Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Father's Image

Every few weeks it seems there is a new quiz making its way around Facebook. "What's Your Maturity Age?", "What Color is your Aura?", personality tests, you name it and there is a quiz for it on Facebook, and if there isn't, well just wait a few days and it will exist. One test that recently made the ever-important news feed of "Most Recent" among my friends was a quiz that would help you determine whether you were more right-brained or left-brained. I've taken many of these types of tests before and have always, even as a young child, been a right-brainer. But I decided to take this one because it gave percentages and I was curious. After a handful of questions it was determined that I was 75% right-brained. I wasn't shocked at anything but the high percentage and the fact that they could determine this after just ten questions.

At first I questioned what that actually meant for me. Did that mean I wasn't analytical? Insightful? Was I just not that smart? My mind went a little crazy as it tends to do far too often. Then I took a breath and reminded myself that I am not dumb. I oftentimes feel like I am but then I have those moments where I say something so right and intelligent that I even amaze myself. (Has anyone ever seen "Drop Dead Diva"? Well I kind of feel like Deb sometimes when random moments of sheer brilliance come spouting from the Jane part of her brain.) And then I started thinking about it a little deeper. Maybe I'm not a genius but that doesn't make me less than. Quite the contrary, I think.

A good friend of mine gifted me with a bible study called "30 Life Principles" when she heard I was looking for a study to do on my own. I thought it looked decent enough to give it a try, so one morning I sat down with the intent of just kind of reading things over and get to a couple of the first chapter questions later. I was hooked almost from question one. These were questions I'd heard asked before but were posed in such a way that the answers truly became personal and reflective. And I started writing answers, looking up verses, reading deeper, and an hour later I'd done the whole first chapter. It was fantastic!

One of the questions asked was, "When God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness', what do you think He meant?". This whole right-brained thing and my obsessive over-analyzing made me go back to this question and chew it over a bit more.

I am made in the image of God. I have known this in my head since I was a child. As an adult I still keep that truth tucked away in my vault of bible knowledge. But what does it mean? Does it mean that God is a short overweight white girl with skin problems? I'm pretty sure He's not. But I am still made in His image in a way that is better than any physical likeness I could ever imagine.

Before all else, God is a creator. That's one of the names He is often referred to as, the Great Creator. That's what He is called in one of my stories. Before man ever walked the earth He took seven days (be they literal or whatever you believe) to simply create. He made beauty from nothing. He brought life to a lifeless plain. He painted the first magnificent sunset and wrote the very first love story. He created man. Simply put, He created.  

There are many times that very simple things will start me thinking of a potential story or, more recently, lyrics. Christmas Eve I was sitting in the sanctuary during service at Centerpoint and one simple word, the very way it was presented, started my brain on this rush of images and ideas. And as I chastised myself and tried to focus on the presentation once more I idly thought, "The dreaded writer's curse." And very quietly, as if the last word of my thought was echoing through a cave, it changed and came back to me as a whispered "blessing". I am blessed to be able to find inspiration everywhere and in almost everything. I love it and I praise God for it every time He gives me a new idea. That time was a little different because I was in church and was supposed to be paying attention, but with that simple tender exchange of words in my mind He reminded me that my creativity is a gift He was gracious enough to give me. He reminded me once again that I am indeed made in His image because I am also a creator.

Others have His compassion, His grace, His endless capacity and desire for knowledge. He put a little of himself in all of us but knew if He put all of His true awesomeness into one single human it would just be like creating another god. And there can only be One.

I am made in God's image. I finally know this not only in my head but now in my heart as well. So other people can be the brains, others can even be the great beauty. I'm quite happy being the creator.

Monday, November 4, 2013


In case everyone missed the memo, it is now November. My adult years have helped me cultivate sort of love/hate relationship with this month. It seems like there is so much expectation and then everything falls through. Regularly. I don't know what I ever did to November but I sincerely apologize and wish it would stop hating me. I've always been fond of the change of seasons it brings (despite my occasional complaints of the cold coming too swiftly) and it has one of my favorite holidays, not to mention it is the birth month of some of my favorite people. October beat me up pretty bad so I'm hoping November will go easy on me this year.

Some people are aware that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to the more informed ~_^). The goal is to write 50,000 during the month and some pretty great novels have come from the yearly word drive, Water for Elephants being one of them. The first year I participated I "won", meaning I reached and actually exceeded my word goal. Each year after that I attempted NaNo again and never even came close to finishing. Mostly this month is just a reminder of the fact that I can't seem to follow through on anything, even something I love doing.

I've kept a long mental list of all my failures and have recently added Texas to that list. I knew as soon as I made the decision to move that I needed to do it as quickly as possible or I would lose my desire. And sure enough with each passing day I wanted to be in Texas less and less. It breaks my heart simply because I'm letting people down and because it is yet another thing I set out to do and did not complete.

The Harbinger Project is shaping up to be another at this point. While I do have half a very good cast full of people who always reply when I email them, let me know when they're going to be late and generally communicate with me, the other half are impossible to reach, difficult to work with at times, and making this entire thing more frustrating and stressful than the fun it once was.

So here I am in November wondering what this month is going to hold for me. I thought I knew where God wanted me and now I am more uncertain than ever. I know it's time to be on my own and I'm actually really excited about it, but where am I supposed to go? Do I stay in Laconia, maybe Concord? Do I stay in NH at all? I don't know where God wants me and wish He would just tell me. I want nothing more than to do what He wants me to do but I need direction and I don't see it.

While I'm feeling lost I would ask for partners in prayer. I no longer feel as depressed or hopeless as I did even just a week ago but I still need people to come alongside me and pray. I've had God use people in amazing ways in my life to help me grow and direct me when He couldn't seem to get through to me otherwise. Maybe He'll do it again now so that I know the direction in which I should be heading.

On the plus side I only have four more chapters and an epilogue to go over with Laura before I find myself an agent and start seriously looking into publishing! I've really very excited about it. Hopefully we'll be able to get through the rest of the chapters fairly quickly and I can get this process rolling! Maybe that's how God is going to show me where I need to be. Who knows?

Until then I will continue working on the Harbinger, working on the game for IJ, writing others things, drawing. I'll continue going to CenterPointe and my group there. both for which I am so thankful I have. And I'll keep listening and looking for God's direction in my life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Some time ago I was told that the devil attacks you the most when you're doing what God wants you to be doing. In some ways that is one of the most frightening things I have ever heard but in more ways than not it is actually one of the most comforting. To know that my actions are leading me down the path God wants me to take so closely that the enemy is throwing things in my way to try and get me to stumble? Okay. Makes sense. As Christians we are told we will suffer for our devotion to Christ. And considering what Paul went through, just to name one devoted follower, what I'm facing in absolutely nothing. But to me, right now, it feels like absolutely everything.

I've been talking about Texas for a few months now, how I'm moving there for who knows why, but that I'm definitely going. When I made that decision and went down to Texas on vacation at the end of August I left a bag with Jess and Adam as "collateral", proof that I was really coming back. In it was packed more than half of my pony collection. Srs Bnz, y'all. One of Adam's comments upon hearing I was leaving a bag was, "Is she leaving money so we can ship it back to her?" Basically when I chickened out and changed my mind. And that comment hurt a lot more than I knew he intended. Adam would never intentionally say anything to upset me because he is one of my best friends. But I've been living under this self-given title of "Girl who says she's going to do something but really does nothing" for so long that it came as a slap in the face.

So I came home with great determination to get all my crap together and get down to Arlington. It was getting down to my deadline for moving (the 5th of October) and I already decided if I didn't find a car by then I would pack what I could into two suitcases, store what I couldn't take, find a car in Texas, then drive up and get the rest of my belongings close to Christmas. Then, literally days before I was preparing to buy a plane ticket I found a car. My trusted mechanic with 25+ years went with Heather and I to look at it, and even though it wouldn't turn over, Matt was sure he knew what the problem was and that it would be a cheap, quick fix.

Fast forward two weeks and almost $1,500 later, the car is still not fixed. He thought it was the fuel pump but that turned out to be fine. Then he noticed the spark plugs were all worn down so all the spark plugs were replaced. Still nothing. Some online research revealed this particular car sometimes has issues with a crank sensor. So the crank sensor was found and it definitely needed to be replaced, which it was. Still nothing. So Matt rolled up his sleeves and tore my engine apart to find the head gasket blown. Not only that but I also needed an intake manifold gasket, an exhaust manifold gasket, as well as two new cam seals, the last thing I have even yet to get. And then, after spending $80 to have the cylinder head magnafluxed and planed, it turns out the head is cracked. In three different places.

I still also need four new tires and have to inspect and register it. Oh, and last night I found out my cat had blood in her stool. So.... that's awesome. My default setting for the past week has been on the verge of breaking down. As of last night my default setting is now something like this:

At this point I am having to spend more money than I have coming in, all while Heather has basically let me stay here rent free this entire month. Needless to say, I am feeling overwhelmed. I have so many people making suggestions, telling me what they would do, offering suggestions that I don't even know whose voice belongs to who.
Was it really God who told me to go to Texas, or was it my own desire to go and start over somewhere? Was it Jessica's voice? Was I supposed to fly down and not get a car up here? Am I still supposed to go to Texas or was this just a step in God pushing me out on my own? I don't even know the answer to any of these questions right now.
People wanted an update so there you have it. I have no answers and don't know when I will. I...yeah. That's all I got.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thunder and Lightning

I have never been a person who enjoyed storms. As a kid I was more afraid of the thunder than the lightning because it was big booming and scary. I actually loved the lightning. When I was very small I would sit with my dad out on our covered porch and we would watch the sky light up, shouting out the different colors we saw streaking through the clouds. It's a tradition I want to carry on with my kids and was greatly dismayed when I became more afraid of the lightning than I was of the thunder. Though my fear was somewhat justified.

It was one night when I was probably sixteen or so. I was still very much rattled by the thunder and it was one of those late night/ middle of the night storms. Neither of my parents was home so it was just me and my little brother. Steven, if he wasn't beating me up, was very protective of me and knew I hated storms. So he came out into the living room and slept on the couch to keep me company of sorts while I sat in the recliner wide awake and petrified. The storm felt like it was swirling right above our crappy apartment and the next strike would set us aflame. Luckily that didn't happen. Well, lucky for us I suppose. Lightning did strike the house behind us and set them ablaze, and then traveled through the electrical wires to come shooting out our VCR which I was only a couple of feet from. No one at the house behind us was injured and the actually had minimal damage to my recollection but I was no longer fond of lightning. In fact, even now I cower and need to be with other people when a storm surrounds me.

I wish that carried over into emotional and mental storms. I am and always have been the type of person to isolate when things are rocky with my spirit. It's partly because I don't want to be a burden to anyone but also partly because, as I have recently discovered, it's a branch of my control issues. I need to be able to fix me. Growing up, I had absentee parents and fake-people friends (Heather aside) so any problem I had needed to be self-solved. As an adult I have far more true, heart-to-heart friends but I still feel like I have to fix things on my own. Even though my relationship with Christ is stronger and closer than it has ever been before, I still think it's my responsibility to handle what I've been dealt with, to not cry or complain and just deal with it.

This whole moving thing has been stressing me out to no end. I have felt from very early on that it is what God is telling me to do and believe I know when he's told me I need to go. And I've had people question whether or not He really is telling me to go, others question if the timing is His or mine, others who remain skeptical and likely will until I actually am headed to Texas because, let's face it, I am not the girl who follows through on anything. So this entire process has been trying to say the least. And as a person who used to suffer from extreme depression and anxiety, having all this stress is not fun. I have had a few crying spells that released some of the pressure. I even had a few hours the other day where my brain actually shut off and I remember very little. In talking with Ben I realized it was a self-defense mechanism. My brain knew it was on overload and if it didn't do something drastic, something very dramatic would happen. While I'm thankful my brain is smart enough (see what I did there?) to do that, it's also a pretty frightening thing. Honestly, I remember going through produce at the grocery store, getting Pop Tarts and driving to another store for meat and that is all from a two hour period of my day. Insane, right?

I had finally reached a breaking point, that was more than obvious. But there was no end to the things that were stressing me out. Leads came in for possible vehicles that led to dead ends which was disappointing. I had a friend trying to help me figure out alternative ways of getting myself and all my stuff to Texas, all things that wouldn't work for some reason or another upon closer examination, and it just seemed like the hits to my mental stability just kept coming. And then I had group last night.

Since July I have been part of a Celebrate Recovery (but not Celebrate Recovery) group at church. It's not an easy thing to be a part of. We go into deep hurts, habits, and hang-ups and work through them. And last night I just couldn't take any of it. I couldn't concentrate on anything anyone was saying, I could only focus on myself and put all my energy into keeping myself from losing it completely. I managed to make it through one question fine but when the next question came around and it was my turn to answer I completely lost it. To the point where I couldn't even speak. In that moment I felt as helpless and hopeless as I have felt in a very long time. I hate crying in front of people. Ugly crying is even worse and that was where I was.

After hugs and touches of comfort once group was over and some prayer with one of the group leaders I headed home feeling extremely vulnerable and exposed. It was like an old would had been opened and I was bleeding. It was unsettling and uncomfortable, and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I didn't feel better, I didn't feel like there had been some miraculous revelation, I didn't feel anything like you're supposed to feel after something like that. I just felt...there.

Anyone in the Lakes Region knows the amazing light show we had last night. Though it was dark the stars were blotted out with thick black clouds, and behind them came flashes of light so colorful and so frequent it was like some sort of ethereal performance. And sitting in the car watching it, I realized that's exactly what it was. Each strobe of light, each bolt that managed to break through the clouds was part of a performance, an exposition of God's amazing and awesome power. It looked crazy and unpredictable to me but I knew He had already decided where each strike would land and precisely when. It was perfectly choreographed to His rhythm. And I was awed.

Had I not been allowed to open my old wounds, to really cry and be so raw I would have gone home focusing on all my stress. I would have ignored the celestial presentation all around me. I was reminded that God is in control of everything. If He can control a bolt of lightning He can certainly control the events in my life. He knows exactly where each blessing and each trial will come from and precisely when. It is perfectly timed. His power is amazing. And it was the exact reminder I needed.

This morning as I was checking the weather on my phone, trying to decide what to wear today, I started feeling those residual threads of stress and hopelessness trying to creep back in. The forecast was cloudy and humid, but dry for the most part. It was at that exact moment that a huge crash of thunder tore through my quiet morning so loud and so close that I literally jumped and my cell phone flew from my hands.

God was reminding me again of His power. And I laughed because I needed that not-so-small reminder.

I've decided storms are no longer things to fear, but opportunities to sit back and watch the amazing power of God. I will not run from lighting and cower in the thunder. Instead, from now on, I will remember everything is in the hands of my Father, and I'm going to come through to the other side to see the sun again eventually.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Under Pressure

I don't know about anyone else but I've never been good at handling pressure. There are certain types of pressure I thrive on (deadlines, for example) but when it comes to any other type of pressure I suddenly forget I'm almost thirty-four and turn into a big ball of tears and sulking. I am proud to say this has gotten better over the years but I am ashamed to admit it's only on the surface. Inside I am still that child, I've just learned how to better conceal it. Which isn't always a good thing. Actually, it's hardly ever a good thing.

As passive as I appear to be, I have some serious control issues. I am not lacking in trust - in God, in other people - but when I have no control over things I tend to become a little...unwound. I feel like if I don't do things myself then they won't be done correctly and they won't be done in a timely manner. Managing and producing "Harbinger" with other people, overseeing actors and artists has definitely been a test of my controlling issues and helped me learn how to loosen my death grip on a lot of things. People don't always get their lines to me when they should, don't respond to messages or emails, communicate they way they need to, and there's only so much I can do about that. Through all the eye-twitching and yelling at my computer screen after reading an email or ending a Skype conversation, I really have grown in that area even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it.

But I'm still struggling.

I have a little over a month to somehow get a vehicle so that I can move. Sure, I can hop on a plane to Texas and be there but I would have almost none of my stuff but what I could pack in a suitcase. That, and no one up here can store, nor should they store, all my crap. It's my crap. I should be able to take care of it. After that I also have to worry about dental work I desperately need done, and getting my own place. Oh, and I still have six chapters left of my novel to be gone over before I make revisions for the final draft.

No wonder I'm not sleeping!

There has never been any doubt that this move is something God is calling me to do. Not since the morning I woke up and felt that push. There have been moments of fear, of anxiety, and definite moments of being emotional but never doubt. So why am I having such a hard time believing He will provide what I need to get there? I keep feeling like He's going to wait until the last minute before showing me the way because...just because. To teach me to trust more and to loosen that death grip.

It drives me crazy that I have this desire to come up with a contingency plan, a "what if He doesn't come through?" plan of action. That's not trusting at all. But at the same time I'm so afraid to completely trust because I'm terrified of being let down. Like God won't come through which means none of this really was from Him and it was just my own desire to go and then I'll be stuck here with yet another "I'm going to do this!" declaration that will not come to fruition. I am the queen of pipe dreams, the one who always has big, bold ideas that fizzle and die like a campfire built on soggy logs. I don't want to be that person anymore.

So for those reading this who believe, as I do, that prayer is so important and powerful, I ask for prayer. For my circumstances as well as my attitude and thought-life. I need my head to line up with the things my mouth professes and what my heart feels. I need to really trust God will come through if I'm saying that's what I feel. I'm also kind of struggling with self-worth lately, so...yeah.

On another related note, there will be a yard sale at my house September 14-15. Come by and buy stuff! Give me all your money! ^_^

Only half kidding.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cutting down the rumor weed

It has come to my attention twice now in less than a week that there has been some talk and assumption about the circumstances surrounding my move to Texas. I decided today would be a good day to clear them up because, quite frankly, I'm more than a little irritated. For most people this would be the worst time to say anything but for me, if I don't say something now I never will and I'm kind of tired of letting people get away with stupid stuff. Let's begin, shall we?

  • I am not abandoning Heather. We've talked a lot about it and she feels, as I do, that this is a good change for both of us. But change sucks, especially when it's big change. We're still friends, she will always be my best friend and my sister, and it is going to be hard to leave her behind. But we're fine. Thanks for asking.

  • I am not, nor was I ever, going to move to Texas "for a boy." This is the one that is bothering me the most. Not the assumption itself but that the assumption was made and never validated. I have had a few people come to me in love, to express their concerns and to have a conversation with me about why I was moving but I have had people also just assume they know why, talk about it with others, and never come to me to see if there was any truth to the matter.

You guys, aren't we out of high school? I'm actually really hurt that some of the people in my life would make this assumption or take hearsay as truth without even talking to me about it. Ben and I, if anyone on Facebook has been paying attention, are no longer in a relationship and I'm still moving down there. For many different reasons, all of which I would have been and still am willing to share if anyone would have asked.

As someone who has had some pretty terrible things said about them behind their back before, all I really have to say is at some point, you're either going to have to grow up or risk hurting a lot of people. And the next time anyone has questions about my motivation behind anything I'd appreciate you coming to me directly instead of talking about it behind my back.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In the world versus Of the world

Several years ago I got my best friend a hoodie from The Bible Bookstore in Concord. The front read "In the world, not of it!" in bold, proud letters. It was a favorite credo of Heather's which made it kind of a no-brainer gift. At the time I was still very young in my return to faith and I understood the saying on a surface level. At the time that was really all that mattered. I got it. Be in the world, not of it. Love Jesus, love the world but don't follow in the world's footsteps. Got it. Cool. Moving on.

I think it's pretty safe to say I've been young in my faith for quite awhile, longer than I should have been content with. I went to church on Sunday, was on the worship team, went to group, loved my neighbor at arm's length, respected my parents to their faces, said my "thank you" and "please provide me with" prayers when I remembered to. And that was okay with me for many years. I'd say eight years if I had to wager. On the outside I looked like a good Christian girl and had a lot of people fooled. I think I had myself fooled, too.

I believe we all go through stages and phases of metamorphosis and that there are times when God is shaping us, and times that he lets us rest to get used to our growth spurt changes. Joining One Voice, being at Calvary was a phase of my growth. God used that family to help me become something more than a scared little girl hiding in her apartment. I was loved, I was cared for, and I was not allowed to slip under the radar. With them I had accountability and people asking me how I was doing and how they could pray for me. One Voice and CBC changed my life, as did the River church and that family when I was attending there. But circumstances, ever-changing as they are, prevented me from attending CBC anymore and that eventually led me to CenterPoint.

It wasn't until a few months ago that I really felt myself begin to change and grow again. I was part of a small group that, for the first time in my life, I did not dread going to. I felt comfortable at group and looked forward to it each week. Though what we discussed was not light or casual by any means I felt like I was spending the evening with sisters. Again, God used those who had taken me into their family to stretch me. Their love, their concern, and their prying (yes, there was prying and it was necessary! As Toby Mac says, "Real friends are willing to intrude.") opened my heart in ways it had never been opened before. I suddenly had a deep and true thirst for Christ, for what he shared with us in his stories and teachings of the Bible, for what he had to say to me through others. Since January there has been a daily growth process in me. I feel it in my quiet time (something I can't even begin my day without anymore or everything feels thrown off), in the way I pray and they way I feel about myself and others.

I had to pause because one of my favorite songs came on iTunes. You wouldn't have known that unless I told you, but it adds to my segue into the whole reason behind this blog update. The song, "1,000 Years" by Christina Perry, is definitely a secular song. It was inspired by and written for Bella and Edward. Yes, from "Twilight." And yes, it is one of my favorite songs. I regret nothing. It's pretty, and it speaks of love than transcends. Don't worry, I'm not going to compare it to God's transcending love because it just won't work with these lyrics. My point is that, though I have grown and feel closer to Christ than I ever have before, that I long to be constantly in his presence there is still a world out there that knows very little about him. They think they know it all but they really don't.

I have friends who love Jesus so much that they will take everything that is not of or blatantly about God out of their lives. They only listen to Christian music, they only go to Christian events, and they only have Christian friends. Anything that is not sanctioned by the church or a devout spiritual leader of some kind is not something they want to spend their time on. They seem to have forgotten the whole "In the world, not of it" aspect of Christianity. How are we supposed to spread the love of Christ if we simply stick to our own kind? That whole "preaching to the choir" thing? Yeah, it's exactly that. People in your same-faith circle don't need to hear what you believe and know because they're in the exact same place you are. It's the people of the world that need to see your shining light. You need to IN the world!

Conversely I have "Christian" friends who are so far IN the world they could be considered undercover agents, but that's another blog entry. Actually, I think I went there before. This is just the other side of the coin I guess.

By now everyone knows I'm moving to Texas and I feel like God is putting me there for a very specific reason. He's shown me that certain events in my life have and are leading up to what He's got planned for me in this next stage of life and I have never been so excited! But I have to be in the world. I have to remember that my purpose, the reason I am on this earth above all other reasons, is to share the love of Christ with people who have not yet experienced it for themselves. I may be the one who plants the seed, I may be the one to water it, or I may be the one who is blessed with being able to see it bloom, but I HAVE to be in the world. We all do, or we're missing so many amazing opportunities God has for us.

It's a tricky thing to find a balance between in and of, but it can be done. I'm certainly not saying I have that balance myself. One of my favorite shows right now is "Nashville" so that says a lot right there. >_> It's the music I really love, Country, which says a whole lot more! Kidding. There's nothing wrong with Country music. Well there is, but it's the same thing that's wrong with every genre of music.

Anyway, my rambling, non-sensical thoughts for the day. Someday I'll be organized enough in these posts that they'll actually flow the way they should and come to a natural conclusion.

Today is not that day.

Be in the world, fellow Christians. Otherwise you're slacking on the job.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

So That's Happening

Skip to the bottom for TL:DR sum up!

Wow, I knew it had been awhile since I updated, I just didn't realize it was that long. Whoops. It certainly is a change from when I had my livejournal account and updated fairly frequently. Though a lot of it was ranting and complaining and thankfully that is a habit I have (for the most part) been able to break. Not just online but in everyday life as well. Whining and pouting doesn't really get a lot done. It's just better to find the positive in the given situation rather than focus on the negative. A hard learned lesson, that, but I think I am finally getting the hang of it.

So a lot of changes have been happening over the past few months and will continue to change in the coming months. I had the urge to blog about it immediately but decided to let it marinate for awhile first, let God speak through my crazy loud and very adamantly attention grabbing thoughts. I tend to be a very instinctive person and I act almost immediately when I get something in my head which, let's be honest here, is not always the best course of action. In fact, rarely is it smart to go, "Here is my idea! I must do it now!" Those moments are usually followed by sticking your foot in your mouth and/or eating a nice big plateful of crow. Sometimes both if you're really lucky!

For those few random people who don't know, I went down to Texas and Louisiana last month for about a week. To say it was nice being able to spend time with Jess, Adam, the kids, Ben....would be an understatement. I loved being down there and coming home was very hard for a lot of different reasons. Things have been slowly shifting in me for some time, God kind of pushing me in directions I was either ignoring or plainly telling Him were just not happening unless He changed my heart completely, as well as the hearts of other people. Pretty sure at that moment God was like:

It wasn't all that slow or gradual (at least in me), it was a smack in the face, okay let's do this thing! kind of change. Jess, Adam and I talked about it while I was down there and by the time I was back in New Hampshire I knew I would be back in Texas before long, and on more of a permanent basis.

See, for awhile I've felt as though I needed to move away, to go by myself and figure out who I am on my own apart from Heather. We've been best friends since we were nine, we've been through a lot of really crappy stuff together and we were each other's only constant far too often, and that's built an unhealthy co-dependent relationship for both of us. But she's familiar and I didn't want to leave that. I also didn't want to leave this amazing apartment and my housies because this has been the best past two and a half years! I found a church I loved, a group of women I felt comfortable being myself around, sharing with and learning from, really I couldn't imagine leaving any of that. Until I was in Texas.

Long story short, God changed my heart in a matter of hours. He took away the fear (and let me tell you, there was a crap ton of that!) and replaced it with excitement and optimism. And so a plan was put in place. Jess and Adam were more than willing to let me stay with them as long as I wanted/needed, I'd be able to get situated without being rushed, and look for my own place. I'd also be a heck of a lot closer to Ben who is stationed at the Barksdale AFB. Yes, it's hotter down there and there are days when the humidity is awful but everything is air conditioned and cost of living is cheaper. And other than my friends and Ben, no one else knows me there. I feel like I'd be able to start over and figure myself out as I go. And I am so excited and ready for this I can't even tell you!

The plan right now is to leave at the end of September, stay with Jess and Adam until I find a place (I'm thinking Tyler right now for some reason) but with the goal of being in my own place by January at the latest. When I said as much to Jess she laughed at me and said, "You can stay here as long as you want. I can guarantee you'll get sick of us before we get sick of you."

The one thing standing in my way right now is the fact that I don't have a vehicle. I'd like to have one before I move so I can get some kind of part-time job and save up a bit more than what my pony commissions bring in. Part-time is all my health can handle but it would be something. Then I'd be able to get a trailer and haul all my stuff down south when the time comes. As it stands now it will take a miracle for me to get any sort of vehicle, let alone an SUV like I'd love to have (more for moving purposes than anything else). Not saying that God can't do it because He has done much bigger things in my life. But I'm also not going to sit here on my hands and expect a car to just be dropped off at my door.

I am going to put up a button here where people can donate because I ain't too proud to beg, y'all. I'm really not. If you can't donate, you can't donate. I still love you, promise. If you can donate a dollar that's fantastic! Whatever you can. Honestly, I figure if I can get everyone I know to donate a dollar I could get a fixer-upper and that would be awesome!

TL:DR ~ I'm moving to Texas and need your money so give me all your spare change. ...if you want to, of course.

I'll update with progress on all of these front, be sure! And thank you in advance. And if you want to get together before I go, you have a couple of months. :D

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Fandom of Christianity

Before I begin I will say that I know this post will upset some people. The title of the post alone will make people cringe or shy away but it's something that has been weighing on me for quite some time. For those not "hip to the ways" of my generation and those younger I'll try to refrain from using too many fandom-esque words.

Let's begin by defining this word, shall we?

Fandom: noun \ˈfan-dəm\ The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. Fanfiction writers, artists, poets, and cosplayers are all members of that fandom. Fandoms often consist of message boards, livejournal communities, and people.

Doesn't sound like something you'd associate with religion or Christianity right off the bat, does it? But if you look deeper into what a fandom consists of, the actions of the people within a fandom, you'll see some rather obvious parallels. In a fandom, someone will take what is canon (fact according to the actual book/show/whatever) and make it their own. They pick and choose what they like about the canon and add things to make it more to their liking. This is a thing that has been happening for centuries in some subtle and not so subtle ways. Take the original story of King Arthur, for example. How many times has that story been retold, taking some elements of the original story and adding or subtracting to make it different, make it more personal, make it more to the new author's liking? And it will continue to happen. Kind of like what people do with the Bible.

Over the centuries the Bible has been translated into over 500 different languages, one of them even being Vulcan. Yes, that is a thing that happened. One of the biggest arguments is that it has been written and rewritten so many times over that there's no possible way the versions of the Bible we have floating around today could be even close to accurate.* So what we do is read bits and pieces of it, listen to people we respect enough to "whole face" listen to, take pieces of sermons and encouraging Psalms and Proverbs, and we make our own version of a religion that is uniquely ours and grossly watered down to the point where, in some cases, it becomes unrecognizable. Thus making it a fandom. We're all enjoying calling ourselves Christians, basking in the love of God, wearing cross necklaces, but none of us believes the same things. At the very heart of things, on a good day, we'll all have the same core beliefs, the same "canon", but once you step away from that look out!

If you are a true follower of Christ then you believe you are to be walking in the footsteps of Christ. I believe that with my whole heart. Does that mean I will never fall, never slip up? Absolutely not. I'm a sinner not because I want to be, but because we live in a deeply broken world and daily face an enemy that knows the perfect ways to make me trip, stumble, and fall repeatedly. But for every moment of failure there is redemption in the arms of Christ. As long as I am repentant, truly repentant, I am forgiven. I will probably fall in the exact place I fell before, but redemption will still be mine should I seek it.

Intent has a HUGE part in redemption. I once had a friend who was a lesbian ask me, "If I go to church and confess to being gay, then do all my 'hail Mary' things will I be forgiven?" I told her no at the time because I was still a newbie myself, but I should have said she was already forgiven. But just because you're forgiven does not mean everything is right with you and God. Because she wasn't truly repentant, nor did she want to change. She acknowledged her sin but had no desire to align herself with the truths of the Bible.

I see this a lot on Facebook. I have a few friends who will post some random picture with a verse from scripture on it one second and then post something full of foul language or of a sexual nature the very next. You can't praise God with one hand held high while your other continues to willingly go against the very things you profess to believe to be truths. No sex before marriage, foul language, sexual immorality, lying, stealing, cheating...

"Well I don't think that verse means what you think it means." Some of the verses people argue over are pretty black and white. Hebrews 13:4 says this: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." 1 Corinthians 7:2 also addresses this topic. Homosexuality is another hot topic issue. "Nowhere in the New Testament does it say..." But it does. In every verse that talks about marriage and romantic relationships it specifically speaks of a man and a woman. It never says significant other, partner, husband to husband or wife to wife. Man and woman, husband and wife, bride and groom. Plain as day if you're really reading. Does my believing that to be fact mean I can/should hate and judge every gay person I come into contact with? Absolutely not. Jesus would not do that, which means I shouldn't either. I should love and listen. Being a friend does not equate agreeing with their lifestyle. I do/say things all the time some friends don't agree with (this post is probably one of them!) but they still love me.

We're constantly projecting our own thoughts, feelings, and ideals onto text that is basic and applicable just the way it is, perverting truth to be our own version of it. Every single day seems to bring a new faction of Christianity or what some feel can be called Christianity, but really we're turning it into something cheap. It's no longer a thing we cling to, look to for understanding and guidance but something we pull out when we need to feel better or hide. "Well you can believe that but I'm going to believe this." I don't think it works that way. Either it's biblical truth or it isn't.

Stand firm in what you believe, back it up with scriptural truths, have a true heart of repentance, seek guidance from trustworthy people. But don't cheapen yourself or Christ by making your system of belief a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel or a buffet table where you can take as much or as little of anything you want and pretend what you don't like doesn't exist.

Most of all, be brave. It takes guts to really follow Christ. You'll meet opposition, you'll probably lose relationships. But the return is so much more than anything you will ever lose.

* Rewritten Bible Versus Copied Bible

Friday, March 22, 2013

Update of Yum!

I have this really sweet deal going on in that I live in a house full of amazing women. It's a two family house meaning one apartment upstairs and one downstairs. Heather and I take up the top and Laura and Beth take up the bottom. All of us are Christians, we all have the same tastes (for the most part) in movies, games, and entertainment in general. Laura and I pretty much share a brain which is super helpful when she editing my novel. But wait, there's more! Beth also makes lunches and snacks for us all during the week! We buy some of the groceries or, on weeks we're too lazy to shop, just give her money, and we're well taken care of all week. She makes the best lunches, too. If you've never had a Hollenbeck BLT you do not even know what you're missing. I didn't until I had it for the first time!

Anyway, in keeping with trying to help us all eat a bit better, our snacks are almost always really healthy ones. We get apple slices and peanut butter a lot which is one of my favorites. Lately, though, we've just been getting the apple. Now here's where I shamefully admit how lazy I am. I don't eat apples whole because I can't at the moment, so I haven't been eating my apples. They've been accumulating. I don't know what Heather's excuse is, but hers have been taking up shelf space, too. So today I decided to look up a recipe in which I could use them. What I found was an upside down cake. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your kitchens!

Full recipe here.

I deviated from the recipe a bit because I am allergic to following directions when it comes to baking. Instead of sprinkling moist brown sugar all over the bottom of the pan I stuck hard brown sugar with just a teaspoon or so of water in the microwave for ten seconds. This made a nice syrupy kind of paste almost that I spread over the bottom. So delish and it makes a kind of caramel over the apples! Also, I used flax seed instead of eggs because it's better for you and I had some available to me. This cake is not too sweet, moist, and really good. I've never had it before today but I felt like I was eating comfort food. This is one recipe I will be adding to my Must Make recipe book.

Overall I'd give it a 9 out of 10. Why just a 9? Only because the cake is pretty thin. I'd like a bit more of it to balance out the sweetness of the apples just a bit better. Other than that, perfection in a pan!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love and Tolerance

It's never been a real secret to anyone that I am a huge "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" fan. I can't say I have been since the show came out - to be honest I thought it was pretty boring the first time I tried to watch it. Sure the colors were nice and the animation was lovely but it just looked like it was another silly cartoon for little girls. So I watched the first half of the opening two episode arc and left it at then. Then a few months later, when I was bored to tears, I decided to try and watch it again for lack of anything better to do. I think I was about six episodes in before I realized I'd just watched candy colored ponies for about two hours.

For the first season the show was very much for little girls and really just a half hour commercial for toys. By the second season everyone involved with the show realized what a huge following they had and started playing to the adult fans more without sacrificing the original audience they were playing to. Little girls liked the show, older girls and women liked the show, little boys couldn't really care less in most cases, but what really shocked and appalled people (in a lot of cases) were how many grown men loved the show. They started calling themselves "Bronies" and walked around wearing clothing with their favorite pony featured and collecting toys. And they were labeled unkindly and unfairly as being gay, unmanly, pedophile. No one understood how or why these men adored ponies so much. A lot of people still don't. But I think a lot of us in the fandom are starting to realize that on some level it doesn't matter. It's a smart cartoon that is very self-aware, has beautiful animation, relateable characters with depth, and lessons that not only teach little kids but also remind all the adult fans of lessons they once knew but have long since forgotten. It gives hope to those who have forgotten how to smile and enjoy the simple things in life. In a world full of shows like "Revenge," "The Liars Club," and "Scandal," this show is definitely one of the better options for everyone to watch.

This fandom has inspired musicians to compose some of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard. Artists who lost a passion found the desire to create again. Sewers made plushies, hats, blankets, nearly everything under the sun, while painters and crafters gained a new skill of creating custom toys from basic plastic models. Writers who felt as though the written word had all but betrayed them once again found the inspiration to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard these days). Yes there is a dark side to this fandom. There is to every fandom no matter where you look. But as far as I can tell the good far outweighs the bad.

I myself have found a lost love of painting simply by making custom ponies. I hadn't painted anything on canvas for twenty years. Until last year when I decided it was time I try landscapes again and remembered how very much I loved it. I've explored some things in my past through writing stories involving these characters. I've even written a fanfic long enough to be its own novel and now it's being produced as a YouTube drama with over twenty different voice actors, all fans of the show, who are excited to be involved in yet another aspect of the fandom.

As a woman I get weird looks when people find out I am part of this fandom. For a man it can be so much worse. The point of my writing this entry is just to remind everyone, whether you're in this fandom or not, that judging someone because of something silly they get enjoyment from (HUGE OBVIOUS HORRIBLE THINGS ASIDE) is not a poor reflection of them but a poor reflection of you. Take the time to try and understand the other person's point of view. Have a conversation. Show a little tolerance and a whole lot of love. We were not put on this earth to judge one another but to love and uplift.

Unless you're a Pokemon fan. Then I just don't get you.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Surgery and Recovery

Most people know I have a bad heart. I was born with it and it has been my constant companion from the very beginning. From pulmonary stenosis, to a ballooning of the pulmonary valve, to a possible aneurysm, it all comes down to me having a congenital heart defect. Or several, I suppose you could say. I've learned to live with it for the most part, have regular check ups with my cardiologist every four months, and do everything I'm supposed to. Well, except for stay away from roller coasters. I mean, come on. If that's how I'm going to go then bring it on.

Several months ago I was put on a medication for my reactive arthritis and this medication is known to react badly with people who already have an established heart condition. While it can never bee proven 100% that this medication caused a problem, I did develop something called premature ventricular contractions (PVC) while I was on it. Basically your heart beats top to bottom, top to bottom. Mine was going top bottom bottom, top bottom bottom over 1000 times a day. Nothing life threatening or crazy, but enough to make me know something was up. Now I am the type of person who can't even stand to feel her own pulse. It literally makes me sick to my stomach so you can imagine how these palpitations make me feel. I tried a couple different medications that did nothing, then talked to my doctor about a cardiac ablation surgery and had one scheduled fairly quickly.

What happens is they go in through different arteries or veins - in my case it was veins because mine are huge and disgusting - with catheters to look for the bad/overactive cells that are making the heart beat extra times. These cells light up when they are active and the surgeon can burn them off if they are in an area he can get to and if there are enough of them to destroy. Mine were jerks and decided to not be active enough. Because, of course. So I am back on medication for the time being. Since this is not a life threatening condition I may just decide to deal with it and drop the meds all together simply because don't want to have to start taking meds every single day until I absolutely have to. I can learn to live with the weird, gross thumping through sludge in my chest.

The surgery itself wasn't horrible. I was out for most of it, though they did wake me up in the middle of it so try and make my heart more active. I cried because it's what I do, and because the feeling was just awful. I can't beats, then slow, then it felt like it stopped all together, rinse and repeat. Then they put me out again and that was that. I had to lay still and straight for two hours and that was torture only because I had to pee so bad!

After two hours the nurse came to get me to help me to the bathroom. I walked fine until I got in there, then suddenly I was creating a small river of blood. I mean, it was all over the floor, my sheets, one of my blankets, my socks. You name it, I bled on it. So then the nurse had to hold me down on the bed and basically press her full body weight onto me to keep me from becoming a fountain. You would not believe the bruise I have from her hand alone. It looks like I got slugged with a baseball bat and it makes it more painful to walk than it would if I just had the incision sites to deal with. Eventually I stopped bleeding and after another three and a half hours of laying still and flat I was able to get up and move without leaving a trail to find my way back with.

It's been interesting keeping myself from doing a lot simply because I am not a person who likes to sit still. Even if I'm watching tv or something I have to be doing something else while I sit there. Thankfully now I can get up and move around without too much pain, it's mostly just discomfort. I haven't tried stairs yet so we'll see how that goes soon enough. Wednesday I start small group so I'm going to have to face those stairs eventually.

Until then, I have a lot of work to catch up on.

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