Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's Your Jam? Pt. 1: I'm Amanda Freakin' Allen.

There's a scene in the movie "Just Go with It" (and let's be honest, it's really Adam Sandler's last watchable comedy, right?) where Sandler's character turns off the *NSync song that his girlfriend is listening to in the shower, and she gets upset, saying, "That's my JAM!"  It's funny in that it shows their age disparity, but we all have one (or, if you're like me, a couple) songs that make us perk up no matter where we are when they come on the radio or iPod.

They're our jams.

So here's the first part in a series of posts about my jams - creative jams, angry jams, happy jams - I've got several, so get ready.

And I want to hear yours, too!

This post will focus on the songs that make me want to be a kick-butt girl.  Not an angry kick-butt girl (that's totally different), but a chick with lots of possibly misplaced confidence.  I usually listen to these songs when I'm getting ready for some important event, or when I need an extra dose of awesomeness.

What's that?  You talkin' to me?  That's right.  I didn't think so.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.



I'm Amanda Freakin' Allen Jams.

**I mostly have edited versions of my songs on my iPod, but a few are not kid friendly, lyrics-wise.  You've been warned.**

#1: "Bad Girls" - M.I.A.

I don't know why I love this song.  Seriously.  Normally, a slightly monotone vocal would make me violent, but this always makes me want to do karate or something.  Or do my nails while I'm sitting on my speeding sideways car (seriously, what's that about?!). 

Best line: Awwww, Suki zuki...I'm comin' in the Cherokee...gasoline

#2:  "32 Flavors" - Ani DiFranco

This is a pretty underrated 90s gem, in my opinion.  There have been numerous covers of this throughout the years, but the original is still the best.

Best line:  I am beyond your peripheral vision, so you might want to turn your head...'cause someday you're gonna get hungry, and eat all of the words that you just said...

#3:  "Machinehead" - Bush

Just get a me a motorcycle.  Even though I wouldn't be able to drive it and I'd probably die about three seconds later.

Best line: I spin on a whim, I slide to the right...I felt you like electric light...

#4:  "The Ruler and the Killer" - Kid Cudi

I actually realized that I was singing this song out loud on the treadmill at the gym after the guy next to me kept shooting me annoyed looks.  Yep.  I'm that girl.  But this is one of those "I could run 15 million miles and still be FIERCE!" songs.  You have to sing out loud.  Especially every time he says "...the ruler and the killer, bebe."

Best line:  You don't talk, you don't say nothing.  Ok?

#5:  "Gangsta's Paradise" - Coolio

I'm not even ashamed of this one.  I know every.  Single.  Word.  And no matter where I am when this song comes on, I must sing along.  I know.  I'm a legit rapper.  Fool.

Best line:  Everybody's runnin', but half of them ain't lookin' what's goin' on in the kitchen...but I don't know what's cookin'...

What are your "up and at 'em" jams?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DIY Electric Blanket

I'm definitely not crafty, but I discovered this trick last night.  It worked like a charm.
Materials needed:
1 comfy blanket
1 snuggly, adorable cat (see below)
1 cuddly, sleepy dog (see below)
And you're set!  No electricity needed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Song I'm Digging This Week

You'll never let her go...Why don't you let her go?

"She's So Mean" - Matchbox Twenty*

*You either still like Matchbox Twenty or you don't.  And I still do.  Because honestly, at heart, I'm still about 17.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Daily Failings


Before I go to sleep each night, I have great intentions for the next day.

I tell myself, "Tomorrow, you'll wake up early.  You'll go and work out.  Then you'll come back, take your time making a leisurely healthy breakfast, and read your devotion.  Then you'll get ready and look your absolute best," (i.e. no frizzy hair) "and go to work.  And when you get to work, you'll be a shining example of someone who loves Jesus and loves everyone.  All day long.  And you won't eat any of the cookies that are meant for new residents.  Then you'll come back home, teach your music lessons with joy, eat a healthy dinner, work on some writing, and get to bed early."

FINIS, The End. 

And I turn out the light, fully intending to be that version of myself in the morning.

But then...

The alarm goes off at the early hour I set it for, Bernie and Gilbert stay snuggled into my side, and I think, "Ok.  Maaaaybe just another half hour."

And of course, I eventually get out of bed with juuuuust enough time to get a shower, corral my hair into...something...take Bernie out, drain a cup of coffee fast enough to give me heartburn, and get to work on time.

And then the coworker who is really, really hard to get along with makes me violent and I realize that I'm muttering under my breath while I pound out return emails on my computer.  And since this season is kind of slow in the apartment leasing world, nobody comes in to eat the cookies, so I find myself eating the cookies for them.  You know.  Waste not and want not.

I actually do enjoy teaching music lessons, so that goes just fine.  But then I sit on the couch after they're over eating leftover pizza and watching "The Voice" (is it just me or is Christina Aguilera sliiiiightly more likable this season?) and I stumble into bed and start my list of intentions all over again.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this.  And I'm single, so if I had to add a husband and children into the mix, there's no telling how chaotic my nightly list of betterments might become.

These daily failings can make us feel so discouraged, and it's comforting to me that even Paul felt out of control and disappointed in himself a lot of the time - "For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (Romans 7:15, ESV) 

I feel you, brother.

I'm human, so I know that there's no way that I'm going to go through every day with perfection. 

But I can keep trying.  I can keep pushing towards the goal.  I can keep praying, keep repenting, keep talking to God and knowing that He gets it.  He created me.  He knows more about me than I do, and He knows just what I'm capable of.

He knows my heart.

List or no list.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kitchen Envy

My kitchen is one of the sorrows of my life. 

It's super small, with outdated cream countertops and pine cabinets (not the pretty pine -- the 1980s pine), scuffed flooring, and two microwaves.  That's right.  Two.  The above-the-stove microwave quit working before I moved in, and rather than replace it with a functioning version, my landlord just bought another huge white one and put it on the counter.  So, needless to say, I don't have much counter space.

I've worked hard at making it a bit more up-to-date by painting the walls a coral shade and accenting with lots of turquoise kitchen pieces, but I know it's never going to be exactly what I want.  Ah, the woes of being a renter. 

Just like everyone else, I have a "someday" list for when I have my own honest-to-goodness house, and this kitchen (found on this blog, which I'm a bit obsessed with) is pretty much exactly what I'd want if I could just straight up copy someone else's style.

I even want the mint refrigerator.

Someday, someday...

A pop of color inside the cabinets (click though for more details!)

Big Chill Fridge

This awesome wallpaper is actually a simple painted DIY! Could be done with any colors

Monday, November 4, 2013

Song I'm Digging This Week

All it takes is a little faith and a lot of heart...

"Stars" - The Weepies

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Reading Recap

1.  In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
This totally fascinated me.  Larson has a knack for writing nonfiction that reads like an action-packed novel, and there were several moments in this book where I was on the edge of my seat.  Most of the story is centered around the Dodd family, the real-life American Ambassadors to Germany during Hitler's terrifyingly subtle rise to power.  I have to admit, every time I read a book about Hitler and his weird hold over the German people, I always wondered, "Why did nobody try to stop him?!"  After reading this book, it's easy to see just how slowly (and how brilliantly) he crafted his takeover.  Most people thought he was actually charming when they first met him, and Martha Dodd, the Ambassador's daughter, actually went on a date with him (!). 
**Side-note:  For a really disturbing moment, check out the documentary "The Double-Headed Eagle," which is mainly newsreel footage of the Nazi party from 1918 to 1933.  Hitler's speeches are creepily mesmerizing.  It's almost like watching a worship service at a really charasmatic church, the way people are saluting and screaming.  Really scary.**
2.  The Magdalena Curse by F.G. Cottam 

I read The House of Lost Souls a couple of years ago, and I liked how well Cottam writes a horror story.  While this one wasn't as scary, I thought it was a good thriller.  Essentially, it's about a man who offended a witch (who's totally spooky), and she decided to curse his then-unborn son.  It was a sort-of predictable story, but it set a really dark and gloomy mood in the best way.  I'm going to read more of Cottam's work.

3.  Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
This is the first book I've read by David Sedaris, and while I've read a lot of reviews from people who didn't like it, I thought it was brilliant.  All the short stories are written from the viewpoint of animals -- some funny, some really disturbing, but all amazingly well-written.  There were times that I laughed out loud and then times where I had a hard time shaking images from my mind.  I can't wait to read more of Sedaris's writing.
4.  Mile 81 by Stephen King
This is about a station wagon that eats people.  But it's Stephen King, so it was good.  Trust me on this one.
5.  The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn
I read this for the pure nostalgia of reading something by an author I loved when I was a kid.  It wasn't remotely scary to me as an adult, but it reminded me of riding in the back of our motor home and devouring books like this on long trips.  But Wait Till Helen Comes is still my favorite.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I'm writing a book about fear.

image found here

I'm writing a book.

There.  I said it.  I have put it out there.  And now I can't go back.

I'm honestly so nervous about writing this post, because writing those words means that it's not just going to be a vague idea floating around in my head -- it means I have to do something.

And I've really never been great at that.

I've always loved to write.  In fact, before I was 10, I'd written most of - but not all - two "books."  One was a straight-up rip-off of Anne of Green Gables, with the unique and completely-not-even-close-to-the-same-title Green Clovers (but with a boy orphan, so you know...toootally different there) and the other one was a fourth grader's version of a Lord of the Rings fantasy.  If I remember right, the lead character in that story was Belac (which is "Caleb," spelled backwards.  Yep.).

I wrote all through middle school and high school and continued into college.  And then...I just stalled out.  Other than the writing I've done for a magazine here in town and some (sporadic) blogging, I've pretty much given up what used to be my most favorite thing.  I've stopped and started about a dozen projects, but never actually finished anything.  I didn't really know why I would lose my motivation, but I always did.

This past week, I was reading a book, and one of the characters quoted Eleanor Roosevelt.  It's a quote I've heard many times, and never thought much about, but this time, it stuck with me:

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

It suddenly struck me that I couldn't remember the last time I'd done anything that truly scared me.  Now, I don't mean scared me in the sense that my life could be in danger, but something that frightened me because it was out of my character or out of my control.

Fear of looking silly.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of failure.

And then, today, after I walked past my bookshelf and glimpsed a copy of Jon Acuff's amazing book all about punching fear in the face (that's actually the subtitle, which just couldn't say it better), I had a thunderbolt thought:  What if I actually did that?  What if I spent a year doing the things that scared me?  And what if I wrote about it?

What if I didn't talk myself out of something that might be hard, but could also be a lot of fun?

I've told a total of three people about this idea.  Two of them were supportive and made me feel awesome about it.  One, a close friend, said, "Well...I wouldn't buy that book."

While that overly honest comment stung a bit, part of me wanted to laugh.  That's pretty much precisely why I want to write this book.

I am afraid that no one would want to read it.  And deep down, every time I've started a writing project and then given up, that's what I've always been afraid of.

But does that mean I shouldn't try?

No.  It most definitely doesn't.  Because maybe there's someone who needs to read that other people can live a life that's always teetering juuuuust on the edge of fulfillment and purpose because they're afraid of messing up.  I've done that for going on 34 years.  And I don't want to any more.

Healthy fear sharpens our edges.  It makes us grow.  It makes us better.

So.  Before I sit on it for too long and let my insecurity change my mind, here's my idea:

I want to spend a year doing things that scare me.  While I don't think it's practical (or really actually possible) to do one thing every day that unsettles me, I think I could do one or two things every month.

And here's where I need your help.  I need suggestions.

I need you guys to give me some ideas on things that I could do each month to take me out of my comfort zone and shake up my little humdrum life.

There are some guidelines:

1.  It has to financially feasible.  I'm not rolling in the dough, so I need to be able to afford it.
2.  Nothing stupidly dangerous (as in skydiving or base jumping.  Because that's so not going to happen.  Ever.).
3.  This is more about mental fear, not physical fear.  Yeah, I'm horrified by cockroaches, but I'm not going to gain anything by holding one for a minute.  That would fill up about one paragraph, most of which would be "AGGGGGGH!!!!" and "Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh."  Not an impressive literary start.
4.  Nothing morally questionable.  My parents are going to read this eventually.
5.  For those of you who know me really well, I welcome really personal challenges.  I do ask that you don't post those on Facebook or on the comments below.  If it's personal, email me or private message me, por favor.

The goal is to gather suggestions for the next month or so and then to start this project in December, so I could finish the book by the beginning of January 2015.

While I'm not going to post each complete chapter to the blog, I will keep everybody updated with my progress with some excerpts.

So...whew.  Deep breath.

I'm afraid.  But that's the point, right?

So let me hear some ideas - let's start my year of fear!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My favorite spooky movies of all time. So far.

Tomorrow is Halloween, which means I've been binge-watching my favorite scary movies all week.

Now, I don't get scared by a lot of movies.  Just because it's super bloody (or lately, the way that most horror movies are going - really, really gross) or because somebody is hiding and waiting to jump out at some unsuspecting schmuck doesn't guarantee that I'm going to be frightened.

What really gets me is a spooky movie.  Ghosts.  Scary, evil children.  Bible verses sung in slightly off-key Latin by a Gothic children's choir.  The people that you trust the most suddenly trying to murder you for no reason.  That stuff gives me the true heebie jeebies.

So, in honor of tomorrow, here's a list of my absolutely favorite spooky movies, in no particular order:

1.  The Lady in White
I saw this movie when I was about nine years old, and it horrified me.  I couldn't sleep for weeks.  I've since seen it many, many times and it still makes me shiver.  The story, set in the 60s, centers around a little boy (played with perfect little-kid panic by 80s wunderkind Lukas Haas) who is locked in his school's cloak room on Halloween night by some class bullies.  What he sees in there - a ghost of a little girl and her very-much-alive murderer - sets the tone for a surprisingly nostalgic and utterly creepy movie.

Scariest moment: "Have you ever seen a dream walkin'?  Well, I did..."  (Trust me.  You'll never be able to hear that song again without getting goosebumps.)

2.  Pet Sematary

Um, need I say more?  Look at that kid!  Stephen King is my favorite author (he writes some really great non-scary stuff, too), and this movie is pretty pitch-perfect with the mood the original novel evokes.  King wrote the screenplay (and even has a small cameo as the minister), so needless to say, it's so, sooo scary.  It's all about a dad who loses his 2-year-old son in a horrific accident, and out of his mind with grief, decides to bury him in the Pet Sematary near his house (which, of course, is really an Indian burial ground) because he'll come back.  And when he does come back, he's no longer his little boy.  At all. 

Scariest moment: "I played with Jud...I played with I want to play with yoooooou..."  And honestly, the ghost of Victor Pascow scared the junk out of me when I was a kid.  Even though he's supposed to be a good guy.

3.  The Changeling

George C. Scott plays a composer whose wife and daughter have been killed in a car accident and he decides to move to this huge Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere so he can just grieve and play music.  That's all the poor guy wants.  Of course, that's not going to happen because the house just happens to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy who was murdered there by his dad about 100 years ago (who locked him in the attic in a secret room, along with his wheelchair - which is still there).  Never has a wheelchair been more sinister.

Scariest moment:  "How did you die, Joseph?  Did you die in this house?  Why do you remain?"  This is tied with the scene where the wheelchair chases Scott's girlfriend down the stairs.

4.  The Shining

My parents let me watch this movie at my 12th birthday party (although they fast-forwarded through the naked lady in the bathtub scene), and this may have been what hooked me on scary movies.  Also based on a book by King, I think what's so terrifying about this movie is the thought that your dad - your dad - could just go ape-poop crazy and decide that he just wants to kill you and your mom.  Yes, the hotel is evil (sooo evil), but really, the betrayal is the scariest thing about this story, in my opinion.

Scariest moment: 
1.  When I was 12, it was the dead sisters.  "Come play with us, Danny....forever...and ever...and ever..."
2.  As an adult, the part where Wendy finds the "book" that Jack has been working on and realizes that all he's been doing for weeks is writing the same sentence, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," and it hits her all at once that he's completely lost his mind --- aggggh!  And when he follows her up the stairs saying, "I'm not gonna hurt you, Wendy.  I'm just going to bash.  Your.  Brains in.  Wendy?  Put the bat down.  Give me the bat."

5.  The Ring

I went to see this with my friend Bridgett, and we just happened to run into my cousin Colin, who also enjoys all things scary.  We sat together, and at one point, I looked at Colin through my fingers and whispered "It's just too scary!  It's too scary!"  I actually left the theater with a headache from squinting my eyes in anticipation.  To quote Stefan from SNL - this movie has it all.  Evil dead children, creepy hair, and more creepy hair.

Scariest moment: When the chick climbs out of the TV to scare the dude to death, everyone in the movie theater started mewling and hiding their eyes.  And it just kept coming.  Did I mention there's a lot of creepy hair involved?

6.  The Devil's Backbone

This movie is in Spanish, so it's subtitled.  I thought, "Can't be that scary, then."  And I was so, so wrong.  The film was directed by Guillermo del Toro, and the ghost in this movie literally gave me nightmares.  I was 28 when I watched it in my apartment (by myself!  Stupid move, Amanda!), and I am not kidding - I slept with the light on for like three nights.

Scariest moment: When you find out what really happened to the horrifying ghost with the weird head injury.

7.  The Others
I love almost all Gothic ghost stories, and this fits the bill.  I'm not a huge Nicole Kidman fan, but she does a wonderful job of playing a harried mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and you actually sympathize with all she has to go through.  The cinematography is beautiful in this film too, and it adds to the chilling setting.  This is just a really good, old fashioned ghost story.

Scariest moment: When the little kids find the secret graveyard, and everything that follows.

8.  Let the Right One In

This Swedish movie (another subtitled gem) is the only vampire movie where I've actively rooted for the vampire. The friendship between the two main characters - a little boy who is being mercilessly bullied at school and the little girl (well, that's subjective to opinion) vampire - is actually pretty touching. The absolute starkness in the setting of the movie also makes it super unsettling.  They've since made an American reboot, which is good, but this one is the most effective.

Scariest moment: The last five minutes.  In the pool.  Enough said.

9.  Silver Bullet

Yep, yet another Stephen King offering, but this is an underrated one, in my opinion.  Corey Haim (before his sad spiral into drugs) gives a really great performance as a paralyzed child being pursued by a werewolf.  Yeah, I know.  It sounds stupid, but it's really, really creepy.  Especially since the werewolf just happens to be the town minister.  As an added bonus, Megan Follows - yes, Anne of Green Gables! - plays Haim's sister. 

Scariest moment:  When the minister corners Haim in an abandoned covered bridge and he can't get away because he's out of gas in his cool powered wheelchair (also called "The Silver Bullet") and then...the minister starts changing form...

Happy Halloween, everybody!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Many Faces of Amanda

I can smell a fake personality from miles away.  I've wrinkled my nose at Facebook statuses, coworkers, bosses, friends, family, even toddlers and their "I'm so sweet, but only because I want.  This.  Cookie.  Now" voices more often than I can count. 

Let's face it -- I have Fake Radar.  It's very well-honed. 

Why, you ask?  Well.  Let's be honest.  I'm so skilled at spotting the Fakes because a lot of the time...frequently, even...I am one.

I'll even go so far as to say I have several fake personalities.  Oh, yes.  I could possibly be labeled a Personality Chameleon.

Now, I'm not saying that I have crazy multiple personality disorder a la "Sybil," but I know that I can tailor who I really am to fit who I'm with.

This has always driven me nuts about other people.  We've all had that one friend who is exactly like you when you're with him/her, but if you're all in a big group, he/she tends to copy the mannerisms of the most popular person in the huddle.  I try my best to not be that person, and most of the time, I feel like I succeed.

But I know that I can be guilty of the ol' switcheroo from time to time. 

Let me introduce you to a couple of my alter-egos:

Church Amanda, or, as I like to think of it, "Sure, hon'" Amanda

Church Amanda is most likely my default setting, especially if I'm nervous.  I cultivated this girl a looooong time ago, back when I was a kid living in a motor home with my evangelist parents.  Smile, smile, smile.  Don't argue.  Everything is fine.  It's fine. Be accommodating.  Make everybody happy and by all means, be nice.

Now, there are good and bad points to this one.  People who are always grumpy are totally annoying.  But on the other hand, people who are constantly cheerful make you want to actually make them cry.  As in, "if I pinched her really hard on the elbow, would she possibly stop nodding and smiling?" 

Do you guys remember that TV show back in the 80s, "Small Wonder"? The one about Vicky, the little girl who is a robot?  I loved that show.  They had a neighbor, and I'm not totally sure of her name, but it seems like it was something like Mrs. Poole.  Mrs. Poole was always happy, always cheerful.  And she was always annoying her neighbors because she was so nosy.  Her catch phrase was "Sure, hon'." 

I don't think I'm that unbelievably irritating, but I sure can turn on the cheesy charm when I feel cornered or if I'm trying to project the "I'm always a good girl" persona.  Blech. 

Hipster Amanda

Oh, I wish this one was really me sometimes.  You know.  The "I only listen to The National, and wear big black framed eyeglasses and yes, I really own twelve pairs of Oxfords and I couldn't care less about what you think about anything I've ever done/said/thought/written because, man, I'm being real" girl.

I've tried to be this girl several times, especially when I'm around my hipster friends (and don't we all have at least one?). 

But about halfway through any interaction with a hipster, I begin to feel my coolness crumble and drop off of me like The Oracles from "The Neverending Story."  (See?  Right there.  A hipster would never genuinely refer to "The Neverending Story" in a non-ironic way.) 

I still like yoga pants and t-shirts.  And contacts.  And I still occasionally listen to Wilson Phillips.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I really care what people think about me.  Honestly, too much sometimes, but I think about what reaction I'm going to get before I say or do something.

I really don't think that people in their thirties can be really successful hipsters, anyway.  We're too old to be ironic.  We're always inwardly rolling our eyes when people without gluten allergies swear by a cardboard-tasting gluten-free organic blueberry muffin when there's a perfectly good Cracker Barrel next door. 

And let's be honest, those Oxfords provide absolutely no arch support.

Big Bad Wolf Amanda

Holly Jo, my sister, had an unintentionally hilarious experience at WalMart last week.  When she walked into the entrance, she found that there were no shopping carts pulled out and ready to be used.  So she reached behind the plastic curtain and took one out herself.  While she was rubbing the handle down with a sanitizing wipe, a little old lady walked right up and took it from her without a word.  So, ever friendly, Holly Jo proceeded to pull out another cart.  And it happened two more times.  That's right.  Two more people came and took a cart out of her hands.

Of course, my first question was "What were you wearing?" because I was sure they had to have mistaken her for a WalMart employee.  But no, she was wearing grey sweatpants and an Alabama sweatshirt. 

So my first comment was "Holly Jo, you're just way too nice.  I would have said, 'Excuse me! That's my cart!' or I would have just slapped them away."

Then when Holly Jo posted about it on Facebook, about a jillion people said the same thing. 

Only a few of them laughed and said, "That stinks!" or something to that effect.

The more people that prodded Holly Jo to stand up for herself, the more irritated I got.  Sure, it's ok for me to say that to my sister, but geez.  Lay off the violence advice.  Holly Jo is nice. 

But the truth is, we all do that.  We all like to think that if faced with extreme rudeness we would immediately turn into some superhero version of Tyler Perry's Madea and we're great about telling people exactly what we would do, but really?  Would we? 

Holly Jo was just shocked at the rudeness of the situation, and she probably reacted like most of us would.  With speechlessness. 

Granted, there are times when I can be a roaring warrior when it comes to self defense, but most of the time - nah.  I'll think about it later, when the immediate threat is over, and realize what I should have done, but at the moment, I can be pretty meek.  And there's nothing more annoying than a know-it-all friend telling you exactly how you should have handled a situation after it's all over.

I have to say, I think most of us are a combination of all of our fake personalities.  There's probably an element of truth in each of them, or we wouldn't be able to act them out as well as we do. 

I just wish I could manage to combine all the best of them and be the real, imperfect, sometimes overly critical, overly negative, overly cheerful, overly geeky, but - I'd like to think - lovable me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I need a new song.

image found here
Yesterday was the first day of fall, which means that I should be in a pretty good mood until at least January 2nd.

I find it nearly impossible to be cranky when everything around you is all pumpkin-y and mum related.  And the fact that you can actually get ready in the morning and not have your makeup melt off your face by the time you get to your car cheers me up immediately.

I'm going to be honest - I've had a sort of irritable spring and summer.  Not to say that good things didn't happen from March to August, because they did, but it's just been all topsy-turvy. 

I got a new job (which means I have to deal with a whole set of weird personalities - I'd gotten pretty used to only having to deal with my own), and my schedule is no longer my own. 

My car officially committed suicide.  RIP, Stella.  I did get an awesome replacement (Bluetooth - holla!), but now I have a car payment, which sort of dampens the new car excitement. 

I got a dog!  This was actually a really great moment during this summer - Bernie (a five-year-old yorkie poo) gets along great with Gilbert, and he makes everything more fun.  Literally everything.

The top half of my head decided to start greying at a rapid pace, and thank God for hair dye, because I'm pretty sure that without it, I'd look like a chubby Dorothy from "The Golden Girls." 

And as I mentioned before - I hate sweating when I'm just sitting still.  Hate.  It.

So I'm pretty pumped about fall's arrival.

Something about cooler weather makes me want to do more, think more, and just be more.  I've been feeling restless for the past year, and I honestly still can't put my finger on it.  Maybe it's because I'm officially, firmly cemented in my thirties (33! When did that HAPPEN?!), and I'm beginning to feel the tick, tick, tick of time passing more swiftly than I'd really like.  Maybe I'm just bored with myself.  I'm not sure.  But there's something inside niggling at me.  I just don't know exactly what it is.

I went to visit my parents this weekend in Centre for Mom's birthday, and on my way back to home, Audrey Assad's song "New Song" came up on my iPod.  And, as usual, she nailed it:

There's an aching in my body, within my lungs
This web of bones around my heart is coming undone
And I need a new song

I know most people start "fresh" in January, but I've decided to make fall my New Year.

I'm 33.  Still young, but I need to get my act together in a lot of areas.  I don't really have the luxury of youth on my side anymore, and honestly?  I don't really want to be all that young anymore.  I've enjoyed my thirties so far, but it would be great to have some things just settled.

New year, new song.

And because this song is just so lovely, here it is:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Self Realization #12

I'm pretty sure A&E could give me my own reality show, since they seem to have already given every other person in the world one.  

There has to be a demographic out there somewhere for a show about cats, books, and music.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Equals sign or Bible verses?

photo found here

I'm nervous about writing this post because lately, it seems any time a person does two things in any social media outlet, there are two responses:

Action 1:  A Christian actually owns up to being a Christian, and by that I mean literally utters the words "I am a Christian."  Not "Jesus is awesome" or "Um...I'm not comfortable with that term..." (I'm talking to you, Marcus Mumford).

Response: Always either A.  The non-Christian community is incensed, or B.  The Christian community is annoyingly smug and pious about the whole thing.

Action 2:  Here's where it gets a little nerve-wracking.  A Christian gives an honest opinion about the gay marriage debate.

Response:  Always either A.  The gay marriage supporters are incensed.  You disagree?  You're an ignorant bigot, or B.  The Christian community is annoyingly smug and pious about the whole thing.

So here's the thing.  Action 1:  I'm a Christian, yes, but more than that (as Andy Stanley so aptly pointed out recently), I am a disciple of Christ.  God didn't call us to be Christians - it's a term the world adopted.  He asked us to be disciples.  I am not ashamed of loving my Savior.  Say whatever you want about that.

Action 2:  There's no way that making any statement (for or against) this issue on Facebook or Twitter is going to make you look the way you want to be perceived.  My sister and I had a conversation about this today, and she reiterated a great point we all know, deep down: Social media has become a stand-in for issues that should be spoken about in person.

Just like Facebook isn't the correct platform to send condolences when someone loses a loved one, it also shouldn't be a medium to discuss relational issues that mean a great deal to other people.  Slapping a Bible verse on a status and saying "because the Bible says so" just makes you look as proud as a Pharisee.  It completely removes the relationship you are throwing away from the conversation.  In the same way, replacing your profile with an equals sign doesn't explain why.

Because the thing is - this issue just isn't one of those black and white issues.  There are many who will adamantly disagree with me on this, but that's ok.  For me, it's a matter of tension.

I've written about this a few times, but for the past couple of years, I've really begun to attempt to embrace the reality that being Christ's disciple means living in constant tension.  How do we love as Jesus commanded, yet not compromise our strongly held beliefs?  How do we walk that tight-rope without falling off?  It's so hard.  It's tension.  And it's never, ever going away.  And let's face it, gay marriage isn't the only issue that's going to punch us all in the gut with the question of how to respond.  It's part of our life.  Jesus navigated the tension better than anyone else alive, but He faced it every single day.

Do you want to know where I stand on the issue of gay marriage?  Do you want to know if I think that someone's sexual orientation defines their entire lives and sums up their personality?

Then call me.

Let's go for coffee.

Because I want to talk with you.  I want to have a relationship with you.  Not your computer.

And we might argue a little bit.  We might get a bit annoyed with each other.  But that's ok.  We'll still be friends when it's over.

I promise.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Song I'm Digging This Week

The words are all escaping, coming back all damaged, and I would put them back in poetry, if I only knew how...

"All This and Heaven Too" - Florence + The Machine