"Wildness was ever sounding in our ears, and Nature saw to it that besides school lessons and church lessons some of her own lessons should be learned, perhaps with a view to the time when we should be called to wander in wildness to our heart's content"     -John Muir

All is trying to maintain a state of equilibrium. Cutting through the granite of this once glacier filled valley, the Merced River follows its course that it has been pursuing for the past thousand years. It further partakes in the shaping of the landscape that was carved by the great glaciers that first called the valley home. Looking over the swift river, the undulating waves bring water to the shore and wet the plants. Spider web branches release twigs and leaves into the current and take their passengers to their far off destinations. The winds bring down more sticks and branches, the birds stop singing, the waters take up a dark color, reflecting the angry clouds above. Finally, the first drops rain down, observed only by their thumbprint ripples. What was once a tranquil river has transformed into a rushing torrent of water influenced by the storm’s winds that wash away any lingering memory of the sun. As the storm rages above the water, down in its depths, creatures hardly take notice. They go about their day skimming the bottom, a daily quest for their next meal. And almost as soon as it starts, it ends with a fulgent flash of the sun, penetrating through the clouds like a needle bringing radiance to all. The melodies of the birds awaken the river, signaling all who can hear that the storm is over. Once more the river is at peace.

A plant picking morning turned into a photo of my roommate which then became a full blown photo shoot. The following is a collection of dear friends that I made during the school year who have modeled Christ to me through their patience, love, laughter, and willingness to support wherever my creative endeavors take me. Not only do they try all the foods that I make but they come up to my apartment at my first call and let me put plants all over them. Being only covered in products of the sun, I watched through my iphone lens as their bodies transformed into art. Here's to so much God given beauty, the power of trusting friends, and the best kind of accessory. 

I am so grateful for my roommates who put up with me and the endless things I put our apartment through. I clock in a lot of hours in the kitchen and do so in a hurricane like fashion, I rearrange things and never ask if they are okay with me doing so, and I constantly bring in sticks, leaves, and really anything on the ground. 

I had a bundle of sticks lying around since my fall semester and the other day I thought it would be so great to do something with them. I really do not have time to spare on things other than homework, but in true Jocelyne form, when I get an idea, that is all I can seem do. Plus, I have been living by this mantra, that we should all take time to rest in our passions. So I, now feeling better about how I spent my afternoon, give you this super simple wall hanging. 

What you will need:
  • Leaves or any kind of foliage that you wish to hang. Get a little wild and go climb a tree or dig around outside! 
  • Sticks! Really, go climb a tree, or snag some branches from a bush. Easy.
  • Some string. I used some cotton twine and some thread (pictured below).
  • Scissors

First tie the bundle of sticks together, tie a knot on one end and then tie a knot on the other end, be sure to leave enough twine between the knots to hang the piece up. 

Next tie the foliage to the sticks, you can tie them at any length. I did mine longest to shortest, but any order would look great!

Lastly, find a fun place to hang it! This is a really lite wall hanging, so any kind of hanging device should work. I cannot use nails here, so I used some wall putty, which from a distance looks like it could be a white tack. 

And that's it! Happy makings! 

*For the past few weeks I have been sitting here trying to work up the courage to publish this post. After watching the Tank Man video which covers the Tainanman Square events in June 1989 I learned the story behind the iconic "Tank Man" image and found the push that I needed to publish this post. This is the perfect example that portrays the power of the many and more specifically the power of ONE. There is a link to the Frontline "Tank Man" video at the end of this post. And, as usual, I welcome comments and other ideas, so feel free to leave any comments. (The below image is not my own)

Whenever people mention politics or politicians the most common response that I hear is "oh I hate politics," and I completely understand why people say that. In their minds politics relates to greed, red tape, long lines, fancy suits, long speeches, taxes, a laundry list of things that never get checked off, and a far off hand of power that slowly moves things around. Something that we rarely consider is that politics is in our daily life. I don't mean the obvious experiences with government like when you go to the dmv, get pulled over for speeding, or like now when everyone is figuring out their taxes (thanks, Dad). I'm talking about the politics in our daily life and relationships; how we interact with people and keep order.

On my way home from school for spring break my roommate and I raced to downtown LA so I could catch the Megabus (really great bus for really low prices) I was running late! I arrived a few minutes before it was scheduled to leave so while running through the station, I only paused for a brief moment to sacrifice my recently purchased Latte that was spewing out all over the place. But, I made it just in time! I was the last one to board the bus and hunkered into my little seat. I looked around as slyly as I could to get acquainted with everyone and then buried myself in a book. Little did I know that this group of travelers will be my political community for the next 6 hours. 

We stopped at the Burbank station to pick up a few more people that had to scavenge around for open seats. One man climbed on board the two decker bus and stopped at the first floor that was outfitted with two tables and four chairs near the driver and then a few other rows of chairs lined up behind them. Two women were occupying the table on the left and three young men were at the table to the right (and I was seated in the first row behind the table to the right). The man put his large bag down in the middle of the aisle and asked one woman (with a laptop and her things spread among the table) if she would let him in. The man did not know that this woman had already claimed her territory and that there would be no room for another traveler. She stood up for him but then promptly changed her mind; deciding that she did not have to give up her territory. She began to say things like "sir, no, you are going to make us (referring to the other woman at the table) uncomfortable for 6 hours. You can't sit here." 

The man "you can't be so selfish, I would like to sit here and use this table." 

"No, Sir. You can't sit here. I do not want you to sit here. You are not nice." 

"I just would like to sit here. I have a breakfast that I would like to eat at the table." 

"No, there are other seats and plenty of other places for you. You cannot sit here; you are being very rude to me." 

Then one of the young men from the table to the right, joined in, "hey, get your f-ing bag off of me! Do not touch me. Go sit somewhere else!" 

The man in shock sat down at the table in the vacant seat across from the woman and responded "do not speak to me that way, I was not bothering you. I have a breakfast that I want to eat here at the table, and if she would just scoot over a little, then I can."

The back and forth continued a few more times, and the woman, really wanting her space, was not going to back down. 

"Sir. No! You cannot sit here. You are very mean. Do you want me to get the driver involved? Please leave!"

The man continued his defense and then the driver stepped on board, "Driver, this man is bothering us (now referring to the profane young man at the table to the right, her only noticeable ally) “we do not want him to sit here, make him move." The man started to state his case to the driver and the driver looking around, trying to gauge the situation, simply responded that the seating was first come first serve and that he would have to move. 

The man was in disbelief, "I just want to sit at this table. I want to eat my breakfast. I only asked for her to move her computer over some so I can have a little space." 

The woman "Sir, if you do not move I am going to have to call the police. You are harassing us and keeping us from getting on the road." 

The driver, "sir you can move or get off." 

The man weighing his slim options, conceded and went to the second level where there are no tables, but "a lot of space" so he should be happy with that, right?

I am typically the kind of person that would speak up if I see injustices, there have been numerous occasions when I find myself marching across a parking lot to tell some people to pick up their garbage that they tossed out of their window. If someone is being bullied or picked on, I don't shy away and step in. This man was not asking for a lot, he just wanted some table space so he could eat his breakfast. And I don't think that someone should expect when choosing to sit at a table for four that no other person would like to sit there as well. But, I didn't say anything; I pretended not to be bothered by what was unfolding in front of me. Even with all of the ridiculousness of the young man's profanity. 

In that confrontation I was, once again, made aware of the systems we put ourselves in every day. There is some authority figure be it the law, police, judges, or a bus driver. There are always some people getting their side, or more importantly their rights, ignored, and some people turning the situation around to make it seem like the one losing the right is actually the bad guy. As a regular member of our bus population I had a role to play. I could be a peace keeper, a justice fighter, or a truth teller, and the real trouble is being all of those things at once. The situation was looking hostile. Could I have calmed the situation down by joining in, or was I going to make things worse and escalate it all? It's hard to tell. My friend asked if it all got settled in a dance-off, and I wish it had because that would have at least kept our little political system just. 

Looking at the situation now and my role in the whole thing, I realize that I probably didn't do anything because I thought it was fine and over and that in 6 hours I won't be a member of this traveling community. But, my silence, although it can be argued kept the situation from escalating, it also let the injustice live on and fester inside me and taint our bus community. 

Politics are an unavoidable part of community because we are always living and working among people and in various relationships. From family political systems to school and office systems, order is always established. The authority figure has the duty of solving any problem and the power of having the final say. So we are told. I do believe that the rule of law has the final say, but if there is injustice being upheld by an authority figure then people should stand up and fight the situation. 

Some people are just not given a chance; they get picked out and chosen beforehand, by a population that has power. The woman in the bus picked the outcast of the group, the profane young man seconded her, and the driver solidified it. If we look at the political systems in our daily life can we find people in our population that are being pushed aside? Maybe it's a family member, a group of people belonging to a religion, a group of students; maybe it is homeless people, prisoners, laborers, or people of a specific race. Or, maybe it isn't people at all; maybe it is animals and the earth that you notice. 

I must make it clear that it was not the woman, the young profane man or the bus driver that decided the status of the out casted man. His place in our traveling community was decided by the rest of the population, because we in our silence agreed to it. We, as members of communities, must remember our power to lift people up and tear people down, both with our words and action as well as our silence and inaction. If there is a cause that you feel is tugging at your heart then talk about it. If you notice someone being bullied then be a difference maker in your political system and stand up for him or her. If you feel like you need to give more respect to an authority figure then do it. We are all members of both small and large political systems, and we can make a difference in all of them. One vote, one dollar not spent on something, one act of standing up, all makes a difference.

Do you relate more with the woman, the man, the young profane man, the bus driver, or the general population? If we acknowledge our place in our different systems we can begin to grow more aware of the power that we have on other people both in our immediate relationships and on people that we have never met. 

*Click here for the video and story behind the "Tank Man" 
We all do not need to become Tank Men, rather we can draw from his courage, his frustration, and his desire for change in our every day life. 

In the New Testament, some form of the word fast is used 20 times. The original Greek word was Nesteuo (νεστευο):
to abstain as a religious exercise from food and drink: either entirely, if the fast lasted but a single day, or from customary and choice nourishment, if it continued several days.

Nowadays the act of fasting has been extended to activities such as going to parties, being on the phone too much, or even reading. For the past few weeks a friend and I have been having breakfast together to catch up and to have time with God. We’ve been reading out of My Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers and praying over what his daily devotionals have been giving us. Out of this has come our desire to start fasting more. About two weeks ago we decided to have our first fast: to abstain from reading for a day. We had come to the conclusion that we spend too much time reading books for enjoyment and not enough time in the Word. Let me just say that we did not do so well. Yes, we did keep our fast, but instead of turning towards God when we felt the desire to pick up a book, we turned towards other ways of keeping us entertained. We didn’t grasp the meaning of a fast. So this past week after we had a week to talk openly about our first fast and how we didn’t truly understand it, we decided to try again. This time we would fast from all forms of social media for three days. Obviously we aren’t doing anything drastic, but we are choosing things that are distracting us from God, things that are making us forget about his love, glory, and grace. At times it was difficult; you don’t really realize how often you go to Facebook, Instagram, or Buzzfeed, until you aren’t supposed to. It had become such an instinct of mine to immediately open those apps. I started to realize that the times I was about to go onto one of these platforms, I was just trying to kill time out of boredom. Whenever I would catch myself in those moments I would flip open my Bible app, or put my phone away completely and just spend time with Jesus. It is astounding how the majority of what I do is just to fill time, to stave off boredom. That is not ok. I should not be trying to just get through the day, because all that leads to is tomorrow. How mundane and depressing would life be if it was just moving from one day to the next until your death? If these morning devotionals and talks have enlightened me on anything, it would be how gracious God is. I've begun to take notice and thank God for everything he does for me, and let's face it, he does practically everything for me, from waking me up in the morning, to allowing me to meet amazing and kindhearted people, and ultimately saving me daily from myself.  His absolute, unyielding love is incomprehensible. I understand now that I not only need to, but that I desire to spend more time with my amazing God. 

One evening during my winter break my boyfriend asked me what we wanted to do for the night and one of the options that he gave me was to do crafts! Like, we can do crafts together??!!! YES boyfriend, let's do a craft! (Ladies, get a man that loves to make things with you!!) So he asked me what kind of craft I wanted to do, I acted like I did not know for a few minutes, but really, I knew what I wanted to do. I have been loving so many floral wallpapers lately and for a while had the dream to make one for my apartment, but I had not figured out what I wanted it to look like, all I had was an idea, and a rough vision. So, when Zac said crafts, all I could think about was this wallpaper dream. I wanted it to be portable and sturdy, so I can take it when I move out of my apartment. While he was searching his mind for craft ideas, I began to piece together mine. A large floral patterned tapestry all painted by hand. Then I blurted it out to him in a jumbled mess of excitement. He, being the sweet man that he is, said "Yes, let's do it!" 

We zipped over to the hardware store (my favorite kind of craft store!) and bought a large 6 x 9 foot sheet of painters drop cloth canvas, and hurried back home. I was ready to dive right in, but Zac, a real organized artist gathered some thick paper, an X-acto knife, and a cutting board and pronounced that he was going to make a stencil. I am so BLESSED--was all I kept thinking while he worked long and diligently to cut out all the flowers and leaves of our design (inspired by one of my favorite brands--Rifle Paper Company). The stencil was finally ready and we had time to paint one panel, so we did, and I fell in love

The pattern looked great and the colors were just what I had imagined! I wanted to finish the whole thing right away... but sleep... so it would have to wait. The next evening I went to Zac's and we continued to work on it. We finished a 3 x 3 section and were feeling proud of ourselves until we opened up the whole canvas and realized how much more we had left to do. My realistic Zac began to think of ways to make this process quicker, like painting the panels in a checkered pattern to cut the painting down by half, I gave him an ehhhhh kind of look, then he said, "what if all the blank panels were filled in with vines?" I nodded and pretended to really consider his idea knowing, however, that I really wanted it ALL painted--my stubbornness won out. I had more free time than him during the day (no school or anything) so I took the canvas home with me to work on and boy was Zac right to consider other options. Remember when I thought that the stencil took forever to make? Well that was nothing compared to the painting step. I loved it, but my goodness, it sucked a lot sometimes. About three weeks after we started--when I was back at school--I finished it all and just in time. Zac came to visit me last weekend to celebrate our Anniversary, and we were able to completely finish it by hanging it up in my kitchen. 

This huge painting makes me think of my last year with Zac; the start of it all being so exciting and the two of us imagining the final product with hopeful and moderately naive eyes. Then after a while realizing that it is a big task and that it is not going to be a fast or easy road to the finish; that it is going to be a lot of work, that sometimes we will feel the urge to cut corners and settle to make it easier for us to continue, and that our stenciled plans may clog up and make things blurry and alter our pattern. But, holding onto the feelings that we had in the beginning; the hopeful excitement when we imagined what it would look like when we finished, and remembering our purpose, made us able to push through the frustration and resist the short cuts that we really knew would not make the painting as beautiful as we imagined. When we hung up our project on our anniversary and took a step back we felt so much joy and accomplishment--WE DID IT! 

Alas, our real project goes on, and it will never be finished, but everyday we are adding a little bit more to our painting; making it more beautiful, and just as God intended. I love you very much, Zac, and I pray that we may never run out of paint.

Lately, one topic has been overwhelming my mind. Each time I open my Bible and read from it, I feel as if I have been hit by a wall. This prevailing theme that has consumed my every waking moment and brings me to tears is GRACE.

Grave: (noun) unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; mercy; pardon.

The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15) gets me every time. As I read it I recognize everything I am in the younger son. See the younger son completely turn his back from his father, who had given him everything he had asked for. He took the gifts and threw them away. How many times have I turned away? If you were to reread my ‘Jesus Notebooks’ you’ll find them riddled with me pleading day after day, week after week, month after month. One morning I would wake up and see that I had not even given a thought towards God in what seemed like forever. I would immediately open my notebook and see that that last time I had written to him had been a plea, I was asking him to forgive me for forgetting about him. I had gotten into a cycle of desperately writing for two days, asking God for forgiveness, and then after those two days I would stop. I would forget again. I would take his mercy and grace and walk away. BUT, each time I would do that, he would be waiting for me, always right next to me, waiting for me to remember. What patience, what love he has for someone as insignificant as me to wait.
When I really look into this parable, I do see a mirror reflection of myself in the younger son, but what strikes me more, what hurts the most, is that I am also the older son. He sees the Father forgive his brother without a second thought. He hears everyone rejoicing that his younger, selfish brother had returned. His self-righteousness consumes him; he asks the servants what is happening. He decides to NOT take part in the celebration. Why should his brother who had done nothing receive a party and his father’s forgiveness, while he, the one who was faithful, receives nothing? Now I am far from being faithful, I just told you that I am constantly choosing the crooked path, but I am constantly seeking the answers as to why I have not received anything, when I walk straight. When I do return, I look and see others who are lost; who might have turned away for a second and I judge them. When they return it seems that they receive a party. My self-righteousness takes over. I turn towards others and ask them what is happening; I turn toward myself and become resentful towards them. I don’t go to God and ask or pray for them. I talk about them. I am selfish. I am mean. I never recognize that God was celebrating every time I had returned. I was too caught up in how others were being rewarded that I didn't see my own party happening alongside theirs. I didn't realize that my Father had been rejoicing in me my whole life, even when I had turned. 

Everything became about me. It is not I who brings me back. It is God’s amazing grace that redeems me, his unending mercy that calls me back and reconciles my broken self to his astounding beauty.

This beautiful song by Josh Garrels always moves me to tears and prayer. Not enough can be said about its amazing ability to bring the most righteous person to their knees and seek the abounding grace of our Father. I ask you to meditate over this song as often as possible.