sunrise hike

when i was at the lodge, i joined a small party that was going on a sunrise hike. we got up at 5:30 and trudged straight up the mountain through the snow. it was so eerily quiet. there was no birdsong, no laughter, no music; just heavy breathing and snow crunching under rhythmic footfalls.

it was a ridiculously hard climb, and all the snow didn’t help at all. the leaders said it was about a 45 minute hike, but it felt a lot longer. being in nature so early seems to make time stretch. but the worst part was that when i thought i had reached the top, another peak appeared, even steeper than the ones before.

the top of the mountain was absolutely freezing, and windy. we had to huddle to stay warm (and keep each other from getting blown off the peak).

look at that insane child in the shorts. (he’s homeschooled, so that might explain some of it.) i was incredibly cold, and i was wearing long sleeves and a jacket, so i can’t imagine how it must have been for him. i mean, my hair was damp from a shower the night before, but still.

i know i’ve just been complaining this whole time, but it was so, so worth it. standing on the top of a mountain while the sun flooded the hills and sky with light was such a wonderful experience. it’s pretty impossible to describe, but it made me feel awestruck, like i was in a painting or poem, like i was shaking from the sheer beauty of it, not the cold.

 

after the hike, one girl started talking about how it made her realize just how big and wonderful the world is. and as amazing as it is, God loves us even more. there are gorgeous sights like the grand canyon, carefree beaches, colorful cities, misty forests filled with quiet life, and we are more lovely than any of it.

most of us headed back to the lodge before the sunrise finished, but i got glimpses of the pink and orange through the trees. i would love to do it again, hopefully when it’s not quite so cold. :)


2/19/18

love, the sky was glorious, painted by the old artists with a starry brush. when the mountains and trees are stretched out below you like a patchwork blanket, you realize how tiny you are in the grand scheme of things. i told myself i was just a stitch in the quilt of the universe. but i must have done something right, to be on top of the world with the sunrise staining the snow pink.

from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. -psalm 113:3

xo apollo

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youth retreat travel diary

a group shot ft. callie the dog’s butt.

you know how much i like travel diaries. they’re a fun way for me to record my adventures. this particular one is about spending a weekend in the mountains on a youth retreat. :)

also, i’m aware that the pictures suck. i was cold and in a hurry, and this is all i have.


« day one »

my mum took me to the meeting point, the church’s office. i chilled there for a bit before the leaders made us load up our bags and get settled in the buses. they managed to fit all the girls in this giant white vehicle and we played name games and telephone on the ninety minute ride.

i love the drive up to the lodge. the serpentine roads are bordered with pine trees, the sheer drop-offs make you dizzy, and once you’re out of the forest, there is so much sky. last year, the sunset stained the whole world; this time, it was just cloudy, but still gorgeous.

the girls stayed in the “doughnut room” — a circular space with a closet in the middle, with bunk beds lining the walls. once we’d all unpacked, we sat in the dining hall and decided what animal everyone would be. i was told that i would be a doe, graceful and light. i don’t think i have great self-awareness, so it was really interesting to see how others perceive me.

we played spoons after that. i happen to be an expert at that game, and i was the first to get a spoon about 4/5 times. i’ve even played full contact spoons, which is excellent and violent.

the lodge director preaches after every meal. the room he talks in has this domed window on the ceiling, and i think i spend more time staring up at the sky than listening.

anyway, on friday night, the director spoke about spiritual highs and lows. when you’re at the lodge, surrounded by other christians, it’s easy to feel on fire for the Lord. but when you’re home and back in your routine, the only way to stay close to God is by reading the bible everyday.

they leave that room open every night for prayer. i stayed there for awhile to write in my journal, and the youth leader who invited me on the retreat prayed with me. we talked about the school shooting and my family and maybe some other things, but i was tired and i love her voice, so whatever she said just kind of floated through my head like soft music.

« day two »

i got up super early on saturday morning. it was still dark. but the world was beginning to wake up, so i did, too.

i won a game that day. it wasn’t very fun, but hey, i got prizes: a giant hershey’s cookies ‘n’ cream bar, a freaking enormous tube of sweetarts (like, as long as my leg), and a basketball net that you wear on your head. i gave the net to this annoying kid who sang the sound of silence // disturbed nonstop last year.

after the morning service, they made us have time alone with God. i read my bible by the creek. i’ve been going through psalms, but i lost my bookmark, so i decided to read 1 corinthians instead.

then we were all forced outside into the damp, freezing wilderness to play ultimate dodgeball. it can be fun, but the game just goes on and on forever.

a group of us went inside early and played wild uno in the dining hall by the fire. wild uno is just like normal uno, but if you have a card that’s identical to the one in the center, you can play when it’s not your turn. it’s really fun and intense.

i made a friend while playing cards, i guess: one of the youth leaders, a guy named johnny. he’s twenty-something and doesn’t know how to shuffle. we teased each other during the game, and it was probably the most fun i had all weekend.

it started snowing while we played, giant fluffy flakes. snow in the mountains is so quiet and peaceful. i wish i could live in the feeling of watching the snowflakes dance down from the sky.

there was a competition that day to see which team could build the best structure out of marshmallows and toothpicks (slightly better than last year, which used chewed bubblegum instead of marshmallows). i knew my team was going to lose as soon as one of the members started talking about donald trump.

so i was forced to shape innocent marshmallows into a wall, a giant stick figure of the president, and the words “make america great again.” i hated every second of it, and we got dead last, as i had predicted.

i think i might have wandered around outside with my camera after that, but i can’t be sure. time kind of blends together up there. the lodge director talked to me for a bit, and he remembered my name, which is pretty dang impressive. see, i’d only met him once before, and that was an entire year ago.

sometime in the evening, we played silent football, aka my least favorite game in the world. there are so many ridiculous rules, and breaking any of them will get you disqualified. these rules included no laughing, smiling, covering your mouth/face, pointing, saying someone’s name, etc. i made it pretty far before i was kicked out (for gesturing), but i was actually super relieved when i was. it felt like i’d been sitting there for hours and i was glad to be moving again.

there’s one place in the lodge that should really have stairs, but has ramps instead. unless you’re wearing shoes and taking huge steps, it’s kind of impossible to climb. anyway, these ramps are perfect for sliding down on in your socks. so some of us took advantage of this and did tricks while sliding down, like spinning, doing splits, dabbing, and going down on your stomach like a penguin. it was fun, but also kind of painful.

one of the staffers got a chance to preach that night. he talked about zechariah 9:1-13, and how God is basically our dad, and he won’t let people pick on his kids.

some of the girls chilled in the dorm after that. we talked about suffocation, abusive siblings, who has the best calves, clinical waterboarding — you know, normal girl things.

they organized a game of murder in the dark later. i used to play it all the time with my brother’s friends, but it was much different playing with so many people. i got killed in probably the third round, which is honestly better than i expected?? anyway, i was killed at the bottom of the stairs, so i had to lay there while people stepped over me. one guy tripped on my legs and we both got hurt, so that was fun.

there are these nooks above the stairs that are only accessible by climbing up on the railing. i suggested that johnny hide in one and grab people’s heads as they walked under him. there were more screams that round. >:)

« day three »

on saturday night, someone started recruiting people for a sunrise hike the next morning. for some reason, my dumb self thought that sounded great! so i was woken up at 5:30 on sunday and shoved out into the disgustingly cold world with damp hair.

i’ll talk about the sunrise hike more in a different post. just know that in the end, i was really glad i did it. :)

they scheduled another “time alone with God” session after breakfast. i was so exhausted that i fell asleep in the hallway with my bible in my lap. hopefully it looked like i was deep in prayer, but who knows. i would have slept all the way through the midday service if a girl (she’s an aesthetic q u e e n) hadn’t woken me up.

instead of preaching, the lodge director asked what we had learned that weekend. people said things like, “i should read my bible more,” “i shouldn’t be ashamed to stand up for Jesus,” “God wants to know me; all that’s standing in the way is me.”

i didn’t say it, but i think i learned a lot about family. youth leaders, even ones who know nothing more than my name, have been some of the most helpful and caring people in my life. they’ve calmed me down after anxiety attacks, made sure i ate, driven to my house at midnight when i was super freaked out and needed someone to talk to. and maybe i’ve felt more at home with kind christians with soft voices than i’ve ever felt with my own kin.

everyone got packed back into the buses afterward. i got a seat all the way in the back, and it felt like i was on a roller coaster, but that’s cool with me.

one of the youth leaders sat with me, and she flat out asked for my life story. i can’t keep eye contact when i’m talking about myself, so i was basically having a conversation with the window instead of her.

the whole thing left me absolutely exhausted. i’ve been home for over a week and it still feels like i haven’t gotten my energy back. i’ve just been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping.

last year, i went on the retreat with my friend n. he wasn’t there this time, and it was kind of boring without him. i didn’t have anyone to talk to. i’m still glad i went, though; i think i learned more about being a christian, and it was definitely better than being at home all weekend.

i am not my own, for i have been made new. please don’t let me go, i desperately need you. (meteor shower // owl city)

xo apollo

help name my plants

hey, pals.

i currently have six plants, which i guess makes me a plant mom. but only one of them has a name, which makes me a very bad plant mom. because what kind of loving parent doesn’t name their children?

i’m very indecisive when it comes to naming things, which is probably why i refer to my leafy friends as “my plants” instead of making a decision. but today, i would like your help picking out names for them.

let’s meet my photosynthesizing babies.

plant #1

this is the first succulent i got. i bought another one at the same time, but it did not make it (r.i.p. in peace). sometimes the tips turn purple.

the rim was originally white, and yes, it looks really gross right now. i know i should repaint it, but how am i supposed to do that while constantly having an existential crisis??

plant #2

this one blooms with a big, spiky orange flower, and it actually already has a name, but i’m including it so it doesn’t feel left out. this is barakat, named after jack barakat from all time low.

plant #3 

my dad surprised me with this guy one day. the pot looks like an egg and it’s fun to rub.

plants #4 and #5

i’ll probably have to separate them eventually, but for now, these two are twins. the plant that died was the same kind as these, but hopefully they’ll have better luck. you can’t see it super well in this picture, but the one on the left has dark purple tips.

plant #6

i bought this lil succulent at the same time as #4 and #5, so i guess they’re technically triplets? anyway, this is the runt of the family. i forgot to water it for a few weeks, so it has some dead leaves around the bottom, and it might not last long. please keep it in your prayers.

it would be super helpful if you guys would give me some name suggestions in the comments. i’ll post an update once i decide what to call all of them. :)

xo apollo

truce

now the night is coming to an end
the sun will rise and we will try again

stay alive, stay alive for me
you will die, but now your life is free
take pride in what is sure to die

i will fear the night again
i hope i’m not my only friend

stay alive, stay alive for me
you will die, but now your life is free
take pride in what is sure to die

truce // twenty one pilots


truce (noun): an agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain time.

to the universe,

let something wonderful happen and i will stop begging for good things every night. i will stop crying out to you that the garden on my lot has wilted. just send some sunlight to bring the flowers back to life.

to my love,

i will stay alive for you if you will stay alive with me.

(easier said than done, darling.)

i think both of our hourglasses are almost empty.

xo apollo

gem museum

hey, guys! i hope your day is going well.

for science class, my friend izzy and i visited a local mineral museum. it’s part of a college, so it’s not very big, but i was still quite impressed. i took a few pictures of the gems and wanted to share them with you.

here’s the museum itself.

i’ve always had a thing for gems and smooth stones. not as much the stylized ones that are used in jewelry, but raw ones, or polished ones that fit perfectly in the dip of your palm. it amazes me that such complex shapes and gorgeous colors are being created under our feet.

i’ve found quartz in my garden, and it always excites me that they were growing in the dirt along with my plants.

stone roses.

these look like dragon eggs or jawbreakers. i know that they’re rocks and that they’ll shatter my teeth if i try to eat them, but i kind of want to try one anyway.

they’re just so pretty?? help.

this one looks like someone painted it with watercolors.

there was a display under ultraviolet lights, so the rocks, which looked normal in regular lighting, glowed neon colors. :D

i saw some really awful geology jokes on the internet, and i thought you guys should suffer with me, so here you go.

q: what do you get when you mix sulfur, tungsten, and silver?
a: SWAG

q: anyone know a joke about sodium?
a: na

q: what do you do with a dead chemical?
a: you barium
(and then cry because this reminds you of my chemical romance.)

i feel like such a nerd.

have a good day, my friends! you look great and you are loved.

xo apollo

5 reasons why i’m thankful for blogging

hey. i hope you’re all having a good day so far.

i don’t like thanksgiving that much (who thought a holiday where you’re supposed to eat copious amounts of food in front of people would be a good idea?), but i wanted to do something for it anyway. so here are some reasons why i’m thankful for blogging.

it’s a place to express myself

i love being able to share my pictures, drawings, and stories/poems with others. i think it’s easier to share my creations online than in person, because while my friends will glance over what i’ve made and say, “nice,” you guys actually give me encouragement and constructive criticism.

it gave me a hobby

before i started blogging, my only hobbies were reading and gymnastics. making blog posts helped me realize that photography and writing — which are now two of my main pastimes — are lots of fun. plus, blogging is a hobby all of its own.

it helped me get into new things

you have no idea how many books/shows/bands i’ve gotten into just because someone mentioned it on their blog. if it weren’t for them, my tastes wouldn’t have expanded from rick riordan, doctor who, and owl city.

the community

idk what kind of blogging community i’m in (wordpress? writing? photography?), but it’s incredible. all the bloggers i know are sweet and helpful and leave comments that make me smile. in fact, i’ve gotten emails from some of you asking if i was doing ok because i sounded sad in one of my posts. most of the people in my life don’t make as much of an effort to reach out to me as you guys do.

internet friends!!

i’m not gonna lie, talking to my internet friends is one of my favorite things about blogging. it’s crazy how much i care about and enjoy chatting with these people who i’ve never met.

i also wanted to share some pictures i took when the trees were turning colors. they’re mostly of the crepe myrtle in the front yard, but there are some of our maples, too.

i have to go to my grandparents’ house today for lunch. i’m not terribly excited about that. it’s always pretty boring and i have to listen to my family make homophobic/sexist comments all afternoon.

anyway. happy thanksgiving.

xo apollo