Monday, June 30, 2008

Keeping Our Eyes Open

Over the weekend, I got to spend two hours visiting with my Jackie. What a blessing! We usually don't get much more than a "Hello" at church but this time - two uninterrupted hours of just us. God knew I needed it! At one point I mentioned my friend Esme and how her family is going back to South Africa to open a Christian school in a poverty stricken city. I mentioned that this is what they feel called to do. Jackie said that she didn't know what her calling was and I agreed in feeling the same way.

On the way back yesterday, I thought about that some more. How many of us know what we have been called to do here on earth? Sure, we know our jobs that we do to earn a living but what about our specific roles in the kingdom of God? Honestly, I have NO idea what God has for me to do and it is frustrating some days. I feel like I should be doing something but I have no idea what it is.

It is easy for me to see where other people's talents lie but I struggle with seeing my own. Maybe that is the point. We need to look out for each other to help point in the right direction. In my running, I've thought a lot about how well I did in Jr. High. I was running seven minute miles (which now seems very fast) without any coaching or training. I was one of the top five in my grade level. How come the coaches didn't encourage me to do something with that? How come they just let me pick something menial to do but never even suggested that I pursue something that I was good at? Maybe I could have been really good if someone would have taken the time to work with me on it. Maybe I would have loved it then like I do now. I look back and that is 14 years that I lost because no one stepped up to point out something that I was good at and mentor me to better that skill. And that is just running!

Are we the same way? Do we see talents in others, just notice it, and walk on? Or do we take time to try to help each other grow a gift from God to be used for God? Do we see where others can be used and ignore it or do we step up to help each other learn to use their gifts from God?

I know what I would appreciate!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Love Language

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading "The Five Love Languages" but Gary Chapman. It was SO eye opening and really helped me to see how people express and receive love in the most sincere ways. The five that he presented were: Words of Affection, Time, Service, Gifts, and Physical Touch. He also stated that to find your love language, look at how you show love to others and that is how you receive it best. You usually have two dominate languages. I've often wondered what my love language is and about a week ago, someone just outright asked me. I honestly can say that I didn't know. Now, I definitely do.

I've decided that one of my love languages is physical touch. I LOVE hugs, holding hands, patting/scratching backs, playing with hair.... It is the best! Now that I know that, it explains SO much! I cannot wait to hold, rock, hug, tickle my soon coming sweet little niece. I just hope she likes me as much as I already adore her! I cannot be around my sweet students without showering them with hugs, holding their hands, and wanting to let them it on my lap when they are crying. Looking back, the students that I have not felt close to are the ones that did not like to be touched. I never noticed that until VERY recently. It also explains why I've felt a closer connection in some relationships than others. In my SAP training a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to hug everyone that shared something difficult in our group. I have been able to see a college friend many times in the past couple of weeks. It has been filled with hugs, laughter, and just good talking. The best part have been the hugs. No one can give a hug like Mark. Given the chance, there are certain people that I would hug to show appreciation to if I only had the chance to meet them.

Here's the catch with this love language though - it can't be from just anyone. Since it is a love language, there is a level of intimacy and relationship that goes along with it. I don't want some random stranger coming up to be and giving me this HUGE hug. I've been visiting a new church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. We had a cookout last weekend and as everyone was leaving, one of the people I have hung out with a little more gave me an awkward hug. It threw me off like you would NOT believe.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. Today I head to San Marcos to see some friends and I know there will be LOTS of hugs tonight!! Then on Friday, down to Pleasanton. Hugs galore. I don't know what I'll do with all of the love!

Friday, June 20, 2008


About three months ago, I heard about an exhibit they had on display called "Pompeii". It was showing jewelry, frescoes, mosaics, daily items, and casts of people that were excavated from the sight of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D. I decided that I really wanted to see it so yesterday I checked it off of my "Things I want to do this year" list.

As I walked among the displays, I found myself thinking so many different things. First, I saw the horrors of those caught my the eruption. In the 1800s, plaster was used to create casts of the people found at the sight. While a few were very detailed, most were not. You could tell it was a person but no detail was present. Two gripped me the most. One was a grown man squatting with his back to the wall and his face in his hands. He was found in a public gym trying to escape the blast. I couldn't see much detail but he looked to resigned to what was coming. He was just waiting for the end. The other was one that had more detail. It was a child. You could see more detail in this face than in any other face. The fear and shock were heartbreaking. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. There were other casts that broke my heart as well but these two really stood out for me. What tragedy!

The greater thought was that this happened just after Christ was here on earth and the New Testament was being written. I saw household idols, statues/frescoes of the gods, and the culture that early Christians were surrounded by. I saw actual coins with various emperors' faces. The one that took me aback the most was Nero's. I saw a handful of silver coins and thought that this is what Judas traded our Lord for. I saw denarii and thought about so many references to the Bible. I saw oil lamps and thought about the ten virgins and the light in the house. I thought about John on Patmos just a short distance from this sight. What in the world must he have been thinking when this happened as he was penning the Revelation? But the thought that crossed my mind the most was how wrong my mindset of those times were. When I think about biblical times, I think about deserts and primitive life. I forget that Jesus taught in small towns but was surrounded by very modern things. I forget about the baths, highly skilled doctors and women that owned property/businesses. These were things that Jesus was a contemporary of. This was Jesus world.

I was expecting to enjoy this exhibit but I was in no way prepared for what I saw. Coming out of it was surreal but I'll post on that later. I'm so glad that I went. If you are interested in seeing parts of the exhibit, go to and click on Pompeii: Tales from an Eruption before June 22. It doesn't show everything but you can see pictures of some things on display. It doesn't do justice but you'll get the idea.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This is something that I have been thinking about for a while now. I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about friends and friendships. I've considered those that I have had in the past and those that I yearn for in the future. I think about my inability to keep up with those that live far away and what that could mean if I don't maintain communication better.

Throughout all of this, I've noticed how life has led us all down different paths. Job changes, relationship changes, location changes, attitude/personality changes... I've been humbled by some and surprised by others. I look back on what I thought life would look like down the road and now I am amazing by how wrong I have been. The roads that life has brought us all down have curved, straightened, risen, and fallen. Who knew?

But I know the one who knew. I can look back at a crossroads and see where He started forking the roads for us all. Some happened gradually over time and others so suddenly. Only in hindsight can I see His hand. I'm thankful for the review mirror that shows me the works that I missed.

I'm not sad about this. I'm amazed that after all of the planning or visions built up, life has led so many different ways. And even through it all, we find ourselves bound to each other.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If Only They All Started This Way....

Today has started off SO well! If only everyday was like this one! I started off the day with our second time trial of the season. For the first time trial (about 5 weeks ago), I ran a mile in 10:14. I was excited about that time because I hadn't run a mile for a time in about 15 years. Today, I ran my mile in 9:13!!! In five weeks, I have shaved off one whole minute!! WOO HOO! Then core work went very well.

After the run, I walked with a few ladies to a place called The Daily Grind for breakfast. We spent a leisurely two and a half hours at breakfast. We talked about everything from family to houses, jobs to nutrition, other countries to dogs. It was SO nice to just sit and visit with the women without having to worry about time or to rush off. What a rare treat. We don't just sit and enjoy each other anymore. I am thankful being able to do that today!

Then, after getting back to my aunt and uncle's house, I took the dogs for a walk. We went around the neighborhood and followed it up with some relaxing in the yard.

Now it is up to the shower and then a lesson from my bible study. This afternoon looks like a quick nap and a good book before dinner and church.

I am spoiled rotten!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Freedom of Speech?

After a run, we all head back to base to do core work. Since switching to the morning group, I have grown to really look forward to and dread this time. You would think that it was because of the difficult stretching and exercising after running hills for 25 minutes. However, you are wrong. There are these older men in our group that love to talk. Three white haired, late 60s/early 70s men. Sometimes, they just let Sean have it. They let him know exactly what they think about each exercise, its duration, and its difficulty. Every once in a while, when they get really loud, Sean will respond. On days like this, they are SO funny! I think that everyone doing core work needs to laugh while they do it. Laughing intensifies the work out.

Then there are days like today. We all stay in about the same spot for core work. There is a lady near them that they have really taken to. At first, it was in innocent comment here and there. Today, their real comfort came out in some VERY caddy, offensive talk. The only thing slightly more shocking than their comments was the laughter and egging on that the woman did. It was too much.

Between their yelling at Sean and talking to the woman, I found myself wondering - When did it become OK to say exactly what you are thinking? No matter if it is giving a friend a hard time or letting someone of the opposite sex know what you think about how they look, it seems that older folks get away with more. If that is the case, what age does it become alright to speak your mind so openly?

Just curious...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Ears = Big Hearts

This week I was blessed beyond measure to attend a training called Student Assistance Program (SAP). For three days, we learned how to facilitate small student groups on everything from substance abuse (theirs or someone else's), grief/trauma/loss, social skills, family issues, bullying, etc. It wasn't counseling but more of a way to allow students to express themselves in a safe place and to teach them how to handle emotions in a healthy way. Part of our training was to take part in a SAP group. For seven sessions, I met with women that I had never met before and discussed a wide range of topics. The experience cleansed me and helped me to see my life in a whole new way.

One thing that SAP teaches is that while one person speaks, everyone else is silent. No words of approval or condemnation. No sounds of any kind, no advise. Nothing but listening. That in itself was the hardest but the best thing that I learned all week long. Sometimes you just need someone to listen. I've learned that in our desire to help, we often do more harm than good. Being able to have someone truly hear you and not put their two cents in is such a blessing. It allowed me to listen to myself and what I was saying. It allowed me to say things that I have never vocalized before because I was afraid of people's reactions. In listening, there was no reaction to worry about. In listening, I learned that we are SO much more alike than we are different! In listening, we show that we really do care!

I walk away from this week freer than I have felt in so long. Emotionally and physically, I feel lighter. Chapters are closed and the only way I see is forward. Even though this is not its intended context, I have a greater appreciation for James 1:19 - "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stop Doubting and Believe!

In the past few months, the idea of believing in God and actually believing Him have been a reoccurring thought. Yes, I do believe in Him and what He says but do I actually believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that all things will come to pass? For a while I would answer 100% "YES!" Then this morning, I realized that my "YES!" has turned into a tiny "yes?"

I have lately slipped into the dangerous lands of the pity party. You know - table for one. I've been looking at many aspects of my life and, unfortunately, I can see where I have slowly started giving up hope for what lies ahead. I have started accepting present realities as permanent instead of looking at what is to come. The scariest part of all is that as I have begun to slip into silent acceptance, I have become just that in prayer - silent. There are things that I have not prayed about in quite a while because I have forgotten that God does not desire for me to stay where I am or who I am. I've lost sight that He desires my growth and change in Him. He may not have in store what I hope for but that doesn't mean that I stop seeking and asking. He never desires stagnation or acceptance in the face of defeat. He asks for more. He asks for anticipation of the unknown and unshakable faith that KNOWS He has more in store. Even though it is scary and hard, whatever the outcome is, He steadys us for it in prayer.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." - Psalm 27:14

Monday, June 09, 2008

Plugging Another Blog

Last night at church, I ran into an old friend. This is definitely another post for another day but I just have time for a quick one right now. Throughout the course of catching up and shooting the breeze, he plugged a blog that I knew I had to check out. I looked at it today and I am hooked. I know that this blog thing is getting out of hand for me but this one is SO worth it! I thought about my dear friends Jeff and Alissa when I read them because I can totally see their humor in it. It is called "Stuff White People Like". If you cannot laugh at yourself or stereotypes about middle class white America, this is not the blog for you. It is SO funny, sarcastic, and, in most cases for me, hits the nail on the head. There is a lot on it so I click on the full list tab at the top and pick a topic. The topics range all over the place (Indie Music and Bumper Stickers are my favorite so far). There are a few that are not right on but I can still laugh and appreciate them for the generalities that they provide. My favorite part of each topic is the "helpful hint" part of the post for how to get in good with the white person. Check it out (linked on the side of my blog under PostSecret).

Saturday, June 07, 2008


No - not the kind you are thinking.... I was just writing and I noticed today's date: 06/07/08. How fun is that!

I am such a nerd!

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Post for Dad

From before I can remember, Dad has been a subscriber to National Geographic. I've never really gotten into it or understood it. Every time I looked at an issue (which wasn't often), it was to see the cool pictures. At work, I've often used some of their films to show my students the interesting animals that are a rarity in our world.

Now that I am on my own and have a wide range of cable channels, I often find myself watching the National Geographic channel. It isn't something that I seek out but if I'm looking at the guide and something catches my eye, I flip over or DVR it. I've learned that there are quite a few very cool things to watch. There is one show called "Is It Real?" that explores folklore and tales for validity. On my DVR right now is about an archaeological dig and finding as they relate to Stonehenge. Ever since Dr. Long's class at LCU, I've been interested in archeology. It is SO interesting to see what culture was like. National Geographic does such an amazing job on sharing these things in easy to understand levels.

Through watching several shows, I've learned that I am a two-faced fan of National Geographic. I am intrigued by their findings in the natural and archaeological worlds but I have a hard time watching anything they do related to the Bible. I've tried to watch a few things but I end up getting upset or just frustrated. I'm confused by this. How can I take such a trusting view of so many subjects and then reject so much of what they say about biblical findings? If feels hypocritical to like one aspect and disregard another. I guess looking at truth through skeptical eyes makes me skeptical about the source.

I think I'll stick with Stonehenge for now.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Reassurance at the Bar

Over the past 24 hours I have become incredibly aware of the fact that in 19 short months I will be turning 30. Now I know that this is premature and those of you that are well past 30 may be shaking your heads. However, I'm beginning to think that it won't be that exciting of an event for me. I've had all kinds of thoughts racing around in my thick skull about where I am in life vs. where I thought I would be by now. Even though I really do have a good life and I know I am where God wants me, I still have that nag that I have somehow gotten in my own way. However, God is faithful in the funniest of ways.

Today was my last day for the school year. The room is boxed and moved. I am banned from working on it for about 6 weeks. To celebrate, I decided not to cook but to call something in for dinner. The restaurant that I ordered from had pick up in the bar area. As I went that way, God blessed me and made me laugh. Yep - in the bar.

So I went to get my order and I noticed that there were several older people enjoying happy hour. All but one had silver hair and were obviously good friends. They were very cute and I watched them the whole 5 minutes I was there. The bartender was very nice and seemed to have a relationship with them. He was obviously good at his job. On the end where I picked up my food was a woman in about her mid to late 40s. All I can say is that the girl was working it (or at least trying to). She took long drags from a cigarette and attempted seductive looks towards the bartender. Either he was oblivious or just let it go. I think it was the second. Anyway.... She tried so hard to strike up conversation. My personal favorites were when she asked him, "So, you ever been on Craig's List?" as if it were the hip, cool place. He just smiled and said that he thought he had heard of it. He then turned his attention to my food and bill. Then less than a minute later, a new song hit the radio. Her response was to sit up straighter and sway on her stool. "Don't you love this song!? It's Madonna and Justin Timberlake. It's a very sexy song" Once again, the bartender took her in stride with a smile and a, "That's not really my type of music."

Poor lady. She was SO clueless! She reeked of desperation. As I thanked the bartender and walked away with my dinner, I couldn't help but smile. I wanted to complement to guy on his tact and politeness - I was very impressed. At the same time, I wanted to shake her. At almost 30, no matter how much I may doubt myself and the unknown of what may lie ahead, I haven't reached that point yet. Thank goodness! I said a prayer of thanks as I got in the car. Thanks for a head on my shoulders and a shred of self respect. God will provide in His time - even if it is just reassurance in the bar of a restaurant.