Cognitive Champagne (Thought Bubbles): Impressionism and Bouguereau

Kel-logs

Another glimpse into the mind of Morgen B…

I stumbled onto the artwork of William Adolphe Bouguereau this afternoon and was struck by a thing or two. First- I really dig his style. I also think my sister looked like a lot like a Bouguereau painting when she was little, but maybe only for the brooding expression and beautiful hands.

Little Girl, William Adolphe Bouguereau Little Girl, William Adolphe Bouguereau

After finishing the Honors 200 Humanities sequence last semester and very briefly studying impressionistic art, I had a thought that Kelly enjoyed. I believe the way I phrased it was, “I wish my life was an impressionist painting”.

And what I think I meant at the time was that I wish my life had that vibrant, rosy glow of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party or The Seine at Asnières. There is something about the detail of each little stroke in impressionism that makes…

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what’s in a name

All of Jacob’s life, he had been a wrestler.

He wrestled with Esau over the birthright blessing. With Isaac his father. He wrestled between Rachel and Leah, not choosing either, creating a face off between them. And finally, he wrestled with God himself.

They wrestled all night long.
That’s a long time.
Jacob wins, but then his hip is set out of socket by one touch. He was allowed to prevail.
Why? Because the goal was to bring about a new life for Jacob and bless him.
“God wins” –> that’s the Bible.
God wins by losing.
That’s the theme of the whole Bible.
Jesus’ death, Paul’s life and death in prison. Yet two of the most talked-about figures in history, still.

The picture is this:
Jacob on the ground, holding onto the man’s leg saying, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
How ridiculous.
The man asks his name, not because he didn’t know, but because Jacob’s name is a shame to him. Every time someone asked, “what’s your name?” — he was forced to answer, “The liar. The deceiver.” And he always lived up to the title.

God blesses him anyway – “Your name shall no longer be Jacob.”
He gives him a name that’s powerful, honorable.
In the same way, we deserve to be crushed by God. But he takes us and renames us. He was in the presence of God — and his life was spared.
Jacob, just like us, was fearful of the wrong things.
We should only fear standing in front of God and saying, “my name is Jacob.”

The amazing thing is that God says, “your name is not Jacob. Your name is Israel.”
Israel – the one who has overcome with God.
And that’s what it means to be the people of God.

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This is from some old sermon notes I found this morning, so I really can’t take credit. I don’t remember who gave the talk but I liked it a lot.

Why I Don’t Fangirl

I wrote this piece for BSU Daily but due to some complications it never ran. Thought I’d post it here instead. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Why I Don’t Fangirl

FANGIRLING!

Okay, so I did fangirl ONCE.

A while ago my favorite choral composer came to Ball State and held a concert, and although I am not often prone to freaking out about the Famous Ones in our society, this time I felt something shift inside. Perhaps it was a barrier of pride or some other dysfunction. But this was ERIC WHITACRE, for goodness sake. So I let my affected little barrier drop for a moment, and I let myself get excited. Like, REALLY excited. I teared up as he conducted the most beautiful-sounding choir I’d heard in years, sat rapt, taking notes over his speech and the Q & A, and then (GASP) I stood in line and I got to meet him. I hugged him! I asked for his autograph, and as he signed, I rambled about how thankful I was that he had graced the earth with his presence, that he was a lovely person, inspiring us all to be better artists, and all-in-all managed to look like the biggest bumbling fool.

Yep. Me and Whitacre.
Yep. Me and Whitacre.

And you know what? I don’t regret a thing. However, after I danced home on a fluffy, sparkling cloud of happiness and dreams and adrenaline and inspiration, I began to look back and wonder what the heck had gotten into me. I mean, I don’t fangirl. Normally.

 

Throughout life I’ve held the opinion that famous people aren’t worth getting more excited over than other people. Maybe that sounds fun-sucker-ish to you. Whatever. I’ve had the occasional impulse, but reason just kept me from full-out fangirling. Being a singer myself, I’ve always said, “why is someone more important just because they can make a pretty sound come out of their throat?” Of course I have people, other artists, whose work I appreciate immensely… my uh, “artist crushes,” as I call them. 😉 But since they usually aren’t in the media spotlight, I don’t have regular opportunities to realize the extent of my affection.

 

So when one of my artist crushes actually came around, I was caught off guard. Something unexpected rose up inside, exclaiming, “This is different! Yes, this person is unquestionably worth freaking out about.” That fangirling power swirled and swept me away, like it does for so many people in our society. But after the rush of adrenaline had passed, the crowd’s collective behavior (and my own) brought the questions surrounding this issue bubbling back to the forefront of my mind.

 

Why does his talent give him more worth? Is it his work, or his charismatic personality that we admire? Why do we collectively long to praise his holy hairstyle?

 

Sitting in the audience, I felt like I was floating in a sea of inconsequential peons gazing up at his charm, grace, and genius. In all reality, some of the most talented people I know were floating in that crowd with me, destined to do great things. But because Eric was already successful, we treated him with increased respect, enjoyment and generally chose not to search for any possible flaws. I’ll be the first to say, it would appear he has none. But I know in the back of my brain that he’s just another human, and has only worked hard to follow his natural gifting and passions.

 

Unintentionally, I had been engaging in this societal mindset of being extremely selective in who we treasure. But what deems a person special enough to receive this treatment? Why don’t we treat each person with such enthusiastic respect? We tend to observe people around us in a more judicial, intimate way. We see both their strengths and their weaknesses. We are annoyed by their weaknesses, in spite of their positive attributes. And subconsciously we think, “Surely Eric Whitacre or Jennifer Lawrence or Ellen Degeneres would never do something as downright stupid as that person.” But they probably would, and we readily ignore that fact.

51539-Jennifer-Lawrence-meme-9WDa

Let’s imagine that there exists a “fangirling intensity scale.” It’s good to have role models, and it’s good to express admiration to people whose professional work has had a positive effect on your life. It’s good to be inspired. That’s still the green zone. But if we’re honest, this is not what fangirling typically looks like in our society. America is in the red zone of the scale; it looks like keeping up on celebrities’ lives more than the lives we come into contact with every day, obsessing over what they say and what they wear, feeling less special than the ones in the spotlight. But the question remains: is that person truly more special? I believe the answer is no.

 

Each person is exceptional for some reason or another, mostly just for being a bundle of atoms miraculously held together by a delicate balance of chemical reactions. What if we fangirled, just a little, about every person in our societal networks? Esteemed them just because they have their passions and talents, even if they’re only in the potential-success phase instead of the real-success phase, or if they never achieve what the world deems as success. It doesn’t make sense to support people because they’re already awesome; let’s support people so they can be awesome.

 

It’s fun to support the talented people in the spotlight, but as I move forward after my only true fangirling experience, I’m rethinking how I distribute my affections. I think I’ll reclaim my original stance, with a little amendment: people are not intrinsically more important if they have a special talent. Fangirling over celebrities just because they are famous is still not my thing. However, I’m not ready to give up fangirling just yet. I want to go through life cherishing and enjoying everyone I come into contact with as if they are a living, breathing miracle. Because truly, that’s what they are.

 

 

birthday prayer.

June 3rd, 2014: the last day of my 21st year of life.
Thank you, Lord, for another year.
Thank you that you designed the cosmos and the universe and everything unseen. Thank you that it’s beautiful and mysterious, a lot like life.
Thank you that I have nothing to fear in heaven or on earth because you are for me.
Thank you for creating me in your image, with more beauty and glory than I realize, just because I’m human.
Thank you for giving me free will, but then having a plan for me. You knew I’d one day discover how little I actually know.
Thank you for the gift of creativity, I sense that it goes much deeper in me than I realize.
Thank you for the family and friendships you’ve given me, and all the life experiences it can look back on, shared with good people.
Thank you for giving me moments and days of clarity, but also teaching me to walk by faith by keeping my vision foggy the majority of the time. This way I have to follow you closer.
Thank you for sober judgment of myself in those clear moments; for the grace to see my imperfection and yet feel accepted in your presence.
Thank you for all forms of grace, especially for that form that is Jesus, the divine ingenuity that led to my salvation.
Thank you for life purpose to live and love out of, constant companionship, fulfillment that is only lacking when I fail to take hold of it.
Thank you for your provision daily, your provision in tight places, your provision in adventure, your provision in travel, your provision in sorrow, and your provision in joy. Your provision is always enough, and most times, in excess.
Thank you for sunsets, for orchids, for public transportation, for colors, for laughter, for yoga, and thank you for expression.
Thank you for teaching me the value of gratitude, the depths of which I still don’t know, and I ask that you continue to teach me what a life of gratitude looks like.
Bless this next year with your peace, and allow me to live out of the power and love that is in the name of Jesus. Year 22, #leggo !

Love you Lord, thanks for loving me first, help me to love you more.
Amen

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an open letter from a Christian almost-grad

When I was young and imagined post-college life, I never imagined it would look like this. 

 

I thought I’d have things figured out, probably be engaged or securing a stable job. As a freshman in college I wanted to be a teacher. I figured my course of action would be pretty straight forward from there. Even as my career goals changed to pursuing musical theatre, the obvious career moves followed. But things changed again, and it was then that things began to get muddy. I settled on a major I absolutely loved, Art History, but wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. No matter, I wanted to do “full-time ministry” anyway (whatever that actually means, since my life is a testament to God’s grace regardless). I’ve been completely content living in the unknown, believing that God would direct me. 

 

I still live expectantly waiting on God, and even as he has put options in my path, even as I’ve pursued things hoping to find something that sticks, he’s still been letting me live in the suspense of awaited application statuses and unresolved opportunities.

To be honest, I’m trying not to let it kill me. 

 

I hate when people ask what my post-grad plans are, and I have to say I don’t know

I hate when my mind drifts to the myriad possibilities; the anxiety that follows. 

I hate how equally excited I get about each new idea, and realizing how fickle I actually am. 

 

Y’all can tell me “trust God,” in as many ways as you want. I will keep trying, and I will keep being sinful. I will keep on being shown grace. The reality is, though, I really didn’t think that when I got here in life, four weeks before graduation, that I’d be so muddled and confused. It’s just not like me. I always have a plan. But I’m writing this because I know I’m not alone. 

 

GUYS — real life is scary. You can have all the greatest ideas of what you want to do, you can believe that there’s no such thing as real failure, and you can have faith that God will not let you somehow accidentally throw your life away. But nothing is really guaranteed. For me personally, I gave my life to Jesus when I got baptized. Looking out over the precipice of graduating college is like preparing for a free fall – He could literally take me anywhere from here! He could even let me become, *gasp*, a NOBODY (by the world’s standards of success). It’s a nail-biter. I have to fight daily to lay my life in God’s hands, even though I continually snatch it back. Bottom line is: I have desires and ideals, but my life will still go the way He wants it to. It will glorify Him regardless, but I’m selfish and I struggle to trust.

 

Granted, I knew what I was doing when I gave my life to God and I have absolutely no reason not to trust his judgement. He has literally never failed me before. He’s a faithful God. It’s all over scripture, and I find comfort in this. I know that if I walk close with Him, He will use me and put me in situations where I can be helping and loving others, using my creative talents in a way that glorifies Him. He gave me my desires for a reason. But I hardly trust myself to walk perfectly with God, I’m sinful, I forget to remind myself of His faithfulness, and I have days where I freak out and the question lingers, “what if I choose the wrong path?” So I wait for a clearer nudging. Because it will come, it always does. But naturally I will look insane to society who does not think that listening for God is “productive.” 

 

I guess this pressure comes from feeling like I have to choose a path RIGHT. NOW. I felt that same pressure at the end of high school but it wasn’t impending. These last few weeks, though, it’s getting real. It feels like the public eye is on me and all other college seniors: “what will you do next?” I suppose the people-pleaser in me wants to make everyone proud. Do something crazy-great right out of college. Be a prodigy or something. I even applied to grad school, even though I’m not sure that’s right for me just yet. But really: if I drift for a while, which is probable at this point, it’s not because I don’t have aspirations. It’s because this life is huge and crazy and full of opportunity, and I’m just not ready to choose a path yet. I’m more likely to end up being a freelance writer, artist, yoga teacher, travel writer, just because of who I am… but that’s not really what I had always envisioned. It’s not the prescribed life that will make lots of money that my family envisions for me. I’m coming to terms with that, and I think we should all be a little more okay with it. All of you other 20-somethings in the same boat, yeah, you too. We have to give ourselves a little more grace to freak out, and maybe flounder a bit. 

To quote Tara Stiles, “Who made the rules?” 

 

And I guess those are my thoughts on that. #endrant 

21 Year Old Millennial Discovers “the News”

Selfie Tuesday! (Did I do that right?)
Reflecting on my relationship with miss iPhone.

So I did something a few days ago that seems radical, a real shocker in our culture today.

 

I deleted my Facebook app.

And I downloaded a news app.

*gasp*

 

Unless you are a rogue social media-abstainee, you most likely have similar “optimal phone scrolling times” throughout the normal school day in which you normally check Facebook and Twitter. I know I do. The above pictured phone is with me almost every hour of the day. However, this week has been different for me:

 

While eating breakfast, I learned that the UN and Syria aren’t on the best terms.

Before class, I read Obama’s statements about marijuana legalization.

While pooping (oh come on, we all do it), I read that 26 people were killed yesterday from a bombing in Baghdad.

I could have read an (admittedly enjoyable) article like “40 Most Awkward Dogs of 2013,” but instead I was exposed to the rest of the world.

 

This morning (yes, while still on the toilet) I found myself considering tweeting the news about Baghdad… this stuff is happening and we don’t even care?!? Our primary awareness is about snow and school cancellations??? I must share this gross misplacement of concern! It was so obvious in the moment. But then I felt an imaginary critic laughing at me. This was a person who DID regularly read the news, and scoffed at my amazement. In any other generation, or any other country for that matter, my impulse to share this phenomenal feeling of being connected with the rest of the world is just silly.

 

Perhaps my imagined critic is only a past version of myself. Truth be told, these days I only occasionally watch or read the news. However, when I was in Spain, we watched the news at every meal. It was then I learned how to be globally-minded. I actually thought I’d never stop being informed about goings-on worldwide. It seemed ridiculous to not know. But then.. I stopped knowing. I got sucked into America’s self-centric mindset, which is actually just us being naïve, and I stopped watching the news. We have it on sometimes in our apartment, but the typical Millennial doesn’t really know what’s happening in other countries, and I stopped knowing, too.

 

Then, this week I’d had enough with social media. I appreciate the way that these platforms transcend states and oceans so I can reach out to people I love in other places. I even appreciate that anyone can post their perspective or share their life, but I think we’re all feeling the way both of these things have gone a leetle overboard.

 

So I was annoyed. I impulsively deleted my Facebook app and haven’t regretted it. I thought, I’ll find a “scrolling-replacement.” Because let’s be honest, those optimal scrolling times will continue to be scattered throughout my day. I’ll probably try and stop the phone-in-the-bathroom thing after all the real and imagined criticism I’ll receive from this post (well, no I won’t), but regardless… the point is I don’t stay on Instagram and Twitter  long enough to take up all my usual iPhone perusal time. I thought I’d fill that time with something better.

 

I typed “news” into the search bar in the App Store and scanned my options. I chose BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) because they stream short articles and videos about every country worldwide (see, even our American news channels don’t extend that far, what is it about us? I assure you, we’re the only country like this). I wondered if I’d really check it all that often. But the way the app is set up, it’s the perfect “time waster,” if I can even call it that.

la fotoDid you know that our government recently bugged the phone of a chancellor in Germany, and got found out, damaging the country’s trust in America?

Or that on Wednesday, Thailand will import a 60-day “state of emergency” to cope with unrest?

How about the fact that Google is developing contacts that help people regulate their diabetes?

I even learned that a rebel group called the Farc has been attacking a Columbian town not far from where some family friends are stationed as missionaries. I know this, and now I can be praying for my friends and their community. Maybe that’s not a motivation for you, but for me, it brought the issue of global awareness closer to home.

 

I’m making a big deal about this, I know. And while it indefinitely shows my ignorance to those who already watch the news, I know I can’t be the only Millennial in this boat. I’m an intelligent undergraduate student in a major that centers around research, reading, and History… and yet sometimes I get stuck in History. I get stuck in my studies (or social media), and forget to keep up with the times. I get the feeling that many, many of us deal with the same.

 

I’m writing this because I saw clearly our nation’s reputation while in Spain last Spring, and am only recently realizing how easy it is to stay complacent and socially-acceptably partake in the national identity I was disappointed by when living abroad. I’m waking up and snapping out of it, and in the name of “divorcing our iPhones” and stepping away from social media this year, I’m writing this to encourage you to do the same. I admittedly don’t even want to divorce my iPhone completely, although I’m on it much less this year so far. I’ve cut back, but it’s because I’m overwhelmed by social media and I’m making changes. Seems like some of you are sick of it too. Will you try and be more globally-minded with me? I needed a simple place to start, and maybe you do too. If you’re not a scroller/peruser, maybe try and read a news article to replace one of the Buzzfeed and Huffington Post articles you’ll access from Facebook today. You’ll thank me for those feelings of worldly wisdom… it doesn’t take much these days.

This is just one post on an obscure blog, but I want to use my voice to influence our generation away from ignorance. I won’t be the American stereotype any longer. Who’s with me?

phyllis.

Besides my own mother, my great aunt Phyllis Frank was probably the most consistent reader of my blog. I don’t write about anything really too crazy-important here, just life experiences and perspectives. But Phyllis would always read, and she’d usually comment on the post or email me as well. She lived in Florida

996635_10202245005983216_344693398_n for as long as I can remember, and we communicated mainly via email. In regards to my blog posts she always had encouraging things to say, and wanted to make sure I knew that she enjoyed what I wrote. It only makes sense to write a blog post in her honor. I know that if she were still with us, she’d comment on the post, and probably “like” the link on Facebook too. 🙂

Before email really became a thing, Phyllis was my pen pal. I loved opening her letters, which always included a couple comic strips or articles cut out from the newspaper. I remember being inspired by an article she send me about a man who spent 2 years in African villages with the Peace Corps, and thinking that maybe I’d go into the Peace Corps one day. Eventually I think she realized that email was a better way to reach our generation, and the letters were replaced by shorter, more frequent emails.

Over the years, her emails were random bright spots in my weeks. She’d just write to say hello, and ask how things were going. Once, her email just said, “scenery for you!” and included a picture of a beautiful mountainscape. She was one who sought and enjoyed the beauty of the earth, almost always including updates on the Florida weather in her emails. As a younger girl I thought this was funny and eccentric, so sometimes I would respond with my own weather updates. I also would sometimes try and get her to talk about herself, but my questions never got deeper than “How are you?” or “How are things in FL??” because her answer would always be short (“I’m fine–“) before changing the subject to something that had to do with me or my family (“Tom said that he was taking Jessie and Josiah to the dentist today. He is going to buy lunch for Jessie at ‘Culvers.'”). I felt that she didn’t want to focus so much on herself… she was emailing without any motives besides just wanting to know about my life. By this I always knew she was incredibly kind and considerate, although I wish I’d known more about this remarkable lady.

Sometimes her emails would just state facts about what I was up to, as if to assure me that she was still keeping up.

“Hi Jordan – loved your blog.  You are in the church choir and have discovered the university campus with free wi fi and 70 cent coffee!”

Or sometimes it was just a few words and a picture that reminded me she was still thinking about me.

“Hope you are seeing pretty sights like this one!:”

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Because she kept up on Facebook as well, she knew what was going on as quickly as anyone else, and did what she could to be involved. When my wallet and phone got stolen in Spain, she emailed me immediately saying that she was sorry it happened and that she had contacted my mom about

1452375_10202194774206454_1268085288_nhelping with the cost of a new phone. “You will definitely need it,” she said. Always so considerate. Both times that I raised support for a summer project, she would email ME before I even got the chance to contact her, saying she’d like to support me and that she’d be sending a check in the mail soon.

Today I went back and looked through my old, pre-college email account and read some of Phyllis’ older emails. There must have been at least a hundred threads, dating back several years. I was struck by how much I’ve taken for granted her efforts to be involved in my life over the years. Even though she was far away, it always felt like she truly cared. Today I’m thankful for her life, her intentionality, and her support. I have learned so much from her, whether she knows it or not.

I am inspired to reach out to others, especially young people, making them feel important and making an effort to be present their lives.

I am inspired to appreciate the random beauty in the world, nature, and even things as seemingly insignificant and constant as the weather.

But most of all I am inspired to never take another person for granted, to tell the people I love how I feel about them because it’s impossible to know when a life will just end.

As an old-soul Millennial who sometimes gets frustrated with our generation’s immersive relationship to the internet, this is one instance where I’m incredibly appreciative and can see clearly the benefits of social media. I wouldn’t have known Phyllis without it. I’m thankful for God’s soverignty and control in this situation, and I’m thankful that she’s no longer hurting, but instead laughing and appreciating the beautiful things in Heaven with her Savior.

I will always miss your presence in my life, Phyllis. Thank you for your constant support. Love you.

-Jordan