Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love. Hate?

Currently listening to: Ben Rector, Ready for Change
Currently addicted to: anything with sugar on the nutrition label
Currently reading: Sweet Agony

My body is in desperate need of a nap. My social exhaustion of 20 million catch up conversations within the last 24 hours and working 5:00 a.m. shifts days in a row is pushing me into a nap isolation. Give me an hour with a locked door....I will bounce back. Right now, I need not exert my extraverted ways.

Finding myself in various social situations lately, I see that my heart is moved extremely easily. My eyes will tear up in an instant, and having met you for the first time, I will want to do anything to make you feel loved and appreciated. It's an interesting place to find yourself once you observe it. It's great for sure. Just anticipating hitting a limit at some point or another? After a week, am I going to even have the strength to speak a word? If, though, I keep drinking from the neverending well of salvation, perhaps this love for others never runs dry? Can I maintain my nourishment so I don't run dry to others?

Coming back to a familiar place and setting with people reminds me of our desperate need as human beings to commune with one another. I understand God more fully as I see his character reflected through unique personalities and edification from my relationships. I realize my need for help, my need for care from others. It really is a beautiful thing.

Ben Rector sings of being "ready for change." I find it ironic that we ultimately find ourselves yearning for the thing in which we absolutely despise as it tears us away from every comfortable place that we find ourselves in. We hate leaving behind what we have loved so much, but we yearn to "arrive" at the next glory because it's going to be so much better. Isn't it? We are so fickle; we can't make up our minds. We hate change, but we thirst for it. We just don't know what we want. But then again, it's not up to us anyway.

There's something so much bigger going on with this love/hate relationship we, excuse me I, have with change. Maybe it's revealing something about my heart.....

....i need Him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Orchestrate my heart

Currently listening to: Adele
Currently drinking: Starbucks iced coffee
Currently sitting in: a humid and damp dorm room

Some days music finds a way to meet you at the perfect moments and orchestrate your actions in a beautiful way. I drove home from work, listening to Making Pies by Patty Griffin and it ended right when I parked. Great timing. I just turned on Adele Pandora and the song I wanted to hear came on right away (Chasing Pavements). It was meant to be. And while making coffee tonight at the 'Bux, I was serenaded by some spectacular classical music. Classical music has a way with me. Could be my classical piano training. My heart wells up, and so do my eyes. Great music day, Tuesday. Thanks.

It's time for announcements:

I am leaving Starbucks. I have a week left of free coffee and some favorite regulars. Scheduling and being an extra full-time student this semester is the bad guy. It's too bad it didn't work out. I am going to miss it.

I am seriously considering (serious enough to write in this post) going to Peru post-graduation for a few months. I can't explain how happy this makes me and how peaceful my heart is in thinking about it. It's a recent development, enough to not have details and enough to consume my prayers.

Can I confess that blogging is currently on my list of favorite hobbies? My handwritten, private journaling has suffered because of this, but I'd rather share my thoughts with you. Regardless of how these make you feel, they make me feel so much better. Therapy perhaps?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the brink

Currently listening to: Iron and Wine
Currently drinking: Quick Trip iced tea
Currently getting rid of: a headache

I just partook in a little stroll at dusk. An extravert's chance for serenity. I am one who should avoid this feasting time of day for little critters that fly around biting people. I am now itching 3,587 bug bites on one leg. Something about me must taste good...the Starbucks that is now being pumped into my veins probably.

I took a walk in the cemetery. Here on the Hill, the cemetery sits up higher than anything else, making you see the campus in a different perspective. Every few steps I stopped to stare at the sunset. It was one of those moments. I just can't grasp some things. I am staring at change all around me, knowing that I should be feeling so many things but get on emotion overload, resulting in just numbness. Perhaps it's because we are human, or because we are immersed in our own lives that we can't catch some perspective. I know that I am standing at a brink. I can feel it in every inch of my bone. Everyone around me is reminding me of it, and I know that things could get overwhelming at any moment. I am just waiting for that time. The anticipation is killing me. Realities in my life never hit at opportune times.

The thing about different seasons is you miss the old one sometimes; you miss the way things were. And in the very same breath, you are drooling for what comes next. I mean we are never content. We just want something to get better. So I don't really trust my emotions right now. Of course I am sad about leaving college. Of course I am excited about being done with school. Of course I am scared stiff about finding a job. Of course I have no idea what I am going to do after school. Change is change. Change is inevitable. I am learning this. And I have been trying to be cooperative.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weekend travels

Currently listening to: David Gray
Current favorite song lyric: If this is a competition, you are my first prize
Current location: Browning Hall, Room 303

I am staring at a list of blog-worthy topics I made while sitting on an airplane to Phoenix recently. Get ready blog-reader, things are going to get exciting in the near future. I am not cool enough to plan any of this out, and I just made it awkward by making you anticipate greatness when really it's my brain throw up that scrambles such words together. I would just like you to know that my thoughts are compartmentalizing blog-worthy mentionings on a daily basis. So while on an airplane, eating pretzels and popping my ears, I thought I would transcribe my ideas. These will be out for you shortly.

In the meantime I would like to give a shout-out to some of those I saw on my weekend travels:

-The guy stuffing jalepenos chips into his mouth while waiting to board his I the only one that sees a potential problem for the person sitting next to him on the plane?
-The airport cart drivers that shuttle people to their terminal shouting "Move out of the way" as they speedrace through the crowd of people. Don't jump out in front of one of those. You might die actually.
- The people that run frantically to their terminal, afraid they have missed their flight. I just think it's funny.
- And what about the crazy businessmen dressed in suits that hold every version of technology within their paintsuit and can't sit one minute without pulling out their iPhone or Kindle (what's up with those btw) He holds merchandise worth more money than my car. That's an understatement.

I mean there are so many different people to watch at the airport. It makes me believe that God created airports so I could watch them all.

Through the recent packing and unpacking of moving buildings, I have been reminded of the excess amount of stuff Westerners own. This idea was also mentioned in a book I just read by K.P. Yohannon. There are people that have ridiculously more things than they need...just like me. Should I have the problem of not having enough room for all my clothes when people struggle to even keep the same piece of clothing on their back? I think not. There are a lot of unecessary things we, I mean I, surround myself with; all they do is distract me from the truth that I found in simplicity.

Lord, help me live out this yearning for simple things.

....train of thought to be continued.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

78th post

Currently listening to: The musical wonders of Waterdeep. It's been awhile.
Currently eating: peanut butter
Most current action: napping

The pile of dishes next to my face right now are starting to smell. I have used the same spoon the past 3 days. I just licked off my finger that has been dipping in my stash of peanut butter. I am living off of rice cakes, peanut butter, and instant oatmeal for the next few days. Let's see if I can stretch this out. I move yet again to another resident hall Tuesday. Moving is one of the most dreadful things besides the diseased dishes sitting next to my face.

I would be an awful gambler. Reason being, I got this brilliant idea that the closer you wait to the travel date to purchase a plane ticket, the cheaper it is. Why didn't any of my good friends stop me from this? As I gave in and put down a hefty money amount yesterday in reserving my ticket, only a few days before departure, I realized my weeks of skillfully waiting and anticipating a drop in price was not so skillful. Every day I sat and reasoned with Bing. com, contemplating whether to buy or wait. Luck had to be on my side. Lies. All lies. I am not going to even tell you how much I paid for a ticket to Phoenix. Because the exciting thing is I get to see my dear friend Nicole and her precious little boy. It is going to be a rejuvinating time away. I just know it.

I got pulled over yesterday for speeding. It was different than last time. Perhaps the further you get away from your 16th year of life and new driving, you calm down about things, and tickets only seem fair when you have obviously and blatently disobeyed. It seems that things like this always happen when you are speeding in order to get where you are going faster because you are late to where you are going. And being stopped by the policeman makes you even later. Alanis Morissette would say that it's ironic. I would agree. I was already debating whether to go out that night anyway, and having gotten pulled over, I wondered if it was a sign from God not to go. Funny how we spiritualize everything. Anyway, the man was nice and I knew that I was willfully going over the speed limit, so no need to cry, argue, or flirt...whatever girls do. I took my ticket and in honor of that, drove slowly for the night. Don't go 40 mph on Lightburne.

Starbucks tip of the day: Please specify whether you would like your mocha iced or hot before we make it.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

James, Jan. 09

The day began bitter cold, both in my heart and outside downtown Denver. The temperature was brutal and snow had blanketed the ground. We were expected to reach Denver for Jesus that day. Skeptical and fearful, I joined in the fun, being a part of a group of five that would receive a manila envelope unveiling step by step instructions as to what our mission was that day. We gathered in a huddle and ceremonially opened our envelope, anxiously awaiting what it would say inside. We were to catch the bus at 11:50 a.m. and end up in a particular neighborhood. Suddenly I realized we very well could be doing what I so dreaded to do, go door to door with tracks in hand, bugging people in the middle of the afternoon, sporting our phony Jesus smiles. Or so it was this way in my evangelizing past. I followed obediently, secretly hoping this would not be the case. After arriving and hearing our mission, lo and behold, that was exactly what we would be doing. After 2 hours of rejection, wet and cold, we stepped on the bus to head back to our primary location. In the meantime, I observed the saddened despair and poverty that the people of that neighborhood and sitting next to me on the bus experienced every single day. I was frustrated. I had a heart to help people; to love them. But there was a barrier between me and them because I didn’t know how. I saw a need but did not know how to meet it, and I knew that going door to door was the most cliché and ineffective way to do that. The world’s problems seemed too big, too impossible to fix in one day. Overwhelmed with any and all emotions, my heart gave up. Surely there was a way to show Jesus to people with going door to door. Surely I had something to offer of myself and the Jesus inside of me. But being cold, wet, uncomfortable, and hungry, and escorted myself to the luxurious Sheraton hotel where I spent my days that week. I put on some warm clothes, gathered my pen and paper, and set out to downtown Denver to treat myself to a latte and reflection time. And in this reflection time I would vent to God about all the injustices in the world, many of which I had just seen, and tell Him how hard it was to live down here with questions beyond measure about why I had so much and others had so little. This was my mission for that afternoon.

As I sipped my latte, I headed down 16th street, looking for a place to settle. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a homeless man scooting his things out from the mall in a little buggy. On it was a sign. On it wrote something about money and food. A policeman had stopped him, said something, and walked off. My spirit and body suddenly cooperated and pushed me to talk to him. My mind didn’t even stop to question the idea. For some reason, I found myself confident. The first thing that came out of my mouth (naturally) was, “How are you?” I immediately shut myself down for saying such a stupid thing. Come on Liz, I thought, what would he say, “Great. Just a little chilly and homeless.” So I don’t even remember what he said, or what I said after that. I just know I tried everything to have normal conversation as anyone would, regardless of whether he owned a home or not. I invited him to walk and talk. We ended at the corner of the street, talking about poetry and injustice. Among his food and blankets to keep warm, I think the most beneficial thing he had with him was a book of poetry he had found on the ground somewhere. It was something that reminded him that he was human and his brain was still working. It didn’t scream out that he was suffering. It didn’t put him lower than anybody else. It took him away from his problems and allowed him to engage in another world besides his own.

We continued to talk about random things….just like any friends would. I wasn’t afraid to acknowledge his situation, but I also didn’t want to focus on it. Just like him, I am more than my circumstances and problems. I have a story, passions and ideas. So I set out to ask him about his. He interrupted in saying that he had a lot of things to tell the world; that he wanted his voice to be heard. He turned to me, honest and so real, asking if I would write down his story. I laughed a little nervously. What do you say to that? Taking advantage of the moment, I agreed with a smile. It took both of us by surprise. I realized that I had just made a promise to someone that experienced nothing but inconsistency and broken promises in his life. Great. I was going to be another one. Or maybe not? Maybe this conversation would last more than today….and his story would be one that I tell.

In the bitter cold, we both stood paralyzed while I tried to figure out where I could go with a homeless man where it was warm, safe, and very public for safety. Coming to the end of my list, I escorted him to the Sheraton hotel lobby. How suiting. So we warm up on the leather couches as we watched preoccupied college students scurry by in their social huddles, dressed in their new Gap jeans and arguing over whether Starbucks or Jamba Juice would serve as the best snack. I held my latte as I searched for my pen and paper. So many thoughts run through your mind in a moment. In this particular one, I wasn’t sure if I made the right choice to bring him into the hotel. Was it shoving wealth in his face? Was it rude? These were just a few of the many questions that flooded my mind. I had no idea. But he was with me, and in this I held a sense of pride and protection as he was able to indulge in the warmth of the building for the next hour.

Just like anyone, where do you start with one's story? I hit around a few different questions, trying to gage what would get him talking. He was willing, but after getting emotional about one thing or the other, he kept on asking me what I wanted to know. And frantically, I would just say “your story,” which of course was dumb. He really hadn’t processed his story; that was my job to help him. I wanted to gather his thoughts and experiences and help make sense of them. I tried to gage the areas where he was comfortable talking about. I quickly ruled out his childhood. Although I wanted the whole story, I wasn’t about to make this homeless man relive the tragedy of his childhood for me. It just wasn’t the time. There were other touchy subjects that I quickly darted off of. So we landed on photography. You can tell when someone loves something or someone. Their eyes light up. They could talk forever about it. And in doing this, they end up reliving memories in their head while talking…kind of in their own world. I love watching people in this state. It’s enjoyable for me. So he loved taking pictures. He kept on saying his favorite thing to do was to “shoot children.” I cringed inside every time he repeated that phrase, only fretting about what it sounded like to a stranger passing by on our conversation. I quickly got over my insecurity, intently listening to this man relive his history.

James was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began that his grandpa was in the mafia and he had a dad that molested him. This is when we skipped to his later life. He dropped out of high school and ventured into the work world. He did construction for most of his years, making decent money. For a short time, like I said, he did photography. This brought back a vivid memory of the first time (and maybe the only) he felt appreciated by a mother who had brought her child to get photographed. He retold the story of how she hugged him, with tears in her eyes, and thanked him for his great work. This was important to him.

James had done one too many drugs in his years to develop HIV. Too many needles, too many bad choices. He found out a year before our discussion that day that he was ill. Since then, I believe he has been reflecting on a lot of things, as it was coming out in our conversation. The scabs on his face told the story of a fight he had gotten with another homeless man recently that called his grandson the N-word. His face immediately squished together into a scowl, his lips puckering together, trembling, as he relived the anger. I quickly moved us ahead, expressing the joy that he had grandchildren, nine actually. James had been through two marriages, the most current one, for a very short time until she passed away. That is when he quit his job which led us to his current situation, being homeless. He said he just quit. He knows and admits his homelessness is his fault. Unlike many people I have talked to, he doesn’t blame God and James doesn’t hate the world. He took full responsibility for his actions. In thinking about the injustice in this world earlier that day, I asked him how he believed in God after seeing so many people hurting. He had no problem interrupting me to defend God’s sovereignty. He re-explained that God did not do this to him, that God is good to him and faithful to bring him out of it. I stared in amazement as my pride crumbled to the ground. Here was this man without a warm place to sleep or any security in his life with more faith than me and all my comforts. This man was wise. It’s true, it’s easier to understand the things of God when you’re poor, stripped of all the world’s pleasures and comfort, than it is to be rich. Maybe that parable made sense to me now.

It has been 5 years since his wife died, and James still finds himself humbly on the streets of Colorado, asking people for money. He is on the waiting list for low-income housing. He holds his head up, with hope for his future and love in his heart. He willingly left me with 3 pieces of advice, each holding an important piece of history in his heart:

Love your fellow man no matter what
Don’t judge people by the color of their skin
Stay in school

All of his advice was said with great convincing and belief, and with stories of their own of how he lived out experiences that taught him these things. There was a major sense of worth for James to be able to, in the midst of admitting all his bad decisions in life, pass on advice that is true to his story. And I received it gladly, and forever etched the conversation in my mind. I was able to pray for him before he left, praying for a warm place for him to sleep that night. He scooted over on the couch to embrace me. You know, I think he felt loved. And, I realized, so did I. In this weird way, I felt complete, like I had done something that I was truly made to do: Love God, and love others. So we got up and said goodbye as I escorted him out the door, and James set out into the world and onto this paper.

His story; our story. They are stories to be told and to be heard. And believe it or not, we find God intertwined in the depths and colors of our experiences…in the midst of our relationships and conversations. God is in the dirty places of this world…on the streets in people like James….shedding light in the midst of our own hopelessness. God is in places outside of our sterile churches and 4-step tracks to salvation. He is in the midst of every person on that subway, in the man sitting on the corner with the sign. God is present in the lost places. We must go and meet Him there. Because there awaits a story to be told...and a place for God to be glorified.

Monday, August 3, 2009

They liked it, so they put a ring on it.

Currently listening to: Patty Griffin
Currently eating: Life cereal
Currently reading: Captivating

Oh blog world, here we are again. It's a hot and muggy summer night. I just got off of work. Smell like coffee, have tired feet, and am excited to sleep. But I thought I would pay a visit to you and search for a few words before I sleep.

Too many people are taking Beyonce's advice. If you are reading this, a friend of mine, under 23 years of age, and are about to get engaged or married, please don't. Spare my sanity. Be kind to my singleness. If you like it, don't you dare put a ring on it. I think all my friends Facebook messaged each other, planning to change their relationship status at the same time. Infact, maybe I'll change mine. Everyone's doing it. The good thing about having 7,890 weddings to go to this next year is hopefully I will stay skinny and tan with a few cute dresses in the closet. That's the attitude, Liz.

While we are on the topic of attraction-like things, I would like to discuss crushes. No matter how old you get or mature you feel in the dating arena, crushes always make you feel like a 13-year-old pre-teen. There is nothing sophisticated or cool about them; they are unmasterable, leaving everyone absolutely vulnerable and inexperienced once again. Crushes make you blush and nervous, having conversations in your head, trying to talk yourself out of liking the person. You feel dumb at the fact that you overanalyze and jump to conclusions too quickly (maybe just the female species). And here's the trouble: drawing the line. When do you decide the potentiality of a relationship is unrealistic? When do you admit the crush to someone else? Because the moment you say something, it jinxes the whole situation. And the moment to realize you might just like a person, it changes the next day and you find that his friend is cute too. I mean, come on. 'Mize well put my braces back on and scrunchi in my hair for as young as these things make you act/feel.

Meanwhile, I have discovered that dishes are my most disliked chore. When I am eating soup with a fork and a green film gathers on my bowls, I reluctantly take the pile to the sink to scrub, scrub, and scrub some more. Maybe my husband will like doing dishes.

Thanks for reading, friend. I am leaving cyber space for the evening. Will talk later.

P.S. Don't read into this crush thing. I am not dating anyone or anything of the sort. No freak out texts please.