Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving fail

Every year, as November rolls around, it seems like every good American makes a deliberate effort to be thankful.  To be thankful for specific things, even.

And so, this year, I decided to do the same.  I committed to, every day, write a few things of my own I found myself thankful for.

Wow, what a list that could've been!  But ugly confession: it never got created.

My heart SO does not gravitate toward gratitude.  My heart SO does not naturally gravitate toward giving thanks for the things God has done, for the things He's given, for the things He's called me out of (nor for the things He calls me to), etc.

Instead, honestly, my heart so easily gravitates toward the me-centered things, how the world doesn't work in MY favor, toward the things I want and don't have, toward my own distorted thinking that says God is holding out on me, etc.

So, my thankfulness list of November never got created, and I wish I could say I, at least, spent Thanksgiving Day full of gratitude, full of joy, and full of praise toward the One I claim as my Savior and Provider.  I wish I could say, that for just one day, I was able to put aside my pride, my selfishness, and my discontent...but I can't.

As a matter of fact, I spent Thanksgiving Day pretty grumpy.  While I read of friends' sweet text messages, Facebook statuses, and Tweets claiming thankfulness, joys shared with their family, and wishing for others celebration of gratitude...I sat grumpy.  I sat grumpy at the Thanksgiving table!  Who does that (other than pre-pubescent teens complaining they don't like green bean casserole)?!  I sat there tired, I sat there bitter like I should have rights to things I didn't have, I argued trying to prove my point that I was right about something, I wanted to punch my family for not being good listeners, and I sat all weekend busy being critical and judgmental of my family.

What goes on inside my soul can be so ugly.  And if I'm being honest, the more and more I'm confronted with the ugliness that can be found within myself, the more and more I'm tempted to hide...the more and more I'm tempted to try and make my own soul beautiful...and, ironically, the more and more I'm tempted to deny the fact that I need a savior to save me from my own self.

I'm tempted to believe, that in my ugliness, God can find no delight in me.  I'm tempted to believe, that until I clean up the ugliness of my own soul, I cannot approach God.  I'm tempted to believe that God has no desire to have anything to do with me until I'm "cleaned up" on the inside.

But here's one thing I am thankful for everyday: that God says He DOES want something to do with me even while I'm a total disaster.  He says He DOES want for me to approach Him even while the inside of my soul may look like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...and even in that horrendous wreckage, He finds great delight and joy.

I want to be more deliberate to live with a grateful heart -- for the things to be grateful for are abundant.  However, I know that with this soul that's prone to wander, I will fail to live the way that I wish -- with an overwhelmingly thankful heart.  So, I will rest in the belief that God finds great joy in me even when I fail...and for that, I will forever be thankful.

(And a small piece of redemption: I did end up spending a few moments post-Thanksgiving (out of sheer discipline), listing out a small portion of the things I am thankful for.  You can read that incoherent list here if you're super ambitious).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A simple joy for your day...

"Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both
and be one traveler, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;

then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim,
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

and both that morning equally lay
in leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
                                          [Robert Frost]

I want to be the first to trodden the leaves black.  Although more difficult, more risky, and more unknown, may I have the faith to take the road less traveled.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just some Moleskine ramblings

If anyone knows me at all, you know Wags can keep her cool pretty well.  Not much tends to rattle this ol' soul -- most likely because I'm an off-the-chart Myers Briggs' P.

But not today, people.  For whatever reason, I'm starting to mildly freak out.  I'm starting to feel like I need to hold on for dear life.  Like I am in desperate need for control; like I am in desperate need for some answers.

I'm scared that the things that used to make me come alive, no longer do.

I'm scared that moving somewhere is just running away.

I'm scared of taking risks.

I'm scared of putting all of me into something, for fear I might get hurt.

I'm scared of wasting my life.

I'm scared of being different and taking the untrodden road.

I'm scared of dying in an empty hospital room; I'm scared of an empty funeral home.

I'm scared of becoming numb.

I'm scared of living a life that doesn't count.

I'm scared there's more to this life that I'm missing out on and that I may never experience it.

I'm scared that I'm not meeting expectations.

I'm scared of never feeling fully alive this side of heaven.

I'm scared of looking back with regret.

What do ya do, people?  I have no answers.
What do you do when you're 24, when you dreamt life would be more than this, when you feel restless for something you're not sure what it is?  What do you do when it seems easier to bag up your childhood dreams and settle for mediocrity?  What do you do when your soul longs for something more and you're trapped by the confines of this skin and these bones?

Honest thoughts, honest questions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

E:60 Josiah's Time

"Josiah loves the game for the game.  Not win or lose.  His love is just to swing the bat, and hit the ball, and run the base."  (Grandpa)

I want to live like Josiah.  I want to live in such a way that I simply "love the game."  I want to enjoy without concern of outcome.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Being 25(ish)

What To Know When You're 25(ish) [Shauna Niequist]
Here are the things really worth caring about in your 20s.
When you’re 25-ish, you’re old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or roommate always used to play. You know how to walk in heels, how to tie a necktie, how to give a good toast at a wedding and how to make something for dinner. You don’t have to think much about skin care, home ownership or your retirement plan. Your life can look a lot of different ways when you’re 25: single, dating, engaged, married. You are working in dream jobs, pay-the-bills jobs and downright horrible jobs. You are young enough to believe that anything is possible, and you are old enough to make that belief a reality.
Now is the time to figure out what kind of work you love to do. What are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What do you dream about? You can go back to school now, switch directions entirely. You can work for almost nothing, or live in another country, or volunteer long hours for something that moves you. There will be a time when finances and schedules make this a little trickier, so do it now. Try it, apply for it, get up and do it.
When I was 25, I was in my third job in as many years—all in the same area at a church, but the responsibilities were different each time. I was frustrated at the end of the third year because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do next. I didn’t feel like I’d found my place yet. I met with my boss, who was in his 50s. I told him how anxious I was about finding the one perfect job for me, and quick. He asked me how old I was, and when I told him I was 25, he told me that I couldn’t complain to him about finding the right job until I was 32. In his opinion, it takes about 10 years after college to find the right fit, and anyone who finds it earlier than that is just plain lucky. So use every bit of your 10 years: try things, take classes, start over.
Now is also the time to get serious about relationships. And “serious” might mean walking away from the ones that don’t give you everything you need. Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without. One of the only truly devastating mistakes you can make in this season is staying with the wrong person even though you know he or she is the wrong person. It’s not fair to that person, and it’s not fair to you.
Twenty-five is also a great time to start counseling, if you haven’t already, and it might be a good round two of counseling if it’s been a while. You might have just enough space from your parents to start digging around your childhood a little bit. Unravel the knots that keep you from living a healthy whole life, and do it now, before any more time passes.
Twenty-five is the perfect time to get involved in a church you love, no matter how different it is from the one you were a part of growing up. Be patient and prayerful, and decide that you’re going to be a person who grows, who seeks your own faith, who lives with intention. Set your alarm on Sunday mornings, no matter how late you were out on Saturday night. It will be dreadful at first, and then after a few weeks, you’ll find that you like it, that the pattern of it fills up something inside you.
Don't get stuck
This is the thing: when you start to hit 28 or 30, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”

Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cleveland responds

Lebum -- I can't help but find myself especially favorable toward this particular nickname of Lebron's.

In response to Lebron's newest Nike ad, Cleveland's decided to film their own commercial.

I find it quite delightful (albeit maybe a bit brutal, eek). :)

Check it out for yourself:

And to see the original commercial:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Merry Christmas?

It's official: the red cups are back.
The red cups designed with snowflakes, ornaments, and an ice skating couple.  The cups that mark the change of a season.  The cups that, to many, signify joy and peace and time with family and cozied up with a loved one.  They're back.

Does that make it official?  Is the holiday season already upon us?  Is it time to string up the lights?  Is it time to ring the doorbells and sing Christmas carols?  Is it already time to rush the malls and buy gifts for the ones we adore and admire?  Uhh...I don't think so.  Not quite yet, people.

Let's enjoy Thanksgiving.  Let's enjoy the turkey, the potaters, the cranberry sauce, the yams, the pumpkin pie, the dysfunctional family chatter across the long banquet table.  There will be enough time to cut out Christmas cookies, purchase gifts, sew scarves, and definitely enough time for more dysfunctional family chit chat.

How bout 'dem Pilgrims, eh?  They deserve some props.  Why so easily overlooked?  ;)

May we specifically aim, this season, to remember to give thanks.  May we live these days with deeply grateful hearts.