Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Just Color

So last night I watched Hotel Rwanda. Wow. That movie was intense. When I checked it out from the front desk, the R.A. essentially told me, "This movie is amazing, but it will make you very, very angry. Don't break anything, we don't want to fine you." There was a little humor in her statement, but still, I was worried.
It did make me mad. And sad. And...well mostly just sad. Sad and disappointed in humanity. I can't comprehend that level of hate and oppression. The whole situation is just...I don't even know. I mean first off, how could the Belgians be so incredibly dumb and horrible and hateful? They started the whole conflict! They literally went into Rwanda and picked the Africans who were taller, or had lighter skin and gave them cards labeling them "Tutsi." They even measured peoples' noses to see whose were smaller! There were no racial conflicts before the Belgians came and "civilized" Central Africa. They gave the Tutsis power, because they were closer to caucasian by a nostril size. This, of course, upset the Hutus, the 'blacker' tribe. Once the Belgians left, the power was given to the Hutus. I'm still confused about that... Anyways, the Hutus decided to get back at the Tutsis for the years of poor treatment. Eventually the Hutus decided that the Tutsis were so undesirable the only logical (what logic could they be using?) was to kill them all off. Genocide ensued.
To start off, I can't even imagine the level of hate, cruelty, and inhumanity that leads people to justify the brutal murder of so many people, of infants and children and women! How could these people have no moral compass of any sort that informed them of the absolute evil of their actions? We're all human. That's it. Who cares about a different shade of skin, or eye color, or hair, or who has straighter teeth or better toenails? We're people. Our insides (essentially) work the same. Why?
I guess some of it stems from jealousy. I think this came from grudges and prejudices held onto for years and years. Some things just have to be let go. At a certain point people have to move on from the past. Not forget it, lest it repeat it self, but move on. Forgive. Stop victimizing themselves and live. Life is too short to hold grudges.
So first of all I'm appalled at the level of cruelty the Belgians, Tutsis, and eventually the Hutus showed one another that led to the Hutus' genocide of the Tutsi peoples. To make matters worse, no one cared. The UN was sent, but the UN can't really do anything. They're a peace keeping force or something. With little power to actually act, they couldn't even fire their guns. Lots of good that does against Hutu tribesmen with guns, power tools, and machetes. In one scene the main character, Paul, is driving down a road. Stretched in front of him, as far as the eye can see along the road, are hundreds of murdered Tutsis. They'd been "chopped." I cried. I cried a lot during that movie. It was brutal. So the UN can't do shit, but there are plenty of other countries who could. Guess what? They don't. The French are the suppliers of the Hutus, but do they stop them? No. They don't do anything. They don't care. At one point European forces (I forget the country) arrive. Everyone is exuberant at the thought of relief from the slaughter. Then the truth comes out...they aren't here to help. They aren't here to stop the Hutus or remove the Tutsi peoples or Hutus who have sympathized with the Tutsis and are therefore in danger as well. They've come...for the white people. Anyone white, that's who they remove. They could care less about anyone else. That made me cry too. It made me want to hate white people. It's just a difference in pigment...we're all human. We're all alive. We're all worth something. Who cares what color we are? I'm super pale. Does that make me better or worse than someone who can actually develop a good tan in the summer? Whatever the color, I can't believe that so many countries just stood by and allowed that genocide to occur. I can't believe someone didn't step in. I'm so disappointed in humanity.
I know that genocide on that level isn't going on today, but it still is. I know so many refugee families from Africa who have fled because their tribe fell out of favor. Suddenly their lives were in danger. There is a man at my church who fled from the Congo I believe. He watched his family be murdered. He had to see that. Hiding in a bush, there was nothing he could do to save them. Can you imagine watching your family be brutally killed? Can you even comprehend that horror? I can't. I'd rather die. Genocide is still going on today. There is so much tragedy all over the world. Hunger, AIDS, genocide, prejudice, poverty, homelessness, lack of water, lack of education, etc. The United States is so blessed. We have so much. Our poorest often have more than the richest in some of these countries.
Look around you. No, you can't stop the genocide in third world countries, but you can do something! So do. Find a way to make a difference. Look in your own city or town and help the homeless there. Make donations to organizations that help countries like Africa. Get involved. I assure you, you can spare some money for these people. They have nothing, literally. Do something, because you can make a difference, but change won't come if no one acts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I've been studying all day, literally. I mean I did sleep in pretty late and go work out, but since about 1:00 till now (almost 10) I've been doing homework. Homework is probably one of the most torturous things ever invented. I suppose if it comes in small handfuls, or at least moderately decent sizes, it's bearable. This is just way too much work. I'm in this German Culture (aka history) class. It's interesting, and I like the teacher a lot, but it's hard. I'm definitely the least-informed person in the class. Going in, all I knew about Germany was Hitler, Nazis, and BMWs. So...not a lot. Therefore, I've been doing some intense studying. We had a pop quiz in the class and let's just say I didn't do very well. I've been doing all the reading and retaining nothing. My solution was to go back through all the past readings taking detailed notes. This has taken all week. When I'm not in class I'm in my room, with the door locked, studying German history, reading a long German poem (in English), doing Russian homework, writing short analysis' of art pieces (tedious), or writing for my writing class. I finally finished most of the German reading...I'll save the Communist Manifesto for tomorrow :P Now I'm embarking on paper writing. As I'm a little out of it, and definitely not in the paper writing mood, I thought I'd blog a bit to hopefully get the creative writing juices flowing.

So yeah, the past two weeks have been pretty ehhhh. Everyone's kinda been like that. It's like we're all (boys included) PMSing...all the time (for you uninformed males, it's only supposed to last a week). I was thinking this morning about last quarter and God. Then if you'd have asked me about my relationship with Jesus a huge smile would break across my face. Filled with genuine pure joy I would tell you how Jesus is my very best friend, how I love Him and more incredibly, He loves me! I'd tell you about how He's all I need, that I want to be like Him and serve Him with my life. I'd tell you how my goal was to love and serve wholeheartedly and unselfishly. Last quarter I was just filled with happiness, true joy, in Christ.

 This quarter I'd have the same answer. I don't love Jesus less, there's just less joy in my response. I was thinking about it this morning as I lay in bed. I feel like I've lost something, or found something bad. I realized my heart is getting icy. I'm wrapping it in a freezing layer of resentment, anger, hurt, frustration, and bitterness. Instead of loving people despite their annoying tendencies, frustrating comments, or sometimes hurtful comments, I've been allowing myself to give in to Satan's temptation to just dislike people. There are a few people on my floor I'm quite frustrated with. Instead of praying for the strength to love them through this, I've just been annoyed with them. I talk about how frustrated I am with other frustrated people, and together we get more and more frustrated.

So now my prayer is that God will melt my heart. That He'll change my anger to love, or sadness for broken people. I can't have a joyful and loving relationship with God when I'm consciously living in sin. I need to be rescued, dragged from the pit I'm digging for myself and held in His loving embrace. A big part of me doesn't want to, though. I want to hold tightly to my shovel of anger and dislike and keep digging my tunnel of bad. It's dark and scary there, but the evil part of me wants it. It's easier to stay there. It's easier to just not like people. And it's far more difficult to throw down the shovel and start climbing my way out. Actually, it's impossible. I have to call up and admit that I was stupid to dig that hole and beg for a rope or arm to pull me back up.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Just A Little Ink

A little bell rang as we pushed through the double glass doors and walked into the almost empty studio. I filled out the paperwork and signed my name on the dotted line as butterflies had a dance party to loud techno music in my stomach. I laid down on the table, pulled up my shirt, closed my eyes, and prepared for some pain. Apparently the tattoo took a whole hour, thankfully it didn't seem that long to me. I held my friend Dee's hand the whole time and tried to think about other things. I definitely made a few origami birds in my mind. 

The tattoo definitely hurt a lot, but it was so worth it. I got a sparrow in flight on my left side. I brought in a few pictures and Lauren, the tattoo artist, combined them. She did a wonderful job, I absolutely love it. 

You might be wondering why I chose a sparrow. It's a little complicated and a slightly extensive answer, if you want the whole thing. It means a lot of things. If someone wants a simple answer and they aren't familiar with the Bible, I stick with a simple combined meaning of freedom, love, strength, and weakness. All these things are true, but there's more. 

There are two verses in Matthew that I like a lot that mention birds. I thing some versions might say ravens, but mine (NIV) says sparrows. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" and "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of you Father...So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Both verses have a few different meaningful derivatives. The first one talks about not worrying. I'm a worrier. It can be a problem at times. Sometimes it's good to make sure all the various possible negative connotations of a decision or situation have been addressed...but sometimes it can be taken a bit too far. I generally take my worries too far. For example, I feel very called to adopt kids. I've felt that way since I was about ten years old. I worry though. I worried that I'll adopt children who are difficult, and that loving them or having many of them will be an incredibly difficult life. I worried that I'll make a terrible mother. I worried that no guy would ever want to marry a girl who wanted to adopt lots of children from around the world and not actually give birth to any of them. I worried about when to adopt the kids, because if I started before I was married no one would ever want to marry a girl who already had kids, but if I waited I might never get married and then I'd have never helped children! I worried so much that one day I came to the terrifying conclusion that maybe I just shouldn't adopt any children at all! I was so worried about all the possible maybes, perhaps' and what if's, that I almost didn't want to fulfill the plan God has given my life that I am incredibly thrilled about. That's way too much worrying. I realized my life was becoming consumed by my fears and finally addressed them. I still worry, of course, but Jesus is helping me worry less and live more. That verse helps remind me that He is always in control, and that as long as I am listening, loving, and living, I'm serving His good, perfect, and pleasing plan for my life. 

The two verses also combine to remind me how great God's love for me is. He sees everything, and He cares. Each time a sparrow falls, God sees...and there are a lot of sparrows. Maybe a more modern comparison would be squirrels...they're pretty common, but God still sees each and every one of them and not one falls without His knowledge. It's always good to be reminded of His incredible love for me. It's a reminder I need daily, and now I've got it! His love is so crazy insane. I mean we are nothing. We have nothing to offer. God doesn't need us to make this world run, but He wants us. I mean I fail daily. Every single day I mess up, I sin, I fail. And every single day, even if I don't ask for it, I am forgiven and loved and wanted and held and cared for. Each tear that falls from my face saddens Him, each smile or laugh brings Him joy. He comforts me and loves me. He holds me when I'm falling apart. He strengthens me when I'm too weak to take another step. 

That reminds me of another meaning this tattoo holds for me. Another one of my favorite verses is, "My Grace is sufficient for you, My Power made perfect in weakness." As human beings we desire to be strong. We hit the gym, pump some iron, run, etc, to become physically strong. Mental strength is also desirable and commendable. People look up to the "strong people." Being a "strong person" is good. But Jesus reminds us that we are weak. We can't live this adventure on our own. Dragons (the scary ones) and fire-breathing seven-headed monsters will attack. We will come across crumbling bridges we can't cross, chasms our puny legs can't leap over, tall towers we can't scale, dark creepy forests we are terrified to tip-toe through, and thousands of places where the path breaks off, or disappears, or the map doesn't seem to be a clear guide anymore. Essentially, we cannot live this life on our own. I have to remind myself of that constantly. I write the above-mentioned verse on my hand and I pray for strength. Sparrows are small, weak birds. They aren't great, majestic, powerful, and strong eagles. They aren't ruthless vultures. They aren't beautiful creamy white swans or peaceful doves. They are small. They are ordinary. But they are beautiful, and they are loved. 

So essentially, I am weak, needy, fearful, and in dire need of love and care and comfort. Jesus provides me with strength. He loves me and holds me. He calms my fears and dries my tears. He loves me so much I could never even begin to comprehend a fragment of it. The sparrow newly adorning my side is a constant reminder of these truths I know, of strength and weakness, of love and care, of fear, and of the freedom I find in my relationship with Christ. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Blade of Time

All wounds time heals. 
Threading the strings 
of minutes, hours, years 
carefully stitching up rips and tears. 

Maybe no. 
Perhaps time is a blade. 
Dull and blunt 
digging deeper, deeper. 
A grim, grim reaper. 

time can’t heal 
a broken heart. 
Or all those cuts and slashes.
Those reoccurring gashes.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hot Tea and Lunar Animals

It's so good to be back! I can't even describe how happy I am right now. Pretty much everyone feels bittersweet about being back at DU, I'm one of the few who is just completely thrilled to be back in Colorado. I mean I miss my family and the few friends I've got back in St. Louis, but Denver feels like home.

It's crazy cold here, though. When I first got back and was in Colorado Springs with Katherine I started to wonder if I'd be able to survive a week here, much less a whole year! Denver's better, though. It's 28 degrees, but the sun is out and it honestly isn't that bad. When the sun goes away and the wind blows it's a different story. There's snow everywhere, frosting the bare bushes and piled up on the lawn, pushed off the sidewalks. The roads are filled with a brownish slush, leftovers from cars driving through. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and everything is bright as the light reflects off the white snow.

First day of classes was today! I've forgotten nearly all my Russian. Thankfully most of the week is review time. We watched the cutest little animated Russian film. It had a little fuzzy pink guy with four ears. He was born on the moon, hatched out of an egg. His egg hatched and then he fell straight down to the earth, because he was on the underside of the moon. It was super cute.

I'm happy here like I wasn't in St. Louis. The people, the sun, the sky, the mountains, it all adds up to the equation for joy in my life. I feel...alive. St. Louis was all blah and boring, but I just smile and want to jump and dance and run for joy. Ok. Maybe that was a bit too much and slightly cheesy. In addition to being super happy I think I'm slightly sleep deprived. I didn't sleep between Thursday and Friday and probably haven't caught up on the sleeping yet. Plus, due to either excitement, a different bed, or the slight time change, I've been waking up at about 7am every morning. Good though, I worked out this morning and have an 8am class tomorrow!

Now, to homework. Eek. Gots to review that Russian and rewatch the adorable moon-guy movie :)