Friday, December 30, 2011

What is it?

i've been thinking about this a lot lately.  what is it?  what is it, really?

i've been asking myself this question for the past few weeks and haven't really come up with a solid answer.  so i'll ask it on my blog.  what is it, really, that makes someone want to read about someone else's life?  whether it's a blog, or a celebrity biography.  I have found myself intrigued with certain celebrity's lives.  the first book i read about a celebrity was Portia de Rossi. Her book is called Unbearable Lightness.  it was so good. it's her story of how she fell into her eating disorders, annorexia and bullemia.  it started when she was 12, at her first photo shoot.  the photographers asked her if she worked out. she answered sheepishly and said no.  the photographer suggested that she start because her "ass is too flabby."  (pardon the language, im just quoting.)  I found that to be intriguing. why? because i used to be 12. and when i was 12, i wasn't really worried about my backside being too flabby.  (i don't really have a backside to begin with) i was worried about whether or not the boys on my summer street hockey team would pass me the ball because i was a girl.

For Christmas, my sister bought me Ellen DeGeneres's new book.  i LOVE Ellen.  yea, she's a lesbian. guess what, I DON'T CARE! She does more good than some of the Christians in this world.  (there i said it.)  Anyway...I guess i'm intrigued because these people, these celebrities...they are people too. they were 12 one time.  And to hear a celebrity air her laundry about her eating disorders in such graphic, vulnerable detail...is commendable.  it's role model-ish. 

After i read Portia's book, is when i noticed i started to become more vulnerable in my own blogs.  not to gain noteriety from the handful of people that read it from my facebook or twitter page...but because that's what people want.  they want real.  they want muck.  they want mush.  they want heart.  and if that's what they want...well,  i'll give it to them...but not because that's what they want. but because that's what i want.  it would be a terrible waste to walk this earth for however many more years i have left and not allow people to really truly know who i am, to the core.  I've already shared a great chunk of my life through this blog and the funny thing, is that i noticed the stats on my blog posts have jumped from about roughly 6-10 clicks to about 30-50 clicks each post.  and that isn't to puff up my head (it's puffy enough.) 

It made me realize that when i started to shed light on who i really am, of course more people want to read the real stuff.  too much of today's society is airbrushed, photoshopped, diet-pilled. people aren't really interested in that garbage.  not anymore.  So i'll use this tiny, minute soap box platform to delve a little deeper.

I've ALWAYS always wanted to be...a writer.  always. since i was little. I was a master speller, grammar freak, English/Literature class extraordinaire.  I'm still most of those things.  Once i went to Bible school, though, i shoved that dream. Why? Because i was at Bible school. I had to be a pastor. or a worship leader.  not a measly writer.  besides...there were people that were far greater than me at grammar, punctuation, research papers, eloquently written reports.  i couldn't possibly measure up to any of them. 
so i didn't write. and now...i do.  even if it is on this tiny, minute soap box platform. and some day, i want to write a book. 

the written word has such great power. it can touch hearts, set captives free and the one thing i always want to do every time i click "publish" is to offer some kind of truth and hope to whomever reads these posts.  i pray every time i sit at my computer that each word, phrase, quote, funny story, punctuation mark and picture moves those that read it.  Helps others to understsand that they aren't alone. There's a real person that sits behind these words. and a real heart that beats with passion to write with clarity and truth.  grace and healing.  and most importantly, vulnerability. 

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Please. Have yourself a Merry little Christmas

This has got to be my favorite Christmas song. it's a close tie between that and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. 
Anyway. I know for a lot of us and the rest of the world, Christmas is a favorite holiday. And i got to thinking a couple days ago...people say how much they just LOVE Christmas time. updating facebook status...hash tagging...instagram. i love it. and it makes me happy to see all the happiness about Christmas. then you see 10 minutes later something negative about Christmas...how it's stressful. from the same person that updated about how amazing Christmas is. i just laugh. 
today i was thinking, (i think a lot, can you tell?) can every day REALLY be like Christmas? Can we still listen to "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" on March 2nd? Can we belt out, "Oh Holy Night" and "Joy to the World" in the middle of Summer?  we don't really have to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to be thankful and excited for the birth of Christ...which is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  well...it's the reason i do. 

I remember when i was little...i made note of all the steps that would squeak and crack under my feet the morning of Christmas. i would do my best to avoid those ones...at like 4 in the morning.  To make sure Santa proved my innocence that year. and every year, i was good. there were always gifts under the tree. there were always footie pajamas that my sister and i wore every year until we were like, 10. and there was always a feeling that 'there must be something more than ripping to shreds this wrapping paper.'
turns out there was. i just didn't know it yet.

On my drive home from our Christmas Eve service at church tonight (which, by the way, i spent my time in my pjs and slippers, eating popcorn and drinking juice boxes with 1st-5th graders) i smiled as i drove past all of the lights lit up in the yards and strung on houses and lawn ornaments. There's a specific house that has a HUGE front window that is nearly the length of the house. They have an immaculate Christmas tree. Every year, i slow down and stare at it in awe and smile.  driveways were packed with cars. including mine.  and i smiled.  As i came closer to my house, i was nearly overwhelemed to tears as a song played on a CD i made full of Christmas tunes. It's called 'Because of Your Love'. it's not even a Christmas song. but it so could be.
the lyrics moved me so greatly.  i swallowed my tears of gratefulness. please read the lyrics.
Jesus you endured my pain
Savior you bore all my shame
All because of your love

Maker of the universe
Broken for the sins of the earth
All because of your love
All because of your love

Because of your cross my debt is paid
Because of you blood my sins are washed away
Now all of my life, I freely give
Because of your love, Because of your love I live

Innocent and Holy king
You died to set the captive free
All because of your love
Lord you gave your life for me
So I will live my life for you
All because of your love
All because of your love

Because of your cross my debt is paid
Because of your blood my sins are washed away
Now all of my life I freely give
Because of your love, because your love I live

You did it for me, you did it for love
I'ts your victory, Jesus you are enough x3
 
I've had myself a Merry litthe Christmas and it's not even Christmas yet...
i'll be honest...i've gotten some pretty spiffy gifts already...but that's not why my Christmas has been merry.  my Christmas has been merry because of the people i've spent my time with.

it always seems like at the tail end of the Christmas season, i seem to habitually reflect back upon my year and every single year...despite the landslides, the sorrows, the hardships...i ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. always.  as i reflect on this past year...wow.  God has never been more real to me. I've never felt more at peace. i've never felt more 'fit in'


and those are things ya just can't stick under a tree. even one as pretty   as mine.  ;)   all 9 feet of it.

Merry Christmas. i hope all that read my blog posts are blessed and encouraged and challenged.  May God be ever present in your lives as He has faithfully been in mine.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The one that got away:aka the one I didn't REALLY wanna publish

Rarely do I allow my posts to shed even a sliver of light to the very depth of my being. Why? Because I'm scared. Of what? You. I'm scared of you and what you'll think after you read it. Im scared that by the end (or even before the end) you'll have already decided to never read another word I write. You'll have already decided that "ok, this one...I'm not entirely sure about." a few times I've gone there. And those times too I was scared of judgement. But now I know...the thing that people really want these days out of other people...is authenticity. So I share the truth. The realness. Jesus saved me. And I would be remissed to not share at least that. God is the one I model. Or try to...and I'm human. So I know I've failed. But His grace never does. His love never fails. So now, really for the first time ever, I share the whole me. The one that is lead by God and loved by God. (hey. So are you)

In the early morning hours, You are there. When the sun still sleeps...You're there and awake. You never tire. You never sleep. Whether the moon is full or a sliver in the darkest of skies, You are there. When I'm asleep or afar...You never are. God. There's only 1. You didn't complicate that. But I do. As I've wandered aimlessly in my own wilderness, You were always my compass, gently guiding me back home. Never truly knowing what I was looking for, I secretly hoped I would find You. But I was never lost. Only searching. My knees feel weak at the thought of Your sacrifice, Your second chance for me to be free. My heart aches with heaviness as I conclude Your love really does permeate to the very depths of the hidden parts of my wounded heart. My weathered soul. My head falls heavy on my shoulders as I realize there's nothing I've ever done or will do that would cause You to turn away Your face. My arms feel like bench presses when they are lifted in surrender. Dependent upon Your grace. Finally. And perfectly. I am a dependent.

Monday, December 19, 2011

sometimes the best option just pisses people off

i don't normally blog or talk about publicly my anger. it actually takes a lot to make my blood boil. it's kind of interesting what does make me mad. this made me mad today.

i pulled into the effronterous (annoying, stupid, awkward) parking lot at wal-mart (like seriously, can't you just make your parking lot normal like all the other stores? one where you don't have to guess which way you're supposed to drive thru it? parking on an angle? anyway...there's my beef. When i got there, there was a truck parked next to me. i was driving my dad's big truck to run errands for him and my mom. so. 2 big trucks parked next to each other in a wal-mart parking lot. i'd accomplished much already and it wasn't even 1 in the afternoon yet. the passenger got out and pulled out an amigo from the bed of the pickup. i was confused b/c the driver that helped pull it out could walk fine.

so i got out, and went in the store.  when i came back, they were still there, messing with the amigo. then i got in the truck and realized the person that couldn't walk (like, seriously, i think both her legs were fake) was sitting in the back of the truck. the driver and the passenger were sliding her out of the back of the truck and into the amigo. which was parked right in front of my driver side bumper. so rather than get irritated, i weighed my options.

1.) i wasn't really in a hurry. i could wait.
2.) i didn't want to back this huge truck up in a wal-mart parking lot to go the other way. but i am a good driver.
3.) i could adjust and go out the opposite way so the people helping the crippled person into the chair didn't feel rushed.

i decided to go with number 3. i put it in reverse, with finnesse, backed it up, readjusted and went around the truck.  the driver, thru his tinted sunglasses i could tell, was grateful. he smiled a huge smile and waved as a thank you gesture. i returned the gesture and a smile. when i swung out, a lady in a small SUV was coming up the aisle. i knew we'd have a problem. i wasn't gonna fit thru with this huge truck. if it were my small SUV, i woulda cleared it no problem. but it HAS been awhile since i've been called a stupid b****.

the lady, clearly flaming mad, kept driving towards me. seriously? then realized the obvious and threw her car into reverse, quite rapidly and abruptly and moved. then readjusted (hey...kinda like what i did!) then we both fit thru and i wanted to roll down my window to tell her the reason why i had done such a stupid thing to ruin her entire day, but when i looked over to do so, she was shaking her head and mouthed the words, "What a stupid b****."

sorry for ruining your day, lady. i was just trying to make someone else's a little easier.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the opposite of hating potato skins

I never used to be a fan of Sunday's. I'd have the intention, on Saturday night, of going to church in the morning. And then at 8 when my alarm ignorantly buzzed...I'd shut it off and try to think of some lame excuse as to why I JUST COULDN'T MAKE IT! Trust me, they were so lame. Now...Saturday nights, as I lie in bed thanking God for the furnace that faithfully turns on when the house temp drops to below 70 degrees, i feel, if only slightly, the same butterfly-in-my-stomach feeling I get the night before Christmas. I'm excited to go to church. And instead of thinking of a lame excuse to skip it, I try to think of a good excuse to stay for both services. This past Sunday, I had a really good excuse to not stay for both services.

He's 6. and we had a date. It started out like any other date with a 6 year old would; with a blue raspberry slushy and a beef jerky stick. His favorite snack. He says its his favorite. Then he said from the back seat, "Erica. I'm like my dad you know why?"
I said, "No Bradley. Will you tell me?"
he said, "because we both like beef jerky. And we like the same things."
I said, "what things do you like?"
he said, "well we both like jerky, we both like the same stores." then he said, "are we almost there? This isn't the way we normally go to your house."
"You're right, Bradley. I remember there's a spot on our drive where you know we are almost to my house and it looks familiar to you. But this time, I drove the opposite way."
Silence.
I knew the word 'opposite' threw him for a loop.
He asked, "Erica, what does opposite mean?"
Crap. How do I explain this. That was my thought. So I used the best example I could. I said, "ok. So if I said that someone was tall, the opposite of that word is short. Does that make sense?"
He answered confidently, "Yes!" So I decided to test my teaching.
I said, "Ok, Bradley. If I said something was big, what would be the opposite of that word?"
without any hesitation he shouted, "small!" As selfish as it may seem, I was quite proud that I had just taught a 6 year old such a big word.
"Bradley. What's the opposite of left?" "Right!" "ok what's the opposite of boy?" "Girl!"

I did it. What a successful car ride. I did all that with a Bible major and a youth minor. Ha! Ok. I'm done. So the real reason he came over wasn't to learn opposites. That was a bonus. Bradley came over to make some ornaments to hang on his tree. And oh my goodness. He's good. I knew, however, that once we got to my house, we weren't going to dive straight into the craft. I showed him what we were making and he was excited. Then he remembered I have Super Mario Brothers for the wii. He anxiously waited for me to set it up. Then we both sat on the ottoman and I was Luigi. And he was Mario. We played for about an hour and then we made the ornaments. Well, he made them while I secretly documented the day with pictures on my iPod.

He usually doesn't like when we ask to take pictures. But when I asked him for a picture with me, there was no hesitation. We ate lunch. Which consisted of his favorite snack...other than beef jerky...potato skins. He loves them. Opposite of love...hate. He opposite of hates potato skins. after potato skins, he wanted to draw. Actually, he wanted me and a friend to have a draw-off.

One of my friends dropped by. Bradley wanted us to draw a car and he and a panel of judges would judge our drawings and deliberate to choose a winner. I totally played to his 6 year old mind. I wouldn't call it cheating like my friend did...but I would call it smart. ;) I didn't just draw any car...I drew a police truck. Upon hearing his effort to whisper to my dad what we were drawing, my friend and I chuckled at what we overheard. He said to my dad, "Uncle Rick. Erica is drawing a police car. It has a siren too." I looked over at my friend and said, "I think I just won. You can stop drawing now." he kept coming and looking over our shoulders. And then Ginny wised up and played the game like i was. Earlier, Bradley was mimicking ninja moves. So Ginny drew a 'ninja' car. What does that look like? Well simply a reddish pink car with a ninja at the wheel.

After much deliberation, I made out with 2 'X's under my name and Ginny had one. I was the champion. According to a 6 year old. And I've learned, this particular 6 year old is pretty dang smart!  Let me be fair and say, in a technicality, best drawing contest, not judged by a 6 year old, Ginny would have totally demolished my slick police SUV. It was more detailed and realistic. Later on I asked Bradley why he didn't choose Ginny's car as the winner. He said, "Well it is good. But Erica, it's pink." :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where'd that come from?!?!?!?

i got it from my momma. ultimately, yes, all things come from God. that is true. but i know that my huge heart came from God...and my mom.

Every year, my mom and i go to the mall entrance near Target and (yes we eat popcorn) pick names off of the Salvation Army Giving Tree.  we discuss the cute names, then the ages, then share tears as we read the simple requests written on these tags.  Sally. age 2. baby doll.  And every year, i have the same defeating feeling.  "I want to buy all these kids everything they want."  and then feel so small in comparison to all of their needs and wants. Donovan. age 6. Thomas the Tank Engine.  i wish i could dig deeper into my wallet and find more bills. Raina. age 4. Barbie dolls.  my heart rips a little more.  Howard. age 3. coat size, 4T. likes car toys.  we pluck the tags off and race to jcpenny, straight to the winter coats. then to the clearenced jeans and hoodies.  we hold up outfits, exchange head tilts and "aww, that's so cute!" and drape it over our arms...which we wish were bigger.  Last year, my mom had a few coupons. we found shoes and some other stuff for an older teenaged boy. he wanted sneakers. with the coupon, i think we ended up spending 12 bucks. the shoes were about 4 times the amount, original sticker price.  my mom tearfully paid the lady as she expressed how grateful she was this boy would have a pair of shoes for Christmas. I shook my head and said, "oh mom" and had to walk away before i joined the waterworks. 

two years ago for Christmas, i asked my mom if for half of my Christmas presents, i could choose 2 names off of the tree and pick out gifts. she agreed.  when you finish the shopping, you bring back the items in bags and remove the price tags.  when i brought the gifts back, i had to use a Target shopping cart to bring the bags to the Salvation Army table in the mall.  as I handed over about 5 big Target bags full of clothes, toy cars and baby dolls, the older lady taking the bags started to cry. then i did.  she gave me a hug and said, "Never lose those angel wings, sweety."  I left in a hurry.

last week, my mom was shopping for the 3 little kids we picked off the tree.  she ran into an old friend that works at the store.  this friend shared the hardships her family was walking through.  my mom opened up her wallet and handed her a 50 dollar bill.  she said, "Please take this." without missing a beat...50 dollars.

yesterday, i got an email from my uncle reminding family and friends how he and my aunt adopt a family for Christmas.  they normally go thru Salvation Army or their church to find a needy family to adopt.  This year, they decided to look closer to home to see if there were any family members or close friends that were in need.  close friends of theirs recently experienced a death in the family.  last weekend. they decided to adopt them.  that family has all their basic needs covered as far as a home and food and clothes. but none are in the mood for celebrating gift-giving.  this family lost a wife and mother of 5.  my uncle shared the Christmas list of each child and the husband.  the husband had listed an umbrella.  an umbrella.  the oldest sister listed socks, tshirts and gift card. my heart sank when i kept recalling the umbrella.  such a simple request.  i ended up buying the oldest sister a pair of slippers and my mom stuck in some bath and body works lotions and sprays.  i closed the lid on the box of gifts and thought, "I wish i could do more."

'tis so much greater to give than to receive.  thanks mom.

Monday, December 5, 2011

a special Christmas blog post

oh come on. you didn't think i would? you should know me by now. what with all those words you've read and pictures you've seen...you would know me if you saw me at a Starbucks.  please.

ok. now that that's done...

so i got this thing in the mail from my place of employment. i skimmed it to see if i got a bonus for Christmas, i didn't. i immediately lost interest. but i still read it...kinda. mostly. it was a note from the hospital talking about how it offers counesling services during the holiday season free of charge to its employees because it is a stressful time of year. making sure we take time for ourselves.  it is now crumpled up in our trash, awaiting landfill real estate.  seriously. im glad that i know that service is available...during the holiday season. ya know, when people are the most stressed out. i can understand why we would need counseling...i mean, after pitching a tent in front of Best Buy for 3 days before Thanksgiving. carrying a tube of pepper spray to ward off other eager customers for that hot ticket item. yes. lets get those people some counseling. Man. i get tired of hearing that kind of stuff. i can totally understand (and sadly, relate) to the stress thing during the holiday season. but gosh...i wish i didn't. and to be honest, i don't as much as i used to.  im glad for that.
but here's the reason.

spoiler alert...Christmas isn't about how much money you spend on someone special. it's not about how many parties you get invited to. it's not about who's sweater is the ugliest (though that is fun to debate). it's not about TNT running the movie A Christmas Story 24 hours straight starting Christmas Eve at 8pm (though i do watch about 15 hours of that). and it's not about some jolly old fella wearing a red suit, eating your cookies, drinking your milk, brining you what you want for Christmas and all the pretty wrapping paper. it's just not.  those would be the reasons why we stress.  making sure we get that last Xbox, iPod, iPhone, laptop. and if we don't...screaming at the khaki-wearing sales clerk that earns about the amount that 2 gallons of gas costs per hour to listen to that malarky. 

im not a Scrooge. i promise. I love Christmas. and i love giving gifts to people.  i love going shopping for them. i love having to think of something to top the gift i got last year.  and yes...i do love ripping open gifts. sitting on the floor in my flannel pajamas, sitting cross-legged, trying to act like im 25 and not 6. eating a piece of candy out of my stocking for breakfast.  I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS! i really do. 

but jeeze.  thanking God for sending His one and only Son to this earth so that we could be free from our horrid junk...the only person that should be stressed during the holiday season...is Him! we can't even say Merry Christmas without a lawsuit follwing it bc we've offended someone.  who are we really offending when we choose to misuse the meaning of Christmas...Him.  and does He get all discombobulated about it? No.  He knew we would screw this thing up long before He even gave Adam and Eve breath...and they both screwed it up...royally!!!

all this buying and stressing...and "happy holidays" and "30% off Holiday Trees" and "Holiday candy"
we make it difficult.  and He still loves us. can you understand and believe that? He still loves us. Still. that's better than any gift i get. He. still. loves. us. you and me. God...still loves us.  does that not blow your mind?
God's gift to us was His Son, Jesus. And we celebrate that gift on a day we call Christmas.  Every Christmas morning, when I'm getting ready, pulling on the new sweater that i probably helped my mom pick out 2 weeks ago as one of my gifts, i sob. not because i look horrible in it ( i picked it out...it's not gonna look horrible. im too picky)  but because i am overwhelemed by the blessing of God. Jesus was born in a barn, lying in a stack of hay. and He saved the world.  and if offends you...your issue is with Him, not me.  ;)

here's a link to a scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus explains the meaning of Christmas.  it gets me every time.  i hope you enjoy...


Merry Christmas.
i swear, i'm not a distant relative of Ebeneezer Scrooge. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ThanksMas

Guys. I know it's been a few days. I'm sorry. I'm not exactly a full-time blogger. And until i am...I'll continue to update my blog when i feel I have something relevant to share. And this my friends and stalkers and faithful readers, is indeed relevant. ThanksMas is relevant.

It's now an annual event. Because it's in its 2nd year. However, this will be my first ever ThanksMas. It's all the way in the village of Lima. In New York. 6 hours from New York City. 20 minutes from a Wal-mart. Best I can understand...me and a pile of my closest friends pack into one of their apartments, eat a feast, reminisce, update our busy lives, play games and watch Christmas movies. I just got super excited.

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE my life here in Michigan. Mostly because I know it's 'home' but most important, because i know i am smack dab in the middle of God's plan for me. But can someone 'amen' a little getting away time??? I will. Amen! I know my expectations for this annual event will be exceedingly met. I am picturing awkward moments over a mouthful of turkey. A glob of gravy that winds up on my shirt even though I don't eat gravy. I am notorious for spilling stuff on my clothes. Hugging my favorite people. Cramming everyone on the floor and couches around a game and movie. And a heart, easily full, of gratitude, for the people God has allowed onto the path of my journey.

 It'll be a short visit (only a weekend) because life doesn't just stop when you're away. Commitments and responsibilities and jobs still exist back home. But it will still be a weekend away from the hustle and bustle and yes, even the stresses of life.

To my New York friends, I miss you. And I love you. And I'll see you on Friday. To my blog-reading friends and followers, thank you for checking in. I'm blown away that anyone would want to read about my life. I hope you continue to read my posts and allow my words to bring, among hopefully many other things, slivers of life, beams of hope and gobs of truth.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And His name is Jesus.

Ok. So obviously Jesus isn't a mystical chubby man with a hankering for milk and cookies that has a knack for fitting thru pencil thin chimneys. Or a key to every house without a chimney. And no. Jesus doesn't have little elf people busily tinkering with Jack-in-the-box or fastening wii game systems together. But there is one thing they have in common: they both give gifts. And I'm convinced...even if you're on the 'naughty' list, you'd still get a gift. Even from Jesus.

So much hustle and bustle around this time. I think people use Thanksgiving as more of a checkpoint rather than a time to indulge in the real meaning. Giving thanks. And that doesnt mean giving thanks for the huge stack of Black Friday ads in the newspaper. Come on. How obsessed are we over THINGS! they are just things. Things. They will break, become obsolete, get worn once to a Christmas dinner, played once, slobbered on by the dog and shrink in the dryer. Things. It makes me sick. I've been cussed out before by a lady on Christmas Eve wanting to buy her middle schooler a laptop. I mean...clearly it was my fault that she waited until 2 hours before the store closed to start her Christmas shopping. Clearly. People don't appreciate what they have now. Or what Santa brought them last Christmas. My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I truly didn't know. I thought for a second, "nothing i ask for and nothing I do get will really make me happy. Maybe for a week."

Now that I'm older...the 'things' don't mean anything to me. They're just things. But when I can be grateful for what I have...then i know I have everything I need. And yea. My clothes need replacing. My dress shoes are almost sole-less. My car squeaks. My socks don't match when I go to bed. Our desktop computer is stoneaged. I'm too tall for my twin bed. But Jesus gives me everything I need. and most of those things aren't things at all. I have a job. I have a reliable vehicle...that I can afford and I feel safe in. My family loves me. I have a winter jacket. The people in my life are so quality I can't even understand it. I have an amazing church. And I have Jesus. And He has me. Forever.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Get me a medical degree...STAT!

Ok. So sometimes...I don't have a lot to share. And other times...my life events are kinda worth sharing. I think? Anyway. Sometimes I think I'm lucky enough to have random bursts of profoundness. Sometimes...I can be profound. Other times...blogs serve as a minute peek inside a life. How cool?! This peek inside my life proves 1 thing very profoundly...I was in the right place at the right time. Legit. I really was.

Tonight, the girls hockey team I fake help coach had an away game. I wasn't sure I'd make it back in time for my overnight shift. And if I'm gonna be completely honest...I thought maybe I woulda been back in time for my shift, but I wasn't too certain i would be able to stay awake for my shift. So I used my better judgement. I didn't go. I'm glad they won...but I'm even more glad i didn't go. And here's why. I heard my mom open the laundry room door and greet my spastic 7 pound ferocious Yorkie. She brougt him into the garage with her so he could 'help her carry in the groceries' I groggily opened my crusted, sinus eye lids and heard a shout. I sat up and listened harder. My mom was yelling something. I flung the blanket off me and leapt off the couch and hurried to the garage. My mom was saying something about my dog having gotten into the trash that was on it's way to the trash cans. I looked and spotted the torn hole in the trash bag. I slipped on my dads big honkin' shoes and ran down the steps. My dog was walking around with his head stooped and trying to lie down.

I inspected the trash bag. Chicken bones were sticking out of the hole. Normally I would've panicked. This has happened before. His eyes would begin to close, his breathing labored and his tongue would turn blue. My mom picked him up and out of desperation and anger that he was choking, I screamed at him and shoved my fingers into his little mouthful of teeth to try to make him gag up the chicken bones. He's just as stubborn as I am. He didn't want to let that food go. He had worked so hard to rip thru that stinkin trash bag. No way he was just gonna give up the precious chicken just because I was yelling at him and cramming my fingers down his throat, past his little (and very sharp!) teeth. It wasnt working. My mom put him down, hoping that he would just bring it up on his own without the forced gagging. He continued to just circle the garage, clearly in angst. He would lie down then get back up. I didnt know what to do!

 Finally I reached down and grabbed him around his tummy. I lifted him up so his back legs were in the air and that forced his head downward. I started to gently massage his tummy hoping that would force the chicken bones out. It actually worked. But he didn't want to let the food go! I could hear him bringing up the food but he just wouldn't give up. But neither would I. I used my nicest tone, as if he could understand me, and just kept saying, it's ok, it's ok. I kept massaging his little tummy and hoping he would eventually throw up the chicken bones. After about 5 minutes my mom said, "Pull him away, pull him away!" I did and he finally threw up some of the bones. I listened to his breathing and I could tell he was still laboring. It wasn't all out. I put him back down on the ground and kept massaging around his belly and coaxing him to let it go. A few more minutes, and some silent prayers and he threw up the rest. I wiped his face and listened again to his breathing. His eyes looked tired and heavy but I knew he was ok. I rubbed his back and just kept saying, it's ok. It's ok. As if my human comfort was doing anything. I put him down to see how he would walk. Or if he would circle and then lie down. He started walking around, frantically. I got nervous but then I realized he was just trying to find the rest of the chicken. He was back to normal.

That little brat. It was definitely scary. And gross, i might add. But after I walked in the house and fed him a treat for my life-saving efforts, I realized if I had gone to that game, I wouldn't have been home yet. I would've gotten a frantic phone call from my mom on my way home. Driving thru sideways blowing rain. And I would've freaked out. I wouldn't have known what to do. And honestly, I didn't know what to do for the little guy while he was choking. Then instinctively, I reached down and started massaging his tummy. Like I knew what I was doing. Ha! I had no idea. But it worked. And that little brat is back to normal. At this hour, I imagine he's snuggled up nice and tight to my mom under a mound of blankets. Right where he should be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He loves me...He loves me not (as much)

I suppose the universal visual for this post title is one of a saddened little girl. Sittng on the corner of her bed, hopelessly picking pedals off a flower. Letting them mindlessly flutter to the floor as she recites the familiar phrase. He loves me, he loves me not. Each time, with every painful pluck, her heart skips when she says, "he loves me!" and then her heart sinks lower than the floor when she realizes the last picked pedal is coordinated with an, "he loves me not."

And don't we do that with God? Well...I do. Example: "Today I read my Bible." He loves me! Two hours later...I stole a candy bar. "He hates me." example: "I went to church today!" he loves me! "I slept in and missed church." He loves me not as much." Let me settle the score...what a load of crap!!! God doesn't some days love you or I more or less. And then on other days stick His nose up at us bc we've made a mistake. Or made a really stupid mistake. Really really really dumb things are going to happen. And those really dumb things...I've probably done. You've probably done! You might have even done a stupid thing already! So what. God's love will never be conditional. Ever. When Jesus died for us, he didn't decide which dumb things be would forgive us for. His love covers a multitude of sin (and really dumb things that we do). Jesus died on a cross between 2 thieves! And he talked to them. Jesus talked to a real live sinner while they both hung on a cross...dying a painful, belittling death. That thief met Jesus on that cross. And then again in Heaven when he died.

God doesn't measure His love. We do. He probably scratches his head when we humans pick off the pedals convincing ourselves that the God of the universe isnt allowed to love us. Stop it! I'm not saying...should we sin bc love abounds? Heck no! But it will happen. And when it does, repent, ask God for His forgiveness that He's already given in His Son Jesus, and move on in him. His love will always be the only unconditional love. And in the depths of the secret parts of our hearts, we all want to be loved unconditionally Right? I think so.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is God Mean?: My bumpy journey to believe again

This is something I've not shared with hardly anyone. But now, after 4 years, I've begun to find healing in my heartache. I hope beyond hope this helps to bring clarity and healing to those that read this post, Even as I continue to find and experience the same for my own life.

Four years ago today, a friend that I played high school hockey with was killed in a single car accident. Her car wrapped around a tree and she was killed instantly. I read the news in my tiny Bible school dorm room on my laptop from my hometown newspaper online. Instantly my eyes scanned the page to find a name. I got so angry when I couldnt find it. Then i saw her name. My heart began to pound. My face contorted and my eyes welled up instantly with tears. I couldnt think I couldn't feel. I just cried. Sitting at my desk hunched over convulsing in tears. My door was open and no sooner had i started crying did I hear 2 of my hallmates slip into my room and put their warm hands on my back in comfort. And then...they started to pray. I dont remember what they prayed. I'm certain I wasnt interested in hearing anything to do with God. Clearly this was His fault. I believed that all the way up until just recently. But hating what He had done to my friend wasn't the only reason I had for being angry at God. This is where i share my true heartache.

One year to the day and almost to the hour, I was in my own single car accident. Incidentally, I was driving back to NY after a last minute decision to come home for the weekend to grieve Ashley's death. I left my house at 5. It was pitch black by now and it had just began to snow. As soon as I got into my car, I began to cry. Not only was the snow an obstruction to my very cautious driving, now my waterworks were an obstruction. I drove thru Canada with both hands on the wheel, chest nearly touching the steering wheel as i strained to see out my windshield. I even thought of turning back. But i decided to trudge thru. I cried for the entire 3 hours thru Canada. Once I got to the NY border I was only 1.5 hours from my apartment. I stopped to get a drink to help keep me alert. It had just begun to snow again.
Soon the salt trucks were out. I slowed my speed to 55mph. The limit was 65mph. But I wanted to be careful just in case there was ice that I couldn't see. Meanwhile having Ashley on my mind. I was trying to stay focused. About 5 minutes after passing the salt trucks and a handful of semi trucks, I noticed a pickup truck in front of me violently swerve. It was almost like he was avoiding something like a deer or some other debris. I scooted closer to my steering wheel and moved my foot slowly from the accelerator to the brake to avoid whatever was up ahead. My cautious driving sent me into a tailspin. I was driving over black ice when I pushed the brake pedal. My car immediately and violently swerved and was now traveling up the highway sideways, my driver side facing all the trucks I had just passed. I took my hands off the wheel and my feet off the pedals and clenched my fists and opened my mouth to pray. As soon as I did, my car slammed head on at 50mph into the guardrail in the passing left lane and bounced my car back into the 2-lane highway, still turned sideways in the middle of the 2 lanes. In that moment, in those quick 10 seconds, I prepared myself for death. I knew I was going to die. Spoiler alert...I didn't. The only thing I could see in my mind was getting T-boned by all those semi trucks I had just passed. I closed my eyes, clenched my fists to prepare for the impact and said aloud, "God, please make it fast. I dont want to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life." smash. My car had smashed into the right lane guardrail and parallel parked itself better than any human could right up against the guardrail. I slammed on the gas bc I thought i was still in the middle of the road. I couldnt see bc my hood was crushed up and I couldnt see over it. I finally realized where I was and had to crawl out my passenger window. I ran away from my car bc I was sure someone else was going to slide into the black ice and smash my car. As soon as i got out, all the semi trucks I passed roared by. I couldnt cry. I couldn't talk. I couldn't feel. I waved frantically at all the passing cars but no one stopped. Until a state trooper did and took my info and drove me to a toll booth station where i waited for my boss and her husband to come get me.

I totaled my car. My seat belt, the design work of something called a crumble zone in Saturns and God, saved my life. Without the crumble zone, the insides of my car underneath my hood would have come thru the dash and crushed me. Instead of smashing thru, it crumbled. A full 3 feet.
From that day on the eve of November 18th, until recently, I shook my fist at God for sparing my life and taking the life of my friend. I toiled day and night. Even in my dreams. Randomly I would flashback and relive the accident.

My true heartache was wrapped up in my 'why's'
Why did you let her die! Why did you let me live?
Wake up...feel guilt. Walk thru my day...feel guilt. Lay in bed at night...cry away the guilt. Or at least until I fell asleep. Every year on the anniversary of Ashley's death and the heightened state of my anger towards God for not sparing her life, but sparing mine, i felt like my head swirled around in the darkness of anger. i felt like i was a little kid with a flashlight that kept going out while i was searching for an answer as to why.  Why, God? Why are you so heartless? Why God? Why are you so careless?  Why, GOD!?!?! Why didn't you save her? 

For nearly 3 years i walked in that hellish storm. asking why. shaking my fists at Him. shaking my head at him. how was God good? He wasn't! I could never believe again that He was good. Or could i? 

This is what i've learned.  I've never learned the why, but i've learned to ask different questions. I don't ask Him why He didn't save her. I don't ask Him why He saved me. This is what i do know. He DID save her. He saved her from injury just like He saved me from injury. Yes, the outcomes were different. Ashley never would have been the kind to be ok with you dwelling on something negative, especially if it was about her. she would want you to embrace life, embrace the second chances. And how beautiful is that because God is the exact same way. He wants you to embrace life. He wants you to embrace the second chances.  i wish like hell i could change what happened. but i've learned i cannot. i can't ever.  not with any bad thing that has ever happened.  Here's the rest of the truth.  God is still good.  the only thing that changed was my heart. He never changed. I just needed someone to blame for my indescribable hurt.  and God was it.  He's not anymore. and even though, yes, i do sometimes experience my indescribable hurt, i am overcome with memories from that day, from that week and i am stricken with paralyzing grief once again...this time, I know that i know that He's good. no matter what.  it's taken me 3 years to finally realize this again.  God is good and life sometimes is not. sometimes, it sucks. and sometimes, it hurts like hell. and sometimes, it's not fair. 
but this i know, God is ALWAYS faithful in every situation. and sometimes, what we think is faithful just isn't. in every situation, in every season, He is and always will be God.  Yea. i still miss her. But i suppose God missed her more. and when i think about it like that, i'm a little more ok. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trust fall

...though yes, i trust Fall to be one of my favorite seasons of the year and every year, it shows up and meets my high expectations, what with it's golden crisp leaves, the brisk mornings that cause you to look like a chain smoker when you first walk outside and breathe, the new hoodies that don my closet rack and the start of college football, i am not talking about trusting the season, Fall. I'm talking about the act of a trust fall. ya know...when you have someone standing behind you and you throw your arms out to the sides of you in a wingspan formation and let your feet come up off of the ground and you fall into the arms of the person standing behind you...well, hopefully.  if they weren't there...it would just be a fall. though perhaps more hilarious...not more fun. unless it was a pile of leaves you were falling in...then, very different story.

it seems that lately, i've had to...no, wanted, to trust God more. with...everything actually.  turns out...He likes it when we trust Him. He WANTS us to trust Him.  i feel like most times, when we say, "Yea i just need to trust God more" it's for like, material things...which is totally fine! i'm not knocking the physical need. we are mankind. we need things sometimes.  so, don't get all pissy! (yet...)

I think today, in these times, we tend to forget that we can not just trust Him for the physical needs we have...a car, a job, an income, our health, our families, clothes, etc. but more so, for the emotional stuff. the junk that sits on the inside. the stuff that swirls around like an eddy of leaves in the very pit of our souls. the stuff, the junk that can't even be put into mere words. maybe it comes out  in your tears, or a mad journaling session. maybe there's a song that accurately describes what you just cannot put into words. but the ease in the midst of the not understanding, is that He totally understands. Completely. Absolutely.  He gets it.  oh my gosh. so many times we toil in our own muck. we sit in our own pity. and it's comfortable. why? because we don't move. we sit in it.  or we go the total oppostite way.  we run. we shove that stuff down. and we become resentful. hardened to the grace of God...when deep down...isn't that what we want to begin with?  i say yes. because i've been there...in both of those rotten places.  i'm not saying crap doesn't happen to good people...and shoot, even awesome things happen to not so good people.  that's just the world we live in. it's not fair all the time.  but let's stop and remember...was it really fair that Jesus died because of all of our sin and our junk and our self pity and our hardened hearts? i think not.

let me be more clear...
i've had crap happen in my life. crap still happens in my life. i could list that crap...but i don't want pity or sympathy. I have God and He can heal me. people cannot.  and i'm not even saying that i've not allowed people into my crappy crap. you need people. besides sacrificing His one and only Son, God's greatest gift to mankind was and still is people.

wow. God is so good. His peace is the only thing that can calm a raging sea. quiet a disasterous storm.  and be in all places at all times. right now...He's with me. right now, He's with you. Emmanuel...God with us. 
Each day, i trust fall into His grace.    
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

finally...i caved.

ok. time to update.  So this will be the 3rd time i will have attempted to post this dang thing.  i tried the first time and was actually pleasantly happy with the way my writing turned out.  then i hit publish. and i got an error message. i was PIIIISSSSSED!!!! i frantically searched my history, no luck. with no luck, hit the back button. my last hope was to check the drafts section of my posts...gahhh!!! it wasn't there either.  so begrudgingly, i redid another one.  but this time, i copied it! i opened my email and hit paste and nothing came up. tried again. nothing. and one more time...still nothing.  so i hit publish. and i hit that error message again. feeling my hopes fall i decided to shut off my iPod and quit it.  seriously, my 2nd post of the original was less than adequate. so. i gave it a few days. and im going to attempt one last time, hoping the error messages have ceased to exist. for the sake of me pulling out another patch of hair. (just kidding...i could never pull out enough of my hair). 
ready. begin.

Hi. I'm Erica. a different one than before.  still me. just...different. changed. im still stubborn. one of my best qualities.  my stubbornness got in the way, but then one day, it didn't.  and then one day, i remembered God has called me to do something. something amazing.  amazing because He is amazing.  not because i am. 

That being said, i'll form a new paragraph, because I'm starting a new thought. i learned to do that in one of my classes.  not math class. i hate math. for the past 4 months, i have been constantly becoming undone with the knowledge of how...(i need to make sure i get this right)...gently-kind-hearted God is to me.  How incredibly patient He is.  oh my goodness.  i felt like the children of Israel, walking around, wondering what in the heck i was accomplishing.  then one day, i sent an email to a church i had been going to for a couple Sundays.  then a day after that i got a return email. then the day after that i met with Julie.  the week after that i was volunteering in the offices a few times a week.  then a few weeks after that, i finally stepped into the cusp of what God has been slowly revealing to me all along.  my heart is enveloped in the next generation. to equip them and raise them up to equip and raise up the generation behind them...to know God and His loving kindness.  His mercy. His forgiveness.  to be a part of raising up a real generation to serve and know a real Jesus. cuz He is real.

For the past couple months, i've been absolutely incredibly blessed to be able to have the opportunity to serve God alongside one of the best "yellows" i've ever had the privilege of meeting.  in a nutshell, i shadow my church's youth pastor.  and when i say she's incredible...i have seriously and superlatively missed the mark in describing just how blessed i am to serve God with her.  to weave in and out of the lives of the youth that come every Sunday night, sewing seeds of goodness and mercy. of truth and trust.

Thanks a lot, youth group. and Sarah. and Laura. because for the past couple of months i have been feeling a bit more frustrated. a bit more blah.  a bit more restless.  in regards to my job.  most of you know that im a patient sitter at the hospital. i sit with suicide precaution, elderly/dementia patients 4 nights a week.  and after almost 12 months of being yelled at, kicked at, scratched, punched, cussed out and felt up by an old man with Alzheimer's, i'm so glad i've finally caved and begun to walk into the fullness of what God has molded my heart to do. when i first noticed my shorter patience (i have a lot of it, don't worry), i wondered why.this is it: it's because I'm finally doing something that fulfills my heart and touches only the surface of my destiny, in serving the youth group at my church.  not sitting with patients, at least not forever, in an either freezing cold, dark hospital room, or a sauna-like, bright as the surface of the sun ER room, contemplating my nearest escape if  patient X decides to become combative towards me. but to truly truly serve God with others that love Him and follow Him wherever He leads them.  it just so happens He is leading me into the brokenness and triumphs of the lives of young people.

and i'm so lucky to be on this journey with some of the most                                                                                                amazing people i have ever met.  (yes, that is a shout-out)
   

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God burnt my bacon

well...if we're gonna be completely honest...
...i burnt it. i was cooking it. but God got in my way of cooking those little sizzlin' strips of pig.  as i stood over the grease-flailing pan of bacon, a smile crept onto my face. not because i had made it past 5 minutes of cooking bacon without being sprayed with hot grease, but because i was happy.  i was listening to some newly-purchased songs via an iTunes card. i don't even remember what song i was listening to. all i can be sure of is that there is a right way to Dougie and an Erica way to Dougie.  i two-stepped to the latter.  neck twitch, fist pump, mild hip action, lip sync, flip bacon.  begin again.  i got carried away with my newly found relationship to the hardwood floor in the kitchen. 

maybe some [religious] people think it's insane that i met God in such an unconventional way...doo-wopping in my kitchen, over a pan of hot bacon. but im telling you, He burnt that first batch.  as i heaved the crispy slices into the trash, i laughed. first because im usually not such a bad culinary student. second because God also ruined the bag of buttered noodles i was supposed to finish cooking for my dad for his dinner...oops!

you're supposed to boil the water and the butter first. then add the noodles. he ate bratwursts in buns and noodles thru a straw. (ok not really...) he ate them though! and im not mad that i entertained my inner hip hopper.  dancing is a great way to burn calories  ;)  i got distracted. by God.  in an unconventional way.  dancing in my kitchen. over a pan of bacon. with an oven mit on my hand. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Choosing to see His goodness thru my wilderness

That statement is written in purple ink on a weathered post-it note in my Bible. Weathered because it's been there for at least 4 years. The thing about walking in the wilderness is sometimes, you get caught up in the simplistic nature of the beauty of it. I guess that could also depend on your image of wilderness. Wilderness could be thick, tall oaks that beckon you to use their broad trunks as back rests after a long hike. Trickling streams of fresh water flowing steady underneath a log, welcoming you to tight-rope walk across it. To the bush of fresh berries. Under a canopy of branches that lie just so that the rays of sunshine seemingly fall through to warm the ground beneath your feet.



Which are covered in mud. Caked on your hiking boots and long socks. Sounds delighful. And I'm not even a nature-outdoorsy kind of person. But I wouldn't mind that! Which is precisely my point. Sometimes it's pretty! And I've walked thru my own wildernesses. But I'm inclined to believe that this time, I'm walking out of one. At least out of a dreadful one. The kind of wilderness that has the alter-ego of the one I just described. More like a swamp. Or a desert. Where the sun is too hot. The ground is too uneven. The broad tree trunks are instead cacti. You're weathered. Dry lips that crack. Mouth that is like cotton. Feet that are raw and blistered. Knees that are weak. And a heart that is one beat away from giving up. Yea. Sounds a little less delightful. But I've been there. I've been weathered. And in those times, though in my mind I could agree with the statement I have written on that post-it note (choosing to see His goodness thru my wilderness), my heart would remind me just where my vision was. It was t on His goodness. It was totally fixated on the desert. My wilderness. My aloneness. My fatigue. My lack. My striving. My anger. My hurt. So much so that not only did I consciously choose to NOT see His goodness, but I chose to not see Him at all. It was easier just to shut Him out. Rather than open my heart and share what was trapped inside of it. Now, looking back on my wilderness, it's easier to see that I'm coming away from it. Walking to the clearing. The gaping stretch of open land before me is like a hug that i try to give back when I stretch my arms out in a wingspan kind of way. And I could never wrap my arms around a clearing so great. As I picture it now, walking out of, first a desert, then a huge forest, I can even feel the relief of coming up to a clearing so great. I've been lost in the woods before. And when the trails start to not look familiar, panic sets in. And you realize you're lost. Swallowed up in a great wilderness. But when I finally found my way, and I recognized the clearing ahead of me, I ran. And I felt safe once again. This time, I am choosing to see His goodness thru my wilderness.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Been there, done that.

As I reflect upon my imminent turning of age from 24 to 25, ive decided to open up my heart a little deeper. How...? Easiest way is a trusty list. I like to incorporate humor in my writing. It takes the edge off a serious, emotional blog post. Not only that, but it keeps readers engaged. And since I've learned that my blog, in total, not including my own page views has gotten over 1800 clicks, I've decided I must be doing something right. And it may just be my humor. Or my infectious way of telling it like it is. Either way, you suckers read it!!! Maybe it's to be entertained. Maybe my blog is good bathroom reading material on your mobile device. And maybe you think it totally sucks and read it when you want to drift off into mindless, restful, deep sleep. Whatever your reason, I thank you. I guess the old saying is true..."if you build it, they will come." keep comin' people, and I'll keep writin'! So, on with it. In this post, I wanna list some things. Enjoy reading my list of humor and truth. Commence: the '25 things I never thought I'd do before turning 25' list. 1.) make it out of diapers 2.) wear a dress 3.) go to prom 4.) get ASKED to go to prom! 5.) ride in a limo 6.) go to Bible school 7.) buy an SUV 8.) run a 5k 9.) run TWO 5k's! 10.) run a 10k 11.) captain a hockey team 12.) like wearing glasses 13.) work in a hospital 14.) live out of state 15.) total a car! 16.) find a church I LOVE. 17.) want to get married 18.) want kids! 19.) preach on a Sunday morning 20.) discover who i really am 21.) be able to tolerate some country music 22.) go to a friend's funeral 23.) win any awards 24.) read people's minds! And the 25th thing I never thought I would do before turning 25... ...write a blog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

White gauze around her wrists

When I walked into the ER room and saw the gal sitting on the bed, I saw her face first. Then i saw the white gauze wrapped around her wrists. A suicide attempt. I guess I get frustrated with myself when I think, "it's another suicide patient." but not in a condescending way. It's just so not rare to sit with them. And more than my heart breaks to watch the loved ones sit for hours with their relative, it crumbles when my mind asks, "what is so bad in their life that it came to 'white gauze around her wrists.'. Both of them. She took time to engage with each wrist. And one wrist wasnt enough. It was both. Thank goodness we only have 2 wrists. I catch myself dazed sometimes when I'm thinking about what torment they're experiencing that brought them to the rationalization of contemplating taking their life. I wish my heart and shoulders were big enough to carry it for them. But God already took care of that; He sent His only Son, Jesus to take on our burdens for us. I silently pray for grace to break them. And strength to rebuild them. And at the end of my shift, I am humbled to know the Creator of the universe loves me just as much as the gal with the white wrist gauze. And I'm grateful to be able to leave. Harsh as that sounds, I sometimes think about the rough road ahead ofthese patients and of course I have empathy. But I thank God every morning after my shift that I get to go home.
I wear white gauze too. Not around my wrists. But around my heart. It's tender and bandaged. Wounded and healed. Grateful and whole.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Catching the bouquet...or 3

I had a fleeting thought while at work. I hope in my near future, it is not so fleeting ;)
I started thinking about all of the bouquets Ive caught from the dozens of weddings I've been to. I chuckled when I realized I am the exception to the promise associated with catching the budding bundle. I'm not married...but I do have a collection of bride's flowers. The first batch I caught in New York...on a quaint little grassy field. I used my 6th sense and anticipated where Erin would toss them. I have a picture. It's quite comical. The second bundle I used my airborne skills to literally snatch them out of the air.I bent my knees and even tugged my bridesmaid dress up like a shortstop would his baseball pants. Then I used my jump shot skills and timed the toss...and I grabbed those flowers like I was grabbing a baseball on its way over the fence. Thanks, Bethany. They're beautiful. The 3rd bouquet I caught...well, I didn't even want to try and catch them. Since obviously I was still single and clearly catching bouquets wasnt working for me. I was front and center on the dance floor at my sister's wedding reception. My thoughts were as follows; "There is NO way she will throw them straight back. She's not that coordinated.

 So I'll just stand right behind her and she will definitely throw them wide left, or wide right. Hit the ceiling. Cream an unsuspecting older relative drinking coffee. But surely. She will not come close to me." 1-2-3...toss. I didn't even move. And wouldn't ya know it, those friggen things lobbed right in front of me. All I did was stick out my hands and they seriously landed there. I was shocked. For a couple reasons. 1.) Angela has never been known for accuracy when throwing stuff. And 2.) I was now gonna have to be the one whose space would be invaded by the guy that caught the garter. Only a razor has been that high on my leg. No one was goin up MY dress! to my relief, my sister knows me well. As soon as she saw I caught the blessed budding bouquet, she changed her plans and decided to only have a picture taken. Thank you sister.

And thank you bouquet-catching gods. You have cursed me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Scattered, refreshed and new

There's something so refreshing about bending open the spine of a new book. The newness of the pages unturned. The white cracks that begin to appear on the outer binding of the book. Showing, eventually, the wear of the book. I feel accomplished when a new book begins to show the weathering affects of being used. Not being used...offering itself up. I feel the same way when I look at my Bible. It's not really too weathered. And that actually makes me sad. And a little anxious. When i flip thru it, I smile when i see a page filled with notes. Most notably, the passage in John 4. It's my favorite section of Scripture. Even the page can prove my statement of passion. Notes overwhelm John and the woman at the well.  It's so good. A true story of grace accompanied beautifully and equally with the truth of who jesus is And what his sacrifice offered; a second chance. My thoughts are a bit scattered but I feel refreshed. My thoughts are scattered and fresh. Scattered and fresh and new. I'm in an ICU room with a suicide precaution patient for the night. She's asleep. And in this room is where I opened my new book. In this room I've fallen into the bliss of starting a new book. It's been awhile since I've even wanted to read. The last book i read was Portia de Rossi's book called Unbearable Lightness. Excellent. Note my subtle plug...
Anyway. I was afraid to indulge in a new book for fear that the next read wouldnt be as good as Portia's book. It's serving to be a page turner. I lucked out. It was a rare find. I found it on the very bottom shelf of the Fiction Christian heading at Barnes and Noble. This was about my 3rd pass and 2 hours of walking around the little store. For some reason, i stooped to the bottom shelf, craned my neck to look at the titles and this one lit up. If you know me well, even the title of the book alone will cause you to nod your head in agreement with my choice. The title of the book is: Words. At first it was the title that got my attention. Secondly, it was the simplicity of the title. A book with a one-word title. Edgy! Daring! Perfect for a closet grammar freak and aspiring blogger such as myself. If you know me, you know my mind is violently active! Yes, even while reading a so-far-intriguing story, am I thinking about a handful of other things. Even blogging. I put the page-turning book down about 30 minutes ago to share my crazy active mind flooded with thoughts. I'll take my break from sitting to go sit alone and read my book at 3am...in 32 minutes from now. For 30 minutes. As I read, I stretched my back in this very uncomfortable computer rolling chair. It reclines back when you push back on it. Book in one hand. Balled up fist in the other hand as I stretched out my legs in front of me and pushed back on the chair. I felt the instant relief of a tightened back but tightened it back up again when I thought about how silly I would look on the floor. I was worried I would break the chair with the force with which i was pushing back on it with. Then I got self conscious and quickly sat back up and fixed my shirt and volumized my hair with my free, now un-balled fist. I looked around to make sure no one saw me as I indulged in my self consciousness. A quick scan of the patient reassured me that she was still asleep. Perhaps it was her snores that put to rest my racing heart. The nurses were busy wheeling in a new patient. No one saw me. Phew. Im safe. And so is the chair. Still intact. Still in one piece. Still as spine-wrenching as when i first jumped on it.  I guess I got lost in my book. Perhaps I'll get lost in it again. I tend to think less about my surroundings when I'm immersed in a great book. It's nice to not hear my thoughts. Most of the time. I shall retreat back into my newly found good read.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First day of school...

I'm gonna be 25 in about 5 weeks. This will be the 6th year I don't start high school. And ya know what, it's on my list of what to thank God for. I remember the night before my first day as a freshman. I was up nearly all night...crying because I was so scared to start high school. I was scared I would get lost. Scared I would be late. Scared I was too dumb for high school classes. And most of all, I was scared I'd get made fun of. Most of those fears came true. My only saving grace was playing hockey. I dont know how I would've made it thru without hockey. I hated pep rallies. I hated gym class. I hated math. Especially because my teacher wouldn't help me. Yea...i went in early and stayed late. But she didnt help me. She would do the math problem and ask "does that make sense?" I would say no but I guess that meant yes on Tuesday's and Thursday's. I hated the guys. And I hated the girls. They were mean. When I blew out my knee, I got made fun of for having to use crutches. One kid even said, "oh my God, she doesnt even need those." the next day, i started using just one crutch. About 2 months before i was supposed to. 7 years later, my knee still keeps me from being completely free. Thanks, stupid kid. I shouldnt have listened to you. Oh! And I got my first job in high school! It was seasonal. But then it wasnt. I got let go cuz it was seasonal again. 2 days later, some pretty, skinny and blonde chick was there. She was new. Guess they had room after all. I kept my mouth shut and did my homework. As best I could. Thank God the even numbered problems were in the back of my math and chemistry books. I woulda been in high school this morning.
So. What did I learn in school? If you weren't rich and pretty and athletic and popular and smart, you weren't anybody. Even to the teachers. Some of them. what else did I learn? Hmm. Well I didn't learn this until after I graduated...I'm glad it's over.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

cut the crap

i'm a real life gal. behind a real life computer screen...there's a real life heart.  and an extremely active mind. sometimes, that mind isn't very nice to me. 

i'm gonna share something that is something i don't really like sharing. and i've debated about it...time and time again. even typed out a blog...and then erased it. cuz, let's be honest...baring one's heart and soul is only something one does...once in a great while. But i figure, like most girls struggle with their self image, i am in the 'most girls' category.  and i do struggle with my self image.

It's something i've struggle with for most of my life (i'll be a quarter of a century in a couple months...) and thats a long time, i think! It goes all the way back to when i was just a little monster.  no disrespect to anything, or anyone mentioned in this blog...it's just the facts.  but when i was younger...my sister and i were left with our grandparents when mom and dad went to work, or during the summertime when school was out.  i loved going. i loved being with them. i loved them then. and i love them now.  i just wish i was smart enough back then to say no to a bag of Funyons. or a candy bar from the grocery store.  that was their way of showing us love...food.  of course there were hugs and kisses and learning how to play poker as well.  and tent-building and cops and robbers and other such shenanigans. (with the cousins of course)  but the cupboard was always full of goodies.  and we were always full of those goodies.  

as i got older, i learned to stuff the way i felt about myself.  i was a tomboy ( i still kinda am...) i played street hockey with boys, football with boys, tag with the boys and wore jeans and tshirts....like the boys.  i never wanted to carry a purse. that was too girly. i never wanted to wear a dress. that was girly, too.  i always wore my hair back...cuz it would get in my face, and i HATED that. entering school was hell.  by 7th grade, i wore glasses and had a head of curly hair that was the subject of envy.  but i HATED that too.  one day in computer class, i found out just how 'envious' it was to one of the popular boys.  i sat in front of him and he turned to his other popular friend and said, "Oh man, now i can't see over her big hair."  i felt my face turn red and my heart sank lower than i could sink in my chair.  i wanted to disappear.  i learned to keep to myself and keep quiet.  because if i didn't give anyone the chance to know me, i didn't give anyone a chance to make fun of me...at least not to my face. and that was good enough for me.

nearing high school, still playing street hockey (with the boys) i started to branch out and explore the idea of church.  this one particular summer, my coaches were Christians and invited the whole hockey team to a fun night at their church.  i thought, "I may as well go. I really like the coaches."  So i went. it was fun. up until this one game.  im not even sure what the name of it was. all i know is that i was excited to do it...until someone made fun of me, or pointed out the obvious. it was all the same to me then.  it was a 3-man team. 2 of the team members pulled the 3rd team member on a tarp across a certain distance.  i thought it would be fun!  i started to walk over to the starting area and i saw an older teen boy and girl. they were CLEARLY a couple.  as i began to walk across the field, i heard the boy say to his girlfriend, "Hey! Let's get her to pull us! She's fat!"  his girlfriend playfully hit him on the arm and probably gave him a 'that's not nice' plug.  i acted like i didn't hear it.  i acted like i was just walking across the field to some other game. i acted like i wasn't hurt.  but i was.

the start of freshman year was hell too.  i didn't really have any friends, and i was kind of ok with that. i thought if i could get through high school, nice and quietly, keep getting my good grades, i would be ok. i would 'just make it thru'.  one particular weekend, i went to the rink for an open skate.  any of you that know me, know my obsession with the game of hockey.  it's the only thing i'll admit to be good at (before i blew out my knee...).  i was skating around, feeling particularly good about myself. not thinking about what i looked like, because, hey, i was a darn good skater. no one could make fun of me for being good at something, right? Wrong.  i learned later that some boy went up to my sister while i was skating (somehow he knew we were with each other) and said, "Hey, she's a really good skater. But she's really ugly."
I acted like i wasn't hurt. but i was.

all that stuffing, all that negative talk, all that...crap (i really wanted to say a different word...) and it's a recipe for a disaster of a self image.  i had deduced my self image to a nothing.  if i was a nothing, then no matter what anyone said or thought...i already knew it was true. whether it was my big hair, my fatness, or my ugliness...i already knew it was true.

I struggle with my self image.  like most girls.  but now...i've finally realized that im not a nothing. and the way i looked never used to really bother me on the outside...but now it really does.  i started running, working out and changing the way (and what i ate) and things started to change for me...about a year ago now.  and yes, i'm more happy about the change.  and yes, im more happy when my jeans sag. it used to be because i didn't have a butt for them to sit on. And actually, they still don't.  but there are other reasons for the sagging.  i don't feel as awful about myself when i go shopping. i actually enjoy picking out clothes...and trying them on.

but the negative self talk...it seems...has only increased. and it makes sense.  i don't even stand in front of the mirror when i brush my teeth. when i brush my hair. when i put the mouse in it. when i put on my pants (that sag).  and it makes sense.  ive made a change...for the good.  so obviously, i'm gonna nit pick at everything i see that's wrong with my body.  and clearly, in my eyes, i have a lot of things wrong with my body. this is too big. this is too flabby. my nose looks like a button.  my dimples are too dimply.  that tanned runner looks like a rail. i look like a boulder barreling down the sidewalk.

but today i came across some pictures.  older ones. and recent ones.  when i flipped through them, my negative mind was all of a sudden halted, if only for those few moments, as not only did my mind's eye see, but also my naked eye, confirmed the reality of the pictures that seemed to stare back at me, rather than i staring at them.  there's really nothing that needs to be said.  i'll just post the pictures and let them speak for themselves.  ...i've spoken enough already!

before pics on left
after pics on right.




  

 
                                                                                                                                          









much love.  thank you all for sharing in my blogger journeys.