Monday, July 28, 2014

7 Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before My Twenties

I’m turning 24 in 65 days and a few odd hours.

I understand that this still means a great deal of my life is still ahead of me and that I am still a youth in many eyes. This being said, I find something slightly disheartening about the prospect of being in my mid-twenties.

When I was 16, I assumed that by my mid-twenties, I would be saving the world, likely doing the work of Princess Diana. I probably would have deactivated all of the land mines and also, in my free time, cured cancer. While doing so, I would have gotten married, but we wouldn’t have kids yet because solving the world hunger crisis is a full time job and I needed to focus on my career, hellur.

When I was 16, I was not the most realistic of human beings.

When I was 19, I was a bit more enlightened. I had been overseas and lived in South America for a minute and I had entered the world of college education. My mid-twenties were still in sight, but twenty was still a bad word as it symbolized a kind of maturity that I was not ready for. Looking back at 19, I did not have a driver’s license or a steady job, and had plenty of free time for studying Hermeneutics and Apologetics (these things weren’t so much voluntary as curriculum) and also napping. I was a freshman in college and I had dreams of joining the Peace Corps after I graduated and also, I had taken up Swahili, Vietnamese, and Klingon, so I was probably going to be hired by the United Nations right off the bat and they’d probably give me an awesome reference to join Star Fleet.

So maybe at 19, I still did not have the clearest or most realistic view of what it would mean to be a woman in my mid-twenties.
My 20th Birthday. Complete with Blackberry. 

I have about four years of experience in being a twenty-something year old girl, so I guess you could say I ‘m pretty much an expert in the subject. Stand back, Taylor Swift with your poetic (and unrealistic) musings about feeling 22! I am the real!

But in all reality, I have learned a lot in the past few years that I wished I had known before I entered my twenties, and thus, by the power vested in me as a big sister and auntie, I must impart wisdom, however shallow, deep, short, or lengthy, onto you:




1.) You will never, ever go wrong by being too nice to people.

Once upon a time when I was about 17, I went with my dad to New York City to tag along on a business trip. We were in Spanish Harlem in the Social Security office and there were an unnecessarily large population of rude people that were giving the lady working the office there a hard time. My dad, however, got up to the counter, called the lady ma'am, talked to her about her day, and made her smile for the first time that I saw since we had been there. It was at this point that my dad gave me what I now know as the best professional advice I've ever heard, which has honestly probably had the biggest impact on where I am at work today: "You will never, ever go wrong being too nice to people."

I was never really rude to people as a rule in general because I was also raised to have manners, however the gravity of this advice never really sunk in as much as it did when I got my first grown-up job in customer service. Working in a call center is one of the most eye-opening (and sometimes very, very discouraging) things that you can ever do if you want to get a glimpse of humanity. People under stress can be downright mean. Also , creative. I must say that I have never received more nicknames than I did when I worked in the escalations department at work. That being said, it had never really occurred to me that when you press 3 to talk to a human being, you are actually talking to a human being with bills and a life and a mortgage and who has probably been screamed at by 19 people just like you beforehand, simply for doing their job. A simple, genuine “Thank you.” or some understanding can go miles in a person’s day.

And, bonus, if you’re nice when you work in customer service, you’re far more likely to move up. There is absolutely no downside to kindness.

2.) People will hurt you badly. Choose to love them anyway.

As children and as teenagers and even now, in adulthood, there will be people that you look up to as heroes. You will place them on a pedestal and tell your friends that they hung the stars and also placed the pocket in pita. These people will be your friends and your mentors. They will be your family. They will be people in authority. They may be love interests.

They will be people.

People are funny things. The people we look up to remain, much like our aforementioned customer service people, as human as can be and humans have life experiences and baggage and tempers. They have flaws and cracks and they will sometimes hurt you. They will sometimes hurt you because they don’t understand your fragility or your feelings and they may fracture you out of ignorance. We are super breakable and there will never be a time in your life where you are immune to getting hurt.

Do not let the fear of being hurt make you calloused and hard. A soft heart is a rare commodity in the very dark and twisted world that we live in and you should value yours and cling to it with all of your might. Be a light of grace in this world that people desperately need. Never regret loving people. Never regret choosing love, ever. There are so many, many more and worse mistakes that you could make. Let love be one of them.

3. People will sometimes use your love as an excuse to continue hurting you. Cut them loose.

My mom once told me when I was younger that the friends that I had when I was a child would not typically be my, as I assumed, my best friends forever. This is something that I, age 11 and at what is scientifically known as the peak of my wisdom, just knew that she, like, totally didn’t know what she was, like, talking about.

I have mentioned before that I am a clingy person. A needy person. I am sentimental to a fault and while I tend to be closed off to most, once you are in my life, you are in forever until the roll is called up yonder.

This is not, as I mentioned in bullet point two, a bad thing. This the way that Jesus made me and considering that I hope to be a humanitarian and a missionary one day, a disposition of love and trust and the necessity of friendship and bonding is one that will (ideally) be super useful when that day comes.

Perhaps you too are this person. The person who bakes your friends cookies and edits (or writes) their papers for school. Maybe you are the person who seeks to serve. You are the soft hearted commodity that the world needs.

And as I have been you, I must implore you, open your heart, but guard it. Do not allow the users of the world to use you as a doormat. Do not put up with abusive or addictive personalities. Do not let the selfish take your joy from you. There are people in this world who also need people, but do not know how to appropriately give and take. Do not allow yourself to feel bad or guilty for freeing these people from your life. Be a little bit selfish, or they will destroy you. These people are not necessarily overtly bad, but they are no good for you. Have enough self respect and love for yourself to cut them loose.

4.) Good credit is priceless.

Things were getting deep there for a minute, so let’s talk about financial wisdom. [pause for laughter for those who know me and how I manage money]

I’m bad at money. I don’t like to save. I do save. But I loathe saving. What I like are vintage dresses at ModCloth. And new boots. And headbands. And things that make me smell good and fedoras and books and records.

I was fortunate to have a credit card safety net for a good part of my first couple of twenty-something years and his name was Dad. This is not a strategy I would recommend because it gets you into some super bad habits that you have to break cold turkey once you decide that you’re going debit card only (which, for the record, I do).

This was fortunate, because it allowed me to establish good enough credit to get a car loan, which I paid religiously every month and then paid off and while I may not have a Miss America personality, I have fantastic credit going for me that I established predominantly on my own.

And so I leave you with this. Good shoes are great, but good credit is priceless. Don’t spend more than you make. Have a credit card for emergencies, but hide it in a mountain and guard it with a friendly dragon named Smaug. And if you parents are awesome and decide to help you out, you will never be able to thank them enough, but go ahead and try.

5.) Loneliness does not = aloneness.

Boys have cooties and they are gross. And sometimes, despite their disgustingness, they are able to fool us girls with their eyes and their teeth and their accents. And sometimes, these boys will decide that they’re stupid and are not into you. This is one of the saddest feels to ever feel and if you’re currently feeling that feel, I would like to extend you the biggest of cyber hugs and also a bowl of oatmeal-chocolate-chip-walnut cookie dough, as well as your choice of chick flick because I UNDERSTAND SO MUCH.
Loneliness is the worst and it’s a battle that I still have to bear arms and smite with The Force on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. I am at the lovely age where some of my friends are starting to get married, others are starting to birth children, and the whole thing is just terrifying, but intriguing. I do not currently see myself arranging play dates, however, I feel some envy because those play dates depict a part of life that I have yet to experience.

But the lesson that I am beginning to learn is that loneliness does not mean aloneness. While I sometimes feel all by myself, I have the pleasure of having amazing friends in all kinds of cool places. My lack of attachments frees me to do whatever I want. I get to plan an upcoming move completely selfishly and with no regards to the needs of another person. I get to decide on a Tuesday that maybe I’ll road trip across the border, and then leave and do it that weekend. I just discovered a website that offers last minute international flights leaving that night for dirt cheap and my heart sang for the idea of what could be.

Someday, your loneliness will subside and you will have adventures with an aesthetically pleasing sidekick if you so choose and hopefully, he’ll want to do cool things with you like build Vietnamese orphanages and hike to Machu Picchu and order Dominos through an app with no social interaction before letting you choose what you’ll binge watch on Netflix that night. But you will do those things together and this will require discussion and compromise and maybe life will happen and you won’t get to do some of the things that you had planned. Therefore, you should savor your aloneness and be your own boss for a minute, because a day may come that you’ll never get to do that again.

6.) Your dreams, plans, and bucket list are probably going to change. And that’s totally okay.

This is the part where I own up to my special brand of neurotic. I’ve been having an existential crisis for a few weeks.

Because of moving or a large life change, you might ask? Have you changed spiritual ideology? Have you decided to denounce your vegetarian ways? These are all perfectly good reasons to have existential crises, you may reassure me. And I would never judge you.

Thank you, I’d reply. You’re totes sweet. But no. Unfortunately none of those are correct. It’s nothing nearly as life-altering as that. It’s just that I’ve decided that my favorite color may not be green after years and years and years and that it may actually be yellow. I don’t know how to handle this. I can’t deal. This is a big part of me, green is. How do I deal with that?

You too may have a change of mind or of heart. You may experience life changes out of trauma or simple changes of taste. Your belief systems may tweak slightly and your understanding of the world and of God and of humanity will widen and deepen and it will turn your whole world upside down and you will be super confused sometimes.

You may get scared because you’ve always wanted to be a doctor and you decide that you want to be a teacher or a firefighter or a plumber and God bless you for that. That is a terrifying realization, but it’s completely normal. There are so many people that wanted to be something else when they grew up and then there are people like me that don’t quite know what they want to be when they grow up. Once upon a time, I decided that because I was on the debate team in high school in the Student Congress event, that I should run for the House of Representatives someday. In my Comp I class, it’s on my bucket list that I made for an assignment. I also wanted five kids at one time. There were about five seconds where I was certain I wanted to live in San Francisco. I decided to be a YouTube sensation last year as a New Year’s Resolution (and never made a video). But then I discovered I lack the money to live in San Francisco and I hate politics and that health stuff will likely not allow me to have five kids and even if I did, I really don’t think I could stand to have five kids running around. These have all at one time been very real hopes and dreams and bucket list check marks that I absolutely needed to be happy and now they’re nothing more than reminiscent anecdotes on a page and I’m at peace with that.

If you change your mind, don’t panic. Change is natural. As you grow and develop and move on through life, you will undoubtedly change your mind on at least one thing. That’s just the way things are. Rocks don’t get swept through a river without changing shape and you, my dear, will not escape this life in the same condition as you entered, as you shouldn’t, for infant contribute very little to functional society except for being completely adorable.

7.) Don’t believe the myth of, “These are the best days of your life.”

I have been told this over and over again. I was told this in high school and remember being so terrified and unenthused because when I was in high school, I wore giant glasses with thick rims and layered sweater vests with horizontal pink stripes over baggy white shirts and thought that mid-calf was an excellent length for a jean skirt with my penny loafers. I was also bullied a lot in high school and suffered from horrible depression and when I graduated, I glared at the people singing about how we’d all be friends forever and resisted rolling my eyes because my parents were taking pictures. I was so excited to get out of there.

Then I went to college and my dad told me before he dropped me off that these were going to be the best days of my life. And college was fantastic and I made fantastic friends and ate microwave pizzas and may or may not have once watched Rocky Horror Picture Show under a jungle gym after curfew while tornado sirens went off. College was fantastic, but it was also filled with heartache and confusion and a lot of self discovery and when I left college too early because of finances, I felt cheated because those were supposed to be the best days of my life, and I was doomed to live the rest of my days in a rocker discussing the olden days and what used to be.

I’m now back at home and I live in my parents’ house and I’m looking excitedly at apartment furnishings as I prepare to move out again. I get to do fancy things like go to poetry readings and work Christmas parties and I get to be an aunt to three fantastic babies and while there is confusion and uncertainty, there are days where I feel so contented and happy that I think that these are the happiest days of my life.
But I know that in the future there will be adventures and humanitarian work and kids of my own and ministries and probably Comic-Con someday and whatever else God has planned for me on this crazy, psychotic roller coaster that we call life and that every once and a while, in the middle of all of my emotions, I’ll be sure that those are the happiest days of my life.

I’m not so sure anymore that there is just one period of time that’s your happiest and I feel like going into any chapter with such an expectation sets yourself up for more failure and sorrow than necessary. You can’t really determine what is best, after all, unless you have completed the race, which none of us have (no offense to my ghost homies). Maybe there isn’t one set period that is the “best time of your life” and maybe we should just sit back and enjoy the journey without the pressure of judging who or what has been or will come next.

What about you all? Is there anything you wish you had known before you reached a certain age or phase of life?
The Cake From My Actual 20th Birthday #TwoDecadesOfAwesome

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Love Languages And Daisies: A Study In Love And Gift Giving

I make it a point to buy myself flowers. Daisies, to be exact. They are, after all, my favorite and if you go to the grocery store, you can get a florescent bunch for about $7. Even in between pay days, if I can scrape together some quarters, a big gerbera daisy can be acquired for about $2.

And if you can buy yourself a little happy for $2, why, I must implore thee, would you not?

The reasons I took up this practice are two-fold, with several sub-points.

The first of which is that I am prone to many flavors of depression, particularly during the winter, and I discovered that flowers helped take the sting out of my weepy winter months.

The second reason is that once upon a time, a dear college friend of mine decided that my little group of friends needed to take the Love Language assessment so that we could better understand each other (read as: understand why some of us were fighting a LOT). The thing I found about myself surprised me. I found out:

With two love languages tied at the top and a third just a point or two below, I am extremely needy when it comes to love. (It is here that I pause to offer up prayers for the sanity and patience of my hypothetical future husband.)
My love languages are gifts and quality time, followed very closely by words of affirmation.

The idea that gifts were my love language was something that I found very, very surprising. In retrospect, I shouldn't have. Ever since my childhood, I have reveled in buying gifts for people. I'm that annoying person that before birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Arbor Day, will ask on a daily basis, "...Now are you sure you don't want your gift early?" Gift-giving is one of my favorite things, but receiving gifts is something that at times, I find difficult, frequently falling into a case of the "Oh, you shouldn't haves" and "Really? For me?"

It's not that I'm an overtly selfless person, because that is definitely not the case. As I will openly admit, I am super needy and am very selfish with my time (and the time of others) but when receiving gifts, I often find it difficult to find words to say that appropriate depict appropriate thankfulness. If I seem too non-chalant, I'm afraid you'll find me ungrateful and if I seem too eager, I'm afraid that (particularly if this gift is given in a romantic sense) that you've flipped a switch that will make me a forever devoted stalkerish....thing.

But I digress. What was I talking about? Oh. Yeah. Love languages.

Basically, I aside from the lack of words to express gratefulness, I can honestly say that few things make me feel more loved than receiving a gift. It doesn't matter if that gift is a handwritten card or letter or some fantastic fandom merchandise. I really honestly do love gifts from people that I love because the nature of gift-giving is one of acknowledgement. You are acknowledging you know that I love handwritten sentiment, even if you don't write particularly well, and that you care enough about that sentiment to put that into my life. You are acknowledging that even though my obsession with science fiction and Sherlock Holmes may be unhealthy, but you love me enough to enable me just this once.

An understanding of my love of gifts can be summed up by a poet who once said, "Let me also say I wanna make you sandwiches,and soup, and peanut butter cookies.Though, the truth is peanut butter is actually really bad for you ‘cause they grow peanuts in old cotton fields to clean the toxins out of the soil.But hey, you like peanut butter and I like you."

Through giving things to one another, we are acknowledging the pieces and parts of each other that we love so much that we highlight them in ribbons and paper, in envelopes and ink, in flour and peanut butter, and we bring them forth into each others life.

I would like to think that when I get married, my husband would buy me daisies.

But I, as you may have noticed, do not have a husband. So what is a gift-loving girl to do?

Does she wander about aimlessly, flowerless and without love? Does she weep for want of a man who will be her knight in shiny 1-800-FLOWERS delivery van? Does she remain lonely because she lacks the thing that she feels would symbolize love?

From experience, I can tell you that she does all of those things. She feels sad and gets jealous of the girls with flowers. She remarks that it is unfair because she is just as deserving of flowers as those other girls. And she remains very lonely.

And then that girl's inner feminist awakens, as "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" plays melodramatically in the background, at an appropriate volume that will not disrupt the vicinity's sound ordinances. Because she does deserve flowers and love and appreciation and the things that she loves deserve to be acknowledged. When we give gifts, we embrace the things we love about one another, so why is it, she wonders, can she not embrace herself?

With righteous indignation, she storms into the nearest Flowerama and confidently acquires three gerbera daisies, and smiles all the way home.

I buy flowers for myself as a pick-me-up, as an anti-depressant, and as a reminder, and I would encourage my fellow single ladies (or involved ladies with a lack of flowers in their lives) to do the same.

It is okay for you to treat yourself to something beautiful, because you are, yourself, beautiful, and it's okay to accept that yourself without someone else's acknowledgement.

Go forth. Buy daisies. Buy lilacs. Buy roses. Buy some hypoallergenic plastic flowers if you have allergies because a sneezing fit will undo all of the confidence that we've unearthed together here. And if you're a strange individual who for some reason does not love flowers, enjoy instead, this picture of a hedgehog, because you're worth a little happy today.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Camping Season

Once upon a time there was a little girl in a junior youth class who was asked what she wanted to do when she grew up. The little girl was no more than six or seven and was missing her front teeth and probably wore a jean jumper and some oxford shoes because she so loved the way the black and white pattern looked on her feet.

The little girl grinned and without much though, proclaimed that she wanted to be a missionary orthodontist, not much knowing what an orthodontist was but growing obsessed with the idea of being a big kid and knowing that big kids got braces and therefore, by proxy, being an orthodontist had to be the cool thing. Her ministry would be fixing smiles and sharing Jesus with the world and that was that. No questions asked.

The little girl grew up and joined Girl Scouts and fell in love with cultural days and theme days at school, proudly announcing when she learned a few words in French. She grew into a middle schooler and took Spanish and oh how she loved the language. She loved how the words "flojo" and "anaranjado" rolled off her tongue and danced on her ears and she wanted nothing more than to speak the language and learn about the people because the culture was her love. The girl watched as classmates took ambassador trips to Australia and class trips to Paris and Barcelona and Egypt and she craved to go too, but alas, she never did.

The little girl had a friend who traveled the world and worked in Lebanon and Germany and went to places like Africa and India and would tell her about the beautiful things that God would do. And the girl had a box full of postcards from Middle Eastern countries where her uncle would go while he was in the Marine Corps and she dreamed of having a niece or nephew one day to send postcards to as well.

But the little girl didn't go.

The little girl often thought back to the day that she announced that she was going to go to Africa and be a missionary orthodontist and would ask God to send her somewhere to do something wonderful. The little girl took in the slides that visiting missionaries would show during special services and would instantly want to go to Sri Lanka and The Ivory Coast and Botswana and Greece and Argentina and Brazil. She wanted to eat strange foods and learn new languages and meet new people all of the world.

And the little girl would ask God to send her.

The little girl found herself facedown on a tear stained floor at church camp when she was 17, asking God for a word. Should she go to college? Or was there something more? Were those dreams God gave her before actually something more?

And the little girl asked God to send her.

The little girl found out there was a need in South America for someone to help in the school. And the little girl prayed and raised money and bought a plane ticket.

And three weeks after she graduated high school....the little girl went.

The little girl went to a country called Paraguay and saw wonderful things and met people that she fell in love with and even though she felt incredibly lost and very homesick, the little girl was doing the thing she had always prayed for.

But alas,things didn't happen according to plan and the little girl came home after just a couple of months and she cried the entire way home. She told God that it was clear that He didn't actually want to send her and swore that she would never do missions again.

The little girl went to bible school and God picked her up and dusted her off. He told her that it was going to be okay and reminded her that this one trip did not mirror His plans for her forever. The little girl sat in a missions service and wept and all of the things she had wanted before she had gone overseas flooded back in an instant, and God told her exactly what He expected.

He told her that she needed to keep an eye out and keep her faith strong because He had called her and He had chosen her and one day, sooner rather than later, He was going to send her.

And the little girl waited.

The little girl waited and prayed and waited and prayed. She looked into disaster relief trips to Haiti and orphanages in India and AIDS clinics in Swaziland and a home for children with HIV in Honduras and ESL schools in England and schools in Vietnam. The little girl found something called The World Race that she wanted to do so badly that it physically hurt her heart. And she dreamed and schemed and planned and prayed and cried and waited.

And God said, "Not yet."

The girl tried to move across the country several times and to go back to school and to move in with friends and to just leave to be anywhere but where she was and each time, things fell apart. And she cried and prayed and planned and waited.

And God told her to be content where she was.

And the little girl didn't understand.

And God showed her a vision of people in India and Cambodia and Malawi and Madagascar and Peru and Paraguay and Vietnam and Uganda and Sudan and Bangladesh and Argentina and Brazil and Costa Rica and the little girl's heart was broken. The little girl's heart had been broken for a long time. And God wrapped his arms around the little girl and touched her broken heart. And God told her that these faces were why she needed to be patient and be content....and wait.

And the little girl waited.

The little girl got a good job and moved up and loved what she did and before she knew it, a year had passed.

And God spoke to the little girl and showed her the same vision as He had the year before.

And this time all He said was....soon.

He didn't give a time frame or any other details. Just...soon.

Soon.
**************

The ninth chapter of the book of Numbers tells a story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness. It says, "At the commandment of the Lord they camped, and at the commandment of the Lord they traveled on; they kept the instructions of the Lord according to the commandment of the Lord, by the authority of Moses." (Numbers 9:23, New English Translation)

To be honest with you, Numbers isn't a book that I ever look to have speak to me. If I'm being honest, I can find it quite dull and just want to be done with the thing. And then I read this. It's referring to the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that directed them as they wandered in the wilderness, so I'm quite aware that in a strictly hermeneutic sense, I'm taking my liberties here. But regardless, when God said to camp, they would camp. They wouldn't move. They would be still. And when God said to move, they would move. As simply as that.

If you hadn't realized, the former part of this piece is my story. When I was very, very young, the Lord called me to missions. God broke my heart for people that I haven't met yet and it's been a journey with more ups and downs than I can say. I have embraced it and run from it and loved it and hated it and everything in between. And if it hasn't taught me anything else, it has taught me (some) patience and it has taught me how small I am outside of Christ. Patience is something I don't like. Patience is something I would be okay with out. I'm okay with admitting that I have a problem with instant gratification. And it's okay if you are nodding your head along with that statement because I'm not the only one.

All I want to say right now, maybe more for myself than for anyone else is...don't give up. I'm sure that you have promises and hopes and dreams in your life that frustrate you beyond all recognition. But don't give up.

Can I suggest that maybe you're in a season where you need to be camping rather than travelling? Is that okay? I know it's not fun to hear. It's not fun to say either. It's not fun because we've already established that I don't like having patience. I don't want to camp. I want to go.

I want to go and do things and see places and help people and I'm so constantly scared that I'm not going to have the time or the money or the whatever and I tap my foot at God and ask him if he understands what time it is.

But...He actually does. He knows exactly what time it is. And it's not time to travel yet.

It's always time to prepare. It's always time to be ready. But it's not time to travel yet.

Find peace in the camping times. Make some s'mores. Roast a tofu dog.

And camp.

Be still.

It will be time to travel soon.

Soon. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tie My Shoes

As many of you know, once upon a time, when I was an 18 year old aspiring missionary, I spent some time working at a school in Lambare, Paraguay. The majority of this work was in the school office, helping make workbooks for the school's English classes and photocopying and filing, but on occasion, I ventured out into the school and interacted with the kids.

The thing you need to know about Paraguayan Spanish is that it's a different brand than you learn in school. It's very fast and a lot of times blended with Guarani, the country's indigenous language. In short, if you are a moderate Spanish speaker at best, as I was, you will probably definitely get lost.

And the thing you need to know about small children speaking Paraguayan Spanish very, very, very fast is run. Just run. It's so fast and jumbled and you're just going to get lost so...I mean...if you don't run, don't say I didn't warn you. My first day at the school, the missionaries decided that total immersion was the best policy, and thus I ended up in a classroom with a teacher that spoke no English and a class full of preschoolers who found the new person to be a complete novelty. Children have odd ways to express affection. In the case of one little boy, it happened to be through his shoestrings.

I attempted to get fully immersed and play with the kids, and as I frantically fumbled through the motions of (very) shaky Spanish, a little boy came up to me, presented a little foot with shoestrings undone and simply said, "Zapato?" (Shoe?)

Finally! A word I understood! Thank you, small child, for showing that God has not forsaken me! Bless you! I smiled at him, attempted to hide the complete and utter relief from understanding just one word, and tied his shoe. He grinned back and ran off to play with his friends.
Five minutes later, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I turned around and found my new friend. He looked up at me, grinned, and once again, said only, "Zapato?"

I looked at him and laughed for a moment. "Tu zapato es bien!" (Your shoe is fine!)

"No es!" (No, it's not!)
He presented his foot again, and yet again, the shoes were untied. I tied his shoes again, he smiled, and once more went along to play with his friends.

A few moments later, I felt yet another tug on my sleeve. Sure enough, my little friend had once more come to visit me, shoe untied, giggling. "Otro vez?" (Again?) he said. And we laughed and I, once again, tied the little boy's shoes, and for the first time since I had landed, felt a bit of relief and odd purpose.

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

I hadn't thought about this shoe story for several years. Not until today, during my drive home did I remember the giggles of the little boy, and his persistent return with untied shoes. He came back to me three times, with shoes untied, knowing full well that I took joy in our game and that I would put his shoe ties back together.

The story came from nowhere as God spoke to me in that still, small voice I've come to fear and cherish in equal measure.

"You're so concerned that you'll fall short and not measure up. All I want you to do is let me tie your shoes."
Every person at some point (or daily) in their walk, will fall. They will stumble and falter and fall short and will absolutely, 110 % need the mercy of God. The New Living Translation puts the well-known Romans verse best, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." 

Perfection can be striven for, but never attained this side of glory. I will never, ever be perfect and to be completely honest, I'm not okay with that. I am a person that needs answers and perfection and I will beat myself up over and over again when I step on my shoelaces and leave them untied. I stand before an all too loving and merciful God, present my mess of a life to Him, and humbly ask Him, "Otro vez?" 

And He gently kneels down and ties my shoelaces, kisses me on the forehead, and sends His child once more on her way, urging her to do better, knowing full well that she will forever be a work in progress, loving her enough to be willing to deal with that. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgivukkah

I got asked if I was Jewish again.

I mean, in fairness, I had gone on this long thing about being Kosher and then being excited about Hanukkah, and I can see maybe if you squinted really hard without the knowledge that I just happen to be an extraordinary shiksa goddess, it could be a little bit confusing, but alas, it required me to have that whole conversation where people look at me strangely and nod their heads slowly and force smiles while saying, "Oh that's nice, dear."

For those not in the know, I became fascinated with Jewish culture about six years ago during my junior year of high school while in a comparative religions class. The teacher had incorporated the most sacred of Jewish artifacts in our curriculum (which is to say, "Fiddler on the Roof") and an overwhelming love for the culture and the religion has grown ever since. Obviously, as a Christian, there are some logistical conflicts with me actually being Jewish, but I have a crazy reverence for the traditions (it's okay if you sang that in your head. I did too.) and beliefs of Judaism, and as a result have adopted some of them into my personal life. 

Some of them make no sense. For example, before I went vegetarian, I made a solid effort to go Kosher, which admittedly was pretty touch and go until I actually cut out meat. There is literally no reason for me to go Kosher other than that I darn well felt like it. And so I did. 

But I mentioned Hanukkah that day and struggled very hard to come up with a good reason for my festive demeanor that would not prompt this poor, unsuspecting individual to commit me to the loony bin. So I took a moment to actually think about it. 

For those of you not familiar with the story, it is as follows: Once upon a time, around 170 years before Jesus, the Jewish Temple was taken over by Syrian and Greek armies who re-established it as a place of worship for their gods. Furthermore, they outlawed the practice of Judaism and required the worship of Greek gods. A group of Jewish rebels called the Maccabees fled to the mountains, created their own army, and took back their land from Greek control. They returned to the temple, which had since been desecrated by the worship of other gods and needed to be purified. To do this, they had to burn ritual oil in the temple for eight days. The only problem with this was that they only had enough oil for one. They decided to burn the oil anyway, and, miraculously, the oil did burn for eight. (A quick note. This story is better told by the Holiday Armadillo, for those of you who are smart enough to know and love Friends.)

So basically, once a year, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights with the lighting of menorahs and ingesting of delicious latkes in thankful rememberance that one time, so long ago, that God provided when it seemed hopeless. 

This year, Hanukkah falls on this coming Wednesday, which happens to be the day before we celebrate Thanksgiving. And while Thanksgiving is not technically a religious holiday, it is a time where we take a few moments (and, in some cases, several Facebook statuses) to recall what all that we have to be thankful for. And often in these times of thankfulness, we also recall the things that God has done. We are thankful for the things that have been provided to us, material or otherwise, without which, our life would be much darker. 

And thus it has occurred to me that this week, for two days in a row, I will be festive for reasons for thankfulness. And after this year, this seems so appropriate. This is the year that I have learned what provision truly is. I have learned what it means to trust God and be thankful. I have learned that despite any circumstance that comes against me, I have no reason to be anything other than full of thanksgiving because I am blessed. 

I am thankful although I lost my job right before the new year, two weeks later I interviewed for a job that I really love and have since advanced greatly in.

I am thankful that when my finances were hopeless as a result of said job loss, God provided and my bills never went unpaid. 

I am thankful although I recieved less than enjoyable news at a doctor's appointment over the summer, because I have been provided with extraordinary friends and family that supported me through my roller coaster of emotions immediately following. 

I am thankful that this month marks a year that I have been off of anti-depressants, because it shows me that no matter how dark things seem at the second, there is light at the end. 

As stupid as it sounds, I am thankful for friends that introduced me to things like Doctor Who and Sherlock and a number of different authors, because with it came a sense of comradery that has honestly helped me to love and accept myself. 

I am thankful although I have lost people in my life, because it has shown me to love and appreciate those who are with me now. 

I am thankful that I have friends that are some of the most spectactular people on earth who love and bring out the best in me. 

I am thankful for a family that has proven to be a solid support system regardless of the circumstance. 

I am thankful for mentors in my life that are willing and able to tell me what's what and are always willing to listen and provide advice in my excessively dramatic life. 

I am thankful that regardless of my understanding, God has shown me over the past year that He really will make all things, even my worst and most hopeless things, good in his time. 

And for these reasons, on Thursday, I will sit around a table and eat Tofurkey and mashed potatoes and be thankful. 

And on Wednesday, I will light a candle and sit in thankful rememberance for a moment. Because I know that my God has and will continue to provide. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Boldness and Eating With Your Shoes On

“And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to  God ...The people grabbed their bread dough before it had risen, bundled their bread bowls in their cloaks and threw them over their shoulders. The Israelites had already done what Moses had told them; they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold things and clothing.  God  saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people and so readily gave them what they asked for." (Exodus 12: 11, 34-35, MSG)


I remember school mornings when I was a kid being a mixture of hectic and sluggish. I would have to force myself out of bed, force myself to eat breakfast, and force myself to stay awake as I got ready for my walk or bus ride to school, sometimes not succeeding at this and facing a long ride to school in my mother's car, which generally included phrases like, "Seriously?" and "We literally live five feet from the school."

On cold mornings, it would involve sitting on the heat vent in my room, the living room, or the dining room completely dressed, half awake, and eating a pop tart, watching for the bus. I was ready for school. I was waiting for the bus. I was not watching the clock. But it was cool, because I had my shoes on, my backpack on standby, and I had an extremely portable breakfast in the form of a toaster pastry. I was prepared.

I have been on pins and needles this week. As I mentioned before in exceptional prose, I asked God for a big thing this week. As a rule, I do not like to ask God for big things. They aren't safe and I'm not emotionally stable enough to handle the answer of "no" on big things. So for me, it's typically better to just chill out, casually whisper the occasional hint towards God that I might like that big thing please, and step back into line. Boldness is something I don't do.

But then God did something I didn't like. He asked me to be bold. He did what I asked Him to do. He showed me clearly what it was that I was supposed to do and when I asked Him for signs, He delivered. I asked God to have someone tell me, to show me that I wasn't being crazy, and He did. I asked God to start opening doors. And He did. I asked God to do five things so that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this big, crazy, insane thing was actually HIM and not my psychotic tendencies. And within two days, He did....four of those. The thing with miracles is that they set the bar. It is so easy to see things fall into place so quickly, to get that phone call in the break room at work that sign number four has just come through and have to refrain from running laps so as not to alarm your co-workers. It's easy to get caught up in the emotion and hype and just know that you're going to get home and God is going to come down in a flash of light and confetti, shouting, "BEHOLD!" and you're just going to know and revival will burst forth in the land because come on guys, God had confetti. 

But it hasn't worked that way, and I'm going to have a moment of complete transparency here, guys.

That freaking scares me.

I am, by nature, an aggressive planner. Everything gets planned with exact, timeline precision to the point where I've even altered the way that I use work software for scheduling callbacks and it drives my boss crazy but it improves my efficiency so he doesn't complain too much but seriously they're planned down to the minute and that's just not normal.

So when God comes in and tells me to trust Him, I hand him a carefully typed and laminated itinerary, as God is very busy and clearly needs me to tell Him how and when and where He should do His job.

And God looks at me and puts my itinerary through a shredder and I go into panic mode which brings me to typing this post at 7:30 AM, as I've been up for an hour because for some strange reason, I can't sleep.

And God tells me to take it a step further.

God tells me to get ready.


And I say, ".....What?"

Because that's certainly not practical. Why would you get ready if you have nowhere to go? Why would you get ready if there's no certainty in what you're about to do? Why would you take that chance and drop everything, just on a hunch that maybe God might be doing something?

Why?

Which brings me to the Passover.

As much as I adore Jewish culture, I must admit that I don't think that I would have been a very good Israelite. About the time that YHWH is putting frogs in my bread pan, I'm going to want to have some serious words with Him. Actually, forget that. About the time that I'm enslaved and He sits idly by, I'm going to have some words with Him.

So then this guy shows up and starts talking to Pharaoh, who sounds an awful lot like Ralph Fiennes, and crazy things start happening under the premise of, "Hey, let my people go."

By plague three, I'm hopeful. By plague six, I'm scared. By plague ten, I'm pretty sure that Pharaoh is just the most stubborn person on the planet and I am no longer maintaining hope that I'm getting out of there.

(I'd just like to reiterate that this is just an example of my unfaith, with much creative license taken. Any resemblance to actual Exodus Israelites is purely coincidental.)

So after all of this, this guy is still telling me that I should trust God because He's going to get us out of there. He tells me that not only should I trust God, but I should eat this fun bread that we're not leavening and also I should be dressed and have my shoes on, because we're in a rush now apparently.

God's telling me to eat standing up, with my shoes on, and my staff in hand so that I'm prepared to make a quick exit.

So I do it, and lo and behold, He saves me. \

This passage keeps coming back to me this week. The idea of "get ready and see what happens" is not one that I'm a fan of. Because it doesn't make any sense.

But I honestly don't have any better ideas.

So I guess I'll just put my shoes on.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Big

"This is crazy, right?"

This is the sentence that has come out of my mouth at least twenty three times this weekend. I deliver my dramatic saga and my big plans, my impossible plans to innocent bystanders and then practically beg them to commit me to an insane asylum because I'm talking madness. 

When I was a kid, I used to stand in SuperChurch and sing an old song. 

"My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty; there's nothing that He cannot do."

And then I stopped being a kid.

My prayers started having addendums.

My prayers started having exclusions.

"Lord, you are an omnipotent God, but...."
"Lord, I know that you did this for that person but I...."

I have become a slave to "but". 

I enjoy my logic. 

I enjoy the fact that I seek to know all the aspects of what it is I am doing before I jump.

I was always THAT kid. The kid who would stand on the edge of the diving board, while everyone chanted, "JUMP!" behind me, waiting for me to decide that this calculated risk was indeed worth the drop. 

I don't like to jump.

I don't like to make rash decisions. 

So what do I do when God practically shouts at me to do just that?

What do I do when God bursts into my comfort zone and starts demolishing walls like He owns the place? 

Because he does own the place.

What do I do when God tells me to forget everything that makes good and perfect sense and listen to Him?

What do I do when God tells me to sell all of my preconcieved ideas and notions and fears and just...follow...Him?

Because God...that's just so...big.

My God is so big. So strong. And so mighty. There's nothing that He cannot do.

Except.

No. 

Not except. 

No exceptions. 

I am not an exception.

I am His child and He promised me that He would never leave me or forsake me.

He promised me that His word would not return void.

And He promised me that He had plans for me. Plans to give me a hope and a future.

My Father wants only good gifts for His children.

So why do I think He won't do good by me?

Because it's big.

I am literally standing in front of the Almighty God that encompasses the whole of the universe and telling him that my problem is big.

Too big for Him.

And the perspective drowns me.

The perspective that I am weeping about a raindrop in a great ocean. About a grain of sand on a vast beach. 

That I am telling God that I think that His perfect ways are not enough for me and my problem's bigness.

And I am humbled.

I am humbled at God's grace and my foolishness and I fall to my knees because I cannot stand before the one that is truly Big. 

So He picks me up and takes my problem in His hands. And He asks me, "Is that all?"

And I tell him yes, sheepishly though, because I realize now how completely ridiculous it all is. 

And He smiles at me and puts me down on the path where He wants me and He points towards the horizon where my future and all the things He has made from me stand.

And they are big. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Few Things That Happened Today


  1. I got some constructive criticism on a short story that I had posted earlier this week. The person was from the UK and stated that they "really liked it, except for the fact that September is a really rainy time in London."
    • Literally the second paragraph of said story included, "It was raining, not at all unusual for London in September." What. Also, I used the term "petrichor" to stress said raininess.
  2. I got dual monitors at work today. This is delightful for my efficiency, but horrible for my claustrophobia. Tiny cubicles were not meant for two computers.
  3. I had a customer today whose name, his actual name, was Mr.Darcy. I literally asked Mr.Darcy how I could help him with his bill. The restraint I had to use to not go full British on him was Herculean. 
  4. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not what you'd call exciting, but wonderful nonetheless. 
You'll have to excuse me as I've seriously had 9 hours of sleep in the past two days and therefore this is about the best excuse for a post that I can muster. I have something half done for tomorrow which should be delightful. I promise. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Hate Writing

Guys, I hate writing.

I really and actually hate writing.

It's not that I don't like writing to you fine people. Both of you are delightful. Blogging is a different thing altogether. There is no pressure with blogging aside from the fact that sometime it's 11 PM on Sunday night and you realize you've written nothing and so you panic and write a haiku about a convention that has ended by that time (without you being present, for which I'm still seeking therapy). There's no pressure about semantics and structure and flow and I can just say anything I want really and not have to worry about if it's in keeping with my main idea or, in the situation that you are basing your story's roots off of another story, that your plot points match up with those of the story from which you are drawing inspiration.

And perhaps the most frustrating part of all is that sometimes you have all the ideas and your story has a brilliant point and meaning and your beginning and ending are cemented and you know what's going to go into the middle but have no idea how to execute it. Which probably explains why in the middle of writing my current project, I smacked my head against Lenny the Laptop last night and proclaimed, "I WANT TO AUTHOR BUT I DON'T WANT TO WRITE ANYMORE!"

Because that's true. I enjoy the end product of the craft of writing, seeing my words come together and my heroes prevail and villains die slow and painful deaths or completely go all Moffat on everyone and make everyone die and weep and just pain and feels. I enjoy putting my stories out there to be read and enjoyed and typically given positive feedback except for those people that feel the need to backhand their compliments with, "I like it even though..."

(A note: Do not hedge when giving your beloved writer feedback. I will hear your feedback as one of two things. "I love this. Please write more things." or "I hate this. Please crawl in a hole and die so that I never have to read your words again." I am this extreme. It's a fatal flaw.)

So you will have to excuse my frenzied and probably sporadic blogging and keep in mind that this is actually a wonderful thing because I'm just clearing my head and writing something here so that I can write good things there and that in the end, all that I really care about is the fact that I'm WRITING again and that's my favorite thing. 

But I'm sorry that you all have to read it.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

ComicCon: A Haiku

Not at ComicCon.
I am not at ComicCon.
Internal Screaming. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Things About Me That People Want To Know Apparently: Once When I Was Little

For some reason, a lot of people who have been reading my stuff, and by a lot, I mean two, have been asking about my childhood and things. These people of course, are the half of the four of you who read these ramblings and didn't know me until I got to college and had already grown into a perfectly mature and well rounded individual. (Stop laughing. It's accurate.)

You guys are in for such a disappointment. But because I have to write something everyday besides, your wish is my command. 

I was always a pretty awkward child. I was bookish and a giant nerd with huge glasses and excessive collections of Beanie Babies and Lisa Frank folders, with just about every copy of Babysitters Club ever published. 

I avoided intercessory prayer like the plague through most of the year that I was eight because I was honestly and sincerely afraid that I would get the Holy Ghost and that was freaking scary. Also, when I got baptized, I made my grandfather hold onto the baptismal robe because I was thoroughly convinced that if I did not, my pastor WOULD drop me and I WOULD drown and I would meet Jesus directly upon the fulfillment of my sins being washed away. 

I used giant words completely out of context for the sake of using my Gifted vocabulary words and people would often look at me like, "What?" and say how adorable I was but then probably go home and tell their kids not to play with me because let's face it, I was the paste eater. 

There. I said it. 

But honestly, aside from the fact that I cultivated (and have managed to maintain) a high level of nerdom, I had a pretty typical childhood. I was an only child until I was nearly ten and I didn't have a lot of friends, but the friends I did have, I would spend all my time with, and also, I liked to play in mud. I liked blocks and Barbies and hot wheels and Barbies and porcelain dolls and Barbies and also liked Barbies. I was convinced that I was going to be a ballerina, as was demonstrated by the fact that I would occasionally lock myself in the bathroom with a poofy white slip and the soundtrack from Anastasia and demonstrate said mad skills. 

I saw myself as a wonderous, delightful person that could solve all the world's problems and was insistent of the idea that earthworms really did want to be cut into little pieces because it was good because of health reasons. When I was in fourth grade, I was certain that I had developed a cure for cancer, which was probably mostly related to the fact that this was the same year that my grandmother died of cancer. I wanted to be Jane Goodall and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Eva Peron, probably because I didn't realize the extreme fascism endorsed by the latter of the three and I wanted to save the monkeys and liberate Argentina and I wanted to WRITE, to the point where my childhood best friend and I decided that we were going to sieze a great number of the church bulletins each week and colorfully advertise for our book service where we would write books for you at the low, low price of $1. We got five payments up front that equalled out to absolutely no books written and the ushers discovering our entrepreneurial efforts and telling us that maybe we should hold off on until we could get some legitimate ad space. 

I wrote and illustrated a million books and wrote dramatic letters to my mother when she showed up late at the house and kept journals upon journals with colorful drawings at about the artistic level that I possess today. 

I thought boys were wonderful and would write them love letters and then ask them why they didn't write me back and then get completely heartbroken when I learned that they didn't like me and that some might consider compulsive letter writing to one who does not share your romantic interest, even at age nine, a bit creepy and that maybe you should stop it, you weirdo. I flirted and batted my eyelashes and threw snowballs and decided that I needed to become whatever it was that guys actually liked until I finally realized that I still don't know what guys actually want and so maybe I should stop and be myself. 

I was spirited and strong willed and stubborn and the anthromorphization of the little girl with a little girl right in the middle of her forehead, where I could be completely delightful to all those around me in public, but be a complete and total brat behind closed doors. 

My childhood was the beginning of insane clutziness from which to this day I have not recovered. I got stitches in my foot from jumping off of the back of a parked pickup truck onto a fencepost and I have a scar on my lip from chasing the family dog around, scaring  him by barking into a wrapping paper tube. I lost my footing on a step and ended up splitting my lip and didn't get stitches, but I did probably inspire collagen implants in women worldwide. I have a scar on my arm from a hotel stay during an ice storm where my brother and I decided to run down the hall and I slammed into a fire extinguisher box and ended up with a delightful gash to which my parents reacted with, "Well you shouldn't have been running."

I loved chicken nuggets and corn dog nuggets and pretty much any food that could be classified under the distinction as "nugget or nugget like" including Pizza Rolls. I preferred Kid Cuisine to my grandmother's famous lasagna and when Bruce Willis dipped his fries in his Frosty in "The Kid" it changed my life in the most radical way ever. 

I cried about everything, whether I was sympathizing or empathizing or I had chopped off too much of my Barbie's hair (a mortal sin if ever there was one). I cried with joy when I got the lead in the church Christmas play or when I ONLY got a solo in the Easter play and when someone made the mistake of letting me watch "My Girl" and that one girl proclaimed through sobs that Macauley Culkin couldn't see without his glasses. I cried so much that my eventual downward spiral into severe depression when I became a teenager went fairly unnoticed until my mom found some rather dark journal entries and confronted me about it. The depression made me cynical and the cynicism turned into dark humor and eventually, once I semi-recovered, the dark humor turned into dry sarcasm, which then evolved into my awesomely adult self. 

And so basically the question that I got asked was to describe my upbringing in terms of the religion and dreams and perception and ultimately, whether or not that person survived, to which I'd have to admit the answer is not a solid yes and it's not a solid no.

I think the whole depression thing sort of cryogenically froze her and she gets melted a little each day and someday, maybe, if we're all super unlucky, she'll come back and wreak havoc on the world. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

On Why You Might Be Wrong About Single People And Their Motivations For Marriage

Today, I found the most glorious article that has ever been published.

I seriously read it and wanted to immediately leap up and do a praise dance while angels sang the hallelujah chorus in the background.

This article. This one right here. Click it. Please click it. Because I need you to understand. And I want to explain you a thing. 

Have you read it? For real?

Good. Let's begin.

First of all, I'd just like to say that to those of you guilty of saying these things or related things, for the most part, have the right intent. And I understand that. If you are married or engaged or in a serious relationship, I get that having your single friend mope about (and please know that when I say single friend, I am purely talking about myself and my own motivations and actions. Some may follow suit. Others may not. I can only speak from my own experience and nothing more.)....anyway, I know that it can be frustrating to have a single friend mope about, seemingly constantly depressed or lamenting about their unattached status. I know that on more than one occasion, you have probably wanted to strangle me. I know that I'm annoying. And I'm sorry.

And I know that when you say things like those listed in the above article...or when you look at me, sigh and go, "You just don't know how lucky you are not to be attached to someone."....I know that you are really, seriously trying to ease the pain and give me some perspective.

But can you please understand that sometimes, I do not want to hear your words of misguided consolation. Because I have heard them all before. And believe me. On some days, I can completely accept and understand what you're saying. I have to admit, I do enjoy the freedom that comes from "the gift of singleness". Last fall, I took off to Canada on two days notice for no other reason than I just felt like it. There was no one to clear this with or check in with. I just got in my car and went.

Even though none of them have come to fruition yet, I am aware that there are a million opportunities at my disposal if I just find the means and/or the drive to take hold of them. I am aware that, given the financial capability to do so, I could hypothetically pack up and move wherever I wanted, do whatever I wanted, see whoever or whatever I wanted, at whatever time I chose to set out and do so.

I am aware of these freedoms.

I am also keenly aware of the fact that marriage requires extreme selflessness and the giving of one's time and energy and, yea, even one's body at times to another person. I know that this is not always fun and goes past the poofy white dress and the tux and the flowers and rings and cake and gift registries. I am aware that a wedding is not a marriage and therefore when single people discuss their weddings because they find them delightful and beautiful rites of passage, please stop reminding them over and over again that this is the case as though they are not aware and have only the material desire for a party than for an actual lasting and meaningful commitment that coincides with said festivities.

I am aware that marriage is not about happily after, nor will it be exciting or filled with love and emotion and enthusiasm at all times. I am aware that between the big things that people snapshot and hang on their walls, there are bills to be paid, routines to maintain, toilet bowls to clean, kids to cart off to soccer practice, annoying pet peeves that he will just not stop even though he annoys you when he does that thing and for the love of God won't he just stop already? I know that sometimes you will be incredibly angry and that at some point, one or both of you are going to want to just call the whole thing a wash and get out but you don't because at the beginning of each day you choose that person to stick it out with for better or for worse, because contrary to the reality of "all we want is a wedding", I am aware that your vows are something to be mindful of every day and not just once in a church in front of your friends and family before they throw some rice at you and yell "Mazel tov!"

You see, it's not the fact that we, or I, as a single person, believe that my life will be complete once I find that special someone with class and a British accent to whisk my off on a white horse into the sunset. It's not that I need or want anyone to kiss my problems away because I am all too aware of the fact that no one but God has the power of full and utter completion in my heart and in my life. If you have ever met me, you know that I can pretty well handle myself and if any man were to insinuate that I needed him or that he completed me, he would find himself with a fist in the place where his teeth used to be.

Because, you see, dear encouragers, the problem is not that I do not appreciate my freedom or enjoy the opportunity in Christ that would surely avail itself were I to accept Jesus as my Lord and Husband. Nor is it that I spend my every waking moment travailing that Prince Charming is out there and I must go out there and kiss all of the frogs and hunt him down and find him.

In fact, the problem is actually not a problem at all.

It is the very thing that leads you to look at your spouse each morning and think (okay, not always) "I'm glad I decided to do this." You have chosen a person that will (barring extreme circumstances) be there, walking alongside of you, for the rest of your life. You have chosen that person that will share in the achievement of goals, the breaking of dreams, the building of homes, and the furthering of purpose and ministry and the things that make life and the world a wonderful place. At some point, when you got married, you decided that this person was the person that got to do that all with you because traveling by yourself is not fun all the time and there's no longer roadtrip than the one that we call life and maybe that single person that you're trying desperately to encourage just wants a traveling companion to drink YooHoo  and eat Twinkies and sing "The Wheels on The Bus" loudly while they truck along trying to make it to the finish line.

For me, the man is not the end goal.

But I would greatly enjoy having someone when my GPS tells me that I'm arriving at my destination to high five and say, "Yes! We made it!"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Deepest Post In The History of Ever

This is what you post when you've been doing nothing but mind numbing things all day.

I'm sorry to those of you who thought that 24 days of writing meant 24 days of quality writing.

But as you can see, before my announcing that I was actually going to be posting, I hadn't written anything since March.

So I am allowing myself to take this in baby steps and not feel bad about the fact that I have done absolutely nothing stimulating today.

Because sometimes you need those days.

Hopefully, I will have deep thoughts tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things About Me That People Want To Know Apparently: Why I Love The Doctor

About a year ago, I was working third shift in a candle factory enduring hours of incredible boredom and stress and candle wax. The job is not what you would call "fun" by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, most days it turned me into a horrible person that I did not recognize, nor enjoy being. 

However, in the midst of the wax and the strong scents and the blood blisters caused by foolishly putting your hand on the gap where two conveyor belts meet, I met some very interesting people and learned about some very interesting things. 

One of these things had to do with a mad man in a box. A blue box to be exact. And, from what I could understand from conversation, he was also an alien. This honestly sounded like the most boring thing on the face of the planet and I could not understand why I was wasting my time hearing about it, nor could I understand why people would waste their time watching such a thing. 

I don't even remember now what made me cave one day, but I remember going home one morning and watching the episode "Blink" and deciding that I would now and forever be terrified of weeping angel statues. From the line, "Life is short and you are hot," I was hooked. The only problem was that I was smack in the middle of the third (revived) season. Which meant going back and watching from the beginning of the (revived) series. 

This would be no problem, I thought. It would be fun, I thought. It would not have the potential to crush all that was good and wonderful in my heart and soul and make my feels cry for mercy.

If you think any of those things about Doctor Who, by the way, you are so very, very wrong. 

It will hurt so much. You will sob and rock back and forth in a corner and if you don't, you probably aren't watching it right. 

Before I get to in depth here, it's important to note that the reason I keep emphasizing that I've seen the entire (revised) series, is that there are basically two classes of Doctor Who fans, known affectionately as Whovians. 

Classic Whovians refers to a group of people who appreciate the series as a whole, and by appreciate, I mean have actually watched the whole thing. The show will have been around for fifty years this November, which will be marked by a simply fantastic anniversary special, and these people have seen most, if not all. Some of these have gone all the way back to the first Doctor, and a subsection of these have started somewhere in the middle of Classic Who, generally about the fourth Doctor. 

New Age Whovians refer to the group that got in a little late in the game, either starting with the ninth Doctor (Chris Eccleston), the tenth Doctor (David Tennant and his companion, amazing freaking seductive hair), or the eleventh, and most recent, Doctor (Matt Smith, who will be leaving at Christmas) These people sometimes have basic or extensive knowledge of Classic Who (I'd just like to admit up front that I am not one of those people) and some have none at all (like me).  

It is possible to be both of these, but at this moment, because I haven't got around to watching Classic Who, qualify solidly as a New Age Whovian.  

To the casual observer, a few things to be aware of will be the main cause of disagreements within the Whovian fandom. These are, generally, but certainly not limited to:

  1. Who is/was the best Doctor? (For some background, The Doctor is the main character of Doctor Who. His name is The Doctor. Not Doctor Who. This is very important. He is a Time Lord. He is from the planet Gallifrey, which was destroyed many, many years ago. And he is about 900 years old. It's really important that you don't try to understand this without watching the show. Even if you've been watching the show it will probably make your head hurt. Just go with it.)
  2. Who is/are/was/were the best companion(s)? (A Note: A companion is an individual that travels with The Doctor for either an extended period of time or a brief period of time. The companion is typically female, but occasionally male. Typically younger, but occasionally old. They will stick around long enough for you to get attached to them and then they will either die or get stuck in a parallel universe. This will happen. Accept it and be prepared.)
This is an extremely divisive issue, as we are all nerds and don't really have anything better to argue about. For the record, my favorite Doctor is David Tennant and my favorite companion is a solid draw between the Ponds and Donna Noble. If you're a Whovian you understand this reference and if you are not, just smile and read along and pretend like you understand.

Furthermore, if you're a Whovian, you will understand that River Song is my favorite in general, but really doesn't qualify as a companion. She's just River.

The show itself, as I mentioned, and as you've probably gathered from my brief and very simplified (I'm serious) synopsis, is incredibly complicated and were it not for Tumblr, I probably would have missed a LOT. However, it has the addictive properties found in things such as crack cocaine, so it's pretty easy to get invested.

On a shallow level, the writing is fantastic. The fact that the show can maintain 47 different story arcs that intersect and reappear over the course of fifty years AND maintain SOLID continuity is nothing short of spectacular. Anyone familiar with the River Song story arc and all of the heart wrenching feels involved can certainly attest to this. The characters are easy to love (save this most recent season's companion, with whom I take great issue) and relate to and are just overall incredibly entertaining. Dry British humor at its finest with pop culture references not so subtly dropped throughout. Honestly, there are very few things from the BBC that I do not find magical.

However, it is important to not reduce Doctor Who down to just a means for entertainment. The biggest thing that I love about it is that you can't help get an overwhelming sense that the writers are trying to teach you something throughout the whole thing. Things like, "You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before." The fact that diversity is not only appreciated, but also emphasized and praised. Over and over again, there is an overwhelming undertone that people, any kind of people, old people, young people, rich people, poor people, white, black, beige, or green and scaly people are just as important. Each person contributes something to time and space and life and without that one person, that one seemingly insignificant individual, life would never, ever be the same. 

And so for these reasons, I encourage you to take it in. 
Absorb it.
Enjoy it. 
But whatever you do...
Don't blink.