My Language-Learning Journey

My Language-Learning Journey

Hello guys! I hope that you’re having an absolutely beautiful day. 🙂 It has been quite a while since I talked about language learning (except for in practically every single Little Accomplishments, haha), so for today, that’s what I have written about! I’ve touched on this in the past, but it was one of the very first blog posts on my blog (haha), so I will expound on that post, go back a bit further, talk more about the present, stuff like that. If you’re interested, especially if you are learning or would like to learn a new language yourself, I’m sure that you will enjoy today’s post!

Exclusive English Speaker: My Childhood

Like many Americans, I grew up in a household that spoke only English. The only other languages I heard were fragments of conversations out in public, as well as the infrequent use of a foreign phrase, which really doesn’t count. As a whole, I had very minimal exposure to any language but English from the time I was a baby.

That is, any spoken language.

Do you know what ASL is?

American Sign Language and Learning New “Words”

When my little brother was a baby, and I was three to four years old, my mom discovered the world of baby signs. It is very much like American Sign Language (ASL), but only includes the basic signs babies and young children would want and need to use the most. She began using some signs to communicate better with Joshua, such as “more,” “eat,” and “drink,” and I was captivated. It was like this secret hand language that only my family knew, and while I can’t remember when exactly my fascination first began – maybe the first few times Joshua signed back? – but I quite quickly found it to be a lot of fun.

It wasn’t long before I’d learned to count to 10, sign off the alphabet, and express basic feelings and emotions, and my interest in this unspoken language has never gone away. ❤

The Art of ASL

Over the years, my family and I have learned so many signs. I have never sat down and attempted to list all the ones I know, as that would be quite a feat, but I’d say … maybe two hundred?? I have no idea. Anyway, I wanted to add to this post that ASL isn’t just a silent way of communicating; in my opinion, it is also a beautiful form of art.

Back when I was maybe eight or nine, I remember watching my mom sign along to a song we were listening to in the car at the time. I thought that this was the coolest thing EVER! It’s basically like dancing along to a song with your hands – I mean, tell me, isn’t that insanely cool?! In the years that followed, I have signed along to songs I know the lyrics to, and also looked up signs to be able to do it more fully. It is an absolutely amazing experience, and absolutely free of charge, as well!

If for no other reason, I find that ASL comes extremely in handy when I need to ask my mom or brother something wordlessly. This can either be when I’m eating, or halfway across the room, or I have to be quiet for some reason. However, if I try to spell something in ASL, or use a complicated sign that only I know, it can get confusing really quickly, haha!! Still, they know all the main signs, so communicating simple things isn’t a big deal.

Taking A Second Language For School

My love for American Sign Language almost carried over into my education in 8th grade. The spring that I finished 7th grade, my mom told me I would need to take a second language as one of my subjects the following fall. So, I thought, “Oh, that’s cool! I’ll just take ASL.” Turns out, that’s not an official language you can learn and get academic credit; they just teach and approve spoken languages. lol I was extremely disappointed, though.

That summer, I checked out a French language course from the library and proceeded to teach myself the basics. I already knew that my mom wanted me to learn Spanish for school, not French, as it made more sense for where we live (little did we know it would make more sense for my future, too, haha), but I decided to go ahead and learn a bit of French, as well, as it’s a beautiful language and, at the time, I despised Spanish. I thought, why learn a language if it doesn’t look cool or sound pretty? I mean, what’s the point? xD

Ohh, younger me. There are so many points.

However, I didn’t enter 8th grade hating learning Spanish and barely living through the lessons. I didn’t keep up with French and secretly dedicate more time to that than my studies of the language I was actually required to learn. You know what happened?

My Introduction to Spanish

In 2013, I became friends with a family in our neighborhood whose parents only spoke Spanish. Over the course of the next few weeks that summer, I went from wanting nothing to do with the language, to needing to know as much as my friend could tell me so I could have short conversations with her family.

Looking back, I first thought that this immersion experience was a wonderful coincidence. I dropped French like it was hot (lol) and began learning Spanish that fall with ease. Getting to talk to someone who spoke the language and them understanding what I said when I spoke was (and still is!) one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, knowing another language and being able to communicate in a different way is an invigorating experience for me.

At the beginning of 2017, when I almost simultaneously found the app Memrise and learned of the Lord’s plans for me and Guatemala, I corrected my observation and acknowledged the fact that His hand has been at work in my life for years. ❤

Meet Maggie: Aspiring Polyglot, and Servant of The Lord

To some, it may appear that I simply love learning new languages – and I do. But that’s not the whole of it.

Someone greater than I can comprehend has ordained this for me. He has a purpose for my life that I can only begin to imagine. Every second is vital, and this time of waiting is not meant to be wasted.

I love learning Spanish because He has placed the passion in my heart. I love Guatemala because of where He has lead my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. It blesses me exceedingly to be able to do my part, and watch Him do the rest. ❤

Now, before I go, I’d like to cover two more things in this post: what languages I know and how much of each (estimated, haha), and the resources I’ve used for learning Spanish over the years. Let’s get into this!

The Languages I Know

{in order of fluency}

English – I have been speaking English my whole life, and there are now few words I don’t know. My only drawback is that because I read so much as a child, I “taught” myself to pronounce different words a certain way, which ended up being the wrong way. I occasionally misstep on how a word is said, and I get sooo embarrassed, haha! I’m an ace at punctuation, and I’m quite the expert at grammar, but the grouping terms (adverbs, participles, etc.) are way beyond me.

Spanish – For the past four years, I have been teaching myself Spanish with various digital resources (listed below). It has not been a consistent process – I’ve taken time off when I grew weary or lost interest in the program I was currently using – but it has been a great journey as a whole. I know all of the basics by heart, am quite good at tenses, and could probably hold a pretty decent conversation with a native speaker, although I haven’t gotten to do that in a while.

American Sign Language (ASL) – I’ve been learning signs since I was four years old, and while I couldn’t hold a real conversation with a deaf person, they would get a pretty good idea of what I was trying to convey, lol.

Portuguese (Brazil) – I have been teaching myself the basics for the past few months. It’s exciting when I’m able to catch on to the similarities of this language and Spanish, but I’m taking it slowly because I fear I will mix up the two languages in my head, and I don’t want to do that.

French – For the last couple of years, I have acquired the knowledge of basic phrases and some. It won’t get me very far, but I’m fine with it for now.

Dutch – I went through a phase back in ’14 where I read a lot of books by an author who was from the Netherlands, and I quickly fell in love with the country and its language. I took a few lessons on an app on my phone and learned the basics, but that was it, and my understanding is quite dusty by now.

4 Language-Learning Courses / Apps
That I Have Used

  • Instant Immersion. This is a complete course you can buy on Amazon for less than $100, but I would not recommend it. The information is good, yet the setup is poor; the man and woman speaking the phrases make unnerving facial expressions; and I actually doubt the legitimacy of some of the words and sentences now. It was a nice introduction for me, but please, get something else.
  • Fluencia. This is an online course that has different package deals (you pay for how long you intend on learning the language), and while I used this website, I was really happy with what I learned! I love the setup, the voices and phrases they chose, and the review sessions were amazing. The main thing I learned that has proved extremely helpful now was tenses. I’m so thankful for what it taught me! However, when I wanted to take a break from learning after nearly a four-month streak, my mom went to cancel our subscription, and they basically said because we weren’t going to be paying them money anymore, they terminated my account, which made me lose all my progress. DON’T GIVE THESE GREEDY PEOPLE ANY MONEY! I was planning on returning to using Fluencia after my break, but then I saw how awful the people behind it were! Please, invest in other language-learning software!
  • DuoLingo. This is a fan-favorite for people wanting to quickly pick up a language, as it’s free and the courses are pretty thorough, but I honestly think it could be better in so many ways. The woman’s voice they chose for the Spanish course is very monotone and puts me to sleep. Also, there are too many phrases that were irrelevant. For example, I’M NOT GOING TO USE “I AM A POTATO” IN REAL LIFE. xD As a whole, I did enjoy it for a while, but now I know that there are better options for me. If you want to try out DuoLingo for yourself, go for it. If you already love it, that’s awesome! Personally, I don’t enjoy it now, but to each his own.
  • Memrise. You guys have heard me rave about this, but if you want to hear me get all excited about it again, I highly recommend that you get Memrise! It is the best one I’ve tried so far, all the best features are free, and there are so many languages to choose from. Please, if you have an Apple or Android phone, or if you’re interested in doing it on your PC (they have an online version, which is also free! – not sponsored!), definitely try it out!

That’s all for today, guys! (And at almost 2k words, I should certainly hope so, lol.) Let me know in the comments below:

What language/s are YOU learning?

thanks to jirah and elline for my signature! xx

Missions Monday – Part One | How It All Began

Missions Monday – Part One | How It All Began

Hi guys! I hope that you’re all doing well. (: Today, I am very happy to present to you a brand new blog series! It will be much like Cultivating A Joyful Life, in that I have a certain time of week I post a new addition, when I have one to post. So, on the weeks that I have something to share with all of you on this topic, I will be talking about Missions on Mondays!

Back in January, I truly planned for this to be a central theme on my blog. Talking about my calling was really on my heart, and it was also the reason I even started this blog! (Hence its name, haha) However, the deeper I got into blogging, the more of a subtopic it became, only popping up every once in a while in passing conversation, and every few months as a spiritual journey update. Sometimes, this fact has saddened me, but I was also content to let it be as it was; I don’t push the matter of a blog topic that doesn’t inspire me to write. I allowed the Lord to inspire me as He would, and it is now that I’d love to share all of this with you.

What better place to start than the very beginning?

The Concert That Changed My Life

On the 22nd of September 2016, I went to a concert. It wasn’t an event completely new to me; I’ve been to multiple concerts over the past couple of years. But this concert was special, because I had been wanting to go to one exactly like it since I was eleven years old, since I had first heard that particular band sing.

It’s in the pureness of the lead singer’s voice, and the beauty and richness of every lyric … they captivated me from the first song. I’d never heard anything like it, nor have I ever since. That captivation carried me to that beautiful concert, meet-and-greet pass and all. I met them, spent a bit of time with them, got to have my picture taken with them. (I’ve featured that image in my summer desk tour post!) I really couldn’t tell you if I enjoyed meeting them or watching them preform more, as both of those experiences were absolutely huge blessings to me.

However, believe it or not, it wasn’t the band, or the concert in particular, that changed my life that night. I did have a blast, and I still think about it all the time. The thing that truly changed me was, in fact, the organization that the concert proceeds went to. ❤

Before the band came up on stage, one of the men on staff at that church got up in front of us (I had a front row seat) and played a video for us on the two large screens. They were on the high walls adjacent to the stage, much like I’ve seen other churches I’ve visited have set up, as well.

That video discussed the organization’s mission, showed footage of many of the kids who go there (who honestly look like such sweethearts), and also talked about why and how the organization began. That latter part made me nervous because they described the place as being a shelter and refuge for the children in the area (Zone 18 of Guatemala City) because of the rampant gangs and daily shootings, and other awful things like that. I don’t like to dwell on people, especially children, being trapped in situations like that, because of poverty, their family situations, etc … but the closer I have grown to the thought of helping those people, the easier this burden has come to bear.

That night, I finished watching the video, listened captivated as the man who started the organization talked a bit more about it (I had no idea he was going to be there that night haha), and wondered why it kept coming back to mind in the months that followed. I had never felt drawn to missions myself up until that point, and even then I was just considering helping that organization financially.

Little did I know how I would feel on January 1st, 2017.

I’ve heard it said that new year’s resolutions are cliché, and I also believe that a good portion of the time, they are … but this year, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before or dared dream of. ❤ The fact that it was on the very first day of the year makes it that much more special.

An Evening That Brought Me Peace

Have you ever attempted to recall an event that was so utterly life-altering that you’re only able to remember bits and pieces of it? That’s what I’m struggling with right now – recalling this beautiful evening of January 2017. Why is my brain like this? haha

Let’s see … I remember returning, once again, to Hope for Guatemala‘s website, browsing its informative pages, searching for the answer that my heart was longing for. I hadn’t been able to get the place out of my mind for three months. I realize now that doesn’t look like a very long time, and I only felt like it was because there wasn’t a legitimate reason for me to be dwelling on it then.

I can now see that, even then, the Lord was calling me. ❤

While on the website that evening, I visited a page that I hadn’t been to before. It was titled ‘Internship Programs.’ This next bit may sound strange to you – I started crying so hard that I couldn’t see the laptop screen anymore.

You may be wondering how I felt, or what I heard and saw, the first moment that I knew. I’ve wondered the same thing myself about others who have been called to foreign countries to serve the Lord, and my main assumption was that it must have been pretty spectacular. I mean, it’s the King of kings we’re talking about! And He has a beautiful way of impacting the lives of His children.

When I first began crying, I got out of my desk chair and knelt on the floor beside my bed. I didn’t hear anything different, aside from my own sobbing. I wouldn’t say that I was overcome with tears at that moment; it was more like an overflow of emotions and feelings that my body could not contain. I felt immensely loved and drawn to Him, and in the silence, joy and an intense desire to go consumed me. I don’t remember a word of what I prayed – it’s always like that for me – but I remember smiling with tear-stained cheeks and knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Guatemala was in my future. I knew that He has a purpose for me there, and that He will get me there in His timing, and in His beautiful way.

And the rest was history! (I have shared my progress on the ‘My Calling’ category on my blog, and I will share more information on posts to come!)


Thank you so much for reading! I’m looking forward to sharing a second part to this post series. If you have any questions about my calling, I would love to talk to you in the comments below! ❤

thanks to jirah and elline for my signature! xx

Eight Months of Dreaming of Guatemala

Eight Months of Dreaming of Guatemala

Hey guys! I hope that you’re having a gorgeous day!! x So, as another month has rolled around, I knew that it would be a blessing to me to write another Dreaming of Guatemala (the place and my blog) update! Looking back at how far I’ve come with both of these passions makes me so happy. Are you ready to follow along? Let’s go!

At one month, I could still hardly believe that this Guatemala thing was happening. It is quite possibly the biggest life change I’ve ever experienced, and the passion I felt (and still do) stunned me. Fast forward to four months, and I still felt like I was literally dreaming, continually in awe of how the Lord was working in my life, and I struggled to wrap my head around even a bit of it. The last update I did was at the six month mark, and that was then that I began feeling the reality of it. I’m still stoked about everything Guatemala, and I still want to go – most definitely! – but at the beginning of July, I found myself analyzing the possible realities of that situation, and it made me stress a bit.

Now, let’s jump back to the present. I have known of this specific plan for my life for eight months now. That’s two hundred and forty-eight days, to be exact! I have also had my blog for that long, minus about a week. But it’s not really in the details.

With each day that has passed, I have slowly been accepting it. This dream has been on my mind, in my heart, and lacing my prayers. The uncertainties are most certainly there, but no matter how terrifying of a scenario I come up with, nothing phases me. Whenever I ponder worst-case scenarios in any situation, I freak myself out, but with Guatemala, not one has. Tarantulas? Nah. Earthquakes? It’s fine. ACTIVE VOLCANOES? Why should that bother me? 😂

I am in no way saying I’m okay with any of the three frightening things mentioned above. That’s not the point. While I don’t want to find myself facing a huge spider, experiencing a bad earthquake, or watching one of their volcanoes erupt, I have an unexplainable peace that I will cross all those bridges when I get there.

There’s a verse in Matthew where Jesus says “sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” He has bound my heart with the spiritual ability to instantly combat any fear I may have with Guatemala. My awful little scenarios instantly die in His light. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

When I was first seeing Guatemala show up everywhere in my life, from books to blog posts to items in stores, I became excited every time. Each one is a beautiful reminder of my future, and seeing the Lord so plainly at work in my life and with my surroundings makes me giddy. However, the more it has happened, the more used to it I’ve become, to the point where loving this country isn’t just part of my life; it’s part of me. ❤

I look forward to every event leading up to visiting Guatemala. I long for the day I first step foot in that country. It brings me greater joy than I can explain to know this small glimpse into the future God has for me.

All of my main actions this year have reflected that purpose.

I started this blog to record my progress and entertain myself (and you guys!) while I wait. I began learning Spanish like never before because of my passion to know that language fully. I’m looking into getting a job as soon as I can to save money, and I’m not going to college yet and will most likely take individual classes, instead.

My view of life is different because of this calling. It is absolutely beautiful!

Now, I’d like to touch on my blogging journey a bit, as well. While I have been blogging on and off since 2010, I have never connected with this many bloggers before. This community is absolutely amazing! I know I’ve said that before, but it’s worth saying again. The last eight months of my life have been extremely blessed because of this experience; I’ve made new friends, posted consistently for the first time ever, and my post writing skills have gotten so much better. I’d like to thank you personally, whether you just found my blog, or you’ve been following along for months. I appreciate each and every individual comment, and getting to have a place where I can inspire others is a wonderful blessing!

Visit the ‘His Child‘ category on my blog for more spiritual inspiration.

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