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 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 steps.


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.