11.28.2012

knowing the answers

If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know I haven't had the best of luck with relationships so far in my life.  It reminds me of one of those popular someecards that said, "Maybe Taylor Swift's next song should be entitled 'Maybe I'm the Problem'."  I know that's not the sole cause of my issues, but it's funny because I don't like Taylor Swift.  :)

What is the cause of the problems I've had?  The first relationship I was in was fast-paced and dramatic (a lot for a sheltered, homeschooled, sixteen year old girl to handle) and I began using that same approach in my future relationships.  I didn't stop to think how relationships could function any other way.  What's another issue?  Being in relationships that simply weren't a good match.

I'm also not a fan of the awkward "getting to know you" stage.  I would be so happy if I could completely skip that chapter and get to the part where we're already comfortable with each other.

Recently I read a Meyers-Briggs personality type book and it really helped me understand myself and how I handle life.  You might not put much stock into such personality classifications, but I know it made a lot of sense to me and helped me feel better about myself.  In the book they reiterated it was not a battle between which personality types were "right" and which were "wrong".  They all view the world in their own unique ways and can work together to balance each other out.

While reading the book I determined I am an ISFJ.  I'll break those letters down for those of y'all who aren't familiar with Meyers-Briggs.

I = Introverted
S = Sensing
F= Feeling
J = Judger

ISFJs are fiercely loyal in friendships and relationships.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  We can be relied upon to always be there for you, but we're also likely to stay in a relationship long after we've realized it's going south.  This helped me understand myself so much.  There wasn't anything wrong with me.  I just need to better understand how I function so I can recognize what I'm supposed to do if I'm ever in that situation again.

Something I've heard people say before is that they don't like people and I've often thought this myself.  But now I can explain it even further.  It's not that I don't like people or meeting new people.  I'm fine with meeting new people in a controlled, familiar, comfortable atmosphere with advanced notice.  This is typical of ISFJs.

I've always known I'm an introvert but the Meyers-Briggs book helped me understand even more what this means and how it's not a bad thing for me to be this way.  Excessive loudness and crowds of people overwhelm and exhaust me easily.  Fellow introverts can imagine how tired I would be coming home after working eight hours a day Monday-Friday at the daycare over the summer like I used to.  OAFC events drain me of so much energy because you're around people all the time and I hardly have a moment to myself to recharge.  On Saturday I went to the St. Louis Arch with my family.  I didn't want to go to the museum underneath because I had been there many times before and I knew it was going to be packed with people.  My mother insisted everyone was going to go to the museum but I didn't last more than ten minutes down there before I went back above ground to wander around the park and take pictures.  I was much more comfortable in the open atmosphere by myself than in the crowded museum.

Before you can be in a healthy, functioning relationship with someone else it's helpful to know yourself.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  It's almost like you have to study and know the answers before you can get a good grade on a test.  I've always struggled with accurately describing and explaining myself to others.  Like I said in a previous post, I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching lately.  Not just about what to do with my life but also figuring out exactly who I am as a person and the best ways to use my strengths and personality.  I don't think you can ever fully know yourself, and I imagine you change a lot as you go through life, but understanding yourself is a good place to start before you can understand everyone else and how you function together.


11.20.2012

calling

I don't think I've ever really felt like I was called to do something.  Sure, in the past certain opportunities fell into place which allowed me to do certain things.  But have I ever felt like I was following God's will for my life, that I was called to do something specific?  No, not really.
I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching lately trying to figure out where my life is going or where it should go.  So far I haven't come up with much.  But as a good friend reminded me, it's never too late to start over.  I'm still quite young as an adult and I can completely restart this whole "career-finding/where is my life going?" process.
How do you know what God wants you to do?  A lot of people say you just have to shut up and listen and He'll tell you.  Others say you have to go out there and actively find your calling.  Some say to look at your strengths and find the best possible way to use them.  Well, I've done all three of those things and haven't made much progress.  Or I have made progress but was too scared to act on whatever I learned because I still wasn't 100% sure that's what I was supposed to be doing.
I see people who are floundering and I wonder if they're desperately searching for purpose like I am.  Other people have found their niche and are happily living their lives.  How did they figure everything out?
None of these questions are rhetorical.  I don't have any answers for y'all.  If I did have answers I would gladly share them.  I'm still as lost as I was when I started writing this.  Just kind of floating around and really not headed in any certain direction.  Hopefully I'll figure out one of these days where I'm going.  (It would be nice if it happened sooner rather than later.)


11.18.2012

let me come home

Every now and then I get nostalgic for my home back in Texas.  I miss the people.  I miss the southern hospitality.  I miss the heat.
The first couple years after we moved to Illinois were rough.  It was a completely different environment from what I was used to.  I had a hard time adjusting and making friends.  Less than a year after we moved my sister went off to college; my main support system was gone.  I did eventually gain friends and somewhat of a social life through my involvement in OAFC.  How many of those OAFC encounters became actual true friendships leaves something to be desired, but I'm happy.  I don't require a huge number of friends anyways.  Now though most of my friends are off at college or busy building their "grown up" lives and I'm the only person my age at my church.  I feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Again.
I know that if I ever were to go back to Texas, even for a visit, it wouldn't be the same.  The home I had there has changed.  My friends have all grown up.  We're no longer the thirteen and fourteen year old girls who giggled and whispered about our secret crushes.  We're adults now.  My friends are married and having children.  They're in college and working real jobs.  A lot has changed in eight years.  And change is good.  If you're in your early twenties but still have the temperament of a young teenager, that's a problem.
Will I ever feel settled and "at home"?  Illinois does feel like home.  After being here so long it's become a familiar and welcoming sight to return to after travels.  But this feeling of longing for Texas holds on.  The memories and past experiences are strong.  Supposedly "home is where the heart is".  Even though I haven't been back to Texas since we moved, I feel like part of my heart is still there.  But if I ever left Illinois, I know I would miss certain people and cherish certain memories that make it feel like home.
Where is home?  Home is Texas and Illinois.  I guess.  (If I had a special someone, I could cheat and say "home is wherever I'm with you".)


11.07.2012

a little life

{I understand not everyone shares my beliefs and I'm ok with that.  I'm not trying to argue with you or convert you to my way of thinking.  Anyways, people aren't likely to change their opinions just because someone has argued with them about it.}

Life begins at conception.  From the very beginning there is a little human inside of you.  You can't see or feel him or her for a while, but they're there.

Someday that little life will have hands and feet, arms and legs, a body, a head, and facial features.  That little life will actually look like the human he or she is.

Someday that little life will take their first step, speak their first word, learn to write, learn to play sports, learn to make music, and maybe even find a way to cure cancer.

Someday that little life will have hopes, dreams, ambitions, and purpose.

Someday that little life will have a family of their own and they'll get to experience the wonderful miracle of a little life of their own coming into the world.

My sister and her husband had their first child this summer.  He is a cute, chunky boy and at a little more than four months old he's already wearing twelve-month clothing.  He coos and giggles and can already recognize Auntie Laura's voice.  :)  He has his entire life ahead of him; so many possibilities, so many things for him to experience, and he is very loved by his entire family.

If you have a little life inside of you, take care of him or her.  Give them a life.  Give them a chance to be the person God created them to be.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14


11.03.2012

in the name of love

One of the important aspects of a successful relationship is that you and your significant other share many of the same interests.  It's good to have things in common that you can bond over.  But I think something people can overlook is the importance of supporting the interests your other half enjoys but you're not so crazy about.  Being selfless and putting aside your dislikes to spend time doing something they enjoy is really important.  It lets them know you love them enough to do something they like even if you don't like it.
What are some of the things you've done in the name of love?  I have...
Been to a pro football game.
Ridden a tractor.
Played (failed at) video games.
Listened to country music.
Gone to a driving range.
Ridden roller coasters.
Those are the things I can name off the top of my head right now.  It might not seem like a major deal to do the things on that list, but I wouldn't voluntarily instigate any of those activities.  The only reason I did them was because the guy I was dating at the time enjoyed doing them so I joined him because I knew it would mean a lot to him.
Do you know what the greatest thing is about this whole selfless love thing?  It doesn't apply to just dating and marriage relationships.  You can use it when you spend time with friends and family too.  I recently went to a college football game with a friend because I was visiting her at school and going to football games is something she enjoys doing.  Were we terribly cold by the end of the game and did I not really understand all of the football terminology?  Yes.  But did we both have fun?  Most definitely.  :)
I need to work a little bit more on being selfless. It's a great way to show someone you love them if you sacrifice your time to do something they are interested in even if you don't particularly enjoy it.  Hey, maybe they'll even return the favor someday.  :)


10.19.2012

write me a letter: part two

This is the first time I've written a follow up to one of my previous posts.  I got some great feedback from a friend about part one (write me a letter), and of course I've been thinking about it a lot, so I thought I'd write a "part two" on the subject.

I live in a place where it's not unusual for families to have lived in the same town for many generations.  Lots of people have lived here their whole lives and the people they are friends with now are the same people they went to high school with.  I wonder what it's like to have friends like that.  How can people know each other for so long, and make through high school no less, and still be on friendly talking terms with each other?

I'm a big fan of having consistency and familiarity in my life.  I'm also very open to experiencing new things, but I still desire some sort of stability.  I guess I look for that dependability in my friendships and relationships with others, which might not always be the best place to look for such things.

Here is what my friend had to say on the subject:

"I feel like as we grow and learn who we are, we do grow apart from people. As much as I don't like change. Sometimes you have to adjust to the change because it is what it is. I am sure it is a shame to have the perspective to be buddies until our dying day. Sometimes our views change or we hang out with different people which initiates more interest, but God knows that we all will have that connection when we're in heaven with him. No second guessing, pining, emotional attachment, doubt."

"All I can say from my few experiences, I still have a friend to talk to whether they are temporary or permanent. They are here and are with me and I can confide in them."

"It's better than having no friends or no connection."

Temporary friends v.s. permanent friends.  I had never really thought about it like that.  I don't talk to everyone I know every day, but there are occasions when I become closer to a certain friend for a short period of time and it's really lovely.  We might not keep up a consistent correspondence for a long period of time, but the closeness we had is still appreciated.  Instead of wishing we were closer for longer I suppose I should be thankful for what we have.

So many people drift in and out of our lives.  That's just the way it works.  The people I was friends with back in Texas, I'm not as close with them anymore but I am thankful for the time we did spend as close friends, as I am with everyone I've been close to.  People move away, grow up, and change.  The ones who live in the same town all their lives, perhaps the reason they're friends with the same people for all that time has more to do with convenience than anything else.

If people move away, grow up, and change, then how do you know what's going on in their lives and why you're not as close as you used to be?  Coincidentally, "When Friends Go Off The Grid" was published at the same time I was pondering this subject.

Why does someone stop keeping in touch?  Are they growing apart from you?  Have you offended them without realizing it?  Are they dealing with a serious personal matter and are seeking space or pushing everyone away?  Like the author of "When Friends Go Off The Grid", I'm never sure what I should do in that situation.  Do I contact them?  Do I give them space?

In one such situation it was a combination of me unknowingly offending my friend and her dealing with serious personal matters.  We didn't talk for a year, but she reached out to me when I was going through a rough time in my life and we started putting our friendship back together.  Now we're even closer than we were before.  Over the summer I saw a couple friends I hadn't seen in six years and it was like no time had passed at all.

Some friendships stand the test of time and some don't.  Whether we are "friends forever" or for only a short time, I think it's more important to be thankful for whatever friendships we have instead of wanting more.  It's better to have a few close friends than no friends at all.


10.10.2012

the relationship status

Out of all the bewildering craziness that makes up the world of Facebook perhaps the most mysterious component of all is the relationship status.  Why is it mysterious?  Let's think about this for a bit.

There is a lot of information you can share on Facebook.  Sometimes too much.  From you favorite quotes to your favorite bands to what you ate for breakfast, you can freely post it for the entire world (or just your friends and family) to see.  Sometimes you see things you wish you hadn't seen.  I know sometimes I see more swear words on my newsfeed than I'd like to, but I'm getting off topic now.

On your personal profile you can list where you went to school, where you grew up, where you work, who your family members are, and who you're in a relationship with.  Or who you're not in a relationship with.  Wait, what?

I'm sure you've seen it before.  Junior high and high school kids play around and say they're in a relationship with their "BFF" or even go as far as listing themselves as "married" or "engaged".  Silly kids.  If only they knew what that really means.

And then there are the kids (or even adults) who are in a different relationship every month, so their relationship status changes every month.  Umm, if the relationship ended after only a month then maybe it wasn't serious enough to put on Facebook in the first place.

Which brings us around to the question, "Do I really have to put my relationship status on Facebook?"  I have heard many different opinions on this topic and my own opinion has changed over the past year.

Some people just don't care.  They don't take Facebook that seriously and could be in a committed relationship for three years before they list it on their profile.

Others think it's too personal and don't put up anything about it until they're engaged or married.

I've heard the opinion that someone wanted to be honest about their relationship status which is why they kept it up even when it changed from being "in a relationship" to "single".  They didn't want people to think they were hiding what happened.  They wanted to be honest.

I can't help but wonder if some people list their relationship status as a way to get attention.  I mean, let's face it, all of us on Facebook want attention every time we post something, and nothing gets attention like relationship news.  When a couple starts dating or breaks up the comments and messages fly faster than... well, faster than something that flies very fast.

What is my opinion about the relationship status on Facebook?  When I first joined Facebook five years ago (Yikes!  Has it really been that long?) I had my relationship status listed.  It's been listed ever since then until earlier this year.  What changed?  Well, I've been in some relationships.  I've been through the excitement of starting something new and the sadness of that special something ending.  I have received comments and messages of congratulations and condolences for the respective events.  Finally though I was tired of it.  I felt like the entire world of Facebook had a front row seat to watch me go down in flames.  It's hard enough dealing with a relationship ending in real life without having reminders of it burned into cyberspace.

I think it's been since February that I took my relationship status off my profile and I like not having it on there.  Don't worry, world of Facebook, I haven't been in any relationships since then so you haven't been missing out on anything.  In fact, I've decided to take a break from relationships until at least the end of the year, and this time I'm really going to follow through with it and not break my own rules.  You hear that, guys?  Don't try anything.  I am unavailable right now.

Will I list my relationship status again in the future?  Yes, I imagine so.  Someday when I'm engaged or married I'll put it up there again.  But for now I will remain full of mystery, just like the relationship status itself.  Is she dating anyone?  Is she single?  The world may never know.  :)


10.07.2012

He said my name

I went to church last night rather than this morning.  My parents are out of town and it's easier for me to go to Saturday evening service instead of dragging myself out of bed early enough Sunday morning to complete barn chores and then shower and get ready so I don't still smell like the barn when I get to church.

Anyways, Saturday service is a little different than Sunday service.  Generally there are less people at the Saturday service (although the festivities in town this weekend probably helped with that) and less people means the singing is a little quieter.  Those are really the two main differences I see between the Saturday evening and Sunday morning church services.

So there I sat in a pew all by myself, quietly following the order of service and singing the hymns.  Sometimes I sing really loud and sometimes I don't.  Depends on if I know the hymn well and if my head is stuffed up.  It feels a little weird sometimes when I go to church by myself.  Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own church.  But I'm not a terribly sociable person, so I don't really mill around after service and talk to people.  I pretty much just keep to myself.

I wasn't singing very loud last night and I was having a hard time paying attention to the service.  My brain has been very full and confused lately while I've been trying to figure out a lot of things in my life.  I went up to the altar when it came time for communion and my brain was still swirling like it had been all day.  When Pastor Fritsche came to me with the common cup he said,

"Laura, take and drink, the blood of Christ, shed for you."

The fact that he said my name took me off guard, in a good way.  I can't remember right now if Pastor Fritsche has said my name in the past during communion, and maybe your pastor says everybody's names all the time during communion so this doesn't seem like a big deal to you.  But last night in that brief moment when my pastor said those words and I drank from the cup, it was a big deal.  It wasn't just Pastor Fritsche saying my name, it was God saying my name through him.  The thoughts in my head stopped spinning and I was more attentive and at ease during the rest of the church service.

I haven't been feeling so great about myself lately.  It seems like I'm just wandering through life and barely keeping my head above the water.  I can't do anything right.  I couldn't complete a decent amount of college after high school.  My relationships keep failing.  I can't turn one of my genuine interests into a legitimate source of income.  Everything is up in the air and beyond my control.  Anxiety and doubt overwhelm me.  I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going.  I long for purpose and direction.  I want to find where I'm supposed to fit in this world.

A couple days ago my good friend sent me a very happy and encouraging card complete with cute stickers.  She reminded me to smile, to wait on God's perfect timing, and that I am a beautiful and talented person.  She included this Bible verse:

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:13-14

How blessed I am to have a loving friend who reminds me of such wonderful things.

Last night when Pastor Fritsche said my name, it was like God whispered to me.  He told me, "Hey, it's ok.  I know you don't have this under control, and that is perfectly fine.  I got this.  Don't worry about it."  I shed thankful tears as I drove home last night, and because I'm a silly girl I've shed a few more while writing this.

I'm thankful to have family and friends who not only share my faith but they also love and encourage me when I need it the most.  I'm thankful for Pastor Fritsche and the many other pastors I know who continually show God's love to people, sometimes even when they don't realize it.  I'm thankful God is in control and He is ready and waiting to take over when I'm finally done stubbornly fighting Him.  I still don't quite know right now where I'm going in life, but I do know wherever I end up is where God wants me to be and that's what matters.


10.04.2012

write me a letter

Do you have a friend you would like to keep in touch with but they don't seem to share that desire?  You want to be in contact and know what's going on in their life but they don't really hold up their end of the deal.

One of my friends who goes to school out of state, I asked him to let me know the next time he's in the area so we could get together for lunch or something.  That was about nine months ago.  He has been home during that time but I haven't heard from him.

Another one of my friends, we'll get a good texting conversation going, but I always have to send the first message.  He never initiates the contact.

One of the girls I was friends with back in Texas, we were close and even wrote letters to each other when we were younger.  But since I moved away eight years ago we haven't been that close anymore.  I've tried to initiate contact in the past but she didn't really genuinely respond.

I will be the first to admit I'm not spectacular at staying in touch with people.  I send regular Facebook messages back and forth with a couple friends and my sister and I text and e-mail a lot. But I don't really like talking on the phone. When I'm on the phone with someone I generally want to get to whatever topic is the main point of the phone call and be done. I prefer talking to people face-to-face. Oftentimes I just don't think to stay in touch with people. If there is something they want to tell me, I assume they will contact me and tell me.  Sadly, I also do not always respond when people contact me or my response is not wholehearted and genuinely interested.  This usually happens when I'm busy and forget to respond or I don't take time to respond properly.  I get unhappy with myself when that happens.

I am thankful social networking websites make it so easy to keep in touch with the friends and family I have all over the country and even the world.  But I feel like we lose something meaningful somewhere between the likes, comments, and tweets.  We are not as sincere as we could be.  We communicate when it is most convenient for us rather than going out of our way to start a conversation.

What happened to phone calls out of the blue that lasted for three hours?  What happened to sending letters that went on for pages and pages? What happened to dinner dates that ended when the restaurant closed and visits that were longer than just a couple days?

Are we busy?  Do we grow apart?  Do we just not care as much as we used to?


9.27.2012

unsociable butterfly

The me in my head is a lot more sociable and outgoing than the me in real life.

In my head I gracefully carry on conversations with people I've never met, smoothly transitioning from subject to subject.  In real life I am quietly paying close attention to what the other person is saying, but I rarely ask questions or introduce a new subject.

In my head I am a social butterfly, totally comfortable in a room full of people I have never met.  In real life I am perfectly content staying in the background, silently soaking up what is happening around me, slightly overstimulated by everything going on.

I am a quiet person.  Sure, you could say my shyness is because I was a sheltered homeschooler or something like that, but I don't think that is the cause.  I'm sure I still would have been quiet had I gone to public school because that's just the kind of person I am.  In fact, I am even quieter in big social situations, so going to public school probably wouldn't have helped much.

I don't think it can really be labeled as "shyness" either.  I think it's more like I get overwhelmed in certain situations and don't know what to do.  Also, I'm perfectly comfortable being quiet.  I'll say something if I have something to say, but other than that I am more than happy to quietly observe what's going on.

In a previous post I mentioned a dating website for Lutherans.  When my friend and I were talking about it I said that I think people would be disappointed when they actually met me because even though I can put words together nicely on a page I am quiet when first getting to know someone.  She agreed and said that if I did do online dating I would have to put a disclaimer reading something like, "Be forewarned, I am a quiet person and I take my time getting used to people, so be patient with me and give me at least a couple dates to get comfortable."  If I ever did go on a date-date with someone (you know, like actual dating, which I can honestly say I've never done) I'm sure I would be overwhelmed by the formality of it all and as a result be very quiet the entire time.

I can have perfectly normal conversations with people around whom I am comfortable.  I can flow from one topic to another without feeling overwhelmed or self-conscious.  It takes a while for me to get to that level of familiarity with someone, but it's really great when it happens.  The reality of how long it takes me to be well acquainted with people and trust them makes the prospect of dating a little scary.  I can't help thinking they would give up on me before I even had a chance to be my normal self with them.  But I suppose that would be their loss.  They don't know what they're missing out on.  :)




















I really enjoy this latest comic from Incidental Comics.  It would be awesome to have the poster of it.

not renowned

Anyone who reads my blog has probably noticed that I don't write consistently.  I have no schedule for my writing.  Sometimes I go almost a month without writing anything and then do three entries in one day.  Any blogger who wants to be successful knows that consistency in their writing schedule and subject matter is key.

One of my favorite movies is Julie & Julia. It's about Julie Powell who cooks and blogs her way through Julia Child's cookbook. (And the movie features Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, two of my favorite actresses.) The blog turned into a book and then into a movie. Talk about being successful. I don't really care about my blog being successful or world renowned, so I don't care about writing consistently.

I write when I have something to write about, when something has been on my mind for a week or more. I think a lot before writing and even when I am writing I still think a lot.  I try to make sure I get my point across and in a way people will understand.

And there are times when I decide to not write. When I am upset or have something on my mind that is too personal to write on this blog I usually turn to my sister or a close friend to discuss the subject. I do always try to be as honest as possible in my writing on my blog, but I also try to be discreet and not share too much.  There are certain things that don't need to be immortalized on the internet.

I don't think I really write about anything worth national or international recognition anyways. The blogs with the biggest audiences are about politics, fashion, religion, and cooking. I don't write about anything groundbreaking or trendy. I'm just over here in my little corner of the internet, writing the thoughts continually swirling around in my mind. And that makes me happy no matter how many people read what I write.


9.24.2012

lutherans

I am a Christian and a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.  My faith is very important to me.  Just like with everyone else in the world, what you believe in (or don't believe in) sets the foundation for everything else in your life.

Something that bothers me though is when Lutherans are all gung-ho and in your face about "I love being Lutheran!"  (Fellow Lutherans, please don't turn me in for treason.  I'm trying to explain this as well as I can.)  I don't know if other denominations do this, but I see Lutherans do it a lot.

Do they love being Lutheran because of the theology or the stereotypes and insides jokes?  Sometimes it's hard to tell.

One of the bloggers I follow on Wordpress (because my photography website is hosted there) is a Lutheran.  She can go on and on about how she loves being Lutheran, how her family revels in it, and has even described something as being "Lutherany".  I love seeing people be so firm in their Christian faith, but I feel like it goes beyond that sometimes.  Like, Lutherans can be so proud of being Lutheran that they unintentionally ostracize non-Lutherans (or even fellow Lutherans).  They make themselves unapproachable.

There is a website where single Lutherans can meet other single Lutherans for dating and relationships.  One time I went poking around this website with a friend just to see what it's like.  While we were looking around we got to talking about whether or not we would use the website to meet other single Lutherans.  Even though we both want to marry someone who is Lutheran, we felt like the majority of the people on the website were very "I love being Lutheran" (using more than half of the description space to say that they love being Lutheran) and were looking for someone like that too.  Neither my friend nor I are like that, so we concluded we most likely would not use the website to meet other Lutherans.

I am a Christian.  I am Lutheran.  I understand and believe the theology.  It sets the foundation for my life. But there are other things in my life that help define who I am.  My artistic mind, my wide variety of talents, my tastes in music, books, and movies.  I am Lutheran but it is not the only word that describes me.

The homeschool group my family was part of in Texas was made up of Christian families but my family was the only Lutheran family in the group.  I spent a lot of time with kids who were Baptist, non-denominational, etc.. I know there are subtle (but important) differences between the many denominations of Christianity.  But when I was a kid all I knew was that my friends went to church too and that was all that mattered.  We played together splendidly and didn't think twice about being a different denomination.  Being older I am very aware of the differences now but I still don't want to push away people who are different denominations or not even Christian.  I don't want to be all in their face about being Lutheran, but I do want to be able to share my faith with them through my words and actions.


9.22.2012

faltering

I haven't written in my prayer journal consistently since the first week of July.  I haven't written in it at all for about a month.  It's not because I've lost faith or completely stopped praying.  I think it's because I've grown out of writing in a prayer journal.
I started trying to write in a prayer journal when I was twelve.  It wasn't until I was sixteen that I started writing in one consistently.  I've always felt like I'm better at writing than talking, which is part of why I started writing in a prayer journal.  I knew that praying is important and having a prayer journal was a way to get myself to pray daily.
Lately though I've felt like I was forcing myself to write in my prayer journal.  It became an obligation I didn't want to keep instead of being something I wanted to do.  Over the past month I've found myself praying in my head more often than I used to.
My sister told me that people who are good at writing tend to be introverts, which I do think is the case with me.  I might not be good at praying in my head or expressing my thoughts verbally, but that doesn't really matter.  God doesn't care how eloquent we are when we pray.  He knows the thoughts in our heads we can't even verbalize, so it's ok if we don't have an impressive vocabulary.
Even though my not writing in my prayer journal isn't due to my faith faltering, there are people dear to me who are unsure of their faith.  It makes me sad seeing them so lost.  I wish there was a magic button I could press that would instantly make their lives better.  But I know that I can't be Jesus to them in the sense of single-handedly fulfilling 100% of the emptiness in their lives.  What I can do though is pray for them, love them, and be a friend to them.
Praying can seem so insignificant but really it's one of the most powerful things we can do.


detached

Sometimes caring just takes too much out of you, doesn't it?  Sometimes it feels like things would be so much easier if you could just detach yourself from it all.
But what kind of life would that be?
It's a vicious cycle:  If you have the guts to care, then you're going to get hurt.  But if you don't care, then you're not really living.
I've said in the past that it's better to care and risk getting hurt than to not care at all.  Well, over the past few months I've been having a hard time practicing what I've preached.
You just get so worn out, you know?  You don't really want to try anymore.  Whether it's the smallest disappointment or the biggest letdown of you life, it doesn't matter.  It all feels the same after a while.  And it seems like it's easiest just to close yourself off rather than keep trying.
That's not good.  You shouldn't feel like that.  Ever.
Rather than close yourself off, just give yourself a break for a little while.  Whatever it is you're striving for and waiting for, give it up to God and give yourself a break.  Things will come about when they're supposed to.
It can be easier to wallow in endless despair than to give up what we're so tightly holding on to.  But is burying yourself in sadness really going to fix anything?  No, it's not.
I need to let go.  I need to give myself a break.


9.17.2012

change of plans

What happens when we build hopes and dreams on what is or could be happening in our lives but then things go in a different direction, thereby making our plans irrelevant?
Your long term relationship ends.  Your potential employment falls through.  You can't start a family.  You have to unexpectedly relocate.  So many things can change.  So many of our plans can become obsolete.
In a life of continual change, is there anything consistent we can depend on?  Yes.
My friend Amanda explains this beautifully in her post Bloom where you are planted.
When life changes and our plans don't work out, God's perfect plans are still in play.  Backing up and changing our focus can be difficult, but it's very important to remember that God is still in control.  His plans are better than ours anyways.  Even when we veer off track, He still works things out for what's best for us.
What I struggle with, like so many other people, is trying to distinguish between my plans and God's plans.  I know that what I want doesn't always match up with what God wants.  I also know that I'm stubborn and have a hard time letting go of my plans so I can follow His plans.
I'd like to think that someday I will grow out of this immature stubbornness and learn to peacefully accept God's perfect plans.  It might take a while for that to happen.


8.19.2012

delayed honesty

Here is a mystery for you.  Perhaps you've heard of or personally experienced the following scenario:

A couple that had been dating, for however long, ends up breaking up, for whatever reason.  A well meaning friend or relative confides in one of the involved parties.  "Honestly, I didn't much care for him/her to begin with.  I'm glad y'all broke up."

The mystery:  Why didn't the well meaning friend or relative express their opinion before the couple broke up?

I've thought of a few plausible solutions.

Perhaps they are lying.  They are simply saying such things only in an attempt to comfort the jilted party.  What's wrong with this?  Lying is not good.  Ever.  Honesty is best.

If it really is their honest opinion, then maybe they were too shy to express it before.  They didn't want to cause problems for the couple.  Now, it's one thing to tell your friend, "I don't like your boyfriend/girlfriend" without any real reason or basis for your opinion.  But if you actually do have genuine concerns regarding what you've seen in their relationship, then you need to say them confidentially and honestly.

Maybe the involved parties neglected to confide in anyone any issues or concerns they had about their own relationship.  If no one is told that anything is wrong, then how is anyone supposed to form an honest opinion of the situation?  Once again, lying in not good.  Honesty is best.

If you do have genuine concerns about the relationship of a close friend or relative, don't wait until after they've gone down in flames to tell them.  Be brave and be honest.

I know this is the second post in a row I've written about relationships.  I write about what's on my mind and I suppose this has been on my mind the most lately.  Considering that the last time I wrote about relationships was early last month, I think that's ok.  Maybe next time I'll have something different to write about.  :)


8.17.2012

when you're ready

"Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely."

The above quote isn't a Bible verse, and I don't know where it originated, but it makes a lot of sense.

You shouldn't rush into a relationship simply because you are lonely and craving companionship.  Relationships take a lot of work and if you're not ready to put forth your share of the effort, then you need to step back and wait.

We like to be loved.  You can go ahead and admit that it's nice when you know someone cares about you and what's going on in your life.  It makes you feel good.  But if you rely only on the love and affirmation of others to make you feel good, you will be disappointed.  None of us are perfect which means we don't all love each other all the time like we should.  If you find comfort only in the love of the people around you and not in God's love, you're in for some heartache.

You don't have to be in a relationship all the time.  In fact, there are some times in your life when it might actually be better for you to remain single.

High school kids, don't think it's the end of the world if you don't date anyone while you're in high school.  Oh yes, I know the hormones are going crazy and you've been eyeing that classmate of yours who is so cute and funny.  But my advice to you is to not go for it.  Teenagers + relationships + hormones = drama.  Save yourself the frustration and wait until you're older to start dating.

College kids, it's not the end of the world for you either if you don't date anyone while you're in college.  I've come to learn that college and your early twenties are when you're really figuring out who you are as an adult.  You're learning how to become a functioning member of society.  All of this learning likely means you'll be doing some changing during this time too.  You'll change your major, change your school, study abroad, have lots of different jobs, and have lots of different friends.  The person you were when you started college isn't going to be the same person who finally graduates.  Trying to maintain a stable relationship during this time of learning and changing is difficult.  You might turn into completely different people, you might grow apart, who knows.  Give yourself time on your own to grow and change at your own pace.  Throughout our lives we never really stop growing and changing, but college and your twenties seem to be when it happens the most, so take your time becoming familiar with who you are instead of rushing into a relationship with someone who is also growing and changing.

People out of college... Technically, I do fall into this category even though I've only been out of college for a little over a year.  We'll call this category "Twenty-two Years Old and Up" so it fits a little better and includes people who maybe didn't go to college.  By this time, you're probably starting to feel like "time is running out" to be in a relationship.  You look around and see a lot of your friends are married and having babies while you're still single.  I know six couples who have gotten married since late May and next month I'll be attending the wedding of a co-worker.  This doesn't even include the several friends my age who have already been married for over a year.  It feels like you're running of time, like the walls are closing in.  Don't panic.  Don't let loneliness or pressure from others push you into a relationship you shouldn't be in.

This doesn't quite fit the subject of this post, but it is important so I'll put it down anyways.  In relationships, it can be very easy to use the excuse, "Well, we're going to get married, so it's ok" to justify certain things.  I myself am guilty of doing this.  Whether you're engaged or not, don't let the excuse of, "We're going to get married" justify things that shouldn't be happening.  My advice to you is that if you are using this excuse and it makes you feel guilty, you need to step back and reevaluate your relationship.  Don't let your expectations or the expectations of other trap you in a bad situation.  

"Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely."

Last month I said that I have things I need to work through before I'm really ready to be in a relationship again.  Sometimes I can be impatient, so it's nice to have friends who keep me in check and tell me to slow down.  Don't let impatience, loneliness, and peer pressure put you in relationships you shouldn't be in.  Wait until you're ready.


8.06.2012

don't say it

I'm going to talk about something very personal.  Something that really frustrates me.  Do not be offended.  I am not pointing fingers at anyone.  Just hear me out, please.

My bone structure is small.  I am thin.  I do not weigh a lot.  This is the way God made me and I am perfectly content with what He has done.

There is so much emphasis put on appearances, exercising, being healthy, being beautiful, etc..  A fake, unattainable standard is set and we are all pressured to live up to it.  People who are furthest from this phony ideal are thought to be the most insecure and the most likely to suffer ridicule about their supposed shortcomings.  If we follow this line of thinking, then those who are closest to this "perfect" standard should be the most assured of their "perfectness" and therefore immune to remarks about their appearances.

This is all a load of crap.

No matter what standards are in place or how we are created, no one has a right to criticize anyone about anything that is not their business.

Just because I am thin and my appearance is close to what is socially accepted as "beautiful" or whatever other nonsense there is, this does not mean I am not affected by the supposedly harmless comments people make about my body and appearance.

"How much do you weigh?  Ninety pounds?"

"Is that all you're having for breakfast?  I know you're small, but..."

"Have you lost weight?  You look thinner."

"You need to eat a cheeseburger!"

Saying things like this to anyone is not ok.  Not ok.  No matter someone's size, shape, weight, appearance, etc., it is not ok to make remarks about things that are not your business.  Unless someone asks for your opinion, it is not ok to say things about their appearance or what they eat.

It really frustrates me when people tell me these things when I have never asked their opinion.  They do not realize that their seemingly harmless comment is actually quite hurtful.  Whether or not someone is confident in their appearance, you cannot say such insensitive things to them.

I really wish people knew this and would be more mindful of what they say.


friendships

Have you ever heard someone talk about a past relationship and they say something like, "It didn't work out, but we can at least be friends."  Or maybe you were on the receiving end of a break up conversation and were told, "... but I want to still be friends," or "... I want to be just friends."  Using the words "at least" "still" and "just" in these ways almost makes the word "friends" sound like a derogatory term.  We get the impression that somehow friendship is a less serious attachment than a romantic relationship.  I am guilty of thinking this way but I think it's time to reevaluate this point of view.

What puts friendships lower than romantic relationships?  Why do we think friendship requires less effort and commitment?  Why do we make successful romantic relationships the goal and use friendship as a backup plan?

I think in some ways friendship can be more important than a romantic relationship.  Dating and romance can be messy when things don't turn out as we hoped.  What happens then?  When expectations for a romantic relationship aren't met, disappointment and confusion ensues.  Who do you turn to when your significant other is no longer your significant other?  Friends.

Something I have come to appreciate recently is how friendships can stand the test of time.  Granted, not all friends are the super close friends you can share anything with, but there are special exceptions.  There are those friendships that no matter how much time goes by and how much you don't stay in touch, you are still friends.  When you do talk, it's like no time has gone by at all.  You still support each other, care about each other, and have good times together.

No matter how many romantic relationships you're in and how many of them don't turn out as you hoped, it's important to have those stable, supporting friendships in your life.  We're all looking for love.  We're all looking for "the one" we're supposed to be with.  A happy marriage, faithful spouse, and loving family are all wonderful, important things to strive for.  Romance and families are important, but we can't get so caught up in finding love that we forget the significance of strong friendships.

We can't continue through life alone.  When romance and families fail us, we still need supportive friendships to fall back on.


7.29.2012

making the grade

Do you sometimes feel like you're not smart enough to be around certain people?  Do you think your friends and family are smarter than you?

Oh sure, in school we are graded on our performance.  There are scores for the SAT and ACT.  Supposedly you can even measure your IQ (Intelligence Quotient) in numbers.  Are your grades, scores, and numbers not as high as everyone else's?

Let's step away from all of those measurements for a moment though.  It's not necessarily that other people are smarter than you are.  It's just that we're all smart in different areas.  Imagine for a minute that your friend is a successful lawyer and you are a professional chef.  Does that mean either of you are smarter than the other?  Absolutely not.  You do not know the law inside and out like your friend does and your friend cannot whip up an amazing meal like you can.  Neither of you are smarter.  You both are just good at different things.

If everyone was an athlete, then who would create music?

If everyone was a mathematician, then who would write novels and poetry?

If everyone was a farmer, then who would practice medicine?

You might think that some professions are more complicated than others.  Yes, you might have a hard time understanding what your friend is good at, but your friend might have a hard time understanding what you are good at too.  All of our brains are wired to understand different things in different ways.

So it's not necessarily that some people are smarter than others.  We're all just smarter in different areas and good at different things.  Your talents, abilities, and intelligence are unique to you and no one sees and understands the world in the same exact way you do.


through the speakers

What kind of music do you listen to?  Four of the six radio presets in my car are tuned to either classic rock or oldies stations.  The other two are mainstream stations and the only reason they're tuned to mainstream stations is because I couldn't find enough classic rock or oldies stations to fill up all of my presets.  The collection of music on my Pandora account and my iTunes is varied.  It ranges from Skillet to Frank Sinatra to Queen to Patrick&Eugene and so on.

What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up?  My parents didn't really allow us to listen to non-Christian music when we were young.  (Considering that NSYNC, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys were some of the popular music during that time, I don't think I missed out on much.)  I remember times when my mom discouraged me from listening to certain kinds of music.  I was listening to Radio Disney one day and my mom made me change the station.  On another occasion when I was older, she wouldn't let me listen to a local Christian rock station.

The music you listened to when you were growing up, do you still listen to it now?  Around when I was 17 or 18, my parents became more lenient about the music we listened to.  It was a little strange because what was once "taboo" was suddenly ok to listen to.  Talk about mixed messages.  Nowadays, I hardly ever listen to contemporary/mainstream Christian music by choice.  I think I got burned out on it.  I enjoy the hymns in church and the songs we sing at OAFC, but you usually will not hear Christian music playing in my car or coming out of my computer speakers.

I understand why my parents had rules about music.  They were just taking care of us and wanted us to have good influences and I thank them for that.  However, I wish they had gone about it a little differently.  Instead of making secular music evil and taboo and never allowing us to listen to it, I wish they had taught us how to recognize why certain songs aren't the best to listen to so we could eventually discern for ourselves what music is inappropriate and what music is acceptable.  We could have learned to recognize the negative influences in certain lyrics and be able to say why they are wrong and choose for ourselves to not listen to them.  Yes, this is something I have learned for myself now that I am older, but I wish I had learned it sooner.  I wish I had learned it sooner so that when friends would talk about music I could have given an educated answer about why I chose to not listen to it instead of lamely saying, "My parents don't allow us to listen to that."


7.07.2012

infinite pieces

A friend of mine recently shared this link on Facebook.  How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships.  Be sure to read the follow up article too.  Emotional Purity and Courtship - A Conclusion.

I grew up in what would most likely be called a conservative Christian homeschool environment.  My family wasn't the most extreme conservative family, but we weren't the most liberal either.  We were about in the middle.

I grew up around conservative views on dating, courtship, etc.  I heard things like, "Your first boyfriend should be your only boyfriend and your only husband."  "Don't kiss or hold hands until you're married."  "Don't say 'I love you' until you're engaged/married."  While these rules were never enforced upon me by my parents, I did accept some of them to be hard and fast rules for relationships.  Goals to be attained.  Plans to be followed.

In the article, the author explains how these views and "rules" can cause shame, pride, and dysfunction.  They can also lull us into a false sense of security that if we follow a prescribed set of rules for dating, we will be "safe" from getting hurt.

I can relate to everything written in the article, but the parts about shame are what I identify with the most.

"You are considered damaged goods if you have fallen in love and had your heart broken."

I used to follow this line of thinking.  After my first break up when I was seventeen, I felt like I was "damaged goods".  If I felt that way then, how do you think I feel now having experienced other additional relationships and break ups since then?  If having your heart broken just once makes you "damaged goods" then I ought to be beyond repair at this point.

"It was Josh Harris in I Kissed Dating Goodbye and the Ludy’s in several of their books that popularized the idea that every time you fall in love or get “emotionally attached” to someone, you give away a piece of your heart. The more pieces you give away, the less of your heart you have to give to your spouse someday."


Again, I used to follow this line of thinking.  I used to feel like I was somehow less of myself after every break up.  That I left part of myself behind.  Yes, it is painful to break up with someone when you have become so emotionally close to them.  It hurts any time you lose someone you love, whether that someone was a boyfriend, girlfriend, family member, etc.  But should we let that loss define us?

The thought that your heart is portioned into pieces is silly.  It's like saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, your heart only has four pieces and you just gave your last piece away.  You are no longer able to love.  You are no longer fit to be in a relationship."  The love in our hearts should not have a limit.  It should  not run out.  As the author says:

"Love doesn’t work that way. The more you give, the more you have. My third child doesn’t have less of my heart just because I’ve loved two other children before him. And, really, I haven’t given them “pieces” of my heart. I’ve given them each all of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given."

God loves us, right?  Right.  And it makes Him sad, breaks His heart when we sin, right?  Right.  So what if every time we sinned, God lost a piece of His heart?  If God had a finite number of pieces of His heart, and He lost a piece every time we sinned, then He would eventually run out.  What kind of God is that?  God doesn't run out of love.  And if God doesn't run out of love for us, we shouldn't run out of love for each other, no matter how many times we break each others hearts.

My young homeschool friends and I, whenever we talked about boys it was only terms of having crushes on them or them being potential boyfriends.  We never talked about them as being friends.  We never interacted with them as friends like we interacted with each other.  This led to a skewed way of thinking.  This led my mind to believe it's nearly impossible for a guy and gal to be friends without any romantic ulterior motives at all.  It's taken quite a while to reverse this way of thinking.  As the author says:

"Guess what? In the real world, men and women can have innocent relationships. They can talk to each other without there being ulterior motives. They can laugh and exchange wits and, yes, even drive in a car together without anybody thinking anything dubious is happening. They are not naive but they are not afraid of their own shadows. Purity and integrity in relationships can exist without unnaturally freaking out about it."


I remember as a young teenager, beginning to read a Christian book about dating.  I don't remember the title or if my parents had told me to read it.  But I do remember within the first few pages it said something like, "Relationships require commitment.  If you can't commit to reading this book all the way through, then you can't commit to a relationship."  I stopped reading the book and never picked it up again.  The author of the book would probably use that as evidence to say I can't be in a committed relationship.  I would say that I felt the author was trying to put me on a guilt trip to finish his book.  "Oh no, if I can't finish this book, then I can't be in a relationship!"  Yes, I was only a teenager when I rejected that book, but I would still do the same thing today.  I'm not going to let an author guilt me into finishing his book or make me afraid that I can't be in a relationship.

The thought of having only one boyfriend and that boyfriend being your only husband is nice.  And if you don't want to kiss, hold hands, or say 'I love you' until you're married, that's perfectly fine too.  But do it only because it's your personal preference and not because you're trying to prove something, not so you can boast.

"I remember watching a video in which one of the biggest names in the courtship movement bragged with obvious arrogance that he didn’t tell his wife he loved her until their wedding. And I thought, “How twisted can we get? We took something as simple as saying ‘I love you,’ built a straw man rule around it (‘saying I love you is defrauding’), then hung it like a trophy on our walls.” Job well done, folks."


I recently talked with a friend of mine about relationships and such.  I expressed to him my concern that I don't want to go through divorce in the future.  I have seen what others have gone through when they have a child out of wedlock, when they go through divorce, and other terrible things.  I told him I didn't want to put myself, my future husband, or my future children through that.  While he commended my noble intentions, he also reminded me that everyone is sinful.  The divorce rate among Christians is similar to the rate among non-Christians.  Marriage is a commitment between two people.  If those two people continue to love each other, work together, and support each other, then everything should be fine and dandy.  But if one of them starts to falter or stray and he or she has no intentions of fixing the problem, then there isn't much that can be done to save the marriage.

"1 + 1= 2. Emotional purity + Biblical courtship = Godly marriage. But life doesn’t work that way. You can do everything “right” and your life can still go wrong. You can do everything “wrong” and still be blessed. Rain falls on the good and evil. Time and chance happen to them all. People who follow the courtship formula still get divorced. Or stuck in terrible marriages. Courtship is not the assurance of a good marriage. Life is too complicated for that. Love involves vulnerability. When you choose to love, you are choosing to accept risking a broken heart. No formula can protect you. Life involves risk. Following God involves risk. He is not a “safe” God. But He is good."


As the author says, you can do everything "right" and things can still go wrong.  Following a courtship formula does not guarantee you will have a "happily ever after".  All humans are sinful.  Bad things happen.

"Formula says, “I will follow a God that I’ve put neatly in a box, and He will give me the desired results.” Faith says, “I will follow You even when I can’t see where I’m going, even when the world is collapsing around me.” Formula says, “I will not risk. I will be in control of my future.” Faith says “I will risk everything. I will trust Him whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway.” Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)."


Instead of trusting a certain set of rules will protect our hearts, we should trust in God who guides us and takes care of us no matter what happens, whether or not our hearts are broken.

So where do I stand in the midst of all this?  What are my opinions and beliefs?

Lately, I've been feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted when it comes to relationships.  I feel spent, worn out, and tired of trying.  The views discussed above and in the referenced article definitely contribute to this exhaustion.  I believed I was giving away pieces of my heart.  I believed it was best to have one boyfriend.  I believed in trying to save as much physical contact for marriage as possible.  What did all of this belief get me?  Shame.  Guilt.  Sadness.  Self-doubt.  Self-loathing.  Unworthiness.  I believed that since I didn't follow the rules, that somehow made me less desirable.  My mistakes and my sin tarnished me.  It made me unwanted.  If the rules that are supposed to keep you safe and "guard your heart" make you feel like this instead, then I think there's something wrong.

I'm still "under construction" as I like to call it.  I'm still recovering from these dangerous views on relationships.  I'm still recovering from what I've been through emotionally and mentally.  I will be ok eventually.  The love and encouragement I have received from friends and family has meant so much to me.

This entry is terribly long and I haven't even touched on the second article.  Please go ahead and read it.  Anything I would write about it would just be reiterating what it says.  It talks about how we are to love one another if we're not supposed to follow the rules of courtship.  Definitely take the time to read it and thank you for sticking around long enough to finish this lengthy entry.  While racking up a high number of views isn't the point of this blog, I do enjoy it when others are able to take something away from what I write.  When you go through as much heartache as I have, it eventually comes in handy.  God has a reason for everything, even the painful things.  :)


6.28.2012

be you

What do you do when being unique becomes mainstream?

Thanks to technology and the internet, we're able to connect with people on the other side the country, on the other side of the world, who share our interests.  We can communicate with people who think the way we think and do the things we do.

While being around and collaborating with like-minded people can be great, it can also kind of burst your bubble.  This happens when you start to compare yourself to others.  Rather than feeling like "a diamond in the rough" or "one in a million", you start to feel overshadowed.  You think they're better than you, more accomplished, more talented, more whatever.  And so you start to shrink back.  You stop trying.  You blend into the background.

That is not good.  You cannot measure your success by comparing yourself to others.  If you are constantly striving to be like someone else, you will never get there.  Why?  Because you are not that other person.  You are yourself.  And only you can be you.  Letting others inspire you, yes, that is a good thing.  But we should not strive to mimic others.  Rather than trying to be someone else, we should put effort into being the best ourselves we can be.

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 6:3-7


6.22.2012

jump start

You're worn out.  Your battery is dead.  You feel like you just can't keep going.  How do you fix this?  How do you jump start your life?  Here are some ideas off the top of my head.
  • Pray.  A lot.
  • Read your Bible.
  • Join a Bible study.
  • Take a hot shower.
  • Take a bubble bath!  You know you want to.  :)
  • Go for a run.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Get a hair cut.
  • Color your hair.
  • Read a new book.
  • Paint something even if you don't think you're good at painting.
  • Go see a movie.
  • Cook yummy food.  And then eat it.
  • Listen to new music.
  • Listen to really loud music.
  • Go to a concert and listen to really loud music live!
  • Tell jokes.  Especially corny ones.  (What do you call a fake noodle?  An impasta!)  
  • Conquer a new video game, if that's your thing.
  • Go on a road trip!
  • While on your road trip, only go to places you've never been before.
  • Play with sparklers.
  • Clean your house.
  • Organize stuff.
  • Learn origami!
  • Take pictures.  Bonus points if you do it with an old film camera.
  • Stretch.  Do yoga.  Even if it's with the Wii.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the beach!
  • Fall asleep in the sun.  With sunscreen on.  So you don't get a sunburn.
Ok, so you have your list of jump starting activities.  Now what?  How do you make sure you actually do these things?  Recruit a friend to help you!  (Except for the hot shower and bubble bath ideas.  Those are best done alone.)  Grab a trustworthy friend and get to work!  They might even have more fantastic ideas to add to the list.

What would you put on your jump start list?



6.17.2012

it's ok

It's ok to ask for help.  When life becomes difficult, when you're frustrated, when you're worn out and tired of trying.  It's ok to confide in people, to unload your burdens, to vent your frustration.

It's even ok to seek counseling.  Contrary to popular belief, going to a counselor is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of strength.  We humans can be very prideful and have a "No thank you, I can do it myself" kind of attitude.  It takes a lot of courage to admit you can't handle what is happening in your life and to seek help through either professional or pastoral counseling.

Having a support system is important.  You need friends and family members you can go to for comfort and guidance.  Keeping your struggles locked up inside yourself is not good.  You think they've gone away when really they're just waiting for the most inconvenient time possible to explode.

I do not have the support system I should.  I talk to my sister a lot when heavy issues come up and I have a friend I know I can talk to about serious things.  But besides those two people, there aren't really any others I feel comfortable turning to.  I've always said that I would rather have a few close friends than a bunch of friends I hardly know, and this it still true.  I don't feel like I have a lot of close friends though.  For one reason or another, the people I was close to two years ago or four years ago feel so far away now.

There are other reasons I don't have a proper support system.  I don't like to cry.  I don't open up to people very easily.  I have to really trust them in order to share my most secret thoughts and feelings.  I'm also wary of the advice people give.  Do they really have my best interests at heart or are they being biased and trying to further their own agenda?  Sometimes I feel like I'm being a burden.  I have no problem being a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others.  I can care very much about others and strive to be the one positive influence in their dark lives.  But when I'm the one needing the positive influence and the shoulder to cry on, I feel like I'm being an inconvenience.

I really need to work on my support system.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  Proverbs 17:17


pinning

I deleted my account on Instagram.  And then created an account on Pinterest.

"What?!?!  Didn't you just talk about reducing the amount of internet distractions in your life???"

Yes, I did.  And I'm still working on that.  I think my account on Flickr will be the next thing to go.

Pinterest, however, could be very useful.  The bookmarks bar of my browser is always full.  You have to press the little arrow button on the side to see all the links I've bookmarked.  I'm thinking Pinterest could be my new "bookmarks bar".  I constantly run across interesting things on the internet that I want to save to explore later or share with others.  Well, I can't see everything on my bookmarks bar since it's so full, and then that whole "out of sight, out of mind" thing comes into play.  I'll find something interesting, bookmark it, and then forget about it because I don't have the visual reminder of seeing that bookmark every time I'm on the internet.  With Pinterest, however, I can see my boards every time I log on, which gives me the visual reminder I need.

I already know Pinterest could be a real time-waster.  Friends have told me this fact and I see the evidence in the over one thousand pins they have on their boards.  So while Pinterest could be very useful, it could also be very wasteful.  The challenge is controlling how much time you spend pinning and determining if what you're pinning is really worthwhile.

These are the boards I have on my Pinterest account so far and what they're for:
lovely tresses - My hair is thick, coarse, and very unmanageable at times.  I'm always looking for new ways to make it behave and look nice.  Having a board full of hair styles, tips, and fun things to try will be very helpful when I just don't know what to do with my misbehaving locks.
wishful attire - As it says in the description: i'm a girl.  i like clothes.  Finding clothes in my size that don't make me look like a high school kid is difficult.  I think being able to visually narrow down the kinds of clothes I would like to have will make them easier to find.  I can also explore new styles and do-it-yourself clothing ideas I would like to try.
tattoos - I don't know if I'll ever get a tattoo.  They are part of you for the rest of your life.  I hear arguments from both sides about whether or not it's against the Bible to have a tattoo.  And supposedly they're very painful to get.  But whether or not I ever get a tattoo, I can't help admiring how they are such a beautiful and unique art form.
dance - I used to take dance classes and I really wish I had kept up with them.  Dance is a beautiful art and a grueling sport.  It takes grace and power to be a fantastic dancer.  I really love watching people dance.
it's good to laugh - For those days when you need a smile and a little pick-me-up.
chocolate... - Recipes for chocolate yummyness.  Because you can never have too much chocolate yummyness.
besides chocolate... - Recipes for non-chocolate yummyness.  Because supposedly you have to eat other things besides chocolate.
pho-tog-ra-phy - I've seen people create boards on Pinterest so they can pin photography ideas, whether they're a photographer or looking to hire one and want to have ideas for their photos.  While I understand the usefulness behind this, I won't be using my photography board for this purpose.  I've already seen the same "Pinterest photography idea" used at three different weddings.  I don't want to fall into the trap of following photography trends or be considered a copycat and unoriginal.  So instead my photography board is for cataloging useful tips, photographers I admire, and general photography geekiness.
stuff to make you think - Interesting blogs.  Interesting articles.  Profound thoughts.  A place to put the things that make you go "Huh, I haven't thought about that before."

So that's what is on my Pinterest at this time.  We'll see if my determination to maintain it for only useful purposes conquers the temptation to simply waste time with it.  Happy pinning!


6.10.2012

A Faded Memory



A Faded Memory


It's still breaking...


I thought I was ok.  I thought I was ok enough to at least function, to at least focus on my work.  And I was.  I was fine as long as I didn't think about it.  But after a few days of being "ok" it all came back.  It all still hurt.


I don't know what to do this time.  I don't know how to let it all out.  How to let out the pain and sadness.  How to recover and move on.


(Warning: The next thought is very cliche.)
If something was never really yours in the first place, then how come it hurts so much when you lose it?


I don't like to dwell on things.  I like to process them as quickly as possible and reach some sort of conclusion or solution as soon as I can.  This time seems different though.  Seems like I need to give myself more time to be hurt, to let out the pain, to bleed.


How do I fix this?  How do I get back to being "normal" again?  You'd think I'd have this down to a science by now.  You'd think the amount of heartache I've experienced in the past would come in handy in this situation.


But, no.  Somehow it's different this time.  And I don't know what to do.