Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Squirrel in the Snow

As a Texas girl, I'm absolutely giddy about the amount of snow falling on good ol' Norman, Oklahoma!

Thus, my heightened appreciation for the following:

I looked out our apartment window a few minutes ago to see a small brown squirrel, digging furiously. After laboring through the inches of snow, he stuck his head into the hole he had created and pulled out an acorn.

He then proceeded to run away, using the intermittent shelter of parked cars.

It is funny (and somewhat sad that I have to explain why I find this humorous) because:

a) How on earth did the squirrel know where the nut was?!
b) Squirrels are just cute, and oddly, cute things seem to make funny situations even more hilarious.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Chris and I will open presents tonight. Then, of course, it will be Christmas! Unbelievable. Time flies. Have a blessed one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Sixth Part

Marriage is a beautiful mess, most of the time, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Today, my eyes are more open to its beauty than it's messiness!

I was away for two and a half days visiting my family in Fort Worth, and only upon returning to my husband in Norman did I realize that "home" is where he is. Because of this, I can be me when I'm with him...and that is a risk both terrifying and great.

The downfall of my introversion is my proclivity to run away from people. I find myself getting frustrated and angry at my husband, sometimes, when he tries to get to know me even more. I refuse to let him near me emotionally, fearing he'll discover a blackness in me that he can't reconcile, and I will be abandoned. It's what I deserve, right?

God is breaking that in me through Chris. Like Chris's love, God's love is not predicated on my "goodness." And, no matter the blackness unearthed by time and sanctification, I cannot be separated from Him. Like my marriage to Chris is sealed and unbroken, so is my position as a child of Father God.

Now, if only to let this kind of love extend beyond husband and wife! I've recently been accused of refusing grace to someone who has tumbled down the spiritual mountain, so to speak. As you can imagine, the comment stung, and left me listening for the Spirit's conviction or reassurance over my flesh's condemnation.

I don't want the deeper kind of love that Chris and I strive to show one another to remain in the microcosm of marriage. I don't mean to make the maintenance of this mindset sound like an easy project. As Paul repeats in Philippians 3:12-14, I don't consider myself to have taken hold of this. That's why it's good for me to articulate it here, as best I can. There's tacit accountability in openly recognizing an issue.

Well, dear reader, I don't know if you'll hear from me again before Christmas, so I say: Merry Christmas, and joy in the manifestation of perfect love that we're celebrating! I want to go play HALO Live with Chris and eat the fudge that P.J. and Katie brought over at 7:30 this morning!

Jaimie, out!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You didn't even know it was there...

Good day, dear reader. Well, my last final is this afternoon, so I'm sprinting to freedom with a silly grin on my face...while flipping frantically through A History of the Ancient Near East and memorizing the names of Old Kingdom pharaohs.

Except for when I'm on the computer, of course.

I came upon something striking this morning in a Psalm that I've read several times before. In Psalm 19, David opens by extolling the glory of God, and then the goodness of his law. After listing how amazing the Word in five verses, he closes with a sort-of introspection:

Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! [note: I like the exclamation point here!] Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Easy for you to say, David. How do you plan to go about doing that?

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

David is praying for something he's not entirely aware of. Of course he doesn't know his hidden faults: they're hidden! Yet, the psalmist desires to be "blameless." This is not for personal fulfillment but for the glory of God spoken about at the opening of the psalm. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight" [emphasis mine].

How does David confront sins he didn't know were there? He appeals to God.

This challenges me to make a higher standard for myself in my speech and thoughts; I don't want them to merely be permissible, but "acceptable!" More importantly, I want to depend on God to sanctify me here. This is a personal conviction, so let the Lord speak to you through this passage as He will.

I agree with David when he says in verse eight that "the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart!"

Celebrate the coming of our Lord this holiday! Have safe travel and a restful vacation!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guilt and Breakthrough

So...I skipped class today.

It is only the second time I've skipped class all semester, and I was coming back from a doctor's appointment and knew I couldn't make it to school on time.

So, dear reader, tell me why I feel so darn guilty!

My entire life, I've built my sense of self-worth on the things I've gotten "right." It creates a strange pride: self-love when I succeed and self-loathing when I fail, as if I am the only one in the world not allowed to be imperfect.

Seriously, how do you extricate that kind of thinking/behavior from your lifestyle when it's all you've know for twenty years? Only by the grace of God, I'm told. I'm waiting for that specific grace as if waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike, even though I know that God tends to work more...progressively, I suppose. I must admit, I don't like the fact that sanctification takes time.

No duh, right?

I am an impatient person. I'm impatient with myself, and I'm impatient with God. Might as well face the facts.

That's where I'm at, and I joy in the knowledge that I won't be here forever. This will take baby steps, like most worthwhile things do. Here goes step one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dry Spell

I hate dry spells.

Maybe God is trying to show me that I cannot conjure wisdom or understanding; He is the great Teacher.

I always try to derive the "lesson" that I'm "supposed to learn" from God when life happens, and I mean always. Unsurprisingly, I hit a wall when I can't even hypothesize the lesson because the situation seems so pointless.

Right now, inspiration isn't coming easy. By inspiration, I think I mean that feeling of spirituality that often accompanies a personal insight or revelation. While I objectively recognize what a good thing this is--my relationship with God cannot and must not be based upon feelings--I still hate dry spells!

God, give me the patience to walk through this period, and the grace to sit at your feet and know you more, no matter what I think or how I feel.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Short and Sweet: For the "Good Kids"

Today's post by Jon Bloom on the Desiring God blog was so encouraging to me, especially having grown up as the "goody-goody" in my private Christian school!

Do we have to be redeemed drug/alcohol/sex addicts to really know the radical, transforming grace of God?

It's not very long. I encourage you to check it out!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Music Review - I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle

Surely, you haven’t forgotten Susan Boyle.

When the middle-aged Scottish woman stepped onto the stage of the show Britain’s Got Talent, she probably had no idea that her stunning performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” would become virulent YouTube material as well as land her a recording deal with Sony. Her album, I Dreamed a Dream, released November 24 with opening-week sales of over 700,000, proves what a talent Boyle really is.

She was lauded for the passion she conveyed singing on stage, and that passion is definitely not lost in the album. Boyle’s classic voice was made for dramatic songs: her incredible range and penchant for vocal flourishes serves her well. Also, she’s easy on the ears, even in loud soprano songs such as “Wild Horses,” the first title on I Dreamed a Dream (think toned-down, British version of Celine Dion).

I Dreamed a Dream showcases Susan Boyle in an array of singing styles, from the jazzy “Cry Me a River” to an oddly elegant cover of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer.” Unsurprisingly, several of the titles play to the notion of lost love, which is a major reason why Boyle’s song in Britain’s Got Talent tugged on our heartstrings in the first place. This blatant emotional appeal is quickly justified when listening to Boyle, however, whose vibrant voice adjusts to each different style as appropriate, bringing variety to a common theme.

I am disappointed that I Dreamed a Dream features so many songs that electronically tamper with Boyle’s voice. The album uses weird echoes liberally, which detract from, rather than enhance, the beauty of the song. Boyle—with her good enunciation, strong attack and clear sound—has enough skill to stand alone, without anything to make her sound more ethereal or interesting.

The arrangements of most of the songs do not impress me, either. I’m shocked at how many times a gospel choir rises up behind Boyle’s voice: it does not mix well with her almost-Broadway sound. In addition, much instrumental potential was lost in the attempt to mellow out songs using synthesized instruments.

However, I Dreamed a Dream—and Susan Boyle—is a definite keeper. The singer has already made an emotional connection with her audience that is invaluable to the effect of her album. Reflective and poignant, I Dreamed a Dream will please a wide range of listeners with Boyle’s undeniably beautiful voice accompanied by a message that her voice breathes life into.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Writer's High and Other Things

I'm currently working on a short story for intro to professional writing, and oh, do I love it! It's supposed to be 2,000 words, but I'm about to spill over that already.

There is something very exciting and refreshing about writing someone else's world. I find myself lost in the world as I write. Though I will forever insist I'm not trying to exist through the people I create, I can't help but do that, sometimes. I grow so immersed in the colors and voices and places.

The project? A sort-of commentary on reaching womanhood and right vs. wrong. Stay tuned.


How was your Thanksgiving? Excellent, I hope. My mom spoiled me to pieces while I was visiting my family in Fort Worth. She bought me a box of Godiva dark chocolates, as she did last year, which I plan to eat one at a time every morning until Christmas. It's like an Advent calendar...minus recognition of Advent. And the calendar.

Chris and I purchased our first Christmas tree, which is terribly exciting to my ever-present inner child. Though it is only 4 1/2 feet tall, I am happy because that guarantees my ability to put ornaments at the top.


Today, my professor told us, "You're twenty! You've been alive politically for, like, five seconds."

Lol, professor. Lol.

That's all I got. More steak and less popcorn at a later date, but maybe not until after finals are over...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Fifth Part

My brain has gone back into honeymoon mode. For the past week, I've been blown away by the fact that I'm married!

Apparently, so have my parents. My dad told me on the phone the other night (and this is as emotive as he gets): "I can't believe that you don't live here, anymore, Jay. I guess it hasn't fully soaked in."

No, I suppose it hasn't for me, either. I'm living with my best friend--my dearest companion as long as we live. Really?! This has to be a dream. Chris is my completion. He comes home to me, we squeeze onto the rocking chair together, he does the dishes when I'm stressed, we get in car wrecks together, I make him a sandwich for work, we burn food together, he brings me
, I hang up his coat.

The whole thing is a strange and colorful dance.

I feel like we're much better at it now than we were four months ago.

How much more wonderful will it be in 10 years? 25? 60, God willing?

Five years ago, I wrote a song saying, "Love is a curse." Now, through all the Lord has done, I declare that love is a grand and glorious thing!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Short Spotlight-Stealer

Disclaimer: This post may not resonate with my male readers at all, although I'm curious if there's an equivalent struggle in your experience.
Chris and I went to see OU's performance of "The Three Musketeers" yesterday evening. We found the theater a perfect place for one of our favorite activities: people watching.

As a former drama nerd, I particularly enjoyed micro-analyzing the actors and actresses, from stars to swings.

One minor actress caught my attention. She's a very distinctive character that I see on campus quite often. She's probably as short, if not shorter, than me (I'm 4'11'), which I must admit is nice to see. She is equally petite. She also has a veritable head of blond, tightly-wound curls (think Little Orphan Annie).

What struck me about her, though, was how she commanded the stage without speaking a line. At her height, she could easily become lost in the crowd, but her was step decidedly bold and her smile broad and vibrant any time she participated in a scene. She clearly loved being on stage!

During intermission, I saw some elderly couples--they composed 80% of the audience--crowding around the wall where cast members' pictures hung. Two couples gathered before the curly-haired actress's photo and said, "Look at her. She is just beautiful."

I think she knew it, too; not in vanity, but in confidence. In this day and age, what powerful knowledge to have!

As a short woman, I complain about being short. I hear curly-haired women complain about their unmanageable curls. But this girl was so comfortable in her skin that she owned all the qualities culture likes to decry. It was inspiring, simply watching her.

I pray to God I will learn to be comfortable and confident in my skin. I see increasing redemption in this area of my life each day, yet I have a long way to go. Last night was an encouraging reminder to keep pursuing that freedom!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Musical Shot of Endorphins

Karen, whom I mentioned in my post about fists, once advised me to compile a list of things that make me happy or lift my spirits.

Because I am a woman, those things only work from day to day (sorry, men, you'll never figure us out), although I've found one happy pill that hasn't failed yet.

Listen to this vibrant Swahili song, "Baba Yetu," the lyrics of which are The Lord's Prayer.
I'm serious! Listen! You won't regret it:

Go to "Samples." Then, go to the first item on the list, "Civilization IV" (yes, there are two so-titled links, and it's the first).

Hope you share my happy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Contemplations in Brief

Hi, guys. It seems I've been a bit out of commission of late. I'm sure I have more to write about than I feel like I do, but I'll just give you the skinny and let you enjoy not having to read too chunky of paragraphs.


Marriage just so happens to rock. I don't know how much strength I'd have left right now--spiritually, emotionally, even physically--without a strong arm to hold onto while walking, a tender hand to give me a surprise bouquet of pink roses. My husband is a source of strength; while I know I cannot depend on him like I can the perfect power of Christ, I also know that he is an earthly picture of Christ's amazing love.

Here's to you, husband.


Well, I haven't wanted to pull my hair out at all, this semester. I'd say that's a good sign this is my best one yet. I love my classes--except for when I don't--and find my classmates to be the most intriguing bunch I've ever shared excessively shallow or painfully erudite conversation with.


Blast. Chris just asked me for Christmas ideas, and I think my eye is now twitching a bit. I'm afraid of accumulating too much stuff, but then there are things I want. Should I be less materialistic and do without the desires, asking for more practical gifts (socks and underwear are now out of the question, Mom and Dad!)? How should Chris and I buy for two families? Who expects what? Should I even be deliberating about this?

I shake my fist at you, complicated holiday culture! Christmas has already crept up on us though Thanksgiving's not yet arrived!

That's that. More profound thoughts later, when I'm in commission again. I hope that's soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Change is slow; transparent, too:
I search the mirror, hope to see
A woman arrayed in it, who
Has closed the gap with perfect me.

Instead I sigh; the robes are mine.
They stink with effort, use and time
Spent moving one foot 'fore its twin:
A public farce of graceful climb.

I am shamed; I turn away.
The clock, a silent mockery
Of yet another wasted day
Ensnared in change's trickery.

Change is slow; it's quiet, too:
My image, fixed on heart of stone,
Did change with mirror out of view.
I knew not 'till you said, "You've grown."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Once Upon a Time

When I was eight, or even eighteen, it was a lot easier to be a princess.

It was a lot easier to believe in castles and kingdoms, heroism and battles won, legend, undiscovered lands, epic romance and adventure.

Even for a dreamer, it can be hard to dream when pain creeps into the mundane, rendering it not only mundane, but burdensome. You stop wanting to, Eowyn-like, pick up your sword and ride to war, believing in victory.

Every once in awhile, something will remind me of the burning in my heart for greater things--the beauty and romance that I know is bound up somewhere, if only in Heaven--and I take one breath of that refreshing air that used to sustain me all the time.

I'm thankful for those breaths, though they fade quickly in this season. God's not through writing this story yet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mom's Advice Finally Makes Sense

During those lovely middle and high school days, when I was frustrated about boys and homework and would whine to Mom about them, she always answered, "Jaimie, just take it one day at a time."

The advice used to drive me crazy for its sheer frequency! It took me awhile to discover that it's Biblical, and, not surprisingly, eminently wise. Matthew 6:30-34 reminds us

"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Right now, it's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other, so I guess that's what I should keep on doing. One thing I've found is that having short-term goals, like "Today, I'm going to bake something from scratch," or "Today, I'm going to have a good conversation with my husband over dinner, or "Today, I'm going to run a warm-up mile," helps keep me focused on just living.

I admit that I wonder if I'm not simply trying to distract myself with these goals.

Despite my doubts, I know that in the end, that's not the case. I love life's details, because I love life. God has blessed me in countless, beautiful ways, and they are worth celebrating somehow.

I have to hone in on the specifics that I love right now, since life's "big picture" has nearly drowned me every time it's swept over me. Yet, God is faithful...

Next goal: Smile, and don't hold back comments in class!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Maybe I'm not just a "nice person," I'm a sheltered "nice person."

Because I don't see why people seek out people to take shots at, without rhyme or reason.

I've been told I need thicker skin, that it's better to be jaded and fight fire with fire. I've been told, also, that I simply need to separate truth from lies.

Honestly, I'm tired.
"Duty is heavier than a mountain."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I must begin by saying that I don't recall many self-perpetuating cylces that weren't somewhow negative.

There's Eggerich's "Crazy Cycle" from Love and Respect, McClung's "Saul Cycle" from The Father Heart of God, and many more cycles of blame, depression, pride or anger, with or without cute appelatives.

Why, dear reader, is it so much harder to establish good cycles in our lives than bad?

I think it goes back to our congenital sin nature. Unknowingly, we build our entire existence on a foundation of falsehoods that we hold to be true; this only changes when Christ gives us a new life.

Let me illustrate. A wise friend of mine, Karen, likes to use this:

Make a fist. From the time you are born, you are "building" this fist foundation: your original concept of truth and reality. Your home, parents, friends and school all contribute to what you believe about everything from religion to relationships. What it means to be a sibling. What it means to have goals. Everything.

Now, fold your other hand over your fist. This represents the actual, true truths you accept when you are saved and growing strong in Christ. Theoretically, they accumulate and bring us much joy!

Finally, shake your hands in a earthquake-y way so your second hand falls away from your fist. When you're shaken by difficult times, the true truths of Christ fall away to reveal the underlying, self-created truths from the past. They may be sinful, or they may not. They may simply be wrong. Either way, you can't just cover them back over with your "truth" hand; they'll still be there every time the earthquake comes.

The answer?

We have to call out to God to root them out completely; not only that, to replace them with true truths! It's painful. It's wonderful. And we can't do it ourselves. I know!

There's a reason this blog is titled what it is. The old stuff in me has to go away, burn away. If I want the things of Christ, I want them for good, and I know He's working that now.

So much in my life is burning away. I want to be focused and thankful in the midst of it; only by the grace of God am I able!
God, help me to live like I know this for true.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Me: A Paradox, or Just a Person?

Sometimes being yourself feels a whole lot like making a fool of yourself, you know?

I just came from my Intro to Professional Writing class, where, after awhile, you just can't help but let your true personality come through. That class is strange to me, because I enjoy it so much; however, I constantly get the feeling that I come off a little weird to my peers.

Okay, I am a little weird, but I stumble over myself much more in this class than, say, the class where we're reading and discussing Plato, Machiavelli, Erasmus. Although it's an hour of sheer discussion, I'm not unsure of myself at all. I've never been more (openly) opinionated than I am there. I always go home afterward feeling energized, feeling that I've connected with my classmates on more than a surface level, even after we've intellectually duked it out. And I don't even like duking it out; at least, I didn't use to!

It seems to me that the abstract realm is my "turf." I feel a bit boring at times, because of that, especially when I hear my professional writing classmates delineating their hobbies: Attending concerts, traveling, or--though it is not a lifestyle I would ask for--partying. My hobbies, at the moment? Writing, reading, Church activities, baking. Passive? I guess. The true me? I don't know. I can't say yes, because deep inside, I'm not passive, and I don't want to be.

I don't think any of these particular, mellow interests preclude the inherent desire that we, as humans, have for adventure. I dream of not staying put, not fulfilling the typical American Dream, seeing God change lives through me, momentously and for His glory, wherever He puts Chris and me.

The tension between my quiet side and my free spirit confuses me.
I already know I'm confusing (I'm a woman :p), but am I a complete paradox?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trying to be Funny FAIL

I want to announce with confidence, as a way of encouragement for you, that God was 100% faithful to encourage me when I cried out to Him this week. He is ready to respond even when our responses are fraught with frustration, blue-ness (2 Cor. 7:6), or discouragement to the point of hopelessness. I wish none of us would ever have to get there before coming upon our hope in Him; the good news is that we do have hope in Him!


I'm sure you're dying to hear an update on my food allergy adventures, right?
Week 1: The Week of Lactoselessness. Dun dun dun.
It's as scary as it sounds, since I can't have any ice cream.

The lessons I've learned from this food foray so far have been that the Homeland on Lindsey Street does not carry soy milk (lame).

That, however, is not the point of today's post. This is:
Being a "nice person" is not the same as being a loving person.

I was sitting in the history of journalism class with my friend, Yolanda*, on Wednesday. She complained about "stupid sorority girls" popping their gum, and I launched off into a recycled speech about how I could never last in the sorority environment. My joking, I thought, was harmless, as I bantered about how I would be incited to criminal activity by my short temper plus the overabundance of estrogen.

Suddenly, the Spirit dropped conviction on me like a baby grand piano. I literally felt as if every person within a ten-foot radius of me was listening and weighing each word I was saying. I could imagine the impressions they might be receiving from my words: "Does she think that she's better than sorority girls, somehow?" "Her speech, her jokes, are the same as everyone else's. Everyone's the same."

I felt ashamed, almost startled. This is not how I want to portray the character of Christ! I realized. As Christians, you and I are called to a standard of holiness in our speech that may seem ridiculous to the world. Guarding our words--representing Christ as His ambassadors--means more than simply avoiding cuss words and not making dirty jokes. Our speech should show love, the same as our other actions. I didn't speak love that day; I'm glad that piano fell on me.

That's my story! Let's commit ourselves to becoming more and more like Christ while we're on this earth, in the "little" ways as much as the obvious ones! He is faithful to teach us, guide us and give us chance after chance to live what we're learning from Him.

A bit more good news before I sign off. La Bamba is not totaled! Hooray! The poor thing deserves some sort of badge of honor for surviving so many kerfuffles. Haha. Kerfuffle. Use that in a sentence today.

Ever yours, dear reader (not dropping the appellation. You know who you are)...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hopeful, Not Hoodwinked

It's fall, and the whole world breathes in a little more deeply.

U2 is at OU, and the whole campus breathes in a little more coolness. Not least because there's a funky green stage in our stadium.


Philippians 4:8-9, which Bruce preached on today (and which my very cool husband blogged about), was a balm for the wounds of my raw cynicism that I told you about in the last post:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

This doesn't mean making Olsteen proud with your-best-life-now optimism; "practicing these things" won't make problems just go away. However, a right (and I do mean right, since it's Biblical) perspective is, at the least, effective counter-cynicism.

Right perspective or focus is of the essence. Of course there are things that I can balk and despair at daily; we live in a nasty, fallen world. I'm sure Paul knew that when he wrote Philippians (he certainly did in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, where he says "we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself"). However, we are instructed to think differently than how our natural tendencies would lead us.

There's a good reason for all that is written in the Word.

Thank you, Lord, that "your word is truth" (John 17:17), and your truth is encouragement beyond any pep-talks I could ever give myself!


P.S. I think I may have a food allergy. I will assume the fetal position for several weeks if it ends us being either lactose or gluten. More on that, later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Letter Kills*

*2 Corinthians 3:6

Those who know me well know that I'm a generally punky person, and that feelings of resignation occasionally catalyze me into a sarcastic person. Over the past few days, I might describe my mood as sarcastic.

This attitude accompanies a personal legalism overhaul, which began two weekends ago, when Chris and I were visiting Colorado Springs for a friend's lovely autumn wedding.

The wheels in my head were turning as I watched wedding guests flock to the open bar and move wildly about on the dance floor. It was quite innocent, all things considered, but the sight of drinking and dancing in general prompted me to thoughts about being "worldly-wise" versus being "green." As I considered my self, I felt utterly naive and a little bit stupid. I felt like the odd one out, suddenly unable to relate to people. I felt as if I had missed out on understanding most of humanity because of my sheltered lifestyle of conservative values.

Chris saw my eyes--crowded with these things--scanning the crowd. He asked me what was up. I told him I felt as if I'd spent years trying to be "good," all for nothing. Why didn't I just give up and go crazy, tasting life as I never had before?

As we talked through it, he assured me that many Christians experience a season in which they question why they make such an effort to live righteously. I was reminded of men in the Bible who cried to God that their good works seemed to no avail; the wicked, rather than the good, were rewarded with the best lives.

In addition, I began to understand that my response was a revolt not against the Christ-likeness I so strongly believe in, but against good as its own end, which is legalism. I was and am sick of legalism, which is an excellent place to be.

Ay, there's the rub. The trick is balancing my healthy disgust with godly thought: Putting away mental self-flagellation, hopelessness and the cynicism that brings resignation and sarcasm with it.

The letter may kill, but the Spirit brings life!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feelings: Take once nightly with grain of salt.

It's way past my bedtime; I took melatonin (not a drug, in case you don't feel like looking it up), but I still can't sleep.

My stomach has been in tumult for an hour straight and is just now settling, and it is, apparently, indirectly correlated with my brain. Meaning, my brain refuses to settle down now.

It has been the most bizarre of weeks. Both Chris and I were sick and relegated to the apartment for too long, and are trying not to be dumb and relapse because we're both so keyed up that we can resume normal life again. Health is quite underrated!

My car (La Bamba) was crunched from behind--and possibly totaled--on date night, on an innocuous trip to pick up a pizza. Dang pizza. Sure was tasty, though!

And, as you may expect at almost 1 a.m., my already-fractious thoughts are in even smaller shards, many and confusing. I want to wake Chris up, but I would feel awful doing so without a reason except for want of the company. It's at times like these where I realize, with full force, that I possess zero control over my life.

Things happen; life happens. It doesn't stop for me. It leaves me behind.

I question what I know to be true as I rifle through the week's confusion; I totter on the edge of doubt and fear. I remind myself, as if reciting a mantra, that God is sovereign. I try to lie back and know it.

I'll sleep now. I remember, from middle and high school, that spinning deep thoughts during the hours that emotion deposes reason can be quite unproductive. Besides, I did say I wanted company, and I'm pretty sure Chris isn't getting up for at least five more hours. I'm think I can find some shut-eye in there, somewhere! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oh, the Drama

Before writing, the funny quote of the day:
Me: "She needs to be one of the people I call! ...Whenever I go crazy, you know?"
Chris, deadpan: "Yeah."

Today, as often, I am full of feelings. It's cathartic to post them here rather than let them stew brutally and silently in my brain. Plus, it's a great way to take a break from studying for the Midterm of Death!

I'm fond of saying, "I don't know how to do this life thing." Today, as often, I am certain I don't know how to do this marriage-social-life thing. Which begs the question: Is there one right way to do it?

A few points floating in my head that make the whole ordeal confusing:

- I am an introvert
- but I don't-and don't like to-hole up for long periods of time.
- I love people, and being around them
- but I am so terrified they will discard my friendship if I do wrong by them--in truth or no--that I freeze up and guard my true self from the majority.

I was just telling Chris I would like to invite over a group of college girlfriends that I haven't seen in awhile. Problem: I am terrified to plan and invite anyone to the darned thing. This is because:

- I'm afraid that I will be personally evaluated by its success.
- They won't want to least, not because they want to see me.
- If for some reason it ends up not happening, I will be scorned by them FOREVER!

Haha. It's hilarious--okay, it's a little hilarious--to me to see these thoughts actually written out. It's just that I've always tried so hard to be a good friend, to a fault. And, mark me, while I'm definitely not trying to play the sympathy card, being married and in school means the social scene has shifted all around me. It's dizzying.

I love many things about the new situation. Also, lest you mistake me, I wouldn't trade my married life for anything.

However, I can't, and don't actually want to anymore (whoa! Is it okay to admit that?), just pick up the phone at 11 p.m. and say, "Hey, what are you doing right now? Nothing? Okay, come to my room and we can have random escapades until 3!" This change especially marginalizes my busy college friends.

I think I'm rambling, now. That's okay. If you have an answer to the aforementioned question, shoot me a comment, and I'll give you one of the homemade cinnamon rolls I made last night! :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Makes You Think It's O.K. to Say That?!

Assignment? Op-ed. Solution? A long-prepared rant about how being a baby-face can be more than a bit vexing!


Help me out here; confirm I’m not crazy. If someone walked up and said, “Why, So-and-So, you’re looking fat today,” So-and-So would feel pretty offended. Or, if someone looked straight into the face of a middle-ager and declared, “Wow, you look old,” said middle-ager might be tempted to haul off and slap the person. Don’t you agree?

These are examples of a wonderful little thing called brazen faux pas. If you’re a bit rusty on the French, let me sum it up: There are certain things you just don’t say to people.

What if the person launched into an even more detailed insult by explaining his position? What if he tried to excuse himself by declaring his affronts veiled compliments? The addressee would be angry, right? He’d want to walk away, or deliver some choice words of his own, right? Please, tell me I’m not alone in this!

I ask because it makes no sense to me why it’s not okay to comment on weight, old age, ugliness, and the like, but it’s completely fine to comment on how young a person looks. At 4’11,’’ with a petite frame, I am a prime target for these gross offenders. Apparently, I practically scream, “Make an annoying comment about how you can’t believe I’m twenty,” because I get those comments all the time. I think it’s about time somebody takes a stand for the baby-faces.

I doubt that the people who say, wide-eyed, “But…you look THIRTEEN!” even think before they speak. As a general rule, thinking is a good first step to conducting yourself well in public, and to strangers. First, if you know what you’re saying could be potentially insulting, why on earth would you trumpet it out in public? Second, if you’ve just met the person and have spent zero time with him or her, why do you think you have the right to speak so freely to him or her?

There have been countless incidences, some easier to brush off than others. Particularly frustrating was the lunch a few years back where I received the kids’ menu at a local restaurant. Other abuses include patronizing croons of all varieties of “sweetie” and “honey” (I’m pretty sure the first person to call me “ma’am” very nearly stole my heart). The worst of it is—and I forgive you if you’ve said it before, as long as you promise never to use it again—the unoriginal and very ineffective rebuttal of, “You’ll appreciate it when you’re forty.”

Clearly, I’m not forty, so please wait to make your comment until a later date. Clearly, you think I look more like fourteen. And I really don’t like being both seen and treated as a pubescent emotional time-bomb with a pretty face—there’s a reason we only have to go through middle school once.

This is important and somewhat infuriating to me because your perception of a person inevitably bleeds over into your communication with them. Comments on a person’s age can communicate either respect or condescension, and determine how that person interacts with you from the first meeting on. There are people that I know love me dearly who convey nothing but coddling when they are with me—that keeps me from getting to know them better, because I’m immediately turned off to having an adult conversation with them.

So, reader, if you ever see my baby face, remember that I wrote this article without the help of my parents, that I am an adult and that if you treat me and the other baby faces of the world with respect, we just might tell you that you look young when you’re forty.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Now This is the Refining Process

This is a strange season in my life: one of deep and painful transformation. Sorry to use the exhausted butterfly metaphor, but right now, I am that vulnerable little bug trying to wriggle its way out of uncomfortable confines. Foundational, false beliefs. Old hurts. I was warned that it's no fun; now, you who warned me can say, "I told you so!" :)

I don't purport that this stage--which I believe all Christians undergo--always corresponds to marriage. For me, though, marriage has brought about several changes that have dredged up issues, ones I had put on the shelf to collect dust and forget.

Oddly enough, Chris's love for me has made me realize how unworthy of love and incapable of being loved I feel--not only by him, but by God. I feel despicable most of the time, and I do mean to use that strong of a word. You and I could pick apart my psyche all day, analyzing why I carry such a deep-rooted lie, but the bottom line is I need to know anew the implications of the gospel. Almost in anger, I'm going to throw off the words "should," "have to," "required to," and just say I need to know who God is and how He has loved and is loving me.

I am repelled by those words because I've been trying so hard for so long to earn love by doing things. I fail miserably and, consequently, feel miserable. I'm at the end of myself. I'm so sick and tired of feeling enslaved to the purported "obligations" of the Christian life, while God simply calls me to walk in the freedom of knowing Him and Christ and the power of His resurrection. Yes, I can't just stop working, since faith without works is dead. Trust me, I know, as I've used this as an excuse to be works-oriented for the last year and a half. I've spent that time viewing God as a reckoner, just waiting for me to make a mistake so He could shake His head at and punish me.

No more! God is love. I want to know it, taste it, live it! I may sound like a bad inspirational speaker right now, but truly, I want to know God in every fiber of my being. He's the only thing I can hope in. That's a pretty big deal.

If you think of Chris and me, please pray for us, as God files off some of my rough edges hopefully once and for all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Death of Pride

I remember sitting in the car with Chris one year ago, listening to our Relient K song, "The Best Thing," bobbing my head with a small, satisfied smile and thinking, "Wow, we are doing great as a couple. We have great communication. We keep up the romance. We seek God together. Oh, yeah!" And, as a sort-of post script, "Thank you, God."

After a squabble-filled day last week, a leader from our church approached me and said, "I'm praying for you and Chris, every day. You two are very precious to me." Then it hit me.

Now that the engagement is done, the wedding dress hung and the honeymoon period over, I see: We have been upheld by God's grace alone, delivered through the prayers of the godly.

There have been countless friends and family lifting up our dating relationship and marriage on a daily basis. We thank you. From day one, God carried us. Only He can--and continues to--make what little love two very imperfect people have into something very good.

Oswald Chambers wrote, "I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God."

If not for Him, where would we be? Praise God on High, again and again!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Fourth Part

Before I begin, my favorite quote of the week from the professor happily featured in an earlier blog post: "I hope I don't puncture anyone's faith with this." Yeah right, professor. Yeah right.

So, even though being married and in school does--as many direly warned me--eliminate some of "the college experience," I certainly had my fair share of it living in the dorms for two years.

For example, I got to experience the glorious reign of baby bows! Yes, you heard me correctly. If you spent but one day on the campus of the University of Oklahoma last fall, you must have seen hundreds of primped and polished young women wearing great shoes, sharply-cut jeans, brightly-colored Greek shirts...and baby bows. So rampant were they that our floor activity one month was creating these little wonders with ribbon and hot glue.

Reader, I had no clue how to make a baby bow, but I truly wanted one. Instead of asking for an example or demonstration of how to construct said bow, I decided to take a stab at it alone. Basically, I took a piece of ribbon, tied it in a few random places, balled up the rest and attempted to glue the ball somewhere beneath the clip so no one would be able to tell it was not the work of a sorority craftsmistress. Needless to say, I never wore my baby bow.

And now, the segue.

So it is with learning how to be married--how to be a godly wife. How will we know how to practice godliness with our spouse--from hospitality to selflessness to patience--unless we have an example, a demonstration? Yes, we know what the end product looks like, but what's underneath? Surely it's not a balled mess of ribbon just waiting to come apart. There is a foundation, and a process.

I was confused about married life yesterday (nothing new) and spoke with our mentor couple. They elucidated so much, simply by asking the right questions, counseling me based on their past experiences and pointing me to Christ with their Christ-like example. I walked away inexpressibly grateful for the physical manifestation of the Lord in the Church body.

This principle extends beyond marriage. Whether you're single, dating,engaged, married, a hermit, examples are essential. We don't automatically know things, as nice as that would be, so God has given us resources in people to aid and encourage us. Let us take hold of that and let God use us in the same way with others.

Blessed be...the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beating Stress by Breaking Windows

Here it is, finally: the slightly-exaggerated account of the havoc I wreaked at Tan & Tone America last June!


I write this for your benefit, since your parents have probably told you what they always told me, and haven’t told you what they never told me:

My parents always told me, “Don’t try to handle everything yourself; it’ll only make you tired and emotional!”

My parents never told me, “Don’t drive through the front of a tanning salon when you’re tired and emotional!”

I’d like to blame their lack of forthrightness for the hundreds of shattered, bluish shards of glass that surrounded my car, and the theatrical obliteration of three glass panels that were once the windows of Tan & Tone America.

I suppose I could blame my parents for several other key things; for instance, that they never told me that planning an extravagant wedding makes a woman want to rip her hair out, or that it’s very unproductive for a woman to lie awake with eyes glued to the ceiling until 4 a.m., pondering the course of her life, or that a woman can have this many things on her mind at once, or that she shouldn’t try to juggle all of them by herself. I was nine months engaged to the most amazing man on the planet; ironically, I was still trying to go it alone.

That morning, my mind couldn’t seem to fixate on anything except my aloneness, and how completely and utterly unprepared I felt to become a wife—a wife!—at twenty years old. I have a bad habit of trying to be perfect in a particular skill or trait before I ever encounter the circumstance where I’ll need it. I was frustrated that I could not perfect myself into the wife every man dreams of that morning, so I decided to go perfect baking myself at the tanning salon, instead.

I hardly knew which gear I put the car into when I climbed in and turned the key. The sun was not bright white enough yet to warm the air, which teased me with early chill. “What time is it?” I asked myself, wonderingly. I should have been wondering what in the name of Alfred Angelo I was doing going to Tan & Tone America half-dressed in a sports bra, t-shirt and shorts, makeup running from the day before, not even aware what hour it was I was going to stumble in like a haggard urchin. “Please, sir, may I ‘ave some ‘ore…tanning lotion?”

So there I was, my own worst nightmare, at large on the road. My eyes still glazed over from sporadic bouts of sleep, my mind fuzzy and unfocused on reality, my emotions spilling over with repressed stress, I reached Tan & Tone America and readied myself to park in my regular spot, a space over from the door in front of the floor-to-ceiling storefront windows.

My brain picked this moment to rebel against the injustice I had done it, and sent its verdict to my foot, which also found me very guilty. My foot hit the accelerator instead of the brake—hard. Before I knew what was happening, I was flying wildly over the curb, crashing violently into metal bars and glass, which was raining on all sides of me. The world looked like a slow-motion scene from The Matrix before I came to a stop, the focus of three dumbfounded pairs of eyes.

Thirty minutes later, trying to respond to the good-natured jests of the ladies at Tan & Tone America, nestling in the comforting arms of my fiancé, I decided it was time for me to stop trying to perform when I had nothing left; to not try to handle everything myself. I decided it was time to just let someone take care of and love me.

Learn from my mistake, dear reader: when life becomes too overwhelming and you just need to crash, crash into the arms of someone who loves you, not into the front of your local tanning salon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't Keep the Potatoes

I've been elated with answers to prayer,
I've been baffled by answers to prayer,
but I've never, never been scarred for life by a swift answer to prayer such as I received yesterday, when I came upon the rotten potatoes.

Lately, I've found it difficult to sense God with me. Senses and emotions are extremely deceptive, and I constantly struggle to remember that feelings are not the equivalent of reality. However, God once again proved His reality; this time, through my sense of smell.

It started a few weeks ago with a very foul smell in the kitchen. Chris and I couldn't stand it, but we also couldn't, after scouring the cabinets, divine the source. We wrinkled our noses and shrugged our shoulders and moved on.

The story continues this past Tuesday, when we came upon a disturbing creepy-crawly in the sink, for which I will spare you the description. Let's just say it wasn't your normal insect house-pest. Chris and I were thoroughly grossed out. In retrospect, I laugh at us; as we laid down that night, I whispered, shakenly, "I wish we knew where that came from!" I could hear Chris's smile in the dark as he repeated the advice I'd given him earlier, "Just don't think about it, love."

But I did think about it, and, despite not feeling God, I prayed that He would help me find out the creature's origin.

The next day, my mentor canceled our lunch meeting (providentially; you'll see why), so I decided to scrounge for food at home. I decided to make a nice baked potato in the microwave, using the potatoes I had been storing in a "cool, dry place" for over a month. I pulled the bag from the cabinet.

Then, I promptly discovered the source of both the smell and the creepy-crawly in one stomach-turning moment. Apparently, a rotting potato makes an excellent home for them. I made a sickened, suppressed moan deep in my throat, all the fear and disgust of years rising to the surface in a drawn-out note of unmitigated internal meltdown...

So, dear reader, my prayer was heard, and I am reminded of God's concern with even the smallest details of our lives. In addition, I am now very aware of how not to store potatoes.

Don't make my mistakes, dear reader. ;) Until next time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Contemplations of Young Wife, Third Part

Apparently, I thought all my misconceptions about and bitterness against men would go away when I found the exceptional man who would be my husband. However, I've discovered that just because I don't apply my stereotypes to Chris doesn't mean I don't still own them.

Yesterday I broke down in a hate-filled fit about how angry guys make me. The spate came out of left field, believe me; I think it scared Chris about as much as it did myself. I felt justified in ranting, at the moment. A few minutes of a clear head and a clear-headed spouse, though, reminded me of an important principle: Though I have been burnt by men in the past, I am not excused from bringing both my hurt and my poor attitude concerning them before a gracious heavenly Father.

Unforgiveness is not exactly a debatable sin (see Matthew 6:14-15), and unforgiveness is my problem, here. I distill the situation, of course; there's much that happened in the whole process involving the wrongs of other people, but unforgiveness is something that I can, and must, personally face. It's cancerous; it causes me to take personal offenses and project them onto the entirety of the opposite sex. For example:

-All guys care about is sex.
-All men are pigs.
-Men can't be trusted.

Horrible! I know hordes of godly young (and old) men who are so respectable as to be, well, an overwhelmingly refreshing refutation to all of the above (Any unmarried ladies reading this, I promise you, they're out there in abundance. Don't give up, don't lower your standards and keep trusting God's sovereignty and love!).

God, grant me both the desire and ability to forgive, and thank you, more than I can ever fully express, for blessing me with a man who is anything but deserving of contempt. Catch me in bad patterns of thinking about men. Teach me how to love all as you do.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Second Part

Tears sting.

They hurt a whole lot more now that I know that they hurt someone else; namely, my sweet and adoring husband, who could throw two tons of bricks at me and still not get me to fall out of passionate love with him, much less try to forget him.

I know it comes with the territory, but I hate--hate--the fact that whatever I do and whatever I feel now affects Chris. He hurts with me, even when I suffer from inexplicable and once-personal feelings such as depression and self-deprecation (though, I suppose the latter doesn't count as a feeling). When he sees me crying, I can in turn see his empathy make the strong lines of his jaw and brow go rigid, and his eyes fall into some deep place of uncertainty; uncertainty of the right things to say, the right things to do...

His tears are simultaneously one of the most beautiful and the most unbearable things I know. Ah, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he treasures me, then.

And all I want to do, in between my tears, is tell him that I love him desperately, and just want him to be. I mean, in the end, I just want him to be happy. In my darkest moments, I ask, "Why me? Why would you choose me of any other woman you knew, of anyone you could have loved? Why me?" When I hurt you, my husband, it kills me, and I almost wish you away--away from me.

But, there's something else I know beyond the shadow of a doubt: That he and I were meant for one another, a couple sanctioned by and joined before God, created to be a team, and not islands forever incomplete. I think it would be presumptuous (just a bit, you think?) to tell God he made a mistake in uniting Chris and Jaimie Krycho.

Tears sting, but tears--even shared ones--are part of the grand process called life, and the equally grand one called marriage.

Review - Ted Dekker's Sinner

Or, Why I Won't Forgive Sinner

Like a lazy Sunday afternoon is to a long work week, so picking up a popcorn novel is to trudging through dense, intellectual books. The reader wants something succinct, fresh and satisfying to clear the brain. It was with this intent that I bought Ted Dekker’s Sinner, published one year ago this month.

The prolific Dekker is renowned among Christian authors for his engaging, sometimes alarming fiction plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats, as well as for his wide fan base. He has written several best-selling series and has seen two of his thrillers (Thr3e in 2006 and House in 2008) made into films.

Sinner completes Dekker’s three-part Paradise series, in which each book connects to the others but can stand alone. It seems to be relatively unfamiliar to the reading public, based on conversations I’ve had with a few self-proclaimed Dekker fans. That surprised me. I was equally surprised by the fact that Barnes and Noble oh-so-temptingly marked down the book to $5.95. Attractive hardcover, popular fiction author...and dramatic price drop. Was no one reading Sinner?

The premise—a nation-shaping battle between good and evil involving four characters imbued with special powers—lured me. I was interested in seeing how Dekker fused modern Christian concerns with his sensational storytelling. I paid the six bucks and settled down for a relatively quick read.

I was pleased at how naturally Sinner establishes its world and characters. Granted, the book is set in modern America, so the modern American reader requires no orientation in culture beyond learning of the socio-political changes that comprise the source of conflict. Dekker does a credible job of taking current evangelical fears about the dangers of pluralism and turning them into a frightening reality: the suppression and indictment of free speech in the name of “tolerance.”

In addition, even though I haven’t read the preceding books, Showdown and Saint, I had no problem getting to know the basic personality and background of protagonists Billy Rediger and Darcy Lange. I appreciate recapping skills in an author.

The stand-alone nature of the book posed a significant problem, however, and one that I can’t seem to get over. I found the characters fairly insipid. It’s not that Dekker didn’t give them distinct and memorable personality traits, but I felt as if the traits had been declared rather than organically revealed (particularly those of the main female character, Darcy). This held true at both introductions and turning points—even when a person underwent rapid change, it was so rapid and complete as to be unbelievable. There was little overall character development, which made the people seem two-dimensional, and left me feeling disconnected from the story.

As a believer in God and, consequently, in good and evil, I had hoped to be not only connected with, but inspired by, Sinner. I admit that the extremely black-and-white (in this case, white) nature of the hero, Johnny Drake, made me ponder how seriously I take my own faith and how much dignity and safety I’d be willing to sacrifice for it. This contemplation lasted a few days, for which I was grateful.

However, I most enjoy books that make their point without being preachy, and Sinner is not one of them. Dekker could have told a solid, God-centered story without putting so much emphasis on sending a big message. The overly-emotional appeal sapped my enjoyment of the book, as I felt tugged between serious mode and, well, popcorn novel mode.

Upon finishing the book, I found that my “lazy Sunday afternoon” had become one of those afternoons of lofty plans that, at the end of the day, never happened.

Dekker has done much better; I suggest putting Sinner aside and going for one of his books that has safely stayed the same price.


This review was first published at blogcritics!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Look Up!

One of my husband's and my dearest friends, PJ King, said that longing is good for the soul. I was in the mood to play Socrates and commented that I needed clarification between longing and pining, for the latter is negative.

The dictionary makes no distinction between the two, he said, and reasoned that longing reminds us of Heaven, that the grave is not our end, earth as we know it is not in its ultimate form, and though we know God now, we will know Him fully when we see Him in His glory in Heaven (once again, I refer to 1 Corinthians 13:12).

Some days, I find myself longing like this: Staring off into the void, wishing for an indescribable something that I know has been and will be again. This yearning--this relentless itch--is the reality behind our very meaningful childhood dreams of knights and princesses and kingdoms. It's the truth that draws us, inexplicably, to hope and endurance when wretched despair chokes out the light.

We long for more in life because this life is not our final destination. We dream of Heaven because we were made to dwell with God.

Keep longing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, First Part

My, but I have a difficult time accepting my husband’s help and advice! I was sitting on the sofa a moment ago, stressing about school, how to attack this particular blog post and the fact that the wireless is down. I punched the refresh button to test my luck, eyebrows drawn savagely to a point above my nose. I attacked the button, again and again. Once more, with feeling! After about the tenth time, Chris laughingly informed me that repeating the action was clearly not making the internet work any faster. He reached over and rubbed my knee, saying, “Babe, don’t let it get to you. It is what it is.”

I promptly unplugged my laptop and moved to the bedroom, stewing.

My point in telling you this is not to elicit sympathy; au contraire. I’m poking fun at myself. I stress over uncontrollable things, as if I had the ability to alter them by raising or lowering my angst level. And when Chris steps in to comfort me, BAM! The doors to my civility bang shut, and I become a woman I certainly don’t want to be. I’m pretty sure Solomon had the right idea when he compared a quarrelsome wife to a “continual dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15). Frustrating and unrelenting and quite indefatigable.

Something I have to consistently and consciously focus on is reveling in the fact that being married means I'm not alone anymore! Chris is there for me, if I’ll let him be. I’ve come to see that quality men will bend over backward for the woman they love. Wow!

No man can reach a comforting hand through stone doors, though!

Let’s argue this out.

(1) I must remember that if Chris tries to serve me, he wants to serve me. I do him a disservice by shutting him down in an effort not to importune him. As good friend Chase Russell noted to me yesterday, we often bless others by letting others bless us.

(2) I like, and need, my alone time. However, I don’t actually want to be alone in the complete, desolate sense of the word. My husband is a gift, like all gifts, easily taken for granted. It is the dearest honor I know that he both loves and takes care of me (like a Warder for an Aes Sedai…um, excuse me, reader… Robert Jordan fans, holler!).

I intend to never justify nursing my hurt and pushing Chris away by saying, “That’s just what women do. We’re fickle.”
This is what a woman—“an excellent wife”—does:
“She does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).

It’ll take some work if I know myself at all, but I long to glorify God and respect my husband. I don’t have it in me, but God is the one who equips. Wives, let’s commit our marriages to Him!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I don't like the Greek letter delta

I must admit that I've been a bit depressed throughout the past week. I'm not sure I'm sure why. I often cast about wildly for explanations to my varied and strong emotions and, as a result, end up mislabeling the cause for them. Sometimes, though, I see causes returning in a goodly pattern that helps me arrive at sound conclusions.

Well, good reader, I've cast, and I've perhaps caught. It's CHANGE that's the culprit.

If you read my blog for long, you'll discover change often is. Even when life alters for better, I see the alteration as a chapter closing, never to be reopened, and I mourn it. Mourn is a strong word, but the best I can find; I experience something akin to the grieving process. I walk about disoriented. Then, I find myself sniping or snapping at my husband and other loved ones. Finally, I let myself cry. Sweet catharsis, then I'm done.

God is teaching me how to trust Him in the midst of change, to know Him as my stability and to find Him completely faithful and trustworthy. He's been teaching that to all of us, I think, from the moment we were born. I count myself blessed to have the opportunity to put His teaching into practice; now let me act on that thought and rejoice! I want to be a woman of Psalm 50:23, who offers thanksgiving as her sacrifice to glorify God!

Chris and I both feel that our lives will be characterized by change. Thank you, God, for gently teaching me to deal now rather than in the future.

P.S. For anti-math readers: The title is a mathematical reference that I'm sure I shamefully misused.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exciting update!

Comments are working now. Thank you, Chris.

Review - Jon Foreman's Fall

It’s been awhile since I was moved by an album as much as Jonathan Foreman’s work, Fall, the first of his Limbs and Branches series released in October 2008. The lead singer of the popular Christian rock band Switchfoot, Foreman certainly holds his own as he extends his songwriting endeavors into this brooding and personal collection. Most of my inspired musical experience has been linked to daydreaming; Fall hits on reality with the force of—borrowing one of the man’s song titles—a south-bound train.

Jon Foreman’s musical style is the first thing that grabbed me, even before the brilliant, lucid lyrics and incisively universal themes. Fall has all the elements of 70’s Simon-and-Garfunkel-style folk: Socially aware, sensitive (nearly to the point of being touchy), a music that a person could listen to over and over and still discover and appreciate new things about it. To make the album generationally relevant, this older mode merges with an edgy, alternative attitude, delivering a punch with its singular melancholy.

Foreman’s lyrics border on poetry; the CD insert notes that Foreman developed most of his songs in the wee hours of the morning, a time quite conducive to deep writing. It is very refreshing to hear a raw account of those feelings, having experienced many of them myself. Indeed, the theme of Fall is, appropriately, the fading of things loved, and the writer doesn’t mince words in describing the darkness that accompanies it:
How miserable I am/I feel like a fruitpicker who arrived here after the harvest/There’s nothing here at all/Nothing at all here that could placate my hunger (“Equally Skilled,” track 3).

Most notable about Fall are the themes, the aforementioned being the main one. Foreman’s CD bears no guise. When Foreman is sad, he says so. When he regrets, he says so. And while the listeners don’t have to grapple with metaphors thick enough to cut with a knife, the songwriter doesn’t just feed them all the intricacies of his mind with a pedantic sort of straight-shooting. The feelings are clear enough to where anyone can understand them, but, like good literature as well as good music, there are enough underlying beauties to be found that a person does have to do some thinking and searching to find them, making discovery of them all the more meaningful.

I really only had one beef with this CD: The first time I listened through it, I found it inordinately depressing. The listener must pay close attention to the whole of Foreman’s lyrics, as well as the arc of his songs throughout the complementary Winter, Spring, and Summer albums, to truly catch the spirit behind the sorrow. Foreman’s songs alternate, just like King David’s Biblical psalms, between lamenting the injustice of the world to praising God for the hope ultimately found in Him. Overall, the hope in Fall trumps the lamentation, though the latter is strong enough to leave a bad taste in non-discriminatory listeners’ mouths (or, a bad ringing in their ears?).

Having listened to the entire Limbs and Branches series, I can confidently say that Fall is my favorite album. It is a satisfying listening experience musically, a provocative one lyrically and a solid one thematically. Jon Foreman is a true virtuoso in his musical realm and will have my support as long as the seasons change.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Giving it a rest

Sometimes we get so caught up in planning things to do that we have no time to consider if we even want to do the things we plan.

Last semester, I enslaved myself through planning. Isn't that sick? I'm a checklister--to a fault, sometimes--and I made the ultimate weekly list. I recalled to my husband last night that every lunch and dinner was taken by a particular,scheduled person on campus. I enjoyed spending time with each of those people immensely, but when someone cancelled, and I discovered I had a free hour?! ...NO WAY! It was too exciting. I made sure to use it to isolate myself in a booth and eat a quiet,cozy lunch with my companion, a book. A non-textbook, on special occasions.

It's not that I was face of every student organization or something, though I was involved in various organized activities. The issue was, on top of external concerns, I was undergoing changes in mindset and lifestyle that affected my use of time and amount of energy (Don't let anyone tell you that the material/physical and emotional/spiritual worlds are disconnected from one another).

I'm a social artsy introvert, but I'm still an artsy introvert! My means of rest, reading, writing, dreaming and the like, were nonexistent. It was draining!

I reflect on this, because this summer was--I can tell this semester is going to be--vastly different. Over the summer, I was able to pick up habitual leisure reading again; I hadn't done so in nearly 2 years. I had forgotten how much I love it. Over the past month, I have picked up habitual leisure writing again. I love that even more! Now for the clincher, which should be painfully obvious, but isn't, at least to me: The things we are passionate about doing are important to do. Maybe, honing and sharpening our passions is as important as schoolwork (gasp!) or socializing (oh my!). Of course, honing passions, schoolwork and socializing aren't mutually exclusive; I'm not trying to say we should choose one over the other. But my life is evidence that putting your passions on the back-burner will negatively affect you.

There is something very spiritual about the small, deep joys of life, the ones we find in simple things like good music and sunrises. Our delight in God's gifts brings Him delight! We are each wired to enjoy some gifts more than others, and to be gifted in some ways more than others. We should embrace this!

So if you're like me and often need a little push, here it is: Sit back and enjoy your life sometimes! I'm living proof that it won't kill you (no pun intended)!

Meanwhile, I'll keep trying to do the same!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I find his lack of jokes--disturbing

Observation for the day:

Most teachers try to be amusing; some try too hard. I can count on half my hand the professors I've had who didn't attempt to be funny several times per class. It doesn't bother me, since I genuinely laugh at most everything except crass jokes. Okay, okay. Sometimes I laugh because I feel subconsciously obliged to, and do so without thinking (akin to my applause habits, but that's for another post).

My relevant scary experience is that I have a profoundly non-comical professor this semester. Not non-humorous--his smooth speech is replete with wit--but non-comical. I don't think there is a shred of goofiness in this man. In his suit and tie, towering next to the whiteboard where he illustrates a blinding piece of human insight, he peers at me from behind spectacles with dark, beady eyes. He enthuses, but his eyes don't change. He lectures, but his eyes don't change. He even delivers witty comments, yet his eyes don't change. They are very serious indeed.

I think I am differentiating "humor" from "funniness" in this way: "Humor" is more about preferred form of delivery while "funniness" is about what the individual considers laugh-out-loud amusing. A shake-and-bake distinction; I'll have to think on it more, later.

Examining people's form of "funniness", I think, is an excellent way of getting to know their inner selves; particularly, their dispositions. Since I've not yet seen "funniness" in my professor, I can't decide his personality. That bothers me!

Eh, I have a need to be under the delusion of having "figured a person out." Unhealthy, perhaps.

Anyhow. That's all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Impossible Command

I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters," a very salient glimpse into (and mockery of) the world of darkness, juxtaposed with the world of light.

I've been pondering love lately, and found a thought-provoking passage in the book which I thought I'd share with you. In letter 19, Screwtape, the self-sufficient undersecretary of the devil, writes to his nephew Wormwood about the impossible existence of Love:

The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy [God] really loves the humans. That, of course, is a impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else...Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. An there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn't make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to (Lewis, 100-101)!

Matthew 22:34-40 clearly commands us to love--first God, then others (as love for others will flow out of love for God; see 1 John 4:19-21). Screwtape is right insofar as love is impossible to fully understand as humans. 1 Corinthians 13:12 compares our knowledge of love to seeing "a poor reflection as in a mirror;" when we see God face to face, we shall know the extent of love. What a marvelous thought!

Until then, how do we follow a commandment to love when love is completely beyond us?

Seek God more. Know God more. God is love (see 1 John again!), and He is the only means of knowing what that lofty concept looks like!

Monday, August 17, 2009

We must de-glamorize stubbornness.

Since I was in middle school, I liked--no, loved--my reputation of being stubborn. There was a certain romance to it: I could stand up to boys with it (especially when I lacked for wit), I could plow forward when no one else wanted to, I could be a heroine in my own little world. Now I know that the trait I loved was just a sin I loved.

Can't stubbornness be good, you ask?

No. Having a strong will is good; having a stubborn attitude/heart is not. My husband is fond of pointing this out ("Semantics are important!" he says, quite rightly). A strong will, among other things, helps people stand on their convictions. Stubbornness, on the other hand...well, see for yourself.

First, I found the following web definitions for stubbornness on
- the trait of being difficult to handle or overcome
- resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires

The first definition sounds pretty negative, if you ask me. The second hits on my main point, which is stubbornness is self-glorification. That's bad.

I've been reading through Jeremiah--WOW did he have a tough job!--as the prophet speaks the judging words of God to miscreant Israel: "...I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not." (Jeremiah 11.7-8)

I think it's clear. God does not want us to be stubborn!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Failure 101

Being an idealist means there are plenty of un-glorious things I can glorify in my mind, but failure is one thing in which I find little spectacle or artistry. When I see failure for what it is, I see the whole range of badness-- of humanity-- in me. I fail to fulfill the holy purpose to which I was called. I know, at the most fundamental level, I am not nor ever will be enough.

Jesus draws us from ourselves, He really does. How can we see things as they truly are but by stepping back from the world we've wrecklessly created (a child's block castle next to God's marble palace!) to see just how much orientation in reality we need. Reality is truth. Truth is the Word of God. And though we fail again and again, His Word continues to redeem and set us once more at His blessed side.