Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On Being A Single, Christian, Almost 28 Year-old

So I've been kicking around writing about being single recently.  And then, Big Mama published this post, and I knew the gauntlet had been thrown down.  After I read her wise words, I felt like God had grabbed me by the face and said "Sit still and write."  So, here I am writing.  (But tapping my foot, because we all know I can't sit still.)

I used to think being single was hard.  Sometimes I still do I guess, but part of me just doesn't look at it like I used to.  In the old days, if someone wanted to talk to me about being single or did something well meaning that I took the wrong way, I would just lose it.  I would cry or get mad, the mope around feeling badly about being 20-something and single.  These days, I just find it kind of funny.  Someone always has "perfect guy" for me, the right website, or the right words to comfort my sad, lonely existence.  And I know enough now to just say "Thank you." and move along.  Please, don't get me wrong here.  I love that people care enough to want to take care of me this way, and I appreciate their attempts mostly (there have been a couple too many awkward blind dates for my taste).  I am not mocking them or wishing that they wouldn't try to help.  Singleness is just one of those things that you either get or you don't.  There aren't enough blind dates, websites, or kind words that will help if we aren't ready to be receptive to the real issues at hand.
Because here's what I know.  Every person's journey is different.  It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can accept whatever God has in store for me.  For a long time, I was mad at God.  I'd yell and scream and throw out questions like "How come she can get married and not me?"  I believe that God is big enough to handle my anger and my questions.  The breakdown in communication happened when I refused to listen to what He was answering in my heart.  Allow me to demonstrate:

Me:  (whining, screaming, and/or crying) God, I can't believe that I have to go to another friend's dream wedding.

God:  (in that kind, loving, mildly annoying because I am mad at Him, way) Be happy for your friend.  It's the next step in My plan for her.

Me: (with increasing desperation) I don't want to be alone.  Why can't you just send me somebody?  Anybody?  Please? 

God:  (still kind and loving) Be patient.  I have bigger plans for you.  Not just anybody is right for those plans.

Me: (whining, again) I wish I had someone to take out the trash, mow the lawn, fix the drier vent, cuddle on the couch and talk to at the end of the day etc....

God:  (not even annoyed with me, because He is eternally kind and loving about these things)  Be thankful for your earthly father, your able legs, the roof over your head, an ever-present Heavenly Father etc....

I know this will shock some of you, but I can tend toward the dramatic.  Time after time, I refused to hear God and pretended that He wasn't answering when I knew that He was.  God is the God of Miracles, but sometimes He's the God of Reasonable.  That's when I find Him a little hard to take.  It's not the same for everyone, but God has finally gotten me to the point where I accept that He doesn't need my help.  Shocking, right?  The Creator of the Universe doesn't need help from the girl who forgets when trash day is and routinely misplaces her car keys. 

Now, that's not to say I haven't tested it out.  I've "helped" His plan along when I thought it was dragging.  I've made my share of mistakes, some of which could have ended very badly (and I'm thankful they didn't).  And I've made the difficult choices when it would have been much easier to give in.  The world wants to tell single women a lot of junk, and I've had to learn to tune that out.  And I've had to learn to find humor in siutations that I would have thought completely humorless not that long ago.

I don't pretend to understand why I'm still single.  I don't know what God has in store for me.  I don't know if I will remain single for the rest of my life.  What I do know is that God is good, God is merciful, and God says right there in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  And that has to be enough, even on the days it doesn't feel like enough (and I do still have those). A long time ago, someone told me, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."  I still have plans, but I know that my plans all hinge on His plans for me.  And if 28 years has taught me anything, it's that His way is always better than what I have planned anyway.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Movie Review: Fame

 So it's not Monday...but here's the review anyway.

On Friday night, a group of girlies and I went to the late show to see Fame.  Now, it should be noted here that I was not as excited as some members of our little group.  It would be hard to be more excited than my sister and Sheena, who have been talking about this premiere for over a month.  But there I was in the theater with one on each side of me as the opening credits rolled.

This movie was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be.  I don't mean that in a negative way, though.  It just wasn't especially surprising on any count.  My best description was that Fame was like if So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol had a child.  If you love movies where people sing and dance, then this is your movie.  If you like movies that have complex and dramatic plotlines and extensive character development, then I'm sure there's something you will enjoy in another theater.  You have to know your audience, and it's obvious by the musical numbers and short vignettes that the people behind Fame were aiming for those of us with short attention spans and a love for theatrics.

That said, the performances were awesome. Kherington Payne, who was a brilliant contestant on SYTYCD, shines in the dance sequences.  When Asher Book opened his mouth to sing, I think we all found a new crush,  and Naturi Naughton can certainly hold her own when it comes to singing and playing.  I like that they didn't cast "names" but instead went with people who were truly talented in their discipline.  The brightest spot for this musical theater loving chic was Megan Mullally belting out "You Took Advantage Of Me."  While it freaks me out a little when she's not in character as Karen on Will & Grace, she shows why she continues to have just as much work treading the boards as she does on the big or small screen.

All in all, I'd give it a C.  It was great for a Friday night out with the girls but isn't going to garner any attention come award season (with the exception, perhaps, of the choreography).  That they took another go at this idea does prove, however, that the draw of this franchise may actually live forever. (Corny, but I couldn't resist!)

P.S. Real life story:  While the credits were playing, in the now empty theater, my sister, LuLu, felt the need to dance.  And because she actually can (unlike her uncoordinated older sister), she put on quite the show for those of us there to witness.  The attendant in the projection box seemed impressed, too.  It remains one of the funniest things I've seen in a while, and it had to be added namely because she said, and I quote, "This better make your blog."  So, there you have it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seven Things I Am Super Excited About In The Coming Week...

  • FAME - Going to see this movie tonight (opening night) at the late showing at the good theater in C'dale.  You will receive the official movie review Monday.
  • My family birthday party - Chicken and dumplings, all the fixin's, and for dessert...(drumroll, please)...German Chocolate Upside Down Cake.  I only get this cake on my birthday.  That's a good thing because I can eat almost the entire thing in one sitting.  It's just that good!  Oh, and presents, of course, which are mostly cash so I can get a new iPod, another DVD cabinet, and several TV seasons on DVD to fill said shelf.
  • Pay Day - You should always have the good manners to be excited when someone is giving you money, as long as said money is earned morally and legally.  (If it's not, you should probably spend your time figuring out how to find another way to earn money.  Or how to avoid prison.)
  • My birthday!!  - On October 1, I will be 28 years old!  And I still totally think about birthdays like I did when I was little.  So, I'm looking forward to it, even though I have to work and will have already had my family thingy.
  • My Friday off - Every year as a birthday present to myself, I take a personal day.  On this day, I usually get my hair done and a mani/pedi, then do something fun with my girlies that night.  This year I'm not going out, and instead going back to work for a fundraiser, but the haircut and pedicure should be nice.
  • The arrival of Kamryn - Though I teased about her being a birthday present, my friend's new baby girl will end up being born this week one way or another.  If she doesn't come on her own, she will be here sometime shortly after 7:30 a.m. on Friday.  So, I will probably get to meet her during my day off.  Which I guess can count as getting together with my girlies on Friday.  On Saturday, however....
  • Wine Trail - Southern Illinois has many wonderful things to offer.  There are few more wonderful than the wine trail.  I think we will be hitting two or three of the finer wineries over next weekend as part of my extended birthday celebration.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to it.  Particularly if the weather will be cooperative and we can sit outside.
So, I'm feeling pretty good about the next week....Hope your next seven days are just as awesome!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cracking Up!

It's only Thursday.  This week feel ridiculously long to anyone else?  So, until Friday actually arrives, here's a little something to make you smile.  It's now my computer background because it combines two of my favorite animals, giraffes and squirrels.  Someone sent it to me in an email, so I have no clue who to give the photo credit to, but I think the pic speaks for itself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Delilah, World's Craziest Cat

Almost three years ago, on Mother's Day, I adopted a kitten.  I figured I was single, and the only other living things in my house were plants.  It was either get a cat or convert the front room into an actual jungle. Basically, I choose cat lady over plant lady.  My aunt's cat had eight week old kittens, and she encouraged me to pick one.  Technically, my sister picked out my kitten, therefore I can blame this all on her.  I named my little bunch of fluff Delilah, because it's a super cool name and not because the Plain White T's think so, and took her home.  She was gray and black tabby, and reminded me of Sonic, one of the coolest cats I'd had when I lived at Mom and Dad's. I was in love.  And for a while, we lived together happily.  Until she started climbing door facings.  This was a sign, but I ignored it.

Before long, Lilah began to reveal that she is ever the slightest bit, well...psychotic.  Her likes include closing doors, pushing things off of tables, drinking from the bathtub, stealing hair bands, and carrying Beanine Babies around the house. Her dislikes include people (especially children), anything that smells like the outdoors, being petted, my cell phone, and the vacuum cleaner.  If she had front claws and wasn't a little under height for her weight, she would still climb door facings, I have no doubt.  She just isn't right.  There's no better way to put it.  We coexist, but I think if she could figure out how to open the food bin and turn on the water, she'd totally off me while I was napping. 

This is the face of bad.  Doesn't she look like she's saying "Just take the stupid picture and get outta of my face"?  Lilah may be nuts, but at least she isn't this guy....

This is my parents' cat, Shredder.  I'm fairly sure he's on direct loan from Satan.  It's not printable what I think he's saying in this picture.  So, I guess it could always be worse...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Thousand Times Blessed

So, despite the fact that I was raised in a Christian household and have been in church all of my life, I have to admit that I just don't know what I'm doing 90% of the time.  I know what the Bible says.  I know that I should be able to apply it to my life in very practical ways.  And yet somehow, I tend to make a mess with things. But I have so many reasons to be thankful.

God, knowing that I am who I am, did what He does best.  He looked upon me and surely said, "What this daughter needs are a few good examples."  And I have those examples in spades.  I have those examples in women I have never even met.  Like the ones you'll find here and here and here and here.  These women are as real as the ones I know, and so wonderfully honest about what it means to be a Christian woman in this world.  These women routinely say things that touch my heart, and I have no doubt that God placed them in my life.

But the real focus of today's post are the awesome Christian women God has placed around me every single day.  These are women in my family, in my church, and even where I work.  These are women who face this life with the dignity, grace, and compassion that can only come from the hands of God.  The women in my Bible study are some of the most amazing women that I know.  When we get together, we laugh and cry, but I never walk away from a session without feeling like I have just been schooled on how to really walk the walk.  The best thing about these women is that they are so open and honest about the times that were hard, about the times they failed, about times when they felt like giving up.  It's easy to admit the times that God blessed you in abundance.  It's a much more difficult thing to talk about the times when you had to step out on faith and believe God would bless you, even when everything around and within you said that might not be the case this time. 

A couple of these women I have known for a long time.  They have been examples of real Christian women to me for years.  Some of those years were formative ones in my adult walk, and they certainly shaped the way I have dealt with the world.  Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone makes all the difference.  In other times, it was their willingness to call me out if I needed correction or offer encouragement when I couldn't find hope.  I have nothing but love in my heart for my second mom and my favorite extra "aunt."

I have had women where I work, one in particular comes to mind, whose faith just blows me away.  In my darkest hour, she was one of the people who held me up and said, "This will be okay.  YOU will be okay."  She has championed me, and I know that part of the reason I made it through were her prayers.  She's going through a dark hour now, but from those depths she is praising God, not necessarily because of how she feels but because of what she knows to be true.  She is setting an example for me once again, even though I wish with all my heart that wasn't the case.

I'm lucky enough to have a mama who fits in to all of the above categories.  She is in that Bible study group, and we work together, and that's pretty awesome most of the time.  She raised me right, and when I needed the freedom to go my own way on the path God had for me, she not only allowed it to happen but gave me her blessing to do so.  She continues to attempt to form this loud, outspoken girl into something that can be used of God.  And you have to be thankful for someone with that kind of patience.

There are a couple of women who deserve their own little shout out here.  Without these two, my path would have been entirely different.  That God saw fit to take three girls who were a little too much the same and have them sing together for almost 10 years seems insane.  I know it hasn't always been easy, but I think we all know that at the heart of things, we love each other, even when we'd rather not.  There are no two women I have more love and respect for. There are no women who I have laughed harder with when life struck us funny (usually at inappropriate times, like from our front row pew in church) or cried harder beside when life just wasn't fair.  We have been in the trenches together, trying to figure out how to survive this thing called life in a world that doesn't play by our rules.  Even if a day comes when we are no longer singing together, I know that you will be there when needed.  I hope you think the same of me.

There are many other women here, there, and everywhere who God has put in my path.  Not all of them are part of my life in this season, and that makes me a little sad.  I'd like for them to see how I "turned out."  But I will see them on the other side and we will have all of eternity to talk about the things of God.  This is a long post, but when you are as blessed as I am, it takes a while to talk about it.  What better way to start off the week than being thankful for all of life's blessings?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why Hoff Should Not Be a Part of Speech...

I wasn't supposed to be at home last night.  I was supposed to be a good girl and go to the Missionary meeting to hear this awesome girl and some of her friends speak about the important work they are doing in Cairo, IL  (That's pronounced CARE-O and not KI-RO like the capital of Egypt.)  Except when I got home from work much later than I had intended, I found myself with a fever.  So, in everyone's best interest I stayed home.

This meant I got to partake in Wednesday night's TV offerings.  I have to admit I was pretty conflicted.  The America's Got Talent finale was on, and while I haven't watched every episode this summer, I'd seen enough to feel invested.  But, in the same two hours, two of my absolute favorites were on -- So You Think You Can Dance and Glee.  Let's just say I made good use of the flaskback button on the old remote. 

The most disturbing thing from last night (short of some VERY bad dancers) was David Hasselhoff.  I often find his arrogance mildly amusing.  But I must put his latest stunt to a halt for the safety of the English language.  "The Hoff" as he is so fond of being called, has started coining phrases like Hoff-the-Chain or Mazel-Hoff.  This must end! We have already given this man Knight Rider, Baywatch, and a judging spot on a talent show when he has no discernable talent.  (Yeah, yeah, I know.  He's a superstar in Germany.  I don't, however, actually care.)  We have given him much more than he deserves.  There is no reason to make him or anything pertaining to him a part of speech.  Please give me a minute to get down off this soapbox...

Before I go, I do want to say a few words about Glee.  If you haven't seen it, and you even remotely enjoy comedy or music, check it out.  It cracks me up.  I bought the premiere episode on DVD and have watched no less than six times since.  It's the combination of great writing and an even better score that makes this so highly addictive.  What's more fun than people saying funny things and then blowing your mind with their vocal talent?  Plus, anytime someone wants to put together an acapella version of a Color Me Badd or Bel Biv Devoe song, I'm totally supportive.

While I Was Napping (aka Weekend Recap)

Let's start at the very beginning.  (Come on, fellow music nerds, all together now...) A very good place to start.....

Friday went well.  We sang, and despite the fact that I didn't realize the mic was off for half of the first verse, we received compliments.  Though apparently we were supposed to do two songs.  Oops...sorry, Judy! 

Saturday was hot and after the parade I went back into my nice air conditioned house for a bit. I assumed that I was sapped out by the staying up late watching Gossip Girl with my sis, getting up early to grade papers and work on photos combo coupled with the heat.  I would soon learn that I was sick!  More on that in a minute...

Luckily by the time I came back out for my turn at supervising my club members supervising the bouncy houses (there's a lot of supervising in that sentence) there was a nice breeze.  I camped out in the shade of the bouncy house doorway and went about finding 600 ways to say "Stop that" and "Please don't" for the next three hours.  During this time, I came to an important realization. I have always assumed that most of my students have reasonable parents who try to teach them how to act and their children don't listen.  Junior high students have trouble with that.  They barely listen to each other, much less adults.  However, after three hours of observation of the population at large I have discovered that too many parents aren't telling their children anything but "Go play over there away from me."  This is disturbing on so many levels.  Let's just say I hope to never again have a stare down with an 8 year-old who has climbed to the top of the bouncy house and has her body precariously wrapped around a giraffe's neck.  And if it does happen, I hope it's my kid, in which case I could yank the child up and take them home where they won't leave the house until it's time for college.  Or military school, whichever comes first.

After a full afternoon keeping children from committing hara kiri on the bouncy houses, I hung out at my parents.  This was fun because (1) free food and (2) my brother and future sis-in-law were over and I could give Bub the presents I had for him.  I've been scanning old pics into my computer recently, and found a picture of my brother on his first trip to Busch Stadium.  As a lifelong Cards fan, this was a major find and he was thrilled.  I left my parents kind of early because I was just wiped out. 

At 4 am, I woke up with a fever and spent all of Sunday and Monday in bed with a sinus infection.  I'm feeling better now, but it was unpleasant to say the least.  So I've spent the rest of the week making up for the day of work I missed and that's why despite starting this post on Tuesday, you are just getting it today.  You might get an additional post if you are good, though.  And coming soon, a guest blog from one of my favorite traveling and shopping buddies....

Friday, September 11, 2009

A little summary before the final bell....

It's still hot in my classroom, 82 degrees at the moment.  I'm more than a little tired.  But, my friends, the weekend cometh....

My sister and I have picked a song for tonight--Mark Schultz's "Letters From War."  We had a patriotic theme to work from and neither of us were feeling the traditional pick.  Of course, we haven't technically practiced it yet.  And we sing in a matter of hours.  I'm sure it will be fine.  Right?  RIGHT?  Did I mention that we are singing at a beauty pageant?  This is what you get when someone asks you for a favor in church.  I'm pretty sure making up a previous social obligation in church means I'll never have another date again. My sis and I go every year and judge unofficially from our seats and that's kind of how I liked it.  But what can you do?

The pageant is part of my town's version of a fall festival this weekend, even though it's still summer on the calendar.  Maybe I will post a picture or two as I plan on spending tomorrow wandering around the yard sales and what-not.  I'll miss most of it on Sunday by the time I go to church and then have to go back at 5:00 for Bible study.  We are doing Beth Moore's "Stepping Up."  It's been amazing, even though I am always a bit of a homework slacker.  I think it's the conversation with the other godly, awesome women in the group that I love the most!  I will hate to see this time end.

Have a great weekend!  (Even you don't get to attend a festival named after a stagnant river!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Five Things I Am Unnecessarily Stressed Out About

In no particular order...

  • Obligations this month - In the immortal words of Oklahoma's Ado Annie, "I'm just a girl who can't say no." I think she may have been talking about a different kind of social obligation, but the sentiment works. Because I hate to disappoint, I find myself doing things I would rather not. Speaking of....
  • Feeling unprepared - My sister and I are singing on Friday night. In front of a lot of people. And we don't have anything selected. And I don't know when we are going to practice. And did I mention it was THIS FRIDAY NIGHT?!?!?
  • No AC in my classroom - It's been like this for three weeks. It's hot and junior high students are not necessarily known for their stellar personal hygiene. Enough said.
  • Big projects looming - The clubs I sponsor at school put on two of the biggest events of the year. Again this is of my own doing, but it makes me want to hyperventilate just thinking about it. It will be great fun when it's all finished, but planning makes me crazy nervous.
  • Friend issues -The older I get the more friends I seem to have in places away from here. And that means that I can't rush over with a bottle of Southern IL wine or some girls' night out when a friend's in distress. And that's the kind of stuff I love to do because I, of all people, know that sometimes a phone-a-friend just isn't quite enough.

It's Been a While...

Even though we don't know each other very well, I feel the need for a little honesty. Right after I started this blog, just days after my first post, I entered one of the most difficult periods of my life. Everything turned upside down for me. And I'm not a girl who is used to things going badly for me. I found myself fighting to restore my life in almost every area, and for a bit there I "dropped my basket." I couldn't or wouldn't deal with just about everything, and looking back, I see that I was dangerously depressed. But I was one of the lucky ones. I woke up from my nightmare.

The depression started last August, truth be told. There was a very unfortunate sequence of events leading up to it all. I had a very bad car accident, my second in a year. I was single, and feeling rejected. I wasn't exactly on speaking terms with God. One of my closest friends met the most amazing man and got engaged. And then the holidays hit. To make matters worse, I had the genius idea to pretend like everything was fine. But I was a zombie. When I wasn't required to be somewhere, I was asleep in my house or blowing money I didn't have on things I didn't need in the name of "retail therapy." I don't tell you this to garner sympathy, far from it in fact. It's just the backstory to where I was when the bottom fell out.

The bottom fell out in the most unexpected way. I can't say much about the "how" of it all, but just know that it was earth shattering for someone who is used to being praised. The worst part was that I knew some of the accusations were grounded in truth. And so I did what I needed to do--I found the strength to fight.

It's been a long road from February to now. Some of it has been unpleasant, as owning up to our faults and failures often is. But the rest of it has been revolutionary. Restoring the things in my life that I allowed to break has taken time. Some of my friendships still aren't mended in the way I hope they will be. Getting my finances back in order has required some serious work. I'm not always the person I want to be, but sometimes I just have to embrace each baby step and know that Scarlett O'Hara had the right idea. Tomorrow is another day.

This is a lot of honesty to put out there all at once. But it just felt like the right time to start talking about it...