nearing the end of my vacation…

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here – both reading and writing. Mostly because there just doesn’t seem to be much to write about, but also because my motivation to stay current has dwindled in the past month. Call it vacationitis or something. It’s not to say that I haven’t done anything worth mention in that time, it’s simply that I haven’t mentioned it.

So I graduated. Got a 4.0 my final semester. That’s three 4.0s in the past 4 semesters. I can totally handle that.The picture kinda sucks, but trust me, it says that.

I also turned 25 on May 21st. We didn’t get raptured and the world didn’t end or anything crazy like that, so I guess I’m pretty happy about that. I get to experience that which is being 25. Should be fun I think.

I also completed my first half marathon on my birthday, which was pretty awesome too. I ran the 5k the night before (which I will NEVER do again) and achieved both my goals for the half. Goal 1) Finish alive. Goal 2) Finish in under 2.5 hours.

I have to admit. I’m really happy with it. I was disappointed at first because I crashed SO hard during the half. Apparently not quite enough training and running the 5k the night before certainly didn’t help matters any. However, now that I’m a few days out, I feel really good about it and I feel really proud. I DID IT!!! I also have 3 medals to show for it, which is triple awesome – a 5k medal, a half marathon medal, and the ‘Go Far Challenge’ medal (run the 5k and either the half or full marathon).

I’m approaching a month off from school and doing anything productive and I’m just starting to get that itch to do stuff – like go for a run. I’m not going to do that because I’m taking 2 full weeks off before starting to run again. My body is TIRED, I can really feel that. There’s only so much lazy-ing around that I can do before I’m ready to be done being lazy and start being productive again. We’re heading to New York City next Monday and we’ll be back on Saturday. Once we get back, I’ll start running again AND job hunting. I have to admit, I’m nervous about that. I want to get a decent job and preferably one in my field or area of interests. It’s just really nerve wracking for me to put myself out there and hope that I’ll be worth hiring.

Fortunately, there’s no REAL rush for me to get a job as long as I’m actively searching and applying. We are doing just fine on one income. I’m glad about that because it takes a LOT of pressure off me to find something. I can really take my time and look around and see what’s out there. Of course, I’m going to have to build up the old resume and figure out how the heck to write a cover letter and all that business, but I think I can handle that. Like I said, I’m itching to be productive again, so it will be a nice change of pace. I like having the time to be able to be lazy just about until I can’t handle it anymore because then I think I’m more productive when it comes time to be so. I think I’ll search harder, work harder and all that while trying to find a job. I’ll go out for runs more. Everything. I feel recharged. I feel ready to start. I’m excited to see where things are going to go since they obviously didn’t go where I thought they would/should. This should be a pretty fantastic journey!

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thinking on my time off…

this may not come as a surprise to anyone, but i’ve been doing a LOT of thinking while i really have nothing else to do with my life. thinking about the past, the present, the future; family, friends, faith and love. thinking about what i’m going to do with my life, thinking about how i got to where i am today. of course, this inevitably leads me to thinking about bethel and the interview process and how the heck i managed to NOT get in.

the funny thing is, every time i think about it and think about the interview, i NEVER once say “i wish i had said this instead”. i think that’s really interesting, you know? how many times do we NOT get what we want and think “i wish, i wish, i wish”? instead, i think through my answers that i gave to some questions and i defend them!

so today, as i was folding some laundry, i got to thinking about all of that when the previous thought occurred to me. i realized that as much as i wanted to get in, i was completely unwilling to show up as anyone other than myself. no goal is ever worth making yourself fake to achieve. so as disappointed as i still am about not getting in, i feel proud of myself at the same time. i absolutely can’t speak for anyone else there, but i showed up as me. my personality, my beliefs, my thoughts, my attitudes. i didn’t try to change them so that i would say ‘the right thing’. the right thing to say was what i think and what i believe.

i learned a lot about myself in that interview and during the time after. i learned that bethel was probably where I thought i should be, and not where i should actually be. there are SO many things that i can do with my life and overcoming that roadblock has opened up my mind to MANY different paths, whether working inside or outside the home. it has allowed me to really think about what i want and what is important to me and my family. i’ve grown up a little, i guess.

i don’t know where this road is going to take me, but even if that road takes me to being a stay-at-home mom (previously my worst nightmare ever!), i know that i can be content with that. i can be happy no matter what i’m doing and where i’m working as long as i have my family, my friends and my faith by my side. THAT is what’s important in life, not just getting to the next achievement and hitting the next milestone. it’s important to be content in everything, in every circumstance, no matter how close or far away from your dream your circumstance is.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. –Phillipians 4:12-13

are you content in your circumstances or do you find yourself wishing for more?

loneliness…

my tuesday night women’s Bible study has planned to get together this summer once a month for book club. our first book club was last night and we read Max Lucado’s Traveling Light. well… i only made it through half of it because i was busy studying for my final on monday and didn’t get around to finishing it up on tuesday.

one of the chapters, as you would probably presume, dealt with loneliness. we all got chatting about how lonely our culture is. a few of the women work in the mental health profession and they shared stories of individuals with whom they have interacted who do the craziest things for attention (like attempting suicide at prom). this, of course, led to further discussion about loneliness and of course, how lonely everyone is these days despite so many technologies available to keep everyone in touch.

i got to thinking and i really wonder if today’s culture is really all that unique in its loneliness or does it simply seem so unique because we have the technology to easily maintain contact with people? back before phones and facebook people walked and wrote letters. did that long distance communication really ease loneliness? were people really all that much closer in those times? obviously i don’t KNOW the answer, but i would venture to guess that we tend to romanticize simpler times, thinking that people had closer and more authentic friendships.

i don’t think that people 100 or even 1000 years ago are really all that different than we are. i don’t think that they necessarily cultivated closer ties with people around them. i don’t know that every person had a network of people around them. the only thing that i can really think is that today we have phones, email, facebook, twitter and a number of other social networking sites that allow us to share our thoughts with people and to “stay in contact”. however, i think that as humans, we are inherently so selfish that a major part of our motivation to updates is to get people to pay attention to us.

i’m guilty of that. not every time, but sometimes.

there are times when i change my status or update things just to see if i get a response. just to see if i’m the center of the world. most of the time, i’m not. those times when i’m looking for it and don’t get that can be pretty hurtful too. of course, i have to stop and think, how often am i commenting on OTHER people. how often do I cultivate the relationship from my side? do i just expect people to pay attention to me without having to put in some kind of work on my side?

i think that those who are lonely don’t think about the other side enough – how well they are attempting to cultivate relationships. i’m NOT blaming the victim, don’t hear me saying that, but i think that everyone could benefit from taking the focus off themselves and thinking about what other people are saying and working toward the relationships from their end. and sometimes friendships end. sometimes people just fall off the map. sometimes people ask how you’re doing, you reply and then you don’t hear anything from them for a month. the best i can do is to not let that kind of stuff get to me (which is really, really hard) and to not take it as a personal slight – like they’re ignoring me. i’m simply not the center of their worlds and lives.

it’s so counter intuitive to live like that, though. to put others first. to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings before you start to give importance to your own. it’s probably one of the hardest things for me as a Christian to do. i like being the center of attention, i like it when people pay attention to me, i like it when i feel important. i don’t like it when i’m being ignored and when i feel unimportant to people. i don’t like it when i have to set self aside for the benefit of someone else or for the benefit of a relationship. it’s not my favorite thing ever, no. however, i know that if i ever want to really make a difference in the lives of others, i have to do that. it’s part of the direction in life i’ve chosen. i’ve chosen to live like this, i’ve chosen the path of denying self to follow Christ. i have to admit, sometimes it seems like a nonsensical decision. sometimes it seems like what i need to do is impossibly hard and sometimes i wonder if this REALLY is what i want.

and then i realize how ridiculous i’m being.

of COURSE this is the life i want. it’s life that makes sense to me and honestly, really fills me as a person. knowing that i’m living differently than the majority of this world, knowing that i serve a big God, knowing that this is the worst i’ll ever have it? yes please. sign me up every day. i want to be a better person, i want people to see me and get to know me and reevaluate their relationship with God. i want people to know that just because you choose Christ doesn’t mean that you choose a life that sucks and where you can’t have anything and it’s no fun. because that’s not true.

and hey, it even helps with the loneliness thing because this lifestyle emphasizes taking your attention off yourself in order to build real and authentic relationships. is that what i want? oh yes. more than words can say.

it’s the end of the world as we know it…

My brother shared a gem with me this morning about how the Rapture is going to occur May 21st of this year. In case you aren’t aware, that’s my birthday. My 25th birthday. It’s also the day I’m going to run my first half-marathon. (Here’s one of the MANY sites in case you’re morbidly curious: http://judgementday2011.com/ ). Of course I shared with my dad who is going to be my running buddy on race day and we had a good laugh about it. Then I went for my run today.

During my run, I started to think. I don’t believe it one shred, but what if it WAS true? What if we were given the day that the world is going to end? There are so many people in our lives that we touch and whose lives touch ours all the time and yet, I don’t say what people mean to me and why I’m thankful for them often enough. So in light of this impending “Judgement Day”, I’ve decided to take the time to let as many of the people in my life know how grateful I am for them and what they mean to me.

——-

and by ‘as many people’ i guess i meant 8. of course, that doesn’t mean that only 8 people have impacted my life in huge ways that i’m really thankful for, i just kinda got burned out. i sent this generic message plus a specific message to 8 people telling them why i’m thankful and how they’ve impacted my life. pretty much any one of my friends on facebook or in real life would have been a wonderful candidate to get such a message, but i don’t want it to be fake. i don’t want it to be forced. i know that there are some who very recently have had a big impact on my life and i really wanted to let them know. i had a grandiose plan of letting EVERY SINGLE PERSON on facebook and in my email know, but it’s hard work doing this. it’s kinda draining emotionally, too. for some, it meant looking back into the past and thinking about great memories and for others it was reliving the changes that they have been a catalyst for in recent months. but undoubtedly, every person who has ever crossed my path has made a difference. they either helped me or hurt me and in doing so, shaped the person i am today.

a lot of the end psychology stuff i’ve been learning has gotten me to really, really thinking. there are certain orientations that place a lot of importance on childhood events and occurrences and how they impact who you are today. i certainly agree with that, but i think it’s more how you as a person react to those events. which messages did you internalize as a child and which ones did you let roll off you? i have found that i internalized a LOT of garbage. i internalized a lot of negative things. i internalized a LOT of rejection – so much so that to this day, i’m terrified of being rejected. i HATE putting myself into a situation where i am accepted or rejected based on who i am (think school applications….). i HATE looking like a fool, even with little kids. i don’t want to be perceived as a ‘loser’ or ‘less than’. i get really anxious when meeting new people or joining new groups because i don’t know if i will be accepted into the group or if i will be just tolerated.

i know, this makes me seem like i’m 15, but it’s the truth. i grew up in a neighborhood with lots of kids. most of them were jerks. especially to me. my next door neighbor was one of my best friends and the boy that lived down the street was unquestionably my closest and best friend. he was rejected by the neighborhood kids too. we stuck together – and then he moved. i don’t remember a lot of the time after he moved to be honest. i know we wrote letters back and forth and in one letter from him, i remember reading ‘don’t worry about them. they’re just jerks.’ i know exactly who he was talking about and the best i can figure is that things got a lot worse after he left. that i was really hurt by these kids and now i didn’t have my best friend to help me through. my next door neighbor was accepted by association with her older brothers who were REALLY cool. so she didn’t understand. sometimes she even joined in when they made fun of me. these are the things i remember about growing up. i remember really good times with my guy friend. i remember really good times with another friend of mine. we always had lots of fun. neither one of them were white kids, either. i remember them and their families being really accepting of me and really liking me as a friend. i was so sad when they both moved away.

sometimes i wonder what they’re up to now. i wonder what they’re doing now, at 25. what did they do with their lives? are they married? are they even alive? did they go to college? what was their major? are they happy? i wonder if they remember me and think about me ever.

the thing with childhood is that i don’t think kids have an understanding of what things like ‘moving away’ really mean. especially for a kid who got picked on a lot. it’s like another rejection, but by kids who actually liked you. i don’t know that i really understood that they didn’t have a choice in the matter. all i knew is that my friends were gone. i think that has followed me for a really long time. up to this day. i’m still trying to figure out what i need to ‘do’ in order to be accepted. how do i need to act so that the ‘other kids will like me’? it’s a tough place to live.

that’s why i’m so grateful to the people in my life who have shown and are showing me that it’s okay to just be me. who i am is good enough. i don’t have to ‘be’ anybody or put on an act to be accepted. of course, it’s still scary every time i meet someone new. it’s scary wondering what they REALLY think. sometimes, it really does feel like the end of the world when i have to put myself out there.

what brings about the end of the world as you know it?

being disciplined…

i must admit, i’m not a very disciplined person. it just doesn’t really seem to be in my nature. i know that there are people out there who thrive on their list of stuff and getting that list done. i cannot tell you HOW many times i have tried and tried to do something, to remain disciplined and stick it out to the end.

i mean, really, i’m a musician! in order to be a good musician, what must one do? PRACTICE!! how often do i do that? not NEARLY enough.

i’m training for a half marathon. i got a 3 1/2 month training program, stretched into 4 1/2 and was REALLY good about following it for about 2 months. then i got sick. threw me COMPLETELY off track. and then it was this, and class, and spring break and just being too busy to make sure that i was ACTUALLY following the program. it’s gotten to the point where i’m just trying to make sure that i get out and run a few times a week.

how many times have i tried to start a morning devotional? more times than i can count. currently, i’m several days behind on the two i’ve really been trying to do. it’s not that i don’t like them, it’s that i’m just not disciplined enough to maintain it, i guess. i get up before james, so i want to be quiet or i’m running late in the morning so i don’t have time or i simply forget.

let’s not really even talk about blogging. or reading my Bible. keeping up with daily Bible studies. or, or, or.

so my question is this: is a lack of discipline a really bad thing? is it something that i need to work on? and if it is, how does an undisciplined person go about becoming disciplined? it just doesn’t make sense in my mind, because wouldn’t trying to become more disciplined take some… ummm… discipline?

i want to clarify something here, though. just because i’m undisciplined doesn’t mean that i’m unorganized. i try really hard to maintain some kind of organization with things and life and whatnot. i just can’t decide if this is good or bad though. is it REALLY important that i maintain all of these things?

OR

is it more that things in life are like seasons. they come and they go as they are needed. is it necessary that i both read my Bible every day AND do a devotional? is it necessary to follow a running program or can i just do my own thing? you know what i mean? i’m someone who gets bored with things if they aren’t changed up every once in a while. if our apartment layout could handle it, i probably would have rearranged our ENTIRE apartment over the weekend. i settled with the computer room and the dining room. variety is the spice of life, is it not?!

this all comes up partly because of the sermon at church yesterday and because of a book i’m (re)reading. at church, we are talking about the history of the Bible. we got a 15 minute Bible history lesson. basically, a LOT of people gave their lives, their safety, and their resources so that today, i can have a Bible in my house without fear of dying. and do I read it every day? no. do i even read it every OTHER day? no.

this other book i’m reading is called ‘a contrarian’s guide to knowing God’. this book basically questions the rigid adherence to spiritual disciplines. not that they are bad, it’s NOT what this guy is saying. what it IS saying that many people have taken these disciplines and turned them into rules for life. that you MUST follow them in order to be a ‘good Christian’. he suggests that these disciplines should perhaps be looked at more as tools for getting to know God and His will for our lives better. and honestly, that takes a lot of the pressure off a person like me who can’t seem to stick with one thing for more than a month or so.

so which is it? what are your thoughts?