questions and fatigue

"...continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." Phillipians 2:12-13

This verse makes me think about the hard things Jesus said to his followers like, "I did not come to bring peace but a sword." (Matthew 10:34) I might not understand what that means exactly, but maybe I am to work through it with fear and trembling. I take fear and trembling to mean a deep form of humility and a reverent awe of the vastness of who God is. I think it means to trust that God is bigger and that He can see things I cannot and He knows things my mind cannot comprehend. Maybe I can attempt to rest in this truth, that God is good and I can trust Him. I can trust Him not only for the overall good, but for my personal good as well. This verse also encourages me that Paul (the author of Phillipians) is writing to people who had the same questions I have, even hundreds of years ago. So...

"I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me....forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus." (Phillipians 3:12b, 13b, 14)

There are just so many questions for me. But I do love God. There is NO question in my mind that He exists and that He is the creator of this world. All honest evidence points to Him. And I cannot then, help but follow that belief that this creator God is good. So good- the mountains, the sunsets, the stars, the ocean, waterfalls, flowers- they are good. Really, really good. That being said, I think it seems apparent that God wants us to see Him. The Bible says, "the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth... He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else... He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that we would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him- though really, He is not far from anyone of us. for in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 18:24-28) He wants us. He wants me. I feel so tired. But I have learned in the past that fatigue comes when I am empty. And if I am empty it is because I am not connected to my life-source, my nourishment, my heart's home. Him.

"I seek in myself the things I meant to say and lo! the wells are dry. Then, seeing me empty, You forsake the Listener's role and thru my dead lips breathe into utterance awake the thoughts I never knew." -C.S. Lewis

this really did happen

In 1996, Marion High School added the 8th grade class to the high school building. I was in 8th grade that year. So, I was basically entering high school at age 13. And to my horror, I had to ride the bus there.
So. First day of school, there I am standing at the bus stop, with 3rd graders, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. The bus finally shows up and I get on board, only to join more 3rd graders and their lunch boxes on our journey to the first day of school. As I am contemplating what will happen next, it dawns on me that since the bus will be arriving late, no one will be there to see me getting off the bus! This is great! (As if anyone cared or would even notice that I was riding the bus.) By the time I get to school I have calmed down a little (a little) only to discover, as I walk faster and faster, that I cannot find my classroom. Room 11. Room 11. Room 11! Where is room 11?!!!!! I come around a corner only to see Mr. Singer. Now, Mr. Singer was a not-very-nice middle school teacher (the kind who seems annoyed that there are actually children in his classroom) who has magically arrived at the high school at this exact moment to make me feel like an idiot in my time of need. So I ask him, "Do you know where room 11 is?" To my recollection, he doesn't even say a word, nor turn his head, but jerks his thumb to the door to his immediate left, just feet from where I am standing. Of course. Of course I would be standing right in front of the room when I ask a mean teacher to please help me. Sigh. Ok. There it is. But then.
Just as I am about to open the door, an announcement comes over the loud speaker,

"Attention teachers: Please admit the bus students. They will be arriving late."
Ta- da! My grand entrance. Hello upperclassmen! I am a bus student!

I open the door. To my left, are my fellow eighth graders, their eyes kind of bulgy and blinking, too concerned with their own inner turmoil of the terrifying morning to even notice me. To my right are upperclassmen at tables all looking very directly at me, interested, in an unattached sort of way. At this point, the third graders on the bus seemed awfully appealing. I let the door slide closed behind me. I gulp. (Ok, I am assuming I gulped. I don't actually remember gulping.) I begin the slow walk to find a seat, eyes moving quickly, scanning the aisles, heart beating so slow I'm not sure it is going to continue and finally find an empty seat. Amazingly, it is between two friends. I sit. I think I hear angels singing as my rear touches the magnificent pine seat.

The class I am in is actually a study hall, thus explaining why there are both 8th graders and upperclassmen in the same room. There really is nothing to do the first day, since no one has school work, so I think we basically just sat there. (I don't remember.) Well, at some point I decide to redo my hair which has kind of fallen down out of the clip it is in. I take out the clip, set it on my desk and begin to re-twist my hair. Now, before I go on, let me explain something. The desk I was sitting in was actually one of those chairs that has an arm with a little table that can swivel up to make a desk or down to make just a chair. A flimsy little thing. Well, I knock my hair clip off of the desk. I reach for it. But not with just one hand. With both hands. I strain. I feel the tipping. I see the ground growing closer. I feel the dirty, hard carpet scrape my ear.

I have flipped my desk on top of myself.

And I have managed to pin both of my arms beneath the desk with all of my weight on top. A book slides down the surface of the desk and bangs me in the face. I wish I could say that I am making this up. I am not. The "friends" that I was sitting between were laughing and denying they knew me and later told me that I looked like a fish flopping around trying to get free. When I finally free myself I stand up, and yes, everyone is looking at me, including the teacher, who has this disgusted look on her face that suggests that she thinks I am trying to get attention. I say, in flat honesty, "Don't worry. I'm okay." And kind of bow my head to the teacher as if to say, "Please forgive me- I thought this would be a great way to get people to want to be my friend." I then touch me cheek. Blood. Yes, blood. The book that hit me in the face drew blood when it's academic corner stabbed me on my cheek. So I say, "Can I please go to the bathroom?" The teacher nods as if she is being so gracious to let me go to the bathroom to wipe blood off of my face.

And to think, just 30 minutes ago all I wanted to do was get off of that bus. And now, there is nothing more I could wish for then to be back on that bus, that cozy, warm, yellow bus with all of those cute, nice little 3rd graders. Tomorrow, I will smile at them. All of them. And in borrowing from Billy Madison I will say, "Stay here forever! Never leave 3rd grade!"

sorry for the current irony

the title of this blog is truthhope and ironically, lately, i feel like i have offered nothing but cynicism. that's just where i'm at right now, i guess. i wish i had something really beautiful to say today to inspire you (or myself), but i have nothing. it is really hard to get time to cultivate beauty inside of myself because i am so busy. and i don't mean busy as in 'i volunteered for 20 million things and now i'm too busy poor me". i mean, i knowingly decided to have a baby with my husband and ever since my life has been ransacked by a 2 ft. tall dictator. i really had nooooooooooooo idea. no idea. whatsoever. no idea. oh man............
trying to keep a house clean (which isn't actually happening), trying to take care of my 24 hr a day, 7 days a week boss, and trying to keep hold of my husband's hand in the midst of all this is, well, exhausting. by the time i have some free time i am too tired to even read a book or pray or whatever. plus, i know that there is more laundry or floor mopping that needs to be done. so then i feel guilty. i sometimes envy people who don't have spouses or children (no- i take that back- i do not envy people who don't have spouses. being married is AWEsome.). i guess there are trade-offs: freedom to come and go vs. coming home to an empty house. having to take care of someone vs. getting to take care of someone. the excitement of dating vs. the comfort and safety of someone seeing the real you and loving that completely. getting to spend all of your money on yourself vs. well... there is no downside to that! ;) i don't buy myself clothes any more. i always end up in the baby department- at least she looks good.
ok. the point i am trying to make is that i am sorry if i am depressing anyone reading this blog. i'm sure that soon i will have lighter things to write about. i just don't right now.
if you want to feel happier, read one of my earlier posts.

read this if you want to scare the beegeezes out of yourself. and then feel better. (maybe).

in 'searching for god knows what' by author donald miller, miller talks about how jesus did not come as the jews thought that the messiah would come. they expected a political powerhouse, a king, born into power to take over the world for the jews, god's chosen ones. but instead, the messiah came in the lowliest of circumstances- seemingly illegitimate, poor parents, born in a manger, not tall, dark and handsome, etc. miller talks about how difficult it would have been for the jews to shirk the ideas they had about the coming messiah and put their faith into jesus of nazareth. miller then poses the question,

what if jesus's second coming is the same?
what if he doesn't come at all the way we have pictured?

the jewish scribes had poured over the scrolls for hundreds of years and still never saw jesus coming. how likely is it that it will be the same the second time around? what if jesus comes again, to arkansas? what if he is hard to recognize, because we have been expecting something different?
we have books and books and theory after theory, and diagram after diagram as to how we think (or some even claim to 'know') Jesus will come back.

the jews were wrong.
is it possible that we are too?

this really puts into perspective how the jews in Jesus' day must have felt. the dilemma they must have felt! their relatives said Jesus was a crazy man! (david koresh, anyone?) they said he was mentally ill! they said he was demon possessed! haven't all of these things been said through the centuries about individuals who show up, claiming to be the messiah? what a difficult place to be.
there is something i am suspecting, though. just a thought. maybe knowing someone is different then just hearing about them or reading about them. maybe in the presence of false messiah figures one just knows. maybe doubt is a very different feeling then suspicion. i know in my life, the true, true, pure times i felt Jesus' presence, literal presence with me, i had no doubt. he is deep, and tangible, and fully good. He is a life changing experience.

maybe this is how we will know it is Him. in the bible Jesus says, 'my sheep know my voice'.
his voice. it is deniable. it is avoidable. but it is recognizable to those who have been listening to it.

it's hard, but maybe we don't need to be afraid. maybe i need to be quiet and listen.

girl crap- i thought we were done with this

Maybe this is going to come out really bad but I am going to say it anyway. I HATE girl competition. Especially the fake eating disorders. Girls who always order their food last so they can order less then you. Girls who say, "Let's go get dessert." and then change their minds once you've ordered yours. Girls who go to the bathroom immediately after eating. Every time. Girls who "don't like whole milk". Girls who blot the grease off of their pizza. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The need to be skinnier. Prettier. To always win EVERYTHING. To be tanner. To have more clothes. To be liked by more boys.

I know girls like this (obviously). One of them used to be my roommate. At the time I was struggling with my own weight issues and she was always playing these mind games with me (as listed above). But she never knew about my personal struggle because I wasn't trying to get attention. In college it is difficult to find a way to throw up in the bathrooms because they are public, multi-stall bathrooms. But I figured out a way. I would lock my bedroom door, make myself throw up in some tupperware container and then hurry down the hall to the bathroom, flush it and then wash it out. It was awesome. So cunning. My point is that my issue was very real. i wasn't trying to make others think I had a problem. I wasn't always running to the bathroom after meals.

So now, when I feel like a girl is competing with me in this way, I struggle with being really angry. Really, really angry. It's hard too, because I don't want to call them out on it because 1) I don't want to give them the attention they are trying to get and 2) I don't want to tell them about my struggle because I feel like everyone and their brother claims to have had an eating disorder. It is sooooooooooo annoying to me. Plus, some of that stuff is so subtle it would sound ridiculous and petty, "You always order last so you can order less the me" ? No, you can't do that. But girls are subtle. But subtle enough to be obvious.

Ok!!!!! You're skinner then me!!!!! I am fatter then you!!!!!!! Hooray for you!!!!!!!! Just leave me the hell alone!!!!

As girls we struggle with our weight so much anyway, just from our own judgments of ourselves. Why do some girls feel the need to do it to other girls too?!!! There is one girl in particular right now that is driving me crazy. (There's always one, isn't there?) I have been successful for a while now in dealing with my weight issues, I haven't made myself throw up for a long time now, but she is causing me to remember and think about it again. I don't want to give her that power, but it is such a weak spot and she is someone I cannot avoid. Plus, I like her, other then this.

I just hate the competition. And I am definitely not talking about sports. I thought by now (I am nearly 26- oh wow) that girls would be mature enough to not do this anymore. Maybe most are. I just happen to have one in my life right now who isn't.

I mean this nicely (I think) and truthfully: If you are reading this and you are one of those girls- knock it off. It is hurtful and you never know who is genuinely and privately struggling. And if you are a girl who is genuinely, privately struggling- write me:


I trust you, God. I choose to trust you. Something foundational, at the core of me says to. I trust you to show me truth. No, not even that, if it is not your best for me. I choose to trust you even if it means I will have no knowledge, not insight, no understanding. I choose to get over myself and my need to feel in control; to know details and context and correct interpretation and translation. I want to rest in simple trust. Child-like faith. Cleanse my heart of the debris I hoard. Sweep it out of me. I will trust you because I do know this: you are good. Knowledge can only go so far. I know because I am at a dead end. Not that I am even close to knowing everything. But in this maze I am at a stand-still. Which is a good place to be I think. In a weak voice and with tired eyes I say, "God? I trust you."

blogspot presents..... morgan reeves

Writing a blog is a really weird thing because one never really knows who the audience is. One entry might be written in hopes that a certain someone will read it giving you an uninterrupted forum, whether that means apologize, or berate, or profess undying love. An entry might be written to no one, a purging exercise. Entries may be written for oneself and only meant to let others look on. You can kind of tell by the tone of a blog. I think I have been a little moody on mine here- optimistic, funny, judgmental, maybe a little fearful. I just want to be honest. Vulnerable. Three dimensional. I think the most surprising thing to me is that this is where Jesus lives. In the gritty steps and tired shoulders of our lives. For me, it is the mediocre that is so itchy. Nothings wrong, but things aren't exactly right either. Don't get me wrong. I have a wonderful life. A baby who is healthy and sweet and funny. A husband I can talk to and who will sit out in his car in the company parking lot on his cell phone with me refusing to go inside until we have forgiven each other for the argument we had before he left that morning. He leaves no room for grudges or bitterness. He insists we keep our hearts soft toward each other. I have a home and a dog and a car and a cell phone and an awesome extended family. But those things do not make for a perfect life or bring complete peace in the quiet, pensive moments.

I think we can have joy in what is to come and the peace of God's presence now. But even when things are going good for me, there are others in my life who are hurting, lonely, grieving. The world is broken. It's a sad place. If you don't think it is then you are either living in a hole all by yourself or in a bubble where only happy fake people are allowed.
So, here is my point: if you are reading this you might be made uncomfortable, or offended, or validated, and hopefully, at some point, made to laugh. Those are my real thoughts and emotions and I hope to share them with you. Whoever you are. :)

amendment to "questioning my beliefs"

My last post was kind of ambiguous, I know. Looking back I think I was somewhat unclear. I guess what I was trying to say is that it is so tempting in this world to begin believing that truth is relative which, as I said before, is intellectual suicide. That being said, I also think it is far more tempting to close off your mind and cling only to what makes you feel most comfortable, to what you have been taught. What I meant to say is that Christians should not be afraid to hear what other people have to say about what they believe. As Christians, we think we are right about everything, and yet we can't even agree with each other on many issues! For example, women's role in the church or baptism practices. We write books about end times prophecy and even have charts diagraming how it will all take place. What I think we need to remember though, is that the ancient Jews studied the Old Testament for centuries. Beginning at age three they begin to memorize the whole thing!!!!!!!! And yet, in all of that immersion and waiting for the promised messiah, they never came up with Jesus.

I want to be open to God's voice and hold up what fellow Christians are saying to God's Word. And God's Word can be a very hard thing to understand sometimes as the Jews themselves have seen. Jesus came and He changed much of what God set up in the Old Testament. For example, in the OT Jews were to bring animal sacrifices to the alter of God. Jesus came to be the ultimate sacrifice and to fullfill that requirement of God's. With Jesus the Jews could beginning eating what were previously considered "unclean animals"; they were allowed to commune with Gentiles (non-Jews).

The New Testament can be just as confusing. Through the centuries Christians have changed some of the practices within the church citing cultural differences. Women are now permitted to speak in church and braid their hair and wear gold. (Interestingly enough, in Timothy the previous verse is considered a non-cultural issue- that of women being elders in the church.) It is my opinion that most of these issues which cause division in the church is not what Jesus wanted. I think that both wisdom and humility says, "We don't know for sure about these minor issues and so will will not let it divide us. We are the body of Christ."

That is what I meant when I said that there are very few things it is worth telling people they are WRONG about.

And I do believe in Jesus. I do love him. Sometimes my view of him gets polluted by the weight of this world. Jesus is always better then I remember him. The Church's purpose is to be Jesus on earth. We mess it up a lot. I mess it up a lot. A LOT. What I was trying to say previously is that I hope I never become so prideful that I think I have all of the answers about God. I want to point others to God who is good and all powerful and just. I don't want to try and get a person to become a Christian to confirm or validate my own beliefs, to get them on "my side". Truth is truth whether I've got it all right or not. Unfortunately, people can make the Bible say what they want it to say. The Church used certain scripture verses to justify slavery. And that was NOT that long ago.

Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Either we believe that is true or we don't. I do. I want everyone to know the truth and have the truth in their hearts. I just don't want to feel threatened by the fact that I don't know all the answers. I actually feel relief to know that I don't have all the answers and to know that God is bigger then me and that He is big enough to answer the deep, dark, and very hard questions in my soul.

writing in the sand: Jesus introduces tract evangelism

I guess I just don't want to be a puppet. I don't want to just tote the company line. I don't want to be a parrot. I am (possibly inappropriately) opposed to Bible tracts. People want real people, not directions like you get in the box with your new bookcase: "Step 1- Locate bottom shelf". God can't be reduced to a formula. He isn't in the 3 page tract people give out on street corners. If God is so smart why didn't He skip the Bible and just write a tract?

I know, I know. God does use those tracts to reach people sometimes. But I really cannot imagine that if Jesus was here today he would be handing out tracts at the bus station. I believe he would be doing, well, what he did in the Bible: visiting people in their homes, eating dinner with them, giving them food, talking with them about their real issues (their life story not- 'will you please agree with these three points here on this piece of paper?'). The Bible says that God is love and that love is action and deed. I think evangelism is messy and involves knowing someone and holding their hand and asking them questions and treating them as your EQUAL. People's lives are messy. A four step tract, however well intended, can be almost offensive to those whose lives are in complete shambles. Today I met with a teenage girl in foster care who needed so much more then a tract. I met a 72 year old african refugee living in poverty who needed food, prayer, and connections. My husband spoke last night with a guy who wants to have a friend, not be someone's project. I hope I never make someone feel like a notch on my spiritual belt. I hope I will always remember that I don't have all the answers, but only that I know Who does.

I do think that God has designed us all differently and that certain people work better in certain ways and respond better to certain circumstances, tracts included. I just don't get it. Maybe if you are in another country and cannot easily communicate the gospel, a tract would be helpful. I'm sure God uses them. It's just that I, personally, out of all the Christians I know, do not know one single person who was saved by reading a tract. But this is just my own personal experience.

I was once with a friend and we were with a group of believers, many of whom I did not know. Near the end of the night my friend looked into her purse and pulled out a tract. The same tract one of the guys had been carrying around earlier. It was so embarrassing. That guy had no right to stick that in her purse. I felt that he had intruded in my friendship with her. I felt that he was trying to take a short cut- and to pressure her. That's what tracts do- they impersonalize God. They make a relationship with Him seem like a business contract or a pyramid scheme. Tracts can exploit a relationship.

God wrote the BIBLE. It has love stories, poems, wisdom, instructions, commands. Not a check list. I heard a quote once, "Of 100 men, one will read the Bible; 99 will read the Christian." Another quote, "The greatest proof of God's love is a life that needs God's love to explain it." Maybe it's time Christians entered into the world of the hurting, the lost, the confused, the hardened. Not handing out tracts by sticking our hands out of the Christian bubble like a drive-thru window. Jesus said, "Go. And make disciples." Disciples. Not converts. To make a disciple involves much time and tears and living life together.

Wow. I probably am offending people. I hope I am not. I am intending to just be opening up dialogue. I also wonder what it would feel like to have someone try to give me a tract. Actually, now that I think about it, I have. The mormons have come to my door before. It was weird, feeling like a "secularist". I felt like a task, an exercise to be completed. Like they were told, "Go to this neighborhood and collect people.

What about "Who are you? What is your story? What are your needs? How can we love you? How can we serve you? How can we show you what our Jesus is like?"

questioning my beliefs

You know, sometimes I look around and wonder, "Is everybody faking it?" I guess I don't mean faking it in a devious way, I just mean in a "maybe if I pretend hard enough it will be true" kind of way.

Sometimes I stop and think, "Oh my gosh this is seriously CRAZY! How can this possibly be true? It doesn't even make sense."

Something has to be true. Not everything can be true. As nice and tolerant and friendly as that idea seems, it is intellectual suicide. Maybe nothing that we humans have come up thus far is true. But it can't all be true.

I am queen of middle ground. I am good at mediating. My personality hates excluding others. I don't like to compete. I ran track in high school for the practices, not the meets. I HATED the meets. Why does someone have to lose so that someone else can win? It makes no sense to me. Plus, I wasn't very fast.

I don't like telling people they are wrong. Unless it is my husband. No, I mean on issues that are close to their heart. I know a wonderful older lady who is so passionate and brave and strong. But I feel that she finds her identity in the republican party. She believes that the republican party is America's ultimate Truth. To a point where I don't think she really uses her own brain. I would never tell her she is wrong to swallow anything and everything republican. I have honestly never even entertained the idea. I guess what I think is that there are very few things worth saying, "You are wrong" to someone. I REALLY believe the world is full of a lot of gray areas. This is mainly in part because I believe this world is fallen from it's ideal and perfect beginning. It is amazing to me that there is one thing that every single person in the whole world in every time and every nation can agree on. And that is this:

something's gone terribly wrong here.

and we are spending our entire lives trying to figure out what it is and how to fix it.

Christianity. I was raised as a Christian. Protestant. I used to loathe Catholics. Baptizing infants seemed ridiculous to me. One time I went to a Mass with a friend of mine (I was maybe in 3rd grade) and the priest went down the aisle sprinkling Holy Water and a drip hit me square between eyes and I swear I had a headache in that spot the rest of the day (Oh, the power of the mind!). I more recently watched a South Park episode and laughed for 3 weeks straight about their satire on the Mormon faith (they sang a song with the chorus "Dumb-dity-dumb-dumb-dumb" and it still gets stuck in my head sometimes.) John Smiths' found and then "lost" golden tablets were obviously fake.

It is really great to get to know people who believe differently then I do and who are willing to talk about it. I know many Christians who never leave the Christian bubble. It's safe there, you know? Because what if a "non- Christian" asks you a question that you don't have the answer to? After all, Christians do have all the answers. But Christians shouldn't be afraid if they have found the truth.

Truth is truth.
Shouldn't we all be in pursuit of that?

I am just wondering where the line is between faith and foolishness. I could have great faith in a rock. But my strong faith does not make it a god. I can totally not understand something, but that doesn't make it any less true. Ahhh!!!! Can I hope that God will honor my good intentions? In my attempts at humility? In my honesty with myself about how little I really do know? What would He say at the end of my life if I said to Him, "I didn't know the answers. I never took a hard stance. I was afraid of making a mistake. I was afraid of losing you." ?

I REALLY REALLY do believe in God. There is honestly no question in my mind about that. I really truly believe it is the only thing that makes sense of this world, and of us. And, I have felt Him near. Not very often. But I know what I have felt and it was outside of me. It was something Other. And it was good. These two beliefs are the foundation of my life. If I didn't believe in God, my life would feel purposeless. And I believe to have purpose is an innate human desire and right. We were made with individual purposes. We are important to someone.

After that it gets confusing. But again, I say, something must be true about who God is and what his relationship to us is. I believe it is vital to our very hearts and souls that we find out. We cannot say god is who you personally believe he is. And there is no such thing as "that is true for you, but this is true for me". Honestly, people. How can we even pretend that works?

I think we are afraid of the Truth. And I think that is because we are, deep down, worried that the Truth will not include us. That there is something wrong with us or it will somehow involve us doing something we don't like, involve us being shown for what we really are, deep down. And not all of that is pretty or something we want others to see.

But I guess I really believe that I shouldn't be afraid.

I think I believe in Jesus. I think i even love him. It makes a strange sort of sense to me that this good God would have to disguise himself in order to woo us, in hopes of getting us to fall in love with Him.

I want to be honest. I think we all should be honest. And hopeful. I think we should be hopeful.

aww..... man, that sucks.

my sophomore year at northwestern college i was a cheerleader for the men's basketball team. during a time out my squad went out to center court to get the crowd on their feet and throw out some free t-shirts. There was one guy in particular, chuck, was being a really good sport so we decided that i would just hand him a t-shirt to make sure he got one (he was near the front).

so, we do our little cheer and then we start throwing out the t-shirts and i walk up to chuck and hand him a t-shirt. he begins to jokingly tease me by thanking me and shaking my hand really hard and not letting go. but then...

out of the corner of my eye i see another guy named matt. he has come out of the bleachers onto the court and is jumping up and down clapping his hands and the crowd is egging him on. now before i go on let me say two things. the first is that matt was very well liked and went on to be student body president. the second thing i want to do is describe for you what he was wearing. a referee shirt. big red (plastic?) overalls. a giant red cape. and a large, sparkly red old motorcycle helmet, which is very , very large.

matt decides to begin doing cartwheels.
no, he was quite sober.

i can see what is happening out of the corner of my eye, but chuck does not. remember? chuck is still shaking my hand. and not letting go.

matt's cape is now wrapped around his helmet. yet he is still going.

the timing was amazingly perfect. i yanked my hand free just in time for matt's foot to hook me around my neck and take me out.

it was a beautiful fusion of school spirit: cheerleader and bleacher creature united in a tumbling mass of red and white. i am absolutely positive i showed my spanks to every student, alumni, janitor, basketball player, parent, professor, and child there.

(pause: there are moments in your life in which you have a nano-second to make a decision. here were my choices: a) run crying from the basketball court, b) run screaming from the basketball court c) pass out. just literally pass out. or, d) shrivel up and die inside of myself and turn on 'robot morgan' to finish out the rest of the game.)

i chose d).

Baby Adoration

So, about my genuis baby. She was fourteen months last Saturday and she can say sooo many words! Let me be an annoying mommy and list them: mama, dada, no, more, boo!, night-night, nice, wow!, yum-num-num when she's hungry, woof-woof, quack-quack (kinda sounds more like kak-kak), the monkey sound oo-oo, the fish sound of making bubble sounds with her mouth, the squirrel sound of clicking her tounge. She can do sign language for more, please, thank you, all done. She can nod yes and no. She said hi today and a couple of weeks ago said bye-bye while waving but i haven't heard that one again. She is really excited about the word 'more'. She uses it as 'again' if she wants me to read the book again, or go down the slide again. She uses it if she wants more of the food she just finished or if i take her plate away and she is not done. She uses it if she gets off of her little bike and wants to get back on and ride some more. She uses it if i stop pushing her on the bike and she wants to go again. It's so cute. Like, if I take her plate away and she's not finished she will start to yell and cry and then it's like she suddenly remembers she has a word to use that will tell me exactly what she wants and she immediatly stops crying and says, "More?" while doing the sign. How can I resist?!! I'm trying to teach her that her words have meaning and power and to respect her when she asks for something or says 'no' to something. Within reason.
She's such a good baby. Earlier today she was fussing and i asked her, "Drink?" She said no. "Food?" She said no. "Hug?" She said no. The I asked "Night-night?" and she put her arms up immediatly to me and laid her head on my shoulder when I picked her up to go to her room. Awww.

Then at dinner she said "More?" and so I gave her more pasta. As I scooped it onto her tray she said, "Ooo nice."
She kills me.

pain and isolation brought the best summer of my life

Wow. The power of choice. I am going to be very transparent here, so here goes.

A while ago, actually years ago now, someone really hurt me. Immediately following, I assumed that I would have the opprtunity to speak with this person and have some closure. during this period of about three months i felt that i desparately needed to get some answers and at least speak to this person. It never happened. he wanted nothing to do with me. i swore i would never be a girl like this: i was so pathetic during these few months. i would watch sad movies (hope floats- in the movie she has everything going for her and finds out her husband has been cheating on her, so she goes back to her hometown and has nothing. she cries and pukes and sleeps. it was like looking in a mirror. sandra bullock and i were very good friends that summer.) my circumstances were this: i had just finished my sophomore year at a college six hours away. none of my friends were anywhere nearby. to compound the situation i had was transfering to a new college for the coming fall. i didn't know the girls i would be living with (except one). there was a #1 country music song on the charts that summer by julie roberts that summed it up exactly for me:

"i'd sure hate to break down here,
with nothing up ahead or in the rearview mirror.
out in the middle of nowhere, nowhere,
i'm in trouble if these wheels stop rolling.
god help me, keep me moving somehow,
don't let me start wishing i was with him now.
i've made this far without crying a single tear,
so i'd sure hate to break down here."

curcumstances took he and i to different cities. i chose to pretend he ceased to exsit. i began to heal. i moved on.

within weeks of being at my new university i met the man i would later marry. he was standing at the end of the driveway i was walking up. my roommates and i had been invited over to some guys' house that i didn't know to watch the iowa v. iowa state game. he was standing outside with a football in his hands. tall. blue eyed. handsome. looking right at me. that afternoon he invited me and my friends to drive out to an outlet mall with him. we accepted. the next day he univited everyone. except for me. that hour long car drive was life changing for me. literally. but that is a segway into another story i will share sometime in another blog. this blog is about something entirely different.

that summer had been amazing for me. i ran everyday. and lost a ton of weight. i learned that running is a great way to purge out anger and hurt and hurt and hurt. i spent hours with God on my front porch swing, reading the bible and praying and journaling and sometimes crying. i have never felt closer to God. i felt God's pleasure with me. i felt broken and humbled and that felt so so so good. it's what everyone fears and i wish i could tell everyone how good it felt to be there, limp in my Father's hand. i so often wish i could recapture that time. life is just so busy now. i knew this guy had not been right for me, it's just that i couldn't stop the pain. even once my mind came to a place of peace, my heart still stung at the thought of him. it had been a two year relationship and i guess that's what happens when you put such an investment in someone.

i can see now that God had to break my hand to get me to let go. this guy was immediately (and actually previously) in a relationship with another girl and therefore that door was slammed shut. i now believe God's hand was in that. i needed to be single when i transfered- i was about to meet the man i was to marry!!! but i hadn't known that yet and i longed for the comfort of this old relationship that was not good for me. plus, i had grown so much in my faith and trust in God that i knew he and i were no longer on the same page. sara groves wrote a song about this:

"i've been painting pictures of egypt
leaving out what it lacked
the future feels so hard
and i want to go back
but the places that used to fit me
cannot hold the things i've learned
and those roads were closed off to me
when my back was turned."

now, this guy did contact me twice, i believe. but by then i was dating my husband and i had no desire nor a soft enough heart to deal with it. i don't even remember what he said nor what i said in responce.

and then, one week after my wedding he wrote me. it was only a few sentances long but it included these phrases, "do you ever think of me?" and "oh well, it's too late now, he has won and i have lost." i was livid and crushed. i didn't respond because what could i say?!!! all i kept thinking was, 'there was a time when i wanted nothing more then to here that you thought of me or missed me. and now, after my wedding you taunt me?!!!!!!!!' i was so in love with my husband and for that guy to have the audasity to write me with those words.... now, years have gone by.

a few days ago i was given a choice.
he contacted me. this was a choice i had wanted for a very long time. the chance to tell him how much he hurt me. but as i though about it, i realized i was no longer angry and that i had, in fact, forgiven him. i thought about telling him that. but instead, beyond all of belief, i decided i had nothing to say to him at all. not in a mean way. i just had nothing to say. i am happy now. i've been married for three years and have beautiful baby girl.
but what power came with that choice. it gave me the chance to be free from any last remnant of hurt left in me.

he is a part of my history.

did you know?

india's case system was so complicated and confusing that in the 1930's the British discovered a new caste they had never encountered in their 3 centuries of presence there; assigned the role of washing clothes for the untouchables, these poor creatures believed they would contaminate others by sight, so they emerged only at night and avoided all contact with other people.
( paraphrased from phillip yancey's "what's so amazing about grace?")

"...every trace of him seems to have vanished..."

"i waited for you today
but you didn't show.
i needed you today.
so where did you go?
you told me to call
said you'd be there
and though i haven't seen you
are you still there?

i cry out will no reply and
i can't feel you by my side
so i'll hold tight to what i know
you're here
and i'm never alone.

we cannot separate
cause you're part of me
and though i haven't see you i'll
trust the unseen"
-'never alone" by barlow girl

"to love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence, sometimes even against much evidence." - c.s. lewis

the screwtape letters is a book written by my FAVORITE author, c.s. lewis. it is a fictional book about a demon teaching a young demon how to incapacitate the christian man he has been assigned to. the following is a sample letter 'uncle screwtape' has written to his nephew.

"you must have often wondered why the enemy (God) does not make more use of his power to sensibly present himself to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistable and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his sceme forbids him to use. merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presense in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. he cannot ravish. he can only woo. for his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatues are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimulate them, will not serve... sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscience experience, all supports and incentives. he leaves the creature to stand up on it's own legs- to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish... he cannot tempt to virtue as we do with vice. he wants them to learn to walk and therefore must take away his hand... our cause is never so in danger then when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy's will, looks round upon the universe, from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

(God made us and gave us everything we need. He marked out our appointed times in history and even where we would live...) "God did this so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not very far from any one of us. for in him we live and move and have our being." acts 17:24-26 paraphrase, 27-28 verbatim.

"he would not enslave man by a miracle." -ivan karamazov

he cannot ravish. he can only woo.
i cumble. i cling to hope.

more thoughts on trying to be something you're not

(see previous post, "public nudity and trying to be cool").

"what happens, is our lives become so heavily oriented around the expectations of others that we become more and more like them, and less and less like ourselves...... i am not defined by what i am not." -rob bell

"your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be. anything else is sin and you need to repent of it." -rob bell's counselor

i just watched the movie "pleasantville". part of me always feels offened by this movie. but part of me agrees with this movie. the movie seems to portray the pre-fall days on earth as being innocent in dumb, boring, foolish way. and 'sin' entering the world made it risky, and fun, and fulfilling. there is so much symbolism in this movie; wrong and right, predjudice, discrimation, sex, love, extra-martial affairs. it's both confusing and thought provoking. the movie ends with the idea that you need to let out whatever it is that is inside of you.

hmm. i guess the problem with that is every single person on this earth can admit to doing at least one thing wrong- one thing that they regret. why? because it was inside of them. they thought it, if even for a second, it came into their mind and they did it. and there were negative consequences. i think that we can come to the conclusion then that not everything inside of us is always good. we need a filter of some kind.

so, we know or feel or dream that there is something in us that is not coming out, at least not all the way. something that others may misunderstand about us or that we just can't express. and maybe we can't express it because we don't really know what 'it' is. i guess that i think that what is inside of us really should come out, just as this movie indicates. but i also think that what is inside of us is being held hostage by something else. something bad. i think that maybe we confuse the kidnapper for the hostage. if inside you want to have an affair and think you are in love with someone who is not your spouce, to act on that would not be letting your true self out, it would be letting the 'kidnapper' out, with the real you still held hostage inside. the real you that still wants to be let out wants not that other person nesessarily, but is desiring the idea that that other person could bring them true, totally satisfying, uncondidional, exciting love. needs that their marriage is not meeting, nor could could ever meet completely.

this makes a good case for asking the question, 'how do i get my true self out?' i think the answer lies in asking the one who made us in the first place. who better would know? as i have stated in previous blogs, we fear God so much that we make conclusions about Him that are false. we think that how He made was done in an assembly line fashion, stuffed into a mold and then popped into an oven. it's so not true. but we have to go to Him to find that out. we often would rather go on in what we are doing, even if we are not truely happy because it is safe and predictable. but do we want to be predictably unhappy? w.h. auden said, "we would rather be ruined then changed." maybe this is why jesus says, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are those who are persecuted. blessed? maybe they are lucky (modern translation) because they have nothing to loose. they are already empty. nothing can make their situation worse. so they have nothing to loose by going to God for His help. anything, anything they could recieive from Him would be a gift. a gift, not a sacrifice as it would be for so many of us whose lives have been relatively comfortable and pain-free. we only fear God would make our lives worse. they can only hope for things to get better.

how do i get my true self out? how do i liberate my hostage dreams for myself? maybe the answer is to go to Him. to go to Him and be empty enough of the fear that holds us hostage that we can hear Him. it takes some bravery. maybe the kidnapper is fear. fear that we will never find what we are looking for. fear so that we must frantically search and grope for what we need. fear that there is not enough to go around and we must push everone else out of the way. fear that we have already missed our chance.

it's not true. there isn't only "so much to go around".
the Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." john 6:35
either thats true or it's not.
the best way to find out is to ask.
Jesus did say, "ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find." matthew 7:7

o k . i can't help it. i have to add this poem to my blog.

this is about a long infected marriage.


Perception paired with vengence
is, perhaps, the most sharp sword
skilled to cut out of the tinest places
cancer, lies, hope,
or just,
tender flesh.
And wisdom
paired with unrecognized
emotional devestation
is breeding ground for sick power trips,
master-manipulation, and subtle evils.
articulation paired with hardness of heart
is possibly worst of all,
for words have the smallest hands,
and all hearts have secret doors.

bad habits/addictions/laziness/weaknesses

I occassionly make single servings of cookie dought just to eat.
I don't wash my kitchen floor nearly as often as I should.
I sometimes accidentally zone out when my husband is talking to me and tune back in just in time to catch him saying, "so what do you think?" (this so bad. I think I seriously may have a mental problem.)
I wear my disposable contacts way longer then I should.
I am terribly afraid of hurting people's feelings so I often don't speak up or give my real opinion.
I am still totally in love with my high school. go Indians! and I haven't been back there in over six years.
I sometimes cut my own hair. and highlight it. not good.
I curl my eyelashes after I have put mascara on. (they say you are not supposed to do that.)
I (we) let our dog sleep with us. under the covers. with her head up on the pillows.
I totally procrastinate paying my bills.
I am addicted to facebook.
I forget to return calls. often.
I buy vintage furniture palnning on reupostlering them and never do.
I am addicted to buying chairs from goodwill, flea markets, antique stores, etc. and our house is really tiny.
I rarely make my bed.
I like Bon Jovi.

labor labor labor day weekend

Let me tell you...
hit the road to go to cedar rapids.
flat tire, no- exploded tire just outside of grinnell.
put on donut
drive backwards down the on-ramp
baby not yet back yet in her carseat.
walk around and around hy-vee and theison's.
two hours and four new tires
back on the road.
baby sleeps.
get to cedar rapids
let baby walk around for a bit
caravan with rest of family down to st. louis.
husband follows dad.
husband get pulled over and a $102 ticket.
dad gets nothing.
stop to eat.
go to a park to let baby walk/stretch/play.
husband walks in on two people about to do it in the park restroom.
guy pulls the girls bra out of the tree and they walk away. weird.
husband completely clogs park restroom. and leaves it like that.
can't find hotel.
call hotel.
follow their directions.
get lost.
call hotel back.
oops. sorry. we told you the wrong way.
arrive at hotel at approx. 11:00.
goal was to arrive around 5:00.
my brother's bed has no blankets.
the hotel is out of cribs.
husband goes back out to find a wal-mart to buy a pac-n-play.
dad has frozen mom's water
it explodes all over the hotel room when he tries to open it for her.
husband returns with a pac-n-play.
and no sheets for it.
wrap a hotel sheet around the mat.
room services brings blankets for my brother.
everyone turns out the lights.
11:30. baby won't sleep.
turn on light.
play with baby.
12:00. baby gets sleepy.
rock baby.
and rock baby.
and rock baby.
lay baby down.
baby screams.
rock baby.
1:00. lay baby down.
get in bed.
baby screams.
ask husband to rock baby this time.
husband gets mad.
baby is mad.
mommy is mad. and about to cry.
husband rocks baby.
gets back in bed.
baby screams.
rock baby.
try laying baby inbetween us.
baby screams.
rock baby.
sit down to rock baby.
baby screams.
rock baby and silently count backwards from 500.
that works.
2:00. lay baby down.
don't move.
don't breathe.
get in bed.
baby screams.
its 5:30.
rock baby.
lay down.
baby screams.
it's 6:30.
time to start the day!
husband takes baby.
sleep for an hour.
now everyone's late.
did dad forget to mention the reunion is outside?
get a phone call.
husband's grandma died.
whole family showers, repacks, and gets back in the car.
mc donalds drive thru.
fruit and yogurt parfait.
not enough.
oh well.
drive drive drive
wait for the ferry.
spill wjole cup of jelly bellies on the ground.
get on the ferry.
float across the river.
get off ferry.
drive drive drive.
go too far.
turn around.
ask a park ranger for directions.
get to family reunion.
they waited for us.
we're not late.
sing hymns. not kidding.
go to restaurant to eat with extended family.
they've already been seated.
and are eating.
put our name on the list.
wait wait wait.
clip toenails out on the veranda. seriously.
name is called.
are seated.
restaurant is half empty.
still no waiter.
wait wait wait
wait for the waiter.
feed hungry baby jelly packets on the table.
finally order our drinks.
wait wait.
order our food.
wait wait wait.
baby's sandwhich comes- HUGE.
daddy's meal comes- tiny.
switch meals.
mine wasn't that bad.
finish lunch.
baby's mad.
needs a nap.
but doesn't want to get back in car.
change baby's diaper in parking lot.
g e t i n t h e c a r a g a i n.
drive drive drive
all over again.
brakes start to squeel and not work quite right.
two hours
baby wakes up.
stop at a park for baby to walk/stretch/play.
too hot. no shade.
get back in car.
go to burger king.
eat gross food.
baby too little to play in 'play area' with other kids.
get back in car.
baby's mad.
stop at the next town.
go to wal-mart.
let baby walk, look at toys, books, flirt with sales people, do a little shopping.
change baby's diaper in the parking lot.
get back in the car.
baby sleeps.
drive drive drive
d r i v e
dig thru suitcase in backseat.
change into pj's in front seat.
take out contacts, put on glasses.
get back home at approx. 10:30.

sleep sleep sleep.


you might be thinking that one of these days i am going to post some of my poetry here on my blog.
well, you're wrong.
there are only two outcomes in that scenario and neither of them are good.
1) my poems really really suck and it just embarrasses everyone involved. or
2) my poems are really good and someone tries to steal them and none of them have copyrights.

but let me tell you, you sure are missing out. ha!

i need to tell this story just because

it was april 20th, 1999. i was 17. it was my junior year of high school and school would be out for the summer in about four weeks. it was wednesday and prom had been the previous saturday. i was in track. it was an early dismissal that day but our track coach said we would still have track practise at our regular time, 3:45. the boys track team however decided to have theirs right away. i was coming back from lunch with kari and sherry. we had gone to subway. when we pulled into the school lot, three track team guys came running up to kari's truck, one of whom was a guy i had just broken-up with the day before. they had these looks on their faces, wild eyes, it was weird. they said, "todd's dead." then my ex-boyfriend, j.j. said, "no! we have to go to the hospital. the ambulance took him to the hospital! i can't drive! i need you to drive!" he was hysterical. he was crying violently. i looked at my friends. in a weird way i didn't believe him. i felt he was always pulling some scheme to manipulate me. i was so wrong this time. kari and sherry said, "go!". i got into j.j.'s car and we took off for the hospital.

we arrived at the same time as todd's mom. she grabbed j.j. and took him into the emergency room with her.

j.j. and todd were best friends. i later found out that the track boys had been running their warm up route and were almost back to the track field when todd suddenly went to his knees. j.j., was right behind him. when he saw that todd wasn't breathing, he began mouth to mouth recessitation. j.j. later said all he could hear was air deflating from todd's chest.

at the hospital i stood in the hallway waiting. i know there were a few other people there but i can't remember who. more and more students kept showing up. soon there were so many of us, that the hospital staff opened up a conference room for us to all go in. everyone was terrified.

you see, todd was very well liked, in fact, he had been homecoming king at our small 700 student high school that year. everyone knew him. and honestly, most everyone liked him. he was a four-sport athlete, good looking, outgoing, funny, and smart.

the room was now packed. probably 60-70 students filled the room. hospital counselors had been sent down to us. teachers had showed up. we waited. we knew nothing. it seemed like an eternity. then, in walked j.j. and todd's mom. she held her hand up in the air and let it fall to her side. "todd's dead!" she exclaimed so loudly it surprised me.

in the Bible when they talk about hell, they mention the sounds of "weeping and nashing of teeth." i heard the sounds of hell in that moment. i will never forget that sound. it truely was "the weeping and nashing of teeth." i remember our vice principal trying to talk to me. i remember a hospital staffer bringing in bottles of pop and thinking, "you think we are going to drink pop?!" i remember that j.j. would not come into the room with the other students. he paced a short line in the hallway, fast. we were there all evening, as if going home would be leaving todd there and thus admitting he was really dead and was never coming home.

j.j. really didn't have family, so he slept downstairs on our family room couch. a friend of his from another town came and stayed too, but i can't remember why.

the next morning, thursday, we walked into the school foyer where student's would hang out until the first bell sounded. it was dead silent. everyone was seated. no one stood. no one spoke. i think a few underclassmen walked and were startled because they had not yet heard. they ended up letting school out early for those who wanted to leave. we did. i think that must have been the afternoon a guy from the sophomore class showed up on our front porch looking pale and confused. my mom told me this. i don't remember it. that night somehow, everyone ended up down at the track/football field. some went across the small bridge to the spot were todd had gone down. most only stood under the bleachers. a lot of people were smoking. there was such a wierd feeling of energy and massive fatigue. some guys had gotten tatoos in todd's memory.

friday night was the visitation at the high school. his casket was in the theater and when we showed up the line to get into the high school was all the way out the door of the high school, trough the parking lot, and down the side walk on the street. it took us two hours just to get in. i went with todd's brother and a few other's with the janitor to open todd's locker. i'm sure it was just imagined, but when he opened it, it felt like a gust escaped up and out of it. his letterman's jacket. some papers. that was about it. so weird that he himself had opened it two days before. the visitation started at 5p.m. and the line finally ended around 2am.

the funeral was on saturday in the high school gym. there were over 3,000 people there. it was sooo sad.

i need to just end here. there's so much more.
j.j. went on to have night terrors and was seen by the psychiatrist he had met that night at the hospital. he dreamed almost every night about giving todd mouth to mouth and the sickening sound of todd's breath escaping his lungs.

two days after todd died the columbine shootings happened. we were appalled in such a numb way. it was horrible, but just couldn't match what was happening here, to us. every anniversary of columbine on the news is for me, actually the anniversary of todd's death.

oh, and one more thing. the afternoon that todd died, my mom had gotten home from work. it was right about 3:00 when suddenly the door bell when ding-ding-ding ding-ding! the front door normally just goes ding-dong! and the back door only goes ding! my mom went to the front door, then then back door but there was no one there. 3 :00 was approximently the time that j.j. was giving todd mouth to mouth.
the doorbells have never worked since.

tinfoil and rhinestones

one time,
for halloween, my parents made me a homemade Miss America costume. we didn't have a lot of money, especially for something so trivial as halloween, but i loved it. it was a cut-off adult blue dress from goodwill. somewhere they got a red sash and on it wrote, "Miss America 1987". and they stayed up late making me a crown of cardboard that my dad got from work and tinfoil. they glued plastic jewels to it. i thought it was beautiful.

until i got to school.

i go to walk into my second grade class and there stands... gina conway.
in a fairytail ball gown
tailored to her perfect measurements,
with layers of lace and chiffon,
glittering trim,
a real, rhinestone tiara.
and a sash that read, "Miss America 1987".

it's hard to go back there. i wish i could say that i lifted my chin, and walked proudly into that classroom. instead, i thought fast and i took off my sash. there. at least now they wouldn't know that i has hoping to be miss america too.
when i got to my seat i did something that to this day, brings me comfort in insecure moments of my life: i took out my lipstick and put another layer on. and a few more just for good measure.

so if you ever run into me and notice that i have a lot of lipstick on, please tread softly. i may be having a hard day.

mallory the loser

when i was in about 5th or 6th grade i think, me and the girls from my sunday school class were invited over to our teacher's house for a fancy tea party. i don't remember a lot except that she had folded the cloth napkins into swans, which i found very impressive. anyway. after tea we did a craft together. we were making little angels or dolls of some sort.

now, amongst us girls there was one girl in particular who didn't quite fit in. looking back it makes me so sad. her mom would drop her and her sister off at church each week and they would have dried spaghetti on their faces, mismatched clothing, ratted hair. this particular girl, whom i will call 'mallory', also had a lazy eye and had to wear a patch more often then not. this did not lend itself to social acceptance. it really really shames me to think of the ways i may have left her out or worse, ignored her altogether. i think there is nothing worse then feeling invisible.

i know that the teachers always did their best to love and accept her. but this particular day i witnessed a facet of the human heart that was really saddening. everyone was doing their own thing and i still needed to draw the face on my little wooden doll head. my teacher's example doll had a darling face so i picked it up to copy it, but in doing so i accidentally got marker on it's face. panicked, i put the doll down and quickly moved away to finish my doll.

soon, it was time to leave. right about the time mallory was leaving, my teacher noticed her own doll's marked up face. i was terrified she would ask me if i had done it, so i was watching her out of the corner of my eye. now here is where it happened: i saw her pick up her doll and quietly say, 'oh no!'. then i saw her look out at mallory getting in her mom's car. she sighed and shook her head and looked down at the doll again.

i was shocked. my teacher had just assumed that mallory was the one who had marked up her doll! without even asking her! or anyone else! ........and i let her take the blame.

i don't think that my teacher was a bad person, in fact, i think she only did what many of us have already done. she assumed that the deed was done by the least attractive, sloppiest, slowest person. she credited a negative act to mallory just because mallory was already a loser.

i have a children's book called, "You Are Special", by Max Lucado. in it, Lucado tells the story of a village of wooden puppets where everyone sticks dot and star stickers on each other as a form of judgment. the stars were good, the dots were bad. he makes the observation in the story that sometimes, people would give other people dots just because they already had dots.
it doesn't really make sense, yet we do it.

here's some truthhope for us:
"on the last day, Jesus will not look over us for medals, diplomas, or honors, but for scars." Brennan Manning

something funny

one time,
i tripped all the way down my parents flight of stairs wearing a prom dress.

i want to eat my vomit again

what if you talked to me and you said all the things i wanted you say and said that you were sorry and that you think i am great and you said all of these things and it still hurt? would that fix it? what if i could have all of my questions answered to my satisfaction? could i believe you then? what if you acted sorry? what would that look like? how could i know you were ever sorry enough? what if i realized there was nothing you could do to fix it? what if i wanted to pretend that you ceased to exist?

why won't it to just go away????!!!
there is never an answer that quite works. it never really fixes the hole. and sometimes, as time goes on, it only gets worse. it festers. it gets compressed down tighter. it becomes skewed. the offense becomes more deliberate or personal or calculated over time. some facts might be omitted because memory becomes biased. context is lost. tone of voice or choice of words become exaggerated. and now, rather then a kink in the rope you have a huge, ratted knot. separating the facts and feelings and the intentions and perceptions is nearly impossible.
and the worst part of it all?
its you holding the knot. in fact, it's your knot. your nursed hurt, fueled flame, cherished resentment.

i write purely from experience.

the interesting thing though, is that while it seems that the offender holds the power, it is actually the offended.
the offender is powerless. they cannot undo what they did. it's done. they no longer have a choice.
but the offended does have a choice. author cynthia heald wrote, "forgiveness does not mean that the perpetrator goes free; it means that the forgiver is free and that God will justly deal with those who have caused pain."

to forgive does not mean what that person did was ok.
it does not mean that you weren't really hurt that badly.

what forgiveness is though, is a daily, sometimes hourly, decision.
it is a "continual cleansing of the wound so that it can heal properly" (floyd mcclung).
forgiveness is about the softness and wholeness and strength of one's heart.
forgiveness is given. freely. no strings attached.
resentment and unforgiveness are like cancer.
and it's not forgiveness if say that i forgive someone, but then stonewall them or shut them out. that is a way of trying to make them pay. and anyway, it won't satisfy the debt. author ken sande asked, "how would you feel if you had just confessed your sin to God and then heard His voice saying, "I forgive you- I just don't want anything to do with you again." ?... most people agree that they wouldn't feel the least bit forgiven. (We) cannot forget the direct relationship between God's forgiveness and our forgiveness."
the difficult issue is the question of trust. where is the line between true forgiveness and boundries with someone who brings hurt into our lives? i don't know the answer to that question.

i write this for myself. as a form of therapy. hurt and rememberence rear their ugly heads in unsuspecting moments. they take me off guard. sometimes it's just annoying. sometimes it feels like starting all over.
but what do the sleepless nights accomplish? what do the hypothetical conversations accomplish? what does the projection accomplish? nothing. just more pain. like eating my own vomit. why would i want to put back in my mouth what i already purged?

my nearly healed wound needs yet another cleansing, even just a small one.
so tonight i will say it again, somewhat out loud.

i forgive you.

because i am forgiven.

awesome song lyrics

is hard to see
when it's only on your t.v.
or 20 miles across town,
where we're all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus' neighborhood
where He's hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash...
So what must we do?
Here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language
and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up.
He says
'Come on and follow me,
sell your house, sell your SUV
sell your stocks, sell your security,
and give it to the poor.'
Well what is this? Hey what's the deal?
I don't sleep around and I don't steal.
'But I want the things you just can't give me.'

- Derek Webb, from "The Rich Young Ruler"
(See Matthew 19 :16-22:
A young man came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, what good deeds must I do to inherit eternal life?... I have kept all of
the commandments. What do I lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you posses and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven; and come, follow me."
When the young man heard this he went away sad, because he had great possessions.
Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly, only with difficulty will a rich person enter into the kingdom of heaven.")

"I'm sorry I didn't always have a match
that could start a fire big enough for your heart to catch
and I'm sorry if my heart breaking ruined you day."
-Jewel, "Sometimes It Be That Way"

"I tried to forget you but you tied bells to your name."
-Jewel, "Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone"

"I go about my business,
I'm doing fine,
Besides what would I say if I had you on the line?
Same old story, not much to say,
hearts are broken everyday."

"They say, 'What good have you done.
by saving just this one?
It's like trying to stop a fire
with the moisture from a kiss!'
But it's not the world that I am changing.
I do this so,
this world may know,
that it will not change me."
-Garth Brooks

"He could've prospered in the suburbs,
instead of working for the poor,
down at the inner city mission,
where there's so much disappointment
and very few rewards.
For every victory there's a failure,
on these harsh and empty streets.
But if you ask what keeps him going,
he says, 'I know where I'd be
if Christ had given up on me.' "
-Ginny Owens

"Muscle and sinew,
velvet and stone
this vessel is haunted
it creaks and moans.
My bones call to you
in this spearate skin.
I make myself translucent
to let you in.
I am wanting
and I am needing you here
inside the absence of fear."

"Two months was
too little
they let him go
they had no
sudden healing.
To think
that providence would
take a child from his mother while she prayed
is appalling.
We're asking
why this happens
to us who have died to live.
It's unfair.
This is what it means
to be held,
how it feels
when the sacred is torn from your life
and you survive.
This is what it is
to be held,
and to know
that the promise was when everything fell
we'd be held.
If hope is born of suffering,
if this is only the beginning,
can we not wait
for one hour
watching for our savior?"
- "Held", by Natalie Grant

tell me only what i want to hear

.maybe the reason we can't hear God is because we really don't want to.

public nudity and trying to be cool

remember the story called 'the emporer's new clothes'? it's a story about these taylors who convince the king that they are making him clothes that only the wise can see. too afraid to confess that he couldn't see the clothes either, he went ahead and wore them- in a parade. (been there, done that).

it is silly then to think about how many of us try to be something we are not. everyone's mom has probably said to them, 'just be yourself!'. but have we heard this phrase so much that it's meaning doesn't even register? why do we want to be something we are not?

somehow, croc shoes became popular. now, i am sure that there are some people who really really like the look and feel of those flashy smurf-like shoes. but there is no way that all of the people i have seen wearing these shoes actually walked by the croc store, stopped, and thought to themselves, "now those- those shoes are what i have been looking for! they will go great with so many of my outfits!"
no (shaking my head sadly), no. these people saw someone whom they thought was pretty or manly or cool or something, wearing these shoes and subconsciously thought, 'those shoes must be cool.' the funny thing about something being cool for me, is that as soon as i find out it's cool, it's no longer cool. i can never keep up. unless you try to pull off something that is so bad that it might actually work. like crocs. can you imagine if the inventors of crocs tried out for that t.v. show 'america's next great inventor'? the judges would have laughed them off the stage. yet here we are, america, wearing square foam shoes in every color of the rainbow. it actually is kind of heartwarming. it's like living in smurf-land, where there are even whole families walking around wearing matching crocs.

whoa. off on a tangent. anyway, so back to trying to squeeze yourself into the cool box. it's this funny little crowded box that doesn't even really exist, except for a bunch of people squished together, elbowing each other, scared of being pushed out of bounds. the sad thing is that there are all of these empty boxes all around; vacant identities- one for each of us- yet we all want to be inside another box.

for a long time i feared that if i became a "good, obedient" christian that i would have to grow my hair really long and wear it in a braid and have to be home-schooled and naive and socially awkward. i would be both boring and judgmental, never have a boyfriend or go to school dances, be home alone by 7pm every weekend and play the flute. and i was going to have to go be a missionary in africa! ok- that being said, i am sure i just insulted a whole lot of people. i'm truely sorry! but these were superficial stereotypes that i feared becoming. what i did not know and am trying now to understand is that God made me.
He made me me. it seems to me that when you run from God, or hide, or whatever your avoidance tactic is, you become less of who you are, not more. He didn't want clones! God loves that home-school, hair-braid girl who plays the flute- and that's how He made her. but it's not how He made me. and, if God wants me to go to africa, it will be because i was made for africa and it will become my passion as the time draws near to go. i will want to go.

philip yancey once said (in one of his many books, i can't remember) that, "it begins with trust in God's best for me, a confidence that God will liberate my true self, not bind it."

a jewish rabbi by the name of zusya said, "in the world to come, i shall not be asked, 'why were you not moses? i shall be asked 'why were you not zusya?'"

God didn't create moses or st. paul or mother theresa to live in the year 2007, in your town, in your school/ job/ home. it wasn't like He looked at mother theresa as an infant and said, 'dang it! there's only one of you!'.
rick warren, author of 'the purpose driven life' said, "neither past nor future generations can serve God's purpose in this generation. only we can."

that is way cool. you are here for a reason- no one else can do what you were made to do. i was made for a reason. that feels like relief.

"the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth... He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else... He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that we would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him- though really, He is not far from anyone of us. for in Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 18:24-28

maidens, miracles, & love

"suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. the king was like no other king. every statesman trembled before his power. no one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the power to crush all opponents. and yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden.
how could he declare his love for her? in an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. if he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body with royal robes, she would surely not resist him- no one dared resist him. but would she love him?
she would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? would she be happy at his side? how could he know?
if he rode to her forest cottage with an armed escort waving bright banners that too, would overwhelm her. he did not want a cringing subject. he wanted a lover, an equal. he was a king and she was a humble maiden and he long to let shared love cross over the gulf between them. for it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.
the king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. he clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosly about him. it was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on.
he renounced the throne to win her hand."
- Soren Kierkegaard

a lot of times we just wish God would give us a miracle. if He would just show Himself in some miraculous way, then we could believe in Him. but God does not want us to want miracles. He wants us to want Him. He doesn't want gold diggers, He wants a family. He wants for us to be His beautiful bride, and to not reduce ourselves to prostitutes who only put-out for the profit.

"Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, so he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. and being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:6-8

"Jesus was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. yet to all who received him, to all those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:10-12

on the road we travel

a few weeks ago dan, jess, my mom and dad, hopelyn and i were sitting in an atlanta airport restaurant when a waitress bumped into the man sitting at the table next to us. she had just picked up dirty dishes and trash from another table. she didn't even apologize. he had egg all over his shirt, coffee on his pants and, because his table had already been cleared, he didn't even have a napkin. we were embarrassed and I looked away so not to embarrass him further by staring. i'm not even sure how many others noticed because despite the clatter, no one seemed to look his way. the restaurant buzz and clinkering continued. but before i even had time to take this all in, my dad had already handed the man all of the napkins on our table and was helping the man clean himself off.

Jesus told this story: a man was going down from jerusalem to jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. they stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. a priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. so too, a levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. but a samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. the next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper. 'look after him,' he said, 'and when i return i will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' Jesus then asked, "which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?...... go and do likewise." luke 10:30-37

Jesus was speaking to jewish "teachers of the law" or rabbis. to them, suggesting that a samaritan man was the compassionate hero in the story was appalling and offensive. it didn't matter how good the man's deeds were, he was a samaritan, a pagan sinner. As religious leaders, they refused to commend or praise the man.
in his book, 'searching for god knows what,' donald miller says that telling the jewish rabbis this story was "the modern day equivalent of telling a group of conservative evangelical christians about a pluralist, liberal homosexual who heroically stops to help a stranded traveler after a preacher, a republican, and a christian writer have all passed him by."

how humbling.

who do we 'religious folk' think we are anyway?