Monday, June 15, 2009

Life Lessons

At the suggestion of a good friend, I visited a Bethany Community Church on Sunday instead of going to my usual service at UPC. I found myself really engaged in the message, more so than I have been lately at UPC. The pastor was preaching on the book of Nahum - not one you hear a lot about - and the larger picture of what that part of scripture conveys. The foundation of his message rested on the idea that God is working in our lives daily. Life is not a closed system with God on the outside just watching what happens to us. Instead God is present in our lives and tells us what we need to hear. Not only does he communicate with us, but he also listens to our requests and can act in our behalf.

In this particular message the point was focused on God correcting sin in our lives. He points it out to us - even when it's not what we want to hear - and offers to remove it for us. We can choose to listen to His diagnosis and allow Him to do his thing - or we can choose to go about our business as usual and bigger warnings may follow and soon it may be too late. The ultimate question then becomes "are you teachable or are you defensive?"

I want to be teachable - and I think that I am - but I know there are times in my life when the walls go up, even between God and myself. I can be defensive and make up all kinds of excuses for my actions, many of which I continue to believe are 100% justifiable, but my resistant attitude usually ends up changing anyway, no matter how much I try not to. Change, I have found, is inevitable. Even by resisting change, you are altered in some way. You can't help but adapt and it's completely ironic how it can all happen.

I think I've been changing a lot lately and that God has been showing me areas of my life where I need to make some alterations. I have had opinions and attitudes that have come back to haunt me as if God has held a mirror to my face and asked me to judge myself. I have learned, I have grown, and I think that I can see the beginning of change.

I do not know what the future holds for me and I am coming to terms with that (especially since I am the one who pushed myself in it all). There is adventure and excitement in the unknown but also confusion and fear. I am learning to once again trust God and let him take control. I know he has my best interest in mind and even though I may be resistant to his plan, it has worked out pretty well for me so far, so why stop trusting it now?

Maybe it is a good thing that I do not know what to expect out of the next six months. I have found that expectations aren't always what they're cracked up to be. The simplest spur of the moment decision can change your life forever. Something can turn into nothing and (as often happens in my life) nothing turns into something big. I pray that God continues to teach me, shape me, and guide me into the person He desires me to be. I hope to be teachable.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More About Life

If I’m honest with myself, I am a little overwhelmed with life at the moment. I can’t really believe I’m saying that – let alone expressing it to the world via this blog – but it’s true. Life has suddenly gotten crazy. I guess I saw it coming but I should have been more prepared for it. Now that it’s here I have a feeling that it isn’t going to slow down and that’s the overwhelming part.

At work things are picking up because summertime is here. The conference season starts on Monday and I’m barely keeping my head above water as it is. It seems that just when I resolve one issue there is another one lurking just around the corner. Case and point: This morning I made a to do list and discovered that I had 65 things to do. At the end of the day, after I had crossed off several items, I had 70 things on the list. How am I supposed to get ahead of this? I think I am going to go into work early tomorrow and probably will spend some time there over the weekend. I honestly don’t mind working a little extra since I get paid overtime, but it’s not something I want to do a lot of. I want to have a life outside of work!

I’ve been trying to be really hardcore about working out. I’m 12 pounds away from my next weight goal which is great but frustrating because I seem to always get suck right around this point. I did overcome the hurdle a few months back but then life got busy and I re-gained the weight. I don’t want to do that this time. I want to lost it and keep it off and then set my next goal. I know that once I start my travels I am not going to have time to work out and will probably not be able to eat as well due to my tight budget and schedule. I want to do what I can before I head overseas and hopefully when I return I won’t be too far off track. I’ve been working out five or more times a week and it’s been great, but I’m starting to wear down. I’m tired and my motivation is slipping.

My social life has also gotten busier. I’ve been staying up late for the sake of conversation and choosing to hang out with friends instead of sleep or work out. Yes, that’s fine to do every once in awhile, but I also need my rest and I need to keep my body functioning. I can’t burn the candle at both ends for too long – even though I may want to – before there isn’t any candle left. Am I having fun and enjoying every minute of it – yes – but I’m tired.

On top of all these things that are necessary for a person to do in order to function in society (be active, be social, and make a living) there are the specifics of my life that need to be taken care of. I have two and a half months before I leave and I still haven’t planned out my trip! I need to get on that sucker. I’ve been busy buying many of the toys I plan to take with me (my backpack, a mini-laptop, and a new camera) but I still need the important items like plane tickets, rail passes, and perhaps something to help me translate. I also need new shoes. That is an important item that must be taken care of or my feet will not last a day.

I also want to do some pleasure reading and writing. A friend of mine has begun to write down several of the ideas she has had swimming around in her head for the book she wants to write. That’s incredible! I’m so excited for her and really want to do the same for myself. I love to write and would love to be paid to do so. I have such a hard time pinpointing a plot or purpose (as you may have discovered by reading my blog) that I get frustrated when I try to sit down and accomplish something. I think I really just need to be more dedicated and focused, but it takes time and it seems like I never have enough time.

There are so many unknowns out there. I know I talked a bit about this the last time I wrote, but it’s true. I don’t know what my life has in store for me over the next 10 weeks, nor do I know what will happen in January. So many things are about to change it’s almost unreal. How is this my life? How am I so blessed to have so many opportunities to choose from? As overwhelming and daunting as it all is, I truly am thankful for it all. I know that there are many people in the world who have significantly less than I do and I do not want to take anything for granted.

I think I’m growing. I am learning more and more about myself each day and I’m excited to see where this road leads. Life is about the journey right? As they say in one of my favorite movies (The Shawshank Redemption), “get busy livin’ or get busy dieing.” I want to be busy with life embracing the possibilities, not focused on the end. I know I’m not perfect and I know will probably fail many times, but the beauty of grace is that I get to keep trying and that’s what I plan to do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Girl in the Mirror

I keep staring at myself in mirrors. Whenever I pass one I see my reflection and question if the girl I see is actually me. I’m not a vain person, or at least I like to think I’m not, but I can’t help myself. I stare in disbelief and confusion. Is this what I really look like? Obviously it must be, but the image I have in my head doesn’t match what I see. My mental self image isn’t prettier or uglier than the one staring back at me, it’s just different and I don’t necessarily know how to explain it.

It’s amazing how much a person’s appearance can change with the simplest adjustments. Obviously girls look different with make-up versus without it and everyone looks different when they change their hairstyle, but I think there subtle differences that we are not always in control of. I can do my hair and make-up exactly the same day after day, but I still see a difference and I don’t know what it is. It’s hard to put my finger on.

I guess I don’t really have formulated thoughts on this yet; it’s just something I’ve been reflecting on (haha, no pun intended).

I have never been a person who has really cared about what I look like. Yes, I want to look good, but I will leave the house without make-up and my hair in a pony tail. I get acne and I deal with it until it goes away. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to wipe the slate clean and have treatments to “improve” my appearance, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not worth it to me.

My face is not perfect but when I look at it I see everything I have overcome. The bump on my forehead reminds me of when my brother hit me with a rock and we thought I was going to die but it turned out to be just a scratch. The small gaps in my teeth are reminders of the “bad” teeth I inherited from my grandpa. Even though I had braces and they were more “perfect” at one point, too much perfection creeps me out. My face shows evidence of the headgear I had to wear when I had braces; the acne it caused and the scaring it left.

Maybe the reason I don’t really see myself in the mirror isn’t because I think I look different, but because I feel different. I don’t feel as old as I look and sometimes I don’t feel as young as I look. Some days all I can see are the imperfections and others I couldn’t care less.

I wonder what I’ll think in 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Will I see my reflection and question the validity of it? Will I feel the same way about the wrinkles and wear that I am sure I will acquire as I do now about my teeth and scars? Will I care if my hair is “done” or not? Will I be just as content with a ponytail and no make-up on? I don’t know, and I obviously wont until I’m in that moment, but I hope I’ll have the same attitude. I hope I won’t be jaded by life and convinced I’m not good enough, because I am.

Someone once told me that I am a treasure worth beholding. I’ve always had confidence in myself and at the time I thought it was a strange thing to say, but I think I’m finally starting to realize the truth behind the statement. I am valuable and my experiences and my life are not trite. I am worth something not only to God, but also to myself, my friends, my family, and someday (hopefully) my husband and kids. I am who I am and I am not going to apologize for that. Others may see the girl in the mirror, but I know there is something deeper behind the reflection.

I hope you can see past the person in your mirror as well because you are valuable too. You are a treasure worth beholding.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Complicated ...

It’s been awhile since the last time I actually wrote something here so I thought it might be a good idea to give some sort of update, although I’m not quite sure what to say. I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things lately, most of which the details I’d rather not discuss via the World Wide Web, but let’s see if I can pontificate in a vague but somehow successful way.

For a variety of reasons I’ve felt a little hypocritical recently. I like to think of myself as the kind of person who acts a certain way and treats others a certain way that is good and right and in line with how I want to be treated. For the most part I think I do this but I’ve had a moment of self discovery and realized that there are some areas of my life where I hold others to a different standard and make excuses for myself. That doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to be that kind of person where I say one thing and then do the complete opposite. Now the decision has to be made about whether or not it’s my ideas and standards or my actions and impulses that are incorrect. In some ways I think they’re both wrong, but how do I fix that?

I just don’t know.

I can also feel myself slipping into a senioritis of sorts. I know it’s too early to check-out. There is still a lot of time ahead of me. Our “summer” starts in two weeks and I’ve got quite a bit to take care of before that gets here. I have to keep my mind in the game, I cannot afford to lose track of all the little details that need to be taken care of. It doesn’t help that it’s been beautiful for the last few weeks and the sunshine is extremely distracting.

The uncertainty of my future has been leaving me with an uneasy feeling. Plans for my trip are moving forward and I’ve begun to finalize details, but nothing is actually cemented in just yet. I am nervous because I don’t feel confident in my plan just yet, but I’m so ready to go. I don’t want to be too detailed that my schedule is inflexible, but I also don’t want to be stuck somewhere wishing I had done more research.

When I get back, don’t know what’s going to happen either. Where will I live, what will I do? I don’t know. There are so many unknowns. While I’m honestly ok with that there is a part of me that wants to know. I like to have a plan and know what I’m walking into even if it’s a loosely based plan that is fluid and able to change. My life is just so very much in transition and I don’t know if it’s wise to make plans.

It’s also really hard to make plans if you’re not sure what it is that you want, and that’s something I don’t really know. There are so many possibilities that I could see myself pursuing but there are so many if’s involved that I don’t know where to begin. It’s something that I need to let go until I get to that point in my life. I need to be in the here and now and take one step at a time, but it’s hard not to think about the future and all the possibilities out there. I like to dream but the downside is having to close a door on one dream in order to pursue another.

I think a lot of this is just life. Making decisions and taking responsibility for them. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not always an easy thing. I’m learning life isn’t easy and maybe I don’t want to grow up too fast. Unfortunately I can’t stop time. It keeps moving forward and I will move right along with it. I am looking forward to my future – despite the unknowns – but it is still scary, unnerving, and unpredictable.
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