Monday, December 16, 2013

When Everything Hurts

They tell you that things that are worth doing are hard. But how can something that is supposed to happen feel this much like getting torn limb from limb, shaken apart on an atomic level? It all leaves me with this general sense of wanting to run away, leave everything behind me, and not look back. Be the bird I'm getting tattooed on my wrist after Christmas or the butterfly whose wing I'm buying myself a necklace of (both to remind me that when people hurt me, I have the ability and the right and the responsibility to fly away). And then I'm reminded, that that was what I was doing when I came here. I was running away from complicated and into the great blue yonder...and then life happened. I became a person, and the people around me wouldn't submit to being the scenery in my epic adventure, but stubbornly insisted on being people themselves. And anywhere people are people together, life happens and things get complicated.
I'm hurting more than I can say right now. Maybe that's selfish, maybe life's not supposed to be about me, and maybe that's my whole problem, but knowing those things doesn't make the hurting go away. One boss is treating me like I'm already gone, the other like I'm a wasted investment. My coworkers are talking about each other behind their backs, which only leaves me to wonder what they say when I walk out of the room.
And then I get through women's Bible study and ask the friend for a ride home, which turns (halfway against my will) into grabbing dinner along the way and communal griping about our days and our jobs and it's a rough environment. A playfully abusive one. It isn't healing or comfort. It isn't recharging. It's draining. And then I get home after my family has gone to bed and it's too quiet, which is almost easier than getting home when everybody's still up and bustling and I can't figure out to save my life where I fit in with them anymore. And when I feel like one tightly compacted ball of pain and hurting, loosely contained by too-thin, easily-bruised skin, it's hard to enter into their conversations and their playing and their tv-watching; but when they ask what's wrong, I can't communicate, I can only complain, and so they don't understand. All Mom can say is "at least it's almost over." And I don't know how to make her understand that that's half of the problem, even if it's 100% of the solution. Quitting this job that has been my life, my waking and my sleeping and my eating and my breathing for three-hundred and twelve days (7,488 hours, 449,280 minutes, 26,956,800 seconds) is like quitting a drug. Is it what's best for me? Yes. Is it God's will for my life? I think so. Is it easy or walking on rainbows or fluffy bunnies? Um, no. It feels like lying and betrayal and cowardice and losing a vital organ and losing everything I've worked for. It feels like losing friends I love and kids I love and work I've let become a part of me and a world I've fought tooth and nail to become an integral part of and someone I legitimately care about, faults included. It feels like everything is upside-down-inside-out-backwards and I can't get my bearings.
I'm already gone from the place I have belonged for a year, even though I haven't gone anywhere yet. I don't feel like I belong yet or anymore in the place I have always been and have always been able to return to, until now. Doing the math, that adds up to a whopping zero places where I feel at home right now, and that's starting to really take its toll on me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Below My Feet

There's a wise blogger who's been on about Thanksgiving all month long. Longer, maybe. And she told her readers to let every step (every time your feet touch the earth), to let it be a kiss of gratitude to the God who makes the road rise up to meet you. That, as gravity binds you to the ground and the soles of your feet touch the dirt and the pavement, thanksgiving is the only answer. That the best and surest way to happiness is to thank and praise God in the good and in the bad. It turns blessings and curses into miracles and marvels.
Today has been a day of blessings and curses and miracles and marvels. The church-cleaning and the tomorrow-preparing and the Christmas-tree-hanging happened quick and painless this morning. Then it was back to the mission and moving 4,000 boxes of stuffing and cranberry sauce to be delivered to families tomorrow morning and a human chain stretched three blocks to save steps. And it was cold but not freezing and the sun was on my back and a school group on my right and a bunch of Catholic teenagers to my left and it would've been amazing (easy gratitude), except that I'm a girl. And sometimes that means that I am sicker than ibuprofen and water can manage and sometimes I throw up and sometimes I pass out and sometimes I just hurt. Today, I hurt. So I'm sitting in the breakroom, slumped against the wall, waiting for the magic pill a friend gave me to kick in. And I hate sitting still when everybody else is spinning and I'm asking God how this can possibly bring Him glory? Me down for the count with work to be done? I mean, sure, if I was the soldier who could stand up and get back to work and grit my teeth and grin through the pain through the power of God, that could please Him. That could be worth something. But I'm not. When this girl hurts, she hurts.Soldiering wasn't going to happen. (Difficult gratitude is less fun.)
But eventually pills kick in (to some extent) and I stand up and everything's alright and don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know, but I'm thinking and thanking.
The rest of the day was great. A friend is in town unexpectedly and I got to help with different-than-usual things and little league baseball teams make any job go faster and I don't usually get trusted like that, but I did today and it was fun.
Tomorrow is the day that all of this has been working towards and I should be nervous, but I'm mostly excited and it's going to be perfect.
And I want you, reader, to have fun tomorrow. To be grateful for good things and bad things. To enjoy your family and your friends. Happy Thanksgiving.
"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Day for Duck-Duck-Tic-Tac-Toe

It's been the kind of day where duck duck goose and tic-tac-toe get mixed up and crossed around each other, and bags of cocoa puffs get gobbled and traded and dropped in the mulch under new picnic tables. It's the kind of day where Supergirl discovers the view from the top of the world (in the branches of a tree) but big brother wants to get down 'cause he's a little bit 'cared (but wait just a minute and look up and see how the sun comes down through the leaves, and look out and see how high up you are, and enjoy the view for just a minute, I promise I won't let you fall). A day of almost-skinned-elbows and almost-splinters and almost-bumped-heads and grace. A day of no, we're not brothers, just really close friends, and no we don't have any homework, and can we just have some snack before we go back to playing. A day of I'm sorry, I know you tried to say hello yesterday, and I just kept my head down, and we've just been going through so much lately. And a day of sorry, I can't come to the door, I've been in the hospital this weekend, and can you pray for me. It's been one of those days when I remember why I love my job.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Choosing OR How To Breathe

Did you ever have that moment when your heart starts beating again? When you find that the self you had thought was shrinking away to nothing was really there all along, waiting for you to remember it.
When the person who probably loves you the most of anyone alive tells you you're in danger of disappearing, you listen. You sit up and fly starlight. You cry, because you realize, like knife points, the truth of every word. And you change.
And when the person you thought was to blame tells you they're on your side, tells you you have to do what's right for you without worrying about anyone else, tells you they could tell you weren't breathing, well, that helps too.
When I came here, I was running scared. Since halfway through high school, the thought of there being an ever after to this girls story seemed inconceivable. I don't know why, or if that's my fault, or what it says about my mental health, but it's true. So when I got here, it felt like clambering onto some sort of tenuous reality. I needed it. For a moment, it kept me sane. But it it isn't the only reality. More of a pocket universe on the larger bubble of the rest of my time on planet earth. 
Good things have happened here. God has used me for good here. I've met people who will never not be a part of me. I've learned things about myself: like the reason that I will love teaching-I love meeting new kids, like I don't mind shouldering and consuming and swallowing more than my fair share of the world's bitterness and ugliness and negativity-as long as I have ample time and opportunity to release it and enough tying me down that I can return to myself after it's all over. It's a useful human being to have around-one who doesn't have to have the upper hand. And beyond that-I'm braver now, just in the silly things. In the making phone calls and  the answering phone calls and the talking to people and the saying hello in the grocery store and the running into acquaintances in Starbucks and the ordering what I actually want for dinner. My brother was saying just the other day, 'You're so good at that. Talking to people, looking like you know what you're doing.' That's something I used to be incapable of, and now I'm not anymore. I'm less the scared child, more the self-assured adult. I'm braver.
But there's more to it than that. I needed the time to become brave enough to choose the rest of my life, to choose the person I want to be, the person I'm supposed to be. I had to find the courage to decide, for myself, to go after my existence with everything I have. I needed  to find the place inside myself that wants to be me badly enough to keep trying it. And when you choose that, when you make that decision, the decision to love yourself and keep trying, you're heart beats again and your lungs fill with air and art happens again because "art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are."
Today? I chose. I choose.
("Wrote 'love' on arm. Saved self.")
And maybe it takes time and maybe changes don't happen tomorrow, and maybe the struggle isn't over yet because there's going to be hard conversations and some people won't understand (but hopefully the ones who matter will and the ones who won't don't matter) and maybe you never wander far from a mission you believe in with your whole self, and maybe you can't live in this town and not participate in what God is doing through it, and maybe you come back sometimes, and maybe the only somebody who could tie you here makes up his mind and reaches for your hand and then some things (but definitely not all the things) are subject to change (or maybe he doesn't and life goes on and maybe you don't really care that much anyway). And maybe there are other changes that will be hard, maybe living at home again, even as much as you ache for it, won't be without challenges. And maybe you're going to have to look for a real job, and maybe having a drivers license isn't much good without a car, and maybe your cell phone is on a company plan, and maybe life is complicated.
But everything is going to be alright.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wise Comfort

So we all have that friend, don't we?  The fixer. The one who you take your issues to, and they tell you how to fix them. The well-meaning, good-intentioned friend who cares about you and wants what's best for you...and knows exactly how you should get there. If you don't have this friend, it might be wise to examine yourself: this could be you.
Maybe, we know taking our troubles to this friend isn't going to end well. Maybe you try not to. But maybe they'll be hurt if you don't open up to them. Or maybe they're the only ones still listening. Or maybe you care about them, and you're hurting, and you need them to tell you they care that you are hurting, however clumsily they do it.
One way or another, you wind up holding a nice neat answer to everything you're going through that does you...absolutely no good at all.
I wonder what we're hoping for, when we spill everything that's hurting to somebody whose problems they...aren't? Because our negative reactions to easy answers shows that that sure isn't what we want. Does it help just to hear our own voices? Or maybe sometimes we just hope that another set of hands helping to carry what we're shouldering might make things a little lighter. Maybe sometimes we just want comfort and a friend. 
Either way, hurting hearts don't need easy answers. Hurting hearts don't need band aids and aspirin. Hurting hearts need other hearts to bend when we break and dip when we dive. And while, yes, sometimes we need that friend who can tell us that we're wrong and say hard things without icing and sprinkles, tonight, friend, I just needed you to tell me that you care about me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On Daylight OR To Have and to Hold (A Lover of the Light)

It's been a day (week, really) of songs about light. Worming our way from a conversation last weekend about Snow Patrol's Crack the Shutters ("as the rays tangle up around your face and body...cause the daylight seems to want you just as much as I want you") and the darkened days that song pulled me through, all the way to tonight and my favorite Mumford and Sons video and the way he reaches out his hands to play with the sunlight he feels but can't see. And the way we think about light, as a thing to be seen, to be caught and refracted and reflected and shone into dark rooms and dark mazes at a fall festival for the four year old clinging to your sweater sleeve and tripping up your feet and scared - and it's true. But it runs deeper, more than x number of dimensions- the way that light tumbles through cracks in shutters like flowers up through cracks in pavement. The way it strains towards you to fill up every crevice and tangles up around you like waking up to slept-in-late sunshine under your eyelashes and bed sheets tangled around your ankles. The way it slips like sand between your fingers to rejoin the rest. The moment you step out, light accepts you, takes you in, an honored member of reality, part of your surroundings, earth below your feet and light swimming around you and pulling at you and holding you down. It believes that you are where you're meant to be, authorized personnel to clump about on planet earth and do stuff and make art and say the right words and say the wrong words and breathe air and laugh and touch things and like things and dislike things and learn to ride a bike. The daylight is warm on your face. You are welcomed, accepted, protected, believed in, beloved. Take comfort. Have heart. Be brave. 'Go boldly in the direction of your dreams.' Forgive yourself for existing, the sunlight already has. Accept yourself as you are, but expect yourself to be the best that you can be. Be kind to yourself, beloved child of the God who hung the stars in the sky and gave his very life for you so that by His light, the Light of the World, darkness may be driven back for good. "Look to the future and stand in the sun."

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Having Unfair Expectations of People OR Boys Are Dumb

So a long time ago, at a youth lock-in, a speaker held up a balloon, and he filled it up with air, and he let it go. And it flew around the room and deflated itself with as much noise and fuss as it's little rubber self could muster before it drifted to the floor, stretched out, spend, and disheartened.
And he told me that that was me - that when I am upset by a person (whether that person is a dear friend who has said or done something to cut me deep or a barista at Starbucks who got my drink order wrong), it's a sign that, deep down in my heart, some part of me was expecting that person to make me happy. Was looking to that person for my happiness. Was holding that person up against an ideal formed in my head by selfish desires and outward influences. Was expecting that person to fill a void in me created to yearn for and be satisfied by God alone. 
Do I agree with every word of that? Not necessarily. But do I believe that, when I expect people to live up to my unfair expectations of them, I'm setting myself up for hurt and disappointment? Every time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Devotion I'm Giving Tomorrow

So once every few weeks I get a little piece of paper in my mailbox at the office, informing me that it's my privilege and duty to lead staff devotion one weekday morning. Thursday, October 10th (read, tomorow) is the next time that's happening. So while I was preparing something to talk about, I figured I might as well post it here:

There’s a sticky note, at my desk, on the corner of my computer screen – and it’s the word and the dictionary definition of “steadfast”.  And the dictionary definition of the word “steadfast” is: “fixed in direction, steadily directed; firm in purpose, resolution, faith; firmly established or fixed in place.” And I traced it back a little further, into the history of this word, and it literally means “able to stand.”

The reason I have this sticky note, is that Monday of this week, this word was popping up everywhere. First in a devotional I receive by email every morning, and then throughout the day, until I finally looked it up and wrote it down and stuck it where I could see it, because apparently, I’m supposed to remember this word. Steadfast. Able to stand.

So I look it up in an online concordance that turns up literally every use of the word in every English version of the Bible, and just kind of see how it's used throughout scripture.

Some verses have to do with us: Joshua 1:9 reads “be strong and steadfast” in some versions. Psalms 51:10 begs of God “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Isaiah 26:3 promises “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” In the new testament, it mostly refers to the early Christians: Paul or Peter advising them to be “steadfast” in faith and “steadfast” in prayer and Romans 12:12, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”

Then some are all about God. Hebrews 6:19 says that we have the God’s hope as a “a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul.” Proverbs 20:28 talks about God’s “steadfast loyalty.” And then there are innumerable times in the old testament that God’s “steadfast love” is referenced, in Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus and how God took care of Abraham’s family, up through First and Second Samuel and Kings and Chronicles and the Psalms as God was faithful to King David and his descendants, and even throughout the prophets as God is passing judgment on the nation of Israel for their sin and idolatry.

So I’m probably going to be chewing on this little word for a while. But I feel like the message is pretty clear. First off, in the midst of this world where everything shifts and changes throws us off course, God is faithful, firm, fixed, and steadfast; we are able to stand on him, his promises, his Word. The salvation he offers us in Jesus Christ cannot be taken away. God’s love is endlessly steadfast. Then building on that foundation, God calls us to be steadfast, even though it’s in our nature to change. To stand firm in faith. To be faithful in prayer. To love like he loves: steadfastly, even though undeserved, regardless of harm done to us. And it all seems to come back to that idea of just loving well, of investing joyfully in others, of giving of ourselves .

Most of the times I choose [Come Thou Fount] for devotion, I pick it because it’s my favorite, not
because it has anything to do with what I’m talking about. But this time, it seems appropriate. "O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fifteen Minutes Until Devotion

This is becomming a regular part of my day. And it's awkward and uncomfortable and I don't like it. And everybody's bustling around me in three-million different directions and I'm sitting here, acutely aware of how very still I'm being, waiting for it to be 8:00 so that it's time for devotion and my day can start.
Because I don't really have anything I'm supposed to be doing right now. Or could be doing right now. And so? I blog. And wait.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On Barometric Pressure

...or whatever it is that's turning the inside of my brain to jello.
So you know those moments when you look at Facebook and realize that everybody but you still talks to each other. Like, people from middle school, people from high school, from old social groups, from old special events. All still liking each other's photos and commenting on each other's statuses like everything's still the same. And you're over here in a corner, having blocked and hidden most of them, having to remind yourself that you don't want to be a part of these little interactions. No? Just me? Alright, then. Moving on.
Is anybody else totally addicted to Colormania? Dumb iPhone app, takes notable images, logos, carton characters, flags, insignia and etc, drains them of color, and makes you fill in the blanks? Except everytime you guess the wrong color, you lose a life, and every time you run out of lives, you get locked out of the app for twenty-five minutes, and every time the app decides to let you back in, it crashes your phone and you have to restart the phone entirely in order to play again. Vicious cycle, and I'm officially stuck in it. Bah humbug.
Also, Pandora!! This magical machine that tells you all the music you like but you've never heard of, like Stateless and Mat Kearney and the list just goes on and on and it's really really fun.
There's been this dumb cold going around, everybody's been passing it from one to another, and I was one of the first to get it and then it was over and I got to laugh as everybody else slowly passed it along the line. It was funny. Until I woke up this morning. Now my head is stuffy and fuzzy again. Guess I probably deserved that, huh? And also, I should probably start taking a multivitamin.
It's Wednesday. My longest, slowest, busiest day that goes out with a barely-survivable two-hour children's ministry bang before I can make it to Starbucks with my girls for what I've come to think of as 'debriefing.' Except now, I even need to debrief from debriefing, because things with our little friend group are starting to stress me out too. Which brings me to the question: how many areas of your life can explode before the problem is officially you? And everything, from my work and my coworkers, to my friends on nearly every level (the big everybody groups and the little girls-only groups), to my life at the place where I live (limited time for cleaning and everything upside-down with my roommate), is stressing me out right now, and I can't seem to get a bit of peace and quiet inside of my head.
And, in case that doesn't communicate to you clearly enough my present state of mind, I'll be more forthcoming. I'm wound just a little tight today. I feel like something's off today, like when you're watching a 3D movie and you take your glasses off, and all the reds and blues shift away from each other and blur a little bit and make you kind of sick. Everyone seems to be saying here lately, something big is coming. Don't know if it's a paradigm shift or a catastrophe or the dawn of a new age or what, and maybe it'll be like in the old movies, where the monster was scary until it got around the corner and we got a good straight look at it and bad special effects just made it laughable.
Or maybe it's only me, and barometric pressure and ragweed season, and maybe I've had too much coffee and not enough sleep.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Carnival AND A Realization

With popcorn and snow cones and hot dogs and bounce house and soccer cage and bean bag toss and children running around everywhere, sugar coursing through their veins.
A carnival we put on for the residents at one of the apartment complexes last night.
My first real carnival with the little mission where I work.
Carnivals are crazy. Like, really crazy.
But we had a fabulous time.
I worked the bounce house, which was a constant stream of "three more minutes," and, "take your shoes off!" and, "be careful of the little kids," and, "wait your turn." But it was also a chance to talk to and get to know just about every child that was in attendance, and hang out and spend time with some I've known for a long time but rarely get to see anymore. It was fun, and I get to do it two more times. We have two more carnivals at two more places, the last of which is the place where I do Bible study: of course I'm most excited for that one. The residents at my little place, I'm positive, will come out en masse and have a great time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Great Gatsby

Hit dvd yesterday. Was purchased by yours truly last night. Was watched by yours truly last night. Will likely be watched again by yours truly, accompanied by various assortments of friends, at least once more before the week is out.
Last night was the time I got to watch it with my copy of the book in my lap, and go tearing through looking for the direct quotes and the tiny references and the, if we're being completely honest here, the things they left out (I love this movie. I still will not admit it is anything other than perfect, even for its imperfection). Last night was the night I got to fly off the couch, pause the movie, explain things to my roommate (who hasn't read the book since high school) and provide textual evidence. It was fun.
Tonight or tomorrow night will be the watching of it with everyone so that everyone can see this thing and enjoy it and love it like I do.
Also, Daisy's song is still my favorite.

On The (Sometimes) Difficulty of Accepting Grace

There's a kind of person who'll say she knows she's a sinner saved by grace, but then work her fingers to the bone in such a way that it sure as anything looks like she feels she still has to earn it.
There's a kind of person who, though she's believed in and followed and served the God of illogical forgiveness all her life, though she spends her days telling people (and legitimately believes) that no sin is so great that you are beyond the grace of the God who made them, at the end of the day, though she'll never own to it, feels like that God could love and forgive anyone but her.
There's a kind of person who, after all these years, still sometimes has a hard time accepting grace.
"You refuse forgiveness, like it's something to be earned," or so the song goes.
Sometimes, I'm this kind of person.
Good news? I'm not the only one.
There's an army of us, men and girls who can forgive anyone, extend grace to anyone, believe that God could love anyone, except for themselves. This is sin, it is doubting God's love, it is to say "the infinity of God's grace and power ends here." And there's a kind of pride in this, too, that will not be seen by the untrained eye, but that quietly sits on the heart whispering 'any sin but mine.' And it's often those of us who have been in Christ's camp the longest, who have the fewest scars from their days before salvation, who were saved out of the sins of a child, who have this difficulty hanging onto the reality of grace. It's those of us who have been the Elder Brother far more often than the Prodigal who stray into this way of thinking: not careening wildly off of the correct theological path, but slowly and by degrees until they find themselves far from home without ever having decided to leave.
The good news? There's still hope. And the grace of the God of unfathomable forgiveness has no limits, no final straw.
There's one effective weapon against lies, and it's truth. The belt of truth buckled around our waist to hold everything together and to keep us firmly in place.
Truth is the things we've known all along: You, child, are not stronger than God. You could not commit a sin so grand as to shock or push away the love that ascended Calvary. Even the quiet, creeping sins you hide cannot stand before the light of the love that conquered death. You are a child of the risen Savior, bought with blood and made right before the Father. You. Stand. Forgiven. Loved. Grace has found you and made you new. Now go and sin no more.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Not Always Being My Own Favorite Person (Or, Alternately, Despicable Me)

My roommate had a bit of an existential crises of self-awareness last night. Messy. Which is not the topic of this blog post.
The topic of this blog post is that, well, sometimes I'm not my own favorite person. Sometimes I'm a bit of a doormat. But really more like this doormat:
than a normal doormat. A doormat with a bad attitude. A doormat that, even though it doesn't like to have other people's dirty footprints on it, allows itself to be walked on anyway. Which is compounded by the fact that I'm a naturally implosive person: I'd sooner grumble about the dirty footprints than to ask someone to wipe their muddy feet elsewhere.
Sometimes I stand up for people who don't deserve my devotion. Sometimes I let relationships that validly could've been normal, healthy friendships deteriorate into passive aggressive, emotionally unhealthy, static-charged messes. Okay, so maybe I had a little bit of help on that front, can't take total credit for that one.
Sometimes I create problems where there aren't any. Sometimes I bring out the worst in people. Sometimes I'm anything but graceful under pressure. Sometimes I run my mouth when I shouldn't. Sometimes I'm a bit of a cynic. Sometimes I'm jealous and petty. Sometimes I want what blatantly isn't mine. Sometimes? Sometimes I don't know what I want.
And, sometimes, I can be a bit too hard on myself. I'm still learning to work on my flaws without wallowing in them or drowning under them. And, gratefully, God's not finished with me yet.
Also, we were going to watch Despicable Me at Bible study tonight. Now, we are not going to watch Despicable Me at Bible study tonight. What are we going to watch? Beats me.


Monday, August 5, 2013

On Life Imitating Art (Or, In This Case, Big Bang Theory)

So, seen this episode of Big Bang Theory? If not, or if the show's not your thing for one reason or another, just stick with me for a sec, I have a point here.
In the episode, Sheldon and the gang have traveled to a  hotel and convention center for some sort of science-ey-convention thing, to give a panel on the topic of "Science and Society." Unfortunately, the state of things deteriorates quickly as jealousies come into play, old conflicts are unearthed, and arguments break out among these not-so-professional young professionals. Most of their "panel" is spent arguing and insulting each other. (This scene from the episode is available to be viewed on youtube under the search terms "Big Bang Theory Science and Society." I elected not to link to it here for reasons of language and content; however, if you wish to catch the full drift of my meaning and are not in mixed company, feel free to watch it.)
Now, as for my point, and this is a point I've been making for a solid six months: we're people. I'm people. The folks I work with are people. Those I call my friends are people. We're allll people. Can't help it, nothing we can do about it, stuck that way. And, people? I can't tell you how often I feel like this scene in this sitcom! We've got our super-important, super-professional job to do, as super-professional people, and yet at any moment we could devolve into a handful of squabbling sixth graders. Especially where I'm at in life now, where there's always something riding on my relationships when it comes to my public testimony, I often find it impossible to set my person-hood aside long enough to do my work. And sometimes I'm scared it's all just going to come barreling through my mature-adult exterior. Sometimes, some days, some nights, it does. These are the nights I bite my tongue until I can get myself home and go to bed.
This is something I'm still struggling with, though it's something God's been working on me on for ages. How do I learn how to put my work first and my personness last. How not to let my complicated, sometimes chaotic interpersonal relationships interfere with my ability to receive and process information objectively. Am I starting to sound a little Vulcan? Not meaning to. Just trying to find the answers to something that's been on my heart a while now. Thanks for bearing with me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Appreciation Post on a Different Kind of Friend

Different in that, this person is different than the kind of person that I usually allow myself to be friends with. Usually, when this kind of person and I are friends, it ends badly; and I've learned to stay away. The kind of person who tends to own a room by walking into it, the kind of person whose fan club is everyone they've ever met.
Well, this time, I didn't have much of a choice. I had to be this person's friend in order to keep the peace around here, and I'm so glad I did, because I would've missed a chance to get to know someone who's really been a blessing to me.
It's not often, in an extroverted personality, that you find a kind of understanding and comprehension of the introverted mind that allows for real friendship. Often, the extrovert thinks the introvert should "fix" themselves and become extroverted. Rarely does the extrovert understand that a stoic face does not necessarily denote a stoic mind. This person has.
The list is short of people who put forth effort to draw me out of myself. The list is short of people who are capable of and allowed to pick on me, on my terms, in such a way that I enjoy it, instead of closing up like a clam.
Far and away, my friends have been like me, with a certain reticence towards the outside world. This is why my friendships tend to work. It's a rare, unfamiliar, and greatly appreciated sort of friend who can be so different from me without, well, irking me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Journey with Journee

Thursday mornings are always a little bit hazy, mostly recovering from Wednesday night, more like Monday than even Monday itself.
Last night was colorful, to say the least. Our little mission church has adopted several more apartment complexes over the course of the last week, and we could keep an army busy busing kids back and forth and knocking on doors and loving on people - our little army does as much as we can.
One of these apartment complexes was the last stop on our route last night; I often don't get to ride the bus, but last night it just worked out. My friend Nate was driving, and I was in the seat behind his, trying to keep the crowd under control. Those kids can make me laugh so hard, no matter how hard I'm trying to be mad at them. And, just as we're finally pulling back into the church parking lot in an empty bus, I realize that one little girl had left her house key on the floor. Backtrack we did to one of the new complexes to knock on doors we've never knocked on before to try and track down the owner of the key. The owner we did not find, but we managed to find her friend Journee, who helped us find the girl's father, and all's well that ends well.
We're about to grow. We are. The church as a whole, but the children's ministry especially. And what scares me is how small a team I have here ready to receive them and the gaps that have yet to be filled. And I'm praying: I really am. Praying for workers. Workers who can be tuned in and committed, workers who I can depend on. Jehovah Jireh, right?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who Trespass Against Us

So you start with a group of kids, and you stand them in a circle. And you toss a bean-bag around a few times, nothing complicated or competative, just get it moving. Then you pause, and you take a great big box labeled "GRUDGE (unforgiveness)" to it, and you hand it to one of the children. Bonus points if the box is bigger than he is. And you explain a situation wherein you (their fearless leader) have done something to the child (stolen a hamburger, in our case) and he's really mad at you about it. And you've apologized, and you're not losing sleep over it, but he's still holding that, well, grudge. Then, continue your game as if nothing was different. Except, when you throw the beanbag to the child with the grudge, the beanbag is going to bounce off solid cardboard and hit the ground with a thud. Proceed as if you don't understand, meet the same result the next time you toss the beanbag at the child. Hopefully, the child is standing still, giggling and a little embarrassed. Maybe they've understood too quickly and explained the point before you could. Either way.
Unforgiveness hurts the one who harbours it. Grudges damage the one holding them. And it keeps your hands full and makes you incapable of doing things that used to be easy for you. It interrupts the flow of everything and it gets in the way of other relationships. The hands that used to be so good and liting and loving and catching everything life threw at you become useless, unweildy, dull. And it's bigger than you, and you can't see over it or around it or through it and it fills your vision and it's you. It's you, not the person you aren't forgiving that's hurting and frustrated and incapacitated. Unforgiveness hurts the heart that lets it go to seed.
Father, forgive me my trespasses, especially when I trespass against You by refusing to forgive those who trespass against me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sitting in another airport

On my way home this time. It's a bit vertigo, I'm taking a vacation and it's carrying me home. Things change, don't they? And I keep seeing people that remind
me of people. That's the funny thing about airports. So many people, stuck in an inbetween state, inside their own heads. Other people are a curious phenomena to be observed. I love airports, I love flying, I love to travel. I love traveling by myself. And my mom and my dad and my brothers and my sisters are on the other side. That's almost funny, in a missing-the-last-stair kind of way, not a haha kind of way. I've been away for a while now. But I'm so far beyond excited. Half an hour til my flight, then a two hour layover in Birmingham. This might be a long day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Am I Ready?

So this might be marginally unfair, to post this here now, after so long without posting. The last three months, going on four, have been a bit up-and-down, and I haven't been able to be on here often, but I just feel like I need to talk, to say something before I say yes and everything is locked in.
They've offerred me a job. Staff position with the Mission. Rest-of-my-life, if I want it. Which I might not. But it's gonna allow me to start my schooling, and it's not going to delay anything else I desire. I'll be a permanent fixture with a ministry I love, I'll still get to pursue the other things I want, I have a support system in place, my room and board are still covered. It makes all the sense in the world. And, what's more, I want it. And, still more, I think it's right. And I'm going to say yes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I don't really have time for this...

...because technically there are people here. So technically I'm supposed to be on. Technically I'm supposed to to be introducing myself and getting names and generally being that missionary chick. However, in actuality, I'm blogging and listening to the Lumineers. Funny, all the people in my life, from my family in Virginia to my friends in Texas, are falling in love with this band at the same time. Leads one to believe I'd probably love them too, if I had the time and the internet access to learn more songs than the one they play on the radio. But, for the record, I really, really, really, really like Ho Hey. Because of reasons.
Finally got to read The Fault in Our Stars, couple of friends pitched in and got it for me for my birthday. If you haven't read it yet, all I can say is that you utterly have to. It doesn't get better than John Green, and I'm of the opinion it's his best yet.
Erm, what else is there? Oh! Wreck-It Ralph. Seen it twice since it came out on dvd, and I neither am nor do I live with the one of us who actually paid money to buy it, which probably says something about how much I like this movie. Pixar's best in a while, in my opinion. But, settle an argument for me: was Hero's Duty supposed to be based on Halo? 'Cause I totally think it was supposed to be based on Halo. Definitely.
And, while I can't think of anything outside of that, I have successfully created a media post. O.o

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Part of the reason I don't update anything more often is that there is very little to update on. Things don't change much, from day to day. The other part is that I don't often have internet access. The third and final is that, as my readers will know, when I've gone a long time without blogging, I tend to go a longer time without blogging, because I don't feel like doing a "catch-up post." But, to the best of my abilities, a catch-up post is what I'm going to write.
I am at The Mission. I am at The Mission seven days a week. The Mission is basically the entirety of my existence, and nothing that happens to me is unrelated to The Mission. Even after Mission hours, the only people I spend time with are Mission people, partly by default, but also partly because they are my Friends. Which is weird.
There are, essentially, two facets to my existence at The Mission: the work/ministry facet, which is the entirety of my purpose in being here, and the people-I-spend-time-with facet, which can, at times, be a textbook case of distracting. It's such an emotionally draining situation, being here and the kind of work we do, and you come to rely on the people around you more than you would in normal life. Partially because we have to have people close around us in order to cope with the emotional demands on us every day of our lives. We have to have people to vent to, recharge from, trust with everything, go to for an understanding ear, feed off of, lean on when we're exhausted. This is especially true for those of us who are under twenty-five, because we're all coping with the strain of being away from our families as well. So, those of us who are under twenty-five spend a lot of time together, after office hours. We're, almost by necessity, very close-knit, very emotionally open with each other, very transparent. There are times when, I think, we do things on a weeknight just because none of us can bear the thought of going home and being alone, not when we could be talking and laughing and all making each other feel stronger and better and more human. This is good. This is human fellowship the way it's supposed to be. But that doesn't mean it's always easy, or the kindest thing for our hearts. And I know that, for my own part, I can get caught up in the in's and out's of a social dynamic quicker than a heartbeat, learn it inside out. And I'm so, so blessed that they count me as one of them. Life would be unbearable if I felt out of place around them all, but I don't, and if you know me, you know that that is absolute insanity after just a month. I'm the most socially awkward human being alive, and for me to be as completely comfortable and welcome as I am around these people really does speak volumes about the situation. It's bizarre, is what it is. It's funny, I pictured myself coming here and stepping into a vacuum, a holy-ground kind of pilgrimage that would be a one-way ticket to feeling closer to God and figuring out what He wants me to do with my life. What's scary is how quickly this has become normal life, how quickly this has started to feel like it's what I've always done and like my day-to-day existence. And it's so hard to be the intentional, seeking person I want to be in the middle of a day-to-day existence.
The work/ministry facet is, well, just that. It's the missions work I'm here to do. And it also can divide into two sub-headings. The Front Room, and Bible Study. The Front Room is where people come in from the highways and byways for assistance from The Mission with everything from food to obtaining birth certificates. I spend much of my time there. Lots of paperwork, lots of names and dates of birth and how-can-we-help-you-today and can-I-pray-with-you-before-you-go. Lots of life's stories and sometimes some tears and kleenex and sometimes bruised pride and embarrassment and sometimes an entitlement complex and sometimes only anger.
Bible Study is Bible Study. Mondays and Wednesdays I do "afterschool" program at one apartment complex, with an ever-changing group of people loosely referred to as my "team," and really only one steady person loosely and by a small number of people referred to as my partner. Afterschool program refers to snacks and homework help and if you're lucky a Bible lesson and I just really, really love my kids. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do the same thing at a different place, with rather a more background role, which is a welcome break. Wednesday nights I go to a "proper church" and teach a class of elementary school kids with whom I've been behind the eight-ball from the beginning because I'm their third new teacher this school year, and mostly what I meet with is resistance and anger, and if things are getting better, they're getting better slowly, but I'm almost defiant in how much I want to get through to them and make a difference in their lives. Sunday mornings I go to the same place and do whatever needs doing. I've been everywhere from the youth group to the nursery, not sure that could get much wider/ Saturdays are too complicated to exist right now, but I'll keep you updated.
So, line-up: Mondays-Thursdays, front room until it's time for afterschool. Wednesday night Bible Study. Fridays, front room until it closes at five, then pretending to know what I'm doing in the Abyss referred to as The Bins (where donation-sorting happens, because, as I say a thousand and one times a day, "we're run entirely off of private donations. If it exists, we've probably had it at some point, it's just a matter of if we have it right now.), until The Mission closes at seven. Saturdays, too complicated to exist (this month, taking a busload of My Kids to go and play basketball, in the future, Bible Study at another property). Sundays, church in the morning, lend an extra pair of hands at another Bible study with some friends, Mission-wide worship service with all the volunteers and staff and missionaries, Bins until seven. Mondays run it back and start it all over again.
And, it's all-encompassing. It's all I have time for, it's all I have space on my emotional hard drive for. This is the kind of place where people blink. You know what I mean, right? You blink, and all of a sudden twenty years have passed? Yeah. It's the daily schedule, it's the next special event, it's planning for Vacation Bible School, and it's so easy to get caught up in. I'm scaring myself, really. It'll be in the middle of the most casual conversation, and I'll catch myself making a comment that makes it sound like I'm planning to be here forever. Me and a friend were talking about how much harder middle school is than elementary, and I mentioned how much I'm not looking forward to when two of my girls, both of whom are only in fourth grade, get to middle school. I'm Not Going to Be Here when these girls get to middle school. No, really. Then I was talking to another friend, one who's currently in the process of moving, about how good moving is for cleaning out and throwing away stuff, and I said, "we should just all switch houses every few years." We, being the operative word there. Not you guys, not y'all. We. Not gonna be here. Very much not gonna be here a few years from now. And yet these things keep slipping out of my mouth.
What I actually need to do is figure out what I'm doing when I'm done here. Like, actually actively, have-a-concrete-plan figure it out. Because otherwise...well, I guess I'm not going to finish that thought. Otherwise, I don't know what's going to happen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My brain hurts and my life is complicated.
And I never know what's actually going on.
But I am sitting in a Starbucks with a cup of over-brewed, lukewarm earl grey and have my laptop and I feel very hipster, so I'm blogging.
But I don't actually feel like blogging.
One of those it-would-require-being-way-too-self-aware-for-my-current-psychological-state things.
I miss my mom and my dad and my brothers and my sister and my best friend a lot more than I'm capable of saying.
And I'm having a really amazing time, most of the time. I have people I'm not related to and haven't known my entire life that are under no obligation to like me and yet still elect to hang out with me.  Some of them are male. We spend time as a group. This is weird.
I love people. I love talking to people and meeting people and loving people. I love kids.
But I don't have a solid plan. Ever. And I go places when people tell me to go places, which is sometimes unfun.
This is all the time I have right now. The inside of my head is complicated.

Monday, January 7, 2013

excited and also terrified

because I'm leaving home tomorrow.  And I'm trying to take a break from my to-do list to feel things, because nothing is going to be real unless I've felt it. So I'm over-the-moon excited, because I'm going to be meeting new people and doing things. Serving God. And I'm excited because I get to go on an adventure, with only God for company. And I'm excited because I get to, I hope, do a little bit of self-reinventing. I say I hope, because somehow I always get into a new situation and just wind up being the same person, but that might just be because I am me, no matter what. What I do want to be is taken seriously. I want to be able to have equal-level conversations and express my thoughts and my opinions and do more than smile and nod and laugh. I want to be more confident. And I want to be, well, I do want to be nice, because I'm naturally a nice person; this world could use a little more general decency and friendliness. But I don't want to be the sort of person that adults whom I would like to treat me as an adult can write off with a high-five and a "You're so polite." Because I'm more than just polite. Actually, I can be very un-polite, very mean and very cynical and very biting when the situation allows for it. It's not something I'm proud of. Mostly, I want to be a person. Not a bad goal, I guess. That word, person, means more to me than the dictionary definition. It's hard to explain.
Also, I'm really, really, really going to miss my sister. And brothers. And Mom and Dad. This is going to be hard.
On a lighter note, my Airplane Entertainment (since this always reverts to an entertainment blog sooner or later) consists of multiple things. Writing or Journaling, supposedly. I always fail at that part. Working on getting through my current Charles Dickens project, Hard Times (which I should probably add to my Classics Club list, as if it needed more Dickens). What'll be playing on my iPod (on my new earbuds, those pretty Macbeth ones? They actually work really great) is likely a combination of the obligatory Athlete-Mumford and Sons-Snow Patrol stuff, along with some new (well, new to me) Fleet Foxes, and fueling my newfound love of The Beatles. Yes, I'm a little late to the party. But I actually do love them, they make me happy; it's not something I'm doing because it's cool. (For more information on my music-liking psychosis, see this post).
But now I need to go set up a Skype account and blog on other websites and spend iTunes cards. Hopefully, I'll be back before long.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On People Younger Than Myself Starting To Encounter the World the Way It Is

Please, world, just be perfect and safe and clean and bright and without ugliness or dirtiness or things that sit on consciences like sugar and caffeine on a sleepless, empty stomach, for my little siblings. For the sake of my brothers and sister, who I'd like to be able to run barefoot in all places without being afraid of stepping on sharp things that will hurt them and make them bleed or germy things that will make them sick or dirty things that will make them feel dirty. Who I'd like to be able to feel always perfect and safe and clean and bright and without ugliness or dirtiness or heavy, sick, unsettled consciences.
The world doesn't work like that, does it? There are germs and sharp things and dirty things, there have always been germs and sharp things and dirty things, and there will always be germs and sharp things and dirty things. So God? If You won't take away the germs, give them, give us, give us all stronger immune systems, stronger defenses. Protect soles and souls like callouses, but keep them soft as infants'. Make us always brave and bright and innocent, even in the face of the scary and the dark and the dirty and the ugly. Don't ever let us be afraid of the ugliness, or of ourselves. Do not let the world weigh too heavy with us. Let us wear Your forgiveness and Your holiness like armor, like skin, like favorite clothes that make us feel strong. But more than anything, God? Stay with us. In Your strength and Your gentleness, like the sunshine, never let us feel alone. Teach us to guard our hearts and minds, and to live in this world without being of it. Let us pass through mud and mire and emerge unsullied. 

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25