Friday, December 31, 2010

3D Trip to Narnia

I went to see Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader with Katherine, Austin, and his family today. I love those movies (and the books) so much! Lewis was a genius. His portrayal of Aslan is pretty much just the way I picture Jesus. Aslan is so great and powerful. He's this majestic lion, he can be scary and intimidating. But at the same time he's this great fuzzy, lovable lion who the children can run and play with. They can bury their faces in his mane and cry or laugh. There are these beautiful scenes where the children frolic (that's like the only word that works to describe it) in the grass and just play. I love it. I love thinking of Jesus like that too, someone I can talk to about anything, hug and laugh with, but also someone who is the Lord of the earth and therefore powerful and terrifying, but great and majestic and loving and caring.

The movie was great! There were a few scenes I just LOVE in that movie. One of the good points is that Aslan doesn't do everything for the children. Like there are all these swords that have to be placed in the middle of Aslan's table to get rid of the evil demons that are taking over. I mean Aslan theoretically could have just gathered all the swords himself and the voyage would never have even had to happen. Then when most are finally gathered, Eustice (sure i spelled that wrong) gets the last sword and goes to the table to put it on the table. Now Aslan could have just transported Eustice to the table, but instead Eustice has to fight against his own fears and disbeliefs to get the sword to the table. All through our lives we wonder why God doesn't just do things for us, but if he did, think of all the things we wouldn't learn! If Aslan had done everything for the children, they wouldn't have changed and grown and learned. Eustice went from an absolutely abominable brat to a strong and courageous young man. Aslan helps the children, bringing them close to the solutions so they can reach the answers. He never gives them more than they can bear to do, but he does make them do things themselves. He cares and loves and provides, but he doesn't spoon feed them.

Then Lucy is in the tower reading a spell to help the weird little one-footed men. The whole movie Lucy struggles with not feeling beautiful. She's constantly comparing herself to her older sister, Susan and wishing to be that beautiful. She finds a spell for changing herself to look like Susan. She dreams she now looks like Susan, but suddenly she, Lucy, no longer exists. Her brothers never got to go to Narnia, bc Lucy wasn't there to discover Narnia. She comes back from her dream, still looking in the mirror, and sees Aslan. He tells her that she doubts her own value too much, and she must stop running from who she is. Jesus makes us as he wants us to be! We can't compare ourselves to everyone around us, wishing to be like this person, or look like that. We're made as we are, and we must stop doubting ourselves, because we are loved and made who we are.

Eustice is a bit of a brat pre-dragon transformation. He gets super greedy, takes dragon treasure, and becomes a dragon. He learns so much over this trial, and he and Reepacheep the mouse become fast friends. Bemoaning his unfortunate predicament, Eustice is sad about becoming a dragon. Reepacheep tells him that "Extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people." Yeah, bad things happen. It had to suck to turn into a dragon! But because of that, Eustice was able to do extraordinary things, and save tons of lives. He changed and grew and became a wonderful boy because of this trial.

And now my very favorite part of the entire movie/book. When Eustice is still a dragon, Aslan appears to him. Eustice attempts to scratch his dragon skin off, but he can't do it, Aslan has to do it for him. He says later that it was the best experience. He said how he tried to do it on his own, make the change, but he couldn't. He had to let Aslan do it. And yeah, it hurt a bit, but it was good, like pulling a thorn out of your foot. I love that best. We can't make the journey of life on our own, it's simply not possible. But Jesus can. We have to let Him. We've got to realize we're not strong enough, and accept Christ's strength to do the job for us.

Chills and Thrills

I'm was just hanging out in the Denver airport, listening to some Joshua Radin and waiting for Katherine to arrive when I realized, today is the last day of the last month of 2010. The year will be over in a number of hours, craziness.

It's been a good year, a long year, a hard year, a changing year, a growing year, and quite a lot more. I became a vegetarian January 17th of this year. That was a big change. I hung out a ton in January with Charlie and Andre while they worked on recording music for the band they had, Walter Hall and the Fireside Chat. I worked at the pool and Delia's and somehow managed to do homework on top of it.

In February we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Alex's adoption. On the one hand I can't believe we've had him so long, but at the same time I feel like we've had him forever. I can't really remember a time when Alex wasn't a part of our family. I remember the whole (lengthy) adoption process, but the kid is such a part of the family. I love him dearly, even if he can be a bugger at times. I don't think of him any differently than I do any of the other kids.

March brought a debate tournament, the last one I ever participated in in St. Louis. I debate with Charlie and we broke to Regionals. Totally unexpected. I remember also visiting KU's campus and eliminating the University of Illinois from my college list. At that point it was down to KU and DU, though I hadn't visited DU yet. I was pretty convinced I would attend KU...but that was before I visited Denver.

April got crazy because of all the college applications and visits and acceptances. Insanity. The highlight though was definitely prom. I went with Samantha and Kelsey and Tess and Theresa, plus Kaitee and one of her friends. Mom made me a beautiful pink dress that I love. We got dressed at Samantha's house and almost got flooded in! It was raining super hard. At one point we looked outside and realized that the rain had gotten so high it reached nearly to the top of the wheels on my stationwagon. I tip-toed out, turned the car on, and slowly drove it through what looked like a river, parking it safely on the other side of the road (where there wasn't a ditch to collect the water). I was so afraid the car wouldn't start, or would stall, or float or something! We finally made it to prom, and managed to keep our hair and makeup and dresses dry. We danced so much. I'm a terrible dancer, but it was so fun. I'll never forget that night.

Towards the end of May I finished highschool, and homeschooling, forever. Best feeling ever. Then I went to Houston to visit Grandpa and Grandma Gloria. They're the best grandparents ever. I love them so much! Grandpa gave me an awesome camera and taught me tons of stuff about photography. I have the worst memory and fear I've forgotten most of it, but I still definitely learned a lot and I appreciate his patience with me. Grandma Gloria is literally the sweetest person I've ever met. I don't know what I'd do without her. One night we went out and had dinner and watched Letters to Juliet. Such a cute movie. So cheesy and predictable from the first three minutes of the film, but sweet and adorable and heartwarming. The perfect watch-with-your-grandma movie.

June brought summer and the opening of the pool. Oh how I love MFAC! We're one big family. It's fun and crazy and most definitely the best job ever. I so hope I can go back again this coming summer! I also became friends with Kaitee Bailey. We're not really friends now, I'm not really sure what happened. I guess some friendships just end, or maybe I'm just really incredibly boring. Regardless, we had a great summer hanging out, talking, staying up late, being crazy, and having fun.

Warped Tour is one of my favorite parts of summer. It was great this past July. I went with Kaitee, which was strange because I've never gone without Charlie before. He was with Bekah and I didn't really want to be third party, so Kaitee and I went together. The bands were great, the sun was intense, and it was a priceless experience as always! Forsure the highlight of that month. I eagerly await Warped 2011.

August was a crazy rush of vacation and realizing that I left for college in a month! We went to New Hampshire for vacation, stopping in New York to visit Aunt Sharon, Uncle Ed, and little Mac on the way. We went in to NYC one day. It was great! I could never live in a city that huge and booming, as much as I love cities, but I do enjoy visiting them! The weather was lovely and I took lots of pictures. Plus Megan and I found pirate jackets that were the absolute bomb. In New Hampshire we visited the Kimball family. I love them. They're the best and such an inspiration. We always have so much fun visiting their family. I also got to talk to Brian a lot and my relationship with Jesus started to grow a lot after my conversation with him. Hearing about his college experience and how much God's grace and love and mercy have changed his life was very impacting. I got to hang out a bit with Jazzy in August too. I haven't seen her in years and it was so great to reconnect with her! Some friendships can just pick up right where they left off, no awkwardness or years between you, that's how it is with Jazzy. We had a great time, Marti and Megan too. We went and saw Despicable Me...definitely one of my all time favorite movies now! I've probably seen it around seven times. The last week before leaving for Denver was super hard. Many friendships seemed to end, a lot of people stopped talking to me. It was hard, losing so many people all at once. I didn't (and still don't) know what happened, or if I did something wrong. It's a struggle a lot of the time. I mean a lot of friends have left, and I can't help but wonder if I'm a common denominator to that. But I try really hard to love people and be the best friend I can be, and I just have to pray and trust for the best. I pray that if there is something I am doing to scare people away, God will show it to me so I can fix the problems. Either way, I'm gonna be here for people, to love them and serve them, no matter what.

September meant...SCHOOL. And DU! Oh how I love college! The first week was a little hard. I didn't just connect with anyone and feared that college would be the same as highschool...all work and no play due to the sad lack of friends. Soon I really got to know my floor, and I love them to death! They're the best. The first month of school flew by, and I loved every minute of it. Really all the rest of school has been documented on here. September through November were great. I've made a lot of wonderful friends, especially Katherine, Alaina, and Andy. I love them all so much. A few friendships ended, sadly, but maybe for the best. I've grown so much in my relationship with God over the past months. I've had a relationship with Him for awhile, but never like this. I never understood the people who could be completely and totally happy with only Jesus. I wanted to, but I simply couldn't comprehend it, nor feel that way. I've come to that place. As much as I truly enjoy human company, food and clothes and shelter and internet and all the comforts of life, I do know that all I really need is Jesus. He's my father, best friend, comforter, savior. I can tell Him anything, and He will never stop loving me. Remembering the pain of losing friends, and dealing with the fear of other people leaving, there is so much comfort in the knowledge that He will never ever leave. He is here to stay, faithful and true and loving me more deeply than I can ever imagine, even when I mess up or fail or run away from Him. He's there, arms open, ready to love me and care for me and forgive me.

So this year's been hard, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Senior year sucked, and some days I barely thought I could get through the loneliness and pain of rejection and few friends. But I got through it, by the grace of God. And college is more wonderful than I could have hoped. I didn't hope, for fear I would be disappointed. I've met such wonderful people who have helped me grow and loved me and I love them back. I pray they'll be there for a long, long while, but Jesus is here, no matter what. I've grown so much as an artist, too. Since taking my first official art class last year I knew that's what I wanted to do, but I've been able to explore it so much more in college. Not just photography, but painting and drawing and the 3D class was marvelous. I spent all of break painting a giant spoon on my wall. It's probably around 3 or 4 feet long and has tall buildings growing up out of the mouth of the spoon. I love it. I painted designs on the drawers of a bedside table and decoupaged the sides and top for Megan's Christmas present. I drew and took photos and am falling more and more in love with art all the time.

I've learned and stretched and hurt and laughed and cried and grown and smiled and I wouldn't trade anything for the experiences that have helped me grow closer to my Best Friend. I look forward to the next year, continuing my vegetarianism, friendships, education, art, and most of all, Jesus.  

Unicorns and Smashed-Up Cars, Dancing Bears and Going Far

It's 4 AM. I leave in about an hour for the airport. Needless to say, it's been a long day. I was up incredibly late last night...well Wednesday night anyways...packing and painting and writing on here. Waking up early this morning (Thursday), I went for a run. At 50 degrees outside, it felt lovely. I ran a whole two miles! Quite a distance for me, I'm a terrible runner. After getting dressed I grabbed my dear little brother, Alex, and we drove off, ready to mark the first few things off my long To Do list. Fate was against us. I was out of gas, so we stopped at the nearest gas station. As I was pulling away, about to enter the street, my car sputtered out and stopped running entirely. Hazard lights went on, cell phone was pulled out, and I frantically began calling my parents. Alternating between my dad's phone, which refused to 'find itself' and ring, and my mom's phone, which either when to voicemail or hung up after a  few rings, I soon left about 20 missed calls on each parent's cellular device. Cars would pull up behind me, sit there for awhile, stare me down in the rearview mirror, and then honk incessantly. One would think that hazard lights simply meant 'my blinkers are skitzophrenic and I'm really just trying to hold you up and piss you off." Somehow the people lining up behind my stalled car failed to realize that I couldn't turn right. They'd finally remember what hazard lights mean and pull around me. Frustratingly enough, none managed to stop and see if I needed help. I kept trying to turn my car on, but to no avail. My dad was at a doctor's appointment with my mom and said he couldn't come help. His lack of care for his daughter's plight was upsetting, but what happens happens! All the while I was praying the car would start or someone would come. Finally a nice lady from the gas station walked over from her car to see if I needed help. She wasn't able to push my car herself, but after calling her husband, and a few nice men filling their truck up assisted, my car was pushed into a safe parking spot. Thankfully Megan just got her license. She drove the suburban to the Phillips station and picked us up. We commandeered the suburban, after dropping Meg off at home, and journeyed on to the mall.

Our adventures were far from over, due to my rather forgetful brain. Dear Alex was a great sport, I'm quite proud of him. We finally found a parking space at the quite crowded mall and walked/skidded inside, only to find that I had forgotten my bag with the sweater and keyboard cover I needed to return! Dashing back out to the car, we grabbed the bag, and made our way back inside. Then it was back and forth across the mall. We looked for slippers, found hats, changed our minds about what to buy, returned my sweater, found clothes for me to exchange the sweater for, looked for a few late Christmas gifts, bought Alex's new ZuZu pet (named Rocko), and purchased my new iPod at the Apple store. A bit worn out, with many errands left to run, we went back out to the car. I then discovered I had forgotten to return the keyboard cover! Back into the mall, up the escalator, and to the Apple store we went. I'm sure they thought I was the dumbest blonde to enter the store in at least a few days, hopefully not. I returned the keyboard cover and we went to Target. A few pairs of socks and some shampoo later we were back in the car. Poor Alex was hungry, but he cheerfully played with Rocko and didn't complain. We picked up my paycheck and went to the bank.

I'm not a big fan of banks. They stress me out, money is just a stressful thing! Plus, they change the way one is to deposit money every time, I swear. Sometimes you have to provide the account number, but they have to give it to you. This frustrates the teller. Then I'm never sure which lines to write the check amount and number and dollar amount on, and it changes based on a deposit or withdrawal. Confusing. Then sometimes you have to write in your name and sign the slip of paper, other times the teller doesn't care! So many variations result in me asking a lot of questions, and the banker looking at me like I'm mentally challenged. I generally leave banks feeling like quite the moron. Ah, well.

We got back home and I went to go set up my new iPod. The screen was messed up. First the car, then the iPod, it was almost more than I could bear! I packed it up and prepared to go back to the mall...again. Megan came with me, and before we had left she looked at the iPod to see what was wrong. It miraculously worked, I thank Jesus for fixing it. So I didn't have to go back to the mall and look like the truly dumbest blonde ever, which was a blessing. I spent the next hour putting music and photos on my new iPod. His name is Fredrick.

Frenzied packing and general running around flipping out ensued. Not enough time, too many clothes, and not enough space in my bags. I'm now currently facing a massive duffel bag I could definitely fit in, one only slightly smaller, a way-too-large camera bag stuffed with three cameras, an external harddrive, various batteries, lenses, and other cameraic odds and ends, and a dinosaur backpack stuffed with books.
We went out to O'Charley's for dinner, last family event before I head back to college. A few hours and much packing later, Charlie and Andre came over to chill for a bit. It was so good to see them! We talked, listened to music, and took a midnight hippie trip to Taco Bell and Jack in the Box. Hippie for Andre and I...we just chilled in the back of Charlie's van, which currently has no back seats, just like old times. Some old times are still good times, quite lovely.

Now I get to finish packing and then leave for lovely Denver! I'm so excited to be back, and see Katherine and Andy and Alaina and everyone else!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Miles and Miles and Miles and CDs

We drove back from my grandparents house in Georgia today. It's a long ride, and we spent it listening to a dramatized version of the Chronicles of Narnia. We listened to The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; and Prince Caspian and the Return to Narnia. I really love those books. I remember sitting in my dad's lap in a giant brown armchair in Russia and listening to my dad read those books to me. I was probably only around four. The movies terrified me when I was young, the old version of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe sports a frightening witch and wolves. Still, they're probably some of my favorite stories, when I come to think of it.

I especially love Aslan. I always named my toy lions after him, even if they were female or clearly Simba from the Lion King. Listening to the stories now, I'm able to understand more of the theology behind the tale, and I see how Aslan has shaped much of my image of God.

C.S. Lewis was a Christian, and wrote many parts of the books as an allegory to the Bible and Jesus. In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan sacrifices his life to save the life of a traitor, Edmund. Hearing that part of the story I thought of the crucifixion. It's crazy that Jesus died for us, giving up everything. Lucy wants to tell Edmund what Aslan did for him, but Susan advises against it, feeling that Edmund already feels terrible enough for his blunders. Still, Lucy says, "I think he should know." Sometimes I think we're the same way. We've read the stories, watched the movies, seen the pictures. We know what Jesus did...but do we really know? I wonder. Maybe we need to be told again, really told, and really listen, really contemplate and comprehend what a great, great sacrifice was made on our miserable behalfs.

I dearly love the image of Lucy and Susan riding on Aslan's back. I smile listening to the readers tell of the children playing with Aslan, burying their faces in his soft mane. He's powerful and strong. He's wild and terrifying. He's loving and gentle. He's caring and kind. He's their king, and they love him with all their hearts. I love thinking of Jesus like that. Though He's a great King, powerful and mighty and to be feared, I can still come to Him and be loved. I can still tell Him my fears and terrors and sorrows and joys. He'll comfort me and hold me. He'll love me and care for me. But He'll also rebuke me when I need it (which is often) and sometimes when He watches out for me, it hurts at first. But everything He does is for a reason, everything has a purpose. Maybe sometimes, though, I'm seeing it the wrong way.

It's like in The Horse and His Boy. Shasta is walking along bemoaning his unfortunate life. Aslan comes along and asks why Shasta is so miserable, why his life is to be perceived as so awful. Shasta talks about how he was abandoned as a baby and brought up by a cruel fisherman. He escaped with Bree, the horse, only to be chased by lions, stranded in the desert and terrified by monsters at the tombs, and chased by more lions later. He had to run far when he was exhausted, and now he was lost in a strange land. The great lion, Aslan, replies that he does not believe Shasta has led such a terrible life after all. Confused, Shasta asks why. Aslan proceeds to explain that he was the lion who pushed the basket Shasta had been left in as a baby to shore so the fisherman would find it. He said he was the lion who chased Shasta and Bree, uniting them with Aravis her mare, Quinn. He explains that he was the lion who chased away the jackels at the tombs and that he was the cat who comforted Shasta while he slept at the tombs. He says he was the lion who terrified the horses the second time, giving them the speed of fear so they could reach the castle in time to warn the king of an attack. Then the light of morning comes and Shasta is able to see that the lion, who had been walking with him all night, had kept he and his horse from falling off the steep path. So many things in Shasta's story seemed so awful. His life did seem quite miserable when one looked at it. But one would be looking at it from the wrong perspective. Shasta's life had been saved countless times, and he had been brave and saved many lives, even though he was tired or scared.

I think a lot of the time I look at things the wrong way. I think life sucks, and focus on the outwardly bad appearance of circumstances. But everything's got a reason, everything's got a plan. Sometimes bad things just happen, but good can come out of them. You have to be willing to look for the good though, and to trust God's hand in things. He's got things under control, He always does. Sometimes we might not think it, but it might just be because we don't understand. He always knows what He's doing, and He never fails us or lets us go. We're not always meant to understand, but we are to follow and trust and obey.

Don't Quit On Me...

Welp, I'm officially the worst blog-writer ever. It's been how long since my last post? Ah, well, can't be helped. The chances that this is actually being read are pretty slim anyways :p

So we went to Georgia to visit my grandparents the day after Christmas. That makes me realize I didn't write a blog about Christmas. I feel bad, I mean it was the celebration of my Savior's birth. The beginning of His great sacrifice for us. I should have focused on it more than I did. Christmas just didn't feel...Christmas-ey this year. I don't know what was different, maybe because my other set of grandparents (the ones from Texas) weren't there this year. Maybe I'm just more focused on my self and less-focused on those around me, or the joy of the season, than I'd like to think. Regardless, I feel like I just woke up one day and it was Christmas morning. Like despite all the cookie-baking, cleaning, and decorating we did, it wasn't that big day of celebration. The season didn't seem as joyous as it should have. Part of it may be that the Christmas tree was up the whole time I was at the house, so there wasn't a transformation from pre-Christmas to Christmas decorations. Maybe I was too focused on how much I miss Denver and the friends I have there. Maybe I'm just not full of the joy I should be full of. I think that could be part of it. 

I've felt kinda...dull, blah, deadish, these past weeks. I'm striving, and praying, so much to be able to find joy in Jesus, no matter the circumstances, but it's hard! I haven't been depressed or sad or missing school so much it hurts. I've been generally happy and content with my lot in life. But I've still felt very very blah. Like a big white blob of something dolloped on your plate in the cafeteria. It's cold and boring and not especially appetizing. Not that I'm food or anything...

I'm extremely excited to for returning to Denver, though. I leave around 6AM on Friday! This means I only have one day to, packing, washing clothes, running errands, painting, and a lot more packing and running around. It's a bit hectic. I'm mildly stressed. Plus hoping to see a few more people I won't be able to see until summer. We'll see how it goes! I'm anticipating very little sleep over the next few days. That's okay, the vampire look is in, right? Maybe more of a zombie...but those are cool too, right? Either way, I'm thrilled. I'm hoping that once I'm around friends and having more fun, and seeing the absolutely gorgeous Colorado mountains again, I'll be more interesting. Maybe I'm so boring because I AM bored, there isn't much to do here. I've been painting a lot. Which has been great. But there isn't much variety. Who knows, maybe I'm just a boring person and just realizing it! Maybe I've just been asleep for awhile and need to wake up. So I'm praying and thinking and packing and painting and dashing madly about in an attempt to get everything into one or two suitcases. We'll see how it goes. Peace. (:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friendsies and Life

I just got back from the HEIGHTS (the gym near my house, where I'm a lifeguard. It's pretty sweet) where I attended one of the boot camp classes. It was intense. I'm tired, and happy. Working out is loverly.

So I haven't really hung out with very many people here. Part of me was hoping that since I was home, friendships that ended would be rekindled. I'm still not sure what happened to make so many people "unfriend" me. I guess boyfriends and girlfriends change people's priorities. It's life.

I was going through photos on facebook the other day. Nearly all my photos are with people who I don't see or talk to anymore. It made me a bit sad at first, seeing all good times now over. Then I realized that wallowing in the sadness of friendships past wasn't going to get me anywhere. Better to just remember the laughter and fun and smile. Appreciate and be thankful for the times I did have with those people. It's sad the relationships are over. It's sad that either I scared them away or they didn't care. It's sad that we won't have those times again. But at least I had those times at all! I learned and grew and had fun. It's all a part of life, the endless cycle of people. Some people are just a dot on the painting of life. Others are long threads, weaving in and out. Some appear for awhile, disappear, and come back later. People come and go, change and grow, love and hate and hurt. We can't control it. So it's best just to live. Accept what comes, mourn what goes. Then stand up, wipe away the tears, and continue with life. Living in the past gets no one further into the future. The past effects our future, but we can never return to it.

So instead of feeling melancholy while I browsed photos, I smiled. I remembered the fun I had that one time, that one place, with that one person, and I enjoyed the good times past, and hoped for better times with new people to come.

And I've had some great times with a few friends while I've been home. The chickenologists from MRH are fabulous. We chilled and took ugly pictures. It was lovely. Hopefully Kaila will post the photos on facebook soon! I had a few other people from MRH over last weekend. We decorated cookies (sorta...mostly we just pigged out on deserts. Long time in the gym the next day.) and watched movies. Well...half of us stayed awake for one, go Bourne!

I've hung out with Megan a bunch too. She's pretty great. We mostly just talk. We journeyed to the mall the other day, trying on clothes, laughing at people or merchandise, and buying Christmas presents. I found some pretty great ones!

I went to the City Museum with Megan, her bff Holly, and Andre last week too. It was super fun! I love that place. It's the best. There was a campfire outside and they were giving out marshmellows to roast. We found some sweet little tunnels and just chilled, talking and scaring small children. Small being a relative term.

Tuesday Andre and I watched Get Him To The Greek with Russel Brand. That guy has a fabulous voice. He should have a band, I would buy his CD. The movie was good, a bit raunchy, but funny. "So when life slips you a Jeffery, stroke the furry walls." Andre's puppies are super sweet and really chill. We took a family picture:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Is It A Wonderful Life?

I have so many random thought dashing through my mind right now. Hopefully I can make sense of them...I'll do my very, very best. 

We watched It's A Wonderful Life tonight as a family. I strongly dislike that movie, a fact I discovered only just this evening. I know, I know, I'm crazy. That's one of those movies you are supposed to watch and feel all warm and fuzzy inside because it's so cute and has a happy ending and gives meaning to life. It's really quite ridiculous and self-centered that such a movie should make me feel so negative. Maybe I'm just moody, maybe I'm retarded, maybe I'm completely narcissistic. Those are all quite valid options. 

I'm the kind of person who loves to do things for people, loves to give gifts, loves to help, loves to make people happy, etc. But I also love to be appreciated for these actions. I'm bad at just serving for the sake of serving, I want recognition. Just a "thank you," or "we need you," or "we couldn't have done it without you" ... that sort of thing. It's kind of a problem, because I then get mad or frustrated that people (aka my family) haven't noticed how much I've done, or properly recognized it, and then "we've got a big, big mess on our hands tonight..." (The Academy Is). I'm not sure if this even makes sense...but anyways...

I'm also one of those kinds of people who frequently wonders what impact I actually have on people's lives. I've had a lot of friends, and I've lost a lot of friends. I don't know if I'm just a terrible friend, if there's something wrong with me, if I push people away (unintentionally), or if I'm just not the sort of person who is meant to have lasting friends. Watching It's A Wonderful Life didn't make me realize how much I'm needed in the world, instead it reminded me of all the times I've felt so helpless and useless, unwanted and unneeded. I kinda wish I could have a George Bailey moment (aside from the jumping into a freezing lake in the dead of winter after my guardian angel). I wish I could know that whatever I've done in this life has made some sort of difference. Sometimes I'm not so sure it has. I haven't done great things like George Bailey had. He gave up so much for his friends and family and town. He sacrificed himself constantly for others, but he was never bitter. Well...he mostly wasn't. That day he was. Anyways, he was a generally cheerful and loved person. Of course his life made a difference! 

Then at the end of the movie George gets a Bible from his guardian angel. It has a quote on the inside that says, "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." That quote only added to my negative feelings. Like I said, I've lost a lot of friends. Most of them, in fact. I have absolutely wonderful friends at college. I love them dearly. They are the greatest, but back in St. Louis, I have very few friends. So does that make me a failure? And if so, what have I done so wrong to have so many people leave. 

Then I had a miniature fight with my dad...more like a slight disagreement. So I was pissed. And feeling very unappreciated. I've been doing a lot and cleaning and dishes and laundry. I'm not actually sure how anything was done when I wasn't here! But mom said they got along just find without me, so I guess they figured out a way. I went up to my room in a pretty bad mood. I'm not proud of it, but that's just the way it was. 

I started painting. Painting is wonderful. Art is great. It's therapeutic. I'm so thankful God gave me art, because sometimes I feel like that's all I have. It made me feel a bit better, I was just sitting there painting and thinking and questioning. Questioning is good. It's better than just accepting life and hating it. I don't think there's anything wrong with questioning God. I think He would rather us be upset and questioning and at least talking to Him than in a static and routine religion. I don't even remember exactly what I was thinking or saying, but I know He told me I was being silly. I was like, "I know! But I want to act like a ridiculous child! I don't want to accept anything, I want to be in a bad mood and angry and hurt!" I thought about the movie, and failing. I thought about not being accepted or needed. I thought about people leaving, losing friends. I wondered what is the point in caring so much about people, or putting so much into a relationship, if people leave. And I just remember very clearly hearing, "Have I ever walked away?" Yeah. Good point. I shut up and thought more about Jesus after that. 

He doesn't leave. He's never walked away. He's always there, even though I complain and argue and bitch. I whine so much. I take Him for granted. I'm upset about people not appreciating me...let's just think for a second about how much I fail to appreciate Him. There are so many little gifts God gives us, gives me. Some of them I notice. It's beautiful. I remember one day thinking about a song I really wanted to hear, Friend of God, in church. I was just talking to God and mentioned it to Him, hoped I'd get to hear it at New City when I was back in St. Louis. That morning the worship band at Denver United played it. I was stunned. I had also mentioned a desire to hear Blessed Be Your Name, and that song was played that morning as well. I was so struck by that tiny act. It could be called a coincidence, but I don't think so. Too perfect a coincidence for me to deem it that. Such a small, random thing, but it reminded me that He hears me, and He cares. So I appreciated that moment! But there are so many thousands of things I never even notice. I count them as part of my daily life, or maybe think I deserve the blessing. I'm not under-appreciated, but I under-appreciate God. Yet, He's never walked away. He never will. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jango and Love (A Continuation of My Last Post)

I was chilling with my wonderful and adorable doggy, Jango, and thinking about a scene from a TV show I watched last night. The scene featured a distraught woman and her boyfriend. Her distress resulted from some rather tragic news she had just received from the doctor...she was incapable of birthing children. Her boyfriend tried to comfort her, wrapping his arms around her and saying, "It's okay, I love you, and I will always love you." Now obviously his undying love wouldn't give her the ability to have kids. It didn't fix the problem, in that sense. But all the same, the knowledge that no matter what he would always love her was a comfort. 

I was randomly thinking about this and how it's like Jesus. There are a lot of problems in the world. There's a lot of evil and sin, sorrow and pain. I don't understand it. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in that, the not understanding. I can't comprehend some of the evil that happens in our world. But sometimes you just have to let go. When you really think about it, God is perfect. We are so far from perfect there isn't even a comparison. Daily we do something to fail God, from anger to lying to murder, some sin is committed, and frequently. Still, for some crazy awesome reason, He still loves us! He even loves those of the human race who don't love Him in return. He loves those who have utterly rejected Him. He loves us and this world so much He'll never give up on us. If we're looking for fairness, that isn't fair. That's mercy. 

So what I realized is that even though the world can be painful, and I don't understand they why of it, that's not what really matters. Even though my life can be hard, and others lives even more difficult, that isn't the point. What matters is that Jesus loves me, and that He always will. 

Saving the World, One Smile at a Time

Well...I'm either super lazy or completely uninspired in St. Louis. Or I'm enjoying sleeping to much to do anything productive. Regardless, I'm posting now! 

These past few weeks have been crazy. When I first got back to St. Louis it was ridiculous. I hated it, I hated being here, I hated being away from DU and Colorado and friends. Needless to say, I wasn't in the greatest of moods. I felt angry and bitter and sad, and I'm not entirely sure why. It just wasn't the greatest of situations. I wasn't happy with my attitude, but I couldn't seem to change it no matter what. I tried to be kind, caring, happy, but I just got frustrated with everyone and ended up mad at them. 

Finally one day I became really heartbroken about it. I cried and yelled and pleaded and talked to Jesus for a long time. It didn't seem fair, that I had been so happy in college and now had to deal with being so unhappy. It wasn't fair that I only got a few months of joy when I've had so much sadness, and it wasn't fair that the joy only got to last when I was having fun, or with friends. I wanted to be happy all the time, no matter the circumstances, like Paul. 

I started thinking about how much I thought I had changed in college. I thought I was filled with joy and love, because of Jesus, not as a result of my circumstances. I thought I was getting stronger and more caring, more servant-hearted. But coming home, I realized that I hadn't changed that much. Maybe I'm actually just a bitter, awful individual, with some lovely mask on in college. Maybe not, maybe my family just brings out the worst in me. Or maybe I'm willing to let my poor qualities shine when around my family because they're supposed to love me no matter what, whereas if you get too annoying or rude around friends they can just leave. 

So I cried out that I wanted change, I wanted to truly be different, I wanted to love and care and be joyful no matter what came my way. And Jesus has been working in me, changing me, showing His awesome strength through my weakness. I feel content, happy, loved. I still miss everyone from DU terribly. I can't wait to go back. But I know that even if I never got to return to college, never saw my dear friends again, I would be okay - sad, but okay. As long as I am living my life loving Jesus and sharing His mercy and love with others, I will be okay. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Wonders and the Beauties and the Joys

Sorry I haven't posted anything in ages! This is from last week. We drove to Louisiana and I just blogged on paper and typed it up later :)

It's a beautiful place, this world in which we reside. Sometimes I really just can't even believe it. Honestly watching the city-lights from the air last night was one of the most beautiful sights I've even seen. The lights looked like tiny jewels laid into an intricate bracelet or necklace, twinkling and glowing in the soft light of a display case.

Now I'm driving with my familia to Louisiana for Thanksgiving. I just finished reading Becoming Chloe (by Catherine Ryan Hyde). It's one of my favorite books of all time, thus far. It chronicles the journey of two kids who've had messed up lives as they search for meaning in a cruel world. They're searching for beauty, and they find it.

This world is just so incredible. I wish I could think of a different word to use for 'beauty' because I feel as though I'm over-using it, but there's honestly no other word that can properly describe this place. Of course there are ugly parts, there's sin and cruelty and badness. That doesn't mean there isn't beauty though. “Nobody said it was a beautiful world with no scars,” Jordan in Becoming Chloe says. And sometimes you need those moments to fully understand and appreciate the other times. It's like Jordy says in his letter to Dr. Reyso, “But now I feel like anybody can think the world is beautiful when it's all going their way. That's just like untested faith. But when you've got one eye swollen shut and you still know it's better than it is bad, then you're onto something...It's a beautiful world, but also a scary one. I used to think something couldn't be both. But then I remembered the point of no return on the Niagara River, and how much it fascinated me as a kid. Because it was just that; beautiful and scary. It's like once you get that sense that there's no real security, that anything at all can happen to you, then every minute you're okay is a joy. Part of the joy is feeling like you can make your way in a world that isn't always easy.” And there's so much beauty, and so much joy in this big world.

It's such a beautiful world, Jordy. I didn't know. I didn't know it was such a beautiful world. I mean, how could I know? …. What if I'd lived my whole life and never known? Do people live their whole lives and never know?” I wish we all knew! I'm looking out the window and watching the world as we drive by and it's spectacular. The sky is blue, spotted with little puffs of white clouds. The trees are mottled green and red, gold, orange and crimson, brown and yellow. Everything is sharp, clear, crisp with the preparation of a biting winter. The grass is a brilliant green, contrasted by brown fields of crops now ended. The saddest part is realizing that so many people won't, or can't, see this sight as I do. They won't relish the warm sun streaming in the window, highlighting the clouds and trees in a halo of light. They would only see a dying forest, brown and bare. But there's beauty in the circle of life. It's just like Jordy says, “Without her, I might have seen all this and still not known what a beautiful world it is. That I the saddest fate of all.” Truly it is the saddest fate of all.

You have to just live. Sometimes I think we rush through life. All our time is spent trying to find the next best thing, but maybe this is the best thing! The world is full of wonders, so many we can never experience them all. But we should spend every bit of our time soaking in all the beauty and joy and wonder of the world. It's a waste not to. And there are so many perfect moments, moments that would be a life worth living just to experience that one minute or hour or day. Jordan and Chloe climb a mountain. At the top Chloe says, “Even if this is the only thing I ever did in my whole life, it would be worth having a life just to do this.” We should live like that. Experiencing each moment to its fullest, a life worth having.

Another part I just love of this book is noticing the small joys and beauties. An especially striking part is when they're on the mountain. Running into two other hikers, Jordan and Chloe are asked if they've seen anyone else. Jordan says no, Chloe says yes. Confused, Jordan asks Chloe who else she saw, and she says the marmots. He responds that he wasn't counting the marmot. “How can you not count them marmots?” Chloe says. They go to see the Grand Canyon and mountains and the Painted Desert. Hitchhiking to the ocean to ride horses on the beach, Chloe and Jordy meet a very wise ninety year old man. He tells them he's barely scratched the surface of the iceberg of beauty, there's so much no once can ever take it all in. And he reminds them about the little things. “Nothing wrong with the Grand Canyon,” Maximilian says, “Nothing wrong with wanting to see the ocean. Nothing wrong with big beautiful things. But sometimes beauty can be some pretty close work.” The world's a beautiful place, if you just open your eyes and see