Thursday, December 4, 2008

remembering when i was really really blonde.

i met a girl today doing a match meeting at work who reminded me very much of myself at age 11 or 12. she even looked a lot like me. very blonde almost white hair and light colored eyes. very "chipper" and yet soft spoken and excited about life and ready to talk to anyone and smile a lot and pretty much find everything funny and just seemed glad and curious and interested with everything there was to think about. and she stated she liked speaking in groups and wanted to be a public speaker someday and loved writing and loved reading and her mom said she was imaginative about everybody. she loved to write stories, except she was always killing off one certain character and her mom never knew why. sounds about right :) (ok, i never really did that).

yes, i learned all this in my 45 minute interaction with her...but i think you can tell a lot by talking with people for a short while and also watching them with others. the amazing thing about this girl though was where all she'd been in her short life already. i don't know the full spectrum of it and especially what happened with her birth family, but the mom she is with now took her in as a foster child several years back..then adopted her. then she herself got divorced and so she went from one broken family to another..yet the second one was filled with love from her mom. even though she doesn't see her dad (first or second) and she has 3 older siblings to deal with, and maybe she didn't have the best roots to stem from, you can totally see how she has bloosomed. maybe it's a testiment to the love she now has surrounding her, maybe some is her happy disposition in general, whatever it is, you would never know she was even in "need" of having a mentor. sure, we all need them, but wow, how neat to know that this little girl doesn't act as though she wants for anything. she seemed simple and pure and said that one of her favorite things in life is just singing christmas carrols. she said christmas is so awesome because you can just feel the joy and you can spend more time with the people you love. the thing is, there was nothing strange or weird about her even if this sounds so "far out" from the world pre teenagers (she's almost 13) live in. even though i don't know her enough to conclude anything for sure, what she resembled in that brief bit of time was this remarkable example of what i feel we're all called to somehow get back to.

we are all seriously dealing with a lot of junk in life. but somehow, we have to find a way to still smile so completely naturally because there's something just a little mysterious, just a little too special to wrap your head around with the fact that we're all here, living this life together.

It was a strange way for me to realize that i can still find the girl in me who is like that girl tonight if i long to. that she never really went away at all. maybe she gets bogged down from life sometimes, but there's reason to smile yet...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Professional what?

A professional can be considered a person who is expert at his or her work. I'm not really an "expert" in the work world so to speak, but I feel like this word has cropped up in my life a lot lately. Tonight for some reason, I was thinking about how we could use this term in other areas of our lives, both to portray positive qualities or skills we might possess and also to expose the negative or perhaps sinful actions or motives we may also hold dear to much so that we don't realize we've reached the "professional" or expert status.

In which areas could someone looking at your life call you a professional?

Here's some types of non-traditional professionals I thought of:

Professional Worrier
Professional Peacemaker
Professional Email-checker (does this even make sense with what professional means? Who knows, but I think I am this)
Professional Shopper
Professional Non-shopper...hmm
Professional Idler
Professional Reader
Professional Health Nut
Professional Relaxer
Professional TV Junkie
Professional Caregiver
Professional Whitness
Professional Sleeper (can I please learn from someone who is good at this?)
Professional Hostess
Professional Giver-upper
Professional Judger
Professional Cleaner (this too? :) )
Professional Cheerleader
Professional Optimist
Professional Learner
Professional Lover
Professional Giver (yay Visio Dei)
Professional Truth-teller

I think I need to ponder this awhile, and determine how to stop being a professional at some of these things, and also maybe thank God for some of the others where He's molding me in a good way through them.

Any thoughts professional bloggers? :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pretend Bride?

I think the best part of my week was today on the phone when Traci said I could wear her wedding dress for Halloween. Wow-what a pal! haha..she said it's been sitting in her room for 3 years and she's not planning to wear it anytime soon.

I would definitely make a statement wearing that I'm sure...but Traci, I might pass. We'll have to see how much I feel like being a bride-for-a-day. Who knows though, it might just make some groom-for-a-day out there interested? (ha, only kidding of course;) ).'s a funny idea. I do think I would freeze. And get a lot of looks on the streets.

Halloween is always a funny night. I never know how to dress up. I'm doing a program for work tomorrow night too so I might just have to go as myself.

Any other last minute easy suggestions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I want a child's brain again:)

So, I've been babysitting here and there lately...mostly for two girls 4 and 3. They are way cute. And have funny things to say to me. Here are a few of the recent ones:

"Don't take my dog home with you. I know you want to, but if you do, I'll be sad. Please don't take my dog home with you. You can get your own dog." -4 yr old in reference to me taking one of her dozens of animals off her bed so she had room to sleep.

"Wait, Julie, we forgot to eat dinner!" -4 yr old as I leave after pus tting her to bed. Either she wanted to pull a fast one on me so she could get up again or she really didn't remember that unlike all the other times when I was there for dinner, her mom had fed her dinner before I got there. Really, kids are more creatures of habit than us.

"I'm going to call you Mr. Julia" -3 yr old to me. She really likes to call me anything but my real name. Sometimes she calls me Miss Julia at least. That's comforting.

"We can read Merry Christmas, Curius George. It doesn't have to be Christmas...-4 yr old before story.
"Oh, I wish it were Christmas, but it has to be Halloween before Christmas." -after story

There's probably a lot more. I need to keep better track:). Kids are funny beings.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I miss the Swiss (life).

The day was clear and brisk. I was doing an afternoon walk/jog and once again I wasn't exactly sure if I was going the long way or the really long way around town in Gumligen, Switzerland. All I knew for sure was that every time I stopped to catch my breath or kept going, I was headed in the direction of the mountains:). I loved gazing at them, as this trip to student teach abroad was my first time actually exposed to mountains. They never failed to amaze me...although I have to say, I started to expect them, became immune to seeing them, like I had become immune to hearing the cowbells as I faded off to sleep, or the expectation of the morning train. Somehow, even in a distant land where I was the foreigner, I was getting used to the routine there.
But the next day I, along with my 3 traveling companions, were headed back to the states, back to what really was routine: the pace and the structure we'd grown up with, yet for the past 3 months had only been a memory.
All of a sudden, despite my anticipation of returning home, I was sad thinking about how this beautiful horizon and everything wonderful about the strange and rustic land we'd come to know would soon be a mere memory as well.
I remember standing there in the middle of some street (strasse) trying to hold it all in my mind as long as I could, so not to just glimpse over anything. I knew I would want to return someday, yet I had no idea when this would take place and if things would be feel the same. I think I decided right then and there that this place and what I felt when I was there at that moment..freedom, peace, surprise, unpredicatability- were so magical and out of the ordinary that I should call upon them whenever I needed to feel that way. And I have been able to do that- I've noticed many times when I just need some solace I think of the great moments from that trip. I've never denied that there was difficulty with the experience as well, but I think I just choose to think of it differently.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we could do this with all our past experiences? And, if something like mountains and a beautiful countryside can symbolize clarity, wonder, adventure, and limitless possibilities, can't we connect to our surroundings that way no matter what they are if we choose? I think it can be done.
Still, since I left I've had a longing to go back. It's not feasible now, but someday I will make it possible. I think of this place now for many reasons, part of which because it's almost been 3 years since I went.

The strange way my mind works resonates to my writing, and I always want there to be a point to a story..I want it to relate to something bigger, some a-ha moment, something thoughtful or reflective. I guess I like to draw conclusions...I think I like to connect to things outside of everyday life. And maybe figure out how to make it more part of everyday life. I've recently thought that oddly, I enjoy missing things, even if it's hard to do. People, places, experiences, moments in my life..I like thinking back on them, and usually they can be almost as present to me as when they occurred. Maybe missing something reminds you why it's important to you in the first place. As long as you don't dwell on it, I guess.

You always appreciate things more with time, and distance. And when you don't get to see them like you once did. I feel that way about my family sometimes, too. But in terms of places, I love calling this country home, but still, there's something fascinating about living a different way for awhile. In my dreams, I can just do that all over again..

One of my favorite things was when I stepped out on top of a very, very tall mountain, I felt as if I was really really small and the world was really really big. Strange that I like that feeling, but I do. Maybe because we're used to the opposite feeling. And I also liked, on the really cloudy days, when we couldn't even see past the cliff...feeling like all the little stuff isn't as significant as it seems. Maybe this wasn't reality, but draw some conclusions of your own...maybe it's possible to make this a reality without a big ball of clouds and higher-than-imaginable elevation:).

Can we change anything?

Mother Theresa once said, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." I feel about this quote is how I feel sometimes about the major, overwhelming problems of the world. Doing something is important, but does it really make any difference? Maybe if I didn't do something, the ocean wouldn't be that much smaller. But if all of us doing something can be compared to drops in the ocean, well, then, without any of our efforts we would barely have enough water for a pond, right?

After reading an article this morning on the problem of human hunger, I was alarmed at how much God was moving in my heart for groups of people in the world that I’ve never really felt connected to. I’ve always felt something for people who are poor, hungry, homeless, etc. but I feel I’ve been used to reacting to this disparity in a few different ways: not knowing how anything I do can help such global and overwhelming problems, thinking that because the world is so broken there’s always going to be these problems, thinking that it’s just because of their circumstances or things they have done which has brought them to the point where they are. I’ve also thought, it’s enough to take on my own problems let alone the burdens of the world. Some of these reactions are cruel-sounding, I know, but nothing about anyone’s perspective will ever change unless they’re honest. So I’m laying it all out...
Then I had two thoughts. One, what would I desire most for these people, in my thinking that wide-spread social change would be great but isn’t really realistic? And two, where has my heart gravitated toward in the past, as I know I’m much more soft-hearted than it sounds from my above comments?

The answer to number one is that I desire for them to really know Christ. As I’ve begun learning and growing more in what that means for my life, I want others who are in pain, hurting, feeling lost to experience that, too. Maybe then, they will be able to turn their lives around, I think, or latch on to the resources for them to do so, or at least stop being caught up in the whirlwind cycle of rottenness that plagues a lot of their day-to-day lives because of the situations they find themselves in.
But, along these lines, I was moved today as I read about chronically hungry people, and Christians who were seeking to “bring the good news” to them in other places of the world. Well, as a side-note, I know there are lots of hungry people right here around us, too, who don’t know the good news either. But the article said that before any of these people can understand or even “hear” the good news, they have to stop starving. For them, at the beginning, food is their source of “good news.” They can’t operate any other way unless their basic needs are met. This is scary and also liberating, because I think it can relate to people who are hungry for a lot of things, not just food. But it definitely speaks to me when I think about how much I take for granted and people who live off of practically nothing and are always starving.
Sure, it’s not to say we shouldn’t enjoy and experience the life we’ve been given, with the blessings and luxuries we have, but I realize there is a danger in never leaving that zone and experiencing what others feel on a day-to-day basis. This led me to the second question.
I do feel I have a desire to help hungry people, but we all have to work our way up slowly. I’m not yet fully equipped to help people more than I know how (besides just donating canned items and filling up backpacks to send overseas or something small like that, still not really connecting me to people or allowing me to use my skills to help them), even though I feel I want to really help in the “hunger” domain someday.
So then, not speaking of food, where am I tangibly helping people who are hungry right now? I guess it’s good that for this moment in time, even if I sometimes grumble, I can see my job in a new light, that children who are hungry for love are being served by engaging in positive interactions with adults in the community who have a drive to care, to mentor, to be a helping hand in pulling at-risk children out of their potential to continue down a vicious cycle of trouble and heartache. I think it’s very meaningful to do something to stop the cycle while people are young, by letting them know that someone cares about and is invested in them and whether they sink or swim.
We go through life knowing what we’ve been exposed to. I’ve seen that our world is troubled and broken, and I’ve not been removed from experiencing pain in different forms, however, I’ve never had to go through life wondering if I was going to go on “hungry” like so many people do, in so many different ways.
I wonder how we all can find out what it is we are equipped to do at this moment, and go for it, and not even stop there. I’m not content to stop in just the job I have now. I want to pull myself further- and I’m not sure what that means, but I think if you follow your passions, the work will seem easy. Maybe not always easy, but at least natural. If we all did this, perhaps we would have the kind of movement we and God have probably been dreaming of.

P.S. My friends who always seem to be in tune to how they can "be the change they wish to see in the world" inspire me to not loose sight of that desire being in me, too. Thanks for that. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Life is weird, funny, and many other things..

I was trying to find some funny jokes to post on here, but it's hard to find a good and funny I settled for just finding a couple just quotes share that I found while searching around and thought they were interesting..they probably aren't as funny as say a Seinfeld episode:) or the lame jokes in Get Smart (I have to say, thoroughly entertained by the silliness of that movie tonight)..but it was worth a shot, just to change things up a little. Do any of YOU (meaning the 3 people who might read my blog) have any other good comments, quotes or actual jokes to spread around here. Let it be a Free To Joke and Not Be Judged Zone. I have a couple others up my sleeve but I think it's getting to be past my bedtime:).

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was. She said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.

In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular.

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas.

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

Finally..I will end with a quote that just made the end of my day after some funny comments about my sincere love of reading at work. I was behind a bumper sticker that said, no joke, "Reading is Sexy." So there, all you reading bashers out there;).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Take a hike, Ike! (my one shot at humor in another serious post).

Tonight I am saying some prayers for the people who are now in the midst of Hurricane Ike and other storms arising from it and the other hurricanes of this season. Even though crazy weather scares me, it's always fascninated me in a weird way. I don't like people getting hurt, but somehow the excitement of odd weather gets me excited too, if nothing else than it just changes things up a bit. And it reminds me of the bigness of things happening in our world.

BUT, that doesn't mean I like the repercussions of all of it. My brother moved from Dallas to Houston a few months ago and since then it's been tropical storm after tropical storm and now he has had to evacuate because of Ike hitting Texas with a storm "the size of Texas itself" some weather stories noted. That is so insane I can't comprehend it. There are many people who didn't flee, taking their chances, and while some may trust in God, there's no where that it says those who hold faith will be spared, is there? There's a lot of people of faith who get stuck in things like this all the time. Towns are most likely going to get swept away by this storm. I just pray that it doesn't overtake the people and the city as hard as they are predicting. Sometimes I wonder if God is trying to send a message with all this stuff, or if that is being read into??

We really do not have control, and that can be scary, but something to come to terms with.

I know growing up in the midwest and we were always having near-tornadoes, semi-floods, etc. We had lots of storms, power outages, in the winter we had white-outs. I know what it's like on a small level to have serious things happen, but not on this grand scale. Somehow, I pray that as much unnecessary hurt and damage can be spared from those who have to live with the destruction. It's something so outside of us, but it can't be beyond us. I know it's not for me because a close family member is experiencing it right now, but it makes me more curious about how people respond to things differently when it hits home versus when it doesn't. There's so much heartache and destruction in this world, we can't feel it all can we?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I can't stop!

I am almost done with my blog fever for today.

I decided to email a couple pals tonight because I was moved after homegroup to write to them and thank them for their prayers..I sometimes forget that prayer has power even if it's for something that hasn't come into being yet, and you don't know if it ever will..but praying for it still is believing and trusting that God has it in His hands and He will deliver.

These two girls came into my life more FULLY in a random way. But is anything random? Huh. Sit on that for awhile. Anyways, I never feel so free as when I am laughing and being with them. I think when we were about 12 if we would have fallen into each other's paths we would have been friends then too, and probably acted the same way we do when we're together now. HOW do certain people find each other? I'm ever thankful that I have been given the opportunity to swim alongside them, in both rough and still waters.

Hope for all days.

I see it every day but only tonight did it hit home for me: the sign on my refrigerator Traci made me for my birthday that was my name spelled down with adjectives describing me in every letter (I used to love making those with people's names too). For L she put "Loves God."

Hmm...when I saw that tonight, I thought to myself, that's true, I do love you, Lord. As much as we hear that phrase and probably use that phrase ourselves all the time without even realizing how much we mean it, tonight I feel as though I really heard God impress something deeply into my soul that I'd needed to face within myself for a long time.

What do I love most? I mean, God, sure, but really God?

Yes. I say that not just because it's the right answer or because a lot of things feel broken lately, but I suddenly feel that God's been trying to tell me I need to accept that I'm to love him more than the prospect of good health, more than the goodness of life here itself, more than the people whom I love and couldn't imagine living without, more than the friends that are my saving graces. I do seem to love him more when things are rotten (maybe that's opposite of how some people feel?) but I also feel He's trying to prepare me for when things get better..slowly, slowly, things are better every day, even if they're not (doesn't make sense I know). And when do reach a point of true true beyond survival mode, I will need to love God just as much if not more. Remember that, is what I'm hearing.

Also..I feel I've always been so determined on fulfilling a "mission" for what my life is supposed to be, or the great amount of things God wants me to accomplish, but maybe I just need to reframe that mission. Could it be that it's not God's mission for my life but for His life to be more evident in this world? Is that what we could say we're all called for, so that we make apparent the living God as Jeff talked about on Sunday to people who don't see Him as being present here in this world and in our lives?

OK, heavy, heavy, heavy, I know. But this blogging business is also getting me through. I like the idea of shoving off my thoughts into the world.

One last thought and I know it's grim but also hopeful: The world doesn't work right, but God does.

I believe that you provide the way out of the darkness, Lord.

Just right.

It's hard to believe sometimes that God has a purpose for making us the way he made us...I was searching for something today and I'm glad I found this:
Psalms: 139:16 "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book."
-Nothing about hwho we are and how we are formed was an accident.

It's so easy to live in an "if only" mindset. But God makes no mistakes when he makes his people, just how he wants each of them to be, to serve their purpose.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A little lighter :)

Here's only a few reasons why I love my journal group gals:

-she wears shirts in public that say "I may not be perfect but some parts of me are pretty spectacular".
-some people have mistaken her as my sister and that makes me smile.
-she likes to talk about deep things as much as me and can handle all my analysis' and questions about life.
-she's very passionate about people and helping them draw nearer to God.
-she has helped me through many tough times and still does to this day.
-she nurtures the child in her by laughing, dancing, and coloring as much as she can.
-she never makes me feel silly when I do silly things like get lost in her neighborhood (on foot) and call her to pick me up.

-her name stands alone. she is not a nickname of any other name
-she enables me to learn more about the unbelievable world of archetecture and allows me to pretend to have a job along with her and her collegues.
-she listens to me talk and humors me.
-she has lots of interesting things to say.
-she helps me remember that everyone sees the world differently and that makes living more fun.
-she was one of the first friends I had when I decided to stop being anynonomous at Visio Dei and be friends with people. she has always welcomed me into groups of people and made me feel accepted.
-she's an amazing cook and hostess and pulls both off with such ease.

Together, I really like them because (and it doesn't stop here...)
-they too never had detention in high school
-they may be among the only people who read my blog.

Friday, September 5, 2008


My times are in your hands, Lord. That's what I'm praying tonight as I go to sleep, after reading some of the Psalms! Thank you for the reminder that your timetable is for a reason and it is right. Whatever it is you are doing with my life, I will allow it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

2Cor 4:16-18
Therefore, do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

-It is easy to want to just let go of trouble or heartache, but it won't do any good to give up, when in weakness the strength of the power of Christ is even stronger, and the committment to following Him no matter what more intensely needed.

-Tonight I pray that I will not let myself feel worn down, and thank God for the many blessings in my life, despite anything I feel hit with momentarily. I pray that those who don't know the strength you can bring in difficult times or the unmerited love you shower all of us with during any times, will learn of the need for you in their lives.
Please, Lord, help me to focus on only the hope you bring.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Again with seriousness...someday soon I'm going to tell some jokes:)

I stumbled upon A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado tonight. I've read some of it before but I was going to lend it out and it ended up not working out, so I decided to read some of it over myself. The text gives a detailed explaination of 1Corinthians 13, also known as the "wedding verse." As a side-note, before I understood what it really meant, I used to think this verse was just overused and by no means realistic for how people could really show love to others. It took me a long time and a closer walk in my faith to realize that it was describing God's perfect love for us, the model to use in our relationships with others, still knowing that by our nature we can never love the way He loves us. It was very encouraging for me to be reminded of these truths about God. I'll just focus on a couple I liked reading about and some thoughts about them...

Before anything else, Love is patient.
God is ever patient with us, but in light of that, why is it still hard many times to be patient with others?

Love does not anger.
I liked how the writing described how anger isn't a sin in and of itself, but it can lead to sin. The author also said anger often comes from rejection, in any form. If we remember that we are not rejected by God but accepted, it helps deal with feeling rejected by others or even God sometimes. I liked this..and the example given of how much Paul changed when he turned his life over to God and was transformed from being so full of anger to full of joy and being thankful for those who shared in his burdens and gave him encouragement along the way.

Love never fails.
God loves us simply because he's chosen to do so. His love is uncaused and spontaneous. In our world, our love depends on what we feel from the receiver of that love. Not so with God. We have no thermostatic impact on his love for us.

He is the one who bears the fruit of love, as spoken in Galatians..of the fruits of the Spirit first listed is love. We have one job: to receive nourishment/love from Jesus. “I am the Vine, you are the branches." Apart from him we cannot produce anything. Through him we can do more than we ever thought and love others in ways we never imagined.

Not trying to make it sound so simple, because it's really's HARD to do the things descibed in that verse. But it is encouraging that even in the times when I miss the mark, I know He will always be there, drawing me closer, loving me still, and urging me to love some more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

God has a way.

At church today, Jeff spoke of sin and how it permeates our world and lives and we've gotten so used to it and accepted it that a lot of times we don't even question that it's not the way things were supposed to be. Jeff said that sin is anything we use as replacement for God in our lives. That's tough, and makes it seem unavoidable that we are not all a mess. But that's because we are! We're fortunate though, because we have God's grace to show us how to move back in the right direction, toward him, to show us the right definition of holiness and love.

Sometimes I get sick of talking about and hearing about sin. The fact that it's so embedded in our makeup, our lives, and our world is overwhelming, but today in Kim's message, I heard that a lot of times even when we seem very fallen, God is still very much protecting us, because He knows we are His children, and when He knows that we have it in us to turn ourselves over to Him, He holds onto us because eventually we're going to find a way back to Him. Sometimes though, I think His protection isn't always clear and perfect and sometimes things still turn out messy, but I know somehow even when we can't see it, He has His handiwork in situations, jobs, relationships that don't work out how we always want them to. He has a bigger plan we can't see. Even if that is an overused statement, I don't think we can hear it enough. I know I need to thank Him for His bigger plan, and that even in the midst of my wishing things would be different, somehow He is going to work out what He's doing in us to His greater good. Not on our timing but on his.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Being good to ourselves:)

Why do we always want what we don't have? Is it because we're afraid of never being satisfied, not completing the "if onlys" or "what ifs?" What would it take for us to be content right where we are, knowing that something we want or desire for the future may or may not take shape, and that might be okay (or it'll have to be okay).

I'm a big dreamer. I've always been. I think it's sometimes good, but sometimes not. Maybe more people are like me, but it's always hard to tell. I feel like I can have one hand in the present, but one hand is always planted on this sense of the future that I feel is somehow going to be something bigger and more fantastic than I know at this time. In a weird way, as I write those previous words, I get a greater hope that what's truly in me searching for something more is a yearning for what's eternal. No matter if we get to check off what's on our big dream lists for this life, we can move forward with a focus on promises coming true for us when we surpass the kingdom of this world and have complete union with God.

Whew...that's a big lot to think about, but I think it helps me put my "dreams" in perspective. Sure, there's a lot of things I want to do, see, accomplish out of this life, but sometimes I need to straddle my big fantasies back in so I don't lose sight of my true purpose.

I do think we can combine our dreams of this life with the promises of the kingdom to come, and I think Jesus talks about that when he says that we're supposed to bring the kingdom of Heaven to this world. For me, that means reshaping and tweaking my focuses and goals so that they aren't so me-centered and more about bringing God the glory He deserves. It's all about balance I guess though, because there's so much that can be said about the topic of selfishness.

A couple great girls and I were talking last night about this and it's a hard one to figure out. So this is what I've been thinking about.... Just in terms of our daily lives, how much does it become disasterous to us if we go the other extreme and remove the Me or I from the dialogue you have with yourself. You have to factor in what's going to be beneficial and healthy to you, because otherwise I'm not going to able to serve God and reach out to others. A lot of times that involves allowing yourself to let go of some engagements, responsibilities (the ones you can), from time to time to refuel, get a better perspective on the situation, etc. I don't feel as though that's a bad thing. It's selfish to continually refuse ourselves and let what's lifegiving seap out of us.

I really don't have all the answers on this topic and really don't want to seem like I'm trying to. I still struggle with how to find a balance especially in this life stage where the only one I'm truly responsible for is myself, but at times it seems like I can carry the burden of the world and its ailments on my shoulders. I think with time we learn how to stop running a marathon with our lives all the time, but do what rejuvenates US. For me, surprisingly, after a bit of time relaxing and resting alone, I do find that that is being with some of my friends. I'm trying to learn how to be careful and to the best of my ability not run without reserves, and make sure there's enough fuel in my tank for the engagements I'm involved with. Some engagements drain us, some refuel us. It's wise to try and discern the differences.

In so many words, my friend asked me if I ever want to escape and run away from reality. Or maybe, start over. To be honest, for the first of those, I do sometimes want to do. But I think in those moments I've let my tank run on empty too long. For the second, yes, again, I sometimes want to, but I'm not sure what that means or what it looks like. Even if it sounds cliche, I really am thankful that God made our lives consist of day and night. Waking up each morning does somehow let me begin again. I'm trying to think of life as continuous opportunities to let go of the day before and trek along once again, as best as I can. Maybe someday I can move closer to where I'd like to be, which is even in each moment that's hard or trying or maybe I failed in some respect or could have done something differently or just wished everything could be somehow different with my circumstances, if I could lay that over to God and allow his grace to wash me anew right there.

I've always been someone who wanted to do great things, accomplish something major in this lifetime. I still do, to some extent. But day in and day out, life is life, and right now I do what I can to get through to the next day hopefully without too much trouble, and I'm trying to be content that God is doing great things in me, and maybe that's more important anyway.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's been sort of a difficult 24 hours, but I decided to celebrate it being over by going for a swim (yes I did lots of dolphin jumps J and M:))'s some pictures of my favorite little friends courtesy of Julianne.

Someday, I'm still going to swim with them (with my friend Jodi from high school who shares my love of dolphins and maybe deep down is one, too!).

Tonight I just want to say thanks to an everlasting Traci, who is always there when I need her friendship and prayers. This is only part of what I thought was such a heartfelt prayer. It helps me see how much prayer DOES change things as my situation and perception changed before I even opened my inbox, and I know it's in part because of God's will to listen to our hearts. I hope I can learn from the earnestness (if that's a word) of your prayers, Traci.

God, help us to seek you. Forgive our thoughts that we should and can control our circumstances. The truth is that you are in control. Forgive our anxiousness. Help us to pray and cast off the burdens in this world as you desire us to.

Sometimes, it's hard to see how God gets the glory from tough situations, but I pray that somehow He will (and selfishly I pray that this can come sooner rather than later for some of mine). Lord, help me discover how to pray earnestly for your will and not to just be removed from discomfort. I know you have everything in control.

Small but significant.

Most Tuesday mornings I meet with my friends Liz and Sarah for a Bible study on Romans. Liz used to live in my apartment complex but she moved to Wake Forest because she was getting married. And Sarah is my friend from Liz who I met when I started going to the study. I became great friends with them both pretty instantly upon meeting them, although I met Liz about a year before. We don't get to see each other too much, but when we do, it's always a time of sharing our recent stories and life situations, laughing and just having a good time, before we get to studying God's word. Those girls are amazing and I always come out more encouraged when being around them.

One of the points I got out of talking with them today is that this world and God's plan for it is so much bigger than the here and now, and bigger than ourselves and our life which seems to be the focal point, because we don't really know any different. Iadmit, it's hard sometimes to think outside of something big that happens now, because we really do have a simple perspective compared to God's vast understanding of how all our lives fit together and time in general. Sarah mentioned how she saw a video by Rob Bell that dicussed how different we would view things if we saw them in 2D, and that somehow our life is lived in 1D, although we've lived the past, and we know (for the most part) that there is a future ahead of us, all we can see and actually be part of at one time is the now, the present, that 1D spectrum of understanding. God has a 3D look at everything all of us have done, are doing now, and will do. That's hard to comprehend.

It's interesting to me that this falls into the way of thinking that pops into my head sometimes, where it's hard for me to fathom that God somehow is in tune with (and even interested in) the goings-on of my little existence when there's such a vast world out there. Is he really as involved as people speak of him being? Has he really constructed and worked out a precise plan for me in the same way he has for people in general? Sometimes I want to know more about how God works than I possibly ever could. It's in my nature to be curious about things like this, but I think it's important forme to come to an acceptance that even if it's hard to believe, I have to have faith that God is there personally and intimitally for all people individually. He does care for us in ways we don't even realize.

I have recently started to really like Robbie Seay's songs (but I love Jason and the Visio Dei band singing them even more:) ) I really like Song of Hope and Love Wins. Here's a bit of the words from Love Wins.

It’s a big world,
We are hoping
For a big change,
We are broken

In the fading light of a dying sun
We cry for redemption.
There is hope, there is hope, there is hope
Everyone who’s lost will be coming home
And everything that hurts will be whole again
And love will be the last thing standing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I guess I like good friends...

I am sitting here looking at a picture frame my friend Mandy sent me for my birthday. She is one of the craftiest people I know (among having a ton of other fabulous qualities). It's a picture of me and her and the other two girls who all student taught together in Switzerland for 3 months. It's kind of rare that I really "study" something like a picture, piece of artwork, building, etc, but when I do, I'm always surprised by my reaction. In this picture, I really think the backdrop looks painted or drawn on. The buildings are so old, medieval, and rustic looking, that they just stand out amidst four normal looking girls who take on the main focus of the picture. The picture sort of reminds me of how much we stood out in every way on that trip.

Going overseas was probably one of the first direct ways I saw God making a significant change in who I was. I think He was planting a seed that started to grow then and has really sprouted up since moving to Raleigh. I was definitely put out of my comfort zone in Switzerland. Even though it was a magical, beautiful, and wonderful place and experience, everything was not always hunky-dory. That's true to life here, too, and although Raleigh is not the same as a foreign country, there's still plenty of ups and downs that pull me out of my comfort zone on a routine basis. I continuously feel God showing me I need to let go of my need to control my situations and circumstances, and learn to rely on only him. It's been a process, but I'm realizing how much better my life and relationship with Him is when I stop trying to be self-sufficient.

Will it really be 3 years ago in November that we returned from the trip? It was one of the most bitter-sweet experiences I've ever had. I'm so glad for it and can still feel myself there when I close my eyes and remember it. There's so much that can be said about this time, and I'm glad I allow myself to revisit it in my thoughts and dreams sometimes, but I also think there's a reality in that what I gained from the experience is still present with me. One of those things is the true friendship I ended up with through getting closer to the girls on that trip. I feel a bit like Mandy is the friend I was looking for all of childhood. We can talk about anything, and much of what we talk about probably could or should have been digested earlier in our lives, at least on my end, but better late than never. She helps me stand firm in what I believe in, is an ever-lasting cheerleader for me, and is my side-kick dreamer and soul-searcher. And my roommate Abby, who I was fortunate enough to see get married recently, is very sincere, has shown me how to mesh dreams with reality, and is a rock of a friend, not changing her tune with you despite any major changes happening in her own life.

I'm thankful for these girls, who are among those I'm close with who I feel God has placed in my life to show me a part of His character that I sometimes I overlook. God loves us unconditionally, and although it's much harder for us as troubled humans to portray this to each other, I feel that I am able to understand God's constancy more because of these people who do seem to love me no matter what. Whether right or wrong to connect the two, God, I hope will get the glory, and that's what matters!