Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Tree Guard's First Christmas: Part Three

THEN CAME THE BAG. The canvas sack was so massive that the man himself could’ve fit inside it, and indeed, I thought he might try when I saw him open its lip and bend over to look inside. I strained to see the man’s face. Finally, he turned. I saw red cherry cheeks and a white beard – the face of my enemy. Without hesitation, I raised the alarm.

Did I mention I can sing? Well, my song is a gift given me by the Creator in order to alert the household of intruders. Thankful for the training that taught me to sing on call, I began.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Fa la la la la, la la la la!” I didn’t know what the words meant, but they served their purpose, if only for a moment. The intruder spun suddenly, bumping his head on the fireplace, then realized that I was only a penguin. He laughed at me, mockingly.

Can I describe how deeply he shamed me, then? My alarm was useless to alert anyone in the household. The corpulent thief crunched on the chicks’ colorful biscuits, drank their white liquid, and rummaged beneath the tree – right beneath my very watch post! Oh, the sacrilege! He mostly likely put some of the packages there into his bag. He tampered with the humans’ footwear that I assumed was hanging over the fireplace to dry, and crept about in a generally menacing way. My song continued all the while.
At the end of the night, though, I failed. The human slipped back through the chimney, the way he had come – what kind of foul creature has the power to ascend through such a portal?

Photo courtesy Angela Wyant/Getty Images
So, that was my first duty as a Tree Guard. I couldn’t do what needed to be done, and it still haunts me. What haunts me more, though, is that the bearded man is still at large. How many other homes will he enter while the Guards stand useless to help? How many more children will cringe and cry at the sight of this human’s picture?

The adult female human is taking down the Tree Guards today – I saw her removing the long, rectangular barracks from storage – so I know my yearlong period of contemplation begins soon. Heed my story, human. Keep the details in mind, for I won’t be around to tell them again for a while. If you have any loyalty to your own species, find the man with the white beard and guard your nest from him. I wish you the best on your hunt, until I return.

THE END

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Tree Guard's First Christmas: Part Two

I WAS PROUD WHEN the adult female human chose me off the metal precipice five weeks ago – it wasn’t until she stationed me in my first tree that I became nervous. I stood between a rather taciturn gold reindeer and a star, which couldn’t talk at all, so I felt both unsure and lonely. However, each evening when the adult female human reached behind the tree and made the small white lights come on, I puffed up with pride, knowing that I was helping to keep her nest safe.

Many people came in and out during those first few weeks of The Watch, including the human’s partner, two young chicks, and an assortment of other humans that the female greeted warmly when they entered the nest. To my relief, no one attempted to break in at night, especially not that bearded, red-suited adult male.

Unfortunately, my sense of security didn’t last long – in fact, I haven’t felt secure at all since midnight December 25. Early that evening, my humans made special preparations for a big celebration the next day. They shared a large dinner together, where the two chicks spoke excitedly about the presents they would receive in the morning. Then, the pair sat under the tree for a while, shaking each one of the boxes – sometimes, quite violently – that people had placed under the tree over the course of the last few weeks.

Lastly, they set out a large platter of colorful biscuits and a glass of thick, white liquid, presumably to consume in the morning. They immediately went to bed. It was an altogether odd evening, but I don’t pretend to understand everything that humans do.

The real terror began when the clock struck twelve. My Tree Guard senses were already heightened by the amount of excitement that day, but I never expected to witness what I did. Ashes began to sprinkle down from the fireplace across the room from me. I watched in horror as the grey flakes heralded the entrance of two large, black-booted feet, followed by a body of not insignificant size.

. . . to be continued.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Tree Guard's First Christmas: Part One

As the semester wound to a close, I had 860 words left to write for independent studies with Mel Odom. Fried by the more serious projects I was working on, and quite a bit stir-crazy due to being so close to the end of school, I concocted this over-the-top Christmas piece for my own . . . well, peace of mind!


So, without further ado, part one of A Tree Guard's First Christmas.


WHAT I'M ABOUT TO TELL YOU is very important. There’s a criminal on the loose, and everyone needs to be on the lookout for him.

You may think that because I’m a penguin, what I say doesn’t matter. Think about it this way, though – if you heard what penguins have to say about humans, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge the intelligence of other species. We’ve seen you do some pretty stupid things. Plus, it’s not like you can fly, either.

Anyway, my story begins in the North Pole, which is probably not where you think it is. My parents taught me that there are several breeds of penguins all over the earth, but ours is a particularly special one. Other breeds may be larger and more mobile than us, but they’ll never get to experience the majestic plastic nests built on the metal precipices in the North Pole – our homes.

North Pole penguins train to become Tree Guards when they reach adulthood. That’s what I am -- a Tree Guard. According to my mother, this sacred duty has been passed down for generations. The Watch, the annual, month-long guard duty in a human home, requires years of training, both physical and mental. We need the mental training for after The Watch ends, when the Tree Guards are consigned to dark barracks for a year to contemplate how they can do a better job of guarding the tree next time around.

The adult male human we are to guard against has his face plastered all over the North Pole during the season when penguins are chosen as Tree Guards. He is quite round and old, like most of the adult male humans I’ve seen, but he has a distinct white beard and red suit that causes a flurry of agitation in every young human who views his picture.

He’s a dangerous enemy, for certain. It’s not only my privilege to guard against him, though, it’s my destiny.

. . . to be continued.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling Un-beautiful

We do not craft our own reality,
but usually, I feel we do.
If I feel one way,
That way it must be.
If I feel another,
The first is obsolete.
And all the while, the way it is
Is written in invisible ink
On the wall.

We do not craft our own reality,
but in the mind, I think we do.
If my eyes see one thing,
That alone will register in my brain.
If they see another,
The first one fades away.
And all the while, the way it is
Is written in invisible ink
On the wall.

We do not craft our own reality,
but in a way, I wish we did.
If I wanted one thing,
That I could call to being.
If I wanted another,
The first would cease to be.
And all the while, there would not be
Invisible ink on the wall
For me to ignore.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Men v. Women

Chris and I were listening to a piece of music he performed in the Clavinova Festival his senior year of high school. That year, he and his childhood best friend, Jamin, pretty much made a clean sweep of the awards. Our conversation went as follows:

"Jamin and I wrote this one together."

"Oh, cool. Is that the year that you..."

"...DESTROYED EVERYTHING? Yes."

"Uh, I was going to say, 'took the cake.'" *pause* "That was such a guy answer."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Altoids Etiquette

Some awkward moments shouldn't really be awkward, but they are anyway. College is replete with settings for these amusing moments to occur.

In my home-away-from-home, otherwise known as Gaylord College, I settled down on a couch on the third floor, tucked away in a corner of the already-marginalized Professional Writing Alcoves. I ate lunch there. I took a nap. I did homework there, all without anyone breaking my solitude. Ah, sweet peace.

Photo courtesy of ou.edu

After several hours, someone finally passed my way. It was a young man -- a fellow college student with dark, curly hair. He promptly planted himself in the couch next to me. I continued tapping away on Verk 4 (my laptop, for those of you who have forgotten), faithfully attacking a climactic scene in my novel and ignoring the visitor.

Suddenly, I heard garbled words that sounded something like, "All told?" I looked over to see the man's outstretched hand holding a small, red box, and realized that he had actually said,
"Altoid?"

I sure as heck wasn't going to turn down an Altoid! Gratefully, I took a little white candy and thanked the young man. Then, I turned back to my computer.

Then came the moment of uncertainty. I glanced up and opened my mouth as if to say something to my new Altoid-sharing friend, then closed it again and plastered my eyes to Verk 4's screen. To my dismay, I realized I had nothing more to type. Oh, dear. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to strike up a conversation after that nice gesture, or if I was simply meant to take the Altoid and move on, pretending that the exchange never happened. Was the Altoid a bribe? A symbol of beneficence? A deep, unspoken pact? I didn't know. I felt the sweat bead on my brow.

Photo courtesy of anonymous8.com


My fingers hovered over the computer, itching for something to type as an escape from potential, profoundly shame-inducing faux pas. Quickly, I made a plan. I began to type furiously. It didn't matter what I was typing, as long as I had a good excuse to do something besides talk. My little digital soliloquy ended up looking a lot like this:

"I don't know what to do right now because I feel awkward so I'm going to type randomly. I can either keep doing this or pull out my cell phone and text, because that's also a socially-acceptable thing to do in someone else's presence to show that you're busy. I'm still sitting here, laughing at myself because I'm doing this, but seriously, this Altoid is causing me a lot of trouble! . . ."

A mere three minutes later, I had to leave the college anyway. With the piercingly minty taste of an Altoid on my tongue and a mixture of various *headdesk* feelings in my brain, I walked away to face the rest of the world and its odd, socially acceptable behavior.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Talk with Aleta Jo

Two weeks ago, my grandmother Aleta Jo fell and broke her hip, and has been in the hospital for surgery and rehab ever since. I've spoken with her a few times, including today. She said a few things that both touched and broke my heart:

- She's loved spoiling her grandkids, and she's sorry that she can't do it anymore.
- She's concerned about whether or not she'll be able to live on her own after this, which she so loves to do.
- She's so proud of Chris and me for finishing payment on student loans, and would have paid for them herself, if she could have.
- She thinks I'm a mature young woman and that Chris is a wonderful husband to me -- the one she has been praying for for me since before I was born (now those were beautiful things to hear).

Hearing these things from my grandmother was difficult, yet special. Difficult, because once upon a time, everything we talked about was simply happy, and she and I were so much younger. Special, because she now trusts me, as an adult, with the thoughts of her heart.

It serves to remind me that I cannot escape the changes that come with time. They bring both good and bad. They are normal, and universal. There is no point in the fearing the changes -- they will come, and by God's grace, we can walk through them well.

I feel as if a baton has been passed. My time of childishness is over and done, and while I will jealousy guard my childlike heart, I walk forward into adulthood with confidence, knowing that the Lord is over and above time itself. He can walk atop the tumultuous changes just as Jesus walked on the roiling surface of the waves so long ago.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Words Trapped Behind a Fearful Smile

As the night settles over the mountains of Colorado Springs, my Thanksgiving break draws to a close. I've had a wonderful week with my parents- and sisters-in-law, and Chris' and my friend Stephen.

I have a feeling of letdown. Vaguely, I dread returning to Norman, knowing that life wil resume, and with it, all the everyday insecurities I long to escape. When I'm here, I rest in the knowledge that I'm loved. Granted, it took until almost six months ago for me to feel entirely myself with my in-laws, comfortable enough to let loose while knowing they accept me just the way I am.

I must admit that it takes me a looong time to trust anyone fully. When I do, it's so freeing! It's like stepping from a greyish world into an entirely new reality, where I experience hope and confidence and joy to overflowing. It's like suddenly realizing the heart of God, realizing the holy pride he feels in his unique creation -- me.

In "normal life," though, I don't know who I can trust, no matter how many times they've "proved" themselves to me. My warped perspective on life is that everyone has a button that drives them away for good, and it's only a matter of stumbling over and pushing that button. The longer I spend with a person, the more likely I am to find that button and lose their love forever. That's why it's difficult for me to grow attached. The deeper and longer I love, the greater the risk of heartbreak -- a keener kind than I experienced in middle school break-ups. This is what I hold to every day I'm in Norman, going about my business at OU and elsewhere.

Now that I realize this, I long to give it over to God. I cannot live in bondage depending on who I'm with or where I'm located. It is not the responsibility of every person outside my family to show me exactly what I want to see as proof of their sincerity. They can't show me perfect love -- I have to realize this.

Not only that -- I have to realize that there is a greater love that fills my need, because it truly is a need. When we sinned against God, we were cut off from him and his glory, and brought a death sentence on ourselves. Our debt was too great to pay. God knew that. He sent down his son, the very image of himself, to live a human life, bearing our human temptations and pains, and at the end of it endure false accusations, betrayal and brutal murder at the hands of those who he loved perfectly. In that way, he paid the blood price that was too much for us to pay, and he paid it in full. Not only that, he rose again, thereby proving himself conquerer of sin and death -- the very things that kept us away from his great heart. He ascended into heaven. He has prepared a place for us with him. One day, he will come again, and reign in all beauty, goodness and majesty that we have barely tasted.

Hallelujah. May his grace rain down on me in this struggle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shambles

I like to clean.

When I'm cleaning something, I'm in control over it. I can wash away what I don't want, and make a thing lovely and pristine again.

Then, I can step back, survey my work, and sigh with pride, knowing that what once was worse is better for my having been there.

Unfortunately, you can't clean a heart, or a life, for that matter. There are a few loved ones whose lives seem in complete chaos right now. When I hear their stories or see their actions, I feel as if I'm staring at a black chalkboard scribbled all over with white chalk, or a plain wall plastered in angry graffiti. I see a floor covered in the shards of broken dishes. I see white furniture splashed irredeemably with black paint.

It makes me want to shout at them. How can you be so blind, and how can you be so stupid? It makes me want to tear my clothes, like the grieving Jews did in the Old Testament. Please, only turn to God! You are tearing the world apart piece by piece to find your purpose, but it's in front of your face! How can they be made clean? They've only fallen further as the days go by, deeper and deeper into muck and slime. How can they be made whole again? Their brokenness cuts so deep and so painfully, they're numb to the pain and they don't even know where the brokenness begins.


This is where I most understand, I think, our helplessness as humans. We live in a needy world. We are a needy people. And we don't have the means to fill our needy hearts.

Here, I begin to see the necessity of prayer, as well. Really, isn't our natural response in desperation to cry out loud to a higher power for help? I can't do anything for these people, which would drive me crazy (and sometimes still does, I'll admit) unless I knew there was someone who can do something, and in a greater, more awesome way than my comparatively feeble mind can conceive of.

Clean, my Lord, I pray you clean!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Read This, You Button Face

I've neglected you, folks. It probably feels much longer than it's actually been since I've blogged, as I stop both reading blogs and writing on my own when I go through one of these uninspired periods.

I've been inspired in non-blog writing lately, though, so I've been working on my novel and a new, humorous short story. This gives me a break from the almost-60,000 words (phew!) that I've completed on the still-untitled fantasy work.

The last few days have been rough for me. On bad days, I find it difficult to do almost anything, including the things I generally enjoy doing. However, it's going to be okay. This is a fact that I couldn't grasp before, but the fact that I now know hope flowing in my heart assures me that God is continuously healing me, no matter how slowly I feel like he's doing it. My husband is, of course, taking good care of me. Especially when I am able to let go of my pride and fear enough to ask for help...

Chris, myself, and our good friend Stephen (who writes the blog Gospelized) are heading to Colorado Springs this Monday to spend time with family for Thanksgiving. I'm greatly excited. Want to know the best part of the story? I forgot that my Thanksgiving break actually doesn't begin until Wednesday. I am one of those kids who never, ever misses class, so that's why it's funny to me. I guess it probably wasn't funny to you. Oh, well.

Apparently, the fact that I'm on the internet is causing Chris's HALO game to lag. Someone just killed him, and Chris proceeded to call the uncouth scoundrel a "button face." These are the common "expletives" that you will hear within in the Krycho household. I like to tell the story about the time I was on the road and yelled to a frustrating driver, "What are you doing, you...bumblebee?!"

Yummm. Warm, homemade Nestle toll house cookies are baking, sweetening the air with their thick, chocolate-laden scent and warming my hands and toes with the heat from the oven where they are pleasantly housed. These grey autumnal days, while often bad for the mood, can be good for the heart when such things are in the mix!

And now, my response to something Chris just said to me: "I like killing people after it ends." I'll leave  you to try to figure out what the heck I was talking about. And for those of you who know the inside joke, the answer is not bounty hunters. Which are only legal in the U.S. and the Philippines, by the way -- the two countries of my immediate ethnic background.

Friday, November 5, 2010

MORE.

Give more grace. Don't just give it, give more of it.

Why?

Well, simply, that's what God does.

Showing here: Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the Spirit he has made to dwell in us?' But he gives more grace. (James 4:5-6a, emphasis mine)

I've recently -- as in, today -- been convinced that no matter how gracious I feel like I'm being, it is not "enough" or "too much."

For instance: I often, subconsciously or not, consider myself a kind, grace-filled person because I think the best of people, and sometimes I'm so nice that I let people walk all over me by accident. Wow. Go me, right? Except today, as I was walking about campus, I was thinking about an issue that someone else had, and how it bugged me, and how I just wanted to pop them over the head at times. I stopped short. My heart was filled with bitterness, and nothing but a desire to see that person change so they'd stop bothering me, not because I loved them and wanted the best for them. What happened to my "grace?"

"Giving grace" doesn't mean lying to yourself and telling yourself that the person who wronged you didn't do anything wrong, after all. It doesn't mean saying absolutely sunshine-and-unicorns-nice things all the time. It's granting someone forgiveness -- indeed, exemption from what they deserve -- out of a pure love. Check this out:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

Hallelujah! What more is there to say? :)

---

P.S. "More" is a really strange-looking word, after you stare at it for awhile.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Krychocosm - Episode VI: Knowing You


video


original "Knowing You" by Graham Kendrick ((c)1993 Make Way Music)
w/ new verses by me

Why do I shed tears though I know your name,
And I tremble though you say, “be strong?”
I try hard, my Lord, but I’ve failed again.
Though you fill, I feel an empty shell.

but
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you –
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you, Lord!

You’re my steadfast friend when I know it not.
This I am assured – tomorrow, I’ll see
That you hold me close and you keep me warm –
While my heart is cold, you’re loving me!

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you –
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you, Lord!

Won’t you break my heart with your gospel truth
As you make me more like you today?
Oh, my hope is sure, I cannot be moved!
I am washed in love and saved by grace!

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you –
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you, Lord!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book of Questions

What do we wait for?

What do we wait for while we sit here, the netherworld of the amorphous "future?"
What do we do as we float in that space before the "real world?" Do we live in a fake world now?
What do we wait for?

What do we work for?

What do we work for while we do work to earn work?
What do we work for as we work at what our hearts love, knowing our hearts alone won't keep us alive?
What do we work for?

Who are we?

Who are we while the world strives to define us by what we do? Are we students? Are we employees?
Who are we as grow into people that no people have ever seen us be before?
Who are we?

Christ has signed his name over my book of questions --
as I question, I will call on his name and remember
who I wait for,
who I work for,
who he is.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Heartcry, Today

How I long to please you with my life!
How I long to bring you glory!
How I long to live by your Spirit and Truth.
How I long to know you holy.
How I long to know you wholly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Handling Heroes

This is going to sound odd.

It's important for me to remember that other believers sin.

Some of Chris's and my most profitable conversations have arisen from [seemingly] unrelated starting points. Yesterday, I was struggling with the lie that doing a particular mundane thing can make me morally better. No need to go into that further -- at least, not for now -- because that was merely the starting point. It morphed into a discussion about different believers that I admired, and that I considered, "really awesome people."

If you have a list of really awesome people, great! It's good to think positively about the godly people in your life! Just don't take it as far as I tend to. I like to create standards for myself via other people. As a black and white thinker, I either grow bitter towards those "standard" people out of frustration that I'll never be able to be "as good as them," or I'll put them on a pedestal and, star-struck, continuously praise them in my head, wondering if I'll ever be able to be as cool as they are. In my eyes, they do everything right.

It looks quite juvenile all typed out, but there you have it. Chris proceeded to warn me about how dangerous this kind of hero-worship is. People are sinful. They will always let me down, and while it is wonderful to imitate others living a godly life, it's detrimental to set their lives up as perfect and complete standards for living. All people, even they, struggle with sin, whether or not the sins are visible. The only standard I must have is Christ, in the acknowledgment that it is by his grace alone that I strive to be more like him.

Chris's warning about hero worship was not one I'd never heard before -- au contraire -- but it was a much-needed reminder. After all, I didn't even realize what I was doing until the topic came up. I was dabbling in idolatry without a second thought, because it seemed that if I chose good idols, they wouldn't count as idols at all!

Silly human that I am! "Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)

Friday, October 15, 2010

I.A.T.M.A

IATMA. I Apologize Too Much Anonymous.

Now that I've told you I'm part of this "anonymous" group, I might as well tell you everything. Chris and I created IATMA in our merely-flirting days when he pointed out that I, well, apologize too much. I apologize for everything. For being in someone's way when they're squeezing past my knees in a theater. For not writing "milk" in clear-enough handwriting for Chris to read what it says.

My latest addition to this sad list took place yesterday. The young woman I'm meeting with asked me to hold her accountable to read her Bible during the week. I have quite a bit of trouble doing this. Last week, I didn't ask her, even though I remembered to. That was selfish. Bah. Sorry for being a bad person.

This week, though, I did ask her. Aren't you proud of me? Sorry, I had to ask!

However, I stumbled through the question with something along the lines of, "So, I really hate to ask you this, because I always feel bad, but since you asked me to..." Blah, blah, blah. She just laughed at me and told me she would keep me accountable to not apologize for pointless things.

Sorry that I'm not explaining where I'm going with this. I'll do so now. My apologizing addiction indicates how terrified I am of offending people! I hate offending people. It makes me a little sick to my stomach to think about. But I mean, if I'm going to be a Christian, which I am, then I'm going to offend someone at some point, right?

Anyhow, all this was further underscored when I was deciding on a memory verse for myself and my mentoree (pretty sure that's not a word, but whatevs). One particular verse was on my heart, but I was afraid to choose it because I didn't want my mentoree to think I was trying to send her some kind of message about how she should improve her life by doing more good, Christian-y things. I was so afraid of offending her--with scripture!--that I acted in my own earthly "wisdom" and kept my mouth shut. Later, the Spirit made clear it was the edifying verse we should memorize this week, and I shared it. Oy ve!

After that, I decided I need to start attending my IATMA meetings again.

I'll try not too apologize for missing so many of them lately.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Letter to a Lovelorn Friend

Dear friend,

I wish that my telling you that God has a plan in this, and that you're worth more than you could possibly know, could soothe your hurting heart. However, after all the rejection you've been through, I know you doubt yourself, wondering what's wrong with you. Is it your personality? Your appearance? Your past? I want to scream, "It's none of those things! There is nothing wrong with you!" What basis do you have for believing me, though? I don't blame you for wanting proof that many will consider the one you marry someday a truly lucky person.

I know. You can't hear it from me, since I'm already married -- for me, the game is over. That doesn't offend me in the least, it only makes me pray harder. My relationship status doesn't de-legitimize the pain I feel for you. I've watched you cringe from the wounds that romantic interests have dealt you continuously. I've watched them try to hang on to the things they like about you while letting go of everything else -- a cruel half-commitment, a friendship that tortures you, built on the most fragile foundation. It's a keen form of injustice.

Unfortunately, it's also normal. It's the nature of our strange dating culture, of skewed expectations and of miscommunication between men and women. Anyone who's been broken up with has felt it. For some reason, though, you seem to get a dose of it more often than anyone else I know.

How can that be? You are a treasure.

I know God is not cruel, and he is not a trickster. He would not toy with you. He is so good and faithful. Keep holding on to that! I admire you for already doing so. I only wish I could make you believe it with all your heart.

In any case, I will continue to lift you up in prayer. I can't wait for that day that your future spouse sees your face and knows they have found someone worth holding on to with every scrap of love in them. On that day, we can rejoice together.

Keeping hoping until then,
Jaimie

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dropping Bricks

Conviction is a rather fascinating thing. It's heartbreaking until you realize it is a call for rejoicing, as Nehemiah 8:9-11 discusses.

God reveals sin in run-of-the-mill activities. When he does, it's like getting hit in the nose with a brick that you tossed into the air yourself. God makes sure the brick lands on you so that you know that the sin exists.

Since elementary school, I've been known as one of the "nice people." It's been easy for me to settle into this reputation and lower my guard in my relationships, opening myself to unchecked pride and impatience with others. Lately, I've been struggling with some bad attitudes toward people, and the Lord faithfully revealed them to me today. Without him, these little black spots that dirty my conscience would go unnoticed for much too long -- after all, no one wants to admit that they deal with jealousy, bitterness, anger, etc. -- and we would just keep feeding them and impeding our own spiritual growth.

In Psalm 19:12, David prayed,
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

Christ indwells us as the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit convicts us. Because of conviction, if we're willing to be obedient to the Lord, we don't have to fear that sin -- even our "hidden faults" -- will overtake us. In the past, I often worried that my faith would crumble if I didn't keep a close eye on my "good/bad list" every minute (This morphed into major legalism after awhile). I was cowering in fear, rather than pursuing the Lord and relying on him to speak to me through his power and Word as I pursued.

I am thankful for conviction, though it hurts. I'm not going to "eat the fat and drink sweet wine" right now, but I am going to rejoice over it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The 38,000 Breakdown

38,000 words into my fantasy novel, I found myself saying, "This sounds stupid. My characters are starting to annoy the heck out of me."

I then proceeded to laugh at myself.

Writing a novel has been an interesting process. In addition to learning more technical things, like writing quickly without editing and avoiding repeat verbs and adjectives, I've learned life lessons about putting one foot in front of the other, taking breaks rather than beating my head against a wall, and recognizing where I'm headed instead of plowing forward in blind enthusiasm. Oh, yeah -- and about taking constructive criticism.

I just started developing the romantic relationship between two unassuming lead characters. I was so excited to jump in and make the sparks fly after slogging through one hundred pages of near-fatal blunders and somewhat melancholy revelations. Once I started to create the romance, though, I found myself concentrating too much on the pair involved and losing sight of the grand narrative.

The narrative is a great and terrible adventure. That's what I want to concentrate on. The romance is, after all, a subplot, not the story itself. And as much as I adored my lead character Calum when I first started working with him, he doesn't do well on his own, without the momentum of the entire story to carry him.

So, I continue to learn from the roller-coaster process of novel writing: sometimes, it takes stepping back from the details to remind oneself of the big picture, and to get a proper perspective on life. We are valuable, and our every moment here is valuable, but if we let our selves or our circumstances cause us to forget that God is in control and His grand plot cannot be thwarted, we will fumble through writing our own story.

And I'm just not as good a writer as God is.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Really Bad Friend

When I hang out with Insecurity, I like it to be just us, with no one interfering. After all, no one else gets me but this childhood friend, right?

I'm finding out that Insecurity is a pretty bad friend. I always come away worse and more discouraged after talking with him.

Unfortunately, I've never been very good at letting go of friends.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hope of Life, Taste of Death

It's OU-TX weekend, and I am going to Texas. For the game, you ask? No, indeed! To celebrate my best friend Katie's birthday! Don't you love and admire my school spirit?

---

While my life has been calm, praise God, storms rage around me in the lives of those I love.

I held a newborn baby for the first time yesterday -- Lydia, the beautiful daughter of my friends Mike and Whitney. It made my heart ache with love and awe, and I'm not even the parent! Lydia is a miraculous birth, in a way, and while the story is not mine to tell, I can say with all confidence that here, God was in control.

Not too long ago, Mike found out he is being deployed to the Middle East for three months, leaving his wife and new "little princess" behind. We prayed over them yesterday with our Bible study group, since Mike leaves tomorrow morning. It was heartbreaking. And yet I know that if we "take the wings of morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there [God's] hand shall lead [us], and [his] right hand shall hold [us]" (Psalm 139:9-10). Here, God is in control.

Today I received an email informing me that my favorite teacher's mother just died. I know the burden has been heavy on him, as his family members look to him for stability though he is as shaken as they are. It's strange thinking about death after holding vibrant life in my arms yesterday. Two extremes, both showing that we small humans have no control over our lives.

Yet even here, even in death, God is in control.

Praise him who is sovereign -- there is comfort unparalleled  in that great knowledge!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Smokers, Schedules and Grand Adventures

[Tales from the CART moment of the day]

While I was sitting on the botany sign today, waiting for the CART bus, a large lady in bright pink sat down beside me. She had just come out of the phone booth where she was yelling expletives at a friend of hers and was mumbling to herself. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

Turning to look at me, she asked, "Does smoke bother you?"

I was so surprised that someone was showing the courtesy to ask me that in the first place, I mumbled a lame half-yes half-no answer while gesturing incomprehensibly.

She then proceeded to tell me she'd switch places with me if the smoke blew my way. It did. We switched places.

The End.

---

Isn't it funny how our hearts long for adventure at the same time schedules bring us comfort? It's an interesting balance -- an intricate arrangement of desires in conflict with one another.

I'll use myself for example, as I am the person I'm most familiar with. I like schedules. I get things done when I have a schedule. They are also the things that kill me most easily, that I will submit myself in slavery to the moment I feel like life is slipping out of my hands. Ironically, I do that so I can gain control (though it never works).

However, everything in me also longs for adventure. Every since I was young, I've dreamt of seeing things grand and far away and strange. Curiosity still overwhelms me from time to time and gets me into trouble. Surprises comprise some of my fondest memories, and challenges light the fire in my heart that makes me think and write as passionately as I do. I want to see the world, in whatever context God has for Chris and me.

Lately, God is teaching me a lot about how to embrace both organization and spontaneity. He is instructing me in how to hold my schedule with an open hand, and take up the opportunity for various types of "adventures" when he sends them my way. Already, I see my joy blossoming in the midst of it, and life bursting with color in a new way before my eyes. It's a deep pleasure to get things done well without giving myself an ulcer in the process, and to know at the same time that I have the freedom to put reading and writing aside to take a walk with my husband, burn a napkin on the sidewalk (don't ask) or sketch out a picture of a Wheel of Time character for the sheer fun of it.

It's great, kids. Anyhow, I'm ending this abruptly because the adventure of REM sleep and the schedule of bedtime is calling my name, and when both adventure and the schedule call, I answer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Thirteenth Part

Thirteenth part?! Did you know that most elevators (and therefore, buildings), do not have a thirteenth floor due to the superstition that the number is unlucky? Do not worry, dear reader. This post is not unlucky, because "in my experience, there's no such thing as luck" (name that quote and win the prize of perpetual awesomeness!).

Ahem. Sorry about the random introductory paragraph. Streams of consciousness should cease to surprise you by now, though, coming from me.

I love my husband with all of my heart. He takes such good care of me. I have learned, however, that no matter how well Chris does at "husbanding," marriage can't fix the hurts in my heart.

I have always harbored insecurities about my self-worth. Specifically, I have trouble believing I am beautiful, and that love is truly unconditional.

Before I even started dating, I expected that having a man utterly committed to me would take care of my issues. All I needed were those dear compliments and that flattering pursuit to let me know that I was worth fighting for -- then everything would be okay.

Here's the catch: for a short time, it was true. I felt okay. The thrill of being chased provided me with an emotional high that made me forget my self-doubts. After the dating "honeymoon period" ended -- a sixth- month period, some say -- I discovered that I was floundering in my insecurities alone...again!

Friends have asked if marriage alleviated my insecurities -- indeed, they have subtly asked if it eradicated them altogether. Marriage gives me a living picture of Christ's love for me, but it only clarifies an understanding I've had nearly all my life. Marriage isn't the cure. Christ is the only cure -- that is a fact that doesn't change, no matter what relationship stage you're in. Don't trust anything else to "fix" things in your heart, even if you're sure that "if you only had ____, you wouldn't deal with ____."

It isn't easy to trust that what Christ promises about his power, healing and goodness is true. However, believe me when I say don't wait for earthly circumstances to change before bringing heart issues to the Lord. He is completely dependable, and he will not turn you away. In fact, he will rejoice to see his child trusting him with the most fragile parts of life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spaghetti Brain

Alas, but there's not much in my head right now.

I am engaged in a brief stint of being slightly annoyed with the world, but that will soon pass, I hope. Mostly, I get annoyed with the world when I'm annoyed with myself and not exactly sure why I am. Usually it has something to do with the idea that I should have accomplished something that I haven't. And that's the best explanation I can give you.

I was once told that men's brains are like waffles and women's are like spaghetti. Men can keep various issues in various compartments, like syrup in those little tiny squares. Women have everything all tangled up, sauce, noodles, mushrooms, meatballs and all.

Okay, I lied. There is something in my head right now: lots and lots of spaghetti.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Intriguing Little Poison

While jamming out to various songs in my head today as I am wont to do, my mental radio tuned to that old song by the Pussycat Dolls, "Don't Cha." Now, it's really bugging me.

"Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?...don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me? Don't cha?" the lyrics taunt. The song paints a picture of the singer blatantly flaunting her charms in front of a guy who's "taken," filling him with doubt and discontent about the woman he's with.

The thing that disturbs me is how true to life such an attitude is. Why was the song so popular awhile back? It resonates with people, because most women (and men) have probably had a "don't cha" moment where they wanted to strut their stuff and say, "Look at me! I'm sooo much better!"

There's something fun about sinning -- otherwise, we wouldn't do it. That's true here. The element of competition makes the theme of the song titillating, which makes it all the more perfidious.

Dating people, engaged people, married people, comparison is poison. Once you allow yourself to start looking at others in order to find areas where your significant other falls short, trust me, you will find areas where they do -- endless areas, in fact. The seemingly innocent little "if only he/she..." game will become a perilously slippery slope, creating unrealistic expectations for the person that he/she will not be able to live up to! As they begin to fail you in those expectations, bitterness and discontent will grow, as surely as a seed will sprout when planted and watered under the right conditions.

Do your significant other a favor, and evaluate them by the Word and wise counsel on their own merit. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has annoying attributes. Any ideal you have you've made up in a fantasy world, trust me. Slap someone on a chart of those ideals and they are doomed to fail the test.

When the "don't cha" thoughts arise, stop. Reject the thought, taking it captive in the power and for the sake of Christ. Replace the thought with meditations on what is good and admirable.

Nobody -- that is, nobody I know -- likes poison! It may smell good, but do yourself a favor -- after you waft the scent over to your nose with your hand like your good chemistry teacher taught you to do, take note of what the smell indicates, put down the vial, and walk away.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ripped in Two

No matter how sanctified I grow to be in this lifetime, my love will not be sufficient for anyone.

No, no. No matter how much I give of my own power, it will never be enough to heal a hurting person. I will never be able to stopper the source of human tears. My words will never have the power to heal the dull ache of a broken heart.

I talk myself into believing that during the times when all's going well, I am more equipped to love like Christ than I am at any other time. I think that if I've memorized enough verses that week or spouted enough spiritual quips, I don't need Christ with quite the desperation I needed him yesterday. I can stand on my own a little more.

Right?

Sometimes it's in the most quiet moments that I realize how deep my pride runs. I wait around for God to give me the power to do a certain thing that I want to do, conceivably "for him." When I get the power, as it were, I do that thing, then say, "Okay, God, thanks for the help!" and walk on, subconsciously believing that next time I face a similar situation, he will have already trained me in how to handle it, and I won't need him. I tell myself that I won't bother him as he helps all the other people on earth. I'll only call on him to help me with something "new."

This can't be. I am saved, yes, but the principle behind salvation runs deeper than I realized that morning in fourth grade Sunday school when I declared Christ king of my heart. Christ now lives in me by his Holy Spirit. Any time I try to live apart from the Spirit, whether in good times or in bad, I am ripping my very self away. I am utterly incapable of living an identity-less life, and that's what I attempt to do when I put Christ aside until I "need him."

I don't ever not need him -- that's the bottom line. My efforts will never, ever be godly enough to portray God accurately to those who do not know him (and those who do). Only in letting God himself, in the form of his Spirit, live through me will I be a true picture of his character and love.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Approved Of?

It's been a little while, folks, and for that, I apologize. The first two weeks  of school have been wonderful. My schedule is relatively easy -- for one thing, I have no classes on Friday, and I am actually at the Eden Clinic right now -- and all my classes (two about writing and two about ancient Greece) are enjoyable and intriguing.

I have a weight on my mind right now. As you may know, I struggle with believing that I must do things to be approved by God. For years, I've been a performer and perfectionist, accomplishing as much as possible in hopes of becoming a better Christian, a better daughter, a better friend.

As I read Titus this week, I noticed how many times believers are instructed to do "good works." The author makes it very clear that we are to do these things as a response to the gospel, not as a means to salvation or approval. It is a still a command, though. Do good works.

Chris and I were talking about ministry and marriage yesterday, and how we desire to become more missional in our everyday lives, seeking to engage and share the gospel with nonbelievers. I became quite discouraged. In my mind, a voice began to whisper about what a horrible person I am for not sharing the gospel enough. I found myself growing angry with Chris and God, feeling as if they were demanding something of me that I had to "achieve" in order to be acceptable.

That's where I'm stuck. Of course, I'm completely accepted by God. Yet, I must make an active effort to grow in the Christian life, and that means to grow in evangelism. The thought terrifies me. Does this mean I can't grow at all until I improve in evangelism? Why am I so resistant to the idea that I have a lot of room to improve here? Why do I try to shrink back from the eyes of God when the topic comes up? There is a rock sitting in my heart in this spot, and I don't know why. I love God. I want to share about him. Right now, though, I'm just confused.

What does God want of me?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Be My Muse

I need to write 9,000 words of fiction for independent study. Yes, that's all, for 3 hours of credit! As soon as I finish that, Mel and I will work on my novel, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I want to finish quickly, but well.

I can write one story or several--whatever I choose. Only one problem: I'm uninspired. I sat forlornly in front of Verk 4 (my MacBook, as you may recall) for a good while, trying to conjure a colorful plot and winning characters, before I decided I should let my subconscious work it's magic and try to plot again later. Because, trust me, my ideas were quite uninspired, and probably would've turned out not unlike the fiction "book" I wrote in 6th grade about myself, renamed Tallie Keioni, and my two guy friends saving our fellow middle schoolers from becoming enslaved to the soldiers from the "newly-formed continent of Markonia," where all the "hateful and evil people of the world" had come to live.

Instead of writing a short story, therefore, I added to my novel. Oh, trusty novel, you are a balm to my soul. Right now, anyway--Mel swears my classmates and I will begin to hate our novels mid-semester. As prolific a writer as he is, I tend to believe him.

Well, all that to say, I still don't have a short story idea. Now, I am conducting an experiment. Most people who read this post won't comment, or wouldn't, ordinarily. Comments and readers do not match up, because I know I have more than 0 readers...I think... ;-)

If you're reading this and have never commented before, please do so now. Throw out a story idea. The first thing that pops into your head. Something interesting. Whatever. Maybe it will inspire me. I'll let you know what I end up doing. Until then, over and out!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We Gon Find You...

I feel it's only fair that I share the pleasant pain of this song that will, inevitably, get stuck in your head after you watch the video. It's so worth it though, if your sense of humor is at all similar to mine.

Do you remember that broadcast news story a few years (?) ago, where an intruder climbed into a girl's bedroom window and tried to rape her, but her brother got there in time to beat him off? How am I supposed to remember that? That happens all the time, you may think. True, but this incident was unique, purely because of the way the brother responded in his television interview. Watch and recall:

Original news story

Yesterday, our friend Tim introduced us to the group The Gregory Brothers, who are known for auto-tuning actual news casts. That is, they take the dialogue and video clips and electronically manipulate them to make a song and a "music video," respectively.

Who knew that the "Bed Intruder" story would become an all-too-catchy and oddly hysterical song that hit the top of iTunes downloads charts for a spell?

Gregory Brothers' song

...

Like I said, who knew?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'll Give it a Fourth Shot

The winds of change are blowing again. I'm about to start my senior year of college. Whoa. Where has the time gone?

I am acutely aware I'll never have a repeat opportunity to be in such close proximity with a large group of peers. Therefore, I don't want to waste the year. OU is both a fantastic social environment and rich mission field for me. I ask myself: what will I do with it?

Then, I remember. I don't "do anything with it."

 I don't regret my first three years of school, even the situations I felt I was failing in at the time. However, I spent those years trying to run my own life, to make sure I wasn't missing any steps. I wanted to "have a ministry," so I ran myself into the ground trying to make that happen. I wanted to be a good friend, so I poured myself out so much that I was not only emotionally dry, but bitter towards others, in the end. I tried to keep tabs on every area of my life out of fear that if I didn't, I would just fly off the handle, sinning right and left, letting my character, academics and social life go to pot.

This year, I will pursue God, and him alone.

Jesus wasn't kidding or mincing words when he said not to be anxious about tomorrow. Paul wasn't joking around or spouting drivel when he said not to be anxious about anything.  I conclude that I cannot fix my life by doing exactly what the Bible says not to.

All this time, I have pursued perfection. I have relinquished control in one area only to pick up another and insist that this one is the one I need to micromanage in order to "please God." Doing things right becomes an idol as soon as I start desiring it over God.

No more worrying about how I'm going to ensure that I don't squander my last year at the University of Oklahoma. The time I have on this earth is best spent getting to know the God who gives me the ability to do everything worth anything. As I do, he will move, I am sure of it. He always has, and he never, ever changes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It is Finished.


I stand on a pedestal, like a slave being sold at the block, for all the world to see. I breathe shame. Despicable child that I am, I cannot but look at the faces surrounding me and wonder, “What do they see? What are they thinking?” The questions burn—they taste like vomit in my mouth!

Yet, who can I be, but this slave? I know nothing of the world that does not demand perfection.  All my life, my captors have tried to train me to be a model of perfection, but I have failed them! In my heart, I am sickened by the fact that I want to please them at all, enough to sacrifice my heart, mind and body to their deadly appetites. I want so badly for them to praise me that I let them keep me on the block longer and longer, just so people will know that I am of some worth to these men!

In the crowd, I see the beloved face of my husband and the faithful eyes of my best friends. They look at me now with a feeling much deeper than the simple concern they began with. They were once slaves, too, you see, but a man of light set them free long ago.

That same man once came to my cell to free me. I stepped out from behind bars only to jump back into the arms of the people I knew best.

Yet my dear ones cry for me here, today, especially my husband. Their eyes plead with me, begging me to believe that I am destroying myself, grinding myself into nothing. From the ground, they beg me with earnest voices to at least try to see what they see. But up here on the block, I see nothing but my ambition to be worth something to these slavers.

My husband reaches out his hand, telling me that I am worth his very life to him. I turn my head away. He who would take me home, nurse me to health, dress me in beautiful robes and hold me tenderly in his arms, does not count. The only people who count are these dealers in death. Why? Because they are the men who run the world, don’t you see? They are the ones who will launch us forward into fame and renown. They are the victorious army – everyone else fights with a glory that will not be seen until the very end. While I am on this earth, I want to be a part of the army that looks like it’s actually winning!

Sleep is my only respite from this deadly dance.

In the night, I curl up in my cell and forget about my captors’ presenting me until the next day. Someone shakes me awake. For a moment, I hang on the edge of a dream, clinging onto the doorframe that leads into a land where my value is secure and my eyes are made new. Then, the wind of reality sucks me out, out, out, with black and hellish pain I cannot fully describe.

What is this? A man has come to rescue me in the night. He reaches out his hand, as my husband did, and in his skin is the light that illumined the dream. In his being is the essence of value, security and newness, made real before my eyes.

But I cannot accept. Oh, who could accept something so good? Something so good could not be true. And I cannot ever be free.

“I will free you.”

No.

“Dear one, I will free you.”

No, Lord, NO!

“I have adopted you, and you are my child. I have loved you, and you are able to love and be loved. I have become your righteousness, and you are sanctified forever with me.”

I can’t.

“No matter what you say, beautiful one, no matter what you do, these things will not change.”

I bare my teeth. Anger erupts in my heart and scratches up my throat like a scream too loud and bitter to swallow down. I scream, and scream, and scream.

His face never changes, except for a slight tightening of the eyes that might be sadness. His face is all love and compassion. He is not unsure of himself, even in his emotion. He is surety incarnate as he looks at me, spreads out his hands and says, “Did I not tell you it is finished?”

I swallow every word I have ever spoken when I see those hands with those holes gaping in them, wounds that pierce from front to back with indiscriminate hatred and rejection. In my mind’s eye, an image of blood and storm clouds and tears and death flashes like lightning.

“NO, LORD!”

Noise like a hurricane explodes in my ears. I cannot hold on any longer! I cannot, I cannot, I--!

All at once, the world goes still.

I am not in my cell.

I panic, groping the floor, trying to figure out what this strange world is. I collapse—I am too exhausted to go on.

In a haze, I feel strong arms lift me. They hold me securely and carry me as their owner walks forward.

I look up, dizzy and squinting against the mist, to see a smile more warm and definite and unchanging and sincere and full and holy than could belong on anyone but the Son of God himself. He brushes a tear from my cheek with his finger—I didn’t know I was crying. I need to turn my face away. I cannot face him like this; I can never face him again!

I cannot stop crying. He cradles my head, lets me bury it against his chest. When I look up, he is still smiling with even more love than before, if that were possible. I try to return the smile, weakly.

He nods, and holding me close, whispers, “Did I not tell you? It is finished.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baby, Baby

I battle the notion that if, for some reason, I never have children or do so much, much later in life, I will be a failure.  I know I won't be in the eyes of those who love me, but it's hard to take my own head off this chopping block of expectations.

I thought that making decisions about children would be simple, straightforward. What once seemed like a logical progression--want kids, have kids, raise kids--is in reality a bit convoluted. There are factors that few women think about from the time they're "feeding" baby dolls with blue plastic spoons to the time they're standing at the altar, newly cognizant of marital implications.

I trust God's timing, and well that I do. I've tried to control my life enough to know that it's not prudent to get stuck on what I want when it want it. I know God is good. I am glad that I can say that with confidence--a few months ago, I couldn't have, because it didn't feel true.

Oh, there you have it. The issue is still feelings. I balk at my myself when I read about or discuss  babies, see moms pushing strollers around the mall or watch toddlers run around the sanctuary showing off their cool squeaky shoes because I feel the desire for motherhood bubble up inside me. It's been disconcerting, lately.

I wish there were an on-off switch for emotions. I would flip the motherhood switch off for a time.

I fear. I fear my own incompetence as much as I fear my discontent.

I cannot just push those feelings aside and expect them to go away. I don't know what to do with them except to acknowledge them and say, "No matter what comes, Lord, your plan is good, and you are worthy of all our trust. You are not a God of fear or discontent, and in this, like all other areas of my life, you will guide me and do your work in me, growing me to be ever more like your Son."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Peasant and Queen, and the Man Who Pulls Me Onto the Dance Floor

I just returned from Anthony and Megan PLOPPER'S wedding (Chris was a groomsman and I was a last-minute door-opener)! It was gospel-centric, and simply beautiful.

Weddings are fun, especially if you know people there. I managed to meet some more neat people from RUF (why are all of them so cool? It's hardly fair), as well as make friends with Megan's energetic little sister, Holly. Holly wanted to play "peasant and queen" in the sanctuary before everyone showed up.

---

Peasant and Queen

Basically, dear reader, the game is as follows: Holly shows up at my castle while I -- the queen -- am delivering a eulogy for my late best soldier, who happened to be a woman. Holly proves herself an even better soldier by slaying an Ogre, and I hire her.

Next, a non sequitur: I sneak out of the castle with a quintessential scarf over my head to "see the world," a la Princess Jasmine in "Aladdin." I meet Holly's next character -- a, uh, pie maker. Said pie maker takes me to her secret lair where she has carved all kinds of beautiful statues. She reveals that not only is she an artistic genius, she knows magic! Gasp! She makes me look into a cup covered in rhinestones -- whatever I ask, the cup shows me. I consequently discover that my current captain of the guard is a traitorous fiend who is going to overthrow me. Bummer.

Oh yeah, Holly reveals she was the queen of my land once...but she got kicked out. She still has her crown (identical to mine, may I add) tucked away to prove it. As the queen, I don't know how I feel about that...

Finally, I got tired and went to hang out with the bride and bridesmaids. I don't think Holly was too happy that the queen abdicated her throne just when we were freeing the horses from the clutches of the evil captain. Especially since my horse, Hurricane, was leading the group.

---

The Man Who Pulls Me Onto the Dance Floor

The hip-hop music begins to throb on the dance floor. I sit by the flickering, blue candle at the table, tapping my fingers, smiling at all the fun dancers doing their fun thing.

Suddenly -- to my sheer shock and puzzlingly-pleasing dismay -- Chris jumps up, grabs me by the hand and pulls me toward the floor. He's never done such a thing, since I'm usually the first on the dance floor. I protest forcefully. I don't want to make a fool of myself. He grins -- that big, endearing, shining smile of his. "Hey, I'm going to go out there and look crazy, so you can look crazy with me!" He points out that we won't be the only ones jumping around as white as white can be. "I know you'll have fun! I know you want to bust out your hip-hop moves!"

I start protesting more forcefully. Finally, though, he gets me onto the dance floor. I take a few steps, and then smile suddenly, picking up the pace until I'm hopping around like a maniac, too.

That's my husband for you. That may seem like a simple thing, but it's indicative of his wonderful love towards, and understanding of, me. Chris reminds me of who I am. He draws me out of me. He knows my heart, and when I am too bashful to do what I want to do (like get to know new people at my table rather than retreat into my shell of shyness) or be as spirited as I want to be, he helps make sure I don't regret the day by gently nudging me to simply live. He is the man who teaches me about that lovely phrase, carpe diem.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Doused (I Wish I Could Be Transformed, Part Two)

I promised I would keep you updated on my investigation into expectations...

Karen and I had an interesting discussion concerning the sinfulness of our thoughts. She postulates that we cannot control the thoughts that pop into our heads, as far as the "popping" goes. However,  we can control what we do with the thoughts. For example, the following angry sentiment might pass through my mind: "Oh my gosh, I just want to go over there and hit Megan on the head" (which I really, really don't, because she's awesome). That would be one thing. If I got up and acted on that impulse--whack!--that would be another entirely.

Check out this verse:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrew 4:15)

Jesus was tempted in every respect. He couldn't have been tempted unless the corresponding tempting idea actually came into his mind, right?

It's very encouraging to think that he remained perfect in it all -- the utterly spotless sacrificial lamb. Now that the Holy Spirit indwells us as Christians, we are likewise released from slavery to our thoughts!
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ... (2 Corinthians 10:5)

All that to say, expectations, particularly unfulfilled ones, give rise to emotions that lead to unwanted thoughts in our brains. Those expectations are undergirded by deeply-buried beliefs, and any time we operate out of a flawed belief system, our emotions seem appropriate to the situation. Whether or not they are is not the point. The important thing is our decision about what to do with beliefs, emotions and thoughts.

Giving our expectations over to God says, "God, I am hurt. I am angry. I don't feel as if he's treating me lovingly (or understandingly, or fill-in-the-blank). Despite this, I choose to lean on the truth of your Word (for example, that I am eternally loved, even if people aren't "proving" that to me) and release this person from the responsibility to make me feel loved" (understood, etc.).

I type this with ease now, but I know that sometime today, something won't go the way I want it to. Welcome to life, right? When it does, I hope I take my emotion-born thoughts captive to obey Christ. It's good to know he loves me unconditionally even when I don't obey, and rejoices with me when I do.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Wish I Could Be Transformed by Pouring Water on Myself

As I work through the Be Transformed Bible study (which got transformed by my spilling water on it last week, by the way...), I've been thinking about expectations. The current lesson rightly connects expectations, anger, and bitterness.


It evoked some heart-searching in me, to be sure. I made a list of the expectations I have, who I believe should fulfill them (myself, my spouse, my parents or others) and whether or not I feel they have been fulfilled. Let me tell you, I have many more "unfulfilled" areas of my life than my life actually warrants. 


There's the rub. I am a feelings person. I know how detrimental that can be. My struggle with depression has been a lesson in faith in God's Word when outward circumstances seem to contradict his promises or character. Still, I am a feelings person. Perhaps I shouldn't verbalize that about myself...what I'm getting at in any case is that while I know Chris, my family or whoever can't fulfill my expectations in several areas, I still need those areas fulfilled. I need to be loved, accepted, understood, wanted.

When I step back, I know I am all of those things. Yet, I don't feel it at all. I think the only way anyone can confirm they truly love, accept, etc. me is by communicating in the way I think they should. One of the things the Bible study suggested doing is praying that God would help me to relinquish the expectations I have for others.

Ack. That's a hard one...

Does that mean I have to resign myself to the way things are? Do I have to simply rid myself of the feelings are far as possible? That doesn't seem right. If not, what does yielding my expectations look like?

As I continue to walk this section of the path, I'll let you know what I learn as I learn it. I pray that I will soon realize God's truth in this area, because I know there's no way I can figure it out on my own.

P.S. Maybe my title is more true than I realize. I am continually washed with the water of the Word, and I'm pretty sure that the Word of God is the best kind of transformative power there is.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hit the Floor

Bear with my childish enthusiasm, and these two correspondingly simple sentences: sometimes, life is overwhelmingly fun. There are so many cool things to learn while we're here. 

To think -- we will never  come to the end of knowledge, nor reach the limits of talent!

That's my verbose way of introducing the story of a girl who was a dancer in another life. Who's the girl? Well, me, of course. Silly [dear] reader!

I like, and have honed my talents in, a few creative endeavors; namely, singing, writing and sketching. Over the years, though, I've discovered how much I want to dance. I harbor that desire, along with all my other silly fantasies, in my head, and have ever since I was a dancer in high school musical theater. 

I've dreamt of mastering
- First, ballet,
- Later, Irish step dancing,
- And lately,  hip-hop.

Don't laugh! (Hehe...)

I keep having dreams that involve my getting into an exclusive group by proving I'm a good dancer (remember my post about the "party boat?"). It's weird. My fellow professional writing student Jelani ribs me about the dreams, though I insist I can't hip-hop dance. As a joke, he sent me a video with a five-minute-long dance sequence that made my head spin. He demanded I learn it. I fired up the video to hear that catchy, pulsing beat underscoring the words "clap your hands to the beat this instant!" Right.

Anyhow, I decided to learn some basic moves as a joke. I found some instructional videos on--where else?--youtube. Two days later, I'm still watching the videos, and have spent the last hour seeing if I can pull off the moves in front of a mirror. I don't mind making a fool of myself when my reflection's the only audience, after all!

Contrary to what you might believe, I'm not keeping at it just because I'm perfectionistic and stubborn (both of which I'm working on). I simply love it. Dancing is just too fun. It wouldn't have been realistic for me to cram lessons into my already-hectic middle and high school schedule. 

Perhaps I'm slowly getting it out of my system. Until then, my poor reflection is going to have to endure yet another episode of "Jaimie Krycho Tries to Learn Hip-Hop Dancing." 

It's a comedy, by the way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Twelfth Part

A Song of Sentiments to My Husband 
About the Difficulties of Honesty and Openness.


My love, you look me in the eye,
And I have to tear my eyes away.
Today, my mouth's an iron fist,
Clenched hard, so my heart cannot escape.
Well, maybe. Maybe...

Tomorrow, I'll let you see the steps
I dance in secret.
Tomorrow, I'll let you break the code
Of what I'm weeping.
Tomorrow, I'll be one day more like Christ,
Who teaches me how truly to be true --

This time, I'd rather run and hide
Under the shelter known as surface truth.
Today, you saw, at least, my mind
One step away from how you wanted to.
But maybe, maybe...

Tomorrow, I'll endure the pain of pulling
Out the arrow.
Tomorrow, I'll let you dig right beside me
In the refuse.
Tomorrow, I will claim another day
With Jesus, who alone can make me true --

Tomorrow, I'll tell you.

You who are one flesh with me,
I'll unlock my mind,
And if you will help me, we'll
Draw out the soul inside.
Then, when all those earthly shadows are laid bare,
We will hear the Spirit speak
The truth about what's true.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Father, Father

Father, Father, help me Father
Never have I known a man
Who could take me as his daughter
Wrap my failures in his plan
Who could see such holy beauty
In a street child beat and worn
Who could call me his Creation
When the threads of hope are torn.

Father, Father, help me Father
My songs ask to see your face
My songs sing about your goodness
My songs praise your gift of grace
They are words when death draws nearer
They are words when hope’s shot through
They are words when I can’t hear
And ask “why?” is all I can do.

Father, Father, help me Father
I want to sleep for days or years
Is it true you have a bottle
Filled with my frenetic tears?
Is it true you love me strongly
Even though my love is small?
Is it true you’ll read this verse
And it won’t change your love at all?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Everything is an Innuendo

I'm telling you, you can't say anything but it means something else! This is something I've observed over the past five years, and just now feel the need to express.

So many weird-sounding words or phrases have been taken and perverted into something they didn't used to be or mean. It's always slightly embarrassing when the innocent (or some would say naive) people--like me--say or hear something that everyone within earshot shies away at except for them. They say, instead, "I don't even know what you're talking about! What is that supposed to mean?" Inevitably, someone explains. Eventually, anyway.

I continue my education in American slang with no small amount of puzzlement or distaste.

P.S. There is a fly in here. Fun fact: a good way to kill flies is to slowly fan the air with your hand in the direction of the fly so it will become accustomed to the currents. Then, after fanning above/beside it a few times, just come down all the way--SMACK! It's wonderfully fulfilling.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chris and Me, Avril and Me

Hi, everyone.

I've been sliiiightly out of commission this last week. I didn't make a Krychocosm, for one, but I think that's pretty excusable, considering the fact that Chris and I were out of town for our friends David and Bethany's wedding from Friday to Sunday, and Sunday was our first anniversary. We got all gussied up fancy-shmancy went to Cheesecake Factory.
Photo courtesy eataroundokc.com





Then, we stayed at the gorgeous Skirvin-Hilton hotel in OKC!
Photo courtesy www1.hilton.com
















Also, there are pretty flowers sitting on my coffee table.


Isn't that awesome? God is good.

In the car yesterday, Chris and I were listening to Avril Lavigne's Let Go.  Great memories. I am unashamed that that CD is still one of my favorites -- not only does Avril have a beautiful voice, I identify (and did in the past) with many of her songs.

My mentioning this sparked an interesting conversation, in which I tried to explain why I -- very normal (well...), very girlish and very peppy -- felt so in touch with very punk, very edgy and very angst-y Avril. In fact, since Let Go came out,  my heart has hurt for her many times as I listened to the sad stories contained in her songs.

Chris listened to the lyrics of "Anything But Ordinary" and said, "Okay, I can see why you identify with her, in some good ways and bad ways." For example: A good way is that, as the song says, "I'd rather be anything but ordinary, please." A bad way is my unhealthy restlessness and discontent, reflected in the lyrics, "Is it enough to love? Is it enough to breathe?" And later, "[I'll do] anything to make me feel alive."

I mused that I wasn't sure someone like Avril and I would be friends if we actually knew one another. Then, the thought hit me (hear me out on it): There are really only a few types of people in the world.

I think we all have our categories of pain and insecurity that overlap with a larger chunk of humanity than we can fully comprehend. At the same time we're utterly unique, we're also so very similar. Isn't that crazy?

P.S. More not-so-happy mail. Got a manuscript back today that I've sent in twice (graciously, the editor let me make corrections and try again the first time). Once again, she made edits and said to fix it up and send it back to her. Meh. Let's try this dance again...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why People Scare Me

By now, you've probably picked up that I just love people! And because there's a flip side to every coin, that can be both a good and bad thing. You're astute enough to know the good reasons; among the bad reasons is the fact I put way too much stock in what people think of me. I feel like I fly by the seat of my pants in friendships because I'm always acting on assumptions of how I'm making the people feel.


Which brings me to the point: I don't give the most dependable, trustworthy people in my life enough credit, because it's so difficult for me to trust.


It may appall you to know that I receive compliments with more skepticism than I care to admit. Over the years, I've lived in fear that people are merely covering over their dislike for me--a dislike that will come back to bite me later.


Do they think I'm being a bad friend? Will she be mad at me because we didn't go to coffee this week? Should I have talked on the phone with her an hour longer? These questions constantly run through my head, so even when sincere love is staring me in the face, I often don't recognize it as such.

I have more encouraging people in my life than I ever could've hoped for. It's frustrating when I find myself doubting, even spurning, my friends' uplifting remarks because I'd rather disbelieve them now than be disenchanted later when I find out they don't like me that much after all. All this because my distrust springs from somewhere deeper: I don't trust the Lord when he says that I am lovable and worth loving.

"Perfect love casts out fear." Every day, I am more sanctified in this, like everything else, than I was yesterday. I look forward to seeing my relationships mutually flourish on a foundation of unity and fellowship instead of fear.

P.S. How is it that there are no "fear" or "trust" tags in my tag cloud at this point? That thing is getting humongous! There has to be some overlap here! Until then, I'll just keep throwing in new words...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Biggest Mistake

Looking back, one of the biggest mistakes I made in my life was trying not to make any mistakes.

---

Episode IV of the Krychocosm coming soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Current State of Things

Dear reader,

I'm overdue for a general life update, so here goes.

Chris and I are doing well, all things considered. We enjoyed having Chelsea live with us for a time (she's not anymore).  We often see our friends in the newly/nearly-marrieds Bible study, who have been an incomparable blessing to me. Unfortunately, in other relational news, my dear friend Nicole moved to Wisconsin two weeks ago. She's one of my favorite people to laugh with. And, as you know, we still constantly miss PJ and Katie in Forth Worth, Texas.

Speaking of Texas, Chris and I went to the Gaylord Texan hotel two weeks ago for a Family Life marriage conference. We had a wonderful, restful weekend! Having a focused time to discuss important, often-overlooked details of our marriage was refreshingly...romantic.

Speaking of marriage, Chris and my first anniversary is in 10 days! Hard to believe!

I'm looking forward to traveling to the Focus on the Family Institute reunion in August. Chris, a native Colorado Springs man, attended the institute a few summers ago and frequently mentions how much he liked the people he met there. Now I get to meet them, too!

Current Norman weather: it is raining prettily.

This summer is moving quickly! For anyone who doesn't know, I'm neither taking classes nor working this summer--the idea is that, after a semester of pretty bad depression, a summer off will give me time to rest both physically and emotionally, as well as work through some things in my heart that I avoided during the school year for fear of becoming more overwhelmed.

That said, I've had a lot of time for art. Chris helped me with the first outline for the novel I will write for class next semester, and that was some of the most colorful writing fun I've had since I switched from journalism (and sociology, if you want to count that brief stint) to professional writing! My main characters are in place, and I drew up the quintessential map of fantastical locations with outlandish, Tolkienesque names.  Also,  I already planned out the romance. There has to be a good romantic plot thread, you know!

The next steps are matters of fleshing out the plot, history, magic system, etc. I'm trying not to sell myself short with this story--I have a tendency to write down, if you will, in order to condense my ideas into a bare-essentials short story. That was a great tactic for short story class, but now it's novel, baby!  I can comment on life, individuals and society all I want this time! :)

If you've looked at my facebook, you might have seen that I've taken up sketching again. What a joy! There is something amazing about starting with blank paper, a pencil in your hand and an image in your head, then seeing that image slowly form into a picture. It's like turning your brain inside-out so other people can see the inside.

Another summer activity I love is volunteering at the Eden Clinic, a crisis pregnancy center. God laid the hurting women that go there on my heart after a string of random events. Though I'm doing simple clerical work--answering the phone, data entry and the like--I feel blessed to be a part of a ministry so throughly founded and dependent on the gospel. The volunteers there, especially Alison and Gayla, exemplify godly womanhood to me every week, and have been a consistent source of joy and encouragement.

That's about all! Oh, yeah--Chris and I are having Kessau (my Nepalese friend, if you recall), his wife and another couple over for dinner. Please be praying for us as we seek to be neighbors that shine as lights in the world. Thanks!