On my trip in July to Arizona, my younger cousin talked endlessly about Veronica Roth’s young-adult science-fiction novel Divergent. Her wall was covered with print-outs stating, “I am selfish. I am brave. I am divergent.” At the time, I rolled my eyes. Yet another author had found a way to become famous; write an unrealistic teen drama and promise a coming sequel. J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins all did the same thing. This is nothing new. I made the mistake of reading Twilight (although I read the books before they were trendy), and I was not about to jump on another bandwagon.
A few weeks later, I found myself preparing for a bus ride to a volleyball game in Florida. I was promised 10 long hours with no internet connection, and I knew that the school work would run out eventually. I pulled up North Carolina’s online digital library and searched for an audiobook that could fill the time. For some reason, I downloaded Divergent.
One hour later, I was drawn into the story of Beatrice, a 16-year-old girl, who defied the laws of her city. In former Chicago, there is a caste system similar to that of India. However, rather than being stuck in the class into which she was born, Beatrice has the opportunity to choose her “faction” at age sixteen. She and all other sixteen-year-olds are even tested to help them make their decision. Beatrice has a problem, however. She was not selfless like her family members, so she could not stay with them in the Abnegation division. She was not knowledge-hungry like the Erudite. Because she was not truthful, she could not live with the Candor. She did not desire the peaceful life of Amity. To be factionless is synonymous with poverty, hopelessness, and death. Therefore, she sought initiation into the brave Dauntless faction.
This is where my love-hate relationship with the book began.
First, Beatrice “finds herself” rather than following in her family’s footsteps. She feels that her decision to leave Abnegation is disloyal to her family, but she does what she believes is best for herself. While a selfish decision was not necessarily improper in this case, Roth does seem to imply that this selfishness was an act of bravery.
Once Beatrice enters initiation by leaping from a moving train, she shortens her name to Tris and begins to question everything she has known. She rejects her dull gray clothing, her parent’s altruism, and her personal resolve. Although she gains her first true friend, Christina, she is often referred to as “Stiff,” and many of the other initiates are truly out to get her. The commencement process leaves no option but for her to be cruelly abused by those coming from other factions. I found myself cringing and twisting in the bus seat as Tris was kicked, punched, and degraded. Of course, Roth included the stereotypical enamorado, but I must wonder if teens would read a book lacking that facet.
There are positive things to be said of this book, however. Tris learns the importance of working together with both friends and enemies. Additionally, Tris strives to overcome her fears and extreme hardship for the good of her entire city. She learns that tradition is not always law. Realizing that the Dauntless leaders have forsaken the initial intent of the faction, she determines to not sit complacent. She risks her life to prove that the loudest voice is not always correct and power is not synonymous with excellence.
Madeline L’Engle said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Perhaps Roth wrote a teen novel because she has a message that the adult population is not ready to hear.
It’s hard, spherical, and simply in the way. What is it? A nectarine pit. But that solid lump can be put to good use for flavoring oatmeal. Here’s my quick recipe for nectarine-flavored oatmeal.
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1 cup water
- 1 nectarine (or 1/2)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tablespoon shredded coconut
- Bring water to boil
- Stir in oatmeal, vanilla, (up to) 1/2 of the nectarine, and the nectarine pit
- Return to boil
- Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until you are pleased with the consistency (approx. 5 minutes)
- Transfer to bowl and remove pit
- Top with remaining nectarine and coconut
- Eat and enjoy!
This might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. My schoolwork is caught up, I don’t have to go to work (because of a class conflict), and I have nothing to do until volleyball practice late tonight. Other than supper, I have three hours free. There are probably a ton of things I could be doing, but instead I’m just wasting time.
Ten Things I am Doing with My Free Afternoon
1. Sitting in the sunshine.
2. Window shopping for cars on Craigslist.
3. Planning Christmas presents (I like to work ahead :) )
4. Baking banana-oat cookies.
5. Going for a photography walk.
6. Scrolling through Pinterest.
7. Checking my calendar because I think I am missing something.
8. Daydreaming about my future. What will I do next?
9. Checking my mailbox for a package from Amazon. It came!
10. Writing a blog post.
What do you do with your free time?
Since the spring semester, I Thessalonians 4:3a has been one of my favorite verses. In fact, I wrote this post out of sheer excitement from finding the verse. “For this is the will of God,” it states, “even your sanctification.” Throughout the summer, I often quoted this verse to myself as a reminder that God is using circumstances in my life to make me more like His Son. After listening to class lectures on Romans 6, however, I have a slightly different perspective. I had been relying solely on God to conform me, but I must put forth some effort as well. Paul gives at least two actions the believer must perform in the act of sanctification.
Paul uses the term “reckon” in Romans 6:11 to mean “consider true.” As new creatures, we must consider it to be true that we are “dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:11). If we continue living in bondage to sin, we will never know true freedom in Christ. Paul writes in Romans 6:17a, “In the past, you were slaves to sin—sin controlled you.” If we do not change our mindset and consider it true that we are alive in Christ, we will continue to let sin control us.
After “reckoning,” the believer should “yield.” Romans 6:13 says, “…offer the parts of your body to God to be used in doing good.” In the past, we followed sin and did evil deeds. When we offer ourselves to Christ, we can “live only for God” (Rom. 6:19).
God does desire to conform us to the image of His Son. However, we must first change our mindset and freely offer ourselves to Him. Paul brings all these thoughts together in Romans 12:1-2 when he says, “I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to Him…Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you.”
This school year, I have taken on the supervisor position at the daycare. Instead of a clipboard, I now carry an armload of communication devices as I check in on the daycare teachers. I have a walkie-talkie, the daycare cellphone, and my own cellphone in addition to all of my keys and work ID. It was becoming quite difficult to run from one classroom to the next without dropping a piece of equipment.
My plan was to buy a cheap lanyard and carry everything around my neck. However, the store only had 3 lanyards in stock, I didn’t like any of the colors, and they all cost more than I was willing to pay. With a few quick snips and stitches, I made a lanyard that can hold my keys, walkie-talkie, and one of the cell phones (and I finished the whole thing while watching a science lecture for school).
(P.S. – Sorry for the lack of step-by-step pictures. This was made during my camera-less weekend at home)
- 1 piece of material cut 8 x 36 inches
- Keychain ring
- sewing machine
- Fold the piece of material in half length-wise (like a hotdog bun :) ) with the printed side facing in. Sew a straight stitch down the long side. Turn material right-side-out. Fold the ends over and sew a small seam.
- Fold the material in half length-wise again. Either way you fold it, the pattern will be facing out, but you may want your seams to be on the inside.
- Repeat step two.
- Thread keychain ring onto the long strap you have made. Overlap the two ends of the strap and sew together. This will form a loop.
- Pull the keychain ring down towards the end of the loop which you just stitched. Stitch again slightly above the ring.
- If desired, decorate your lanyard with buttons, pins, and bows.
- I put a carabineer on the keychain ring so that I can easily unhook my keys when I don’t need the lanyard. Also, I use a Vera Bradley Zip ID Case to hold corral my phone, keys, and work ID. To make your own ID Case, try this tutorial from Thimbleanna.
Every Wednesday, I start my day with a 7 o’clock science lab. I would probably come to dread these mornings if it were not for one thing: I get to make my own breakfast. You see, I am on a full meal plan, meaning that I have already paid for any food I eat in the cafeteria. Therefore, I get to cook for myself very rarely. On Wednesday, however, my class starts before the cafeteria begins serving breakfast. This means that I get to create my own beautiful breakfast every Wednesday. I love it.
Obviously, I do not get up early enough to fix a multi-course breakfast before class. My favorite thing to do is layer together a beautiful bowl of overnight oatmeal. This morning, I enjoyed delicious vanilla orange oatmeal. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Vanilla Orange Overnight Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
- 1 orange, peeled and cubed
- combine all ingredients in a jar or sealable bowl
- refrigerate overnight
- shovel it down as you head to a morning class
Top Ten Facts of Life
1. The Lord “protects our lives and does not let us be defeated.” Psalm 66:9
2. Reading in the bath tub with a cup of tea is a restful way to spend a cold, snowy night.
3. Bananas should never, ever be thrown away. Freeze them, make cookies, bake muffins, cook pancakes, just don’t waste them!
4. Thrift store clothes are more classic and durable than cheaply-made mall clothes.
5. A day is incomplete without oatmeal. Here, try a recipe!
6. Running clears the mind, and nothing feels better than the sweet soreness after a hard workout.
7. There is never an appropriate reason to wear socks or tights with sandals.
8. Eating peanut butter straight from the jar is a satisfying fix for a rough day.
9. No one in the world can calm me like my family. They will always listen to me when I need them, and they give me great advice. They can make me laugh when I am frustrated. I would be miserable without them.
10. If you don’t write it down, you will forget it.