Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Within this very familiar passage of scripture, there is one prepositional phrase (er...sorry technical writing pals if I'm not using the correct technical term) that really sticks out to me this year: in everything give thanks. Everything? Even the stuff we would like to fast-forward through or better yet, go back in time and erase completely? Yep. I think so. Even the curve balls we are thrown? Yep. I think so. Sounds like a pretty tall order, doesn't it? Yep. I think so. There were some curve balls thrown my way this year, and it just so happens that I don't own a catcher's mitt. It goes without saying that those curve balls hurt. So I'm going to take Paul's advice. I'm not declaring success. I certainly cannot do it alone, but with God's grace I might just come close to giving thanks in everything. Speaking of God's grace, this is absolutely what I am most thankful for this year. Because of this grace, I have not nor will I ever lose my joy. Therefore, I rejoice. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can rejoice and pray without fear of persecution. I am thankful that I know my God hears those prayers. I am thankful that the same God who hears them answers them in the way that is best for his kiddos.

I am thankful for hurt. I am thankful for healing. I am thankful for hope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Soundtrack: Under Pressure Edition.

To say that the past couple of weeks have been a little stressful is like saying there's a little bit of salt in the ocean. To say that I sometimes sound a little dramatic here on my blog is like saying that Heidi has had a little work done. Nonetheless, I have had a lot going on. Don't believe me? Well, today was my defense for school and being the pro procrastinator that I am, preparing for it has made me aware of how much more sleep a gal in her 30's needs than a gal in her 20's does. So today's soundtrack theme is dedicated to the songs I've been spinning that are just fun to sing along with or are a little bit encouraging and motivational. Sorry, Rocky theme music not included.

Brand New Day by Josh Radin. I tried to pick out my favorite line in this song, but I couldn't. But for the first time in such a long, long time, I know I'll be ok. Fact.

Never Been to Spain by Three Dog Night. How can you not like Three Dog Night? Or this song? Even if you don't, what does it matter?

Float On by Modest Mouse. Isn't it great to know that good news is on the way and we'll all float on anyway?

Narrow Escape by Ray LaMontagne. Ok, maybe not so much motivational or uplifting, but it's Ray LaMontagne and his mellowness sometimes trumps those two. Now is one of those times.

1999 by Prince. Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1999. Why? Because I passed my defense, that's why. And sometimes back in 1999, I partied by throwing on my flannel pj's and heading on over to Lewis Hall with a sleeve of cookie dough to hang out with my pals Suz and Kat while one of them had RA duty. Maybe I'll party like it's 2009 instead. I've gotten waaaaaaay cooler. Speaking of...

Raise Your Glass by Pink. Too school for cool? Too cool for school? Too lame for my own well-being? I'm going with door #3.

Wave on Wave by Pat Green. I realize that transitioning from Pink to Pat Green is much like pouring boiling water into a frosted mug. Not the best of ideas. But Pat Green kind of makes me think we should all just pack up and move to Texas and sit out in big field and listen to him play music all day. Imagine what a stress-free environment that would be.

Hello World by Lady Antebellum. Did anyone see the CMAs last Wednesday? I had actually heard this song earlier that day when I was driving to campus to distribute my portfolio to my committee. And I might have gotten a little misty-eyed. If I were prone to getting misty-eyed when listening to music, that is. Added bonus when I heard it a second time that day during the CMAs.

Free Fallin' by Tom Petty. I'm a good girl and it just so happens that I love my mama, Jesus, and America too.

Nights on Broadway by the Bee Gees. [There are so many reasons why you should click on the hyperlink to the song...primarily the girl's top.] Oh, the Bee Gees. I feel like I missed out on so much since I wasn't a child of the 70's. Confession: This was my theme music today as I was driving over to my defense. Another Confession: it's not so much this actual song that I love but since I heard it on the radio the other day I haven't been able to get this out of my mind...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

4 Questions & A Few Thoughts.

A little over a year ago, I attended a church service at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta. On that particular Sunday, Andy Stanley began a new series called "Your Move" about decision making. He says that essentially there are 4 questions we can ask ourselves when trying to make a decision. [Clarification: He's not talking about decisions such as "Would my Uggs or cowboy boots look better with this outfit?" even though fashion decisions are some of the toughest ones we ladies (and gents) have to make.] The first question to consider was "Why am I doing this, really?" Stanley explained that we are masterminds at talking ourselves into or out of doing things. Ol' Andy had a point.

Fast forward from that Sunday in September 2009 to about 3 weeks ago. I was all settled into my usual row at Athens Church, drinking my coffee because it's cool to drink coffee in church, and getting ready for some good music. Now I have always [jokingly] referred to Athens Church as being like the dollar movies because we get all of Andy's messages long after he does them in real-time at North Point. I had missed the Sunday before so I was coming in at message #2 of the current series. It took me about minute to realize that the reason why the theme sounded so familiar was because I had already heard the first message. That particular week, question 2 was: "What story do I want to tell?" and a week later, question 3: "Is there tension that needs my attention?"

Pause. It's been awhile since I've really shared anything personal with you three out there in the blogosphere. Partly because I have been super busy and partly because I think that we are far too free with the information we share about our lives on the web these days. I want my story to be used in a way that others will benefit from it but first I've got to make sure that I'm getting the point myself in order for it to do more good than harm. In light of the events that took place back in the summer, I have been harboring some anger over the past month or so. Who am I kidding? It is what it is: rage. You know that whole "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" saying? I think there's something to it. I'm not proud of my anger, but I'm also not trying to ignore it because anger is a perfectly natural emotion that I believe is necessary for me to feel in order to truly get past the hurt that preceded it. And nope, I didn't pay a therapist for that sentence even though I see nothing wrong with paying a therapist for such insight. Anger becomes a problem when we hang onto it like we did our blankets or teddy bears during childhood, but more on that later. Admittedly as I listened to the second and third messages, I couldn't help but to think about how the person that accompanied me to North Point last year would benefit so much more from this series than me. ...and then I invited all of my friends over after church to check out my new glass house that I have recently moved into. Ahem.

Last week was the final message and question: "What would be most honoring to God?" Seriously...Andy had to bring God into the questions? He should just stay in the Bible where we can put him away on a bookshelf. Suddenly my toes were just as black and blue as my little bruised heart.

Now for the few thoughts...
Who here has siblings? Who here has ever been hurt by a sibling? Who here as ever been royally ticked off when mom and dad did not respond or handle the situation in a manner that you felt was suitable and fair? The anger that I have been struggling with revolves around the fact that for five months, the love, trust, honesty and respect that I gave to someone was exchanged for lies and cover-ups. With seemingly zero consequences for the aforementioned someone.

Back to the questions...
Who here thinks that good parents love all of their children equally? Even though a parent may be so disappointed in the actions of a child especially when that child hurts one of the other children, the disappointment doesn't diminish their love for the problem child. Who on this earth knows a child better than his or her parents? No one. Who here thinks that good parenting involves a family vote when determining how to handle a child's actions? Can you imagine the anarchy that would erupt around the family dinner table? Do you see where I'm going with this? The parallels I'm trying to make? Just as a parent loves all of their children equally, God loves all of his children. Even when we are little brats. He knows our hearts better than we do. He knows what's best for us better than we do. He knows how to "parent" us and we all need parenting a little differently. Ever wonder how three kids so different could ever come from the same two parents? Exactly. That's the beauty of a personal relationship.

A few more thoughts...
I do not want to tell a story of how I became an embittered old lady with a bunch of cats and a thirst for justice that would make even the Cullens seem like vegetarians. There are far too many stories of bitterness and anger on the shelves these days, and no one is interested in reading them. Why? Because they don't end well, what's why. I don't know a lot, but I do know that God's will for my life is not for me to get so hung up on and infuriated over the "whys" of a particular situation that was completely out of my control in the first place. I mean seriously, don't we eventually begin to feel sorry for the rat that spends its days running in a wheel? Nobody wants to be the rat running in a wheel. I certainly don't anyway. In short, the decision to spend my days in a fit of rage is not most honoring to God.

This morning at church in an entirely different message, the scripture was this:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." -Luke 6:27-31. all comes down to the Golden Rule.

As if my toes had not already been stomped on enough, they got a few more bruises this morning. If I listen though and truly take these words to heart, instead of having a crippling effect, they will give me the strength that I need to walk. But it's not the words that give me the strength. It's the one who said them.

One more thing before I go. [I know, I's like mile 12 of a just want to get it over with and be done already.] I am reading Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and in it he quotes Henri Nouwen. I find it fitting for this blog post as well as the season that we are entering.

"To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives - the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections - that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

an armistice went into effect which essentially ended the fighting during "The Great War" or what we know as World War I. This was in the year 1918 and many moons later in the year 1954, we began celebrating Veterans Day. Both of my grandfathers are veterans. So is one of my uncles. As are two of my cousins. Until the global war on terrorism that is currently being waged began 5 or so years ago, I honestly never really thought that much about Veterans Day. Sure, I knew that both of my grandfathers were in WWII and my uncle was in Vietnam but didn't everyone have grandfathers who faught in WWII and uncles who faught in Vietnam? In my mind, veterans were old men who fought in wars during a time long before I was even a figment of anyone's imagination and in places far, far away. I was far removed from the reality of war. Apparently I watched too many Miss America pageants as a child and somewhere along the way thought that the contestants' messages of World Peace had made an impression on the powers that be because I never imagined that my generation would be a generation of war veterans. Until 2003 happened and suddenly I knew people on the road to Baghdad. My former classmates. My friends. Fiances and boyfriends of some of my closest friends in the world. It put a whole new perspective on such matters for me when my peers became the ones who were responsible for leading Soldiers into battle and protecting the American people from harm. Sure, the fighting was taking place in a land far away but lives were impacted all around me. The word Veteran was no longer reserved for old men full of memories that took place years ago on foreign soil. Now, I cannot say for sure, but I imagine that serving in the military is much like being a parent in the sense that it has potential to be a pretty thankless job. When I was growing up, my parents always provided for my every need (and most wants) without expecting anything from me in return. Did I ever think to tell them "Thanks" for things like food or school shoes or ballet lessons? Of course not. Yet they continued to do their job of parenting. I didn't really know what it was like to not have something. But when something went missing, who did I look to first to fix the problem? Dear old mom and dad. Well, the same goes for us living here in the United States. We don't know what it's like to not have the rights and privileges that we do. But if we woke up one morning and suddenly they were gone, who would we look to first and wonder what happened? Not mama and daddy, but Uncle Sam's nephews and nieces. Of course the people responsible for fighting for these freedoms we have lived a long time ago. However it's the generations that have followed who were and are responsible for maintaining them. I mean, one can't lose a bunch of weight and then immediately revert back to eating cookies and cheeseburgers and expect to keep the weight off right? It has to be maintained. The same goes for the protection of a nation. If we had no military, I imagine that we would all be saying things like oot and aboot or however it is that those crazy Canadians to our north say things. Or we'd all be taking an afternoon siesta between lunch and the end of the work day...ok, that might not be so bad. The point that I'm trying to make is that I think that we all have roles to play as Americans. If we aren't cut out for camo and combat boots, then we need to do our part to show our appreciation to those who are. So all that to say...Thanks. Thanks Pop and Papa and Uncle Hugh and Kyle and Kasey. Thanks friends. Thanks prospective student who I'm working with as he is making plans to get back into school next fall after he serves his last few months in Iraq. Thanks. And Happy Veterans Day.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13
[Note: Originally published on November 11, 2008.]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Y'know, Nietzsche says: 'Out of chaos comes order'."

Really?!? This is the desk of one who is within weeks of graduating with a Master's degree in OD? I'm sure housekeepers have dirty homes, right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soundtrack: OPP Edition.

My inspiration for this week's soundtrack post was founded in last week's Hollywood buzz that my boy Justin has gone and cheated on Jessica. [Yes, as a matter of fact, I did enter a period of brief mourning because I do love Justin T.] We all know that human nature loves a good story about liars and cheaters with no regard to the actual truth of the matter. I will tip-toe out on a limb here and say that usually though where there is smoke, unfortunately there is fire. What we all think really doesn't matter though because the two people that really matter know the truth. And even if he looks directly into her eyes and assures her that he loves her and she's his one and only, when Mary Camden gets really honest with herself, she'll know if he's telling the truth or not. He can't hide those lyin' eyes. Even if she doesn't want to believe what her gut is telling her. I mean, it really is like a 7th Heaven episode, isn't it? And if the rumors are true then I hope Jessica Biel rocks on with her smoking hot [butalittletoomasculineinmyopinion] body and says bye bye bye to the boy that will soon be cryin' a river of his own when he realizes that what goes around comes around. She can put on her boots and start walking to the beat of this little playlist I've created.

Your Cheating Heart by Hank Williams, Sr. I mean, seriously. Country music was made for cheating songs. I might as well pull an oldie but goody out of the archives to get this party started. After all, Jessica is wearing boots.

You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette. In my opinion, Alanis is kind of like caffeine. Small doses taken in moderation is fine but if you push your limits and have too much of it, it sends you straight. over. the. edge. I wonder if Alanis was having a bad day when she wrote this song. More importantly, I wonder if Alanis has ever had a good day.

White Blank Page by Mumford & Sons. Did you think I wouldn't feature a Mumford & Sons song? What are you? Crazy? Why do you think I've been listening to that CD nonstop for weeks now? This song, is why. I also think that Damien Rice and that girl (why can I never remember her name?) could have done this song really well in their own style. Speaking of...

9 Crimes by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. I know I've mentioned this song before and I try to avoid sounding like a broken record (ha!) but it's just too good not to use again. And now I'm bloggin' cause it's relevant, not just for the helluva' it. [Seriously, I am on a roll.]

Beautiful Liar by Beyonce and Shakira. I. Love. This. Song. I had totally forgotten about it until I started thinking about that country song about cheating that was performed by two women. Any guesses where I'm going with this one? If you are a girl born between the years of 1975 and 1982 who was exposed to country music for at least 5 minutes during 1993 and haven't performed your own rendition of this song with your greatest gal pal then you really haven't lived. I'm just saying. Give up? Alright, here's your answer...

Does He Love You by Reba McIntyre and Linda Davis. The lesson to be learned here? The redhead will always prevail.

Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. Y'all. How could Brad and Alison just stand there and sing while poor little Ricky Schroder gets his heart broken after returning home from the great war to only drink himself to death? What? It's just a story? Well, then I take back every tear I've ever shed while watching this video.

All These Years by Sawyer Brown. Because once I bring you down with a song, I like to keep you there for awhile by mentioning another ridiculously sad song about men who love women that treat them oh so wrong. See, men aren't the only womanizers out there. I know what I mean.

Hit 'Em Up Style by Blu Cantrell. Thanks to Anna for reminding me of this little tune. I'm pretty sure this is featured on my MTV Party to Go Vol. 4926 CD right between Ginuwine's Pony and that terrible Fantasy song by Ludacris. Ol' Blu is classy like that.

Not Gon' Cry by Mary J. Blige. If there was ever a great uniter between the country and R&B genres it is the lack of faithfulness in relationships. At least something of worth was brought together over cheating. If Mary J. isn't going to cry, then I don't think Jessica should either.

Bonus Track: November Rain by Guns N' Roses. It's November. It's raining. It's the best song GNR has ever done. And one day my wedding dress will look just like the bride's in the video. I sure do hope my groom looks like the groom in the video. And once again my sarcasm ruins a perfectly good musical moment.