Nothing Left Unsaid

\\ Just a forewarning: this month’s post is going to be a bit emotional. I had told myself before that I was going to stop writing blog posts about losing my mother, but I just really wanted to this month. And anyway, it’s my blog, so I’m going to write what’s on my mind. This post might also be a bit scatter-brained, or “stream of consciousness” if you will, because I can’t be bothered to organize my thoughts. So if this isn’t your cup of tea, go pour yourself some coffee :P I’m not sure what I mean by that. \\

The month of May is probably always going to be difficult for me. May 6th is the anniversary of my mom’s death and Mother’s Day always arrives a painfully short amount of time after that. There have been a couple of years when May 6th didn’t really get to me, but don’t worry, Mother’s Day tends to bring out the grief that the anniversary couldn’t manage. But this year it hurt on both days and even some days surrounding. I think it had something to do with the fact that this was the first year that May 6th has fallen on a Tuesday (same as the year she died) and I was really thinking about each day that she was in the hospital, etc. This is also the first May that I don’t live in a place where she once lived and my father is married to someone else. These changes aren’t bad changes at all, it’s just that sometimes the new things make me feel like I’m losing her even more. I remember the first year or so after she died, I became increasingly more afraid of big life changes because I didn’t want things to be too far from what they were when she was here. This kind of freaked me out because a month after she went, I graduated from high school, turned 18, got my license, and a month after that, got my first job and then later that year decided to switch churches. These changes were all normal changes. They were good changes. But they hurt. I hate realizing how many things she will not be here for. I hate noticing all the things she has already missed in these six years. I think that’s what hurt the most this year. I’ve become hyper-aware of all the things that are different and all the things that will likely change. I realized that the me that she knew is not the me that I am now. And it’s good that I’m different. There would be a huge problem if 23-year-old me wasn’t much different from 17-year-old me. But it hurts. It hurts to think that my mother didn’t know who I would become. It hurts that my mother can’t currently know me. 

On this most recent May 6th, I stayed home from work because I was not doing so well emotionally, and I have a nice boss who didn’t mind. After a long while of trying to distract myself, failing to do so, and then just full-on grieving, I pulled out my notebook and wrote something that I think might explain a bit better what I’m trying to say here:

 

It was Tuesday, May 6th. Just like today. I remember coming home without you. It was annoyingly sunny outside and there were children playing in their yards as we drove past. It made me so angry. 

The weather is more fitting today. It is finally raining after so much sun. It is quiet but for the cars on the street. 

I remember the three of us walking into that house that you made a home. We said nothing. I cried and they held me. I could not be comforted as I saw all the spaces you would never occupy again. 

Now I sit in a home you’ve never lived in, at a table you’ve never eaten at, living a life you cannot be a part of other than in my own heart and mind. I know you are much better off where you are now, but it still kills me to know what you will miss. You won’t hold me when I’m crying. You won’t give me advice when I’m lost. You won’t go anywhere with me. You won’t bake or cook with me. You won’t see who I’m becoming or the new interests I’ve developed. You won’t know my new dreams and ambitions. You won’t cry at my wedding or hold my hand while my children come into the world. Your chair will always be empty.
You left so early. 

There is so much I want you to see. So much I want to tell you. 
I am blessed that when you died, there was peace between us and I had no regrets – nothing left unsaid. But the trouble is that life keeps going. There are new things to be said. I can’t say that they are left unsaid because there was never an opportunity. 
You left so early.

…anyway, I don’t really know how to end this. I’m sorry if that was depressing or anything, I just felt like sharing and I know that there are many who can relate. When I learn about other people’s grief it makes me feel less alone and more connected with others, so I try not to hold back too much. If you powered through my ramblings… well, thanks ^_^

 

Here’s a picture of my mom and me because of reasons:

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Best Friends Aren’t For Everyone

Over the past few years, a lot of my friends have been getting married. As is customary, each of these friends has had to choose someone to be the maid of honor or best man. This led to me thinking about who I might choose to fill that role in my own (currently hypothetical) wedding. Thinking about this brought me to a realization that, at first, was a bit distressing. I have plenty of really good close friends, but I don’t actually have a best friend anymore. There is not just one friend who I spend the most time with or who knows the most about me or whatever it is that makes a best friend a best friend. There is not one friend who I feel closer to than all other friends. There are definitely friends who are closer than others, but there is nobody in first place. Nobody who stands just slightly higher than the rest. I’ve had best friends in the past for sure but over time, due to whatever circumstance, we grew apart or just came to a point where we weren’t quite so close or involved in each other’s lives. And that’s fine, really. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s sort of how life goes.

But I remember when I was younger, I thought that having a best friend was essential to life. Other people had best friends – that friend who had almost everything in common with them or that friend who had known them, like forever or that friend that had just always been there in the difficult times, etcetera. But that’s just not something that I can find in any one person anymore. Not currently anyway. When I came to the realization that I don’t have a best friend, it really bothered me. I started to think that maybe there was something wrong with me. I started to think it was really sad. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: best friends aren’t for everyone (at least not for everyone while they are single… I would hope that married people would consider their spouse to be their best friend… that’s the ideal, anyway).

I had to ask myself if I was really lacking anything in terms of friends. Did I really need a best friend? Wasn’t it enough to just have a few really good friends? Honestly, when I look at the friends that I have, I am so thankful and so satisfied with who God has placed in my life. I like the fact that different friends can relate to me in different ways. I have some friends who have just been in my life for a really long time and have been with me through so much that we have a deep bond. I have other friends who totally get all my geeky/nerdy things and we can just be super weird together. I have friends who understand my creative side and we can encourage each other and talk about our creative process and other things of that nature. I have other friends who fill other parts that I don’t even know how to put into words. And having a varied group of friends also means that I have friends who relate to each part of my rather wide-ranged sense of humor and my varied taste in music, movies, books, etc. And I know my relationships with all of them go even deeper and can be even more complicated than that, but I don’t even know how to explain that here… you probably get it without me having to spell it out. The more I thought about all of these things, the more I realized how well off I am in the area of friendship. I have so much. I am so wealthy in this regard that it is absurd for me to think that I am missing something.

Some people do have a best friend, and that’s great. A best friend is a special thing indeed. But, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we all have to have that one person that fits that label in our lives. It is not essential. As stated before, best friends aren’t for everyone. Right now, having a best friend isn’t for me. I’ve had them in the past, maybe I’ll have one in the future, but I’m not going to think about it too much. After all, I’m pretty dang happy with the close friends I’ve got. I don’t like one friend better than another, I like them each differently. I love them each uniquely for who they are as individuals and I am so blessed by how each one of them has made my life better.

Too Old

I’ve recently realized that I have – on some level – been making decisions based on the belief that I am “too old.” I know, I know… I can just see your eyes rolling. At the age of 23 I do understand that I am still very young. I most likely have many years of life ahead of me and I still have a lot of opportunities. But, somewhere, on my way to this stage in my life, I picked up these ideas about which opportunities I have passed up (never to encounter again) and where I “should” be in life by now. Two of the biggest examples of this (the ones that have affected me the most) are these:

  • I’m supposed to get married in my  early-to-mid-20′s and therefore should already be in a serious relationship that is heading in that direction.
  • Continuing my education, other than just getting some kind of certification, is out of the question because I’m too old. Most of my peers already have their Bachelor’s Degree or beyond at my age. All I can do now is work.

I didn’t really realize for a long time that I had been actually thinking those things. And, honestly, typing those thoughts out, knowing that people will read them is kind of embarrassing. But, I feel like this kind of thinking is quite common. We have these ideas of where we should be and what we should be doing once we’ve reached certain ages and when we pass those ages, we think we’ve missed something. We think it’s too late.

This wrong thinking (along with a few other things) greatly contributed to a sort of “waiting around,” kind of lifestyle that I’ve found myself in during the last couple of years. I lived believing that the next step in my life was to become a wife and mother and I was just trying to “sit tight” until the right guy came along. I lived a life forbidding myself to have any ambition or dreams as a single woman, thinking that my every step should be toward being a good wife and I should aim to rid myself of this “single” status [Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that fulfilling the roles of wife and mother would be a tremendous blessing and those roles are such high callings from God. These are roles that I wish were more valued and appreciated in our society. But there is something very wrong with putting time limits (or age limits) on these things. And there is something even more wrong with living a life solely focused on those roles]. I had set my vision of the future on this rigid path and would not allow myself to look around at other paths that might actually be a better way for me. And so I stifled those desires, that drive to do something more, without looking to see if pursuing those things might actually be the best road for my life. It made me much more willing to settle, which is almost never a good thing.

I’ve found that we operate on these arbitrary standards based (most likely) on the “average” or what we see most around us. I think we forget that reality is more complicated than that. Life doesn’t happen the same way for everyone and I don’t really understand why that would be considered a bad thing. Can we really say that Person A has a better life or better life circumstances than Person B, because Person A got married at 25, while person B got married at 45? Or because Person A finished school at 22 while Person B finished at 29? I think that most people would acknowledge the absurdity of that thinking, but we still often live with that kind of mindset. There is no magic number. There isn’t even a magic formula (you can live a content and happy life without a degree or a spouse, too!). Everyone’s life story is different and I think there is something astoundingly beautiful and interesting about that.

[Life update for those who are interested: due to this and a few other "revelations" so-to-speak and after much thought and prayer, I have come to the decision to go back to school to get my Bachelor's Degree. It's very scary for me, but I'm pretty excited about it! It's going to take a while, but I think I am at a good place in my life to do this. I have much more ambition than I had before. I'm hoping to major in Linguistics - though, I might have to start out majoring in English due to some complications - and minor in Asian Studies with a focus in Korean :) There are so many possibilities for the future and I am excited to get started!]

On Liking Things, Pt. 2: Playing the Part

Have you ever heard someone say “you don’t look like you would listen to that kind of music,” or something to that effect? I have. Many times. I used to think that way too – if a person likes a certain thing, they will probably dress a certain way, act a certain way, style their hair a certain way, and so on. But having gone through many different “phases” throughout my teen years and my current early adult years I’ve realized just how strange that is. This applies to all kinds of things, but I’m going to mostly talk about music here, because music has always been a huge deal to me and my taste in music has undergone more changes than my taste in just about anything else.

When I was in high school, my taste in music dictated the way that I dressed, the way that I talked (subtly), the guys I was attracted to, and the way that I saw (and judged) other people in general. Sometimes it would even dictate what I didn’t like (or would pretend not to like). I never really thought about why that was, it just sort of happened that way and I didn’t question it. I even sort of had this idea in my head that I had to like one genre of music more than any other genre of music – I couldn’t like two or more genres equally. My favorite genre was a huge part of my identity, or rather, how I viewed my own identity. When I was into 60′s and 70′s rock, I dressed sort of like a hippie and became somewhat obsessed with those eras. When I was really into 80′s metal I wore torn-up jeans, lots of bracelets and started wearing eye make-up. When I was into death metal and metalcore I wore those same torn-up jeans and black band t-shirts, and started hating most things that were girly. When I was into indie rock and indie folk, I  started wearing artsy-ish t-shirts and became a lot more judgmental and hipster-y (although, I never quite got hipster style down because I wasn’t cool enough). In each of these phases, I would pretend not to like things that would seem “contradictory” to whatever my main genre was at the time. Like, in my death metal/metalcore phase, I would never admit to liking any softer music; when I was in my indie phase, I would never admit to liking something that was on the radio. I would like what I was “supposed” to like and dislike what I wasn’t “supposed” to like. It was exhausting, really.

My first few years after high school, I was still sort of in my indie phase, but I had started to realize that I still kind of liked all the things from my previous phases. I still wanted to listen to a good ol’ Metallica song sometimes. I still liked singing along to Jimi Hendrix and headbanging to War of Ages. But I also really liked listening to Tchaikovsky or chilling out to some ambient tunes by Album Leaf. And, you know, I really liked some of those bands that were on the radio like Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay. And that’s when I started to get a bit confused. How was I supposed to be labeled, then? What was I going to say when people asked what kind of music I liked? How should I be dressing? Sometimes when people would find out that I liked Megadeth and Metallica they would look at me strangely and tell me that they would never have suspected that. That’s when I saw it. I saw the ridiculousness of the notion that you could tell what a person liked by looking at them. Saying that someone doesn’t look like they like a particular band or type of music is almost as weird as saying “You look like you hate tomatoes.” And yes, there are many cases where people do dress in a similar way to others who like the same things as them, but what I’m saying is that it’s all very arbitrary and relative and it can be limiting.

Currently, I am in a place where I don’t even have one favorite genre of music. I have a few genres that I like the most, but I like them equally. I do have a favorite band, though one of the reasons they are my favorite is that they experiment with different sounds and their style varies between albums and I actually don’t even really know what genre to consider them. Because my taste is sort of all over the place, the concept of identifying myself by any one thing that I like just doesn’t make sense. And I’m beginning to wonder why anyone does that. Aren’t we more than any one taste we have? Can’t we like something without having to look or act the part? I find that I enjoy life more and connect with more people if I like all kinds of things and don’t worry so much about trying to “seem” a certain way :)

On Liking Things – Pt. 1: Like What You Like

Recently there have been certain things that I’ve been getting into that seem totally cool when I’m by myself, but when I’m around other people, I feel a little embarrassed about it and even feel like maybe I should hide the fact that I like these things. This, of course, is not the first time in my life that I have had this sort of feeling about something and I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who is reading this has also felt this way at some point. It’s like that time when I find a band that I really like and I listen to them over and over and over again while I’m by myself, going about my daily life, but then when I have a friend in my car – listening to the same music that I’ve been practically addicted to for the past few weeks – I hear it differently. I start to listen to the music with their ears. I hear it as I think they will hear it and I notice all the little things about the songs that I assume they will not like. And I don’t know whether to apologize for having such uncool tastes or start laying out my reasons for thinking the band is great. Sometimes it doesn’t even come to that decision because I avoid playing the band altogether and choose a band that I’m pretty sure my friend will think is super cool. Something that will make me seem hip and impressive. And I’m like this with lots of things: movies, books, clothes, makeup, shows, and so on and so forth.

There is always a self-consiousness when I show someone something that I like. Sometimes when I like something that I know most of my peers think is lame, I feel this strange urge to confess to them that I like this thing just to get rid of the dread that they will find out on their own in some unexpected way. That’s my get-it-out-there-as-soon-as-possible-so-we-can-all-just-get-over-it approach. Then there’s the make-sure-everyone-knows-how-much-I-know-that-this-thing-is-lame-but-I’m-going-to-like-it-anyway approach, which is dangerously close to the, currently popular, I-like-this-thing-ironically-I’m-so-cool approach. Like, what is that? Why can’t we just call it what it is? It’s a guilty pleasure. But why are we even feeling guilty about it? What’s with this pressure to only like things that are considered cool by the people around us? It’s especially absurd because a lot of the time, everyone around you has their own set of guilty pleasures and some of them might even be the SAME ones that you are trying to hide from them! It should be okay for us to like what we like and not have to pretend otherwise. Right? And why is “cool” even the goal? Maybe we should be thinking about our likes and dislikes a bit more complexly than that. Can’t I think something is kind of dumb but also kind of see the merits in it and like it just the same? And can’t I dislike something while also appreciating it and understanding why other people like it? I’m learning to respect the preferences of others even when they are so different from my own and it’s actually helping me to respect and relate to other people.

Anyway, I know it’s difficult to just stop feeling a little embarrassed when I like something that my peers think is super lame, and I probably won’t be changing in this respect any time soon. But I am going to make an effort to just like what I like without trying to pretend like I don’t or being super sheepish about it and I think you should too :)

PS- My most current “guilty pleasures” are K-pop and K-dramas…. shut up, they are super good :P

Just a Quick Check-In

Hello readers! I just wanted to say a few things really quick:

1) Thank you so much to everyone who has talked to me about my writing since my last post. You have all been very encouraging and supportive and I really needed that :) [feel free to keep that coming]

2) I know it has been a while since my last post (3 weeks? or something) and I had declared in that post that I will be posting more and writing more in general. I AM writing more, I just haven’t had much to show for it yet :P

3) I’ve been trying to set a doable goal for how often I will post on here and I think I’ve settled on writing at least 2 posts per month (I know, I’m running out of time in January!). I might change it to once a week or something when I get the hang of it again, but we’ll see.
[EDIT: I’ve been having trouble doing 2 posts per month, so I’m changing this goal to 1 post per month to make it less stressful for me. But I might still have some months where I post more than once!)

4) I’ve been trying really hard to write my next post but nothing has been turning out quite right. I actually have a lot of ideas about what I want to write about. I sat down the other day with the goal of fleshing out a couple of those ideas and turning one of them into something post-able, but it just wasn’t happening. I can’t force these things. However, I have a new topic that I thought of today while I was doing dishes at work (my prime thinking time), and I will try to write that one before the month is over! I’ve got 3 days! To writing! TO VICTORY!

See you soon with something (hopefully) more substantial! ^_^

Why I Stopped Writing

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post… and even my last one came after quite a long hiatus. I’m not sure I know how to do this anymore…

It used to come so easily. I used to write all the time and would post blogs a few times each month. I wonder at how easy it was back then. [But maybe it was harder than I currently remember; nostalgia often accompanies altered memories.] I don’t really know what happened, but somewhere down the line, writing got harder for me and I was no longer really feeling encouraged to keep at it. It started to seem like this silly dream that I’d been chasing while I was in college and now it’s time for me to grow up and face the world. This world of adulthood where surviving is all that matters and writing isn’t going to take me anywhere because I’ll never be a great writer anyway. Take this line of thinking (part realistic, partly flawed) and add major anxiety issues complete with panic attacks and periods of depression and… well, maybe you can see why I’ve stopped writing.

I think that somewhere in the midst of all that, I forgot that writing is a part of me. Writing is important, even if I won’t ever be able to make a living from it because when I am not writing, there is a hole that grows bigger and bigger inside of me until I no longer know who I am or what I’m doing. If I lose writing, I lose a part of myself.

I think I also forgot that it’s okay for me to be bad at this. Writing has been my “thing” for a while now and I often feel like my friends and family are expecting everything I write to be phenomenal. I live in constant terror that everyone will find out that I’m not that good at writing, that I’m just a poser with her head in the clouds. This is why I often don’t let people read stories I’ve written and have even deleted some of the things that I wrote. And I know it’s so stupid and unproductive, but sometimes my fear gets the better of me.

So anyway… lately it seems that every time I try to write (which is not as often as it should be), I end up writing a lot about how I can’t write anymore (yes, I am aware of the irony). A few people have been asking me about my writing and I’m beginning to realize how weak my excuses are in comparison to how good I feel when I am writing… no matter how hard I have to work at it. And I know that I need to just write and keep writing whether or not I’m feeling it. That’s what writers do. They write. They write because they have to. They write because they love it (and maybe hate it a little too). They write because they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t writing. I have come to that point where I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. So I’m going to start writing again. And if it sucks, it sucks. I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to try to post blogs more often (I’m not sure if I’m going to make a regular schedule yet, but that is a possibility) and I’m going to start writing stories again… even when I don’t have any ideas. I’m also toying with the idea of creating another blog, separate from this one where I can just post writing prompts and free-writes just to keep the ideas flowing and for accountability (we’ll see). 

So… I guess I’m back to blogging. Some of my next posts might be more rambling about how I can’t write anymore, so I’m sorry in advance. I might need to do that a bit just to get past this terrible case of writer’s block… or whatever it is I’m blaming this all on. 

Oh! And, if you are one of the people who sees me in person on a regular basis: please bug me about my writing. I need to be bugged! (You know what I mean)

See you soon!

[PS - I think it is obvious how rusty I am. Thanks for putting up with the awkward flow and lack of structure that characterizes this post.]

Midlife Cri-…wait…no….Quater-life Crisis?

My brain does this thing every so often. Sometimes it’s once in a month, sometimes it’s every other week, sometimes it leaves me alone for about three months and then starts up again. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this thing but it is something like panic…very close to an identity crisis, but that’s not quite what it’s about.

It starts either with one little comment from someone else or with a thought from my own mind, apropos of nothing (well…maybe not nothing). It starts with a comment like “If you could be doing anything and money were no object, what would you be doing?” or “man, I love my job,” or “I really have a passion for [insert hobby/job].” Or it starts with a thought like, “I love writing, but I don’t really do it like I used to,” or “what is a writer without any ideas?” or “I already finished school and I’m nowhere near starting a family yet; what on Earth should I be doing with my life?” and so on and so forth. That’s when it happens. My mind begins to flood with all these semi-toxic thoughts until I begin to feel dizzy and worthless and utterly confused. And then the weight comes. This horrible, heavy monster that likes to plop himself right down on top of my lungs, and he sort of grins this fuzzy brown grin while he’s doing it. It is at this point that I start to wonder if I’m going completely insane.
After a while of this sensation, my slightly-more-logical side decides to show up and starts to re-think things, but all my crazy just starts to shout abuse at her until she just throws up her hands, sighs loudly and sits down, beginning to feel numb. It is at this point that my head goes quiet, I stop thinking about the matter of what I should be doing with my life altogether and proceed to go back to the way things were. [Sluggard that I am]

[[Usually, about a week after this fiasco, I again realize that God is sovereign and that my life should be lived completely for Him. I remember that I just need to keep trusting and serving Him and moving forward, but I still have that nagging feeling that there's some turn in the path that I'm just missing outright. Like if I He gave me the skill and love for writing, shouldn't I be using it?]]

Maybe someday I’ll actually get somewhere with this. Oh well…

Remembering (…or not)

I sort of have a bad long-term memory. Like, if I haven’t used the information in the last few years, I’ve probably forgotten it. Since I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood, it has all become a blur with arbitrary moments of clarity. Here and there, I’ll remember little details and facts about my past (like the little games my dad used to play with us, or baking cookies with my mom) but I never have many actual stories to tell. Whenever people ask questions like, “what is your favorite childhood memory,” or “what were you like as a kid,” I get really frustrated and kind of sad – I usually have to rely on things that my dad has told me or pictures I’ve seen or little fragments of memory that may not be wholly true.
As I am growing up, this is beginning to scare me a bit. It makes me feel like I’ve lost something huge. Something important. I know that things happened in the past and they have contributed to who I am today, I just can’t really remember what they were. But there are things that seem really valuable, really essential, like memories of my mother or things that I learned in school – as these things slip further and further into the past, they become things that are still sort of a part of me, but I don’t actually have them anymore. Not really. I feel like humans are in the business of making memories, but what happens when those memories just disappear? Some say that you only remember the important things or the things you want to remember, but I’m really beginning to disagree with that (For instance: I want to remember everything about my mother, but I still forget).

Anyway, this is becoming more…serious (for lack of a better word) than I meant for it to be, so I think I’ll stop there …I never quite know what I’m really thinking and/or feeling about something until I write it out :P

…And maybe this isn’t even a big deal. Maybe this is all just part of growing up. Maybe this is normal.

Questions of Identity

Recently, I was working on a trial-run-basis for a small business as a receptionist. I worked for them for about a week and a half (I didn’t end up getting hired, but I’m not going to go into that because that is not what this post is about). While I worked there, I worked full-time almost every day of the week. Since I was spending so much of my time working there and it was so different from how I had previously been spending my time, I noticed that I started to feel…different. And not in the way that I would have expected. I started to see myself differently – not better, not worse, just different. I felt like I was a different person, but only just. Like my identity was somehow shifted because I spent a good amount of my time being a receptionist rather than, say, a writer, or a cook, etc. And I started to feel a bit strange. I started asking questions of myself that I didn’t really have time to answer, nor even really think about. The main question was this: Am I really defined by what I do? By how I spend my time? If I am spending my time doing something different, does my identity change? (okay I guess that is more than one question…but hey, teachers do that all the time…).
After I found out that I didn’t have the job, I started to think seriously about what I really want to do with my time. Should I really push to do something that I have a passion for, or should I simply find something that I am qualified to do that helps me pay the bills? Should I save my passions for the things that I do outside of the workforce? I don’t really think there is an easy answer for those questions.
Is my identity defined by what I do or by how I do them? Or, perhaps I should ask: How is identity defined? What is my identity, really? As a Christian, there are some easy answers: I am a created being made in the image of the Creator; I am a child of God, chosen and saved by grace; I am a part of the church, the bride of Christ; and so on and so forth. Then there are the relational answers: I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, a subordinate. Or the general: I am a human, a female, a 22-year-old, an American of European decent, a college graduate, an introvert, a redhead. But we know that there is more to a person than these things. God is complex and creative and  He made us complex and distinctive. So what else is it that defines us? How do we really say who a person is? And, moreover, does it really matter? It feels like it matters, but that doesn’t mean that it does.

…I realize that this post is very unsatisfying and is basically one gigantic question-mark… but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to post a comment or communicate with me by any other means. I am especially interested in any scripture references that might speak to this topic.

Quick Snapshots: Serving With Joni and Friends

Last month (April 1-6), I had the privilege to serve as a Short Term Missionary (hereafter referred to as STM) at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat at Wonder Valley. Honestly, when I first agreed that I would do this, I wasn’t really giving it much thought…I just knew that I had the time, would probably be able to raise the funds, and could be of service to someone who needed it. I had heard about this camp before, having written about it for my church newsletter a while back, and I was interested in the things that they were doing there. So, I went into it thinking, “this could be a neat experience.” Let me tell you now, “neat” was a gross underestimation.

[I've broken this up into parts because that's kind of how my brain works...]

Part 1: Leading up to camp

Wonder Valley

Let me start off by telling you a bit more about this camp, in case you are not familiar with it. Joni and Friends Family Retreats are week-long (roughly) camps for families who are affected by disability (whether it be physical, developmental, etc). Typically, it is one or more of the children in the family who have a disability, but the rest of the family is affected by this as well. Caring for these children is not an easy task and these families are on the job every single day. These retreats give these families the opportunity to have a vacation. Not only do they get time together as a family doing fun things that may or may not usually be accessible to them, but they also get some time to be around their own age groups, kids playing with other kids and adults spending time with other adults, and generally getting to be around people who can relate to them. One of the major ways that these retreats make all of these things possible is by assigning trained volunteers (STMs) to each family for the purpose of serving and aiding them throughout the week.

As the week of camp drew nearer and nearer, I started to think about what serving as an STM would require of me. I became a bit worried as I started to realize just how self-centered I am and how much I am used to taking care of my own wants and needs before considering others. This is a troubling thing to begin with, but it was even more disturbing to me as I knew that I was entering into a situation in which I would need a selfless, servant-hearted attitude in order to accomplish what I had signed up for. I did not want to be a poor representation of Christ to whomever I was assigned. I wanted to please the Lord by reflecting His character, and I knew that I would not be able to do so by my own strength and “will power.” Humility and servant-heartedness are things that do not come naturally to sinful mankind, but are only accomplished by the grace of God. And so, I prayed for God to change me, even if it were just for that week, into one who regards others as more important than myself (Phil. 2:3).

Part 2: Training and Preparations

The group of STMs from my church. We bonded together as we served over the week.

Arriving at camp, the STM’s had about a day and a half of training to get through before the families arrived. We bonded together, learning about various disabilities and how to deal with different things that we might encounter and so on and so forth. Something that really meant a lot to me and remained with me throughout the week, and indeed, after that week, was that in order to serve in such a way that would display the love of Christ, we must constantly come to Him in prayer and depend completely on the grace of God.

All throughout the first day (the day before the families arrived), I was nervous, not knowing which family I would be assigned to. I kept thinking that once I knew who my camper was and what disability my camper had, then I would know, more or less, what I was going to be dealing with and could start preparing my mind and praying more specifically about my assigned family. That night, when we got our assignments, I learned that I would be caring for a 4 year-old boy who had autism. My first thought was, “now I still don’t know what I’m dealing with.” As you may or may not know, autism sort of ranges from mild to severe and the affects of it vary from person to person. So, all I could really count on was that I would have to adapt and learn as I went. And so, I began praying even harder for the week to go smoothly and for my assigned family to be able to relax, enjoy themselves, and really experience the love of Christ. It was nice to finally be able to pray for them by name.

Part 3: Meeting my Camper/family and getting started

Left to Right: Fellow STM Rebekah, my camper Nathan, parents Edie and Bun, Rebekah’s camper Gabriel, and me.

As the time (the second day) for me to actually meet my assigned camper and family drew nearer, I became more and more nervous. Thankfully, I had many brothers and sisters in Christ around me who could encourage and pray for me. When I finally laid eyes on my precious little camper and his equally-as-precious twin brother, my excitement and joy won-out and my nervousness was no where to be seen. To my delight, the mother and father of my camper turned out to be very kind and loving people and I felt a connection with the whole family almost instantly. I quickly learned about my camper and his twin brother (who also has autism – he was assigned another STM and we worked together a lot of the time), their little quirks, cleverness, character, and the differences between them. By the end of that first day of serving my camper and his family, there was already so much love in my heart for them; all I wanted to do was spend time with them and help them with whatever they needed or wanted. I couldn’t keep from smiling as I realized that there was literally no place in the world that I would rather have been at that moment, than right where the Lord had placed me. The Lord had, indeed, already answered my prayer.

Part 4: The rest of the week/concluding thoughts

My camper, Nathan (right), and his brother, Gabriel (left), loved the wagon :)

All throughout the week, my days were very busy, and I noticed that I had a lot more energy and stamina than usual, which could only have come from the Lord. I remember feeling so blessed. It was so satisfying to spend my entire day serving someone else and not focusing so much on myself. I enjoyed watching the parents of my camper relax and enjoy themselves, having extra hands to take care of things. I loved looking around and seeing so many families in such a happy state, in which they did not have all the usual troubles weighing on their shoulders. It was so neat to be in a place where everyone could just be themselves. If a child began screaming or doing other things that would usually be considered “disruptive” or “rude,” it was received with understanding and grace rather than judgmental stares and ignorant whispers. If ever a parent felt overwhelmed, there was someone there to help lighten the load. All of us STMs worked really hard throughout the week, but it was some of the most satisfying work we had ever done. I know from my own experience, and from talking to other STMs, that we left that camp feeling as though we were more blessed by the families we served and the work that God had done in our hearts than we had even anticipated. I really did not want to leave that place. I had grown so attached to my camper and family as well as the overall environment of the camp – so much so that I had a good cry as I was leaving the camp to go back home.

It was truly an eye-opening experience that I will not soon forget. My whole outlook on service has been altered for the better, as has my understanding of families affected by disability. The Lord has used this experience to grow my desire for service and my love for others. I would urge everyone to prayerfully consider trying something like this at least once. I promise you, it will be an unforgettable experience that you are likely to carry with you for the rest of your life. And, if you are like me, you will quickly decide that this is something you want to be involved with every year.

If you would like to know more about Joni and Friends, you can visit their website at: http://www.joniandfriends.org/

Please feel free to ask/talk to me more about the camp if you feel so inclined :) I was not super specific in this blog because I didn’t want it to be too long and also because I wasn’t sure how detailed I should get about my particular family and whatnot. However I am open to talking about it on a one-on-one sort of basis. :)

Precious boys <3

Lacking Control

Something that has become more and more evident to me through the things I am experiencing this year is that I am not in control. Of anything. Sure, I have responsibilities, I have my own domain over which I have some authority, but ultimately, I have no control. Something else that I have learned is to be thankful for this simple fact. I am not in control, but I know the sovereign God who is. I am so glad that it is He who is in control of my life and not me. What a mess I could make of things.

So, of which experiences am I speaking? Well, there have been a number of things, but I’ll give you the one that seemed to spark the flame that started this wildfire. Earlier this year, I was sitting in a plane staring out the window. My flight was late at night. The sky was completely black and, looking out, I could see nothing, unless I looked down at the man-made lights below (until, of course I was too far up to even see those). It gave me such a feeling…it is difficult to explain. But just looking out there, seeing nothing and knowing that if we were to fall, nothing would catch us…knowing that I was in this improbable machine that is just so heavy it seems like it should never be able to fly up in the sky…knowing that I could not control the plane, but had to trust a stranger to pilot it…knowing all of these things and really thinking about them made me feel strangely free. I felt calm, yet also exhilarated, especially when I realized that my whole life is like this. I am not the one in control. I could plan to fly to a specific destination at a specific time, but the plane could arrive somewhere else entirely at a time that I deem undesirable, or the plane could fall out of the sky and crash to the ground. It is not in my hands. And I know that wherever my plane may land (or crash) is right where it was intended to go all along. It is the right place for me to glorify God in whichever way He has ordained. My attitude toward this should never be anything but thankfulness, reverence, and joyfulness.

What about the things that I do? The things that I have a knack for? What about creativity? Yes, God is sovereign over that, too. I can’t just turn it on. When I want to write something, I can’t just flip a switch and have all my creative juices ready to flow when I need them. In fact, creativity and being able to create things only exist in us because we are made in the image of the original Creator; the one who had the brilliant idea to create everything we see (and don’t see). He invented creativity. He even created the things that we use to create other things.

Since I am now finished with school (have been since mid-December!), I have expected that I would have more time to write and that I would be working on some new project by this point in the year. Sure, I’ve scribbled down a few ideas here and there, but nothing that I’ve really felt the urge to develop. I’ve tried various tricks that usually spark my creativity and imagination, but the things I’ve come up with have been utterly dry. When my friends have asked me if I’ve been working on anything new, I’ve had to sheepishly inform them that I have not. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Maybe I’m not a writer after all…maybe it was just a phase that is now over. Just letting that thought cross my mind stung horribly. I knew it couldn’t have just been a phase because I still had a passion for it. Then I realized…my talent, my creativity, my abilities do not come from me. The only reason I am ever able to write something worth reading is because God has granted it to me. When I stopped focusing on myself and what I could be doing to fix the problem, I resolved to stop worrying about it. If God wants me to write, I will write. If He wants me to have ideas, I’ll have ideas. He is in control. He calls the shots. And when my mind was finally in that place, where writing wasn’t about me and didn’t come from me, I still had writer’s block, but I was okay with that. And when I finally had an idea that I wanted to run with, and I finally felt like that word drought was being washed away by a gracious rainfall, I knew who to thank and who to continue to depend on. And it most definitely was not me.

Image

May I always depend on the Lord for the ability to fill those pages!

All That’s Left Standing

About a month ago, my brother and I drove up to visit some family. They live in a city near San Francisco. It is always nice to get away and visit loved ones whom are not often seen, but going away like that is always bittersweet. It is great to be around other people and to be in a different environment, not having to worry about the normal stresses that always seem to pop up at home, but being away also makes me realize how much I actually like being home. Perhaps it is selfish, but I like having my own room, a bathroom with everything just as I have decided to place it, a kitchen in which I can find anything I need without having to open every cupboard door. I like being able to drive without directions, knowing where I want to go and how to get there. I like being able to see my close friends by driving only a few minutes. It causes me to realize that, even though the place that I live is not the most exciting place, I like it here and I miss it when I’m away. But perhaps I allow myself to be too comfortable. [Don't get me wrong, I love my family and I really enjoyed visiting... as I said... bittersweet].

Well anyway, that was not what this post was going to be about… that was sort of a rabbit trail. What I really wanted to talk about is this: driving around in San Francisco (or riding around, since I wasn’t driving) and seeing the older architecture, passing by a graveyard with its bright white tombstones and walking in a park, seeing benches with little plaques on them, dedicated to various people… these things get my mind going. I begin to imagine. I like seeing those old houses, not only because they are aesthetically pleasing, but also because of all the possibilities of places for my mind to explore. I imagine what this place looked like when it was new, what the city was like, who lived there, who has replaced them over the years and who lives there now. There are so many stories represented by just one building that I will probably never know. It is like this with graveyards and memorials as well. All those names. They represent someone that was most likely loved and missed when they died. They represent lives lived by mostly ordinary people that are only memories until those remembering are no longer living. They represent stories [and I love stories].At one point during our little vacation, we walked through a little concert park within Golden Gate Park. As I briefly mentioned earlier, there were rows and rows of green, wooden benches, most of them with little bronze plaques on the place where spectators would rest their backs. These fascinated me because most of these plaques had the names of people to whom the benches were detected. Many of which had been deceased at the time of the dedication as indicated by the words “In Memory.” Memory. That’s all that these are. Memories. These names are representative of loved ones lost whom the living feel the the utmost necessity to keep alive somehow through memory. This feeling is all too familiar to me, having been trying to keep the memory of my mother alive for a little over three years now. But I think, because of my own experience, this idea fascinates me quite a bit. I can’t help but ask the question, hopefully without sounding insensitive: Is it truly important to remember the dead, or do we only make it thus to make ourselves feel comforted? I understand remembering important people in history for reasons that are obvious, but what about ordinary people? Who, besides me, really stops and looks at old buildings or tombstones or plaques and tries to imagine who these objects represent? And of those, who really knows who these people actually are? Who remembers them now, when those holding them in memory are no longer living? Does it really matter on this earth? It seems that these buildings and names etched in stone and metal are all that are left standing to really memorialize these people. And it all feels so important, but is it really?

Now, I hope that I have not stepped on any toes. I mean no disrespect to those who have passed away and those who miss them. Believe me, I feel that the remembrance of my mother is extremely important… but it is important only to those who knew her or those who are close to me now and care about the things that I care about. So, here I am talking more about whether it is important for others to remember these people. When my mom passed away, I wanted the whole world to stop and remember who she was and to pay their respects to her. But, obviously, that is illogical and unnecessary. This is what I am talking about. All those people forgotten. It could seem like a sad and horrible thing, but I would venture to say that it is not. And, for some reason, I find that fascinating.

[Feel free to discuss this with me in person or in comments or however you communicate with me. I've sort of kept these thoughts stewing in my own mind for a while and would be interested to see how others would contribute to or change my thoughts.]

Little Reminders

Arriving home from a short vacation, I had so many plans for the week ahead. There are people to spend time with, projects to finish and a messy bedroom to clean. But just before I left to head home, I began to feel sick. I didn’t feel too terrible at first, thinking I would probably feel better soon and would still be able to go about my week with all the things that I was so confident I would be able to do. But the illness got worse upon my arrival home and the next morning I felt more sick than I have in over three years. I became useless, not being able to stand for very long and not having the strength to do anything that wasn’t a sedentary activity.

I am reminded, here, of a few different things. First off, there is nothing like illness that reminds me so well of the effects of sin and the utter weakness of mankind. Second: Proverbs 16:9 which says “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” and James 4:14-15 which says “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” I am reminded that I don’t have as much control of my life, as I often think that I do. God is sovereign over everything. I had planned to do so many things, but He planned for me to slow down and realize my dependance on Him. He has reminded me that I am but a feeble human and the only way that I can accomplish anything is by the strength that He gives me.

I find joy in the fact that the Lord can bring all of this to my attention by simply allowing me to catch the flu (or whatever this is).

At Least It’s Still February…

I have been thinking about Valentine’s Day… that is, I am still thinking about Valentine’s Day, even though it is long gone and I have many other things to occupy my thoughts. I have been meaning to share my thoughts on this holiday, but school has a funny way of preventing me from doing such things… such things as blogging, that is. As February 14th came closer and closer, I kept telling myself, “I’ll write a Valentine’s Day blog!” and as I stared the day right in the face, I figured, “I’ll write a blog a day or two from now, and I’ll call it ‘Reflections of Valentines Day,’ or something like that.” But then I just kept on walking, as the 14th waved me away. But I still have these thoughts that I think would make a decent post. And… well… at least it’s still February!

I have always loved Valentine’s day. Always. I have also always been single on Valentine’s Day – single in both the original meaning of being unmarried and the meaning that young people often use to describe a person who is not currently dating. I have never joined the bitter ranks who like to call it Single Awareness Day, snickering to themselves at the imagined cleverness of that acronym, SAD. I haven’t even joined those who brood at the fact that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday in which corporations brainwash men into thinking that they have to prove their love with diamonds, flowers, chocolates and cards… and those ridiculously large stuffed animals that nobody really knows what do to with. No, I have always found so many reasons to enjoy that day every year of my life. While I do strongly believe that we can show others that we love them every day of the year (and maybe, we actually should), I really like the idea of having a day that is a celebration of love. I like having a day in which I tell people how much I love them and why I love them. I like making cards for people (no matter how much I am lacking in artistic skill). I like eating chocolate with my girl-friends and watching cute movies. I like wearing pink and red and painting my nails just for the fun of it. I like letting my dad and my brother (and in the past, my mom) know, again that I love them and am glad to have them. I love looking through the Bible to find all the verses about love and praising the God who is, Himself, love. I think it is something my mother instilled in me. We always had cards, flowers, scriptures and little gifts between us on Valentine’s day. She always made it special, and I intend to keep it special.

I honestly don’t see why Valentine’s Day should be only for couples-going-on-dates, or elementary-school-children-giving-classmates-tiny-cards. I think our culture has a strange obsession with romantic love that completely discounts other types of love. While romantic love is a beautiful, wonderful thing, so is love between two friends and love between brother and sister or father and daughter. What is it about romantic love that makes so many people think it is the sole purpose for living? I notice so many people being depressed on Valentines Day because they “have no one,” but they are actually surrounded by people who love and care about them. I have never considered myself to be “alone on Valentine’s Day” and I don’t think that I ever will be. There is more to love than just romance and attraction.

… But anyway, I sort of ran out of steam there at the end, but I think you get my point. Perhaps I would have written this much better had I done it sooner while the thoughts were much fresher. Ah well…

It’s Coming…

So, we are coming to the end of October. You know what that means…
Halloween?
Yes, but…no.
Midterms?
No!
Daylight savings…?
No no no. NaNoWriMo of course!
What’s that?
National Novel Writing Month! NaNoWriMo! That’s right, it’s time to prepare to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Yep, just 30 days.
Why on earth would you do that to yourself?
I don’t really know how to answer that.

[End of annoyingly stupid segment in which I talk to myself with the purpose of distracting the reader from realizing that I'm really no good at starting these things. Also-to quickly tell the reader what NaNoWriMo is.]

I have attempted NaNoWriMo twice so far and have failed both times. However, last year was a definite improvement from the previous year. I am hopeful that I will get even further this time…maybe I’ll even win this year. The odds are definitely against me, though. The last two years, I came to November prepared. I had story ideas that I was excited about and characters ready to be developed. This year…I’ve got nothing. I have no idea what I’m going to write about. Sure, I’ve started brainstorming, but nothing has really jumped out to me. I don’t like the ideas that I’ve come up with, so I’ve trashed them. Another thing that could hinder me is schoolwork. My classes this semester are a lot more demanding than the classes I’ve taken in the past. So…this will be interesting. I came very close to talking myself out of even attempting NaNoWriMo this year, but I just couldn’t back down. I just have to try. There is always time to write, and the fact that a NaNoWriMo novel doesn’t need to be good–in fact, it’s doubtful that anyone will read it besides me–takes away a lot of the pressure. It might even be refreshing after writing so many things for school assignments that actually need to be well-written. I can just come home and write as carelessly as I wish. And that’s really the point of NaNoWriMo. To just write. It doesn’t need to be good. You don’t have to impress anyone. Nobody cares. Just get the words down. Create something. It’s a terrible and wonderful thing.

So, I know I haven’t really sold it very well, but I do highly recommend it. It really is a good exercise. So, if NaNoWriMo sounds like something you’d like to do, head on over to www.nanowrimo.org and create a profile!
Also, if you are interested in tracking my progress, or if you want to add me as a writing buddy, you can check out my NaNoWriMo profile here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/459521

November 1st is coming!

The Effects of Music

When I listen to really good music, I get this…feeling. It’s very difficult to explain, but I’m sure there are others who can relate, so…those people will get it. It’s not just the lyrics…in fact it usually has nothing to do with the vocals or words (though this is not always the case). It’s the music. When I hear a song that was very well written (musically), I feel it deep in my chest. Like my heart is swelling with awe and is about to burst through my ribcage. Does that sound painful? I don’t mean for it to sound painful. In fact, the feeling often puts a smile on my face. As I read over this, I realize that this all sounds very strange and possibly far-fetched. I think this is because I don’t know how to adequately describe this phenomenon. But I think I’ve seen others experiencing similar things when they observe other beautiful things in the world. I have a friend who just about explodes with excitement when she sees a sunset, and another who gasps at the sight of a beautifully lit photograph, and still another who somehow finds beauty in mathematics (I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand that one, haha). Sometimes, I also get this feeling when I read really good literature or poetry. I think it’s because we are reacting to the complexity and creativity of the One who created it all. And I’ve noticed something with music, regardless of whether or not the artist is aiming to glorify God, he still can, despite his motives. It is the creative ability that God has given him that brings the glory. So, I may be listening to music that was not made by a Christian, but it still can cause me to look upward. I love this. God can take our self-serving deeds and make them into something that we never intended. Also, the fact that we are imitating God, by creating something is quite interesting. The creation reflects the Creator.

So anyway, I was wondering if there are any others out there who know what I’m talking about. Are there particular songs that have this effect on you?
Some songs that always seem to do this to me are:
1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky,
The Crane Wife 1 & 2 by the Decemberists,
The Call Of Ktulu by Metallica (got to love metal instrumentals),
The Dress Looks Nice On You by Sufjan Stevens,
Cologne by Ben Folds,
…and pretty much anything that is sung by a Chorus, especially the one at my church ;)

There are also some songs whose lyrics can get to me in this way. For me, these songs are usually Christian songs. The one I can think of off the top of my head is Building A Sorrowful Loveliness by Telecast (the music of this song gets to me too, but I like the lyrics even more). I especially like the chorus of this song: “Nothing is certain, but I’m certain of You / Pull back this curtain, let your light in this room / And all that’s true, I find in You / The more I drink of Your word / The more I thirst for You”
Various hymns have this effect too, like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Especially this verse: “O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be! / Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, / Bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wanter, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for Thy courts above.”

I may be procrastinating…

I’m . . . back?

So . . . this is awkward. My last blog post was posted three months shy of a full year ago. A lot can happen in that amount of time. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to decide that none of that was worth blogging about. And now I am out of practice. Let me clarify: 1. There were many blog-worthy events that have happened during this silent era and 2. I have been writing, just not blogging . . . there is a difference.

I’m wondering if anyone is going to read this, since it has been so long, and everyone who read it before probably suspects that this page is cold and buried. I do miss doing this and really want to start doing it again more regularly, but I need to get back into the swing of things. So this is sort of a test run for me to see if I can still do this style of writing.

Goodness, this must be a boring read. I apologize. You have my permission to fix your attentions elsewhere. Perhaps you are waiting to hear back from a friend on Facebook, or you’re wondering if the Vlogbrothers have posted a new video on Youtube today. Go right ahead. Click away, this is merely a practice post. I’ll think of something more interesting to talk about next time. Perhaps tomorrow. No . . . I’ll be finishing the homework that I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Speaking of homework . . . That is probably the main contributing factor to my absence here. Especially this semester. I am taking a Creative Writing: Creative Non-Fiction class. I have been reading a lot and working on a piece for this class. I am writing a memoir-style short story. I am estimating that it will be 15 to 20 pages long. That seemed daunting at first, but the more I get into it, the more it seems that it might actually be longer.
I’m not really sure if I’m actually enjoying writing it. Not that I’m hating it, or anything. It’s just . . . difficult. I’m writing about the experience of losing my mom. I’ve told the story to various people before, so I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. But it is. It most certainly is. I’m hitting so many road blocks that I can’t really imagine reaching my destination anymore. I will, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s a hard place to revisit and my memory has been failing me in certain areas where my story is begging for details. I have to be vigilant in my constant struggle against explaining my emotions and coming off as whiney and pathetic. I definitely think that this class is growing me as a writer. There are so many things that I didn’t even take into account before. Like showing rather than telling and trusting my audience.
I have to keep reminding myself why I am writing this story. It is not necessarily for sympathy. I am writing it because I sort of need to write it. I’ve gotten it out verbally, now I need to get it out textually. I understand my thoughts and memories better when I have written them out. I am writing this story because I don’t want the pictures to fade as they are already. I am writing this story because revisiting the sight reminds me of the things that I have learned. I am writing this story because it could possibly have a positive affect on someone else . . . not that I’m necessarily going to let everyone read it :P .  But anyway, I’m not sure if this is a story that needs to be told or needs to be heard (or read) but I am compelled to write it nonetheless.

So, anyway, that was a little glimpse of what my mind has been going through over the past few months. I hope it was slightly interesting to read. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it :P . As mentioned before, I’m just trying to get back into this because I miss it.     . . . also, I was having trouble with my homework and needed a break :) .

Hopefully I’ll keep at this.

Short Indeed.

The other day, my dad took me up to arrowhead to meet an old high school friend of his. While we were on our way up the mountain we came to some slow-moving traffic. After a little while, we saw that the left lane was closed off and there were many emergency vehicles up ahead. Naturally, we expected to see two damaged automobiles, but what we saw was far from what was expected. As we approached the place where the emergency vehicles were stopped, I could see some twisted metal approaching. My jaw dropped and an involuntary gasp escaped my mouth as I saw what was causing the commotion. A mangled pick-up truck was sticking out of the pavement. It had fallen front-first and collided with the road. It must have hit with quite a bit of force because the truck-bed that stuck out from the ground was bent back and skewed. I looked to my right to see where the truck undoubtedly had fallen from, it was quite a long drop. I’m sorry to say, there is no way the driver could survive such a crash. We drove past the horrible scene and continued up the mountain. We came to a turnout that was occupied by a few emergency vehicles. My dad, being a curious fireman, decided to stop in the turnout as well. We looked over the edge but it was sort of hard to see the road below the cliff as there were plants and rocks in our view. But we could tell that this was the place where the truck had fallen from. My dad told me that there is no way this was an accident. The driver must have done it on purpose because it was quite a large turnout and there would have been plenty of time to hit the breaks before accelerating off the edge. We got back in the car and talked about what we had seen. I couldn’t get over the thought of what it must have been like to be falling off a cliff from such a height. I couldn’t imagine what was going through that person’s mind. The rest of our day went on just fine, I met my dad’s high school friend and his family and all that (lovely people by the way) and while we were out in Arrowhead Village they ran into a man who my dad’s friend knew. He’s a fireman, so he knew a bit about the crash we had seen earlier. Turns out it was a suicide. It was so intense to realize that I had witnessed the aftermath of someone’s decision to end their own life. I thought about that person and what could have possibly driven them to do such a thing. I thought of the shock and pain that those who knew him must have felt when they found out what had happened.
I’ve actually been thinking about death quite a bit recently. I am probably not the only one what with all these recent celebrity deaths. But I have mainly been reflecting on the death of my mother. After a year it is still incredibly strange for me to realize that she died. It seems like it shouldn’t have happened; nobody saw it coming.  I look back and realize that there have been so many deaths close to me in the past year or so (people that I knew personally or people that I knew of). I think because of all this, I am beginning to hold on quite loosely to life and the lives around me. I am almost expecting that everyone is going to die around me. Of course if someone else close to me dies, I will be devastated, but I don’t think I would be all that surprised. The feebleness of human life is more evident to me than it has ever been before. I have always known that everyone has to die sometime, but I never quite grasped it as I have now. So the truth that I’m getting at in this relentless rambling is that life is short. I know, I know, you’ve heard that a million times. But if you really sit and think about it, it can cause you to change your outlook. Thinking about these things has made me realize that there is so much more I want to do. So much more I should be striving for. I haven’t been glorifying God with all this time that He has allotted to me. I’ve been spending so much time on selfish enjoyments and desires instead of fulfilling my true purpose: to point to the King. I hope and pray that others will come to similar realizations and use what little time is left to serve the Lord. Our lives are so short compared to eternity, we only get a few years here on this earth and many of us are using it to make ourselves miserable in the attempt to find happiness. We need to stop thinking so much about ourselves and focus our attentions on the Creator.

Deuteronomy 6:5  (NASB)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Ecclesiastes 12:6  (NASB)
“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”