sound echoey. NOTE: I can't sing.

I would share some of the lyrics (I still know most of my songs by heart, unfortunately), except that the very notion of doing so horrifies me.  I think it's better for both our sakes that I keep it to myself :)

15.  How tall are you?

5 feet, 8 inches.  Last I checked, at least.

16.  What are five ways to win your heart/become a great friend?

1) Encourage me in the Lord.  I need friends who are on fire, so they can help keep my flame burning.
2) Love books. (obviously not required, but it's a relateability thing)
3) Be a writer. (same as above)
4) Be weird, and unashamed of it.  That way we can be weird together. (weird is the new norm, anyway)
5) Simply be there for me.  I'll be there for you.

I get to tag people!  Huzzah!

Catherine@The Rebelling Muse
Abi@If You Give a Girl a Blog
Penny@The Aspirations of a Teen Writer and Reader

And, like they always say, anyone else who wants to do it is 100% welcome to.  Have fun!

So, friends, talk to me.  I welcome any and all hobbits into this corner of the Shire (aka the comments section).  Take your time - while I wait, I'll just listen to Owl City and stuff my face with Whale crackers.

~ Lila Red

Sunday, July 16, 2017

REVIEW: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson


Published by Delacorte Press
Released on March 8, 2016

Goodreads Summary:

From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.
Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.
Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.
And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.
Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.

My Review:

Let's have a contest.  Out of setting, characters, and plot, which did I love best?

1st Place ~~ SETTING
2nd Place ~~ CHARACTERS
3rd Place ~~ PLOT

It was difficult to choose which was better: characters or plot.  But because the first 70 pages or so of The Secrets of Solace were just a little bit dull, I decided plot would get third place.

The world of Solace is amazing.  The author set it up so simply and yet so wonderfully.  We have three main lands - the Merrow Kingdom, the Dragonfly Territories, and the archivists' strongholds.  The Mark of the Dragonfly, the other book set in Solace, starrs an incredible heroine named Piper, a girl from the scrap towns in the Merrow Kingdom.  The Secrets of Solace starrs an equally incredible heroine named Lina, from one of the archivists' strongholds.  In Piper's story, we only receive little mentions of the mysterious strongholds, so I was excited to delve into this part of Solace.  And I wasn't disappointed.  The next companion novel, The Quest to the Uncharted Lands - which I haven't read yet but really want to - is set in the Dragonfly Territories.  Perfect :)

The characters are excellently developed.  Lina tends to eavesdrop, loves to hide, and deeply appreciates transportation via ventilation shafts.  Her parents died when a fever swept through the stronghold, and now she is pretty much on her own.

Ozben is a bit harder to describe, but some of the things that stand out about him are his sense of humor and his tendency to disobey orders if he doesn't like them.  That's a huge similarity between him and Lina - they don't like to listen.  To Zara, to Tolwin, to Nareen. They're pretty disobedient.  There is also a huge difference between them, but you can find that out by reading the book.  Go ahead.  Go read it.

The plot was amazing, too!  Once she meets Ozben around page 70, things get very, very interesting.  A hairless cat wreaks havoc in the stronghold.  Ozben almost gets killed. Ozben and Lina almost get killed together.  (Fun times.)  The Iron War takes a turn for the worse.  I can't say much because I don't want to spoil anything, but this should have intrigued you.

In terms of questionable content, there was none whatsoever.  The romance, if any, is so subtle and tame that I can't tell whether any romantic interest exists at all.  No bad words, no violence, no nothing.  It's 100% clean.  Yay!  Of course, it's considered Middle Grade, and Middle Grade is generally clean.  But you can't even trust children's books these days. Sad.   

Jaleigh Johnson is one of my favorite storytellers.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Secrets of Solace, and if you like fantasy and/or steampunk, then you'll enjoy it, as well!

And don't forget to read The Mark of the Dragonfly :D  It's even better than The Secrets of Solace!  I've read it twice, and one of these months, I'll be picking it up a third time.

So, have you read The Mark of the Dragonfly or The Secrets of Solace?  If so, did you like them?  If not, do you want to read them now?  Have you read any books under the steampunk genre?