12.22.2006

entitled to the best

Yesterday, Roommate was telling me about a recent incident at her school. The string orchestra was giving a student-only concert that a mom had asked special permission to attend. She was given permission, but she brought along a hummer-full of her friends. When they went to the school office to sign-in and then proceed to the concert, they were met with a principal who would not allow them to go. The single mom had permission, but the larger group did not have permission. The concert had not been advertised to all parents and by allowing them to go was playing favorites with a select group. They were asked to leave the school building without attending the concert. One of the mothers proceeded to email her child's teacher a lengthy complaint about the principal and her restrictive attitude towards school functions.

There are two basic reactions to this story. On one hand, it is just a school concert. It isn't that big of deal. The principal should have just let them attend. On the other hand, the parents assumed an entitlement to go to the concert. They assumed that they were entitled to go where they had not been invited simply by showing up. Upon being denied, they backlashed onto individuals that had no control over the situation. It is this "attitude of entitlement" that infuriates me to no end. The mom who had originally requested permission had no right to invite other parents. She was not entitled to extend the invitations.

Hara Estroff Marano will be publishing her book, "Nation of Wimps," in 2007. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see soccer moms reading this tome on the state of American parenting. Marano has little patience with the entitlement attitude of many parents. She argues in the articles posted on her site the primary dysfunction of children and youth today is that they have no exposure to failure, disappointment, or germs. When they go to college and their parents are no longer present to defend them from the elements, they are sent into a fast-paced downward spiral of low self-esteem, depression, and self-destructive behaviors. Counseling centers are rapidly becoming a top priority for universities as more students are exhibiting signs of mental illness and more students are in need of care.

This overprotective parenting stems out of the attitude that one's child is entitled to a hurt-free, disappointment-free life. One's child is entitled to be the best and to get the best whether or not he or she is the best. In early 2006, Marano wrote an article about the shortage of referees for athletic events. She asserts that feeling entitlement to win causes fans, players, and parents to abuse referees verbally and physically in ways otherwise thought incomprehensible.

Mary Struckhoff, national basketball rules editor for the National Federation of State High School Associations, cites the entitlement attitude in the culture: "Everyone deserves everything, and if I don't get what I want, the problem is those in charge," she says. Especially among fans, she says, the attitude is, "I pay my $5, I can rip you a new one."

At school, the parent grips about the principal to the teacher because they weren't allowed to go to a concert unintended for her in the first place.

The parent blames the teacher for her child's learning deficiencies.

The referee is blamed for the foul called on a player.

The pastor is blamed for the failure to reach a troubled youth.

Religion is blamed for slow advances in genetic research.

The supervisor is blamed for a small Christmas bonus based on performance.

Am I the only one who feels nauseous?

12.04.2006

save the introverts!

I recently took up reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney on the indirect recommendation of an introverted friend. I've known for a while now that I am introvert. Over the years that fact has surprised people because I tend to be outgoing in public. But outgoing does not equal extrovert. Roommate will testify that I am definitely introverted. I am known for hunkering down in my room and saying little if unnecessary. It is just the way that I am.

I've only read the first half of the book that describes the physiological differences, but something has struck me.

Laney talks about the guilt and shame that many introverts carry for being introverted. Because introverts are outnumbered 3 to 1, they are misunderstood, mislabeled, and judged for being self-centered and withholding. I am pensive, but I am not self-centered. I say exactly what I mean, I think before I speak and there is little mystery with that.

Reading her book has given me insight into my various frustrations in personality differences. I tend to think about a problem and then make a decision about how I will approach the issue. When I explain the decision to others, they try to persuade me to see it another way. I become frustrated because I've already examined their perspective and am not in need of their opinion. I appear stubborn, but this is an inaccurate assessment because I have already turned the rocks presented to me.

I don't really need Laney's book to be an ego-booster (heaven knows that is unneeded!), rather I am appreciating the insight into the dynamics of my introversion and it's perception and affects on others.

12.01.2006

veiled materialism

I realize my opinion on this topic is somewhat unpopular. It's not the first time I've held an unpopular opinion. I also realize that my opinion is rather extreme. On some level, I feel forced to have an extremist viewpoint in order to express the dire state of Christians in America.

I am sick of Americans veiling their materialism as mission work.

A two-week trip to Foreign Country X costing more than $2000 is poor stewardship of the mission potential of your dollar. Especially when social justice is such an enormous issue. It's ignorance is killing hundreds, thousand, millions? Whose interest is at hand when such extravagant amounts are spent on travel?

I am extremely frustrated at the Christians in America who glorify missions in other countries as some righteous venture where they can swoop into save the day. I feel a sense of abandonment for the horrible state of spiritual affairs in my backyard. The issues here are abandoned for lack of glamour and for the seemingly impassable level of difficulty.

The spiritual poverty is vast in my country, much more vast than many foriegn states. Evangelism results are rarely dramatic here. They are not glamourous. But they are so necessary. So imminent. I can't bear to leave.

I think our view of foreign missions and the manner in which we carry them out is in terrific need of a paradigm shift. If we depend on the glamour of a destination mission trip to carry Christ to the hungry we have lost sight of need for Christ.

If you want to go to Foreign Country X, go on vacation. And don't ask me for donations for the trip. Right now, it violates my sense of social justice.

11.28.2006

when this day comes

I knew this day would eventually come. The day when I reconsider why I decided to work in the ministry. The day I reconsider jumping into a profession that provides little marketability outside of a very small niche market. The day when I feel like perhaps I should build a hermitage in rural Missouri and take up mysticism and writing Spanish love poems.

I knew this day would come because I am a normal human being and humanity is perpetually discontented with life on earth.

It seems strange that this discontentedness would strike me during a time when we are preparing to recall our Savior's birth into this earth. The perfect Christ-child came to us and walked beside us. He didn't run away from us, but suffered alongside us, because of us, for us. And I find myself immersed in galactic consumerism, battles over worship service times, disappointment in the people around me, and a desire to escape to the hills and pretend as if I don't exist for a few moments. If human life was good enough for God's Son shouldn't it be good enough for me?

I am not superficially unhappy and I can readily name a seemingly endless list of blessings in my life. Great job, roommate, car, book list... those things don't complete me. Like most people, I crave a more profound sense of contentment, joy, peace. And despite my rash solution to run for the hills, I wonder if the exact opposite approach wouldn't bring greater fulfillment.

No matter how far I travel from the Grand Canyon of void in my heart, it will not cease to exist until I seek to fill it with the water of my baptism, my Savior's love given to me undeserved.

11.21.2006

a thought on my run

The places you visit are anecdotal to lives you change while passing through.

11.17.2006

forgotten for friendship

aching back
hungry stomach
sore feet
droopy eyes
muddled brain

a small dinner
a glass of wine
a laugh with my roommate
small cheers and little congrats

exhaustion not cured
but made bearable
exhaustion
forgotten for friendship

11.13.2006

maladies interpreted

I recently read a book that spoke so fluently on the experience of love and loneliness that I can't bear not sharing.

Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories about Indian immigrants in various locations and life situations. Homesickness, despair, miscarriage, divorce, arranged marriage, and affairs are woven together under the auspices of a fresh homemade samosa and warm tea.

I am neither an immigrant (surprise) or Indian (bigger surprise), but the stories of the characters spilled off the pages into my heart reminding of times of my own despair and my own maladies. They taught me about the experiences of those that live around me and among me. Many of my neighbors have immigrated from India; their names are virtually unpronounceable and their daughters more beautiful than the sun itself.

Lahiri effortlessly gives the reader an expressive understanding into each moment. Much like life often leaves us deep in thought pondering what could have been, I found myself reaching into the story hoping to make it better, hoping to befriend the lonely, hoping to shake some sense in the wandering lover, hoping to interpret the maladies of the afflicted.

I loved this book. My only complaint is that she only has one other novel. Write on, Lahiri. I'm reading.

11.11.2006

another all-too-short walk

An old friend called me this week.

We were friends when our noses were still too big for our faces and Usher was still in his drop top cruising the streets. It's strange to think I met him ten years ago this February. Circumstances of life drew us together and drew us away from each other at different point throughout the last decade. There were moments of laughter, confusion, joy. Never perfect. Sometimes hurtful. Always caring. The gamut of true friendship.

He called me this week, but we haven't talked in almost two years.

I wasn't bitter. He was married. Working. Busy. He was never good about keeping consistent communication. I was never any good at initiating it. Our mutual friends let me know that he was okay. Apparently content. And knowing that was good enough.

And then he called me.

Hi. Uh. How are you?

Wow. Um. I'm fine. How are you?

Awkward pauses and awkward questions proceeded. Laughter about old road trips and retreats. Stories of flat tires and new friendships. Looking forward to our eminent reunion and plotting its course.

When I hung up the phone and turned to my desk to start back at my day's work, I paused for a moment. I realized that I don't really know him any more, but yet I still feel connected to him. Our friendship is not unlike many of my other friendships past, present, or in between. Like many friendships, the memory of our times together has changed a piece of who I am.

A filmmaker recently said that sometimes life is just a collection of all-too-short walks with people who happen to be on the same path for a portion of the journey. It is true that someday our paths will part from those we walk beside. Relocation, awkward circumstances, busy schedules, children, spouses, and ultimately death will draw us away from our partners in the journey. It is true that when someone walks beside us, we run the risk that they will slow us down or push us off the path. The melancholy is suppressing. Why put forth the effort if this is all there is? If life is just a collection of hellos and goodbyes, where is the continuing joy? The reason to befriend? Isolation tempts and entices.

Even still, I'm not ready to give up. I find that when someone is at my side, I am taught to appreciate things I might not have noticed otherwise. So many have taught me grace and what it means to be graceful. Many hands have reached down to my fallen spirit and guided me back to the course. When our paths diverge into fiery sunsets, the silhouettes burn my mind's eye. My heart is warmed by the setting rays and I turn to thank the One who never leaves for the marvelous sight.

Life is no longer a collection of all-too-short walks shared with others, but an opportunity to marvel at the beauty created in and around each person who travels beside me for a moment.

11.10.2006

indescribable

Join me in praying for Amy, her mom, her brothers, her dad.

self-righteous entitlement

I had the chance recently to reflect on the experience of the blahs with someone in the thick of it. Everyone has had the blahs.

How's work? Blah
How's home? Blah
How's faith life? Blah

Blah blah blah

I was struck by how frequently we justify our experiences of the blahs with something along the lines of: "It's okay to feel blah. To feel like God isn't there. We've all been there. Blahs don't make you a bad person." Since when is it OKAY to feel like crud?

I've got news for you, internet people, it is NOT OKAY to have the blahs. The blahs are not healthy. I blame pop psychology (I'm Okay, You're Okay!) and secular humanism for this okayed blahfest. I blame the idea that we are self-righteously entitled to be okay.

I am not okay by my mere existence. It is not okay to be blah simply because I am human and that is what humans experience. Feeling like God is far from me is not made okay by the fact that other people experience it. Feeling like God is far away is made okay because he in fact is not far away. Unlike me, he is righteously entitled to be okay. He proved this ever-so-deftly on the cross and through his resurrection.

Through my baptism in Christ, I become HIM-righteously entitled to be okay, blahs included.

11.08.2006

damien rice baby

I love Damien Rice.

And if you don't, you are not my friend.

So hurry up and pre-order your album on itunes.

In the meanwhile, listen to it here and fall in love.

11.06.2006

incongruently judgemental

I am known to be a harsh critic on myself. I have high standards for my work and my life and thus my friends and family. I sometimes feel judgemental because I reflect my personal standards onto the lives on the innocent bystanders. But I know that it is because I want the best for those that I love not because I think they are awful people.

My pet critique of myself is that at times my life seems incongruent with my faith, my work, my ideals. We all struggle through this. My personal struggles aren't earth-shattering in nature. For the most part I am your average straight-laced goody-two shoes. Life is regularly boring as far as sinning is concerned. But as a growing Christian, I know that as I come in closer to Christ, I will realize how far I am from his example. No matter my struggles, their mere existence puts me at a light-year's distance from being similar to him. My life is a continually process of learning what it means to "follow him."

Knowing that I am not perfect and will never achieve Christ-like perfection, what is my role in the journey of others?
How do I support, encourage and even admonish the not-so-innocent bystanders in my life?
Does righteous judgement exist in the mouth of a sinner?
Christ calls me to love. Is it incongruent for me to exhibit this love in confrontation or judgement?

11.03.2006

like those who dream

When the Lord restores the fortunes of Zion we will be like those who dream
Psalm 126:1

11.02.2006

i need this




















If you don't know why... well let's just say that it has something to do with flying pigs and semi-trucks on a midwestern highway and my anti-porkitarian diet.

Yes, a pig did fly out of a semi-truck at my car on a midwestern highway. Yes, pigs bounce. And splatter. No I will not eat your grandma's famous Italian Sausage.

11.01.2006

restless

Disclaimer: I love my job and my roommate and a lot of other things, like chocolate. This doesn't have anything to do with either or any of those things that I love, especially chocolate.

Yesterday, I found myself on a college website looking at a Master of Arts Religion degree program. I've been there before. I like the impression I've gotten from this school. I like the books the a few of the faculty members have written. I poked around looking at the town, the requirements, the cost, everything. And then I got on my bike and rode to the bank. Four miles away down a busy and hilly street. I thought about a lot of nothing while on the ride there. The only substantive thing I thought about (other than how to get up the huge hill and how not to get hit) was how I'd even landed on the website. I honestly can't tell you. I memorized the url eons ago and somehow it just flowed out of my fingertips. My fingers seemed to know my heart even more than I do.

Roommate and I have talked about being restless a few times recently. She wants to pick up and move to another country. I don't really romanticize about foreign countries. I've lived in a few and would be fine if I were led to another, but that's not my issue. I romanticize about leaving suburbia. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this (the last fourteen months) is my first suburban life experience and I am totally knocked off my rocker. I struggle with the value system of the suburban culture and I hate driving to work. I don't see myself in suburbia on a long-term basis. I wonder if I am martyring myself because I think God wants me to learn something here. I wonder if I should just get it over with and assimilate myself already. I wonder if I should develop a marketable skill and move to fill-in-the blank urban city. Or forget about marketability and become a hermit in the open plains of fill-in-the-blank middle of nowhere rural area. I wonder if I should go back to school and pigeonhole myself into this field that I love. I wonder if I should wait around for someone to live with in life or if I should go in search.

I wonder.

I wonder a great deal. It feels as though I should be standing more in wonder at what God has accomplished in my life and through my life instead of mawkishly wondering if this is all that there is.

I sound like a lot of other twenty-somethings, don't I?


10.26.2006

stemmed out

You can't live in Missouri AND work at a church AND occasionally watch television (i.e. world series games) AND not hear the words "stem cell research" 1907325884 million times a day. I am about sick of it (read: ready to poke my eyes out with a coal poker) and I can't wait for the first Tuesday in November to get over with already.

I tend to sympathize with conservative views on the issue (though I am not always conservative in my views). I've listened to both angles and I've fought a few inner battles on what is best. Here's where I typically grab my overnight bag and hightail my hiney to Bermuda: people are going to choose their lifestyle, their research, their solutions to life's issues whether they are legal or not or whether I think they are (spiritually, physically, mentally) healthy. Dirty, folding table style medical procedures scare the living daylights out of me... and I'm afraid they might scare the life out of unprepared women.

Then I read this on a discussion board:
Please stop promising the sick and the lame that they will walk
again "if" we use embryonic stem cells.

That sentence reminded me so much of all of the lame and sick that begged Jesus to heal them with his touch. Are stem cells a certain group's personal savior? It just makes me wonder.

10.24.2006

a town to fall in love with baseball

Before I moved to Saint Louis, I met a guy at a wedding who said if there is one thing about Saint Louis that any newcomer will quickly realize it is that Saint Louis is a town where people fall in love with baseball.

Admittedly, I scoffed at this statement for its ludicrousness. I was the girl who whined and moaned at her grandfather for watching countless cubs games when he came to visit. Baseball, especially televised baseball, bored me to bitter tears.

Then I moved to Saint Louis. I'm surprised there isn't a town citizenship exam that requires you to place the players in the correct position on the diamond. Everyone offhandedly expects that you know all of the players and last night's score and who's pitching tonight and how many hit Albert had in the last series.

I look down the hallways at the school and the munchkins are decked out from head to toe in their red gear. Homemade pennants hang from the ceiling. Signs decorate the walls and windows. Kids and teachers alike cluster in small groups raving about what is going to happen in the next game and how hard they are working for it this year.

Throughout the season, I've gone to a few games. I invested in a child's sized long sleeved t-shirt. I've even watched a few on television. I've enjoyed it more as a way to create inraods with all of these seeming crazies that surround me.

And then it happened. I listened to a game on the radio. Listening to a radio broadcast of a baseball game is the ultimate sign of geekdom and fandom. It looks like I am in love.

Go Cards!

10.20.2006

the irreverance continues

On rare occasion, I come across a Jesus junk website that makes me laugh groan and burn with rage all at the same time.

Did you ever wonder what Jesus smelled like? Well it wasn't Curve for Men or a Yankee Candle.

It was this.

10.17.2006

when worry was tomorrow's task

The days are colder now. These late rains make the leaves fall to the ground. Leaves that should have been red brown quickly and die. Dew clings to my windshield, wiped quickly away. Forgotten. The cold clings to my bones, asking to chill my heart and leave me here.

Fetally curled and contorted, the familiar smell of white tea dipped in melon reaches my nose reminding me of the last time it was like this. A time when worry was tomorrow's task and today was for living. A time when sadness was mine but strength was abundant. The tea tastes of my tear-filled memories and I'm glad the can is empty. Those days are over and I'm running forward. But into what? To where? With whom?

The days are colder now. My winter habits awakened. Good books scream desperately to be read and anaylzed. The characters reach to be understood and to be loved. By the end, they've run into their what to their where with their whom. But I'm still here asking the same three unanswerables. My endless "the end" suspended indefinitely.

The days are colder now but I'm still searching for fire.

10.16.2006

like the dew that goes early away

Like the dew that goes early away.

I read those words this morning and they knocked the breath out of me. That is how I feel today. I feel like dew that has gone early away.

As I drove home Friday night, I knew the thrill of the latest and greatest attraction had subsided into nothing more than mild enjoyment. Despite my efforts to convince myself that he still could be what I was looking for, I knew in my heart that the dew had dried and I was already floating on through the air.

This weekend, a good friend came to visit but I barely had time to sit with her. I felt dried up and as if I wasn't there to refresh the blades of her grass. From one thing to the next, I buzzed and zipped, barely squeezing in a hot chocolate and a book with her for an hour or so.

This morning, as I sit at my desk I wonder at how early going my faith has been. I have been fleeting and irreverent. Impatient and rash.

I know I am like dew. My confidence, gifts, talents, or likewise will always go early away. Albeit refreshing, they will never bring deep lasting refreshment.

The rain of Christ alone sustains.

10.10.2006

hitting the road

It has been nearly a month since the catastrophic half-marathon experience. I am certainly no longer laying prostrate on the floor suffering from acute pain of the estomago. My knees however still hate me. Fortunately, they are much kinder than they were a month ago and I only get stiff when I sit all day in a really cold room. Oh, wait... that describes my typical day at work. Booo...

This weekend, la Señorita and I went for our first "off-season" run. Holey buckets! I felt out of shape. WAY OUT OF SHAPE. At three and a half miles (of five), I was ready to crawl back to my car and forget about the whole sport we call running. It was absolutely ridiculous.

The problem with my life is that I purge on things like exercise.

A week of exercise might look something like this:
Monday: 14 hour work day. No exercise.
Tuesday: Day off. Run three miles. Play ultimate frisbee in the evening run approximately 2 more.
Wednesday: Squeeze in a two mile run if I am lucky...err... blessed, but usually work 12 hours instead.
Thursday: Run three miles... maybe.
Friday: No running. At all.
Saturday: Run five, six, seven... miles with La Señorita <BR>Sunday: Think about running. A lot. Sleep all afternoon instead.

Two days of crazy running. Two days of minimal POSSIBLE running. I am going to have to figure out a way to make those "possibly" days into certain days and not sleep all day Sunday. Grrr....

Time to think about going running... where did I put those shoes again? Oh yeah, in the trash.

10.05.2006

today

You tell me your name means
the Lord saves
but today it doesn't feel saving
for her
or her
or her
You tell me your name means
Prince of Peace
but today there isn't peace
anywhere
You tell me you are love
God is love
but today love doesn't reach her
only fear
anger
guilt
You tell me that through you
all things can be done
So
let your name be true
let your name be all things
today
for her

10.01.2006

new friends, old friends, basic friends, deep friends

She just makes me laugh. Her voice impersonations. Her satire and her simple joy in giving.

He always makes me think of the days when I didn't have a car payment and didn't ever want to be told I couldn't. He didn't hold it against me. Still doesn't.

She put up with my adolescent rants and stuck by me through many tears. She lives far away, but she's always on my mind.

She experienced great pain and sorrow. And then I did. We know the process though we lived it differently. We stuck together and are hard to peel apart.

She does so much and loves to care. Her heart gives my heart peace.

He guided my through my mountain of questions. He respects me. He protects me but lets me fall.

She sent me a cup of coffee. I couldn't drink it, but she cried with me anyway.

She laughs at my organization and throws me for a million loops. We laugh, we cry, we plan our lives. She's my balance.

He invited me to play and introduced me to so much that I hold so dear.

She came out to eat and then she called me. It had been so long, but it doesn't matter anymore.

She bought me a hat and made me wear it. We traveled, laughed, made music, and became friends that just know.

She ran and never left my side. We listen and grow, suffer and survive together.

friends.

9.28.2006

trudge

"Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth."

Hosea 6:1-3

It's over. It's been over for a week.
two months.
nine months.
eight years. longer?

It's over for him.
for her.
for me.

It's over and somehow I find myself caught up in those two days.
The two days before the revival comes.
before being bound up. healed.

The muck is thick.
Mire thicker.
darkness painted life's canvas.

and trudge we on.
Third days hoped for.
not yet experienced. but almost.

9.25.2006

the one good thing about you is that you don't pick up on social cues

This weekend was the climatic conclusion of the much celebrated birthWEEK. Celebrating your birthday with your roommate is a good idea if (and only if) you have a live-in maid and are employed by a sleeping corporation (hours slept=dollars banked). Friday was probably the kick in the bucket because after working/running/lounging lazily at home in the morning, going to work in the afternoon and evening, speeding home to go out with friends to my new favorite outdoor patio bar, and drinking the most disgusting drink at my new favorite outdoor patio bar, we invited people to hang out at our house.

Why not, right? We had soda galore left over from our numerous celebrations and tons of easy cheez and ritz crackers from cheap box of wine night. Friends and friends of friends welcome. It was great fun. Roommate, Saturday Night Live, la Senorita and various other characters from my life filled the living room with laughter until the wee hours of the morning.

Around three, our friends were tired and decided to go home. As if on cue, they all stood up dusted off the night's enchantment and re-entered reality, an exhausted reality. Saturday Night Live had decided to stay the night, so she hung back. Everyone else left EXCEPT for Random Fundamentalist Boys that played sports with her a couple of times a week.

Previous to new favorite outdoor patio bar, I didn't know either of the Random Fundy Boys. But they seemed nice enough and RFB #1 had a particular predilection for brit-pop that I found marginally endearing. My "wierdo radar" went beserk when they didn't leave with the rest of the group. And continued to talk about the strangest things.

RFB #1 drilled me on my life story. WHO CARES? I want to go to sleep. RFB #2 told SNL about his gospel singing group (that was the oh-so-intelligent term he used) and how he didn't want a homosexual to join it. I might have responded to him in my post-Irish Car Bomb stuper with "What part of me being a Christian means I want to hear about your views on homosexuality at four AM???" However, I was too busy explaining why I'm not going to discuss stem cell research with a complete stranger at four am. Let's be honest. I don't talk about stem cell research with anyone at anytime. Not even the politician.

Finally at five am, they caught onto the overt hinting (Hey SNL... I'm really tired, aren't you?) and finally left. If they thought they were going to get a phone number out of the whole experience, they should have rethought the whole excessively fundamentalist and backwards opining thing they did until my eyes were so bloodshot that I cried blood.

9.22.2006

if she says so, it must be true

Today is my birthday. I have successful slept in, coughed a lot, read a great deal of church literature (working at home rocks!), and taken a wonderful shower. Now the day must begin and I have to go hang out with the crowd that provides me bread and butter: Junior High students.

Junior High students are notorious for having their heads stuck in the sand (but let's be honest... they aren't any worse that children, they just have a larger vocabulary so we expect more. And they certainly aren't worse than some adults, they just don't have inhibitors to hide it). Last year, I was told that I was old because I am the same age as Brittany Spears. I appreciate the logic AND the comparison. Thank you sixth graders. Yesterday, an eighth grader asked me how old I would be today. I told her my very small, still young age and she responded, "You ARE YOUNG. That's why we like you."

I'm glad my youth is the only reason I am likeable.

half=split in two

In June, la Señorita and I set out to train for a half-marathon. She’d trained with a friend, but she’d never had the chance to compete in a race. I’d thought about training, but never had the individual motivation or courage to tackle the feat. As recreational runners, we were in relatively similar physical condition with the same goal: finish.
There were ups and downs along the path of training. Sometimes there was little to no motivation. At other times, we ruined Friday nights and Saturday mornings to run ridiculous lengths. Swollen ankles and sore knees plagued our bodies. Great conversations that filled me with joy. A friend, closer than before. Eating everything that I wanted and fitting into my seventh grade wardrobe.
In training, la Señorita and I had been running slightly better than ten minute miles. That was our goal: ten minute miles. TOTALLY ATTAINABLE. Except that my month of dealing with the hacky crap really caught up with me in the preceding days.
I was a little antsy about running all weekend, even though I wasn’t about to tell anyone. A girl has to keep up her woman of steel image in these parts. The ants in my pants tickled and scratched me all night long and didn’t let me sleep very well. When Sunday morning dawned (err, pre-dawned), I crawled out of bed cranky. I definitely didn’t get enough sleep that night. My lungs were filled with the familiar hacky crap, but I told myself, “WHO CARES. PRETEND IT ISN’T THERE.” Before the sun even thought about rolling out of its eastern pile of warm pillows and blankets, I was warmed up and ready to run farther than I’d ever ran before.
La Señorita and I were obviously excited about getting out there and giving it our best shot. The gun went off and we started the crowded scuttle towards the starting line. Once we got past the first mile, we were able to hit our target pace and keep it steady. Our cheerleaders met us several places along the way. They didn’t look too tired from getting up at the butt crack of dawn.
Then, mile seven came. The air got humid. My lungs got restricted. I could barely breathe. I had to beg la Señorita to slow down. I felt terrible, she was so excited to be passing people. I was excited to put on foot in front of the next. I kept a slow pace with her and complained most of the time. Somewhere between mile eleven and twelve, I started to really lose it. I lost track of time and how far we had gone. If la Señorita hadn’t been there, I might have fallen into the woods to be left for the vultures’ Sunday morning brunch. But she didn’t leave me. In fact, she ran behind me to keep me from stopping. That’s what teams are for: support.
I honestly only remember wanting to cry the last two miles. Keep in mind, only one week previous to this experience, I ran twelve miles without much ado. I remember bearing around the corner into the finish line. I remember running as fast as I could (not fast) and falling into someone’s arms. I remember being taken into the first aid tent and being placed on a cot. I remember being iced up and thinking, “For crying out loud, I am in better shape than this!”
The next hour was very traumatic and I felt very vulnerable. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let it suffice to say that there were IV threats and lots of black puke bags. My emotional state was just about as unstable as my physical state. First of all, I had worked hard so that something like this WOULDN’T happen. Secondly, 3932 strangers were meandering around me. Thirdly, eight good friends were doing the sympathetic half-smile thing while telling me they’re “so proud of me.” I just wanted to hobble into my bed and cry for an hour out of embarrassment.
Nothing like being vulnerable. Nothing like losing your gatorade at the first aid tent. Or at the I-HOP (Thank God Lucy’s Mama was there to explain to other ladies’ room clients that I wasn’t bulimic). Or in front of the ten-year old neighbor boy on a lawn close to home (I just couldn’t make it!).
Somewhere in the midst of my various embarrassing moments, I realized WHY I needed to have this. I am a steely girl. I am an introvert. I am task oriented. I approach my abundant emotions very logically. I needed to experience vulnerability. Loss of control. Loss of self-sufficiency. And that I did. Getting put on an antibiotic three days before an accomplishment of a lifetime was not anything I could predict, control, or stop. It happened and it clued me into that blaring plank in my eye and it showed me how wonderful it is to admit you need help.
I needed encouragement. I needed room-temperature Sprite. I needed to lie prostrate on the floor. I was in need and my needs were provided for. I didn’t have anything to do with the results of the race, la Señorita pushed me to nearly meet our goal on the hardest run of my life. I didn’t have anything to do with finally being able to process food, Roommate nursed me all day long. I didn’t have anything to do with coming to grips with not meeting the ten minute mile goal, that peace was given to me by grace.
I don’t have anything to do with a lot of wonderful things in my life. This race was just a micro-manifestation of a few things I needed to realize so to appreciate those on the larger scale.

9.20.2006

just missed the cut for mass production

In the world's classiest display of taste and fashion, my friends wore a set of t-shirt they decorated with a set of sharpies to the half-marathon on Sunday. Their slogans were quite creative.

Tall White Guy's:
Front: ripped off Nike symbol
Back: running... just watch other's do it.

Saturday Night Live's:
Back: Run, run, run as fast as you can you can't catch me... OH WAIT! Yes you can, I'm sitting.

Lucy's Mama's:
Front: The only thing I'm good at running
Back: is my mouth.

Computer Geek's:
Front: Driving
Back: What's better than running 13.1 miles?

Roommate's:
Front: To Do on Life Accomplishment Day: 1. Watch my roommate run a half-marathon. 2. Come up with a better life accomplishment goal better than making out in front of Walgreen's.

(The history on making out in front of Walgreen's is a little tedious, just take it at face value and realize that we actually saw people making out in front of a Walgreen's and felt compelled that someday we should as well.)
The Politician and Reeno came out to cheer. Reeno even said that he would train for a full with us if we ever got around to it. We'll see about that.

9.18.2006

a collective sigh of relief

There are a number of tales I could share with you today about my experience yesterday. Honestly, I feel like I have a running hangover and don't have enough energy to process it all.
The short version would go something like this: Due to my lower respiratory infection, my breathing stunk and I couldn't run my normal pace. HOWEVER, we still only missed our goal by a minute forty. I was in bad shape in the end. I finished and was plopped on a first aid table to be iced. Once I was cooled, I was nauseous. I couldn't keep anything down other than room temperature Sprite until about four in the afternoon. Nothing like being HUNGRY and not being able to eat. I'm okay today and already looking forward to being healthy and hitting the road again. (I'm also looking into getting a mental health evaluation, if you know of anyone...)

The long version will include t-shirt slogans my friend concocted to cheer us on, why my running partner is amazing, the surprise a little boy had on the side of the road while riding his bike, the curse of independence and the joy of vulnerability, and why lying prostrate is always good for the soul and the stomach. More soon.

9.16.2006

birthWEEK kick-off

Yesterday was Roommate's and the Politician's birthday. Since my birthday is exactly one week later, we created a week-long celebration we call birthWEEK because who doesn't want to party until the break of dawn for a whole week!
Last night was the birthWEEK kick-off. We invited all of our mutual friends plus some more. We made our favorite meat-free appetizers and chilled a few good bottles of reisling. Our little casita was crammed full of the people who have made St. Louis my home. When those people gather in one place and I take the time to look around, I see a group of people that a year ago barely knew each other. At first glance, we look like your everday ragtag group of twentysomethings trying to make a difference in the world and trying not to lose ourselves in mess of our world. We play ultimate frisbee as if it were life giving. We annoy the waitresses at BW3's with our extremely large, all individual check table every Tuesday. We like our beer and wine. We dabble in dating each other and then laugh it off as blind desperation.
But when I look again, I see a group of people that would do whatever it takes to help a friend out. I see a group of people that love their Creator and aren't afraid to talk about it. I see a group of people that inspire me to take delight in the blessings I have been given. In the last year, I have been blessed tremendously through each of them.
Last night was purported to be a celebration of birthWEEK, but it was really a celebration of friendship, of grace made real.

9.15.2006

these are a few of my favorite things

going for an early morning run and my fingers being just a little cold

making things look nice at my house

talking with shop with people who love youth and Christ

brie cheese

new shirts

old friends celebrating momentous life occasions

new friends celebrating their birthdays

hosting friends at my house

talking about cultural phenomena

antibiotics actually working

being able to hear

being able to breathe

life

9.14.2006

three, not one or even two, THREE!

Roommate pointed out to me last night that I've rambled extensively about being sick. IT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SICK FOR THREE WEEKS NOW.

Good news: I.am.not.going.to.die.
Bad news: The doctor gave me antibiotics for five days.

Good news: BirthWEEK is on the horizon.
Bad news: Two of the three birthday girls are sick.

Good news: Mr. Good Smile
is coming to the birthWEEK kick-off.
Bad news: My heavily medicated self is usually even less coordinated than regular self. Bring on the party fouls.


Good news: I am running a half-marathon on Sunday.
Bad news: I am running 13.1 miles on Sunday.

Here's to the hope that the drugs will kick the cold and not the runner. It's a busy weekend.

9.13.2006

full body shimmey

Everyone's favorite latin dance move is undoubtedly the shimmey. You know, the move where you shake your shoulders and the rest of your upper body goes with it.
Some people lack the pizazz to shimmey with full effect. Some people lack the... well... rest of the upper body to go with it.
Somehow the shimmey became the official dance move of the summer among my roommates, friends, and other compatriots. We have placed bets on how many drinks it will take to get Tall White Guy to shimmey. We have shimmied all over Chicago and St. Louis. We usually reserve the shimmey to express moments of great exuberance such as "I just got my first real paycheck," "I just met a cute boy,"and "Let's have milkshakes for dinner tonight."
Occassionally we've found the simple shimmeying of the upper body does not fully express the excitement of the moment. Last night, after spending the late evening scheming and plotting our upcoming birthdays and the accompanying birthWEEK festivities (true egocentrics celebrate birthdays for a week, not just a day), Roommate came into my bed room convulsing from head to toe.
The full body shimmey said it all. "If I were any more excited, I would likely cause brain damage."

9.05.2006

on my run

Start: anxiety over long distance running. heart is beating a little faster. boo.

Mile one: Weird pain in the knee. I want to stop.

Mile two: Chit chat, catch-up. blah blah blah blah

Mile three: Continue the blahs. Knee hurts. Internal insanity alarm going off.

Mile four: We ran the last three miles faster than we expected. Are we going too fast? Can we go this pace for the rest of the “trip?”

Mile five: Silence (not always golden). But then it got good:

Mile six: How are you ACTUALLY, señorita? The job, the coworkers, the friend support network, feeling loved.

Mile seven: It’s so exciting to want to go to work and to know that you are wanted there.

Mile eight: How are YOU actually? I’m actually praising God. I’m actually thanking him for blessings that I never could have imagined. I am actually surrounded by more love in my life than ever before.

Mile nine: Have you noticed that despite the complete absence of romantic love in your life, you are completely filled and outpouring with love? Yep, right now. We have amazing friends. We have amazing jobs. We have amazing roommates. We have amazing families. Are you amazed yet?

Mile ten: I hope that others experience this, too. How can I share it?

Mile eleven: Hey, did you realize that we ran this fast? Didn’t feel like it. We’re on track to hit our target or better. Yeah!

Post-mileage: The knee is back to hurting. Cocktails of ib profen and gatorade seem to do the trick. The run was probably my favorite run yet in this training stint. It even topped the bagpipe accompaniment through a shady cool trail in Chicago. We’ll chalk this one up to good conversation.

a lover not a quitter

As I ran this evening, I realized that there was something familiar in the air. We hit mile 7 and I felt perseverance in my stride. We were running a familiar trail. I’d been there numerous times before and the memories had never recurred. But there they were, sitting in my mind begging to be recounted.
A long time ago, I’d shared the trail with someone once important to me and I thought the inverse was true. When I was sharply told otherwise, I told the trail exactly what I thought about that. With my running shoes on, I beat the asphalt trail to pieces that afternoon. With the sun beaming through the trees, I told the trail that it was not okay to stop running mid-race and it was not okay to ask someone else to run for me. It was not okay to give up.
As I nearly finished, the sun was gleaming off of the lake into my eye and an old favorite song played on my headphones. I smiled.
”This is who you are. You are loved.”
The words were clearly spoken to me. Not verbally. Truthfully. Vividly. Not detectable. But alive.
This moment came back to me and suddenly, I realized how beautiful life is. How beautiful it is to be in God’s creation. Running. Breathing. How beautiful it is to rise up out of pain and stride through the sore joints and aching pains. How beautiful it is to love. Everyone. Not selectively. Not romantically. Love. Plainly. Simply.
In that moment, I grieved for the men and women who have not experienced the goodness of Grace by the unorthodox means I have of late. I grieved for those who purport love and mercy as their platform but dole it out only to the most qualified. I grieved for those who accept such purported love and mercy unknowingly, mistakenly.
In my life, I grieve because I know the peace of the Lord and I know the absence of that peace. On my run, I was reminded of a time I felt the absence and the moment that I recognized its ever-presence. The perseverance of the peace in my life gets me through the tough days. The perseverance of the peace shows me the true nature of love and how essential it is that I am a vessel of it.
Perhaps the statement should be “I am a lover, not a quitter.”

9.01.2006

good grief

For a time when I was 19, I lived in an over-polluted, erratically-industrialized, moderately impoverished city in Southeastern China. The afternoon monsoon had swept through and done its typical ravage of the neighborhood. It was hot. It was humid. I was tired from teaching and exhausted by living in close quarters with a group of people who I struggled to love unconditionally. My spirit was dull and my heart pruned from the humidity. I climbed three flights of stairs of the school building to check my email and hopefully read encouraging words of someone oceans away.
When I entered I saw that the windows in the dark antiquated technology center burned oranges and purples previously unseen. I climbed into the window sill awestruck. The pollution, the passing rain, and my desire to escape joined together above the city and created an indescribable moment in time. The sun said its daily farewell in no ordinary way. It was obvious that grace had made something beautiful out of so many ugly things.
In that moment, right before the sun disappeared and took its radiance with it, I knew that God would always be present in my life. I would always struggle to love unconditionally, but the grace of his love would teach me, guide me, and never leave me.
I learned much to early in life that the world is an ugly place. People are embittered. They cry angry tears. They die. This afternoon, I sit in solitude and I feel the grief of my years. I hear the anxieties of my 13 year olds. I am suddenly acutely aware that I have grown a year older. I am a deeper, wiser, stupider person than I was a year ago. I have been grieved. I’ve grieved others. I grieve for the traps and holds into which I see so many fall, no self-exclusions. The load is always too heavy to bear.
But this grief is so beautiful. It has taught me truth. And truth has shown me love.

Y si las cosas van mal
No pierdas nunca tu fe
Despues de la tormenta viene la calma,
Tu ves, detras de esa oscuridad
Siempre hay una claridad,
Esa luz de esperanza que siempre esta
-thievery corporation, ambición eterna, the cosmic game

8.31.2006

happy thursday

When I was a senior in college, my dear friend invited me to live in her grandparents' cave. She had been living there for a year with another girl. That girl got scared of the bats and man-eating spiders that came out at night, so she left. Living in the cave alone was completely unacceptable because the furniture and interior decoration was far too swanky and uncomfortable to be managed on its own. So I took up the invitation and lived in that basement with my two friends, three blocks (also known as a 11.4 minute walk) from campus.
It was the life.
Together, we survived the plethora of flamingos that lived on the walls, the complete lack of natural lighting, the 1940's mechanical beast once called an ice box that usually froze our milk, and a record collection that included an album promoting everyone's favorite herbal cigarette additive. Our survival hinged on a little weekly festival that we came to know as "happy thursdays." Happy Thursdays had three main ingredients: chocolate, drinks, and friends. For one happy semester, we celebrated the fact that the week was ending and we wouldn't have to sit through another lecture on masonic cult rituals for two whole days. Happy Thursdays will forever be ingrained in my body's hedonistic routines.
Tonight, I will be celebrating this Happy Thursday with the two people who made it all possible: The Professor and his wife. They charged us pennies to stay there. She made us cookies. He told us stories. We loved them and tried to be quiet at night (Praise God for hearing loss!). They are driving through town on their way out of the country. I'm not sure if they are escaping the authorities for unknowingly hoarding old drug legalization propaganda or if they are going for pleasure. Either way, I get to listen to his wonderful stories and enjoy the people who taught me how to tell time without a watch in a windowless room.
I hope you have a Happy Thursday, too!

8.29.2006

three more weeks and the rest of my life

Sometime in June, amiga Chris decided that it would be a good idea for us to train for a half-marathon. I, in a rare easy-going do-whatever-you-want-me-to-do moment, agreed. Nevermind that I have been telling the ex-roommate for years that it is one of my life goals to finish a half-marathon and a marathon.
Now my free time is consumed by three things: running, catching up on lost sleep, and catching up on the lost calories.
Saturday mornings which were once a time for sleeping in and reading good books or hanging out with the mini-munchkins are now filled with words like "hitting my wall, thirsty, knee hurts, avoid the hills, and kick it up!" Did I mention this all happens prior to 9am? Mid-day Saturdays are filled with lying very still, eating carbs out the wazoo and regretting that I won't paint those kitchen chairs this weekend.
Because the social life hasn't changed and keeps me up all night Friday, I have to sleep all day Saturday and Sunday to catch up on the hours lost. Now Tuesday, a.k.a the best day of the week because I don't EVER work, is consumed by sleeping. I just woke up. It was great. But the bathrooms didn't clean themselves. They are still in training.
The upside of this whole thing is I've found that no matter what or how much I eat while on this asanine training program to kick the concrete's butt, people still say to me "You look like you've lost weight." Funny... I haven't. And I haven't lost any inches either. The youthful glow radiating from my blistered feet is decieving. This has not been good for my pocketbook. I've spent more money at the local grocery store this month than on MY CAR PAYMENT. (No, I did not purchase copious amount of my favorite bottle of wine. lay off.)
In between all of this sleeping, running, and eating, Chris and I decided that it would be a good idea to train for a half-marathon again in the spring and to use the half-marathon to train for a full-marathon.
I wonder if this is what it feels like to lose my mind.

8.28.2006

guilty, as charged

There is no clause in the Gospel that says outsourcing compassion to the shelters is an alternative to working the streets ourselves.

I've ignored my street. I've pretended like I don't live on it.
I know that everyone has a different role and place in the world. Somehow I think, I know, I am still guilty of outsourcing.
I am a strong believer in the concept of lifestyle evangelism (I may have made up the expression, but let's pretend that people actually say it). That is to say that Jesus' words were powerful, but because his life, his death, and his back-to-life reinforced his word, they were more powerful, more truthful, more real. But I fall short in living my life in a way that shows his words. I struggle in the busyness of life and find myself grieving that I wasn't able to truly show Christ at the end of the day.
My youthful idealism takes over me and I pretend I can take over the world. I know this is ridiculous and idolatry of self. But even when I put that to the side, I am still failing to care and pray for the streets that I live on, my part of the world on which I am called to have compassion.
It's easy to wallow in this self-condemnation. My motivation cannot be like my seventh graders' "because I am supposed to." That is living the shoulds and shouldn'ts. Suffocating. Not living the love of Christ.
He had compassion on us because his love for us filled him with passion. His love does fill me with passion, but it is too often dampened by ritual and norms. How do I love the people on my street? The Hindu family next door. The family next to them. My friend who is a textbook case of post-modern sadness. My believing friends with no place to call home. The people who come in our doors and take what isn't theirs.
I pray and ask for opportunity to love.

to catch a thief

cabinet doors torn

skateboard markings

missing laptop... instrument... money

flustered papers

flustered people

lock your doors, officemates

even the church isn't safe

8.24.2006

poverty

"When we think of poverty, we must think of more than food, shelter, and clothing. There are girls sold into prostitution whose enslavement in some small way mirrors the suicidal Ivy League co-eds who hate the way their bodies look. We find poverty when we look at children of divorce sitting next to children who grew up without fathers. Equally, men who are addicted to porn are trapped in a poverty of spirit that demands intervention.
The truth is disturbing, familiar, haunting, and normal all at once. Issues abound on the streets of our cities for all to see and point their finger at, while similar issues wreak havoc in the suburbs, behind gated communities and closed doors where no one will notice. More and more, these images describe a group of people known as the church. And this fact is both invigorating and instructive when we recognize that the ones commissioned to reach out to the poor are also quite poor. "


Bo White's words are so cutting. So true.
Living in suburbia is a new thing for me (if a year is still considered new). I've been shocked by the extremes of overparenting and underparenting. I've been disturbed by the emptiness, yet complete reliance, on materialism. It's wickledly contagious.
I know that God has called me to this place through the words of my congregation, through the work that He has put before me. But it is easy to covet the sensationalist ministry of the missionary or the emerging church down the street (across the country, same difference). In fact, I read so much in Christian "literature" that promotes my coveting. They ask me what I have done lately for the poor. It's never enough that I have a compassion child, Ruth, in India. That I give food and clothes and money regularly to food banks and emergency relief. If I am not giving food and clothes, I am not serving God and his people adequately? The people that I am called to serve here do not need food and clothes. They suffer from Bo's poverty, the soul kind.
It's arguably worse. I wonder what Hosea would say.

8.23.2006

thanks, hosea.

For the last four months, I have been trudging through the first four chapters of Hosea. Yes, I've only made it three pages into the biblical exposition of whoredom and unconditional love. But I've been in whoredom for four months and it gets depressing. It's like reading about Esther Greenwood's descent into depression and oppression in The Bell Jar without getting to last line when she steps into the room and knows that she is free.
The thing about biblical whoredom is it is completely inaccessible to the modern, post-modern, post-post-modern, or whatever type of un-categorical mind I have. Vibrant language describing one woman's deception against her husband and a people's deception of their God. I just don't get it. I know that Hosea loved his whore-wife, Gomer. I know that God doesn't just love the cookie-cutter youthworkers like me, but the people don't fit into society--the whores and their compatriots.
But then there is me. The not whore, not whore-compatriot, rather the cookie-cutter youthworker. I sometimes wonder what my non-compatriot, non-sensationalist lifestyle makes me in God's world.
What Hosea has taught me is that I am:
a) boring as hell
b) in need of some serious life examination
c) ready to get to the part where I walk into the room knowing I am free.
According to the first two points, I am a borderline pharisee. You know, the judgmental annoying creeps that taunted everyone that wasn't just like them in Jesus' time. That thought alone is enough to freak anyone out.
I read ahead (okay, so I am not actually reading Hosea, but examining each verse and cross referencing it with every similar or related passage in the biblia). I wanted to know when the room-entering would come. Chapter 11. I am seven chapters away. At this rate, I won't get there until March. But maybe I need that much time to get ready. I suppose that I can't control that.
I will keep trudging and I will keep asking why it is important for the boring cookie cutter to read through this, why it is important for me to understand a different side of God's love, and where it is taking me as I explain his love to other people.

8.22.2006

not yet, but almost

I woke up this morning hacking the lower part of my lungs out into a kleenex. Fun huh? I just hope the hacking quits before those stupid five miles I have to run this morning. Sometimes I wonder if I am mentally ill.

Make fun of me for waiting 4 years to start a blog. I'll chalk the delay up to writing elsewhere and chasing after swarms of munchkin-sized people for a living.