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?