Thursday, October 3, 2013

NASHVILLE

Oh yeah. I live here. Not only that, I work for Nashville.

Not the city, the show. On abc. Wednesday nights. 10/9 central. Watch it. Seriously, if it gets cancelled I lose my job.

And boy would I hate that.

I finally have a job and I intend to hold onto it. Because working is an amazing feeling. Seriously, I don't even care that I have to work Saturdays. (I know this will change as time goes on and I start missing fun Saturday things, but it hasn't happened yet.) I'm seriously just so grateful to have a job at all, it doesn't even bother me that it has nothing to do with what I studied or want to do with my life. I am just happy to be making money and feeling productive. I mean, not that I wasn't productive before, but I kind of wasn't.

I have no idea what this job is going to lead to (I'm hoping it will lead to another job that is closer to what I actually want to do) but even if it doesn't get me anywhere else, in the meantime I am happy to have work. I'm emerging from the wasteland known as unemployment and I can't help but leap for joy and be overwhelmingly (borderline obnoxiously) excited. It's just an accounting clerk position. I file paperwork and check numbers all day. But I have the joy of Lord while I do it. Because I waited. And waited. And waited. And finally He delivered. I wonder what He'll deliver next...

Fingers crossed they need accountants on Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

Or stunt doubles for Black Widow with fiery red hair. ;)

Friday, July 26, 2013

It costs nothing to say something kind.

Even less to shut up altogether.

That's Nathan Fillion's twitter bio. Of all the places to get something so deep. Twitter. Ha! The irony.

This idea has led me to seriously reconsider how much time I spend criticizing others, myself, and ideas. Because there is such great truth to be found in that. Kindness is far more rewarding than deprecation (self-inflicted or otherwise). It is so easy to slip into bad mouthing. Trash talking. Finding fault. But do any of those things bring about solutions? Do they help situations? No. As a general rule, they make the participant feel slightly better for a short while, but in the long term there is only hurt.

It's similar to the age old adage: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

But it goes deeper than that. Because if we allow ourselves to be absorbed by negativity, we begin to discover that finding flaw is easier than finding strength. And that is a dangerous place to be. I know it, because I've lived there for some time. I have found it so easy to look at my circumstances and come to the conclusion that I am a failure, and that there is clearly something wrong with me.

And because of that self-deprecation, my self confidence has been slowly eroding away over time. I have missed out on greatness because I lost sight of a simple truth that I should know well. I am having to work hard to gain it back.

Don't be cruel. To yourself or others. I know better than most, it is a road that leads nowhere.

 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.  Proverbs 3:3

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Church and Twins

So, I promised Guatemala stories, and now I will deliver on that promise.

The third day of our trip was a Sunday, and we went to church in the local village. We attended the morning service and then we visited the nursing/old folks home. We had seen it the day before and decided we would go back after the morning church service to visit with the elderly there and distribute cards that the kids from our church had made for them. There was also an evening service. It was a pretty full day to say the least.

The morning service was very good. The music was interesting, as the women leading didn't really seem to have coordinated their song selections with the musicians, so it was amusing watching the guys struggle to figure out what key they were singing in. Definitely spirit led worship going on there though. Even though I had no idea what they were singing about, their passion was evident and it was a beautiful act of worship. The message was great (it was translated for us). The pastor spoke about temptation and how God can empathize with our struggles with it because Christ experienced it as well. He also spoke on how laziness breeds temptation which was really eye opening for me as I recognized its truth. When we allow ourselves to have too much free time, our minds wander and our sin nature comes out.

After the morning service we went back to the Hope of Life cafeteria/pavilion to have lunch and then walked down to the nursing home. The people there were so pleased to see us and loved getting visitors. Those of us with instruments (Travis, Kyle and I) walked around playing and singing worship songs and other random songs we knew. We had a good sized group of elderly people outside listening to us under one of the covered walkways, but not everyone could get out of bed/their rooms. So Sarah came and got me and told me there was a woman who wanted to hear the music, but couldn't get out of bed.

You can't see me, but I'm there with my ukulele.


So I go to this woman, she is very feeble, barely moving on her bed, but she has this big smile on her face. I play my ukulele for her for a while and then we start talking a bit in Spanish. I use the language I know, and when that's exhausted I sort of just took her hand and stroked it. She said something in Spanish I didn't understand. Then she gets this serious look on her face and points knowingly at my stomach. She says one word, "bebay?" I took this to mean she thought I was pregnant, you know, with the whole pointing at the stomach and the word sounding so much like "baby" and all. I started laughing and shaking my head no, trying to say no babies for a long time.

She smiled agreeably, then got serious again.

She holds up two fingers and says, "Dos."

There was only one possible conclusion I could draw from this situation.

Obviously this woman prophesied that I am going to have twins. That or I'll have a baby in two years....

Or she could have been referring to literally 2 of anything else. I honestly have no idea, but if I do end up with twins someday I'll have a good laugh over it.

Anyway, so later that evening we went back to church for the evening service and participated in worship. Our team went up and sang some songs in English. It was very sweet and it was a blessing that they invited us to do that.

Why do they have a Manora on their wall? I have no idea...
Their worship team performed a song that was amazing and I wish I could show you the video of it, but alas, you'll have to wait. It was a song of pure joy, they literally sang about praising God by jumping up and down, shouting, and whistling. And while we sang it, we did it! I've never jumped up and down in church like that before but it was SO FUN.

Anyway. I hope you enjoyed my stories. There will be more.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

God's Grace and Guatemala

Ha! Here I am, actually blogging when I said I would! Who knew it was possible?

So, let's just dive right in shall we?

Was I prepared for this trip?

Not really. In spite of the preparation we did in meetings and the suggested readings (I completed none of that because I am terrible with assigned reading- I did read some though) and the time I spent reading the Bible, I wasn't prepared for what I would encounter. I had an idea- even images to associate with that idea-of what the conditions there would look like. What I would be doing when I got there. My level of usefulness. The level of poverty, the amount of need. All of my presuppositions were incorrect.

And you know what? That was okay.

At first I was a little disappointed that we weren't working as hard or as much as I had expected to. I didn't feel useful at first. And honestly, at first we weren't all that useful. We got there a day earlier than they were prepared for us to (projects-wise) and so the first day we pretty much just got a tour of the Hope of Life campus and the closest village and then we were left to our own devices. And they had a pool. A nice one. That we spent more time in than we probably should have. So at first it felt a little vacation-y to me, and I felt guilt. But it was not a vacation, and it was a formative event in my life that I hope influences all my future ministry and financial choices.

Many of you know that I was skeptical about the idea of participating in a short term mission trip. I've technically been on two before, one for Katrina clean up in Mississippi, and the other for an international choir tour in Europe. The former was so brief I hardly count it, and the latter involved a lot more fun than ministry (for me personally). I also have adopted some of my views on missions from Bryan friends who have grown up in the mission field. But I know that I was called to this mission. There are very few instances in my life that I can point to and say that I had any sort of clarity about my choices. However, in this instance, I was certain.

Something else I wasn't prepared for was the beauty of it. It was truly awe inspiring.
This was the view from the Orphanage. HoL you're doing it right.


How did it go?

Well. Was it perfect? No. Nothing is perfect in this world. But I was blessed by the experience and I'm glad I got to go. We were expecting to do a lot of hard labor, and while we had some of that, it wasn't as all encompassing as the majority of us had planned for. We did a lot of interpersonal work with children, orphans, and seniors. 
We moved a lot of logs though. A lot.

There are so many stories from this trip, I don't even know where to begin. But I'll start with this girl, who I met on the first day we arrived. 

I can't even tell you her name (I don't remember if the hospital workers knew her name), but I can tell you the piece of her story I know and shared in. She is a recent rescue from one of the secluded mountain villages in the surrounding area. Hope of Life runs rescue operations to retrieve starving children and elderly on a regular basis. She was brought in a few days before we got there. She weighs between 15 and 20 lbs. She is 15 years old. That little girl somehow survived being severely malnourished for 15 years. She has very little brain function and has to be fed through a feeding tube. She was crying when we visited. So another member of the team stroked her hair and I sang and played my uke because that's all we could do. That is literally all we could do. We couldn't even hold her without causing her more pain. 

I can honestly say one of things I struggled with most on this trip was not why this is allowed to happen. I understand that sin has completely ravaged this world and pain and death are a part of it. What I struggled to understand was why her. And what good could possibly come from allowing a little girl to starve into her adolescence to the point of entering a vegetative state. Many of the children they rescue recover and lead healthy lives. This little girl has no chance of that. WHY? 

We read through several Psalms during the trip, and one of them was Psalm 73. It basically asks God why the wicked prosper and the good and righteous are left to ruin. Basically why do bad things happen to good people and bad people flourish? The basic conclusion we came to, and the only logical one you can come to I'd argue, is that it is not for us to understand why. We are finite beings who serve an infinite and omniscient God. There is room for heartache, pain, and even a lack of understanding, but we must have faith in God's holy plans. Because that's all we can do. 

We were protected from major catastrophe and blessed in a lot of unexpected ways as a group. Individually I can only account for myself. I was changed and truly humbled. And I am truly thankful in ways I never knew I would be. Because through it all God is good. 

Pray for that girl. Pray for so many more just like her. And remember that one day He will make all things new. 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26

There will be more soon, there were so many stories to share, one blog post couldn't possibly do them justice. 

Here's my short vlog about it as well:

God bless. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Preview

Hey!

I meant to do a full Guatemala post today, but I got distracted and now I don't have the time. So, instead I am posting this short entry so everyone can take a look at my blog's new style and have a teaser of what is to come.

I plan on blogging and vlogging a lot more coming up, so get ready for that. I will be featuring writing samples here like short stories or silly poems (Have you read my limericks? They're fantastic!) as well as life updates, Biblical study observations, and hopefully just some enjoyable reading.

I like to write, I really do. So much so that I ought to convince myself to do it more often.

Guatemala was amazing, and I really wish I had the time to do it justice right now, but I will say that I came to grips with some personal issues I've been facing while there, and God is working on my heart. Now that I'm back home, I have to get on with life. I have nothing holding me back anymore from being a grown up and figuring things out. No longer can I say I'm tied down by the impeding Guatemala trip because, well, it's over. And I'm still searching. And I have bad days. Really bad days. But God is good throughout them.

Did a lot of reading in Psalms while there (part of our daily team devotions) and so I will leave you with a verse I discovered while there that I hope to carry with me all the days of my life.

Psalm 130: 5

"I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."

Hope is kind of a major theme in my writing, and in my life, though lately I keep losing it. But God hasn't lost anything, not even me. So I will wait and hope.

Look forward to a detailed Trip post coming soon! (Hopefully tomorrow.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Discouraged - Disheartened - Dissatisfied RED HEADED REALISM

I think I do my best writing when I'm unhappy. Is that normal?

I have been applying to jobs today. And the day before. And the day before that. And it goes on and on and on and on. Strangers! Waiting! Up and down the boule... wait, that's Journey.

But seriously, I am so unhappy. I put on a good face every Sunday when my church family asks me how I am, but I am not good. I am bad. Which is the opposite of good. I should be doing something productive with my life. But I don't know how to move forward. I feel like I'm perpetually stuck on an everlasting treadmill. Today I made a profile on care.com to be a babysitter/nanny. But I really don't want that. I've been watching other people's children since childhood. I've been doing it so long that if it were the military I would be a sergeant by now.

The trouble is, even if I knew what would make me happiest and/or God happiest I don't know that I have the ability to attain it! I mean, what does a girl have to do to get ahead in the world?

That's not a rhetorical question, I'd love an answer.

In 5 days it will be exactly a year since I graduated college. And what do I have to show for it? NOTHING. Not one thing. Oh wait! I have a car that needs a massive brake overhaul, so there's that. I still work at the YMCA. I still live with my parents. I am still stuck in childhood and I don't know what to do.

I remember being so frustrated in my last year at Bryan that no professor or mentor could quell my fears about life beyond school. They had no magic formula for how to make it in life. How to be successful and attractive and make people just hand you things. And as far as work hard and things will happen for you, well that is crap because I am a really hard worker. But that is completely irrelevant when no one will give you work! What my frustration boils down to is that it doesn't matter how skilled, talented, adaptable, intelligent or even experienced I am. None of that seems to matter at all.

I am the definition of stuck in a rut. I'm pretty sure that if you type that into google a picture of me pops up.

...actually this comes up:


But that is still super depressing! Oy. Let go and let God is so easy to say. But in practice...

Lord help me.

-Red Headed Realism

Monday, April 22, 2013

Guatemala Update

So I've sent out support letters and in them I said that one could follow my progress on my blog, and then I didn't blog again. I am so bad about follow through- at least when it comes to my internet presence. But alas, I am blogging now! So get ready to have your socks blogged off!

I'm sure you're all dying to know how close I am to achieving my support raising goal of $1600. Well, I have raised... $300 so far. And actually $230 of that was my own money. So the dough isn't exactly rolling in. However, I am still optimistic and certain that I will get the support I need. I guess I'll know for sure in about a month, as the next deposit (of $700) is due May 12th.

Also, as an aside on fund raising, the Dig a Well fund reached $5,000!! This is huge because while our goal was $10,000 the amount we have is enough to dig a well. The more we raise after this just allows us to dig a well for a more remote (and therefore more desperate) village. So we are going to dig a well no matter what, but if we can raise more then we can dig one for people who are more secluded and less likely to have the ability to travel to a source of water. So keep sending people to ImGonnaDigAWell.com to donate and download the song.

As far as my spiritual needs go, I would ask for prayer in the area of devotion and focus. I feel thoroughly devoted to this mission, but it's still in the theoretical/not-here-yet stage. I am struggling to buckle down and really start working on preparation. We have suggested readings and I've read minuscule amounts from both books. And my scripture reading? Let's just say I'm not doing enough of it. I want to be a good servant, but I keep allowing myself to be distracted by different things in my life, especially my job situation. God has blessed me with sporadic work, so I've been kept busy between different odd jobs and applying for things all over creation. That shouldn't be an excuse however, for allowing my spiritual life to be pushed aside. So I would appreciate prayers for those things.

I really hate to use the Bryan buzzword community, but being outside of the super Christ-centered Bryan community has made it harder to prioritize things. I'm sure I'm not the only Bryan grad to struggle with this and I won't pretend my situation is unique. But I know that I need help. I need prayer.

Thank you for reading.