Friday, April 22, 2011

Some lists.

Here is the list from all of the things standing between me and graduation...

  1. 22 days.
  2. 7 classes. (which also equals 8 hours and 45 minutes)
  3. 1 response paper.
  4. 2 finals.
  5. 2 final papers.
  6. 1 book to be read.
  7. 2 homework assignments.
  8. 1 presentation.
If that isn't the "home stretch" I don't know what is.
I found this on StumbleUpon last night. If you don't know what StumbleUpon is, I implore you to never figure out. It's wonderful, and fabulous, and more time-consuming than Facebook.
But I digress, I found this and I love it. I do believe this is my real to-do list as well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh, the Stories: Totally Going to Hell.

I mentioned a few posts ago about how I wanted to start a series of old stories, pictures, recipes, and friends that I've either forgotten to post, took to long to post, or didn't have a blog and therefore couldn't post.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Volume 1 of my "Oh, the ..." series.

If you can't tell, it's loosely based on Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You'll Go." The only problem is, I've already been these places, cooked the recipes, taken these pictures, and loved these friends. So I had to change it up a bit.


I was reading The Pioneer Woman's blog today, and she was regaling us with the story of the time she went to see her nephew get baptized and how being in Catholic churches always makes her cry.

When she mentioned Catholic churches, it made me think of this picture.

This was taken in Rome, Italy. I ventured over there in the summer of 2009. My friend Kasey and I were exploring the city and we came across this beautiful church. It was small and could probably only seat about a 100 people. My university has larger classrooms than this church. However, it was beautiful and had some gorgeous paintings and sculptures.

Kasey and I ooh-ed and awe-ed at all of it. This was also during the time of the Swine Flu Epidemic so I'm pretty sure that we had a little giggle about the fact that the Holy Water basin was filled with not water, but Germ-X hand sanitizer.

We decided that we desperately need a picture of us praying in this beautiful church. Hello self-timer.

Now y'all, I'm not Catholic. I'm Southern Baptist. Which, I do believe, is about as far as one can get from Catholicism. One thing that I do know about Catholics is that they can layer on some guilt. I mean, daggum. Southern Baptists have hellfire and brimstone, but Catholics have some guilt. Since I'm not Catholic, I have had very little guilt in my life.

Until this picture, that is.

As soon as we walked about of that church, I turned to Kasey and said, "We're totally going to hell."
She looked astonished and asked why I thought that.
"That picture is a total heresy against the sacred act of prayer."
She scratched her head and said, "Well, did you pray when we were taking it?"
"Of course I did!"
"Then what's your problem?"
When I couldn't give Kasey an answer, she pointed out a gelato stand and we helped ourselves to probably our second or third helping of the day.

Even though I prayed, this picture still gives me a bit of guilt every now and again.
I figured that if I were to be heading straight for the fiery depths, then maybe I should use my time before then to make a few people laugh.

So get a good chuckle out of this one for me.

...and then pray for my soul.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Little Things.

I'm all about big things.

I love big jewelry. I love being a part of a large family. I have a large selection of friends. I believe in celebrating in big ways...etc, etc, etc.

However, I'm noticing how it's the little things that make me smile these days.

Like when the boy I babysit for tells me that he wants to practice his cursive and write me a note...and hands me this.

Or the way that Lil E smiles when someone she loves walks into the room.

Or the way that my girls get sad when I talk about graduation. It lets me know they like me.

It's a good life, this life of mine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Purposeless? I think not.

I had a minor pity party for myself this morning. I would like to talk to you about it.

This is The Dream Team.

We spent last summer in Lebanon together. I love these people a lot, a lot, a lot. They pray for me and hold me accountable more so than anyone else in my life.

Today I learned that Nasry is going to STINT in Lebanon this coming year. As excited I am for him, it kind of struck a nerve with me... What am I doing with my life?

Jonathan and Miranda just had twins and are settling into a new life in the States. Drew is marrying Greyson and joining staff full-time. Ashlee is working her way to move to Argentina for 3-5 years. Jordan is waiting for graduate school to figure itself out. Kim is heading back to Lebanon for 3-5 years and Nasry is going for at least a year. Ashley is looking for jobs in DC and is in a serious relationship with Marcus. Todd and Erin are getting married and hopefully moving to California so Todd can go to seminary. Dylan is getting married to Christina and finishing up school at UNC-W.

But where does that leave me?

I've been wrestling with the idea of not having a plan. My Type A personality is absolutely freaking out about not knowing where my life is going. There's lots of ideas (ie, loving orphans in Uganda, teaching English in Central or South America, getting a teaching job here, moving to Knoxville, writing a book), but no plan. I have a job lined up for this summer and there's a chance they might would want to keep me on post-summer, but who knows?

My sweet friend Haley asked me the other day what my plans were long-term. Most of my plans include the next two or three years, tops, but she wanted past that. Somewhere along the way I want to be a mom. Correction, I will be a mom. Be it a foster mom, or adoptive mom, or the Lord sees fit to torchure some man into being chained to me for the rest of his life and I am blessed with offspring...being a mom is in the picture.

I meant every word of that statement, but I retracted it a few moments later.

"I want to love," I said. "Love. That is my long-term goal. I don't know what it will look like...whether I love my students, or I love my children, or I write a book and love girls through words, or maybe I just move in Mattie and Lauren's basement and be Crazy Aunt Reba, I don't know. I'm just gonna love."

So love isn't a path. But at least it gives me purpose.

I went to Jimmy John's for lunch today and as I was sitting there eating my sub and doing my devotional for the day, it hit me.

Being aimless is not the same thing as being purposeless.

I've lived life without a purpose before. It sucked.

I have an end goal. I don't know what the path will look like to get there, but I know where I want to end up.

Love is the greatest thing that one can do with one's life. Loving without shame or fear or reservations is a feat to be acknowledged and praised. Few have truly done it. My girls' Bible Study this week is on loving beyond reason. In her book, Strong Women Soft Hearts, Paula Rinehart talks about how love can be used to destroy, but that isn't true love. True love does just the opposite.

"Love anything, C. S. Lewis said, and your heart will surely be wrung. You would think that usch bending and stretching--such suffering-- would do you in, like an ice pick that chipped away until nothing was left. But risky love works by an inverse principle. Our hearts become larger in the process. The more we love, the more we are able to love. We are not depleted, but strangely replenished. Set free. Given more. As the psalmist says, 'I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.'" (148)

I have lost love in the romantic sense. I have lost love in the friendship sense. I have lost love in the familial sense. However, I have gained everything through love in the agape sense.

Mrs. Rinehart also tells the story of a friend whose husband passed away from cancer. She writes about how her friend could have easily pulled away from the marriage emotionally when he was diagnosed to save herself more grief and pain later. But her friend didn't do that, her friend dove into the marriage and loved with everything she had. After her husband had passed, Mrs. Rinehart's friend said, " I think that love breeds life, and although [my husband] is gone, the love we shared so enriched my life. without a doubt, it as worth it. I would do it all again." (143)

I have been hurt tremendously by lost love. Whether that loss was because the dear one drew their final breath, or because one of us moved away, or because we decided to go our separate ways. But for all of it, I would do it all again. Actually, I would probably love even harder than I did, than I do now, because I would know how precious each of those moments are.

I don't know where I'm going from here. But I do pray that I end up right where I want to be: so far in love that I can barely see straight.

Kind of like I am here...

So to all of you that may be asking me, "What are your plans for next year?" prepare yourself for the answer of: love.

"Not all those who wander are lost." J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sleeping With The Fishes.

Last Saturday, I was sleeping with the fishes. I didn't know it at the time, but I was.

Around 9 a.m., the puppy woke me up so we could go for a walk outside. I rolled out of bed reluctantly, shoved my glasses on my face and pulled on whatever sweatpants I could find first.

I stumbled down the stairs, put Milley's leash on her, unlocked the front door, and opened it.


I couldn't get out my front door. I scratched my head, yawned, and wiped the sleep from my eyes, telling myself to focus...what is that?

Cups of water?

With dead goldfish in them???

And my car is Post-It noted?

Also, do you see how my car is a bit blurry? That's because my front porch is Saran Wrap-ped.


No, I do not currently have any suspects.

I really wish I did, if for no other reason than to shake their hand and say "good job."