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unraveled

Unravel me
a distant cord
on the outside is forgotten
a constant need

The road is long
the memory slides
to the whole of my undoing
put aside
I put away
I push it back to get through each day
and all I feel is black and white

Everybody loves you when you’re easy

don’t disappoint them.
– Sarah McLachlan

changed.

I was supposed to head out-of-state for the weekend and go to two symphony orchestra concerts, and my girlfriend had to cancel tonight.  I’m so sad.  And feel like I just want to shut myself into a cave this weekend and shut myself off from the world.  A bit of a dramatic response but an honest one nonetheless.

I’m hoping this morose feeling passes.  Until it does, I kind of want to sit in it.

I also haven’t had a chance to talk with a couple of friends that I normally do, so I guess I’m just feeling pretty…lonesome.

A friend was commenting the other day that…moreso than anyone else she knows, I allow myself to feel whatever…to the fullest extent.

When I need to compartmentalize in order to function, I do, and I do it well, but I feel no compulsion to try to suppress my feelings simply to repress them or not feel them.

So she observed.

I don’t know quite what I feel about that.   I had never thought about it before in that framework, but…  I have a suspicion she’s on to something.

rest.life.reflection

I was supposed to be in Africa this month; obviously, I am not.

Changed plans, changed life.  And laying to rest dreams and hopes.  And vacation plans.

So…I’m in the process of planning a weekend away with a girlfriend to celebrate her birthday, etc.  It’s a far cry from Africa, but it’ll be nice to get away to rest and relax.  It’s been a while since I personally booked lodging, etc…usually my organization does it for me or I work with our travel agent, or friends do it, haha, so I’m trying to figure out what I want to do.  Making decisions is a struggle for me when it comes to these types of things when it involves another party. :)

I have two weeks of vacation to use this summer – if I don’t use it, I pretty much will lose it since with the rhythms and swings of my work year, there aren’t too many other times I can practically take the time off.  I find myself struggling emotionally to want to take that time off, though.  The summer feels so short and I have so much planned that I want to do before the school year starts, but I am going to take the time off – I guess it’s a good sign that I enjoy what I do so much that I question whether I really want to take the time off, haha.

I take a day off to rest every week.  I have a full social life.  And yet, people still say I don’t rest enough and that I have these insane amounts of energy (hmm…what are they smokin’?). ;)  I do to some extent, but it’s always interesting to me to hear other people’s perspectives of me.   A friend today told me today, “I don’t know how you do it.  You work like a bionic bunny sometimes.  You deal with all of us, family, friends.  It’s insane how well you deal with things while barely getting an adequate amount of rest.”  And the regional director last week commented on my energy level and drive.  I know I’m driven.  But I also know I take one day off a week – it’s my life saver. :)  And that I rest in lieu of being an amazing housekeeper or cook, haha.   I know how to rest hard – when I have a day off, I usually barely do anything in order to recharge.  Which means I’ll stave off shopping or housecleaning or getting together with people…

One of my main goals in the next few years (before I turn 30) is becoming the healthiest I’ve ever been on all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and really figure out the best work/rest/life rhythms for me so that I am functioning at the best level that I can.

transitions

I am on the verge of crying; taking a break out of my workday to process a bit.  I know I’m super sleep deprived, so I’m sure that plays into my emotions in the moment…it’s this mixture of joy and just…seeing my failings and weaknesses pretty clearly as a leader, as a person, as a woman.

Students were over late last night for a meeting and then the girls wanted to watch a movie and so I worked on my lap top while they watched half a drama/action film…

Then I couldn’t fall asleep and was up past 2 a.m.  Probably something to do with the full french press of coffee I consumed around 7 p.m.  We had a fabulous meeting last night but because I was so engrossed in the meeting, I just kept drinking coffee without realizing it – something I rarely do – I usually recognize when I’m consuming coffee ;).  And then some good just chill hang out time – of course, for us, that looks like…discussing racism, urban/suburban differences, brokenness in our families and life in general – your typical hang out conversations of college students, haha.

Then, I woke up, hit the ground running preparing for a meeting today with two of my leaders who are two of the main leaders of other leaders in my student group.  After they left, and I felt we had a pretty good meeting, I find myself just feeling woefully inadequate to lead them well.  I know I am equipped to lead them, train them, mentor them, etc…intellectually I know that and I lead out of the confidence of my personal experience and God’s grace and mercy that fills in the gaps, but these two leaders (and others who weren’t part of today’s meeting) are just blowing me away, and I feel like not only are they partners in the work we do on campus but they have far surpassed me in so many areas.

They intimidate me.

That’s the plain and simple truth.

Not all the time, but often when I see them operate in their giftings, etc… ;p

I remember when my beloved philosophy professor said the student had surpassed the teacher.  We were having dinner with another philosophy student and it was probably a few years after I had started studying philosophy and taking courses from this professor, but there was a moment in the discussion where he just laughed and commented that a transition had happened, at least in that conversation.

That’s the goal of any good teacher/leader – to develop those you’re teaching to grow beyond you.

It’s just a disorienting place to be, and one that requires a lot of confidence in who you are when you realize your pupils have far surpassed you.  It also keeps you on your toes.  I cannot get away with things as I once did, and I’m sooo thankful for that – it makes me a better leader and forces me to continue to sharpen my abilities, etc…but it’s a pretty humbling place to find oneself. Especially when you’re the one with the semblance of authority still.

I am in a new season of my leadership/work, and I’m trying to figure out how to be the best that I can be for these students and to not only partner well with them but give them what they need to continue to challenge them, care for them and grow them.

And while I’m at times overwhelmed, I’m also just so excited and insanely blessed – to be able to equip these students to grow in their gifts and abilities, to see what they do with what they’ve been given, to see how God works in them and their natural leadership abilities (and this extends to all my other leaders) – and for the ways they’re constantly teaching me, challenging me, growing me – I’m excited for what this upcoming year will bring.  It’s a crazy, exciting adventure.

blessed.feedback.

This past week, I was part of a special national two year test cohort training session – I am not officially the test school in our area, but I received the training.  I was surprised that I was accepted into the program since only six areas were accepted and my school is not the test case for our area, but I am deeply thankful for the extra training/coaching I will receive.

Last week was insanely wonderful.

There are fourteen regional directors in my organization – basically the top 14 people below the President, Vice President, etc…who oversee all the field work.  My regional director oversees five states.  My boss reports to him, I report to her.  Anyway, I was randomly at a table with this guy from New England – I had no context for who he was and had never met him before, but during some of the workshop times, I was able to work one-on-one with him and receive coaching from him.  I realized later who he was…and am kind of awed I got to get that kind of time with a regional director!  His input was fabulous.

I am just thanking Jesus because he is also a high intuitive, and so I felt especially understood.  My first interaction with him was overhearing him say something snarky, and I laughed, and he quickly changed gears and said he was kidding, and I assured him I’m a highly sarcastic person so understood fully the humor in the sarcasm.  The rest of the week I appreciated his sense of humor, etc.  Very easy going, which put me at ease.  And I guess I kept him entertained with my commentary throughout the sessions.  “I enjoy you, Christy.”  (I am glad it was received well since I can be a bit snarky myself, haha.)  Anyway, I was working on a plan for this upcoming year, and I intuitively knew where I wanted/needed to head but I wanted to make sure my numbers/the facts supported where I intuitively was headed, so he worked with my numbers and checked where I’m heading with my school and plans, and to receive his affirmation and encouragement was such a boon.

He also told me a few things, and because I intuitively knew he just “got” me and how I operate as a staffworker, etc., I was able to really identify and receive it from him.

“Christy, you’re high energy, highly motivated, and my sense is when there are barriers or issues, you solve them; you’re going to need to learn as your body of students grow how to equip your students to do more of what you do so your effectiveness multiplies.”  (Something I’ve been working on this past year.)  He also warned me about my intuitive bent.  “You’re making these huge, wild intuitive jumps, and because I’m a high intuitive, I’m following you, but I’ve been doing this for forty years and I’m struggling to keep up with you – your mind works so fast, and as you talk, everything you are saying makes complete sense and you’re extremely articulate and I agree with your assessment, but you need to be careful because I’m good at this and I’m scrambling to keep up with your mind.  You need to make sure you keep yourself in check in leading others and do your numbers work, because…others aren’t going to be able to make these intuitive leaps you’re making – and the thing is, you can get away with it.  You can probably convince anyone of anything, and you are able to do things last minute, and pull it off, and anybody will follow you – the thing about us, is we can make a case for anything, and it makes complete sense, but because of that, there is a real danger – I started seeing myself as having real success when my students would call me out and say ‘Um, no, that’s not right.'” It was so great to unexpectedly have this conversation with him and hear his feedback/assessment.

One of the things I’ve been working on and know I need to work on a lot more this upcoming year is creating the space to really sit and think through what I want to do – plan well ahead in advance, and figure out how to make my leading and vision casting accessible to those who aren’t intuitive…break it down for them so they can see the same thing I do.  My intuitive students are able to follow me quite well and that’s why I work so well with them, but I need to keep thinking through how to work better with my sensate students.  Much of my job is learning how to train more and more effectively, and so, I know this is something I need to work on…it was just good to have his input and wisdom and advice – he’s probably been on staff 30 more years than me, and obviously is a regional director. ;)  And it was comforting to see someone who has a similar personality to mine in his position.  (He was cracking jokes, causing “trouble” during the sessions, etc…much like I tend to…)

He told me later he’s super excited about what is going on in my campus and wishes he could be in my area on our team…and that he thinks I have a good forward-going plan.

I don’t get time like that with my regional director (who is just as awesome), so I just feel super blessed to have received time and input from him, especially because I wasn’t even part of the official test schools or in his region.   God is good. :)

My boss told me in my annual review that my staffwork is fabulous, so the areas she’s going to address pertain to helping me be a more effective staffworker and will have to do with aspects of my temperament and personality.

I’m not sure what I think of that. I understand that in my line of work, my personal life is open to much more scrutiny – it’s part and parcel of being a campus minister. And I fully understand the need for accountability, discipleship, etc. I guess I struggle with my direct supervisor having that specific role fully since I did not choose my supervisor; I was assigned the supervisor due to my geographical location, etc. I was a paralegal before I became a campus minister, so I think of my supervisor as just that, my supervisor. I have a spiritual director/mentor within the organization and other mentors and accountability partners in my life outside the organization, so I’m just wrestling with the need to make my life open to my supervisor specifically beyond the obvious areas that she has a right to ask about, because of the obvious power/authority she does have as my direct boss. It’s not a peer relationship, and it is a relationship that has direct implications to my job security, etc.

In the midst of that struggle – how much I am willing to share with my boss, I also know I overall struggle with authority, and I recognize that, but since I have a spiritual director who challenges me and helps me grow in maturity, etc. and I have peer accountability partners, plus other men and women in my life I go to for advice, etc…is this really a case of me just not liking authority, or am I justified in wondering what level of open access I really am comfortable in giving?

I don’t think I realized when I accepted this position that my supervisor expected to play the same role in my life as I do in my students’ lives. I’m just starting to realize that she wants to be my staffworker.  The difference is: my students choose to be on leadership – it’s all voluntary, and they knew what they were getting into when they applied for leadership…and I feel like I wasn’t informed the extent I would be expected to open up my life.

I never had a staffworker when I was a student. So it’s a bit foreign to me.

And I think I’ve built sufficient trust with her in these past three years to enter more into the kind of supervisory relationship she seems to desire, and I know she has my best interest in mind, but it’s been a long, arduous road to get to this place – for both of us. I am sure I am difficult at times to supervise. And I’m thankful she took me on.  But I’m still figuring out what I want this relationship to look like and how to move forward this upcoming year.


One of the things I’ve become more and more aware of over the years is that I absolutely need verbal affirmation and respect in order to receive constructive criticism well – I need to KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love and respect me before you tell me what’s wrong with me. ;)  One of my main love languages is words of affirmation – so…the kind of helpful challenge and constructive criticism I receive is always from those I feel “get” me and who deeply love and respect me, even if they don’t agree with me. When I don’t have that sense of being loved or respected, it is extremely difficult for me to hear comments that sound critical. However, if I feel loved and affirmed in general, I can hear and process well critiques or challenges. It’s all about knowing where I stand with the person and feeling it emotionally. It seems complicated to some, but really – it’s quite simple. Let me know you love me and respect me, and then I can hear whatever you have to say.

I also have to trust you…and I’m pretty quick on determining who I trust and who I don’t trust.

Anyway, I don’t do well with those who expect me to be open without me having given that privilege – I tend to be open by nature, but if I feel like someone thinks they are entitled to my life and the details therein when I haven’t given them that access, my walls go up.

I need to continue to process this.

random

I had an eight plus hour road trip with my boss yesterday coming home from Wisconsin. Another coworker was with us. It was a great trip – we were all pretty tired but made good time and had stimulating conversation about a myriad of topics. After eight hours, my boss said “How on earth do we have so much to talk about?” and I just laughed. It felt like we had barely touched the surface – both about personal but also work – related topics.


It’s good to be home.


My students want to meet tomorrow – I figured with the holiday weekend they’d want the night off but apparently not. So I’ll work tomorrow. I was going to take the day off so I’d have two days off this week, but maybe I’ll take some time off later.

I’m thankful I have students who are eager to meet. I am blessed.

The summer is flying by.
My foot is healing, and I’m thankful for that. I was able to walk on it this past week, which was a blessing.

I feel all over the place tonight. Usually I host a Bible study in my home -we’re going through John – started in November and we’re only through chapter 8…it’s more of a philosophically run Bible study, which I love…and we clearly don’t go through the passages quickly. I miss it. It feels so strange to be alone on a Sunday evening.

I was invited to a few parties today but I just didn’t feel like going out – I was with tons of people all week for work…and had a blast…but am rather peopled out…and wasn’t up for a party. I could stand a one on one date, but not a larger party. So I’ve just…relaxed and rested all day.

It’s therapeutic to blog. I love it.

exposure

“Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities.” – C.S. Lewis

I have always been known for being open and purposefully vulnerable. Some see it as weakness; others, as strengths. I see it as who I choose to be.

So much to process.

I fear repercussions.

And so I keep much of it swirling around in my head.  Writing it out on paper that no one reads seems…at best cathartic but not very motivating.  There’s something about knowing you might have interaction with your thoughts that keeps one writing.  Sharing.  Revealing.  Sorting.  Processing.  Connecting the dots. It’s why I love the blogging world.

Am I becoming more cautious?  Perhaps I feel as if I have more to lose.  Donors, partners, etc.

If any of us saw in each other’s heads, we’d be horrified.  It’s God’s mercy we don’t see the mental film strip running through our minds.  And yet, for those brave enough to voice their humanity, there is always a risk of being judged, of facing the consequences.

It frustrates me to no end.

I raise my own support and ministry budget, which means, basically, I raise thousands and thousands of dollars a year, and the kinds of people who support my work are varied – Christian and those who aren’t Christian, and the ones in the Christian category – every kind of flavor you could imagine, Protestant, Catholic, conservative, liberal, those who love numbers, those who hate numbers, charismatic, anti-charismatic, Calvinist, Armenian, and every kind in between.  Old, young, “intellectual,” “emotional-Holy-Spirit-movers”, you name it.  All of them brothers and sisters in Christ.  And the non-profit I work for has a streamlined doctrinal basis that almost, if not every, main vein of Christianity would get on board with – we major on the majors and make no mention of the minors – we leave that to the local churches.  So all come together around one focused purpose.  And yet, when I go to write my updates to my donors/partners, I’m very aware of the differing beliefs and positions of each – I know who is going to like what and what is going to make some uncomfortable.  I decided when I took this job and still feel the same way three years later that I must remain true to Jesus and not concern myself with worry over what others think, even if they pull financial support, or worse, hurt me emotionally by their comments or judgments.

I posted a quote a few weeks ago about caring for the poor and marginalized.  I quoted a man who is well known and one of my donors made a disparaging comment about the source – I overheard him speak about it in conjunction with me, and it stung.  I wasn’t asked for my thoughts.  But it was dismissed as dribble.  Because it comes from someone seen as “liberal.”  And instead of the meat of the quote being judged on its own merit and basis, it was dismissed in conversation simply because of the source.

I would love to write one day, and I envy people like Anne Lamott or Donald Miller who just lay it all out there…and my personality is one of openness and vulnerability, but there’s just this fine line of being real and also knowing one can get easily burned.  It’s a constant dance figuring out the level of transparency to operate in.

If it wasn’t a broken world, I’d be completely open…

I respect those who are real, authentic, vulnerable; who don’t pretend they have it all figured out, who are open about their messiness.  I want to be that – I am in real life, and I am for the most part here, but I want to be more so, especially as it relates to things I’m working through in my life, but the kind of job I have is making the distinctions between my personal life and my public life a little blurry.  I also see myself changing the longer I operate in ministry – not my heart, and not my overall posture of authenticity and realness, but my willingness to share all of me.  So many people want pieces of me – my students, my friends, my family, my donors/partners, my supervisors…and they all have something to say about my life.

In the times I feel torn…I am thankful that ultimately, I am living for an audience of One.

And when I meet Him, I want Him to say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

So thankful his mercies are new every morning.  And that he promises to complete the good work he has begun in me.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

we’re better together

All of these moments just might find their way into my dreams tonight
But I know that they’ll be gone when the morning light sings
Or brings new things for tomorrow night you see
They’ll be gone too, to many things I have to do
But follow these dreams might find their way into my day to day scene
I’d be under the impression, I was somewhere in between
With only two, just me and you, not so many things we got to do
Or places we got to be, we’ll sit beneath the mango tree now

Yeah, so much better when we’re together
Mmm, we’re somewhere in between together
Well, it’s so much better when we’re together
Yeah, so much better when we’re together

I believe in memories because they look so,
So pretty when I sleep

– Jack Johnson

delight

Vacation = whipped cream on my black coffee.  Yum. ;)

Stay at home vacations are fabulous and also simultaneously challenging; since I work out of my home office, staying at home for a vacation, while it saves me money, makes it a bit more difficult to actually vacation. :)  Not because I’m unable to compartmentalize and not work but because, loving my job as much as I do, I WANT to work, and so have to fight that urge.  I have been answering emails here or there this week – just nothing emotionally demanding, but I find myself tempted to do certain things that are student tasks but that I could do quickly or reminding students to fulfill their responsibilities but I’m trying to sit back and just take this time off, truly…Monday will come all too quickly. ;)


this afternoon…
Walking through the summer rain to a coffee shop, running into a friend, randomly in said coffee shop and catching up a bit, then, sushi lunch at my favorite sushi bar with Rebecca before she heads out to California…coffee after lunch with her ;)…then, a quick stop to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, plus some …vacation-flowers (yay!), a little bit of reading = a fabulous vacation day… :) :) :)

Today’s been a great day.

And having tonight free makes it all the more wonderful!

I’ve worked most of this vacation so far decluttering and simplifying my home and work space; so excited and happy to be doing that; it hasn’t made for the most restful break, but I have some more vacation time coming later this summer, so I’m fine with that and it just feels so good to get some long awaited projects started on…I’m finally at a point of really being able to sort through things, let them go, give them away, etc. I’m insatiably sentimental, and having lost Dad, I especially tie so much to him, both as a father but also as a teacher throughout high school, that the idea of giving away things tied to him was really hard. I finally made some breakthroughs this past year and have been slowly reforming as a sentimental pack rat…and it’s exhilarating and freeing. So…to have all these days off where I can really go through so much and start packing it up to give away to Salvation Army, etc…it’s wonderfully freeing and satisfying!!!

I really want to, from here on out (sans books, which are, well, like friends) live as streamlined a life as possible when it comes to material things…live simply.
There’s a phrase that gets tossed about…”Live simply so that others can simply live.” It’s in part a guiding philosophy for me…

I also was reading a book last week about urban poverty…and the stats the author quoted about the poor in Detroit, startled me a bit; he laid out figures for the poverty line and I realized…I fell within the boundaries of the urban poor. So, basically, technically, I’m living at poverty level*.  HOWEVER, while I’m well aware I don’t make much, I don’t feel at all impoverished; I have adapted to a more simple, frugal lifestyle, etc…and have come to have different expectations about what I need verses what I want, but I feel extremely rich…I can go out to eat when I want, have coffee, buy dvds on occasion or go see a musical as a special treat, etc. I am rich beyond means.

But…I am choosing to live and pursue (and continually want to grow in this area) a life of simplicity; so that I can give away and invest my resources to help others who don’t have the same access or privilege as others do; to redistribute wealth, etc. It’s an exciting adventure and one filled with so much joy. :)

I was struggling/wrestling with some questions about personal responsibility in light of the impoverished and marginalized in the world with some colleagues. We all make very modest salaries…we raise our own support, so are accountable to those who contribute to our ministries…but we were all wrestling with how to live on less, give away extra, invest our money and finances well, etc…

I come from upper-class privilege; I wasn’t raised that way, or even really knew it; my parents lived simply, but the facts are, my background is upper class. I was raised in the third richest county in the U.S. So…one of my colleagues who knows of my background verbally affirmed/praised me for my desire to live below my means, to go into ministry, to wrestle with how to free up more resources to give away, etc. I was very unsettled hearing him…to me, it’s just a “duh” response to what Jesus has given me – if all resources in the world are God’s, and if I believe we’re commanded to care for the poor and give to those in need, then as his follower, that’s what I’ll do, and do joyfully. It’s nothing to be praised or lauded – it’s simply out of joyful obedience to Jesus because of all God has given me. And to me, why do I need more? I am abundantly rich in both material provision and friends, family, love and life – I want to figure out ways to continue to grow in the discipline of simplicity – to fight against the rampant materialism of our society, to honor God, to love others well. I’m just a baby on this journey, but I’m excited I have a lifetime to continue learning and figuring out how to live out my beliefs.

What I am discovering as I walk down this path is that I become an annoying pebble in the shoes of some friends…a reminder…that there is another way. And it’s uncomfortable at times. Even if I never say a word (and I rarely do), my lifestyle speaks for me…I choose not to go on cruises often or expensive vacations, I don’t always buy the latest technology toy out there, I budget, I save, I find other ways to enjoy life than spending a lot of money; I also don’t make it this crusade – God has blessed me with provision and I enjoy good food and drink, a movie, a show, the arts…there are definitely times for celebration…and pleasure/enjoyment…I just have learned to think more critically about how I invest my life, including my resources.

So…all of that to say…decluttering is more than just a practical life application – it’s motivated from a growing philosophy about how I want to live out my faith and walk with Jesus. I don’t want to be a slave to materialism; I want to give away my abundance/extra to those who could use it; and I want to faithful to honor God with what He’s given me. Starting with simplifying my life and decluttering my home is a start.

Let the journey begin… :)

*So…I raise support…and that means, due to my experience and level within the non-profit organization I work for, I could be making $1000 more a month (heh ;p).  Of course, that’s dependent upon me identifying more monthly or annual donors/partners in the work I do, and with the Detroit economy right now, well…you can imagine how difficult that is. ;)  So…as I identify more who are able to partner financially with my work, I’ll actually make more (theoretically).   But for now, I have landlords who rent to me at half price because of the work I do (amazing provision from God!) and a brother who helps me with rent, and I sacrifice not having an office since he lives in what was my office. ;p  It works for this season of life until I can raise more money…

un-do

You should not read old love letters.

Taking down photos, putting away memories, one step further in the process of healing.

Why do I always choose to do this alone?

I have been processing where I messed up, all my sin, mistakes, the ways in which I did not love him as well as I could, did not care for him as best as I could.   And it grieves me.  I have no current platform to say “I’m sorry, forgive me.”   Right now, silence demands I just deal with this with Jesus.  And maybe that’s best.

dreams

So.

As anyone who has read this for some time knows, I’m a follower of Jesus.  And I try to spend time with God in communication – talking throughout the day, more concerted times of prayer, prayer journaling, etc.

I have a growing, dynamic relationship with God.  And I believe God can communicate through dreams.

That being said…I hold pretty lightly my dreams right now, but I’m starting to become more aware of God’s presence in my life in the day to day “mundane,” etc…and I’m starting to pay more attention to my dreams, while holding any meaning I gather from them pretty tenuously since this is an area I’m just really starting to pay attention to.

Last night, I had a vivid dream of being afflicted with a lot of sticks/thorns in my leg – almost like a porcupine had attacked me.  My thigh was full of foreign objects, and for hours, as I was lying on my side on the ground in pain, while a close friend tried to pull them out, unsuccessfully, I remember thinking life was going on around me, I was drastically late for work, and I was unable to “do” anything – I was getting frustrated.  I was thankful for the friends around me trying to pull out the shards of wood/thorns out of me but I couldn’t understand why they weren’t moving more quickly or having success.  I finally, after hours and hours, told them to just let me do it, and I was able with precision and deftness, to slowly extract the thorns/slivers of wood.

I woke up and was just thinking that when it comes to my thorns in the flesh that are keeping me from work or hampering my life, it’s not up to my friends (or my students) to deal with the thorns – I have to be the one to deal with the messiness of the extractions – I have to pull them out, one by one, and deal with the things that are keeping me from living a fully engaged, able life.

Something I’m ruminating on today – what are the thorns in my life that God is asking me to take responsibility for and remove and not simply allow my friends to deal with?

straight-forward

Last night, this random man contacted me via a social media network; we had a mutual friend and were already friends on the network though I don’t know him –  I must have accepted years ago based on him knowing a mutual friend, something I no longer do; anyway, he had the same name as one of the students I’ve worked with who has graduated and gone on; it was 1 a.m. and so when he asked me how I was doing, I responded warmly and with a level of intimacy, since I thought I was responding to a student I knew well.  I quickly realized my mistake and let the man know I thought he was another person.  He then proceeded tell me that I’m a beauty and I said “Thank you” while trying to think of how to excuse myself politely from the conversation.  The next thing I know, he’s stated he doesn’t see a ring and ended his statement with a question mark.  At that, I confirmed that I have no ring and that I had to go and I shut the conversation down.

I felt lame in how I handled it, but I was too tired to deal with any potential further conversation.  I love it when men are upfront; I also tend to shut down pretty quickly if they are that aggressively upfront – even if they’re just scoping out information.  When I’m standing in a check out lane or in line and someone asks me right away if I have a boyfriend or husband or uses a lame pick up line, I tend to have an issue and shut down the conversation pretty quickly.  There’s just something about being that aggressive that doesn’t settle well with me.   I think because it takes me a while to build trust – so I want men to be upfront about their interest, but to do it with some finese…ease into it a little bit at least.

Anyway, I have no idea where that man was going with the conversation, but I can guess, and I’m just not interested in being scoped out right now.

old friends

Old friends have been getting in contact with me randomly this weekend.  Talked for a few hours yesterday to one – going on a road trip to see him next week.  He’s like a brother; it’ll be good to hang out and catch up.

Another close friend from my past contacted me out of the blue – I don’t think we’ve had any contact in three or more years; so strange.  He asked forgiveness for not staying in better touch. I need to reply to his email.  I never thought I’d hear from him again, so it’s caught me a bit off guard.  Pleasant surprise.

This past month, well, really since the break up, I’ve been taking stock of all the relationships in my life, current and past.  Reflecting on them, reminiscing, processing.

Hearing from these friends have triggered a flood of memories from my past…and have made me take stock in who I was, who I am, and who Jesus is leading me to be.  Some of it is disconcerting, some of it is sad, some of it is very rich and joy filled.  I suppose that is what life is all about? I’ve been especially processing the past decade since I graduated from highschool.  Had I actually gone to a public or private school, I would have had a ten year reunion this year.  Am I really that old?

As I think about all I’ve done and experienced and accomplished in the last ten years, I’m very pleased; life is certainly way different than I imagined or pictured.  And I’m okay with that.

As I look forward…grad school keeps cropping up…I am pretty sure I’ll end up pursuing it in my future…I’ve always known that on some level; I was raised to value and deeply love education…and when I had put it off for many good reasons, friends, mentors, bosses and strangers would randomly bring it up, asking me when I’m going.  I am now emotionally excited about the prospect.  I had stayed the decision to go because, instead of more head knowledge right after undergraduate, considering my vocational pursuits, I wanted the practical experience first, plus I wanted to get to a place financially where it made sense – I didn’t want to go into debt for it…anyway, as I think about what I want to accomplish/pursue in the next 5 – 10 years, I think grad school may be in that plan. :)

I really miss him.  I know I have no right to gripe about the grief of losing him since I am the one who ended the relationship, but while I know it was the right decision, it’s still really difficult and I miss sharing my life with him and sharing his.  I really miss that.  Sigh.

I liked life when my slate was clean.

cliche

I love looking at wedding photos – I don’t care if they are complete strangers’, I just love viewing them.

I should have gone into wedding photography at some point in my life. ;)

processing

Sometimes I exhaust myself with all my processing.

An ex years and years ago, asked me, after not seeing each other for a few years, “Still processing?”

That about sums up me.  Processing.  Parsing. Wrestling.

Constantly.

I am floored whenever I realize others aren’t always thinking, examining, being introspective.  Really?  I cannot turn my head off – it’s one of the things I love; it also makes for a very active head and internal life.

Internal life: according to Myer-Brigss, as an INFP, the world doesn’t see my best side.  I have a very active inner life.  I know how to share the best parts of me, but I’m also very content to sit “in the background” and let more extroverted friends talk, drive the conversation, etc.

I wrote a post about no longer giving the best parts of me to my male friends.  A friend read that post and I think misunderstood what I was saying…I’ve always had close friendships with men in a way that a lot of women don’t and I have always argued you can have close relationships with men; I still maintain that; what I was talking about was the intense, platonic, emotional friendships with men – that I’m not willing to enter into.   I changed a few years ago, but because I was in a long term relationship, didn’t realize fully until I again became single and realized I wasn’t going to entertain those kinds of friendships anymore.   I’m content with not letting others see the best parts of me.  I actually like the privacy it affords.

I’m not sure if it’s a function of my age, season of life, job, or all three, but I’m very content having just a few, precious few, close friends in my life.

I’m all over the place.

Suffice it to say, I continue to process a lot. ;)

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I miss him.

growth

The goal of any parent should be to raise their child so that they are no longer needed.

In my staff work, I mentor, teach and train a lot of students; my goal is always so that they would no longer “need” me or my guidance…that they will go on to bigger and better things and grow beyond what I can give them.

However, for some of the students whom I’ve really poured into over the years, my desire is that they would still “want” me even if they don’t need me.  As they move on, graduate, develop their own careers, etc., I desire that they would still want to be in relationship, have communication, etc…

I feel like I sort of experience what parents must go through as their kids leave the nest.

This was brought to mind this morning because I remember a time when one of my students was expressing remorse over not having friends, and so I taught him what friendship looked like for a few weeks while simultaneously helping him connect with his peers and build relationships.  He now is one of my most relationally connected students and has a plethora of friends and I realize with some pang of sadness that I am no longer needed.   But isn’t that the point?  I am no longer needed. And that’s exactly my job, exactly my goal.

Pouring in, investing in, and letting go.

new

I feel like God has been leading me to a place of crazy growth and transformation and maturity.  (Hah.)  Claiming the latter means I’m surely in for a fall, eh?  But…I’m moving beyond 28 years of relational patterns…and in that, I see a maturing grace (I hope).

One of the things that people most often tell me is that they love my openness, honesty, warmth and heart.  I’ve come to a place where I am done sharing that with men in close friendships.  I’m 28 and I’m not messing around.

I don’t think I’ve moved to the bitter or jaded stage…it’s more, just…that men tend to deeply love and appreciate me…but I am not going to give them the best parts of me without commitment in a relationship; not out of spite, but because that’s just not theirs to have.   I love it when men or women see the best parts of me…and come to love me, the real, true, deep down me…but I have come to a place where I’m comfortable not giving them the best parts of me, the deepest, most treasured parts of my soul, personality, etc.  I don’t have to.  I know who I am, I know I am deeply loved and cherished by Jesus, and I don’t need to be appreciated by a million people.  And I’m just not interested in being mens’ best friend.  For whatever reason, men love having me in their life, and since I love men and the masculinity they bring, I love my friendships with them, but I’ve moved into a new stage.

I’m sure others have come to this stage much sooner; I have purposefully chosen to err on the side of openness and vulnerability in my past.  And I am thankful I have; I have no regrets when I think back upon all the friendships and experiences I have had – the crucible of life experience, but I’m ready for a different stage, a different season of life.  Most, okay, maybe not most but it feels like it…many of my friends are married…and I love hanging out with single guys, but not one on one unless either of us are interested in potentially more.  I’ve just…been there, done that.

So I find myself exercising discipline to not share the parts of me that people love the most.  And I’m becoming okay with that.

My Meyer-Briggs profile (INFP) says that often the best part of me is unseen to the world; I personally excelled at sharing that with people…it’s why I’m so good at my job; it’s why I have had a plethora of friends; it’s why I’ve had a million guy friends…but it’s also why now…I’m choosing to exercise my privacy.   There is something beautiful knowing God knows who I am, and I don’t have to share with the world.  It’s almost like emotional fidelity, I suppose.   I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was an emotional whore by any means, haha, but I am not giving out parts of my heart anymore.

I’m working this out as I write.

There’s just this aspect in my life of being every guy’s best friend but nothing more.  There’s something about me in particular – I see the best in individuals and call forth to it, help nurture it, help draw out a person’s potential, etc.  Men love that and need that, and thus I make an awesome friend – I also am not intimidated in any way by men, which is helpful when they need to be challenged.  But time and time again, even with men I wouldn’t be interested in, I find myself being the one who changes their world, their life, “saves” them, whatever you want to call it, and thus prepares them basically to be the best boyfriend or husband for another lucky woman, and I am left alone.

Men usually say I’m amazing but just too intimidating.

I’m okay with that now.

But the reality of that means that they usually go for some other woman who doesn’t challenge them as much, who is comfortable or who is just drop dead gorgeous and I watch it happen time and time again.

So anyway, as men have come knocking, whether for friendship or other, I’m just a different gal now.  Still coming into the fullness of realization about this new stage.  But coming to terms with it more and more…

memories

Working tonight…and Counting Crows comes on…will I ever not remember him when I hear them?

The memories are sweet, and I still miss him.

When God brings him to mind, I pray for him and his girlfriend. It took me a long time to forgive them emotionally for the break in friendship. I was judged before she ever met me as too dangerous, and just like that, I was cut out of his life. I suspect there is more to the story, but that’s all I was given. And now, two years later…I can finally think of him without deep hurt over the pain of friendship lost.
But I still miss him like crazy.
And I cannot hear “A Long December” or any other Crows song without smiling and wishing we could have just one more conversation, wishing I could hear him laugh, wishing I wasn’t just another cliche female friend cut out of a man’s life in this broken, messed up world.
Anyway.
I love the Crows.  In part because he introduced them to me.

hide away

So much to process, to write, and not seemingly enough time.  Still a busy season in life. :)

And tonight…feeling a bit morose…needing sleep, and I hear this song on the radio…and it fits.

Its been a long day and all I’ve got to say is make it strong
Its been a long a day and all I’ve got to say is I’ve been wrong
So take a leave of absence, tell me you’ll be gone, I don’t want to see your face.
Its been a long day and I just wanna hide away

– Rosi Golan

here and gone again

Home after an incredible work week away.  More on that later when I have time to write/process.

I came home at 7:30 last night; leaving at 9:30 this morning – just enough time to see my brother, do laundry, re-pack and sleep. :)  Off for a fabulous weekend away with girlfriends.  Really looking forward to it.

I really want to just do housework, though, and process this past week; it was incredible, just utterly incredible on so many different levels. I’ll have time for that next week…but I’m eager to begin now.  ;p

It’s hard to believe I’ve been on staff for three years now.  Time flies.  I am deeply, richly blessed.

I am such a procrastinator; I woke up 2.5 hours before I had to leave this morning, and now I only have half an hour to shower and fly out the door.  Of course.  Typical INFP/Christy fashion. ;)  At least I’m packed and ready to go for the most part.  I have the best intentions…but coffee, Lady Gaga, blogs, facebook and just week-long tiredness catching up with me have made me a bit slow moving this morning.  I love nothing more than after a long week long conference to wake up the next morning whenever, drink coffee, listen to music and write/browse faceook/blogs.  Something so refreshing and cathartic to me on so many levels.

Anyway, now I must fly in order to love my time-oriented girlfriends well and show up on time. ;)

transport

Depeche Mode brings me back to college…playing “Enjoy the Silence.”  I love how music can bring me back to a moment, an emotion, a relationship, a season of life, just like that.

:)

confession

God, I admit I haven’t changed
Playing card houses still covering my landscape
I never expected You to stay
When I’m grabbing for these crumbs and cold loose change

I feel Your grace come running over every road
I love the way You’re calling overflow
I feel Your grace come running over every road
You break the floodgates down and carry all

God, I admit that I’ve loved these chains
And crawling around this cage sometimes has its advantages

I know someday this could get old
And I’ll need Your healing water to find my home

– Jars of Clay

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It takes more than your saline eyes to make things right.

– Jars of Clay

fight

I like a man who grins when he fights. – Winston Churchill

flack

I’m getting a lot of flack for posting prolifically to a certain social networking site, so I’ll probably transfer my posts to here again, haha.  Friends are talking about an intervention. ;p

It irks me that anyone would say anything because it feels like a judgment on my personality.  Yes, I know I communicate a lot, yes, I know I feel deeply, yes, I know all of that, but I feel like part of me wants to say “It is who I am, so deal with it or just block me/hide me.”

Sigh.

I have so much going on inside me all the time, I have to let it out.   Song lyrics are helpful for that.  My mind almost never, ever stops; I am always processing, always needing an outlet; at least I choose to deal with things in a pretty healthy manner.  Posting song lyrics that are innocuous seem a pretty harmless way to handle life. ;p

But out of respect for some, I guess I will curtail that some and just transfer to here.

wisdom

So.

I tend to be a prolific writer/communicator.

And there are poems/songs I’ve written that I’d love to post but out of wisdom and discretion’s sake, I don’t.

I wish I could.

There is something so cathartic about posting to a blog.

And yet, the consequences, even if only marginally possible, of any kind of damage by someone reading my lyrics/thoughts, penned out of the angst and turmoil of pain, emotions or frustration, is not worth it.

And so…some of my best work remains unseen.  And I have to be content with that. And wrestle with why I want others to see it; I don’t write solely for myself…I write to share.  And I have to deal with the reality that sometimes, I cannot for the sake of others.

I envy the artists who just bear their soul completely.

I’m thankful God gave me the ability to express myself, the freedom to express every aspect, including the dark and damaged, broken parts; that I don’t have to pretend that life is fabulous simply because I follow Jesus; that I am allowed to express myself in ways that other Christians may find…unsettling…or just…dark…because I know God already knows everything.  I cannot imagine trying to live life pretending that everything is “better” on some day-to-day scale simply because I’ve put my trust in Jesus.  On an overall level is that true?  Yes.  But there’s pain, there’s suffering, there are the unfair realities we all deal with, and I’m thankful for the voice God has given me, the ability to get it out, my imagination, my angst, my emotions.

I want to learn to use what He’s given me more and more.