Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exactly a Month.

Well, a day over.
But I haven't blogged since September 11.
I have felt strong emotions since that day, but I've been using other outlets for them. Outlets that include people, instead of a faceless internet.
These emotions, however, warrant a blog post.

I'm having a rather... Interesting patch in my life right now. I'm paying my way through school, working, and sometimes struggling to find God in my every day. I don't feel like I'm supposed to be in a corporate church, and yet all of the teaching that I've ever had and a lot of the advice I'm receiving includes going to church. Half the time I want to cry... And half the time I want to shove it in the face of everyone who has ever doubted me and say, "LOOK! I said I could do this, and I am. So there."

I told Kanz the other night that I just want to be out of this phase of my life. I accept the necessity for it, and I know I will eventually be grateful for the lessons it brings about... But I'm tired of being a single student, in a house full of roommates. I want to be married, with a house of my own, and graduated, with a career. Not like, tomorrow... I just want to fast forward these next several years.

The day after I had that conversation with Kanz... One of my regular customers died. James was a man who had come into the well house at least once a week for the entire year that I've worked there. He always ordered a chicken salad pita and a sweet tea. He always had a movie review, a joke, and a question- about my life, about how classes were, about what music I was listening to. James' visit to the Well House was a highlight of my week.

I met James soon after he stopped having chemo for his cancer. His doctors told him he had 6 months to live if he continued with the chemo... And he chose to die sooner, but feeling well, than later, nauseous and miserable. And yet he surpassed the odds. His "prescribed death day", as he called it, came and went- and he ate a chicken salad pita to celebrate. But we watched as he slowly deteriorated- his demeanor changed from cheery and bright to a little miserable and often, downright cranky. His stomach become unable to handle the potato chips that come with our sandwiches, and eventually even the carrot chips we offer as a substitute- and so we started making him "cuke bites", special. Slowly, just as his hair and eyelashes grew back after the chemo, he began to wither before our eyes. And as his visits became less and less frequent, we knew the time was coming.

But when I got the message yesterday morning that he was dead, it hit me like a ton of bricks. He was never going to come through the front door and insist that I see the Help again (he did that 3 times). He was never going to begrudgingly pay for his son-in-law's lunch. He was never going to tease me about forgetting his side of ranch.

And I was miserable about wanting to rush through a few years of living.

I've been beating myself up and was explaining to Kanz why as we pulled up in the drive after Bible study this evening.

Feeling unimportant, basically.

And then I saw the porch.

Our porch is nothing spectacular. There's some wood sloppily stacked on one end, a few benches, and hannaHRose was sitting there talking on the phone.

But there was also a foreign object.

A heater. A brand new one. A very nice one, with a remote and everything. With a card on it. That had my name.

And the card basically said, "You've blessed me, and I wanted to bless you back. So here's a heater, because I heard you need one."

And I have no idea who did it.

Supposedly, none of the roommates do, either.

I'm dying to know who did it.

But also, I know that if I knew who had done it, I would have a much harder time accepting it.

So, to my "friend" (that's how the card was signed), whoever you are... Thank you. I will pay it forward someday.

For now... I will be warm this winter. And every time I turn it on, I will remember "if you're loved by someone, you're never rejected" (thanks, Avett Bros).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Violence is not part of the system...

It IS the system." -The Anarchist Cookbook (film)

10 years ago, I was sitting in my 4th grade art class when the Twin Towers (an American symbol of prosperity), the Pentagon (a symbol of safety), and a field entirely too close to my Grandparent's house for my comfort were hit by planes overtaken by men who believed they were doing the right thing. All I remember about that day is watching people on the TV screen jumping from the towers, not understanding why that was better than what was inside.

Later today, I will go to a birthday party, to help to celebrate a life well lived. And as I remember the people from this country who are mourning, I will also remember those men, the ones who supported them, and their families... I pray they will someday be able to stand beside mine, forgiven, reformed, and united towards one God and one common goal.

This is not a popular idea. I tried to post that last paragraph on Facebook and it wouldn't let me because it was too long... Which may be ok, because it might have created a firestorm that I'm not prepared to deal with.

But I honestly believe that those "terrorists" are just as much children of God as you and me. That if my sins are forgiven, then theirs could be as well. And I certainly don't think that it's ok to judge their descendants, their friends, their culture and entire way of life, simply because of the actions of a few.

Do I believe that there is only one way to Heaven, through the true and living God? Yes. Do I believe that it is this same God who instructed them to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? No.

Do I think they're in Heaven?

I don't think it's my job to speculate. I have no idea what happened in them in their last minutes of life, nor do I have any idea what happens after death. All I can deal with is what is within ME.

And so I refuse to spend all day today thinking mean thoughts about them, having conversations with cruel undertones about them, and acting "American".

I do regret the loss of safety and comfort that generations before me may have felt growing up. However, I think that the constant worries about what "they" were going to do next has made me think about people and motives. It has required that I do not look at someone wearing a turban in the airport and go into a panic- a.) because I love flying and do it entirely too much to freak out every time this happens and b.) because it's just not right.

If you're in the boat where you want to be angry, where you have venom, where you want to fight and get revenge- then I am in no place to judge you. I do not know what you lost on 9/11/01, I do not know what you are dealing with. You may do that today. But I ask of you, if you can find one minute out of the 900 you are likely going to be awake today, remember the parents, spouses, siblings, children, and friends on the men on the other side of the equation. Lift up a prayer for their eyes to be opened, for everyone to realize that violence doesn't have to be the system.

And maybe, when you're done, don't say Amen. You don't have to stop. It could be a way of life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ballad of Love and Hate

Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.
My vacation's ending. I'm coming home late.
The weather was fine and the ocean was great
And I can't wait to see you again.

Hate reads the letter and throws it away.
No one here cares if you go or you stay.
I barely even noticed that you were away.
I'll see you or I won't, whatever.

Love sings a song as she sails through the sky.
The water looks bluer through her pretty eyes.
And everyone knows it whenever she flies,
And also when she comes down.

Hate keeps his head up and walks through the street.
Every stranger and drifter he greets.
And shakes hands with every loner he meets
With a serious look on his face.

Love arrives safely with suitcase in tow.
Carrying with her the good things we know.
A reason to live and a reason to grow.
To trust. To hope. To care.

Hate sits alone on the hood of his car.
Without much regard to the moon or the stars.
Lazily killing the last of a jar
Of the strongest stuff you can drink.

Love takes a taxi, a young man drives.
As soon as he sees her, hope fills his eyes.
But tears follow after, at the end of the ride,
Cause he might never see her again.

Hate gets home lucky to still be alive.
He screams o'er the sidewalk and into the drive.
The clock in the kitchen says 2:55,
And the clock in the kitchen is slow.

Love has been waiting, patient and kind.
Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,
That the one that she cares for, who's out of his mind,
Will make it back safe to her arms.

Hate stumbles forward and leans in the door.
Weary head hung, eyes to the floor.
He says Love, I'm sorry, and she says, What for?
I'm yours and that's it, Whatever.
I should not have been gone for so long.
I'm your's and that's it, forever.
You're mine and that's it, forever.

 (The Ballad of Love and Hate- The Avett Brothers)

I have spent a great deal of my life being Hate. Being the one who rejected Love, no matter what form it came in or how relentlessly it came.

I spent many, many, many years thinking that the people around me loved me- just not as much as they loved this person or that one. That I was in constant competition with those around me to achieve affection.

I think I eventually forgot what Love felt like. Every time Love appeared, I pulled back, pushed it away, didn't know how to deal with it.

I mistook the similarities I felt with those around me who were also lonely and Hateful as Love.

I have recently realized that this is not Love, this is just another version of Hate. It allows for rejection from those people, and if the expectation comes to pass, then it creates another cycle of Hate.

Love and compassion are two new experiences for me, ones that have become real over the last year, especially. Like I said before, these are not emotions that people had been withholding from me... They were emotions that I was refusing to accept.

hannaHRose told me that when she listened to this song, she thought "Man, Hate is really a jerk to Love!" At that point, I hadn't listened to it yet.

I listened to it in my car on the way to work this morning. I wasn't expecting the reaction I had.

I had to sit in the parking lot at work for 10 minutes and compose myself because I was weeping.

Because I have been to the point where I had to be "plastered", my emotions and ques and normal responses shut down, before I could give in to Love. Before I could face Love, apologize, and accept what had been there all along.

I'm trying to transition from Hate to Love. To responding out of joy instead of pain, pleasure instead of anger.

To forget and move on, instead of clinging to the wrongs that have been done to me.

"Love, I'm sorry." "What for? I'm yours, and that's it, whatever."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This machine kills fascists.

This quote has kind of been floating around the H o' B recently... It appeared in a graffiti stencil of Kanz's, which created a launching pad for it to spread to t-shirts, cars, etc. Then we saw it on some other shirts at Cornerstone, where I purchased a shirt where the words are typed onto a computer screen. As I bought it, I thought, "This is cool, because I blog."

I got home and realized I hadn't blogged in over 3 months. I suppose it's a good thing- as I began to resolve my issues with people, I also stopped requiring the computer as my sole outlet, my only release.

But tonight, there's too many emotions, too much to just dump on someone.

I'm listening to angsty teen music (thank God that I didn't have Simple Plan as a teenager...).

I grew up in a house where there wasn't really a lot of hugs or other physical contact. If I was upset, my parents would try to hug me, but I generally pushed it away until they seemed to just stop- or I blocked out their attempts. There was never any question of if they loved me... There just wasn't the physical manifestation of that.

Separately from that, I don't think I've ever loved someone enough to be mad on their behalf. I was always too busy being mad for me, for what people had done to me, to realize that other people were hurting too.

Today, I watched someone who I love deeply be hurt in a way that I am unable to comprehend. And while she's dealing with it in her way, I am sitting here wondering how to deal with the feelings welling up inside me- of wanting the person doing her harm to realize what they're doing, to have just a bit of what's going on inside of her.

At the same time, I want to respond in love, in a way that I know Jesus would have. (Why does our stupid language have only one word for love?) To respond with compassion and understanding, fairness.

While dealing with these emotions, I logged on to Facebook to see what was going on in everyone else's normal, every day lives... And saw a post my mom had written.

My little brother's lizard died tonight. His girlfriend bought it for him, and it's been an important part of his life- and my mother's, by extension, as she made sure it was fed and watered, and checked in on it periodically. When she checked on it tonight, however, it was laying with its "palms up".

She wrote of feeling immense sadness over the death of this reptile- and of not understanding why she doesn't feel that same emotion when humans die.

"I never touched [the lizard]. I was afraid to, in fact. Unfortunately, I feel the same about most humans. [The lizard's] death made me realize, once again, the importance of life. I need to choose more wisely."
 I guess I'm seeing that, as much as letting people in sucks sometimes and you get hurt, and I want to avoid it and quit trying, that that's exactly what gives my life purpose- the connections with people, the interactions I have on a regular basis, the ways I see God in people and they see God in me.

(Part of what I hate about blogging is that I feel like I need to have a nice wrap up. But I don't have the energy for it tonight. So the end.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Support our troops- 100%

No support or aid for the enemy- no matter what."

As we were driving home from the EleventySeven show in Greenville last night, I noticed this bumper sticker on one of those big semi-trucks... Right next to another one that said "Serve God- He is good, all the time."

I feel a disconnect here. Not in supporting our troops- our troops are protecting our country and everything "we've" ("we" being the man- a topic for another day) worked for. And while I may not agree with everything they're doing, THEY often don't agree with everything they're doing. My idea of supporting our troops is praying for them and serving them in whatever ways I can- sending care boxes, etc.

However, I think that a version of Christianity that provides "no support or aid for the enemy, no matter what" isn't my Jesus' version of Christianity- it's the type of Christianity that Shaine Claiborne is talking about when he says, "We didn't invent Christianity in America- we just domesticated it."

Let's, just for a minute, pretend that God did intend for us to be cruel towards our enemies' existence. How do we define who our enemies are?

In the case of this war on terror- are our enemies the terrorists alone? Their wives and kids, who may or may not have been "brainwashed" by their male leaders? The entire countries of Iraq and Afghanistan? All Muslims?

And what does "no comfort or aid" mean? That we don't try to help these women and children, making sure that they get clean water and good food during wartime? That Muslim children can't come to the States (or any other country, for that matter) and study at the best schools with our children? That when another conflict comes up, we don't rise to help the Iraqi and Afghani citizens because we have this grudge? Or does it merely mean we get to torture them at Guantanamo (or anywhere else) without feeling guilty?

Or, if you're warring something else- say, abortion- who are your enemies? Just the doctors and nurses who perform the abortions? The lawmakers who make it so that abortions are legal? The women who pay for abortions? The people who are uneducated about abortion and thus blindly support it? The people who ARE educated, but choose to educate others without all the facts?

And for them, what does no "comfort or aid" mean? That we don't let those doctors have their retirement? That we don't allow those women to receive counseling services?

If we focus solely on our enemies, there's too much of a grey area. People will never decide (and agree on) who our enemies should be- thus never being able to determine who deserves our comfort or aid.

But let's quit pretending. God does not call us to refuse aid or comfort to our enemies- actually, I believe He calls us to do just the opposite.

Proverbs 25:21 says, "If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink."

In Matthew 5:44-45, Matthew records that Jesus said, "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your father in Heaven."

In Luke 6:27-36, Luke recounts the same teaching of Jesus- but he finishes it with "You must be compassionate, as the Father is compassionate."

Ok, so- God's plan of action is not for me to hate my enemies, to deny them aid or comfort, or to seek them out in order to do those things- it is for me to actually GIVE them comfort, compassion, and love- the things the heart of the Father beats for.

But again, we must decide- what is a grey area and what is not? What does having compassion for my enemy mean?

Does it mean I hide out terrorists in my basement? That I give money to Planned Parenthood? That I "forget" everything that's ever been done wrong by anyone?

I don't think so. Someone- I think it might've been hannaHRose- said to me one time that accepting someone doesn't mean you accept everything that they've done wrong. It simply means that you accept them as the person that they are, underneath those actions.

So that means that if I run into a terrorist (reminds me of when Michael Scott says to Dwight, "If I step on a land mine in Scranton, PA, you can have my job.")... If they are hungry and thirsty, I will most likely treat them as I would treat anyone else who was hungry or thirsty- offer them food or drink. And then report them.

But that's unlikely to happen. I am much more likely to interact with a totally different brand of enemy- maybe in the other scenario I explored, the abortion one. Say I end up talking to an abortionist, one who doesn't see that what they are doing is wrong, and takes human life. How do I respond to them?

Honestly, I would have a hard time with that. I would have no idea how to respond in that situation.

And I think that's where the "pray for those who persecute you" comes in.

The whole point is that I can't do this on my own. I can't love on my enemies on my own strength. The only way I can handle that is to pray for them, to place them, and my personal feelings, in the hands of God.

In the end, it is not me who judges them. In the end, I will be standing right next to them, being responsible for my actions.

Will my actions reflect a loving, Christ-like attitude towards all I met- enemies or not? An attitude that allowed everyone around me to interact with and see Jesus and Christianity in a new perspective? A perspective that maybe allowed them to accept my Jesus, the Jesus who lived and breathed and walked this Earth, instead of the Christianity that they've seen around them?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A baby is born with a need to be loved...

And never outgrows it. -Frank A. Clark

I've never been great at grasping the concept of love. Something unearned, I couldn't do anything to encourage people to share it with me, and I certainly couldn't demand it. So, I've never been great at receiving it.

Which has, at times, made for a very lonely existence. Albeit, there were times when I wanted that loneliness- having people too close would have meant that they'd ask questions and figure out what was going on inside of me, and Lord knows I didn't want that- but as I've been growing it's become more and more obvious that I was not meant to exist that way.

For a while now I've been dealing with being pretty much all the time, whether I was in a large group or alone. I just couldn't seem to break through that barrier. I'd be sitting on the couch with Sarah and hannaHRose and feel like there was a foot thick glass wall between us.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I knew I needed to get out of the house. And I didn't care where it was. I made an attempt to get Sarah and hannaHRose to go with me, but their interest level was pretty near floor level... And so I resigned myself to staying in the house for the day.

As I sat on the couch with my computer, though, I could feel God tugging at my heart to be alone with him. Actually, not just tugging... It was a yanking. Bad enough that I was halfway down the steps and headed out the door before I realized I had better put some clothes on instead of going out in my PJs.

As I was driving around sobbing and asking God why the heck I was going through this, I passed by a property near our house that has been entirely taken over by kudzu.

Kudzu has been called the "vine that ate the south". It's also been called various other expletives by the people around here who have had to deal with it on their properties, but all it really is is a climbing vine. It grows a foot a day and, when left unchecked, will grow out of control. And once its taken over, it is a long term project to get rid of it... And even once you do, you're back to the daily maintenance thing.

As I passed by this property, I had the revelation of how similar the kudzu is to the loneliness in my life. When I choose to wallow in it and isolate myself from the people reaching out to me, it is allowed to take over... And once it's taken over, it can be a fight to regain all the ground lost.

I eventually made it up to a room that our church has set up for us to be alone, and after my alone time, talked to Rebecca about it for a while. She informed me that there used to be a sign in that yard that said "Trust God" that the kudzu refused to grow over. A reminder that, when I'm trusting in God, nothing else can take over my heart except Him.

I went back today to take pictures, and the sign is no longer there, but I did still get some pretty awesome shots:

The barn

View from across the way, at East Laporte
When I talked to Kanz about it, she pointed out something else. Kudzu is not native to the United States, it is native to Japan and China. It was brought here illegally.

Loneliness is not of God- it was brought into my life "illegally" and is not welcome.

And, it doesn't have to be a long term project. He's got big enough muscles to pull it out by the root and have it gone :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Middle age...

Is when your age starts to show around your middle." -Bob Hope

I've never been much of a fighter or arguer. I mean, I remember fighting with Ben, but that mostly included hitting him until Mom caught us. (I found out recently that Mom and Dad used to wish, and possibly encourage, Ben to hit me back, the theory being that if he hit me back, it would hurt, and I'd never hit him again. I don't remember if I outgrew it or if he hit me, all I know is we stopped.)

In high school and at YWAM, I didn't argue much... I have an opinion and it is generally fully formed in my brain (though not always... Which is a problem, because if I have to think about it, then that means that people have already moved on to another point before I have my ideas formed and out), but I don't like it at all. I don't like telling someone they're wrong, especially if they're my friend. And I don't like when they tell me I'm wrong.

And, I hate when people talk over me. Sometimes, people are so excited about their opinion that they just talk over everyone else in an effort to get theirs out.

Apparently, I live with some arguers. We got into a discussion tonight about when people are most attractive.

The point of this is not the argument. I was greatly amused by watching them all argue with each other, and actually enjoyed when I was able to state my opinion. (It only lasted about 30 seconds. But it was more than normal.)

I guess I've come to the conclusion that God gave us creative minds and thus the ability to debate and discuss. I have formed views on abortion, adoption, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and interacting with other religions; but to discuss said views with someone else brings in their own spin on it, which may or may not alter my views.

I think to become a good fighter is not to be able to argue your point to death, but to be able to argue your point in a way that gets it across to other people, without anyone being offended or feeling like their views aren't being heard.

Winning someone over to your side definitely helps, though.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Before you know it,

A sense of God's wholeness, of everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (Philippians 4:7, the Message)

I think every Christian has "that thing", "that person", "that" part of their past that made, or makes them, think about rejecting Christianity.

Mine was Grace Community Church (name changed for health, grace, and safety...). GCC was the first place my parents had felt accepted in a while, and honestly, I felt accepted there too- for a long time. Our entire family was involved in ministry, my parents had places of leadership, things seemed to fit together.

But there were a lot of disconnects... Places that I saw the leaders of GCC say they were moving in the Spirit, or things that they claimed were being done or heard from God, but weren't being blessed by God, or actually being done.

My family ended up hurt and escaping the whole situation, stopping only to lick our wounds before moving further away.

I rejected everything I had learned at GCC- speaking in tongues, the prophetic, healing ministry, hugs, receiving love, giving love. Everything in the world of the church I had grown up in, had ever been taught about ministry and the spiritual realm and the ways God works.

God, and His awesomeness and power and the things He can do, had become something to fear, not something to anticipate.

I struggled through YWAM as people prayed over me in tongues, encouraged me to discover my spiritual gifts, and seemed to ignore my hurts. I was still licking my wounds, and everyone was telling me to get over them- now, and fast.

I remember one time, specifically, when I felt attacked by those who were supposed to be my supporters. The teacher of the week had us in our small groups, and those who didn't have the gift of praying in tongues were supposed to be receiving prayer from those who did have said gift. Problem was, I didn't want it. I didn't want to touch it with a 22 1/2 foot pole, let alone think about letting it near me.

My small group was very receptive and tried to be compassionate towards the situation, but I still stood there with my arms folded across my chest as they prayed that my heart would get to the point where I could forgive and thus move in the gifts of the spirit.

I was recently at a ministry opportunity where we were in a large group, a corporate worship and prayer session. We were singing the chorus to this one song over and over again, something about being set free. I was standing there, for once actually worshiping instead of watching everyone else and wondering what I was "supposed" to be doing, and I remember thinking, "I am free."

I hadn't decided as I walked into that meeting that I wanted to speak in tongues, I hadn't planned to ask God for that, I did not choose to speak in tongues that evening. But as I stood there, in total peace with God, the words I was singing were no longer English. I caught a glimpse of the healing God had planned for me, the redemption He had waiting.

In the months that have passed since then, I haven't actively pursued that redemption, but I knew it was lurking. I meditated on Joel 2:25-26 ("Then, I will make up to you the years the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, my great army which I have sent among you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then my people will never be put to shame.") and prayed for the day when shame wouldn't be what ruled my days, but rather the peace and comfort of a loving church family, where I could be myself in my skin, instead of trying to fill the mold I felt placed in front of me.

And I still have my misconceptions and my concerns over the supernatural.

When I started attending our house church, 24/7 church, I had the same experience I've had with churches for the last 3 years- I can settle... After a long while. So I walk in and I check over my shoulder, am on guard for the whole time. After I've been somewhere for a couple meetings, if I like what's going on, I can generally settle down towards the end of a meeting- but I'm still anxious at the beginning.

That was the experience I was having at 24/7 church. I was feeling accepted, and I knew I was welcome. I knew that these were people I could trust, and I knew that they were following the spirit of God. But I didn't really buy that I would ever feel safe there.

This evening, however, I walked in and settled in. I didn't notice- not right away. But as we were worshiping, I journaled:

"Tonight has been one of the first times in years where I've walked into a "church" setting anxiety-free, without doubting if what I was going to find once inside was going to eat me alive. I'm sure that it is partially the people and the place... But I'm almost sure that it's partially me, simply being able to be somewhere, not constantly looking over my shoulder, double checking and super over analyzing. God's got my back, I just have to keep walking forward."

And then the teaching started. And beautiful words about the purpose of prophesy and church and their intended purposes, and our goals in relationships, and the meaning of scripture poured over my ears, and I fell back into old habits- I briefly considered bolting from the room. Although I don't know where I would have gone- we were in the mountains and there's no cell reception. Also, I'm the least wilderness-survival-preparedness-knowledgeable person there is, so there goes that.

I decided I'd wait it out and see how it went. And then we flipped in our Bibles to Joel 2:25-26.

And I settled.

God speaks to me through scripture, apparently, and I've seen this multiple times since my move to the mountains- in the Jeremiah 29:11 thing, and now in this.

I think because scripture is concrete- I can mark it up and come back to it later and it's exactly where it was before, saying exactly the same thing.

But it's also changing. Scripture can mean something totally different when I read it one time than it is another, based on my life circumstance or the teaching being paired with it.

It's like stars on a stormy night. Earlier, hannaHRose and I (eventually joined by Sarah) went out and laid in the driveway. There were only two stars (one of them might have been an airplane) but they were so beautiful. I might not have ever noticed those two stars on any other night, but tonight, because they were perfectly framed by the clouds and dark sky, they were the most beautiful stars I've ever seen.

I'm sick and a little foggy, still, but one thing I know is true:

I have lasted the night, come out of the desert having not just survived, but thrived.

It is a new day's dawn. And it was worth the fight.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Dear children,

Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth." -1 John 3:18

Or, as Jennakate put it, "If you don't have the love of God, you will love people the same way you love pizza."

Today, February 16, 2011, was the best day ever. I woke up this morning and told Jesus, "I'll do whatever you want to do today. Let's hang out." I had loose plans, but the rest of my day was open to Him.

So, I got dressed and drove over to the Hub to hang out with Kansas and her students. It's been a rough week there, but I was excited about going, and had this immense joy as I went over.

As I entered the building, the sense of rejection and longing was so strong it almost knocked me off my feet. I instantly doubted myself, the way I was feeling, the love of my God. As I walked down to her room, I was doing battle- but the warm weather, the smiling face awaiting me, and the fact that I had all my beads in my hands cheered me up immensely.

Talking to those girls is something that I wish I could do every second of every day. Not only are they just plain fun, my heart longs for them to not have to go through what I've gone through, for them to find the love and acceptance of Jesus before everywhere else they're searching for it. When it was time to go, I found myself hoping and planning on returning.

I don't often do spontaneity, nor do I do it well... And I definitely tend do not do things without a purpose. I knew I didn't have a lot of money to spend, but found myself turning into the Hospital Auxiliary parking lot anyway. After roaming around, I then moved on to Reach (which is kind of the lamest thrift store ever), and wound up at Sonic, mulling over the dollar menu. I was sitting in my car, enjoying my $3 lunch and chatting with Jesus, when the loudest car ever pulled up next to me. I glanced over to see that it was one of the loveliest roommates ever, hannaHRose. You know how sometimes you see people and you just have to smile? She's one of those. We'd been on opposite sides of the parking lot, sipping sweet tea and enjoying... Well, no company. We went our separate ways, and I moved on to the post office.

The House O' Bricks has this Dwight head-shaped stress ball that gets hidden all over the house; some people hide in places that are scary, while others hide it to be hidden for a long time.

Normally, it's hidden just for whoever.

Well, I don't remember how it started, but Kansas and I are in a feud... Which basically means we're picking on each other with the Dwight head.

He's appeared in a pair of shoes, a container of coffee, a bed... You don't ever really know where to expect.

Well, when I went to the post office, I knew I had a package. And I knew whoever sent said package had not paid the full postage. So, I was going to have to pay to receive this gift. Nevermind that it was $.07, it was the principal of the thing.

I opened the package and found Dwight staring at me... And laughed. For about 15 minutes straight. (Watch it, Kans- I'm gonna get you.)

At this point, my joy was at an all time high... It had just been a really good day.

I got home and was hanging out with hannaHRose when she ceased breathing and began to hug the computer. I waited patiently until she recovered, when she told me that Shaine Claiborne was going to be in Asheville tonight! At which point I might have started hyperventilating.

We both realized we HAD TO GO... And began to figure out how to get there.

We figured it out, and also figured out that we were going to see several friends- friends we don't see very often at all!

Shaine Claiborne was, of course, awesome. Among my favorites:

-"Jesus never talked to a prostitute because He didn't see a prostitute- He saw a woman, a child who He was madly in love with."
-"The gospel spreads not through force, but through fascination."
-"We didn't create Christianity in North America, we just domesticated it."
-"Jesus wasn't here to tear down religious institutions, but rather to build something that filled in the gaps they were leaving."

Dinner at Waffle House would have been the low point, if it hadn't been for the company. :)

On the drive home, I was trying to figure out why today was so good- I mean, yeah, some of the events were not average, but my mood and everything else was just GOOD for no reason. And I realized... I felt as though I was truly experiencing the love of God. I wasn't putting up my normal walls, I wasn't resisting Him every step of the way, I wasn't pushing away from it. I was just existing as He'd made me to do.

I had relinquished control.

It was beautiful.

"As Christians, the world doesn't expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to be honest about our brokenness and our mistakes."

I am broken, worn down, exhausted, and unable to do this on my own. I screw up on a daily basis and I don't know what to do with my life- right now, I am "squandering my future" in the eyes of society. I am "doing nothing worthwhile with my life" and am "setting a bad example".

But if I was a busy college kid, I wouldn't be sitting back and watching what God's doing in my life, instead of trying so hard to do it on my own.

I think I've decided... I'm exactly where God wants me to be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When troubles call, and your back's against the wall...

There's a lot to be learned, that wall could fall.
Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a whole in a dam
No one could tell that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam
Because he had hi-igh hopes, way up in the sky-y hopes
He had apple pi-ie, in the sky-y hopes... -High Hopes by Frank Sinantra (???)

First- I had no idea that song was by Frank Sinatra. Strange...

Second, have you ever been around someone who is holding on to false hopes, even though they know it's irrational?

Sometimes it's hilarious... We're forecasted to get 1 to 3 inches of snow tonight. When Kans and I started taking our walk tonight, the snow had already started to stick to the grass and the road a little bit. When we got home, I looked at the radar- we are covered in this big blue blotch for the next 6 hours. And past that, because there's still blue above us when the 6 hours ends.

And yet, Kans is convinced that she is going to go to school tomorrow. She's headed to bed at her normal time in hopes that she'll have to get up, drink coffee, and go to school at a normal time tomorrow.

There's 1/2 an inch of snow already, and it's only been snowing a couple hours.

Sometimes, though, people's delusions suck. Like the fact that I still hope that magic money is going to appear for college, even as I budget and save money from every paycheck for it.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider also had delusions of grandeur (or of just making it up the water spout).
If Kans does go to school tomorrow, I'm going to feel badly for saying all this... However, when I wake up tomorrow morning and she is sitting in our living room drinking coffee and being cranky at some art project, I'm going to say "I told you so."

(Kans, that last paragraph may have been written expressly for you.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Either God isn't personal and I've wasted my time...

Or He is personal and He hates me." "There's a third option- God loves you, but shitty things still happen." -Angry Conversations with God by Susan E. Isaacs

I've been in the habit recently of saying that I'm engaged to Jesus. I know I'm not supposed to be in a relationship right now because a.) the opportunity hasn't presented itself and b.) Jesus would tell me if I was supposed to be with someone. Especially who.

But if I was engaged to Jesus, He would have my whole heart. And the thing is, He doesn't.

It's like I've given Jesus all of my heart except this one tiny little black dot that is the no-Jesus zone. That is the dark, hidden corner where I like to hide and cry and pretend no one else exists.

Every so often, I let Jesus in for a little bit- but then I realize He's a horrible tenant. He tries to come in and fix the place up, but I like it a grungy nasty shithole- if it's cleaned up and repainted, I'll have to charge more for rent and pay attention to upkeep, and I'm not that dedicated. So I kick him to the curb (again) and pretend not to feel guilty as he walks down the sidewalk, dejected and kicking a soda can. And I vow to never let Him in again, because it's too much trouble and heartache, and it's longer and longer between when He comes looking for a room again.

I can't really be engaged to Jesus until I let Him have my whole heart- no little tiny dark bits hidden. And it's not worth it pretending that He does have it...

Also, Jesus is not a horrible tenant- I'm just a horrible landlord.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Integrity is built over years...

But lost in an instant. -Cameron Strang, Relevant Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

I'm not sure I've ever grasped what true, unconditional love is. People have tried to show me, and I've rejected it.

Until I moved to the mountains, that is.

Here, people expect me to tell them when I'm mad, instead of just pretending that it's okay. And they even still like me afterwards. When they ask a question, they expect to have it answered- honestly.

Its just one of the ways God has been showing me the beauty of life and the world that He's put me in. Where I can do ministry without being terrified because if I crash and burn, I can just get back up and do it again.

Because I wasn't able to go away with hannaHRose and Sarah this weekend, Kans made it her goal to make sure I was semi-happy and to do fun things with me. We lucked out in that it was a beautiful weekend, so we spent it trying to find fun and free things to do that were out of doors.

I've said it before, but I'm just starting to get to know Kans... Which is sad, but awesome at the same time, because it IS finally happening. We've started walking around campus together in the evenings under the guise of "exercise"... It is more of an excuse to get out of the house and talk. Which we did... For almost an hour and a half last night. Then today we packed up picnic lunches and went for a hike... Which ended up being more of a drive, but was an adventure anyway.

It was too sunny for me to be able to see the display on my camera, so I didn't know how my pictures turned out until I got home... But I learned today that I don't have to have a plan or be able to spend money in order to have fun. Roaming around Cashiers was awesome... (A fact that was compounded by the almost 70 degree weather and not getting carsick.)

I had a kind of overly protected childhood... Like, I don't think I've ever climbed a tree or jumped off of a swing. So as I waded across the creek, I could hear my mom's voice in my head, telling me I should turn back because I could slip or a rock could shift... And I ignored it. I realized, I am my own person, and I do not have to relive the stresses that my mother grew up with and raised me with. Stress is not meant to be a daily part of my life, but rather something I pity other people for having.

When I got home, I realized my pics were gorgeous.

God gave us this gorgeous world to live in, and we stay sheltered away in one little section of it, forgetting about all the beauty that exists right outside of our comfort zones.

At church tonight, I was fussing about not having a plan for my life... But the point is not that I'm waiting, but that God is waiting with me. Waiting is never as bad when you have company as it is when you're by yourself. When you have company, it can even be fun.

So, I may be stuck at this bus stop for a while, the train may be late, or the pilot is still snoozing because he got in late last night. But while I'm waiting, I can waltz with God, share a joke with Jesus, or just make a memory with my Savior.

I think it'll be worth it, in the end.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Wouldn't it be simpler to use just one word?

It would certainly make more sense." "Nonsense." "Ridiculous." "Fantastic." "Absurd." "Bosh." They chorused, then continued. "We're not interested in making sense. Its not our job. Besides, one word is as good as another- so why not use them all?" -Norton Juster in The Phantom Tollbooth, pg. 40

This morning while at work, I was making that face where you seal your lips. You know, it puffs out your cheeks and your lips and it looks really funny? I then realized that if I filled my mouth with marbles, it would make my face do that... And make my mouth feel weird. I started thinking about what it would feel like to have little balls of cold glass (because marbles are always cold) shoved in between my gums and lips...

Then I moved on to what it would be like to have your lips sewn shut and to never be able to breathe out of them. Like, you would try, but your lips would just puff up and the air would get trapped. You'd never be able to blow out birthday candles, or sigh, or inhale sharply.

I didn't say anything to my co-workers, because I thought maybe these were not normal thoughts and I need to have my job, but when I got home I google image searched "mouth full of marbles". Apparently I'm not the only one who wonders about such things.

Also, I asked hannaHRose, and she said she wondered the same thing.

Not only was I suffering from childish instincts of wanting to put everything in my mouth today, I also rediscovered Schoolhouse Rock. My family had all the VHS movies- English, Math, Science, etc. I still remember most of the songs, and have been listening to them obsessively on youtube.

Schoolhouse Rock taught me several valuable lessons. Interplanet Janet taught me the order of the planets as they rotate around the sun; Where the Money Goes taught me why paying bills is important ("If I don't pay the mortgage/They'd take the house/And then where would we get our mail?); Three is a Magic Number taught me that having babies is magic (ok, not really the lesson the song intended, but that's what I got out of it); and Interjections! taught me about the correct use of exclamation points.

There are a lot of things in my childhood that got passed off as entertainment that are lessons I still remember; Schoolhouse Rock, of course, but Monopoly, Scrabble, and Boggle all taught me math and vocabulary skills, as well as bartering and how to argue my point. (And, often, how to lose.)

We had a video game that was supposed to teach me how to get along with my brother... However, all I learned from that one was how to hurt him without my Mom being able to tell.

I think that some of those things must've driven my parents nuts, but they were able to see the long-term value...

I hereby vow to not disallow my kids from watching or participating in something simply because I don't like it.

Also, I may use them as an excuse to watch Schoolhouse Rock and Lizzie McGuire again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

For some, pleasure is a fever they can't shake.

For others, it's a disease they cannot seem to catch. -Terri Guillemets

On Saturday, hannaHRose, Sarah and I went to an EleventySeven concert. Personally, I think EleventySeven is one of the best things ever... The music isn't your run of the mill "rock" band, and their lyrics crack me up. (They have a song making fun of Edward Cullen/Twilight, one about being an Evil Genius, one about how someone's life cannot be summed up on myspace, etc.)

One of my favorite things about EleventySeven, however, is that they cannot be put in a box. hannaHRose describes them as "pop punk teenie bopper music". Sarah and I had never seen them live before, and she warned us to expect a bunch of 14 year old girls swooning over the lead singer.

Apparently most of their fans have grown up with them, because a lot of the "crowd" (which wasn't really a crowd, but more of a gathering) was around our age.

As the opening bands played, and then as EleventySeven started their set, I began to notice something.

Everyone was so serious. Very few people seemed to be outwardly enjoying the experience. You know, bands would be trying to get people to clap along or jump or whatever, and people were standing there like dead things with legs.

(I should admit that I do not tend to participate in the jumping... There's something about being a pogo stick in the middle of a big group of people that doesn't appeal to me.)

But here's what I can't figure out: why wasn't anyone seeming to have fun?

I can see only two reasons to look miserable at a show:
a.) You honestly don't enjoy the music... In which case, why are you there?
or b.) You are taking yourself too seriously to look "like a fool".

Now, we weren't the most enthusiastic of fans (I mean, I enjoy EleventySeven, but this wasn't a Demon Hunter show...), but other than a 15 year old girl who was swooning at Matt's feet, we were the most animated bunch there.

A few years ago, I hated anything that made me look mildly out of place. Standard wardrobe: blue jeans (not too light or too dark, mind you), sneakers, a plain colored t-shirt, and a ponytail. I used the same words as everyone else (forget about the larger vocabulary I had... I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I was just like them). And I was a closet Christian.

I don't know if it's because I'm closer to God, if it's because I'm more comfortable in my own skin then I've ever been, or if it's because I'm living in a place where everyone is a little zany or off the map (I was amused to have been planning this all day only to come home and find that Kanz had written about her individuality), but I can't stand being the same anymore.

My weekend plans involve going to Asheville with Kanz wearing an apron and possibly hot pink rubber gloves... And I'm actually quite excited.

The point of being a Christian is to be set apart, called to something bigger than the rest of the world. This may not mean looking different appearance wise for everyone... But our actions and words should be telling the story of a different lifestyle and internal dialogue.

Besides... Painting the world a rainbow is more fun than slapping on various shades of beige. Even if it is the most appropriate outfit in the office.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He who sings....

Scares away his woes. -Cervantes

 When I sing, it tends to not scare away not only my woes, but also any man, woman, child, animal, or unbroken piece of glass within earshot.

Which can be a pain in the rear. I mean, sitting in the car humming along to the radio is fun... Until the driver and other passengers turn the volume up in order to tune me out. Or when my parents say, "Well, you are good at some things... Like reading. But music, you should probably just leave alone." Or when my roommates start singing and playing guitar and sounding beautiful, and I'm sitting off to the side, feeling foolish and getting more cranky by the second.

So when hannaHRose pulled out the bass a few days ago and started strumming on it, and I saw that it was something I thought I could maybe do, I was intrigued.

I'm not someone who asks for help willingly, and I'm not very teachable. (I'm working on it.) So... I was NOT willing to ask hannaHRose to teach me.

Until, that is, I tried to Google it. And realized that reading bass tabs is absolutely ridiculous.

I gave in and asked. And discovered that hannaHRose is a very good teacher, if and when I allow myself to be taught.

So, I can offically (kind of, anyway) play "Seven Nation Army" on the bass.

My left pointer finger is purple, and I can feel my pulse beating in each of my fingertips.

And yet... Even as my brain is telling me that I won't ever want to pick up the bass again, the sense of accomplishment I have right now is reminding me that I will do it tomorrow. And probably the next day. And maybe the next.

Until either I fail miserably enough at musical talent that I want to beat the bass in... Or, I semi-master it and discover that maybe, somewhere, there is a musical gene in me.

I had a solo in this choir concert; there was a slight issue with my voice coming through the mic, which they conveniently "forgot" to turn on. Also, I don't know what's going on with this face, but this is the only picture that exists; I think all the others got deleted because of the painful memories.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

All women become like their mothers.

That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. -Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest

I've been watching Lizzie McGuire recently. Growing up we didn't have cable, and I don't think I was allowed to watch that show anyway... But every other girl around my age learned some all-important life lessons from Lizzie and her animated other self back in the early 2000's. In every episode, in less than 20 minutes, Lizzie learns how valuable her friendships are, that her parents truly love her, but sometimes screw up anyway, that she is an asset to the rest of the world- even if her world only exists within her school and family.

As I've watched Lizzie interact with her mom (who is kind of a nut-job), and the similarities between them, I've also been noticing the differences. And I realized something.

Yes, Lizzie is like her mom. But she is not her mom.

I'll say it again.

The lesson that I've learned from Lizzie McGuire is that I am not my mother.

Don't get me wrong- I love my mom. She's awesome and has done the best she could with me and my little brother. She's an awesome cook, her baked goods could kill, she isn't afraid of what people think and speaks her mind.

And I have grown up my entire life thinking I have to be all of that, just like her.

And being sorely disappointed.

I can cook and bake, but more often than not, it comes out as a disaster that I don't want to let anyone touch. I am so scared of what people think of me and if they're judging me that I struggle to not spend all of my time trying to not act like someone else, but just accept myself. I don't speak my mind, but rather tend to stay quiet and pretend that I agree with everything that is going on.

I realized... I am not my mother, and I'm not supposed to be. My family, my friends, my future husband- none of them look down on me for it, nor are they constantly comparing me to her.

She is her, I am me, and life goes on.

First family picture.

At the 40th birthday party I planned for her

Saying good-bye right after helping me move into the House O' Bricks

Thursday, January 13, 2011


is a symptom of coffee deprivation. -Unknown

When I moved into the House O' Bricks, I was a bit nervous about the food thing... I have issues with eating consistently as it is, but I knew the eating habits of hannaHRose, and I was concerned. I try to eat kind of healthfully, and I try to eat things that I make myself- not too much out of a box. (HR, on the other hand, is content with boxes upon boxes of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.)

The day I arrived at the house, however, I noticed that there were several things in the fridge that were the same or similar to what I eat. After a few weeks of confusion, I realized that Kans and I eat the same food. Kind of.

We both eat things like hummus, and onions and green peppers go in everything. However, our main food groups are both the same... I made a Natalie Dee-style food pyramid to show our eating habits:

The main group is grains, like bread and potatoes. Then the middle one is cheese, and the top one is donuts. The center of our diets, however, is the daily cup (or, in Kans' case, cups) of coffee.

So, I have a buddy in my eating habits. It works out well for me.

Further explaination:

Bread, or some grain, is the basis of all things good. Potatoes are awesome baked or mashed. Tortillas are amazing things too. And, above all, bread is favorite. Of all kinds. Banana, white, wheat, homemade, store bought, etc.

The middle group, cheese, is all important. It provides calcium, which helps me to not break my bones when Kans decides to have the route of our walk follow the icy steps on campus and I almost fall. It also gets put in EVERYTHING- quesadillas, on baked potatoes, stirred in mashed ones, on top of soup, or just plain eaten.

Donuts are the smallest one because, while a staple, they only come around every couple of months. And, when I do get them, they don't go away fast enough. Last Saturday, Kans and I each bought a 6-pack... Which was a bad idea. By the time we had each eaten half, we were tired of them. It was a good fix for the next few months, though. (Also, these are technically a grain... So maybe they shouldn't have their own category? I'm choosing to not get technical about such things.)

While on the whole coffee only makes up a small percentage of my total intake, it is possibly the most important part of my overall diet. I drink a cup of coffee any time I have to wake up to an alarm- otherwise, the world ceases to function as necessary. Well, I cease to function as required to exist in the world (strange how people don't cater to me when I'm low on sleep...).

Moral of the story: cheese, bread, donuts, and coffee are good. Ucky vegetables and meat, bad.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nothing encourages creativity...

Like the chance to fall flat on one's face. -James D. Finley

 I've discovered what my problem is.

I do a project, and it turns out AWESOME... And then I get ambitious, and I do things that are too hard without any transition, and then I want to shoot my life in its face.

Being snowed in leaves lots of time for crafting. And we've had plenty of it, thanks to about 6 inches of snow and a layer of ice underneath of it- also, us not possessing a shovel. (We should work on that before the next storm, eh?)

This weekend, I was on a bit of a recycled kick, so I made a wallet out of an old milk carton. Which was actually super awesome. I attached a bit of ribbon and felt very clever and creative.

The lid twists off in order to open it.

Then Monday was sewing day, part one at the House O' Bricks. I finished my t-shirt quilt (there will be no pictures of this, since it's kind of the ugliest thing ever.... But awesome anyway.). Then, Monday night, I burned a notebook that had some stuff I have been dealing with in it, and it needed to go away.

Tuesday morning, I woke up and thought "I have a brilliant idea." I went down to the fire and pulled the spiral from the notebook out of the ashes, then twisted it into my new purity ring- which is pretty bangin', if you ask me.

This is where my head started to get big. And so I thought, ohhh, I'm going to make this super awesome flower thing out of newspaper. (Thanks, Kans, for showing me the recycled origami book. I might blame this one on you in the future.) It was a pain in my butt, and I got super annoyed, but I made it the whole way through... And then the darn thing didn't even look like a flower, it just looked like a pinwheel.

I was pissed. Also, Kans' project wasn't working correctly, so she was annoyed too... I decided to quit crafting for the day and just laugh at Kans.

Eventually, Sarah started altering some of her dresses, which meant that I got to help pin them. No big deal.

Until hannaHRose wanted a dress altered, too.

See, hannaHRose is super stressed about being poked with pins. So every time my hand got near her, she would say "Don't poke me." I heard it like, 6 times. It was obnoxious, even though I understand the concern.

I ended up poking myself like, 13987 times in order to make sure hannaHRose didn't get poked. And then her dress required re-pinning and adjusting and was just a general obnoxious pain.

I woke up this morning cranky. I don't know if it was left overs from last night, or being stuck in for 3 days, or what the issue was, but I snapped at Sarah basically the instant she came downstairs. And then I realized I was being super lame.

hannaHRose managed to get her tank out, and when we got home, I started a new project- a crochet pig. It's actually kind of cute.

We moved all the cars today, and hopefully I'll be able to get to work tomorrow... But I was thinking about it, and when I get stuck somewhere, or things aren't going exactly the right way, I seem to revert to "Life sucks."

And really, that's not it. I think sometimes we have good days and we have bad days, but when my outlook on life is "Life sucks", then I'm never going to have a good day.

Pretty good for a brain full of snot.

So that's where peanut butter comes from.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What garlic is to salad...

Insanity is to art. -Augustus Saint-Gaudens

I live in a house full of creative people.

I mean, one of my roommates is an art teacher who seems to be amazing at anything she tries; one can fold a paper crane in about two seconds flat; and one can work magic behind a sewing machine.

And honestly, I feel rather creative. Sometimes. I go through phases. Like, I crocheted for almost a week straight. I made a quilt, a skirt, and a halter top, all out of old t-shirts. Currently, I'm kind of obsessed with recycled art- wallets out of milk cartons and juice pouches, notebooks out of cereal boxes, etc.

I get pretty proud of myself when I finish a project. Like I've learned something new, and I'm a rock star for it.

However, I then look at pictures of what other people have done, and my bubble is kind of burst. Like, my stuff is not creative at all.

I'm choosing to take the following as inspiration, instead. Check these out- their awesome :)

3-D chalk art; that dude holding the hose is a drawing.
"Reverse graffiti"- This guy makes stencils and then washes the area under them, instead of painting it. (He still gets in trouble.)
That's packing tape. Made into ducks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It takes courage to grow up...

And become who you truly are. -E. E. Cummings

I've always been one of those people who is unhappy with who I am as a person. I am a shape shifter, always trying to fit what I think people are expecting of me. When they asked me what my life goals were as a senior, I should have listed "make sure that anyone who has ever had any inkling of my existence, ever, likes me." as number one.

Problem is, no matter how hard I work at that, not everyone is going to be thrilled with me. Especially not all the time.

I think we all go through phases where we shift who we are to fit where we are; the music we're listening to, who our friends are, even the area we live in. However, I think I do it more than normal people.

When I first moved to Cullowhee, I wanted so badly to impress everyone... And so I shifted to what I thought they liked.

I think it was subconscious, but it happened. And the girl I was shifting to be like noticed. And called me on it.

I think she actually said, "Have an original thought or idea or SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T COME FROM ME FIRST."

I was hurt. And shocked. No one had ever called me on it before. I didn't know how to deal with it.

We worked it out, long story short. I think I'm doing better. I'm discovering who I am aside from everyone else.

But I think I still shape-shift a little. This evening, Kans and I went on a walk. (I'm embarrassed now because I know she'll probably read this, but... I'm over it. Kind of.)

I was super excited. When I moved in here, I wanted to get to know her, and it just hasn't happened... Everyone is busy and when we're home we all kind of just collapse. It's only in these last couple of weeks, really, that I feel like Kans and I have started having some semblance of a friendship, instead of merely coexisting.

As we were walking through the snowy, icy campus tonight and talking, I noticed myself watching what I said and did very carefully. I was again concerned with "She won't like me unless I critique everything I say to her first. I have to be careful."

I quickly snapped out of it, and we had (what I thought was, anyway) a pleasant walk.

But it made me wonder... How many of my relationships have I done that in?

Where have I shifted to try and get people to like me, and, in turn, pushed them away?

It kind of bummed me out. I've lost a lot of relationships, potentially awesome friendships, because I've been too scared of what people think of me.

I'm at that phase in my life right now where I either give up or where I fight it out. Where my life becomes what I make it, instead of where my parents guide me or any of that.

It sucks. I'd like to lay down and die, but something within me makes me slug through it.

I guess I know something better is waiting on the other side... It's just the fighting through to figure out what.

Preppy phase

"I love my family, but my friends hate theirs, so I have to pretend to hate mine" phase

"I hate the world outside of my computer" phase

"I hate everything in the whole entire world in general" phase

Current- I hate being dirty (notice glaring at dirt on hand), classy but not quite average, pretty sometimes but most of the time just want to wear what I want, hanging out with friends and going with the flow, no matter what that means phase.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So often we do things that make sense to us...

And then ask God to come alongside our plans, rather than looking at the things God promises to bless and acting alongside of them. We know that God's blessing will follow if we are with the poor, the merciful, the hungry, the persecuted, the peacemakers. But sometimes we'd rather have a God who conforms with our logic than conform our logic to the God whose wisdom is a stumbling block to the world of smart bombs and military intelligence. -Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President

I've never been someone who stays up late. I actually used to sleep about 14 hours a day, only being awake for school and to eat dinner and do homework in the evenings. Since moving to the House O' Bricks, however, I have become quite the night owl- either because that's when I see my roommates, or just because I have discovered how productive I am in the dark hours when normal people are sleeping.

So, when New Year's Eve rolled around this year, I knew that it would be one of the first years when it would not be a struggle to stay awake and welcome in the new year. (Last year, my family and I were traveling to Texas and were staying in a hotel in Houston on New Year's Eve... We all went to bed about 10 PM.) I was kind of looking forward to it, even though we didn't have any big plans.

We ended up having absolutely no plans, actually. hannaHRose went for a drive, and Swah and I watched Treasure Planet. Then Kans joined the party, and we all went out in the driveway and threw dinky little fireworks and got scared that hannaHRose was going to light herself on fire.

hannaHRose and Sarah had plans on new year's day, and I wasn't invited. Which is fine, because it wasn't with my friends, but my automatic feeling is rejection. It's actually kind of retarded. People do something, and instead of finding something to do, I default to feeling rejected and left out, which puts me in a bad mood and then makes everyone miserable.

So, I was going to sit at the house and pout all day, knowing that it was a horrible start to my new year, but hey... I felt validated.

I was sitting in the living room, feeling kind of pathetic about my life and having no motivation to do anything. I hadn't done my chore for the week yet, the living room was filthy, and my computer had stopped working. I hadn't showered in a few days, my laundry needed done, my room needed cleaned... And I just wanted to mope and hope that someone would do it for me.

hannaHRose (an enthusiastic ball of energy on this particular morning, much to my dismay) and Sarah left to go hang out with their friends, and I curled up on the couch... Only to have the realization that I had to get out of the house. I could not continue to be a brat about this. I have a life, and it is separate from my roommates, even if they do exist in it.

It had been raining for several hours at this point, and I thought I'd go down to the river and watch it rush past and listen to the rain and have a chat with God. I grabbed a notebook and my pens and markers and got in the car.

Well, Mrs. Cleaver is kind of a gas sucker. Which meant that after I got about 5 minutes down the road and and hadn't found the river yet, and wasn't sure how much further it was, I decided that this was dumb and I should just go home.

As I turned onto campus though, I realized... I hadn't dealt with what was going on inside of me yet. And it wasn't going to happen at home.

I pulled into a parking lot, turned the car off, and watched as the rain pounded the windshield. And I cried. For the first time in several months. And it was ugly.

Now, when I cry, it isn't just a few tears and a one tissue blow my nose and throw it away kind of deal. It is a red rimmed eyes that are all puffy the next morning, whole box of tissues next to me but it's coming too fast to even deal with that and so I just use my sleeves and then gross myself out, disgusting, horrifying, rare event. And I had one of those.

As I talked to God, all of the things about me that drive me crazy started coming to mind. And so I thought, Well, instead of resolutions, I'll make a list of life changes.

And so I did.

I didn't want it to be a list of things that I thought about for a little while and then forgot, feeling bad about the whole situation later. And I definitely didn't want to put a cap on it.

And so "The Top ___ of 2011 (an open-ended list)" was born. It contains things such as:
4.: Learn to do something new once a month. This does not mean perfecting or even enjoying it, but at least giving something out of the ordinary a try.
14.: Have an opinion.
2.: Believe the things God has promised me will come to be.

Etc. After writing for a while, I started feeling better and was able to come back to the house. I wasn't really glad that it had happened, but it had, and I came home and was able to be productive.

Around 5:00, I was changing a load of laundry over to the dryer and noticed that the neighbors were standing on their back porch. I was intrigued and walked out on our driveway.

I have never been one to just get in the car and drive. It just seems dumb. It's a waste of gas, a waste of time, a waste of money, and, it's pointless. But I hopped in Mrs. Cleaver (I didn't even grab my cell phone, which was super weird) and I drove. Kans had given me a general heading for the airport, and the GPS found it right as I had to turn.

I drove up these insane twisty roads that you have to go like, 5 MPH on, and the higher I got into the mountains, the more I remembered how much God loved and cared for me.

I eventually stopped at an overlook from which I could see campus, our house, and, well, most of Cullowhee. As the sun set, I started crying again (twice in one day. Whew. That's more than that happens in a month, normally!).

I got home, then the roommates did, and then our friends came over. And honestly, it was one of the best nights of socialization I've had in a long time. Instead of being constantly worried about what everyone else was thinking of me, I felt free to actually be who me was.

I've realized that God did not intend for me to feel rejected; and that the things that God doesn't intend for me are not things that I should accept.

The list is posted next to my bed, and it still kind of pisses me off every time I see it. I don't like the things that I'm asking myself to do, but I'm trusting that it'll help me out in the end.

Also, I'm praying that my life gets less serious soon, because I'm tired of only writing about Jesus things. And because it's stressful. And kind of dull.

I thought maybe if I made it colorful I'd hate it less.