Stream of Unconscious

Often I wake in the middle of the night with thoughts and visions that must be written. A lot of it may seem like mere rambling, but I am a born writer; I need to see what happens to my words once they stare back at me from the pages of my computer screen. Since I am ususally more than half-asleep when this happens, I jokingly entitled the original document: "Stream of Unconscious." Now that I am finally starting to publish in a blog (as so many people have suggested I should do!), I thought the title remained appropriate.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In Heavenly Peace

I'm sick of my last post, which was rather whiney, being the latest thing I've put out into the world. Despite my current hardships, this Christmas has been awesome, and I am filled with the knowledge that I am very, very loved and blessed.

Right now I can hear the stomping of little feet among the mess of wrapping paper and newly discovered presents. There is nothing quite like the sound of children's laughter in the other room. A fire burns in front of me, I can smell my sister's lasagna in the oven (another Christmas day tradition), and I am taking a moment to reflect while looking forward to an evening of games and movies and my recently perfected brew of hot chocolate! Life can be a good, good thing sometimes. I am sorry that I got so caught up in the frustrations of life that I couldn't see...

And God... there is no mistaking the hand of God in all of this. Lately I have seen him differently. I have been going back to my old views of god; that impersonal, indifferent god that only cares about whether or not you're "good enough." And I knew I wasn't, so I had been slipping away...

But I forgot about the One who came quietly, in full majesty but without show, born on a regular night in a smelly, dirty, stall in a barn... to live simply, and grow up to sacrifice and save us all. I am frustrated with my lack of skill in expression... perhaps there is no way to say it well. We have grown cold to the story after so many years, it seems. All I know to say is that I feel Him, I know Him from the inside, know that He was, and is risen, and will be there always, and that He has never given up on me, and never will.

I know it today, and there will be many, many other days where I do not know it so specifically as this. But I am content with heavenly peace for the moment...

Merry Christmas, all... and may you know the joy and peace of the real God this year...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Blues

I can't believe we are less than two weeks from Christmas. I have done little of my shopping and have managed to catch a few songs on the radio, but mostly my days are the same as they've always been, and it just doesn't feel like Christmas for me this year. I hope there is still time to redeem that...

I have been sitting here thinking of Christmases past, and what stands out to me most... I miss my family's odd traditions more than I ever thought I would. I don't have a tree this year. It just wasn't practical, in the midst of paying bills and all, and a couple of people even offered to buy me one, but I turned them down, for whatever reason. I almost wish I hadn't. I could use a little sparkle in my life these days...

I'm hoping to make it up to see Rock City Lights this weekend. Last year, about this time, I was near-dating someone who bought me hot chocolate at my favorite coffee shop and took me up to see the lights, and it was just... nice. Definitely very different from this year. If I can't find anyone to go with in the next few days, I'm going to go myself. I shouldn't miss out on Christmas just because I'm alone again. I never expected it to be this hard, though. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, either.

I hate to be all doom and despair, but it's been a rough season for me, especially in the last couple of weeks, and I've never been good at hiding it. I would love to know what my purpose is supposed to be. I would love to know if I'm going anywhere at all. I would love to know... so many things. At what point do we get to know, again?

I feel like I am missing something very important in the midst of all of this surviving. I feel like I am forgetting how to live... and I don't want to miss out. I don't want to miss my youth, or my singleness, or my friendships at work, or getting the full experience of things like Christmas. Its just not me at all to be this way. I am just tired and discouraged, and I would love someone to come along and help me see clearly again. I would love... but no, I'm not there yet, and wishing for something that isn't here will get me nowhere. I just have to turn my focus back around to the present.

At least I wasn't one of the people who got laid off... right before Christmas. That would have been terrible! Even though I don't enjoy my job, I am lucky to have one. And I did get to watch The Grinch last night, and that was of course awesome. I think this year it's more my state of mind than anything else, which means the fault is mine. *sigh* I even got upset this week because I don't think I'm getting a lot for Christmas this year, and that's just stupid. Its not about stuff, and I know it. What's wrong with me lately, I wonder?

I am severely unsatisfied with this post. I'm pretty sure no one cares about my mental meanderings in a difficult December. But I guess the point is that I want to be real, and the reality is that I'm struggling a bit this year. Is it bad that I'll be glad when Christmas is over this year? I don't think I've ever had that thought in my life! I am truly hoping this is just a phase I will outgrow very quickly...

Let's leave on a happier note, shall we:

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more..."
~Dr. Seuss

I love Dr Seuss!! =]

Saturday, December 6, 2008

To Lose and to Seek

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have had a solitary morning, waking early and having no plans until late afternoon. Have you ever found yourself alone, and realized you're someone you're uncomfortable being with? I guess, despite living on my own, I don't spend enough time with just me, because I'm discovering that I still don't know myself as well as I would like to.

It is ironic, really. I work all week wishing I were home, and here I finally have time to myself, hours of it even, and I have no idea what to do. I flee to the refuge of writing, because it is the only well I have drawn from that has not, at some point, come up dry. And that is only because I believe it to be a gift to me from the direct and purposeful hand of God. But how exactly I am to use it, I still do not know. I have alway believed those answers would reveal themselves in time, and now I secretly wonder if time is just going to waste...

Winter has been making itself abundantly clear, like that person at the party who feels they need more attention. No matter how high I turn up the heat I am still chilled to the core, so I've taken to wearing hoodies inside and saving on my electric bill. Not exactly my idea of a good time. The only good thing about the cold is that it makes a hot cup of coffee that much better, for it is suddenly both delicious as well as functional. I have found that I love something more, and am so much more satisfied, when I am filled up after need instead of just desire. Perhaps that is why God has been allowing me to need so much lately. If I ever make it to a season of filling, I will be that much more appreciative of the change.

So where do I go from here? I am back to having to make the big decisions, and choose the course of my life as best I can. People are getting laid off at work, and there is talk of the jobs that are left being outsourced to India. My lease is up after Christmas, and there is that little voice inside that I had effectively silenced for a year, making an unwelcome return: "You know... you could just go..."

I could, perhaps. But lets not be ridiculous. Go where? Even if I could get a nanny job somewhere far away, the economy is bad, and jobs are scarce, and who knows if I would be any happier somewhere else? But does that mean I should stay in an uncertain work environment that I do not enjoy, sign another year lease on an apartment that is functional, but not home? Does staying where I am automatically mean stagnant existence? Or does God have something just around the corner, if I can just endure this for a little bit longer...?

I don't know. Am I supposed to know? Because I rarely ever know. Sometimes I think I'm lousy at faith. Its not that I don't have enough, but that I believe in the wrong things, the wrong people or circumstances. If my life were not redeemed, and surrendered to the Holy God and to discovering his plan for me, I would be doing things completely differently. I know that for sure. I can't say for sure that I would be any happier, but I would definitely not keep waiting on dating someone... I get so sick of being alone, day after day after day. But I know married individuals who still have lonely days, so I'm trying to just be faithful to the season of singleness that I seem to have been handed. But I'm not even going to try to pretend that it doesn't tear me apart sometimes.

But... when it all comes down to it, I'd rather endure people's questions, and funny looks, and misunderstanding, and do what I know in my heart to be right, than to "conform to the world" as they say, and have to live my life disappointed in myself, always wondering what could have been if I had waited just a bit more.

I know that I may not end up with a great guy at the end of all this waiting. I may just end up with a lot of questions and a house full of cats. But at least I won't end up selling out on my dreams, trying to navigate life with a guy who isn't in tune with the spiritual side of me, because that is where I find my creativity, where I am renewed, where I find the strength to forgive and love despite how I feel. I would live only a half-life if I were to be denied intimacy on that level. And I have worked so hard for so long to be whole again.

I honestly don't see how people do relationships without God. I just don't see how it would be possible. Even with God, I fight with my selfishness and baggage and messed up perspective. Who I would be without Him, I don't even want to know.

I don't really know how to wrap this up. My heart is confused, and a little lonely and lost. Have I done the right thing, in living my life the way I have? I would love a little Supernatural reassurance right now...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chasing Rainbows

There is no metaphor here. I literally chased a rainbow last weekend, and caught a few moments of magic in the process. I needed it, too. I desperately needed a chance to believe again; a glimpse of the impossible made possible. These are difficult times for many.

God is good, but sometimes very hard to see when your eyes have been clouded by the pain of this world.

It was a cloudy day, and had rained earlier. I was in the car with a group of friends, heading down a mile of memories, just laughing and enjoying the simplicity of a day off with good company and conversation. All of a sudden someone said: "Look! Look outside at the rainbow!!" and I caught my breath in sheer wonder at the sight. I have never seen one so close or so clear before. It was right before our eyes, and close enough that we could... almost... see the end of it.

No one really knew what to do. It felt shockingly out of place in the midst of our crazy, busy, stressful lives. I made a joke about using the pot of gold to pay off my loans and go back to London. But really there were no words for it, and deep in my soul, something that had been restless was quieted again, and a little of the veil was lifted off my eyes for awhile.

I am amazed at how easy it is to lose sight of things; to get caught up in the daily grind, the fear of layoffs at work, paying the next bill, and wondering when a lasting relationship will find you, or if that even happens anymore. It is easy to forget about simple beauty, and the basic need we have to believe beyond what we can see, and the thrill of that which is out of reach of our understanding and control. In this moment I am grateful to have the privelege of knowing an infinite God, who does not give me everything I want, but has complete knowledge of what I truly need.

People often tell me that I over analyze things. I am still pondering the rainbow, wondering what it meant and how I can teach myself to believe again. I am still hoping for a better life, not just more money and more stuff, but how to live in contentment and joy despite my circumstances, how to bring the light of hope into people's lives, how to write something compelling and relevant to this new generation... if I am ever able to do so.

Upon brief examination of my 26 years of existence, I can honestly say that I have always been chasing rainbows. There is some part of me that, no matter how bad things have gotten, has managed to keep believing beyond the dark shadow of reason or practicality or "reality." No matter how many bad choices I make, God seems to have chosen to protect and preserve that heart in me... I just do not know to what end.

I wonder when, if ever, it will be made known to me what my purpose is? Is there any point to all of this? There must be. I know there must be. But I just cannot see it yet. I suppose I should just keep praying for direction and trying to make good decisions and looking for the rainbows along the way.

Is it too much to ask for a companion though? Is it wrong of me to desire such things? The road gets so hard sometimes. And chasing rainbows alone is only half as fun, I am guessing, as sharing the experience with someone who also sees what cannot be seen at first glance.

But... that is not what I have been given for this season. So I guess I just keep on keeping on for now. Wish me luck on the way to finding that pot of gold. You never know when my day might come, at last.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weary Days

The days have grown cold and crisp, the leaves have all turned into radiance, and are letting go, one by one, to the playful breeze. I have begun to just bundle up, grab my coffee to go, and frequently forget to stop and take a deep breath.

The sun is just coming up when I leave for work, and setting as soon as I get off. I miss daylight in the evenings and sunshine on my skin, and layering tank tops. Yet Autumn and Winter are just a different perspective on beauty. I will also miss them when they go.

Lately I have felt like I have lost my way. You know that instant you realize that you are honestly and truly lost and don't know how to find your way back to something familiar? I don't know how to find my way back. But maybe I'm not supposed to find something familiar. Maybe I am supposed to take another risk and step out into something new.

It is terrifyingly obvious to me that this season of my life is coming to an end. I'm not ready for it to end. But I, like the leaves, seem to have no say in when the letting go happens. I just hope I find a safe place to crash before long...

The restlessness is stirring up in me again, and I just stand here in practical helplessness, because there are bills to pay, and a lonely gray cubicle I have to fill in order to pay them. I have a lot of dreams, but I have already begun to see them fading, already felt the inevitable cynicism taking over the timid optimist in me. Perhaps I need a good fiction novel to help me keep my head on straight.

I am surrounded by people at work who are in the same boat I am in. Am I not the one that's supposed to be showing them how to live this well because I have been redeemed? Instead I have blended in with the crowd and taken to just surviving every day, as if I have not been filled with a spirit of hope, or tasted living waters.

Once again, I have no answers, merely observations. Tomorrow is just another passing day on the calendar. Or would be, without God. And I just don't feel Him very close tonight. I am weary of working, and weary of dreaming, and weary of disappointment and mistakes. I am weary of myself tonight.

But maybe He knows things that I don't know just yet. So I will try to get up in the morning and believe...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ponderings of a Ragamuffin

I can't tell you how many incomplete posts I have sitting under my "Edit Posts" tab. I'll start them, get distracted, plan on coming back and finishing them, and then I never come back and finish them. I have found myself in a very frustrating season of incompleteness. The half-full aspect of my life has become very apparent to me, and I am at a loss as to how to fill it up again.

Of course I know the Sunday school answers. And there is some validity to those. But isn't there something practical I can do as well? Or is pursuing and trusting God the only thing that will make the gaps in my world start to shrink?

I am speaking generally on purpose, because I am too chicken to talk about what is bothering me specifically. But basically, I just feel empty, or half-filled, or unfinished, or all of the above. There is a little part of me that even feels short-changed, though admitting that is scary, because the truth is that I am blessed and I know it, or ought to, and don't want what I have to disappear on account of my ungratefulness. But maybe God doesn't work that way, and that's just my legalistic background talking.

I have found that there is a type of unfilled that keeps us running to God for filling, and that is the good kind. And then there is the kind that I have recently identified in myself, that is just a source of pain and frustration, and drives me to cope instead of live. And I hate that with a deep and mighty passion.

I've surprised myself with the way I have handled people and situations in my life lately. I am not entirely comfortable with how my stress and sadness has been effecting those around me, or how my response to said stress is reflecting Christ. I do not feel like I am a very good witness right now. And I'm not doing anything particularly bad, but neither am I doing any particular good, and that in and of itself is probably bad.

I am truly overwhelmed, and deep-down sad, and incapable, perhaps, of being a help instead of a hindrance to the people I care about. I want very much to be successful, and make good decisions, and bring light and joy into people's lives. Instead I have been angry, disgruntled, and even leaning towards bitter, depending on the day and the person I am dealing with. I know I probably just need more time with God and a clean apartment and more sleep, and that would most likely cure the majority of my problems. But none of that is as easy as I would like it to be. And why do I expect life to be easy anyway??

I'd like to do a study (and by that I mean I'd like someone else to do a study) on how many times the Bible says "take heart" or "be encouraged" or "do not fear" because I'm pretty sure it says it a lot. And the truth is that that's because Jesus didn't come to make perfect people more perfect, but came for people like me, ridiculous and sinful and wallowing in self-pity, desperate for salvation, desiring to be filled, and needing to be made new again.

We are ragamuffins, all of us. There is just too much of me and not enough of Him hiding underneath this skin of mine. I have grown weary of myself, and I am the one person I can never get away from. It is abundantly clear to me that I need something other than myself, my stuff, and even my friends in order to find serenity, joy, and strength for each new day.

How is it that something can be so crystal clear and so difficult to change at the same time? It is as if I can see straight to the bottom of an infinitely clear pool, but I stand stupidly on the shore with the knowledge that I cannot swim, and therefore cannot attain the prize at the bottom.

I don't know that I have any answers tonight. I may have just needed to confess my abundant weakness as a cry for help or comfort in a dry and weary season. Perhaps I am currently wandering in the desert, and the promised land does exist, but I haven't quite made it there yet. My downfall is often that I assume if it's not here it's not anywhere, and that is a false assumption.

If it is true that I am in a desert season, then I can say for sure that I hate the desert. Is it arrogant of me to say that I hope God knows what He's doing? Because I really hope God knows what He's doing with me right now. I am not sure that I would lead me down this road this soon. I am not certain that I'm going to make it through to the other side. But maybe that's the point.

I only hope that the blessing I long for is close, and worth the pain of waiting in the end.

Come quickly, Lord.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's in a Name

I haven't written in a long time, and that's been tough for me. I can feel everything pent up inside, begging me for an outlet. I just haven't slowed down long enough to get my thoughts in order. And a lot of people have suggested I get a part time job right now to help with finances. That would be great, if there were an extra me running around somewhere. But I have a hard time getting everything accomplished as it is. I can't imagine adding another unbreakable obligation to the schedule!

So maybe I will write about nothing of importance, but simply write to be back in the habit of writing. There was a time when I wrote every single day. I have a shelf full of journals to prove it. But now I work a full time job, and its amazing how time flies, and stress drives you to be someone you never thought you would face in the mirror every morning.

I have discovered this year that I am not who I thought I was, and capable of just about any evil known to man. I am a disappointment even to myself. But my name, Joanna, means "God is gracious" and I believe it. It is that grace that I cling to every time I awaken to curse my alarm clock, every time I lose my temper with a co-worker, every time I cry myself to sleep over unlived dreams and financial hardship and brokenhearted friends.

All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well...

This is a season of harvest, or is supposed to be. I love Autumn, and I have not yet immersed myself in the beauty of it, allowing myself to be refreshed by the mystery of the season. I have not gone on one hike, nor taken the time (and gas money) for my favorite drive through the mountains. On occasion, I grab a pumpkin spiced latte in the drive-thru before work, or burn an apple pie candle in the half-hour I am actually in my apartment before bed, but mostly I find I just keep pushing myself more and more, and now October is already coming to an end. And nearly every weekend in November is full already, in some manner or another, and then December, with all of its chaos.

But I have not given up on the promise of this season, or of new hope in the midst of the turmoil of my current state of living. God can do anything, His grace enough for my every mistake and even purposeful sinning. There is no end to it. His mercies are new every morning. I discovered them just today, when there was a system glitch at work and my production, which I had been so worried about, nearly doubled, which bought me time to work through some of the harder things that had been just sitting around, also stressing me out. Coincidence? When I had just prayed about it all this very morning? You tell me.

I don't really even know what to say, other than I have not yet given up. There is always, always, always hope. No matter how quickly life seems to be going by, or where I thought I would be when I was 26, or what's going to happen to this country I call home, God is gracious, and all will be well. In that I hold firm.

Tomorrow is a new day, and one I intend to live a little more consciously than today. If people see nothing else in my life, I hope that they see God's abundant grace to a sinner such as I.

And I'm finally going to get to bed early tonight! =]

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Wonder Sometimes About the Outcome...

If there is any way possible, I am going to bed early tonight, because I have not slept nearly enough in the past couple of weeks to be capable of handling the basic issues of life. I know that much for sure. If only there was a job where I got paid to sleep at least 40 hours a week... with mandatory overtime! I don't think I would ever be unemployed again.

My life seems to be out of my control at the moment. And that's fine. That will have to be fine with me, because if I know God, I may as well let go now and save myself the trouble of skinned knees...

There are a billion other things I am supposed to be doing right now. I can't seem to motivate myself to do any of them, and I still haven't figured out why. One thing I know for sure is that I'm glad I'm not dating anyone right now. I can barely keep track of what's going on with me and my kitten, much less anything outside of my little apartment. I'm pretty sure I'd be the meanest girlfriend ever in this stage of life.

I keep joking with people about how I'm having a quarter-life crisis. You know it's bad when your life starts feeling like a John Mayer song. It's just that most of the things I thought I wanted in life, even things that I've wanted my entire life so far, I have recently discovered I may not want anymore. Living alone has allowed me to take a good, long, honest look at who I am, and explore who I might hope to be. And what I've found isn't at all what I expected to find...

One thing that really scares me is that I am much older in years than I am in life experience. Someone recently pointed out to me that I'm closer to thirty now than twenty. And I'm sure that's significant somehow, but honestly I know what I've been through and I know that I've really just started my life, and there's nothing I can do now about the past. I'm sick of trying to catch up, and I think I'm in the process of learning how to just stop trying.

It seems I have finally learned that there is a line between giving up and letting go that I had never taken notice of before.

I think I may be searching for direction once again. I keep threatening to reinvent myself, complete with hair dye, funky glasses, and dressing even weirder than I already do. I think I've proclaimed to everyone and their mother that I'm definitely not into dating right now. And I'm pretty sure that anyone paying any kind of attention knows that I rely daily and heavily on the sure grace of God...

But what am I supposed to be doing? Where am I supposed to be going? Who am I supposed to be? Is there something I was supposed to have done by now? They are age-old questions with no definitive answers.

This is definitely an interesting and unexpected season. I am curious to see who comes out at the end of it.

I guess you could say that: "I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life."

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Season For Change

Today is the first day of Fall. I stand amazed at the coming of a new season. It seems that I, with my head in the clouds, had not noticed the gentle passing of the long days of summer. And now I have awakened to find them gone...

I do not feel ready to see summer's end, yet with each new season comes fresh opportunity through the mysterious beauty of change. I have learned, through the years behind me, to welcome it with cautious curiosity for what it may bring.

I am in the midst of my own dying season in life. It is passing through my fingers like sand, more quickly, even, as I try to grasp it tighter. There is no way to slow its progress, nor time to mourn the loss of it. I am swept away into new moments, new days, a new perspective and a newer version of myself. The old is passing away, the new is coming, whether I am ready or not.

It is strange to me that I am not more connected with what is going on around me. Autumn has long been my favorite season, the color and scent and feel of it, and normally I am the first to greet it with open arms, while others still complain of a longing for warmer days. But this year it has caught me off guard. I have been too preoccupied with typical days at the office, my financial struggles, and the inability to make my life what I desire it to be. Perhaps I am trying to control too much... all I typically end up with is disaster.

This week I am committing to getting more sleep and getting my place in order. I need to start running and writing again, and I need to do more things I enjoy, spend more time with myself, and try not to overbook my schedule anymore. Easier said than done. But I am sick of the chaos, and so I have to do what I can to slow it all down, and only take on what I can handle.

I do not want to miss another season. So on this first, new day, I'm reevaluating what's important, and pausing to make some changes.

Perhaps I will even get a fresh start with some things. What better season for change could there be than this?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Good Day

This is a beautiful evening. I am the kind of tired that's a blessing, because I know it means I will sleep well tonight. And I really need a good, solid night's sleep more than anything else right now.

Yesterday was a big day for me, and even though I am tired, I had to take the time to post an update. I got my first article published on an online newsletter. And now, whenever people ask me what I want to do, and I tell them I want to write, and that inevitable question follows, I can finally answer: "Yes. I write for..."

Life is a beautiful, beautiful thing at times. I just fulfilled a lifelong dream, and right now, anything seems possible. I wonder if there is a way to feel this all the time? If there is a way, I'll do my best to find it...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Writer's Block Continued...

I have been a bit stressed of late. I wish I could explain why, in intricate detail, and poetically, but my inspiration seems to have gone on strike. I can't imagine what its demands must be. More sleep, probably. More time to myself to think, more reading, more laughing. No more stressing about finances. Yeah... right.

I have been fighting myself a lot lately, trying to hold my life together while it rips apart at the seams... I am, of course, being dramatic, because I know it only feels that way. In reality, I am blessed, and secure in the hands and grace of Almighty God. But I can't feel it right now, so I am scared and stressed out nonetheless.

I have worked hard recently to get my apartment clean and keep it that way, in order to reduce the stress. It is a daily battle that I often lose, however. I have had several bad days this week, which I continue to blame on lack of sleep. I rarely make it to work when I want to (I am blessed to have a job where there really isn't an "on time," I just have to get my 40 hours in), I frequently spill my coffee somewhere between my apartment, my car, and my business, and I've taken to cursing at my cats when they get in my way... the list goes on.

What I am really trying to say here is that I am frustrated with life, and feel completely overwhelmed. And my writing (or lack thereof) reflects that.

It all started when my school loans came due. Every month, after the bills were paid, and life was lived, I had about $100 left over, which went to savings. Now, with a $200 loan payment, I have absolutely nothing going into savings, and I have to be very careful about my spending elsewhere as well.

It may just come down to me getting a second job, like at Starbuck's or Barnes & Noble or something. But I'm already tired as it is, so I'm not sure how that would work. I am hoping that somewhere in all of this, God has a beautiful plan for it to work out. :) I am just struggling to see it right now.

It's just funny to me what I had planned for my life. By now I was supposed to be a thriving nanny in another country, writing stories and dating some cute British guy with a fantastic accent, who knew more than I do about literature. I was going to have my loans paid off in ten years, max. And then I was going to get married, travel, and get a book published before I started having kids. Ha!

I suppose it could all still happen. But it looks like my world is going to be a lot different than that for a good long time. Unless there's a miracle approaching that I don't know about. But the good news is, I am extremely adaptable, and I love Chattanooga deeply. I love my church, and my friends, and I can accept my job for a season. I don't have to give up on all my dreams simply because they haven't been handed to me just yet. I just get discouraged because most of the things I want intensely feel very much out of reach right now.

It just makes me wonder if I'm doing anything of value at all in this season. All I want is to live it well, to love people well, and to become a woman who delights the heart of God. Perhaps I am closer than I feel right now. Probably this melancholy is nothing that a good night's sleep and a creative, well-written children's book series wouldn't cure. I intend to invest in both very soon.

Here's hoping the next post will be more inspired and uplifting. I need to get some stuff done before the work week begins anew.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Writer's Block

Typically, when I have a billion things on my mind, it helps to write about them. Lately, though, for some reason, I've sat down to write and there's nothing. No inspiration whatsoever. I'm not exactly sure why.

All I know is that I need some time away from the routine of my life. I have been frustrated and tired and working overtime, and I just need it all to stop for a few days.

So this weekend I am going on a single's retreat with my church, and I know that somewhere underneath all of this exhaustion, I am excited. I was yawning as I typed that, however...

Wish me luck, say a prayer for me, and let's hope the writing comes back when I do!

Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Welcome To Joanna!

While on vacation, inspired by two of my closest friends, I started writing a list of things I want to do in the next few years of my life. And the best part is, the more I come up with, the more I get excited about living these next years!

Here's a classic example: On our way back through South Carolina, heading to Tennessee, I spotted a sign for the town of Joanna, and casually mentioned that I've always thought it would be funny to stop there and take pictures in front of the various signs of my namesake town.

I have become so accustomed, in my lifetime, to thinking and talking about my desires and then going on about my average day without doing anything about them, that I was shocked when my friend immediately, and without question, took the exit.

My heart was pounding. We were really going to go! I have been passing that exit for over a decade now, every time reading the sign, laughing to myself, and wanting to stop and take pictures. And suddenly, there we were, digging for a camera in the back seat of her car outside the not-so-classy-looking Joanna Dollar! It was fantastic.

We were then on a hunt for something truly sketchy, like a Joanna Body Shop or a massage parlor or something, and our efforts were highly rewarded upon the discovery of the Joanna Men's Club. Jackpot!

Needless to say, one of my new favorite photographs includes me standing blissfully before a huge sign that reads: Welcome to Joanna!

Welcome, indeed. It is my new tag line for life. I am becoming convinced that my life need not be mediocre and dull, simply because my job is boring and I am financially forced to live simply for awhile. Life was meant for living, and living well. There is truly an abundant life right before my eyes, if only I am willing to reach out and grab it!

So here are a few of the ways I will be attempting to live my life a little better in the coming years. A few of them have recently been checked off, but I'm including them anyway as a reminder that these things can be achieved if I put my mind to them. This, of course, is not a comprehensive list, because of the personal nature of some of my desired accomplishments, however it should give you an idea of the fun I will be having very shortly. Feel free to join me, or just mooch off my list, if any of these sound appealing :)

I have always wanted to...

* Stop in Joanna, South Carolina, and take pictures! (check!!)

* Fly to London for the day; see a few sights, catch a play, grab a meal in a pub, and come home.

* Be kissed in a Starbucks (No joke. Long story...) (check!! 04/13/11).

* Take dance lessons (check!! 05/12/09).

* Grow sunflowers (they're my favorite).

* Have an indoor cat (check!!)

* Learn how to sculpt.

* Get published! (Hallelujah! 09/10/08! Check it out:

* Hug a koala bear.

* Try snowboarding.

* Become debt-free (sigh).

* See a life transformed.

* Spend an entire night on the beach.

* Live on my own (check!!)

* Paint a mural on a wall.

* Have my own Christmas tree! (this is gonna be the year...)

* Hike across New Zealand.

* Teach a child to read.

* Be completely and totally spoiled on a date (sadly, I have absolutely no control over whether or not this ever happens) (check :) 2011)

* Go skinnydipping (Lol! Even my Grandmother has done this and I still haven't!!!)

* Buy a brown suede couch (CHECK!!! 05/18/09).

* Learn how to cook. Well. (check! 2011)

* Swim with dolphins.

* Write and illustrate a children's book.

* Inspire someone to write a song about/for me. (CHECK!! 08/10/08. Thanks bro!! There's always room for one more, though...)

* Karaoke in public (my brother's condo, sadly, does not count, or this would be a check!)

* Read every Shakespeare play.

* Return to the Grand Canyon, and stay for several days this time instead of 20 minutes.

* Go to a Weezer concert!

* See a white Christmas (I think I stole this from someone, but I can't remember who. Thanks for the idea, whoever you are!!) (check 12/25/10... beautiful!! :))

* Memorize the constellations and the stories behind them. (Bought a Starfinder w/ constellation legends on 08/07/08!!)

* Love someone who doesn't deserve it (Beauty and the Beast is such a good story!).

* Attempt surfing while in Hawaii.

* Try "moonshine." (check! 2010)

* Fly first class!

* Kiss a guy who had no idea I was going to kiss him (I realize this could backfire horribly...) (Check! 2011)

* Play the slot machines in Vegas (betting on that beginner's luck...)

* Smoke a cigar (check!! 08/17/08).

* Have that conversation with my Dad.

* Take up charcoal and chalk pastels again (I used to be pretty good).

* Watch the sun rise and set over the ocean in the same day.

* Find my happy ending...

... and that's just the beginning! Come back in a day or two, and I'll have added more! :)

Post your favorite "I have always wanted to...'s" in the comments box!
Happy living!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Segue To the Real World

So, I am back from my vacation, and back to what we dare to call "the real world." (I, of course, don't believe it for a second! But there's no point in arguing that right now.)

I spent almost the entire day of this last day "off" running errands, and cleaning, and general preparing for the daily grind to start back up. I have found, since living on my own, that coming home from work isn't so bad if you don't have to come home to a horribly messy place. So I've spent the last three hours cleaning, and I happened to make some decent progress! It's certainly not perfect, but I wouldn't be quite so embarrassed to have someone stop by unexpectedly anymore. It does happen on a rare occasion. I wish it happened more often, however. Especially when I can impress them with my cleanishness! :)

And so... twenty-six, so far, has not been so bad. In fact, my new perspective and brighter outlook on the year to come has made these days rather nice. It is amazing what a twinge of hope will do for the soul. But now I'm starting to sound like some lame Spiritual self-help book, so I must stop immediately for fear of losing my own dinner!

Tomorrow I'll be back to work, and that will be challenging and fun all at the same time. I think I have settled into this season pretty well. I am curious to see the changes that God will inevitably be bringing my way soon. I am actually shocked that things have been so... normal... for so long. Stability is so unfamiliar to me that it sometimes makes me uncomfortable.

Speaking of tomorrow, I've still got stuff I need to do before heading to bed. And I really need to get some good sleep tonight. Farewell!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bob Marley at the Beach

I highly recommend spending your birthday at the beach. I'm having a blast!

Yesterday, after waking up, we went to the Isle of Palms and just walked for miles. I feel so blessed just to be here, taking in the many sensations of sand beneath my toes and cool, salty water rushing around my ankles; the wind giving my hair that clumpy "beach look" that I like to pretend looks sexy, and not just unwashed.

And today I know that God is good.

I have always been in love with the ocean. My deeply romantic heart doesn't stand a chance against it's depth of beauty and mystery. No matter how cynical or sad I have become before I reach the shore, as soon as I stand before the rolling sea again, the stony walls around my heart have crumbled, and I am left in vulnerable awe.

So I will let the ocean work its magic in me, renewing me and washing the callouses off my heart again, leaving me empty and thirsty for more of God's beauty. I will search for buried treasure in the sand, and emerge with a heart intent on believing again... perhaps the greatest treasure to be found.

Another year older, but with a fresh perspective to face the coming challenges. And deep in my heart, I feel like this is going to be a good year. In fact, I know it will be.

Driving back from our day at the beach, we put in a Bob Marley CD... perfect timing and a perfect fit for the moment. And for the first time in months, I was completely and utterly content with my life.

As Bob said: "I'm happy inside, all of de time... 'feel like a sweepstakes winna..." =]

Here's to twenty-six!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dissection of a Mustard Seed

Risk is by far my least favorite board game. In fact, I became so upset the first time I played, that I have never attempted to play again. No exaggeration. There are still memories of a college Christmas break darkened by the devastation of my entire elf army when one of us received a Lord of the Rings themed Risk game from Santa. I do not believe I am one to hold a grudge under normal circumstances, but in this case I still feel a twinge of leftover frustration at the very thought...

And so goes my life. I hate the rolling of the die, not knowing what you will get when it comes to that inevitable and influential stop. For many, many years, like so many others, I had decided that I would be better off not playing, than to take the risk... and lose.

Although I would consider myself a bit of a social butterfly, I tend to be quite chameleon-like, becoming an awkward observer or a wallflower with little or no notice. For example, I am in my element at any social function, standing in the midst of it all but focusing on one or two people, having a deep discussion about past, present, and future life struggles and hopes. But then someone will decide that we're all going to play some game, or turn some music on and start to dance, and immediately I will find an inconspicuous corner from which to cower, hoping no one will force me to bring out the head or stomach ache excuse in order to avoid actually participating in said activity.

I have often made jokes in these situations that blame my social awkwardness on homeschooling. But I can no longer hide behind the overused stereotype, which is really only half-truth anyway. The real truth is that I am utterly terrified of risk-taking in most forms. I am not afraid of funky fashions, ridiculous socks, putting my foot in my mouth, or speaking even the most embarrassing truths aloud. I am not even afraid of snakes. But I am a coward in every sense of the word when it comes to taking risks with life decisions.

I told my brother recently, in a brief online chatting session, that my baggage cart was full when I first received it (parental dysfunction being the common cold of the family unit these days), so why would I want to risk adding more to the already heaping piles by my own choice? That just doesn't make sense. But the truth is that life without risk is impossible, if you desire to have any kind of life at all. And what is faith, really, but risk on a Supernatural level?

The Bible is actually quite encouraging on this matter. Loosely translated, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, it says, you will say to this mountain, "move" and the mountain shall tumble. Just think about that for a minute...

I have a close friend who does not believe that God is personal, or interested in our daily struggles, delights, or the mountains we face. Supposedly He created us, set us down here, and has taken a "hands off" approach ever since. Though he is dear to me, I am certain that my friend is terribly wrong. Have you ever actually seen a mustard seed? Any God who knew to use a mustard seed to describe the kind of faith I possess must know me intimately. And despite the intensity of my fears, I have been known to move a mountain or two with my wee little mustard seeds of faith.

I believe this goes hand-in-hand with the short verse hidden in the Psalms that says: "Be still, and know that I am God." It is one of my favorites. I grew up in the kind of church where it was all about performance; what you did or didn't do, and you were always trying, trying, trying to grow as a Christian and be a Christian, and all that mattered was what you did for God... it makes me feel infinitely tired just to write about it.

I am doomed to failure without grace, because there are months (as you know by now if you're a regular reader) where I can barely remember to pay my bills, and get my 40 hour work week in, and leave my apartment somewhat presentable in the morning. Add the pressure of saving souls or being perfectly sinless to that list, and I may as well go on to heaven now before I add any more disastrous failures to it. The truth surely does set you free, for I am blessed by the knowledge that such a list is nonexistent.

I love this, though... another translation of the same verse reads: "Cease striving, and know God." Though simple, it is one of the most difficult truths I have to accept. I have lived enough, and failed enough, and cried enough, and run back to God enough in the last couple of months that I am ready to give up. In a good way. I am ready to give up me getting in the way of what God is doing. I am ready to cease striving... and find God there.

And that is one of the scariest risks I know to take. But I suppose I might have about a mustard seed sized faith left, so I may as well turn and face the mountain...

I am finding, though it has proven to be a frighteningly treacherous path, that each new step of faith, each risk, grows another seed and reveals a higher mountain. What are we to do, but take the next step in the direction of the towering peak, and with our small measure of faith, simply utter the word "move"?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Fine Art of Procrastination

Some people do not realize that procrastination is an art form. If you are one of those people (usually A types), go ahead and get back to whatever the heck you really need to be doing. I can guarantee you that all of this is just a waste of time. For those of you who welcome a good waste of time, please... read on! :)

I spent the entire day Saturday procrastinating. It was fantastic. I had not realized my procrastinistic maturity, however, until it was about 5:30, and not only had I not accomplished anything I had intended to, but I was simultaneously going to be late for hanging out with my friends. Awesome. I am more skilled than I had realized. It's bad when you can't even make yourself do things you want to do!

Wikipedia says this: "Procrastination is a type of behavior which is characterized by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision."

Yeshh. I must agree. The anxiety associated with cleaning and rearranging my entire apartment before Thursday has proven itself to be one tough beast. It is now Sunday, and I am still hard at work, doing anything I can possibly do... except clean.

Here's what I did accomplish throughout the day:

Saturday morning, 9:00am: Called my mother.

10:30ish: Started to unload the dishwasher (I say "started," because the first item taken out happened to be a bowl, making me realize I was hungry).

10:32: Abandoned worthy task for a bowl of cereal. Left freshly used bowl with the other dishes in the sink, therefore creating more work for myself for later. *sigh*

11:ooish: Scooped the cat litter (no matter how much anxiety I have about anything, this is a neccessary course of action for obvious reasons).

11:15: Called my sister to hear about her trip to Disney.

12:30: Wandered into my bedroom and thought about hanging up my clothes. Noticed that the dimples in the rubber handle of my hammer had gunk in them. Got gunk out using a metal nail file (I was getting desperate by this point).

1:00ish: Called my other sister.

1:30: Repainted my toenails.

1:40: Sorted through some of my old makeup. Decided to try it out.

2:00ish: Looked up the word "procrastination" on Wikipedia and decided to blog about it... :)

2:30 - 5:30: While online, I remembered an old online cartoon that used to be one of my favorite forms of procrastination in college. Went to where I spent nearly 3 hours doing nothing but amuse myself by reading SBmails. Good stuff.

So you get the picture. Of course I accomplished many more meaningless tasks, such as showering, putting on clothing, and probably all kinds of other things that I've forgotten by now, but this is just a general overview. If only I could turn this talent of mine into some sort of career...

I would end up a rich, rich woman! :) And I could also introduce myself as an Artistic Procrastinator, which would just be awesome. I could have weekly workshops, where on-task, A type people could get help and learn how to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing of value...

Now I've got my imaginative wheels turning. I think I'm going to go make myself a cup of coffee and get to another day of preventing myself from cleaning...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coffee Grounds and Cat Litter

Don't judge me. I have never claimed to have my life together. But I can honestly say that I am doing the best I can...

It all started on the way to work this morning. I was supposed to stop by the trash compactor and throw my trash out. Seems simple enough. One would think. But I forgot. I have been forgetting all kinds of things lately. I haven't quite reached the fearful "turning into my mother" stage, but I am coming dangerously close. Which reminds me... I think my electric bill is due on the 23rd... which was yesterday...

So anyway, I accidentally left my bag of trash in my car. All day. In the heat. So after a long and somewhat stressful day at work, I re-entered my vehicle to the overwhelming smell of stale coffee grounds... and cat litter. Let me just tell you, ladies and gentlemen, do not try this at home.

It is times like these that I wonder very seriously where my life is going.

Needless to say, I've been trying to set some realistic goals. And I do mean realistic. I am finally convincing myself to get my head out of the clouds and accept some things. Not to say that I'm selling out on my dreams. But by now I am certain that I will never have all of the things I want, so it is reasonable to take a good long look at what I am capable of achieving, and shoot for something attainable in the near future.

I decided just a few weeks ago that I want to get something published in the next year, and that's what I'm going to be putting my off-the-clock efforts into. What a scary, scary thought. And yet, it is something I have wanted for nearly two decades, and doesn't really depend on anyone but me; unlike most of my other dreams, which either require a rich husband or the winning of a large sum of money. :)

Watch out, world. I'm finally stepping outside the box...

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Life Lesson in the Little Things

"Are you kidding me??" I screamed aloud, having come back from a very short trip to the bathroom to discover one of my kittens having a boxing match with my keyboard. And, of course, the paragraphs I had just been working on were deleted, and a lot of gibberish had taken the place of my attempt at creativity. As a former English Major, I hold myself at fault for not having saved my work before leaving the computer unattended. But still...

It's amazing the things that come out of your mouth when you've had a typical Monday. I find myself yelling a lot these days. Things like: "What were you thinking?" and "Can't I just have ten minutes to myself when I get home??" and "Are you kidding me?" if cats are quite skilled in the art of comic mockery. There are times when I am convinced that they have nothing better to do than piss me off. Just for the heck of it.

So why, you ask, do I even have cats? That is a very good question. I think they're here to teach me something. I don't want to be one of those annoying Pollyanna-type people that tries to make a lesson out of everything. But in this case, I really think it's legit.

See, the thing is, I wasn't ready for cats. I know that by now. I've been wanting a cat for a long time, now that I'm out making it on my own, but I hadn't purchased one yet because I didn't feel like I was quite ready. But the problem is, I have this soft spot in my heart for the abandoned, and they were about to lose their home... I guess I took them in as a kind of foster care service, to try to find them a good place to live. But of course I got attached, because I always get attached. And now I have no idea what I'm doing. Which just means I come home to whatever new mess they've made and get angry at creatures that have no idea why I'm upset. And that's not a good situation for anyone.

Just a few weeks ago, a guy I sit next to at work told me this very thing; that I wasn't ready for cats, and I got very upset with him. Did he really think I'm so incompetent a human being that I can't care for a couple of kittens until I find homes for them? I was quite insulted. But now I'm starting to see the wisdom behind his words. I don't think he meant to be offensive. It's just that I've had a rough couple of years, and things are finally starting to get better, and I really think this season of my life is about learning to take care of me. I wonder if having kittens is going to prevent that at all?

My problem is I put my whole heart into everything I do. It's a blessing and a curse, all wrapped up in one package. I stress out at work if I think I haven't paid a claim correctly. I want to get it right and do my job to the best of my ability. I want to be there for all my friends, right when they need me. I've found it difficult to be creative lately, because I just want things to be perfect. And Lord help me when I get into a relationship, because I give it everything I've got, whether or not it's worthy of everything I've got. I guess if I can't do something wholeheartedly, I find it hard to want to do it at all. And it's exhausting, let me tell you!

It's funny... because what I just said makes me sound a little perfectionistic. And I wouldn't really consider myself to be a perfectionist. If you look around at my messy apartment, or know anything about my messy life, you would think the same. But when it comes to matters of the heart, it's all or nothing for me.

If nothing else, I'm learning a lot from my crazy cats. I guess it's hard to have too much regret in life if you choose to learn from your mistakes and disappointments. I haven't decided yet if taking them in was really a mistake, or if this just means I need to let them go and admit that I'm just not ready to be taking care of anyone but me right now, or if I need to make room in my life for them and choose to give them what they need whether or not it's what I need...

I suppose there are very few people who would put this much thought into the decision. :) But I've committed to discovering the secret of living a full life, and this is just another attempt at it... even though it's just taking care of a couple of cats, I want to do this well. And if I can't do it, I want to find someone who can.

Just for the record, they're both acting crazy right now, running around my tiny apartment like maniacs, attacking each other, my couch, or my feet, whatever they happen upon first. In a minute or two, they will be attempting to climb onto my keyboard and my lap, purring deeply and ready to settle down for the night, simply wanting the affection I am anxious to give. It's these times when I think giving them up will be impossible. But time will tell. I want to learn all I can while they're here with me. Maybe they're supposed to help me appreciate the silence when they're gone...

I thought I would be up for hours tonight, because I drank an iced coffee just a little while ago, but a nice warm bed is starting to sound pretty awesome right about now. So I think I'm going to say goodnight for now... I'll write again soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Dragon's Job

Donald Miller says that having a Dad is like owning a dragon. To take something so great and powerful and strong, and to know that it is truly yours, that it is there to protect and defend you... who wouldn't want that? It would be amazing.

I never got a chance to own a dragon. But I always wanted one.

Then there are all the fairy tales, that paint a picture of the horrible, cruel dragon guarding the princess in some lofty tower while she awaits her brave knight to come rescue her. I know girls who still operate under this type of system with their fathers. She's "under his authority" until her husband decides to show up, and then they pass her off like some antique heirloom. Nice.

I'm hoping there is a third category out there. My knight must have gotten lost somewhere along the way. My dragon never cared enough to guard me from anything. In fact, if anything, he took it upon himself to cause me a lot of grief and heartache that I am still attempting to mend. The sad thing is, these days it is far from uncommon. My struggle to survive simply confirms the statistics.

I am, at least, grateful for our ability to adapt. I am trying, anyway.

So it is Father's Day. And this holiday is weird for me. It cuts much deeper than, say, Valentine's Day. And I guess that's because I can see somewhere in my future having some semblance of a Valentine. But I will never, ever get to have a Dad.

Perhaps I am not being fair, though. I have had a few father/daughter relationships with men who took me into their families simply because they cared that much about my broken heart. I called one of my "adopted Dads" yesterday, in fact, because he has been more of a father to me than mine ever was. And there is still another that I need to call...

But I'm thinking of calling my biological dad, too. I know. I must be crazy. I have no expectations. He could do or say anything. Honestly, I could say anything as well. I've got a lot of pent up anger I've never taken out on anyone. Lord help him if he sets off that minefield!

But I've got one of those scenarios playing out in my head where, in the movies at least, there is distance between the father/daughter, and then one day before she knows it he's dead and she's standing there at his grave wondering why she never picked up a phone and called him. If my father died, would I regret never having said something to him? This question has been bugging me lately.

The problem is, my life was not scripted by Hallmark, and the things I will probably end up saying are not the lovey-dovey, just-in-case-you-die sorts of things. But what I will say, I do not know. I could really freak him out by telling him he was supposed to be a dragon, and didn't fulfill a dragon's job in my life! :)

But life is just like that, because there was a garden and there was a forbidden fruit, and there was a decision, a fall, and a sinful world followed. We all have our set of obstacles to overcome, decisions to make, and battles to fight. This one happens to be mine. I never had a protector as a child, and I will probably have a hard time letting a man assume that role in my future. I want it, for sure, but I don't know if I'll let it happen. I'm pretty awkward when it comes to dating. I hope the next guy is pretty brave...

I guess I'll post an update if I get up the courage to call him. Say a prayer for me, if you're the praying type. And Happy Father's Day, to all you who choose to use your power for good...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Day in the Life

Another slow Saturday morning, and now I've come to the part of the day where I have to figure out what I'm doing for the rest of the day. No one has called with any invitations yet. Sometimes I find that situation depressing, but right now I am glad to have time to get my thoughts in order, before greeting any other humans.

Oh yeah, I have cats now. And internet. In fact, there will probably be much greater consistency in my writing from this day forward. So that's a good thing. My cats are crazy though. Much more so than I ever thought possible. I'm not entirely convinced that I am ready to be taking care of anyone but myself right now. So whether or not I'm keeping them is still up for debate. I change my mind every day...

So much has happened lately, and I'm certain not all of it gets to be written out for the world to see. Just take my word for it that I have grown up a lot since I last wrote. I learned some very difficult and valuable life lessons recently. God allowed some stuff to happen, because I was being stubborn, and then I paid for it, because we have to live out the consequences of our decisions, and now I'm on the road to recovery. And that's that. I'm glad it's over and done. And maybe next time, I will be a little more cautious about jumping into something with my whole heart like that.

But really, that's the only way I know to live. I don't know if I was designed that way or not. But it's the way I am, and I haven't figured out how to prevent it from happening yet. Maybe I really am supposed to throw my whole heart at something, but I just haven't found the proper context for it. I've always felt like I would be great for an orphanage or a ministry that needed truly committed people. I tend to invest everything I've got into relationships that are headed nowhere, and that's not what God wanted to do with me, I'm sure. But I've yet to figure out what God wants, so I continue to be a little bit lost.

I guess this post is about nothing in particular. I don't feel very inspired at the moment, to say anything of utmost importance. It's just another Day in the Life of Jo. I guess we all need some days to just chill.

I think I'm going to do some shopping and errands, and just try to take this day as it comes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Great Expectations

Awaking with gentle sunshine on my face, and without that sense of morning exhaustion that I am so used to these days; I feel good about today. I need a big, fat cup of coffee in a minute. And I think one of my friends wanted to work out this morning. But I need to take a moment, while I have a moment, and enjoy the sunshine and the feeling that I finally rested enough to enjoy the day and live it well.

I think life is just about to get better... I can feel it right now, in my half-conscious state, and underneath all my sleepiness I am excited about the change. I have been coming dangerously close to settling in to mediocre. But God and I have a deal about that... I've promised to get my lazy butt up and keep moving whenever I notice I may be settling for less, and He says He's got something better for me if I just don't give up. I know we can't really make deals with God that way, because you can't earn anything on your own strength, but I'm telling you, this one works! Its like tithe, Man. Miracles happen.

I even got annoyed last week, when I was just reading random verses in the Bible and I came across the one that says: "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap..." But I AM weary!! I cried, I can't help it!!! I have grow quite weary, actually. That is a perfect description of how I have felt of late. But God, more than anyone, knows that I am human and knows my limits and my potential and knows (Lord, help me in my unbelief) what He is doing. Right? Because if that isn't true, then I'm wasting my time with another "god" who isn't really God, and I don't want to go back there.

I want, very much, to move forward in life. And yet, in "growing up," I am so afraid of losing that childlike faith in me. I have seen it fade as I move towards accepting the "real world," and while it is true that I am growing up and I want to be responsible, does that mean that I have to lose my heart in the process? Isn't that what's killing the writer in me? Because, after all, this isn't exactly quality literature, folks. It's okay... I know already. :) I'm just doing the only thing I know to do, and that's to keep writing no matter what...

But how long has it been since I really, honestly believed? How long since I thought I saw a gnome in the grass or "knew" there was pirate treasure buried in the sand beneath my toes? Am I growing cynical? Calloused? I feel torn between two worlds and I can't keep my foot inside both of them. I don't know how. So do I have to just pick one? But I can't bear to lose the one I'll have to lose if I choose "reality." I am just not convinced that that's what's really real...

Sometimes I sort through my own thoughts by writing them down, and that's what this has turned into. So I apologize, to anyone who doesn't know me, or doesn't know me well. But I have been given this imagination that has made the traditional ideas of growing up very difficult for me. I have no problem with taking care of myself and paying my own bills and voting and doing my taxes. For someone as scatterbrained as I can be sometimes, I think I have done quite well with all of that in the past few years of making it on my own. But there's the other side of me... the one, I guess, that is supposed to be a writer, the creative side that I don't show to everyone, because let's face it, sometimes people don't handle it well.

I am out of control with my commas today. Wow.

Anyway... I am still searching for myself, I think. I didn't realize it until just now. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of who I am, but its not true quite yet. I know who I am in the real world, and I know who I am when I lose myself in imagination and creativity, but I have yet to merge the two successfully. Perhaps I am afraid of the clash of those two worlds. Or is it just the loss of acceptance that I fear?

Here's a thought. Maybe God has a plan. Maybe he even made me and loves me and therefore wants me to be successful, so he knows exactly what I need to do. Maybe he wanted a Jo in the world, after all, and I wasn't really a mistake, as I have so often despaired to believe.

But how do I get others to see it, too? How do you inspire a lost world to keep believing? So many have sold out, and given up, and forgotten who they were, or don't even know who they could be. And my heart bleeds for them. But, silly me, God would have a plan for them, too, now wouldn't he?

So I am going to work on the merging of the two worlds inside me, and trust that God knows, and God does. Maybe that's why I awoke to sunshine, and the feeling that life was about to get better.

I guess, if ever the Real and Creative worlds were to meet, it would make sense that they would be inside a very Real and Creative God...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rainy Day Blues

I won't deny it, I finally let the Melancholy get to me this week.

We lost our sunshine and warmth to the rain these past few days, and I've spent several evenings in a row alone now, and it finally just got inside me. Turns out drinking alcohol and watching even the most hilarious videos on YouTube isn't enough to fill the gap of human companionship. I guess I'm just plain, good old-fashioned lonely. And I don't mind admitting it anymore.

I realized it just a few hours ago, in the Wal-mart checkout aisle, when I found myself trying to make conversation with the girl at the counter. Not that there's anything wrong with talking to retail workers. I was in her shoes not so very long ago, and I always appreciated the people who treated me like a human being. But I realized I was talking to her because I was just desperate for a conversation. About anything. I guess that's what I get for taking an office job in a sea of cubicles where we're not supposed to speak to each other...

Sometimes I wonder if I'm going crazy. Seriously. My life really isn't that bad. So why is it my life is this bad? I was just reading my posts from just a few months ago, and I'm really doing well, considering. So maybe I'm just being dramatic. But I don't feel like I'm being dramatic. I just feel like I can't get my life together. I need someone's help. I think I'm supposed to say I need God's help. And maybe I do. But I don't know that I need God's help as much as I need other people. Is that sacrilegious or just ignorant? It is not my intention to be either.

Like right now. I need a backrub, and a good, long hug, and maybe even a free dinner. I need a real conversation, and maybe some laughter, and a good strong cup of coffee, and a new novel. And I need someone to help me clean my apartment, because I'm starting to believe it will never, ever, ever get done if I'm left to my own devices. And I'm depressed about it. I've been fighting this battle for a long, long time... it is never an easy demon to face.

My internet connection is lousy. It keeps cutting in and out and threatening to lose my unsaved work. I don't think losing this post would be such a loss. But I guess it's good to show the bad days along with the good. I am trying to learn to be real on paper, after all.

But I don't want to waste my words whining. There are definitely good things going on in my life. I just spent an atrocious amount of money on groceries, and unless my car breaks down or I have some sort of physical calamity, I'll never really notice a difference, because I finally have a good enough job that I can do that!

I really need time travel right now. I want to go back to my old apartment and find that scared little girl I was and give her a hug and tell her it will all be okay. Maybe six months from now I'll be reading this post and think the same thing all over again. Maybe I'll have some fantastic boyfriend by then, and a perfect relationship with Jesus, and my apartment, of course, will be spotless! :) Here's hoping.

But I know, from much experience, that rainy days pass.

It is nearly Friday. Just a few hours' sleep away from the last work day of the week. And then I get to go see Prince Caspian with my friends, and then whatever I find to do on Saturday, hopefully another convicting and encouraging Sunday, and then back to earning a living. I wonder how long I will do this? Will there ever be more to life again, or am I doomed to "independence" and coping with the daily grind?

A few weeks ago, I had a drink with a guy from work who told me I wasn't the kind of person who should be sitting in a cubicle figuring out people's medical benefits. He said I should join the Peace Corps and do my part to make the world a better place, or find some other way of using this deep heart in me. His words, not mine. I have been haunted by those words ever since... and I don't know what to do.

I have always wanted to leave this life behind and go somewhere and do something that everyone will think is crazy. It's just in me, and I'm not sure I'll ever silence that voice, even if I try. But then there's that part of me that has finally, finally found a place to settle, to rest for just a little while. And I waited so long for some rest, and a place that felt like home...

So there's the gypsy in me that will always want to travel and seek the new, and there's also the tired young woman who's way too young to feel this damn tired! Somehow I harbor both in my soul. And I really believe I need to rest for now, and maybe put down roots and see what happens.

Either way it is a risk. They are just different types. I am glad to know that I don't fear risk as much as I used to. Perhaps I am growing up a bit after all. I hope God hasn't given up on me yet. I'm pretty sure He doesn't do that, though, or we'd all be in trouble...

Just this week, one of my dear friends gave me a verse (from Psalm 103) that says: "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and filled with unfailing love."

I still can't wrap my brain around it. What would it be like to be "filled with unfailing love," I wonder, because all the "love" I've ever been given has failed me at some point. I suppose we are all messes and failures in some way... and that's why we need Perfect Love. God's love. Compassionate, merciful, not easily angered... unfailing.

Even on gloomy, melancholy, rainy days. That is a very comforting thought.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nocturnal Ramblings

I haven't written in a very long time, and I'm tired of staring at that same old post. So I'm going to do something about it! I suppose sleepy rambling is better than old news, right? I'll feel better about it, anyway.

So my life's been interesting lately. All sorts of things have been happening that I don't feel at liberty to post about just yet. I know, the mystery is killing you, right? :) All I'm saying is, I think God's doing some stuff. And if it's not God, man, am I gonna be in trouble!! But that's faith for you. Wow...

I just finished watching one of my favorite movies, Stranger Than Fiction, and I was reminded of how much I love writing. Everything from the act of writing, to the editing process, to reading what others have written (unless it's written poorly); I just love it! What exactly does that mean, though? Why am I not writing a novel by now? Am I just lazy, or am I supposed to trust my senses right now, when they tell me to hold off for a little while longer?

Who knows?

But I can't escape it. Writing is in me. There's nothing I can do. Like right now... I should either be cleaning up for the friend that's coming over to watch a movie tomorrow, or I should be going to bed, because I'm very, very tired. But neither of those things are happening, because the thought of a blank page came to me and I had a need to fill it up. Hopefully with quality literature, in good time, but for now it's just my general thoughts before I give up trying to motivate myself to clean up, and go ahead and fall asleep. Was that a run-on sentence? I'm pretty sure that was a run-on sentence.

Probably tomorrow, when I read this, I will be disappointed in my lack of creativity and meaningful words. Right now it feels cathartic, and possibly even brilliant. Why is it the next day always reveals your words to be less than inspired? It amazes me.

Here's hoping tomorrow reveals brilliance! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Beauty So Deep

Written: Saturday, April 19...

I love Saturday mornings best. And yesterday I just bought some new coffee beans that I've never tried before, so I'm pretty excited about brewing a pot of coffee here in a minute. I think Saturday mornings are kinda like my “Sabbath” even though I still go to church almost every Sunday. Saturday mornings are when I get to think through the week and hopefully figure out how to do the next one better.

But things have been getting better already. And the sun comes out nearly every day now, so the world has not been such a gloomy place. So whatever part of me that seems to go to sleep during the winter, like so many hibernating animals, must have just stirred and arisen with sleepy eyes and messy hair. I am not at my best yet. Give me time to wake up...

I should probably work out this morning. I haven't done as much of that lately. At least I got out to walk with Jennifer last week. It's just so hard to schedule that into an already busy schedule. Whoever thought I'd be busy like this? With friends, and a good job, and a place to myself? Last year at this time... I would have been struggling at Old Navy... and I think I would have been still searching for a place to live because Steph had moved out and I was still at the Meth apartment, paying $400 a month on an Old Navy salary. Boy, was that fun. But at least that place had a view and no roaches...

Wow. If you look at it that way, I've come a long way since then.

And I've been pretty hard on myself over the last couple of weeks. So... it's Saturday morning, and it's time to take a deep breath, let the weeks go, and start over...

They say that heaven is beyond our wildest dreams... and really, this Earth is still beyond my wildest dreams, and I've only been a few places around this old globe so far. So, I can trust that God's got something else up his sleeve that's waiting for us in the end. But... I still haven't done all the things I wanted to do here, and there's no way I could do it all in just a lifetime. And there is a sadness in that realization for me.

I guess that's what makes heaven so scary. I've had 25 years to explore this place, but heaven I know nothing about. I can make a few assumptions, like it won't be bound by time like we are, and there probably won't be night and day, because I think the Bible says heaven is always full of light. I wonder if I will miss the evening, though? The setting of the sun, or the misty stillness of morning? I wonder if I will still get to discover little creatures, if there will be texture, if there will be anything physical at all?

Part of me doesn't want to go. I know I complain a lot about this place, and I often mourn how sin has wrecked everything, how I had a lousy dad and how I don't have a boyfriend. But really... I mean, will there be coffee in heaven? And cats? And fuzzy socks? Fun earrings? If you never have “a bad day” will you appreciate people being nice to you or giving you a hug? Will there be a Grand Canyon or the ancient green hills of Great Britain? Will there be literature there? Is story really as timeless as we hope it to be?

I guess it all comes down to trusting that God knows what He's doing. I guess that's what faith really is, simply put. Not only that He knows what He's doing, but for some of us with weaker faith, simply that he is, in fact, doing something... I am still trying to grasp that one.

Honestly, though, I didn't get to see the Earth before the ravaging hands of sin had their way with it. And it is still saturated in beauty, though lying in ruins. So to see a place untouched by sin, to walk a pure and holy ground, to dance without self-consciousness, to laugh without fear of crying... I would like to go to that place. I would take a risk on God knowing what He's doing, in order to witness a beauty so deep as Heaven.

I suppose Heaven might be my reward for keeping my heart alive and not giving in to the calluses of cynicism and selfishness. Perhaps when we get there, after breathing our last sigh on Earth and shedding our mortal skins, our lifetimes here will just feel like a long, hard day that's finally over. I used to fear that I would forget this place, but maybe Heaven will be so beautiful and good that I will not think of this anymore by my own free will.

But for now... I must rely on hot showers, and good TV shows, and the persistence of the ocean's waves reaching out to shore, and good talks with good friends, to be my heaven. For now, I have to learn to trust that God is doing... something. And my time isn't finished here yet... so I should not give in to despair.

That is all I know to be right now.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On Faith

This is my last weekend without coffee. Wow. I am so glad that it's almost over!! I was just thinking how a nice, steaming cup of coffee would be right now, as I sit and write...

I decided to give up coffee for Lent, on the recommendation of a friend. She had explained the tradition and the symbolism in such a way that it seemed irresistable... at the time. And so I made the committment, and began the sufferring... a whole week early! =] Not intentional. So I've been off coffee for a good long while here, and I miss it terribly. But I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And now I think I can take a moment and be proud of myself, because I've almost made it! But it definitely wasn't easy. Coffee has long been my stress relief, and I've needed it this month. It has been a very rough month.

A lot of people have said that I've been negative lately. And I don't doubt it. The truth is I am overwhelmed, and so many things are out of my control, and I don't know what to do anymore. I have felt the flood waters rising up around my face, and I think it's only natural to panic a bit when you believe you're about to drown...

I have never really understood what we're supposed to be doing here, on Earth. I thought I was writing a story, but I've become angry lately at the story I seem to have been given. I feel like when I was ten years old and they got me that bike for Christmas... I'd had in my head that it was the purple bike with the sparkles that I'd asked for, and I was equally convinced that that particular bike and I would form a unique bond and that the two of us together created the right ingredients for magic. Like Harry Potter's wand that chose him. I knew that if I only had that bike, that I could fly... I truly believed it.

Then Christmas morning rolled around... but it was a pink bike with lolipops on it that greeted me. And that bike never let me fly. It was just a bike, and I was just a girl, and there was no magic. Now, in reality, did the pink bike do everything the purple bike would have? Probably, yes. But the believing nature in me isn't 100% convinced that the purple bike with sparkles wouldn't have been able to lead me to worlds unknown... even today I'm not fully convinced of the reality of the situation.

That is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and biggest downfalls. I have been accused of not having enough faith, but it is not the truth. The truth is that I have too much faith, but in the wrong things. I will believe something longer and deeper and more stubbornly than most people could ever fathom, much less act upon. Perhaps God gave me such a measure of faith to be a writer with, and the tragedy of it is, He's also had to watch me fall time and time again because I never turn that belief back around to him. I'll give it to some guy, or some cause, or some ridiculous notion, and then get devastated by "reality," all the while becoming less likely to trust the only one who is actually trustworthy...

So far it has been a deadly cycle. And a lot of things that I had been hoping in have fallen apart lately... so it's going to be even harder to resurrect what's left of my trusting heart.

So have I been negative lately? Probably. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, the warning that things really aren't okay under all this water... that my limbs have been growing weary for some time and that I won't be able to hold myself up for much longer... This is nothing new to me, so I am surprised to see a new group of people reacting so strongly to it. I guess this is just the first time some of them have recognized this particular struggle of mine... of having faith in everything but God.

There is much more to say, but I have a lot to do today, and I just needed to get some of this out of my thoughts. It's a process, this growing to trust God. I would love for it to be more of an instantaneous transformation, but it seems to be a long, slow process instead. So I guess there's nothing I can do except take the next step along the way.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Life is What Happens When You're Making Other Plans

You'd think that after 25 years of doing this Life stuff, I'd be able to tell kinda how things work on this planet and make some sort of accurate prediction about how things are generally going to turn out. But it isn't true. This week threw me a curve ball. And I've determined I don't like curve balls!

I've mostly made it out of the old apartment, because that had been such a bad situation that I just didn't want to be there anymore. It was worth the extra money to find my own place, and here I am. It all happened so quickly, though. And then this week happened, as well, and now I feel like nothing in my life is familiar at all. Which is perhaps a good thing. Maybe God knows things I don't know just yet.

But let's see... my second night in the apartment, my car was broken into and some irreplaceable stuff got stolen. One thing in particular that wasn't even mine, so I'm trying to figure out what to do about that. The timing, as always, was impeccable, because I had just had a discussion with an old friend about how to get said item back to him, and he had responded back with some anger... whether about the item or on a more personal note, I couldn't tell. But I was asked not to contact him anymore. I was still reeling from that request, unsure of what it meant and if I had done anything to deserve it. Then his stuff gets stolen from my car, and I pretty much feel like a worthless human being. *sigh* Sometimes I wonder if its ever worth it... but I can't get into all of that now.

They also stole my favorite coat. Is it dumb that I miss it? That I'm so upset about it? I know I have a lot of stuff, and clothes in particular, and let's be honest, I probably don't value or appreciate a lot of it the way I should. But I loved that coat. It was perfect for me in so many ways, and... I guess it just felt like a personal attack when it got stolen. Like someone was trying to hurt and violate me, not just get some stuff for free because they're too lazy to get their own job and buy their own stuff. I suppose I'm still a little angry about the situation. =] But I must remind myself that this green Earth we tread upon is not our eternal home, and we can't take our stuff with us when we go. I'm bad about getting attached to things and thinking they'll be around to make me happy forever. I'm bad about that with people too. I am constantly frustrated by the lack of permanence in this life.

So I was still dealing with the emotions of the break in, and all of that, when I got the flu and had to stay in bed for nearly 48 hours straight, with cold chills, and fever, and muscle pain, and vomiting... the whole 9 yards. So because of that, and other complications, I wasn't able to move the rest of my stuff out of the old apartment. I'm afraid my old roommate is going to be angry, and try to charge me more rent and all... I'm just ready to be done with it.

I guess you could say this was not my ideal first week in the new apartment. This wasn't really how I expected things to be. In fact, this whole year... this isn't really what I wanted for my 25th year of life. I had just always thought that things would be different. I guess I just need to bring my thoughts down from the clouds and plant them firmly into reality, so I don't keep getting hurt by my dreams and my life not matching up.

But there are good things happening in my world as well. This morning I woke up without fever (yaayy!) to the sun rising through the trees behind my apartment. MY apartment! No more people coming in and out doing whatever they want when they don't even live there. And that will be so refreshing. So I'm not ignoring that there are other things at work here, but its not wrong to grieve this lost world and allow yourself to hurt when you've been hurt by people you'd cared about.

Anyway, I've forgotten all about Daylight Savings Time, and now I'm going to be late to church!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I went to a Leap Day party this weekend. I had so much fun! Throughout the course of the evening, people would throw out quesions that everyone had to answer, and one of the questions that came up was: If you had to come up with the title for the story of your life, what would the title be?

Now the questions were all in good fun, and we made all kinds of jokes about what our titles would be. In fact, at one point we decided that my title could be: "He Said No!" because I had been joking about the cascade of rejection that had befallen me this week in regard to guys I know. It's been quite a bad week for me to be caring about people. I'm not really sure if I'm doing something wrong, or if I just need to stop trying to make friends with guys. I've had so many people tell me that that's just not a good idea, and I've ignored them for so long... and yet...

It is amazing to me... the power we have over one another. How the men in my life have affected me, motivated me, changed the way I see myself, changed who I want to be. By their affection or rejection, they have all had their say in the story of my life... they have all written their lines, for better or for worse. And I have written a line or two in their stories as well. It is scary to think about, really.

God gave us such power when he gave us one another. He made us so opposite and then said that we could live together, that we could marry and become one flesh and make babies together. And I wonder what he was even thinking sometimes, or how it ever works at all.

Who is he, I wonder? The guy that God will use to change the way I see? Who is the guy that will choose me over all the others? Who is the missing character in my story?

I love it when a couple has been married awhile, and you're having a conversation with one of them, and they're so intimate that they don't even use the others' name anymore... they'll just say "He was saying the other day..." or "have you talked to her about it?" and it always takes me a second to figure out who they're referring to, but in their mind there is no mistaking. I love that.

I want to be a "her" in a man's life. I want to find the "he" who will be so woven into my life story that he makes it into my sentences without need of a name.


The one willing to say yes to "will you take this woman...?"

The one who'll write this story alongside me.

They say I am a hopeless romantic. And it must be true. All I know is, if I had to pick a title, with that in mind, I would like to call it... He.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Singles Awareness Day

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be... spending the evening alone. In years past it has been torture, but I guess I've been maturing, finally. I know better how to handle my own heart these days, and I knew I couldn't sit around in my apartment, calling people and hoping someone would be able to hang out. I knew I just had to go...

I would have just driven all night if I didn't have to work tomorrow. I'm in a "driving kind of mood" tonight. I think I must have a little gypsie blood in me from some forgotten relative, because sometimes I just can't take it anymore. Sometimes I just have to pick up and go. And as much as I hate moving, the change usually does me good in the end. So maybe I'm just made to uproot and go as my world changes. Maybe I'm not meant to have a "home" persay, and that's why I've never found one. It's a thought, at least...

So I didn't have a date for Valentine's Day, and the world hasn't ended yet. I'm not entirely convinced that I'd have wanted one. I haven't been super impressed with the guys who've been interested in me lately. And I tend to really throw myself into the relationship when I'm in one, and right now I think I need to get used to living with me before I think about having someone else in my world. And yes... I am trying to convince myself while I'm typing this. =]

But over all, I am really doing well. It was a beautiful day, and there's nothing wrong with taking yourself out on a date every once in awhile. I went to see Spiderwick Chronicles, and loved it! I want to write stories like that someday... I wonder why I can't write them now? I'm still a mystery, even to myself.

Hopefully, the guy that finds me in the end will enjoy a good mystery/romance/thriller. =]

Great, now I've got Michael Jackson in my head for the rest of the night...

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Sometimes I wonder how my life gets to be such a mess before I've even realized it. I guess this is just the process of maturing, but I'm wondering how I got so far behind? I certainly feel like I'm behind if I'm not. I think I should probably stop being so hard on myself and just try to work with what I've got.

So often I feel like my life is only half-written. I'm not talking about how I'm still in the middle of the "story of my life," because hopefully God is really just getting started. But... you know when you start writing something... a song, or a poem, or a story... or maybe you're a painter, a sculptor, a mechanic... whatever your passion may be, but you just start doing something you love? And you have a vision for your creation, and the best of intentions for it to be awesome? And you work on it, and you're happy to work on it, and everything's going well. And then you put it aside for a little while, and think you'll get back to it? And then... you never get back to it? You find yourself a couple months later going: "I should get back to that thing..."

That's how my life feels right now. Like a room full of unfinished projects. And I don't know which ones I should start back up with, or which ones to throw away, or if I should just start new ones instead? I've got a lot of half-written dreams, and I don't seem to be able to finish them on my own. I'm not sure how to move forward with any of them...

I think I'm gonna be all artsie and symbolic and leave this one half-finished to prove my point!

Doesn't that just leave you longing for more?