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Those of you who watched ‘Gilmore Girls’ now want to kill me because that song is probably stuck in your heads.

Summer is absolutely flying by. Nothing like taking 3 summer classes to keep you busy until you realize “Wait a minute, I never got a break!” And the sucky part is, this is my last year as a college student and (was) my last chance for a summer vacation. Since I have given up my dream (Ha!) of being a teacher, I doubt that any job I get will say “Sure, you can take 3 months off work and still have a job when you return!” Oh well. It is the price I pay for graduating in May and not having to take 15-18 credit hours my last two semesters.

Shane and I have been married two months today. It’s very bizarre to realize it has been that long. It really doesn’t feel like it has been. (Yay honeymoon period!) I don’t know if it is truly the case or if I’m just paying more attention now but there seems to be more radio shows and books being announced about how to have a successful marriage. (Or it could be that I’m actually listening to talk radio and not flipping the channel the second I hear words and no music. Goodbye Radio Disney, hello NPR!)

So far we’ve gotten married and went to Mexico. I took (and aced) a Jazz for Listeners class first summer session. Jazz is some complicated music! But I found most of it enjoyable.

We joined a new house church at Trinity since JustFaith ended in May. Then a couple of weeks ago, we had to get up in front of the entire church along with some other JustFaithers and tell the congregation about our experience with the class. Have I mentioned that I hate public speaking? I’m pretty good at it but it makes me so nervous. I’m really hoping that more people at Trinity will want to join the JustFaith group. It is a ton of reading and thinking and stretching and growing but it is so worth it. Shane and I don’t look at our lives or our faith the same way anymore. (I hope for the better. Nobody really knows if they’re getting it “right”. All we can hope is that we’re getting it more right than we used to.) I intend to write a blog about my experience with JF. If any of you are feeling stagnant in your faith or you just want to challenge yourself, I strongly encourage you to check it out.

I finally cleared the last of my stuff out of my dad’s house. I had thought I got it all but I still had quite a few boxes of old toys up in the attic. We brought everything home and I started going through it all. It looked like someone had bombed a Mattel/Pleasant Company store in our living room. (Okay, more like the bottom half of our house.) Barbies and American Girls galore! But I now have things mostly organized and condensed into just a few boxes. I know I should probably sell the stuff but I just can’t. That’s my childhood! Plus, you never know if we’ll have a girl and then she can play with all that stuff. I know, total pack rat mentality. But I’ve been working hard on getting rid of things that I never wear or that I never put out but hold onto because it reminds me of something. You can’t assign emotions to objects. That’s how clutter happens. But I digress.

See? Much more condensed. (Not shown: the 3 huge tubs of Barbies and AG dolls.)

Reason 20 for why we can't host house church yet...

...our downstairs looks like IKEAs going out of business sale.

I have also declared a jihad on nature! (Can’t wait to see what search engine terms bring people here from that sentence…) We have had the weirdest infestation of rolly pollies in our house. Not ants (though we had those for, like, a day!), not cockroaches (thank God! I’ll take the rolly pollies over those any day.), not any of the normal things that you think of when you think ofย  when you think “I should call an exterminator.” Rolly effing pollies. I still have no idea how they were getting in. I didn’t even realize how bad the infestation was getting until I had to move one of our chairs in the living room and it looked like the opening scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan: The Rolly Polly Edition’ underneath.

See all those little black dots? Dead rolly pollies. And that’s after I vacuumed once!

So we did some research on what kills rolly pollies and then I headed off to Lowes, prepared to wipe out the rolly polly race. Do you have any idea how many different things you can buy to kill insects? A lot. So I went to the customer service desk to get help. Three different young men gave me aid. (Though I think they were more interested in my cleavage than my rolly polly killing needs.) So I listened to what they said, nodded, thanked them, then went in search of someone who looked like they might kill rolly pollies for a living. I found a very nice older gentleman who helped me find something to put outside and then an inside, kitty-safe, rolly polly killer. I thanked him, made my purchases, and went home to declare war. So far the stuff seems to be working. I’ve been vacuuming and washing our downstairs carpet and have yet to see any new bodies.

In other news, I know every woman who has trouble keeping her weight down is going to bitch slap me for this, but I have been having trouble keeping weight on. I used to average at about 135. I have now been recently weighed 3 times for 3 different doctor visits and they have all said 120. At 5’7″, the lowest I can go and still be healthy is 118. While this isn’t that big a deal, and I am still in the healthy range, it has brought about the frustration of none of my clothes fitting. I used to wear size 9, sometimes 11 depending on the stores sizing for women. (Or 8, in the adult section. Yes, I still shop in Juniors.) However, according to Targets chart, I am down to a size 4. aka: all of my clothes are falling off! I honestly cannot remember the last time I was this skinny. And while the vain part of me is cheering, A: this means that I have to pretty much buy all new clothes, and B: I’m concerned about why I can’t keep weight on. This is a new development and my getting sick all the time can only account for some of it. (Especially since now that I live in a house that isn’t infested with mold, just rolly pollies, I’m not sick near as much as I used to be.)

Finally, not only is today Shane’s and my two month anniversary, it is also the day that the Droid X came out! (I know half of you just went “Huh?” Don’t worry, I wouldn’t know either if I hadn’t had to hear about it for the last month.) In April I had to say good-bye to my beautiful LG Verizon phone and switch over to T-Mobile with a phone that Shane had bought off of ebay so that I wouldn’t be phoneless. While I am forever grateful that he did this and while the phone did what I needed it to do, it was a sucky, sucky phone. It became even more sucky after I dropped it in a puddle of water at Julie’s bachelorette party. It would turn itself off and text messages weren’t getting through and it was just bad. Plus, T-Mobile. Folks, let me just say, they are cheap for a reason. I have exactly 2 reasons for having a cell phone: one is because we don’t have a land line and my pet sitting customers need to be able to get a hold of me. The second is safety. Well, okay, a third reason is that I actually despise chatting on the phone and prefer to text. But ultimately, I could live without that. T-Mobiles network is so unreliable that I don’t get reception within 10 feet of one of my customers houses. She lives near Broad Ripple, not in the middle of a corn field. So I told Shane that when we could, I wanted out of T-Mobiles contract and I wanted to go with another carrier. Preferably Verizon because I never had any problems with them. So he found a new fancy, schmancy phone that he wanted on Verizon and a similar one on Sprint. Then began the huge debate. Verizon vs. Sprint. Ultimately the biggest downside to Verizon is their price. No wonder they got an F in the ‘The Better World Shopping Guide’. (I actually don’t even know how a cell phone company can get an F. Too many towers polluting the earth?) The thing that finally ended that debate was that my brother, cousin, and father all got the phone on Sprint’s network that Shane had been looking at and it was too slow. So Verizon it was. Then began the countdown. “Two weeks until the Droid X comes out.” “Seven days until the Droid X comes out.” “24 hours until the Droid X comes out.” How do you know when your husband isn’t listening to you? He’s reading about the Droid X. Again. So today, the Verizon store that we were getting our phones from opened at 8AM. Shane wanted to be there at 7. (Actually, he wanted to camp out all night to make sure he was first in line. I vetoed that.) This meant our alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. Love means never having to say “I’m sorry I’m insane and drug you out of bed while it was still dark out.” Actually, he let me sleep until almost 6:30. Three hours and two phones later, we have a contract with Verizon and two new toys to play with.

My husband the addict

He's smiling because he has a Droid X. I'm smiling because I get to go back to bed.

Okay, I do like my new phone too.

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My brother is an amazing person and today is his birthday. Twenty-two years ago, I became a big sister for the first time. I loved my little brother! He suffered so many dress up episodes, it’s a wonder he turned out as normal as he did.

We did everything together when we were little. Then I had a girl my age move in next door when I was 10 and I turned evil. But my brother forgave me for every time I yelled at him to get out of my room or excluded him from playing. He has such a beautiful heart and I am blessed to call him my brother.

He was always the class clown and made everyone laugh and he still is today. Whenever I’m in a funk, I know that talking to him will more than likely cheer me up. And he constantly made Mikayla laugh. Often when I heard her laugh drifting down the hall, it was because of something he had done or said.

In some ways, he’s gotten the short end of the stick being the middle child AND the only boy. But he handles it so well. He plays the part of big and little brother with ease. He’s protective of both Mikayla and I and I know he would go to the ends of the earth for both of us. We are lucky girls to have him for a brother.

He learned to swing dance and then taught me how. He even choreographed and danced a piece with me for Student Choreography one year. He is the only person I trust to flip me while dancing. ๐Ÿ™‚

He is sweet and caring, even though he hides it with humor. I know that one day he will make a very lucky woman a wonderful husband. But for now, he gets to put up with his older sister pestering him and embarrassing him with blog posts.

Happy birthday, Joshua! You are the best brother I could ask for and I’m so happy you were born. As far as I’m concerned, those fireworks the day before are for you! I love you!!!!

For those of you who don’t know, I gave up the internet (as much as possible without hindering my schoolwork) for Lent. This meant Twitter, Facebook, blogging, reading other blogs, mindlessly surfing because I was bored, etc. I still did stuff for school and still checked email but on a much less frequent basis. I have to say it was very refreshing in many ways.

For one thing, I had a lot more time on my hands. (Which could be good or bad!) I think I was able to use most of it for good. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got more reading done, focused on my schoolwork more, finally sewed the pillows that I promised Shane almost a year ago I would make for the living room, and just had more time in general to be a productive human being. (I think I also reduced my eye strain. ๐Ÿ˜› ) It’s not that the internet is bad but it can eat up a LOT of my time if I’m not careful. And I don’t realize just how much until I take a break from it.

For another thing, I found myself a lot less annoyed with people. I don’t get angry very easily but I can get irritated pretty quickly, depending on the day. Particularly on Twitter, it is too easy to judge someone for a short little 140 post that really tells me nothing. And as things like FourSquare become more and more popular, there is just more reason for me to be annoyed. (FourSquare makes *slightly* more sense to me now that I know it is a game but I still think it is asinine to tell people where you are all the time.) So in order to bring more peace into my life, I am going to be severely limiting my use of Twitter, if I use it at all.

Finally, I was able to realize through all of this that I use the internet (especially Twitter and Facebook) as a way to be lazy in my friendships. Instead of picking up the phone to call Jenn and see what’s going on in her day, I log into Facebook or Twitter and read about it there. I read people’s blogs to find out what they (supposedly) think or believe about things. I send an email to my grandmother to catch up with her instead of making a phone call. Why? Because all of this is so much faster and easier than taking the time to make a phone call, write a letter, have an in-person conversation. So on top of being more judgmental of people, I also neglect my friendships with them. Now granted, last year was pretty much hell and in many respects I *had* to pull away from people so that I could find myself again. But I think that I have found my footing again and can reach out to those I love. So I’m going to try. I won’t do it perfectly but I want to do it better than I have.

I’m not going to shut down my Twitter account and I may still use it from time to time. But I will not be checking it regularly and I won’t be tweeting much. So if you need to get a hold of me or want me to see something, text or call me. I had thought about shutting down Facebook and not blogging anymore as well. But I think I just want to limit the time I’m on Facebook (and not use it to an excuse to be lazy). As for this blog, it’s cathartic for me and for some reason people have found some of my posts helpful. If my blabbering helps someone, then I want that to be there for them.ย  If it pisses someone off, well, it’s my blog and these are my thoughts and opinions so you can suck it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

****

Just for the record, this is not meant to condemn those of you who use Facebook and Twitter and even Foursquare. I don’t think I’m better than you because of this decision. It is simply a decision I have made for myself. There, that should fend off the pissy comments about Foursquare. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, that’s right. Even now that I am happily in a relationship with the most wonderful man I’ve ever known, I still hate Valentine’s Day. I’m sure plenty of you believed that I was just another single who was unhappy and so claimed to hate the holiday as a way of dealing with not having someone. But you were wrong. Yesterday was Shane’s and my first Valentine’s Day together and we didn’t celebrate. I asked him not to do anything and he honored my request. (Such a breath of fresh air to have someone listen when you say “No”…)

My friend Rashid asked me if I hated love. I said no. He asked if I hated Shane. I said no. I simply hate Valentine’s Day. I am all for love. (And I’m definitely all for my Love.) But Valentine’s Day is not about love. Not really. It’s about the contrived Hollywood version of love that isn’t real. It’s about commercializing and making a profit off of people’s (i.e. women’s) emotions. It’s about making money off of chocolate and flowers and jewelry and fancy dinners and red lingerie and cards.

If Valentine’s Day was truly about love, they would not be pushing flowers that have been over harvested and over priced. They would not be pushing diamonds that someone probably spilled their blood to mine and transport. (Yes, Tom Shane, I’m looking at you and your commercials condemning lab grown diamonds which are *truly* conflict free.) They would not have rows and rows of chocolates that up to 40% of was made with child slave labor. They would not be marketing thousands of cards that will eventually be thrown in the trash, which is such a good use of the trees sacrificed to make them. They would not show commercials of young, beautiful couples having fancy, expensive dinners and spending hundreds of dollars on…well, her. (Although, face it boys, that lingerie you bought with the heart on the string of the thong isn’t *really* for her. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) They would not focus on the kind of love that sets people’s (again, mostly women’s) expectations too high and makes single people feel like shit for being single.

Love is every day. Love is doing the laundry because you know that your girlfriend is going to come home from school exhausted and that a heaping pile of dirty clothes will stress her out. Love is stopping to talk to a homeless person on the street instead of rushing past them while throwing some change their way. Love is friends, single, dating, and married, surrounding one another and supporting each other through good times and bad. Love is consuming less so that others can have enough to live. Love is the couple who sticks together even as they begin to grey and get wrinkles and forget more often where they parked the car. Love is the sacrifices made in order to take care of a mentally handicapped child. (Which usually turn out to be not as big of sacrifices as they first feel like compared to the love that grows.) Love is little children who come and give you a big hug and kiss just because you’re you.

If Valentine’s Day was geared toward that kind of love, I would celebrate with abandon. I would be yelling from the rooftop how much I love Valentine’s Day. Couples do not need a once a year holiday to show each other that they love each other. That’s what anniversaries are for, to remember why you got together or got married in the first place.

I’ve heard a lot of women say “Well, if I don’t have Valentine’s Day to guilt him into it, I’ll never get anything!” I don’t want Shane to buy me flowers or jewelry or take me out to dinner because he feels like he has to. I want him to do it because he wants to. And if he doesn’t want to, then there are deeper issues in our relationship that a forced night of romantic gestures isn’t going to fix. (Please keep in mind that there is a difference between not wanting to and not being able to afford to. Your SO may want to do all of these things for you but needs to spend the money on necessities like food and shelter. That is love too.) Because when you love someone, you want to make them happy and you want to do what is in their best interest. This is something that the past five years has taught me. Shane has shown me he loved me before by walking away when I asked him to. He was waiting with open arms when I came back. He continually makes sacrifices for me and I make sacrifices for him. Because that is what love does. I don’t need flowers or candy or jewelry or fancy dinners. What I need is a man who loves me and stands by me through the best and worst of times. That is what I have. And I don’t need a commercialized, consumer-driven holiday to remind me of it.

I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I supposed the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us. – Donald Miller, ‘Blue Like Jazz’

But what exactly is love? Love is willing the good. We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake. – Dallas Willard with Don Simpson, ‘Revolution of Character’

We cannot do great things on this earth; only small things with great love. – Mother Teresa

Love sought is good but, given unsought, is better. – Shakespeare

Sometime last week, a friend of mine retweeted (on Twitter) the person whom I have been struggling to forgive. Because of some changes Twitter has made, doing so brought up this person’s picture in my news feed. I instantly felt violently ill and wanted to throw my computer across the room. I immediately wrote “I wish forgiveness was a switch that you could flip and be done and over with. Instead of random “F*cking piece of sh*t a**hole” moments.” Needless to say, that whole forgiveness thing has been an….uh…..uphill battle.

I had been doing alright with it. I had erased every picture of them from my computer. I had untagged myself from every photo associated with them on Facebook. I had deleted every link to their blog, every comment they had ever written on mine, and every reference to them in my posts. I had sold or donated every gift they had ever given me. The only thing I couldn’t do was break the links that they have to my blog from theirs. (Without changing my blog AGAIN. And I wasn’t going to do that to you all. Though you didn’t get that consideration with my email and phone number changes, so maybe I should….) There was almost nothing left to remind me of them which meant that there would be fewer instances for any hate to rise up in me. And when I was reminded, I was able to say a prayer for them.

But over the past couple of weeks, things that they had done kept coming up in my mind. Lies that they told me. Lies that they told others. Things they did to hurt me. Things they did to hurt my sister. Things they did to hurt an innocent man who, because of his location across the ocean, never should have been caught in their web. Things they did to hurt the only man I have ever truly loved. Things they did to hurt their own spouse, the one person they are supposed to love. And I was angry.

I was sooooo angry. There were times that I had to restrain myself from driving to their house and punching them in the face. I wish I was in my self defense class now because I could have beaten the crap out of my instructors and not gotten in trouble for it. I did not wish this person well. I wanted them to suffer. I wanted them to feel all of the pain that they have caused.

The most frustrating part of this was the knowledge that I needed to forgive them. Not for their sake but for mine. But I was soooooo deep in my hate that I couldn’t see a way out.

At the Dwelling Place a few weeks ago, Shane Fuller took us through a gratefulness exercise. First we pictured something or someone we truly loved and were grateful for. Then we picked something we really had no feeling toward. (I picked the chairs at school.) Then (and I so knew this was where he was going with it) we had to picture something or someone that we really couldn’t imagine being grateful for. I picked this person that I have been struggling to forgive. (And my Shane knew exactly who I had picked due to the pressure I was putting on his hand…)

Then at the Dwelling Place this last week, we prayed through a liturgy that had us praying for those who had hurt us. I prayed for that person. On Sunday, at Trinity, we sang a song in which the chorus says “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. And I started to cry. I do have the freedom to forgive this person. I do have the freedom not to let hate for them continue to damage me. I do have the freedom to wish them well. I do have the freedom to hope that they remember “Today I Start”. I do have the freedom to love my enemy.

This person may never change. They may continue to be toxic to those around them and to hurt them. But, outside of praying for those people and hoping that this person does change, that is not my concern. As Isha wrote, “Forgiveness is not approval of the wrongs that someone did to you.” I do not approve of what this person did to me. I do not approve of what they did (and may continue to do) to others. Just like I don’t expect people I have hurt to approve of what I did. It was still wrong. I still made bad choices. I still hurt them. What this person did was wrong. They made bad choices. And they hurt me and others. But that doesn’t mean that I have to let their bad choices ruin anymore of my life. So here it is:

I forgive you.

I forgive you for the manipulation.

I forgive you for the lies.

I forgive you for trying to control me.

I forgive you for emotionally blackmailing me.

I forgive you for hurting my sister.

I forgive you for hurting the man who traveled an ocean to meet us.

I forgive you for hurting Shane.

I forgive you for hurting our friends and church body.

I forgive you for hurting your spouse.

I forgive you for hurting yourself.

You may never read this but that’s okay. This isn’t for you. It’s for me. You will never be allowed back in my life in any way, shape, or form because you are someone that I need to love from afar. But I believe that one day I will be able to love you in the way that I should have these 5 years. In the way that hurts when it needs to, is firm when it needs to be, and is in a way that honors Christ and the people who are still a part of both of our lives.

Today *I* start by forgiving you.

I am not the woman I want to be. I am not the woman I have led everyone to believe I am. I am not the daughter, the sister, the friend, the co-worker, the Christian that I have led you all to believe. And for this I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for letting you trust me. I am sorry for not practicing what I preach. I have let myself believe that reading books and knowing a lot makes me a good Christian. I can hold my own in a theological discussion, so I must be a good Christian, right? Wrong. I give money to charities and homeless people and I hold the door open and I smile at people, so I must be a good person, right? Wrong. All of this is a facade to hide my true nature. I want to be the person I have portrayed but I am so far from being that person, I am not certain I can ever become her. Knowing a lot means nothing if you don’t put it into practice. I am sorry for my dishonesty. I am sorry for my hypocrisy. I am sorry for every word and deed that has hurt someone, whether they knew it or not. I am seeking counseling. I need help and I know this. Of all the people I have deceived, the person I have lied to the most is myself. Whether or not I was manipulated, whether or not I was taken advantage of, whether or not I was naive, I still knew the difference between right and wrong and I made choices. Choices that have hurt countless people. Choices that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. The only thing I can do is apologize, repent, and move on, learning from my mistakes. I need to figure out where I went wrong and how I could have let myself wander so far from what I know to be True. Please pray for me. I am lost and I know it.

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So tomorrow in my self-defense class, we will be learning how to fight once your attacker has you on the ground. (This is assuming all of our awesome moves that we’ve learned up to now haven’t turned him into a quivering pile of lime jello.) Needless to say, I am not looking forward to this. Two weeks ago when one of the other girls and I were somewhat injured and we were talking with the instructors afterward, she was asking about what you do when you’re wrestling with your friends/boyfriend/whoever and they straddle you over your hips and pin your wrists down. One of the instructors showed her what to do and I almost had a conniption watching it.

Will it be good to know how to get out of these situations? Yes. Will it give me more confidence for the future? I certainly hope so. But for all that to take place, I have to get through tomorrow. Without panicking. Without flashbacks. Without reflexively freezing and crying and begging him to stop.

This is gonna suck.

Now that I have your attention (and all the people who were trying to google the Buffy episode), here are some conversations with living people.

Conversation #1:

Instructor: If you look people in the eye and acknowledge their presence, it shows that you are confident and not off in your own little world.

Classmate: But sometimes guys think that means you like them and then they try to ask you out.

Instructor: That’s not your problem. You were just being friendly.

Later that night, conversation #2:

Cashier: *hands me my stuff*

Me: *looks cashier in the eye, smiles* Have a good night.

Cashier: You too.

Me: *walks to the door*

Cashier: Oh, by the way…..

Me: *cringes and turns toward him, already knowing what’s coming*

Cashier: You have a beautiful smile.

Me: Thank you.

Cashier: What’s your name?

Me: *starts laughing and walks out the door*

Conversation #3:

Mikayla: Where are you going?

Me: The tanning bed.

Mikayla: Where?

Me: The tanning bed.

Mikayla: The panty bed?

Me: ………yes.

How do you explain to an 8-year-old who was born with gorgeous dark skin that us white girls have to soak up the sun in odd ways sometimes? In my case, anytime I’m in a wedding. (So every 2 years. :-P)

Conversation #4:

*Mom and I are reading an article on insomnia in the waiting room at my back doctor appointment*

Mom: It says to put a towel over your clock or to turn it so you can’t see the numbers.

Me: But then I can’t see what time it is.

Mom: I think that’s the point. They say seeing the time increases your stress and makes it harder to fall asleep.

Me: No, because then I’m laying there wondering what time it is because I know I’m supposed to be asleep. Let’s see what else it says. Oh, exercise between 5 and 7 at night.

Mom: But that’s when I’m tired.

Me: Next.

Mom: Don’t drink de-caf. Well, I don’t. Next.

Me: I don’t think they have anything useful in here.

Mom: And I think we’re starting to annoy the other patients.

Me: Maybe we should just take a nap.

Mom: Good idea.