Sunday, August 16, 2009

what's my style?

At church we just started a sermon series called "You've got Style." Basically it explores the different ways that we worship and draw close to God. It's something that seems to pop up every year or two at Bristol Road, and it's because we are always changing as a church family. How can we not constantly be changing as we grow in Christ? I've tried on so many "styles" over the years, there are times when I wonder which style is really my own? I guess I haven't found it yet, or else I would know, right?
I hear people talk about the countless ways they find God: in worship..through song, or by keeping a journal, or in nature, or at home..alone in prayer, or by reading their Bibles. I find God through all of these methods to a certain extent, but I just don't know what really gets me on fire for Christ. I feel close to God when I meditate on Him. In those moments when I really sit and think about my faith and examine the flaws I want to change in myself are when I feel honest and vulnerable. Being vulnerable has never been easy for me, so the fact that I can do that with God is a big deal.
Then there are times when I wonder if I'm really feeling close to God or I just think I should be feeling close to Him. Sometimes I almost wish I hadn't grown up in the church...almost. Don't get me wrong. I'm so grateful for my parents, who are the best examples I could ask for, and I feel so blessed that they always made religion and faith apart of my life. But, there are times when I find ti hard to separate what I truly feel and what I think I should feel because I've always had God in my life. I remember when I was a little girl, and I really wanted to be baptized, probably when I was about 8, but my parents wanted me to wait. They just wanted to make sure I knew what I was committing to, and I think they were right...only do we ever really understand what that decision entails. I was baptized at a young age, 11 to be exact. I think about it now, and it was the best decision I could have ever made. But now, at 22, I see the significance of that act more clearly than 11 years ago when I first made the commitment. But let's say for argument's sake I'd wait until I was 18, when I legally became an adult, well I've learned a lot about myself in the past 4 years too. I think the easiest comparison is a marriage. At the alter do the bride and groom completely understand the commitment they are making? I mean, yes, they know it is forever, but they have no idea how it will change over time and how intimately connected they will become? How could you? As we get older we change. We have to learn how to communicate effectively in order to grow together. Well, after we commit to Christ in baptism, we have to constantly communicate with Him too through His word and prayer. When do we ever stop growing in our relationship with Christ? Never. It's crazy to think how much I continue to evolve in my faith. I still have so much to learn about myself in Christ. I struggle all the time. I often feel cold, like I'm just going through the motions by going to church and saying my prayers at night. So, what's my style? I really don't know, but it doesn't scare me as much as it used to because at the core of it all I love the Lord, and He is in my heart. ..that is all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

don't judge me

Alright, I admit that I use this phrase all the time. Usually, it directly follows something lame that I do or say when I see a quizzical look thrown my way, and it's said in fun. However, I really got to thinking tonight about how we as Christians are often accused of being too judgmental. I was called "shoes" in high school-- short for goody two shoes-- and did I mention this was a private, "Christian" school full of "good kids"? Sure, it was all in jest and said in a teasing, loving kind of way, but I've always been accused of being the kind of person that is "boring" because of my lack of activities. I've dealt with crude nicknames on and off over the last decade or so, usually trying my best to laugh them off, just hoping my prosecutors would lose interest as soon as they saw in didn't phase me. I just don't think it's right. How can you tease a person for doing something good? What's wrong with people now-a-days?

I'll never forget during my waitressing days when the cooks found out about my religious beliefs. One of them came out from behind the grill looking me up and down. When I asked what he was doing he simply replied, "I've never seen a 20 year old virgin. In fact, I didn't know they existed; you must be a unicorn because I don't think you're real." The remainder of the night and week every male employee called me "unicorn" saying, a 20 year old virgin who'd never drank alcohol or smoked before must be some kind of mythological creature.

Here's where my confusion comes into the picture. I've been teased relentlessly over the years for the choices I have made. Now, I'm proud of my morals and beliefs, and I'm not ashamed of any decisions I've made in life. Not that I've ever claimed to be perfect because I've made a lot of stupid decisions that I wish I hadn't. Trust me, I'm not perfect at all, but I don't regret those choices because I learned from my mistakes and still do every day. Ask my family and close friends and I'm sure they could tell you just how imperfect I really am. Yet, people have told me they feel uncomfortable around me, like they're not good enough since they've made different decisions in regards to sexual purity, underage drinking, and smoking--those are the top three categories that seem to grab peoples' attention when it comes to my life.

So, here I am being gossiped about and teased for making good choices; then being accused of judging people who make different decisions. I have never told someone they were wrong for having sex out of marriage, and I have never condemned anyone for underage drinking, only expressing my concern to a few close friends over the years more for their safety than anything else. I admit I give my friends a hard time about smoking occasionally, but it's a disgusting habit, which is so bad for you. I mean, it's expensive, makes you smell bad, and will cause you health problems later on in life. But, why is it that my choices are so interesting? It disgusts me how often people talk about them. I know I've rare, but does my decision to remain a virgin until I'm married really need to be a discussion when people first get to know me? It's not like I want to know how many sexual partners a person has when we first become acquainted. I guess I'm frustrated because it's a label that people slap me with that's usually followed by one of the following comments: "That must suck" or "She's missing out" or "She needs to get laid asap."

People are more judgmental of me for my lack of experiences. It's rude and insulting to be honest. I'm not making fun of your life style, so lay off mine, okay? What kind of world do we live in when you're ridiculed for trying to do what you think is right? It makes me sick thinking about it. People always bash religious people, and I'm not saying that religion is perfect. It's not, because man is imperfect and messes it up sometimes. However, it's a little hypocritical to judge us by just writing us off because you think we're judging you. It's a stupid cycle. I want to share my beliefs sure, but I can't force them on you and would never try to do that.

What a long vent this has turned out to be...I guess my point is that people always say religious people judge them for living a "sinful life" but isn't true that all religions seemed to get labeled by this generalization? I mean, everyone has some judgemental tendencies-both religious and nonreligious. Shouldn't we all just keep our opinions to ourselves? We can live our own lives the way we choose, without being teased, nagged, told we're doomed to a less than desirable afterlife, etc. Love the person, without writing them off for their flaws-no matter what they may be...that is all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Great Gatsby

I was blessed with an opportunity to teach American Lit. and Honors American Lit. at Grand Blanc High School for the past month. This experience taught me a lot about myself and my abilities as a teacher. I had so much fun with my students. The theme of this marking period is "The American Dream" as seen from different perspectives. The final piece of literature just happened to be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald--a book I read on my own when I was about 15. I used to read books all the time in high school, which I enjoyed but never really looked at for meaning, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc. I really enjoyed it 7/8 years ago, but to teach it I reread it over the weekend then started it in class Monday morning...haha It was great. It is easily one of my favorite books, top ten material for sure. And my students were fantastic, and it was so much fun to think of things to discuss with them and different projects, assessments, games, etc. That's all I have time to briefly mention right, my life has been so crazy lately. I can't wait for summer to get started! haha ..that is all.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

summer reading

I can't believe how fast May snuck up on me. It's funny to see all my friend's facebook statuses revolving around job plans, jobs, vacations, etc. I chuckle because they are celebrating the beginning of summer as college students, but here I am, a college graduate, on a high school schedule? My summer won't even start for about 5 weeks. If you're getting a bitter vibe then you misread me. I'm not bitter in the least, but rather, I find it quite humorous. One thing that is nice about the first week of May is the weather. I shudder to think if I'm jinxing it right now by saying how wonderful the sunshine and temperatures gravitating in the high 60s, low 70s have been the past week, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

So, since the weather is turning to summer norms I've decided to follow suit and kick off my summer now in one aspect. During my summers I tend to catch up on all the reading I miss out on during the school year. It has been typical in the past to fill my September-December with homework, lesson plans, papers, etc. then relax over Christmas break in order to regain just enough strength to get right back at it January through the first week of May. Now..the 2nd week of May (after 5 days of sleeping in and doing next to nothing) is when I tend to start working full-time and reading everything I wanted to all year long. This year is already different of course. I read a book every few days on average since I spend my weekdays behind another teacher's desk substitute teaching I have the time to read. However, I want to make a summer goal that I read 50 books. I've been looking over a lot of booklists complied by different educators and magazines and weeding out those I've already covered over the years. I want to get a mix of 10-15 newer books, a representation of multiple countries and cultures, and even a few books that I'm "too old for." Sometimes books designed for adolescents can be fantastic reads. I figure that if I tackle two to three books every week I can handle 50 easily.

It takes me back to elementary school when my teachers would challenge us to read over the summer. I can still recall Mrs. Pearson giving me a beach ball to record all the books I read then upon bringing it back in September I was rewarded with a gift certificate to get even more books. She is one of the rare teachers who really touch the lives of her students. I think that summer helped fan my passion for books. Well, that and my mother always reading with me. I wish kids today read more books because they really do miss out on a lot merely scanning the Internet and skimming sparknotes for answers in school. I'll try and keep you posted on my booklist decisions and if I'm keeping up with my goal. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I know a lot of people hate the rain. Let's be honest: it's annoying to drive in, messes up great hair, forms puddles and mud...everywhere, and ruins perfectly good outdoor plans. However, I love storms, and the way they smell, look, sound, and even taste. Rain cleanses everything and washes away the dirt and pain from the past...I'm speaking for literally and figuratively.
Things lately have been so crazy. I think God must sit up in Heaven and just laugh sometimes. I think I have everything figured out, and the funny part is I wasn't even trying to figure things out for once, but then...bam! God throws me a curve ball and, while hitting me smack in the head, says, "No, this is what I want you to do."
Today started sunny, warm, with hardly any wind. It was a beautiful morning. Then bam! out of no where it was pouring rain, wind speeds increased, thunder boomed throughout the sky, and lightning flashed across the clouds. Such a drastic change might seem alarming or even frightening, but I look at it as a clean slate...maybe even as a new beginning. I can't wait to see what happens after the storm of my life ends, when the last raindrops fall and I regain visibility. It's so exciting...that is all.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

spring cleaning

I have never been very good at throwing things away. It's a trait I picked up from my mother, but I keep everything! In the past I've had some minor spring cleaning episodes in which I will spend an entire afternoon combing through my belongings and throwing away my clutter..filling far too many garbage bags. However, it's weird because as soon as a drawer is cleaned out and only half full I find other things to take the place of the junk I just threw away. Moving out is in my near future and so today I decided to take a real stab at spring cleaning. I decided to take it week to week--one area of my room being tackled every Saturday afternoon until I've conquered everything.

Today, I started with my desk. It was funny to pull out each drawer and look at everything. I had pictures from high school and even middle school...seriously, I was so awkward back then. When the next secretary or student tells me I look young enough to still be in high school I should pull out a picture from my freshman year and say, "I hope I don't still look like this..." sophomore and junior years weren't too awful. Senior year was fine, but wow, I think I look so young. Not that this is a bad thing. Then I found old notes, tests, and papers from those days. I think the oldest were from 7th or 8th grade then I found a folder with everything I did sophomore year in English. Next, there was a folder from senior year: chemistry notes and wedding see we did a marriage project in Bible that year. I couldn't help but chuckle when I read some of the papers I wrote back then. There were also mementos dating back to my planner from sophomore year, funky pens, notes, and random nick-nacks bringing back inside jokes and so many memories.

Here is were things took a bit of a turn. I found some things from my college days. A few notes, pictures, a putt-putt golf scorecard, a book of abc's, etc.--basically things from the past that I could never bring myself to get rid of. It was so tempting to look over things and think back to happy memories from the first 2 1/2 years of college, but that relationship is over and to look back on it now is still kind of painful, so I shoved it all away without dwelling on it for too long.

However, after that I couldn't help but think about the spring cleaning I'd done in my life in regards to that situation. By getting rid of all the emotions that used to weigh me down I was finally free. The stress and heartache that tore me apart inside for so long. Outside I was strong and tried to put everything that had happened for the past2, or even 4 years behind me, thinking: if I pretend long enough soon this facade will just become a reality. I fooled a lot of people around me. I even fooled myself sometimes, but in the end I couldn't stop caring for a long time. When you really love and care about a person you don't listen to those around you, you do what you want. You let that person stay in your life, sometimes even running it, when you should just cut him/her out. Now, normally this would be a good thing--loving and caring about someone. However, in this situation as long as I cared I allowed myself to get walked on and used. Part of this was due to the fact that I wanted to be apart of his life and hoped that I might help to make him a better person, not to say he was a bad person, but we all need to be pushed and challenged in order to grow. I used to think he and I might do this for each other. It wasn't until I did some "spring cleaning" of sorts on myself that life really got better. It was difficult to do too. I did not want to let go. I held on for so long because I wanted things to turn out the way I had hoped they would. But I finally cut out communication, that was easier than I thought it would be too. After walking on eggshells for about a year and always apologizing for trying to be a friend, it was nice not having to deal with those stressful situations every day--I no longer spent time wondering what a coversation or an afternoon spent together meant.

Part of me is sad about the way things have to be, but I'm happy and it occurred to me that happiness wasn't in the future as long as I stayed on that path. I still pray for that person, but now I worry about my own happiness first and it's been working out a lot better...that is all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

march madness

I have always loved watching and playing sports, and the NCAA tournament is one of the highlights of my year. My heart races as I fill out a bracket and my eyes are glued to the television from the tip off of the first game until the clock expires in the final showdown. College sports are so fun to watch! It's funny to think how a lot of these players are my age or even younger now. You can see the nerves they are experiencing and the heart they bring to the court/field. The another part about college basketball that I love is the upsets. I love hearing the commentators make all these predictions before the tourney begins then....surprise! Some other team shows up and blows a #1 seed out of the water. Oh and it's even better when you watch the pregame show and they are discussing the two teams and who is favored. They will say something like, "Louisville is the team favored to win this game--they are faster, better at defense, and have a higher shot percentage. However, if MSU can slow them down they might be able to steal the win away from the Cards." It's like David and Goliath or something--oh and I love how they say "steal the win away" because the game hasn't even started but apparently a 2 seed could never compare to a 1 seed...hmm. I'm a Michigan fan personally, but I root for all the big ten teams as long as they're not playing the Wolverines.

So, here's my hats off to all the great basketball played so far this year...I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

...that is all. :)