Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Refresh, and Try Again

So clearly, I suck at my "I'm gonna post almost every day" thing. But I thought I'd document a few beautiful or great things that I love or saw or appreciated.

The feeling of the sprinkler splashing down on my head when I come up for a breath while swimming laps. It's cool and refreshing, fun and playful, reminding me of rain on a sweet summer day.

Also clouds. Dark and stormy, piled high in the sky. Like the cloud-maker, which normally just spurts out a few white fluffy piles to dot the sky, got turned on high and started spitting the clouds out, filling the sky so full they tower above you, heavy and dark, coming closer and closer, seeming like they'll fall straight onto your head. And then in the midst of them, or in a few spaces around them, the sunshine comes through. Streams of light, splitting the clouds. They glow around the edges of the light, making the once-intimidating clouds hopeful and enticing.

I like those things.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Broken Fountain

Water spurts
Gushing forth
Spraying about
Leaping up
A broken fountain
Balls of water
Jumping gaily
Into the air
Sunshine sparkles
Tiny diamonds
Shine through
Like pearls
The sky
I could watch
Them fly

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Cuppa Joe

That's what coffee is sometimes called, right? 


So I was on my computer this morning, stumbling. Stumbleupon is such a great thing. You find so many cool websites! Every once in awhile, I'll stumble on a religious site. Usually it is affiliated with some area of Christianity. Often times, I automatically jump to the conclusion that it will be a "don't choke on this while I 'lovingly' shove it down your throat" kind of post and often simply hit "stumble" before even reading the article. As I am trying to stop stereotyping everything religious (I've realized that in my attempts to not be the stereotypical Christian, I often become very disliking and judgmental of this "stereotypical" Christian) and give everyone and everything a fair and fighting chance. Also, it was titled "21 Things Jesus Wants Every Sinner to Hear." A lot of times these are more like love letters constructed from Bible passages, and those are just lovely :) So, I read through it. 

Just like the lovely cup of coffee I'm currently drinking, the passages "hit the spot." I've been really out of it and in a weird mood recently. There's confusion with being home and figuring out what and who is defined as "home." It's nice sometimes, but other times it is just chaotic in my mind. And then there are the usual issues with boys, friends, and family that always confused and complicate matters unnecessarily. Nothing out of the ordinary. But recently I've been letting it get to me. I haven't been focusing on Jesus the way I should, and I really haven't been focusing on being like Him, living for Him, loving and serving Him. Those are the things that should take priority in my life, not my silly dramas. 

I've been sitting around feeling sorry for myself and allowing my thinking to go into myself. Wondering why I'm not good enough, what I've done wrong, why so many friend leave. Feeling like it isn't fair, wondering what I did to deserve anything bad that has ever come into my life. And mostly, forgetting that 1. My life is pretty damn great, 2. Jesus loves me, 3. I am not the center of the universe, 4. Compared to many, I've barely suffered at all, 5. People mess up, people fail, people leave, that's life, but Jesus never will. And that list could probably go on and on for pages of things I forget, fail to make myself remember, choose to ignore, etc. But that isn't the point. The point is that I've been down, in a bad mood, and yeah, I have some reason. That isn't the problem. The problem is that I have been allowing my circumstances to dictate me. To rule me. That is not the way it works. The world doesn't get to choose who or what I am. I don't either. I am to be living, loving, serving, and all with a joyful spirit, no. matter. what. No questions asked, no arguing, complaining, whining, or turning away. I'm here to love and serve and smile. 

So back to the 21 things. They were good. They were great. They were what I needed to hear. And yeah, they may have possibly made my tear up a little to be reminded of...and here they are:

Here’s what Jesus wants you to know:
  1. You are my beloved. (Eph. 5:1)
  2. I knew you before you were born. As my hands formed you, I whispered purpose into your bones. I can’t not love you. (Ps. 139:1-6)
  3. I love you beyond human reason—even at your very worst, steeped in sin. (Rom. 5:8)
  4. My love is contrary to all you know of “love.” I Love you “even though” and “deeper still.” My love reaches, pursues, remains. (Ps. 36:5)
  5. My Love for you won’t walk out, fail, or ever come to an end. (Deut. 31:8)
  6. No matter what you’ve heard or what you’ve come to believe, there’s nothing that can separate you from my Love. (Rom. 8:38-39)
  7. I am not like people. So please—don’t put human words in my mouth or apply human behaviors to my character. You will miss me altogether. (Isaiah 55:8)
  8. I’ve never ignored you. I’ve been here all along. Protecting. Loving. Waiting. (Ps. 56:8)
  9. Your love of _____ (sin) isn’t worth eternity. I will break your chains. I will give you the desires of your heart. (Jn. 8:32, Ps. 37:4)
  10. Please forgive some of my followers. People—even Christian people—will fail you. You live in a fallen land, where no one is perfect and all need My grace. Put your faith and trust in Me alone. (Psalm 146:3)
  11. There’s no sin I will not forgive. You are the “whosoever believes in me” whom I will give eternal life . . . if you believe. (John 3:16)
  12. As resourceful and brilliant as you are, you cannot save yourself. It’s by God’s grace and faith in Me alone that you are saved. (Eph 2:8-9)
  13. I understand your pain and heartbreak. And my heart breaks with you. (Is. 53:3)
  14. There’s nowhere you can go where my Love won’t find you. (Psalm 139:7-8)
  15. The shame and guilt weighs you down has been taken care of on the cross. Your bill has been zeroed out. (John 3:16)
  16. The addictions. The pride. The selfishness. The hate. The lust. The jealousy. The critical spirit. The greed. I can heal it. All of it. You can start fresh. Today. (Rom. 8:1-4)
  17. I will forgive you. But only if you ask. And I care more about the “ask” than I do about the sin. (Acts 3:19)
  18. I will not force you to do or be anything. I want a relationship with you more than I want to rule over you. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  19. I will forgive your sin and I will forget it. That’s right—completely erase it from my mind. No replays, no record. Gone. (Ps. 103:12)
  20. It’s never too late to turn your life around. I came to give second chances. (Luke 23:42-43)
  21. I love you. Let’s talk. (Jer. 29:13)
SO much love. So much love. So. Much. Love. It's unbelievable sometimes. I can't understand it, can't grasp it, can't. But it is wonderful. It is amazing. It makes me want to sing. I've been sitting here all week, worrying and thinking about myself. I haven't been living the way Jesus wants me to, but He's still got me. It's all so beautiful. That He loves me. That He made me. That He formed and created me just as He wants me to be. Yeah, I have so many faults. There are so many parts of my personality and looks that I hate, wish were different, feel like a failure because of, and constantly find myself comparing to others and falling short. But that isn't the point. Those are things I need to stop caring about. I am who I am for a reason. I am where I am in life for a reason. I've been through the things I've been through for a reason. And Jesus planned it all out. And it's really cool, because I know what He's called me to. I mean I've felt called to adopt kids since I was like 8. That's what, 10 years of my life that I've known what I was to do? And now I feel called to work on ending modern day slavery. And I'm an artist. And I love that too. When I was cleaning out my closet earlier this week I kept finding random Bible verses I'd written down about adoption or caring for the less fortunate, serving, etc. Things that I feel so called to now, I was focusing on even when I was little. God has a plan for my life. I just need to trust Him to take care of it all, stop worrying about small unimportant details that He figured out eons ago, and just live life

Back to the 21 things...

I loved the parts about God always being there, loving, watching, waiting, protecting, etc. It's so great to think of Him like that. To realize that He's always there, always around, always with me. That I'm never alone. That He'll always be there when I turn around, tears filling my eyes, in deep need of someone to just hold me. Or when I'm filled with joy and need to tell someone about it and have someone celebrate with me. Or when I'm frightened and need to hide my eyes and have someone take away the scary monsters in my closet (sometimes I'm really very sure they're there). 

And that yeah, people fail. We're human. We suck. I suck, I fully acknowledge this fact. I am judgmental, angry, hateful, selfish, gossipy, not loving enough, focused on me and my problems, the list could literally fill books. Everyone's lists of sins could. The beauty is that as much as we fail, suck, and are never faithful enough, Jesus always is. No matter how many times people hurt me, leave me, or fail me, Jesus never will. That's amazing. That's beautiful beyond expression. That makes my heart full, it makes me want to sing from the rooftops to tell the world that I am loved. I am wanted. And even though we suck, even though I suck, the other absolutely wonderful and amazing thing is that no matter how many times I mess up, Jesus will always take me back. Infact, He's not even "taking me back," because He never left. Maybe I did. But He didn't. And He never leaves me alone, even when I turn around, yell loudly that I matter more, and run away from Him. Very quickly, I trip and fall in the mess of my own pride and selfishness and He's already there to pick me back up, put a band-aid on my knee, and tell me that even though I messed up for the 87,582,345,897,130,457,234,098,571,340th time...He's still picking me up. And He'll keep on helping me up until the day I die. That's beautiful. That's wonderful. That's love. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In Someone's Eyes...

Perfection is a ridiculous thing. It has no absolutes. It varies from person to person, place to place, situation to situation, etc. Nothing is ever perfect, no one is ever perfect. And sometimes I just feel like I can never be perfect or good enough to please the right people. It's a little infuriating, actually.

 At school, I'm not smart enough. I'm surrounded by kids who took as many AP classes as was humanly possible, or did IB. I didn't even know what IB was until I got to college! I'm pretty sure it isn't as popular in Missouri as it is in Colorado, or at least not in St. Louis. Who knows. Anyways. I'm the homeschooled girl who was the "guinea pig" of the family. I basically taught myself, which means that certain subjects went great, like math or science (though I still hate them :P) and other classes, like history, were awful. I don't remember anything historically based. I mean if someone handed you a boringly written history textbook and said "read it," would you learn much? Maybe so, but I definitely didn't! So at DU, I feel pretty dumb the vast majority of the time. Because of my schooling, which wasn't bad, it just wasn't as well-rounded as it could have been, there's a lot I don't know, socially, historically, politically, etc. I'm smart when it comes to logic or common-sense, just not books or fact-based knowledge. So at school, I always feel majorly inferior. And people assume that since I'm "just an art major" I don't know anything, like I picked art because I sucked at everything else or wasn't smart enough to do anything else. Being blonde doesn't help my case. I was talking with someone once and mentioned that I'd graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA, he was literally shocked. I got through my first year of college with only one B (and the rest some form of A) in all three quarters at DU, but I'm still not smart enough at college, I still don't know enough, I'm not good enough.

And then at home, I'm too smart. I finally got my grades last night. I was expecting a B in Russian. I honestly have no clue how on earth I have an A in that class. I got B's on nearly every test! I must have passed the final exam with an A and gotten extra points for always turning in homework, who knows? So anyways, I was sitting in the living room when I checked the grades for final quarter and mom, dad, and Megan were around. So I told them what I'd gotten in my classes, expressing genuine surprise at my final grade in Russian. I would have been happy with a B, Russian is hard, and that's what I was expecting all quarter. Actually I was fearing I'd get a C in the class, due to my test scores. Anyways. There wasn't really much happiness for my good grades. Instead the response, especially from Megan, was a kinda snotty "of course you got good grades. How could you not get good grades?" And on and on, it was actually embarrassing (one of my friends was over). Like I was too smart. Like of course I did well, like it was a bad thing that I got good grades. By the end I was hardcore wishing I'd gotten worse grades in my first year of college.

So at DU, I'm too dumb. At home, I'm too smart. There doesn't seem to be a balance. I'm never perfect enough. Perfection is ridiculous, because it is impossible. You will always fall short in someone's eyes, or your own. I think it is good to recognize, realize, and accept this fact. Nothing and no one is perfect. Ever. Fact of life. But way too often people search for and strive for perfection. There's nothing wrong with striving for perfection in the sense that you are simply being and doing the best that you are capable of. The problem arises when you can't accept that perfection is impossible. When all your life is focused on attempting to achieve something that can never be accomplished.

The world puts too much focus on being perfect. It would be better to focus on being the best you can be. Working hard to accomplish reasonable goals. But enjoying and living and loving life along the way. The world's a messed up place, but it's still wonderful and beautiful. Joy and love and peace can be found if you search for them. And you don't have to search very far. It's all around us. The world isn't perfect, people aren't perfect, things aren't perfect. But there's still good. You just have to appreciate the good while understanding and accepting that life will never be perfect and there will always be bad things. Look around and appreciate the wonders of the world. Find beauties in the imperfections, beauty in the decay. It's there, if you can see it. Look closer, open your eyes and see the world. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slightly Crispy and a Little Pink

That's what I looked like after yesterday. 10 hours in the sun will do that to ya, even with (probably less than adequate) sunscreen. Maybe I'll put a little more on next time...

So St. Louis kinda has a big problem this summer. Cicadas. Gross, big insects with no purpose other than making noise, dying all over the pool deck, crawling around, flying at your face, being disgusting, and scaring the living sh*t out of you. Problematic, my friends. Highly problematic.

And they're everywhere. Almost literally. The pool has definitely seen it pretty badly. They litter the pool deck, line the edges of the zero-entry pool, and float around in the water. They fly around and frequently land on unsuspecting victims. Yes, victims. Walking around, one can avoid the dead ones with relative ease. But when sitting on stand, one is imprisoned. I experienced this yesterday. After about 7 hours of testing for lifeguard re-certification, I worked for about 3 hours for someone who wanted to leave early because he was going out of town. While sitting on stand at rec 1...the cicadas came. Apparently I didn't get it too badly, but one cicada counts as utter misery in my book. The wind often blows towards rec 1, and the cicadas come with it. One flew towards me, I quickly and rather involuntarily stood up and it landed in the seat behind me. I then plucked up my courage and didn't scream (though I assure you, I wanted to) and after a few attempts, knocked it off the seat with my guard tube and prayed it fell to its death in the waters below. I then sat back down, only to have one LAND ON MY ARM a few seconds later. Again involuntarily, I let out a small shriek and Mary (who was taking chemicals behind me) got it off. At this point, Luis, who was on rec 2, was dying of laughter. Knowing I looked hilarious and definitely ridiculous, I laughed too. Then one flew up into the umbrella above me and just sat there. I was in hell. Still trying to keep my eyes on the pool below and the patrons swimming there, I kept glancing up to see if it was still in the umbrella. Part of me wanted it to stay there, simply because I was so terrified it would fall onto me, the other part wanted it to just disappear. Becoming progressively more afraid, I tried to calm down, not think about how awful it would be if the large insect was ON ME and breathe. When the wind finally flew hard enough to get it off, I twisted and moved a bunch to keep it from touching me. I'm pretty sure Luis had the best time ever watching my antics. It'll get funnier as the summer goes on, since I'm deathly afraid of any sort of bug or insect or crawly thing. Butterflies are the only ones I can deal with because they're really pretty and all. I'm 95% sure this summer will result in 1. a panic attack, or 2. me getting over my near-disabling fear of bugs (and when I say bugs, I'm counting spiders and all those things that aren't technically bugs, they still count). We shall see what this summer holds...maybe I'll just never sit on rec 1, I'll just stand for easier escape from my newest terror. 

While sitting on stand (the longest 15 minutes of my life thus far) I was thinking about how much I passionately HATE cicadas. There is nothing good about them, they simply should not exist. I tried to think of at least one positive thing. Their wings are pretty cool looking. And when they fly in front of the pink, orange, and purplish hues of the setting sun, it shines, sparkles, and reflects through their iridescent wings. That's the only mildly positive aspect. Needless to say, this does not make up for the innumerable negative and awful parts of the bug, so they should still all just die and then disappear so I don't have to clean them up. And then they should never come back. And then I'll go see a therapist :P

When I first started this blog I had an assignment for one of my classes. That assignment was to document three observations a day. It was a great assignment. It forced me to look more often, and really see the world. I'm going to start doing that again. Not necessarily every day, or three things, but just more often. So one thing I saw yesterday was the cicada wings. And then there are these fountains. Sometimes they mess up and start spurting and spraying the water up super high. The water splashes up in beads of water. It was right in front of the setting sun, so the burnt oranges and pale lavender shades of sunset were reflected in the tiny balls of water. Just lovely. 

Being back at the pool today was so great. It felt like home. As I sat on stand, watching kids swim, blowing the whistle, bellowing "DONT' RUN!" at small (and big) children, it felt natural. Sitting in the guardroom, chilling with my pool family, smelling the sunscreen and hearing the pool-sounds, was natural. It's kinda weird because I have so many homes now. Denver is home, DU is home, Passage is home, St. Louis is home, my house is home, my St. Louis friends are home, the pool is home. But so far it isn't really confusing. I just feel like I belong in a lot of different places. Right now it works, I guess one day I'll have to pick a permanent home, but I'm not worrying about that yet. I'm just gonna live in the here and now. The past, the future, spending time worrying about them isn't going to get me anywhere. But today, right now, that's what I'll think about. That's what I'll live. Smiling and loving and hugging and being joyful today, here, now. That's the important thing.