Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Annal 108: Tale from Rachel and Leah

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday, as I know I have.  I feel thoroughly spoiled this Christmas--my brother and sister-in-law decided to use their airmiles and send me to visit my cousin a few provinces over for my reading week.  Talk about exciting!!!

Yesterday I drove out to visit one of my closest friends in a nearby town--who, by the way, gave me an amazing present.  She took a poem I had written as a Facebook status a little while ago, and put it with a picture she had taken that matched.  She then put this picture in a frame for me.  Definitely the closest I have ever come to feeling famous!

On my way there I decided to listen to a Tim Keller podcast.  It was entitled "The Struggle of Love" and was about the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.  This has always been a favourite story of mine because Leah is my favourite Bible character.  My heart always went out to the woman who was unloved.  My favourite part of the story was that God saw her heart and her rejection and He honoured her.  She was the ancestor of Jesus, not Rachel the loved.

But that wasn't what Keller's sermon was about.  He was talking about how each of us feel like we are missing something in our lives, or like we have been robbed of things we want, and so we are constantly searching for something that will redeem us, that will save us, that will make us feel valued and loved.  Jacob had just run away from home where he had tricked his father and robbed his brother.  He meets Rachel who is apparently a total babe and wants to marry her.  He even works seven years for her.  He goes through with his wedding only to wake up in the morning and discover that he was married to Leah... not Rachel. 

Leah is unloved.  So she tries to find meaning by having children.  With Reuben, her first son, she says "Surely my husband will love me now" (Genesis 29:32).  She has Simeon and again talks about her misery.  With Levi, her third, she says "Now at last my husband will become attached to me" (Genesis 29:34).

Then something happens.  Somehow there is a change, and this change occurs with the birth of Judah, her fourth son.  With him she says, "This time I will praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:35), and then she stopped having children.

Keller talks about how each of us is searching for a "Rachel."  We are looking out for some sort of an ideal that will make us feel important, make us feel like we are worth something.  For Jacob this was the real Rachel.  For Leah it was her children.  The problem with looking for a "Rachel" is that we always wake up in the morning to discover what we have is a "Leah."  We look to jobs, people, sex, whatever to complete us, and for a brief moment it seems like those things will complete us.

But they don't.

Leah made a decision to praise the Lord, to focus on Him, and when that happened her identity stopped being tied up in her children and what her husband thought of her.

What I find interesting about this story is that Leah doesn't learn to praise God and then everything goes swell for her.  By the next chapter she is feeling threatened by her younger sister yet again and having more children--again with the hope that her husband will honour and love her.

I think we are all like that.  We all look to other people or things to make us feel important.  And then for some of us we come to that realization that those things will not complete us.  Only God can do that.  That doesn't mean life is just swell after that--we will still struggle.

I think with Christian singles this is an especially huge issue.  We are told to wait for "the one" and end up with this idealistic dream that "the one" is going to save us, complete us, make everything perfect.  We are waiting for a "Rachel."  The problem with that is that no human being is ever going to complete you--and that is a lot to expect of someone. 

I am also reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller right now (my dad read it and felt I had to read it too).  He talks about this concept of "the one" in it as well.  A very common view of marriage is that of finding someone who will complete you.  But this is wrong.  Even if you find someone who seems to fit the bill, the fact of the matter is that not so long after you get married you will notice that both of you will change--and suddenly you aren't that same person anymore.

These are things I wish people had've told me growing up in youth group.  I wish there had've been more of a focus on finding your identity in Christ.  The truth is, in the last few months He has made me feel more valued and loved than any man has ever done so.  I have dated and have felt special but what happens when it ended?  My self-esteem took a flying leap over the edge of a cliff and was dashed on the rocks below. 

But that doesn't happen with God.  In the last few months He has shown me an acceptance and a beauty that I have  never found elsewhere.  And the best part about it is that He doesn't change, so I know it's not going to be a situation where He gets to know me a little bit better and then decides He doesn't love me anymore.  He knows me better than I know myself and loves me anyway.

I suppose what I am trying to say is don't look to other people or things to be your "Rachel" because it won't be long before you realize that what you have is a "Leah."  It is only in saying "This time I will praise the Lord" and living that out, that your life finds the meaning you are searching for.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Annal 107: Tale from the Sculpture

I can remember once coming up with a description of my appearance that while sounding somewhat self-deprecating I felt was quite true.  I figured that God is this sculptor and sometimes He creates these sculptures that are universally accepted as beautiful.  You just can't deny it.  And sometimes you get a me--what I would classify as an experiment.  "Hmm... what would happen if I combined a wide nose with flaring nostrils with wavy blond hair?  And then gave her this medium bone structure and short waist?  Now I could give her big boobs to offset this kind of build, but why would I do that?  But I'll give her some decent looking calves."

I'm sure this isn't exactly what God was saying when He formed me--although it could be!

I hadn't thought of this for a long time.  And then this afternoon it came back to me.  I had met a friend downtown for coffee and was walking home.  The sun was setting, there was a nip air, and I thought it was just the most beautiful of evenings. 

A little while ago I had referenced Oscar Wilde in a Facebook status and his take that beauty is determined by the critic.  A friend had asked me about my view on this.

For whatever reason I was mulling this over on my sunset walk home.  Is beauty subjective?  Are we the ones who determine whether something is beautiful?  If we determine something is not lovely, does that mean it's not lovely?

So while thinking this over I remembered my view of me as an experimental sculpture.  And suddenly some pieces began to fall into place.

I've described several times how I will go for walks and feel like I am remembering something I have never quite known.  But there is another sense I have had over the last few months.  And it has been about myself.  I've been gradually realizing who I am and hitting a point where I have felt comfortable in my own skin.  As if I have been remembering a beauty I never quite knew.

My take on the subjectivity of beauty is that everything is beautiful.  But each of us appreciates different aspects of it.  I find the stark bareness of the tundra beautiful.  A brooding, overcast sky is breath-taking.  I love snow.  But not everyone finds that beautiful.  Does that mean it isn't beautiful?  In my 20 questions blog one question asked if I preferred Norman Rockwell or Picasso.  I said Rockwell.  Does that mean that Picasso isn't beautiful?  Who am I to determine what is beautiful and what is not?  But I know that I appreciate different things, and find beauty in some things that others do not.

I began to apply this to myself.  I know I am not the sculpture that everyone looks at and agrees is the epitome of beautiful.  But does that mean I am not beautiful?

For so long all I wanted was affirmation.  I longed for others to tell me I was beautiful.  But I think God has been slowly teaching me that I can't do that.  I have begun to realize that I do have a beauty.  Maybe it is not a universal beauty, but that doesn't mean I don't possess a beauty.

It makes me sad that it has taken so long for me to realize this.  I think of the years I spent leading youth and young adults, telling girls that they were beautiful and that their beauty was not determined by what people did or didn't say to them.  But I never got it myself.

Until this afternoon.

I don't think I have ever met a woman who didn't suffer with bouts of low self-esteem.  And I wish with all my heart that they could realize what I realized this afternoon.  That they could know that they are beautiful.  And while they may feel, like me, that they are more of an experimentation sculpture, that does not for one second mean they are not beautiful.  Maybe not everyone appreciates the art that is them.  But that does not determine their beauty.  Their beauty is there.  They have a grand Sculptor who looks at them with pride.  And there will be those who appreciate their beauty.  But that does not determine it.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Annal 106: Tale from all my Children

You know that scene in that book or movie where the heroine returns home and all of the older ladies of her church/community ask her about her love life or when she is going to have children?  Well I got to have my own variation of that last night.

My home church was having a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for its tweens group.  They did a lovely job of serving and the food was quite tasty (and this is coming from the woman who was sick on spaghetti as a child and as a result has a psychological dislike for the food--I can eat it and my tastebuds will tell me it is yummy, but my brain will tell me I don't like it).  My pastor's little girl was carrying around a baby doll throughout the evening and for some reason decided I was the only person present capable of taking care of this doll for her.  She would randomly appear at the side of my chair and hand me her doll.  I then had to cuddle it and give it back.  She stopped doing this just in time for another little girl to come up to me.  This darling motioned to a little boy who was running around and asked me if he was mine.  After pointing out his real mother to this girl, she too decided I needed a child.  She went off in search of a different baby doll and would repeatedly give this child to me to watch as well.

So for whatever reason, everything about me last night screamed motherhood.  I hadn't realized I seemed to maternal!

I then returned home after the banquet and my one brother and sister-in-law had come over to celebrate my dad's birthday.  My sister-in-law pulled out a box of mints, handed them to me, and told me she saw them and thought of me.

And so I thought I should share the image with all of you!  Every time I looked at the package last night I couldn't help but break out laughing!

And so thus far I am really enjoying being home for Christmas.  I had only a brief moment of true awkwardness when I ran into a friend at the grocery store who appeared to really not want to chat with me... at all.  Making the decision to leave the church I left last year definitely has impacted relationships I had through that church, and while that is hard and I sometimes feel as if I am walking around with some sort of scarlet letter on me, the adjustment to being back has gone smoother than I thought it would.

I am convinced that one day I will right a story based on some of these experiences, and by golly the co-worker who is convinced it is some great evil that I am single and the little girls who want me to have babies will make their way into this story!

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Annal 105: Tale from the Toothbrush Song

I have returned home.
You know in the movies when the main character returns home for the holiday and there is a strange sense of foreboding mixed with excitement?  They are excited to return home and see their family and friends, but at the same time they know they have changed, that others have changed, and that in some cases there are friendships that will never be the same?  Definitely how I was feeling when coming home.
That being said, my excitement FAR outweighed any foreboding and so far being back has been wonderful.
Brushing my teeth with my oldest nephew after dinner.  We’re in the bathroom, him standing on the toilet and me beside him, both of us brushing and looking at each other.  I finally let out a “You brush your teeth, ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch ch ch” (please tell me other people out there know the teeth brushing song).  The best part was that he learned this song in kindergarten this year so he started singing a “When you wake up in the morning at a quarter to five...”
What followed was an amazing duet with the two of us singing the song and then pushing our cheeks together for the “ch ch ch” part.  It was pretty cute!
I then took my youngest sister to work and stopped by the deli.  I told them I would work the 23rd and 24th to help out with trays.  After being told that they haven't yet decided at what ungodly hour to have me come in (I think I hear a couple of graveyard shifts calling my name), I had another co-worker announce her pregnancy and another lean over the counter and none-too-quietly ask, "So, do you have a boyfriend yet?"

I love how she makes sure she asks this song in front of a group of guys.  The subtlety of some people, eh?  After assuring her that the majority of guys who are in my classes are multiple years younger than me and that I was indeed still single, I laughed and headed out.

And now I'm sitting in my parents' living room, typing away to all of you.  I had a nice visit with my dad while he cooled down from his workout, and my sister is currently reading some John Grisham on the couch.  The Christmas tree is lit, music is playing in the background, and I can see through to the backyard where the trees are strung with white lights. 

It feels good to be home, even if I know that whenever I'm at the deli a certain co-worker will no doubt be thrusting me into the arms of any man who happens by, no matter their age, hair line, or how many of their teeth they are still in possession of.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Annal 104: Tale from Candy Cane Lane

So today was the day my sister and I have been waiting for for the last few weeks.  We both finished exams and so spent the day in almost complete relaxation.  First we had to go shopping this morning to grab a few last minute things before we head home tomorrow.  After that we just sat in each other's company chatting while we both played video games (we are so cool).  The highlight of the day?  What we did this evening.

At about five o'clock we hopped in the car and drove to Starbucks where we both got the Christmassy drinks of our choice (yes, another Peppermint Mocha for me).  We then headed over to Candy Cane Lane.

This is an area of several streets here that go all out when it comes to decorating for Christmas.  And we are talking ALL out!  My personal favourite was the home with Santa keeping watch over baby Jesus.

So we sipped our drinks and walked along the streets--with Flat Stanley, of course!

If you look close you will notice some snow on my one pant leg.  This was a result of my grace and poise.  As my sister and I turned onto one street my feet went out from under me and I was on the ground.  Amazingly enough, I didn't spill any of my drink.  But I do have some very wet pants thanks to this occasion!

Honestly, I could have walked the streets forever.  The snow was falling, the weather was brisk but not too cold, and the number of times I wanted to hold out my arms and start spinning beneath all of the lights were too many to count.

It was a wonderful end to a perfectly relaxing day, a day where you just feel that joy that is meant to be present this time of year.

Even if it did involve me falling in an ungraceful flop on the ground.  Thanks, Lord, for another reminder of my foible that has not yet thrust me into the arms of waiting man... Flat Stanley excluded ;)

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Annal 103: Tale from a Mayan Hot Chocolate

Have you ever had a Mayan hot chocolate?  Incredibly rich with the slightest hint of chili powder in it?  I had my first today at a delightful gourmet chocolate shop and cafe, and it was truly a thing of beauty.  I even shared some with Flat Stanely.

After this we both went for a haircut.  Okay, I got my hair done and Flat Stanley took a nap in my purse.

And of course there was plenty of video gaming occurring both before and after this little excursion.

I slept in until eight this morning, and then did my devotions with a wonderful cup of coffee and some pretty amazing big hair.  Looked something like a zombie with eighties hair.  It was pretty sweet.

Today in my devotions I was finally done with the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.  I say finally because the truth is I wasn't enjoying what I was reading.  Why?  Because it seemed like Jesus constantly had to mention things like "forgive" and "pray for those who persecute you" and other such gems.  To be honest, I really didn't enjoy reading those parts, because I knew they applied to me.  So today I was all excited to be reading about things like healing. 

Except what struck me about the miracles Jesus did was the compassion that He had for everyone.

I never understood Jonah's problem.  I mean, God decided to spare Ninevah.  Awesome, right?

This week God has really been calling me to work through my anger toward all that has happened.  I woke up Sunday morning and was patting myself on the back that I had prayed my way through anger and that I could now go onto something else.  Instead my devotions have been filled with words of forgiveness, prayer, and compassion.  I have had to start praying for those I really don't want to pray for.

And it is hard.

The truth is, I don't want to see these people succeed.  I want to see justice.  I feel like Jonah sulking outside Ninevah because God isn't handling the situation my way.

When I went for a walk yesterday I started to pray, and I have to admit I was praying through gritted teeth--it was really hard for me to do.  And then I realized something: if this whole situation were to turn out the way I wanted it to would God be glorified?

I was struck this morning by the compassion Jesus had for those He healed.  He was glorified because of His ability to show this compassion.  He could have snubbed everyone, told them they were horrible people, and then sent some lightning bolts to blast them all.

But He didn't.

He healed them.

He didn't come as the deliverer that people thought he was going to come as--swords blazing while bringing judgment on those who were persecuting Israel.

Hmmm... something to think about.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Annal 102: Tale from a Perfect Moment in Time

I am done exams.

Did you feel the same breath of fresh air that I just did?  Wasn't it fantastic?

I wrote my last two finals yesterday and now begins three weeks of Christmas holiday bliss.

Want to know how I spent my first evening of freedom?

I went to a friend's house where we ate homemade popcorn, drank hot chocolate with massive amounts of whipped cream on top, and watched The Holiday.  This is somewhat of a tradition for us as this is our third year watching it.  Then I went home, played some WoW, and went to bed.

This morning I got up to take some friends to the airport, and then on my way home stopped by Starbucks.  Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE my landlords?  I came home yesterday to discover they had given us not only a Christmas card, but a $20 Starbucks card... one for me and one for my sister.  So I sat down at the table for breakfast and my devotions to the most delicious aroma of a peppermint mocha.

I now know that Christmas has arrived!

I played more video games, finished a book, went for the most delectable walk this afternoon (snow everywhere, not warm enough to melt anything, but not cold enough that I needed a hat), and played some more video games.

For some this may sound boring.

For me this was a little taste of heaven on earth.

The last two weeks have felt crazy between exams and all of the emotional crap that has been going on.  I know it's not over--take this week for example.  I woke up Sunday morning congratulating myself on having completed a week of praying and working through my anger.  Then I started reading in Matthew about forgiveness, and about loving your enemies.

I tried to inform God that I had worked through this.

He just said one thing to me.

Pray for them.


This is not easy.  I went for my walk today and had to pray through gritted teeth.  But I was able to pray... and a week ago I couldn't have done that.

The point is, even with all of the junk that has been going on, I felt as if today I had moments that were about as close to "perfect" moments as I may get.  They were moments of complete joy and peace.  People must have thought I was crazy when I would randomly start skipping on my walk.  Or the numerous times I almost slipped and would burst out grinning or laughing afterwards.

Today was just one of those days that you hold onto and try to always remember, so that no matter how dark other times will get, you can remember that there is always hope.

And so here's to my perfect moment in time.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Annal 101: Tale from Twenty Questions

I am supposed to be studying for my final on Chinese politics.  But the truth is I could use a little break, and this seemed like a perfect escape!  One blog that I follow, "Wayfaring Girl on a Mission," posted these 20 questions along with her answers, and then encouraged us to do the same.  So for those of you who don't know me well, here is a little look into my psyche.  For those of you who think you know me well... we shall see ;)

1.  What's the nerdiest and/or weirdest thing about you? 
When I start to get really stressed out while studying, I will often play some World of Warcraft and refer to certain regions in the game as being my "winter home."  I will also randomly start speaking to myself in an accent.
2. If you could live in a fictional universe from any book, movie,  or television show, what would it be?
There are so many I could pick for this!  However, I just finished watching the movie Serenity last night, and as such I would have to pick the world as represented in it.  Space meets the old West...  men ride horses while shooting lasers... it works for me!
3. Little or big, practical or frivolous, what are a few of your favorite items in your house?
I have a wall hanging in my room that I bought in Ireland four years ago with the Irish blessing on it and I love waking up to see it!  I would also have to say my Rochester and Knightley coffee cups... because I love drinking out of their faces!
4. Do you like animated movies? If so, what is your favorite?
I do like animated movies, and my favourite would probably be a toss-up between How to Train your Dragon, Tangled, and Mickey's Christmas Carol.  
5. What is your least favorite household chore?
Vacuuming.  I will mop, I will clean the bathroom, I will even do dishes, but I utterly DESPISE vacuuming my house.  It drives me batty.
6. What's your favorite thing to get at Starbucks 
(or favorite coffee shop)?
A peppermint mocha from Starbucks.  It's like tasting Christmas in a cup... my world is at peace when I am drinking it.
7. What is your favorite pizza topping?
Cheese and pepperoni (and the rare time when bacon is available)
8. Waffles or pancakes?
Truth be told I prefer crepes, but out of these two I would have to say waffles.  Especially when they involve ice cream and berries... yummmmm...
9. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
If I am being honest I will have to say I wanted to be a maid.  My brothers loved it because I would offer to clean their room for them for free.  Shortly after this phase teaching developed an appeal and that appeal has remained (minus a brief period in time where I wanted to be a forensic pathologist--this was only because I liked dissections in high school biology).
10. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
I love baking!  I have begun to enjoy cooking this year, and have actually tried different things out that have turned out to taste good, but baking is still my preference (which is why my freezer has lemon squares and haystacks in it right now).
11. What would be your dream job?
If I had my way I would just write full-time.  I live in this strange creative bubble, where plot lines are constantly unfolding in my head as I do the most mundane of duties. 
12. Do you make your bed every morning?
Typically.  It depends on how stressful the semester is... or if it is laundry day and I am washing my sheets.
13. Picasso or Norman Rockwell?
Definitely Norman Rockwell.
14. Do you like carpet, tile, or hardwood floors? 
I love hardwood floors.  Whenever I walk across them in barefeet I am suddenly transported to another time... especially if I am carrying a candle at the same time.  I can pretend I am Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley... hardwood definitely provides me with more scope for the imagination!
15. What is your least favorite thing about yourself??
I would probably say my nose.  I have my father's wide, Dutch nose, but mixed with my Great Gran's flaring nostrils.  Awesome mix, isn't it?
16. Last movie you watched??
I watched Serenity just last night... and almost teared up... gosh I love that movie.
17. Computer or Television??
Seeing as I can use me television only to watch movies or play console games right now, I am going to have to go with computer.
18. Favorite Sound?
Pouring rain.  Nothing beats being nestled under a blanket with a good book and your window opened just a crack so you can hear the water raining down from heaven... love it...
19. If you could have a $5000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be? 
Right now I would want to know if this includes the university because that would be a nice amount toward my fees!  Otherwise I would probably say either a Chapters or else Amazon (because then I could order just about ANYTHING I wanted!)
20. If you could be any Jane Austen fictional character who would you choose (or if you would prefer any fictional character)?     
I sometimes feel like I identify with Anne Elliot more from Persuasion, but if I could pick any of Austen's characters I would want Emma.  Despite for her shortcomings she never gives up.  I also think her story contains the best romance--she marries a man she has known all of her life who has always been her closest friend.  They know each other inside and out, and it is from this friendship that they love grows.  Amazing!!!

Alright, so if you have a blog, I am going to encourage you to copy these 20 questions and answer them as well--it is a great way for people to get to understand a little more of your quirks!  If you don't have a blog, feel free to comment on any of these and how they compare with you!!

1.  What's the nerdiest and/or weirdest thing about you? 
2. If you could live in a fictional universe from any book, movie,  or television show, what would it be?
3. Little or big, practical or frivolous, what are a few of your favorite items in your house?
4. Do you like animated movies? If so, what is your favorite?  
5. What is your least favorite household chore?
6. What's your favorite thing to get at Starbucks 
(or favorite coffee shop)?
7. What is your favorite pizza topping?
8. Waffles or pancakes?
9. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
10. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
11. What would be your dream job?
12. Do you make your bed every morning?
13. Picasso or Norman Rockwell?
14. Do you like carpet, tile, or hardwood floors? 
15. What is your least favorite thing about yourself??
16. Last movie you watched??
17. Computer or Television??
18. Favorite Sound?
19. If you could have a $5000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be? 
20. If you could be any Jane Austen fictional character who would you choose (or if you would prefer any fictional character)?       

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Annal 100: Tale from Immanuel

I never cease to be amazed at God's love and care.

This Sunday was my church's first week of Advent but they are doing something a little different with it.  Each week they are studying a different "profile" of Jesus.  So Sunday we looked at Him as Messiah. 

But the main point my pastor tried to drive home was the concept of identity (sound familiar?) and how we need to cement our identity in Christ.  His first point about this really struck me.

He said we need Someone who has been where we are and has made it.  Hebrews 2:17 talks about how Jesus was fully human and learned to live as one of us.

I have been trying to think of what to do for my devotions once I finished reading Ezekiel.  This Sunday I was given some inspiration.  I'm working my way through the Gospels and looking at who they say Jesus is.  Today was my first day in Matthew.  In chapter one I saw that He is the King of all kings, the One who fulfilled prophecy, the saving One.  And He is Immanuel... God with us.  God in human form.  God who experienced all of the hurts and rejections that we face--and to a greater extent.  But through His suffering Jesus showed obediance.

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep.  I grabbed my phone to check the time and discovered I had a new email.  It was from someone I never would have expected to hear from and it gave me the encouragement I needed to get through today.  Because someone told me they were thinking of me, praying for me, and hurting too.

God has given me several reminders today that He is not only with me through this, but that I am not alone in my pain.  He suffered--and pulled through.  He sent me words I needed to hear to let me know that there is more support for me and my family than I could have dreamed of.

I went for a walk and I railed at Him.  I went through my list of everything I was angry about with this whole situation.  I wept.  And I put it to rest at His feet.  I told Him I would need His help to keep it at His feet, but that I did want it to stay there--I don't want to hold onto my anger.

Immanuel... God with us... God in human form... God who was rejected, scorned, lied about, had His words twisted by those against Him, was beaten, arrested, and killed... God who loved, who forgave, who showed obediance even in His suffering, and who was willing to give His life for the very people who so hated Him.

I want to be like Him.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Annal 99: Tale from a Wise Friend

I have assumed the position.  Christmas lights are plugged in, blankets are piled on top of me, and my cup of tea is at my side.  I now feel ready to write.

Last night was my small group Christmas party and I made sure that everyone around received a stunning deplay of what can only be termed my "stellar grace and poise."  Sitting in a comfy chair, I watched as my pastor spilled his drink all over Flat Stanley.

Horrific, I know.

So I jumped up to rescue my beloved friend, but instead managed to tangle my feet and collapse in a heap on the floor.


After the laughing cleared people checked to make sure I was okay.  Seriously though, pretty sure God is getting rid of some pride on my part ;)

But then came today.

I woke up this morning and felt sick.  My head was pounding, I was nauseated, I had an ear ache--it just wasn't pretty.  Best of all?  I had to make my way up to the university to write my first final (which only took me forty minutes so that has to count for something).  My sleep was crappy last night.  I was drained, but I tossed and turned the whole time.

So when I came home from my final I curled up in my bed under all of my blankets and I tried to nap.  Which only partially worked.  More than anything I spent two and a half hours in a calm state of half-sleep.  And it was definitely what I needed.

I think today I am better able to handle everything that has been going on.

I know I am grieving.  And for as long as I was in school and the prospect of returning to my hometown was far off, I could live in denial.  But with the end of classes and the knowledge that I will be returning in less than two weeks, denial soon gave way to anger.

Last night I talked with a woman I trust about everything that has been going on and she gave some wonderful advice.  She told me to write down all of the emotions I feel about this issue.  And then instead of trying to tackle all of them at once--and drowning because of it--pick one.  Then she told me to pray and work my way through that one emotion for a week.  So that's what I did.

This week is anger.

I know my anger is what is keeping me from being able to work through a lot of this.  I can't get to the fear and the hurt and the rejection that is also associated with this situation until I can hand over my frustration to God.  And it's hard to give up.  Because I know what will come after I let go of this and that scares me.

It's hard, and it's a struggle.  But all I can do right now is spend time before the Throne, begging for strength from the only One who can supply it and praying for the ability to let it go.

For those of you who have been praying--thank you.  And please don't stop. 

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Annal 98: Tale from an Old Wound

I woke up this morning and started getting ready for church and felt like I was going to drown in a sea of emotions.  Anger, hurt, bitterness, distress.  I felt like no matter how hard I swam I couldn't overcome the waves.  My sky became darker, the waves higher and more violent, and my feeling of loss deeper.

I know there are people everywhere who deal with grief.  And not just the grief of losing of loved one but over the loss of something else.  That is my grief.

I have mentioned in a few posts my struggle to forgive for what happened to my mother in the spring.  The thing is, that whole situation goes so much deeper.  Things were going on long before my mother lost her job... her firing was simply the culmination of it all.  And we are still dealing with the fall-out from all of this.

I feel like today I am grieving so much.  I am grieving relationships that were lost, opinions that were lost, justice that was thrown aside, the ability to think that was casually disposed of.

I am hurting today.

Part of that hurt stems from the fact that I need to forgive.  I know this.  Not for the sake of those who did this but for my own.  But I don't want to.

Everything within me cries out for justice.  For the truth to be revealed.

Instead justice and truth seem to be things forgotton.

As I write this I am also lecturing myself.  Who am I to withold forgiveness when it has been so freely given to me?  Who am I to demand justice when God could demand it of me?

I know all of this.

But I still hurt.

My wound was reopened today and at this moment it feels like won't heal.  I know it will, and I know I want it to heal properly... but am I willing to take those steps toward it?

God, help me because I can't do this on my own... I have no strength and no ability of my own to carry through with this... I need You...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Annal 97: Tale from the Onion Peel

Chronicler is like an onion.... she has layers...

I do believe it is time for a brain break.  I have spent the last three hours making up study notes for my class on the persecution of minorities in Middle Ages--not the most uplifting of subjects to take notes in.  But tomorrow is the last day of classes, and then I just have six finals in the course of one week... and then freedom... until the next semester starts...

Today was somewhat of a blah day.  I got my first essay back and while I didn't do terrible on it, I definitely didn't do as well as I had hoped.  So I headed for the gym feeling like a complete failure of a student.

It's hard being in school right now.  Last year I got a taste of teaching and I loved it!  Everything right now reminds me of my students and makes me want to be teaching them now.  I even started singing some of the songs today that I had made up for them last year (because all cool people rewrite the words to songs for their students).

What makes this so hard is that everything I am learning right now doesn't pertain to what I will be teaching at all.  So while it is interesting, it is really hard having to take classes that don't apply at all.  And to be frank, I just want to be done!  I miss teaching...

Well, I got off the bus at the end of my school day and was walking home when a little lightbulb went off in my head.  See, for a few years my identity was wrapped up in my church involvement: playing piano, leading a young adults group, being a youth leader... all of that sort of stuff.  When I went back to school and stepped back from those things, I returned to discover that I no longer had a real identity at my church.  I was just floating.  That part of my identity was stripped away from me.

You have all been with me over the last few months as God has been peeling away my identity as a "single."

Well, today I realized there was yet another layer to be pulled away.  I did quite well academically in high school and that was what I was known for.  I'm in the humanities and I hate writing essays--not really a good mix.  And I'm one of those people who can sometimes pull off a good mark, but typically no matter how hard I try, they are always mediocre.

For some this probably seems silly, but for all of my scholastic life this has been something that I have clung to.  I keep papers I do well on so I can stare at them and tell myself that that is still part of who I am.

The part of my identity that was based on how well I do in school is being pulled away.

And it's hard.

Suddenly, everything I have used to define myself is being taken from me and I'm not sure what is left.

This whole "letting God define me" thing isn't as easy as it seemed to be.  But I know this is necessary and it something I definitely want.

I'm curious to see what will be left of me as this onion is peeled (awesome... I love referring to myself like I'm a strong smelling vegetable... and using the same reference as an ogre...).

Such is the life of a Christian single.