Today, Showing Up is Optional

So this has been an interesting week. Monday was my brothers 24th birthday, Tuesday as my cousin Daniels 17th birthday, and today is/would be my dad’s 60th birthday. I know, that last one looks a little strange, but let me follow that by saying my dad died 21 (almost 22) years ago. With that being said, let me start with Donald and Daniel.

I am so proud of the men my brother and cousin are growing up to be. They are two of the most important people in my world – seriously I wouldn’t know what to do without them. My brother is my best friend and has always taken care of me because of the above situation. I don’t think I’ve ever told him thank you for that… Maybe I should. Seriously, if you ever talk to me (you know, in person) I can tell you all about my brother. I love that guy, he’s my best friend. Dan is an absolute mess. He has been since day one. He is so stinkin naturally talented, especially when it comes to sports. He is so athletic, and he knows it. Those boys, along with the youngest, Phil, make my world go around. I am the absolute biggest fan of their lives. I am so blessed to be apart of the family, seriously, I couldn’t dream of being apart of a better 4some of cousins than this one. This picture really describes us. Donald, Dan, me, and Phil. I love these boys with my whole heart.Image

 

Now, onto something less fun, and onto why today my life is optional. As I stated in the beginning today would be my dad’s 60th birthday, however, he died when I was 5 months old and my brother was 22 months old. Now, in so much as I can remember I have never once questioned God’s logic in all of this. In 22 years, I have never said “why my family, God”. Mom always told us (and I have always fully believed) that God had a bigger plan for us than what we could see because of the situation. I truly believe that there is a reason for my dad not being here my entire life and that some day I will see that. However, for some reason today the reminder that “oh yeah, your dads dead” is way more real. As much as I don’t like it, I’m pissed at God about it. I think the creator of the universe is big enough to handle me being mad at Him for this. I mean, let’s face it. Have I had a bad life? Not by any stretch of the imagination. I am so blessed with the family I do have, and my mom did one hell of a job raising my brother and me. I am truly one of the most fortunate people on the planet because of my family. But let’s get real, my dad wasn’t here to see my brother or me graduate high school. He won’t see us finish college, get married, or start a family. My kids will always have 1 grandpa, they’ll never know my dad  because I never knew him. I’ve heard stories, but I don’t have those memories. It sucks. I look at kids who treat their parents with such disrespect and think “how dare you?” Kids have no idea who incredibly fortunate they are to still have their dads around. Then I look at the dads who are absolute dead beats and aren’t worth the air they breathe, and how they bail on their kids and I think the exact same thing. How dare you cheat your child out of a relationship with you. I don’t understand it, and it makes me mad.

From everything I’ve heard, my dad was an incredible man. I’m not saying my life would have been better or worse with him around, but I do know it would have been different. I wish I would have had the opportunity to know him instead of just hear the stories. I don’t know, for some reason it’s just way harder to deal with today than it has been in years past. Maybe it’s because I’m graduating this year? I don’t know. With all of that being said: Image

Happy birthday daddy. 10/26/52 – 2/1/91

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Don’t Lose Heart

Okay, so I actually started this earlier, but for some reason, it didn’t save… Weird. Thanks technology. Whatever. Anyways. Here was what I was going to say yesterday:

So I’m reading this book for my Middle East/N. Africa class called “From Beirut to Jerusalem” by Thomas Friedman, it’s super good. If you’ve ever wanted to read something about Lebanon in the 90s, pick this book up. I know, you’re all just dying (that’s funny if you know about Lebanon in the 90s) to read about it, but it really is good. The author is a journalist so it’s very easy to read and has personal stories. Either way, in order to get my point across, I have to tell you about it So, *spoiler alert*

Through the book, Mr. Friedman talks about his experience living in Beirut in the midst of constant war. 14 years the city was under a state of total war. One of the things he spends a good amount of time talking about is how the Lebanese start to view their surroundings, which is selectively. He compares it to Hobbes’ work “Leviathan”, which to me is comical but probably incredibly true. When government breaks down, the “rules of the jungle” take over. He talks about how people start to block out everything going on around them, not to the point that they put themselves in harms way, but enough to be able to cope with their surroundings. Now granted, I’ve never lived in a war zone (although my room looks like it more often than not) so I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to leave in the morning to go to school, and come back to a blown up apartment with no family. I know in a situation like that, you do what you need to in order to survive, but is turning off your emotion to the people and the city the way to do it? I mean, to lose your heart to the suffering masses around you. I know that to care and love like that takes such an emotional toll on a person, that I can’t even imagine it, and would probably drive you to the brink of insanity.

I guess my point of this is, I don’t want to become like the Lebanese in the 90s. This is not to say that were all emotionally checked out to their surroundings, but in general they were. I don’t want to check out of my emotions – no matter how much I don’t like them. You can’t check out of people, life, your surroundings, the world. I mean, as a community (speaking of Americans) I, sadly, feel like we’ve done this. How many men and women have died over seas? How many children are abused, in any manner, or have died at an innocent age? I heard a story, last night, of a middle school student who was killed by a car getting on to the school bus. I couldn’t even muster up 1 tear. Nothing. Is it sad? Absolutely. Does it really effect me? Eh… I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

What does this say about our society? Have we lost our compassion for humanity? How can we change the world if we don’t really, truly care about it? I’m not saying (I don’t think) we should just become so invested that we drive ourselves into a wall of depression, because that’s not helpful or healthy. I think there is a balance we have to find, as a society (and as an individual) I don’t think that balance has been found. But it’s one I want.

I want to be a compassionate person, and care about those that I’ve never met. I want to meet those people I’ve never met, and show them that I love them – but more than I love them, that Jesus Christ loves them. I want them to see the one who created them, molded them and made them, in me. I want to show them that regardless of their current situation God can use them in such a powerful way, and that He loves them unconditionally and for eternity, and that absolutely nothing they have done, are doing, or will do can ever change that.

Just some thoughts. There’s about to be a second post because this one was supposed to go up yesterday – don’t judge me.

-S

What Am I Doing with My Life?

There are mid-terms to be taken, homework to be completed, essays to be written, papers to be researched, applications to be filled out, and general work to be done. So obviously, it’s time to write a blog.

I am so jealous of my older brother. Like color me green with envy, he is awesome. Today he left the house to VOLUNTARILY teach a health class at our old MIDDLE SCHOOL. Shoot me, seriously? Middle schoolers gross/creep me out. For real, they creep me out. I have no clue how to handle that awkward stage of life, and my brother is so great with them. He’s great with all ages. How does that happen? It’s not fair, like I would kill to be like him. He loves them and they love him. I wish I was that good with them – or any age range but I’m not. Like I try to relate and be fun and stuff and I just can’t do it. I love kids – adore them but I can’t seem to connect with them. I don’t know – it’s not fair, but I love watching him get super pumped about working with them – so maybe I shouldn’t be jealous. That’s his gift after all…right? God chose to give me other gift(s), right? I hope so.

Which leads me to my next questions, what exactly are my gifts? Apparently God gives all of us gifts and talents that He wants us to use to further His kingdom. So why do I feel like I’m completely useless. This is not me throwing a pity party, this is me asking a seriously questions. I’m not very good at school, sports, music, being a leader, being a sister, daughter, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend, or co-worker. So why am I here? Obviously, God has a plan for my life. He says multiple times through the Bible that we are called with a plan and a purpose that He specifically designed us for. Yeah, I get it, my ultimate purpose is to glorify, praise, and show Him to others through my life – but how? I’m not looking for the church-y answers by “worshippng” or “going to church” or that stuff. I mean like for real. How does He want me to serve Him, to love Him, to worship (not the ‘church’ sense of the word). How does He want me to show Him to the world?

So I guess the real question is back to my original question that I ask my self allllll the time. What am I doing with my life? That’s why I’m jealous of my brother because he knows what he wants. My mom always knew what she wanted to do, so did my grandparents. It’d be super great for times like this if my dad were still here because then I could be like “hey, did you always know what you wanted to do?” and if he didn’t at least I wouldn’t feel so weird. Like I’m doing it wrong because I don’t know what I want to do. I know I’m not alone in this thought, but sometimes I feel like I am. I look around the coffee shop at all the people who look like they have their lives together, and I wonder if they really have it all together. Do they really know what they’re doing or are they faking it til they make it? Have they always had it together or did they flounder around in college like I am, trying to figure out what they’re doing with their life?

With all of this being said – God, if you want to shoot me a tweet, comment, phone call, text, carrier pigeon, flare, you know – anything. I’m listening. I promise. Or at least I promise I’m really really really trying. Pinky promise, kiss it.

-S

Fall break coffee confessions

I have a confession to make. This is hard for me to admit, so I’m going to need everyone to just not judge me. Ready… okay

I love fall and cold weather. Okay no, seriously. Don’t judge me, and let me explain. I don’t lik being cold by any means but I love sweaters, scarves, boots, coffee (duh), the holidays, football, bon fires, looking at snow, the music I am compelled to listen to, the emptiness of the beach, everything. I love it. Okay, I just had to make that confession. Please don’t judge me, beacuse we all know how much I whine complain about anything that’s not summer.

Also, I want to know how to get a job meeting new people, drinking coffee, reading, and blogging. How do I make money doing that? Seriously, I just met a transfer student who wants to get involved in campus ministries so we sat and chatted for an hour and a half. She is so sweet, and I am so excited to see her get involved and be more confident and out going. She has a great story, and I am so excited to see her share that with others to encourage them. So this got me thinkin how do I make a career out of these things? I could even cut out the blogging and reading. Seriously, I love talking to people, hearing their story, and building those friendships. That needs to be my career. Am I allowed to beg God to make this happen?

As I sit in the coffee shop, aka my office, I watch students, faculty, community members walk-in and order their drinks. I can’t help but wonder what their life has been like. Are they happy, sad, confused, struggling with a decision, whatever it may be. I want to sit and listen to that. I don’t care what it is, I just want to hear it. I probably can’t fix it, or give profound advice. I will probably ask the wrong question, or something stupid. I just want to know. I want to know where they have found God, in the mountains, valleys, raging seas, sunrise/sunsets, wherever. Or maybe they haven’t seen Him anywhere yet, and I want to know that too. Maybe I could point out where He’s been. Probably not, but maybe. Who knows?

If you don’t listen to Ben Rector, let me encourage you to listen to him. Particularly his song, Hide Away. It talks about finding God in the midst of life. It is beautiful, and is so ironic (or not) that it is the song that’s playing right now as I type this. Isn’t God so funny sometimes?

Happy fall break friends

-S

Have I told you about my sweapants?

Before I get to that, let me take a second to tell you how much I love Mondays. BEFORE you absolutely crucify me for that last statement, let me explain. I love my Mondays. Like today, I have already been to the gym, had a shower, and started a load of laundry. Now, I’m laying in my super warm bed, with a cup of delicious coffee, listening to my Ben Rector station on Pandora, and telling you lovely stalkers about my morning. It’s only 8am. Seriously, it’s a beautiful day (minus the cold).

Now let me tell you about how much I hate winter. I’m going to blame the fact that we even have cold weather on Adam and Eve. Seriously, if that hoe hadn’t eaten the stupid fruit we would still be in paradise. Think about it. I bet God said to her “Not only is childbirth really gonna suck, but it’s gonna be colder than Siberia 6 months of the year. Sucks to suck, that’ll teach you not to listen to the ONLY thing I tell you NOT to do” I’m sure that’s what God said, they just didn’t want to make God sound like a jerk. Cause we all know He’s not. But seriously, the high in little Buies Creek today is 54. I…I don’t….ugh, can I just sleep all day? Thanks, that’s super. OH and if anyone is wondering, the WATER temperature is WARMER than it is here! Water temp. at Wrightsville is 78… why? Whyyyyyy?

Anyways, on to my sweat pants. So last weekend I went to the Nike Outlet and got some sweat pants. Initially they were to be worn to and from the gym when it was bloody cold outside (like this morning). So I washed them, and put them back on to make sure they didn’t shrink (kids xl, so it’s a possibility). When I put them back on, I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of heaven. These things are the absolute most comfortable things I have ever put on my legs in my life! I’m wearing them right now in fact. Literally, I come in from outside, take my jeans off, put my sweat pants on. These are amazing inventions. For the past week anytime anyone has come over I’ve literally said “Hey, have you seen my new sweat pants? These are the first pair I’ve ever owned.” Usually followed by a shoving of hands in the pockets, and an ever so slight kick out of the right leg with a little twist to see both sides. While I still don’t condone their wearing in public, I can see why someone would. So. This morning I put my sweat pants on and was waiting on my roommate to get out so we could go to thy gym and it dawned on me…

Do I love my sweatpants more than Jesus? Seriously, I know that is a super stupid question but I literally have been thinking about it since 6am. Do I love my sweatpants more than Jesus? Or maybe the appropriate question is do I love Jesus as much as my sweatpants. Almost overnight I have become obsessed with a pair of fuzzy pants…. PANTS. Now granted, they have a way of making me feel warm and snuggly so when I do absolutely anything I feel warm, which is great… really. But they’re just pants. How come I don’t walk up to everyone I know going “Have you heard about Jesus? He’s really great, let me tell you this awesome story I know where I saw Him working in a life.” Instead of telling people how my new sweatpants make me feel like a 5yr old on Christmas Eve just before I go to bed and the tree is lit and I’m about to bust with excitement, why don’t I tell them about how I’ve looked back over my life and seen how God has taken this absolute wreck of a life and made it less wreck-ish? Why can’t I tell people that even though I have so far to go, I can already see how God has changed me, slowly, but He is healing me from the inside out.

Seriously, I know it might sound cray cray, but it’s totally true. I’m not really sure how to go about fixing it either. Maybe awareness is half the battle? Not sure. Either way, I promise I don’t love my sweatpants more than Jesus. Sweatpants never saved me from sin, or showed me how to love, or died on a cross for me. Jesus did that, not my sweatpants.

-S

“By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone”

John Mayer is always a great way to start a post, right? Of course. I promised myself I wasn’t going to get into bed until I was ready to go to bed tonight, but as I sat at my desk I was cold and just a wee bit tired. Since I currently have no coffee in my apartment (tragedy I know) I could’ve made tea but my bed was closer, it has clean sheets on it (like out of the dryer, clean) and I’m tired. So I know it’s not even 5:30pm on a Saturday but stop judging me, okay? Also, I apologize for when I fall asleep posting, not that you would know the difference anyways. Okay. Now that that’s settled, the logic behind the John Mayer quoting.

You should know that these true words are from his song, “Clarity”. If you don’t know that, crawl out from under your rock is Idaho and go to youtube to listen to it. Seriously though, these words are so so true! This weekend I had the opportunity to visit a seminary in Richmond, VA. I also go to see my family while I was there, which was amazing because I love my family (you’ll read about them soon, don’t worry). I took my mom with me because she knows me well and when I can’t get a grip on my feelings and thoughts she  always knows the questions to ask to help me get that grip. Love my mom.

So visiting this weekend I learned a lot, and it made me want to start giving more thought to the question of “What is God calling me to do with my life?” I know divinity school is the next step. I’ve got that one, but why? I have absolutely no idea  what I’m supposed to be doing with my life which is probably not all that uncommon. Frustrating sure, but not uncommon. Which should make me feel better, right? Wrong-o. As I sit here and sip my milk of out a mason jar (stop judging) and eat my strawberry pop-tart for dinner, I literally just googled “what can I do with a Masters of Divinity” and based on what I just saw, what I think I want to do isn’t listen. What is it called when all you want to do is travel, build relationships with people from all walks of life, love on them, and tell them about Christ? Heck, I’ll even cut out traveling. I just want to get to know people, see how their experiences have shaped them and see where they see themselves in relation to Christ. What is that called? I want that.

So, I guess that’s what I will leave you with. I know where I want to be now, I just need to figure out what I need to do. For now, I need to finish my pop-tarts and milk for dinner… And then I guess homework. Or Pinterest, pinterest is always good.

-S

5th Time’s the Charm

As I sit at work, I am reminded of why I like this job so much. I can sit here, and type a blog when I am supposed to be reading Animal Farm for Modern Europe. In 5 years of college, I have perfected the art of finding new ways to study procrastinate. What better way to do that than update random people on my life a few times a week? It’s not that my life is incredibly exciting and I think people will be waiting on pins and needles to read this (but let’s be honest they totally will) it’s that I want to be able to look back on this year and remember it. I want to remember what I was thinking and feeling through midterms with 4 history classes. SideNote to all you history majors out there, spread out your classes. Four makes you want to hibernate and never look at the english language again. It also gives a whole new meaning to “addicted to coffee” trust me, you’ll thank me for that advice. Anyways, I also eanted to do this because over the next few months I am going to be starting the process of looking for a graduate school. Not just any school, a divinity school. Please give my heart a minute to get back to a normal rate….

…..

Okay, sorry. Do I have a peace about this journey? Yes. Does it still scare the living daylights out of me? Yes. So far it has been a good proces, that feeling may or may not change once I look at BTSR this weekend, but so far so good. I am fortunate to have a friend going through this same journey with me, helping to remind me that I am not entirely insane and that I am not alone. Which, leads me to my next point…

How often in our lives do we feel alone when we’re tring to figure out life? I mean, I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Yes, I know God is always there, not what I mean, although that doe help. I look back on my life and I see in every situatuon, He has placed someone in my life to get me through whatever it was I was dealing with.

How funny is that? I mean, is that not just His way of saying “obviously, I am going to take care of my kid. You’re mine to look after. You are never alone.” Once again, in the midst of my drama, God has managed to shut me up, open my eyes, laugh, and say thank you.

So once again, thank you, Lord for tking care of me when I don’t see it.

-S