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one of the ways I’ve seen God’s provision most is absolutely, positively through the relationships He’s placed throughout my entire life. I can look back and see how there was special purpose to so many of the friendships i had and even bad dating relationships that i had. as i’ve become a christian, that reality has only grown and shown itself to be even more true. such was the case when I moved up here to Grand Rapids and barely knew a soul–but instantly had a new best friend.

essentially, when Mallory and I had visited, we went to Mars Hill for church and were going to go grab pizza and play games with the one guy I knew in this entire city. as we were gearing up to go do that, a girl walks up and she decides to come join us. end of story. we got along great and when she found out I was moving up here, she called me and we made plans to hang out when I moved up, she invited me to join her Bible study, to go to Mars Hill with her–the whole shebang. and that friendship, which started off so briefly, has been so amazing for me, growing my faith and encouraging me and opening a ton of doors for me.

one of which is the aforementioned Bible study she invited me to join. it’s been phenomenal. i have to say, that is the one thing I look forward to most every week. I’d done small groups before, but what I absolutely love about this one is how diverse it is. it’s all women, but women of all ages. in my group, i’m the youngest and there are moms with teenagers, younger single women, older single women, grandmothers. and it’s beautiful to see how they can all minister to one another and be an encouragement for one another. like when i was sad and just flat-out admitted that i missed Michael and wasn’t enjoying the whole “long-distance” aspect of our relationship. i expected them to pooh-pooh me and shove it off because dating is not marriage and you don’t know love until you’re married. but they didn’t. they looked me square in the eyes and said, “yes, that has to be hard. i understand. i remember. that’s hard.” to feel understood and to realize, “you mean, i’m not crazy for feeling this way? i’m not acting like a cheesy middle school girl? it’s ok to feel this way and still be a grown-up?” it was so touching.

it’s also here that i’ve started meeting with a woman who is giving me some insights into what i trust God has for my future, which is marriage. i’m stepping out in faith and trusting that that desire that is on my heart is one He is going to fulfill. so, while I wait,  I wait in faith and begin preparing, even now though that hasn’t come to pass yet. when God promised Abraham that He’d give him so many descendents that he wouldn’t be able to count them, Abraham had to shake his head and say, “Well I have no idea how that’s going to happen because from my vantage point it seems impossible…but…i trust you LORD. I know in you all things are possible.” (well of course he didn’t actually say those things, but essentially that’s the circumstance he found himself in and that’s how I relate to it.) i want to, when i see the seemingly impossible before me, KNOW that it’s not too big for God and step out in faith, waiting expectantly and excitedly for God to provide it. and I’ve seen the firstfruits of that promise already, in an amazing boyfriend who has already defied so many of my expectations. God has done an amazing work in him and, though i often forget and somehow manage to take his heart for granted, he still is someone that i just simply have an awe for–because of how I can see him live out Christ and chase after God and humble himself and just love. it’s not that i’m putting him on a pedestal, but it’s recognizing the amazing treasure that’s before me.

that epitomizes many of my relationships right now: both with the new freinds in my multi-generational Bible study and with Michael and with Him.

“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty,  “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” — Malachi 3:10

things here seem to quickly be coming to a close–almost too fast for me to grasp or realize. it doesn’t feel like i’ll be moving 6 hours away in a matter of days. i haven’t really packed. i still haven’t foundd a place to live (although i think i am very close!). i haven’t really started saying my goodbyes.

last night my dear friends threw me one last, themed going away party, and that’s when it all started to sink in. “this is goodbye.” there are certain things that are hard for me to wrap my head around, and “goodbye” or “changes” often fall into that category. i can’t imagine things any different than they are right now, and so it’s hard for me to get sad about these sorts of life changes, even though i know that this is a great fork in the road and i anticipate that it will be quite a new beginning for me. but it doesn’t feel like i’m losing; only that things can only get better because this is where God is pulling me and intends me.

i think that’s another reason it’s hard for me to get scared or nervous or sad about things: i’m excited to see what comes from this move. the doors could not have swung open wider and God could not have shown his face any clearer, step after step after step. so any doubt has been wiped clean. and i love it that way.

so it was great to spend one of my last nights in cincinnati, surrounded by friends, where the whole place was full of love and celebration. even though it’s hard for me to fathom that this is a last time that i’ll be able to partake of these sorts of gatherings, it was really awesome to have that as a memory to stoop myself on. because i know that upon moving to grand rapids, things are probably going to be hard and i’m probably going to yearn for those sorts of moments. so now i have them, freshly tucked away, still smelling crisp and new: friends and lovelies and everything i love about Ohio crammed into one room.

thanks, friends 🙂 i love you!

last night was cool. it was cool because there are few times when reality lives up to your expectations. so often we find ourselves disappointed, which i think is actually good because it’s a natural reminder that this isn’t all there is–that we long for more because there is more.

but last night stood up to test! last night, holly, kitty and I piled in my car and made our way to Xenia, Ohio, a little town that i’ve occassionally heard of but never ventured and never really cared to venture to. except in this case, because Tara Leigh Cobble was playing a show there. only an hour’s drive away, it was quite an opportunity because upon reading her first book we all would say, “I want to be her friend!”

last night, we were! we arrived at the church, where they were serving tasty Starbucks-y drinks (I often think that churches do Starbucks better than Starbucks does). when TLC started playing, we moved up into the front row to watch. my favorite thing was that when she sang she looked so happy and looked like she was singing to God, which i think is pretty amazing. because we were front-and-center, she said hi and asked us our names. a few of her songs made all of us teary-eyed but there was one that was oh-so (sadly) true: she sang about how when you meet a guy and if he’s taller than you and, especially, if he’s wearing a cross around his neck (or in my case, goes to a christian school or works at a christian company or has “Jesus” under his list of Myspace heroes), you immediately start imagining your future together. so sad to say that that’s something i struggle with all the time, but it was nice to know i’m not the only one!

afterward we waited till the crowd around her thinned and went up to say hello. it’s so nice when people who you imagine and hope are nice actually are. we hung out with her and you’d just think she was someone we met at the mall or at a party, not someone who spends her time driving the country and writing books and singing songs and whose memoir we read and hung onto every word. she invited us to hang out with her as she packed up and shared some strawberries that they’d given her backstage. she’s really as nice and sweet and funny and real as we’d imagined.

when we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the highway, we detoured to “dorothy lane” exit, found some food and then pulled into cincinnati after midnight. it was a great trip, and grounded me as to the kind of person i hope to grow into: who can touch lives and inspire people and who people can tell really loves Jesus and means it. sometimes i’m afraid that i just look like a shod, that my heart is no different from anyone else’s… but that’s for a whole other entry.

thank you, tlc for being our friend, even if only for a short evening!!

 you probably should know by now one of my favorite books is Tara Leigh Cobble’s “Here’s to Hindsight.” i’m not one to read (or watch, for that matter) anything twice. on the rare occasion that i do, that says something. and H2H is one that i think i will probably reread every couple of months, just because it speaks so loudly and directly to me. well, let the love continue; here’s something she just posted on her blog:

We all do it. We take a perfectly good wound — one intended to teach us something, to grow us closer to God — and we try to cover it up with an ill-fitting bandage. Sometimes we act in desperation, grabbing dirty napkins from the ground just to have something to put over the wound so we don’t have to see it, so we don’t have to be reminded that it’s still there.

We do it for our friends, too. We say and do the wrong things to help them move on from their own pain, we speak and act without thinking or praying first. Maybe we just want the pain to be over for them, or maybe we don’t want to look at their wounds because those wounds disturb us.

This past weekend, I was a leader and guest musician at a women’s conference for nearly 200 women of all ages. The women moved me with stories of their healing, their pain, their mistakes. They’ve wasted time (haven’t we all!?!) trying to cover up the pain through improper relationships, eating or drinking too much, looking at porn, and even having children. They’ve felt the pain of losing husbands who have tried to heal their own wounds in the wrong ways, as well.

It reminds me to ask myself what I’m doing to push past my own pain (or the pain of others), to create the illusion of healing without actually giving the wound time to breathe and heal. The more we apply the wrong bandages, the more we delay the process by refusing to put the pain in God’s capable hands.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

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.” 

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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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.

over the weekend, i played my first soccer game with kitty’s indoor team. fortunately, i didn’t really have much time to get too nervous about the venture because work has been hectic as all get out lately (more so than usual as we’re working on yet another web project–we just got a new CEO who’s “passionate about the internet,” oh and also about coaching baseball. and yes, he mentioned both “passions” in the same sentence).

anyway so friday night i find my way to the venue where, come to find out, i’m wearing a purple shirt while my team is red and the opposing team is black. needless to say, that’s when the nervousness started to kick in.

but, as ‘luck’ would have it, all that got erased in a moment’s time, because as i showed up, a big guy with a shaved head throws his hands down on the table i’m standing in front of. “carmen from temple baptist!! do you remember me?!?” once i shook the shock off, i looked closer and–not being one who easily remembers faces–slowly guessed, “jon simpson?”

sure enough, here was a kid (now a man) who i haven’t seen in 10 years. when i was in 8th and 9th grade, maria and i played soccer and her dad was a youth pastor at the nearby temple baptist church, so of course i hitched a ride with her. jon was in the youth group there and for the next 2 years i spent quite a bit of time there (sunday nights, wednesday nights, overnights, church camp–the whole shebang). but then maria’s dad decided to quit as youth pastor there (he was also the Bible teacher at maria’s high school and the school’s volleyball coach and basketball coach). when he quit, a lot people were upset and thought he was being selfish for resigning. so, they decided to leave temple baptist. i left with them and never returned, either.

but here i was, on a random friday night and i already knew about half the team. jon, his brother and sister were also on the team. it was really interesting to be reunited with people who probably don’t recognize you at all, because the last time they saw you, you were running around in baggy cordorouys and singing Goo Goo Dolls in the parking lot with your BFF who was wearing green mascara and even baggier jeans.

it’s interesting to think back to those afternoons that we spent there, having no idea what lay ahead of us. i don’t even remember what i worried about back then or what i thought would happen or where i thought i’d be when i was 24. i probably expected to be married and maybe even starting a family–or at least thinking about it.

but here i am, as confused and foggy about the future as ever, but, looking back over my shoulder, quite content at where my path has led me. it hasn’t been simple or suspecting. but i can see how God stepped in and guided all of that and has made it richer than i’d ever imagined. which just makes me look forward to more–to tomorrow.

this week has flown by. case in point: every tuesday we have our staff meeting and i was sitting at my desk when one of my coworkers stopped by another’s desk and said, “it’s that time again!” scratching my head (i’m always afraid i forgot to write a meeting down), i glanced at the clock: 2pm. in fact, it was tuesday not monday, as i’d otherwise thought. that has been the theme of this week.

because here i am today, at friday.

it’s been a busy week at work; we just sent our april issue to the printer and are already rockin’ and rollin’ on june and just starting assigning august features. then, i’m taking over our bimonthly e-newsletter, so i’m gearing up for that. and on top of that, there’s another big project that seems looming over the horizon.

but it’s good because it makes me feel really productive. monday i spent recovering from my TCTC weekend and catching up on TV; tuesday was a lovelies night where we flipped through magazines and checked out some more bridesmaids dress options (slowly but surely!); wednesday was my small-group meeting at starbucks; last night holly’s friend brandon came over in our first installment of Special Guest Nights in Mariemont–it was fun. we made grilled cheese and soup (which he called “a treat”!) and watched MTV and then played the oldest version of clue i’ve ever seen! and tonight i’m going to step on a soccer field for the first time since 1999, in my junior year of high school. eek! but i’m playing with kitty so i’m totally stoked.

so life is ticking along. so quickly, in fact that i’ve already started getting emails about … SWIMMING SUITS! where did winter go?!

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amped because these next two weeks are pretty (ahem, prepare yourself for a string of musical puns) jam-packed.

(sorry, i can’t help it. really. it’s what i get paid to do.)

for instance:

monday night: date night with Holly. now that our lives are going more smoothly (meaning i’m not stressed out 24/7) i’m quite looking forward to having both a roommate and a BFF Lovely back again.

tuesday night: Lovelies night, as per usual. and if all goes according to plan, i believe this will also include my favorite Dylan-monster who i’m sure will keep us more than entertained. he’s the coolest 4-year-old i know.

wednesday night: small group, also as per usual! which means lots and lots of girl talk and analysis and suggestions and…yes…starbucks.

thursday night: where the “amped” comes into play: MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK + ANBERLIN + MAE. seriously. talk about an amazing line-up. i’d never listened to anberlin before, only seen them on the cover of Relevant, but Holly, being the daredevil that she is, was able to get her music-snatching little fingers on a copy for me. and yes, i’m in love. see for yourself:

this is the show i’ve been looking forward to since July when we saw MCS last. i’m already whispering to myself, “i’m on fire, and now i think i’m ready to bust a move, check it out i’m rocking steady!”

friday night: Lovelies annual $5 gift exchange. if last year’s can set the stage: I received a book of examples of “Big Hair” (there were even ones with women whose hair was braided all over their face to look like masks!); gnome-ish socks (and if you don’t get it, then You Don’t Gnome Me); and, the gift that took the fruitcake: a set of postcards that featured catalog pages of menswear from the 70s (think polyester jumpsuits and neck scarves and ever so appropriately posed tighty whiteys).

saturday night: a roadtrip to go to a play in Dayton (The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever). i love the movie, so am pumped to see it come to life!

OK, that’s enough looking forward. i wish it weren’t so gloomy outside, but at least i have all that spirit-making to look forward. plus i only have one more present left to buy. how splendid is that?!

Well I’m pretty pumped. How’s that for a change of pace? Yes, I’m breathing a sigh of relief too. Let’s hope things stay sunny like this for quite some time…

So what has caused everything to start looking up? A few things.

S-l-o-w d-o-w-n
Monday afternoon, I met one of the guys from church for lunch to talk about the idea of discipleship and how to nudge it in my different small groups. Besides the fact that he’s super smart and inspiring and full of advice and insight and spewing knowledge, it was nice to have that real-life challenge. That person that is holding me accountable to what I’m doing in other people’s lives and in my own and with my own perspective.
Like, he was telling me about the need to just focus on doing one thing at a time. When you accomplish one thing, then God will give you more. But don’t rush anymore. God is very one-step-at-a-time, vs. our society which is EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT NOW!!!! It’s challenged me to be content with what I have now and make the most of it, rather than try to accelerate everything and play hopscotch through it, leaping to the finish line. That—slowing down and taking my time in the here and now—isn’t something that comes easy to me. So that’s been a pacifying force/idea.

Drink up!
Yesterday we Starbucks-ed it with the lovelies, which was, fittingly, quite lovely! I know consumerism is currently seen as the devil (particularly with that new documentary, “What Would Jesus Buy?”), but I have to say that there are things like Starbucks that I think are worth the investment. Because it’s not the drink itself, but instead the time to chill with friends and spend hours hanging out, without having to fret “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” You just sit. And be. And my friends are the grounding force in my life. Period. End of story.

Girl talk
Also, last night I got to chat with my DEAR old friend, Kristin. Who, for the past year or so, I have probably only talked to once every few months. But I’ve already talked to her 3 times in the past week. And it’s glorious! She is so able to pump up my spirits, whether it’s quoting her new book (some kind of How to Survive a Break-Up book) or telling me about all the crazy scenarios she gets herself into. And of course I spill my guts and she spills hers and then we mop them up together. I think that kind of give-and-take is what’s so cathartic. She’s going through a break-up now, too, although admittedly, hers is much more devastating than mine; they were together for over 2 years and she moved across the country for him.

In the spirit
And today, I spent my lunch break doing some good, old-fashioned Christmas shopping, which makes me feel better to check more names off the list. And to come across some really funny or really fitting presents. I’d say I’m about 1/3 of the way through. But that’s a good, solid start—one I can stand on and feel less stressed about.

Making headway
Along with the whole idea of taking what you have now and not rushing through it and just going one step at a time with it, is the whole Paul sitch, which seems to be settling into a softer routine. and it’s nice to ease into that, whatever may come of it…

I know thanksgiving was officially a week ago, but I also know that a day is only just that—a day. And so today I feel like it’s more like thanksgiving than a week ago. Why? Quite simply, the power of friendship.

For awhile there, I was holed-up in myself. It was the holidays so people were busy and I was just in a mood where I didn’t really feel like reaching out. I didn’t feel like catching people up on what was going on, I didn’t feel like talking about it and rehashing it again and again. But then I realized that—while I hope I’m great company for other people—I’m not good company for myself in times like these. It reminds me of the part in Chronicles of Narnia when Father Christmas comes and says that winter is finally starting to end, and all the ice starts melting and the grass starts showing and then the rivers break free.  Things come back to life.

That’s what I look at my friends and see.
Friday:
Betsy called to set up a date, which goes to show that ESP runs her in her family because it was just what I needed. Even though I probably wasn’t willing to reach out, I needed that time. We went to Max and Erma’s and gorged on their soup and fries and sandwiches and all kinds of conversation. It was a nice relief to everything else.
Tuesday:
Lovelies date with Holly and Kitty, which included Chipotle and crafts trips. We hadn’t done one of those in quite some time, either, because Betsy’s been traveling, but I knew that I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t not “fellowship,” however much it’s nice to self-indulge and sulk.
Wednesday: Lunch with Bee, then small group with Cathy and Brianna, which I’ve realized I need greatly in my life. I’d never had much experience with small groups before, but now I’m a big advocate, because I can see that where I’ve been really sad lately, that outlet has also been missing. We didn’t meet for almost two months, which is about just as long as I’ve been feeling upset. And so I know that things will still be tough and all that, but I think that that’s a good anchor to keep in my life, because it’s so rooted in what’s real and spiritual and connecting.
And then! I got to talk for about an hour to my friend Kristin, who lives in Phoenix. My dear, dear Kristin, who I haven’t talked to in probably months. Fortunately, the time change is now on our side (Arizona doesn’t abide by the laws of time, evidently) so she’s only 2 hours behind. And it’s funny because I didn’t even meet Kristin until spring quarter of my senior year—Easter weekend to be exact. And when we did meet, we were both trashed (I’m almost certain it was the drunkest I’ve ever been). And yet, that’s all it took. Ever since, we’ve been close and I can remember when I moved to Birmingham, she was the one I talked to most, even though at that point we’d only been friends for 4 months.

And that’s the thing I love most about friends, about the friends that I’m so fortunate to have, is that you know how genuine the friendship is when you can go for a time apart and then come back together like it was only a moment, rather than weeks or months. It’s like, time doesn’t distance you like it normally would. I’ve always held those relationships up as my only tool for comparison when it comes to love. That they are true love, and that I’ll know romantic love from holding it up to that light. It’s a tool that I hold dearly because I know that even if nothing else does compare, that I always have it there, undeniably. Even when I push away, they pull back, because they love and they care and they are selfless and know what to do.

So, I’m thankful. Thankfully.

i’m sitting at home listening to “hey delilah,” ready for the weekend. it’s very peaceful. like a breath of fresh air.

last night i met brianna and, sitting in the comfy couches of starbucks, i sipped my peppermint white chocolate latte and she her eggnog latte (although i’m not positive that either of them were lattes; i have no understanding about any of those differences. all i can tell is whether it’s hot or cold). anyway, we got on the subject of tattoos. it’s not anything i’d ever been interested in, but over this summer, something has begun to change…i think it’d be nice.

the problem has always been that i’m a very safe decision-maker; i shop around before i make any big purchase. i don’t commit to big plans until i’ve had time to mull them over and make certain they’ll work. i keep an excel spreadsheet of my finances and budget. so when it comes to things that will last forever, it’s not exactly in my comfort zone. i look back at the clothes i wore even 4 years ago and cringe–were my skirts really that short?! did i really think the whole newsboy cap was cool?! really?! and i know that that’s as much a result of growing up and settling more comfortably into my own skin (as opposed to society/what everyone else is doing). but still. am i capable to make any decision that lasts that long?

i haven’t decided. but i’ve been kicking it around. i’ve come so far as to think that what i would like to get is something with a leaf or a fern. ideally it’d be a leaf in the shape of a heart of some sort. the idea behind that is that “God is love” and I feel closest/most aware of Him and His grandness when i’m out in nature. everything about nature just seems to edify me and–no pun intended–ground me. i think that’s one of the reasons why i love the color green so much; it’s so symbolic. anyway, so rather than the usual cross or icthus, that’s what i’d get to represent my faith for me.

i was originally thinking it’d be cool to get it on my left wrist (to remind me to spread that love out into the world, be Jesus’ hands and feet in my actions), but that’s where my fear gets the best of me. what if i’m 50 and get self-conscious of it? i’m not too fond of long-sleeves as it is, so that’s a great deal of commitment. the next logical place is my back or on my side. but then i wonder, if i don’t see it, what’s the point? however i used to wear a cross necklace because i thought it’d help me remind me of my faith and the whole WWJD thing, but inevitably i’d forget i was wearing it, so i’m sure this is just another one of those you’re-bound-to-get-used-to-it things anyway.

here’s the best example i could find:

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but i did convince brianna to let me go with her when she gets hers, hopefully next month.

the weekend was fabulous. the pictures are posted here. becky and i headed down on friday and arrived at jackie’s in time for some homemade tacos (because that’s what i always made for myself when i lived down there) and then we hit up innisfree, which was the bar that jackie and i used to always go to when we lived up the street. she hadn’t been back in ages, and of course it cracked me up to be back there again. but the drinks were cheap and the cover band (always a bham staple) did “sweet home alabama”, so it was just like old times and becky got to experience a little taste of the old life. she got to see for herself how boys all wear the collared shirts with crew cuts or outgrown-crew-cuts-that-slightly-resemble-shaggy-hair-but-not-quite, and how the girls are all in heels and dolled up. actually though there was a guy there with a sweatband arm band, and i was completely shocked. the times they are a-changin’.

saturday we took a quick tour around the city (back to my old house, my old park, and my old work), and then went to elizabeth’s wedding. thinking it started at 2:30 and we were arriving early, like good friends, we walked in only to find that we were in step with the wedding party processional. the wedding actually started at 2pm. so we hid in a little coat closet till elizabeth made her way down the aisle, and then we sneaked into the back. it was a lovely wedding though and the reception was amazing. it had a really cool atmosphere: very nice and classy, but laidback and casual. hard to pull off, but i think it’s because there was no designated seating and you could sit inside or out (in the church’s pretty courtyard) and there were food stations sprinkled throughout. i loved the feel of it, and plus the centerpieces were beautiful (cylinder vases filled with apples and calla lilies and roses–her colors were red and white and black).

afterward, we headed over to her house to keep the celebration going and mingled with the wedding party (becky got to meet her girl crush). of course we watched the bride play ping pong. plus, we got to eat the rest of the food that we hadn’t had room in our stomachs to eat at the wedding. and they made wings 🙂 around 9 we went back to the hotel and turned in for an early evening. only to be awakened a couple hours later to our noisy neighbors, who finally quieted down around 3. then, 8 hours later, we were back in cincinnati and all was well…

that’s a pretty quote that i read in this lady’s blog. she seems like she lives such a pretty life, always cooking and baking and sewing clothes for her kids. seems very peaceful and serene in that it’s probably chaotic and crazy, but just the way you’d want it to be. who knows. anyway, yes, i liked the quote.

tomorrow i leave for good ole birmingham, alabama. i’m actually really, really looking forward to it. it will be me, becky, and an 8-hour car ride from here to there. and “there,” we’ll meet up with jackie, my old roommate from way back When; when we used to live in a little southern cottage and chase the flying cockroaches with bug spray and try to smash them with phonebooks and textbooks and when i burnt a whole pan of baked beans and our other roommate hated us and there was a visiting mouse and melted strainer and we worked at big-name magazines and hung out at southern bars and learned every word to “sweet home alabama” and watched “life was we know it” until it was cancelled and took a road trip to new orleans and got ourselves in all sorts of youthful debacles. and then she stayed there and i packed up my car and then on Christmas Eve 2004, drove back home through a snow storm with no idea what awaited me in my old hometown.

it was a really scary time in my life. i remember driving down there when i accepted the internship. jackie and i had never met, i had no idea what i was in for and was taking this as a leap of faith. i remember listening to the allister song that talks about starting over from “scratch”, which is exactly what i felt like i was doing:

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

I know there’s no time left for second chances
Still we’re right despite these circumstances
You’ve changed me more than you could ever know
So we will just hang on until tomorrow
so take my hand
don’t ever let me go

take our time
making sure that everything feels right
it won’t be easy
but I’m not afraid
she’s so far away

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

and as with so many other things in life, it all turned out beautifully. we made memories, i found a perfect job and moved back home and made amazing friends and an amazing little life for myself. so it will be interesting to journey back, now at the point where i am, and look at it all through that lens. on Friday, we’ll head over to Jackie’s and do dinner and reminisce and then head over to Innisfree, the bar that we used to walk to every weekend, and on Saturday our friend Liz is tying the knot so we’ll get to experience a proper Southern wedding. and then on Sunday… we make the trek back. maybe we can stop in Nashville for dinner or something? i’d enjoy that i think.

so we’ll see. but i’m looking forward to the break and the moment to catch my breath. i feel like i’ve been running full speed ahead and so now i realize that that isn’t healthy. so if you pray, i’d appreciate those kinds of prayers. just learning how to strike that balance. i went so far as to scribe a little list of rules: things like leave one night a week with nothing planned, do nothing (phone, visiting, etc.) after 10:30pm, and only schedule 2 things a night. (last night for instance involved a happy hour from 5 to 7, small group from 7:30 to 9:15, and stopping by paul’s from 9:30 to 10.) i just recognize that by running myself ragged i get stressed = fretful = crabby and that’s not worth it. that’s not me.

so thanks for any prayers, internet friends. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

(also, in regular list-making fare, i got started on my christmas list. and that’s a month later than most years!)

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two weeks! two weeks?

where have i been? let’s do a retrospective:

BROWN COUNTY FAIR
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– friday night i’m going with some gals to the Brown County Fair. i remember going to a fair when i was still in elementary or junior high school and, having grown up in the suburbs with every kind of fast food and convenience stores sprinkled on various corners, that was the extent of my fair faring. so, i’m eager to experience this little slice of life, even though i’m sure that it will be overly glamorized and not nearly as “Sweet Home Alabama” as i’d like. but it’ll be fun and that’s all that matters.

– saturday is chock-full of other sorts of celebrations. that afternoon, we’re celebrating my grandma’s birthday and will be gathering as we always do to wish her a good one. this is the grandma that i’m named after, who somehow, growing up in the hills of Kentucky, got the name “Carmen.” later that night, a former coworker is having a Fall Theme Party with cider and pumpkin pie and i couldn’t be more, well, pumped (hehehehe). afterward, another friend is having a birthday bash which won’t be as thematic but i’m sure it’ll be fun and festive and full of friends and laughs. plus, i think paul will be coming along, and i’m looking forward to that. it’ll be fun to share that with him.

(side  note: one of my friends had a sweater and cider party once. i didn’t get to make it because i think i was out of town, but it sounds uber cute. might have to add that to the party-planning list for the maple street abode!)

so i’m looking forward to the weekend. october’s just around the corner, and i’m ready to welcome autumn in with open arms. things like haunted houses and carving pumpkins and hayrides and playing in fallen leaves–they’re pretty little images that i want to snap and hang on my walls as mementos of 2007.  here’s to making them happen…

every tuesday me, holly and kitty congregate in the basement of betsy’s townhouse, squishing onto her big comfy couches and partake in what has become the great american pastime: watching tv together.

it all started one night in 2005, at an ihop or steak-n-shake or some late-night place like that. i remember us swinging open the glass doors to enter and somehow bringing up the topic of “gilmore girls.” kitty said she loved it. holly echoed the statement. so it seemed silly for us to not celebrate the splendor that is heretofore known as GG as a group.

so we gathered, dragging betsy along in tow, every tuesday to watch the latest installment of Luke vs. Christopher; Logan vs. Jess; Rory and Laine, Lorelai and her mother.

since the series kicked the bucket this spring, we’ve had to adopt new shows to fill the void. our choice? monday night television: Greek and The Hills. the hills is quite a phenomenon, and not one i had really sunk my teeth into. but that’s all changed. i still don’t know where audrina came from or what happened to whitney, but what i do know now is that holly and i totally deserve our own reality tv show. i think it’d be quite entertaining.

we’ll be in the midst of something and say, “if we had a reality show, this is a part they’d totally show.” since we might be waiting forever for this blockbuster to ever be taken seriously, here’s a glimpse at some of our would-be highlights from our debut season in The Maple Street House:

  • about a week ago holly was going to take a shower and found a big bug hanging out above our window. we decided that it was a hornet. and since we have yet to own a flyswatter, i went back to my closet for reinforcements and came back with a shoe on each hand, one Roo and one New Balance. (the thinking was that they each had different tread patterns on the bottom and maybe one was the better for trapping large flying insects with stingers.) i climbed up on the sink and, holding my breath and putting on my game face, started flailing at the bug. between screams and damnations and switching between shoes, it finally crashed to the sink top, vanquished.
  • on sunday, holly made me a mix cd to which the opening song was UNK’s “walk it out” of youtube fame (actually, my manager at work first introduced me to that video. in the same vein, it was my mom who had to teach me about lil mama’s lip gloss). well after googling it and watching homemade dance videos to it, i wanted to learn how to actually “walk it out.” so, we downloaded some instructional walk-it-out hip-hop videos and proceeded to try to teach ourselves how to walk it out in the corner of holly’s bedroom. i think biggy must be up there shaking his head right now…
  • and then, yesterday, as we were driving home from Monday night tv fest, we decidedly decided what the closing scene/credits would showcase. as we made our way down the windy state route, we turned up jack’s mannequin and the fratellis and hellogoodbye and sang as loud as we could, as happy as we could.

i guess they all just go to show how silly this little life we lead is, but yet how much fun we have inspite of it. yeah, they’re pretty embaressing, but isn’t that what tv’s all about anyway? i think we can handle it.

of late, i’ve been celebrating a sort of Christmas-in-August.

the other week i came home to a cute little polka-dot print package from a roasty-toasty Miss Kristin out in phoenix. inside?

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a (…poor picture of a…) cute wooden jewelry box (green on the inside) full of old costume jewelry that she found at an estate sale and thought of ME.

then, on sunday, i came home from a long day spent being lazy at my parents’ (and catching up on every last miami ink and bridezilla episode) and holly had a present of her own for me: a soundtrack for our new little life. with it came a lego that she’d gotten from church as they were talking about the need to be connected.

i’ve been loving the cd ever since and when i brought it to work on monday, could hardly pay attention and accomplish anything because i was determined to learn every word to “walk it out.” (still working on it.)

here’s the playlist:
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(look what my roommate’s trying to do to me with all these explicit songs. i don’t know if my angelic ears can take it.)

top it all off, yesterday my manager (with whom i have daily hot chocolate breaks) gave me some extra kings island tickets she had. me, bee and holly will be putting them to use on saturday. i haven’t been in years. backwards racer, here i come!

so, long live August! (i feel loved.)

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