Give a gift

Monday, December 20, 2010

I know I've been away for so long- forgive me! I read a great post on another blog today and had to share it. Here's the link (and I promise to write more soon)-

An imperishable inheritance

Friday, November 19, 2010

1 Peter 1:3-9 (NRSV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

While you were out

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So I was out of town this weekend and last night came to some serious religious questions... and not too many answers. I read the foreword by Christopher Hitchens to a book called Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And then stopped after that. In seven pages Mr. Hitchens made me question so many of the things I preach about religion and coexistence. He adamantly was against Islam. And I'm not just talking about the religious fanaticism that has swept our newspapers and, in my opinion, brought shame to the entire religion. He was against the whole thing. But he wasn't promoting any other religion in the stead of it, he just hated, quite passionately, Islam and every last bit of it. I assume he meant for all readers to conclude that Islam was pure madness. He brought up the degradation of women, the mutilation of their bodies, the supremacy of men, the beatings, the mandatory prayer, the thought that they have special rights (re: the publishing of images of Muhammad) in terms of free speech. All of this and more this man vehemently brought forth and slammed on the table. He showed extreme partiality and gave no choice as to what his readers were to believe. This raises questions not just about whether or not we should view Islam as a "wrong" religion but then that feeds into the judgement we pass on others, the way we look at all religions, and the notion of what is right and wrong. But let me pause for a moment to clarify some things- I do not believe in ANY form that mutilation, beatings, and degradation is right. It is unquestionably wrong in my eyes... and it should be!

I started studying religion, in part, because I wanted an explanation. I wanted to know why things were the way they were- and I kept coming back to religion. I could be politics with the right-wing, Christian, Western values. Or the left-wing opposites who wanted people to decide their own values or impose their own. I'm not saying either side is right or wrong, just what I see. I wanted to know why there were so many churches with different names and what denominations were. I studied history and almost all major events came back to religion and differences among it. I wanted to know why we did certain things a specific way in my own church. I soon learned that everyone wants to be right. And that everyone thinks they are right. Sometimes people are afraid of other religions and what they don't know and don't understand. Just like regular news (secular news I guess you could call it), religious news often gets the horror stories of why two groups can't get along or why one religion seems to be suppressing a group of people or how a fundamentalist group has terrorized a city or a country, or, even more inexplicably, it's members. How do these things come to pass?

No theologian has ever been completely sure- everyone has those nagging questions. Even the strongest among us in faith wonders. I wonder about the state of the world in which we live. How many more wars can we take before we all crumble? Will we continue to be angry with one another, ignore the gods we confess to love and have piety and devotion, and discard the disciplines we don't like or can't be bothered with? People continue to make religion their own- so how much of religion can be focused on the self? Or should I say, on the ego? I suppose to a point, all religions have to focus on the self, even if the goal is to be selfless. Is it better to lose ourself in a religion or create a religion around ourselves? I'm not sure of the answers to these questions. I guess if I did, I wouldn't be posing them.

I can't explain the faith I have and the comfort and relief it brings me. It's not like a sedative- it's constantly moving and changing and I have to work at it. It's something I don't mind working at. Sure, I fail at it a lot, but that's the way life is. I ask for forgiveness and it's granted. Grace is a beautiful thing. It is gratifying to serve something beyond yourself. It ultimately serves God, it glorifies him. He likes to have us use that faith in an active way too- that's what service is for. I know and believe a few simple truths. I love God more than anything. Yay Jesus! is my answer to most questions. I try to love people in the same way that I believe God loves me. I try my best not to judge other people, but I call it like I see it. I'm factual and compassionate at the same time. I believe that God is all-knowing and good. God is all-powerful too. I believe that God loves everyone too and on the same note, he does not love evil. God is... God.

I can't explain evil and I can't fathom why people partake in it. I don't know what Heaven looks like. I can't answer your question about who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. That is not for me to decide. That is God's job. And that's the answer I am sticking to. There are lots of grey areas in religion. We forget that humans do not have- AND CANNOT HAVE- all of the answers. If we did, what would we have God for? God is the answer to all of the un-answerable questions, he's the answer to "what's going to happen to me?" "what do I do next?" "How is this going to turn out?" "what is in space?" He knows who is right. He knows what is wrong. We need to remember that we're just people. Religion does not have the intent to serve a purpose for us. Religion is for God (or gods, in some cases). But yet we act like the final magistrate, the answer book, the President of Religion, and the end-all be-all of debates. Well sometimes we act like... God. Explanation isn't always needed. I'm not saying we walk blindly and ignorantly, but knowing all of the answers to everything isn't in the definition of faith. I can't explain every evil act, medical problem, or theological debate. I can't tell you. I don't know.

I could write a book called "Why Religion Matters To Some People." And then write another book called "Why Religion Does Not Matter to Some People." Are the people who have faith the ones with the questions? Or do they have the answers? Are the people who don't care/do not partake in religion satisfied with what life is? It's an interesting thought. I think one of the things that I hate most in life is when people tell me they used to be religious (and I'm talking about organized religion here) or want to be religious/spiritual/get involved with a church and then people ruined it for them. Not God. But people. People came seeking God and then get stopped by other people. People came to look for and worship and get sidetracked or even pushed away by other people, forgetting God. So who am I more confused by? The so-called hypocritical people (the name given by the slighted ones) who apparently are not following the ways (love thy neighbor) that they profess? Or the people who discard God and all religion because some people stood in their way? Is either party right? Wrong? I could defend and criticize both sides. "Hypocrite" is the name given to a lot of Christians. As a member of that faith, I will admit that- and perhaps it is true. To some that may seem shocking. Hear me out. Christians set ridiculously high standards and from the start we know we will fail. Jesus said some things that even the disciples thought were strange. How could we possibly forgive seventy times seven times? Or love someone else as much as God loves us? Or give away all of our stuff? We need our stuff. But that's the bar. We know we'll fail, but we keep jumping, stretching to reach. It's pretty much a mandate. We can't do it though and we know that. Every Sunday the people in my church say it,

We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

And by grace (very big in the Lutheran church) we are saved, we are forgiven, yet again for the wrong we have done. This does not let us off the hook. We still have to strive, day in and day out to do the right thing. But what do I say to the people who come for God and can't look past the other people? God is not like people. Well, he is and he isn't. (Hello more confusing theological debate.) He is in every one of us. Not everyone exudes God all of the time. Many people do and it is clear that God is in them and He is working through them. Others, you might have to dig around a little bit more. God exists beyond us. He is the most high. And you can find Him, I promise. And I also promise that there are those of us out there that won't turn you away if you come looking, seeking. I can't explain why some people don't have faith, hate faith, or even hate organized religion as a whole. But I can take a pretty good guess.

Where do people stand in religion? In part, we are all creators, not of our deities, but the way we worship them, the small laws and rituals, the temples and churches and mosques we build, and the faith we carry. But we would do well to remember that faith isn't just about us. It is about the people who surround us and the live we choose to live because of it. And GOD.

Ahhh, October

Monday, October 4, 2010

Here's a "Best Of" series. Today we start with: Quotes. I love quotes. I collect them. I know it's an odd thing to collect, but being an avid reader, I can appreciate when someone has said something well.

the heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of. -blaise pascal

not all who wander are lost. -j.r.r. tolkien

raisins are nothing but humiliated grapes. -joon

faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times. -martin luther

dwell in possibility. -emily dickinson

if you judge people, you have no time to love them. -mother teresa

kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence and learning. -fredrick w. faber

be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. -plato

an effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves. -lydia m. child

a man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American. -woodrow wilson

your big opportunity might be where you are right now. -napoleon hill

although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. -helen keller

you said just the thing i wished you to say. and you made me believe that you meant it. -grace stricker dawson

a work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament. -emile zola

if a man advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life in which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. -henry david thoreau

there cannot be a crisis next week- my schedule is already full. -henry kissinger

Budweiser Presents Real American Heroes...
Today we salute you, Jerry, Pat, Jack, etc! Because of your righteously extreme theology you have managed to make the Gospel completely irrelevant to modern man. Because of you, people think that all believers are warmongering, closed minded, hypocritical whackos. You are challenged by those who claim that Darwin was right and that terrorists, and not gays and feminists, are responsible for 9/11. But you know what to do in the face of criticism: denounce your critics as homosexuals, pagans, communists, anti-Americans, or all of the above! So grab an ice cold Budweiser, you Twister of Texts, you Regent of the Ridiculous, because you have the Gospel hijacked...and it's not going anywhere.
-Emily Matthews

being a woman is a terribly difficult trade, since it consists principally of dealing with men. -joseph conrad

Then the time came when the risk it took
To remain tight in a bud was more painful
Than the risk it took to blossom - Anais Nin

There is no sin so great that somebody should die for it. When you start thinking like that you become an animal yourself. – Paul Rusesabagina An Ordinary Man

Kindness is not an illusion and violence is not a rule. The true resting state of human affairs is not represented by a man hacking his neighbor into pieces with a machete. That is a sick aberration. No, the true state of affairs is life as it ought to be lived. –Paul Rusesabagina An Ordinary Man

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.

God's covenant with David

Monday, September 27, 2010

Psalm 89:1-18 (NRSV)

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
'I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.'"

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God feared in the council of the holy ones,
great and awesome above all that are around him?
O Lord God of hosts,
who is as mighty as you, O Lord?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it - you have founded them.
The north and the south - you created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
they exult in your name all day long,
and extol your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.

You're caught up in the fight of your life

Friday, September 24, 2010

I can't shake the feeling. I am wracked with guilt and I don't know if it is justified or not. I feel like I am giving up on God. I know in reality I am only giving up on a profession or vocation and even then it doesn't have to be a permanent cessation. I know that I was only called specifically to go to seminary and there was no time stamp attached to the proposition. I know all of this. Yet I still feel guilty. I spent years of my life, YEARS, thinking that I was going to be going to seminary, I switched my plans from art in a heartbeat, there was no second-guessing or doubt. It was what it was and I was going to do it. That's what I was told to do, and I had no problem doing it.

Until people started to get involved. People can ruin everything. There. I said it. People make simple things infinitely more complicated than they need to be. All of the sudden people who had no problem with me up until this point seemed to have every problem in the world with me and what I was doing. My call had more implications than I could imagine. My thoughts of going to seminary, let alone being a pastor, shook people to their core. It made friendships more difficult and alienated people from me and I from them. The second half of my high school career was not easy. I came to blows more than once with people who couldn't see why I wanted to preach and teach the word of God to people in a pastoral setting. Some people made it clear that if I wanted to do that in a Sunday school setting or be a missionary that would be fine, but Heaven forbid it would be in a church. From a pulpit. Wearing a robe. Teaching grown-ups... men. SHOCKING!

Yes, I'm railing on, I know. But it's my blog. I'm allowed to. But the point really is that I put my heart and soul- literally- into this aspiration. And I did it because God told me to. I'm not making this up. Why would I make something up that became so gut-wrenching it hurt some days? I don't mean to diminish the valiant efforts of those who did support me. I am sorry if I am coming off that way. However, I think we can all relate to the thought, right or wrong, that sometimes a lot of bad can seem to overshadow a lot of good. I know I too often focus on the bad things. I am sorry for that.

My guilt comes from the feeling that I fought for naught. I said that women can do anything in ministry. I said that I was going to do it, regardless of what they all thought or believed. So what am I thinking? I feel guilty, guilty, guilty that I'm leaving it all behind. I guess I'm also too focused (I realize as I am writing this) on the thought that I was supposed to fight that fight for me, but more so for all of the other women who were going through the same thing, maybe those who needed more strength than just they could provide for themselves. I'm not delusional enough to think that it's easy or that I could have done it on my own had I continued on the seminary track. There's no way. My fight was bigger than me.

I'm not giving up or conceding to the other side. My position remains as it always was: women can go into the ministry and they belong in seminary. Just because I'm not going doesn't mean that I've somehow reverted to antiquated thinking. God sometimes has other plans, as I well know. Maybe that was a short-term battle, but perhaps it was preparing me for a bigger one. In either case, I now know how to fight for what you believe is right... and you can never be to young to learn that lesson.

The Life of Pi

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I've hardly gotten through a quarter of it, but the book is extremely well-written. This is one of my favorite passages so far. I'm not sure about how copyrights work, but it's copyrighted 2001, Harcourt Books, page 28. "I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

Initial passions

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I've changed my mind. Again. This time, I am reverting back to something I've always wanted to do. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I wanted to be an art teacher. Art was always my favorite subject (other than Social Studies or History, but that's another story for another time) and I could think of nothing better to do than to become an artist or an art teacher. I guess I had somewhere in the back of my mind, lofty notions of bringing art to everyone and hoping that they would enjoy doing art as much as I did. I think I would enjoy elementary school art most of all, but I think I could enjoy middle school art as well. I like the idea of tying in art history (which I love) with projects that students can do. The fact that my schedule would be a regular monday through friday job, with weekends off and school holidays is a bonus. Who wouldn't want that? It would be an exceptional schedule for me. Yes, I know being a teacher wouldn't be all fun; I'm a realist. I know there are endless amounts of lesson plans- multiple ones for an art teacher because you teach many classes and grades at once and parents and certifications and student teaching and all kinds of hard things to go through. But I think it could be very rewarding.

It's weird though. When I got the call to go to seminary in 10th grade, I abandoned my dreams of becoming an art teacher or an art historian and fully committed myself to going on the track to seminary. And I was okay with that. It wasn't as if I felt coerced into leaving it behind and following something new. But I feel like I am leaving that behind to go to school and study something other than religion. That seems strange to me. But I think I have to realize that sometimes God calls us to more than one direction and perhaps sometimes a call isn't canceled, but rather put on hold to accomplish something else. Now I'm just left to discern whether or not that is the case here. Am I meant to be an art teacher or a pastor? Or both?

The Happy Wall

Friday, September 17, 2010

When I was a second-semester freshman in college I went through a really tough time: some of my family members were battling serious illnesses, I got sick a lot, and I was struggling with school and depression. So my No.1 Natalie devised a plan to make me remember all of the good things in life; all of the reasons I could get up in the morning and smile. We put them all over the wall beside my bed. The happy wall was born with a sharpie and a huge block of post-it notes (always use the super-sticky kind they make, that way they'll stay). It's been re-born in various bedrooms and apartments and dorm rooms since it's original conception in 2008. Here are some things that go on my happy wall.

Love; Stars; Sweaters; Project Runway; Family; Religion; Picnics; Bouncy Balls; Charleston; Hugs; Food; God; Music; Tie Dye; Good Books; People with passion; Body pillows; Architecture; Movies; Mountains; Painting; Quotes; Odd Facts; Bumper stickers; Chickadees; Popsicles; Smoothies; Peace; Babies; Irish Wolfhounds; Bulls Island; My Big; Old People Holding Hands; Change; Water: Deamers; The Olympics; Kappa Delta; Mail; Orchids; Clean sheets; Beards; The zoo; People helping other people; Party in a box!; Dinosaurs; Sisters; Stickers; Bacon; My friends; Climbing trees; Red tailed hawks; Scarves; Le Petit Prince; National Geographic; Sunflowers; Coloring; Medicine that works; Windows; Traveling; The Man Wall; Sushi; Trying new things; History; Art

What's on yours?

Confidence No. 89

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Normally I wait for inspiration to strike to write something, but I can't seem to decide if I've been uninspired or just slack or afraid to write. I think it is probably the last one. Lately I've been afraid of myself and I've been letting that spread to other people. I'll take the blame for that. Let me explain. There's a book called "Captivating" by John and Staci Eldridge (which I may have talked about before). In that book they talk about women feeling "too much" and "not enough." I'm too emotional and not confident enough. I'm too much to handle and not pretty enough. There could be a million different combinations. I've been struggling with the "too much" side of things. I am always feeling like I am too much. The problem is, people will sometimes re-enforce those perceptions. I've been cowering behind the things I am afraid of being (emotional, weak) and I've been afraid to be myself. I can't seem to separate the bad things from ME. I've talked about confidence in this blog a lot, but I know that it is a constant challenge, not something I can assert once or twice. I need to remember that I am me, a tall ginger who likes to mail things, bake (on my own terms), eat cheese, watch movies, read, color, and write. I can be happy and strong, I can love fiercely, be loyal, and conquer misconceptions. I am all of these things and more. I am all of these GOOD things. I'm going to stop taking nonsense from other people about my shortcomings or otherwise and most of all, I'm going to stop taking it from myself.

Giving up everything to gain everything

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Matthew 10:34-42 (NRSV)
The cost of discipleship

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one's foes will be members of one's own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lately I've been attempting to make stuffed animals. I've made a snake and today I made A SHARK! I'm going to try and add some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Shark on porch.

Shark in air.

Stella checking to make sure it's dead.

Dead shark.

I just have to sing

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I know I have a little box where I list what I'm listening to but I can't seem to get these songs out of my head. I can't stop humming them and I strongly suggest that you look into them.

"Sweet Darlin'" by She & Him
"Home" and "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
"Us" by Regina Spektor
"I'll Fly Away" covered by the Avett Brothers
"Your Arms Around Me" Jens Lekman
"I'll Follow the Sun" by the Beatles
"You & I" by Ingrid Michaelson
"The Way You Do The Things You Do" by The Temptations
"Girl Named Tennessee" by Needtobreathe
"Kingdom Come" by Coldplay
"Can't Be Without" by Derek Webb

Learning how to be Lauren

I'm learning the lesson that every young adult learns. I'm understanding how to keep myself - the essence of who I am - regardless of where I am or what I'm doing. I can be the same person, I can be Lauren, not despite, but with, everything else. Being "me" doesn't come from what I'm doing. "Me" is a totally and completely different thing. I can be me when I'm looking up activities to teach to and play with the 2 year-old. I can be me when I'm starting a new job or when I''m trying to sew. What I'm trying to say is that I (and you) can still keep myself no matter what I do. The things I do do not define me. I'm observant, smart, sarcastic, friendly, reserved (sometimes), opinionated (to a fault), empathetic, loyal, and stubborn. I'm learning how to be confident, sure of myself, and assertive. I'm a good friend. I'm a bookworm. I love God. I love people. I just happen to be a nanny, a baker, a daughter, a sewer, and a 21 year-old. The traits that I have and what I believe are me. I can be a cynic, but ultimately I have faith that people can do good things. I want to believe that people can do the right thing. I've seen it before. I want to travel and see the world but I have a strong sense of home and where I can belong.

I'm beginning to realize that with what I have seen as captivity, new doors have opened. People have said to me that "when God closes one door, another one opens." Well, that is true, but what should be added as an amendment is "sometimes God waits a little while to open the other door." One of the things that I thought defined me was my status as a student. It was a constant. It was something I had always known and had always remained consistent. And then it wasn't consistent anymore. It was gone. I can be a student without a classroom. That's what libraries were invented for. Distributing knowledge. So I've learned about the genocide in Rwanda, sewing stuffed animals, planting seeds and growing things, and how to be a writer. I've cultivated an even stronger relationship with literature. I'm a constant pen-pal with multiple people because of my current situation. I'm growing in ways that I couldn't have imagined. My relationship with God is different. I recently made the decision to start to try new churches. I'm afraid of this. It's a new fear to conquer, but I believe that I will change my relationship even more as I seek a new community and possibly a new way to worship. I may have that opportunity to travel. I don't mind shaking my worldview and learning something new. Let's rock my conceptions and perceptions of the way life ought to be lived. This has taught me more than ever how to deal with change. I'm learning to embrace it. There's really no alternative.

Praise be!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's true - I have a job. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I have a job. I am going to be baker and salesperson of the baked goods. This is marvelous! Lovely! Spendiferous! I am elated. This is what I have been waiting for, praying for, dreaming about. It will require a rather drastic change in my waking and sleeping hours, but really, this is amazing. I will bake. I am an employee. I am very happy indeed. I could drone on and on, but at the moment it is late and I must go to bed so I can drive home from Charlotte tomorrow. Oh happy day! Thanks be to God!

I have confidence in confidence alone

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hebrews 10:32-39 (NRSV)
Do not abandon your confidence

"But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
For yet 'in a very little while,
the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one will live by faith.
My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.'
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved."

Being confident can be exhausting and exhilarating all at once. Sometimes we have to put a good face on not for others but for ourselves. The confidence of those around us can get us far- I know that the belief of others in me has pushed me through a lot of hard times. But it can only get us so far. Eventually we have to put a little more faith and trust in ourselves. It can be hard to do. Losing confidence is easy. Regaining it is far more difficult. Sometimes putting on a brave face will kind of psych ourselves out a bit- it will let us pretend we have it. And sometimes pretending to be assertive does the exact same thing that having true confidence does: it gets us just one step closer to where we need to be.

2 different languages and a fuzzy head

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I've had a lot on my mind recently. My head keeps spinning with things to do and people to see. So much stuff that I don't even know where to start! That's unusual, because I generally keep this focused (well it seems that way to me) or I write with some sort of purpose. There's a lot that I don't know and things I still keep figuring out.

I have a hard time trying to answer questions for people when I'm not sure of the answer. Does that make sense? When someone asks you something and you know you should say something worth hearing. Not the answer to the capital of Kansas (Topeka), but a life question. A question where people look for wisdom or something profound. I don't have profound things to say! I don't know if I'm saying the right thing. I certainly hope that I am; that I am helping and not making things worse. I don't know. Is there another way to say it? Je ne sais pas. In French. When I have to say that (in French or English), I feel like I am letting people down. Like I'm not being a good friend or not supportive enough. I feel very self-centered right now. I am being self-centered. Moving on...

I watched "Sixteen Candles" tonight and felt very glad that I am not in high school any more. Not even in college. That's still weird to say. I got a phone interview on Friday and went in today to meet the manager/owner. I won't say the name of the place or anything about it because it's still up in the air and I'm trying to play it cool. I will let you know how it turns out.

The family is half way through The Three Weeks Of Birthdays. 21 days. 4 birthdays. None of them my own. It's a lot of present-buying and cake. Mom's is on the 30th of July, Hannah turned 19 August 3, Madison will be 13 (AUUGHHH) on August 18 and Dad's is on the 19th. I have successfully found presents for them all! It certainly gets harder as they get older. You start to run out of good ideas and I am a firm believer that most birthday and Christmas presents should be surprises. It takes a lot of the fun out of it if you know everything you're going to get.

My brain is too scattered and it is too late to write much more. I promise I'll write something more "profound" or at least more interesting the next time. I'll leave you with a little known fact.

Many Japanese golfers carry hole-in-one insurance, because it is traditional in Japan to share one’s good luck by sending gifts to all your friends when you get an ace. The price for what the Japanese term “an albatross” can often reach $10,000.

Lately in life...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great things are afoot! First and foremost- my medicine seems to be doing great. I'm down to two! I only take two medications a day!!!! Do you know how huge that is?? Probably not. So I shall tell you! Different meds do different things. One may be a mood stabilizer- which is what it sounds. It keeps your mood from fluctuating up and down and up and down. Another may treat depression. When you have bipolar disorder, it's very common to need to take multiple. I have depressive-irritable bipolar disorder, so I'm more apt to cycle between being depressed and being irritable and anxious rather than depressive and manic. So I have to take a mood-stabilizer and a anti-depressant to keep it all in check. Sometimes these medicines pile on top of one another to the extreme of having to take a half dozen or more all at once. So to be minimally medicated is always nice to know.

And things are going well. It's so hard to explain unless you know what this disorder truly is, but I do feel more inclined to be happy and smile more often. That alone is huge. Tomorrow I am planning on being assertive. (My confidence is about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. I have to strategize for these things.) I am going to call the bakery about the job I applied for. They promised to let me know either way by the end of last week. I am going to make sure they didn't lose my application. I want a job so very much. I will find one. I will I will I will. Confidence! Nerve! Boldness! Conviction! I will have these things (and a job) once again. Oooh, look at me go! I sound like a Fearless Leader Of... something! I shall conquer monumental things. But for now I'm going to be the Fearless Leader of Sleep.

A moratorium on production

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I just had the sudden feeling that life and time was wooshing by me. Perhaps it is. Perhaps I am doing nothing but languishing in self-centeredness. I've been so caught-up in living day-to-day, that I no longer see anything beyond tomorrow. I am not looking forward to anything. I look forward to indeterminable deadlines- things that I want to do or wish to accomplish, like finding a job or moving out. I search for feelings I want to have, like feeling happy or full of faith or grounded. And so I search, day after day looking for something that I might not accomplish that day or that week. I read, I volunteer, I go to the library, I search for jobs, write letters, occasionally see friends. I feel like I'm always waiting on something. Not that I sit around all of the time, or don't work for what I want. I just do it and keep waiting. If someone asked me what I'm doing with my life, I couldn't answer the question. I have the same feeling that I do when Lent is going on. Are the 40 days over yet?

Jesus answered him, 'It is said, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."' -Matthew 4:7. God, I am trying, I am really trying hard not to put you to the test. I'm wondering why you are testing me. I guess I have to wait for that answer too.

Baking and happy texts!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am watching Pollyanna right now. I have forgotten how much I love this movie. It's about the things I love most- being happy and glad. She just has this infectious nature of happiness around her that makes the whole town smile and move around their grumpyness. She plays the glad game- always coming up with things that are good, no matter what the situation.

I've also been baking all weekend. Apple turnovers, baked brie, basic french bread, homemade blueberry muffins and today delightful focaccia! All from scratch. I even kneaded the bread by hand! (Thanks to Benjamin for his help!) I'm simply addicted to making things. Then I just want a little taste and I am content to give the rest away. Which I did- I gave away half to my neighbors right before dinner... he started eating it right out of the bag, so i assume it was pretty good. What should I make next?

And please, that's what the comment box is for!!

Could a calling be clearer?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. -Charles R. Swindoll

So for the last week I have been at Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island. I worked as a staff member there in 2007 and returned this past week as a counselor for the high school session. It was soooo much fun! And intense. There was just so much going on there. It was amazing to see God's presence among the kids (though they're really teenagers). Though the chaplain say when leaving that God doesn't exist solely at camp and that God isn't camp, it really feels so powerful there. The atmosphere is made to foster that feeling, with an abundance of worship and conversation. I knew coming into camp that the campers teach you more about God than you teach them about Him. It was certainly true this week.

I have struggled a lot since I came home with being with, living with, my youngest sister Madison. I'm 21 and she's 12. 9 years is a huuuuuge age gap. I am looking for a job and she's looking forward to 8th grade. Our lives are not on the same page. In the family (or age) book, we're in completely different chapters. The disconnect has been a constant struggle for me. My parents don't seem to understand why we don't get along- but it's clear to me. She hasn't grown up and neither have I. I'm not really supposed to be here, I'm an interloper in this household- staying when I should be visiting. I can't understand why she acts the way she does and then we fight. And then I think "why on earth did I just fight with a 12 year-old?" and then I realize it's because she drives me nuts and the circle continues. But she'll be a teenager in a month and I'm going to have to remember what it was like to be a teenager in order to relate (or at least attempt) to her. Being a counselor helped me realize that I can relate to teenagers, that my stories and problems and relationships with friends (and boys, though I hate to admit it and dread to think that she will ever be interested in them and thank the good Lord that she still thinks they're gross) are applicable to them. I just hope I can help her. I never had an older sister and I just don't want to flunk as one for her. I'm doing the best I can. I'm trying.

You know, dear readers, whoever you are, that I'm struggling in finding a calling, in finding what I want to do with my life. Well, I know what I'm supposed to do. I'm being called to a life of missionary work. I would really like it to be work abroad, and I've had a few doors open to me that might provide a good opportunity. I really and truly have felt this calling. You know when you're thinking about something and someone says something about it and your ears perk up? And you think it's just a coincidence? Well it happened roughly seven or eight times at camp- calling for prayers for would-be missionaries, mentioned in a study group, a couple of times in a worship service, another by a conversation with a person who hardly knows me. I'd have to be a prize idiot to walk away from God's voice. Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let's go over a few things.

A. I have no intention of becoming an imperialistic missionary or any type to press my culture upon another, assuming mine is better than theirs. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not run that way.
B. I would love to focus on servant work. I like to share what I believe in discussions and I like to show what I believe through my actions. I don't want to be a hypocritical Christian, I want to be one who lives the faith, because that is just as important as believing it. (This goes right along with my last post about chapter 2 in James.)
C. I accept the fact that I might have to go to some place that is scary or different and that might not involve flowers or puppies or rainbows. I get that. But I also know that it would be stupid to go to a war zone in Afghanistan by myself. Danger does not equal stupidity. I know that it will be uncomfortable.
D. Missions come in all forms. I don't really think my personality jives with that of a soap box preacher. I know several who would, but that's not me. We'll have to see where I am taken.
E. I don't know when I'm going. But I'm not going to wait for opportunity to knock. I'm going to go find it.

I will prepare and someday my chance will come. -Abraham Lincoln

"Now the Lord came to me saying,
'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'
Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." But the Lord said to me,
'Do not say I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.'
then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, 'Now I have put my words in your mouth.'"
-Jeremiah 1:4-9


Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's camp time!! That's right. For the first time in many moons, I am going back to camp. I'm going to be a counselor this year for senior session out at Camp St. Christopher. I'm lacing up my mudpit shoes and grabbing my sunscreen. I'm washing all of my t-shirts and grabbing all of my waterproof shorts (I highly recommend Patagonia baggies- they hold up well). I've been praying a lot about this, with lots of prayers of joy. But what I learned, even after a short summer when I was just 18, was that camp uses you. God uses you. Even with all of the work you want to do with the campers, ultimately it's not your work or about what you want to do for them, where you want to lead them. It's for God and what HE wants. But yeah, it is FUN. Sailing, games, singing, swimming- God can use fun too. It's easy to see why they keep coming back summer after summer. Exactly why varies from person to person...

Which leads to the eternal question:
What are all these kids doing here?

James 2:14-26

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Faith produces good works

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead."

I have had some questions posed to me recently about faith and good works and what's higher than the other. The answer is that they are co-dependent. If you believe everything God says but you don't practice it, what's the good in that? Do you really believe? Or if you do lots of really good things, but you don't really have any faith, than where do you go? You have to have faith. You have to practice your faith. And like Jesus commented on the Pharisees, they did a lot of ritualistic things for pomp and circumstance, but when it came to doing good works for all, that was lost on them. James says, faith without works is dead.

There you have it.

She's a crafty one...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I aspire to be crafty. I want to be handy with things and come up with ideas where people say, "Oh my gosh, look at her, just oozing creativity from the pores"- or something along those lines, maybe or maybe not dealing with my physical biology. People say that I'm really good at art and that I have nice handwriting and wow she can sew but I strive to be more! I want to be one of those people who creates art, not just is able to produce a given answer and result to a project that needs doing. There's a huge difference. I haven't felt creative in a while. I did make a pretty cool looking snake for Evelyn on Monday. I had a great fat quarter that kind of looked like cracked clay (you know, those pictures of the desert when the clay/sand cracks) that was green-I swear, the fabric is a lot cooler than how I just described it. Annnyway, I made a snake! And it was kind of lumpy, but it was cool too. She loved it and to me it felt like it was a success story because she KNEW it was a snake. So that was enough for me. And it was the favorite toy of the day. So I'm constantly trying to come up with cool ideas for her to play with. Any suggestions? I was thinking coloring, finger puppets, maybe those puppets made out of brown paper bags... what do you think? I do think I have to draw the line at a few things: tea cozies, afghans- I don't want to go nuts, I just want to make some useful things to make me happy, keep a 2 year-old occupied and maybe a few useful things. We're supposed to be constantly bettering ourselves, right? I plan to better myself with paper and glue. So long as I don't eat the glue.

Yay America! Happy 234th!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American. -Woodrow Wilson

America is 234 years old, as of yesterday. It has seen four centuries. It's mind-boggling how much has gone on in that time. People think of transportation first: horses to cars and in the middle trains, cable cars, the subway, tractors, planes- all of these things add up to a nation that is constantly on the move, incessantly diving head first into things. And you can come up with a hundred, maybe a thousand, things you don't like about our government. I won't ask you to like the government. That's fine. Sometimes it's hard to like a government that spends more on war than on education and state governments that are willing to behead funding from libraries. And sure, we're a nation that has the luxury of having... luxuries. But aside from all of that, we're pretty darn amazing. You can hate the institution, but I marvel at the people. We have people risking everything they have to come here. I find it interesting how people seem to react fiercely toward the "illegals" here, but there are a few reasons why I raise my eyebrows at those remarks. A. Most of the people in this country immigrated here, and I can promise that over the years, a LOT of them were illegal. I am sure many of us are descended from them. B. "They come into our school without paying." Heavens to Betsy, would you prefer uneducated people in the country or educated children who will probably become naturalized later on and surely help our economy. C. They are doing jobs that need to be done. So I'm happy to have the people who will work, the people who care enough to serve our country in the military, the people who feed us and the ones who build things around us. The people who take care of us when we are physically sick and those when we're hungering spiritually. America sure has an excessive amount of things- great things- but our people are even better. Happy birthday America.

77 to 490 times. Get crackin', that's a lot of forgivin'

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh how I love forgiveness. Oh how I hate forgiving.

God says: Hey, y'all [apparently he was born in Mississippi] are sure messing up a lot of things down there. But since I have to get involved, silly people, I'll send Jesus. I know, I know, he's my only son, but I really love you. So he'll redeem you and I forgive you and then through Him, you'll have even more forgiveness.
People say: YAY!! All of our sins forgiven? Heck yes we'll agree to that. Hurrah!! Yay! I love forgiveness!
God says: On one condition- you better forgive others. Clearly y'all are a whole mess of sinners, each and every one of you. So you need to remember that each one of you is as guilty as the next. So look around, and when someone else does something wrong then you have to forgive him, just like I did for you. Got that?
People: Okay, okay. Grumble grumble grumble.

This seems to me the way it works. We never end up doing what we are supposed to and everyone seems to hold a grudge of some sort. I know I am guilty of all of this. Even though everyone seems to call me nice, I don't feel nice all of the time. I get angry and I keep my righteous indignation inside. Sometimes it is well-deserved and well placed. But I am called to forgive. UUGH! I don't wanna! Part of my heart says that's the right thing to do- to go ahead and forgive, take that chance! Part of my brain though, is telling me "are you really sure that's such a good idea? this person hurt you before, something was wrong. why go back to that?" And there that argument lives.

It's hard to hold a grudge. It's harder to forgive. Once it's done then you're golden. So you have the grudge part down pat. I'll start forgiving right now. A careful forgiveness. Pray for me! Sara Paddison once said "sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time."

Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy seven [seventy times seven] times."

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What is the truth? What are we supposed to know? How much are we supposed to know? When does God hold the reins and when does our human curiosity take charge? People will say "let God show you in His time." Well, what do I do in the meantime? Sit on my couch and watch the wall? Am I supposed to find something or try anything that might lead me in the right direction. God gave us free will. And yet I feel myself constantly looking back over my shoulder to make sure I'm doing something right or if I'm headed in the right direction. It's scary, always hoping to make the right move. And yes, there is that beautiful gift of salvation. Thank goodness. I would have dove off that cliff a long time ago without someone to catch me. Still, I peek around corners and looking up for constant reassurance. Most of the time it doesn't come easily. I'm afraid that going boldly sometime will lead to another mistake and I feel like I'm walking gingerly as it is. Yet, if I keep peeking around the corner, I suppose it means I have some faith/trust/hope for the future and for my relationship with God. Here's to that peeking becoming more confident steps!

None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which his heard by him alone. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontious Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I am chewing BubbleYum right now. Do you remember it? It's that huge chunk of gum that is sugar, gum paste and some flavoring. It takes a lot of effort to chew this thing. I feel like my teeth are going to rot out and die before the flavor is lost (and it will be lost soon, that's the life of the BubbleYum). It's already hardening. It does make some pretty fantastic bubbles, I have to say. I am a pro at blowing bubbles. You have to make sure the gum is flat and then you simply coax more out with your teeth until you have the most glorious sugar bubble you've ever seen and then it pops all over your face and you permanently have sugar up your nose.

Today has been one of those "Wow, I really accomplished nothing today and I feel rather worthless" days. I'm not trying to sound pathetic or anything, it just so happens that I did nothing more than take Stella to the vet, finish my laundry and make my bed. And then in a short while, I'll publish this post. It's funny that it's gotten popular. I started with about 6 religious readers (and most of them are relatives) and now people will start conversations with "so I read in your blog..." That's nice. I am semi-vain, as we all are and so it makes me feel nice to know that you, dear readers are out there, taking up some of your valuable time to read this rambling message to the nameless. Thanks.

P.S. Adding to the list...
1. Pelican flyer to re-establish pelicans displaced by the oil spill. (interesting)
2. The person who handles the calls about BubbleYum- see above. (would not like to do)
3. Cartographer- only in the drawing/writing/coloring part. No math or computers for me. (would like to do)

Let's eat PlayDoh cookies

Friday, June 25, 2010

I have a lot of books. I don't know if you can fully grasp that concept until I phrase it like this: You could be crushed to death with the books I own. There is no room on any of my bookcases (notice the plural use of that word) for anything other than books. It would take you years to get through them all. Things are piled up everywhere because my books take up all of the organizational space. I just have the insatiable desire to read and know more. Well, I suppose you could call it a re-discovered desire. But now I'm back and full speed ahead!

I read as if my life depends on it. I think my brain actually does. I prattle on with weird facts that I've picked up. Did you know that the Bible is the most shoplifted book in America? Or that Napoleon was afraid of cats and Freud had a deathly fear of ferns? Or that dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors? Probably not. But I do. I don't know why I retain these bits of knowledge or if they will ever be useful (not really so far). Probably about as useful as the way I collect quotes. Everyone has their oddities, so I suppose this is mine.

In other business, I am super excited about going to counsel at Camp St. Christopher in a few weeks. I worked on staff there for a summer in 2007 and now I'm going back again! Part of me is nervous because of my spiritual instability at the moment (am I really going to be a good leader for these high schoolers?) and part of me is excited to go back to a place that means so much to me, with people that mean so much to me. Maybe that will help to bring me back in a closer way to God. I hope. I can't wait to meet new people and work with high schoolers again. It's tough at that age (those ages), but hopefully I'll help someway, somehow. Although I get this feeling that they'll teach me. It always works out that way, doesn't it?

Hard times ahead

Monday, June 21, 2010

I think part of the reason why I respect other people's faiths so much is because I have so much difficulty with my own. Religion is hard. No matter who you're praying to or where your pew cushion faces, the committed person will still wrestle with theology (even if you agree with it), doctrine, people and, most of all, God. (Or gods). Sometimes I feel like I have a face-off with God at church: just you, me and the pew in between us. Though when it really comes down to it- you could smite that pew right out of the way.

I was sitting in the back of the church (Hannah, the Lutheran that she is, sits as far away from the pulpit as she possibly can) and throughout the service, I scowled at anything that might, in any form or fashion, be applied to me. The prayers in the middle of our church listed mental health and the people who suffer from it. I found myself not wanting anyone else's prayers or consideration, whether they knew I had this problem or not. Next time, just call my name out from the altar. I spent a lot of time scowling.

Life isn't easy so we spend a lot of time with our deities- we either berate them for the life they have given us or we just fling ourselves down and pray fervently for grace. I am blessed with the religion I have, angry as you may think I am with God. I know how lucky I am with Christ and how blessed my life is, even when it doesn't feel like it at all. The best part about being Lutheran (though you know how I love it so!) is the huge emphasis we have on the grace of God. I spend my week being secretly surly and then I can go to church on Sunday and right there at the beginning of the service, I say I'm sorry and that I humbly repent (I really do, I shouldn't be angry with God- He/She is GOD)... and whatdoyaknow but I am forgiven! Best plan ever. Thanks Jesus!

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. -Willy Wonka

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Well things change. Let's make a list. Lists keep things in order, even when there is no order. Even if you don't number it. Well, I do say you have to keep it straight some way: numbers, letters, column. If none of the above, all you have are words. And that leaves you with just as much chaos as you started with.

A List Of Things That Change

1. I am not going to China. I am deeply disappointed with this. You have no idea. I have spent a ridiculous sum on a passport I will not use and I have a new REI travel organizer that I bought with the tags still on it in my room sitting by my feet and I have a pair of perfect Merrells for traveling that are supposed to be my birthday present stashed away in my parents room. Do not utter the word Beijing to me, make me look a cute panda, or take me near travel sized soap. I will hit you.
2. I am looking for a full time job. I am going to be a working woman. Again. Hopefully not at a restaurant this time. Tomorrow I am going to an inn and a bookstore. The second one is my dream job. At 21. Not completely, because I assume I will be working for minimum wage and stocking shelves all day, but seriously. Lauren + Books = Luv 4 Evr. It'd be a lot of words for a license plate, but maybe a bumper sticker. Say some prayers for that one. This leads me to...
3. I am a grown up. Finishing school (kind of). Finding a full time job. I'm a big kid. It's just now sinking in. I don't know if I'll be here in a year, or if I'll have gone off to save the world mission-style, but I'm growing up a lot faster than I thought I was going to. I guess most 21 year olds don't spend this year trying to figure out how they'll finish a semester, find a full time job, and conquer life with bipolar disorder.
4. Faith. Faith changes. I think maybe one day I could write a book. Hahaha, it would certainly have a motley amount of information to go in it, but that is probably why most authors are not publishing their great works at 21. (And if they do they are either brilliant, far superior in their writing capabilities, have better ideas and quite possibly belong to the classics and died at a very young age of tuberculosis or consumption. I have no desire whatsoever to die of consumption, so I will wait on my publishing time to save myself from an untimely death.) I have, however, started keeping titles. So when I am older and wiser, I can just tack on the books to the titles. A very good plan I think. My latest one is titled "When You Feel Like Throwing Rocks At God." It will be a book to help you through those times when you feel like throwing rocks at God because you feel like he keeps throwing rocks, pebbles in your shoes, stones, boulders at you and your life. This is mostly because I cannot find a book that that to help me out right now. So it's an aspiration. I see this as having a little faith that one day I might be on good terms with God and not throw rocks at his shiny halo. Living on a prayer, baby.
5. Habitat. I am currently living with my whole family. Our house doesn't seem big enough anymore. Don't take this the wrong way!!!!!!! I am not greedy for more acreage, a bigger room, an addition, a sunroom or a house that's better than our tidy little house that is perfect for five people. But maybe not for two people who just came home from college. We have all of that stuff that grows and is squeezed into our not very big rooms (at least not large enough for this space). Tension looms at certain points during the day when everyone is home. Not all of the time. Sometimes there isn't anyone to talk to at all. That can be nice. And sometimes everyone's talking. It's just that I am a reserved person, made even more so by my lovely disorder and to know that I could be by myself at any time would be an oddly thrilling feeling. Makes me miss campus housing. Who woulda thunk that I'd say that??

My realization for the day is:
My life is good, but it is not fun. I do not have fun.
It's rather pathetic really. I should have more fun, but I do not. Is it sad to say that a job would be more fun than my current life? It would. I'm sure it would. Let's get a job and we'll go from there.

Though I did see an add in the City Paper for a bikini contest at a bar. Could be fun. Might be too far of a leap from my reserved style. Maybe in July.

To do and not to do

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I've spent a lot of time in the car thinking about things. Some of them are deep thoughts and others, well, they're not so meaningful. Today I came up with a list of things I would and would not like to be when I grow up. (These are personal reflections of my own, they are in no way intended to be mean or degrading to said job, just something I would not like.)

This would be a really cool job:
1. Make communion wafers. Just think of what you would say at a cocktail party- "Well yes, I do make the body of Christ."
2. Make the communion wine.
3. Be a scribe for the illuminated bibles. Maybe my neat handwriting would finally come in handy. Pun intended.
4. Be a monk. Yes, I know I am a girl.
5. Work at the crayola factory.
6. Come up with names for crayons, makeup, fingernail polish, paint colors, etc.
7. Work in a book store.
8. Own and operate an inn.
9. Test clothing for Patagonia.
10. Write for travel magazines.
11. Design patterns for quilting fabric.
12. Work in the post office sorting mail.
13. Work for postsecret.
14. Design stamps. Design stationary.
15. Test write pens.
16. Work at a zoo.
17. Work at Patagonia, Life Is Good, Kavu or some store or company that is fun and functional and friendly.
18. Anything that involves travel and good medical benefits.
19. Work in religious peace talks. Inter-religious dialogue. Helping one group of people understand another group of people- and working to keep everyone happy and live in a more peaceful and safe world.
20. Write letters for a living.

This I would not like to do so much:
1. Be the person who has to pick up the blown tires on the side of the highway.
2. Be a mortician.
3. Clean people's teeth.
4. Have to put animals down for illnesses, etc.
5. Be a flight attendant or work in an airport. People can annoy me. And they do it the most in restaurants and on planes. Food and air can bring out the worst in people.
6. Be riot police. Crowds of crazy and usually angry people. No thanks.
7. Anything where I have to carry a gun.
8. Prison guard.
9. Drive a semi truck. Particularly when carrying a. explosives b. flammable substances c. livestock d. trees that are piled on top of each other with nothing securing them.

I am extremely thankful that people DO do these jobs because they are necessary and important. I just can't do them.

What wouldn't you- or what would you- do? Post your comments here.

I'm going to China, I'm going to China, I'm going to China

Monday, May 17, 2010

I don't think I've told you that I'm going to China yet, but I am! I am excited beyond belief that I get to go to a country with so much history and culture. I want to go everywhere I can in the world. I want to see people where they live. I want to read about it and then GO there. I want to know what people are like. I want to see government. I want to see architecture. AND I GET TO!! Oh I am counting down the days. I want to see the world, and I am going to. I'm going to Tibet. I get to stay in a monastery. I am going to see the terra cotta soldiers. Go to Beijing. Go to the Forbidden City. This is going to be amazing.

I am avoiding the thought that I have to learn Mandarin. Or remember names that all sound the same to my ignorant Western ears.

I have few things that I really really want to do. I've learned a lot in the last few years. I know what's important to me and my life. I want to graduate from college. I want to get married. I want to have kids- my own or adopted. I want to travel as extensively as I can. I want to go to seminary and graduate. I want to find a job that fulfills my calling. I want to keep good friends, family and have a good life. That's it. China is part of my plan and I can't wait to go. I will do it. I want to do it all, God willing.

This is the official summary of what we will be doing in China: Though this study tour to China, students will experience the world's most populous country- a country with the world's fastest growing economy, a fascinating 5000-year history, and one of the few remaining Communist-controlled governments. We begin in Shanghai, China's gateway to the Pacific, visiting the famous Yuyuan Gardens, the Shanghai museum and the Bund (old foreign sector). From the bustling megalopolis, students will then venture into the Yunnan province where they will visit the city of Dali. As ethnic minorities make up 50% of the population, this will allow the students to see another side of China. Visits will include Cangshan Mountain, the Three Pagodas and the Dali Library. after this experience, we will fly to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province in China's interior. In Chengdu, students will visit the home of Dufu, one of China's famous poets, and the Panda Bear Research Base. Students will also have the opportunity to visit with students from a local high school and spend the night with a Chinese family. From there the group will travel to Mt. Emei, a famous Buddhist retreat where they will stay in a Buddhist monastery on the mountain. From Chengdu we will head to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, where we will visit religious sites, including the Potala Palace (the holiest temple of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional home of the Dalai Lama), Drepung Monastery and Jokhang Temple (where Tibetan Buddhist monks still train and practice their religion). Next, we will stop over in Xian to view the famous terra cotta warriors before heading to Beijing, China's capital to visit the area's most important sites- Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Olympic sites and, of course, the Great Wall.


my own woods

Saturday, May 15, 2010

There is something perfect about silence and being alone. I understand Thoreau's desire to live in the woods. It's so peaceful. From this peaceful lot in Montreat, I can hardly see the road below from the porch.

It's true I have to share the woods with an abundance of creatures. Some cute, like the chipmunk that scurried out of my path, and some less so- I seem to attract a large following in the insect world.

Brandi Carlisle's got a great song called "Have You Ever" that goes like this:

Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
Everything there feels just as it should
You're part of a life there; you're part of something good
Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
Have you ever stared into a starry sky?
Lying on your back, you're asking why
What's the purpose? I wonder who am I
Have you ever stared into a starry sky?

And it goes on. To answer her questions- I have wandered lonely through the woods. It's perfect. I highly recommend it.

C'mon! Seriously?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This is verging on the ridiculous. I have been sitting at my desk for hours now, trying to write a persuasive essay about how the Navy should postpone their proposed construction of the Undersea Warfare Training Range off the coast of Florida and Georgia because of the fears of environmental impact until said fears have been allayed with the proper sanctifications of environmental protection and research agencies. My brain has decided that it has no more thoughts on the subject and now wishes to go to sleep, or at least move onto something else entirely. Which it has done in the form of this blog, two letters, taking down all of my postcards and various wall decorations, and through countless handfuls of Garden Cheddar Goldfish (that was an accidental purchase at Target- but apparently is giving me 1/3 a serving of vegetables). My brain is empty. Not a thought in sight. This is not a problem of focusing or forming cohesive thoughts, but of actually having any thoughts at all. I have none. Even though I will be done with English for the semester, and if I pass, the college career and therefore life, this is apparently not incentive enough to come up with something, anything. "Because I said so" is all I can really muster. Hey, it worked for our parents.

Yum yummy food in my tummy

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm watching Top Chef Masters now as a break from exam work. I want to be a judge on this show because the thought of eating five separate meals at one time sounds delectable. They are all working to win thousands of dollars but it all goes to charities. This does not help with my new tendency to sympathy crying. "Awww, look a the charity that feeds millions of small children a year!!! Ohhh sob sob weep weep.." I tear up at that Target commercial where the people ask all of the questions- Can only children have chewable vitamins? What is the difference between Tylenol and Advil? Then they answer "We became pharmacists to help you answer these questions." And then it's awww they have a calling- that is so nice! Seriously. That is how I act. It is very difficult to watch things anymore. But standing back and taking a look at it- it's hilarious!! It's important to stop and laugh at yourself. Even when it comes down to symptoms of a disorder I cannot change. Life is still funny and I still have to laugh. Even when I'm crying.

Are people religion or does religion have people?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I find it interesting that a lot of the irreligious or agnostic or atheist people I know aren't turned off so much by theology or even God as they are by the people in it.

So what is theology to people? Is theology the ideal, the truth we are supposed to live up to? Or is it that people create the theology- a living theology that is separate from an idealistic theology. I think in creating free will, God gave us freedom, but also gave us the potential to create confusion. And we have. We each have our own standards that we live up to- often flying in the face of traditional (and academic) theology. In every religion, every denomination, every church, we bicker like children over who is right and who is wrong. I've seen people stomp out of the room, leave the church and never come back. Is it better to have angry religious opinions, or be wishy-washy and sit back and watch, or even quietly back out? People can make the church an inviting place, a sacred and safe place. I've heard too many stories of people who have left religion altogether because other people ostracized, kicked them out, shut them out of a church as well. The God of so many faiths calls us to bring humanity together, to invite others in.

That boy had the highest of expectations
And he heard that Jesus would fill them up
Maybe something got lost in the language
Because if this was full, then why bother?
This was not the way it looked on the billboards
Smiling family beaming down on the interstate.
He dressed up nice for the congregation,
Scared that someone would find him out
Through the din and the clatter of the hallelujahs...
-"Expectations" by Caedmon's Call

... Including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they shall be called children of the living God."

Do you hear me God?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I realized as I was talking to Natalie today that my prayer life is a little angry lately. It is sarcastic, demanding, frustrated and sometimes non-existent. I don't blame God for what is going on in my life. But I do realize that I blame Him for standing on the sidelines. I wonder if there is a difference, why there is a difference between my working for peace in my life by finding Him within me or if I can ask Him to interject directly. Is He in or out? Both? Does the Spirit within me work with the Lord above? I think I feel disconnected from both right now. I don't know what I'm doing in the middle of the street, but I'm staring at God on the sidewalk.

Collecting small things with big memories

Friday, April 23, 2010

I collect things that don't take up a lot of room. I collect quotes. I keep them in a yellow notebook. Hundreds of them. Obscure ones, famous ones, Biblical ones. They are all lined up, neatly penned in in black ink and tiny script. I often find that the best thoughts are already spoken. A few sentences can inspire a day or refresh a dim outlook.

I collect postcards. I have nearly 300 of them. But they all fit in a tiny box. They are the cheapest souvenirs, but the ones that mean the most are the ones that people have sent. I have one dated March 15, 1991. It's from San Francisco and written by my late aunt in perfect handwriting that matches my mother's. She tells me that she hopes my ear infection will go away soon. I have a dozen postcards from my best friend who lives in Scotland. I postcards from almost every continent sent to me by my grandparents, the world travelers that they are. I know where every one comes from and the stories behind them.

I collect letters. Very similar to postcards, but more conversational. My dear friend Wesley and I have been writing letters back and forth for years now. Every time I open my mailbox and find her joys, prayers and wisdom I feel blessed and happy. I enjoy taking time out of my day to write to her and share my thoughts. I love the intention of letters, the time put into them. 44 cents is a small price for handwritten prose. What is more fun than a letter?

I suppose I have a few other collections, now that I think about it. I collect (not professionally) stamps and coins. It's something special that I share with my paternal grandfather. The stamps tie into my apparent love for mail and the postal service. I collect stickers and stationary. But those two things are collections that I give away. I like to send stationary that I find unique or fine. I love envelopes with a surprise lining of fun paper or a card that just makes you happy the moment you look at it.

I suppose you could analyze these things that make me happy and come up with all sorts of answers. The simple fact is that they make me smile. They connect me with the people I love in strong ways. That's the only reason I need.

The fair only comes once a year

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What? You too? I thought I was the only one! -C.S. Lewis

It is in times of despair when we see the beauty in life. It is not in our own lives that we see it, but in the lives of others. We no longer take the small things for granted. We have the small victories in life. Getting out of bed, or simply taking a shower are monumental feats meant to be celebrated. A completed task for school is even larger. Seeing the truly productive lives of others are often envied, but we must remember to celebrate for them as well. Our life on earth is short and often full of painful moments, but the life we choose to live between those moments is what counts.

"Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard." -Coldplay

I often complain that my life is not fair. And it isn't. There really isn't that much I can do about it. That simple statement doesn't take away my feeling, but it is a quiet resolution. Somehow, keeping that thought will sometimes encourage me to do something about it; to work in some way towards a goal, to accomplish something that everyone else is able to do. Even if it takes me three times as long. It often manifests itself in my life of faith. As 1 Timothy 6:12 says, "fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life." I've got to fight to keep my faith sometimes. And that's okay with me. I know that part is fair.

"Dear Child of God, I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional. It seems to be part of the human condition, but suffering can either embitter or ennoble." -Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Just Another Rainy Day

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's one of those days where I feel like Eeyore. My tail is missing, I can't walk straight, and my world seems gray. One of those days when you think back to the first thing you did and it seems so impossibly long ago that it doesn't seem like it happened today at all. Maybe yesterday, or further back. One of those days when you feel like a failure the moment your eyes flip open at the sound of the dreaded alarm. There's pollen in my hair that's probably been there for hours and my face doesn't look like I've put on any make up at all, it's so spotty. I lost my shoes and I can't go to class. I've had a headache for 8 hours. My life seems more like a really depressing book with no end in sight than an actual life. My actual life. I've eaten pink Peeps and watched a lot of Gilmore Girls. The highlight of my day was talking about Desmond Tutu for an hour in Theology class. Can I just do that for the rest of my life? It would be much better than getting ready to write a letter to my professors telling them that I'm a depressive bipolar person.

"Of course, there were times when you had to whistle in the dark to keep your morale up, and you wanted to whisper in God's ear: 'God, we know You are in charge, but can't You make it a little more obvious?'" -Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Yay Jesus!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I love Easter. I love the lilies, the azaleas in bloom and seeing all of the people in church who haven't come since Christmas and probably won't see again until next Christmas. Even the long sermons.

I don't think about the afterlife very much even though I am a Christian. I am very focused about how I live in the moment- about how Christ changes my life here on earth. I suppose I should think about the afterlife more than I do- in order to truly comprehend the magnitude of his sacrifice. Even though God gave us this magnificent gift of eternal life in the only way we could understand it- through his son, flesh and blood- we still don't grasp it fully. Death still scares me.

We are saved. We are saved. Through Christ. Grace. Love. Forgiveness. Meaning we don't have to worry (or fear) death. That's a relief. But we'll still walk to the tomb and find it empty. We go and expect death, only to find it gone. We won't believe, refuse even, to think that something greater has happened. I'll forget that when things get too hard and expect doom and gloom. Then I'll smile and remember he is risen. And that is greater than any worry that I may ever have.

He is risen indeed.

Alleluia Alleluia!!

You're stereotyping me, did you ever think about it that way??

Sunday, March 28, 2010

There is a lot of judgement that goes around the world today. It fires back and forth across the senate floor, the world and our country, and across the classroom. Many people assume that religions often are more judgmental than others. While it is true that most religions have a very strict code of ethics and rules to adhere to, not all members are willing to take the seat of the magistrate. I wrote this back in high school, but I think it's still relevant today. I am posting it here with minor editing.

1. I'm not going to impose my beliefs on you. I will share and invite, but beating you over the head and berating you constantly really isn't my main goal in life or the purpose of my religion. Just so you know.
2. Please don't impose your beliefs on me. Your beliefs, your opinions, your prejudices, your misconceptions... share, I'd love to talk, but don't expect me to take them up.
3. I'd prefer if you don't offend other people (persons, races, groups, religions, whatever) around me. If you're ignorant enough to make such assumptions, I'd rather not be offended by them.
4. I am allowed to be offended when you offend someone else of the human race. I happen to be a member of that particular group.
5. A square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square. (just because something falls into a group, it doesn't mean that it applies to all. some specifics are just for a few.)
6. Don't be self righteous -and I don't care if you believe in original sin or not- it's annoying as crap and it'd be best if you didn't ask me to start pointing out your flaws.
7. This is not aimed at any specific person, I just heard one comment too many today and I decided to practice my preaching.
8. I don't care if you agree with a person or not- they are a person and you should respect them and take into account their positions on things. Whatever it may be.
9. Don't be so stupid as to believe everything you hear/see. (Yes, that could include this.)
10. You don't know the whole story unless you had a part in it. Just think about that the next time you ponder judging someone.
11. Just because I am a Christian, it doesn't mean that I cannot get along with someone else. When I was baptized, I didn't join a selective cult of people. I do want to get to know you and I'll try not to pass judgement on you for whatever you are/say/do.

I realize that i have my own failures. I really do love all people and I hope that you have a nice day. While you are having a nice day, do something nice for someone else. Buy flowers for your mum. Hold open the door. Apologize for stepping on someone's foot in the hall. Whatever you feel like. I don't mean to sound angry, but I am. A little. Just a combination of a lot of idiotic things that really push my buttons sort of overflowed. It's not directed at you, just the rude people in humanity in general.

Looking at Luke

Monday, March 22, 2010

Luke 12:48

"...From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." Luke 12:48

do you ever just want to take a pass and say,
no thanks,
you can give that to someone else,
pass it along,
i don't want any more responsibility,
i can't do it,
i've got too much...

especailly when it comes to something for someone else- praying or being there or being the comforter or the go-to person. if i can't take care of myself, why am i to be there for someone else?

i guess becuase i love them and would do anything for them and i want to be that person that God wants me to be. right?

that's what i keep telling myself.

On tonight's news at 6...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sometimes we forget religion in the mainstream- beyond our church. Sometimes we forget how intricately it is all connected with who we are as a nation, as a world- a global community of humanity. Until someone does something wrong. The media does love a good disaster! And don't we all? Aren't we fascinated (and yes, often horrified) by 24-hour coverage of natural disasters, accidents, wars, politicians doing something wrong or mis-steps by our great leaders, political, ethical and spiritual? We are, we hang on every word- and the media fills that need. We want it and they have it. But with all of the hullabaloo over Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, fundamentalist Islamics, Catholic secrets, and anti-whatevers, we lose that still small voice of reason within us. It's okay. Remember the sane thoughts of those who sit next to you at church, in the cathedral or the mosque. Those who have the loudest voice don't always have the right voice.

Walk Humbly

Sunday, March 14, 2010

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your god?
- Micah 6:8

Things in life seem a lot harder than that one succinct verse. We have a hard time accepting what to do in life. We feel we are required to have lofty goals and aspirations that will prove things, great things, to the world, while we continue to forget we only have to prove them to God. Simply loving Him and His people through justice and kindness is all he asks. All of the other things break down under those few categories.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you have received.
- I Peter 4:8-10

Rain, rain, please won't you stay?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's been raining all day. I love the rain. For a little while. I hate when it drags on for days. But I love waking up to the rain pounding on the roof. I love running through a straight downpour. The heavier the better. I love falling asleep at night to the rain. I don't know, the rain makes everything feel cleaner. In a sad way. The earth is crying. For a little while- sometimes a quick cry and sometimes it takes a few days to let it all out. But while the earth is shedding its tears, I'm hoping for a sun-shiny day tomorrow to go to the beach, get my passport and buy some stamps. But tonight I'll fall asleep to the rain.

First Things First

Friday, February 26, 2010

I am not really sure why I started this blog. It's kind of like a 12 year old with pierced ears- everyone else has them, so why don't I? I'm not really expecting something great to come from this blog. And you probably shouldn't expect the next great American novel to come from it either. It's just an outlet for my thoughts and... whatever else.

I'm doing a term paper for my lived theology class on the Dalai Lama. He's probably in the top 100 people I'd like to meet. Maybe the top 50. (But considering I haven't made that particular list yet, it's hard to say.) He is a most interesting person. It's hard exactly to pinpoint what about him is so cool. Is it the fact that he's leading a country and a religion simultaneously? Or that he's been relentlessly negotiating peace talks with China for over 50 years? Maybe it's that he became the Dalai Lama at the age of 4.


I'm sitting here at the age of 21 feeling a little behind on my life because I haven't become a religious leader yet. Alexander the Great was king of Macedonia at the age of 20. Victoria became the Queen of Britain at 18. Mary was the mother of Jesus when she was probably about 13 or 14.

I should get on this. Lead a country, start a war, become a religious leader.

Maybe tomorrow.