17 April, 2007

The Night The Elf Turned Emo

Apparently, folks, elves can and will become emo. This weekend has been a defined trough in my emotional state. Despite many things. I have the suspicion this is because of vitamin deficiency, but we'll find out. Regardless, it doesn't justify the angry behavior I've had for a few days. Tonight, after finishing my taxes (ironically), I began to think about the spiritual aspect of being depressed. I've started to realize I get depressed when I'm very inactive (like what happened in January of this year), which is usually the result of sickness or injury. But I think I've also been depressed because I have devoted 0% of my time to God.

Duh, Laedelas. "Cut" by Plumb started to play on iTunes tonight, and I was astonished. First of all, because I didn't know this song was on my playlist. Second, because (except for the physical violence) the song described a lot of my emotions. The second verse "hit the spot," so to speak. I began to think about the implications of my depression, because I was relishing it. The phrase "crippled anger" humbled me. I am God's, am I not? Why should I be drowning myself in my sin?

Then I got emo. Because of the pirate party (post is upcoming), I had bought two pencils of black eyeliner at the $1 store. I hadn't used it at the party, but it came in handy tonight. I used them on paper, though, not skin. I hashed through my emotions in art, which I haven't done in a long time. The creative forces hammered at my mind in ways they haven't for years. I ended up with 6 pictures, and I cheated 'cos I used a stick of bright red pastel.

I must say, eyeliner pencils are great for drawing, they just need to be sharpened constantly.
I went through one and a half pencils. Maybe some day I'll scan the pictures and describe their meaning.

#1: Condemnation
This describes how I feel when I'm depressed. There's a bottomless pit of black, heavy air, and I'm chained to prevent resistance. The descent is painful and inevitable. Thus the wild black scribblings. If this picture had an accompanying music clip, it would be screaming.

#2: Resignation.
I drew this, describing how I wallowed in my depression and gave myself to my sin. After I finished, I realized what I was doing, and drew a thick line through it with the word "no!" at the end of the line. I didn't want to rest here in any sense.

#3: Redemption.
This one shows a red hand, reaching toward my hands, and the chains pulling apart. The shading didn't exactly turn out, but it looks explosive. That's the point.

#4: Redemption part I:
The title should have been "Justification," but I think I was so happy about the redemptive picture that I forgot. The girl is dressed in white, with arms stretched out, twirling in the black air. Her heart is red, showing vivacity. This picture shows two ideas: Freedom and life.

#5: Redemption part II:
A white hand holds the broken chains and is surrounded by a haze of red. The red haze and the blurriness of "Redemption" is meant to show pain. This hand, the hand of God, took my chains and owned them. This is why it's justification...I am now free, dressed in white, with a new life, and God has paid for the change with his own life and comfort. His pain is my gain.

#6: Sanctification.
The girl, dressed in white, still has a red heart. She is still standing in the black air, but sees a solid, real way out of it. This is represented by the straight line. It's hazy on one side, still, because the way is narrow, like the edge of a knife. She must walk this line, which Christ laid down, to become more like him and lose the darkness.

13 April, 2007


On March 22, I blogged about my future. Boundless has, once again, given me more fuel to feed my passion for an unexeptional career. In Dreaming The Right Dreams, Drew Dyck talks about career dreams.

As a student, I found it to be very encouraging. People often tell me to do what I love to do, but I think I'd love to be a mother, and I'm not going to do that yet. I love my physical therapy aide job, but I shouldn't do that forever. I'd love more education in that field, but I can't jump through the academic hoops. It's somewhat frustrating to know that I could do physical therapy, I just can't do the schooling. I mean, technically I could, but only if I quit coaching, quit spending so much time with church activities, quit my job(s), and had absolutely no social life. I'm not willing to do that for a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

If you don't already have a "career," I'd encourage you to read the whole article. But this was my favorite paragraph:

"The difficulty about examining unrealistic dreams is that it flies in the face of our dream-obsessed culture. From a thousand different directions we're encouraged to pursue our dreams against all odds and at any cost. That kind of thinking might be OK if our dreams were realistic — or at least accompanied by second and third options. But often they are not."
Realizing that I couldn't do everything I wanted to do really hurt. Last Spring, when I realized I wouldn't be doing PT school immediately after graduation, I had an incredibly difficult time sacrificing that dream to God's greater plan. Now, I am thanking God that he had another academic plan (Linguistics) laid out for me before I knew I needed it.

10 April, 2007

Guitar Hero

Switchfoot just released their new music video. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to digest their new album, but of all the snippets I've heard, this song seems to be one of the best. And they involved my two favorite video games! I laughed at how funny the video was when the music is somewhat serious (I think). All of the animation of the video game was frame-by-frame. Sweet! Also, that outfit the chick was wearing was so cool, though you'll probably never see it on me :-P Enjoy...

09 April, 2007

Love, Actually

Song of Solomon.

What comes to mind? The picture of a perfect union? A book in the Bible that was incredibly embarrassing when first you stumbled upon it in your adolescence?

"Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases."
This phrase is mentioned three times in this book about love as God designed it (here, here, and here). Each time, the phrase is adjured to "daughters." I think that message is pretty clear and direct, don't you?

Since today is the day that my church chooses to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I've been thinking about the love that drove Jesus to the cross, then empowered him to regain life. That's some intense love. I've experienced his love in many practical ways today. Grace to wake up early and serve my church joyfully. Nourishment that was pleasing to my eyes and palate. Family members who provoke my growth. Friends who enjoy my presence. However, on the way home from (yet) another time with friends, I saw a picture of the "love" that the world portrays as best. I failed miserably at controlling the radio in the car, so through music I realized the depravity of even well-intentioned men, and the disgusting perversity of those who relish their sinful ways.

Lately, I've been realizing how widespread sexual sin is among people who aren't in the least ready for marriage, specifically those who are still in school. Why have we divorced the idea that intimacy goes hand-in-hand with commitment, and that intense preparation precedes them both? Why is it so easy to desire relationships that I know I cannot commit to, or that I'm not ready for?

Well, duh. Satan knows our weak spots, and so constructs a culture for young adults that's swimming in debauchery, with a twisted view of what God created to be perfect. I've tried to avoid this in what pictures I willingly see, but I think I've allowed myself to listen to music that compromises the integrity of my thought. The music itself may present God's plan for love in a negative or positive light, but regardless, I shouldn't be listening to it. I am not in a relationship that would allow me to enjoy such music without tempting me to sin. So, I've come up with a few categories by which I will be judging the music I hear.

  • DISGUSTING: There is absolutely no redeeming value in music of this kind. Unfortunately, a lot of rap and hip-hop can be categorized here. It may be fun, but is anything but worthwhile (I'm not throwing these genres out the window, and they are by no means the only genres to produce such music. I'm forced to play off a stereotype to illustrate my point.)
  • WORTHWHILE, BUT NOT YET: Music that illustrates a facet or two of the love that God presents in Song of Solomon, but facets to which I should not look. Unfortunately, many of my favorite songs fall into this category. "Closing In" by Imogen Heap is a good example. Some day, I could see myself on a road trip with my husband, and it's late at night, and this song will start to play...and therein lies the problem. I can't be thinking about such situations! Time for that will come! I don't want to kill the anticipation of romance before it actually gets here. I have a playlist in iTunes titled "Not-Yet Love," and I intend to put such songs in that playlist and leave them there until it pleases God to awaken such emotions.
  • WRITTEN JUST FOR MY SITUATION: These songs are about love, but through some amazing design of God, don't tempt me to think of romance. Songs like "Carry You" by Rebecca St. James, or "You Are Mine" by Mute Math. Many of them, I've noticed, can be applied directly to my relationship with God, though I could see them as romantic songs when the time comes. Thank God for these songs. I love listening to them because of their encouraging nature. Through these songs, I can begin to recognize what God's design for love is, without falling into the trap of worldly lusts. I've grouped these in a playlist titled, simply, "Love."

I think this system may help me to keep my thoughts clean and my actions pure. Unfortunately, I can't choose what I hear all of the time, but having such a classification system will help me to recognize temptation and resist it.

Why am I telling you this? I'm hoping that my experiences might somehow encourage you. If you're married, enjoy the romance :-) If you aren't in a romantic relationship, perhaps you'll be encouraged to keep your mind pure. If you're considering such a relationship, I know plenty of songs with which you could woo your beloved :-P

04 April, 2007

Whirlwind NE American tour, part II

Well! Last weekend I went to Harrisburg with my brother and two great friends. This was one of the best road trips I've had in a while. There were a few disappointments which were due to physical injuries, but I got over that. On Thursday I fenced epee with my baby epeeists and got hammered pretty well, and ended up with multiple bruises and two cuts. My pants somehow survived, but someone lunged against me with such force that it broke skin and my whole quadricep was swollen. On Friday my friends asked if I was running the 10K race that weekend, and I said no and referenced the holes in my leg. "Holes in your leg? Ha!" They made a lot of jokes about holes after that. They still are.

Kayte, Mike, John, and I were destined for Kayte's familial abode (of Debra Bell fame). At the beginning of the trip, John got a call from a number he didn't recognize. Someone offered him a job. How sweet! Nice touch on the weekend, God! On the way there we laughed for most of the trip. John invented a song for Kristen's (Kayte's sister) birthday. It was nice having a real guitar plucking around instead of a stereo. It was much easier to listen to people's voices. John also brought his "torpedo pen" that folded out. He occasionally snapped it at my ear, alternately scaring, surprising, and annoying me. Kayte started to keep a score between John and I to decide who could annoy the other most.

The first night we were there, the boys went for a jog. Kayte and I threw a blanket on the ground outside to lay on and watched the sky and talked. We went to bed and talked while the guys talked in the family room. The next morning Mr. Bell made breakfast for Kayte and me before we headed to a meeting on the gift of prohecy.

I am pretty sure I don't have the Spiritual gift of prophecy. Once every few years I'll think of a verse that may bless the congregation I'm with, but it's not consistent enough for me to consider it a "gift." However, at the prophecy meeting, I had Isaiah 40:28-31 for a woman who was receiving a prophetic word. I knew she had a disease, but found that it was osteoporosis and knew God wanted to reach her through that. I asked Mr. Prater if he thought the verses were appropriate, but couldn't read them from my tiny pocket-sized Bible. I read them to him. My voice was shaking, so I'm not sure if people got what I was saying, but God can do cool things with such failures on my part, so I'm happy!

At the prophecy meeting I was praying for a friend named Erin when Frank walked up to me. Frank was on the prophecy team that was visiting from Philly. He said he didn't have a word for me, but wanted to pray for me anyway. I'm so glad he did. In his prayer, he mentioned a lot of things but I remember mostly that he prayed that I would be a blessing to my father, since we share such a special relationship. I loved that, and hope I will take his words into consideration when I'm dealing with my father.

They prayed corporately for people who felt weary in their service to God. Yeah, that's me. I know the Holy Spirit has gifted me with a servant's heart, but sometimes it is really hard to use that gift. Saturday evenings get bittersweet when I remember I need to wake up at 6:45, but it's 2 AM and we're still having a lot of fun. Regardless of when I actually go to sleep, it is hard to discipline myself to wake early enough to get sufficiently ready for a church service when I'm the only church member I know who gets up at that time on a Sunday morning. The actual service, i.e. spending time setting up the sound system or BS stuff isn't bad, even if it's only my Dad and I. So I was prayed for in that area as well. John later encouraged me to foster a more grateful attitude toward serving, with a lack of pride and cynicism. I'll be praying that God gives me grace for waking up early, and that I will serve in secret joyfully. I need to be grateful for my alarm clock, and view my Sunday AM routine as service to the church. I also need to trust that God will provide for sufficient sleep and healthy sleep patterns during the rest of the week.

My brother also was prophesied over, though I didn't get to hear most of it. It seemed he was encouraged, though, so I am glad he was able to come. I did a lot of silent prayer from my seat. As I was praying, I was considering what actually was happening. Mostly encouragement and prayer. Why don't I do that more often with friends? I can see growth in their life that they may not see--can't I purposefully pray and encourage them to their faces, instead of only praying in private? That was cool. It was also cool to see total strangers describing situations in other peoples' lives, based solely on a word from God. It's another way to show that he really does know us intimately, and cares for us.

After lunch we went for a hike with Kayte's father, sister, John, and Erin. Mike went for an interview. The hike was very fun. I love trailblazing, and we frequently lost the trail and did whatever we felt like doing. I got a lot of scratches from thornbushes and John got a tick, but I think that was the worst experience. John got a lot of ManPoints on that hike. Mr. Bell was generally in the lead, so whenever we reached a particularly wide stream or got tangled in thorns, John was there to offer a hand or bushwhack us out. We talked a lot, too, despite the occasionally loud, crunchy leaves. Kayte's full of good questions and interesting experiences!

Dinner was Lebanese (not LEE-ban-ease, but LEB-an-ease, apparently) food. Good stuff. We debated over watching a movie or playing ping-pong, and ended up playing ping-pong. Kayte tried really hard to beat John, and John kinda tried to shut her out. Neither happened, but it was fun to watch! Later, John got that Songwriting Look on his face (he was also playing the guitar, which was another sign). Kayte and I headed upstairs soon after that.

Sunday morning was weird, because I didn't wake up while it was dark :-P Church was great. I'm glad I didn't think to focus too much on the sound system, otherwise I probably would have been distracted from the songs. Mr. Prater preached on I Thessalonians 2:1-8. More evangelism! Great! I love that stuff. I took quite a few notes. From conversation afterward, I gathered that the phrase "Don't invent, look to include" had a big impact on how people viewed evangelism. I thought of quite a few people whom I could evangelize more, and some people who I don't know if I could evangelize. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with those relationships.

Right after church we took off for the 10K race. We got hit in the parking lot of Giant, though we were sitting still and had been for quite some time. That was interesting. I didn't run, but I cheered and took pictures. One of Kayte's friends, Lauren, was there to cheer as well, and I discovered that she fenced epee. That was cool! We talked about that for quite a while. Being at the finish line was the best part. John was first, Mike was after Gabe, and Destiny beat Kayte. The lady pushing a stroller beat everyone but John, which was funny and inspiring at the same time. Kayte and Gabe finished really strong. People seemed pretty elated after the race. As we were leaving, though, Destiny's mom busted a tire. Lots of odd car incidents, er, accidents, there.

The runners all took showers when we got home. I played about an hour of frisbee with some kids who are part of Gabe's Bible study. While they were in the basement, I ate pizza for dinner and chatted with the Bell family, Lauren, and Cameron (Kristen's famous boyfriend). We celebrated Kristen's birthday with a few cakes and presents. John sang the song he wrote for her. Nice wink during the song, John! Mike gave her a box full of packing peanuts and a Chik-fil-A cow, complete with a parachute. Cameron seemed to enjoy that more than Kristen. I wonder why :-P

On Sunday night I was in the mood for massage. So I rubbed Kayte and Mike down, then got hand massages from John. I enjoy doing that so much. I think I irritated Mike's upper Trap muscles, but he didn't complain. I found this sweet muscle that goes from behind the ear to under the clavicle on Kayte, but I have no idea what it's called. I should find out.

Monday morning was pretty relaxed. Kayte and I discussed plans for fabric shopping. John was expecting a call from his potential employers on Monday morning, so when we discovered the soot on the bottom of the chandelier, he promptly used it to draw dark lines under his eyes to prep for the big talk. Some time after that we went to the fabric store. It was pretty funny watching the guys run around, picking out hypothetical Youth Camp team colors and laughing at weird prints. Mike asked if he looked good with bright blue velvet (I think he'd look better in black or brown, personally). Kayte and I took a while to make our selections, then asked for the guys' opinions. They shot down our selections, which turned out to be a good idea because one of the fabrics we chose was $9/yard. Ow.

We got home, ate lunch, and chatted with Mrs. Bell. She's one of those unusual people who share my interest in linguistics. She dissed my writing, though I don't think she's ever read it. After hearing that I like to write everything in one sitting, she said, "Well some day I hope you LEARN HOW to write!" I guess there are a lot of ways to write a paper. Mike was playing with a lighter during our convo, and at one point she turned to him and said, "Mike!" He immediately put down the lighter with a goofy, guilty look on his face. He'd guessed what she wanted...that was funny.

On the way home I discovered some rubber bands in the car. I promptly decided to get back at John for his pen trick, and shot him in the chin. Bands flew back and forth, and John successfully blocked one of my shots with a piece of paper. I think Kayte gave me a few points for the rubber band thing, but John was still ahead.

On the way home we talked about our parents, our futures, and the church. Good topics. We all decided that some day it would be sweet to be part of a church plant somewhere. We took turns talking about what we appreciate in our parents, and what we might do differently than them. The guys talked about their careers, since both had gotten job offers over the weekend. Kayte talked about Philly. I would really like to go visit her when she moves there. Oh, and John got another significant phone call. He got subpoenaed! I'm somewhat jealous...

We played Imogen Heap's music in the car, which I love. John definitely won our contest to annoy each other. There are a lot of tunnels on the turnpike, and we'd been trying to hold our breaths through each of them. I'd been sitting in the front seat, somewhat sideways, with my knees on the armrest. While we were in a tunnel, John (who was sitting behind me) started petting my knee with his foot. AHH! Who could hold their breath after something like that? Kayte gave him way too many points for that...but it was pretty good. Kayte got my brother, too. He took a huge gasp as we entered a tunnel, and after about 30 seconds she reached over and slapped him in the stomach. Not only did Mike let go, but after trying not to laugh at his reaction, I couldn't hold it either. Double-whammy for Kayte.

Appropriately, we ended our trek at Chik-fil-A. While we were leaving, I tried to surprise my brother by jumping on his shoulders. This never works. I don't know why I do it. But this time I ended up with a moderately sprained ankle. Ow. That's the worst pain I'd felt in months! I actually got woozy. When we got home, I found that my epee with a Zivkovic grip had arrived! Sweet! So, while everyone else unpacked Kayte's car, I ripped into the box and started playing with my new weapon. John left to head right back East for a vacation with his family, Kayte went "home," and Mike and I crashed.

End of trip. Good trip. Good times. Good friends. Thank God for them! At times like these, I'm astonished at how God uses my circumstances to bless me and show his love. I wonder how this trip will change my friends and me, for I feel that it has. We did a lot of trivial things, but our relationships were strengthened and I don't think God just wanted us to have a fun weekend together. The future, once again, proves to be fascinating.