Monday, October 14, 2013

Hiding No More

Currently I am sitting in my closet looking out into my horribly disorganized room which is just a reminder of the thousand things I need to be doing.  I should be studying for my impending Theology exam tomorrow, putting away my laundry, spending much needed one on one time with God or one of the other things on my endless list.

Instead I am hiding.

Hiding in my closet, because of the strong and unavoidable feeling of being over whelmed.  I have always had anxiety, but in the last three years my anxiety has increased over smaller things.  I struggle with strong feelings of being inadequate no matter how hard I try so as of late I have in a way given up.  I have convinced myself that it doesn't matter if I do my best it still won't be good enough.  These feelings stem from an abusive relationship that no matter how many nice things or affirming things I hear I still default to the terrible things I was told and made to believe about myself.

I keep myself busy with friends, work, mindless social media, and anything I can come up with to busy myself so I don't have to focus on the real issues I am struggling with.  I am by nature an extrovert, but when I constantly invent reasons to be around people I definitely know that I am hiding from being alone.  Tonight was the breaking point.  I finally had to come to terms with that I haven't been focusing on school like I should, because I was just so anxious and over whelmed.

This would be why I found my way into my closet.  In a way I am hiding from the world or maybe from myself too. I'm hiding from my paralyzing fear of failure, my absolute fear of rejection and being alone, the fear of disappointing my parents,  and the greatest fear of all that I am not good enough for God which is why for a while now I have been avoiding God as well.

What am I to glean from this time in hiding? From this short lived sabbatical in my closet?

I choose to take away that I need to understand that I am enough.  I am worthy.  And I need to keep reminding myself this every single day.  I have to decide that my best qualities and not so great quirks are me and that is perfectly acceptable.  I will never be great at drawing, putting away laundry, gracefulness, being quiet, frugality, or Microsoft Access, but that is perfectly fine.  I am really good at organizing things, being encouraging, singing, clothes, and being a sympathetic ear. My parents and my God both count me worthy so I should do the same.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” 
-Louise Erdrich

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Loving Immigrants as Ourselves.

With numerous headlines streaming online and in newspapers, legislation being proposed and judicial judgement being handed down immigration is a hot topic in American politics and public life. Hearing so much on the subject matter has caused me to reflect on my own ancestry.

Where do I come from? 

I know that I have Native American, Irish and possibly German ancestors.  All three of these people groups were severely persecuted in our great nation's history.  America has a bloody, shameful and shocking history of marginalization, abuse and fear of those who are "different" from the select group deemed "normal" or "acceptable".

This behavior is still prevalent today by handling immigration issues with intolerance and inhumanity.  I hear too many white southerners say "we don't need anyone coming to our country and changing our ways" or "their beliefs and culture just don't mesh with ours and of course ours is superior".  This belief system is ignorant and untrue.  It is also feed by fear and an unwillingness to see outside their comfort zone.

American culture is always shifting and changing.  When my Irish and German ancestors immigrated to the United States their culture was thought of as "weird" and "unamerican".  Now their cultural ideals, religious practices, and familial structures are seen as American as Thanksgiving dinner.  We forget our past and where our ancestors migrated from and how they were treated once they arrived.  Maybe because of the lack of understanding of those around them in their new country did my ancestors choose to forget their customs and identity.  Maybe they choose to adapt to "American" culture in order to fit in and be included.  This would explain why I have no lingering customs from these people groups.  My family plays a guessing game of where we originated from, because the lineage was lost in the quest to be accepted.

In light of the situation in our country at hand it is urgent that we treat immigrants with kindness, grace and understanding.  We need to view their culture with an openness rather than being defensive and closed minded.  We need to treat them as Jesus treated those who were not from his culture which he exemplified in his interaction with the woman at the well. Is this always easy? No. Is it acceptable to ignore injustice and turn a blind eye to it? The answer is no yet again.  We have to move past our feelings of insecurity, being uncomfortable and insuring that things always stay the same.

 "For God so loved the world.." maybe we should try that too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just going to be me.

I have been silent from my blog since December it would seem.  For a while it was just a nice breather from writing something else since all I do is write in seminary it seems, but then it turned into me not knowing exactly what to say.  I have so many things on my mind lately that I have been overwhelmed to say any of them.  I have felt very melancholy as of late.  During this melancholy I have been sitting back and resting in the way I feel. Trying to be quiet in order to make sense of it maybe.  I have a great life.  I am in school studying the subject I feel very passionate and called to.  I have great friends here in Atlanta, Arkansas and scattered across the states.  My family is supportive and loving in ways that I can't even begin to appreciate. I think a lot of my unrest comes from expectations.  

When visiting home for Spring Break I was asked by literally almost every person I came into contact with if I had a boyfriend.  No matter that I had just been telling this person the great things God has been doing in my life, how great seminary was going, and the exciting plans for the future I have with the answer of "no I don't have a boyfriend" all of the great things I have going for me just seem to vanish and disappear into thin air.  I mean come on people.  Can't we get a little more original than to ALWAYS lead back to this question.  I mean maybe if more people were more happy in their own relationships they wouldn't feel the need to live vicariously through mine. Anyways this lack of commitment to some man that they haven't met and maybe would never meet was suddenly so much more important and crucial to who I am than any thing I have accomplished or wish to accomplish.  

This is infuriating to me.  

The flip side to this is that in the "enlightened" crowd of acquaintances I have met I find the opposite.  There is a rebellion to any gender role stereotype.  Any woman who actually likes to cook, pick out pillows at Ikea (one of my personal favorite things to do) or God forbid know how to sew is a failure to the feminist cause and should be shunned.  Can't I be me and be a feminist? Isn't it okay if I want to stay at home and be a mom one day? Why can't I like vacuuming?? (which I actually enjoy so don't hate) Shouldn't my choices be mine and be accepted? The first crowd who defines me as less of a person without a significant other is just as alienating as the second crowd who demands unrealistic and just as alienating expectations.  Just to be clear I love to clean, I am decent at cooking, I can change a tire, I love sports, I cannot sew, I can crochet, I love reading commentaries, I love/hate politics, I love bows and glitter, I love dirt and mud, I love the outdoors, and I love a good theological discussion.  Are some of my quirks and qualities stereotypical and some blatantly not? Yes. Do I care? Not anymore.  I'm just me. A woman who has been called to ministry trying to find my way in life while lugging along the expectations of others and trying to ditch those and be left carrying what I expect from myself.  

Friday, December 14, 2012


I believe in hope that stems from the past, present and the awaiting, promise of the future. This is the hope I catch a glimpse of on the face of a father after seeing his newborn child for the first time.  The hope that this precious child will know peace not war, plenty and not hunger, happiness and not sorrow in the life that waits.   This is the hope I feel waiting with fellow Americans for the Presidential election results every four years. We are all hoping in spite of differences in party affiliations or political leanings that the next term will be different from the last. 
This is the hope I see when I watch a child learn how to ride a bike for the first time.  The genuine excitement and ecstatic happiness at this rite of passage that the child feels reminds me of the hope that innocence brings to the world. This is the hope I feel on every first date, the hope of a life with a husband and family whom I will adore one day.  This is the hope I see watching the news and seeing a cease-fire in war zones.  I witness hope in the victim’s eyes as they realize the  fighting, bloodshed and death will end soon. 
My hope grows when I see Good Samaritans offering help to others.  Hope that builds when hungry children are fed, nakedness is clothed, unemployed are employed, and when the restless achieve peace of mind. During Advent, my expectation of hope abounds in the preparation of the celebration of birth of Christ.  Hope I feel that Jesus did dwell among humans like me to understand what we experience.  My hope rests upon reality that the Kingdom of God is here all around us when love is shown, mercy is granted, joy is felt, peace overwhelms, and justice is served.  When these aspects of the Kingdom appear, hope will abound and grow for generations awaiting the coming of the Savior. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  My house was chosen as the site for Thanksgiving dinner this year so there is much  planning. cleaning, and cooking happening in the midst of these walls. We have the massive Turkey thawing in the refrigerator, pies cooling on the counter, and all the ingredients for the stuffing laid out to be assembled for tomorrow.  When family arrives tomorrow the parade will be watched, football analyzed, and politics and religion themed conversation topics hopefully avoided.  The Black Friday sales brochures will be browsed extensively and a game plan will be laid out for the after Thanksgiving shopping.  In the midst of this day set aside for giving thanks for all we have, have had and yet to have sometimes we forget to just simply be.  All of us have gotten so busy and stressed at one point or another trying to make everything perfect and memorable that we forget to actually be thankful which is the entire point of the holiday. This is for sure true of myself.  Tonight and tomorrow I will enjoy my time with my family and try to remind myself and my loved ones that being thankful is the purpose of the day, not whether or not the pie crust is impeccable with no flaws.  Let us be thankful to the Lord for all we have been given and have a heart full of thanksgiving as we go into the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Southern Girl's Guide to Dating

Dating. Throwing that word around is like a boomerang except it brings a whole cartload of connotations and issues back along with it.  If you mention dating around a group of girls its almost like taking the pin out of a grenade.  The blast is always unique and the damage can not be foreseen before the blast. You never know what is coming.  The reactions can range from someone who just got out of a bitter breakup and all men are the scum of the earth who are out to rip your heart out (this is putting it in nice terms). We will call her Carrie. The girl who is super boy crazy and immediately wants to explain all of her "encounters" with boys (by encounters I mean glances in the hallway, borrowing of pencil in class, brief eye contact etc.) that of course means that these boys will ask her out in the immediate future and they will live happily ever after. We will call her PG Samantha. There is the girl who is very independent and views dating as a possible waste of time when she could be saving the dolphins or doing her taxes or possibly both simultaneously. She really craves attention and a relationship but she hides it under a facade of bitter comments and secret Cosmo subscriptions.She shall be a nicer Miranda.  Lastly there is the girl who always sees the bright side of EVERYTHING.  No matter what the situation or the heartbreak someone will always be happy, dancing with cotton candy and rainbows and be in love in her mind.  She is in essence a Charlotte.

A theme that comes up frequently in circles of southern single women when they gather is the issue of men not making the move to ask them out.  Why do we waste so.much.time. mulling over what it meant when he bumped into me in the lunch line, the time he opened the door for me or the intriguing time he possibly winked at me (it could have been an eye twitch but we are going to always go with that it was a wink. I repeat always.)?  After doing some research (by research I mean polling some of my friends who are from Southern culture via text message.  Super professional and accurate.) I discovered a trend that correlates only boys asking girls on dates and rarely are girls to ask the boy out.  If the girl does ask the boy out it can be perceived as okay (that is if it ever happens. Most of my friends could not name a situation where the girl had asked out the boy) or can turn negative in that the girl is seen as pushy, or other not nice words.  When I asked my friends who were removed from Southern culture in their upbringing about this they were confused as to what I meant.  They knew of no such gender boundary in dating.  I find this completely fascinating.  In my mind I view myself as an equal to men.  I value my opinion, well being and place in society as valuable as a man's.  Yet in my mind there is this barrier when it comes to issues of the heart.  It is second nature to always wait for the man to make the first move, and for my strict adherence to the game of coy nativity.  I am obviously being dramatic because I am pretty bad at acting coy.  Hey. We can't all be perfect.  Getting back to the topic at hand.  Is this my embedded dating theology? Is this what I really believe?  Or is this just my southern upbringing where girls are to act a certain way and boys another?  I do enjoy chivalry and a good gentleman, but does that mean I should always wait around or is that too forward?  I am perplexed with the disagreement in my mind between what is rational and what is culturally acceptable.  I definitely don't have the answers to this but instead am just putting my thoughts out there.  I know that other Southern girls like me somewhere must be thinking some of the same things. I surely am not that original.  If you are reading this and you have thought the same perplexing thoughts or have a positive comment then lets hear it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

True Life: I lived in a commune (well not really but sort of)

Post college was a very interesting time for me.  I was very lost and just kind of wandering around aimlessly trying to find my way.  Since I had decided not to attend seminary the fall after graduation I decided to apply for jobs and save money for a year.  Considering rural Arkansas (where I am from) is NOT the ideal job hunting ground I began applying in Jonesboro.  A town of around 90,000 people there should be numerous job opportunities and something should open up fairly quickly.  Hah. This scenario rarely plays out the way we want it to.  Finally in August I found a job at an OBGYN doctors office as the telephone operator.  With this new found job I obviously needed somewhere to live.  In comes the commune.  My friends Phillip and Lauren, whom I entered college with, had recently gotten married in the spring right after college graduation. They were living in Jonesboro and since we were really close they offered to let me stay with them until I found a place/roommate/something I could afford.  We heaved all of my stuff up the most narrow stairs ever and we joyfully lived the rest of the summer in that tiny 2 bedroom apartment where the heat could suffocate and the mosquito's annihilate.  We began discussing how we hated living in this box and how together and apart we could not afford anything larger or nicer.  Thus the brainchild of forming a "commune" was conceived.  We began searching for affordable houses that would rent to a bunch of recent college graduates that wanted to live together and to find potential roommates.  This search was full of big dreams and shady schemes.  We actually uncovered a Craig's List scam during this process and it was super creepy.  We finally convinced our friends Amanda and Jeff to sign on to this social experiment and after finding a 4 bedroom house that was actually really nice we got all set to move in.  The number 1 perk of living with married people is that they have all of this useful stuff that single peeps just do not own and they got it all free.  Super awesome.  After we move in and claim our perspective rooms the social experiment begins.  Of course we all had our place in the house and had quirks that defined us.  I am the definite night owl.  I could be randomly watching How I Met Your Mother at 2 am even though I had to go to work in the morning.  My clothes were always a mess in my room (which Phillip dubbed "the hurricane") and I cooked a lot of soups.  Lauren always made sure I was awake before leaving for her job.  I have a bad habit of not waking up to my alarm.  She always made yummy things and loved to experiment with baking healthy.  Phillip was never there the first half of our commune  life together.  With school and his jobs there was not a lot of time to be spent anywhere else.  The second half however was full of Chuck, Star Wars, any and every vampire movie, and Underworld...oh yeah I can't forget Fight Club.  Discussing theology, comic books, playing a lot of Sky Rim and Modern Warfare (I am impressed that I slept through all that gunfire). Phillip and Lauren were "the mom and dad" of the house.  Amanda and I were single buddies.  We tried to discover where people our age hung out int this town and still haven't succeeded.  Work stories were the best from her clinic and her ever present dilemma that her scrubs were too short.  Oh yeah and I cannot forget our still ongoing game of dibbs. By the way I still have dibbs on Zachary Levi.  And then there was Jeff. Jeff was literally rarely there.  I absolutely loved to bang on his door just to annoy him and make him pause his video game.  His stories of Hastings and his job there were NEVER dull.  The final member of the house was Phil and Lauren's great dane puppy Daisy.  Daisy was taller than me.  She was/is huge.  She wasso sweet and lovable and yet I saw her shred a $20 bill with her teeth one time.  She was insane.  Since she was bigger than us she liked to bully me and would literally slap me with her paws.  I truly miss that dog. Living in the commune (though a lot of people find it completely strange but I say don't judge till you have been there) was a great experience.  Living with my friends in one of the most transitional years of my life was SO helpful.  We were all finding our way, learning who we were outside of college, truly learning what we wanted to do when we grew up, and truly seeking God's will for our lives.  Those times together in that house will be with me forever.  They were and are my family in addition to my parents and I am thankful for that.