Aug 31, 2011

I Am Ready...

I am yearning for something else.

I have no real words for what is going on inside of me, no direction, no path, no vision, no clue.. I just know that I am in need of a major shift.

I am tired of doing things just to get through and survive. I am tired of stressing. I am tired of controlling everything going on in an effort to avoid saying or making any mistakes. I am tired of being unintentionally insulted in mistaken and selfish encouragement.

I am ready for something else. I don't really care what it is, I just need a dramatic change.

I am tired of my work and efforts not really being for the benefit of anyone else.

I am ready for challenge and motivation. I am ready for passion and compassion to enter my world again.

I am ready for my Savior to do what He does, to change, restore, make new, and move me.

Aug 30, 2011

August Wrap Up...

I am really astounded that tomorrow is the end of August.. WHERE DID IT GO!?!.. Seriously. Part of me is looking forward to sweatshirts and jeans, and part of me is dreading the cold that is soon to follow.

I had a fantastic weekend in Atlanta, not only do I love Atlanta, my bff and her husband live there.. Which is always a welcome reprieve from my life. We literally spent all weekend moving them into their new (totally perfect) loft condo they bought. I absolutely love the NYC feel, and they are so excited about it, which made it a lot of fun to help them move. Plus, I always cherish being able to be a part of those moments in my bff's life. They tend to be more of the mundane flavor, but they create all these fantastic memories, and links in our life that just bind our friendship more every time.

Not to mention we end up eating well (although who's gonna pray and where are we gonna eat end up being a "not it" debate every single time haha), but we also spend good quality time together talking about anything and everything. I say this all the time, but my bff just gets me, she hears what I say, but understands what I mean, and gives a much better description of what is going on and how I am feeling instead of my typical ramblings about things I am frustrated and upset about. I have no idea how she does it, but she is by far one of the best people in my life for understanding what my heart means. I need her in my life more than she will ever know, and I am so thankful and so blessed and encouraged by her constantly... Plus, I think she's hysterical, so that helps :)

Considering how hard life has been, this was a great change of pace. :)

Ps. I started reading The Scent of Water on the plane ride home.. It's incredibly riveting and brings in such an interesting healing element with it. Highly recommend it!

Aug 27, 2011

Moving Day..

The soon to be final product of our extremely frustrating for needless reasons moving extravaganza day... (sorry its a terrible picture..)

Aug 25, 2011

Like the Ocean...

I was talking with my roomie last night, and we were discussing the challenges that have been the last year of our lives and friendship. How different things have been this summer versus last winter, and how much less time we have had together, but how we both are confident in our friendship. We began likening our current state of life to swimming, and I described it as "active floating." You know, the type of floating you do in the ocean. Not the typical 'I'm just gonna lay here and bask in the water' but the 'I have to be intentional about floating or I'll get swallowed by a wave' kinda floating.
(Please note that none of these pictures are mine, so they are linked to where I found them to give proper credit)
(This woman isn't really active floating... but it helps give a visual)

Then I made a brief comment about having a metaphor for the way people interact with Christ, and the way they approach being a Christian.

There are five types of ocean people.

1. The beach dwellers, they never really care to get into the water or even touch it at all. These people are perfectly content to play in the sand and really not even acknowledge the water at all.
This person is the one that never encounters Christ and pretends He is not there.

2. The wave walkers, the ones that likes the water well enough, but really just prefers to dabble in it. They are content to walk along the waters edge, let it swirl around their feet, and occasionally get the bottoms of their pants a little wet. But, regardless, they are definitely touching the water, it just has no profound impact on them.
These are the people that are "Christians" but are not really all in. They know, understand basics, and feel Christ, but they are not overly moved or effected by it.

3. The water waders, the person that enjoys getting in the water, but there is no way they are going to go deep at all, and they are perfectly fine with "wading" as their main pass time. They are definitely moved and affected by waves, the sand under their feet moves quite a bit, but the ocean still has no profound impact in their life.
This is the type of person that is involved enough in their relationship to Christ that they know and feel Him moving, but they really are still only comfortable if they feel like they are in control of their life.

4. The casual swimmer, they enjoy the ocean, they like playing in the waves, are definitely moved by the tides, and have a great deal of fun, although they still want to touch the ground so they only go about waist deep. For them, playing in the waves is fine as long as there is a measure of ability to control how much interaction with the ocean they have... even if it is really only an illusion.
This is the Christian that means it, there is no hint of just talk in their relationship with Christ, but they still have a few major beefs with the whole "surrender" to Christ. There is still a measure of restraint and fear in letting go and being free in Christ. However, regardless, these people are clearly moved, sometimes covered, and definitely playing in the ocean.

5. The body surfer, they are truly abandoned in the ocean. They are rolling in the waves, ignoring potential dangers, and completely at the mercy of the ocean. The waves, tides, and sheer force of the water create an exhilarating feeling of adventure, joy, and play.
This Christian is all about Christ, wherever He leads, whatever they are called and moved towards, they go. This is the "here I am, send me" person. Not to say their ride is easy.. because let's be honest, playing in the waves can be incredibly dangerous, but they don't care because they are out of control.

I think once you have been out further, coming back seems less and less appealing, although I think if we are out in the waves playing, we will have moments where we waffle between the measured bit of control we feel like we have playing where we can still touch, and then finding the courage to play completely out in the waves again.

So, in this metaphor, God is like the Ocean, how we enter the Ocean says a lot about who we are, and who we want to be in Christ.

Aug 24, 2011

The Help...

Last night I went with a couple of my friends to see the new movie The Help (the book is by Kathryn Stockett). The movie was much better than I was expecting, and had a different cadence to the movie than is typical. Instead of one climax, the movie was a series of minor ones, which gave it a definite feel that it was a book instead of a movie.

Instead of ruin it for you, I thought I would just comment on the fact that while the story is essentially fiction, it highlights some very real facts about how life "used to be" and what was seen as "normal" yet really was insulting, degrading, and embarrassing.

But, overall the movie is very endearing, touching, inspiring, and entertaining. I am really glad it is doing well in the theaters!

Aug 23, 2011

DC Earthquake...

After "surviving" the earthquake at work, we evacuated the building and then were sent home..

I came home to this destruction in my room...

A necklace fell.

Modesty Talks...

One of my brother's friends posted the article Is Modest Really Hottest? from Relevant Magazine and basically asked for comments and thoughts. It sparked quite an interesting discussion, but true to form, I have more to say than what will fit on a facebook wall comment box.

So, I thought I would expound on my thoughts here.

First, let me start with, Matthew Paul Turner the author of the article did one of the better jobs that I have ever seen in terms of addressing the spirit of the debate, and highlighting an area or two that are inherently flawed in the modesty debate as it stands in the Christian culture right now. When I first clicked the link I was already mentally preparing to be frustrated with what the article was about to tell me, and I was gearing up my arguments and defenses about what is wrong with the current state of the debate about modesty. However, surprisingly (and thankfully) I found none of the typical answers or comments I was expecting. I was impressed (and humbled) by the lack of finger pointing to the female population; which I am fairly certain is a first for me in regards to the modesty discussion.. or debate.. or argument to date.

At this point, I am going to divert my thoughts from the article itself to the discussion about modesty as a whole. I see some serious flaws with the debate as it stands right now. I am fairly certain I have heard all of the reasons and debates behind "modest is hottest" and as a general rule I agree, but I vehemently disagree with the way in which it is expected to be carried out by the female population. Let us just start with some logic in this debate...

Since I am a Christian single woman who would like to some day get married... let's say I decide I am going to do everything possible to help my Christian "brothers" out in the lust department. I think this is a noble thing, but the problem is which brother am I helping?.. The one that is my elder? The new Christian brother that is still trying to disentangle himself from his past? The non-Christian but seeking brother? The solid brother who is married but easily distractable from his wife? The brother who is a solid Christian and single?.. And, my overarching question, "How do I know if I have succeeded?" Who will tell me when I have done a good job or failed with an outfit? Am I really subject every single day to other men's ideas of whether I am successfully modest? Which man's opinion do I pay attention to? So, you see, before I even getting into the culture or region element of the debate, I already am having problems defining who my target audience is and the litmus test by which I will know success. The inherent problem with "helping my Christian brother" is each man has a dramatically different perspective of what modest is!

How does region and culture play a role? It is a fairly well known fact that the further south (or closer to the Equator) you get the less clothing is worn. Purely from a practical standpoint, it is just too hot in Florida to wear the same clothing that is a necessity in Alaska. And, from an economical stand point, standard clothing in the US (say bras for example) are not seen in the African countries (Ghana, Swaziland, and South Africa) I have been to. So, I am sure an argument can be made with the "when in Rome...." perspective, but the problem is, that still leaves modesty in the eye of the beholder.. region.. culture.. etc.. A never ending moving target dictated by an ambiguous definition.

However, each of these two vantage points removes responsibility from both players. Men are removed because they have no accountability in their own actions in regards to women and modesty. But, women are removed because it turns into what they should or should not do based off of a moving target. Neither perspective takes the heart into account at all; which is really where my trouble with the modesty debate as it stands right now lies.

No female will ever be able to be completely modest. Ever. Which means, we have been set up to fail.. and our hearts are keenly aware of this fact. Deep down we know that our moving ambiguous target of being "modest" to help our "brothers in Christ" is a battle we are doomed to fail because, men cannot even agree on what is modest.. or hottest. Some men are attracted to hair, eyes, legs, butts, chests, stomachs or some combination there in. So, the debate quickly becomes an "in the eye of the beholder" debate over personal preference.

Basically women can wear a mu-mu and still be found attractive.

One of the things that I appreciated the most about the article is it points out how one sided the debate has been to date. Men are essentially free from responsibility. Thank you Matthew Paul Turner for finally pointing out this flaw.

I would like to point out that it is incredibly disturbing from a woman's perspective that we are held to the standards of each individual man, most of which we have little or no contact with ever. How can I possibly be held to the standards of a man I may never interact with? That is not biblical at all. In fact, I think now is a perfect time to loop the Bible into this debate...

"The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." - Genesis 6:5 - We cannot do it alone, our only hope is the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

" Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." - Psalm 4:4 - How is that for an action item of what to do when you lust?!

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil" - Proverbs 4:23-27 - Again, this requires each person to take responsibility for their own actions.. including lust.

Talk about loving your neighbor in regards to the way modesty is approached: 
"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." - Proverbs 12:25

And finally, "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." - Colossians 2:2-3

I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where our hearts and actions are held against someone else for the role they unknowing  played in our struggle. The Bible is full of taking responsibility for our own actions. We will stand before the Lord for our OWN heart's intent, and if we believe Christ, He will as He has already done, take our sin on Himself and pay the price. We cannot blame someone else for our own heart and eyes lusting or struggling.

The entire modesty debate is 
really a way of diverting our own responsibility by pointing to someone else 
and demanding they take responsibility because of 
our own rights to wear what we want 
or our struggles to look away...

Modesty is a two part dance, each partner has their role to play. Girls (I) must check the heart's intentions, actions, and reactions. That is our role in the dance.
Guys must do the same, but it is crucial to point out, girls are not involved in the guy's role, we cannot do it for them, and we are not held responsible for their part of the dance; and vice verse.
The entire issue of modesty is just like every other element of life, it is between each individual and Christ.

Aug 22, 2011

Kick Starting Fall...

I have been SO LAZY the last couple weeks. I mean legit lazy when it comes to doing things and getting things done.

Last night I realized my room is a disaster.. Which somehow means my mind has come out of whatever funk it was in. My room is always a direct link to my mental capacity/state. Meaning, the cleaner more organized room means a better more on top of it mental state.. and it somehow spirals downward on a semi regular basis as I get overwhelmed, depressed, frustrated, and tired.

So, in an attempt to get myself back on track this week, I have started but need to finish my laundry (I really hate this task), and actually put away my clothes instead of leave them on the other half of the bed I do not occupy. I need to clean up and put away the empty suitcases, boxes, and packages that have accumulated in the corners of my room. File the bills, and check all of the bills I need to still pay for this month and next.. put away my jewelry that has been strewn all over my shelving spaces...

I think I will re-arrange my room as well soon seeing as I have not done that at all this year, and sometimes a small change like that makes a huge difference in my life.

I have a ton of homework that needs to get done this week, not difficult, but time consuming.

And, due to all of this, my need to exercise that I have been putting off for 2 months will kick start in September in preparation for my Marine Corps 10k October 31st!

So, here's to kick starting the fall!

Aug 21, 2011

Out of the Blue...

There are days that I am pretty sure my exclusive purpose is to make it through the day as unscathed as possible... Then sometimes there are weeks, months, and years like that... I am somewhere in that mix.

I had a conversation tonight that was among some of the more weird and frustrating than I have had in a while... A "friend" I spent a while chatting with on facebook or text suddenly stopped talking to me. While I was curious, I honestly did not pursue it because it was clear that I was not wanted around. The couple times I reached out I was met with very little response and a very short answers, so I took the hint that my expiration date had worn off, and I was not wanted.

I went somewhere in the vicinity of 6weeks to 2 months without hearing from them. No big deal, and I really did not think of it much.

Out of the blue tonight I got a fb chat from this person. It started out just general chatting, asking me if I would come see them where they are working, and then when I pressed the fact that I had not heard from them in a while... along with the fact that I just assumed they had moved on, it quickly progressed into essentially attacking me for my cockiness in regards to my martial arts. It was an interesting conversation because these decisions about my cockiness were based exclusively off of text conversations, at no time was any of it face to face or even on the phone... (Let me pause here and say, text can be awesome.. but it is not a good way to understand the feelings and reasoning behind a lot of things people say. Too much is missed purely built into the nature of text communication.)

After a while of this, and it being apparent my explanations were not working I just apologized for the misunderstanding, and for the times that I know I am being cocky and just let them go until they were done, and decided they had enough, and then they bid me a good night and left.

..... uhm. Ok.

Not really sure what possessed this... interesting conversation, but it just leaves me with a very bitter taste in my mouth, and feeling beat up for no good reason.

Fantastic way to end a weekend that I worked most of it and begin the next work week.

People never cease to amaze me with their desires to share their thoughts about people and their situations without understanding all of it or even acknowledging there is probably more to the story. It is one thing to share your thoughts about a situation with the intent and heart to be of actual benefit to the person. A "tough love" conversation is always welcome... But, sharing your opinion about someone with really the only intent of walking away feeling you have somehow made your point known is not helpful to either party.

I get that I am a stronger person than most and can "handle" being trashed.. but seriously, I have no desire to be the stronger person when your only point is to hurt me so you feel better and justified.

So, now I walk away with the intent of forgiving and letting it go... regardless of how I feel about the situation.

Thank you.

Aug 19, 2011

Emotional Compass...

So, sometimes I have these moments where I literally feel like I am not in control of my reactions, emotions, actions etc.. Like I am being compelled by something that is not from me. I am not talking about being possessed or anything like that, but sometimes my emotions are so strong they feel like they have taken over.

Sometimes those emotions are great things!.. Such as when they are love for someone, protection of someone, conviction for justice and truth or what is right.. etc.. However, sometimes they are really bad.. anger and aggression at someone or something that is out of my control.

Emotions take work. Lots and lots of work to refine and create an accurate compass. When I was a kid I had a HORRIBLE temper.. I mean really bad. I kicked my 2 year old brother off the couch cause he slipped and fell on my legs once. I tried choking my older brother because he said something insulting.. I mean literally out of control. However, even then I knew better because not once did I ever lose it in front of my parents, which means I was actually in complete control, I just chose not to be when I did not feel like it. Until one day my dad (after I had done something ridiculous that I do not remember anymore) came to me... got within inches of my face, and very calmly, very controlled said, "If you do not control your temper... I will control it for you." then stood up and walked away. I. Was. Petrified. And, from that moment on I "magically" controlled my temper. I mean I would lose it occasionally, but never again did I lash out AT someone. I learned quickly where my boiling point was and how to remove myself from those situations. Then, as I got older I started purposefully working to process through my emotions, actively sought out people who could help me process when I felt my emotions were the only glass by which I was seeing through.

To this day, whenever I get emotional or feel my emotions taking over I am incredibly intentional about processing and separating my emotions from my decision making. I have gotten to the point where I know I FEEL a certain way, but I also recognize the reality or logic behind what is going on....

Which has lead me to the last sentence of my previous post... I have to be VERY careful not to confuse my emotions and subsequently my actions for the will of God or the Holy Spirit. They are not one in the same.. and one does not lead or become inspired by the other. They CAN be.. but they are not intricately woven in each other enough to assume that my emotions about something must be the Holy Spirit laying it on my heart. Not necessarily the case.

Just because something is "wrong" and I feel indignation about the issue, treatment of others, actions, reactions, etc.. of other people does not mean God has tasked me with the mission to right the wrong. Sometimes He absolutely has.. but not always. And, I would even go so far as to say sometimes we assume that our emotions are or should be our driving force behind why we do something... and that is wrong. Stay with me while I unpack this a bit...

I have emotions about a lot of things, starving children in Africa, homeless people in NYC, inner city kids with absent parents, mistreatment of disabled people, disrespect of parents from their children, the abuse shown from parents to kids, the government forcing laws I do not agree with, people being sent to war over politics, the disrespect shown to the warriors and soldiers who are doing it for a variety of their own reasons, the TV evangelists, Christian radio stations, westboro baptist church... trust me, my list goes on and on. But, do you see the incredibly wide variety of things that can easily boil over into a passionate and emotional discussion about my beliefs!?.. And, let's call a spade a spade.. There are definite right and wrong in each of these situations, mostly on an individual basis, but it is there none the less. The problem is, just because I have an emotion about these things, and even a very strong emotion, does not mean God has called me to take up each of these crosses and follow Him.

I can honestly say that most of these issues have no other purpose in my heart than to compel me to pray for them.. for the people who it IS their mission and passion.. sweet spot and desire to take care of these situations and issues. Meaning, in the body of Christ, the hands holding the guns in Iraq are the ones actually tasked with that mission.. I am merely the mouth uttering petitions before the Lord of grace, mercy, strength, protection, and courage in their situation. I am the backup to their situation, I am not the lead just because I feel strongly about something.

There is a VERY distinct, but VERY fine line between my emotions and being compelled by the Holy Spirit. The line is easy to miss, and takes intentionality to learn how to see it.. But, recognizing this line is what separates the "new Christians" from the "mature Christians" (although these are poor word choices, they are the best I have to communicate my meaning right now...). I think more often than not we choose to take up arms and fight for something that we were never meant to fight for... We have chosen to waste time and energy on something that God never meant for us.. Even though it may be a "right" cause, we often let our human, fallen, broken flesh/past/history/emotions/hangups dictate us instead of going before the throne and making sure we are following God's plan and purpose. Know your role.. Purposefully seek out exactly what God is telling you your role is...

Let me say it this way:
"So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset."
- Exodus 17:10-12 (The bolded sections are to show you each various role)

I promise each person in this story was emotional, passionate, fired up, invested, and engaged in this situation.. But, each had their own role to play, and had they stepped out of their God given role based off of their emotions about the situation, they would have been sinning and a problem rather than a solution.

Your emotions cannot be your exclusive compass in regards to right, wrong, and whether the Holy Spirit is compelling you to take action... Emotions come and go like the wind, so cannot be an accurate compass. They are merely the first step in the process; hopefully they are the step that takes you to your knees to figure out where God is placing your next step.

Take the steps to becoming a mature Christian.. Look for the differences (sometimes subtle) to your emotions and the Holy Spirit's prompting. They feel different when you are paying attention, I promise.

Aug 18, 2011

Offense vs. Love...

I was thinking a while ago about the idea of taking offense at something versus choosing to love anyway. Whether the offense is intentional or not, whether it is directed at me or someone I love.. I am not sure where offense is something that should be compelled out of justice, and where pride really ends up being the true root (said in my very northern accent) of the offense.

Once a long time ago one of my friends mentioned that as Christ followers we have no reason to get offended at anything (I cannot remember his exact wording, but the gist is the same). He went on to explain that Christ paid for it all, He created it all, and therefore it is our job to love, not be offended when people disagree or lob assaults our way. While on the other token, an individual that is going through life without knowing the freedom of Christ has only offense to take. They have no greater foundation, and no one who has literally created a wall of defense on our behalf. So, it makes sense for them to get offended, because really whatever is said can only be absorbed by them (again, this is a basic meaning re-telling of what my friend said).

So, I have been thinking about this idea of offense lately. Where do I stand on topics like this. For example, there are so many political moves going on right now, and really I think most everyone is in the wrong about the debt crisis, who's to blame, who really has a plan to fix it, oh wait, do we really want THEM fixing our debt plan, I mean they are ok with or against gay marriage.... Wait what?! How are those two connected?

Seasame Street!!.. Used to enjoy that show as a kid.. now people are stating Bert and Ernie are really gay movement... Really?! Why do we have pre-determined agendas where our children just need entertainment?

What about all of the moral corruption, famine.. people are LITERALLY dying because they do not have water or food, and all some people are worried about is whether their particular agenda is getting moved forward. So, what does this do inside of me?... It breaks my heart. It shows me how totally and unequivocally we are broken and shattered forms of what we could be.

So, bringing this all back around to offense. I easily could get worked up and offended at the things said about Christians.. or BY Christians right now. There seems to be a never ending river of issues (sorta just comes with the fallen and broken territory I guess). But, while I certainly have my opinions about virtually every topic, I have not been called to be offended. I have been commanded to love. It is not my job on this earth to lobby on behalf of Christ and Christians everywhere.. If you believe that is your job or purpose, you are sadly mistaken.. And, if you are surrounded by "those" Christians, I am so sorry (it's ok to get offended right now and say, think or feel however you want to.. but keep reading..). My job, your job, every other person on the planet's job is to love. True, unconditional, unrelenting force of nature to be reckoned with love.

Now true, love can take many forms.. Sometimes it is in the form of a war to protect the innocent, sometimes it is in the form of not saying a word, and other times it is in the form of getting your hands messy and engaging in someones (or multiple people's) life. I do not know why this is God's plan, how it all works out, or why some go to hell. I do not know why some people's names are in the lambs book of life, and why others are..... I have no concept of how that works.. None. At. All.

But, what I do know is, my job is not to take Christ's offenses on my shoulders. He does not need me to, nor has He asked me to. However, He has commanded me to love. To reach out to every single person I ever meet and show them Him. I am really bad at this most days, but I try again always without ceasing. Yet, if I spend more time being offended at someone else's stance or belief I have forgotten to see their heart for what it is. Broken, shattered, bleeding, and maybe dying...

How can I choose to be offended in this moment instead of put aside my own personal feelings to love them. It is never easy to love, it is not a weak choice to choose love/care/compassion.. in fact I think it is the harder, more courageous choice because it takes purposeful intent rather than a simple reaction.

My God has already taken the offense, He has already paid for the sin, and He does not need my two-cents on the matter. What He needs is for me to seek out the person He created me to be, and to rock this world with a counter-culture perspective of what type of response seems natural.

Do I have an opinion about politics, Bert and Ernie, gay marriage, the debt ceiling, the famine in Africa, etc..etc.. absolutely I do. But I am not God, it is not my place to fix these things.

Lastly, do not confuse your own emotions with the Holy Spirit's calling in your life. That is a very crucial fine line to pay attention to.

Aug 17, 2011

A Good Friend....

I was driving home from work the other day and somehow got off on the train of thought I had heard a couple of my friends make... The comments were along the lines of "needing Krista time.." or missing me.. or "needing a Krista hug.."  Which then got me thinking and analyzing, what makes a good friend? Because I certainly do not feel like I am a good friend all the time.. heck sometimes I know I am a really lousy friend (although my friends are so wonderful and encouraging most of them would never admit they felt that way). But, really, a lot of time I feel like I am a very average daughter, sister, cousin, friend... (and other roles I have yet to have the chance to play)..

So, what makes a good friend? What sets certain people apart? I honestly do not know all the things my friends see as facts in regards to why I am a good friend to them.. But, I do know why I view my friends as amazing people... Let me count the ways..

Encouragement is ever on their lips.
Hugs, care, and stability exude from them all the time.
Support and prayer are key factors in the way they are in my life.
Laughter, both at me and with me is never far away.
Reality checks are never few and far between.
Acceptance of who I am, while always firmly pushing me to be better.
I am constantly humbled by the number of times my friends forgive me without a second thought.
A never ending understanding and acceptance of my ebbs and flows.
They love me. Always.
I always learn more patience and grace from my friends than they will ever truly understand...
The number of hours my friends spend listening to me is unfathomable. Really.
Passion is a constant with them.
Grace and Mercy.
I feel like one of the most important people in the world to them.
I get humored constantly.
I am blessed. I am loved. I am thankful.

I do not know why my friends regard me as a good friend, or above average, but I certainly know why I view them that way! Many thanks to my friends.

Aug 16, 2011

Bachata Dancing...

So, as promised here are a few videos from the DC Bachata Congress this weekend.

The first one is Christian Sola and Elina, and they taught a Bachata in the Dark workshop.. which sounds like it could be sketchy, but really he focused on the finer details of Bachata as well asappropriate ways for the guys to turn and touch the girls while dancing with them.. He emphasized that it is actually mostly an illusion rather than actually touching.. If you pay attention you can see it in this video, it looks like they are very connected and intimate and close.. however, they are not actually touching each other with their fingers. He's leading her with the palms of his hands, forearms and elbows almost exclusively...

 I very much enjoyed this class. I learned a whole lot about the smaller details of Bachata, and they were fantastic instructors!

The next video is Troy and Jorjet. Possibly among (if not) THE top Dominican style Bachata dancers right now. Not only is he absolutely hysterical, and she stunningly beautiful (and they are married), they dance fantastic together.. Her footwork is astounding and, they are amazing instructors! I want to be able to dance like her... Dang!

When he sits down he then asked us if we wanted to see her "do her thing"... to which we all replied in the affirmative.. and you can see a bit of what she does below.. So, this last video is just her showing off some of her dance moves.. absolutely incredible!

People are Fascinating...

I am such a people watcher... I love observing people in every situation I find myself in. Grocery stores, the train, airplanes, walking down the street, restaurants etc.. I find them interesting. I always play a game with myself trying to figure out their non-verbals.. are they upset, happy, tired, dealing with something at home, stressed about work, falling in love, etc... I love it. There are days that my entire focus is to notice their features, bone structure, body build, eye color, hair style, hands, body posture etc..etc.. Sometimes I play the observation game with friends and "create" their story... using everything we observe to construct stories about people and their current place in life. It is easily one of my favorite games because it requires me to be observant.

I think it has been this mental game I play with myself that has helped lead me to care about people more.. I mean I genuinely hurt when I hear about someone's life falling apart.. I have so many people on my 3x5 cards for such a variety of reasons... they're gone to war, their spouse is gone to war, they are depressed, searching for jobs, spouse left them, moving, have a broken heart, want to fall in love, miserable at their job, substance abuse problems etc.. etc..

People are fascinating. Everyone is hurting and broken over something. Excited and passionate about something. Everyone ticks for different reasons.. I find it fascinating.

I work very hard at making each relationship I have unique. Creating a relationship that is clearly not a carbon copy. I enjoy working and finding common ground with various people that they really resonate with, it keeps me engaged and does not allow me the chance to coast, which then keeps me from becoming lazy in growing who I am... Keeps me interesting and an every growing dynamic haha! 

When I get the chance to interact with someone, I love having the ability to say and do something different than they are used to or what is the "norm".. Whether that means hugging them, sending them a gift or card, making eye contact, saying something totally straight forward, or just smiling and holding my tongue.

I wish my job allowed me more opportunities to interact with people... but more than that, interact in a way that changes lives. I miss the impact factor of a job.

Aug 15, 2011


It is no surprise to those who know me to find out I love dancing.. or moving.. or flowing around.. I would dancing in the kitchen when I was younger while I cooked... Sometimes it would lead to burning the food cause I would get distracted haha... Sometimes I would talk to my mom in the kitchen and spin around and purposefully slid on the fake wood flooring the whole time (I have no idea how my parents found my antics amusing!)... I have always been a mover. I am incredibly animated, I use my hands like crazy while I talk.. and I seriously cannot be still while I talk, my entire body acts out what I am trying to communicate. Then, to top it all off, I have spent 19 years training my body to move and flow in slow motion or fast spurts...

So, it is no real surprise that I love dancing... I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took this weekend (I'll post a couple videos later to show what I learned). But, one of my favorite things that sets dancing apart from the martial arts is the grace and flow of it all, where as the martial arts accentuates my strength and endurance, my capable side; dance accentuates my grace and beauty. I love them both, even though I am not the best or most skilled. I like dance because 1. I feel graceful and beautiful, but it takes skill and hard work to accomplish. 2. It's a solid work out that leaves me exhausted... Plus as a bonus my body gets the chance to work out weird muscles in the process..

After this last weekend of dancing literally all weekend, I feel awesome. very tired, but very excited about the hard work I put in and the fun I had... Not to mention the cool people I met and had the chance to learn from.

Videos to come :)

Aug 11, 2011

DC View...

This is the view of my city from our hotel room at the Bachata Congress...

Aug 10, 2011

Bachata Congress...

This is a picture of me dancing with Darlin Garcia at the Resolution Jam 2011... Un-benounced (is that even a word?) to me at the time, he is a world renowned Salsa Dancer.. What I knew then was he is a fantastic dancer, clearly enjoys dancing, and is such a smooth lead that I smiled and spun more dancing with him than I did with anyone else that night. And, he will be one of the instructors at this weekend's 2011 DC Bachata Congress!

To say I am excited would be an understatement.

I have snacks, drinks, band-aids and tape, friends, caffeine, and shoes all prepared for this weekend's dancing extravaganza...

Aug 8, 2011


Last weekend I went home to celebrate my parent's 30th Anniversary.. We had a party with tons of people, a surprise mini-replica of their cake, picture boards, and lots of food and laughter.. It was a great day!.. Of course my parents take every large event in the summer as reason to fix, repair, or build something around the house, so we spent all of Friday making updates to the house.. which normally can get obnoxious, but since all of us were around and helping it really was kinda fun.. especially since I spent the majority of the day goofing off and "entertaining" the 3 little ones haha!

Friday night we went to see the new Planet of the Apes, which was alright. Not great, not horrible, decently entertaining. Then my little brother, his girlfriend, and my little sister and I played dutch blitz until WAY too late.. We had a blast making fun of each other for anything and everything. :)

Saturday was great and lots of fun catching up with everyone.. and I am pretty sure it was 30million degrees in the house due to the rain and already muggy weather! But, we all had a blast, and laughed a lot :)

Sunday my family (minus my older brother's family) went canoeing.. We had virtually every weather except snow while on the river, but had a blast trying and succeeding at flipping each other... except my parents who were the carrier of all stuff we didn't want to lose.. and "Switzerland" when it came to safe zone.. haha My little brother, sister, and my brother's girlfriend left with battle wounds from the rocks, elbows, knees, canoes, oars, and tree branches.. but had a blast the whole time, and definitely laughed at each other throughout the entire 4+ hour trip. My poor sister cut her toe on a rock, but thankfully it was near the end.. and my little brother just sorta picked her up and toted her around once we were done haha

I was reminded of a few things this last weekend.. First, my family is awesome. Not perfect, but awesome none the less... I am related to some crazies, and really thankful that distance allows me to miss them so I can actually look forward to and enjoy my time with them.. (instead of dreading their special brand of crazy). And, God is doing a lot in the lives of me and my family.. It is exciting and frustrating all at the same time!

I loved being home :)

Aug 4, 2011

August Rush...

I cannot believe August is already well underway.. Summer has completely flown by, and shows no signs of slowing down until white water falls from the sky again!

Last night was my church's live recording of the God Anthology album. The music was written by the worship pastors for the 9 week series exploring attributes of God.. Mystery, Holiness, Faithfulness, Wrath, Sovereignty, Mercy, Beauty, Jealousy, and Love. It was an amazing night of worship, and the more I hear the songs, the more I love them!

Tomorrow I catch a plane home to see my family for the weekend and celebrate my parent's 30th wedding anniversary. I am really excited about this weekend!

Next weekend, starting Thursday after work I am full fledged dancing.. Back in January I bought a fairly cheap ticket to the Bachata Congress here in DC. Which means Thursday evening, Friday ALL DAY, Saturday ALL DAY, and Sunday ALL DAY I will be taking classes and dancing literally until my feet fall off... I am super excited and cannot wait for all the dancing, and time with my friend who introduced me to dancing!

Then sadly I have to work the following weekend as a committee Staff Liaison. Which, is not my first choice of things to do, but it will be great additional experience for me.

Then, thanks to the alternative work schedule we are doing for the month of August, I have/will spend every day at work 50 minutes early, to get 2 days off work.. plus with the collapse day for working over the weekend, I will have a 4 day weekend that will be spent in Atlanta with my bff and her husband. I cannot wait! It has been almost 9 months at that point since I will have seen her.. and that is just a really long time for us to go without seeing each other (while Skype certainly helps.. it does not solve the whole thing).

And then we are into September... whoa. August is rushing by!

Aug 1, 2011

All in The Family...

I was chatting with my mom yesterday about random tid bits from home, including paint colors she was letting dry to replace what my siblings and I affectionately called "Beige Hell" due to the fact that the entire house was painted some sort of beige/cream color... and has since remained so until my siblings and I at different times decided we could not handle it anymore and painted our bedrooms bright, vibrant or just plain pretty colors to break up the monotony that was beige hell.. aka home haha.. Then about a year ago my mom surprised ALL of us and painted the kitchen yellow. We were shocked.. and elated all at the same time... Currently my mom is in the process of changing several walls to a (as my sister calls it) mint green or chocolate pudding brown.. I am pumped to see it since my entire bedroom here in DC is a chocolate mocha brown.

Then my mom went into random thoughts about my brother and things going on with him, the upcoming anniversary party, and random things my sister has been doing that is really funny to help me prep for the party...

Then mom explained a situation that they are all facing. There is a chance (a good one) that another person will make an entrance into the family due to circumstances that need changing. Ironically, the last time this took place, he is still living there, refers to my parents as mom and dad, calls our place home, and honestly has lived there for almost the better part of 3 years now. He has grown up a lot since moving in with my family, and done a whole lot of stupid with my little brother.. but, somehow through it all God has used this situation to touch and make a difference to all of us in the family. As my mom put it when he moved back home after being gone for a while... it was contentment and peace feeling like "family" was where it was supposed to be. She and dad were shocked to find out he was contemplating changing his last name to ours... as ironically another girl who has since affectionately become another sister did.. well, that is until she got married. However, we are facing a new situation in the family, one that will certainly require a lot of prayer and wisdom on my parents part, but somehow there seems to be a lot of peace in the decision as well. The timing seems perfect too seeing as our other "brother" is getting ready to head to boot-camp for what is the beginning of a journey that has taken a while to get into... Which means there is a free bed to be had in my brothers room. God's timing is perfect.. and amazes me constantly..

However, today I was talking with my little sister about the situation, since she had brought it up asking if I had heard.. so I was getting her thoughts and opinions. Checking to make sure she was feeling ok about it all... Which not only was she ok about it, she was blowing me away with the maturity and clarity in which she sees the situation. Especially since there are certain aspects of home life that will have to change in order to accommodate the new member of the family.. And, most of those accommodations will have to be enacted on her as well.. She not only is aware of these new facts of her life, but welcomes them with the understanding and wisdom that many people my age could not fathom. She gets the bigger picture of what is at stake and what this means in an eternal sense. I am amazed. We also spent a while joking about my parent's unspoken game of "let's see how large we can grow our family without having any more babies!" ... If we look at this.. my family has suddenly ballooned from 6 to 7 after marriage, to 10 after their kids, to soon to be 13 if this situation pans out.. and really 14 with the marriage of one of the "siblings"... and 15 with an addition of a girl friend... Talk about multiplication of family! Sheesh!.. I mean really, talk about the love of Christ for my parents to have grown their family from 10 to 15 merely because they have chosen to love others unconditionally through pain, frustration, aggravation, laughter, birthdays, farts, roughhousing, furniture breaking, food... lots and lots of food bills, more activities than vehicles to take people, and more hugs than anyone but the Lord can count...

My parents amaze me with how quickly they jump in and not only accept these situations, but roll up their sleeves and prepare to be more intentional than most people ever know or realize.. My parents rarely do anything without thinking it through and calculating the cost... And amazingly they choose to do it and make the sacrifices anyway... All because they understand the Grace, Mercy, but mostly the unconditional Love they have received from Christ Jesus our Savior...

But, what amazes me even more is how much both my little brother and little sister truly and honestly get the fact that these situations mean something more than physically having another person in the house.. or having another person feel like home. They understand the greater purpose and the greater reason behind what my parents are doing... And, are not just ok with it, but fully supportive and accepting of the game changers these situations bring into the entire family as a whole.

It is all in the family, and there is no wonder why I am the way I am.. Or that I am so blessed.