Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fear and Jesus Camp

The past two messages at my Charlotte church have been about fear and why we, as believers in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection, have nothing to fear.  I didn't really think they had much to do with me, I was wrong.  Then I watched a documentary, Jesus Camp, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (2006) and was brought back to my childhood.  I was reminded of the fear I used to live in and am still being set free from.

The documentary is centered around an Evangelical Christian children's camp in North Dakota (or Missouri) that teaches kids how to develop their spiritual gifts and become radical for Christ.  At first I thought it was to sort of poke fun of and question Evangelical Pentecostal Fundamentalist/Reformed Christians (phew, that's a long title), like Bill Maher's Religulous; but that's not the case.  It, I believe, presented an honest, small view of a sect of evangelical pentecostal Christianity.

The film followed about three or four children at home, school (home-schooled), at the camp, and in D.C., and interviewed them about what they believe.  I had a lot of mixed feelings about the things preached to these beloved children.  It wasn't all lies, but it wasn't all truth either.

I encourage you to watch it, but to be prepared for a lot of wrong, a lot of misinformation from the subjects.  Really, this blog is a reflection on my feelings and not so much a critique of the documentary.  It was a good, fair documentary, but the things in it are not fully good or fair.

I remember, when I became a Christian (at 13 years), compulsively apologizing to God for my sins; I used to stop and try to recall all the sins I had committed.  I feared hell and returning to the miserable, possessed state that I had been saved from; I had not yet understood that once saved always saved.  (Assurance of Salvation is something important to tell a new believer, by the way.)  I was in constant fear of being condemned to hell for every "little" or "big" sin I committed and was scared that if I suddenly died without confessing every single sin I would go to hell.  I did not yet understand that His forgiveness covers all my sin and this His death on the cross was/is big enough to rescue me forever.

One precious, little girl in the documentary told us what kind of Christians God likes.  She said He likes Christians that are energetic and move around when they are at church.  Essentially, what she was saying is that He likes Pentecostals.  She said He doesn't like Christians that just sit there and sing, non-Pentecostals.  (Sorry, I don't know a word for non-Pentecostals.)  I didn't realize until a couple years back that I believed that very same thing.  I thought that believers who sung loud, raised their hands, clapped, danced, spoke in tongues, and showed other blatant signs of their love for the Lord were the people who truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and were, by a landslide, more spiritual than those who didn't express their love in that manner.  But now, wouldn't you know it, I go to a Reformed Presbyterian church in Greensboro, a 'non-Pentecostal' church.  At first I didn't think they 'got it', I felt they were shallow because their worship is quieter and they sing a lot of hymns (which I am now in love with!), but now I am a part of the community and I realize that they love the Lord so much and they do 'get it', they're just more reserved.  They're merely not hoopin' and hollarin' about it.  Growing up in the Pentecostal tradition I was inadvertently taught that the less you 'shouted' (that's a black-Pentecostal church term meaning singing and dancing wildly before the Lord and it usually means there's some syncopated eighth notes played by the band to assist in said shouting) the less spiritual you were.  Well no one wants to be the less spiritual one, so there might be 'shouting' matches to display who was more spiritual or who could 'catch and hold onto' the Spirit longer (please understand that there are so many things wrong with that belief).  I'm sure you can imagine the absurdity of the looks of this.  If you ever somehow get caught in the middle of a shouting match, MOVE!  You could lose an eye or just generally get hurt.  Anyway, Praise God that I'm set free from: fearing that my lack of flailing around means that I'm not spiritual enough and judging others' spiritual state by their outward expression of love for the Lord.

My Charlotte Pastor talked some about all those panicky, chain emails sent out; you know the ones: 'warn all your friends, they're gonna outlaw Christianity!' or 'write your legislators so they don't take God out of schools!' or 'home school your kids because they're indoctrinating them by teaching about other religions!'...stuff like that.  In Jesus Camp some panicky stuff made an appearance.  They were talking about how teaching evolution in schools is wrong and how they should teach creationism and/or intelligent design (those aren't the same thing, right?) because that is the only thing that makes sense.  They were freaking out about Harry Potter, who the government was bringing into power (Republican vs. Democrat crap), the evils of secular (not Christian) music, what the Muslims in other countries are teaching their children (''they're putting grenades in their kids' hands''), etc etc.  I must admit that when I was a younger believer I used to try to get in all the hype/conspiracies.  I wanted to show that I was a diehard Christian and that nothing could bring me down and separate me from my God, not even Harry Potter.  While I'm not discouraging taking a stance on certain topics that you deam important, I am discouraging sending panicky emails to all your friends.  Or at least do not send them to me.  Truthfully, these hot topics, whatever they may be, aren't really that hot and are treated in that manner because of fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of death, fear of marginalization.  You name it.  But as believers in the God who has all Glory, Honor, and Power, what do we really have to fear?  Not death, not politics, not witchcraft, not other religions, nothing.  Praise God for that.  God's big enough to take care of all the 'threats' against Him, so take a chill pill.

For a little over four years I went to a pretty conservative, big church in Charlotte.  This was during high school and a little during college and was in the midst of  (W.) Bush's first and second term.  In case you didn't know, he's a Republican...and so was the church.  I heard a lot of people say that they voted or were going to vote for George W. because he has said he was a Christian.  Now, I was too young to vote for either of those terms, but I developed the idea that if you were a Christian, you had to vote for a certain candidate to prove your faith.  How dumb is that?!  In 2006, George W. was halfway through his second term and Jesus Camp came out.  At the camp, they pulled out a life-size cutout of George W. so they could lay hands and pray for him.  Now, I'm all about some praying for the president, I mean he does have a big job, but that's a bit too creepy for me.  One of the children followed, attended the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Pastor Ted Haggard.  Now this was, obviously, before the scandal centered around him.  Anyway, he was the spiritual advisor for George W. when he was in office.  There's nothing wrong with this, but I imagine many of the church congregation simply voted for George W. because their pastor was in such direct contact with him, similar to how my former church voted for Bush because he said he was a Christian.  When I actually could vote in a presidential election, 2008, I felt torn and confused, amongst other things, because I didn't know who I should vote for.  I was told I should vote for Biden because I'm a Christian and would be thought of as a bad Christian if I didn't, but I should vote for Obama because I'm black and would be paying a disservice to my race if I voted otherwise.  Seriously?  But I was truly crippled by the fear that I would make the decision that would be unhealthy for who I am.  In hindsight, I shouldn't have been so anxious about all that, but it seemed like a huge deal...mostly because were acting like it was huge deal.  Panic and agendas are dumb, so don't drag me into them.

There's so much more that comes to mind, but the point is: fear is dumb when you're the child of the King of Kings.  If God is for me then who can be against me?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

no justice for the 'common' man

Today a close family friend dropped by and was talking to my dad, they've know each other since they were very young.  She's a nurse and, I learned today, that she's also working for a family whose daughter is sick.  She has two daughters and has been divorced since the last few years; she's been working her butt off to make ends meet for her family.  I few years ago, when her and her ex-husband were still together, I heard her speaking to my dad about possibly filing for bankruptcy.   When I was raising support for Argentina, I met with her and she said that she couldn't even give me $20 once because she, herself, was struggling with money for her and her family.  She's a nurse, which means she's helps people in times when they can't help themselves, that's a necessary service, one that'll never go away (until Jesus comes back that is); why can't she afford to take care of her family?

A former professor told me that every state he and his family has ever lived in, they have qualified for welfare.  Both he and his wife are teachers, you know people that teach the future of this country and others'?  Why are they qualified for welfare from the very government they serve?

Does anyone else see a problem with the treatment of public servants?

I know what you're probably thinking:  well of course you'd say that, you're a teacher and you have no money.  But I'm not talking about  just me.  I'm talking about people that carry necessary jobs that help society run smoothly.  People like: nurses, educators, doctors, public transportation drivers, janitors, etc.

Some time ago, I saw a little comic commenting on what society would look like if people were paid based off of their service to society.  Teachers, nurses, and the like were driving luxury vehicles while pro-athletes were driving beat-up hoopties.

I simply don't think it's just that people who do so much for society get paid so little.  It's not so much about the money as is the principle behind the money.  When you are making a purchase you look at quality and price, and across the board the better quality something is the more it costs, right?  The more useful something is, the more money it costs.  If this is true for the very thing that drives our society, consumerism, why is this not true about the amount of money spent on the most useful things in society?  Does this mean that people who provide necessary services should be millionaires?  No.  Truthfully, no one needs to be a millionaire.  But I think it strange that people who play sports (something that's done as a hobby) get paid millions, billions even; yet the people that our society would collapse/deteriorate without, get paid chump-change.  It just doesn't add up.

The USA is all about some global competitiveness, yet the area that'll make that happen is constantly being under funded.  Hmm, that doesn't seem right. While this is happening, people who play games (athletes) are getting paid excessive amounts of money to play with a ball.  That's dumb, especially since, many times the athletes aren't setting very good examples for those who look up to them.

I'm certainly an idealist, so I realize that as long as man is running the earth, things won't always be as they should be, or as I see fit.  I'm just saying that it would be nice to live in a world where the money is distributed based off of usefulness and contribution to society.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

kick in the pants

During my planning today I was reading from one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot's Discipline: The Glad Surrender.  This passage nearly brought me to my knees and tears to my eyes:


His giving up of the glory to which His divine nature entitles Him seems to me perhaps the most incredible part of His humiliation.  His obedience enabled Him to do anything, anything at all would please the Father, without thought of "how it would look."  He who had known the ceaseless worship of angels came to be a slave to men.  Preaching, teaching, healing the sick, and raising the dead were parts of His ministry, of course, and the parts we might consider ourselves willing to do for God if that is what he asked.  He could be seen to be God in those.  But Jesus also walked miles in dusty heat.  He healed, and people forgot to thank Him.  He was pressed and harried by mobs of exigent people, got tired and thirsty and hungry, was "tailed" and watched and pounced upon by suspicious, jealous, self-righteous religious leaders, and in the end was flogged and spat on and stripped and had nails hammered through His hands. He relinquished the right (or the honor) of being publicly treated as equal with God.


As I read this, my self-pity became evident to me.  The Savior of the Universe lived a life that would be looked down on, even mocked, by many; yet here I am complaining because I have no money or gas.  I'm not saying that I'm super glad to be in the circumstance that I am in, but I am saying that my attitude about it is unnecessarily winy.

My stinky attitude has been a reflection of my spiritual nature.  Lately my spiritual blood sugar has been low.  When my physical body's blood sugar is low, I become disoriented, can't prioritize, become overly emotional...this is mirrored in my spiritual nature.

Today started off kinda rough, I felt crippled by my inability to improve my situation and was riddled with worry about how I was gonna make ends meet without money.  Upon reading that passage, my perspective changed; I realized how little my problem is, even to me, and how great God is.  He had no pillow to lay His precious head, yet He didn't complain.  He was treated like crap, yet He poured grace and mercy to the  unlovely of society.  I am entitled to nothing good, yet He provides so much good for me.  If I'm to follow the footsteps of my Savior, I'm to learn to humbly and obediently pick up my cross and carry it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I will wait for you

This is a video that I LOVE! I get chills each time I watch it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igCj3jsbcqs

Sunday, April 17, 2011

something I've gotten good at: worry

I used to not really worry about stuff;  I'd worry about people that I love, but not just worry just because.  Well, lately I've been worrying a lot.  "Obsessing" could be used.  "Over-calculating" even.  I have .54 in my checking account, less than a quarter of a tank of gas, no promises of a pay check until the 28th, and no certainty of a job after the 9th of June.  Anytime I drive somewhere that's not work, I nervously watch my gas tank meter to see how much it moves; when I eat, I purposely drink a lot of water with it because I don't know when I'll be able to get more food so I try to fill up with water and wishes.  I try to distract myself with tv, movies, and sleep so that I won't sit around obsessing about how/when things will stop sucking.  I'm worrying.

This time in my life is nothing like I imagined; but of course I've never imagined myself ever worrying and especially not about food, gas, and jobs.  The uncertainty of everything has inadvertently taught me how to worry, there's never been a time in my life where I calculated everything and got it (my plans) all right in my head and then nothing goings the way I had planned.  Not to say that I've gotten everything I've ever planned/hoped for, it's just I never really planned/calculated in a grande scheme.

There have certainly been times in my childhood when my family was running really low on money/food/cars, but I didn't fully understand the urgency because we don't talk about money in my family.  My parents were/are very proud people, they don't want their children, or anyone else, to know that they're in a financial bind.  So when we were low on food at home, it was simply because we needed to go to the store, not because we had to choose between food and some bill expense.  I believe this is partially responsible for me being too prideful and ashamed to ask for help.  But I'm trying to bust out of that disposition.  This doesn't mean I'm gonna become a beggar, it just means that I'm going to be honest and ask for help when I need it from the people who I know care about me.  It's still uncomfortable for me, but I'm trying.  Friday, I finally called my dad and explained the situation about my paycheck and asked for money.  He said he didn't have any money either (hard financial times at home) but that he would do what he could to help.  This, surprisingly, didn't make me feel better.  If he's struggling and I'm struggling, who's gonna take care of all of us?

I tend to be very generous with my money.  I don't necessarily spend it frivolously, but I do like to share what I have with others if I know that I can financially afford to.  I really like sharing and it makes me feel uncomfortable that I can't share right now.  It makes me feel selfish and small minded.  Anyway, I anticipate finally being able to make food for others and sending packages to friends and meeting someone for coffee (although I don't drink it) then paying for theirs.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that stuff, in moderation with the right motivation.  I know how it blesses me when people do that stuff for me and I want to bless people; we all need little blessings to remind us that we're loved.

Oh dear, it seems I've gotten off subject.  Well, all I'm saying is that there's a new side of me: the worrying side.  I do not like it here and hope to submit it to God, but it's here, nonetheless.

the boldness of a man

I took a walk today and while walking between neighborhoods, this man pulled up on the road next to me.  He startled me because he had come from behind me.  I figured he was gonna ask me for directions, but instead he said that: he was driving, saw me, and had to turn around and say how pretty he thought I was.  I said thank you and figured it would stop at that.  It didn't.  He asked my name, I told him (and instantly regretted it), he told me his, but I missed it because another car passed.  He proceeded to ask me if I was from here, no (truth), what I like to do in my spare time, I don't really have spare time (lie).  He then said he'd really like to see me again and asked if I'd be interested in going out with him, I said I wasn't interested (truth) and started walking away.  He said something around the lines of nice meeting you, hope to see you around.

Now, while I commend him on his boldness and honesty, he loses major points for pulling up behind me (making me jump) and for having an unrestrained child in his back seat (the child had no seatbelt, and looked young enough to need a car seat).  Any men that may be reading this, take a small lesson from him: just ask a girl out, the worse that could happen is that she would say 'no'.  It may seem like a rejection when/if she says 'no', but don't take it so personally.  I didn't say no to him because I knew him and didn't like him, I said no because I wasn't interested and knew nothing about him.

Some of my friends and I are often frustrated with the lack of boldness and clarity men have when in any type/stage of relationship they have with us.  Does he like me?  What did it mean when he did/said this?  Will he ever clarify his feelings for me?  Should I say something?  Should I not have said something?  Etcetera.  This guy quickly made his case and just went for it, I commend him for that.

Essentially, women want men to be honest about their feelings and intentions in regards to them specifically.  This doesn't mean, every woman you meet or know you have to define the relationship, it means don't be sneaky and drop hints if you're digging her.  Or at least not with me, I don't catch hints.  Also, don't lead her on, it's tears us up inside.

how am I liking teaching? I just wanna make music.

I get asked this a lot now.  The answer is like it, they still feel like someone else's kids (which they are), but there are a lot of extra duties/responsibilities that I don't like so much:

>>>I have to keep track of bathroom usage for each student (they're only allowed to use it 5 times per semester in each class); I couldn't care less how often they use the bathroom, as long as they're being productive in class.

>>>They have a lot of drama; I'm an adult and don't care about the crisis of the day, I wanna make music.

>>>When they're absent I have to record it and notice any patterns; I just wanna make music.

>>>When they're tardy, there are consequences that I have to enforce; show up to my class on time, because then I waste class time recording it and dealing out consequences (I have to send notes home and do after school detention).  What a waste of everyones' time, get to class on frickin' time.

>>>They don't do instrument maintenance at home so they ask to leave the music making process to oil their valves.  You're wasting my time with that crap, and it's a dead give away that you don't practice at home.

>>>They act surprised that I would have them play in band class.  Do you do math in math class?  What a dumb question: "What are we gonna do today?"; well it's band so...also I always write it on  the board, READ!

>>>They'll say they didn't do it when I just watched/heard them do it.  That's just dumb.

>>>They always wanna run errands for their other classes during my class; YOU chose band, don't you wanna be here for it?

>>>Other teachers always hold students in their class during my class; that kid's never never gonna be a mathematician so let them come to band and be good at something in their life.  How about I start pulling my students out of your class so the student can work on some music for me?  Deal?

>>>Gossip, griping, and talking about pregnancy (and giving birth) make me uncomfortable and sick to my stomach, so don't do it while I'm eating.

Phew, I think I'm finished with my rant.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Life and Times of Middle Schoolers

I often get frustrated with my students for not acting like adults...but they're not adults.  Some kids look like babies and others are bigger than me, but no matter what they look or act like, it's important to remember that on the inside there's a grand dicotomy taking place.  During puberty children are being (or should be) trained to act in a manner that is that of an adult; they are being taught independence, decision making, proper decorum of mouth and actions, so many things.  But the reality is: they are still very much children who haven't fully acquired the mental/emotional capacity to be adults.

Last Friday, I had a silent rehearsal with my 8th grade band class (13-14 years old); this means they were not allowed to speak under any circumstances (not even if they raised their hand), and if they did speak I sent them to another (prearranged) class to copy (8x) this (prewritten) paragraph that talked about what it means to be respectful, mature, and productive in band.  Kid number five went first to one of the guidance counselors and then to the classroom.  I got a call from her (guidance counselor) this Tuesday asking what happened on Friday.  I explained the silent rehearsal and consequence for interrupting it and she said she understood that I had to follow through.  She told me the student had come to her in tears and said that he wanted to quit band.  He finally told her about the silent rehearsal and consequence and showed her the paragraph he was to copy.  She said that he admitted to talking and he understood that that had consequences, but that he felt like he being singled out.  We both agreed that he took it personally (which it wasn't) and I said I would talk to him to make sure he understood where I was coming from.  When I spoke to him Wednesday, I said 'I think you took what happened on Friday a little personally', he agreed saying that he took it really personally.  We talked and I explained that I had to follow through and that I was not singling him out and that it was nothing personal.  I hated sending him out because he's a great kid and a super musician (I told him that as well).  He agreed with me, but said he still wanted to drop band.  Now here's the thing that most took me aback about the way this kid reacted to me:  he's a big kid, not fat, just tall and filled out.  He plays the tuba and has an earing, he looks like a bully, but he's not.  So when I heard he was crying about being sent out of class I thought what's the deal?  does he know what singled out means?  did he not expect me to follow through just because it was him?  why would he think that this is personal?  The truth is most of the six kids that I sent out I never have a problem with, including kid number five, but they talked and that had consequences.

This child, no matter how he appears, has more child in him that adult.  But I assumed that his appearance and maturity correlated more closely with each each.  Not true. And not true for anyone else at that age either.  In each child that I teach, there are glimpses of 'child' and 'adult' that surface, but it's not balanced and it's often unpredictable.

Sometime this week a couple of 7th grade flute players asked me for some advice: they wanted to know if they should tell their friend something about herself.  I asked if it was a rumor, if it would hurt the friend's feelings, if it was a matter of safety, etc.  They didn't really know what kind of info it was about the friend.  The adult thing about this: they actually considered the feelings of the third party and whether this would benefit or hurt her.  Kids don't do that so much, it's a very adult quality to be considerate of the mental and emotional well being of another.  Typically, kids this age just say whatever they feel will get them attention or project a certain image that they deem as 'cool'.  I was impressed with their concern for her and praised them on it.

I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy teaching this age group, I'm not only teaching them how to be musicians, but I aid in their growing up process.  I'm helping them figure out how to be in this world, how to live like the world doesn't revolve around them.  At times it's challenging when the child in them wins the battle between child-mind and adult-mind, but there are those glimpses of adulthood that remind me there's hope for these kids to become something great.  I try to help adulthood win that inner-battle.  They don't know it's going on and likely won't realize what had been happening until they are older and see it happening in others, but until then I will continue to challenge them to challenge their child-mind.

Friday, April 15, 2011

lesson in provision

Remember that time when God didn't provide the money for me to go to Argentina for missions?  I was frustrated and upset because I know that He can/could provide, but chose not to provide to send me, although I was quite willing.  Still makes no sense to me.  He's still Provider and proves that each day; I've been living off the non-promted, generosity of others.  I am quite grateful, but am a little frustrated because I would like to see Him provide through this job I'm working at. 

I feel like the Lord is teaching me a lesson in provision, proving to me that He can and always will provide for my needs.  I have food, clothes, shelter, community; thats' what we need to survive and I am lacking in none of those areas for the most part.  It feels like He's trying to break me of this pride I have of depending on no one for my needs.  It hurts, this being broken business; I don't like it and feel like there's a better way...but I know nothing and He knows all.  I have no choice but to take what I can get, because I can provide nothing for myself; that's scary for me and kinda embarrassing.  I feel like I'm inconveniencing others when I am in need and can do nothing to help myself.

There's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well get over it...but it won't be easy, pride is deeply entagled in my being and it's gonna take some time and effort to detangle it.

Learning how to be an adult is harder when I have to depend so heavily on others.  But maybe that's not the key to adulthood, independency; perhaps the key is learning more about my identity in Christ?  I don't know, I'm just taking a stab.  Whatever the 'key' is, I know that I won't have to find it alone; Christ lives in me, and because of that I won't have to go it alone.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kit-Kat Bar

Have you ever had a time in your life when you just couldn't get a break?  It felt like every time something good would happen, it had conditions that weren't so good, so it kinda spoiled it a little; or you keep getting disappointed/let down by someone/something?  Well that's how I feel right now.  I feel  a little screwed over.  When I first moved back to Greensboro, I had estimated that I was gonna get paid after two weeks, the end of the month (March), but soon found out that that was not true and was given the impression that I was to get paid on April 15/16 the middle of the month.  I was a little worried, because I didn't have enough money, but, as you know, God provided in ways that still make me grin.  Well, yesterday I went to the school treasurer (I don't actually know the title), gave her an invoice and asked her if I just come to her for my paycheck.  She said yes, whenever that is.  She looked it up, and I won't be getting paid until the 28th of April.  This made wanna cry.  Are you freaking kidding me?!?  That's two more weeks, by that time, I will have been living in Gboro for a month and a half and working for over a month!  I only have enough money for the end of this week.  I'm trying not to worry, but He's not making this easy.  I know that God keeps showing up and providing, but at what point does He start providing through this job I'm pouring myself into?  This kinda sucks...a lot actually.  I as so looking forward to buying food, gas, paying rent, living my life without worry.  But I guess, not yet huh?

pleasurable planning

Right now I'm sitting at my desk during my two hour planning.  It's excellent.  There are no kids trying to talk to me, the ligths are off in both the room and office, lunch is in a little under an hour, I can read/nap/do stuff.  I am liking this time more and more, it's just a nice break.  I've been looking on care.com for sitting/nannying jobs here in Greensboro to bring some money in, reading people's blogs, writing blogs, reading books, resting my ears.  I love it, it's quite luxerious(sp?).  Right now, Chicago's "You're the Inspiration" is on, that's a great song; especially the UNCG Spartone's version (check it out on youtube.com).  I'm just super happy with this planning, even though I'm not really planning, it's a nice break.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

simple sandwich

So you know that I have no money, but yesterday I got $40.  This means that I can buy food and gas for the week and not have to choose between the two (I would've chosen gas, gotta get to work).  Praise God!  Well today, after church, I went straight to the gas station put $20 dollars in my tank and then went straight to Food Lion to get some food.  I was 1)so excited that I could even get food 2)so hungry that I would take a few steps and forget where I was going and what I was trying to get so I would stop and think and then keep going.  My blood sugar was super low, which is why my memory and ability to make and follow a procedure (hence forgetting and having a hard time figuring out how to get to each item in the store), as well as feeling really dizzy and disoriented.  But I got my groceries and went home.

I just made and ate (devoured is a better word) a grilled cheese sandwich while chilling on Facebook and listening to Mumford & Sons Radio on Pandora and felt a sense of contentment and elation.  Not just because I was frickin hungry and was eating my first legitimate meal since Friday afternoon, but because I realized that I have everything I need.  I have food, a great place to live, church community, and a job.  I have other stuff too, but you get the idea.  As I ate this sandwich, I felt still, content, blessed, and loved.

It was a great moment and now I have stopped shaking and know where I am and what I need to do.  This butter, bread, Colby cheese (2 slices) was a beautiful reminder of the beauty in simplicity of life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Disappointed in Adulthood

When I was a child, I believed that I would have all 'the answers' when I was a 'grown-up'.  When you're young, adults, for the most part, seem so put together, you think they know everything partly because they tell you they do.  Well, here I am a grown-up, 23, and I gotta say: this is nothing like I expected.

There are so many things that I couldn't wait to know the answers to when I was young, I was sure that I would be infinitely wiser in all areas that caused me trouble when I was an adult.  I can't say that that's 100% untrue, there are areas in my life that I have gotten better in, but not simply because I am an adult, because the Lord has grown me and I have gained a deeper understanding of who I am and what I'm called to be.

Something that still kinda baffles me is men.  I mean what's their deal?  Lol.  I was talking to a friend about how silly I feel about how I act and consider acting around someone that I'm digging on.  I can make a big deal out of nothing or not even catch the slightest hint from men.  I wonder what I should say/do/think/feel around him/about him.  That's a lot of combinations to get right, obsess over, or fudge up.

Also, this whole money thing.  It sucks, not just because I don't have any and am currently living off the generosity of others (seriously, I didn't wanna get out of bed this morning/afternoon because I didn't wanna eat because I need that food to last...but, praise God, someone sent me a late birthday card with $40 that I got today), but how it's becoming more and more evident of the world being driven by it.  Money is a man made thing, why do we let it control us?  Makes no sense to me.

And what of the purpose of life.  I know that man was created to glorify God, but that looks different for each person.  I appreciate the uniqueness of that, but what does that mean for me?  What am I supposed to do specifically in my life that brings glory to Him?  Am I supposed to get a certain job, live in a certain place, have certain friends, project a certain image?  I'm not a decision maker, I've never been a good one, so this conundrum baffles, at times paralyzes, me.

I guess I might as well get over it, I'm an a adult and I'm stuck being one for a few more years.  The good news, that I never knew as a child, is that I don't have to have all the answers.  I've got the rest of my life to figure stuff out.  I don't have a five year plan, or even a six month plan.  Partially because I'm not a planner, but mostly because I'm not gonna stress myself out trying to look like I have it all together.

If I could somehow communicate with my young self, I would tell me: to not expect everything to fall into place just because I'm an adult; this whole life thing is a journey and it's more fun if you do your best to enjoy each season you're in.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kindergarten Lesson

I often think about what kind of teacher I want to be/become.  This makes me think about my Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Hunter.

Before the school year actually started, Kindergarteners had a half day to help them understand what is expected of them and what to expect from school.  My mom walked me into the classroom and we were greeted at the door by Ms. Hunter.  She was wearing a turquoise jumpsuit with little zebras on it.  The moment I laid eyes on her in that jumpsuit, I fell in love.  I thought "This is the coolest lady ever!"  On the half day we went searching for a teddy bear (he had a name, I just don't remember it); we looked for him in the media center, hall, bathrooms, other places.  Each place we stopped to look, she explained to us how to behave in that environment.  In the media center (library) we walk quietly in a single file line and we only speak in quiet voices when we need to.  In the halls, we walk quietly in a single file line, and stay quiet to respect other classes around us.  Etcetera.  Then we come to the cafeteria, and low and behold the teddy is there!  He's waiting to show us how to navigate the cafeteria.  We were all so excited for finally find him, although I had forgotten that we were looking because I was so enchanted by the school.  I went home that day and was super stoked!  And my first real day was even better; when my mom picked me up (from after school)  I announced to her that I love school and that it is the best thing ever!

Ms. Hunter was the kind of teacher that made each student feel like you were her favorite and anytime you did something well she would make you feel like you won the Nobel Prize for Kindergarten.  She was the reason I fell in love with school at such a young age.  She was awesome.  There are other teachers that were very inspiring and are partially responsible for my love of school, teaching, and learning.  My dad's mom was a teacher and when she died students from YEARS back came to her funeral and said a lot of the same stuff that I said about Ms. Hunter.

The point is, I don't necessarily want to be someone's favorite teacher, but I do want to make a lasting, positive impression on my students and coworkers.  What kids think of me greatly effects what they think of music making.  If I'm terrible to them, they'll attach negative feelings to music making.  I don't want that and neither do the kids.

I expect greatness out of my kids, but I believe greatness is contingent on the child.  I know a portion of children will not continue in band when they reach high school, and another portion will never pick up an instrument after they graduate from high school.  I am okay with that (kinda), but I want them to experience the full gamut before they leave.  I want them to have a good, productive time while still a part of it.

I guess all I'm saying is:  I want to be a teacher that inspires, that does more than just teach the material.  I want to spark (if it hasn't already) a respect for music, and not just the pop music on the radio.  I want them to be well rounded musicians who appreciate more than just what-everyone-is-listening-to, but who appreciate and seek out music that challenges their mind, heart, soul, and even body.  I wanna be that teacher.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dog love

So I went on a great walk in the neighborhoods around where I live today.  As I was walking and took in the beauty around me I thought "the only thing that would make this better is a dog accompanying me"; I, then, remembered someone telling me that her dog (a lab) is pregnant (due at the end of the month or something) and that the father of the puppies is likely a boxer.  She said I could have one of the puppies.  I want a dog about as much as some women want a child.  Yea, that serious.

Dogs are great!  I'm not gonna make a case for why I love dogs, just know that I really, really do.  But I was looking at info about owning a dog and it's not nearly as expensive as I had heard.  I've taken care of dogs before; heck, when I'm with my family, I'm the ONE that walks, feeds, waters, and bathes (my brother graciously helps with that) two pit bulls.  I enjoy that stuff.  I looked up what a Labrador-Boxer (boxador) mix looks like:
 I mean, come on, how cute is that puppy?!?  Okay, okay here's a picture of an adult one:
Still cute, even though the tail is cut off (I wouldn't do that to my dog).  Anyway, I did some research on characteristics of the two breeds, labs and boxers,  and they both are just awesome.  They have qualities that I like: minimal grooming, great size, active, easy to train, good indoor dogs, etc.

But here's the main thing:  I am moving into a house with four other women this summer.  All of them really like dogs, but I don't know how appropriate it would be for me to just get a dog and then move into this place, forcing them to have to deal with a dog as well.  Big risk.  I was working it out in my head during my walk and I figured that by the time I returned to Charlotte, the dog'll be about 2 months old.  I could take it home and then commence the moving process from my family's home to my new home.  Both breeds are considered easy to train and my schedule isn't and won't be so intense that I won't be able to work with the dog.  Also, with anything you love, you make time to spend with it.

I'm basically trying to sell myself on this dog.  I will consider it more seriously when the puppies are actually born.

Right now, my life feels uber uncertain, I don't what I'm gonna do past this summer.  I hope to get a job teaching middle school band in a surrounding county, but who knows?  It would be nice to have a companion through this transition in my life.  Something that feels like home.  It's not that I don't have great people in my life, but a dog is different.  It's a beautiful relationship that's between a human and their dog.  And, plus, I'd be giving a dog a home and love.

I think I'd be a great dog-mom.  My main love languages are a tie between physical touch and quality time; dogs love attention and being petted.  I'm just saying.  I like outdoor activities like walking, going to parks, being active, as do dogs.  I'm just saying.

I should stop talking about this, it's making me sad that I don't have a dog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

childbearing

So right now, someone is having a baby, like someone I actually know.  And one of the ladies that I eat lunch with is like 5 months pregnant...so I hear about pregnancy a lot.  Whether I want to or not.  Yes, I am a woman, but I do not want kids.  This, apparently, is a rarity; I only know a few women that don't want kids.

Let me just set the record straight:  I love other people's kids, I love teaching them and caring for them (and I'm great at it), but at the end of the day, I like coming home to a childless house.  It just seems right; I'm teaching and taking care of other people's kids all day, why would I wanna come home and have to teach and take care of more kids (even if they are mine), it just seems a bit excessive.

I think part of this disposition comes from having to be a "little mama" when I was a child.  I now (I used to have 3) have 2 brothers (7 years younger and 15 years younger), and have 2 stepsisters (6 years younger and 8 years younger) that I've had for like 6 years.  When I was just old enough to do so, I had to babysit all the time.  I fed them, disciplined them, dressed them, I did a lot for them and I would've done anything for them.  My parents were hard working people, my dad still is, so that meant that I had a lot of parentalesque duties so that they could provide for the family.  I thought that maybe I was bitter about this, but, nah, I have just had my fair-share of parenting.  It's not really that fun and their's no pressing need for me to raise any kids.

Also, giving birth hurts, I don't have to have done so to know that.  I mean passing a human through a vagina, just doesn't seem like my idea of a good idea, even if you do get a baby out of it.  Because after you give birth, then you have a baby that needs everything in the world and depends heavily on you to the point where it pretty much becomes your life to sustain this little needy human.  Then it's a child that you have to teach right from wrong and how to other stuff that's necessary to survival.  This it's a teenager that you have to convince you're right everyday all while teaching them how to become an adult.  Then they're an adult and you still have to teach them to become an adult, but they just leave you after all that work you've put into them, they leave.  But they're still there, they're always there.  That's a really long time to be responsible for someone!

I truly respect women who give birth, because you could not pay me to do so.  It's a surprise to me that women have more than one child because there's only one part of the whole process that seems remotely fun.  But I just don't think motherhood is for me.  Perhaps, someday, God will change my heart, but I hope He doesn't, or at least doesn't make me give birth or even adopt.

Kids are great and stuff, I'm not denying that, but I just have no desire to have my very own.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

abiding

The past few weeks abiding has been on my mind a lot; it all started when I heard a message about it at my Charlotte church, the message was one of the best I've ever heard.  The Sunday after that I heard more about abiding at my Greensboro church.  Both messages were good and both got me thinking about what it means to abide with/in the Father.

This whole abiding business is hard, there are no step-by-step instructions.  Despite what many people think, I like step-by-step instructions, they're like a rubric and as a teacher, I endorse rubrics.  The truth is: it's easy to just follow some instructions, even if the instructions present a challenge, one knows that upon following said instructions the goal will be reached.  But, like I said, abiding doesn't have a formula or a 10 step program.  Right now, it feels like I'm just wondering around trying to figure out how to do it, and what it looks like to me.  A couple of weeks ago, at my Greensboro church, I asked a follow up question to my pastor's brief discussion about abiding (once a month, there's a Q & A time at the end of the message); I asked what it looks like to abide.  He responded with details from his own life on how he abides with the Lord.  But he said that it's a process for everyone and it looks different on everyone.  I know that, but I was just hoping for some clue as to how to abide.

I don't know whether I've gotten closer to learning how I abide with the Lord, I think there have been times in my life when I've been closer to doing so, but I just called it something different.  I'm trying not to be superstitious about this process; I don't want to expect a certain result because I have this regimented spiritual life.  So I've been intentional about breaking my regimen: speak (write), read (Bible), speak/meditate on Scripture (write), listen (to God).  I don't want to only experience God in those ways.  I think those disciplines are quite important in spiritual growth, but they are not the only ways that God makes Himself known to us.  God expresses Himself in His Creation and His Creation has been coming back to life with the onset of Spring.  I like being able to meet God in more ways than just my "quiet time" regimen.  My Charlotte church pastor expressed it wonderfully when he said it's a problem when we view "quiet time" with God as a chore instead of a delight!  Have you ever spent time with someone who is spending time with you out of obligation instead of out of choice?  It sucks huh?  It doesn't feel very good for either one of you.  I don't wanna do that to God, I don't wanna treat Him like an obligation; He delights in me why should I only hang with Him because I'm supposed to and I wanna seem 'spiritual'?  There's something gravely wrong with that attitude.

This abiding business is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but I want it so badly so I'm willing to pursue it.  I pray that my pursuit pleases the Lord, because ultimately that's what I'm actually pursuing:  knowing Him more deeply.