Friday, June 24, 2016

Ready?



This morning, I paid for an extra week of my medication, because I was set to run out 5 days before returning from Honduras.

That was the last task that absolutely had to get done before I could leave the country. Over the last week, I have gone to the eye doctor, gotten new glasses, registered my boys at their schools, weighed my suitcase multiple times, showed two people the basics of how I do my church media work so they can cover for me, and so many other tasks.

People keep asking if I am ready. Am I excited? Am I nervous?

Yes, yes, and yes. Also, no, no, and no.

Sometimes I feel nervous about little things and other times, I worry I miscalculated my expenses and will run out of money and cause everyone a big hassle. I worry about plane crashes, even though I love to fly. I consider how I could get lost in Tegucigalpa and how my stuff could get stolen and how I could get sick or break my glasses or forget to take my dramamine and puke on the bus. I worry this whole thing is a selfish adventure on my part, that I am doing this more for myself than anyone else, that I am hoping to find something there that I will never find.

But all of these worries are the kind that flit in and out of my brain. None of them have settled on me. None of them have gone from considerations to true fears.

There is a creature moving in my chest, but I don't know how to name him for you. For a moment, he looks like fear and then he trembles into excitement and shivers into confidence. He is alive and active and keeping me on my toes.

That is the best I can explain how I feel right now.

I am as ready as I am going to get, and the plane takes off in less than a week. I don't know how often I will post here. Sometimes, when I am smack dab in the middle of an experience, I cannot truly process it. The writing comes later. Other times, there are stories and thoughts I feel compelled to share immediately.

We shall see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Breaking Down Racial Walls on Middle Places


In fifth grade, I had two favorite songs. “You Ain’t Woman Enough” by Loretta Lynn and “Color Blind” by En Vogue.
I never claimed to be normal.
In my after school drama class, we did a unit on lip syncing, and I performed “Color Blind.” I knew every word and I’m sure I thought I had smooth dance moves as well. That song exemplified what I believed about race as a small child.
Recently, I heard the song again. I still like the message, but I no longer believe being “color blind” is any kind of answer to the racial problems facing individuals, groups and our nation. I’m not eleven anymore. I’ve grown up.
There are two reasons I don’t want to be color blind when it comes to race. The first is aesthetic. I was walking through the grocery store this week and passed a woman picking up her shopping bags. When she stood and faced me, I noticed she was Asian.
And beautiful.
People are just beautiful, aren’t they?
Women with dark skin, their hair natural or fixed in braids and swirls and loops … Men the color of earth and clay, with feathers and leather, dancing at the White Buffalo Pow Wow I attended a few years ago … Eyes slanted and thin or wide and round … lips full and pouty or cupid bow shaped … arms and legs and cheeks in every color of wood or chocolate or earth …
I love how God created people. Like an artist with new paints, He wanted to use every color, and I am so grateful He did.
But it goes beyond beauty.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Currently: Summer, Soon Enough



Current Books: I just finished The Reader by Traci Chee (BEAUTIFUL), and I am near the end of the hilarious Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle (on audio). I have a volume of poetry by Billy Collins in my purse, and I am reading from Foolsgold by Susan Wooldridge and The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.

Current Playlist: Various Spanish practice programs on Overdrive

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Probably taking time to do this post today. I have so much to do, having just returned from Annual Conference, and my heart is heavy over the horror in Orlando last night. I want to be doing something that matters, that fixes things. But instead I am distracting myself on the Internet.

Current Color: Red... I wore red shoes and red lipstick with my black dress Friday night.

Current Food: I had a strawberry macaron on Saturday, and now I want more macarons.

Current Drink: I am on my second cup of coffee today, a mix of some from El Salvador and some from Rwanda.

Current Favorite Favorite: Pictures from Annual Conference

Current Wishlist: Eh... various books and such. Nothing major.

Current Needs: A few more items for Honduras... I will start packing this week.

Current Triumph: Last Friday, my husband was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He has worked toward this for 9 years. I am so proud of him. And I managed not to trip going onto the stage, so that's good too. Ha!

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: The hate and distrust that still fills the Church... It's not right. We have got to love each other and those around us, or we are always going to do more harm than good.

Current Indulgence: I recently bought a stack of books from a used bookstore. I can't wait to dive into them.

Current Mood: Heavy-hearted over the mass shooting in Orlando, hopeful for our future despite the sadness...

Current Outfit: My 7 For All Mankind jeans (thrift store, y'all, I am cheap) and my Bell Jar tee from Out of Print, along with black flip-flops, cause it is summer.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He is sending me off to another country for an entire month, and he didn't think twice about the extra work that will put on him.

Current Quote:  “If you're reading this, then maybe you know you ought to read everything. And maybe you know you ought to read deeply. Because there's witchery in these words and spellwork in the spine.”  ― Traci Chee, The Reader

Current Photo:
After ordination, 6/10/2016


Title taken from: “Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”  ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bullying on Middle Places


I’m reading a novel about revenge.
It’s a young adult novel about a ghost girl. She killed herself after being bullied, and now she is out to destroy the life of the boy who bullied her.
It’s a stressful story for a couple of reasons.
On the one hand, I can truly empathize with the ghost girl. I remember crying myself to sleep at night and hiding in the middle school bathroom during entire recess periods. I remember trying to figure out how many sleeping pills it would take to end the torture.
I don’t want to dwell on that though. Suffice it to say, I have been there.
On the other hand, I didn’t kill myself. I grew up. I survived by the grace of God, and now I am here to think about it from a distance. From this distance, I see every reason for not seeking revenge on the boys and girls who once tormented me. Because I can see the bigger picture, I am stressed out by the actions of the ghost girl in the story.
I still know some of the kids who teased me for being flat-chested and pale, pasty white and skinny as a rail. I had greasy hair and the wrong clothes and Walmart shoes. I was a walking target for middle school torture. And now I’m a grown-up and they are all grown-ups, and I know they aren’t the horrible people I thought they were back then.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Honduras: Prayer Concerns



A few people have asked what to pray for while Jamie and I are in Honduras next month. This list is for your reference. If you are a praying person, please remember us throughout July.

PHYSICAL

Safety, of course, but also boldness - Something I noticed while reading Acts is that the apostles didn't pray for God to keep them safe. They prayed for the boldness to continue following Him and preaching in His name. I don't plan to do any preaching. I prefer my evangelism to be the kind without words, or without the "this is why you need to believe what I believe" kind of words. Still, I want to be in good physical condition for being bold and loving hard.

Health - Similar to the above, but specifically things like colds and nausea, etc... Food sickness was a problem for some on our last trip. Since I like trying new foods and being adventurous, this is a real concern for me. I am prone to motion sickness, and we will spend a lot of time on buses and curvy mountain roads. I don't want to travel to Honduras to help others and end up as a burden instead.

Transportation - As I said, we travel by bus. Please pray over the vehicles themselves and also the drivers and the cars, bikes, and other objects around us. Traffic in Honduras is a sight to behold. I hear they have things like lanes and speed limits but I haven't seen anything to suggest those items really exist.

Spiders - Go on and laugh. My husband found a very large snake in our yard last week. I went out to peek at him and felt almost no fear. He was beautiful. But a spider? I have gone nights without sleep because I killed a spider in the bathroom or someone posted a photo of a spider to Facebook and every time I closed my eyes, I saw eight furry legs. I didn't see any spiders in Honduras last year, but for some reason I have been worried about them this year. I know. Illogical fear. I don't deny it.

Strength & Skill - Last year, I very briefly wielded a chainsaw. If I end up needing to use one, pray for my focus and ability. Jamie and I will be swinging hammers and carrying wood when we are building homes. I am not sure what else we will do. Anything is possible. Please pray we can dig deep and discover capabilities we never knew we possessed.

Language - As most of you know, I have been learning Spanish. I worked my way through all of level one and most of level two in Rosetta Stone before getting hung up on grammar. I am a perfectionist, and I won't let myself move onto level three until I feel more on top of level two. I'm hoping a month in Honduras will greatly improve my Spanish. Pray that I get plenty of opportunities to use what I have learned and to learn more. Also pray I have the guts to speak and look stupid. That is hard for me. I hate sounding unintelligent, but learning a new language means saying the wrong thing and learning from my mistakes. I don't like making mistakes. So, pray I am both bold and humble in my attempts to speak Spanish.

Family - I am leaving my husband and kids for a whole month. This doesn't scare me. Corey is the best dad I know, and he's got this. My kids are pretty independent. Neither has expressed concern over my upcoming absence. Please pray life rolls along smoothly here without me.


SPIRITUAL/MENTAL

Introvertedness - I am pretty intensely introverted. I love people, but I need to recharge in solitude and quiet. I am used to starting my days in a silent house, alone with my book and my breakfast and my coffee. I'm used to spending most of my days alone, as I am a writer. All of that is about to fly out the window. Please pray that I can either find pockets of solitude to refill my tank or that I will be miraculously made into an extravert for one month.

Being Present - My friend, Carrie, asked me about how I am able to be truly present in the experience of a trip like this. It wasn't a problem last year, but this year I will be there longer. I need to not be worried about my family here at home and other such things. I want to journal through the month, something I failed to do last year. Please pray that I can experience every moment of this trip and be open to whatever God is speaking over me each day.

Seeing the big picture but also the individual - I shared some thoughts on "voluntourism" last year, and that is basically what I am talking about here. I don't want to go to Honduras for my own good. There are good things I hope to take away from this trip (language acquisition, etc.) but if I am not making a difference, I am wasting time and money. I want Jesus to walk with me over the month I am in Honduras. I want to see the big picture of how I can truly be a help, and I also want to see the people I meet as individuals. I want to honor the humanity of each person I come into contact with, whether a fellow pilgrim or a native Honduran or anyone else.

Peace/Homesickness - I don't foresee this being a problem, but I've also never been away from my husband and children for this long all at the same time.

Mental Health - Whether you want to pray over this as spiritual warfare, holding off attacks from the enemy or simply as a health concern, I will take both kinds of prayer. I suffer from ADHD and Depression. I will have my meds with me, of course, but meds are not magic. I still have bad days, even bad weeks. As with my physical health, I don't want my mental health to make me a burden instead of a blessing to those around me.



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Machinations: A Review




Back in January, I got the pleasure of sharing a cover reveal of the novel Machinations by Hayley Stone. Now, I have the added pleasure of telling you about the book, since I got to read it last week. I've been mulling it over since then, debating what is most important to share with you.

I have a love for post-apoc/dystopian literature. I don't read it nearly as often as I used to, because I got a little burned out on it. When my Facebook feed regularly reminds me of my current position in what amounts to a dystopian society, I find myself looking for something different in my books. But I always come back to the topic.

Always.

It was Fahrenheit 451 that started me down this path, and I think Bradbury would enjoy reading Machinations by Hayley Stone. It's got that same mix of a character that is both likable and unknowable, plus a future that is familiar and foreign all in one gulp.

If you love playing the what if game, this is a book for you.

What if our technology took over?

What if, in our effort to end war, we start the biggest war in the history of the world?

What if you could clone yourself... just in case?

Mixed into all of these big issues are the smaller human issues that make a story real to us, no matter the setting. A girl in love, a friendship that might be more, a woman coping with loss and a million questions about what makes a person who she is.

Plus some pretty awesome pop culture references and plenty of snark.

It was a really good read and I hope you will take the time to grab a copy for yourself when it releases later this month.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Caring for Myself on Middle Places


Boundaries.
That’s a popular word in counseling and therapy. Boundaries are important. I hear about them all the time, and I utilize them in many ways without even thinking about it. Boundaries come pretty naturally to me.
Until recently when a new challenge reminded me that boundaries are not always easy to set and often take conscious action.
When the High God gave the nations their stake, gave them their place on Earth, He put each of the peoples within boundaries under the care of divine guardians.” Deuteronomy 32:8-9
I started substitute teaching in January of 2016. On one particular week, we spent Wednesday buying a house and Thursday moving into it. I spent all day Friday with teenagers at a local high school and then headed home to do family night with my husband and kids. That Saturday was full of social interaction, and Sunday is always a bit crazy in our life. I spend it with people. Monday, I was back in a high school classroom, and when I got home, we had a leadership meeting at our house. Tuesday, I didn’t have to work, but my husband was home sick, so there was also no alone time to be had, and I took my oldest to an appointment where I sat in a waiting room with lots of people around me. Wednesday, I was back in a classroom at a school I’d never been to before. By Thursday, I was wrecked.
To sum up, I had no alone time for a week.
A week.
I’m an introvert. When you take away all of my down time, all of my time to just sit in an empty room and read and wear my pajamas and ignore the rest of creation, well, it ain’t pretty.

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