Saturday, November 28, 2009

thanksgiving break post

as i first drove into my neighborhood in charlotte this week, it felt like i had never left. i've been in atlanta since august, but it's funny how home is always there. some things change: there is a new stoplight on elm lane, the picture frames in the dining room are arranged differently, the walls of my room are much barer, but somehow everything still looks the same, smells the same. the air is the same. it's nice to be home. i feel though, that this year i've finally made that transition. coming home used to be a literal coming home, returning from college as if it were some extended summer camp adventure, and charlotte was where i still really lived. but now, atlanta is definitely home. i love it there more than i could've imagined. i have friends--a family--there, a home there, work to do there. so now coming to charlotte for the holidays is a visit, a brief return to former things, a chance to catch up with what's been going on in the lives of the people i seem to know the best and the least all at once. it's a start toward that weird place of home not really being home. i've always wondered how it is for my mother to only see her parents very sparingly, and feel, at least somewhat, like we do, that grandma's house is a vacation getaway of sorts. this is a place to rest, to refuel. a place to leave again.

apologies for falling so naturally into the thanksgiving vernacular, but being home has also reminded me how very blessed i am. my family is great--maybe even a little less dysfucntional than i last remembered. this truth is thrown into sharper distinction by my recent viewing of the movie Precious. in short, the main character is abused in every way by her biological family. i come home to a family who has been eagerly awaiting my return. my mother changed my sheets and made my bed for me, complete with chocolate on the pillow! she remembered to turn the heat on upstairs hours before i arrived so i that i wouldn't be cold. she has cooked more food for us than one would think humanly possible (this morning it was banana pancakes--yum!). it all makes me stop and wonder what accident of birth allowed me to have this kind of life. no, we're not perfect, but i have always been loved, and loved well. at my dad's house, where i usually spend much less of my time when i'm home (the years of back and forth have led me to settle at mom's and stay), he followed me into the kitchen when i wanted a bite of dinner one night. he opened the refrigerator door and proceeded to show me all the grocercies he had bought because he knew they were things that i particularly enjoy: good salad lettuce, pineapple, apple slices. he didn't even know that i would be there to eat those kind of snack-like foods, but he bought them just in case. my dad's love through provision has so often reminded me of God's abundance: the extravagance and the detailed, intimate knowledge of the recipient. i don't always agree with the lifestyle of extravagance my dad has chosen (and works hard to enjoy), but this year i've begun to see that providing for his family is the way he best knows to show his love. and there's something really beautiful in that. sometimes life is just about doing the best that you know how.


one of the first things i did this week in charlotte was to meet with my candidacy mentor. we've only met once, and i've been pretty slack in pursuing my ordination requirements thusfar, so i wasn't entirely sure what to expect. we had such a great talk, though. of course, there is much to catch up on, since i've completed almost an entire semester of seminary (and my first one at that) since last speaking with him. he really spoke to the fears and frustrations i've experienced in the last few months. i've been craving this conversation--someone to mentor me through this process--so i was more than willing to be vulnerable, and he was very willing to push me even further into those places. i admitted that one of the things i've struggled with this semester is my lack of personal devotional time--in the Word and in prayer. this has led to a feeling of distance from God. he reassured me that God is close even when i don't feel God there, when i don't have all the warm-fuzzies. God is bigger than emotion and God certainly doesn't rely on my compliance in the relationship for the existence of the relationship (if that was true, we'd all be in trouble). God wants me to spend time in devotion, but that doesn't define our relationship. right now, i am obeying God by being in seminary. this is the place God has led me to, and i am being faithful by doing the work of seminary. it's a different kind of faithfulness--not necessarily a complete one (if there is any such thing), but a step toward a maturing relationship, i think. it's moving further beyond the Sunday school ideal of God to one that has a little more practical experience.

pastor shane also reassured me that i am, in fact, engaging in discernment already this semester, moving closer to the place to which God is calling me. he asked me who the greatest teachers in my life have been, using those examples to say that great teachers are passionate about what they teach. as an aspiring religious educator (or pastor or what have you), my primary job is to love Jesus, and to let people see that. a true passion of that nature will have to impact people, in one one way or another. i can see how this might sound like a cop-out for the real work of ministry that needs to be done, but i don't think that's how he meant it. his point was to say that the best thing we can do is to just love God and be passionate about the Gospel--all the other work we do is God working through us, anyway.

a few closing notes:
1) i am in love...with my new puppy nephew
2) my iPod is in the ICU, and i'm only hoping it will make it through a few more workouts before christmas. now the question is...iPhone???
3) christmastime really makes me miss singing. sometimes i miss it like i would breathing--singing so often was something i did all the time, and it was my life. i may already be annoyed by the christmas stations on the radio (i mean really, there are more songs and versions than the rotation of about ten songs they all seem to have), but i can't WAIT to sing christmas carols in church.
4) i also miss dancing. that was almost ALL i did for workouts last year. the absence thereof in Atlanta has led me to significantly improve my running game (me and Baxter, said puppy nephew, went a couple of miles or so on the greenway together yesterday--also the occasion of the iPod coma), but being home, i was able to attend a cardio funk class on wednesday night. i danced myself into something of a muscle paralysis as i am now experiencing it. i can barely move for the rediscovery of some of those muscles and dance moves, but it was great. there is a class tomorrow at 5, which i expect i will attend despite any lingering soreness, between panther football and tarheel hoops!

home on monday. one more week. 3 papers, one final. then done. when did that happen?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

it's not much..

i haven't felt the need to say anything lately. a head full of thoughts, a heart full of feelings and nothing to say. hmm. but i miss writing. and i'm having one of those nights where i feel angsty. i don't want to sit in my room and read or clean up around the house or check my email anymore. i want to break out of the routine a little bit and go do something. i'd like to cuddle up under the stars with good friends and just talk all night. i'd like to sit down with my mother and have one of the completely ridiculous and wonderful conversations about boys and football and life that we've gotten so good at. i want to bake and bake until i'm up to my ears in dirty dishes and then have a dinner or a party where i can go to share my cookies and cakes. on nights like this, i could probably jump out of an airplane. but maybe i will go to the gym instead. i usually run the longest when i'm feeling this way.

that's all i've got. hope to find my voice again soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

thoughts from a sunday morning

this morning i sat on my front porch eating slightly burnt blueberry muffins, breathing the strangely warm fall air, reading through painted deserts by donald miller. i've been saving that one--the way i saved the sixth of jane austen's novels, not wanting to finish off an author. how interesting that there is a joy in leaving something unread, in hoping that you'll crack it at just the right time. this morning, miller's author's note caused my eyes to mist as i gazed blearily off into the distance, listening to the children playing across the street and wondering where the story of my life is going.

i know i got weepy because his preface is about leaving--a segment that was included in our youthworks devotional book this summer, over which i sobbed and i journaled, thoughts which i accepted and i rejected all at once. but the preface is also about dying, it's about living, and writing and reading the story of your life. this summer, i was in a place of transition, coming and leaving several times from several places in the course of a few months. now i'm not in a position to be leaving anywhere for awhile, and i'm happy about that, i'm happy about being here. but i do want to make sure i'm living, before i end up with the thickest part of my book in my left hand, as miller puts it, about to close it for good.

deep thoughts, and i'm not really sure where to go with them. miller said he started pondering death once he hit 30. maybe i am six years too early, or maybe it's this being in grad school business, but i feel like the time is upon me to start living intentionally, more so.

donald miller is the kind of writer that makes me want to write. to sit and ponder a phrase until it perfectly (and wittily) captures some truth about the world as you see it. doesn't that sound better than trying to write for the way some professor sees the world? maybe. i think there's an art in both.

i don't really have much else to say. i just felt compelled to write something, after reading that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


on tuesday night, i was innocently sitting in the living room of the Women's Shelter at MUST. i turned my head to talk to my friend and shelter resident Emma, when suddenly the room was spinning. my breath was just taken away--i was so dizzy. i drank a bit of water and the feeling passed within a few minutes, though i still felt woozy. fortunately, i carpool to MUST with a friend and classmate, and he was able to drive us home in my car. it's a long drive--and we had almost made it to his house when the vertigo swept over me again--much worse than before. i ended up having to rest for a couple hours on the couch at his house--i just had to get out of that car (though i could barely walk up the steps on my own). eventually my roommate came to pick me up, and though the car ride back to our house (about 10 minutes) nearly did me in (i threw up afterwards for the FIRST time since sixth grade. i'm disappointed to have broken that long-standing record), i was very thankful to be in my own bed. mercifully, i slept well.

i had hoped that all would be well in the morning, because, wouldn't you know it, the wednesday and thursday of this week contained the most jam-packed 36 hours of the semester: two presentations and a test. but after getting up to shower,etc for about 30 minutes, i was forced to admit that i wasn't going anywhere. i settled back into bed with tears of frustration and began composing the series of emails required to excuse me from the day's activities. i had to miss a group tour of MUST--probably THE one day of this class that i woul prefer not to miss. of course, i felt bad for skipping out on my group, but they were all very understanding and my professor was extremely gracious. i didn't really expect anything less, but it's so hard for me to do that--to show a bit of weakness, to admit that i can't do something, to let people down in any way. my body was screaming against my fear of all those things, though, and i just couldn't ignore it.

thus yesterday, i had a sabbath day. a forced one. what does that mean? not to fall too heavily upon the old "everything happens for a reason" adage, but i have to wonder, honestly, about the timing, severity, and unexpectedness of this vertigo. admist all my running around and my pushing of my limits, my body said stop--and i couldn't control it, couldn't talk my way into a different solution. i had to be still. i had to let go of a little control over some of my classwork, over my studying for my test this morning, even. i had to recuperate, to take care of myself. i don't think i do that enough otherwise. it's scary that something like this has to happen for me to really get that message.

it's also been a real blessing to see how well i'm cared for here in atlanta. of course, the first person i called about the vertigo was my mother, who has experienced the same thing, but when it hit, i was with a classmate who i met only a couple of months ago. he got me home and let me crash pathetically on his couch. he held onto me when i could barely put one foot in front of the other. then my roommate, who i met in march, but have again only really known for a couple of months, drove across and back from our house to his, leaving her studying at 11:30 at night to get me home. the two friends who i had planned to study with in the morning brought me dramamine and insisted that i call if i needed anything. everyone else who heard was so kind in asking after me and wishing me well. i didn't know any of these people only 3 months ago. that is a beautiful witness of community to me. i am well cared for :) it's nice to know.

this morning, blessedly, i woke up feeling fine. 24 hours and it's done. completely debilitated and then back to normal--just in time to take my second OT midterm this morning and participate in my RE presentation this afternoon. my head has hurt a little bit, but i was able to concentrate on my test and operate heavy machinery again, which is good! and it's been pretty nice to just crash on the couch tonight for some more recuperation. the scary thing is how unexpectedly and fully the vertigo hit me--now who knows when it might happen again??

it seems that there is some universal ordering that causes me to be sick in this way during my first year at a new school. so for your antecdotal entertainment, here are my previous experiences with vertigo:
1) freshman year at South Meck in Charlotte--it was show week for the school production of Bye Bye Birdie, and our rehearsals had been running until 11 and 12 at night (doesn't sound that late now--but my bedtime was 9:30 at 15). school started at 7:15, so i was up everyday by 5:45. i believe it was opening night, during school hours still, and i was exhausted. i started feeling quesy and asked to be excused from class. i walked outside across the quad to reach a building with a bathroom, and i passed out against the side of a brick wall. i eventually made it to the bathroom and lulled in and out of consciousness on the floor of the stall. the episode was complicated by the fact that my recent bellybutton piercing had been giving me trouble and i had been messing with it that day. gross.
2) freshman year at UNC, i gave blood for the first time. i went in worried about the needle, and that ended up being no big deal. so i had a false confidence about me during the rest of the experience. when i was all done, i popped up out of the chair and the next thing i knew, i was coming to with several people around me and my feet up in the air. apparently, i got up way too fast and went down just as fast. the technician leaned over to me and whispered, "next time you donate, don't wear a skirt!"