Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crazy, Wide Eyes, with a Glue Gun in My Pocket

In my mind, I believe myself to be fairly creative.  Behind it I have a terribly wicked (not wicked-evil- wicked, but wicked "cool" wicked.....Is it even cool to say wicked now? Oh, whatev) imagination.  I'm not sure where it came from, but I'm sure it's part hereditary, part Nancy Drew, part Ramona, and, well real life! (Sometimes real life is too crazy it canNOT be imagined!)

I have been known to be found sitting on the floor (My first favorite place to sit in my living room is the floor) and to be surrounded with crafting supplies and materials and pictures.

My creative crafting side, unfortunately, has been thwarted over the last few years as I made a decision in the Spring off 2008 to go back to school.  As if all the years from Kindergarten through 12th grade in High School, and then 4 additional years of college were not enough, I determined that I needed a second dose of literacy torment.  I am 1 test, 2 partial classes, and 1 assignment away from being finished with this second dose of schooling.   I. Am. Ecstatic.  Summer is right before my eyes and I have visions of running and biking, writing, and crafting to my little heart's contentment all bouncing around in my head.

In addition, the internet, Facebook, and more importantly Pinterest (Oh, Beloved Pinterest) has opened my eyes to a whole gamut of ideas and projects.  Did I mention I was ecstatic??!?!

However, there is this tiny, tiny, teeny tiny speck, that is anticipating that I will miss school, miss the learning and the challenges.  How will I fill my time? What's it like to be a regular working person, and not a regular working person, and a full time college student??? I do not remember!!

Tonight, I spoke with my school mentor (my school adviser in short) about my plans for finishing up and my dreams of what's next.

"My mom has already threatened myself if I enroll in additional classes right after I'm finished...."

She laughed.  Then she stated the following statement, "You know that there is a Masters Program you can enroll in. It's only four classes. Not a standard Masters program. Six months and you're finished. Nothing compared to the classes you are completing now..."

Instantly, my mind starts moving and calculating.  Could I?  Should I? Did my mom really threaten me with physical violence?  Can my friends handle me, crazy, wide eyed, and homework laden for a few more months?  Maybe. Perhaps, just maybe.

First things first, before I move to the next task, I should finish my current program.  Then afterward, perhaps I should get elbows deep into a few fun projects, live as a regular worker person for a while and then decide. 

Crazy, wide eyed with a glue gun and some scissors, or sleep deprived and buried in a bed of books?  Both of the ideas are calling out to me.

For now, I better ignore them both, I've got some sleeping to do.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Moving Forward, Living Backwards

Grace loved life. She loved the smell of grass when it was freshly mowed. She loved flowers and books and her friends. Of course, she loved her family too. She was happy.


Days could be difficult at times. She would wake up in the morning, and would get ready, the same as everyone else. She would have her shoes on her feet, and her backpack would be secure, and off she would go to school. She knew without a doubt that she would meet her friends at the corner and they would walk to their school building and the day of learning would begin. Life should have been good.

However, Grace's trouble began first thing in the morning. She would get out of bed, and on her way to the bathroom, would run into the wall. She would typically miss the bottom two steps of the staircase and land in a heap on the floor. She would trip over stones down the sidewalk. Cars would honk as she would be approaching and entering into the cross walk. Grace realized no one else had this difficulty. No one else was running into the wall. No one else was falling down the stairs. No one else was tripping over stones, and cars would not honk at her friends. The trouble with Grace? She walked backwards.

Backwards. Everyday and everywhere. Grace could not remember exactly when she started walking backwards. She did remember that it began the morning after a wonderful day. The day was bright and full of memories and laughter. Grace enjoyed that day so much that she turned around backwards all day long, every day, so that she could better remember it.

Other days came and went. She would have moments, seconds, minutes, maybe hours of greatness, but something was always holding her back from real bliss. While moving forward, Grace was living backwards. She was living in the past, walking through the future, missing every new and wonderful moment that would present itself. She did not see where she was going. She only saw where she had been and where she could never go again.

Grace missed being happy and laughing with her friends. How to solve the issue? Grace walked around thoughtfully, before she made a decision. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she would not walk backwards. She would move going in the right direction.


How many of us can say that we do the same? We lay in bed and remember what happened yesterday or last week. It could have been a wonderful, delightful event, but living in the past, prevents you from really living today and in the future. Maybe the event was torture. There is pain in the past, so much so that you are afraid of what would come next. However, living in the past prevents you from receiving wonderful blessings- and healing.

It is not easy. Life. It meets us head on each moment we open our eyes. However, there can be joy in the morning. There can be peace in the middle of a storm. Ask me how.

One thing's for sure though, driving down the road, staring only at the rear view mirror, will always land you in the ditch.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mirror, Mirror.....

So not too long ago, (yesterday actually!) I had one of "those" days. You know the days, when despite how you really are looking, you feel like you look like you have green hair, and a big gigantic nose, and, two big feet and well...I'm sure you get the point.

Then, I remembered this:

"Your beauty that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which of great worth in God's sight."

1 Peter 3:3,4

Could that be true? Honestly? The fact that I could be beautiful, DESPITE the warts and the frizzed hair? And, then God says, yup- that could be true.

Which that makes me think, how often does my inside shine outwardly and reveal my TRUE beauty? Often times, I think instead of showing beauty I show an uglier side (even worse than a bad hair day).

I am guilty. I am guilty of an ugly attitude. I am guilty of a frown, not only fixed on my face, but it is also evidenced by a wrinkle that makes its appearance whenever I crinkle my forehead. I will make a face, and roll my eyes. I will have an attitude at times that is anything, anything but beautiful.

So what is the fix? I can always put a masque on my face- but there's not a "masque" for my heart. I can buy a new shirt and don a new pair of shoes, but I cannot dress my heart in the latest fashions... The heart cannot wear Prada.

What is the answer to the ugly heart? The true fix for the wrinkle in the forehead? Who can truly put a sparkle in the eye?

"You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Ephesians 4:22-24

In other words, it is time to change the wardrobe I tend to wear: the bad, cranky attitude, the selfish desires, and the like- all those things that WILL NOT appear beautiful when looking in the mirror. In its place, I need to clothe myself in a new attitude. A brighter attitude, wrinkle free, all smiles and patience.

That being said, we may think a brand new shirt is a good idea, however, a shirt is not necessarily going to make someone beautiful.

But Jesus will.

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." -Anais Nin

Monday, April 16, 2012


Summer was my best friend. We were three. She was naughty. We were always in trouble, and it always pointed back to her.

I was, of course, an obedient child. Rest and nap time meant just that- you were to rest, and to nap. But, who am I to argue when adventure came calling. It did come that afternoon. My eyes were closed, and I was practicing my resting when a voice, a broken, hushed, whispered voice spoke. "Stephanie!"

"Is it you, Lord?"

The Lord did not answer, however, Summer did.

"Stephanie! Stephanie! It's me, Summer! I'm hiding under the bed!" That should have been a sign right there. Somehow she had escaped her parents' bedroom, successfully made it down the hall, into her own room, and under the bed (where I was), all without being detected. Clearly Summer really wasn't interested in napping, or resting. It didn't last. We were caught. It would be hard NOT to get caught when you are only three, and you are missing from your assigned location.

We would eat at Cherries, an ice cream shop, with a ball pit. (It was, I'm sure absolutely disgusting. Those things creep me out now- but, eh, we were kids- what did we know?!)

My family moved to Indiana, but then we would travel across the country, back to Texas, and I would see Summer. By then, naps were out. Fire was in.

The house was ours. We were twelve. Granted, her parents were still in the same building, they were just sleeping. That left the two of us with free range...except, not quite. "I'm not allowed to use the stove, without my parents, you know. But, I could go for some bacon right now."
Who doesn't want bacon at 11 at night?

No stove? No problem.
Summer was quick. She cut up a few pieces of bacon, pulled out some foil, a plastic (yes plastic) lunch box, and some matches. Carefully, she laid the foil on the lunch box, placed the bacon on the foil and lit a match. I do not remember how the next steps went, but I do know that one of us held the lunch box (probably me) while the other (probably Summer) held the lit match underneath the lunch box, directly under the foil. The bacon was sizzling and cooked in a matter of minutes. Not bad, Summer, not bad.

Let's face it people, I'm a pale girl. I have freckles. I burn. Summer loved the sun. We would iein the driveway and work on "our" tans. Let me rephrase, Summer would iein the driveway and work on her tan. I would have a book, be wearing a towel to protect myself from the harsh UV rays threatening to speckle my pale skin, and pray for cloud coverage.

Somewhere, some moments after that, months or years later, we lost contact. She was there, and I was elsewhere. The letters stopped, and the phone calls and the visits. And, it was okay. It wasn't the type of painful breakup friends can experience. It wasn't on purpose- it just was.

I think about Summer, my friend. I have no pictures that I can find, but I have her memory. I still have it tucked away, the songs we would sing (while dancing) on my front porch (until we got in trouble for being inappropriate- once again, we were only three), I have her house in my mind, and her naughty smile when she came up with a great idea.

So in thinking about Summer today.... I hope that wherever you are, you are happy, and that you are well, and I hope that life has been a wonderful adventure.

AND, I hope you don't hide under the bed anymore......I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Truth Behind a Lie

I was sitting at the lunch table in 6th grade, middle of the cafeteria, and I knew I didn't belong. I knew it. They definitely knew it. At that moment, I was just praying I could go unnoticed. It didn't last long though. They did notice, and I was thrown into the wild that is known as Middle School.

I survived middle school, miraculously, with all my limbs intact. (Although, as many know, I was a few strands of hair lighter come the end of 8th grade.) I even made it through high school reasonably well, if you ignore the purple pants/red sweater era.

There are things that I left rot in halls of my good ole Alma Mater (the purple pants, for one, strange nicknames for another). However, some things just follow along.

How do you explain or disregard things that you believed to be truth ? I could not. What I had always known to be the case, continued to be the case through college, and even after I graduated, and set off in the big world, and finally, eventually, found my way to the Land of Lincoln they still remained.

It is amazing how separated I can be from the past, and yet in an instant, I am back there again, at that same table, not quite belonging, but not sure of where else to go. What I knew then, and what I know now, I don't quite fit in.

I have beautiful friends. It cannot be helped that I have good taste (ha!). Truthfully speaking, however, I really do have beautiful friends. Most of them do not know it, but as someone has lived in a shadow for so long, I can see clearly the others who live in the light. It was not hard to see the attention that they received, and for me, it was not hard to know why I did not. I was a mess. People told me. You may not think it's true, and I don't think they meant to either, but they did tell me. They said so in ways that didn't always need words, but the words did come. The sad part is, they may/probably don't even remember. It's all too unfortunate that I remember now.

"Oh, well, Stephanie, I guess she's prettier than that person- who, really isn't pretty at all."
Or, "Not lookin' so frumpy today?"
Or, "Well, that person got married, so what's wrong with you?"
Or, "Stephanie, you are plain- pretty."

If I had been braver, or bolder, I would have known what to say in response. I did not know. I still do not know an appropriate response. All I know is that I have believed those things to be true for a long time.

Not that I do not try. I do try. I try and try and try, and then I fall short. I have filled my closet as I have filled my head with the clothes and the thoughts that if I can just perhaps dress better, wear taller shoes, have a different style, I will make up for all my other shortcomings, and then perhaps, perhaps, people will like me. Perhaps someone will take note of the very me that I have tried to be for so long. Perhaps someone will believe in me enough to let me grow to be that person I so want to be. But, I'm still here at the end of a long day. An actually great day, struggling.

What is the truth? The truth is that the heart is important. The truth is that how I treat other people, how I care for other people, how I love other people- that is what matters. The truth is, there is only one me, and that God did create me on purpose with a purpose, and He wants me to believe that and to go out and be a light for Him. The truth is, it shouldn't matter how I look on the outside (as long as I don't smell), but that I should focus on the inside. The truth is.... I struggle to live with the truth.

Tonight, I'm going to go to sleep.

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up, and charge into the world, and attempt to make my way. Tomorrow I'm going to work on believing the truth- again. Tomorrow I'm going to work on having a good heart, and loving people, and having patience, and practice all those other things that I know I should do. I am going to have my priorities straight, and have a calm heart and a determined mind and be okay.

Tonight, I am going to throw away the Kleenex (not the whole box, of course, that would be silly), turn out the light and sleep.

Tomorrow. We'll see what happens tomorrow.