Nov 27, 2008

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Ladies and Gentlemen - tonight is the night.

After the plates are cleaned by our mouths, then with soap and water, and it's legitimately time to play Christmas becomes THE night.

Christmas season is upon us. Black Friday is t-minus 76 minutes away. Gulp.

I ran to the store for my mom today. I bought vanilla ice cream, Raisin Bran, and generic Honey Nut Cheerios. I walked through the store and watched frazzled men and women rush through lines to get home. I watched store workers ready to get home. And I watched couples. Several. Holding hands and standing much to close to one another. I eyed them with unfortunate disdain. Yes, ladies and gentleman, tonight is THE night. It never fails that this time of year is when couples become more apparent and being single glares at you in the mirror.

I pushed the thoughts from my mind, unwilling to admit that the time has arrived. For goodness sakes, I am twenty years old. I have a lovely life, full of work and school and friends and family. There's no time to be a half of a couple. Plus, it would only take time away from those things I need MORE time attending.

I went to The Parsons Junior home tonight. We ate a lot (the most wonderful sweet potatoes and stuffing - thanks for bringing those in with you Ashley! - and pumpkin pie) and took pictures and laughed. This Thanksgiving felt different than the others to me. Maybe it's because I am growing up, or feel closer to my siblings, or have another year under my belt. Whatever it may be, spending time with my family was more valuable. I do see them on a regular basis - but those moments of make-my-stomach-hurt laughter are what keep me grounded in life.

Upon returning home this evening, as Christmas season legitimately begins, I felt the need to watch one of my favorite movies - Little Women. It's the perfect holiday movie - all about family and growing up and heartache and happiness. I cried when Beth recovered from her first bout of scarlet fever, and when Jo turned down Laurie's proposal, and when Beth died. I know that in the end of the story, good wins out. I hate that Beth dies and that Laurie marries Amy instead of Jo, but most of all I hate that the relationships of the sisters change. As the girls grow up, they pursue different things and become different people, better people, than they were in the beginning. But the magic that exists in their childhoods fades as maturity sets in.

When Meg and Mr. Brooks are getting married, Jo participates in the circling of the couple with hesitancy, and Laurie notices. He frowns at her, and she is clearly very sad to watch one of her best friends leave her for another.

I will hate to watch my sisters get married. I know that I will be happy, as long as they are, but I don't want things to change. With the addition of new people comes new dynamics, and I like our dynamic right where it is. So I empathize with Jo as she loses her sisters to Mr. Brooks and Laurie and death.

Of course, the flip side to all this is that when new people are added to the family, you can get incredibly lucky and add in an Ashley. It's safe to say our family is completely different with the addition of first Ashley, then Micah, then Tyler. Let us not forget Kent and Elizabeth as well. They change our interactions, our humor, our Thanksgiving menu, and it is good. VERY good. I wouldn't want our family to look any different than it does - unless it's the addition of someone just as good.

So on a night like tonight, it may be the beginning of THAT season. But single or not, my family remains those who keep me grounded, and I can't imagine myself happier than when I am with them.

"Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy." - Louisa May Alcott

Nov 24, 2008

Heart in a cage

I love to watch what effortlessly flows out of the people around me. Often it makes me jealous of their abilities, or gifts, or character. But more than that, I think it speaks of what energizes and drives a person - which is an encouraging thing to behold.

Last night I had a beautiful evening with my friend Molly. A word on her: Molly is somewhat of a kindred spirit with myself - we have a friendship that is unique in my life. She is a world traveler and has an incredible heart (though she is completely humble about the fact). She is about to move her way through Central America in the coming semester - and I will miss her so incredibly much that I try not to think about it. But for now, I get to spend a few more weeks in her presence and will be a better person for it. She also has a sweet lip piercing that I wish I could be cool enough to have.

Back to the evening: Molly won tickets to see Punch Brothers in Lawrence and off we went on a little adventure. We listened to pop hits you would find on a NOW mix, rapped with Eminem, and Molly reconnected with her Oklahoma roots with Carrie Underwood. We ate milkshakes and talked about life. It is always a fulfilling time when I am with Molly - she is never draining but rather encourages me to be a better person.

Punch Brothers was amazing. Chris Thile has been a favorite artist in the past, but the addition of his new four friends makes his sound fuller, dynamic, and if possible, more beautiful. Watching the five on stage made me consider gifts, talents, and passions. If you ever have the opportunity to see them in concert, you will get to see what appears to effortlessly flow out of them. Harmonies that are unreal and make me swoon. Sheer brilliance for nearly two hours.

It made me consider what I see in the people around me.

The friend who loves people with a grace and ease that I will never understand nor be able to emulate in quite the same manner.

The friend who gives of herself in a generosity that few people seem to be willing to own.

The friend who is quick to listen and displays the beauty of her heart without even opening her mouth.

The friend who never tires, who maintains a consistency in character and joy and hope and peace all at once.

Four of the many who I considered on the drive home last night. The Lord is sharpening my heart, which often seems to be caged and held back by the insecurity and pride I possess, with the lives of the people I see every day.

"Those who look to Him are radiant" (Psalm 34:5)


Nov 17, 2008

I have some wonderful friends.

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I have no qualms in admitting that I love High School Musical. Recently, my friends Anna and Christine and myself watched the second and third installments, casting ourselves in the movie. While my ideal character would be Sharpay, I have taken the role of Troy, Christine is Gabriella, and Anna is Sharpay. Anna made the above video, and unfortunately could only incorporate Christine and myself. If you wonder what happened to my hair, it was only temporary.


Nov 10, 2008

Heavy World

What do you do when you are disappointed? I'm disappointed in some people, in their actions, in their words.

But I have to recognize, I'm not proud of myself either. I have let my heart become vindictive, bitter, angry, and full of pride. I've been arrogant, and I've been selfish.

So now I sit and struggle with disappointment. Some in what I see in other people, but more in what I see in myself.

And as I sit and wonder what to do with my heart, I recall powerful words from Hope in the Dark.

"We walked along the dirt road to Muungano village where these words rested quietly on the brick wall next to a pharmacy shop. "What does Piny Pek mean?" I asked. "Heavy world," they said.

As I dragged my feet along the gravel with my head down, I found myself asking, "Why, God?" He told me, "Broken world, Daughter. Sin is real. Know and repent of your own, and then seek Justice and Love for My children. Do not lose hope, My child. Be an agent of mercy." And I slowly breathed in the stench, but allowed hope and God's promises of mercy and healing to remain. This peace that lies within me is one of eternal pain but surpassing faith in God's ultimate desire to shower mercy in the heaviest and most broken places."

Jena Lee wrote these about the brokenness she saw firsthand in the slums of African cities - but His words apply in my heart right now. When you watch brokenness unfold and sin seeps into the cracks - it's overwhelming. "Sin is real."

Know and repent of your own. I know what some of my sins are. In a lot of ways, I'm not ready to let them go. I'm not ready to embrace the ways I fall short, because I'm a proud heart. The sooner I admit I fail, the sooner I lose control.

I want Hosea 6 to be in me instead.
"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."

Nov 6, 2008

Because I laughed out loud when I remembered this...

I just relived a moment that I believe I have suppressed for years out of sheer horror and embarrassment.

When I was in middle school, I had this idea that I really enjoyed being in front of people and needed to put an end to my shy tendencies.

One summer night at Main in Motion, I entered a lip sync contest.

I remember my outfit, what my hair looked like, the people I picked out in the crowd, because it was supposed to be my moment of glory. People were supposed to think I was cool, and somehow maybe I thought I would make friends by being ballsy. I had picked the perfect song...which happened to be M2M's "Mirror Mirror".

I have a sickening feeling in my stomach now, but I think that declaring my embarrassment to everyone is good therapy.

It's safe to say that I didn't make any friends through this experience and that, if anything, I became a bigger wallflower because of it.