Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Survival Tips: Homework

How To Survive When Your College Algebra Professor Assigns 90 Minutes of Homework Due The Next Day: the blog post I never thought I would write. The very idea sounds horrendous and inconceivable.

Trust me. It happens. Most professors are great about not pulling stuff like that, but sometimes it happens. In that case, here're a few tips and tricks for surviving the night.

Step 1: CHINESE FOOD. I think I heard something about everybody freaking out about "cultural appropriation" and stuff, but I'm not even kidding here. All respect to the Chinese people for coming up with the perfect homework food. My personal favorite is sweet and spicy chicken, and my friend Syl never fails to deliver. He knows me so well that I walked in, explained the situation, and the first thing he said was, "Well then you'd better grab a coffee out of the cooler." ALWAYS TAKE HIS ADVICE.

Step 2: get the foods home. That could be tricky, if you're an utter klutz like me. But it's okay. You can do it.

Step 3: ditch those work duds. They won't help you here. What you need is a solid Gilmore Girls T-shirt and some comfy pajama pants.

This is one of my favorites, and it comes from Kindred Handicrafts on Etsy.

Step 4: If you're like me, your room is basically a mess from January to December. If you're like me, messy rooms stress the ever-living-daylights out of you (paradox much?). So before we get cracking, we have to make sure that the stress level is lower. Don't clean it, just cover it. Out of sight, out of mind.
See that big blanket pile? That's covering up about nine days of dirty laundry (don't judge). I'm not dealing with it, I'm just hiding it.

Step 5: COFFEECOFFEECOFFEE. Start that coffee pot, even though you've got the coffee with your Chinese food. You'll need it. Trust me.


Progress.

Step 6: While that's doing it's thing, pull out your laptop and get that set up. You're also going to want headphones and a good YouTube playlist.



As you can see, it's also crucial that your headphones match your laptop. Nothing works otherwise.

Step 7: You'll need all your homework books. All of them. Not just the problem child of the night. Keep them all on hand because you might need a distraction for a few minutes.

Now you're ready.
Get cracking!

**Note: I still stayed up till eleven thirty working. Coffee was important. I told you so.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Testify

I've debated writing this for about three months now, because parts of the story aren't even really mine to tell at the moment, and sharing these things with you feels vulgar and dark. I don't like sharing pain. I'll share yours in a heartbeat, but I'm much better at dealing with my pain by myself.

But it's time.

So for starters, if you're not familiar with NEEDTOBREATHE's new (ish) song Testify, go listen to it after the jump. (I have no rights to the song, you just need to hear it. Hurry. We'll wait.)

So.

It's the second week of January and I've just left the house to take my sister to dance after sitting on the couch watching my world fall apart at the seams. And I'm angry. I'm angry and scared and my mind is racing and driving is just almost more than I can do because there's so much going on in my head.

I drop her off and then I'm just sitting in the back parking lot at TDA trying to think and it's not working. Trying to rationalize and find the good side of "my mom has a tumor growing in her neck and it might be cancer and they're going to operate in two weeks to take it out."

(okay. typing that felt really good. because there was no good side. nothing.)

And then my bell goes off to tell me I need gas. I can handle that.

Twenty bucks later I'm sitting at the stoplight and KLOVE is playing Danny Gokey's More Than You Think I Am and that feels nice.

Feels like holding me together. Feels like "okay, God, You say You're more than this so make it go away, You're gonna make a miracle, You have to."

(because when your mom might have cancer you kind of just get so freaked out that you find yourself trying to tell God what to do.)

And I can't go home, I just can't, because she's there and the tumor is there and the sadness is there and I'm not ready yet.

I feel a little evil for feeling that way, but it's true.

And then I'm driving, west, and it's dark and the stars are flickering like little tiny sparkles and I should be thrilled to see them but I barely even notice.

The road curves south and the song changes, now it's Hawk Nelson singing about Diamonds, singing about how all of this pain is just turning me into something beautiful like a diamond and that feels nice.

Feels like "okay if I'm going to be a diamond then Mom's going to be okay and we're going to go back to normal and it's all going to be fine."

My blinker clicks softly like a metronome beneath the bass drum of the music and then there's tears, then I'm pounding the steering wheel like those girls in the movies, and I'm parking on the side of the road because I can't flipping see through all of these tears because nobody can say it's gonna be okay. Because this can't be my life. Because I can't be this girl.

Ryan Stevenson picks up where Hawk left off, reminding me about the Eye Of The Storm and how He is there and He is in control and then my little storm passes because that feels nice, because I'm a church kid and I know that the appropriate response when somebody says that God's still in control is to nod and smile and wipe away your tears and pretend that your whole world just reassembled and nothing hurts anymore even though it's all lies. I know that His control is good. But all His control doesn't promise that my mom won't have cancer and chemo and it doesn't promise that she's going to live, and everything still hurts.

But my storm passes and I'm okay again, and there's a little fog around the Monument and I want to be there, I want to be hidden in the fog and the earth and the rocks.

And I'm pulling back onto the pass, and wiping my eyes with my sleeves, and the fog is getting closer, I'm moving up the hills and it's pretty out here and I'm a little bit numb and then

and then He whispered, "this one's for you. turn it up."

so I crank it up, like volume-to-fifty kind of up. I'm excited because this one's for me and maybe it's going to make everything hurt less.

But it's NEEDTOBREATHE. Telling me that I was made to testify. That there is peace and healing and love if I will testify.

I seriously almost change the station here. Because this song obviously isn't mine. This doesn't make anything feel better.

No, Scotty.

Well, but, this can't be for me. My mom might be dying and You want to tell me I have to do a bunch of stuff before You'll make it stop hurting? Dude. No. I'm not listening to this tonight.

Scotty....

God, this doesn't feel good!!

Scotty.

I don't like this song, God.

Scotty.

You just want me to do a bunch of stuff for You... that's not fair, God, You tore my world apart....

Scotty, will you just listen???

Okay.

You were made to testify.

So I've heard.

(when I'm irritated I get sassy.)

You were not made to feel good. You were not made to sing just the feel-good songs.

Well no offense, here, but I mean, You said You were making diamonds, here.

Scotty.

You were made to testify.

Your purpose does not change based on your circumstances.

My goodness does not change based on your circumstances.

If your mom is sick, I am still good.

If your mom is well, I am still good.

If your mom dies, I will still be good.

Your tiny little world does not change Me.

Your purpose is to testify to My goodness and My grace and My love and My healing.

You said You were making diamonds. You said You'd bring healing.

You were made to testify.

I feel pain too, You know!!!!

Oh, Scotty, I know about pain.

You were made to testify. Does your pain change My goodness?

Well, I mean, I guess not.

You were made to testify. Does your pain change your purpose?

Sure would be handy if I could call in sick or something, or if You could maybe do some healing and then I'll testify.

Does your pain change your purpose, Scotty?

no.

I Am making diamonds. I Am making beautiful things. I will bring healing. I already have a plan. I will not leave you. You will not do this alone.

I will bring healing. You will get through this.

But Scotty, you were made to testify. You are My child. I gave My life for you. You were created to testify to My goodness. To show the world that even when it doesn't look like it, I Am still good.

I will heal you. 

Someday.

Somehow.

You don't get to know all the details yet. Maybe she'll be fine. Maybe she won't.

But whatever direction that goes, your purpose does not change.

Through all of this, your job is to testify.

No matter what happens. 

You will testify to My goodness.


Can I just tell you guys straight up, I did not love hearing that.

I didn't love being told that no matter what happened, I was still supposed to testify to the God Who held my mother's life in His hands and may or may not save her.

I didn't love listening to a song that told me that there was peace and healing after I testified.

That didn't feel nice.

I didn't want that.

But here's the second Big Thing I learned that night:

He never asked what I wanted.

God honestly never asked what I wanted. Never has. Never will. What I want really isn't super pertinent.

My job is to testify.

No matter what happens.

No matter how this road plays out.

No matter how much it hurts.

No matter how much I can't see what He's doing.

I don't need to see His plan to know that He is good.

He isn't nice.

But He is good.

And I will testify, no matter what, because my pain does not change my purpose and my pain does not change His goodness and I was created to testify to the God Who can move mountains, to the God Who knows all the things, to the God Who loves me.

My pain does not change His goodness.

and it might have taken me three months to fully accept that, but knowing it is pretty flipping amazing.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Expectations

So y'all know I'm working part-time in a health food store, and we sell a ton of vitamins and supplements and cleanses and dieting stuff. We're a health food store and we have stuff to help you stay healthy.

So when I started working there, I was amazed.

By the customers!

Because I mean, we're a health food store. When I think about customers at a health food store I'm thinking about all those super-fit moms who work out and stuff (kudos to you, ladies) and the gym buffs and the doctors and nurses and those people.

It's much easier to compartmentalize and generalize people than I thought.

But I was wrong.

We have a few of those people, sure. But do you want to know who the vast majority of the people I see are? (weird sentence alert, sorry guys)

The drug addicts. The grungy single moms who haven't had the time or energy to put on real pants (kudos to you, ladies, for getting out of the house and doing stuff). The sick little old men with their oxygen tanks and their suspenders. The fat ones (yeah, I said fat, sue me.). The unhealthy ones. The sick ones.

And I was really flippin' confused for a while about that. Like, what are you doing here? You're not healthy. Don't you know this is a health food store?

*facepalm*

Think about it, Scotty. Think about it.

I work at a health food store. But my main customers aren't the gym buffs and the super-fit moms and the nurses. They're the drug addicts and the overweight and the grungy.

And I'm asking myself why they're there.

They're there to get healthy. That's my job!! My job is to help you be healthy! My job is to point you to the prune juice when you come in telling me you're constipated! My job is to hand you some Resveratrol if you've got heart problems! My job is to give you some arnica gel if you have muscle pain and Hyland's™ anxiety relief lozenges if you're anxious. My job is to help you be healthy.

Do doctors expect to only see healthy people?

No. That's ridiculous. You can shake your head.

So why would I expect to only see healthy people in a health food store? You're there because you're brave and you know you need to be healthy and you're taking the first steps and I am so proud of you. I will not turn you away. I will not frown in confusion. I will not sneer. I will not demand to know why you think you can come to a health food store when you're obviously not healthy.

So I figured that out. Welcome to Nutters, friends, let's get healthy.

But don't we do the same thing in church?

The meth addict sneaks in and curls up in the back pew, barely able to keep his eyes open. The alcoholic stumbles in, clutching his head and crying blood-shot tears. The homeless family slips in inconspicuously, heads lowered. We know them. We see them there.

And our reaction is far too often one of disgust.

"Why are they here? They're obviously not church people."

"Ew, couldn't they at least have showered first? They reek."

"Honey, don't look at them. They're different."

Heck yes, they're different. Everybody's different.

There's a verse in one of the Gospels when Jesus kind of slaps his audience across the face a bit, saying (and I paraphrase) something like "Do healthy people need a doctor? No! Sick people do."

Do healthy people need Resveratrol and prunes and HCL? Maybe, maybe not. Do healthy people really need me to spend two hours with them, walking through the vitamin department, finding supplements that will make them well? Nah.

Sick people need that. Unhealthy people need that.

Do perfect people need to be saved?

Trick question. There are no perfect people. But there are people who think they're perfect, and the Bible says that it is so much harder for them to become children of God because they don't see that they even have a problem.

Do Christians need to be saved? No. We already are.

Do nonChristians need to be saved? Yes!!!!

And truly, where else does the meth addict have to go to learn about Jesus? Where else does that homeless family have? Who else is going to teach the alcoholic how to be saved?

Those things - those are the jobs of the church. And those people, those people that smell and drool and fall asleep in church and wear the same clothes all the time... those are the people who need the church. They need Jesus. (we all need Jesus, amen?)

So why do we mock them? Do we mock the girl with cancer when she shows up at the ER with a fever? Do we mock the boy at UrgentCare who has tonsilitis?

No. We know they need to be there.

And let me tell you right now, those people who don't smell great or look great or have a lot of money? We should know that they need to be in our churches. let's reach out to them.

Welcome to my church. Let's get healthy.