Post #156: it’s time to talk about fruit.


People say – too frequently – “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and the sentiment is good. It’s practical to take what life dishes out and try to make the best of it. But really people, is lemonade the best thing you could come up with? You can only drink so much of that, and it takes a lot of lemons to make even enough for one person. What if you have a family of 8??
That’s only for if life gives you an excess of lemons, I guess. Which wouldn’t be so bad.
It does make sense, to make something tasty or useful out of the lemons life gives me. It wouldn’t be very productive to suck on them then complain about how sour they are. No, that would just be dumb. I think I do that sometimes though.
When life hands me something I don’t like – for example: a steak, a need to sprint for two hours, sore limbs after sprinting, or a headache – I think I suck on them and complain about how sour they taste. I’m the one who put them in my mouth. I’m the one who decided not to just hold the things for the amount of time they would be in my life. I sucked on them instead, making the situation far less pleasant than it had to be, both for me and the people I complained to.
This weekend, I had a party. I didn’t complain about that, because I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I might have complained a little about how sweaty and hot I got while cleaning and doing yard work the night before though. At said party, we had a need for lots of strawberries and bananas. And apparently we didn’t need as many as we thought we needed. So, not only did the last guests to leave get to take home a bunch of bananas, but we have tons of both leftover. The solution? Make many smoothies. And Google “what to do with lots of fresh strawberries”.
I found an answer that was a little odd-sounding, but delicious. So, here’s what you do when you have an excess of strawberries.
Make strawberry soup. Blend up those red berries with a little half n half, and you have yourself one of the more healthy desserts out there. And it just sounds healthy.
When life gives me lemons, next time I’m making lemon bars and lemon poppyseed muffins. Because that’s so much better than sucking on them.

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Home, where is it?


I’m sitting in the doctor’s office right now, which is obviously not home. It doesn’t look like it, doesn’t smell like it, and has way more people under the age of 5 than my house does. I’ll be sitting here for a while, so I’m going to think about where my home is.
I just started reading Little Dorritt by Charles Dickens as my first official book of summer reading today. In the first chapter, the gentleman in jail describes where his mother was born, the other country where she lived, the same for his father, and his own birthplace. He says, with grandeur, “I am a citizen of the world.”
Which got me to thinking about home and belonging and where I’m from.
I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life, so I obviously say that’s where I’m from now, and I will continue to say that when I go to college out of state in the fall. But then, if I decide to stay there after college, if I become a citizen of a different state, what do I say when people ask where I’m from?
Well, I lived in the same house, same room – but we changed the paint colors to lime green when I turned twelve – until I was 18. And I always told my parents when I was younger that I would never move, that I’d bring my family there when I grew up. And I would build a little house for my parents in between ours and our neighbor’s house. So, that’s where I’m technically from, but I’ve lived here for 6 years, so this sort of feels like home.
Then what if I move to another country and then come back to the US? Then no one will have an attention span long enough to hear the whole story.
Home is where the heart is, right? And I’m not really supposed to feel at home on earth at all since Heaven’s pretty much the eternal residence. But I obviously need a temporarily permanent residence for while I’m alive and mortal, so I may have some issues with identity if I move.
Oh, but to be a citizen of the world in the sense that the gentleman in jail in Little Dorritt means it, to live in multiple countries in the course of a lifetime, to leave a piece of your loyalty there, to have memories and cultural knowledge firsthand from more than one culture… That’s an invigorating thought.
Home: does it really matter where it is? As long as it’s the place I’m meant to be at the time, the location my roots are doesn’t have to be easily describable to someone I’ve just met. In fact, why not go for the most complex story I can get?
After an hour of waiting – which only ended up in giving me a referral – I came to the conclusion that maybe I’m going to have to be okay with not knowing exactly how to respond to the “where ya from” query. That maybe part of my stretching and growth will be in the
changes in scenery.
I could use a change in scenery after this doctor’s office.

Stomping.


Tis the season of shrines to graduates, of hoards of baby pictures being hauled out of dusty storage. Then we sift through the dozens and dozens of adorable pictures that prove that we were indeed, at one time, attractive, to find the perfect ones to display for all our peers.
I’m realizing something as I look through mine: I really was a ham.
In the five years before I entered school, where apparently all my unhampered silliness was hammered out of me, I have so many pictures of me with fiercely happy expressions or doing something incredibly silly (usually with a large amount of red-eye since my blue eyes and 35 mm film don’t mix well).
Then, fast forward to about second grade. Maybe it was getting glasses that did it, because now the pictures are of a more demure, less platinum blonde young lady.
Maybe it was the darkening of my hair that triggered it. As I got less brightly blonde, I became more inhibited about being silly.
Or maybe I just matured slowly but surely like most of the rest of the world. That seems like the most likely candidate.
I suppose I’m missing the character I used to be. Not that I would want to be 18 and myself and still always grin so that ALL my teeth show for the camera. Those days were so carefree. Not only that the responsibility level was low, but I didn’t really seem to notice what people thought of me -except when they said I was cute.
Life is cyclical in way, isn’t it? We start out without caring one jot about what other people think of us, since we’re naive enough to think all the world is as friendly as our neighborhood. Then, as we get burned and come across unfriendly people, we put up barriers towards others, putting forward our guarded selves, sometimes not even a true version. Then, as we become comfortable in our own skin again, we put our best, true self forward and try not to mind when we’re rejected.
It’s like re-learning what we already had figured out. How counterproductive is that?
If only learning a lesson one time was time enough to learn it permanently. Thoroughly. If. Only.

Graduation eve jaunt into the future.


It is my last day to be able to say that I am a senior in high school, because – come tomorrow night – I will be a graduate.  When people ask where I go to school, the answer will no longer be Small, Private High School, but Bigger but still small Private University.

Gosh, it amazes me how life just charges on.  I don’t think anyone ever asked my permission to make my life progress into adulthood so quickly, but here I am.  I’m 18 and a high school senior today, and tomorrow I’ll still be 18 and be a high school alumna.  Secretly, (well, not so secretly, I suppose, since this will be online for all the world to see… tell your friends!) I’m glad that I had no say.  It’s a good thing that no one asked my four-year-old self whether or not I wanted to grow up and have the years in-between simply flash before me.  I think I would have beamed at you, said no, and continued to dance and sing and eat popsicles and play in the sprinkler – or whatever I was doing.  Probably pretending to be a fairy or a princess, one of those things you don’t just grow up to be.

That’s an interesting thought: would I really want to be a fairy or a princess now?  Now that I’ve spent years maturing and learning (hopefully with some success in both areas), I think I would say no.  Well, at least to being a fairy, because if a prince asks me to marry him, I’m certainly not refusing.  (Really, does he have to have a crown to be a prince?)  Honestly, I think I would refuse the magical powers and the wings – even though the life of a pixie-like creature does appeal to my tall, gangly self.  I think I’d like to live a human life, to live it with regard for others, and to make my stamp on the world.

Looking back on how much God has changed me since I was four – heck, even since freshman year – I hardly think I would recognize myself in four years if I kept changing at this rate.  I’m going to make some predictions on here, of what I think I will be like, doing, etc.  And this is totally off-the-cuff.  I didn’t prep for this.

I think I will

1) still be 5′ 11 1/2”.

2) have either really long or really short hair, because at some point in college I’m going to go for an extreme.  I can just feel it.

3) Be living on my own either in Minneapolis or Chicago

4) either frequently go out of the country for work or live out of the country or wish I was out of the country

5) still be blogging

6) maybe have expanded the realm of what I will ingest to include some more things.  Maybe I’ll be able to stomach tofu or fish by then.  (I currently don’t eat meat, so we’ll see if that changes – FAT chance, people, fat chance)

7) be involved in a church, still in love with Jesus, and maybe working in ministry

8) be hounding my sister to have kids once she’s married, so that I can be the favorite auntie, DUH!

9) still be in touch with my dear high school friends, defying most odds and thumbing my nose at the people who said that our friendships wouldn’t last.  They’re deeper than that, people. Have a little faith.

10) Have a roommate and a pet goldfish named Clementine.

There, now remind me to check back in here in four years.  Until then, I’ll still be here, blogging away as much as I can and as well as I can.  And life, I’m sure, will chug away until I can hardly see where I’ve been.  That’s one of the benefits of blogging, keeping at least a partial record of who I am, what I’m doing, and what I’m thinking about.  Mostly what I’m thinking about.

Thanks for going with me on this little jaunt into the future.  Stick around, we might learn something together.

 

Nostalgia and pictures.


I’m finally putting together a photo book with my pictures from India – all 750+ of them.  And then the added pictures that I’m getting from my fellow travelers.  I can’t fully describe the feelings that fill me as I watch these pictures get uploaded.  I just keep going back to those memories of sitting on the bus, taking picture after picture out the window.

The ladies around me sat paired all along the bus that took us all over the cities we visited, except the few who decided to sleep.  And I?  I was seventeen, unsure of exactly why I was there and a little bit more introverted than most.  But though I was unsure of my purpose, I was wholeheartedly glad to be there and not about to miss a moment of what I could experience.  So I took pictures out the window and drank in every scene outside the window as it went by.  Some of the pictures are blurry, and some are the most beautiful things I’ve ever set eyes on.  All of them make my heart cry, send me back.

There was a moment this morning – as I sat outside in the sunshine reading my book (one of the few I’ve gotten to read for pleasure this year) – where I thought to myself that I would be content if my life always looking like that: sitting in a lawn chair, basking in the sun with a good book.  But who am I kidding?  I’d just have horrible skin cancer and a feeling that my life had no meaning.  I look back at these pictures and wonder if I’ll ever be sent back or if God has other places and people in store for me.

Regardless of where I go, or who I see, each of these pictures – even the ones not taken with a camera – reside in my heart.  That’s really all we can do with our memories, isn’t it?  Hold them tight and not allow ourselves to forget those moments that have formed us into who we are.  I’m holding tight.

Post-last day of high school thoughts.


My mom took pictures on her iPhone as I got into Audrey to drive to high school for the last time ever.  I walked into those halls for the purpose of going to class for the last time ever, and said my goodbyes to some people I may never see again.  Granted, my class is not of that group of people.  Grad parties and graduation will help us put off the inevitable goodbyes.

I came home on Friday after grilling hot dogs at the lake (and getting pushed into said lake) with my 27 other soon-to-be-graduates and was floored by the fact that I didn’t have any homework.  None.  The only homework-esque task I have in the next week is to write my speech for graduation, but there are no books to read, no flashcards to go through, no calculus assignments (hallelujah), no more papers, no more need to spend every waking moment studying.

It’s weird.  Just plain weird.  Bizarre.  Extraordinary. Fantastic.  Wonderful.  Hey, I might get 8 hours of sleep per night now!

Everyone asks the same questions when you finish high school: where are you going next year? Small Christian University How will you spend your summer?  nannying, family vacations, getting ready for school, you know.  haha, so funny how everyone has to find a job come summertime. What will you major in? I’m planning on Communications right now, but that might – Will you study abroad? I’m planning on it, I – Where? Gee, I haven’t thought about that. Where do you see yourself in five years? In America?  Wait, no, maybe not… Uh, can we talk in a few years?  Will you get married right out of college?  No? Why not? I don’t think 21 is old enough?  Have you scouted out potential mates?  If you mean, have I looked…. How about living situations?  uh.. How many kids will you have?  2? 3? 4?  Wanna adopt?  If I have the money, but I – Have you picked a retirement plan yet?  WHAT?

(Some of that is facetious, obviously.) Few people ask about the past, if high school was everything I thought it would be, if I had any struggles with non-college decisions, who impacted me the most, would I go back…  This is what I am certain about right now, the past years of my life.  Few people ask about that though – it’s always about the uncertain things.  They want definite answers for the questions that I’d like to think my answers are definite for, but in all reality, I could very well change my major or career path or future spouse plan very quickly.

People, I’d like to think my plans are sure.  I’d like to think that I’ve heard God’s voice loud and clear and that I’m not only going to the right school but picking the perfect major and minor right away.  I’d like to think that my plans are certain, but really, all I’m absolutely certain about is that God will be with me as He has been.  Would you like to hear about THAT?  My certainty?  How He has brought me through some of the most dark places I’ve ever been, through losing people I loved, through pain and grief, through minor anxieties, through frustrations and anger?  Would you like to hear about all He’s taught me?  Because that’s really what I’m sure about.  I know where I’ve been, and I know the God who is going to take me wherever I’m going in my life.

I’d so much rather have questions about that.  But those aren’t the easy questions to ask when you see a high school grad.  Those aren’t the questions that come naturally when you need to make small talk and you haven’t seen each other in five years.

So, I’ll answer the questions about where I’m going with as much certainty as I can.  As will all of the high school graduates in the coming weeks.  And just as we will undoubtedly get sick of the questions, you’ll get sick of hearing the answers, most likely.  Then maybe we can talk about where we’ve been – you too, not just me.

Little cuts.


Over the past two weeks I have injured myself (minorly) about a gazillion times. Every time I do it, I want to kick myself because it was easily avoidable, but that would inflicted more pain, so I don’t.
I gashed my ankle while shaving. If you’ve never done this, then when I tell you that I spent half an hour lying on my bathroom floor pressing tissues on my ankle and trying to elevate it above my heart, you won’t understand why. Ankles bleed. A lot.
I also cut myself with a carrot peeler. Then reopened the wound the next day when I was using excessive force to make a lump of clay into a ball in the art room. (I wanted to throw a clay pot on the wheel, but if you’re bleeding, that’s not a good idea. Blood in clay, clay in wound. Yuck.)
I hit my finger on the side of the glaze cabinet in the art room, which also bled.
I brought my knee down hard on the corner of my bedframe. Instant bruise, also a small cut with a minor amount of blood. (have I ever mentioned my disgust with blood/tendency to faint at it on here?)
Scraped my leg with a window. I know that doesn’t seem like it would work unless I was climbing out the window, but it worked. We were cleaning them, and in order to clean these windows, you have to take them out of the frames.
Also scraped my arm on some unknown object last Thursday. It left a scrape.
Then, to top it all off, I dropped a full Nalgene on two of my middle toes on my right foot a couple days ago.
As you can tell, I am one of the most coordinated individuals in the world. Also, I have a sort of battered body right now with many scrapes and bruises. All gained from my stupidity or lack of gracefulness. And I have probably missed a few of the hurtful incidents.
It’s yet another image that displays my imperfection (surprising how many of those there are, isn’t it?), and it makes me think about how scarred and bruised my heart is. How that isn’t visible. Not like I’m dying from heartache here; I haven’t had anything drastically hurt me or leave me broken, and I know that Jesus heals the little scars everyday.
But I can’t see other people’s heart scars. I can’t see the wounds that have been inflicted. I can’t see the emotional effects of the times they’ve inflicted pain on themselves. Yet they have little cuts and bruises too, just like my collection from the past couple weeks.
Something I need to be more mindful of. People are fragile; handle with care.

Where are all the sinners?


So, I had a lovely weekend. I got dressed up as lovely as I get and went to a lovely place with my lovely high school to watch lovely (and laugh-until-you-cry-hilariously funny) comedy and eat lovely food and ride around in a lovely limo and stay out until 2am.
I am a firm believer that not much good happens with people who are awake after midnight. I enjoyed my time out with my friends, but around 1am, when the limo driver with a slight accent dropped us off, I was fried.
And I stayed fried after my 4 hour “sleep. ” and my two and a half hour nap. And after sleeping for another 7 hours. And though my first day of fried-ness went well, without any major irritation or rudeness of my part, day two wasn’t my prettiest.
I didn’t blow up at anyone, but by the end of the day, I certainly didn’t smell like Jesus. (in case you don’t understand, that’s a reference to a post from a week or so ago)
I was flipping back and forth between each three christian radio stations that I flip between in my car, avoiding the other good station (good, but not Jesus good) because I was hungry for some Jesus. And all the songs were about people in pain crying out to Jesus. And I realized why I get irritated with those stations. The djs have struggles in their lives, but if they struggle with sin, I’ve never heard about it. There are a few songs about how much we fail and how great God’s grace is, but in those 20 minutes, the only crying out to Jesus was coming from people who had bad things happen TO them. Not people who do bad things.
Where are all the sinners, for crying out loud? Where are all the imperfect people who create their own messes? Where are all those people who have messed up and know it and are banking on God to get them out of it, who know they can’t fix themselves?
I know I’ve heard songs like this. I know I have them on my ipod. Sometimes though, I feel like we pretend like the only struggles we have are the ones that are inflicted upon us, not our fault.
I make messes. I can’t clean them up. I’ll be one to admit it. Anyone with me?

A loaf of bread in a bag: the power of mentorship.


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That used to be an entire small loaf of the most delicious, cinnamony banana bread I have ever eaten in my entire life. Now it is just empty plastic ziploc bag. The women who gave it to me have done more than feed me physically over the past few years; (though they have done that as well!) they have been mentors to me.
Mentor number 1, whom I will refer to as Joy since this is the trait that is plainly evident in her life, has been in my life for a while. When she taught my sixth grade math class, she had a different last name, but she still remains the same bubbly, joyful woman.
Mentor number 2, whom I will refer to as Wagon (I’ll explain that in a minute), has been around for less time. She was never a teacher of mine, but she decided -along with Joy last year- to start a Bible study with the girls in our grade. Wagon has been dubbed thus because she is always ready for wherever God wants to pull her. I’ve never met anyone with more of a desire to be pulled wherever God wants to pull them. And He is pulling her, to Germany.
Joy and Wagon have been the source of many a laugh, a thought-provoking statement, a thoughtful compliment, a touching prayer. Every Friday, at lunch, we meet in Wagon’s classroom to talk about godly living, the Bible, and how God is working in our lives, and I always leave full. Like I was the empty ziploc bag before, but now I am full, full of something to share with everyone I come across.
There have been days where I just needed a minute (or thirty) to talk. So I would drop by Joy’s office, and she would always look up from whatever she was doing with a smile and offer me the chair in her office, without the air of psychiatrist or any awkwardness. I could share with her my struggles, my failures, my hopes, my sorrows, and they were always met without judgment, with helpful advice or stories, and an offer to pray, right there and then. She probably had plenty of work to do, and there were probably many times that I kept her from getting things done that she needed to do. Just the memory of those hours spent talking, inside school, outside of school, and in-between, make me smile.
Wagon would invite all of us over to her home, then begin making crêpes, homemade hummus, or some other dish, while we fumbled around the kitchen trying to help. We’d sit and eat for a couple hours, oh, sure I’ll have another crêpe. God has been teaching me… And spend at least ten minutes saying goodbye when the time came, where more promises of prayer were offered (and we had the full knowledge that it would happen).
As I spend my last week in school with these women, I’m feeling nostalgic. And like a little bird getting pushed out of the nest. They told us that they are praying that we’ll have great mentors in college, but I’m afraid that the standard has been set so high that none will measure up.
I was a ziploc bag, a nice one with the ingredients for bread in it, but now I have a loaf of bread. And these remarkable women are the ones who have helped me take what God has given me and bake it into something useful.
Thank you, Joy and Wagon, if you ever read this and can recognize the description of yourself. (I’m sure that won’t be difficult.) Thank you for your hours, your love, your kindness, and your prayers.
Because of you, I have a loaf of bread.

Mysteries.


So I’m not exactly sure why this is,  but whenever I go outside to study, I end up feeling like I really don’t wanna do that. I feel like I’d rather just sit and soak up some rays. Maybe change my light skin pigment a little bit. But here I am, outside, and I have homework to do. And the sunshine is telling me that I don’t have a care in the world. When in fact, I have many.
I’ve got those pesky papers and annoying assignments that will ensure that I get to graduate if I do well on them. I’ve got a basic understanding of most of government as a whole and an in-depth understanding of a few parts of it when it should really be the other way around. I’ve got a bowl of cheez-its sitting next to me and the sun making everything beautiful and the breeze gently making the trees rustle.
It’s beautiful, and I’d rather just be enjoying it than enjoying it while doing homework. But, I can do that when I finish high school in seven days. (isn’t that weird???)
For now I will enjoy while doing my scholarly duties.

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