Sunday, May 30, 2010

Confession

So I'd like to make a confession.
I know, you're not a priest, and you may not want to hear it. But I'm going to tell you anyway, because it's all part of a story that I am sure is going to change my life.

I didn't want to go to Honduras.

Oh, there it is. Out in the open.

I kept telling myself there were bigger, better things for me to do. I kept convincing myself that it was okay that I was muffling out the fire in my heart. I kept saying, "If I wait long enough, no one will ask anymore."
And eventually, I got into what I thought would be the safety zone.
6 weeks before the trip. NO way to get my passport in that time. NO way to get $800 in that time. NO way anyone would continue to ask.
But-I spoke too soon.
Nicole kept asking, Taylor kept prying, Stephanie kept pushing, and Mom kept forcing.
I did everything I could, until it got to the point of actually forgetting that there was even a Honduras trip at all. And when someone asked, I'd reply with a simple, "ehh...I dunno...I don't think I can..."

Until one day, my Mom pulled me by the arm to Barry, and said to him, "She wants to go."

There it was. The statement I had been avoiding for weeks. Even months.
"She wants to go."
"She wants to go."
I thought I didn't want to go. But my Mom knew better.

I did want to go. I wanted, with everything in me, to go to Honduras. But I suppressed those thoughts, and convinced myself there was no reason, no way I could, and no possible way anyone wanted to go.

Barry began calling out the things I needed to do, "Passport, $800, talk to the lady who's booking flights, make sure you have everything, etc, etc, etc."
No way in heck I'm going on this trip.

Even after that, it took a lot of convincing to send out letters. It took me another week to get the letters out, so I had 5 weeks to get $800 from all over the world, from different family members and companies.
After I got all my letters printed, it took me another day to get them enveloped and addressed and stamped.
We went in, and got my passport.
4-6 weeks.
My heart sky-rocketed.
God, do you want me to go?

Soon after, I got an e-mail from my Great Aunt, telling me she was so proud of the things I was doing, and wanted to send me $100. I was shocked.
God...do you want me to go?

And slowly, the money kept coming in. Person by person, letter by letter, question by question, it all came pouring in.
Each and every time...
God, do you want me to go?

It wasn't until I got my passport that I knew I was supposed to go.
It came in the mail while I was branding. When I came home, I woke up in the morning, and was reading and writing. Steph told me she had a gift, and to hold out my hands and close my eyes.
She placed in my hand that little book, and I wanted to cry.
God, you are here. You obviously want me to go. I'm sorry, for refusing you, for not wanting to go where you're wanting me to go.
Thank you, God. For pulling this together even when I told you no.

Today Barry's sermon was about following Jesus' example. It's not only about knowing the word, but obeying the word.
Discovering God in everywhere you are. It's not only about going to different countries, and doing big things, but doing exactly what God wants where you are.
Ask God for opportunity. Want His plan in every opportunity.

The reality is-it is not about me.

So, here I am, the night before, freaking out a little bit.
And I have to keep reminding myself that it is not about me, but it is about God.
I need to be that example whether I want to go or not. I need to want to go, because it's where God wants me to go.
It breaks my heart that I ever told him no, that I ever refused His plan, even when I knew it was where I was meant to go.


My confession is:
I am a selfish human being.
And I need God's grace just like everybody else.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Family, Take 2

One thing I have been learning a lot about is family.
Nikki coming home, Zach graduating, Alyssa & Chad, spending time with the Muellers.
All examples of family. People growing up, and moving out. People coming home to a reunion of sorts. The shocked faces from the surprise return. The avoidance of the subject, because he's growing up and we really are sad about it. The dynamics of a family not my own.

Each member of a family is different. While one likes photography, another likes to play the guitar. While one child wants to adopt, the other wants to birth their own. While one enjoys cleanliness, another enjoys simple chaos. It amazes me how so many different people can come from two. Not only their looks, but their hearts, souls, and personalities.

Recently I was asked a question about how, as a teenage girl, a mother could maintain a close relationship with her. Me being a selfish human being, my first reaction was probably something along the lines of, "Let me do whatever I want, when I want". But really? Is that the way my Mom and I have the relationship we do? Absolutely not. The reason my Mom and I are close as we are, is because she stood up to me, and was MY MOM. She didn't sit back, and try to be my friend. She said no when I wanted her to say yes. She always got to know families before I stayed at some random person's home. She always held me when I cried, and held me even when the first thing I wanted to do was hit her. My Mom is honestly my best friend. And that's because she followed Christ through her decisions. She listened to His voice, and stood up and did something about it. THAT, to me, is the best example of a Mother.

Nikki just came home. We spent her first night here in the ER until 5:30 in the morning. Sitting with her, I saw a something I don't see very often in her. Vulnerability. Nikki is one of those people that is continually going out and helping someone else. Others always come before herself. And that night, I saw my sister. Kinda weak, extremely exhausted, but she was Nikki. We sat in her room together, and figured she hadn't slept in 45 hours. It was hilarious, the jokes she was cracking, and the noises that came from her in her attempt to laugh, but was too tired and sick. We sat and remembered all the good times we had together. We sat and remembered the days before she left. I've missed my Nikki more than you can imagine, and it feels so good to continue moving in a rhythm we haven't known since we were little kids.

Zach is graduating. And he has a girlfriend. Zach is going to be in high-school. He is growing up into such a gentleman, and it's rocking my world. I've never seen a boy so tender and sweet. And yet, if someone gets in the way of his sister's happiness, he is prepared to use his ninja master skills to secretly kill them off. I see more love in that boy's eyes than anywhere else. He is filled to the brim with overflowing love for each person he comes in contact with.

Alyssa is an old married lady. And yet she still has me over for sleepovers, The Office marathons, and the occasional Sonic cherry limeade and Goodwill trips. Her passion for life is moving me to learn more about myself. It's good to know that even though she's grown-up she's still my big sister.

I have been spending a lot of time with the Muellers. It's so cool, to see another family in action. To see the love in all of their eyes for each other, and to see the occasional annoyance at one another. I'm learning so much about Chris and his family and it makes me happy to know someone. I feel like I already love them as my own family, watching movies all the time, going to dinner, hiking crazy mountains. It feels good to see the love from an outside perspective.

Along with all of this, I have a friend with a very good example of a broken family. Divorced parents, and the unwillingness to take a look at their daughter. She's suffering from it, I can tell. And it breaks my heart. She doesn't know the love of a God-healed family. She doesn't know the overflowing richness of a whole family.

God is teaching me that it's okay to be a family.
Family consists of love and hate, tears and smiles, hugs and punches, and so many more emotions. But above all else, there is love.
The tears of a Mother realizing her babies are growing up, and living a life for Christ. The smile of a father after hearing about his daughter's most recent date, most recent volleyball game, and his son's most recent WoW raid. The laughter of a family, healed only by God's forgiveness.
I love that I have been blessed with my family. I love that I have an Earthly Father that I can compare God's love to.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leaky Faucet

I love the sound of a dripping faucet.
drip. drip. drip. drip.
Over and over and over again in my head.
Nothing new, just the same, repeated drip of a faucet.
Every once in a while, you get the off-beat drip. One faster, one slower. But basically, it's the same routine.
drip. drip. drip. drip.
This got my mind thinking.
I don't know where, but it got to thinking.
That continual drip, that continual drop, becomes a fact of life.
Even the most annoying things, can become something you are accustomed to. Something that is normal, something that is just going to be there no matter what.
Is that acceptable?
Is that okay?
To assume that something poking you in the side is okay, because you "just can't get it out".

To most people, they hate the dripping of a faucet.
In my home, it has become something that is normal and accepted.
So I've learned to love it.
Such as pain, such as hurt, such as wounds.
They're all something I'm accustomed to, and okay with.

Unhealthy.
That's the only word that comes to mind.

It is absolutely unacceptable to assume that the worst is all you deserve, simply because you can get no better.
Because the fact of the matter is-God has a big beautiful plan for each and every one of us if we let it happen. If we follow His will, He will make the pain and hurt go away.
God can fix that leaky faucet, and you'll no longer have to simply accept it.
Because that itself is unacceptable.
God is so much bigger than that. And He's blessed me in so many ways that I cannot be thankful enough for.

So, I just might fix that leaky faucet in my heart tonight.
Or rather-allow God to take over, because I can't.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Mile A Minute

I think the reason I don't like sleep, is because when I get a lot of it, I can't sleep the next night. So I'm up all night anyways, and exhausted the next day.
Someday, I'll figure out this things with sleep-but for now, you just get a late night blog with the ramblings from my head.
Basically, everything I'm thinking of written out for you to read.
I know, I know, not fantastically exciting. But it's something for me to do, since I'm having problems moving onto a new notebook. (I only have one page left in my notebook, and I know I have more to write than one page. So I'm stalling. As if not writing will make the things I want to write go away. We all know how that's turning out....
But I do know if I start, I won't finish in one book. And I don't like that thought. And if I just start a new one, I'll have one page left. I dunno. I need to work on whatever that is that's stopping me.)
The lightning is in action outside. I can't help but fall in love with each strike, and the loud boom that follows. Something about it intrigues me. The ability to be something so dangerous, and yet absolutely gorgeous. That dangerous beauty, it strikes me. (No pun intended.)
Today I went out and had coffee with Chris, and we watched a movie, ate ice cream, and had lunch together. I'm finding out so much about him, and it's so interesting. To know someone in what I think is as well as I know myself. But the next minute, something throws me off, and I realize there's always more to learn. Always.There's a beauty there that only God could have created and understood.
Starting school in the Fall. Not just school, but college. My Mom met with the guy that's helping us out, and it turns out, I don't even have to take math right now. God never gives me anything I can't handle. I know that the English I'm taking is going to be rough, and by taking away the pressure of math, I can really work my best at what I'm doing. I'm so excited for what is to come.
I've been questioning myself lately a lot on why I want to mission, and my motives behind it. God's showing me that it's more than I think it is, and He's showing me that I need to know Him better before I run off and "save the world". Because in reality, He doesn't need me. But I am chosen to be used. I'm praying I find all this out before I jump ahead of myself.
It's been brought to my attention, simply by observation, that I have more issues with my family than I thought I did. I have more wounds and hurts than I thought. And I've seen the way that those wounds fester, through some family members that are grandparents, and still cannot get along. It's impossible for me to fix every problem our family has ever had. But they cannot know I am hurt if I do not tell them. I'm going to coffee with my Mom next Tuesday, to seek wisdom. This took me months to get the courage to do, because I was afraid. Is that crazy? Yes, it is. Nikki is coming home soon. We've been through so much, and I miss her desperately. This time away has made me realize how much of an incredible woman of God she is becoming. And I can't tell you how much I look up to her. Zach is graduating 8th grade soon. I am still in shock about this, he's growing up so crazy fast.
My mind is running a mile a minute.
Maybe it would be a good idea to be writing this down.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pain In My Mouth

I have had a sore in my mouth for about a week now. Right in the front, down where my lip is. And it's just been sitting there, and hurting a lot.
At first it seemed like a pain from not moving enough-like you know when you sit criss-cross-apple-sauce for too long, and it hurts your legs? It felt like that pain. So I tried to move it more, stretch it out, give it some excercise.
But it just wasn't working.
So then I assumed it was from the excessive amount that I've been chewing on my lip. But then I realized that I chew on the side of my mouth. Not down low, where the little piece of skin is connecting your lip to your gums.
So, I thought maybe it was that. Maybe I ate a chip wrong, or maybe it was cut a little bit.
But that just wasn't working either.
Everytime I brushed my teeth, or opened my mouth, or moved my lip, or chewed on my lip, or ate some food-it HURT. And it really was messing with me.
I couldn't even focus on my book because I was trying to figure out where the heck this pain in my mouth was coming from.
Finally, I started ignoring it. I figured the pain would eventually go away, and so I let it hurt, and I just drank up some water and tried to pretend it wasn't there.
Bad idea.
It just kept getting worse and worse and worse.
Finally, today, sitting on the computer, I was rubbing my finger across my bottom teeth (the pain had reached to soreness in my teeth, even. I promise I don't just sit there with my fingers in my mouth.), when I felt a sharp pain going right across the front.
WHOA. THERE IT WAS.
I went back over it. Each time I went back, I couldn't feel it anymore.
Gosh dangit, I thought I had it.
Then, I was rubbing my finger across my gums, and right when I went to the front, ouch, there it was again.
found it, I snickered to myself, because I knew that I had finally figured this sucker out. (I even secretly laughed a mad scientist laugh in my head, as if I had just found out how to destroy the world. But alas, I had not. Just the pain in my mouth.)
There it was, a cut, right in the front, in my gums.
Now I knew how to take care of it, not mess with it, and just allow the healing to begin.

And then I thought to myself- this is going to be weird, but I can totally apply this to real live life!
Sometimes, I feel like I'm searching and searching and searching for the pain. I'm trying to poke and prod and find out where it's coming from so it will just go away.
When that doesn't work, I ignore it. I pretend the pain isn't there, and I push it to the back of my head and heart.
And then it sits there and festers. It's really gross, and nasty, and hurts way more than if you would have just found it in the first place.
But then, when you finally take the time to calmly nurse the wound to health, you find it. When you're rubbing the spot where it hurts-there it is. An obvious cut, right in the front.
And now that you know where it is, you know how to heal that spot-the right way.

I hope you know where this story has lead to.
Let it mean what it does to you.
But what it means to me-
God has it under control. God knows my wounds, and my pains. And until I am willing to pay attention to those wounds I want to ignore-God will allow it to fester until it is healed.
God is the only one that can heal.
You just gotta be able to address the fact that it's there, and you're ready to fix it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

God Answers Prayer

I am learning more than I thought I ever could from the smallest simplest things.
Like it's said all the time, God is in everything. I knew this with my head, but I am just now learning with my heart.
Today I prayed a prayer bigger than myself. I prayed a prayer that God wanted me to pray. And as soon as I gave it to Him, He set me free.
You see, I've been learning about procrastination, my selfishness, my pride, perfection, and successs. It's becoming what feels like all too much to handle, but I know in my heart that God will never give anyone more than they can handle.
Today, I took my accuplacer test to get into college. I was frightened. I have this thing about tests, and they freak me out. My first reaction-panic. Then, distract my mind so I don't have to think about it until it's there, fly through it, and get out before anyone mentions that I failed because I was going too fast.
And there it was. That expecatation already in my head that I was going to fail.

And that stopped my heart, made my hands sweaty, and my nose itchy.
I expect myself to fail. In everything I do, I expect myself to do the worst. My reasoning-if I expect the worst, I'll never be disappointed. Purposely setting my standards so low, because then I'll never expect more than what I get.
This has hardened my heart. This has caused me to feel like everything in my life is enough, because it's not the worst I expected. When in reality-my standards need to be higher. They must be higher. Because the way that some people treat me, the words that do hurt me, I just ignore...because "It could be worse", or "I've heard worse".
That sickens me. This thought literally makes me want to gag.
I am made worthy through Christ. So I should have high standards for myself, because He has high standards for me.
I should not have high standards, so high that I can never reach them. I should not have standards that are so high, when I don't reach them I give up because I simply am not enough and I simply cannot do it.
I've done everything in my life to perfection. The reason I don't clean my room, is because when I do clean it, I have to go through every single thing and it's a lot of time. The reason I am not doing school is because the only thing acceptable to me is an A, and when I don't get an A, that's an F to me.
So foolish, and so so wrong.
And I make up excuses.
But this...this is taking over my life. My issue with perfection is taking me into procrastination, which is making me selfish.
By always setting my standards to perfect or nothing, I am waiting until the last minute to do it, because it takes so much time and I don't like doing it. That waiting because "I don't want to take the time" is turning me into a selfish person, because I am putting my wants before my needs.
It's all a trail into destruction, and it simply starts with trying to be perfect.
I will never be perfect.
Let me say that again. Not for you, but because I know the second time will resonate in my own self.
I will never be perfect.
Trying my best, and taking the time to do my best will be enough. It is enough, and it must always be enough. Because in Christ's eyes, I am enough.
The thing is, I have to live the life Christ would want me to lead. He would not want me to live selfishly, procarastinating, and trying to be perfect. I will never live up to that standard, and it's tearing me apart.

Which brings me back to my prayer this morning.
God-it's time. Today is the day I'm taking my accuplacer test in about an hour, and I am scared out of my mind. I keep thinking to myself "What if, what if, what if". But I know that your plan is bigger than my own. So, I am going to go, and do the very best that I can do. Not for my own glory, or to add to my pride, Father, but to glorify you and show of your love and mercy. God, you are so vast. And you are full of peace. You are not a God of fear or stress. But you are a God of love, patience, and peace. So today, as I go take this test to know if I get into this school, I will keep you in my mind. As I should always, but I know that I do not. You gave everything for me, and the least I can do is give everything to you. I will do all things for the glory of you, God. I will not stress, and I will not fear, because your plan is far beyond my sight and I know you'll give me the best. Because I am yours, Father. I am fully yours. I pray you'll put in my a patient heart, so I will not rush. God, show me that it is okay to take my time. Give me a peaceful heart. Help me to see your peace, help me to know in my heart you have a plan. Help me to see you in this. And God, if I get anything less than a perfect score, I pray that my heart will not become fearful. I pray my heart and mind will not be discouraged. God, help me to glorify you. Help me to do the best I can so your will will play out as it should. You are all I need, Father. I will praise you until the day that I die. Thank you for this opportunity.


I walked out of that building with a 84 in reading, 104 in Sentence Structure, 79 in Arithmetic, and 55 in Algebra. And not once did I say I am not enough. Not once did I become fearful, for I knew He has plans for me. And even thought I'm going to be taking the math tests again, I don't mind. Because even if I take it again and don't make it, I know there's a reason I'm in a class that's not a college course.
God is bigger than I.
So, I will not strive to be perfect. I will not set my standards far below where they should be so I will never be disappointed. I will not procrastinate, but do everything to my best ability, and use all the time I am given. I will no longer be selfish, because that puts me in a place on my own.
God is so good.
He provides.
And He answers prayer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Unorganized Thoughts

This blog is going to be messy and filled with thoughts that are completely from the depths of my brain-where messiness exists, and order must be found.

Today is Mother's Day. I spent it without my Mom. And I kept thinking to myself how lame this is-Mother's Day without my Mommy to spoil to death with nice thoughts, foot rubs, and doing the dishes so she doesn't have to.
One thing that kept crossing my mind this morning during church was that I hate holidays. I've never liked Valentine's Day. I've never liked the fourth of July. Sure, everyone loves Christmas...but it was just another holiday for me. And today I found out why.
John and Stasi Eldredge wrote this fantastic thing on Valentine's Day-about how there's so much pressure to have that perfect date, say the perfect words, get the perfect flowers, the perfect card, and read the other's mind to do exactly what they want so they can be loved. But they went on to say- Shouldn't we just be showing those people our love each and everyday?
So, for me, I think this is why I hate holidays. Shouldn't we celebrate Jesus' birth, Jesus' death and ressurection, our freedom, our love, our Mothers, our Fathers, and each every holiday in between on a regular basis? If it really means something to us...shouldn't we be showing that on a day-to-day basis, and not just spending one day a year to thank someone like our Mothers for the ridiculous amount of work they do, and get off our lazy bums to take some work off their hands. I'm guilty of it. I'm SO guilty of not thanking my Mom NEARLY as much as I should. And I'm going to make it a point to say how much I appreciate her more often-because, in reality, one day a year is not nearly enough. And even if I said something to her once a day, everyday I was alive, it would still not be enough. That's how fantastic my Mom is. And I'm sure you feel the same.
But one day is certainly not even close. And it's stupid to me that we go out of our way to make someone happy, only on their birthday, or our anniversaries, or Mother's and/or Father's day. It's not fair, to those who love. We don't live our lives thanking Jesus only once a year do we?

Along with the topic of family-I miss my Nikki.
I miss our late night conversations. I miss fighting for 3 hours, to only be laughing again three minutes after we're finished. I miss the laughs. I miss her smile. And, I do miss her refusal to ever allow me to take pictures of her-because I knew I could always sneak one in here and there. But now...she's gone. And I miss her.
I'm so proud of the things she is doing, and it breaks my heart that I am not a part of that. As silly as it sounds, I've spent just about my entire life by her side. We're 363 days apart, we've shared everything from birthdays, to baths, to beds, to Polly Pockets, to pants, to rooms, and everything in between. And now...she's states away. I knew the day would come that we'd have to get away. We'd have to live our lives, and I knew it would be a while away, because we're both travelers. But I didn't realize it would be so soon. And I miss her with my whole heart.
I know she's doing so much good. But I am a selfish being, and I'm missing her anyways, because she's my big sister, and she's someone that I've shared my whole life with. I know my family will never forget what she's doing for them, and I admire her for following God's plan so joyfully, even when it meant picking up and leaving EVERYTHING except for a suitcase behind.
So I miss her. Even if that is terribly selfish of me.

And, last but not least-I hate silence.
I've been so good at enjoying the silence, and enjoying the whisper that comes through it. I'm not talking about physical silence, such as no noise.
But I'm talking about silence from people, and silence from their hearts. I'm sad to know that I don't know the heart of my best friend since 6th grade. I'm sad to know that I hurt someone, and I didn't hear anything about it. I'm sad that I don't know my own brother. I'm sad that until the other day, I'd never heard my parent's engagement story, and I still don't even know their testimony. I'm sad that maybe I don't know the heart of my own boyfriend, because he's been trying to please me so much, I got so caught up in the happiness of being taken care of, I forgot to ask him.
And most of all, it's not the silence that I hate. But perhaps it's simply the fact that I have not been listening. Maybe it's the fact that I have not been willing to ask, and willing to hear.
My heart is torn by that thought.
The thought that I have been selfish, because I'm happy.

But I forgot to remember that I am happy because God gave me joy. I forgot that I am happy because God placed that joy in my heart.
And I forgot that these people were placed in my life for a reason. To not only listen to my complaints, joys, trials, and successes-but for me to listen to them.
And know their heart.
I don't know many hearts. And it's no one's fault but my own.
And that's a truth I need to face, and need to change.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Branding

This morning, I woke with a start. My body jerked from the re-occuring falling dream I've been having. My eyes opened wide, and I immediately wondered, Where in the world am I? Dalton's watch alarm went off. Sam rolled over next to me, slowly waking up. I mumbled a few words, and Sam threw out the time. "six-seven-ten-oh-seven." What? We giggled. 6:07am.
"I can't remember the last time I was awake this early."
Went to the bathroom. Headed upstairs to find so-very-awake Jolene and Grandma Hogan, ready to pick on me like they do to all us kids. (Especially my sticky-up hair in the morning, and my grandpa glasses they'd never seen before.) I slowly made my way to the table and helped myself to a bowl of my new favorite cereal, Blueberry Morning (which tastes like blueberry muffins. mmmm). I woke up slowly.
"You guys had better be ready. Once grandpa is ready to go, you know how he gets...he's READY to go."
Checked the clock. 6:30. Clomped down the stairs, put on the infamous camo pants without a button (which are almost too small). Threw on my white t-shirt that I knew by the end of the day would have to be dirtier than anyone else's because that's the contest. Threw on some Converse, tied a bandana around my head, put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, and headed out the door to grandpa Hogan's deep booming voice down the stairs, "Time to go!"
I got that nervous feeling in my stomach. Like when I'm about to go get something else pierced. That feeling of the worst nervous caterpillars ever because they're mixed with the excited butterflies. I turned around and looked Sam in the eyes, "You ready for this?" "Heck yeah I am!"
We got to Bob & Leo's. It was cold. We started the morning with some picking-on's by Chris, some catching up with Mike, and some other random chat with the fellows gathered around. We talked about how ready we were!
Then, finally, the moment we've been waiting for since we stepped out of the truck.
The loud roar of the hot-irons heating up. Everyone gathers around for a minute, because although the sun is out, the air is cold. Then, once they're ready, we disperse. All going off with our own partners, ready to grab onto the first calf we feel we can manage.
We all gather around the pen as Grandpa Hogan ushers them out. You can see eyes moving, fingers pointing, and you can feel your heart beating inside your chest. The adrenaline is ready to kick in.
That one.
Sam doesn't even have to say it, we both just feel it. She grabs the back leg of the calf, and I grab its ears. Trying to steer it back, this one's fiesty. It's kicking and tugging and mooing. Fighting with every ounce to get out of our grasp. It succeeds, wriggling and twisting itself out of Sam's hands. We both grunt and scream a little, because we're both people that like to make some noise. I jump on its head, but it won't give in. He assumes a swift kick in the neck will get me to let go, but I don't. Sam grabs on, and I lose my grip. "MEL!" she screams out. It's kicking her in the rib-cage, and I'm trying to get my grib.
Finally, there it is. A soft moment to catch its breath. I wrap my arm around its neck, and you can see it in both Sam and I's eyes. The countdown.
3, 2, 1!
And at one, I grab the leg, and we work together to flip it over.
We both look at each other, already exasperated.
"That homeschooling is getting to ya!" Sam yells.
"Are you kidding? You let go first!" We janter back and forth.
Turns out this year would be the toughest yet.

At the end of the day, more than 20 calves branded by the two of us, a little bit of showing off, a large amount of showing up the guys, a lot of grunts and screams, some "thanks you"s, "excuse me"s, and an occassional "COMING THROUGH! OUT OF THE WAY!"s, we feel refreshed.
Exhausted, but refreshed.
There's nothing like taking down calves that gets the anger of everything you've ever had anger towards out. There's nothing like taking down calves to grow a bond between two people.
There's nothing like branding that brings Sam and I closer.

And I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Incline, and The Lesson Behind It



Two days ago, I overcame the incline.
Two days ago, I told myself that I couldn't do it.
Two days ago, I was told I couldn't do it.
But I did it anyway.
And although I spent yesterday in pain, and I have a huge ugly bruise, cut and scratch on my right hip from falling on the way down, it was something meaningful to me.

You're probably expecting me to say something like, "This is an example of life, you just have to take it step-by-step" or, "You have to overcome the hard parts to get the finish". You know, what everyone who climbs a huge mountain and didn't think they could do it says after they accomplish it.
But my lesson came from afterwards, as I spent my day on the couch, in my pajamas, and not walking anywhere because my hips felt like Prince's probably did after all his dance moves and right before that hip replacement surgery.
Yes, hiking the incline is an example of taking one more step, and continuing on. Not just to finish climbing a mountain, but in life in general. Yes, hiking the incline was an example of life, how you have to go through the ugly parts to get to the beautiful finish.
But my lesson was different.

I started climbing, and got past the beginning few steps, and was huffing and puffing. We took a minute to stretch at a "stretching spot", and continued on our way. I huffed and puffed all the way through. I kept my mouth shut most of the time, because I knew if I were to open it, I'd come out with something like, "This is the most horrible miserable thing I've ever done and I want to turn back." But I knew I couldn't ruin Chris's birthday, and needed to get to the top-for him-so he could have the ultimate birthday gift. I slowly but surely made my way to the top, thinking that I would never make it. I pictured in my head me falling backwards, and rolling, and rolling and rolling until I got to the very bottom. Because I knew if I even missed a little step, I'd be in serious trouble, because that fall would be more miserable than where I was right then.
But I kept my eyes focused on my feet, where I placed them, and where they would be going. I had to be sure that my clumsy self wouldn't even miss a beat. We all know how easily it would be for me to either fall down, or turn my stubborn self around and make my way back to the start.
But like I said, I kept going. When I got to the top, I didn't feel as accomplished as I thought I would. I had just simply made it to the top (with great relief, and hope of never having to do it ever again because it was THAT miserable).
When we started down, I knew I was in trouble. The loose gravel combined with the steepness, I was tripping and slipping. Finally the steepness went away, and it was kindof flat ground. But still, the loose gravel was there. I held onto Chris the entire time, because I knew if I let go, I would fall. I ran down steep parts, only to run into him so I wouldn't fall. I would grab his t-shirt, in desperate attempt to stay vertical. I would hold onto his hand for dear life, making sure that he'd hold me up so I would not break my ankles. It was terrible. At one point I even actually fell, and it hurt a lot more than I let on.
When we got to the bottom, Chris gave me a piggy back ride to his car.
And I got in the car, took off my shoes, and slept until we got to eat.
I spent my whole day with Chris, keeping my mind off of the pain I was actually in.
I spent a lot of time sleeping, and relaxing.
When I got home, I tossed and turned in bed for hours on end because my body was in absolute pain.
Yesterday, I woke up, and it hurt to stand. It hurt to move. Even a hot shower didn't help, because my neck is miserably sunburnt.
(I know, I'm a wimp, and I am a whiner. But someday, I'll be beastly. But not so much now.)
Yesterday, as I sat on the couch, I realized what God was teaching me.
God was teaching me to do what He wanted, to make Him happy.
No matter how miserable.
I wanted Chris to have a great birthday, so I sucked it up, and went anyway. I smiled and bit my tongue the whole way.
In order to follow Christ, you have to go against your human nature. You have to go against that grain, saying you have to sin in order to have fun. You have to overcome your sinful nature, and become more like Christ. No matter how much it hurt.
And yesterday, as I sat in pain, I realized that it's painful sometimes to follow Christ. But it makes you feel better in the end.
Deciding to follow Christ is a huge leap. You have to climb those stairs one by one and do whatever you can to suck it up, because you know it's only to love Him better.
And afterwards, it's the most excruciating pain.
That choice to stop doing drugs, is a miserable experience. But the afterwards, when you're going through withdrawls, and everything hurts, it's even harder to say no. But you do, because you know you'll be healthier and happier in the end.
That choice to stop hanging out with that one guy, because all they do is suck the life out of you, is a miserable decision. But the afterwards, of keeping that up, and choosing to say no even when they continue to contact you, and tell you they're sorry and want to talk again, is horrific. But you know in the end, you'll be happier and healthier.
Yesterday, climbing the incline with Chris, it was hard. But afterwards, it was HORRIFIC. But there is that underlying joy of giving him the birthday he wanted.
That choice to become a Christian is a hard one, because Christianity is so skewed in today's world. But that choice to live your life for Christ, is hard because you have to completely change your lifestyle, who you're with, what you do, how you spend your time, the words you say, and even dressing more modest if necessary. It's ugly, and it's hard. But there is that underlying joy of the fact that because of that choice, you'll get to spend eternity with Christ in Heaven.

And there's nothing more beautiful than that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God's Reasons, Not My Own

What does missioning mean to me?
Awhile ago, it was brought to my attention that I strongly dislike local missions. I have no idea where that comes from, but I just don't like doing it.
Last night, Stephanie asked me the question,
What does missioning mean to you?
We had been talking about Honduras, and how I'm so excited because this is just the beginning, and I'm meant to mission.
But I don't even know what a mission means to me.
Steph says to me, "I see you're really caught up in doing good. Yes, there's servanthood in that. But you can't get too caught up in that. 'Doing good' is not going to change the fact that there are orpans who have no home, and no food. 'Doing good' is not going to change the fact that these people are suffering. Yes, it may help them. But just because you're painting an orphan's bedroom in an orphanage, doesn't change that they don't have parents.
There's an thin line between letting 'doing good' control you, and 'doing good' when that is needed."

So, I sat down and thought about it.
What does missioning mean to me?

To me-it's not only the doing good. It's not just the fact that I can help these people even in small tiny ways. But it's just the fact that I get to shine the light for God. He has allowed me to be that person to plant a seed, and He can make that grow overtime.
My thought is unfinished. My mind is still looking through all it's pages, trying to find the reason I want to mission. Because I don't want to go for the wrong reason. I don't want to go, just because I feel like it. Or just because I want to travel. Or just because I can.
I want to go because I feel God leading me there, and because I am supposed to go there.
I want to go for God's reasons, not for mine.
So whatever those reasons may be, I'll find them. And I will pursue them.

Sorry, this thought isn't really finished quite yet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Quality Time

Quality Time.
What a stupid, disasterous, needy love language. I want so badly to hate this, and be repulsed by it.
"You are repulsed by the things most like you."
Steph has been reading the love languages book. She's been stuck on Quality Time for a long amount of time. She said to me last night, "I'm going to say this to you, and I truly want you to think about this. I think your love language is Quality Time."
My first thought- "No. It's physical touch. You're wrong."
But then I realized I was doing exactly what she told me not to do. I wasn't thinking about it.
So I thought about it. Tears started to well up in my eyes as she looked at me. She knew I didn't know what to say, so she continued. "I thought of it, when you told me you were so excited that Chris had realized that you liked "being" dates, rather than "busy" dates. You'd rather spend a whole day at the library doing nothing, than run and be busy with everyone all day. You like the BEING."
My heart started to crumble. My walls were deminishing beneath her words.
"I think that might be mine, too," She said. We both laughed because we keep finding out more and more things about us that are so alike. "I would literally wait for my Dad to get home from work, and wait from 6 to 9, because he'd be out for that long. When we'd ask him about it, he'd shrug us off, and go read the newspaper and watch tv. That's why I hate my Dad. Mel, that's why you hate World of Warcraft."
That's when I broke. Physical touch got a reaction. My Dad would hug me, and give me a kiss on the head, and I felt special because I was the only one he'd do that with. Tears rolled down as I replayed why this made so much sense.
Quality Time.
It's why I love making things. It's why I love photos. It's why I love letters-not for the words-but for the time spent in writing it. That's why Nikki and I are so far apart, because she isn't a be-er. That's why when my Mom worked at the school, I would spend my lunches in her office instead of with my friends. That's why I'd pretend to be sick, so my Mom would come home and take care of me. That's why I'd spend every night on the edge of my parent's bed talking with them, because that was often the only time they were still. That's why the most fun I've had with Chris was the days he came out to the house, and spent all day, into the wee hours of the next morning, simply talking and laughing and doing nothing. That's why it's so hard for me to have a conversation with anyone in my family, because they can listen and do things at the same time. That's why it hurts so bad whenever someone asks the question, "Alright, are we going to do something?" or "What are we going to do now?". That's why I hate games, because that Quality Time was ruined by fighting, and that's left a scar on me. The same with cooking and baking. That's why I hated high school, because no teacher would give me the time of day. That's why I hate crowds, because I am unnoticed in them-not because I'm needy for attention, but because I want someone to look me in the eye and have a conversation with me. That's why I hate the phone, because often times people continue to do while talking to me, and I don't have their full attention. That's why Steph and I are up late every night-because we both like to be. That's why I want to mission, because it's okay to be when you need to be, and do when needed to do. That's why I love Steph doing my hair, even if sometimes she hates it.
That's why it hurts my heart that no one is willing to make the drive to come and see me. This is why I had so much fun with Wooree. This is why it's hard to be with the people that mean the most to me, because they're all at a place of doing. This is why it hurts my heart so greatly that no one is willing to come out and spend time with me, simply because the drive is so long. Maybe my standards are too high, but I would expect from my closest friends, that they would take time out of their day to come spend time with me. And no one does, even though we've told them all that our house is open, they still choose somewhere else to go, that I can't go because I can't drive and no one is willing to get me. It hurts my heart.
I won't give up trying, because I know God has placed them in my life for a reason, and I won't give that up easily. I am going to fight for that.
This is why Hosea means so much to me. Because God spends all the time in the world, just trying to get my eyes focused on Him again. Time and time again, He took me back. Eventually leading me to that desert place so He was the only one that I had.
And this is most definitely why I told myself physical touch is my love language.
Physical touch gets a reaction. Physical touch feels good to almost everyone. But that "feels good" is physical feels good, not heart feels good. And since I couldn't get a response from Quality Time, I forced myself to love physical touch, but for me it was about the reaction. Physical touch caused people to stop what their doing, and give me Quality Time.

As soon as I found this inside of me, I wanted to shove it further into myself and leave it there. My thought was, "My love language isn't Quality Time. I won't let it be Quality Time because I don't receive Quality Time."
I'm haunted by the thought of not being loved. Not that I'm needy, but, who doesn't want to feel loved by those closest to you? Not just "loved"-but deeply cared about?
But then I searched that thought deeper.
God's the only one that can give me unfailing love. And that's all I need.
So even though my first reaction was to shove it down my throat, and erase it forever-I've changed my mind.
My love language is Quality Time. And I'm going to embrace that whether I get a response or not.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Destination

(It's taken me all day to find the finish to this thought. Now I see why.)

Lately, I've been feeling off. Not simply off-centered, or off-balanced. But it felt more like when in the car, and you have the bass on a few notches too high. The bass rolls through your body, vibrating everything around you. But the song feels unfinished, because everything else isn't quite as fantastic as that big, booming, rolling bass. It just feels...off. An unfinished thought.
It isn't enough to satisfy.

Finally, tonight, it hit me. My heart was broken by the news of a dear friend in need of some serious prayer and love. Satan is fighting for her soul, and I was torn by that. I was there. I was that girl. My mind, went straight to the selfish way of thinking,
How can I help her?
I can't go see her. I can't send her mail. I can call her, but I hate the phone, so maybe another day. So, I decided on a letter to give to Steph going to go visit her. All day, my mind wrestled around in my head trying to find the words to say. What can I say? What words will help? How can I tell her what I know? How can I help?
I put off writing that letter until 10:30 tonight, when Steph told me I couldn't write Chris's birthday card until I had written her.
So, I sat down, stalling a little bit by cutting out pretty paper, picking a pretty polka-dot envelope, picking the perfect pen color. And then I sat down.
Finally, I found the problem.
How can I help?
Do you see what's wrong with that sentence?
I.
Me.
Myself.
How can I help?
I then knew why I couldn't think of anything. I was trying to figure out the words that I could say to bring joy and life into her life. When in reality, God is the only one who can do that.
I started to write.
I started to tell her how I felt. How I knew what she was going through.
And it bothered me. I even wrote it in the letter, "I feel like this letter is going all wrong."
Finally, I stopped, and thought about it.
"God, I need to know what you say about this. How can you help her? What words will heal her heart? What do you say about it?"
And finally, I found a place I love in the Bible. Hosea.

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master.'
God, romancing her. Showing her. Loving her. Isolating her, so all she has is Him.
And then my heart sank.
I had lost track of the day God did that for me. I had lost track of the fact that God doesn't only love the people around me, He loves me too. I had lost the idea that I am intimately known and loved too. He led me to that desert, and spoke softly to me. And I had forgotten that.
How prideful, to think that I could offer anything to that girl without Him.
How prideful, to assume I could come up with the words that would even slightly calm the storm in her.
How prideful, to think I had God figured out.
How prideful, to think my words were my own.
How prideful, to think I was enough without Him.
Pride. I have a lot of it apparently.
And that needs to stop.
Right here, right now.
I will mark this as a day of change. No, it's going to just go away over night. But I will fight for that, because I am nothing without God. And to assume I am, is absolutely foolish of me.
God died for me. And I never even deserved it. I should know better than to cast Him aside in my life, and assume I could handle this racing car around a spinning track I'd never driven down before blindfolded. I can't handle that! God is the only one that can.
And I'm giving Him the driver's seat.
Because I know He's the only one that knows my destination, He is the only one that can get me there.