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Counseling.

Raised to think it unBiblical.  Psychobabble.  Needless.  A mix of secular pride and Christian self-help, entwined, enmeshed around the idea of seeking therapy.  Heaven forbid you admit you need help.  Holy Spirit can heal you, they said; you just need to do more work – spiritual work, of course – read your Bible, pray, ask God to heal you, change you.

Exhausting.  And wasn’t working very well.

26 years.  Belief entrenched.

And then, two years ago, I started to notice people I deeply respected.  They all seemed to have had counseling at one time or another.  And slowly the seeds that had been planted years before by D.W. started to get watered.

Three years ago

“Who do you think you are?!  You help your students all the time – you don’t think you might need to talk to someone?!  What are you so scared of?  Why are you so stubborn?!”

I miss you, D.W.  You were right; you were always right about me.  In the way the Christians never had the guts to be.  You got in my face, you yelled; you turned bright red.  And you loved me.  Enough to call me out on my bullshit.

That’s what I loved about you.

Oh, you didn’t love me unconditionally.  You didn’t love me unfalteringly, as the followers of Jesus do who are in my life – the ones committed to work out conflict, misunderstandings, pain – you ended up leaving – something about a girl, something about us being too close and making her uncomfortable.  So you walked away and I lost the only older brother I ever had.  But you did love me, for a season.  Enough to not pander to me in that time.  And you knew just how to deliver what I didn’t want to hear.  Because you also admired and adored me.  And so I felt safe with you.  Safe hearing that I was an idiot.  Because I knew you respected me.

And it’s that part of you, that part of us, that I miss.

I wish I could tell you you were right.

I wish I could tell you how much I enjoy counseling.  How helpful it is.  How week after week, I have to deal with my pride, and my issues and my brokenness.

I wish I could say thank you.

But I can’t.

So…I write about it here.

I thank God.

And I do the hard work of coming to grips with reality and pursuing truth and becoming whole.

One day at a time.

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Yesterday was one month since I ended the relationship and walked away from an amazing man and one of my best friends.
I miss him.
That goes without saying.
God is faithful to provide for my needs, though.
I spent yesterday with God all day – drove out to a retreat center I go to once a month…didn’t realize my monthly retreat would fall on the one month mark until the end of the day. Did a lot of processing my life with Jesus. And then talked with my spiritual director, whom I love dearly; she is fabulously kind, warm and tough on me. Processing life with her and what God is teaching/doing in my life has just been one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.
Anyway.
Spent the time journaling, writing, processing, fell asleep for a long nap, walked around the pond, enjoyed some C.S. Lewis’ fiction, prayed…and connected a lot of dots in my life.
I am so thankful for time to retreat, reflect and process.
I cannot imagine life without that time. My life flies by so quickly sometimes that to be able to assess what is happening, what I’m learning, what God is doing, etc…is so incredibly helpful and allows me to actually grow and not remain in just a state of activity and productivity.
Afterwards, I drove to friends’ to take a walk with them along a boardwalk in the woods along a stream that dumps into a river; it was incredibly lovely and a fabulous way to end my day.
God is so very good to me.
So very good.
I miss him but am at a point where I am just so deeply thankful for these past few years and the gift that he was and is to me. It’s so strange to have had almost no contact whatsoever…break ups are always…I dunno. Involved.
People ask if I have regrets and I just look at them like they are insane. I am thankful that I can rejoice over what God did in and through me and our relationship and the ways in which he grew me. I will be forever grateful for his presence on my life.
And so…
Life goes on.
And I still miss him.
Such is life.

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Oblivious
Without a care
Jackass extraordinaire
Wrapped in a bleeding heart
Depth of reality
You’ll never know
Power wielded,
Cumbersome.
Intimidation, don’t work here
But that’s the problem
Emotional compromise
Overload.

– May 27, 2010

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To all the boys who want to have their cake and eat it, too…

I’m not for consumption

I won’t be your balm

Your rationality

Your wisdom

Your hope

Your comfort

Your shoulder to cry on

Your emotional support

Your best friend

Twice removed.

I won’t be your dumping ground

Your punching bag

Your go-to girl.

I won’t be the one you compare every girl to

And the one you run every one by.

I won’t be the one who calls you out

And tells you like it is

I won’t be your spare tire

Your back up plan

Your rainy day friend

Your platonic date.

Your argumentative buddy

Your movie friend…

I won’t be your cake.

– May 25, 2010

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In obedience to Jesus, there is just complete freedom; learning to love that freedom more and more as I embrace obeying Him.

Love this song.  Learning to let go more and more…

I’m being dragged down, down by the hand
The hand of a golden giant man
He’s crushing my knuckles
Splitting my skin, he says he’ll let go
If only I’d ask it of him

He says
Girl, it’s your call
You wanna fly
You wanna fall

So I shout
I wanna get away from you
As fast as I can
I tell my feet to move it
I hope they have a plan

These little black sandals
Are walking me away

These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

So now I’m free
Free

From the big bad giant
Who was stalking me
Thank you feet, for guiding me
I’m glad somehow I got brains down there, at least

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

Sometimes I’m tempted
Sometimes I am
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss that giant man
He was the line between pleasure and pain

But me and the feet have some years to reclaim

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

– Sia

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separating fiction from fact

lies from truth

habits from freedom

present reality from kingdom perspective

desires from needs

self-awareness from God-awareness

immaturity from maturity

selfishness from selflessness

shadows of love from the real thing.

– May 25, 2010

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Here again.
Frustrated.
And yet…
Changed.
No longer captive.
Free to walk away.
Free to laugh.
Free to dance the dance.
No longer pining,
Hoping,
Longing.
Portending you care.

– May 19, 2010

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Get out of my head
You walked away
Erase the years
Erase the laughter
The tears, the anger
Ease the pain your joy brings
Irony, sweet and biting
You became all you promised you’d never be
And me, I’m left holding the bag
Why, why do this
Addiction, cyclical, the drugs just change faces
Love, passion, insecurity
Your new high
Vandalizing all that is good
And all that you love
As you fall down in worship
And I’m supposed to just sit here
Turn the other cheek
“Seventy times seven” He said,
Did he know it’d be this hard
Grace, tears, love
Sometimes “fuck you” seems more apropos
Emotions aligning with will
The grating discipline of forgiveness
Worked out moment by moment
Who have you become?
I don’t even know
So cliche
And the music continues
An empty phrase without your bass line.

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priorities & healing

Getting some stuff done…yay. :)


So excited to have just put up my hanging wardrobe – black wrought iron…beautiful piece…and now (after two months, haha), my clothes finally have a home. :) :) :) Wahoo! My room/office is starting to come together.

Missy came over last week to visit and see my new place. “I’m sorry, Missy, that things are still in a bit of disarray.”

She quipped, “Honestly, Christy, I didn’t expect anything else; you’re life is crazy and you have different priorities.”

I couldn’t deny that… :)

I’ll have people over to visit before I’ll do organizing or decorating…and while getting things together and in order is a priority, it’s way lower than other priorities in my life.

Mom always said a man would never want to marry me unless I was a good housekeeper, etc…so that unconsciously set me up to think I had to live for the approval of men and that I was constantly being judged on how well I could run a home. As such, I constantly used to apologize whenever someone came over…it was like, an automatic apology would issue forth from my lips. I really didn’t care about the place being messy or slightly in disarray, but I was holding myself up to some idealistic standard that I have never been able to achieve and always comparing myself to that standard and thus apologizing. And we’re talking about apologies to my closest friends. They’d say “Christy, we’ve never seen your home immaculate – why are you apologizing? You know we don’t care!” and they’d say this over and over again. It got to the point that D. would yell at me. “Christy, don’t you dare apologize – I’m the kind of friend for whom it doesn’t matter what your house or you look like.” And it was true. And yet I’d still apologize…I am slowly starting to break the habit…

I finally realized this summer that part of the spiritual discipline of simplicity, something I’m pursuing actively this year, is not only decluttering and simplifying your life but also being real with who you are and who you are not. I am never going to be a great housekeeper – I don’t see the pile of dishes in the sink until I put myself into cleaning mode, I just don’t see things…I’d rather spend time with people…and I’m okay with that. For others, the balance may be farther to the more “neat house” side of the spectrum but for me…I know it’s not going to be like that. And I’m trying to learn to stop giving a disclaimer or apologize – it’s so ingrained in me…

I’ve also learned men still want to marry me despite my housekeeping abilities. ;)

I never realized I needed healing from my mother’s cautions growing up…I know her intentions were only the best and she was trying to train me well and help me…but I internalized her words and somehow decided that I was never good enough because my housekeeping was never good enough – I’d have this ideal and friends, who are extremely gifted at homemaking type of things would only confirm that ideal by their very existence ;), and I’d realize it was so out of reach that I had decided I would forever miss the mark.

But you know what? While I will always strive to become better, I am learning to be who I am, period, without apology.

And for some reason, Missy’s comment was freeing to hear the other night. She expected my place wouldn’t be spic and span and she didn’t care an iota. And I realized that in receiving her words and her friendship in that moment, my heart and head healed a little more.

One day at a time…
:)

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I mentioned to one of my best friends he should read For Men Only to help him understand half of our disagreements over the years…I’ve read For Women Only to help me understand the male mind and it was insightful and every year that I re-read it, it’s a great refresher course for me. I just finished re-reading For Men Only and agree that overall, it explains females rather well.

This was his reply:

Take a packet of sugar and a packet of salt. Pour them both onto a flat surface. Mix them together. Then spend your afternoon trying to separate the sugar from the salt.

That is what it’s like to try and understand the female mind. I don’t need a book to explain it. I just did it in 4 sentences…..

HA!

And that encapsulates my long term friendship with him quite well. ;)

A quote from the book in reference to how important our men are to us.

“From one woman who spoke for many in trying to describe just how important her husband is to her:”

My husband smiles at me when he comes home from work and discovers the kids have drawn monsters on my legs with markers. He appreciates egg sandwiches and SpaghettiOs more than a gourmet meal. He believes that I am a better mother, more talented, and a more virtuous person than I actually am…His eternal optimism changes me ever so slightly, day after day, into something much more beautiful than I’d otherwise be. He’s imperfect, puerile, and sloppy, yet strong, wise and loving. The fact that I get to live with him over the course of my lifetime is one of the biggest scams I’ve pulled off — I keep waiting for him to wake up, jump over the mound of unwashed clothes, and bolt out the door. But he sees even my imperfections as endearing. Over the past ten years, we’ve both changed. But the one thing that remains constant is my utter and unashamed need of him.

Not to mention, he’s really good in the sack.
From For Men Only, by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

“My utter and unashamed need of him.”
Beautiful.

I loved the depiction of how a husband (or boyfriend) has the ability to build us up and make us more beautiful and lovely than we are; (and likewise, how we have the same “power/ability” to do the same for them). What a wonderful picture of a relationship. And it’s what God intended the marriage relationship to be like…a small depiction of what Christ is doing with his Bridegroom – preparing her for Himself, helping her to be pure and spotless. A husband helping his wife to become more than she is, better, more beautiful, more lovely.

That’s in small part, what marriage was intended to be.

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I want to be everything, to everyone.
I know I cannot, but this does not seem, yet, to pervade my internal thought life or the emotional angst when I realize, yet again, I am not, cannot, and will not be able to meet others’ needs.

A dear friend who moved away from friends and family wants a pen pal.
I want to be that pen pal. But knowing me, and knowing my current schedule/life, I cannot be. And I’m deeply sad and feel guilty about that. I know I would be the one receiving from her. But I simply cannot, or so it seems. Perhaps I’m not being realistic about my life right now, but my job is intensely relational. I spend so much time communicating, oftentimes on deep levels, pouring into my students, etc…that at the end of a 55 hour work week, I’m just ready to do nothing. Even my love for blogging/writing/emails has waned. Perhaps not the love, but the desire. Mentally, I have much I want to say, but physically, no motivation to say it. I’m spent. Not in an unhealthy way. Of course, I’m biased, but I’ve never felt more alive through work than I do now; at the end of a long week, I think with a smile and satisfaction, the hours I’ve spent have been well-spent. I’m content.
And yet, I want more.
Isn’t that always the case?
Ever wanting more?
A girl who I’ve known for seven years got married yesterday. We’ve rarely have hung out one-on-one, rather, more often in groups. Met her in my second philosophy class. Apparently gave her the C. S. Lewis book, Mere Christianity – a few years later, she looked me up and told me reading that book brought her, in many ways, back to a relationship with God. Wow. I just gave her a book. For her, it meant a change. She started coming to Bible discussions. We went on a road trip to the National theology conference on year. I see her maybe once or twice a year. Wonderful gal.
I missed her wedding.
Because of work.
And because I would know no one, wasn’t given a date, and wouldn’t be able to talk with her.
I wanted, in theory, to be able to witness her wedding.
However, I don’t know her now husband.
I’d rather grab coffee with her after the wedding and catch up one-on-one.  I’m a one-of-one kind of girl.
Instead of the wedding, I spent time teaching my students, having dinner with them, and then hanging out with them. I push them hard; I challenge them; I help them to grow. Sometimes at the end of the week, they just need to know that I love them and that means hanging out with them on a Friday evening when I might rather be taking a hot bath or be curled up on my couch with a cup of tea.
I feel guilty I didn’t make it to the wedding.
I have to learn how to stop.
There will be more weddings.
More invites I must turn down.
More decisions of how to spend my time.
I don’t like being an adult and having to make those kinds of decisions.
I live in the world of ideals. Or so says Myer-Briggs. So says the reality of my life.
Ideally, I’d be superwoman.
Ideally, I wouldn’t be conflicted over the decisions I make.
I can buy a half gallon of ice cream, spend ten minutes debating which one to get, and question a week later whether or not I made the right decision.
Being me can be exhausting.
I parse everything.
I process everything.
An ex, when he saw me after time had lapsed since our breakup, said “Still processing?”
With a laugh and a simultaneous sigh, I said “Yes.”
I wouldn’t change it.
But it does take energy.
A lot of energy.
And so, my blogging suffers. So much going on in my life, I don’t want to miss a moment; I want to record the significant stories. I need my voice again.
It’s been a year since I properly wrote anything. A wonderful, fabulous year, but a year without exercising my voice. The last piece I wrote was “Cigarette Smoke.” What happened? I don’t know.
I have friends scattered all over the world, all over the United States.
I don’t do a very good job of keeping in touch.
I feel emotionally close to them.
I can go a year or more not talking with someone and yet still feel “closeness.” I know not everyone is wired the same way. It makes me thus sad to think they might think I’ve forgotten about them or don’t love them or care about them.
A student says she knows I’m a “busy lady.” Where is the line between “busy” and “too busy”? I keep trying to find that balance.
I cry almost every time I see my younger brothers. They are growing up so quickly. I am missing out on their daily lives, not living at home. Inevitable for an older sister, perhaps, but it still makes me sad.
You have to make choices.
You cannot please everyone.
You try, you end up only pleasing no one and being miserable.
Seeking to please God.
But questioning the tension of living in a vast sea of relationships and living within the constraints of time.
How do I convey my love to so many when I’ve only been given twenty-four hours?
In a strange way, eternity comforts me when I think about those who are followers of Jesus. I know I’ll have eternity to spend catching up with them.
But in the meantime, maybe I should tell my friend who moved away that I love her. Maybe it’s not just enough to feel it, to think of her, to miss her. Maybe I do need to actually pick up my pen and say, “I love you.”

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in a smashing pumpkins’ mood…one of their songs just came on…aptly reflects my demeanor.

to say i’m having a rough time would be an understatement.

to say God is always faithful is a reality.

sometimes i just need someone to hold me.

sometimes i wish God had physical arms.

but taking one day at a time.

it’s been one of the hardest but also one of the best weeks this year to date.

and i said “goodbye to you…”

anyway. not sure how to cry out for help when your friends seem too preoccupied to notice or really care.  not sure how to bluntly say “i need to be taken care of right now.”

i’m rarely in a position of being able to ask for help, so to do so implicitly and be turned down is painful and frustrating. but it’s life.

and i have to be strong for those who look to me, too…so i want to find those spaces where i can cry. where i can be weak.  not that i am putting on an act.  i purpose to be transparent with my students, and in the midst of meetings and such, have let them know where i stand…a quick update…but the reality is…life goes on and i have to pull it together enough to lead well regardless of what the state of my heart is.  God’s grace is sufficient to get me through those times.

God has given me enough strength and energy and fortitude to be able to that this week.

but it’s been a demanding week.

i’m looking forward to monday, my next true day of rest.

especially because the next few weeks are going to be crazy.

tonight is the celebration service for my friend.  it’s going to be tough.  i wanted to find someone to drive with (it’s an hour away) to help process things in the car but no one is available.

i suppose this is what it’s all about – it has to be me and God.  this is where the rubber hits the road.  this is where faith is put to the test, eh? not that i’m questioning God’s goodness or sovereignty…been there, done that years ago when i lost Dad…but on an emotional level, it is difficult.  and the questions of “why” still swirl around.  or not even “why” but…rather…”how much longer, Jesus, must we go through this before you restore things and make things right?” this pain at times seems too much.

i cannot imagine the pain of losing your spouse or your boyfriend.  and having to adjust to life afterwards.  i don’t want to see my loved ones having to walk down that road.

and this is just one thing on my heart this week.

in the midst of it all, i’ve been pulling 11 – 13 hour work days necessarily, so i’m just a tired girl today.

and life marches on.  doesn’t stop.

and with a deep breath, i plunge back into the realities of day-to-day life.

praying for God to continue to carry me through this time.

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I’ve spent the last half hour alternating between quietly crying and sobbing, reading this story.

What do I say to the author but acknowledgment of the grief I feel for him and his family and the promise to pray for them as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind?

His story stirs up so many emotions and deep-seeded feelings…I had to push myself to read through all three parts…a beautiful tribute and testimony to the author’s son-in-law and the faithfulness of God to love us through community during the painful times.

I’ve staid off writing much about the time leading up to and following Dad’s death; reading the piece made me want to write more…but I’m not sure I will capture it since it’s been over seven years since he passed and I unintentionally blocked out many memories from those two years…I’m not sure I am ready to delve back into that time…but mssc54’s piece showcased what I also experienced – the grace of God, the love of friends and family, the deep pain in questioning “why?”

An ex-boyfriend is a Stryker and when he was deployed in Iraq, I could not watch the news. It was too difficult. How much more difficult for a young wife and mother to have her love deployed. And then to hear the news no lover ever wants to hear. My heart just goes out to her and her son.

Where is God in this?

I know the theological answers; I know the intellectual. And I know the love and faithfulness of God in the midst of a broken and fallen world. And that one day, this, too, shall be made right. But when the heart-wrenching moments come…sometimes the theological and intellectual answers don’t suffice – they don’t stop the bleeding of your heart or the cry of your soul. After a time, yes…but in the moment, you need others around you, to hold you, to love you, to bring you food you don’t need because they don’t know what else to do, to minister to you. [M]ssc54’s piece demonstrated so beautifully how the Body of Christ really pulls together in time of need. I experienced it on an incredible scale when my father died…it’s why I can sincerely say that was one of the worst and best times of my life. Seeing the faithfulness of God in the midst of tragedy, learning His heart grieves with us but that He is faithful and sovereign and will provide…learning what it means to trust Him one day at a time, learning what it means to grieve, to be loved, to let others take care of you when you cannot breathe or are numb.

I struggle with understanding why my three younger brothers have had to grow up without a father. Why seven of us children were left without a Dad present here on earth. Why mssc54’s grandson will have to grow up without his father. Why men of such integrity, character and love of God and family are taken from us seemingly unduly. Why a friend currently is on hospice. Why there is pain and suffering in the world – on a personal scale and on a grand scale.

I know the answers.

But I’m thankful for the balm of human hands and human love, that God chooses to use people to reach out to us, to hold us, to touch us, to minister to us when we have to walk through the valleys.

I don’t know mssc54 or his family save for the beautiful tribute he has written on his blog, but my heart goes out to them. And I’m thankful that it is only a matter of time before we join his son-in-law and my father in heaven, to be reunited for eternity. God’s promises are true, His love, unending, and He can be trusted in the midst of the sorrow – thankful that He promises that one day, these things shall be made right.

Waiting for that day.

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Thinking about depending upon the character of God in light of some pretty significant disappointments this past month, in my personal life and the lives of others I hold dear — His character which is good, loving, just, compassionate and merciful.

Randomly, Pedro came on and the refrain “If I look up and the sky’s not there, is there any reason I should be scared” hit me…with a poignancy and urgency of emotion…I can trust in God’s character when the world around me is crashing down, either figuratively or literally. It’s easy to blame a sovereign God when things don’t go our way, when loved ones die, when hearts break; when we see injustice, when we struggle…but the reality is…we sometimes forget the broken world in which we live…we need to have a holistic picture of eternity and our bit in that eternity – our time on earth. But a holistic picture isn’t always helpful when you’re facing death and evil; sometimes the only thing to do is cry out to God and allow the grief to overwhelm you and loved ones to come carry you when you can no longer walk.

I trust in the One who never changes, in the Alpha and Omega, in the one whose promises I cling to when I cannot see through the tears. And I bless His name.

promise by pedro the lion

i’ll take something to believe
something with long sleeves, cuz it’s unpredictable
that jesus said he’d fill my needs, but my heart still bleeds
he’s just not physical
why can’t i see
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

now we’ve established a lack of sight
maybe vision’s the right word
and what i need, cuz i can’t see with human eyes
lord knows i’ve tried to follow where he leads me

why can’t i see
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

for what i’ve seen so far, i can’t believe my eyes
and what a nice surprise
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

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To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation.
– George MacDonald

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faith

“With faith like a child…”

(Jars of Clay)

What does it mean to have “faith like a child”?  Practically for those of us familiar with the theological terminology or intimations surrounding the phrase…what does it mean when we put flesh and blood on the concept?

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I like pleasing people. I like pleasing people a lot. I used to think I had overcome this trait, which, in general, I believe to be detrimental to health and vitality…but…I’ve come to realize that deep down at my core, I still struggle with the desire to be liked, to be affirmed, to be approved. It’s just become disguised in a more “mature” fashion – I care about the opinion of people I highly respect or esteem and thus give a place of “voice” in my life and I don’t want to upset them or disappoint them. I’m fine with upsetting the boat with most others – got good at that being a homeschooler when the academic and social merits of the homeschooling movement were still being questioned at large – and then again during college when I didn’t quite fit the status quo…I never like conforming, never like living inside the box, am always looking to live outside of it…but I still succumb to being adversely affected when those closest to me aren’t pleased with me or the decisions I make.

I wish there was a way I could just not care – not go through the emotional upheaval when someone tells me they don’t approve. I’ve gotten good at working through it anyway (i.e. rarely do I change my actions in response), but I’m still not immune to being emotionally upset over it.

Very few people thought I could do what I have done – switch out of the well-paying, “secure” legal world and, in essence, go into business for myself to work with college students – raise up enough financial partners to do so in an especially suffering economy, and live with the “insecurity” of having others invest in my vision and partner with the work instead of the security of a 9-5 job. But I made it. One day at a time. :) And I owe it all to God, completely, but there is also a measure where as a single, young woman who completely supports herself, it is a bit risky to make this transition and it took guts. And I faced a lot of flack for it. Especially as my mother is a widow and I’m the eldest daughter. The amount of disapproval, both voiced and implied, from others when they found out what I intended to do was painful and remains painful. But I am so determined to do this, with God’s provision, and so believe in investing in students’ lives that I had to learn how to navigate through the voices that told me “no” or told me they’d be there for me when I failed, implicitly letting me know they thought I wouldn’t make it.

As people started to see I was not being foolhardy, that I was making it, and that although I had to give up a lot the past twenty months to make this transition (i.e. primarily my social life and a lot of things within my lifestyle), they started to become more supportive and in some cases, even excited for me.

You would think, after going through that that I might have a little bit thicker skin…but the reality is…if my Mom or best friend (or supervisor, for that matter) says something to me, it hits me at the core. The world could be against me as long as my closest friends and family are standing with me…but if I feel they are questioning my judgment or choices…it really…paralyzes me on an emotional level and I have to work through it. I cannot just cast off their good judgment.

And I value input and advice and wisdom of others, especially those who know me well…but there really does come a point where it’s God and me. I cannot live for man’s good opinion. There are so many differing voices in my life, that, even if I were to try, I’d be exhausted by the waves of dissent or the expectations of others. Cast to and fro, trying to please one person and another…

The question for me, practically…is how do I guard against this people-pleasing streak in me that I cannot seem to rid myself of?

I’ve come to believe that at the core, whether most realize it or not, we live to please others, to seek approval and affirmation, to be loved and petted and admired. It drives us in our relationships, in our lifestyle choices, in our career choices…I really think that on many levels…we are affected in early childhood and young adulthood by a myriad of factors, and these factors…propel us into careers and lifestyles…we are constantly chasing something, constantly trying to excel, achieve, this and that. We want to find fulfillment and we think, on some measure, that others can offer that to us. And so we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit only to realize it’s an empty pursuit.

When will we step off the merry-go-round?

I want to be grounded in who I am as a woman bought by the blood of Jesus to live in freedom. I’m living for an audience of One. I don’t want to be living for others. I want God to say at the end of my life, whether that’s tomorrow or fifty years from now, “Well done.”

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A random poem I found while cleaning out some paperwork from my life…I don’t entirely agree with the underlying theology espoused here, but overall, I think it has some gems. No idea who wrote it or even where or how I have it my possession. :) But thought I’d share.

“In God’s Time”

Everyone longs to give himself to someone –

To have a deep relationship with another;

To be loved thoroughly and exclusively;

But God, to a Christian, says:

“No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content

With being loved by Me alone,

with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me alone,

with having an intense, personal and unique relationship with Me alone,

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction found,

Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have for you.

You will never be united with another until you are united with me;

Exclusive of anyone or anything else;

Exclusive of anyone to hear desires of longings.

I want you to stop planning, stop wishing,

And allow me to give you the most thrilling plan existing

One that you cannot imagine.

I want to give you the best;

Please allow me to give you the best.

You just keep watching Me, experiencing the satisfaction that I am;

Keep listening and learning the things I tell you.

You just wait, that’s all.

Don’t be anxious; don’t worry!

Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them.

Don’t look at the things you think you want.

You just keep looking to Me, or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready,

I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any you would dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and the one I have for you is ready,

Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me, and the life I’ve prepared for you,

You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me.

For this is the perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love.

I want you to see, in the flesh, a picture of your relationship with Me.

And to enjoy, materially and concretely, the everlasting union

of beautify, perfection and love that I offer you Myself.

Know that I love you.

I am God; believe it and be satisfied.

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Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.
– C.S. Lewis

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Just watched “Training Day” yesterday for the second or third time – love that movie…

Looking forward to watching in the near future:

Tears of the Sun
Traffic
A River Runs Through It
Dracula
(outlier, haha) Mono Lisa Smile
Antwone Fisher
The Siege
Legends of the Fall
The Thin Red Line
Inside Man

The two noticeable themes in these movies? Denzel Washington and Anthony Hopkins. ;)

Anyway, with regard to Training Day – I think every freshman philosophy of ethics class should have to watch that film – it showcases the basic ethical theories soooooooooooooo well in the movie…it would be a beautiful piece to parse with students and get them engaged and see how issues Descartes, Kant, Socrates, and Plato cared about come to life. ;p Yum. I’d love to have a discussion with said students.

I’m thinking about having a discussion on “Crash” – the tricky thing is that it’d have to be done exceptionally well for it to be fruitful and impacting. Still pondering that one…

My concentration within Philosophy was ethical theory…I’m a sucker for it. ;) Love using the arts to help others explore it…want to delve into that more one day…

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life is so strange, sometimes.

i’m really trying to wrap my mind around it.

and i’m just plain hungry for some c.s. lewis. i haven’t taken any proper time with his writings lately and i’m feeling a drought.

i made a crustless pumpkin pie tonight. i’ve been saying i’d make one since february…heh. finally made the time tonight.

whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is right, think upon these things. (paraphrasing scripture)

how much do our thoughts affect our actions?

how much do our words shape our views?

how much do the things we speak act upon our lives prophetically?

how much of life really depends upon our attitudes?

how much of our attitudes are derived from our worldviews?

how much of our worldviews are shaped by the media and culture?

how much does filtering those channels of media and culture thus affect our lives and everyone else?

i haven’t had a television for over a year because my former roommate took her television and the one my new roommate brought doesn’t pick up stations. i’ve never had cable. and so i’ve been without the BBC news or any other source for 15 months now. i used to come home and make dinner to the BBC news…reminds me that i should go pick up a small television just so i can get the news again.

but how much more…although uninformed for much of last year (which if i thought about it too much, would drive me crazy) was my life more peaceful because i lived without taking in all the negative reporting day after day after day?

likewise, how much does our choice of language affect our views or actions?

a friend mentioned he prefers the term “lovemaking” to any of the other alternatives out there…and although he didn’t expressly state it (or maybe he did) it was because he is choosing to shape his view of sex to be one of respect and love towards a spouse.

how much does our language choice affect our lives? our beliefs? our values? the way we treat others? our attitude?

i dont’ like being around negative people. oh, i know how to moan and gripe and complain, but there are some colleagues who seem *miserable* and their lives don’t seem that much more difficult than anyone else’s and yet they choose to go on and on and become bitter about their circumstances. that’s so sad to me. no one wants to be their friend because it’s depressing to only hearing griping.

so how much are we in control of what comes out of our mouths?

i’ve been thinking of meditating upon the things of God lately…and of guarding my heart, for it is the “wellspring of life.” i don’t want to become legalistic, by any means, but i want to be careful about what diet i feed upon. i want to be a wise steward of the things i spend time upon, either in entertainment or in just mulling…i want to be a blessing, to turn my sorrows into praise, to be someone who encourages others and speaks life into their lives, who is a joy to be around, who is realistic but chooses to see the good in life and not simply focus on the difficult things.

i want to constantly be bringing glory to God, the author and creator of all good things.

and i want my lips to praise his name. and i want to continually be loving others with the love of Jesus…i want to grow in compassion, to lessen in selfishness, to let my lips speak forth healing balms, to let my hands soothe, to let my life reflect the heart of Christ’s.

i have so far to go.

lord, have mercy.

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itching to dance…

“let’s go ouuuuuuuuuuu-t tonight!”

(rent)

excited about a lot of things. nervous, a bit…well…”scared” isn’t the word…a bit apprehensive about how everything shall work…time shall tell…preparing to say a lot of “goodbyes”…excited about the next steps…hungry for life.

my mother was right…she told me that because i had given so much of my time helping to raise my siblings when she wasn’t feeling well, etc. that i probably would end up needing/wanting to live life and enjoy the freedom of being single. truer words couldn’t have been spoken. as i think about my students, who are just a few years younger than i (five to nine years) and feel my age…it’s just hard to believe that at one time i wanted to marry young. i desire marriage one day, but there’s so much to do, see…and my life permits me to grab coffee late with my students who are going through relationship crises or to go on spur of the moment trips; i don’t really have to answer to anyone but God (granted, he’s a pretty big authoritative figure ;p) but…in the sense of the freedom to come and go as i please, to live life, to work hard, to rest hard, to enjoy life…to experience it, to do the things that a mother and wife do not have time to do…i’m thankful for this time. who knows if i’ll remain single for life or if i shall get married, but if i do the latter, i’m thankful to use this time now to the fullest.

it’s partially because i’m enjoying life so much, and the freedom and independence, that i think i should get married…i know i need to grow in selflessness and compassion that marriage provides the school for. ;p

a friend recently threw out there…that those who are in homosexual relationships in a sense have it easier than those in heterosexual relationships because we tend to “get” our own kind but when it comes to learning to embrace, love, learn and understand someone of the opposite sex, it is much more difficult, and it demands a lot of patience, love, forgiveness and understanding.  (not that those in same gender relationships don’t have to go through those same things…it’s just different in general…a woman in general understands how another woman works better than she will understand how a man works emotionally, for instance.)  when this friend proffered that point, i felt like a light bulb went off in terms of another reason for getting married personally.  i just frankly don’t understand men. ;p and i think living with and loving a man would help me to grow and expand and learn to try to understand and work with someone wired much differently than i.  it would give me opportunities to learn love, patience, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, understanding, etc… (and i don’t mean to suggest that i don’t understand men at all, but you know what i mean…)

gary thomas in “sacred marriage” suggests that marriage’s primary purpose, as it was first intended (assuming a deity created the institution and imbibed purposed to it, therefore) was to help us grow in holiness.  that it’s through the refining fire of a marriage relationship that we grow, that our rough edges are worn away, that the dross is melted away…and we become, ideally, more holy and perfected as a result of living life with another individual, that we learn to put another’s needs before our own.

his book is fabulous. and i highly recommend it to anyone in a relationship.

anyway, just interesting thoughts i’ve been pondering on occasion — the benefits of marriage to help grow character. ;p

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A letter.
[Take it or leave it. Thoughts free-flow…]

I Turn Everything Over (Switchfoot)

Monday found me on my knees again
Breathing You in
To blur the lines that mark where I begin

And where You end
No use in trying to pretend
Come take me again
‘Cause rumor has it I’m not who I’ve been
Come define me

What can we do
If the rumors are true?

I turn everything over
I turn myself in
I turn everything over
I turn myself in
There’s nothing left for me to defend
I turn everything over
I turn myself in, yeah

The evidence convicts the hollow men
After looking inside
To my dismay I find I’m just one of them
‘Cause I’m an already but not yet
resurrected fallen man

Come break this limbo
And I know You know just who I’ve been
Come define me

Rumor has it You love me
Rumor has it the world spins upside down
Rumor has it my only hope is You
And the rumors are true
I turn everything over

I sometimes wonder…when I became a follower of Jesus (as distinct from the term “Christian” when it’s been hijacked…) – was it when I intellectually understood the gospel message, or good news, that Jesus has to offer? Was it when I made my faith my own and researched the resurrection, etc? Was it when I fell in love with the Lord Jesus? Was it when I betrayed him and realized it for the first time and faced the pain and grief of that? Was it when I first realized that the gospel wasn’t for my friends or the world or the “lost” but for me?

Or is it every day I wake up?

I understand my father now in new ways.
I never understood his quiet sorrow, pain or grief over his sin/life. He seemed like a saint to me.
And to everyone else.
But the longer you walk with Jesus, the more you read the Word, the more it reveals the blackness of your heart and your need for him.
It’s a heavy thing…sin…you see the brokenness of the world, the messed up, f’d up things in the world, and in your family and friends’ lives…and you start to get a hazy picture of it…but then…you start to see things in yourself, things you desperately don’t want there, and you struggle, and you grieve and you cry out to God to have mercy.

There’s a sweet tension between recognizing who you are (and who you are not) and who God is and being caught up in the joy of not having to pay the price of your sin(s) but also not being flippant but reverent before a holy and just God.

For me, the pain has come the more I have fallen in love with God/Jesus. It grieves me to be adulterous, which is what happens when I sin. I leave my first love and run after others, looking for fulfillment, affirmation, love…when only He can truly satisfy.

How many times do I know this and how many times do I stubbornly insist on trying to fill the god-shaped hole within me? By food, by passion, by romance, by gossip, by workaholism, by vanity, by shame, by x, y and z. When it all comes down to it, it comes down to a relationship. A relationship with the God of the universe. And I consistently sin against Him. And that just…grieves me to the core.

And the more I walk with him, the more I grow to know him and love him, the more it pains me and the more I see my sin.

On the flip side, the most amazing, wonderful, incredible thing is that I don’t have to pay for the crap I have done because the blood-money has already been paid – Christ took the penalty. I have been redeemed, ransomed, bought. I deserve death, separation from the One who created me and insanely loves me, and instead, I am made his daughter, given right to be his heir, given eternal life and I don’t have to pay the penalty of my sins.

That’s the most incredible and yet painful thing to realize.
That I am loved to the point of God humbling himself and laying down his life for me, and what do I do? I continue to sin. I continue to choose my own way, to be disobedient, to not love him as I should, to chase after others, to create idols, to distract myself.

One of my dearest friends is an atheist philosophy professor. I consider him to be family.
I know intellectually, he believes in part that my belief in Jesus as my Savior and my choice to make him Lord of my life is some sort of crutch, some sort of help in the face of deep, cutting pain and loss. To that, I point to the historical, secular evidence of his resurrection. It would take more faith for me to not believe than to believe after examining the evidence for and against.

And yet, my atheist friend sheds light on a reality..there is something profoundly comforting and “unfair” about the belief that I get off scott-free. That’s not fair, that doesn’t work in the economy of life. We must work our way to eternity. We must be good people. We must prove ourselves, must we not? What’s this business about being saved by someone else? Crazy-talk.

And yet, I believe that all the evidence points to Jesus being who he said he was, and he said he was God, come down to save humanity. And his grave was empty. It only seems “unfair” if you don’t recognize that the price was paid – the blood was shed – the account was settled, by the only one able to settle it.

So why am I going on about this? Yes, Christy, we know you’re a believer in Jesus. So what…

Well…my question is…how does anyone who faces grief, sin, pain in life deal with it? How do you handle the agony of personal sin when you do not have the hope Jesus gives? I have assurance of my salvation – way too many cultural-Christians, Muslims, and others don’t – they can only tell me they hope they will be saved if they are good enough, and the burden they carry trying to be “good enough” weighs on them. You can see it in their eyes.

And yes, there are many who are Christians in name only and haven’t grappled with their sin or the Lord they profess by their self-ascribed label…but…when it comes down to it, sin is such a heavy weight…that it seems absolutely exhausting to bear if you aren’t a believer in Jesus as the only one who can provide a solution (I separate believers in Jesus as Savior from “Christians” who are more cultural or tied to Christianity the religion).

I have friends who seem to constantly be trying to forget, to drown out their conscience, to drown out anything that reminds them of their eternal nature — they don’t have an answer to the sin-question – when we talk about it, they just have a deep sadness in their eyes and they want to shift the conversation…and I understand – I barely want to face my own sin because it grieves me that I would betray Christ and yet, I live in the tension of joy and hope because I am free now. And I seriously wonder…how does one handle the weight of sin without Christ – without hope – without the knowledge that one doesn’t have to bear the consequences? I would never want to be alone or sit in solitude if I didn’t know that my sins are paid for by the work Jesus did on the cross and his blood shed for me. It would be…terrifying.

I’ve been there, done that.

And this belief…would be a nice crutch if it wasn’t based in reality, if there wasn’t evidence, if there wasn’t good reason to believe that Jesus is who he said he was. I’m certainly not promoting believing a worldview that simply comforts you with no substance – I’m not promoting a fairytale…but I am suggesting that Jesus is good news – that the gospel message truly IS good news for those who have come face to face with their own depravity, sin, and failings…and I am comforted by the knowledge that I am free to live in freedom, to embrace the world with joy, to not be burdened by my sin…that I have a God who cares intimately about me and has put into place a solution for the situation I find myself in pre-Christ – separated from God, alienated because of my sin. If there wasn’t evidence for the resurrection, for the claims of Christ, then my faith would be in vain. Paul says as much. He’s right. Logic demands it.

I think sometimes, too often, Christians are perceived as thinking they are “better” than others…the reality is, we’re not different except for the fact that we don’t have to bear the burden of our sin – Christ has already done that and we are freed – the only difference is our acknowledged dependency upon God and the question of eternity being answered.

I grieve for those who don’t know that freedom.
The weight of sin is heavy without Christ’s redemption/salvation.
I would not wish it on anyone.

These are thoughts from a not-yet resurrected (wo)man…defined by Christ, redeemed by his blood sacrifice, dying in my place, who is madly in love with God…awed and humbled that the God of the universe would love her to the point of choosing to lay his life down for her to redeem her from her sin…

The good news is only good news when you know you need good news.

Much love,
a broken, sinner saved by grace, living one day at a time.

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I’m really good at compartmentalizing. So much so, that those closest to me say I’m like a man in that area…

There’s no doubt about it – I am emotionally in tune with myself (i.e. a polite, sugarcoated way of saying “an emotional female”) – but when it comes to living life…I’m extremely good, probably too good, at emotionally compartmentalizing painful things or arguments.

I’ve always viewed this to be a strength – if I’m in a fight with someone, I can still work closely with them without letting it affect the quality of my work, etc…knowing that I will deal with the issue later…I’m able to put it on the back burner and even at times “forget” about it until I can take it off the burner and address it.

But as with anything, strengths can become weaknesses…so I’m seeking to find balance within this ability.

I also find it a bit amusing that…for someone who is usually described as being extremely feminine (that used to irk me because I always liked the tomboys in the books I read growing up ;), I am also simultaneously told that in terms of compartmentalizing my life…I’m like a man. I can be really angry with someone over an issue and separate out my anger over an issue and that person and my love and care for that person and thus act as if nothing is wrong, especially in group settings. I’m not playacting…I’m sincerely able to put aside whatever contention I have in order to not let it affect the event or what must be done…knowing that I will not ignore it long term but deal with it when I have the time and space (and when it’s also convenient for the other person) to talk through the issue(s).

I have little patience for those who “must talk now” and everything is emotionally fraught with urgency. Maturity seems to me to demand being able to discern when and where to talk about emotionally taxing issues.

I grow in deeper love and respect for some of my close friends who have this discernment and are a head of me on this learning curve. It excites me that I will always have ways to grow inter-relationally – it also intimidates me – but at least I’m kept humble.

Anyway, I’m parsing the whole idea of my ability to compartmentalize. Why is that seen primarily as a masculine trait? Why am I thus viewed to be more “masculine” in this area of my life? Is this a good thing? Is this something that is harmful since I am a woman and tends to go against the grain? Is this something to embrace? Or is it something to learn to harness and stop compartmentalizing when I need to deal with things more head on and continue to compartmentalize when it’s healthy and appropriate?

Hmm.

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want you to know that i still love you

india arie

I think love never ends…it morphs, changes, but most often, never truly ends…our ways of dealing with it force us to compartmentalize, ignore, or bury it when it must change nature…maybe we use such absolutist terms to help us deal with the changes and pain or simple reality of differing choices…but the reality is much less black and white and I have a sneaky suspicion it never truly ends…though we might convince ourselves otherwise or deadened our emotions/conscience to it.  (eros, platonic, familial…)

Hmm…pondering.  Maybe, maybe not.

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I have to write a quick biographical sketch for something work-related…and it’s up to my discretion…and as I was describing my degree within the sketch, I automatically included that I graduated from the University of Michigan with high distinction. Ugh. In reworking the piece, I removed that bit…but why does pride run so deep? Professed modesty is not honest – I am proud that I managed to graduate with almost a 4.0 GPA while working two jobs and going to school full time and grieving my father’s death and being part of a few campus organizations during that time…but why? What is this universal human trait that makes us want to compare ourselves to others or find our value and worth in our abilities?

Sigh. So what?

So what.
In the grand scheme of things, what does it matter? Yes, it helps me when I’m up for job interviews…but. really…what is of eternal value? Why am I so quick to fall back on whatever supposed achievements I may have? Why can I not uproot this from my soul?

I could not blog about it…the few of you who read will now know this area of my life…something I have striven to lay down and not be too attached to since graduation (the love of intelectual things…excellence…this, that and the other)…to not get too caught up in acadamia and intellectualism…because it becomes dangerously close to becoming an idol for me…and so I have to lay it down, sacrifice it, not pursue it at times in order to keep a proper balance in my life…blogging about it acts as a confession to help me keep me in check and helps me sort through my thoughts on this.

I know so many who are brilliant but have missed the point: love. And rather than any achievements I may or may not accrue during this lifetime, I want to be remembered for my love. Pure and simple.

I know, in part, it’s intrinsic; I know in part it’s part of my sin nature, this pride streak that runs through me to the core that I am constantly trying to fight; I know in part it’s genetic…it’s something I don’t like…and yet, it’s there…and just when I think I’ve managed to escape it, it rears its ugly head.

I’m not saying don’t do your best and pursue excellence in whatever field you are in. Or have professed modesty…that doesn’t given credit to the One who created you and instilled in you all your abilities and gifts…we should fully glorify Him with our lives and do our best in everything…but I’m more challenging the spirit in me that wants others to look at me and my achievements…that wants to be petted and admired and respected. I don’t want to give it more credit or less than what it is.

I love brilliant writing; I love a good argument; I get a high reading a well articulated piece on politics, theology, philosophy, whatever…I just need to remember that what I value (a sharp mind, wit, and good diction) is not necessarily valued more in God’s eyes…I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that it is through and in Him I even have the ability to breathe (I believe that is in James, and elsewhere in Scripture)…whatever gifts I have, are just that, gifts, on loan from the Father to bring Him glory…what makes me sad is the realization that I so easily forget in the transient moments.

I want to live in the tension of acknowledging what I have done (and not ignoring it) but always pointing to Christ as the source of anything good in my life. I share this as a confession…and the realization continues to serve as a reminder that I need Jesus oh so much.

Lord, have mercy.

I’m just a messed up, broken girl in love with Jesus, living one day at a time.

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Writing calls my heart.
Work responsibilities demand my attention.
And such is life.
What passion calls you? In what do you consistently and thoroughly get lost? What breathes life into you, sustains you, feeds your soul? Expands your mind, nourishes your body?
What are you passionate about?

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I use the word “coffee” for a general meeting at a place where they serve coffee. I have never actually ordered just coffee… the closest I sometimes get is a coffee based beverage, like a latte. Sometimes it’s not even a coffee based beverage (hot chocolate, chai tea, etc…)

I think it’s just the idea of “meeting for coffee”… it sounds so nice! And I’m not even a coffee drinker!
– Laura, via a comment on this post

My response quickly turned into a post of its own…which I’ve followed by an article I wrote for my university’s newspaper (I was the news editor for a time during my college stint ;). It was fun digging it up… ;)


My history with coffee is long and torrid.
Just kidding.
But my father would sneak me it when Mother wasn’t looking…for health reasons, she did not want me drinking it until I was an adult and could make the decision. Wise mother, but I fell and started officially drinking the moment I became an adult.
Insanely crazy, eh? Haha. Especially since my younger siblings started drinking it at age 11…
Ahh, the work we older siblings do for the freedoms of the younger (even if it’s just wearing our parents out ;) I think we should still be recognized and honored ;p).
Anyway, so I didn’t start drinking coffee regularly until I was eighteen…but I absolutely love it.
LOVE it.
Black, straight up, no fuss. If it’s a good cup of coffee. If I’m desperate and I absolutely cannot stomach drinking it because it’s such poor quality, I will add some sort of cream/milk to help my taste buds…
So I do order coffee when I go “have coffee”…usually in it’s closest form to being pure…if I get it iced, rarely will I put anything else in it – maybe some soy milk. Oh, yum, now I want that…
I’ll get a skim cappuccino…and if I’m feeling really crazy or celebratory, ask for a shot of chocolate in it…the foam is delicious.
I don’t want to add the hours of a barista back into my life, but I absolutely loved being a barista and making my own drinks…and the rush of the morning rush with lines out the door…sigh…I miss that time greatly.
I love coffee…its smell…its taste, its look…everything about it, including the culture around it…the culture of visiting, exchanging, sharing, taking time out of the day to stop, pause, relax…
La de da da. I wrote about it for my school newspaper a few years ago…

“coffee’s grip”

Twenty-four groggy, bone-tired college students stumble around the drafty, cement and bare insulation tinder-box building where half of the group were camped out during the wee hours of morning. The strong smell of French roast coffee, freshly ground, permeates the chilled air. Mugs in hand, waiting for the brew to finish percolating, the students wait for their morning cup of stimulant.

Six-hundred miles from home, these University of Michigan-Dearborn students, roughing it in North Carolina for a week as they dedicate their spring break to working for Habitat for Humanity, have learned to deal with the freezing temperatures, the less-than ideal housing situation, the cold showers, yet they still have a supply of upper-end coffee beans and a coffee pot they lugged all the way from Michigan in order to feed their coffee addiction.

Coffee — Necessary. Addictive. Delicious. Its presence as a major part of American culture knows no ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. The obsession with lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas are not merely for the upper-middle class and wealthy – poor college students and lower-income individuals also shell out $4 a visit for drinks such as large skim mochas, light on the whip cream, or skinny grande caramel macchiatos. And we do not question our obsession but continue to spend our hard-earned money for such drinks.

What is it about society’s current obsession with coffee? Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, the top two coffee shop chains in the nation, are expanding their locations at a break-neck speed, and the public is responding.

“Coffee is the all-time, all-American drink of choice,” said Teri Leblanc, an employee of Caribou Coffee, shouting over the noise of a barista machine as she takes orders from a long line of customers waiting for their early morning fix.

Coffee houses are marketing coffee any way they can – whole bean, $4 drinks, plain drip brew — and we continue to pay the price. We have become a society hooked on our lattes and our mochas and cannot imagine not being able to get our daily fixes.

Why?

Phil Jessmon, a 22-year-old senior at UM-Dearborn, had an answer. “Coffee is now a social norm and a biological imperative. People need caffeine nowadays to be productive in society because we do not get proper sleep. Thus, [we] have three easy choices: coffee, pop, or caffeine pills. Society dictates that pop is [both] unhealthy and for younger people. Caffeine pills are strictly for younger people. Thus, coffee is the choice for those who wish to appear mature and productive.”

Jessmon also added, “Starbucks itself is attractive because it provides both commonality (everyone can find a Starbucks nearby) and uniqueness (the atmosphere is comfortable, yet eccentric, so one feels as if one is being more open-minded and culturally informed when going there).”

For many, a coffee shop such as Starbucks or Caribou Coffee provides a quick oasis from the stresses and rigors of life and work. For five minutes, customers are able to pamper themselves with a steaming hot cup of their favorite java before having to face the demands of their job or family.

For others, a coffee shop provides another social option – it allows one a convenient, fun atmosphere for conversation and discussion. Coffee shops have become a popular hang-out for college students, not only for social interaction but also for late-night study marathons.

As a college student who works at Caribou Coffee on the weekends, I especially enjoy watching families who come in bond with each other.

Two of our regulars — a father and daughter — run every Saturday morning at a local nature preserve and afterward, they come in for cups of hot chocolate and coffee. They spend an hour just talking together while they enjoy their drinks.

Coffee brings friends and families together. One justifies the expense of a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee latte for the sake of the community, pleasure, and stimulus it provides.

And for the 24 college students from UM-Dearborn, working in 40-degree weather building homes for Habitat for Humanity, a good cup of coffee is not only a privilege but has become a necessary part of their day.

– Originally published in the Michigan Journal, April 12, 2005

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i should be leaving for an errand, but quickly…

i love days that i feel especially beautiful.
because in today’s society, that’s saying something…
and i think it brings glory to God to be comfortable with who he has made you to be…
i love being a woman.
and the power we have as women needs to be wielded responsibly and not abused.
but i love femininity, beauty, and seeing beauty in others, calling forth to it, encouraging it, nurturing it.
i love that i mostly wear resale clothing but regularly get compliments – that i don’t have to spend much to dress attractively and femininely.
i love that i am slowly working my way through the miseducation that society (advertising, etc.) screams at me that my sole worth is tied to my sex appeal, beauty and youth.
i love that i often choose to go against the status quo.
i love that i refuse to conform to what society says beauty is or attractiveness is.
i love being comfortable in my own skin.
there are times i am anything but, but i love that those times are much fewer and more far between than when i was in my teens and young twenties.
i love that my value and worth is given to me by my creator and Lord and not by others.

and i love…just being a woman.
much more on that to be written. i must dash out the door to pick up the next bridesmaid dress. but i’m smiling tonight. =)

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question

I’m rebelling against the fact that I have to go in to work today…and am sitting here reading blogs this morning, drinking coffee, way past the time I should have stepped into the shower.

But now I have to snap back to the reality that I’m behind schedule and dash around. ;)


In light of my lack of discipline this morning… ;)

How much discipline does one have to have in life in order to live it fully and well?

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