Travel adventures.

Bus, train, plane, car. It takes all of these to get me home for Thanksgiving. It’s an adventure all on its own, a test of my sign-reading skills.
Of course, with this many types of transportation involved, I always leave at least a half hour before I need to, just because you never know when the train will be rerouted or the bus will run someone over (not that unlikely if you’ve seen the way some of them drive).
So I’m just chilling at the gate, watching all the commercials about Chicago. (its second to none, just in case you didn’t know) and observing all the people at my gate.
People at airports are always interesting. Today we’ve got a group of women with matching wooden cross necklaces who have been talking about what they’re going to do when they get home: “shower and get these clothes off.” I take it they’ve been traveling for a while now, probably from some sort of mission trip. Either way, I hope they get their showers soon. There’s the classic family with a stroller and baby to match. The baby is already in pajamas, which doubles the cuteness factor.
Then there are the rest of us, all glued to our mobile devices.
Even the white haired lady in the blue-green outfit is on her iPhone.
I’m just like the rest of them, really. I paid half an arm and a leg for a cup of caffeine and am being social with my thumbs. So strange to sit with these people for an couple hours before we part forever, each going back to our own lives.
Then there’s this precious woman pushing one of those manual vacuums. Oh, God bless her. Lady, you are the reason why this is a pleasant place.
Welcome to my gate, folks.

Let’s talk.

I’m writing a paper on a Friday night. It’s not even totally necessary. I have a lot of hours tomorrow that I could use to work on it.

I’m just fired up about it, and that’s not just because I like writing papers. I mean, I do like writing papers, but I’m fired about about this because it’s about overconsumption and how our society ignores and normalizes it.

I’m writing about materialism.

And I’m writing about PORN.

It sounds like an indecent topic. It also sounds like it will be slightly awkward to talk to my professor about when I meet with him about my paper. It sounds like something you wouldn’t say in church.

But we need to start talking about this, especially in church. Read a book about the history of porn (Andrea Dworak, The Social Costs of Pornography, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, The Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West using Pope John Paul II’s notes about sexuality), and you’ll likely be just as disgusted and angry as I am.

I’m really angry because Satan has taken ahold of our society’s concept of the body and sexuality and twisted it into something that is so horrid and shameful, I can hardly bear to think about it. I’m so ashamed of all these things that are true of the world in which we live. And I’m so angry that we don’t talk about it. I’m pounding my fists on my desk because few people say that it’s bad and that it lies and that we need to get rid of it. I’m fuming because people defend something so invasive and awful. I’m angry that there is little I can do on my own…

Little I can do but speak up.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I won’t be silent because when I’m silent, I stew. Instead, I will write my paper and blog and tell my friends to stand with me against pornography and defamation of sexuality.

Because pornography affects everyone, whether you’re the person trapped in it or using it or affected by the culture that it has formed.

Because real love is patient and kind and doesn’t envy or boast. It isn’t proud or rude or self-seeking. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight when Satan gets to have his way with our sexuality but rejoices that we can reclaim it. It bears the horrible culture, believes that it can change, and endures and presses toward that day.

Finals pep talk.

It’s that time of semester again where I want to know where the weeks went. Teach me to number my days… How many are left? Few enough that it’s potentially frightening. Few enough that a to-do list for the rest of the semester is probably necessary to keep on-track.

It’s the time of semester where there’s a lot to be done and maybe not enough time, but that depends on when you start. So I’m trying to start early because I want to be kind to myself and not cause unneeded stress. And that’s where things get dicey.

There’s a lot to do. And it makes my stomach twist into a rather unpleasant knot to think of all the days of paper-writing a studying I have ahead of me. I might burn my eyes out from reading and writing. But I’ve been through finals before, and I survived. I actually was just fine. I don’t think I even partially died.

I think it’s time for a pep talk, because I certainly need one. This is for all you folks who can’t get up the motivation to do the big things that you know you need to do, and it’d probably be better if you didn’t procrastinate.

Hey you. Yes, you. I see you there, writing your long to-do list. Sure, it’s long. Yes, there are some big things on there, but you know what? You can do it.

You know that, too. You know that you’re capable. I bet, if you started today, even with one of those things, even if it wasn’t the most pressing thing that needs to get done, you’d feel pretty accomplished. Maybe if you just did two of those things this week you’d have something significant taken care of. Then you could sleep better at night, knowing how well you’d taken care of things and how you are capable of doing the same thing the next day.

You don’t give yourself enough credit. Look how far you’ve come! You went over that hurdle and through that fire and squeezed out of that tight space. You’re a hero, you are. You’re living proof of the fortitude of humanity.

Keep on keeping on, soldier. Tackle the to-do list. Fight the good fight of productivity.

I believe in you.


Stray bread.

There once was a week in my life where I came across three motorcycles, stranded on the side of the road. This week has been similar, except now it’s with stranded bread.

Yes, bread. You read that right.

Friday, I saw a breadstick stuck in a bush. Then, later that day, in the same block, I spied a loaf of bread, with a bite taken out of it, just chilling on the grass. On my way to work this morning, in the same area, I came across an everything bagel sitting on a windowsill.

Stranded carbohydrates, what is this world coming to?

It makes me wonder if it’s an epidemic. Everyone’s starting the Atkins, throwing out their tempters to avoid breaking their diet. Or maybe more people are going gluten-free than I thought. Soon bakeries will start going out of business because no one will be eating carbohydrates anymore. I’ll have to travel all across the county to find enough flour to bake a birthday cake. 

More likely though, someone had a little too much to drink and thought it was hilarious to throw bread out the window. I don’t have to worry too much about my dear carbohydrates. 

With these meaningful words, I wish you a happy Saturday. 

Cheers to winter

We got our first snow of the season in Chicago last night, and to my surprise, nothing died within me. I didn’t feel like crying (except that the wind was blowing right in my face and on my un-scarfed neck) or like punching anyone.

I think I’m coming to terms with winters’ existence. I mean, you may have to check up on me come January when winter’s still around, but I think I’m okay with it. At least for now.

Winter means a lot of things for me. I have to wear tights on skirt days, have to get used to being pretty much brunette, have to beware of my hair freezing when I go outside, and I have that awkward problem of not knowing if I should take my coat off when I go inside for short meetings. I mean, I don’t want them to think I’m about to run out the door, but is it worth it to take off the scarf and coat for just 15 minutes? No, thanks. I’ll just sit here and sweat until our conversation is over.

And this winter means going home for wedding planning, which is just about as exciting as it could possibly be. My sister and her fiancé are going to have the most sparkly wedding you’ve ever seen.

Winter also means that Christmas is coming, and that’s yet another reason to be okay with the season changes. Sure, I may freeze my nose off a couple times (regenerative powers, you know), but overall, it should be a good season.

It’s best that I come to terms with winter, because there isn’t a thing I can do to delay or stop its coming. The way I see it, the best thing to do is wear a really thick down coat and welcome the next 6 months of cold weather with open arms. Maybe you should do this, too. It might make us both tougher and more resilient, not to mention more appreciative of summer.

Cheers to winter.

Not too young.

I’m 19, and I’m realizing that what it means to be 19 is to be in-between. In-between childhood, where people definitely don’t take you seriously and adulthood, where people are supposed to take you seriously.

I look 19, and my driver’s license will have a red box reading “UNDER 21” around it for another year and a half. I can’t drink, am not financially stable enough to live on my own, am still getting my degree, and have no idea where I’ll be in five years. I use flowery folders to hold important documents and wear funky jewelry and talk about a lot of the same things that other 19 year olds do.

But hear me when I say that I am not too young to follow God’s calling on my life and engage in ministry with those older than me. I’m not too young to step onto the front lines of the battle to bring God’s kingdom to earth, with my own projects and ideas. I’m not too young to have something valuable to add, something that no one else can.

It’s not like you hit 25 and are all of a sudden gifted with opinions that matter and talents that make a difference.

Sometimes I feel like I have to prove myself in ministry or that I have to act like it isn’t significant. But that’s just like slapping God in the face, isn’t it? Sure, You dropped a ministry into my lap at 16 and gave me incredibly wise people to guide me as I figured it out. Sure, You told me what you require of me and have led me step-by-step through an incomparable journey, but people don’t always take me seriously, so I’m not going to take You seriously.

That’s dumb.

I have something to offer to the world at 19. You do, too, even if you aren’t 19. We all have a place in this kingdom lifestyle, a place that we uniquely fit into. And if we don’t step up and do what God asks of us, no one else will.

So here’s my pledge to let no one look down on me because I’m young, to humbly accept my calling and live it out even when people scoff. Here’s my pledge to cling to the people who support me, people who see the vision and calling on my life. Many of you have been that person for me, showing me who I am and what God wants for me, even if you didn’t know it.

I’m pledging to be seriously fierce about following Jesus, no matter what. Hey, let’s do it together!

Cake: a love story.

If we were to write the love story of me and cake, this is how it would go.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who met a recipe. She was struck by the convenience of only needing one bowl in which to mix the cake, and she found that she had all the ingredients necessary to make it. So the girl mixed, measure, poured, scraped down the sides of the bowl intermittently. She substituted buttermilk for water and added chocolate chips.

The wrinkles in the cake batter were like smile lines, indicating that the relationship was reciprocal. Yes, I love you, too, it seemed to say. However, once the girl got the cake in the oven and set the timer for the allotted amount of incubation time, the cake started having commitment issues.

45 minutes was supposed to be the maximum amount of time for the cake batter to mature into a fully grown cake, ready for frosting and a life in someone’s digestive system. The girl took out the cake tester, fully expecting it to come out clean, but the cake was still runny in the center.

So the girl patiently added five minutes to the timer and sat down to blog. Five minutes later, she checked again. Still runny. Disappointed but still hanging on to hope, she set the timer again. Finally, after an extra ten minutes of baking, the cake tester came out clean.

The girl smiled then, realizing that you can’t hurry love (Thank you, Phil Collins). You just have to wait until the cake tester comes out clean. So the girl and her cake lived happily ever after.

Remembering love.

Today’s a day that threatens to make my heart ache with memories of shock and grief, but instead I’m choosing to remember love.

When my Granddaddy passed away suddenly in the middle of the night four years ago, it knocked the wind out of our lungs. How do you stand and walk when you can’t breathe? It’s easy to just remember the pain since it was so acute – and still is most days.

But today I’m going back to the afternoon when I sat on the end of my bed with one of my best friends, who had come over immediately when I called and brought chocolate and her ears. She walked into my grief with me and didn’t try to fix it. She let me cry and cry and cry.

I remember when the doorbell rang, not someone we were expecting, and a friend’s mom was there, holding containers of homemade soup. I remember how she cried when she hugged us, and it wasn’t fake compassion. I remember tasting the compassion in the soup.

I remember when our friends from church came over, how their hugs squeezed tears out of me. I remember one of them saying while he hugged me, “Is this your first grandparent to lose?” When I nodded, he said, “It’s so hard,” and his validation made my enormous wave of grief leak out onto his suit coat.

I remember countless containers of food at my grandma’s house, how she wouldn’t have to cook for at least two weeks after the funeral. I remember that my volleyball team had sent beautiful flowers to her, all the way to Oklahoma to show solidarity.

I remember love. Those are some of the most Christlike examples of love I’ve known. And I think Granddaddy would want me to remember that, even though I could just as easily talk about how much I still miss him. How we all do.