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“oh where, oh where has my little blog gone, oh where oh where can it be?”

As it turns out, there just hasn’t seemed much urge to spill words out online as of late. I think it’s because everything is settling down and smoothing out and that is so relaxing and comforting and calming. There’s not a sense of urgency anymore or a sense of needing understanding. Instead, what I have now is enough. And to be able to say that—is quite a relief.

I’ve been busy planning the beginning of my spring. This week is another party, this time 80s/90s-inspired. I’m going as Angela Chase from “My So-Called Life,” my roommate is going as Rainbow Brite, some guys are coming as Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” others are coming in full retro regalia—leggings, side ponytails, off-the-shoulder shirts, Madonna, Mario, etc. it should be pretty entertaining. As they always are.

I’m not really sure why I love parties so much except that they’re an occasion to let down walls and embrace the inner goof and charm that floats within us all, but that we often learn to hush. The other week, I was talking to Betsy’s soon-to-be-step-son who’s four and asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up. He didn’t look up, didn’t get excited, but answered matter-of-factly: “A hero.” he told me that he’s going to have a mask and a cape and he’s going to be a super hero. Just like that.

Where did that urge to be something bigger than ourselves go? True, many of us cling to it and keep persevering. But even moreso, many let go of those big, colorful dreams and start slipping into the belief that “this” is all we have or “this” is all we’ll ever amount to. It’s a dismal change.

And not that I think silly theme parties are going to restore dreams or a sense of self by any means. But they do allow us to take ourselves less seriously. To just enjoy the moment and the silly daydreams of being a TV star or a retro starlet and not care what everyone else thinks or expects. And, to dance our hearts out.

“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak” — indian proverb

just read a short Q&A with a pastor about how important it is in dating that the person share your theology. he brought up a great point: are you asking what’s the least you can require to “get it right”? because if so, that’s the wrong question. instead, you should be looking for the most you can get from whoever you date, when it comes to spirituality.

he says:

Don’t ask the minimalistic question. If you only want to know how little you have to agree on together in order to move forward, then you’re asking the wrong question.

There should be a robust and common enthusiasm and joy about the gospel. You should also have a similar understanding of the gospel so that you’re not always tricking each other by your words. You want to make sure that you have the same definitions for the words that you use.

So start at the center, and want the most.

i think of that, too when people ask “how far is too far?” because that’s like looking at it as if all you need is a C on your report card, when we ought to be looking for an A and working our hardest to do the best we can–not just skate by.

i’m not sure why but when it comes to this little online post-after-post of ideas and thoughts, i struggle with towing the line between “how much do you say?” and “well, if you’re glossing over this and sugarcoating that and leaving out that, then isn’t it all just superficial?” i’ve never really been one for detailing all the minutiae of life like, “and then i ate a peanut-butter sandwich,” preferring to save my typing for those elements that move me and that, i hope, others can learn from. and even though a lot of amazing things happen and i have a great time doing them, once they’re over, typically i don’t feel the need to recount and relay over the internet. i guess i just feel like once it’s happened, it’s kind of irrelevant. on to bigger and better things: the here and now.

it just ends up feeling patchworked and pieced together, with all sorts of gaping holes that i’m not willing to sew up or thread through.

i feel as though i say the word “freaking” every single sentence. this past weekend becky was in town and we celebrated the infamous Playing House Party, complete with aprons and old-fashioned jewelry, cider beer and lots of dancing. it was fabulous. so much so that we kept oohing and ahhing, “we are SO freaking cute!” “you are SO freaking cute!” “s/he is SO freaking cute!” i would lie and try to say that our variations were more compelling than that, but i guess it just goes to show how–well–freaking cute everything was!

it really was adorable.

my camera conked out halfway through the download, so here’s a taste of what the night held.
party2.pngparty3.pngparty5.pngpartychair.pngpartypancake1.png

i know that’s a nerdy thing to say, but it’s true. i love lists of things to do, usually scribbled on various pads of paper or–mostly at work–on post-it notes strewn around my desktop. post-its are my favorite because rather than have to read through scribbles and scratches on a single list, you can just rip them up and toss them. i love lists of books to read. i love my amazon wishlist (where i keep tabs on the books i want to read). i love lists of meals to make (because i need all the help i can get in the kitchen; my latest project was to transfer every recipe i had–but none that i’ve actually ever cooked from–to uniform and organized index cards, which made me very proud). i love lists of things to do–because invariably i’ll think that i’m bored or something and that’s when a list of fallback ideas would come in perfectly, though the reality is that i never fall back on those things but instead on something mundane like watching TV or calling a friend. rarely do i whip out the list and decide to go drive around a new part of town or visit the conservatory or anything.

it’s also something that my best friend often will admit to, too, about how she makes lists of things to share or things to buy or things to do or things to tell someone. one time we sat in a park and just made a list of all the bands we could think of for different letters of the alphabet. (i think i ended up getting a little sunburnt even!) and that probably explains why one of our favorite games and pastimes to do together is to play the playground favorite M.A.S.H., where you list out your future possibilities: husband (where Jake Gyllenhaal is a staple and Sufjan Stevens is an often as is Jess from Heroes); job; travel location. we also like to shake things up and invent new options (because the age-old “wedding colors” and “number of kids” just is boring and totally irrelevant). instead, we list out things like “transportation” (how about a battleship or a bunch of balloons or a jetpack or a unicorn?) or a unique talent (you might be able to predict the weather or whistle any tune or collect leaves). and then, we mark them off one by one to reveal the futures that lie before us (Jake?! In a mansion?!)

and i think in that way, lists are my way of dreaming and fantasizing, of all the things i hope to accomplish–or at least the idea thereof. they’re like wishing on pennies, scribbled on pieces of paper instead of in the bottom of a fountain. they give me time to pinpoint the future and what i hope for it to accomplish. every so often i scratch something off of it, but in the meantime, it serves as a horizon line, where reality meets the pie-in-the-sky. where the future is put into nice, tidy, attainable bullet points rather than some looming “someday.” bite-sized and fistfuls.

i’m not sure the point of sharing all this, except that it’s true and sometimes that’s enough. or at least sometimes it ought to be.

one thing i’ve become aware of and decided to pray about/get more rigorous about is memorizing scripture. over the past couple years i’ve gotten more into God, i’ve always been content with just paraphrasing and throwing around, “well somewhere it says something about ‘perfect love casts out all fear'” or “i think paul said something about…” anyway i’ve come to realize that even though it’s good to have a good handle on what the bible says, it’s even better to know exactly what that is rather than stumbling over the concepts or twisting them or mishandling them. plus, it’s that whole idea of a sturdy foundation (see, there is where i could use from knowing the actual verse that talks about building your house on a rock rather than on sand. in due time…).

regardless, that’s my latest in the ever-evolving to-do list (or as a coworker calls it, the “today” list). as i embark on this (which reminds me of VBS or summer camp) i want to take it slow so that they really seep in and take root rather than take my usual route of DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE or AS MUCH AS YOU CAN–gulp it down, FAST! i have to remind myself… one. at. a. time.

the first is (and this is from memory!): James 5:16 “therefore pray for each other and confess to each other so that you may be healed. the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

cool huh? i know it’s basic but i am amped for it and what comes from it. i think my next one is the perfect love one. 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” but i’m not going to attempt cracking that one for a couple days still. one. at. a. time.

and i’m alright now, and i’m alright now
and i was blind and hypnotized; i could not see
you had me wrapped up in this mess again
but i broke free…

if only you could see me right now. i’m hunched down (terrible posture i’m sure) on my bed, with my head propped up on 2 pillows, my laptop on my lap as i’m snuggled under the covers and still in my pjs. at 4pm in the afternoon/evening. i never even put my contacts in. that tells you something.

yes, i can’t complain. the snow and freezing rain and slush came down and i made the executive decision to stay away from the roads (and the big hill that i take to get to work) and work from home today. it ended up being a great decision and surprisingly ended up with accomplishing far more than i likely would have, in the office.

isn’t it funny how those kinds of things work out? when you don’t have to, when you don’t have someone watching you, you end up nose to the grindstone–because you become your own boss. today’s one of those days. and frankly there isn’t much more to say. so short and sweet today…

I’m not sure what’s been going on lately, because it seems like there’s been a lot of transitions lately, with people losing their jobs. Perhaps I’m just now paying attention and when one thing happens, you perk your ears for other incidents. Or perhaps it’s just the economy claiming its dues.

I’m not sure, but it’s a somber reality that people who love what they do and are sacrificial in nature, have to get asked to do something else. It’s something that ought to be their choice, but instead is thrust upon them. But you know, maybe that’s the reason—they love what they do so much that they’re unwilling to leave, so God has to intercede and have someone else make the choice for them, to prod them onto the greener pastures that await.

I don’t know. But I am quite inspired, watching people take what could be bitter and sour and really crappy, and see—rather, embrace and TRUST—the possibility in it. One of the women I look up to/admire most got let go from her job and sent out an email that exemplifies that admirable kind of heart perfectly:

Every good and perfect gift comes down
from the Father of Heavenly lights.”
James 1:17

I wasn’t sure if this decision was from men or from God, so I asked my God and he was kind enough to tell me that it was a gift from him … that he was setting me free to do other work for him.

Please be happy with me and for me … and for Eastside and its people as God continues to “move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” 

on saturday, holly and i are finally getting to have our pancake party. but guess what i just found out? national pancake week ends today. i suppose it’s close enough, but had we been one week earlier, it would have been so picture perfect! of course it still will be perfect because, well, it’s a 50s-theme party and that’s why it’s the Golden Age and Happy Days and the good ole days to begin with. but so, so close!

here’s the save-the-date we made that i could not be prouder about:
pancakeparty.png

i have 2 outfits i’m deciding between: one that includes a fluffy skirt with butterflies all over (that a former co-worker used to call my “nature guide skirt”) but no apron to match, OR a simple blue-striped circle skirt that i can pair a crazy floral print apron with. admittedly, i’m leaning toward the sans-apron outfit. the butterflies are just so prettily perfect!

but, come saturday night, when the griddle’s all heated up and the pancakes are flipped, all will come to pass. let the dancing and twirling and rockin’ and rollin’ begin!

p.s. despite 3 posts in an hour’s time, i really have been quite productive today. i promise.

sometimes i think it’s funny how people end up coming across this blog.  and, as you will see, i ought to be spending less time talking about God or beliefs or friends or hearts and more time talking about bangs and couches, because that seems to be what everyone’s looking for:

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i don’t want to get too over excited but my friend nicole was in town for the day and i met her for lunch today and mentioned that i’m going to san diego again this year. she said she’s going to look at her calendar and see if she can make it. that would be fabulous. i just hate the idea of going to an amazing city and having no one to share it with. that would just be depressing rather than invigorating as people say it ought to be. yes i want to be able to make my own fun and i do genuinely feel like i’m decent at that. but i’m not going to try to be all rough-and-tough and pretend like traveling all alone is fine and dandy. i think doing things solo is fun when it’s a choice, not when you have to do it because there’s no one else to do something with.

i just got an email about the conference taking place out there:

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I walked into barnes and noble thinking about how fitting it is that the words “sour” and “dour” are so alike—in both meaning and in spelling, but how unfair, almost blasphemous, it is when words sound so much alike but are polar opposites like “happy” and “crappy.” that’s the way my mind was acting and why I decided I needed to break free.

So, doing something I usually reserve for all other seasons, I decided to take a real lunch break and get away from the office, hopping in my car and wandering over to the bookstore for some R&R (and some sugary starbucks).

There are a few places that are able to snap me back into place and wipe away any “sourness” and “dourness” I may be feeling (or otherwise self-pity): the always awe-inspiring Anthropologie, sometimes Forever21, a pretty park on a clear day, and a bookstore. Today was a bookstore kind of day. And it made the perfect prescription.

I’d gotten bent out of shape over this and that and spent last night in a complainy whiny mood that did nothing but pull me down further because I don’t like to complain and whine but you do it because you think it will make you feel better but it just makes it worse. See how that sentence just turned around and around in a circle? That’s the logic behind complaining. It leads nowhere, even if logic tells you it ought to.

I started listening to this podcast by Boundless.org, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, but is aimed (I presume) at young adults/singles. The people who host it are down-to-earth and funny but insightful (which if you ask me, is the best kind). Anyway one of the hosts was talking about a friend she has who really likes this guy and he leads her on (by way of not saying “no”) in a limbo-sort-of-relationship that is not serious but is not “friends-only.” one of those her-heart-is-on-the-line but he-gets-to-eat-his-cake-too kind of situations that I believe we’re all too familiar with. The hosts battled it out and one of the ladies offered advice that I thought was quite fitting (and which, not un-tangentially, goes along with my statement above): That the woman in the situation—who feels heavily invested and has no desire to leave the “relationship” she’s spent months “building”–needs to do exactly what she doesn’t want to do: Instead of giving more, give less.

We think that by giving more (of our hearts), we’re drawing someone closer. But in situations like this, it seems that you just end up giving away more of yourself—to someone who doesn’t appreciate it. The better way to salvage the situation is to give less, because if it jolts him into waking up, then great! But if he just lets it be, at least you didn’t keep trudging down that path.

So it often is, that the way we think we’re making progress and getting what we want, takes us the exact opposite, tangled way.

Regardless, after 45 minutes trolling around Barnes and Noble and sipping my way and paging my way through various book jackets and magazine covers, I came back uplifted and encouraged, with the self pity and poor mood from yesterday having melted away with last drops of a white chocolate mocha.

i read this blog entry last week or so and think it’s just flat out amazing:

We’ve been going to this new church since the end of the Summer. It’s a Vineyard church. ….  And worship at this church had such an overt hunger for God. I loved it. My husband even pointed out to me when a couple of ladies were gently dancing while they worshipped. I was so so hungry for that. But still shy. Real shy. Shy to move my feet. I had no problem with raising my arms. That felt like giving God a hug. But my feet. I was too afraid to move them. …. But for weeks, when I sang, I would close my eyes and visualize myself as a little girl, standing in a field or meadow with my arms outstretched twirling around with my eyes closed and face to the sun. This image would come to my mind unbidden.

I knew it was an inviatation from God …. I knew God wanted me to do it. So in my mind I’m saying, “God are you sure?” “Yes. Yes.” So I said, “Okay. I’ll wait for the chorus.” Which is so funny. But real. It’s like I was a kid standing on the edge of the high dive. Today. I move my feet. Gulp. So the chorus came. and I did it. I kept my arms outstretched hugging God and I closed my eyes and turned my face up to the sun and I twirled in a slow gentle circle. It. felt. awesome. I felt all the innocent freedom and joy of a little girl.

After church, I was talking with a friend from homegroup when a lady I’ve never met walked up to me. She was waiting to talk to me. She said, (she was so shy) she said, “God told me something to tell you. I dont usually do this. Is that okay with you.” “Sure. Yes. Go ahead.” This shy lady said, “Um God wants you to know that he likes the way you worship. He likes it very much just the way you do it today.”

Is THAT AWESOME OR WHAT??

ok so today at dinner we were talking about how these guys were going to a yankees training camp to try out for the team because they were amazing baseball players. well they show up to the first day 15 minutes late, and they just waltz in. evidently the coach walks up to them and tells them, “you know what? you need to turn around and leave because you’re late and you’re never going to have another chance at ball again.” just like that–for 15 lousy minutes.

then there was the story about this kid who took a dare to show up at a school basketball game drunk, for $20. he takes it, gets caught and then… ends up losing a FULL RIDE to harvard. harvard calls him up and says, no thank you. a loss of an education at the premier school in the country all for a lousy $20 and some bragging rights.

as i’m hearing these stories i’m nodding my head, like yep, i totally know where that coach and where that school admissions counselor was coming from. because when you’re laying the reputation of your school or your team on the line, you have to be selective; there are enough kids out there who can get by with “good enough” (whether academically or athletically). but the real test is how dedicated are they to your cause? do they have the heart to pursue it with all their might and all their soul? and in these two cases, those kids dropped the ball and revealed that they didn’t take these causes seriously enough–they didn’t appreciate the prizes they held and let them slip from their grip to shatter to smithereens with one stupid decision.

and i think about the guts that school and that team had to say “no” right on the spot, at the first sign of danger. rather than go, ah shucks and give them a second chance and hope they’ll shape up next time. they realized that if you can’t get it right from the start, why even attempt it? nip it in the bud at the first sight. demand the best because you know you deserve it–be willing to demand that.

which got me thinking about me dating boys. and why can i see that it’s OK for a school or a team to do that, but not for me to do likewise when it comes to my heart/dating? why don’t i have the guts to stand up and say, “no you blew it. you didn’t call me back/you didn’t treat me with respect/you didn’t make an effort/you hurt my feelings/you didn’t take responsibility for your actions/you didn’t trust me.” instead i turn to gush and waver and let it all slide. which doesn’t demand greatness or achievement. instead it encourages mediocrity for the mere fact that it allows it.

and the reason i do that is because i’m afraid of the “what if”–that they won’t do it again or that maybe he is the one. i’m afraid that if i mess up–if i cut the cord on the first sign of danger–that perhaps i’m pulling the plug on the one. i don’t trust God enough to know that he’ll make plenty sure that if it’s the right one, that he’ll MAKE the relationship pan out rather than fall through the cracks. or i get afraid that to do so is to overreact and be deemed an inconsiderate, unyielding snob. however, shouldn’t i indeed demand excellence when it comes to my most crucial attribute?

today betsy got baptized and even before she stepped into the pool, i was already crying watching mere strangers get dunked and come up anew in their relationship with God. and i thought, this is why i’m glad i have a tender heart. this is why i’m glad that i haven’t gotten jaded or bitter or callused over the various things that have happened in my life. i’m glad i get hurt easily because that’s what allows me to love easily. which is even more reason to guard my heart, because it is fragile–and that is a good thing. but not something to allow to be abused. excellence ought to be demanded.

It all started with an impromptu trip to Meijers last week with one Miss Howard. Despite not finding slip-on vans there, the wheels in my head got spinning as I started looking at dishes and pillows and remembering that in about 6 months, I’ll be packing all those things up and towing them to who-knows-where. (currently, in the running is everything as south as Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout, as north as Pleasant Ridge and Silverton, as west as Reading, and as east as, well, Mariemont.)

I’m not rushing through what time I have left, by any means, but you know me: by nature I’m a planner and a forecaster and I like to look ahead. So it is with decorating and updating my stock of household items and getting my ducks all in a row.
So I’ve started accumulating the necessary odds and ends that will come in handy like cookie sheets and a dish drainer and a knife set and drinking glasses and converting a folder-full of recipes onto more-functional index cards, which if you ask me, is a start not to snub at!

But more exciting than that are a couple projects I can’t wait to do:

  1. I bought some teal RIT dye to give a new hue to our current couch cover. As nice as it would be to buy a new couch (there are some affordable versions on Meijer.com and b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l velvet chaise lounges on Target.com) I just feel like I ought to make do with what I have for now, rather than rushing out and not making do with what I have. Anyway, I think the teal-ish hue ought to be a great revamp, because the living room currently  has a bit of a musty-looking air to it—lots of yellows and mustards, which is a color I love, but that I think has to be juxtaposed to other hip pastels.
  2. I have a bookshelf that currently houses our dvds/cds but in whatever new abode I take over, will have to function as an old-fashioned bookshelf. And while I’ve kicked around the idea of painting the interior shelves a la all the pretty shelter magazines, but I just felt that was very permanent. So I’ve decided to, instead, go the semi-permanent route and find a perky little wrapping paper (in my mind’s eye, it’s of the vintage floral variety) that I can cut and line the shelves/background with. I also saw on a blog one time where they tacked a pretty ribbon around the facing edges, although I think it could be a bit much in this rendition. Megan at my work gave me some suggestions of local paper boutiques to check out for the paper ideas. A visual of the colored-background idea:

There are lots of other projects swimming around my skull, but those are the two at the forefront that I’m most excited about. And, depending on where I land, I’d love to make a bulletin board like this curly-cue one, where I imagine tacking up in a kitchen corner or over a desk with all my little inspiration quotes and magazine clippings:

i love ideas!

it seems as though nothing of great import has been going on lately, but at the same time i know a lot has been happening and why do i undermine/lessen that? i’m not sure. i guess because it’s my own life and that just makes it seem all the more ordinary. but at the same time, it is LIFE! and isn’t that extraordinary enough?

i just got confirmation that i will be returning to san diego again this spring for a work trip, the Y Design Conference that i attended last year. that was my first solo trip and now that i have another under my belt, i have confidence that i can make it as successful (from a work and networking point-of-view) as the last.

and so part of me is looking forward to it, as a challenge toward independence–to take on a new city and a big crowd of strangers and make something of it. but a greater part of me is sick of uprooting and starting over, even if just for a weekend. i like consistency and keeping what i have and watching it flourish, rather than have to start a new plot over every couple of years. first it was high school, then it was college, then it was birmingham, then it was cincinnati. i’m ready to dig my heels in and make it last, once and for all. and this just reminds of that and how life is constantly revolving through seasons. but for once, i really love where i am. and i don’t want to see it washed away.

but of course i know that it will only continue to get better. but i think the struggle comes with the fact that for that to happen means that it’s not going to be easy. and part of me just wants a rest to enjoy what i have, rather than keeping with the learning and the toil and tilling. but i know that that’s how we get to that enjoyment, that’s the way of God.

in one of the Chronicles of Narnia books, there’s a part where this kid rescues a girl who’s been snubbing him the entire journey, and he runs to get her help but the hermit tells him he must keep running to deliver a warning because an enemy army is on its way. the book says:

Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.

and that’s how growth happens.

i think one of the things i hate most about going on solo work trips is that i step in as the face of our magazine and have to represent that, which is a lot of responsibility because i respect what we do so much. so i walk in and have to network and mingle and represent and wear this face and try to make friends, and it’s all just so taxing. and at the end of the day it’s just not me. that’s not how i do relationships; it seems pretty pointless to me, to just make a friend for a day.

that’s something that i’ve learned over the past year or so–where my strengths lie. i guess it was last summer when i was teaching the teen girls’ sunday school class and then going down to Over the Rhine. every sunday i would get back from OTR around 3 or 4 and just feel drained. and not a good, refreshing drainage but like i was being wrung out. i realized that as much as my heart loves OTR and what they do and that I want to be that kind of person who goes out to strangers and loves them as they are and witnesses in that way, it’s not me. i’m by nature a pretty reserved person. i don’t like small talk. i don’t make friends anywhere and everywhere. instead, i prefer to have a few good friends who i know deeply and who i can turn to with anything and be completely honest and completely genuine, even when it comes to my fears or my shortcomings or my dreams. i look at those relationships and realize that i don’t need any more friends. i have a lot that makes me feel genuinely bad for people who don’t know love like i do.

and when i realized that that’s the way i develop friendships–intimately and few rather than spread over dozens of sandwiches and faces–i decided to give up OTR and focus on youth group where i feel like i can put who i’m made to be to best, most fruitful use. and though i am aware of the bigger problems facing the world and that i do feel deeply for poverty and injustice, i just feel like my place is with these girls as they experience every day and i try to help them do that, one lesson, one laugh, one conversation at a time.

so i am excited for this work trip, another chance to see the sunny ocean of San Diego again. but you see why there’s such a tug-and-pull about it, as i take a deep breath and forge ahead despite my inhibitions. i’ll be hopping a plane the end of next month.

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