It's going on seven years that I've lived in Illinois.  Looking back it seems to have gone by so fast, but I still remember how hard of a change it was to deal with.  I suppose there's a certain degree of trauma when you move no matter how old you are.  Those young impressionable teenage years sure make it difficult though.  Leaving everything you know, everything you grew up around to go to a new place is scary.
There's still something that cracks me up though after almost seven years of living in Illinois.  When you get to talking to people around here, you almost always hear the statement, "Oh, I'm not from around here," come out of their mouths.  You ask them where they're from and 90% of the time they say, "I grew up in *insert name of the next little town fifteen minutes up the highway* but moved to *insert name of current town* after we got married because my husband/wife is from here."  My brain screeches to a halt and I think, "So, if you're not from around here, but you grew up fifteen minutes away from this very town, then I must be an alien or something since I grew up in an entirely different state pretty far away from here."
Living in Texas, it seemed like everyone was from somewhere else.  There weren't a lot of extended families living close to each other. Cousins didn't grow up going to school together like they do around here.  Everyone had grown up in a different state, a different country, or at least an entirely different part of Texas (down south, up in the panhandle, etc.).  But even though there weren't groups of families around, everyone was still so friendly and helpful.  It's like we became each other's extended family.  Gotta love good ol' southern hospitality.  :)
I see different kinds of pride in both states.
In Illinois there's a lot of loyalty to whatever town you grew up in.  These little towns love having their own schools and they're very proud of them.  The towns really try to distinguish themselves from each other.  They don't want to be lumped together.  Lot's of homegrown pride.
Texans have pride for their entire state.  It's like their attitude is, "Yes, we're Texas, and we're awesome!"  Phrases like, "Don't Mess With Texas" and "Everything Is Bigger In Texas" make that a hard fact to miss.  Maybe it has something to do with Texas being its own country at one point in history.
Both states have their perks.  I miss Texas (especially the warm weather) but haven't been back for a visit the entire time I've lived here.  And on the other side of the coin, I've just begun exploring the country roads out here where we live in Illinois.  In many ways I still feel like an outsider.
I guess "pride" could be translated as "stubbornness".  :)


body conscious?

There's a lot of talk about being healthy, losing weight, and eating right.  Some even get the impression that "Being healthy and thin will make you happier (or closer to perfect than you were before)!"  There certainly are advantages to eating healthy.  Your body works better, your brain can efficiently function, you don't get sick as easily, etc.
But what about the people who are already healthy?  What about the people who aren't classified as being "over weight"?  What about those who are naturally thin?  What does being bombarded with these messages do to them?
I'm thin.  I'm small-built.  I don't weigh a lot.  But I'm around people who are concerned with weight, eating healthy, or losing "just a few more pounds".  What does hearing all of this do to my psyche?  I'm not sure.
I supposedly don't weigh as much as I should.  My BMI number isn't classified as "healthy" for my height.  And if I'm going to be completely honest, I've supposedly lost weight since earlier this year.
I do eat healthy, but I don't try to lose weight.  (I just finished eating a grilled ham, cheese, and bell pepper sandwich on 12-grain bread with a glass of milk.)  I don't starve myself, but sometimes I get wrapped up in what I'm doing and don't eat as regular or as much as I probably should.  I am guilty of hardly ever eating breakfast.  I'm not athletic but I'm thin.  I was actually tested for a thyroid disorder towards the beginning of this year to see if that had something to do with my low weight.  (I've been jokingly told I should eat more ice cream so I'll gain weight.)
My weight isn't something I think about a lot or that I'm terribly concerned with.  I eat 'til I'm full, I eat healthy, and I figure that's fine.  I'm still alive, I'm still breathing.  I certainly don't think I have an eating disorder of any kind.
But I still wonder what all these messages about losing weight and being healthy do to the people who already are healthy, whose lives aren't threatened by excessive weight.  I'm sure they're affecting even myself somehow, but I haven't figured out how yet.



Do you tip-toe around some people?  Are you walking on eggshells?  Are you careful to not upset them?
It's one thing to be sensitive and caring.  But it's another to avoid voicing your opinions simply for fear of creating conflict.
Why are you avoiding conflict?  Why are you afraid of upsetting them?  Maybe you're seeking approval.  Maybe you're wanting to stay close to them.  Maybe you unknowingly did something to upset them before.  Maybe they've cut you off in the past and you don't want it to happen again.
But if you can't comfortably give your opinions without fear of them blowing up emotionally, is that a healthy relationship for either of y'all?  Is that honesty?  Are you really being yourself?
Not everyone agrees.  It's a fact.  We were all created individually.  We have our own unique thoughts.  So yes, conflict is inevitable.  But we should handle those disagreements with grace and intelligence.  Getting wrapped up in emotions or mental kerfuffles and neglecting to seek out a peaceful compromise is not the way to go.
It's not our similarities that make us beautiful people, it's our uniqueness.  Having friends with different points of view is a blessing.  We can learn to understand concepts foreign to us.  We can balance each other.
So don't be afraid to be yourself.  It's fine to not agree with everyone all the time.  Let there be contrast in your relationships.  And if someone does get all bent out of shape because your thoughts don't match their thoughts, then maybe you ought to find someone else to share your time with.

(Totally off-topic from what this post is about, but when I came up with the title for this it reminded me of that one part in Lord Of The Rings when Gollum is sneaking around and Sam gets after him about it:
Sam: What are you up to? Sneaking off, are we?
Gollum: Sneaking? Sneaking? Fat Hobbit is always so polite. Smeagol shows them secret ways that nobody else could find, and they say "sneak!" Sneak? Very nice friend. Oh, yes, my precious. Very nice, very nice.
Sam: All right, all right! You just startled me is all. What were you doing?
Gollum: Sneaking.



I want to...
create things that touch people.
move them.
make them angry, make them sad, make them happy, make them laugh, make them cry.

I want to...
be honest.
move people.
make them feel.
make them feel together, bring them together.

If I can be honest, if I can create things that make people feel.
If I can move them in ways they haven't been moved before.

I want to...
make them feel things they haven't felt before, feel the things they're afraid to feel.

I want to...
touch them.
help them.
be honest.

I want them to be honest.

I want to touch people with the things I create.
God, grant me the talent to do so.


in the mean time right now

Growing up I was surrounded by women who were mothers, teachers, nurturers.  I was homeschooled.  (Yes, that is one word.  Stop underlining it in red.)  The majority of my friends were also homeschooled.  We got together with our homeschool group in the spring and fall for "classes" on Fridays.  All the moms (and some of the dads) were teaching or helping teach all sorts of classes.  They were teaching their own kids, their kids' friends, and kids they didn't know.  (This is how I learned to sew when I was eight years old.)  It was a very family-oriented environment and I gained a lot from growing up that way.  Lots of time spent with family, lots of time spent with other homeschool families, lots of learning, growing, and playing.
Being raised in such a nurturing setting put my mind in a certain frame of thought.  I began to form certain expectations or qualifications for how my life was going to be, what I was going to do, who I was going to be.  "Get married and have kids.  Homeschool my kids.  As soon as possible."  That's pretty much what it was.  I felt that my purpose was to have a family like mine, raise my kids like I was raised (with a few changes, of course; not everyone wants to be exactly like their parents), and that was it.  There weren't really any notions of having a career or a job.  Sure I thought, "Oh, I could do this.." or "I could be this..." but it was all secondary.  It took a backseat to what I felt was my duty: Having a family.
This way of thinking was firmly engrained in my brain for quite a while.  It wasn't until much later (into my college years, actually) that I began realizing, "Oh, I have options?  I can do other things?"  I realized that I could have a career, a job that I truly enjoy, do other things I love.  I didn't have to get married right away.  I didn't have to have kids right off the bat.  (And, dare I say it, I didn't have to homeschool my kids?)  My mind was blown away by this realization.  Suddenly the "need" to get married as soon as possible disappeared.  My mom and sister were both married before they were the age I am now.  That's not for me though.  God has something different in mind.  He wants me to wait and He's giving me other things to do in the mean time.  Everyone has a different purpose, different gifts.
Families certainly are very important.  Don't think for a minute that I'm bashing families.  Society and life as we know it couldn't exist without them.  I still happily look forward to getting married and having kids.  And who knows, maybe I will be able to homeschool my future kiddos.  What I'm saying is that all of this doesn't need to happen right now.  The sense of urgency I used to feel about this no longer exists.  I'm young.  I have time.  I can do other things before settling down.  What's waiting one, two, three, or four more years going to do?  If anything I'll be more mature and more ready for marriage at that point.
Since there's no longer an urgency to get married and have kids, does that mean dating and relationships are out the window for now?  Not necessarily.  It just means there's more time for dating and relationships.  There's no need to rush.  I can take my time.  (We can take our time.)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:3-8


are you something?

The little girl asked her mother, "Do you think the people we're most afraid of losing are the ones we care about the most?"

"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."
— C.S. Lewis

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13

I think it's better to risk caring and feeling than to not care at all.