March 30, 2009

Excerpt No 4

I'm almost done with that incredibly long reflection I wrote a while ago. I had an email from a friend this morning that reminded me of these things once again. It's so easy to forget where my focus should lots of ways it's been scattered about this semester. So here's the last chunk of this thing. It's good to re-read it and remember to what I've been called.

The path is this, and this alone: to love the Lord first with great energy and passion, and through that – and only that! – to let His love overflow in me and on to the people in my life. The things that change through this formula are this: for one, I will put my energy into loving the One who will always satisfy me fully. I will not face being left alone; I will not face feeling unloved or under-valued. I will be enveloped in the all-consuming love of my creator who has called me His own, His beloved, and His child. What a radical thing, to believe that in its actuality.

Secondly, the overflow of love will come naturally out of my love for Him, meaning it will not spring from the desire to feel loved. That desire, in fact, will already be met, leaving only the desire to show selfless love. Knowing that I’m satisfied in Christ allows me to love my friends and family without the cruel undertow of unsatisfied expectations. I have to re-direct my thoughts to Him, instead of to me. How is making this gift, writing this letter, sending this message going to bring glory to God? Am I doing it for the sake of a response? Or am I doing it because God has gifted me with talents and with friendship, and the natural outflow of these things is a letter, phone call, or gift for a friend? Do I honestly love them through Him? Or do I love myself through the works of my hands?

To do this – to love in this way – would be unbelievably transformative. It goes beyond the words and gifts, and is connected to every part of love and friendship. Selfless love can only come through the honest love of Christ. When I finally invest in Him, then I’ll be able to share the things I feel without them making me feel guilty or foolish. When I’m loving my friends selflessly, I don’t have to worry about talking about the things on my heart, because I’m not doing it to get their approval or to hear them tell me I’m awesome. I’m doing it because of honest feelings and the need for community. I want to be able to talk about my mom without feeling like I’m digging for pity and attention. I want to be able to sit down at my computer and not feel chained to Facebook. I want to be able to make a phone call without wondering if I seem like a creep because I called earlier in the week. I want to send an email without worrying about looking clingy. I want to let go of this selfishness, because when I finally do, I will be able to be the friend I want to be. And I think that I’ve been that friend in some ways, but it’s come at a cost. To lift the burden…oh, how wonderful! What a relief, to love the Lord first and freely, and then to love my friends without anxiety or pain. To be satisfied in Christ and in His love, instead of weighing and judging every message or letter – that would turn my world upside down.

It's true. It would. Ahh, so much of this still resonates with me...I have so much left to learn. So much in me needs to change. But it will come in time, effort, and God's grace.

March 29, 2009

Grove City and Grocrey Bags

Well, the weekend is drawing to a close. And it was a very enjoyable one, that's for certain. I went out to Grove City, which included seeing a Jinks' senior recital, raspberry chocolate chip pancakes, something called dessert theater, and just nice times spent with good friends. My trips to the other side of the state are equal parts exhausting and refreshing. On one hand, it's a lot of time and money to get out there...but on the other hand, it's so good to recharge with some people who love you.

So now I'm back at school and getting in gear for the week. I'm pretty much over the sickness that plagued me for the last several days, and this week should be full of fun. What fun, you ask? Well, on Tuesday I'll be spending time with Amanda who is home on spring break. I'm also making stuff for the Edible Art Contest on Thursday with College Beth. And on Thursday I get to go on a field trip with my kids at my early field school! AND I don't have my first class tomorrow, and I'm class-free on Friday! Wonderful :)

On a separate note, I just found this website demonstrating how to use plastic grocery bags as yarn. And can I just say, THANK GOODNESS. I try to be as environmentally conscious as possible, but sometimes I just fail miserably. One really obvious manifestation of that failing is the rather large pile of plastic grocery bags stored up in my room. I've kept them because I can't bear to throw them out, and I'm glad to have finally found a way to use them.

So hopefully I can make something super cool like THIS. How exciting!

March 23, 2009

A New Week

Ughhh my brain feels like mush and I can't stop sneezing. And it's Monday morning. I got a cold this weekend that's taking it's toll mostly by making me feel totally exhausted. It's not the worst cold I've ever had, but it's pretty inconvenient, I'll tell ya that much!

But other than feeling sick, things are going well. My weekend was very nice; I went home to celebrate my sister's 8th birthday and my grandfather's 80th birthday. We had a big party with all of our family, and there was delicious food and poems and crying and a lot of love. It's unusual for that side of my family to be about how much they care for one another, so it was great to hear people saying it.

I had an art history test this morning. It probably went well...right now I'm just glad it's over. Remember the brain-mush thing? Yeah. Me too.

So, I should be showering, getting stuff ready for painting, or doing my homework. But I think I'll opt for a brief nap before going off to painting for the rest of the day. I have a watercolor painting due today too. What's that? You want to see it?! Ohh, okay! Here it is:

Watercolor of the Farm

It's of my grandparent's farm. And it's due today...soooo thankfully it turned out pretty a-okay.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm exhausted. I'm ready for the weekend. This week should be pretty painless; I don't have to teach on Thursday and I'm driving to Dana's on Friday night! We're going out to GCC this weekend to see our friends and to catch Jinks' senior recital. So that'll be nice. And hopefully by then this cold will be loooooong gone!


March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY! Hopefully you're out there enjoying the day safely. Today has been...well, interesting. On days like today, sometimes I find it much simpler to use bullet points to sum things up. Sooooo:

- Really enjoyed my Art Education practicum class, where we discussed inquiry-based learning. I'm a nerd.
- Went to Cabelas with College Beth and Marilyn. If you haven't heard of Cabelas...well, you obviously aren't from where I'm from. It's the like the Mecca of hunting, fishing, and all things outdoors-y. We went in search of boots. Our search turned up empty, but we did get to see well over 100 dead animals including, but not limited to: white tailed deer, a skunk, a gray fox, a moose, a black bear, a mountain lion, a ruffled grouse, grizzly bears, polar bears, mountain goats and some turkeys. Additionally, we visited the "Bargain Cave," the "Gun Library," and the Aquarium. That's not in quotes because there is really an aquarium in this place. There's also a restaurant. And an two story "mountain" complete with a waterfall and all of the aforementioned stuffed and dead animals. And outside is a 20 foot long sculpture of Native Americans canoeing with a moose in their boat. It's a magical place.
- Enjoyed a drink with Marilyn. Which was very suiting, since it's St. Patty's day. The drink started out very vibrant, since we used a melon liquor that's pretty much the color of green apple Jolly Ranchers..but it ended up looking like snot, since Marilyn added - among many other things - cranberry juice and ginger ale. Unlike every other student at Kutztown, however, we only had one drink. The bar opened at 6am this morning, so that should give you an idea how things are going here.
- Saw many, MANY students who've devoted themselves to Ireland for the day. In a very liquid way, if you catch my drift.
- Watched "Fievel Goes West" while enjoying the green drink mentioned before. That movie is...well, I loved it as a child. But in retrospect, it's pretty creepy and weird. Why is there a Russian Jewish mouse in the Wild West? And why are their cats with cleavage? And why is there a really fat cat in a tiny tshirt, pretending to be a dog? These are many of the questions I asked myself while revisiting this classic.

And, to finish up this St. Patty's day post, here's the trailer to one of my favorite Irish movies: Waking Ned Devine...hilarious!

March 15, 2009

Excerpt No 3

The weekend! It's almost over! What a shame. I didn't do much this weekend and it was awesome. Also, I'm sorry for the text-heavy posts lately. I wish I had more pictures, but other than finding those lame photoshopped pictures of like, glowing crosses or ridiculous stuff like that, I'm not really sure what to use. I'll just have to knit more stuff to share on here, I guess.

Anyway, CHUNK NUMBER 3!!! Here it is:

What it comes down to is the motivations in my heart. Am I acting out of selfless love for the person in my life? If that’s the case, I should not enter into the act of showing love with the expectation of receiving it in equal measure. True love is going to come from the love I have for – and more importantly from - God, not the love I have for or from my friends. And I know these things, really, I do. But I’m broken, so more often than not, I write letters so I can get letters. I make phone calls so I’ll get phone calls. I compliment to get compliments, give gifts to get gifts, and pour out my energy and thoughts into a person in order to get them in return. I’m self-serving in the worst of ways, because it’s disguised, making me look like such a wonderful person, while inside I anxiously await the response for my own pleasure. And remarkably, I am never, ever satisfied with the result. When I write an eloquent letter or email telling of the great qualities my friend has, the response is never quite as meaningful or powerful as what I’ve built up in my mind. When I spend hours creating a piece of art, or stay up until 4 in the morning painting a picture, or spend money to send packages full of mix CDs and art and scarves…when I pour out hours and hours of my time and energy into creating something for a person with the motivation of feeling that love in return, I am always let down. I am never satisfied. The giving is broken by my sin. Think how wonderful giving could be if it were rooted in love from God!

Before now, I didn’t realize the cost of this attitude. I didn’t realize that it goes beyond me and my insecurity. This hidden selfishness is harmful not just to me as I continually set myself up for heartbreak, but it rather exactingly erodes the bonds of friendship I have with people whom I love. I loved those friends. I really, honestly did. But the mistake of putting my love solely on them…of course heartbreak ensued. What foolishness made me think anything else could happen? And how can I now, at my age and experience, intentionally continue down this path of misguided love?

March 14, 2009

Excerpt No 2

Aaahh, the weekend at last! It felt so good to sleep in today, even though the fire alarm for my dorm awoke me at 4:45 this morning. I live in such a large dorm that when we have fire alarms, they only evacuate three floors: the one where the alarm was set off, and the two above and below it. When you're not among those floors, you get to listen to a terribly repetitive announcement that goes something like this: "Attention. Attention. An incident has been reported in the building, but does not affect your floor. Do not use the elevators or leave your floor until you have heard from the automated emergency message." And that repeats over. And over. Very loudly. At least I didn't have to leave my bed, however!

I taught two 7th grade lessons yesterday, one of which was observed by my supervisor. The lessons went well, and my supervisor gave me great feedback. She's wonderful! And I've found that the Lord really provides me with enouragement when I need it most. Over the last 3 years, as I've begun to wonder if I made the right decision about Kutztown and Art Education, He's put professors or situations that remind me that I'm where I need to be. It's good to be reminded of that once again.

So today I finally get to relax and let go of worries! Spring break was full of homework, but this weekend isn't, which is great. Leeanne might be stopping by on Sunday as she travels about this side of the state doing promotions; it'll be nice to see her and get even more excited about this summer (if that's possible).

To conclude, I'll throw in the next chunk of my reflection I started to share last time.

"In high school I poured out so much ridiculous, manufactured pain on a close friend of mine. I expected so much from her, knowing that what I asked was out of a vain desire to feel assurance or pity or love. Had I just been a friend, I could’ve had something much more meaningful. Sure, it was a time of growth and pain…but much of it was selfish and demanding.

And another case – oh man. Talk about self-destructive. There are so many examples within that relationship where I let go of sensibility and dove headfirst into this hedonistic attitude that enveloped me. From the fall of senior year (How was that awful time in my life ever defined as “good” by me? How could I not see what I was doing?), to the winter when I let my heart be abused and mistreated, to the spring when, in an unbelievably pathetic turn of events, I gratefully – gratefully! - welcomed this person’s friendship with no questions asked. Gracious? I wish it were rooted in that. But it was rooted in feeling loved again, no matter the cost. And that I held on to that for another three years of aching self-doubt and insecurity…what a sad story.

I guess the good news is this: I can look back on that and see how broken those relationships were. Had I some self-control or a bit more wisdom, I could’ve salvaged a friendship, or saved myself a lot of heartache. I’m amazed at how easily I gave myself over to someone who was so thoughtless with my heart. And I’m amazed at how selfishly I demanded the attention and energy of someone that I said I cared about. And I did care! Oh, I did. And with great devotion, and great, exacting care I would tell and re-tell the people in my life how fabulous I thought they were.

Why do I do that? I mean, I still do. Does it stem from wanting that same assurance? Probably…well, at least partially. It’s equally unhealthy to criticize something about me that’s valuable. I think nurturing is a gift of mine, particularly through words of encouragement and gifts. So while I was blinded by my willingness to feel loved to the point that I would let myself be hurt (or would even hurt others) I think I equally feel the desire to pour out that love on the people from whom I demand it."

March 12, 2009

Excerpt No 1

Remember how I said I didn't have any time for this thing? Well, turns out that I do. Mostly because I'm procrastinating...classy, I know. But I'm exhausted after teaching all day, and I need to gear up to do it all again tomorrow. Fun! Actually, I really love my kids, and today was a ton of fun. But I'm still tired.

Anyway, I mentioned a while ago that I recently re-discovered a reflection I typed up in September during my post-camp recovery period. Since writing it, I've re-read it a few times and it continues to ring true with me. So I've been editing it a bit, and I'm going to be posting sections of it on here for a while. At least, that is the plan.

So here's the first excerpt! Forgive me if it seems really self-indulgent. I was going to post a really huge chunk of it tonight, but I think it would be too overwhelming, so I'll spread it out...prepare yourself! The next few days will be reflection-laden.

"I’ve spent the last year – well at least the last six months – being very self reflective and completely unaware of myself all at the same time. How is it possible for a person to spend all of their time thinking about themselves and coming to no conclusive emotion or realization? And at the same time, I can tell there are things that have changed about me, and I know I’ve had some pretty profound realizations about how I’m different and how God changes my worldview. But I’m so scared that these observations aren’t actually weighted in God or in me, but – as always – they’re rooted in the love, affection, and attention awarded from the people around me. I’m so, SO caught up in that world. I know that I am; I know that it’s probably more destructive than I’m willing to admit. Have I lost the ability to know how I’m actually feeling?

What have I learned? How have I changed? Where is God in all of this? What is healthy about my emotional state? What’s unhealthy? These are questions that I know I need to ask…I need some sort of awareness of these things. It’s time for some reflection.

Sitting around waiting for phone calls or AIM messages or emails or Facebook messages to confirm my value and worth is a ridiculous course of action. It’s unhealthy. It needs to stop. How do I shut off that desire for satisfaction through other people? That has been a source of pain and confusion in my life for many years. I have to think about how my attitude has affected my relationships in the past. In reality, the ways in which I rely on other people to define me and assign value to me have caused significant damage to all of my closest relationships in the past several years. "

DUN-DUN-DUUUUNNN!! Cliff hanger! I know, I know. You'll hear all of the juicy (and...embarassing?) details of my failures in a later post.

In the meantime, I'm going to watch The Office!

Busy, busy, busy

I'm back at school, and the week has been really, REALLY busy. I taught all day today and will do the same tomorrow, but this weekend I should have time for some serious blogging....riiiiight.

To tide you over, here is this:

What were people thinking in the early 90's????

(From Best Week Ever)

March 3, 2009

Spring Breaaaak!!!

Woah, I'm home! It's spring break! But it's very cold. Luckily, my home did not get hit with the massive snowstorm that wrecked the other half of the state this week. Had I been at school, however, I would be wading through a lot of snow...I can live without any of that right now.

Break so far has been pretty enjoyable. I had a doctor's appointment, I got new glasses, I've been working on a painting, I took my sister to Brownies and Dance lessons today, my brother and I cooked dinner, I've made hummus and guacamole - both of which were delicious, and I spent some quality time with my dad.

I still have a ton of work to do on my painting. It's due on Monday and I'm pretty unexcited about it...but we'll see.

Anyway, plans for the rest of break? Wrapping up the painting, taking pictures for watercolor, planning some lessons, going to Soup Night at my church, making cookies for my brother, and finally (here's the good stuff) going to Culpeper on Friday to visit Lindsay! And Dana is coming! I love them. It'll be great to see them and spend some time together. And on Sunday it's back to school...and back into the fray.

There's a lot to do, but it'll all get done. It always does, somehow.