Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, 2011.


I started reading through my 2011 journals a few days ago and I just had to stop myself. This year had some really heavy points... it wasn't until I was half way through my second journal (wrote 6 this year!) that I realized I was having a terrible time. Reading through prayer journals is always a bit taxing, but I realized this time that doing a full-blown annual reflection isn't a necessity every. single. year.

So after February, I read one entry from each month and kinda got the gist of my 2011 life. My attitude this week (before I sat down and did a proper mini 'reflection&thanks' session today) was "good riddance 2011!" But no way am I saying that now. Though I am eager to see 2011 go and 2012 come, I'm remembering some of the lessons God taught me this year and I'm realizing that they could not have been learned any other way.

In social news (or anti-social, you decide), I tried desperately to find New Year's Eve plans all week. I'm serious. I've exhausted just about every Southern California friend and connection I know trying to find something fun. I just wanted to wear my new purple dress, dance a little, and count down in a big crowd... but nothing came through, so I'm staying home and eating pizza with my parents. They birthed me and raised me so they are, in fact, worth hanging out with. Ok!

With all this said, finishing out another year has proven a little rougher than expected and I am ready for 2012. Ready to graduate and become a full-fledged adult.
Haha, is that what's gonna happen?
AND I happen to be incredibly grateful for the life God has given me. I'm grateful that he never sees any of my years as wasted. And I'm grateful for you, my readers. Thank you for reading and, in turn, offering me attention through awareness. You make writing for myHandH especially exciting for me!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 26, 2011

mirror-rorrim

I hope you and yours had a joyful Christmas day. Mine was pleasant... family and friends, a relaxed sleepy all day long (I tell you, all that refined sugar), and Luke 2 as our passage for the day.

So tonight I'm presenting the favorites from my mirror session! Photos by Jamie (I only wish she had her own blog... maybe I'll feature a few photos from her session soon). If you're tuning in just now and need further description on this mirroring deal, scroll down or click here. I'm gonna do my best to explain to you why each photo is important to my specific season of life. Ready??

Whenever I'm living or staying at home, I must hug my mom in the mornings. It's like standard procedure. Our family has a thing for hanging out in the kitchen in our pajamas. Getting the perfect breakfast together is one of my favorite things right now.

Ingredients for life? This season has brought along plenty of quirky health issues, including new discoveries about my low blood sugar. Whole foods, raw sugars, whole wheat... that's what I try to eat now and I love it.

The perfect morning includes good music, a tasty breakfast, coffee (with creamer), yoga pants, and quiet time ingredients (i.e. Bible, journal, pen)... I think morning will always be my favorite time of day.

This is my favorite way to feel comfort right now. Like the couch is swallowing me...at that moment, I was probably smelling my coffee, not actually drinking it. I smell just as much as I sip. Peace. Also, I like to eat one piece of toast with coconut oil & honey, the other with pure Irish butter and kosher salt...

Spiritually, I'm trying. I try to pay attention. I try to pray... and I know the Lord honors my efforts. I promise I wasn't aiming at this particular facial expression, but Jamie caught something very real.

When I first presented my mirror-rorrim request to Jamie, she was very receptive. I asked where she would want her photos taken and she said in the city 'cause she feels small right now. I thought, "perfect. perfect."

This is my belly-yum-yum dance. I invented it a couple months ago in my kitchen while baking a bacon cheesecake with my friend Jarrod. And I decided people would feel endeared toward me when I did this. It naturally comes out now whenever I dance... hopefully it passes? I can see myself now busting it out at a wedding.
{To my credit, I was dancing to "Belly of the Lion" by John Mark McMillan}

Dancing in the light. Sooo heaven. I just have to believe there will be this in heaven. It makes me so happy.

I've been very attentive while putting on makeup recently. I don't know how else to describe the experience. Not attentive to my appearance alone, but to my spirit... I pay close attention to how each alteration of my look affects my feelings of me. I try to find beauty in the process, not just the finished product.

Mascara is most fun. It's the one thing I put on (well, ok. 2 things: foundation and mascara) if I don't have time for "real makeup", which was most Mondays-Fridays this semester. Instant wake up! Fun fact: I can put on mascara without opening my mouth.

I'm so glad Jamie caught this. I make this face a lot in my mind but I don't think I ever knew just what it looked like. This face is anxiety masked in fast-paced living. Yikes, it is.

We went to the road that serves as our local 2 lane highway amidst big suburbs. I commute on this road from home to school, which means the semester I lived at home, I spent a lot of time here. It is beautiful. I love to roll down the windows on a sunny day and see just how green the grass can get. I got out and talked with the cows for a bit.

Every woman needs to be able to look at a proper photo of herself and say "I am beautiful". There's nothing easy about the above said task, but I believe this to be true! I am beautiful. Not only here... I am beautiful.
And I know I don't even have to describe the battle that rages on my insides when I utter such a phrase. I think you feel that too, whether you're woman or man.

When I get very excited, I can't contain myself. Here, excitement manifested itself in "Hi cows!" Whatever the situation (a surprise present from a friend, good coffee smells, the reality of God's grace, being on an airplane), I always wear excitement on my sleeve... or my face. It's good to feel excited at least once a day, I think.

So there you have it. Mirroring. Inspired by Shine**ing (look, look!)... and very, totally worth it. Thanks, Jae, for mirroring me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Mirror Christmas

Do you know about Shannon Leith? You can find her here.

Her new shine** portrait experience inspired Jamie and I to do a photo adventure with one another. We wanted to capture activities we love. We wanted to stay away from posing, though we threw some cheesy poses in 'cause we're both hammy. We wanted to look at ourselves the way God looks at his girls. Well, actually, that would be impossible because we can not fathom the extent to which God loves us, but we did commit ourselves to patience and grace. We set out the rule-- no blaming for vanity. "It is about you right now, so you've got to focus." We called our day-long photo adventure mirror-rorrim (hehe, get it?). The title was inspired by a professor of mine who said week after week this semester that "when we look at a spiritual friend, we see ourselves more clearly... as if looking in a mirror."

So yesterday we did our mirror sessions and today we looked through each photo, talked about what it "said", and did a bit of editing. Jamie and I usually follow the tradition of passing time together on Christmas Eve so it was perfect. Merry Christmas us!

Here's one photo... my favorite of the dancing ones (there's a lot of those).

I'll publish an album after Christmas. I think it's good for me to sit with the images, pray through some of them ("God, what do you see here?"), and carefully choose a good representation of me.

So Happy Christmas, everyone! Here's a great verse as click-away:

Now to the Lord, sing praises, all you within this place.
And with true love and brotherhood, each other now embrace.
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface,
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Traditions?


Let's talk about Christmas traditions... I'll make a little list:

Putting out the needle-point nativity scene in the family room. Baby Jesus fits into Mary's belly and the angel doesn't stand by itself anywhere except on Mary's head (in the angel slot). When I was little I would act out the story and always fly the angel to the scene as the big finish... "And then the angel came back to join the party!" (plop into Mary's head).

And... that might be it.

What?! Well, our family does do a lot of the same Christmassy things every year. And to their credit, we put on a fab Christmas Day (sounds very commercial, but it's really not). But my point is this: we don't have many tangible traditions. You'll notice that even my nativity tradition was self-generated. I sometimes seem to be the only family member who cares to painstakingly keep traditions. {Sis just pointed out that I am blogging while they bake cookies though... so I'm red-handed too.} I'm the one who cried when my parents decided the tree should go in a different location one year. I beg my mom to read "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve, though she protests that I'm too old. I argue that it's for the benefit of all.

Ok, wow, my family is great. Magnificent. Don't mistake me there. But here's what I'm wondering: is it something about being a youngest child? Having a family that's a little more laid back in the tradition zone, my youngest child needs seem to really emerge at Christmas time. I need more hugs, I want more attention, (I count presents shhh)... I desperately care about keeping traditions. Does that fit? Maybe.

Whatever the case, I suppose I can look at it in a different way. Our family has a tradition of keeping Christmas flexible. There's joy and freedom in that. And Jesus is supposed to be (and is) the center anyways, so I guess flexible works. He brings the necessary structure that will never die.

I'm gonna go put up the needle point nativity and then join my family for whatever it is they're doing next.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I hate the enigmatic goodbye.


Today is my sister and brother-in-law's 5th wedding anniversary. A significant day for them, of course, but also one which holds huge memories for me. I was 16, she was beautiful, the night was cold... Trans-Siberian Orchestra played as she walked under the big sign I had decorated as the dutiful and smitten Maid of Honor... Becca sang, I fluffed the dress, and Laura & Oliver rightly stole the rest of the show.

And as much as I'm celebrating their love (and their coming baby) in my heart today, I'm gonna talk about me again. Is that ok? The day after the wedding was strange. Out-of-town relatives were still around, wedding gifts needed a home, there was so much leftover food, for some reason I had a ton of homework... and meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-law were celebrating their 6th month of marriage. That's right, I "lost" and "gained" all my siblings in one year. 2006 was year of the Wedding.

I'm about to attempt a connection. I'm not feeling really expressive today. I feel more like emotions are stuck, all pent-up somewhere deep in me. So here goes: I'm all "hoorah" for the end of the semester, but I'm dreading this weekend when the hype of graduation and last-week things are over. I have to say goodbye to two good friends today; two more tomorrow... all four of which are moving away for good, basically. I have to decide when I'm moving home (always feels super stupid to me to "move home" for 6 weeks). And I'm afraid that with all of these goodbyes and silly endings (some sillier than others... like~~what do I do with my Christmas tree?), closure will lack. Jesus has been teaching me that closure is not always necessary or even Biblical. But still, there's an anxiety in my heart to please everyone by being good at goodbyes and transition.

Ugh. I care about YOU. This isn't about me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Soundtrack for a final final


I just took my one and only final of the semester, my final final... after sleeping a 5 hour night. I get sort of proud of myself when I stay up late to study because I just don't live up the college life all that much. Though I'm half afraid a professor will email me at some point this week saying, "Hey you're the only student who didn't turn in a term paper. What's up?"... I am pretty sure that's irrational. Funny since Albert Ellis, resident rational thinker himself, has been my companion for the past 24 hours.

As I took my test, this battle song 'raged' through my mind... leftover from a joyous Christmas concert at church last night. I love the truthful irony Robert Southwell used in composing this ancient(ish) cannon--{1500s, ancient?}. Enjoy!

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows made of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The Angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul with Christ join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

P.S. Try singing those last two lines on stage without giggling...

P.P.S. Image=Peaceful Rain by Daniel Wall... found it an am feelin' it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Issue #721


Right now, I need Explosions in the Sky. I need it on full blast and I need to be articulate. If I'm not, I think something very bad might get stuck in my soul. Not that I'm superstitious... souls don't work that way. My soul has been freely surrendered to Christ, but in the past few days, my freely captive soul has experienced upheaval. Questions, new struggles I previously called foreign, some trauma, a lack of outlet, "outlet" in the strangest of places, really good friendship, really hard long-distance pains (kinda like homesickness).

And I'm sorry, but unless you know me, this post won't feel very articulate or satisfying to you. But I need it articulated for me. Something...not life-changing, not devastating, but real and hard happened and from it has come a real lostness. Physical is never just physical. There's a reason we were created the way we were, with our hearts so closely connected (physiologically and emotionally) to our brains. Nothing physical goes unnoticed by the circuits of emotion running through our bodies. Nothing ordinarily painful get passed up by our spirits... they (our physical bodies, emotions, souls) are like little old ladies at the back of a Mid-Western Baptist church gossiping up a storm about YOU.

"Ok ladies, what does this mean? How is Christine? What does this situation do to her here? How will it affect that relationship there? Long term? What kind of a memory will this become? Let's work together now."

Last night, in feeling very alone, yet knowing only Christ could be perfectly what I so wanted someone else to be for me (and with my blessed professor's voice in my head, saying, "Don't look to others to fill what only Christ can. It's disappointing.")... with all that going on, I took a drive. Not a long drive up a mountain, though I was craving such an adventure. Nope, just a drive down an average street. I wanted to loose myself. I wanted to blast music (not Explosions that time; different mood), forget physical pain, be alone, and blow off steam like a man. It wasn't until I started driving that I realized I was angry. Deeply angry. Angry and disappointed with people. Angry with the way society works. Angry with... myself, perhaps.

And you know what? Anger is a downright ok feeling. It can be really productive.

But loneliness is not an ok feeling. Almost everyone knows what it's like to be in a crowded room, yet to feel all alone. You might not think so, but I think many, especially extroverts (yes), have actually been there. And as an introvert myself ("the lonely place" kind of person), I'm telling you that loneliness is not ok because it shouldn't be real. I think that's the difference between anger and loneliness. Anger should be real... there are things that make everyone angry. The world is a fallen place which necessitates real anger from any thinking person. Loneliness shouldn't be real. The presence of Christ, for a Christian, should always satisfy, but it does not always work that way... and there is the dissonance that drives me crazy.

However, my crazy head and longing heart are rooted deeply in truth, due to Jesus' extreme mercy. And that's why in situations like "this", ha... I can cry out to him. I say (with but an ounce of emotion backing up the sentiment of my words), "Lord fill in the gaps. Be everything I'm craving and needing right now. Satisfy everywhere." And he hears and he answers and sometimes I don't know how. But that same crazy head and longing heart are "sane-ized" and comforted and it becomes ok. He will never let me go, nor will he let me stand next to a challenge too big for my own dealing.

This is not meant to be a neat ending to a confusing and embarrassing problem, but it looks like that's maybe what's happening. I'm becoming more and more ok with messy interludes. My best friend, closure, is getting the cold shoulder oftener these days.

But alas, Christ is all. He came in and comes in and will keep coming every night until this is over... and he fills all my stupid gaps. Hallelujah.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Annual

Tonight is my second annual Sleighbell Sisters' Soiree all-girls Christmas party. And I have a lot to do... so why am I here? I guess this is just my de-stressing (oft confused with distressing) outlet.

I was thinking last night as I hung the banner outside my apartment door... "what if I get to the 50th annual Scubed party?" I'll be 70 years old. Oh my! That got me to thinking of all the things I may be doing at 70 and, much to my surprise, I felt really excited about that future. Though I have no idea who I will marry, how many children I'll have, if I'll really end up living overseas or not... I know that when I'm 70, I will still have girlfriends and I will still love Christmas. Amazing.

So here's to keeping (and starting) traditions.

Little Levi (our honorary male at the Soiree last year)... it's as if he's saying, "Oh my gosh, it's CHRISTMAAAS!!!"