Sunday, October 28, 2007
There are so many of the little things we have been blessed with that we overlook because we are too consumed with the big ones that for whatever reason are just shy of our reach. Those hurdles we are all faced with seem insurmountable, and yet we will never get to a good place until we jump over them whether they be our insecurities, trust issues, or simply having an overdue conversation with a loved one. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to capture lightning in a bottle or hold on to the innocence we have as children.
Recently, I read that children laugh five thousand times a day, and adults astonishingly laugh just five times a day. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we lose something a long the way. If I had to put my finger on it, and sum it up in a word that word would be wonder. If a person could find a way to capture a baby's smell, and bottle it then there would be no question that this hypothetical person would become a millionaire. What a funny paradox, if someone could become a millionaire by bottling up something as priceless as a baby's smell or a child's wonder!
I feel like I have grown up by leaps and bounds this year, no longer a child with child-like thinking or a teenager filled with angst, but an adult dealing with all the things that being an adult entails. Scary thought! I am excited about what the future holds: celebrating the last year of my twenties, and if God wills giving birth to another decade of my life.
There will never be a time in any of our lives when we have it all. Our lives were not designed that way. The author of the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren once said, "Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others."
Maybe just maybe there are some good things to growing up after all. If we are paying attention, somewhere along the way we might just learn that it is not all about us. We might just learn a valuable lesson or two about how to be less selfish. No matter how hard we try some things will elude us. I can accept not always having answers because as a writer that is what keeps things interesting- that elusive something. We will all have triumphs and losses. Sadly, sometimes we waste years looking at a closed door allowing life to pass us by, and if we had moved on sooner we might just have that something that has eluded us. Just when we think we have taken two steps forward, something could occur that will make us take three steps back or shake our faith in God, humanity, and even ourselves. The trick is to stay tenacious, and not let any minor setback derail our vision. We all have in common the desire to reach for that elusive something no matter what it may be living through all of the breaths, smiles, and tears of our lives.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I am constantly amazed at how God so faithfully breathes new life into my passion! These verses came to mind as the words began to flow from my heart: Matthew 28:18-20 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Isaiah 64:8 "Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Proverbs 20:27 "The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being." I am humbly honored to be used as a vessel to convey his message. I am in awe of how God reveals Himself even in the wee hours of the morning. It is much better than counting sheep!!!
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Over the years my house has had a little tinkering here and there, but it has never had this magnitude of a make-over. The concrete floors got to breathe a little after being smothered by a worn carpet that had accumulated a combination of dust and dirt over many years. The walls received a fresh coat of paint as well as the wooden cabinets which now adorn new hardware, and soon it will be the kitchen and bathrooms turn to get a much needed make-over.
My childhood home is a preservation of memories. Friends enter our home through the back door, and step foot into our kitchen where many a home cooked meal has been made, and many a tea bag has been brewed. My favorite memories of our kitchen are making home made play dough, and Thanksgiving day spreads. The counter tops have proved a great place to start a conversation. Adjacent to the kitchen is the family room where my older brother and I wrestled, and played "Steam Roller." Mama has this special tradition of putting up birthday banners for both my brother and me, and placing our cards on the hearth for the day. We could always find our colorfully and carefully wrapped presents with bright shiny bows placed on our designated side of the fireplace. Around the corner from the family room is a formal living area. For awhile, this is where the big screen T.V. resided. It proved to be great entertainment for my friends. Down the hall from the living area are the bedrooms. Ben and I shared a bedroom when we were younger. I can still picture the matching green bedspreads over our matching twin beds. Holidays are always a fun time to decorate my house. I have had more than one friend to comment on my Mama's extensive collection of snowmen that can be found stationed all around our house during the winter months. Our driveway has been a pathway for coming to and going out of our home. There have been a few people who have just passed through, and there have been others who stayed for awhile.
When the house was built over thirty years ago, its intent was to merely be a structure: brick, mortar, four walls, and a roof. A family makes a house a home. Over the years, this house became much more than merely a structure it became our home. A family gives a house purpose. Within these walls, we have built a history that will not diminish though the memories might fade. Within my home, is the place where I was nurtured and laid down roots for a strong foundation of love that I will carry with me no matter where I take up residency.
Time and time again, I can revisit this place that stores my childhood memories whether it be in body or merely in spirit. When it is time to purchase a house of my own for my family, I will not be looking for just a steady structure, but a house that has the potential to be a home filled with purpose.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
As I was on my way to pick up the CDs, a thought crept up on me. I thought about the day that I had gotten out of school, my boyfriend and I had just split up, but I felt this overwhelming need to go and see him that day. It was if my car had a mind of its own, making turns effortlessly as if it had memorized the path. I wanted to tell him that life was too short to hold grudges. That night my ex-boyfriend who I was still very emotionally attached to got into a nearly fatal car accident. So yesterday I found myself steering my car down that familiar path, a path that I have not traveled in quite some time. I just decided to take the scenic route home. I even went by my old high school. Letting myself remember, I let the images of days gone by fill my senses like the gentle springtime breeze blowing outside welcoming the familiarity of every memory that filled my mind.
I found it ironic that the song playing off The Road Mix CD was called "Heartbeats". Taking those familiar paths, I felt my heart begin to beat faster and faster as every mile I traveled I came closer to bridging the gap between who I was and who I am now. Leaving South East Acres, where the boy who had had me at hello had lived, I decided to go on to the next boy's house who happened to be Will's best friend. It is not as racy as it sounds. Unable to find his residence, I drove on towards yet another boy's house. Unconsciously, I had created a pattern of boys that had taught me one thing or another about myself. As time has passed, I have not stayed in touch with any of these boys who are now men. As I went from stop to stop, I wondered about them, and their families. I wondered what they were doing with themselves, and if they were happy.
A sadness came over me when I woke up from my sweet euphoria. It is all in the past. These lives that I was remembering are no longer the lives that any of us lead. I suppose that is the down side of living in the same place all of your life, your past seems to follow you around, and even beckons you from time to time. My venture had all started with not such a warm and fuzzy memory, and became a journey through my mind. It is a tricky thing because I found myself longing for those innocent days where I led a fairly carefree existence. Our history can never be erased. I will never need a road map to my past. Although it is a blessing to have roots, at times I feel like I am standing still unable to look straight ahead always looking back in the rear view mirror desperately wanting to switch gears and put my car in reverse. However, the highway of life was not constructed that way.
I am very envious of the lead singer of Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba, who with "a flip of his wrist" waved his hometown good-bye in his song "So Long So Long". I can understand why John Mayer asked "Why Georgia? Why?" He said in the lyrics to that song, "I want to put the car in drive, and leave this all behind". Sometimes, that is how I feel about where I grew up. It is funny. The song "So Long So Long" by Dashboard Confessional has made an impression on me, and in a sense I am sharing my own dashboard confessional. Sometimes, I wonder about going to a new place, and starting over, but I cannot escape myself or my memories. Although, the boys who lived in those houses have grown into men and no longer call those houses their "home", they will aways have permanent residency in my heart. From time to time, no matter how hard I try or whether I get in my car and take a drive or just take a simple journey through my own mind, I will travel down those remembrance roads.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
What do you think about when you hear the word love? Do you think about someone in particular? Do you think about your loved ones? Family? Friends? Is love merely a four letter word or can it really be defined at all? Does it become devalued on the commercialized holiday ahem...Valentine's Day? Can a person say "I love you" to someone he or she cares about so much that it loses its meaning?
I witnessed something quite special over the holidays. My Mom and I were running some errands, and she decided to go see one of her brothers. His grandson had just recovered from pneumonia. His immune system has been compromised by ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy) which means that this particular disease eats away at the myelin in the brain. John Mark, my cousin has been saving his money to get a myelin transplant. Uncle Bob, my Mom's brother and Aunt Loretta, his wife lost a son several years ago to this very disease. Despite all of their heartache and grief, I witnessed something magical between them that is LOVE.
Just in the few minutes that I was around them, it was evident to me how much they love each other. I could tell by the way that they would look at each other that no matter what they had been through in the many years they have been married the spark was still there. It is so pure and so true. It is as if they have a special language of communicating with each other (heart to heart). It is like they have a sacred secret between them. The reason there marriage has sustained what life has thrown at them is because the foundation for their marriage is rooted in God. He sustained them, their marriage, and their love. Their love had not diminished in the face of uncertainty and calamity. It remained strong, and it is what saw them through the difficult times together. Perhaps Shakespeare came close to really zeroing in on what love means when he wrote the poem "Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds".
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
There are many different kinds of love. There is the love between two spouses like my aunt and uncle, and there is the love between a parent and child. The more I mature, the more I realize how much my parents love me. They brought me up to appreciate my family. They brought me up with the knowledge of my Creator. And as much as my parents love me, it is just a sample of how far, wide, and deep the Creator of the Universe and my being loves me. Wow! He loved me so much that he breathed air into my nostrils. I am His precious creation. We all are. Genesis 2:7 says "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." His love is the best love. It never alters and it never changes. It is called Agape love, and only God can love us with Agape love. 1 John 4:16 says "God is Love."
When I think of love in its truest form, I think of 1 Corinthians 13 affectionately called "The Love Chapter" or as I like to think of it God's love letter to us. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking , it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13 :13 says "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."
God longs to captivate us. Here are some verses that I believe speak right to the hearts of women:
Psalm 37: 4 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 45:11 "The king is enthralled by your beauty."
Isaiah 61:1 "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted."
Song of Songs 4:7 "All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you."
Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
God's scriptures are full of his love for all of us! 2 Timothy 3:16 says "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."As much as I love poetry and music, (waxing poetic and singing pretty melodies about love) they cannot even come close to God's Word, his love letter to each and every one of us.
Friday, December 22, 2006
There was a guy. Yeah, I know what you are all thinking. There she goes again with a blog about love. Yes, I did love him. No, I am not still in love with him. He was my first love, and as they say you're first love never really dies. To make a long story short, we dated for awhile, and things got pretty serious. We came to the juncture of too much too soon, and reluctantly parted ways. Someone once said, "Some people come into our lives, leave footprints in our hearts, and we are never ever the same."
Two years later, he came back into my life just as I was finishing my first year of teaching. Looking back, I was so enthusiastic about my chosen profession. It was hard, but I learned so much in so little time. I shared with him about some of my teaching experiences, and he seemed eager to know what had been going on with me in his absence. In my absence, he had gone back to school and was close to getting a degree in Respitory Therapy. He was a little older, and a little wiser. So was I. He was so passionate about his chosen course of study. It really made me happy to see him put forth such effort, and finally use the smarts that God has given him.
I began to second guess myself a little bit or least what I had chosen to do with my own life. His passion was infectious, and I started to envy that for myself. How could I get it? At one time, I had been enthusiastic about teaching, and even passionate, but somewhere in the middle of all the red tape my flame burned out. It was not an easy to admit to myself that I was no longer happy with teaching because I had spent so much time and energy-four and a half years in school to be exact. Once I admitted to myself that I was pretty miserable with my job, there were no easy answers. I had painted myself into a corner. There was only one avenue I had steered myself down, and that avenue lead me to teaching. Why had I limited myself so much when there were so many other possibilities and ventures to embark upon? Although, I was a good teacher I realized that I did not want to spend half my life surrounded by four walls in a classroom. What did I what to do? I had to find some answers. An old Chinese proverb says "The heart has its reasons that reason does not know. At times, the heart can be a reluctant traveler. Kahlil Gibran once wrote, "Your reason and your passion are the rudder...and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either be broken, you can but toss and drift or else be held at a standstill in midseas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion unattended is a flame that burns to its own destruction."
There is no road map for the road less traveled, but as Robert Frost once wrote, "it has made all the difference." In my pursuit of higher learning, I had forgotten about my childhood dream which was to be an author. Specifically, I wanted to write romance novels. The interesting thing is I had been working on a manuscript for quite awhile. Interestingly enough, Will's reappearance in my life gave me the courage to pursue my life long dream, and as an extra bonus gave me more fodder for my story. Working hard towards my goal, gave me an unexpected, but much needed perspective on the whole situation with my ex. Harold V. Pheldhart once wrote, "Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment, and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey."
I needed him to be there at that juncture in my life, but now our lives how gone separate ways again. In an indirect way, he helped me discover where my true passion lies. My passion is writing. I truly hope that he is happy with the decisions that he has made, and the course that he has chosen for his own life. I have learned that in life the journey is more important than the destination, and I am enjoying the journey. He contributed to me finding the one thing that outside of my faith gives me true joy. If it had not been for him resurfacing, and sharing his dreams with me, I might not have rediscovered my own. Unbeknownst, to him he stamped my passion passport, and now the sky is the limit.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I recently turned twenty-eight, and in some ways big and small it feels like I have only just begun to live my life. I am an introspective, self-reflective person, and I take things to heart. Marquis De Vauvenargues once said, "Great thoughts always come from the heart." I thought that I would share my thoughts of how I feel like I am perceived and how I actually view myself as a kind of owning up to my mistakes, my failures, and celebrating my triumphs. I would also like to share a glimpse of my world view. Is it not funny how all of our lives we are struggling to figure out who we are, how we are perceived by others, and how we fit into the grand scheme of things? Is it not the great riddle of our lives?
In my twenty-eight years, I have been blessed with some incredible people who have crossed my path, and people that I am proud to call my friends, true friends who actually have taken the time to get to know the "real" me-imperfections and all. I have been labeled "the good girl" especially by guys and men. What does that exactly mean? I am not sure that I even appreciate that label. Do not misunderstand me. I do not want to be labeled "the bad girl", but being labeled "the good girl" and "well-behaved" leaves little room for impetuousness, impulsiveness, and unpredictability all of which I would like to exemplify at various times. Instead I am perceived as straight-laced, level-headed, and predictable all of which I disdain. I have even been called a "drama queen" from time to time. My personal favorite is "reserved". Could there be a duller adjective in the English language? However, I do wear proudly the label of being one-of-a-kind. I am also vulnerable, sensitive, and I bruise easily.
I am afraid that I come off as boring to some people and pretentious to others. I am afraid of actually "living my life" because if I actually "lived my life" I would shock people, and fall far beneath their expectations of me. The fact is I do not wear a halo. There are people in my life that I do not want to let down or disappoint who think very highly of me so I feel that I have to behave in a certain way to please them. I am a people pleaser, and there are actually very few and far between things that I do that would actually make me happy or so I think. However, from time to time I do follow an impulse. There are little things that I do to get in touch with that kid who lives deep in the heart of me like turning spontaneous cartwheels or jumping off the diving board. I miss that wide-eyed innocence. After all, I am just a great big kid at heart.
I follow the rules, but even I have broken a rule or two from time to time. I am far from perfect. I would make more mistakes on purpose, if I didn't feel like it would take me a lifetime to "right" my wrongs. There are some things we just can't take back. There are no "do-overs" in life. I watch some people go after what they want, and get it, but not even appreciate what they have when they do. I have watched people make mistake after mistake in their lives, and they never seem to learn from them. A “little bad" can go a long way, and sometimes I get tired of being "so good". It is hard to be good sometimes. It is hard not to stoop to some else's level when they hurt you, when they criticize you for your morals and values. I get tired of being the bigger person, and struggle with the idea that if I cheated just a little, or cut corners I could be the one who got what she wanted, and come out on top just for once. The opposite sex perceives me as "the good girl". It seems to be the only thing they see- the list of perfectionism ad nauseum, but there are so many more things on my list. There are so many more facets, gadgets, and gizmos to me than what is perceived by the naked eye.
A good friend sent me a tree analogy the other day via email. It said, "Girls are like apples, the good ones are at the top, but the guys choose the ones that have fallen from the tree, because they are scared of falling if they climbed to the top". There is an ending to that story that says, “One day that right guy will come along and climb to the top and hand-pick "the good girl". I am ready for that ending, that happy ending in fairytales which in life would be a welcomed beginning. Another good friend the other day was sharing her "fairytale" with me. She said that "It didn't happen the way I thought it would happen. I perceived a fairytale when in reality our story is more down to earth and humanized." Nicely put. Contrary to popular belief, I do not want a fairytale. I want the "down to earth and humanized story". I want someone to hand pick me for me, and not for "the good girl" persona they perceive.
There is always some distraction whether it is forbidden fruit that has fallen from that tree or an ex-girlfriend that rears her ugly head. I know that there is an attraction for "the unavailable, impossible, unreachable" aspects of life. I have also felt that pull towards taboos, mysteries, and the dark side. I actually do have a wild side, but I rarely let myself walk over to it; however, it is there. I do struggle with my ideals and desires. Does not everyone? Are we not all human?
There are some lines no matter how alluring or exciting we were never meant to cross. There is right and wrong. There are shades of gray. There is black and white. There are some "black" and "whites" that are not negotiable. We have the right to draw our own lines in the sand, but it does not mean that it falls under justification for the choices that we make. Antoine De Saint Exupery once said, "It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." It is near to the impossible to make that connection between the heart, and the head, and sometimes even our hearts can steer us in the wrong direction unfortunately.
We cannot talk our way out of a downward spiral, and when we finally do come out we will not be unscathed or unchanged. If you have been blessed to live, twenty-something years then you inevitably have hurts, wounds, and scars from relationships and even family members that are too painful and run too deep to ever verbalize. We have the choice to move on from those battlefields where we have been wounded and heal or we can stay there and bleed to death. We all have that choice. We all have a purpose, and most of us take a lifetime to figure out what our purpose is. The bottom line is if we live a life that is pleasing to our Creator, then in the end that is all that matters. Why are we so quick to look over the scriptures that speak right to our hearts? The answer is because we know; we are not living a life that is pleasing and full-filling. There are times when we all must be gut-wrenchingly honest with ourselves.
So label me the "good girl" if you will. Don't take the time to get to know all of the depths that accumulate into who I am. Criticize and belittle my feelings and beliefs if you must. Rationalize and justify behavior than is less than who you are, and what you were meant to be. Believe me I am talking to myself because I am less than perfect. I do make mistakes; however, I believe that the things that I choose to do right, not because I necessarily want to do it, but simply because I know that is right, will one day pay off in a big way. My obedience will be rewarded. The reason that I have twenty-something candles on my cake, is because the Lord simply isn't finished with me yet. My story has yet to unfold although I am sure with lots of twists, turns, and hopefully that "down to earth and humanized” happy beginning. The difference between a non-believer and a believer is that we believers know that "fighting the good fight" is worth it in the end. E.E. Cummings once wrote, "To be nobody, but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
Candles represent the years of our life that we have lived. I want mine to represent a life that has been well-spent-miles traveled, and many valuable lessons learned. I want my life just like a candle to shine brightly and make a lasting impression on the people in which I cross paths. I hope to put another candle on my cake next year, and I hope that this year's wish comes true.