Sunday, March 30, 2008

Song of the Week

I've been hooked on this song for a week now. When I think about upsides of the internet, music definitely makes my top three list. Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

p.s. I'm grateful for the three plus hours I had with my friend Chasie yesterday. I've missed her!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm a Rock Star

And if you'd like to be a rock star, all you need to do is go to an elementary school dressed like this:

One of my favorite parts of my job at PTM is going to the local schools our students attend. I oversee our Lunchmate Mentoring Program (an adult eats lunch with one of our students each week in their cafeteria), so I like to check in with our mentors and visit with our students during lunch. The students are excited to see me (in part because they hope I've come to introduce them to a "lunch buddy"), which is fun, and I just love the energy of elementary schools. Today I'm wearing the shirt to the right, so numerous students "know" me and want hugs, although I've never seen them before and have no clue who they are. I guess our shared love of Cookie Monster crosses over any potential boundaries.

Speaking of monsters, my niece Lauren and I were cupcake monsters on Monday. We made cupcakes for her sister Alaina while she was in school, and it seems Lauren shares my affinity for frosting. She just licks it off the top of the cupcakes and is finished! Here's some of our creations:

Life is good.

p.s. I'm thankful for the awesome Easter service I attended on Sunday in Calhoun. It was a great opportunity to worship, and it's exciting to see how the Holy Spirit is working in that church in individuals and in the corporate body.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay..."

In high school I'd put this song on repeat as I fell asleep. As I got ready for school I'd listen to "Betterman," and before each cross country meet I'd listen to "Even Flow" and "Alive" in mental preparation. I managed my way into a mosh pit at their concert in Charlotte when I was 18, and it was definitely the highlight of my life up until that point.

While I no longer have the angst that once fueled my love of Pearl Jam, music is still a really important part of my life. It energizes, inspires, and can even depress me. Thus an interesting part of dating for me is learning someone's musical tastes. Carter SHOCKED me by being unable to name a single Pearl Jam song; he even looked at a list of their songs online, and none rang a bell. He later recognized a song or two on a CD I made for him, but still we're living in very different musical worlds (e.g., he doesn't have an ipod/MP3 player, and he only owns (maybe) four CDs that I like). Fortunately he's more open to my musical taste than I am to his, and we can easily agree on U2 and Christian music.

I think part of the difference in our musical preference is our age difference. I'm 29 (and still cannot believe sometimes that I've reached such a grown-up seeming age), and he's 37. Eight years isn't a big difference in my mind given our ages, but for the first time, I feel like I'm dating an adult. I'm dating someone who has his life more together than I have mine. He's not calling me twice a day for advice or unable to discuss complicated issues in a mature, thoughtful, and educated way. In the first few months, it was a bit intimidating. Anyway, I digress; that's another post all together.

So here's another thing that may be age related: short sleeve buttoned up shirts (but at least not the white ones some men wear with suits) and sandals. Suffice to say that I'm glad we started dating in the late fall:)

Am I the only person who finds these types of "sandals" to be an incredible eye sore? When are these better than the faithful Rainbow flip-flops that every other guy I know wears? Although I don't put short-sleeve button up shirts in quite the same category as "sandals," I find a Polo or long sleeve button up with the sleeves rolled up to be much much better. I'm definitely not a fashionista by any stretch, so I'm curious if I'm alone in these opinions. If you're dating someone with an age difference, I'm curious to read about what differences you've encountered too.

Fortunately Carter and my similarities in more important areas far outnumber our differences. And as soon as I'm done with my CLE in Atlanta on Friday, I get to see him:)

p.s. I'm grateful that Buckhead Church is having a Good Friday service and that I'll be in the ATL for it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Signature of Divine

Yesterday was such a glorious day. Perfect weather. It was even more glorious because I was finished at work in time to have an hour of daylight at Radnor Lake. Despite bringing my ipod with me, I never put the ear buds in, and I almost strolled. I spent ten minutes or more sitting on a bench, watching the sunset. I thought and prayed and breathed. And oddly I left the lake feeling restless. That restlessness makes me both want more still quiet time and not want it.

And "Restless" is the name of my current favorite Needtobreathe song, and one that they did not sing last night at their concert. If you don't know the band, check them out at this link. You might know them from their song "More Time" that was on the P.S. I Love You soundtrack. I like their lyrics, sound, and energy. I like that the ticket to the concert only cost $12 and that we could have stood next to the stage if we'd really wanted to. We even chatted with the lead singer afterwards. For those of you in Georgia--they're playing in Atlanta Friday night at Smith's Olde Bar.

p.s. I'm grateful for wisdom. Although I'm by no means wise, I've learned a lot in the past few years and am constantly appreciating how much more joy-filled and relatively drama-free my life is. So perhaps there is an upside to aging:) and definitely an upside to seeking God's will instead of my own.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Porn

As I finished up what was probably my fifth Krispy Kreme doughnut of the day last Thursday, it occurred to me how much warm (7 seconds in the microwave) Krispy Kreme doughnuts are like pornography. Yeah, I know I’m weird.

The most obvious parallel to me is that they are both addictive. The more doughnuts I eat, the more I want. . Whether I’ve eaten one or four, it’s rare that I feel satisfied. The momentary good feeling from consuming one just makes me selfish for more. It reminds me of my buddy who was looking at internet porn up to ten times a day. Despite the sexual release that came with the first viewing of the day, he wasn’t satisfied by it. In fact, he really wasn’t satisfied by the tenth viewing either. The bottom line is that scratching the itch doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it often just makes it itch more. I guess that’s the tolerance effect of addiction (or sin as the case may be). I wish I could eat a doughnut and think “man that was good. I won’t need another dessert for at least week.” Unfortunately I’m not wired that way.

The funny thing about Krispy Kremes is that sometimes eating five or six leads to both good and bad feelings (although the knowledge of the bad feelings is rarely enough to help me refrain:). I feel overly full and gross afterwards (although sometimes I don’t, and the consumption is just like a drop in the bucket). I know that some people who view internet porn have the same conflicted feeling.

I do not know the scientific expressions to describe how KKs make me feel, but when I eat one I feel differently—happy chemicals course through my body; it’s much more than just a good taste. I imagine looking at pornographic images has the same effect on some people (remember the Grey’s Anatomy episode when the patient watched porn to relieve pain?). Hormones or chemicals or something are released upon viewing the images.

Another way these two are similar is shame. Both gluttony and porn can result in feelings of shame. It’s a feeling of hating what you’re doing—yet not hating it quite enough to stop or actually being unable to stop on your own—even if it means you end up losing your job (because you were caught downloading porn at work).

So now you know what’s bouncing around in my head these days. Oh, when I shared my thoughts with Carter, he suggested I listen to a sermon entitled “The Gospel According to Krispy Kreme” and draw some different parallels....which reminds me that I’m either enslaved to sin (which can be so addictive like KKs and porn) or enslaved to God (which breaks that cycle of shame, pleasure, etc.).

p.s. I’m thankful for a fantastic weekend with my family. Jumping on the trampoline with my nieces and Carter, visiting with my Aunt Rene, games with my sister and Billy Bob, spending time with my mom and dad, and an awesome drive back Sunday morning with sunshine and great music and prayer made for a lovely time.

Monday, March 03, 2008

And Just Like That....

the funk was gone. Unfortunately it took the better part of the weekend, but finally early Sunday afternoon I was back to normal.

Carter and I went to dinner Friday night, trying Bound'ry per Citysearch's recommendations. I called ahead to make sure it served apple martinis. The menu was fun with tapas, tasting, and entree sized portions, and I liked the fireplace near our booth. I hoped the martini might help the mood, but I don't think it did. I did manage to keep pretty quiet, which is unusual for me. After dinner we went to Christ Cathedral to hear a variety of musicians perform some of Bach's work; one guy whistled "Ave Maria," and it was surprisingly good.

Saturday my self-centered funk seemed to escalate with my mind being filled about 60% of the time with negativity and criticism--pretty much all directed at Carter. It's only by the grace of God that the ugliness playing through my head didn't ooze out more than it did. Again I kept quiet, which created a tension of sorts, but it was much better than anything that would have come out of my mouth. Every other thing Carter did annoyed me. For example, I baked cookies, and he stood in the kitchen while I got started, and I was seriously irritated. And each irritation just led to me creating a longer list of his bad traits.

Crazy. You know how people talk about rose-colored glasses? It was like I had on black colored glasses and saw Carter through a hateful filter. Throughout the day there were times I would start to enjoy him like normal, and then bam he'd breath the wrong way and I'd snap back into hyper-critical mode.

Thankfully Carter was very patient, understanding, and seemed to roll with it all incredibly well. Saturday night I prayed that God would lift the black cloud off of my heart and that He would help me see His beauty in Carter. I prayed that I would seek God’s will in this relationship and not focus on my selfish and ugly desires. I prayed that the Spirit would fill me with love and compassion and guide me in all that I do. I had to make myself pray that when all I wanted to do was write pages and pages in my journal about what annoyed me about Carter. And yes, I realize this sounds straight-up ridiculous and crazy.

Despite strongly implying that I didn't want him to come, Carter showed up for the Sunday school class I lead, and then we attended church (at another church) together. The sermon was on being judgmental, which was perfect given how busy I'd been judging Carter. Condemning someone is so much easier than loving him, and it's completely opposite of the example set by Christ. Reading scripture, fellowship, and worship seemed to help my heart thaw, and by the time we were done with lunch, I was back to normal and so very glad to be with Carter. The rest of the day was fantastic, but I couldn't help but regret how much of the weekend was squandered by my funk. It's like I missed out on really being with Carter. Oh well, ten lovely hours are better than none. And I found something new to admire about Carter (his patience and understanding despite my irrational mood), and we had a really meaningful and emotionally honest (not my strong suit) conversation last night.

And today I've reflected on the entire funk situation, and it sort of scares me. It scares me that my perception could be colored so ugly. It saddens me that there have been times in my life that that sort of judgment may have been the rule rather than the exception. It scares me that sin can so easily fill me up to the point of completely coloring my thoughts and feelings.

But at the same time I have so much hope and gratitude. How awesome to see God's patience reflected in someone else. And how awe-inspiring it is to trust in God and rely on the Holy Spirit. And while sometimes life seems harder as a Christian, times like these remind me of how much I need a savior and how much I need grace--and how blessed I am to have both in Christ Jesus.

p.s. I'm thankful for you guys. Your prayers, comments, encouragement, and e-mails really helped me.