30 Day Sex Challenge

So this church called Relevant in Florida is doing a 30 Day Sex Challenge.
Here's a link to their page:

The church site so far as I can tell posits that a lot of the issues in relationships (married and single) stem from the lack of sex (or in the single case, to much sex)
I've been a casual observer of this series, reading the pastors blog and others that are talking about it...and if nothing else people are talking!
I just came from reading 1 person that has angrily blogged about this irrelevant and icky sex factor being introduced at church. I've also read a few blogs that talk about how happy they are that people are talking about sex in a way that isn't "bottom shelf brown paper bag"
I'm sort of in the middle.
I enjoy "sex sermons" for what they are intended to be. I enjoy when pastors address this sex thing in a way that helps to redirect people and shine a light on God's plan for sex. Sometimes it can get a bit icky...especially if the pastor says even a little to much about his own struggles...but that's just me (and I will note that a little to much revelation has NOT happened at my home church..just to clear that up)

So married couples in this 30 day challenge are supposed to have sex everyday for 30 days straight. Singletons (non-married) are to abstain from it for 30 days. This is to help the married couples reconnect and spend that time together and non-marrieds to focus on other aspects of their relationship.

One of the comments on a blog kind of annoyed me. The woman posted that it is unbiblical to ask non-marrieds to abstain from sex for only 30 days, the church should be telling them to abstain from sex until they are married.
Ok. Sure. That is the biblical call for people that aren't in a married relationship.
I do not for one minute debate that.
But it's sort of hard sometimes. I mean, I can imagine that it's relatively easy to stay the course when you know you only have 30 days...but a lifetime possibly? That's a lot more difficult.
Maybe we could start by asking people to abstain for 30 days and then support them from there.

I mean, these conversations must happen. I think that married people as much as anyone else need to have someone (hopefully as a couple) to lean on and help them stay connected, especially if they're struggling.
I know that single people do. I know that I've spoke to people about this whole sex thing and they've la dee da'd it and skipped on their way home as if that ONE conversation was going to help anything.
But I've also had someone that I've talked to about it that checks in with me, encourages me, calls me on stuff that I don't really want to be called on.
This I appreciate.

Yeah, it can be uncomfortable sometimes....but God is really stretching me outside of my comfort zone right now and as uncomfortable as He is making me it's refreshing too.
In submitting to his pushes for growth he's also showing me so many things that I never would have seen had I stayed all snug in my comfort zone.

I mean I'm digressing.
People want to be all up in arms and think talking about sex, or asking a congregation to make relational changes to help them be closer to each other and God, is a terrible sin-inducing thing.
It's just not.

Should we not talk about physical abuse because it makes those that don't struggle under the violent hand of a loved one uncomfortable?
Should we not talk about rape because you haven't been?
Should we forget all about talking about financial struggles, honesty, or adultery because these aren't things that affect your life everyday?
I don't think so, do you?

Church isn't a vending machine. You go to worship God and draw closer to him so you can shine a light for HIS name everywhere you go. It's not created just to make you comfortable.
Following Jesus should be outrageous and dangerous and risky and so many people attend churches where it's just not.

There are married people that truly struggle with connecting physically with their spouse.
There are non-married people that truly struggle with seeing their worth outside of their mad bedroom skills, that struggle to think they can continue a dating relationship after the bedroom boundary has been thrown down.
Why can't there also be relevant sermons for them? Why can't we talk about these relational things that often cause people to feel so much shame? Maybe by talking about it people can move forward without the anchor of past sin weighing them down...isn't that what forgiveness through Christ is all about?

One last thing. This particular church is planted (as far as I can tell from what I've read) in a club area, an area where there is a lot of drinking going on. They planted this church specifically for 20-30 year olds.
I think the conversations they're having are pretty relevant myself...although I may only be comfortable with it because my part of the challenge is to keep not having sex (hmmm...that will be tough seeing as I'm not dating)


Reassuring Touch and Confusing Words

Last night I went to the big V church to see my friend Bill get baptized. It was great, as baptism services always are.
I went to big V church when I first moved down here for about a summer and some of the fall...until I found 4Corners which was so obviously my church home.
My friends Amy and Rich also came last night. Amy was diagnosed with cancer awhile ago (maybe a year?) and had chemo yesterday. But she came and celebrated Bill's baptism and worshipped God anyway. Which I think is just great.
I don't really know how long Amy and Rich have been married, but I know they've been through their fair share and then some. Throughout the service Amy and Rich would hold hands on and off, Rich would reach over and pat Amy's leg or just rest his hand there.
I don't really know if he knew she was struggling, or if it was simply an act of love, or if it was just a habit formed over years of being with someone no matter what.
But it made my heart smile.
Everytime I see a couple that isn't perfect, but does the imperfect relationship well it helps my heart...even if they don't know it.
Seeing the way that Amy and Rich interact with each other, not only last night but all the other nights we've had bible study, and at church and in classes, seeing that helps me see that it can be possible to love someone longer then until the fire burns out and farther then distance time takes you in a marriage.
It gives me hope that one day I'll be so used to this seemingly casual expression of holding hands, having a hand rest reassuringly on my leg or just the familiar cadence of such an intimate relationship that the nausea will no longer be there, that someone will still think the sun shines out my ass (you're welcome sharen).
I've been feeling very hopeful this week, and I've lately come to need all the hope I can get, especially when it comes to relationships.

At the service, in addition to the baptisms, there was a lot of worship. I love worship, big V church is very well known for theirs, they do it well. At one point the worship leader said that if anyone had a word of encouragement or wisdom or healing to bring it to *insert woman's name here* and she would announce it from the stage.
I mean, I get the gist of "words" that they are prophetic, from God, or words through which God will work. I didn't when I was first going to the church, and it sort of freaked me out.
I believe it happens. I believe it's true. But I also believe that it is faked a lot. I hate that I believe that.
I don't know any of the people that received words last night. But here is what they said:

They received a word of encouragement for people that are suffering from an illness. Stay strong and get prayer
They received a word of encouragement for people that struggle with smoking, to get prayer and release that burden to God
They received a word of healing for someone that had back problems

So on and so on, there were maybe 6 or 7 of them altogether.
They were pretty vague and some of them could have applied to me. Does that mean they were meant for me? I'm still pretty confused with the logistics of all this receiving of words thing. But I have faith that God is actively working through people in this way.
However, as I heard the words being read and they kept coming...I sort of felt pressured, like I wasn't praying right or urgently enough, like my receptors were broken somehow because I wasn't hearing a word from God for other people.
I mean, I've heard from God very clearly and specifically before and I know I will in the future, and not just about me and my life, but about other people.
So maybe that's where my hang up is.
That I also think that if God is speaking to us on behalf of someone else, wouldn't he be specific enough so that person could really receive it?
But that could also just be my fractured thoughts on how God should work. If I know anything for sure it's that I am not Gods puppet master and He will work within his greater, and more perfect understanding...and not mine.

I know it's my hang up, I know that the people at the big V church have well intended hearts (at least the leadership and that often translates to the attenders)....but it was still a situation beyond my comfort level (which apparently is where God wants me to live right now despite my fervent objections).

As the service was winding down a young woman came on stage and said that in the last 3 months her hearing has deteriorated to the point of 20% loss in both ears. She said she's been going to specialists and trying to find the cause and how to stop it. This woman said that during the worship, as she was worshipping God and praising him her ears popped and she can hear better then before her hearing started to fade.
She was healed.

My gut instinct was that it wasn't true. That makes me sad. It makes me wonder if I'm doubting God, or doubting that miracles still happen.

I suppose the reason I wanted to share that with you is this:
I am absolutely sold out on Jesus and the whole trinity divine thing. Absolutely no doubt in my mind, I will follow him wherever he takes me even farther outside my comfort zone then I currently am.
But I still have questions. I still have doubts and attitude problems.
I think that's ok. It's a relationship....I've only been in this relationship for 5 years. I have a lot to learn about God.
So if you know you're sure about the Jesus thing....then jump in and hold on for the rest of the trip because that's just the beginning.


I may be having an overwhelming day

But this quote stopped me in my tracks:

"The Stoics of antiquity said: Be calm. Disengage yourself. Neither laugh nor weep. Jesus says: Be open to the wounds of the world. Mourn humanity’s mourning, weep over humanity’s weeping, be wounded by humanity’s wounds, be in agony over humanity’s agony. But do so in the good cheer that a day of peace is coming."

Nicholas Wolterstorff, from his Lament for a Son

Just remember that I love you

I have a friend named Claire. She is so amazing, funny, kind, thought provoking, and any number of adjectives that I can't think of right now.
I met Claire the first time I ever went to the church I now call home. She was leading a small group, and I was looking to join one.
It was really as simple as she was the person with cookies on her table so that's where I went.
I grew so much in that small group, it's where I met Bobbie and Justin, the whole group helped me through the whole thing with mom's sister and the emotional upheaval that came with that.
But Claire, she's so amazing. I mean, we can have the funniest conversations, and then seamlessly slip into the most amazing God filled conversation as if that was our intent all along.

I called Claire today because I was having a (mild) freak out about outreach stuff and I was trying to calm down. We talked about being silent. How when I feel like I'm battling these voices in my head, these forces of darkness that sometimes try to rip me away from this outreach thing, or just the overwhelming big picture I should just be quiet. Not watch tv, listen to music, just be still and focus on the silence...or finding the silence. We talked about praying, and the ACTS guideline of prayer...which I think is:
She also just encouraged me so much in serving, in outreach, and in stepping (waaaaaay) out of my comfort zone with this outreach leadership thing. She said she was proud of me (yeah I totally almost started crying).

I love Claire. If you know her, you probably know what I mean. She's pretty awesome and I wouldn't mind being like her when I grow up.


"I don't really know what kind of girl I am"

That was something that Juno said after she told her parents she was pregnant.
As I sat there watching the movie I realized that was essentially the phrase I was repeating in my head. That I didn't know who I was, what I wanted, and why. I think that was true for a very long time. But I don't think it's true anymore.
I think what's true now is that I know exactly what I want, and who I am but I'm spending so much time looking back at who I was that I can't muster up the courage to step out in faith onto the path that God is showing me.

Juno was an amazing movie. The nonchalant exterior, the sardonic wit, the blank face as she waddled pregnant down the hall as people saw only the belly and not who she really was. I so related to this 16 year old....and I'm thinking it's time for me to grow up.
Juno came home and was talking to her dad. She said she just needed to know that 2 people can stay together for the long haul (or something of the sort). Her dad replied:

"Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

This all made me laugh and think about all of my commitment phobia and how I don't know how to get over it but I so terribly want to. I'm thinking (based on the what-for conversation that Tony and I had after the movie that I'm going to be pushed and prodded that way even if I'm kicking and screaming the whole way.

I mean it was a great movie. So great that I can't even really tell you how great it was. Go see it now.

Mullet: Thoughts on an amazing weekend

Thoughts on the best weekend ever:

Oh my gosh it was the best weekend ever and it's making me grin a ridiculously large amount for no reason.

So Friday I had a half day and met with Ryan about outreach stuff. It's starting to gear up and I'm so stoked about the plans that are being made. I also talked to Jen and Michelle and they're getting started on launching a monthly outreach for people to plug into. Just thinking about the possibilities in front of the 4Corners outreach ministry are terrifying and so exciting that I"m getting goose bumps at exactly the same time.

Saturday I went to a small group leader meeting as we launched an on ramp for small groups on Sunday. We've had small groups all along, we're just becoming more intentional about giving people opportunities to get in them....if that makes sense. Ryan emailed me today and so far I have 16 people and counting in the Serving Cincinnati group that I"m leading.....man oh man what an opportunity for impacting our community and Cincinnati as a whole. I think this whole leadership thing is starting to sink in as I'm beginning to finally feel more excited then terrified.

After the meeting I headed to Sharen's and we went wedding dress shopping! She tried on about 7 or 8 dresses and found 3-4 that she liked. So now it's on to narrowing it down and paying for it. August 16th is the day and I think we just might make it!
Sharen, Jen (another bridesmaid), and I met Jeff (future brother in law), Doug (groomsman), and the kids (Matthew my nephew and Ethan Jens son) at Applebees and had the worst experience ever. I mean, we sent back 1 appetizer and 4 entrees because they were as cold as if they were sitting under an air conditioning vent and waited forever for everything (including silverware and drinks). Plus Sharen and Jen took the kids to the bathroom and saw a server not wash her hands....then when Jen asked her about it the server argued with her about it! Sheesh.

But that still didn't dampen my weekend because Tony had called and we were going to see Juno on Sunday!

So Sunday I went to church and observed Lexi as she led kids chapel and went to the 1-2 year olds and sang and played with them. I think I'm going to be serving there on a few Sundays a month starting in March (and yes I realize that's next week).
After church I went to a yummy Chinese buffet with Bobbie and Justin and Justin's parents. It was so good and I ate way to much.
Tony was meeting me at my house for the movie, but because of the bath bandit roommate he was late and we missed the start time (and I'm talking actual movie start time) by about 5 minutes, and we didn't want to risk missing something hip and relevant.
So we sped across to another theater and Tony checked the times on his snazzy phone (that I'm SO not jealous of) and we made it with about 30 minutes to spare at another showing.
Since we had time to kill we had a drink at the bar (I KNOW) inside the movie theater and I sat next to a man with the most glorious mullet!

But Tony and I also had an interesting conversation about things that cannot be mentioned here, he reenacted a face he made and I am still laughing about it.

I'm going to address the actual movie in another blog as this is getting long...but BEST.MOVIE.EVER
Tony and I left and went straight to Best Buy to get the soundtrack. I also priced the 2nd season of Party of 5 (who's excited!) The soundtrack is just as good as the movie. So irreverent and folky.
We had another conversation on the way to Best Buy. Apparently the last blog really hacked off a few people because I got "talked to" twice in one day about it! Bobbie at church, and Tony in the car. Both of them said lovely things and encouraged me in ways that I can't quite articulate yet. Tony said this, "I tell people that you're an amazing person, when are you going to get it through your head that it's true" or something to that effect.
We talked about my last blog and the junk that I'm cleaning out of my head...and it helped.
I think we're settling into this friendship nicely.

I went home and Tony went home and I got all settled in to watch the Oscars. Jon Stewart did such a great job, he was so funny and sarcastic and right on point. I laughed out loud more this year then a lot of the most recent years.

So great weekend. Good friends, time spent with people just living life. So much laughter and honest conversation.

(All the more proof that just being straight with someone is the best way don't you think?)


Unbreakable: Broken Heart on the Mend

I've been listening to all the sermons from 4Corners from the beginning lately (I love podcasts) and I listened to one ...and for the life of me I can't remember the title and I haven't had a chance to figure out which one...and you know it might be from Mars Hill or Imago Dei...hmmm where the heck did I hear that sermon?
But the pastor talked about broken hearts and lives and how we shut ourselves off and protect our hearts so much that they become unbreakable.
As nonchalant as I try to appear about this whole transition that shall not be named it really has sparked a lot of memories and feelings about my broken heart and how I've taken it upon myself to protect it so severely.
After John I was so shredded, so tattered and small that I just kept swallowing down the pain and sorrow I felt with gulps of vodka and puffs of smoke. When he and I started talking again we disected our relationship and subsequent break up to the nth degree.
These conversations, while so rewarding and necessary sometimes seemed to cause so much more pain then I thought I could deal with. But I kept pushing through, thinking that there is bound to be pain in the healing of such wounds.
But in retrospect, when vision is always so much clearer, I spent the majority of the time assuring him that I wasn't broken, that I was ok and he hadn't ruined me, that when I found someone to date I would and I would be fine....undiminished.
It was still years before I would go on a date, before I would overcome the wave of nausea that accompanies my thoughts of getting close with a new person, a man nonetheless.

So I dated. He's a great guy, funny, smart, articulate, etc.. But still....I held myself apart. I worked hard at ambivilance and detachment thinking that it was the only way to proceed...no longer would I be that silly girl that was so lost in another person that I couldn't find my way to the surface.
It worked. I won't say that I continued to be ambivilant, but there was always a certain level of detachment that I forced upon the situation to guard my heart from a future.
We decided to just be friends....which is ok, because above and beyond my relationship issues there are good and valid reasons that it wasn't going to work out and I'm thankful that he and I were able to have honest conversations about that in a way that allowed us to be friends...because as I said, he is a great guy.

Now....I'm not dating again. Wondering if it will be another 5 years before I'll be brave enough to muster up the courage to be ambivilant and aloof to some other guy.
It's not that I hate being single. There is great feedom and satisfaction in all that I do. I find a lot of fullfillment in the outreach ministry and with my friends and family.
But when the pastor was talking about this holding back of your heart....this idea that by protecting your heart and your soul so viciously you're really missing out on the joys of loving and being loved.....it touched something deep within me and reverberated as true.
I know that I can be a difficult person to love, and I sometimes find it terribly difficult to love other people....well scratch that, I mean it's not that I find them difficult to love, what I think I mean is that once I love them I find it difficult to maintain an appropriate expression of that affection.
I know this is probably making no sense.....
I was laying in bed last night thinking about this and wondering what people in relationships talk about all the time. Sometimes I have no idea what to say to people....and I mean not just strangers. I feel like even with the people I love the most I often have no idea what to say...and not just in times of crisis...hell to be honest in times of crisis I know exactly what to say.
But often the mundane everyday conversation of living in relationship with other people I don't know what to say, or how to appropriately communicate to them that I love them and that I care.
I've gotten off track....

So I've been thinking that what I've really been doing...for (gosh!) about 6 years now is holding my breath, waiting for a time when I can safely be in a relationship with a man in a way that I know won't end up with me being lied to for a year...with me being devestated and broken hearted. Even though all the platitudes and hallmark cards, and lifetime movies, and feel good books and movies tell me that I should love like I won't get hurt the reality of that is so much harder then I've ever really wanted it to be.
Like with my finances I've stuck my head in the sand and figured that it would all work out somehow. I've also seemed to assume that everything is my fault...if it doesn't work out, well it's probably because I'm not thin enough, or funny enough, or smart enough (can we get off this enough cycle already!).
When in reality, that may be the case...but someone somewhere may be able to love me despite my enough issues, and my broken heart. They may be able to see past this bravado that I put up for everyone (except the internet apparently) and they may be able to call me on my ambivilance and name it for what it is....fear.

I don't know if I can be brave enough to break down all these defenses I have that keep me from even thinking about considering attempting to be in a relationship (I'm getting nauseous already). But I'm working on it, more honestly then I think I have in the last 6 years.
That's a start right?


CS Lewis Quotes that I Like

Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. <---probably my favorite one

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people

Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is

At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it

Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger

Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained


blargh: and other thoughts on student loans

Seriously blargh....
So in the completely uncomplicated and total common sense way that they do my student loans have been restructured. (please note the sarcasm)
They were restructured in June and I set about re-setting up automatic payments and making sure everything was taken care of and done. However I apparently missed a package of loans
1-1 through 1-6, most likely through my own carelessness....which I'll focus on alone away from here to spare you the agony of listening to me berate myself.
So instead of calling me, on the phone number that I've provided them at least 4 times, or sending me anything in the mail they decided to start calling my dad.....blargh
So dad called me and said he finally got some information from them after giving them my phone number and address several times.
Today I called them and received the worst customer service I've ever experienced.
I was told that I was impatient...no I'm not kidding.
I was told that I couldn't ask questions I had to say yes or no without clarification on one point that concerned me about the finances.
Then when everything was mostly sorted out I said yes I agree but I have another question (intending to ask her how I go about re-setting up payment when the forbearance process was over at the end of this month) and she said "Thank you for calling ******" click

Oh I could have screamed!
So I called back and got everything answered and settled and now I just have to wait until the end of the month to call and reestablish the payment for these other loans, which will be fine there's no problem making the payments.

I don't know about any of you but I find when there are financial issues that I'm dealing with, or crisis' that need handled I seem to feel such a deep seated shame in association with them. Like I'm not smart enough, or I don't make enough (noticing a pattern anyone?). My dad called me a flake about 10 years ago because of an admitedly stupid financial decision that I made, and in retrospect only made because of my gut instinct to place my head firmly in the sand when it comes to money. Somedays I feel like I still haven't recovered from that (probably) correct assesment of my financial management abilities.

Now, in what I don't personally consider to be a coincidence we're in the middle of a financial series at church. Called: Enough (hmmm, ironic?)
Here's a link http://www.4cornerschurch.com/messages/series/
Monday night I was praying, and I was talking to God about the message and finances and the sort and I asked him to kick me in the butt and help me to be more organized with my money, with my accounts, to curb the sometimes uncontrollable need to spend spend spend. I see a direct connect between that request, that plea to God, and my current situation.

The more recent sermon was on money myths...and not just the myths about money, but about the way we handle them...like everything will work out eventually (yeah, that's so me most of the time)
At the end of each sermon Ben gives us action steps that we can take. One of them this week was to get all of our information organized and in the same place. I'm pretty sure that's the one I'm taking because this is getting ridiculous.

I'm 28, almost 29. There is, and shouldn't be, anyone to clean up my damn messes when I make them (not if, because the way I handle money is on a wing and a prayer and it has got to stop).
Especially with trying to move towards buying a condo, it's just not cool anymore to be so flippant about my finances.
Oh, I have a budget, as any dutiful daughter of a finance guy would. But having a budget, and adhering to the budget are two totally different things.

I have no car payment.
I have no credit card debt.
There is no reason that this isn't working as well as it should/could be and it just has to stop.

So it stinks. I feel all vulnerable and exposed posting all this. But I am thanking and praising God for this uncomfortable conviction because maybe I'll grow up now. Maybe I'll become more accountible to myself and my future (oh and God...that's kind of important to me).
I loathe feeling like I'm going to fail so why even try, which is often the driving force behind my flakeyness (which is sooooo a word). I suppose the only person that can change that attitude is me huh? I suppose through prayer and submission to God and through transparancy with someone (at this point ANYONE would be more then what I currently do, and apparently I decided the whole of the internet community is first in line).


Oh Al Gore!

So I sit by a window at work. In the last 30 minutes this is what the weather has been doing:

Nothing, bright and sunny but a little chilly
fat snowflakes that are swirling about but not really hitting the ground
billions of tiny snowflakes moving horizontally outside my window, and not really accumulating but somehow hitting the ground
another thunderstorm (complete with rain)
Dull and overcast with occasional rumbles of thunder
Huge burst of sunshine and no precipitation
Still brightly sunny and large fat flakes of snow moderately acumulating
Beginning to overcast and the flakes become noticably smaller and start moving sideways again




Last night Tony and I met Daryl and Katie at their church (922 in Erlanger) and then went out to TGI Fridays. After we went to Daryl and Katie's and played Wii, and I wiped the floor with each and everyone of them...well Tony beat me, but I made him sweat first!
It was such a fun night of just laughing and hanging out. I felt more relaxed and had more fun then I can remember in a long time (in Ohio that is, the Keys were definately relaxing!)

The message at 922 was about identity, about what identity we have not only in Christ, but what others see in us. Steve the pastor said that if we have to tell someone how patient, kind, joyfilled, etc., we are....then we're probably not.
Steve talked about identity in the way of what defines who we are...but he also talked about fake id's and stolen id's. Which is what really resonated with something deep within me, and deep within my past.

He said, who's stealing your identity? Are we investing to much in our significant other, job, sex, material possesions? Are our identities becoming so wrapped up in those things that we foget who we're called to be in Jesus?
But he also talked about our fake identity. The way we have church faces, work faces, relationship faces, friendship faces etc. That so is who I used to be. I used to not be able to tell anyone even what my favorite color was until I knew theirs because then that would be my favorite color. I thought that to be like people meant that people would like me....and I so wanted people to like me.
I just never felt...enough. Sometimes I still don't, but it's leaps and bounds better then it used to be.
I used to and in some ways still so deeply fear people getting close to me because what if I'm not funny enough, or witty enough, or smart enough, or whatever enough. Steve talked about how we need to be authentic in a way that people can get close and still see who we truly are. Our identity needs to be solid enough because otherwise who we are pretending to be doesn't look or sound like us and that will drive people away from us farther then if we never let them get close.

Wow, sounds simple right? Sounds like I should be proficient at this intimacy (friend and relationally as well) thing...but I so feel like I'm not.
I was talking to people at church today, and after a few minutes in the conversation I started to almost panic that I was running out of interesting things to say....so I felt like I had to flee.
I've talked to Claire about this a bit, because I almost feel like this is overtaking me and hindering anything I want to do with outreach...which is the last thing I need/want.

But last night...man oh man. Worship was awesome, there were goosebumps going up and down my body, I had my arms thrust in the air just feeling so enraptured with God. The message was great, just making me think about what part of me is still covered in this fearful mask, not wanting to let people in for fear who I really am is so inadequate and repulsive.
The great thing was, after the service, while Tony and I were waiting for Katie and Daryl he asked me about the journal I was taking notes in and I talked to him about the mask thing. I told him about the color thing, and how I couldn't even tell you my favorite color that I mentioned before. It may not seem like a big deal....but sharing that with him, for me, was.

So, I hope that you find the masks that you're wearing and take them off. Maybe we can be brave together.


Mother Teresa Quote

I'm slowly but surely picking away at the Mother Teresa bio. I picked it back up again today after months of not reading it and promptly came across this quote, which I loved:

"Jesus wants me to tell you again...how much is the love He has for each one of you-beyond all what you can imagine...Not only He loves you, even more-He longs for you. He misses you when you don't come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy.."

I love the part, "He misses you when you don't come close" the best.


On Leadership and wanting to throw up

So I accepted this volunteer outreach leader position at church.
I'm thrilled, exhilerated and slightly nauseous.
I see all these great leaders both in and out of church that I so want to be like, and I'm terrified that I can't.
Which should be ok, because shouldn't I want to be the leader that God is calling me to be and not the leader that God called them to be? If only I could explain that to my brain.

Ryan sent me some blogs and books to read on leadership, because I told him that I feel ill-equipped on how to be a leader and asked him for help.

One of them, waaaaaay back in the archives (because I obsessively read in chronological order when discovering new blogs) this was said:
"The mental image of a group that’s well led doesn’t have a clear and established leader. In fact, a person who identifies himself or herself as a leader, too openly, is viewed with suspicion and maybe even scorn."

I think that's where my issue lies. I feel like if I step up and say that I want to be a leader and want to be great at it that people will think that I'm "uppity" or aspiring to heights that aren't as humble as God thinks they should be. Worse still, what if there is a perceived agenda that is seen in my actions?
What if I become so crippled by these what if's that I never even get a chance to lead in any tangible way?

But I want this. Badly.
I want to learn how to lead, I want to learn to nurture vision in this outreach thing, seeing needs and then seeing crazy unique ways to fill them, ways that don't just fill the need, but that completely transform the people that help fill the need.
I want to learn to be more bold in my conversations with other people, with seeking out relationships that I can build into. I want to see the potential in other people and help them tap into a passion for serving in whatever capacity that means.
I want to be great at this. I don't want to just fill this space because someone should, I want to be in this space because I'm the one that can fill it the best and maxamize the potential of this outreach thing.

I have no idea how to do any of that.
But I will.


You gave your life to Jesus Christ

You were not the same after that.
I love Ben Folds.
I'm listening to this song called Not the Same. There's a line in it that said the above (You gave your life to Jesus Christ...you were not the same after that)
As I approach the anniversary of the night I did that I've been reflecting on all the things that are different and yet the same about my life. The way I see people and react to them. The way my mental confusion still gets the better of me and the way that old habits are still hard to kill.

But it's totally different and totally the same simultaneously.
I feel at times that I'm so blindly feeling my way through life that I can't quite pinpoint what it is that is my goal. Where exactly it is that I think I'm going.
Is that ok? I think so.
At some point should I grow up and make plans, or even (dare I say it) commit to someone beyond me in a relational way?
Some days I feel so incapable. So incompetant in even caring for myself (just a look around my house will do that to me most days)
I fell asleep with my glasses on last night. They ran away and I can't find them. I stripped my bed, moved my bed and the gargantuan pile of clothes on the floor and the glasses are no where to be found.
Maybe the kitties took them and are using them to read under the sofa while I'm at work.

Other days I feel dangerously overqualified, like I could fly if only I just put my mind to it.
It's all just so normal isn't it? This vaccilation between incompetance and capability.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I gave my life to Jesus Christ. A lot of the time I still don't.
I'm holding on for the ride and hoping I do a decent job of representing He who saved me in a very real and physical way.

It's just going to have to be ok that I may never know what I'm going to be when I grow up, or if I never finish that damn college degree that mocks me daily, or even if I never settle down and look like the married and committed.
Suppose I never met Him, this Jesus fellow? Suppose I never fell in love with Him irrationally and against every sane thought in my head at the time.
Suppose I never spoke to Steve about him, suppose Steve never told me he was an asshole just trying to live like Jesus.

So 5 years ago I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and I was not the same after that.
Which makes me the luckiest girl.


I didn't even know I was lying

When I said you didn't break me
When I said I would be fine
When I assured you moving on wasn't that hard and I had already forgiven you
I didn't even know I was lying during all of those hours long conversations dissecting the lies you knowingly told.
It surprised me today when I was working through my panic that thoughts of you once again bubbled to the surface, like my shadow you are always with me even when I can't see you.
This damage is inconvenient to even me, trying to substitute relationally that which will never truly satisfy.

I say I love you without using those words

True Danger

Left bleeding
Only a partial heart and soul
How can I go on, move on
Why should I when I have such a tattered and wasted heart
Empty with nothing left for you to take, to see

How trecherous this field of mines
The certainty that moving forward will cost me the very life I've tenuously taped back together
The life I'm not convinced I'm willing to give to this cause

Poverty, homelessness, war and disease raveged countries, famine and the lonely desperation of others
To these I will gladly give my life
There is no danger there

True danger lies in giving you me
ending up alone again
empty in this bed

Quotedely Quote Quote

Here is a quote from MLK Jr, I'm reading his autobiography right now:

I have always felt that ultimately along the way of life and individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences whatever they are. And if he is filled with fear he cannot do it. My great prayer is always for God to save me from paralysis of crippling fear, because I think when a person lives with the fears of the consequences for his personal life he can never do anything in terms of lifting the whole of humanity and solving many of the social problems which we confront in every age and every generation.

I'm really enjoying this bio.


Key West here I come!

Well, in 12 hours I'll be heading out from cold, blustery, Cincinnati to Key West Florida!
I have my packing list, I'm stopping by to get a new book for the trip and hopefully heading to bed early since I have to be up and leaving around 4am to head to the airport.

I'd like to say I'll miss you all....but the sun and sand may lull me into forgetting all about you
(which we all know is not true but can we pretend for a minute?)

Tony Hoagland

by Tony Hoagland .

Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison

Whose walls are made of RadioShacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes
Where you can’t tell the show from the commercials,

And as I consider how to express how full of shit I think he is,
He says that even when he’s driving to the mall in his Isuzu Trooper with a gang of his friends,

letting rap music pour over them
Like a boiling Jacuzzi full of ballpeen hammers,

even then he feels Buried alive,
captured and suffocated in the folds Of the thick satin quilt of America

And I wonder if this is a legitimate category of pain,
or whether he is just spin doctoring a better grade,

And then I remember that when I stabbed my father in the dream last night,
It was not blood but money That gushed out of him, bright green hundred-dollar bills

Spilling from his wounds, and—this is the weird part—,
He gasped “Thank god—those Ben Franklins were Clogging up my heart—
And so I perish happily, Freed from that which kept me from my liberty”— .

Which was when I knew it was a dream,
since my dad Would never speak in rhymed couplets,

And I look at the student with his acne and cell phone and phony ghetto clothes
And I think, “I am asleep in America too, And I don’t know how to wake myself either,”

And I remember what Marx said near the end of his life:
“I was listening to the cries of the past,
When I should have been listening to the cries of the future.”

But how could he have imagined 100 channels of 24-hour cable
Or what kind of nightmare it might be

When each day you watch rivers of bright merchandise run past you
And you are floating in your pleasure boat upon this river .

Even while others are drowning underneath you
And you see their faces twisting in the surface of the waters

And yet it seems to be your own hand
Which turns the volume higher?