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.”


“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.


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.