Off The Beaten Path

I’m going a little outside of my usual zone tonight. Tonight, I want to talk about why I love education, the arts, and my family.

My sister is in charge of Glee Club at her school. What I love about Glee Club, and chorus, and band, and theater, and art, and all these things is that it gives kids, even the weird ones, an outlet. Tonight, during their Glee performance, there were a couple of numbers where these guys just got to showcase their break dance skills (you can tell by my verbiage that I’m pretty thug!). As I was sitting there watching it, I almost started to cry. I know you all are shocked by this, but here’s the thing. Those boys would have never darkened the door of a chorus room. They wouldn’t step foot in a dance studio. They had learned to dance by emulating movies, and YouTube, and The LXD. I think disfranchised might be too strong of a word, but without Glee CLub these boys wouldn’t have a place to grow. Tonight they got to share their gift with their peers, and that’s what makes kids get up and come to school in the morning.

What I love about education is that real teachers, like my sister, teach the whole kid. She doesn’t isolate the social studies part of their brain; she reaches all of them whether in Glee Club or her academic classes. She is amazing that way. She gave those kids an outlet, a voice, a stage when they may have never found one on their own.

Now, on to the second member of my family who was a rock star tonight. My niece is in Glee Club. My niece is a rock star. My niece is everything that is good and lovely in this world. I was fifteen when she was born, and a little bit of me was born too on the day she came along. She is cool, and funny, and wonderfully talented. Seriously, she’s just the best kid ever. Actually, tied for first with my cousin, Zoe. That deserves a post of it’s on, though.

I think that’s all for my rant today. Except perhaps to say, find an art, or sport, or subject, or story, or anything you love, and share it with someone younger than you. Pay those good things forward. And if you all are very nice, you may get to here more about my awesome family members. You should be so lucky!

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The Wounded Antelope Effect or How Being Alone Can Kill You

I’m skipping the regular bit about the long delay. If you’ve been here long enough, you know I have the attention span of a baby racoon in a room full of shiny things. I’m working on it. One day, perhaps in heaven, I will be more faithful in my postings.

So, we had started talking about being alone. We’re going to continue that talk.

I am a pbs special type of a girl. I love NOVA and Scientific America and all kinds of nerdy programming. I am always fascinated by documentaries about predators. I am, naturally, not a predator. I don’t like to go in for the kill. I’m not very aggressive. I’m sort of the human version of the three-toed sloth. But I find the patterns and practice of animal predators pretty fascinating.

In many of these documentaries, I’ve learned that predatory animals divide and conquer. The seek out the weak and wounded. They eat a man while he’s down. They’ll spot a baby animal, our one that’s older and less agile, they’ll circle the herd get it to run this way and that until the one poor antelope can’t keep up with the rest. Then, the lions or hyenas or wildebeests swoop in for the kill.

Our enemy is a lot like that. 1 Peter 5:8 says

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Notice that singular pronoun there – someONE. One person, he’s looking for the alone and defeated. The sad thing is that we’re never alone, but he’s a deceiver from the beginning. He will twist and bend and lie until your thoughts become that of the wounded and defeated. He will isolate you even when you’re not alone.

A few summers ago, I went on vacation with my oldest friend and her family. We had a slew of people including Steph’s boyfriend and his sister (now her husband and sister in law, respectively). It was a great time. I was never alone, but I started to believe some lies anyway. “I’m a nuisance. No one wants me here. Why am I disrupting their family time? Everyone prefers (insert any given persons name here) to me.”

By Thursday of our week, the lies had planted themselves as truth in my brain. Steph could tell something was up and suggested we take a walk, just the two of us. We were out on the beach with the beautiful moon to give us light. I kept hearing the lie, “Don’t tell her what’s going on. She’ll never understand. She’ll think you’re being silly.” But my thoughts came bubbling up anyway. I told her everything. How isolated I felt. How much of a burden I thought I was. How utterly alone I felt.

“Me, too,” she said, “me, too.I cried this morning in the shower because I was thinking the saw things.” It was in this moment I realized that Satan wants us to be alone. His initial goal was to separate Adam and Eve from God. I think he’s been separating ever since. I think he wants us all to feel alone. Misunderstood. Unexceptional. Unwanted. Because when we realize we’re in this together, when we realize we’re a herd that needs to look out for each other, it makes his job of devouring so much harder. Otherwise, we’re all wounded antelope that he can pick off to his heart’s content.

So, if you’re feeling alone. If he’s telling you the lies that you’re unwanted and unloved, tell someone. Let someone else carry this with you. You never know, they may be feeling all alone with you.

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4

Tune in (soonish) next for “The Baby Ibex Effect or How Sure Being Sure Footed Can Save Your Life.”

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Alone Again, Naturally

Since I have been gone for so long, here is a haiku as an apology.

Gone to long from you.
I have many excuses.
None are very good.

Now, on to the actual blogging business.

There is a scene in Love Actually (a personal favorite) in which Colin Firth (also a personal favorite) arrives at a remote cabin after discovering his wife’s affair with his brother. In the scene, he leans up against the door and says, “Alone again, naturally.” Obvi, a reference to the world’s saddest Gilbert O’Sullivan song. Still, whether it’s uttered by Colin or Gilbert, that statement is axiomatically wrong.

The truth is we were never intended to go about life alone. In the very beginning of the earth, God looked at Adam and said it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so he made Eve. I’m not saying we were all created for romantic relationship; I’m just supposing, though, that we were all intended to have people with us in this adventure.

Later on, Jesus even says to us in Matthew 28:20 that He’ll be with us always even to the end of time. I think this is Jesus’ way of saying, “Hey, I’m in this with you. We’re going to go through all of this together.”

It is unnatural to be alone. I don’t mean the I can sit in a room by myself or live on my own. I mean it is unnatural for us to live without connection. In fact, I think it is such a natural and healthy part of life that the enemy always tries to take it from us. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow’s blog will be all about that jerk of a relationship stealer. So tune in tomorrow (maybe Thursday) to see what it is that you have in common with a baby ibex.

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Daisy the Dog

Daisy the dog has a stuffed lion named Leo. Daisy loves Leo. They are BFFs. Well, I’m not sure how Leo feels about the situation. It’s probably a tough life, but Daisy is over the moon about him. She carries him. She chews on him. She flings him to and fro. Sometimes, when she’s napping, she uses him as a pillow.

Her favorite game by far is protecting Leo. She will come and stand next to you and put Leo into your hand. You close your hand around him thinking this is the toss and return game, but she growls. She growls and shakes her head. She growls and puts him back in your hand. This goes on for a long time until finally she remembers that the real fun is running like a fool down the hallway after you’ve thrown Leo there.

I’d say she’s dumb, but it’s an understandable game. I do it all the time. I say here is this thing that I love and want to treat well. Who can I trust with this? There are some obvious answers, but I’m going for the church one today. I can give God the things that I love and cherish, but I also play the growling game with God. I put things in his lap but growl every time He touches it. Because let’s be honest, sometimes the things we love aren’t good for us, and God takes them away. Or sometimes they need a bath, and we may not see them for a while. And sometime, God throws deep, and we have to go out to find it all over again.

I feel like God does this with me with friendships most often. 10ish years ago, I graduated from high school, and I thought I had collected all the people I could possibly love in the world. I had a great family, and all these friends that I loved. Like the way deep down inside love. Then I went to college, and I was convinced there wasn’t anymore room in my heart for people. I knew I had found perfection. I even wrote in my journal that if God never gave me another friend, I had already received more than I deserved. It was a dramatic statement but true enough.

God had other ideas, as He so often does about my life, and I met people, and I feel in love with them. The deep down kind of love like before. It turns out that there’s room in your heart for a lot of people. “Your heart has to reach capacity at some point,” I thought. Which is why 6ish years ago, when I went to work, I was certain that I would make acquittances, but never real deep down friends. Again, how wrong I was, and how lucky I am to have all these people in my life that I love. To share in their sorrow, and success, and silliness. To laugh, and play, and cutup. It is the luckiest feeling in the world.

For those of you who know me or have read my blog a time or two, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve waxed rhapsodic about the people I love, and it certainly won’t be the last. Because today, I had an epiphany. It turns out the space in your heart is pretty limitless. Turns out the love the Father gives us is just as boundless as I’d imagined, but it’s not just love for me; it’s love for everyone.

I don’t know how I started out with Daisy the Dog and ended up with this, but I did, and it feels right. It feels joyful which is apparently what the next 11 months of my life are supposed to be about, and my heart and I are really happy about that.

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A Year of Joy

I remembered something the others day. And, no, it was not that I have a blog, and it’s rude of you to think that. 😉

I remembered a verse. I’m not sure of the reference, but I’m sure you all know it, too.

This is the day that they Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

See, I started grad school back in June. It seemed like fun. I’ll go to school which I like, and I’ll get more money which I like, and everyone will be happy. Here’s the thing. Grad school, despite it’s free wheelin’ appearance, is a lot of work. It was fine during the summer when I had summer days (and oh, those summer nights {please name that musical}) to accomplish all of my school work.

Now, my work school is back in session. All of a sudden, I had to be out of my house by 6:45 every morning, and I had to teach small children important things, and I had to grade papers, and have parent meetings, and make lesson plans, and cupcakes. All of this in addition to doing grad school which was less sunshine and rainbows than I had once imagined. I was drowning a little bit.

Then that verse came to me. THIS is the day that the Lord has made. In the middle of all of my concern over work and school and cupcakes, this was a day that God had made. He made it from just speaking things into existence. Even better than that, the Psalmist goes on to say, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it. I don’t know what kind of day the Psalmist had had. Maybe he just won the lottery. Maybe his wife just had a baby. Maybe he was voted hottest man in Macedonia.

But I’m sure the Psalmist had had different types of days, too. There was probably a day when he was flat broke. A day when his kids were sick or he had a fight with his wife. A day when no one wanted to be his friend or hear what he had to say. It’s my hope and my belief that he thought back to that moment writing it and said to himself, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” And his heart was glad not because it made everything better, but because it put everything back into perspective. God made today. He made it for us to delight and rejoice in, despite our circumstances.

So, I’ve decided to declare this my year of joy. Each week I will be posting things that have brought me joy, things that made my heart glad because God gave me my days, and He tells me they’re numbered, so I need to use them wisely.

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Sleep Silly

Roomie’s out of town this week visiting her family. I get nervous when I have to stay at home by myself. I don’t care how old you are; there is something creepy about staying in a house at night by yourself. I dislike it. Anyway, Daisy doesn’t seem to like it much either. We’ve had a couple of rough nights in which we didn’t sleep much.

When I don’t sleep, I get a little silly and incoherent. I decided to go to bed after I started making no sense in my Facebook convo with my friend Bert. Bert, is my photography blogging friend, Anna-E’s husband. Just in case you were wondering. I like to make these sorts of connections when I read blogs. Anyway, I stopped making sense and decided to go to bed.

Now, when I have a lot to do on the next day, I have to make a to do list, or my brain will NOT shut off, and I will toss and turn until the wee hours of the morning. To do lists help me to see all I have to do, decide if I have a reasonable span of time to do it, and are fun later because you can cross things off your list. If you’re not a list maker, I don’t know how you survive in this world.

Last night, I made my list on a Stickie note. Below is a screen capture of the to do list I compiled. Please note you have been warned that when tired, I get sleep silly.

Clearly, things had gotten out of control. When you add telling a joke to your to do list not once but twice?! Also, upon further reflection, I think a collaboration between Cary Grant and Dr. Who would be terrible. It’s like having filet mignon with a side of Easy Mac. Both good in their own right, but are to never be brought together lest we rip a whole in the space time continuum. Also, I apologize to Ghandi. Not sure how he got caught up in that mess.

However, being better rested, I think I’m going to add joke telling and rejoicing to my to do list more often. It keeps things happy and free.

This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

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This is Part 3 of My Confessions

I realize Usher only made it to part two, but clearly I am more dedicated than he.

This is a one shot confession, but a good one. I love the Dave Matthews Band. This is not the confession, but it is important background knowledge. One of my dreams is a get a boombox (do they still make those) and hit the streets of Atlanta blaring Everyday, and see if I could recreate this video.

Anyone want to join me? I think it would be good fun. I also defy you to watch the video without smiling or getting up and dancing around your living room. I did both. Go out today, listen to some Dave, and maybe give a stranger a hug. Remember, hug responsibly.

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