Friday, April 19, 2019

Quick Update

Hey, everyone! I hope your long weekend is going great so far.

I just wanted to quickly let you know that there's going to be no actual post today, and probably next week as well. I've been focusing a lot on my writing this month--what with me participating in Camp NaNoWriMo--and because I had no ideas for what to post about today, I decided to just skip it. I also need to catch up on replying to comments and take some time to explore other people's blogs.

Yeah, I know, I didn't do a post last Easter either, but it wasn't intentional that this happened for the second year in a row. Hopefully this won't be the case next time!

I'll leave you with this: take some time to relax this weekend, do things you enjoy, and hang out with your family. Most importantly, set aside even just a couple minutes to remember all that Jesus did for us. His sacrifice on the cross still blows my mind, and I need to thank Him for it more often. His love for us is so immense, and this holiday is a big reminder of that.

Happy Easter, guys!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Struggles of an Artist: Devotions

We've been on a series where we discuss some of the struggles we face as creative artists. We've talked about time and our management--or perhaps mismanagement--of it. In the last installment, we chatted about self-care, how we need to look after ourselves if we want to actually help others. There are several areas of our lives that we have to tend to, and one of those is the area of spirituality. That's where today's topic fits in.


I enjoy going to church on Sundays. Participating in a community of fellow Christians is refreshing, I find. The time of worship helps me focus on God, and I learn so much from the messages. Teaching the kids once every four weeks is also fun, and something I don't take lightly. I wouldn't replace my going to church for anything in the world.

But it isn't enough. Some people are of the mindset that all you need is a Sunday morning service, and you're good to go for another week. That is not the case. You might get by, sure, but there's more to life than simply "getting by." We need to have our own personal devotional time.

It's a bit like college or university. You get taught by the professor at his class, but imagine what would happen if you did no studying on your own time, if you thought that you need only attend the class. The chances of you failing would be very high, indeed. Unless you're a brainiac or something, but that's not the point here.

Taking the time to do devotions is very important, and I'm discovering the truth in that more and more. By no means does this make me perfect, as I still struggle to have my devos every day. It just means that I'm trying to make more of an effort to do the things I need to do.

"How do devotions help with my art?" you might be asking. There are a couple of reasons, I think. The first is that God is the greatest artist of all time. He inspired many people to write the Bible; He created everything in existence. He is the source of our imagination and the origin of our ideas. Doing devos helps you strength your connection with Him. Why would you not want to be rooted firmly in the fountain of creativity and inspiration? If a car isn't connected to the engine, it ain't going anywhere fast, and not without struggle. Things get easier when the engine is in use.

The second reason is going back to self-care. If you don't take care of yourself spiritually, it really does affect your creative outlet, as well as the rest of your life. I recently-ish went through a season where I hadn't done my devotionals in a while, and it impacted me in a negative way. When I went back to doing them, my life changed for the better. Spending time with Jesus gives me hope, peace, and joy.

As for how much time you should spend and what you do during that time . . . honestly, it's up to you. There are no rules dictating what you're supposed to do and how long you should do it. I prefer to read one chapter of the Bible (I'm currently reading through it in the Voice translation) and one chapter of a teaching book. What's nice about the devotional book that I'm reading is that it has a couple of questions at the end for reflection. I also want to start doing a bit of writing for my devos too, such as when I find a verse or passage that God directs me toward, or for me to actually pen my answers to those reflections. Like I said, you can decide what works best for you.

One precaution: be wary of simply falling into the habit of doing devos for the sake of doing it. When it becomes a chore, it becomes a bore. Cheesy, I know, but it's true. It's the same thing for my writing. If I fall into the doldrums of merely doing it because I'm "supposed to," then it shifts into something tedious. What's the solution? Go to the heart of it all. Doing devotions is all about strengthening my relationship with Jesus, so that I may know Him better and trust Him more. Likewise, my writing is something that I feel is my calling, something that brings meaning to my life.

In fact, why don't we tackle the subject of meaning next time? I like the sound of that.

What did you think of this post? I hope you didn't feel condemned if you're not currently doing devos, because that wasn't my intent. When you do take the time to have devotions, how does it impact your life personally? Do you agree or disagree that it affects our art?

Monday, April 08, 2019

Some Relaxing Tunes /// Music Monday #47

Well, well, well . . . That's a deep subject.

*awkward silence*

Ahem . . . moving right along. It's time for some more music!

We've got a chill song today, one that might even put you to sleep if you listen to it long enough.

"Grape Garden" from Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Composed by Hirokazu Ando and Jun Ishikawa

Now, I personally think that the Kirby series has some of the best soundtracks of all the Nintendo franchises. Seriously, Nintendo and HAL have got to give some awards to their composers for being so talented, especially with creating new songs while blending in old ones. This track is a perfect example of that, and I think it might be one of my favorite Kirby songs of all time.

We start with a gentle piano melody with more instrumentation being added as we go along. (I'm not an expert in music, so don't ask me what all the other instruments are called, because I have no idea. It just sounds good.) What's really interesting to me is how the song loops. It doesn't do it in the same way that Nintendo music normally does. It seems to throw in different things, like the violin at 2:51. Really makes for an interesting song.

If you're a Kirby gaming nerd, you'll probably realize that this is a remix of the song with the same title from Kirby's Adventure. But man, what time does to change music! Obviously the older systems didn't have the same sound capabilities as the Wii does, but still. I can't help being impressed that we went from retro, chiptune music to this orchestral masterpiece. It's crazy how far we've progressed.

Also, this song has literally nothing to do with the Grape Garden level in Kirby Super Star. I'm not sure why they called it when the level in Super Star is not located in the sky--it's by the ocean instead--and the music is not a remix of the original Grape Garden's theme. *shrugs* Go figure.

But if you enjoyed this song and found it relaxing, and you want more stuff like this, I've got you covered. I've been slowly working on a playlist of relaxing music on YouTube, which you can find here. It's gotta be at least a few hours long by now, so you'll have plenty to listen to when you're studying or napping or whatever. Shameless self-promotion, I know, but I figured I'd just throw it out there.

Thanks for stopping by and listening! Did you like the music this time around? Would you agree that Kirby has some of the best Nintendo soundtracks? (I know Christine will say that Zelda does.)