Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I have learned about being a teacher from God

I have learned to not have favorite students.  It's clear that God has favorites by the way He treats us all with no equality.  My family and I aren't on His favorite list and it's rotten.  I'm not gonna do that to my students, I'm not going to make some feel like I like them and some feel like I couldn't care less about them.  It's not fair and I want to be just.

God's Favorites: He always provides for what they need, He never takes away anyone they care about, He gives them what they want when they want it most of the time.

God's Non-Favorites: He doesn't provide for them consistently so they have have to work 12/6 to barely pay the minimum on the bills while they watch others have more than enough without even trying, He goes long periods of time not talking to His children that He says He loves, He continually breaks them letting things get worse with no break or explanation, He let's them get their hope up only to smack it out of their hand, He treats them like they don't matter to Him.

Now, I realize that He's decent enough to give Non-Favorites air and life, but it'd be nice to get thrown a few more bones than that.  I also realize that He never promised to make things easy, but I'm not asking for easy I'm asking for fair.  God says He's just and good, but I'm not seeing it; and every time I get a glimpse of His goodness and justness, it's quickly disproved.  Things will seem slightly less shaky and then someone you love and care about will loose their job just 2 days after Christmas, wouldn't you agree that that's not good?  And what's fair about busting your butt to simply pay your bills and support your family, while others do next to nothing and have more than enough to do whatever they want and live less then decent lives?  Cognitive dissonance, that's what plagues me: I know God is good/just/loving, but I don't see that being perpetuated.

So, in conclusion, I'm not going to treat my students like God treats His Non-Favorites.  I'll still give grace, love, and mercy, but in a way that is tangible to them no matter what.  I'll make them feel loved, valued, special, and safe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

reconstructing or replacing?

Last Sunday I heard a great, relevant message at church that led me to come to terms with something that I hadn't had a clarification on.  I am ready to be back in a real relationship with the Lord, to be communicating with Him regularly, to re-learn His voice.  But the fact that I faced on last Sunday was that I didn't know how to go about the relationship.  Things are different now, I am different now and my perception and understanding of who God is is very different.  I pondered how to go about having a relationship with Him.

I didn't know whether I was supposed to try to pick up where we left off or start (kinda)anew.  You see, trying to have the same relationship we had before I gave up on Him just seemed foolish; in any relationship, conflict changes perceptions of yourself and the other person, and while God's knowledge of me hasn't changed, my understanding/perception of Him has certainly altered.  Things will never be the same, but I don't believe they should ever stay the same.  It's sort of like trying to glue a shattered vase back together, yes all the pieces are there, but it's just not gonna be the same.  So this leaves me with the choice of replacing;  I'm not a fan of that word, perhaps a better word would be refurbish?  I'm still me and God is still God, but just like you refurbish a computer, you can refurbish a relationship, even with God.  When you refurbish something, you use the same vessel/structure/frame (a piece of furniture, computer, car) but that's about it.  You put new hard drive/software in it, new paint/stain, new engine, etc.  It's still the same computer/dresser/car, but it's "harder, better, faster, stronger" (song).  So that's what I've decided to do, to refurbish this relationship.

It's still me, a changed me, but me and God.  Thankfully, He will never change!  I'm glad that this decision has been made, I had been unknowingly putting the decision off.  Now to figure out how this newly refurbished relationship will shape up.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"late" bloomer?

I have to be honest, when I see couples (especially younger than me) getting engaged/married, or when someone else announces their pregnancy/baby, I freak out a little bit...but then I remember that I'm only 23 and I like my life.  I briefly wonder what's taking me so long, why aren't I married?  why aren't I living the "typical" adult life?

I heard someone say that God has promised us a spouse.  This would mean that everyone is supposed to get married.  I don't believe this to be true.  While, yes, the majority of people (that I know of) get married at least once, there's no guarantee that anyone person will get married.  But that's alright.  Marriage isn't a reward for doing the right thing.  Marriage is...marriage.  You're either married or not, it's nothing personal.

So if you're reading this and you're married, know that there's nothing wrong with you, you're just not married.  Being single means you can do things that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do like live in a great house with four fabulous women.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's November!

Well folks, it's November!  This means that men everywhere (well at least in places that I can see) will be growing their facial hair out and likely their head hairs out.  HOORAY!

I love a man with facial hair, it's like home to me.  I think part of it is because, growing up, my daddy always had a Van Dyke (mustache attached to a gotee), so it's very familiar to me.  There's something so excellent about a man who can grow a (quality) beard/mustache; to me, it means they're more manly.

Now I've seen some gross beards/mustaches before: the patchy beards, the thin mustaches, the one's with food stuck in it.  These will not win me over.  But a face with consistent hair growing out of it that's clean?  Yes Please.

Facial hair seems so useful and during the cold months; I always envy men with delicious beards because I'm certain their faces are exponentially warmer than mine.  My face gets so cold that my teeth hurt when I open my mouth, BUT if I had a beard and mustache keeping my jaw warm, I wouldn't have that problem of not being able to speak when outside.  Just saying.

So, men, feel free to grow out your manly main and know that there are women out there that don't just tolerate it, but fully embrace and cheer it on.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

identity check

Lately, the last week or so, I've felt something stirring inside.  Something good, something progressive.  It's seemed like my heart has been softening towards God.  I've stopped cynically retorting to all the good things people say about God and the Christian walk, and have felt more comfortable with the idea of being in a relationship with God.  Today, at church, pastor talked about 'Identity' and I thought 'oh great, another one of those messages.'  But the message was, surprisingly, refreshing.

He talked about how we have been called children of God and this means that we ARE children of God,  1 John 2:28-3:10.  We should act accordingly.  As children of God, we can live a life of freedom and victory (1 John 2:12-14), although we often let the Accuser (devil) tell us that our mistakes/sins are who we are .  The  devil calls us failures when we fail at something, but the reality is we're still children of God, we simply made a mistake.  God tells us who we truly are even when we don't think it possible, Judges 6:12-18.  We have freedom to do what's right and predeclared-victory over sin and death.  That's some good news!

We're not expected to just be like Jesus, we're changed and grown to be glorified, like Jesus, as children of God.  And we often hear that and think "oh yea, great things are gonna be done through those people (people in church, people on tv), but I could never be used in such a great way by Him."  We don't think God can't do it, we don't think God can do it through us.  I no longer want to have that defeatist attitude.  If God wants me to do something, then I can do it because He equips and strengthens.  Period.

So the good news about me is that I'm getting back on track.  I know it's time for me to come home and I'm excited to get there.  Today I was praying, mostly listening, at the end of service and He told me that He sees me making my way home over the horizon and He's lifted his robe and is running toward me (prodigal son scene).  There's gonna be a party y'all.  After church I hoped in my car and, as usual, cut my radio on.  Immediately my brain shut off, He told me to cut the radio off and listen and process.  Part of my problem has been that I wouldn't take anything with me after hearing a message, I have been shutting down after the message, not processing.  After the radio was off, I prayed to ask God for help and to sort re-dedicate to Him.  It felt good to apply the message past the church doors.

Progress was made today, and the effort that I'll have to put in to re-explore 'childhood' with Him as my Father actually seems worth it to me.  I know it may not be easy, but I want it and badly.  It's worth it already.

>1 John 3:2-3
>Hebrews 12
>Romans 8:15-17

Thursday, October 20, 2011

heart check

‎"The missionary heart cares more than some think is wise, risks more than some think is safe, dreams more than some think is practical, and expects more than some think is possible."


This was posted as friend's Facebook status tonight, she got it from a pastor who read it from a missionary girl who died.  Wow, if that's a missionary heart, then I am way off.  I can honestly, and humbly?, say that this quote used to speak so true of me, but now that doesn't reflect who I am, who I've become.  I want that heart again.  I want that compassion, that visionary, idealist spirit.  But I've allowed my lousy (lousy in my opinion) circumstances of the past several months to get to me, to alter my perspective and attitude on life.  I want to return to a heart not centered around myself, but centered around loving others and the Lord.


The other week I was chatting with a friend and telling her that I know I'm supposed to live a different type of life, as a Christian, but that still doesn't change the fact that I'm here, in this world.  The Christian world and the secular world do not really go well together, but we're expected to live in both, hmmm.  Well, we're expected to live in the Christian world, and it's just unfortunate that we currently live in the world world.  It's all a bit perplexing for me.  But I do know that I desire to have the above heart, life's better that way.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

that girl

Have you ever watched a movie and seen a character that really resonated with you?  It's never actually happened to me before until this past weekend.  A friend and I watched Something Borrowed and one of the main characters, Ginnifer Goodwin's character, reminded me of myself, sadly.  The character was hopelessly in love with a friend of hers from grad school that was engaged to her best friend since childhood.  Unfortunately I know all too well how Gin's character feels; she was always the girl who liked the guy, but was never liked by the guy.  She would externally be patient and pretend to not be affected by his lack of romantic attention, but internally she'd be in turmoil with hopelessness that he would never love her because she's not beautiful enough.  She was that girl.

Maybe it's part of my personality, or perhaps it's my insecurities, but I'm always hopeful that he would like me yet I'm certain he won't, because I'm not good enough for him.  Pathetic right?  In my mind, I've built him up as this perfect man that I could never live up to.  An idol.  Now, as you can probably imagine, this serves as a detriment to my self-esteem, me feeling like I'm not good enough.  I shouldn't be so fixated on what/how/who I think he is, I shouldn't be fixated at all...on anything.

Some women have a much faster turnover rate on who they like than I do.  I have friends who like someone new/different seemingly every week.  Not me, I have had crushes on a single (as in one) man for months, even a year or more.  While I don't want to swing the other direction and hop from crush to crush, it'd be nice to not have a devoted, hopeless crush for so long.  It makes me feel foolish, because I know that I could be using my time more wisely, instead of daydreaming about how great it be if he'd pay me some mind.  Oddly enough, I know this as it's happening, I don't even have to look back and think "man, I wasted so much time crushin' on that guy when I could have used my time more efficiently", I think that as I'm crushin'!!!  Silliness.

I guess what I'd like is to not fall deeply into the crush, to not invest so much.  It leaves me disappointed, hurt.  Especially when he starts dating someone or gives me some reason to stop liking him (I briefly dated this one guy who ended up being a pothead among other thing).  I guess when I fall, I fall hard.  It'd be nice to have a mild crush on someone and to not feel so crappy when it's over.  Yea, that'd be nice.

There have been times when I was doing a great job of managing the crush, but now is not one of those times.  It annoys me, my lack of self control.  I guess I should collect myself, huh?  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

uninspired

I feel uninspired.  I feel that I have only little glimpses of the supposed good stuff that makes up life: car, house, housemates, money, community.  But all else feels empty.  What is "all else"?  There's something missing that used to live inside me.  I hate to say that I'm almost entirely certain I know what that 'something' is, yet I sit here without attempting to attain it, to connect to it.  Life feels hollow without it.  If I am a branch, then I am a dying one, shriveling up from self-inflicted alienation from the Vine.

So what's wrong with me that I would continue to let myself dry up when I know where Living Water is to be accessed?  Bitterness?  Perhaps a little.  Cynicism?  A lot.  Anger?  Not so much.  Fear?  Probably.  Anticipation?  Most definitely.  There's all those emotions coursing through my veins, sucking me dry; but there used to be life rushing through me.  There used to be hope, joy, love, inspiration, purpose, identity.  All those things are great, all those things are missed by me.

The circumstances of the past several months (9 or so) have aided in my transformation from a person of joy with a zest for life, to a cynic who wants to hardheadedly prove herself to no one in particular.  Especially to the big One.  I am continuously resistant to the gentle urges/love-nudges from the One who matters most, yet I continue to take what He gives to me.  But with an entitled pout.

But the embarrassing truth is I act like He owes me.  'Yea, You better give me a job/house/car after you didn't provide for me before.'  While I may be acting like He owes me, in my mind I'm a scared little girl who's holding tightly to her trivial, earthly things in fear of the big bad monster coming to take them away and leave her with nothing again.  How pathetic.

When I hear (and believe me I've heard it a lot lately) messages about doing big, great things for the Lord, and about trusting Him to work in super ways through you, I think "yea, I tried that and I got shot down; so don't you tell me I'm doing something wrong.  I'm just trying to live, to survive."  It seems foolish (although I know it's the opposite of) to me to try to persevere when you keep getting shut down and kicked.  Save yourself the heartache and don't, just don't.

Funny how you let yourself feel discouraged and bitter about one thing, big or small, in your life that you don't like and everything else becomes blown out of proportion or the opposite, disappointing and insignificant.  The man that you like seems unattainable, the jobs that you have aren't really that great, the stuff that you have could be better.  I don't want to live life like that!  But I'm afraid, my friends, that I'm stuck.  It's as if my brain is retrained on how to look at everything you have and feel utter dissatisfaction.  I want to take the step forward into feeling alive on the inside again, but I have these mind blocks that are constant reminders of the hurt/disappointment/disillusionment/doubt that I've been feeling, and why, that cause me to take steps back.

The truth is, I'm a mess.  And while the world would not see the mess, I know it's there.  The outside of my cup is clean, but the inside is riddled with labyrinths of self-defense against the 'big, bad' God who can give, but chose to take away.  But the good news is that it doesn't matter how airtight I make my defenses, He can break through.  He's been politely knocking and I've been nervously and cynically pacing in front of the door, wanting to open, but scared what is going to happen when I do.  It's the bad times that keep me from opening the door, and the uncertainty of what's exactly in store on the other side, the side of life.

So I'll take baby-steps towards that door, because the wall is crumbling around it.  I can't see it, but I know it's there, but I have a feeling I'll be surprised no matter what's on the other side of my door.

Friday, September 16, 2011

curvy?

Lately I've noticed a lot of commercials/shows about "curvy" women.  "Curvy" meaning plus size, meaning 'larger than the average woman.'  I have a problem with this term "curvy"; while I'm not plus sized, I do consider myself to be curvy.  I'm shaped like a woman, because I am a woman with a body; I have that hourglass shape with a slight peariness (slightly larger on the bottom than top) to it.  I think it's unfair that I don't get to be called curvy simply because I'm not plus sized.

That's all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

extended honeymoon

So I've been living in this house for over a month now and can I just say that I love it!  I literally come home everyday and I am filled with joy!  I enjoy this house so much, I love my room and I love every other room in this house even my housemates.  I love my housemates, they are all so fabulous, and beautiful, and smart, and great.  I love my bed, it's so comfortable and delicious.

People, before I moved in, said that that heightened feeling of satisfaction and 'love' would die down soon once I get into the rhythm of my house and housemates.  Well, 'soon' has passed and I'm still very much in love.  The more time I spend in this house with these people the happier I become.

So for now I'd say that I'm in honeymoon stage.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Aftertaste

Tonight I ate Cookout's Cajun Fries and they were so spicy that after eating them, my mouth still hurt...remember that for later.

Tonight, I went to my college-young adult meeting like usual, and the message was written specifically for me (well it felt that way).  The message was about attitude, and Jonah and the prodigal son's older brother were the main characters.  You see, they both had rotten attitudes about the actions of the Father towards people/places/situations they thought negatively of.

At the beginning of the year, I was angry with God; I was angry because I didn't see His goodness being displayed in my life.  Nothing made sense to me, nothing added up, nothing felt fair, nothing was right.  Everything sucked.  But I'm not angry anymore, but remember those fries?  They were the main attraction, but the aftertaste, the afterburn, could hold it's own as a main show.  I'll break it down for you:
Fries=Anger I had toward God.
Aftertaste/Afterburn=The suspicion, disappointment, disapproval, cynicism, frustration I have toward God, and everything that matters in life.
Are you with me?

The speaker talked about how we have to, in a way, forgive God.  Now, of course, God has done nothing wrong, but when we forgive someone, we release them from the negative relationship between yourself and them.  It allows the relationship to progress, it frees up both parties to grow.  It's a step toward mending your heart toward God so that He can do bigger things in and through you.

Jonah acted like a brat after he went to Nineveh in obedience; he was less than thrilled about the assignment, so upon completing it, he went to watch the show on a hill east of the city.  He wanted to see the destruction, smiting, of the city, but, low and behold, they repented and God showed them great mercy.  Jonah didn't think God was doing the right thing showing the people of Nineveh such grace and mercy, he said "...for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live" (Jonah 4:2-3).  So Jonah was so disappointed with the lack of death raining down on the townspeople that he would rather die, drama queen much?  Jonah pouted even while God continued to be good to him, simply because things didn't go as Jonah had planned.  

So, since it's my blog, back to me.  Good news: I'm no longer angry with the Lord.  Bad news: I'm still not so thrilled with Him, I don't trust Him to do 'the right thing' (well, what I deem as the right thing).  There's this cognitive dissonance that I'm facing: God, over and over again I see You being so good to Your children, but I'm not seeing that goodness manifest itself in my life.  This has caused me to be quite a cynic in regards to God.  I suspiciously ask a lot of questions, as if He doesn't have my best interest in mind and  as if He's not as good and loving as He claims to be.

This bad aftertaste I have from the anger I held against God has lasted longer than the actual anger, but I know that I don't want it anymore.  I'm tired of being dejected and distrusting.  I want to have hope again; specifically, I want to have hope in the Lord again.  I want to trust in Him without abandon.  I know this isn't something that can be accomplished with just a one time prayer.  The speaker shared about a friend who had been hating this man for so long that when he found out the man wasn't guilty, he still hated him; I've been cynical of God for so long that I can't just accept that He is good and does love me (although, not always in ways I prefer), it's going to take some retraining.

I have to be honest in saying that I'm not thrilled about this journey, I sort of already want to be a quitter. I've grown accustomed to this mindset of skepticism and have felt justified in it.  This is not okay, I do want to change...here we go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

calling

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."~~~Ephesians 2:10

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."~~~Jeremiah 29:11

I've forgotten that God places callings on each of our lives; these callings are specific to each of us and never go away.  That's what I remembered 'randomly' on my way to church yesterday.  I remember my mom telling me that once called, always called; she said that no matter how far we get from what God wants us to do, we always have our callings to go back to, He doesn't take them away; and His calling is infinitely better than everything else, ever.  Well, wouldn't you know it, I talked to someone really awesome Sunday morning that reminded me of that calling-the calling of being a missionary.

There's a lady that came and guest spoke to the elementary school Sunday School classes (3) about her time in Guatemala working with kids in an orphanage, she's a missionary.  It just so happened that yesterday was picture day for the kids so while the kids were taking pictures, her and I talked.  She encouraged me so much, the Lord really blessed me through her.  She reminded me about God's calling, and how it never goes away, even though there are times (like now) that it seems it will never be within reach.

I feel so blessed that God brought this woman when He did; it was great to hear it from a fresh person, a fresh perspective.  I do feel encouraged, and I do feel a little inkling of hope that I can still be a missionary. All hope isn't lost, but I will approach this mustard seed of hope with great precaution.  I don't want to face another heartbreak, not fun.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

but what if it doesn't?

There's a movie that I really like called He's Just Not That Into You; the overarching theme is that we tell females lies from childhood about males being attracted to them.  The first example they use is a girl getting teased on a playground from a boy, she runs crying to her mom and tells her what happened; the mom responded by saying "he's just doing that because he likes you".  The narrator, Ginnifer Goodwin, talks about how people, primarily women, will tell their girlfriends lies about the reasoning of men treating them crappily.  'Oh he's just ignoring you because he's intimidated by your beauty.'  But one character in the movie said that if a man wants you he will call you, he will pursue you.

People, in an effort to make you feel better, will blindly, unknowingly lie to you about circumstances.  It's a nice thought, but I don't currently appreciate it; I don't think I believe in that anymore.

Today, while at my yogurt job, I got a call from HR of the county school system that I was in the process of getting hired for.  I was told that I can't have the job because I don't have my license yet.  This is frustrating and disappointing for so many reasons that aren't relevant to this post so I won't really get into that.

I sent out a text telling that I didn't get the job to a few people.  One response was (edited for grammar)"  I'm sorry to hear that;  keep your head up, somethings better coming!"  Now I truly appreciate the affirmation, but I'm tired of people saying, not just to me but to others, that there's something better.  The question I pose is: "You keep saying that something better is coming, that things will get better, but what if if doesn't?"

For the past eight or so months people have been saying to me that things'll get better, that there's something better, but they haven't been.  I know I've mentioned before how encouraged I was reading Romans 8:24-25, a hope in the unseen, and I still believe it to be true...but I just don't feel like I have any hope left.  I don't even want to know when or how things will get better, because I don't believe that they will.

I'm tired of hoping and waiting only to be disappointed and rejected continually.  (I know this post must seem super whiny, but hey!, it's my blog.)  I feel a lot like just shutting my emotions and brain down, I'm tired of constantly being disappointed mentally and emotionally.  It just seems easier to not have to keep getting kicked while I'm down.  So there you have it, I admit defeat.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

jibbity job

Hey, so I have been recommended to HR for the part-time general music position at an elementary school in Charlotte, just down the street from where I went to high school.  I'm pretty excited, and am so encouraged.  All I need to do is send in my transcript and this form saying that I have legitimately graduated from University.  The people that I interviewed with said they were really excited to have me and they seem very supportive of the arts.  I'm pretty excited!  Be praying for final hiring process.

As I mentioned, this job is part time.  This means that I'll be working "only 20 hours a week" and will get paid half of what a teacher, based off the teacher scale, gets paid; but I do get insurance, so that's super.  I intend to continue working at the yogurt place part time even though just the school job will be enough for me to live  from.  ASAP I will be buying a new car; my car has had it and I have had it.

I am excited for this job, but I am also very nervous because it's a big girl job.  There'll be no one holding my hand.  I ask you to pray.

newest fad: BABIES!

This is one boat I'm glad I missed.  Facebook is exploding with pictures of babies; people from church, University, where ever are all having babies.  Holy cow!  It's freaking me out, am I really that old?  Am I really old enough to raise another human?  I don't even have my life together, surely I couldn't take care of another!

This post college time is strange; suddenly everyone is the same age but on different pages.  I'm working at a yogurt place part time and living with a bunch of women, while others are married with children. Whoa!  This is madness.  I'm quite happy with my life right now, it's not perfect but I have a job (and another one in process, more about that later) and am living in an amazing house with fabulous women.  I'm pretty happy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Family Envy & Jonah

This post was originally me griping about what I don't like about my family, but, since starting this post (a few weeks ago) I've learned a lot and my perspective has changed.  I am learning and choosing to accept, now, that all families have their dysfunctionalities (I'm pretty sure that's not a word) and that's because people are deeply flawed.  It's inevitable.

My problem is/was that I saw the problems of my family and I wanted to jump right in and fix them.  I wanted to instruct on how to speak, treat, love one another.  And it wasn't even because I thought it my way or the highway, it was because I saw problems and saw a lack of progressive movement towards resolving the problems and I figured "someone's gotta do it".  A friend of mine kept telling me that it's not my job to fix my family's problems, but I feel such a responsibility and burden for my family that it's difficult for me to simply let go.

Last Tuesday I heard a message from the book of Jonah, yes the guy that got swallowed by a big fish; it was about the different people on the boat.  One type of person that was on the boat was trying to 'save' Jonah by staying on it and overthrowing some cargo to make the boat lighter.  But the problem wasn't the cargo, the problem was Jonah's disobedience.  The Lord was getting Jonah's attention and the shipmates were simply there doing their thing.  The speaker of the message said that the shipmates weren't responsible for Jonah, they did what they could, but ultimately it was Jonah's problem to resolve, thus it was Jonah's responsibility to resolve.

I'm the shipmate, and my family is Jonah.  I've done and said what I can, but ultimately it's not my responsibility.  My family is not my responsibility.  It's not within my means to 'fix' my family.

Now I'm learning to relinquish control of my family to the Lord.  This doesn't mean that I don't care about them, it means that I love them enough to take my feeble grips off them so the Lord can work.  It's so hard because I love them so much, but when you love someone you have to let what's best happen to them and surrendering control to God is what's best for them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

First day at work

Okay, so today was my first day at work and it was pretty good.  I worked for 5 hours and was pretty much thrown right in.  Today I: did some training sessions on a computer, manned my own register, cleaned, smiled, explained that this is, in fact, yogurt, put out fruit, learned what mochi is, and stood...a lot.  I thought I'd be much more drained after working, but I wasn't initially.  I really wasn't engaging with people in the same way I'm used to with teaching.  I just press buttons (well it's actually a touch screen), swipe cards/deal with cash, and hand out little sample cups.  That's mostly what I did all day.  Pretty mind numbing, but it's a job.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

DARE speech circa 1998 , but mostly because I'm procrastinating

I'm cleaning/packing up my room and I found this speech I wrote in fifth grade at the conclusion of completing the DARE program.  I was chosen to give this speech at DARE Graduation.  Check out my awesome 5th Grade writing skills.  I won't even correct any mistakes.

       DARE means drug, abuse, resistance,education.My goal is to become a music teacher and travel all over the world teaching music.This means I'll have to learn different languages, study different kinds of music, and stay drug free.I need to stay drug free because I want a healthy body ,and I want to accomplish my goals.I also want people to trust me.
      Some of the things I have learned are the different kinds of drugs,and the consequences of taking drugs.I've also learned about alcohol,stress,and violence.It is important to avoid violence because it can get you into a lot of trouble,and hurt you many different ways.I think DARE is important because it teaches children how drugs can mess up their dreams,and ruin their lives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

hope in the unseen

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25


So I've been having time with God again as of late!  I decided that I would read Romans 8 because I heard it was a good chapter.  This morning (really this afternoon) I was reading Romans 8:18-25, and thinking 'what does this have to do with me'?  Such a selfish thought, I know, but lately everything I've been reading in this chapter has spoken directly into my life.  Then I got to verses 24 and 25 and bingo!  Lately, I've been saying (with a whiny undertone) that I don't even want to know how things get better, I just want to know when things get better.  I just want to know that I have just one more week until I have a job, or just a month until this other mess clears up, whatever, I just wanna know when.  Essentially, I'm tired of faith/hope and I just want security in the way the world has it.  Deadlines, plans, schedules.  This verse says that hoping for what we can see is coming isn't hope at all.  For instance, how silly would it be if you saw your friend walking towards you in the airport and you say "I hope he gets here soon, I can't wait to see him!"  Silly, right?  You have nothing to hope for because you can see your hope actualizing itself right in front of you.  I know that things will get better, but I don't know when and I need to be accepting of that.  After reading that, I asked God to helping with my hope because it's running dry, it's dying.  I need to have hope in the unseen.  Now about that patience...

knitted goods for Bridgette

So I've knitted a scarf and hat set for one of by best friends, Bridgette.  She's currently in Chile doing missionary work with Campus Crusade for Christ and it's winter there so I made her these.



I'm most proud of the hat because I used a circular knitting needle for; it was my first time using them and I think it turned out pretty well!  Also, side note,  I took pictures using my camera!

Monday, July 18, 2011

10th re-birthday and how I got here

I became a Christian Summer of 2001, I was 13 years old.  I don't remember the exact day or even the exact month, so a few years ago, I decided to adopt July as my birthday month.  I've decided, in this blog post, to share my testimony.  I always like to say that my testimony, how I came to believe, is backwards from how everyone else became a Christian.  So strap yourself in.

My parents were raised in the church and so was I, but that's not out of the norm considering I live in the Bible belt.  I grew up hearing that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sin; sin: killing people, stealing, and hurting people (being mean).  I always figured that I was safe because I wasn't a 'bad' person, I didn't realize I was a sinner along with murderers and thieves and bullies (or terrorists, they're really the same thing).  When I was nine, my family was together and some of the 'grown-ups' gathered us kids up and asked if we were saved.  We all figured "no" and so we each partnered up with an adult and 'got saved'.  And that's it!  That's how I became a Christian...not!

After these occurrences I thought I was a Christian.  I mean, the grown-ups did say that we were.  But I didn't know why I would need saving, I didn't understand that I was a sinner doomed to Hell, but Christ took the sentence for me, for us.  After that day, I figured I should start acting differently; so I tried to act like a Christian.  I tried carrying on the facade for the next few years, except when I wanted to look cool in front of cute boys.

Summer of 2001, I was 13 and was a hot mess.  My mom and I were fighting everyday, I felt like no one really knew me and thus no one really loved me.  I felt purposeless.  Essentially, I was miserable and didn't even know it.  My mom was going to this (heavenly) international prayer convention in New Orleans and she made me come.

At said convention, people from all over the world, even places where it's illegal to publicly claim Christ as your Savior, came to pray.  To pray for nations, for big things, for small things...to pray for everything.  I went to the youth part of it and I was baffled and inspired by my peers.  I had never seen youth so in love with Jesus, I had never seen youth so secure in their identity as sons and daughters of The Most High God!  I was fascinated with the way they seemingly sparkled, I prayed for just one sparkle.  I wanted that Shekinah Glory.  At one point I took a look at myself in the mirror, I looked deep into my eyes and was frighten.  I sensed something evil, and it was coming from within me.  One night, I was at youth worship (which was so fantastic, some adults would come to that rather than the adult service) trying to get something, just something, off the ground to offer to God.  I started spinning and next thing you know I'm on the floor. A lady asked me if I wanted to receive the Holy Spirit, I said yes without fully understanding what that would entail, but fully knowing that it's what I had always wanted.  It's easily the most bizarre, terrifying, glorious time in my life.  I was being exorcised.  While my flesh was fighting (people were had to hold me down), I could feel the filth, the unclean spirits, fleeing me and the Holy Spirit flooding me.  After all that, I felt whole; I couldn't stop smiling.  I was a new creation.

When I returned home I wanted my life to be different, and it was.  I was a much more pleasant person and I tried to be.  But I hadn't the faintest clue on how to cultivate this relationship I now had with God.  I figured I was supposed to read the Bible so I sporadically did so, I tried praying as often as I thought about it...I tried, I really tried!

A couple years later, my momma, six year old brother, and paternal granma died in a car accident.  While I know many people would give up their faith in times like this, I clung desperately to the little that I knew about God.  I was a scared little girl being brave for her now broken family.  I felt it my role to be the strong Christian influence in the house because my dad was suffering the worst of the whole family.  That adopted strength is something I've carried up until recently.  It's not my responsibility to be the strong one in the family and that's a position I've started giving up (but not without me fighting).

Fast forward to the first week of University: my friend (eventually boyfriend) and I were walking up and down College Ave checking out the Activities Fair UNCG has at the beginning of every school year.  We checked out a bunch of the Christian campus ministries and figured we' visit them all until we found the right fit.  The second week of classes, that Thursday, we went to something called Campus Crusade for Christ, Cru for short, and we loved it.  That, then, group of 20-30 people on a good day welcomed us with sincere community and we were both hooked!  I went to the weekly meetings and eventually got involved in a ladies small group Bible study which I loved.  I became very heavily invested in Cru, and eventually became part of the Student Leadership Team (that title changed so many times I lost count) and taught Bible studies and discipled ladies.  Campus Crusade for Christ is big on discipleship, so since I was on leadership, I had to be discipled by someone on-staff with Cru.  That (this) relationship changed my life so much that I'm going to start a new paragraph for it, but not just yet.

Towards the end of my first semester at University I entered into a dating/boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the guy I mentioned above.  We had known each other for about 4 years because we had gone to the same youth group and were now living in the same residence hall at UNCG.  The relationship, in a word, was unbalanced.  He pressured me into a physical relationship no one needed to be in and made me feel bad about myself.  Of course I didn't realize this until after he broke up with me (I have excellent hindsight) when he realized he wanted sex and I wouldn't give it to him.  About a day and a half later, a few days before my 19th birthday, I was all over the ended relationship with no resentment or guilt, when I started talking to this other guy, a "jazzer".  That's a word used in the School of Music at UNCG we to describe a person in the Jazz Studies program.  This guy was easily the best jazz trumpeter in the SoM at the time; I mean, he was phenomenal and that's the main reason I dug his chili.  We dated-ish and 'talked' for a month or something (I honestly don't remember how long); I liked the way he made me feel.  He made me think he was interested in who I was, he didn't pressure me into a physical relationship, and he didn't mind talking, just talking no touching.  But there were some red flags and eventually I found out he smoked pot, AND , get this, he didn't think it was illegal.  In the argument about whether or not pot is illegal in North Carolina, he also showed that he had been lying about other things and was blaspheming all over the place, so the relationship ended just as quickly as it had began.  I was okay with that, like I said, I have fabulous hindsight.  Through those relationships I learned a lot about what I wanted/needed from relationships and that I am a valuable person.

Now we're in my sophomore year, I'm on student leadership with Campus Crusade for Christ's catalytic movement at UNCG.  As mentioned before, students on leadership had to be discipled by someone (of the same gender) on staff with Cru.  Michelle (hey Michelle!) and I got started.  I had never been discipled before and so this relationship was very special to me.  It was through Michelle's guidance that I learned that I hadn't become a Christian when I was 9 at my aunt's house, because when one becomes a Christian they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.  That indwelling hadn't happened until I was exorcised  when I was 13.  I had always thought of becoming a Christian and being filled with the Holy Spirit as two separate events.  What a revelation!  It was through being Michelle's disciple that I learned: the complete Gospel, why I needed a Saviour, how to have spiritual conversations, different gifts I had, and like a bajillion other things that helped me grow and thrive in my walk with the Lord.  This relationship continued and grew all throughout my college years and I still consider her a great friend today.  We'll probably be friends forever, that's my plan for our life (inside joke).

Summer of 2008, I went on a Summer Missions Project with Cru to Daytona Beach Florida (which I wouldn't have even applied to if it weren't for Michelle).  I was there for 10 weeks and was with a group of almost 50 other college students.  In this Summer Project we were trained on how to share our faith, how to disciple, how to study the Bible, how to do a lot of things.  I also learned what it was like to be a part a Christian community that ate together, worked together (we had to have full time jobs), lived together, do everything together.  It was most excellent and I am forever changed from it.

My junior year was incredible-ish.  I honestly don't remember it very well, is that sad?  I do remember going to Encounter '08 and having the Lord put the cherry on top.  Encounter is Campus Crusade for Christ's Mid-South (NC, SC, GA, TN, WV, KY) winter conference; it was, conveniently for me, in Greensboro.  It was there that I was reunited with my Summer Project friends, which was glorious!  The theme for that year was Encounter Christ the Redeemer.  This conference was a summation of the message of redemption the Lord had been teaching me all year.  In 2008 my sin was very real to me, I was finally grasping that I am a deeply flawed and broken person, I felt dirty and ashamed.  But God has redeemed me and that's what I was learning; I learned that no matter how broken, how filthy, God can redeem me.  God can save me.  God can use me!  That's part of the beauty of the Gospel, that: yes, we are deeply damaged, but God loves us enough to fix us and use us for His Glory.  Such good news!

The Summer before my senior year, 2009, I went on another Summer Missions Project to Costa Rica.  To say that I fell in love would be an understatement.  The Lord stretched me in ways that I didn't know existed and had the pleasure of seeing Him be God in a completely different culture.  Being in Costa Rica for those five weeks reaffirmed and strengthened my desire to be a missionary to Latin America, a dream of mine since I was like five years old.

When I returned to the University for my Senior year I felt very uneasy about my future.  I felt that perhaps the Lord wanted me to do something else besides teach when I graduated in the Spring of 2010.  Stuff happened and it ended up that I wouldn't graduate until December of 2010 instead of May.  This bummed me out because I paid for my schooling and that was another $5000.  But the good news was that I felt called to applying to STINT when I graduated.  STINT stands for Short Term International and I would be interning with Campus Crusade for Christ in another country for around a year.  I had applied to STINT in Costa Rica because not a day went (goes) by when I didn't (don't) think of it, but they (the powers that be) wanted me to go to Argentina.  I agreed with a drastic change of heart from God.  When they asked me to consider Argentina I, for some reason,  thought of it as hell on Earth, but the Lord quickly changed my heart and I was more than happy to go to Argentina!

As I raised support to STINT in Argentina, I was met with my ideology of God's provision.  I concluded that I had never thought of God as my Provider; it had always been my parents or me who had provided with what I needed.  Raising support was a struggle that I don't think I'll ever fully understand or appreciate; eventually, I was asked to stop because the Lord wasn't providing, and that was a sign that He didn't want me to go.  This crushed me and I was very angry with God, an emotion I rarely feel towards humans and had never felt toward God.  It took me over a month to stop being angry with Him and I'd be lying if I said that I'm fully recovered from that anger.  There are still days when I whimper 'why?', when I feel frustration in regards to what my life is now.  I still feel frustration when provision comes to people who never even wanted to be missionaries.  I'm still learning how to even like Him, I'm still chiseling away at the cognitive dissonance that asks "if God is the Provider then why didn't He provide?" and "You say the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few, well here I am God, why aren't You sending me?"  I'm still gaining my composure, but it's not pretty.

God's presence in my life is, to me, quite evident.  I look forward to another 10 years of learning to live life.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beautiful Mind

It's no secret the devil uses lies and our pasts as a form of destruction.  Today I was walking my dog and stressing about everything, when memories of times I felt bad started projecting in my brain.  Times when I felt rejected, insignificant, hated, excluded, helpless, ugly, dumb...crummy.  As I was walking and nursing these old injuries, I realized these thoughts were not helping!  My very posture had changed, I was dragging my feet and looking at the ground.  I couldn't enjoy my walk because I was so distracted by my self-pity, and to a certain degree, self-loathing.  I stopped myself, I reclaimed my thoughts, my brain.

What God created as something to use for His glory, our minds, can easily be turned against us, against Him.  Our minds are powerful membranes; they can be used to destroy or create, for good or evil.  My mind is all too often a detriment to my persona; I let my thoughts get carried away and it typically never ends for the better.  We let the accuser tell us who we are, we let him say that we're not worth it, that we're purposeless, that we're filthy, that we're irreparable.  And we believe him because we think these thoughts come from ourselves; after all, these are our memories that keep being displayed as evidence of our invalidity, right?   All the memories that turn up have a valid point, right?  Wrong!

Everything and everyone tries to pin an identity, a label, on everyone else.  We adopt these labels and build a life around them.  But the truth is no one has the right to tell us who we are except the very Creator of ourselves.  God knows the answer to who we are and He doesn't keep it a secret.  If you believe that God sent His Son to live and die so that we could have a full and beautiful life...if you believe that, then you are his child.  When the Creator of the Universe claims you as His, suddenly the little, ugly labels from everyone and everything else seems superfluous and silly.

Unfortunately, our minds continue to listen to the labels the world pins on us.  But we don't have to listen to the world, we can continually extinguish these lies by claiming who we are.  We are sons and daughters of the most high God and it's important for us to remember that!

I am not at all a master of shedding the lies about who I am, but I am going to work at owning that I am His child and that nothing else matters.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

how times have changed

I consider the following to be a sign of growth: there are men I have had crushes on who, now, I just enjoy their friendship...without the hard feelings.  I'm thinking of one crush in particular.  He's a fantastic man who is in pursuit of the Lord's face and is quite easy on the eyes and I had a crush a on him...naturally.  But now, we're just friends; nothing romantic happened between us (as is always the case with me and the men I dig), but I'm quite okay with that.

There was time when I would crush on a guy and never be able to be around him, without discomfort, again. I think I was paranoid that somehow, for some reason my secret feelings would be exposed and I would be humiliated.  But, thankfully, no more!  I can be around men that I had a huge crush on and be normal, easygoing.

Now the trick is to be nonchalant around men that I currently dig...baby steps.

pictures

So, I've just now decided that I'm going to start taking pictures again.  I am not even a mediocre photographer, I just have a life worth documenting.  I love looking at pictures and remembering or imagining or wishing.  I'm surrounded by hipsters, and apparently in the Hipster Handbook photography is on the List of Do's, but my camera doesn't match the caliber of hipsterness that exists.  It's old in technology terms, about 4 years, and it isn't big and boastful (although it is a compelling blue).  But there was a time when I would document EVERYTHING, time with friends/family, special events, walking to class, you name it; I think this'll be good for me.  When I was diligent about taking pictures, I noticed the beauty and grace of life a lot more, everything had a lot more value, sustenance.  I don't intend to be good at it, but I do hold the intention of enjoying it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I have an interview Wednesday

Yesterday, I was at small group, a different one than I usually go to, and we were sharing our prayer requests.  I told them that I had been searching for a job and I was kinda tired of waiting because money is needed.  One of my brothers in Christ said that I would have a dream that night with Donald Trump and Monday I would get a job.  I laughed and said that it would be great, he said 'you wait I'm right about these things'.  Today I woke up without a dream, that I can remember, involving Donald Trump (thankfully).  I checked my phone, no calls/messages, I checked my email and I had a message from my boss.  She gave me a nannying job this Friday with a great family I nanny-ed for this past Saturday.  I was a little disappointed because I was scared that that was the job that I was gonna get.  Well, I was vacuuming the stairs at home today when I got a call.  I picked up and I have a interviewed on Wednesday down the street from where I'll be moving in under month!  It's at a frozen yogurt place and I love frozen yogurt.  It may not be my forever job, but I am hopeful that it's a start.  Be praying.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

things I'm not good at: cars

So Friday I was driving home on an interstate when my car started sliding a little on the road.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a tire tread get spit out from under my car.  My car stopped acting funny, but I was still confused where the tread came from because I hadn't seen it in front of me.  I pulled over to the side of I-485 to have a look and all was clear except my front-passenger turning signal light was dangling.  I tried to put it back in, but let's face it, I can't do anything right when it comes to cars.  My turning signals stopped working...and then they started working...and now they've stopped again.

My point?  I suck at car ownership.  Cars blow my mind!  They, in my opinion, are just as needy as children...and just as expensive.  Since my car breaks in some capacity every few months, I constantly feel in danger when driving it.  I'm always scared that it's gonna just break or quit on me when I'm driving on some interstate, like it has on several occasions.  Several years ago an aunt's house got broken into, she never felt safe again in that house, so she moved.  That's what I feel like doing, moving on to a car that won't keep me in constant fear of being stranded or in physical danger.

All the liquids you have to put in there, belts, tanks, wires, all that crap is just too much for me to be able to maintain.  I just poured antifreeze in you, what do you mean you need oil?  How long can I wait before I get that belt fixed?  Why are you so loud when I turn?  What do you mean you'll give me 4 tires if I give you an arm and a leg?  I just got a new radiator, now I need spark plugs?...for something that inanimate that people have dominion over, automobiles sure are demanding!

I'm grateful for my car because I know many people don't have one and having a car opens the possibility of me doing a lot of things...I'm just griping.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lady in Waiting

Something I don't like doing is waiting.  I don't know that I'd call myself impatient, because I don't really act like I'm anxious about waiting, but inside I'm often antsy with anticipation.

Right now, the biggest thing I'm waiting for is a job; I've applied to several schools and some other places, so now I wait.  I don't know how long to wait or if I should continue to apply to places.  It's not unbearable, but it certainly isn't pleasant.

I think that women often feel frustration in waiting, I believe it's part of the result of The Fall of Man.  Women tend to want to take control of whatever the situation may be.  But that's not alright.  Men are supposed to be the leaders, even though they often tend to abdicate their duties, also because of The Fall.  What a predicament that leaves us, men and women, in.  What God created as a perfect balance between men and women, leadership and submission, has now been reduced to a tug-of-war of control, power, and leadership between the sexes.

Sometimes it feels like I'm always waiting for something, but I think in those times it feels that way because all I can think about is how I dislike waiting.  I'm the kind of person that is always in pursuit of the future, near of far, because I am certain that it will hold something better.  This is a problem; I'm here now because I'm here now, so I might as well live here now.  When I'm being farsighted, I miss the beauty and necessity of now.  'Now' becomes dulled to mundane mediocrity and 'later' becomes the main attraction.  'Later' becomes my idol.

My idolatry of the future, the 'later', is something I've known I do for a little while and for a while I was intent on not obsessing about it.  But, as you may know, I've not been very intent on anything lately so I've resorted back to my old ways.  That sucks.  Daydreaming about possibilities is like an indulgence of mine; it's like knowing there's a time and place for that candy bar, but ignoring moderation and eating it whenever the heck you want, wherever the heck you want.  At some point it's gonna catch up with you.  Or like this novel I read as a child about this boy with the 'Chocolate Touch'; everything he touched turned into chocolate.  His touch, at first, only turned certain things into chocolate, but eventually everything, even his mom turned into chocolate with his hands' touch.  Chocolate, itself, isn't bad, but when it's outside of moderation it is unhealthy and turns your loved ones into it (lol); thinking about the future isn't bad and is, at times, necessary, but when it becomes an obsession it becomes a distraction and a disappointment.  A disappointment because once I get to 'the future', it's not good enough because the future-er is better-er.  Yikes, what a disappointing cycle.

I want to not obsess about the future, and I know that the only way I can stop is through considerable help from the Lord.  I was doing really well for a little while; I just need to go back to constantly submitting my futuristic daydreams to Him.  When I find myself wandering into that section of my brain I need to say "Lord, I want to fantasize about the future because I have chosen not to be satisfied by you, please help me to seek fulfillment in you and nothing else.  Please give the strength."

Here I go, getting back on the horse.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I just gotta tell somebody!

Can I just express to you how excited I am about what happens in about a month?!?  I move into this amazing house with these even more amazing women!  I literally think about it multiple times a day.  I wake up and think "soon I'll be waking up in a different (better) bed in a different house!"  I eat and think "soon I'll be sharing a table with women I love soooooo much!"  I use the bathroom and think "soon I'll only be sharing a bathroom with one other woman instead of 4 children and the bathroom with be clean ALL the time!"  Ah!!!  I'm so excited I could explode.

Now all I need is a job, I've applied to SEVERAL schools and am waiting to hear back from them, as well as having applied to random other places: gym, coffee shops, etc.  Living in this house is just what I need and something I never knew I wanted.  The women in the house are people from my church and college and young adult group.  They're my peeps.  Right now, we're in pursuit of a 5 lady to live there.  There are 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 2 car garage, recreation room, loft, living room, gorgeous kitchen, informal dinning room, office, front and back yard.  Yep, it'll be glorious.  We're also still trying to get furniture to fill this place.  Everything in the living room is staying, but pretty much everything else is going.  It's coming together nicely though, and as long as we have the necessities, we're not too worried about rushing to furnish the rest of the house.

Okay...I think I'm finished drooling over this place for today!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Precious, my student

Last night, I finally watched the movie Precious, directed by Lee Daniels, based off the novel Push by Sapphire.  I knew the basic plot:  Precious, 16, is abused (verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually) by her father and mother and has some teachers and other people that help her survive and rise above.  I was pretty prepared to cry throughout the movie, and I did.  How could you not cry?  What I wasn't prepared for was the film pointing my thoughts toward my students, past and future.

I know inevitably that I will teach students who will have parts of Precious' story as theirs.  In fact, I'm certain I already have in my short time as a teacher.  I've had a student whose parents pulled knives on each other in front of 30 people; I've had a student who's dad isn't allowed on campus because he got a DUI on the middle school campus.  Yep, there's more, some less offensive and some more, known and unknown.  That's a scary part about teaching, who you'll come in contact with, adult or child.

(Spoiler Alert, I think)  In the movie, Precious got sent to an alternative school because she was a 16 year old middle school-er and pregnant with her second child from her father.  Her teacher, played by the lovely Paula Patton, pushed Precious to find worth in herself.  Ms. Rain (Patton) helped begin the undoing of all the damage done to Precious her whole life.  She spoke love, truth, and worth into Precious all while helping her learn how to read, write, and do math.  That's a lot.  That's the thing about teaching that they don't teach you in school.  I'm not just teaching children how to be musicians, which is, in and of itself, a privilege, I'm teaching them how to be human.  Parents, good or bad, aren't the only people who have a heavy influence on their child's future; knowing that my classroom will be one of the only safe places a student has is a heavy responsibility.  I had a student tell me he liked the bandroom because it was a nice place, soon after his mom busted in and (almost made me pee myself out of sheer terror) yell at him and embarrass him for no other reason than she's just like that.  To know that my classroom will be the only place where some children feel successful and safe is heavy.  I want them to feel they are good at something, even if society puts no value on the arts.  In Precious, Ms. Rain asked Precious what she was good at, Precious couldn't think of anything and after some prodding Precious figured she was good at cooking.  I've had and will have students like that.  My job, then, isn't to just teach them music, it's to hold a mirror up to them and unveil all the worth and good that's been overgrown by the bad and lies.

To call a teacher a glorified babysitter is like calling a child 'just a tax break', 'just a mistake', 'just a money pit', 'just a burden'; teachers, the good ones, help students see what's worthy in themselves, they help undo the words of "not good enough" society pins on seemingly every child.  As a teacher, a young one at that, I feel the burden and blessing of helping students realize their purpose and potential.  What an honor.

Monday, June 27, 2011

living paycheck to paycheck...a post NOT about money

In April, I wrote a post about abiding.  In it, I shared what I had been learning about abiding in the Lord and how I wanted to shake things up in my regimented quiet time.  Well, I think a follow up post is loooong overdue.  I've been sucking at it.

Today I read a friends blog post where she said she's living paycheck to paycheck, it helped me realize that's what I'm doing in my spiritual life.  I'm just barely squeaking by, just barely being sustained, not really feeling secure.

I had stopped my quiet time routine to experience God in a bigger way, to get more of Him; but what has happened instead is I'm floundering.  I'm like a fish who's trying to learn to live without water, I'm dying.  I help with the kids church and yesterday we taught the lesson about how Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches; how we are to stay connected to Jesus so that we can bare fruit for His Kingdom.  I just now got that that lesson is about me!  Perfect.

I need God, I need time with Him.  I haven't taken up drugs or alcohol to substitute Him; my life, instead, has been feeling very empty, very purposeless.  I feel like I've just been wandering around aimlessly, unsure of anything: who am I, why am I here, what am I supposed to be doing, who is everyone else, am I doing this right?  I feel as if I've lost a part of myself, but I know how to get it back.

I'm tired of this, it sucks in a really boring way.  It's gonna take some effort to get back to a relationship where I'm not just acknowledging His existence, but it's so worth it and I'm quite anxious to get there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

retrospect...i'm good at that

Have you ever thought back to a specific time/situation or (ahem) a blog post, and thought " I am such a terrible person"?  Yea, me neither...just kidding.  Sometimes I can be so mean over the dumbest things.  But the good news is there's grace, mercy, and seemingly infinite chances.  God is so good and am so not.

Friday, June 24, 2011

maybe I'm the jerk

Have you ever known someone that you consider to be a friend, maybe not a close one, and just wondered why you even bother being in a relationship with them?  I don't think like that often, but a few days ago that thought came to mind and I've been entertaining it since then.

Now, I'll admit that my emotions were out of whack that day, so I took everything personally, but still, that person is a jerk.  They were having a self-inflicted crisis and I was trying to help and they said stuff like 'I'm surrounded by people I like, well except you Coléa'.  Excuse my language, but what the hell you ass?!  While people were literally trying to avoid you, I was trying to understand your dumb crisis and be a good friend, and you make a remark like that?  Unacceptable.  Maybe, that was them taking a stab at humor, but I don't appreciate it.

I think I have mentioned before that I hate passive aggressiveness, but I think I'm gonna go for it in this situation.  It's irrational to act in that manner after one offence, but this isn't the first offence, this person is pretty much like this all the time.  I'm just not going to try to be friends with them any longer.  I'm not going to stop talking to them, that's nearly impossible, I'm just not going to share my life with them and if (more like when) they start sharing their life with me, I just won't have anything to say.

Perhaps the person is going through a rough patch in their life, yea well I am too, yet I'm trying hard to not be the natural jerk that I am towards others.  Perhaps I'm being the jerk for acting this way, but honestly, I'm not the kind of person that enjoys putting up with jerk people, there are jerks in my life that I will never get rid of, so if I have the option of avoiding one more, I think I shall.

thought provoking comic

loveleighmuse:

So thought-provoking. It makes me think twice about baring my body just so that I can receive praise. Praise for what? For wearing fewer clothes, so that more people will be attracted to me? Anyone can do that.
Someone who was once close to me told me that I could be a porn star. He meant this as a compliment, but I was sickened by his words. He thought I was so attractive that I should share my body with as many people as possible - because why else do you have a nice body, if everyone can’t appreciate it? It’s disgusting.
Girls, you are more than your measurements. You have a brain, a heart and a soul that truly identifies you. Not what you wear. Not your weight. Not how many people think you’re hot. People will pretend to know your heart…when they simply like the wrapping.

mmmmmmm, yes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CryBaby

So, I have become a crier.  I think God is doing this, or it could just be something else.  I'll be watching a movie and there'll be a tender moment and my eyes will water heavily.  I used to only cry, in movies, when a dog died or was mistreated (Airbud: the boy tried to leave the dog on an island with pudding, I cried).  I can see the progression of this crying business, I've just finally admitted it to myself...and to y'all.

I'm less than thrilled about this; I mean, now that I'm wearing eye make-up on the regular, it could really mess things up.  I guess the lesson I can learn from this is that many of life's moments deserve that kind of respect.  When someone cries, typically it's a moment or a time that warrants some strong emotion: elation, sorrow, frustration, anger, bliss.  I used to only cry when there was extreme sadness or anger to express, but now I feel like anything goes.  I'm still getting used to this business, and I guess it's unavoidable, so I might as well accept it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Musicians use it properly, why can't you?

Recently, I've seen commercials and other forms of media talking about how we should stop using the word "retard(ed)".  Now, while I understand the heart behind it, I think that's dumb.  Music is mostly written in Italian, so when there are words above or below the notes, they're typically in Italian.  When a passage needs to slow down, ritardando (rit.) is written under the staff.  We call it a "ritard" (not rEtard).  I have to admit, that when I teach this word to young musicians, they snicker initially, but after I explain that it's a word that musicians use to slow things down, and any improper use is unacceptable things are good and I never have a problem with it again.

Here's the thing: some people really are mentally, emotionally, and physically retarded.  This can be due to Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, any number of behavioral disorders, and an assortment of other things.  I think that by calling it a 'nicer', less politically correct name it does a disservice to those what are retarded in whatever capacity.  I am a woman, if we decide that the word 'woman/women' are too whatever and begin to be used as a derogatory word and so we eventually start using the term 'female homo sapien(s)' to spare feelings, suddenly I deduce that I am something 'other', something flawed, something unwholesome. This is what's being done when we say you can't use the word 'retard'.

Historically, this isn't the first time words' denotations have been overshadowed by and thus evolved into their connotations.  Ass(donkey)= person who is a jerk; bastard(person born out of wedlock)= person who is a jerk; gay(happy)=homosexual (usually male); butch(male name)=masculine lesbian; pot/weed(pot/weed)=marijuana; awful(some thing that is full of awe or wonderment)=terrible; faggot(French for bassoon)=derogatory term for homosexual; bitch(female dog)= derogatory word used to describe a male or female.

I think education is the answer (to most things) when it comes to proper use of the word 'retard(ed)'.  Last semester, I heard a student call a music stand (it holds the music up) retarded; the student was told that 1) stands can't be retarded, 2)there are really people who are retarded so it's insensitive and wrong to use it in a way that is expressing anything other than what it is because it hurts peoples feelings, and 3) the only type of use of 'retard' that'll be appropriate in the band room is 'ritard'.  The student apologized and we had no other problem with it.

So my question is why can't we just educate people on proper use of retard?  It really wouldn't be that hard and it would save the trouble of having to think of another word for retard.  Just saying.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Boy crazy

I've pretty much always liked males.  I actually remember the exact day I started liking boys:  my first full day of Kindergarten, I started after-school as well.  A big, cool 1st grader, named Sharie, approached me and pointed to another big, cool 1st grader named Garrett and said "Isn't Garrett cute?!"  From then on, I liked boys.  So when prepubescence descended upon us, I had already 'discovered' that boys were cute and that girls should like them.  That was old news for me.

I know some women who like a certain type of man, certain style, certain height, certain race, certain occupation, all that stuff.  I'm not like that at all and never have been.  I've liked every race: black, white, asian, hispanic, native American, you name it.  I've liked many variations of looks: goth, prep, slob, ginger (I only put that here because I know not where else to put it and remember a 'fling' I had with a ginger in 8th grade as well as other ginger crushes), surfer, hippie, etc.  I can't even say that I've only been attracted to men of a certain faith.  There's really no pattern of who I have liked or found to be attractive.

Last August/September someone called my friend and I 'boy crazy' because of some comment we had made.  We made the comment in a joking manner, but I guess he didn't realize that.  I very much value his opinion on things, so his words had some weight to them.  Ever since then, I've thought often about my thoughts on men.  What I've come to realize is that I'm not boy crazy; I like men, but my thoughts aren't consumed with them.  I'm not often distracted by random men, I don't think every man is looking at me and I'm not looking at every man.  But what will happen is I will have a crush on a man and find my thoughts drifting in his direction.  It's funny to me how men and women feel about each other.  I wonder how it works.

Since I teach prepubescent to pubescent children, I see worlds consumed by the opposite sex.  Girls who want nothing more than to talk and daydream about boys.  Boys who are trying to impress girls by showing off how loud they can burp (needless to say they have not yet figured out what impresses the ladies).  Once I get past the naseating factor, it's kinda cute.  One day these children will be adults, married, with children...but for now, they only have the emotional and mental capacity to giggle when a cute boy waves in passing or when a girl acts impressed by their goofing off.

Currently I am single, but this is good for me.  I am not just saying that because I have settled on the fact that this is in God's will for me right now, I am saying this because I can see areas where I am growing in my life, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  I know that if I weren't single these places of growth wouldn't be growing.  I do hope to be married one day, but right now I am not and choose to live my life with fullness instead of sitting around waiting for my life to start (aka waiting for marriage).  I have a beautiful life, one that's full; I have no excuse to feel lonely because I've got a God who never leaves and He provided a community that loves well.  My life is full and I don't feel that I am lacking in any area because I have no husband.  I am grateful for my gratefulness of my current singlehood.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I was born this way

I grew up in a pretty strict home, this included clothes.  Part of the reason was because my Momma grew up in a Holiness (super conservative Christian denomenation) home.  More extreme Holiness churches don't allow women to: wear shorts (even long ones), cut their hair, wear make up, or have a voice in church; my mother didn't go to quite that conservative of a church, but still very legalistic.

Growing up, I had to go through hell to get clothes.  There was a whole process of purchasing clothes that included: bending over to see if you could see my 'butt' (it really was just my back, but my mom called it 'butt'), making sure the clothes didn't show my figure, pulling my pants up to my bellybutton (which made me look like a freak because my legs are a majority of my body), not wearing anything that would suggest I was homosexual (whatever that means), not wearing anything that made me look pagan (yea, I'm being serious), not wearing anything that would suggest I was a 'hootchie mama' or cheap (certain color combinations, no skin showing, etc), and the list goes on.  Instead of simply instilling modesty values in me, it inadvertantly told me that my body was something to hide because it wasn't beautiful.  Because I am fat, because I am disproportionate, because I am curvier than the average woman, because whatever.  I was never told that the body, my body, was a thing of beauty and that, while I shouldn't just expose it, I shouldn't be ashamed of any inch of it.  Every cellulite, every freckle, every curve was purposefully placed there by God and is, therefore, beautiful.  I didn't get that message, and it's taken 23 years for me to face that reality.

I have long been aware that I do not fit the mold of beauty in the US, but that left me feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.  This is my skin, my body, I no longer choose to feel trapped, stuck, in it.  Yesterday I purchased my first bathing suites all by myself, no parents supervising, no youth camp dress code.  It was oddly vindicating.  Trying on the suites was a cathartic process that I didn't even know I needed.  In the fitting room, I had to look at myself from every angle to make sure I was all tucked in; but, beyond that, I had to decided that I was gonna be proud of by body, every ounce, even the parts I'd like to change.  I spent quite a lot of time in there trying on, inspecting, and I finally decided I liked what I saw.  That's never happened to me with so little clothing on.

The thing with bathing suites, especially bikinis, is that there's no hiding.  You can say that it's just chunky fabric or that the hem is wrong...nope that is simply your stomach, that's really your legs.

I'd be lying if I said I reached this level of comfort all by myself.  A couple of weekends ago, one of my best friends came to visit me for the day.  We were shopping a little and she suggested I try on a pair of shorts that I would never have considered myself.  When I showed them to her I expressed how uncomfortable I felt with my legs (I mean, I've got a lot of leg), she said that I shouldn't feel uncomfortable because my legs looked good in the shorts.  What she doesn't know is that I went back and bought a pair of those shorts and another the same length the week after.  The shorts just barely meet the "fingertip rule" and she's right, I do look good in them.  I can't tell you the last time I had and wore shorts that didn't come all the way down to my knees!

I'm not knocking modesty, but I am knocking it to hide your insecurities.  I want to be modest because I want to honor my body and those around me (especially the fellas), not because I think I am not made beautifully.

God made us each beautiful, lets act like it.

so I'm moving

I'm not the type of person that really misses people or things or places.  I'll be moving back to Charlotte in a few days and I am more excited than I think I have ever been.  I really love my community there.

As everything is wrapping up at work and I'm avoiding packing at home, I'm met with these strange emotions.  I think, because I don't have a job lined up in Chartlotte, I feel like something big is gonna happen when I return to Charlotte.  I'll get a job, I'll have to.  I'll be moving into this amazing house with these phenomenal women (I'm beside myself with excitement for that) and I'll be back at my Charlotte church with my community of friends whom I love so dearly and pretty much wanna spend every waken moment with.  But I have a life here, in Greensboro, as well.  This time when I leave Greensboro, I won't come back for another school year or for another job.  I am for real leaving Gboro!

I think I feel the anticipation of my life finally starting, my adult life, that is.  I'll be paying (more) bills, going to work, living in a place of MY choice with people I choose.  It's all so exhilarating for me.  It's also a little scary because I don't know what to expect, I've never been in this position before.

I hope I find a job soon, I'd like to get started ASAP, that kind of stability would make me feel more at ease.  My thoughts are so jumbled because there is so much that I need to take care of for work, at Greensboro home (well, mostly just packing), at Charlotte home (more packing and sorting), and at Concord home.  I feel very optimistic about this next season in my life and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does to me and through me.

Miss

So today I had a brief impromptu lesson on why I am a Miss and not a Missus, and when it's appropriate to call woman Miss or Missus.  The kids 1)didn't know what to call me (Miss or Missus) and 2)were puzzled as to why I do not have a Mister (they were actually quite concerned).  This reminded me of something that happened Friday; yearbook distribution party was this past Friday and the chorus teacher and I were in charge of the music (of course).

So there I was, sitting there being bored and signing the occasional  yearbook when one of my students (6th grade boy) walked up to me and addressed me as Mr. Henderson.  I corrected him and politely explained that I am a woman therefore I am a Miss.  He said 'oh' and finished whatever he was talking about.  He then returned shortly (I couldn't get rid of him) and called me Mr. Henderson again.  I corrected him and repeated myself about why I am a Miss and not a Mister.  I decided to make sure he really got it; I pointed to the chorus teacher (another Miss) and asked what she was, a Miss or a Mister, he hesitantly responded with mister.  I said that if I am a woman and a Miss and the chorus teacher is a woman, what would that make her?  "A Mister?"  Seriously kid?  I figured maybe he didn't know that these titles coincided with genders, so I said women are Misses and men are Misters. (I didn't want to confuse him with Missuses, that would have blown his mind.)  He left and came back again, this time he still called me Mr. Henderson.  I corrected him and reviewed.  At this point there is a male teacher within arms reach of me, so I ask the student what this teacher is.  "A Miss?"  "If I am a woman and a Miss and he is a man, what does that make him?"  "A Mister, NO a Miss!"  I reminded him of the gender-title rule, and had him try again.

This ridiculousness went on for too long, and I don't actually remember if he ever was successful.  I worry about that kid.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

well look what I've become

Have you ever met one of those vegetarians who are super finicky.  You know the kind who: ask/read what's in everything they eat, won't even use the same sponge or utensils that have made contact with meat, won't let you drink from their cup/straw or put your mouth on their food because they don't want your meaty mouth to touch their stuff, gets queasy when they smell cooking meat or hear of animals being killed, or who have you try their food because they can't remember how meat tastes and they suspect their food to be contaminated with it.  You know who I'm talking about?...If you know me, then you know someone like that.

I started my official 'journey to vegetarianism' (sounds super lame) in eighth grade, shortly after I had become a Christian.  Initially, I still ate chicken and fish and would still crave burgers and stuff.  But throughout the years I have become more informed and more committed, and 10 years later, I am a full vegetarian (pescatarian=someone who eats fish, eggs, dairy, and veggies).

Really, I'm quite used to this lifestyle and I think it suites me, but it's always funny when people make a big deal out of it.  Sometimes it's kinda sweet, like when a bunch of us are trying to figure out where to eat and they make it a point to ask me where I'll be able to eat.  But it's not sweet when people act offended that I won't eat something that has meat/non-dairy animal product (i.e. lard or gelatin) in it.

I think I was born to be a vegetarian.   When I was a child, I would take forever to eat meat.  It would just sit in my mouth for what seemed like hours.  I always felt like it was a great inconvenience to have to eat meat.  It takes so long to digest and it doesn't really give you that much energy.  No thank you!

Becoming vegetarian has made me more conscious about what I'm putting in my body.  I want to be a good steward of this body I've been give and this is how I'm doing it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

squirrel heart

This Sunday, Greensboro church had a guest speaker who spoke from Acts when Paul visited James, made some amends, and made a sacrifice with some Christian Jews.  He told us that a squirrel's heart is the size of a baby's fist and that a big blue whale's heart is the size of a VW Beetle!  He, the speaker, was talking about how Jesus can change the 'size', attitude, and focus of our hearts.

A person with a squirrel sized heart isn't happy when others succeed or have good fortune.  But a person with a whale's heart is happy when others are blessed even when they, themselves, are not.  Both James' and Paul's hearts were that of a whale because James didn't get offended when Paul made some corrections and Paul made sacrifices in Jewish tradition when he knew he didn't have to.  They both did this for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of Love.

I have to admit that my heart is feeling a bit squirrelly lately.  I've been feeling sad about not being an overseas missionary.  When I see my friends going places that I want to go, and doing things that I've always wanted to do, I feel like pounting and asking "why not me?!"  I've not necessarily been feeling upset with the people I know overseas, but I have been comparing myself to them.  I guess I figure what have they got that I don't have? what's wrong with me that I'm stuck here?  should I even bother pursuing this dream of being an overseas missionary?  if the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few, why haven't I been sent yet? will it always hurt a little when I see friends' adventures in other places? And on and on and on...

I know I should be glad that the Gospel is being advanced through people that I know and love, but that is often overshadowed by hurt from not being used.  There are people who never even wanted to do missions, in or out of the country, who are overseas.  And people who were called to missions a month before they left and the money just fabricated in their hands.  Time and time again, I see people being called and sent with great ease who never had the passion for missions; then I look at me.  I have wanted to be a missionary since I came out the womb; as a child, I'd read books about missionaries being martyred for the Gospel and think 'such love and devotion, yes Lord I'll do it'; I used to try to learn as many languages as possible because I wanted to speak the language of the people I would work with; I'd daydream about living among the people and us sharing our cultures.  When most girls were daydreaming about marrying Prince Charming and having a family, I was daydreaming about living in a hut with no electricity teaching people about the Good News in their heart language.  It just doesn't make sense and I can feel it turning into bitterness.  I don't want to be bitter I just want to be a missionary.

I need my heart to change.  I want my heart to change.  I don't want missions to be a place of bitterness for me, it's been a source of great joy and hope for me my whole life.  But up until now I held the hope that I would be a missionary; now, I don't know what's to become of me.  I've never really pictured my life as "normal": husband, 2.3 kids, dog, white picket fence; I pictured, my husband (if I was to be married) and I traveling around the world, or living somewhere in Latin America, doing the Lord's work, maybe with our dog.  I need my heart to be open to whatever my lot in life is.  I want my heart to be grown from a squirrel heart to a whale heart so that I may live in accordance with God's will with sincere happiness.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I happened upon this on Facebook and thought I'd. I really like it.

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."