Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seeing more than a 1" square

I'm really frustrated right now.

I'm sitting here at a picnic table in the middle of Alabama with a 16 x 20 sheet of paper taped to the table. It's a bit windy, hence the reason it's taped to the table.

I'm working on an art project for school.

In case you weren't aware, I spent 5 weeks in Honduras this summer and fell in love with some kids. So in art class, I've taken a picture of two of those kids, made it bigger, and am now drawing it.

 Aren't they cute? Pedro and Angel.

So we made it bigger and put it in black and white. and then we gridded it. We divided the entire thing into 1" squares and now I'm drawing them onto the bigger paper in 2" squares.

When I'm drawing this, I have to cover up everything on the small version except the square I'm working with. This makes it easier to focus on the actual shapes and not what it's "supposed to be."

Here's the problem. The part I'm drawing now is diamond 9, or Angel's right knee and sock.

It doesn't look like it's going to fit.

At all.


It's really messing with my head, because I have to draw it the way it looks anyway, or else it's not going to work.

I have to trust that if I just draw it the way it is, it will work out.

As I'm getting frustrated with it, and trying to resist the urge to just draw it the way it'd look right, that still, small voice that knows all-too-well that I learn best in metaphors, says "I know it doesn't seem like things are going to work out right now, but if you will trust Me, they will. Trust Me, I've got this."

So even though it looks like everything is going way down hill and nothing is going to work out, I have to trust that the God of the Universe has a better angle than the 1" square that I get to see of my life.

You would think this would be easier. And who knew that God would still be using Honduras to teach me lessons. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Healing Begins.

Tonight, I've just been thinking. Thinking about the people in my school. And I realized that if you look just under the surface, under the pretend, high school is one place guaranteed to be filled with broken people.

I know people who cut themselves on a regular basis.

I know people who are haunted by nightmares they can't explain.

I know people who have been abused by the people who were supposed to love them the most.

I know people who have been in therapy for years, and don't feel any happier.

I know people who live with broken families.

I know people who are scared and feel alone.

I know people who are broken.

And sitting here, the way we act seems to defy reason. We all act like everything is fine. We put on this wonderful facade that says "Look at me. Everything is fine here." When everything isn't fine. When we feel like our hearts are about to break. When we can't take it anymore, we sit and pretend to be okay.

For what?

Because we feel obligated to?

It doesn't make sense.

What if we all just decided that enough was enough? What if we decided to stop the back-biting and the fighting? What if we decided to drop our guards? What if, as a group, we decided to end each other's suffering? What if we admitted that, to quote a cheesy song, we are all in this together?

Could healing come from just knowing that we aren't alone? Could lives be changed? Could hearts be mended and spirits lifted?

Why can't we all just admit that we need each other?

Healing begins when we know we're not alone. <3

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Definition

Tonight, I dug deep into my podcast library and found one I didn't know I have. Apparently, I subscribed to the RadioLab podcast forever ago and forgot about it. I listened to one they had entitled "Words." Now, in case you can't tell, words have ALWAYS fascinated. The entire idea is fascinating. The way we define things, label them, assign meaning to them, and with those words, we assign values to them. Words contain a mesh of feeling and emotion, coupled with the distinct ability to hand them to another person. The power of language is absolutely phenomenal.

I've been spending a lot of time with Hannah lately, the 2 year old daughter of Lorin and Leslee. She is in that stage of life where she gives everything a name. I was over at their house last night, and she points to herself and says "Princess!" (They were playing dress up.) She went around and showed me "Table" "Chair" "Josiah" "Blanket" "Hair" and probably a lot of other things.

 The discovery of language is something that changes us. It changes the way we perceive the world. It gives us the ability to define and analyze everything in our world.

What happens, though, to the things that surpass words? 

For a society that is totally dependent on language, how do we process that which doesn't fit language at all?

We worship our God through music, through the study of His word, through prayer, through those repeat-after-me things we used to do in church, and through listening to His people. All of our processing of Him, it seems, comes through words.

He, God, is bigger than words. God defies every definition we could provide for Him. He is more than God, Gut, Dios, Gud, Isten, Bog, and भगवान. He is more than any adverb we could put before that name. 

Our language is too feeble to capture God's goodness. 

So how do we comprehend that? 

How do we worship a God that defies our compulsion to define? 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heading West.

In Sunday School, we've been talking about the big stories of the Bible. We started with Creation, and I began to notice a phrase that popped up in the first family.

It started with this, Adam and Eve screwed up and did something they weren't supposed to, and God said, "Guys, seriously? I have to kick you out now. Here are some animal skin clothes. They work a WHOLE lot better than the fig leaves you found." [I'm paraphrasing.]God puts them "East of Eden."

So Adam and Eve have a couple of kids, and when the two kids are big and grown up (Have you ever thought about how difficult it must have been to be the FIRST parent ever?), and they get into a fight. Your typical jealousy thing. God is more pleased with Abel's offering than with Cain's, for some unstated reason.

Cain gets angry, and took Abel out into a field, and commits the first crime in all of history. [I would be willing to bet that Adam and Eve had a daughter *since girls were unimportant* who saw the whole thing, went back to Eve, and said "Mooooommmm! Cain just killed Abel!" To which Eve would say, "Huh? Kill? Whaaa?"]

God tells Cain that his brother's blood cries out to Him, which speaks absolute volumes about God's heart, and Cain is banished to go further "East of Eden." Cain is upset, because he's afraid he'll get killed out there, and God, even though Cain screwed up BIG time, protects Cain by "marking" him.

Cain is sent East of Eden.

Further from God's presence.

Further from the love that has sustained him his entire life.

I have been traveling East of Eden. Away from God's presence. Away from the love that once made me burn inside. That made me feel like I could leap out of my skin and fly around the room. That sustained me. That made me believe that it was all going to be okay.

I want to go head West again. I want to be heading back to that presence. To that glory. To everything that once upon a time, made me feel like I was alive.

I'm heading West.

Join me?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Days Change Your Life.

There are moments in your life where you just know that you will never be the same. For better, for worse, the course of your life is forever altered. On June 2nd, 2010, my life changed forever. I walked into Widow's Mite Orphanage for the first time changed my life. I remember walking up the steps and thinking "Wow, this is it." I remember looking at them for the first time and being able to recognize most of them from the pictures. I remember Antonio asking me, "Do you know MY name?" And being thrilled when I did.

Today, though, three of them weigh heavy on my hearts. Gershon, Karen, and Jesus were taken from Bob and Joyce in put in custody of their mother. This is not a good place for them, and I can only hope that they're being taken care of tonight.

That's just his face.

I am thinking of Jesus on the day he was sick, and carrying him on my shoulders. He got ice cream all over my head and all in my hair and on my face. It was everywhere. But he enjoyed it, and that's all that mattered. I'm thinking about all the time we spent fighting, trying to figure out how to learn to read, and how to teach people to read, and how we had just started to get it at the end. Thinking about spiderman addition books and letter practice and getting 6, 7, and 8 mixed up. I'm thinking "six has one circle, 8 has two circles, 7 has no circles!" and "squish the letters together!" 

I'm thinking about Gershon, and how he worked so patiently with Pedro while he was with Wilson. Trying over, and over, and over again to catch that little foam ball. I'm thinking about the night Joyce was in the hospital, and how much of a help he was.

I'm thinking about Karen, and how natural of a leader she was. How it seemed like all the time she was trying to get everyone together. How she used to tattle all the time, too. I'm remembering the day she gave me "homework" and said I was writing with the wrong hand. I'm remembering her little smirk. She knew she was a Coder, too.

I hope and pray that they're safe tonight.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reasons Why Emily Is Bad At Math.

There are few things that get me more down on myself than math. I, simply, am not good at math. (Or making decisions, Mom is currently looking at me with about 6 different flavors of Kool-Aid to choose from. But that's not the point.)

Math and just have never agreed well with each other. Math, with all of its rules and need for meticulous attention to detail, didn't fly with my erratic, why-should-I-listen-to-you way of thinking.

For example:

Math says: You cannot divide by zero.

Emily says: Why can't I? I want to divide by zero.

Math says: *palmface* YOU JUST CAN'T.

Emily says: You have failed to give me an adequate reason why I can't, so thus, I decree that from this day onward, anything divided by 0 is to equal 11 and 1/4.

Math says: No, it doesn't work like that! You can't just make up your own rules!

Emily says: Why not? You sure did. YOU are the one who told me I can't divide by zero!

Math says: Because you CAN'T  divide by zero!

Emily says: Yes I can! The answer is 11 and 1/4. Or, 11.25, if you prefer decimals.

(Side note: I couldn't decide quickly enough and Mom decided for me. I'm now drinking fruit punch kool aid)

Math says: No. You can't do that. NOOOOO!! *sobs hysterically*

Emily says: BUAHAHAHA! I win! *skips around Math, who is lying in the fetal position*

You see why we don't get along?

But it was ok, because eventually, I got to a point where math and I had restricted our relationship to the occasional run-in in the supermarket and at volleyball. I had effectively eliminated math from most of my life. This caused much less stress than the forced visitations we had every weekday for the past ten years or so. Math and I had gone our separate ways, and we were happy. Until Saturday, when I realized that my ACT was a mere week away. Math had been my foe the last time I took the ACT, and was, as predicted, my lowest score, at a 26. This time, though, I need a 30 in math, to get a 31 composite, to get a full-ride to Lee.

Math is, once again, the one thing standing between me and what I want.

Tonight, math and I are going to see a counselor to see if we can patch up some of our differences long enough to make it through Saturday. I'm willing to accept some of his rules, but in time, there shall be war.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Blog Title... Again.

So, once again, I have changed the title of my blog. I was at a party with my parents and two other couples from church. We were just talking, and the following conversation ensued between my mom, Kris, and me:

Kris: You know those sunglasses that change to adjust for bright lights and stuff?

Mom: Yeah.

Kris: Why don't they make those for windshields? It'd be a whole lot easier to drive.

Me: Actually...

Kris: *laughing* Oh of course Emily knows!

Mom (to me): Actually is the one phrase that describes your life. Your entire life has been "actually.." and telling us all the things we never needed to know.


Thus, the change happened.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Tried to Be... But I Can't Be.

I'm wearing this old shirt I have. I got it around the beginning of my freshman year (making it four years old.. *sniff* I'm getting old.), and even though I hardly wear it, I love it.

The front of the shirt says simply, "I tried to be..." then on the back it says this: "stronger, smarter, perfect, everything you ever wanted."

It's from a song by Hawk Nelson called "Everything You Ever Wanted," which is pretty well known among Christian Contemporary music.

As I was putting on my "I Tried To Be" tshirt, I was listening to "I Need You to Love Me" by BarlowGirl, and the words "And I'll stop this pretending that I can deserve what I already have."

I spend a lot of my time trying to be. Trying to be everything that people want me to be. Trying to match people's expectations of me. And I seem to carry that sort of attitude with God, my Abba, as well. It seems like I come to God saying "Please love me today. Look what I did God? I was good. I tried so hard to be good." Always afraid that I'm going to make the wrong move and get eaten from the inside out with worms (see Herod's death in Acts, I think it's chapter 9, but I'm not sure.)

The truth is, I need God to love me. I need my Abba to love me. And I need to understand that my Abba's love for me doesn't depend on how often I screw up (even though that's not an excuse), the same way my mom still loves me even though she had to spend an hour cleaning my room today because I didn't do it and people were coming to see the house. (I love you Mom!) 

My mom still loves me.

My Abba still loves me. 

And I'm relatively certain that I've posted a blog very, very, very similar to this in the past, but I'm not good at learning lessons, ever, really. (See my mom and the room cleaning thing.) 

Now... all of you watch this video of BarlowGirl's "I Need You to Love Me." Now.