In A Thousand Words Or Less (Pt. 4)

Today I’ve been feeling very nostalgic, so I’m offering up a piece of a childhood memory:

It was summer, or at least it felt like summer. The Florida heat was blocked just enough by the enormous trees that had taken root at various spots in my back yard. All the neighborhood kids were taking shelter in the small shady spots, relishing in the slightly-cooler air. The humid air kept our shirts stuck to our bodies, and my hair was at max capacity. Frizzy curls flicked from side to side as I tried to fan myself with my thick ponytail.

We had just finished exploring another area of woods in the neighborhood and deemed it unfit, like the rest, for our clubhouse. Of course, we had no idea how to build a clubhouse, but that was irrelevant. A neighborhood gang of kids needed the neighborhood gang tree-fort, no question about it.

“Did we check the Robertson’s property?”

“Yeah, last week.”

“Bob Saget!”

And down the list we would go. As it got closer to dusk, I found energy creeping back into my limbs, and I popped up, brushing the dirt off my legs which were cut up due to the unforgiving Florida underbrush. I paused with my hands on my hips, staring at the woods next to my house. It was the smallest stretch of woods in the neighborhood, but my sister and I had done plenty of exploring and found lots of interesting places.

“Hey, why don’t we try here?” The boys, both with pink noses and blonde hair, protested,

“Nah, we’ll have to look at the next street over.” Morgan jumped up,

“I think it’s worth a try! We don’t have any daylight left anyway.” Savannah gave her support, and the three of us badgered the boys into submission. The only trail was faint–the best a 6 and 9 year old could do– but we had no problem tromping through the brambles in our sneakers. Basketball shorts got snagged on branches and vines as I led them towards the center of the woods. A tree with long branches stood close to the middle, and if you could climb high enough you could sit and watch the sun set over the house tops.

After a bit of pulling, pushing, and scraping knees and hands on the bark, the gang sat perched on the branches, watching the sunlight shine straight through the leaves, illuminating every detail of each vein. A slight breeze picked up, and though the air was still warm, it made the sticky-sweaty part of my neck get goosebumps. It was quiet except for the occasional smack of a hand on a leg or arm as we fought in the never-ending battle against mosquitoes. Staying out as late as we could get away with, the curly-haired boy stated decisively, “Nope. We’ll go by the Allen’s place tomorrow.” With just enough light left to see, I aimed a potent little fist and drove it into his shoulder.

“Ouch! What the heck?”

The group clamored down the tree and raced down the street, taunting and stealing one another’s bikes until the sun was completely gone and our mother’s voices bounced off the black pavement, still warm from the sun’s rays.

We never did build that fort.

 

In A Thousand Words Or Less (Pt. 3)

So I’ve managed to start writing this blog before midnight tonight (yay, improvement!).

Lately the Lord has been impressing upon me the importance of embracing the gifts I’ve been given, and tonight at church I was reminded yet again.

First of all,  it’s easy for me to get caught in a vicious cycle of self-improvement. I spend so much time working on my weaknesses that I exhaust myself because I’m not doing what I love and succeeding. Instead, my energy gets sucked into a void that only feeds the idea that I’m not enough.

This semester, I want to make a change. I want to focus on my gifts and grow them. I want to invest in things that I’m passionate about, instead of trying to become more passionate about things that aren’t necessarily important to me.

Second of all, I need to learn what having a true servant’s heart means. Loving, giving, and serving are a huge part of the Christian faith, and using my gifts to serve others is one of the most satisfying things ever.

But, this Scripture sticks with me, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

In other words, I’ve started to question why I am serving, and who. Yes, I am serving others, but it’s under the headship and direction of Christ. When I get caught up in the principle of self-sacrifice I lose sight of the beauty and purpose of the act of serving others. I’m serving others as a reflection of Christ.

If I start looking at sacrifice as something I’m doing for the good of others, my reward will be their response, or the impact of the service, rather than the act of serving itself as a means of following in Jesus’ footsteps.

I know this is a really slight difference, but it’s the difference between using your gifts and growing and using your gifts and becoming exhausted by them. Humans fail us: their responses and happiness will never be enough to fuel us.

Thirdly (Is that an actual word?) I’ve struggled with a deep fear and shame of my gifts. This also goes along with Galatians 1:10. I automatically assume that, if I’m using my gifts the way the Lord is asking me to, people will enjoy and encourage my gifting (or at least other Christians will). Time after time I have experienced quite the opposite. Not only is learning how to use your gifts confusing, messy, and filled with a lot of mistakes along the way, but it will (eventually) step on peoples’ toes.

Gift of mercy? People will criticize you for being an “enabler.”

Gift of exhortation? People will say you’re too harsh, critical, or (HEAVEN FORBID) judgemental.

Gift of faith? People will say you’re irresponsible and blind.

Gift of underwater basket-weaving? People will say your baskets are ugly.

Okay, obviously the last one is a joke, and of course there are times when we can be the worst of those things, but honestly, our gifts (even gifts of service) are not for the people we are serving. These gifts are not of this world, and as we grow in them they will draw us closer to our Creator and simultaneously cause us to stand out like a sore-thumb.

Do what you love and love what you do, even if no one understands the significance and importance of your actions.

Have a great Monday!

In A Thousand Words Or Less (Pt. 2)

I procrastinated (again), but here I am! My inspiration for today’s little blog came from the amazing weather we had today in Northern Georgia.

Cloudy and rainy, with just enough wind to make it interesting. Needless to say, I spent the majority of the day indoors, curled up on my bed alternating between looking out the window (partially to enjoy the birdsong, but also to cackle at the people running from one dorm to another desperately trying not to get wet) and reading. 10/10 would recommend. Listening to the combination of the birds and the rain was practically heaven for me. But, any time this sort of weather pops up, I get a craving for a certain kind of music, and I blame it all on living in Georgia.

Now, before I specify, I want to take a minute and explain why this is a somewhat guilty pleasure. I grew up in the north (Florida is totally a northern state culturally), was raised by northerners, and had little to no exposure or attraction to any kind of southern music, especially “country.” Living in Georgia has obviously caused me quite a bit of trouble, as not only are the majority of my friends country fans, but it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere without hearing it! My friends, of course, being the vindictive little devils they are, force-feed me country as much as possible,

Insert my favorite Into the Woods moment- AGONYYYY!

However.

Over the course of a few years, there has appeared a small, justifiable crack. I have a tiny soft spot for bluegrass. Okay, maybe not so tiny. Where country music is repetitive and whiny, bluegrass is refreshing, fun, and complex. Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with stringed instruments, maybe it’s the visual of little old men playing their instruments together in harmony the same way they’ve been doing it for decades, or maybe it’s because it’s a crazy blend of a bunch of different music genres. I’ll be honest, I don’t fully understand (or care to admit) the way this music has crept into my heart, all I know is when I was listening to the rain patter on my roof and window, and watching the birds dart from tree to tree, bluegrass began to play in my head.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m already incredibly picky (haha, get it, like “picking” the banjo? Give me a break it’s like 2am) when it comes any music genre, and bluegrass is no exception.

My artist of choice?

The Punch Brothers.

The arrangements are gorgeous and winding–the instrumentals alone are enough to make a girl swoon. But the words? Wow.

A lot of their songs focus on different areas of our lives that have been damaged or distorted because of our dependence on technology and social media. They’ve found the perfect balance between humor and truth, and somehow that doesn’t get lost in the beautiful maze of musical mastery that each song brings to the table.

Some of my favorites include:

I Blew It Off

Movement and Location

Rye Whiskey

Another New World (actually a cover of a song, but still amazing)

Don’t Get Married Without Me

I can’t really think of any one song that I don’t enjoy, to be fair, but these are the ones that stick out to me off the top of my head.

So, for anyone who hates country, don’t be afraid to give bluegrass a try! It’ll be worth the risk, I can guarantee it!

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Martin Luther

“The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers.” Roy Ayers

 

 

In A Thousand Words Or Less (Pt.1)

This blog is about to be a lot more all over the place than usual, but here it goes!

I was challenged by one of my professors to write between 500-1000 words every day, and so I thought, sure, I can do that! Plus, there are so many benefits: establishing my writing discipline, exploring topics that I otherwise put on the back-burner, and (OF COURSE) the thrill of controversy! So, in a thousand words (or less, depending on how tired I get), I want to explore a topic that is completely misunderstood according to most Facebook posts I read.

*DISCLAIMER* There is no need to fear, I have no interest in talking you into or out-of supporting our new President. This is just an informative blog about a largely misunderstood part of our government.

POPULAR VOTE VS ELECTORAL VOTE

During every election there’s an uproar about something, and the roots are usually embedded in a false belief about our government and how it works. So, without further introduction, this is why the ELECTORAL vote is more democratic than the POPULAR vote.

*SECOND DISCLAIMER* This is going to be wayyyy simplified, but I’ll probably post more specific blogs about exactly HOW the electoral college works and how we can work on finding presidential candidates that we can be excited for and proud of in the future.

Definition time!

Popular Vote: The total amount of individuals who vote for a specific candidate

Electoral Vote: (More complicated) A total of 538 votes– each state gets a certain amount of votes, and in order to win the candidate must get 270 of them. (In addition to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Washington D.C., also gets a set amount of votes). In order to gain a state’s electoral votes, the candidate must win the popular vote in that state (there are two exceptions, in Maine and Nebraska, but I’ll save that for a different time).

In other words, while it might seem that the Popular Vote is more democratic, it is actually the Electoral Vote that makes sure all demographics and voices are heard equally in the states. Instead of pouring all of their resources and interests into a select few highly-populated cities or states, the candidate is forced to gain the support of the majority of each state. This is important, because (according to the US Census Bureau study of 2013),

the 5 states with the highest population carry 36.9% of the popular vote.

Bring it up to the top ten, 45.7%.

The top fifteen states? 57.55%.

That means 35 other states combined can’t compete with the high populations of the largest states, leaving large areas of the U.S. without a voice.

This system (along with plenty of other systems in our government) is NOT perfect, however, the system was created to prevent the largest, loudest demographics from having the final say in our government, not to complicate things with the “evil of politics.”

Still feel like your voice isn’t being heard? I get that, trust me, I do. But if you want to complain about something, start by examining the people who represent you- who are your local government officials? Who are your state senators? Who is sitting in the House of Representatives in your stead?

If you don’t know, you might want to hold off on complaining about “the system”, and instead start talking to the people who have the power to make the change. And hey, if you can’t find someone who does the job to your satisfaction, maybe that’s because you’re the person for the job!

Okay guys, looks like I made my word count! Keep on reading, and keep on asking questions– especially if it seems like the most popular opinion on Facebook! 😉

As my gov. professor always says, “Be well!”

How to Break Up With a Girl

How to Break Up With a Girl

Not because you should, but because if you’re going to do it you should do it right.

 

So, obviously the dating-world is a process, and unless you’re really really lucky, your first relationship(s) is (are) going to be filled with strange, “I don’t know what I’m doing” moments.

Most people don’t consider breaking-up as a skill. In fact, the last thing we’re thinking about when starting a relationship is “Wow, I can’t wait to break up with her in a healthy way if this doesn’t work out!” If we’re completely honest, most of the time, the only thing we’re thinking about when that feeling hits our stomach and we realize the relationship is over (or about to be) is “Oh crap. Run, run, run.”

So, as someone who has been on both sides, as the heart breaker and the broken-heart (and sometimes both at the same time), here is some real advice from a poll of girls, because sometimes being a good boyfriend means knowing how to be a good ex-boyfriend.

 

  1. DON’T assume you know what is best for her.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

“I’m not a good enough boyfriend.”

“You’d be happier without me.”

“You deserve so much better.”

Telling her this isn’t going to make her feel better. It’s almost as if you’re saying she’s the one breaking up with you, because you’re putting the words in her mouth. Stop pretending you can read her mind (when we know you can’t because that’s what half of the arguments are about).

2. DO be honest.

Be honest, tell the truth, don’t lie. I’ll continue to repeat myself to make sure everyone knows exactly what I’m saying. Don’t try and spare her feelings, because if you lie and she finds out something fishy is going on, she’s going to feel much worse, and you will look worse.(Lose-Lose)

3. DO break up with her before you break up with her.

In other words, when that “I don’t think this is going to work” thought goes through your head, please don’t pretend like the thought didn’t pop up, address it! Think through it and, if appropriate, don’t be afraid to talk to your girlfriend about it. Otherwise, when the break up does happen, it might have happened in your head weeks ago, while yah boo had no idea you were doubting the relationship. Give her time to prepare.

4. DO take responsibility.

“God doesn’t want us to be together.”

“It’s just not meant to be.”

“It’s just not the right time.”

“We’re too different.”

While some of these are valid in their own way and in your own mind, when breaking up with someone, you need to make it clear that you are breaking up with them. Not God. Not the universe. Not your job. Not your friends, relatives, or that old, wise, homeless man who said something really cryptic and made you rethink your life. Otherwise it just looks like you’re trying escape, which will make her feel like she’s “trapped” you. Ouch.

5. DO give me a reason. This doesn’t mean she wants you to justify your thoughts or feelings. This doesn’t mean she wants to argue over whose fault it is, or fight just to fight. She’s not going to try and force you to stay, but give her something to go on. It’s true, sometimes things just don’t work out, but the value of relationships is more than just the relationship, it’s in the learning. She wants to walk away with something more than what she had before, not something less.

6. DO talk to me in person. If you can avoid it in any way, don’t break up over text. It’s disrespectful; even if you don’t value her as you did before, you valued her at some point, and she’s still a person. She may not be your treasure, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is a treasure. Treat her like it, and it will reflect well on your character.

 

I know some of these blend together, but they are all things I heard over and over again, both from friends and in my own relationships. The purpose of this isn’t to bash guys, because some of these things came out of my own mouth: girls can be just as bad and even worse at break ups, and I’ll probably write a follow-up coming from a guy’s perspective. The point is that we should do the best we can in every part of the relationship… even if it’s the end.

To finish off, because I had such a huge amount of feedback from friends, I want to share the funny, cringe-worthy moments that didn’t make it into my list, because bad break-ups eventually do turn into things we can laugh about. Sorta.

1.”I’m breaking up with you because… I’m gay.”

2. Has younger sister call, “Hi! [Blank] wants you to know that he just wants to be friends now.”

3. “Your friend is really hot, can you introduce me?

4. “My Mom doesn’t think I should date anyone right now.”

5. “Long distance is too hard, and my love language is physical touch!”

6. **Literally just runs away. Runs.**

7. “Your Dad scares me.”

8.”I think you’d be a better fit for my brother.”

9. “You don’t like Christmas enough.”

10. “I like a challenge, and you’re not one.”

11. “God told me we couldn’t be together, but we can totally still make out and stuff.”

12. “I like talking to you better over myspace than in real life.”

13. “You’re not athletic.”

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

I don’t love myself.

Hey guys! So I’ve been out of the blogging game for a little bit now, but I’m back! I’ve got some really fun experiences I’ll probably be writing about in the near future, but for now I’m starting off with something stronger.

I want to preface this by saying that I have my share of problems, and I understand completely the importance of embracing and loving yourself and your body.

But.

Something has occurred to me as I have been trying to figure out why I struggle with loving myself and accepting my imperfections. Why can’t I be like those girls who make a cool video and proclaim to love every part of themselves no matter what?

I’ve come to realize that this new standard of loving myself fully and wholly before being able to love anyone else fully and wholly is a distraction from the real goal. This ideal, I am no longer ashamed to admit, is impossible for me. It may be true what they say, that you can’t love someone until you love yourself, but the opposite can also be said:

You cannot truly love yourself until you love someone else, and allow someone to love you.

In many cases, when you fall in love with someone, they will begin to point out the most beautiful things about you. Coming up with the strength on my own, trying to be fully satisfied by my own love, has left me empty. My love will NEVER be enough for me, and that’s totally normal.

We are way too focused on loving ourselves and accepting ourselves.

Before I go any further, I want to share something a little more personal. For several  years I struggled with anorexia (a kind of eating disorder). At a time in my life when I felt powerless, and unequipped to deal with any of the problems in my life, I found one thing I had complete control over. It became my go-to coping mechanism: every time I thought I had gotten rid of it for good, I would find it creeping its way back into my life again.  I had no real problems with my weight or my size, though every girl has those basic insecurities or problem areas that drive her crazy.

My main struggle was within.

Looking back on it, I can see clearly now that my self-hate was not coming from the way my body looked, but from the ugliness of my soul. I knew and saw clearly my own faults spiritually and emotionally. I hated the way I thought about other people:

my bitterness,

my jealousy,

the comparisons,

all of the darkness inside.

I felt like I couldn’t escape it, I had no idea how to get rid of it, so I decided that if I couldn’t love myself and be that beautiful person on the inside, I could at least make my outside more beautiful to compensate for the ugliness that was growing.

20 years of age and now I can see where my hollowness came from; I see my dissatisfaction and my disappointment in myself for what it truly is. It doesn’t come from a lack of love of myself, or a failure to embrace my own body and mind, because the truth is I will never be able to love myself the way I desperately need to be loved.

I will never see myself in an unbiased light.

I am not my own best friend.

I am not my best cheerleader,

and having that expectation for myself is wrong.

I will never be able to be that for myself. I do not need to love myself before I love others, I need to love others and let the love of God pour through me to my deepest and inmost being. I need to let Christ’s love mold me and change me as He teaches me how to love other people the way He loves me.

Self-love will be just that, self-love, if it does not come from a deep acceptance of my identity in Christ. If my confidence and my character is built purely on the will-power I have to love myself, it will fail me. Because I am still ugly on  the inside. I still say and do terrible things to the people who love me the most. But there is someone, unlike me, who can see past that and still love me relentlessly and unconditionally.

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.”

-CS Louis

1 John 4:19

John 15:12

A Poem That Surprised Me in the Middle of the Night

“Passion, passion!” Cries the deep

From its mortal fears it weeps

“Passion is, and passion all!”

Echoes down the empty hall.

 

Tries the other to proclaim,

“Hollow life will be your gain!”

But in the silence it will creep

And from the weeping of the deep,

 

Through trial  and toil it may keep,

“Passion, passion!” It strives to leap,

claims the throne though others seek,

Pain and suffering it will reap.

 

“Fleeting, fleeting!” Cries the meek

From its hidden, unkempt peak.

Sees all, knows all, still it waits,

For those seeking past the gates.

 

“Hurry, hurry!” Passion spits

from its greedy, lust-filled pits.

“Slowly, slowly!” Counters Meek,

guiding, warning from the weak,

 

But Passion, still the crown it seeks,

and in the darkness it will keep,

Crawling, snaring, it will sneak:

drips of sweat and pale of cheek.

 

And yet here still stays the meek,

through the murk and mire bleak.

Still it sees and knows and waits

for true seekers of the gate.