Phoenix Day 4

This picture looks almost identical to a picture I took today, except it wasn't at sunrise. This leads me to believe one of two things:
a. It was taken at the same location I was at today, or
b. It was taken freaking anywhere in Arizona because every cactus and horizon and desert space look exactly the same!

Today we went to a Greek Orthodox monastery. To be honest, I didn't really want to go. Mostly I just didn't know what to expect, and the dress is less than to be desired (oh, didn't I mention that I went to stay in an Amish community?). But I can honestly say that I don't remember the last time I felt as at peace as I did in that place. Fountains everywhere, beautiful architecture, art and decor all from Greece, and the most amazing vegetation I've ever seen. Everything smelled wonderful, and even the children sensed the need to walk softly and speak in whispers. In that moment I considered becoming a nun.

But who am I kidding?

It really was amazing, though. Despite the migraine. I've had a near-constant migraine since the night I got here, and I can't shake it. I think it has to do with a combo of random eating times and blinding sunshine.

Tomorrow is pool day. We're going to sit by the pool all day because it's supposed to reach about 20 celsius, and I'm going to finish my Holy Spirit book. That's the goal. I've also been told that I don't need to bother shaving my legs because everyone here is so old they won't be able to tell anyway. This is def my kind of place.

Despite the constantly beautiful weather (I haven't seen a cloud yet) and the t-shirt temperatures, I miss snow. My body isn't cut out for warm winters. As much as I'm enjoying the rest, I can't wait to get back.


Phoenix Day 2

So, I arrived. On time, no major catastrophes to report, nothing lost in the shuffle, no limbs out of place. Why was I so worried?


It's hot here. Hot as in going to White Rock at the end of August: still warm, but you can feel winter coming on. And there are no clouds anywhere. As far as the eye can see. There are cacti and palm trees everywhere (covered in lights, absolutely ridiculous). It's crazy. And there's nothing. Everywhere I look, nothing. Why anyone would live here, I cannot fathom.

Today I ate real Mexican food, went to a Mormon Temple, and saw a massive tumbleweed Christmas tree (like I said, ridiculous).

I don't really know what else to say about it. Except that the dog is crazy. Ummm....?

This is my first blog in forever and I have nothing else to say. Maybe I've gone crazy. That is my latest thought. That I must be crazy to think the way I do.

I guess I'll update soon. I guess?


Are Not

The more days that go by on this break, the more I realize that life is just not the same.

Breakfast is not breakfast without choose-your-own eggs, which for me is always scrambled with cheese (even though if I were anywhere else I would never choose it).

Tuesdays are not Tuesdays without mini-church. Especially the secretly trying to escape to do homework while wishing the whole time I could stay and forget about it.

Showers are not showers without random girls running through at all times, mold growing all around, and pressure/temperature that changes every thirty seconds.

Wednesdays are not Wednesdays without "Wonderful Wednesday Dinner," arriving 15 minutes early for no reason at all, and then feeling dumb for the next 14 minutes until everyone else shows up.

Homework isn't homework without the pool breaks (even when all I'm doing is reading ahead for next semester).

Thursdays are not Thursdays without chicken strips. I so dearly miss chicken strips.

Weekends are not weekends without lame chick flicks, procrastination, multiple church services and changing seven times a day.

Car rides are not car rides without guys "pretending" to make out, fighting for shot-gun and Timmies.

And waking up is not waking up without people to see the second I open my eyes until the second I fall asleep.


Dear Boys, I Have an Announcement...

The original draft for this blog was nothing more than a bitter diatribe that did little to get across my real feelings. It was definitely not something I'd be proud to have my name attached to, thus the re-write.

So in the last several days I have been informed by several people from several points of view of the same thing: it is impossible for me to have guys that are just friends. Apparently the fact that I caught the somewhat-pretty gene means that I am doomed to a life of either only female friends or guys who I think are my friends but actually just want more.

I'm trying to see it from their POV, but I'm having trouble coming to terms with the idea that EVERY guy I talk to only does so because he's thinking that someday it might be something more. I try to give most guys a little more credit than that.

Once again, the world is in my face telling me that it's only beauty that matters. If I weren't pretty, no guy would even bother trying to get to know me.

So, a basic summary of what I'm hearing:
- my personality, sense of humour or conversational skills don't count toward my friendability when it comes to the opposite sex.
- what comes out of my lips is useless; only having them perfectly glossed will grab a boy's attention.
- even if I think we're only friends and we have discussed it and agree that is where we stand, chances are pretty good that he still only wants to get in my pants.

Thank you, World, for defining my worth. Once again, you have made it so clear.

I have also been told that since I've found one guy who 100% is not interested in me and vice versa, I should cut my losses now and accept that I will probably never find another one. Hooray.

Well, I'm going to look on the bright side (and hopefully turn around this otherwise-gloomy blog), and try to see the good in this whole "experience". Obviously these people have a valid point: I can't be naive. However, I need to trust my own instincts and not walk around acting like I believe I am God's gift to men (which I assure you, I am NOT). So I will take this all with a grain of salt and go on pretty much the way I have been: being myself and not stressing the small stuff.



Next Saturday I leave for Arizona, and I haven't quite decided how I feel about it yet.

I'm going to visit someone who I've only seen once, very briefly, in the last three years because of a...disagreement. I guess that's the best word to describe it. I love this person very much, but she always tests the limits of my patience in every area.

I was originally staying less than a week, but now it's nine days. My dad tried to tell me that maybe it's not the best idea; once I'm there, I'm stuck. But, because I feel peace about it, I'm going in trusting God that He will be with me and guide my words and actions so that, at least for my part, I can know I tried my best.

Maybe it appears that I'm only going into this with a bad attitude, but that's not actually the case at all. I'm very excited, just scared that... well, to tell the truth, I have no idea what I'm so scared of. Myself, possibly? Every time I go somewhere new, I wonder if my self will grow or struggle as a result.

My highest hopes are that this will be an opportunity to lay aside all stress and just relax to my fullest potential. My body is still in go-mode, and I'd really like to lay back and enjoy the break while I have it. And I want to mend this broken relationship. There are past hurts that need to be addressed, and I would really like to have all of that taken care of when I get back.

So, here goes. I'm setting out on an adventure with no clue as to how it will turn out.

Am I scared? Yes. Terrified? Pretty much. Going anyway? Absolutely.


This is the End, my Friends

This place is so depressing with almost everyone gone, and the rest leaving by tomorrow morning. I can literally feel the physical weight of nostalgia pressing on my chest. I won't be leaving until tomorrow morning, and already the burden of that is getting to me.

Steph left this morning at seven, and she hugged me good-bye in bed and left. The second she stepped out the door I could feel the emptiness, even with my eyes closed. The blank space where she should have been hovered above me, and I couldn't get back to sleep for what felt like hours.

As I lay there, wrapped in pink silk and feeling that perfect level of warmth to fall asleep, my mind kept me occupied with thoughts of this semester. My first semester is already over!

What did I learn? Did I learn anything, accomplish anything, feel anything out of the ordinary in the nearly four months I've been here? I learned that procrastination may have been cute when I was 15, but it doesn't suit me so well in my twenties. I learned to be careful with my heart, and to guard it with everything I have because it is my most precious possession. I accomplished the impossible: I completed all my courses and exams without dropping dead from the stress. I accomplished my number one goal when I set out to come here: build strong, healthy relationships with other Christians. And I felt free...to turn my life around, to continue growing in my relationship with God, to stretch myself in all new directions.

I think my heart is heaviest because I know that I will never again be sitting here in this moment, on the brink of Christmas break after completing my first semester of college. I will never be in this place in my life again. Part of me is so glad. There are still so many things I need to change as far as my attitude and actions are concerned...and even aspects of my character. I honestly want to be a better person, sometimes it's just really hard to kick the old habits and just be...nice. But part of me is incredibly sad. It will never again be these people in these rooms with these relationships and this dynamic again. The question is, are we losing something amazing right here, right now, or are we moving onto something even better that we couldn't imagine if we tried?

As I type, there are people in the hallway crying and hugging and saying good-byes, and every time a new person decides to leave (about every three minutes) I jump up and join in.

I began this blog in some feeble attempt to express what I'm feeling and hopefully release this feeling of tightness I feel all over me. I can't get rid of it. Maybe when I go home it'll feel a little better, but for now all I can do is look around and see the emptiness of where all those who complete my life should be.


It's All Coming Back to Me Now

My roommates can attest to the fact that I've been a little crazy lately. Actually, half our hallway can tell you about my screaming tantrum a few days ago about how it's unfair when some people have boyfriends and others don't. But the other day, I finally figured out my root issue. As much as I love being in a relationship, my biggest concern is about the end result: babies.

I am obsessed. I see pregnant women in the mall and I almost lose it. At church on Sunday they had all the teensy kids on stage singing, and I almost died. They were so small and so sweet and all had their own amazing personalities. I def want one of my own.

And then last night I was sitting next to someone holding a baby, and for sure everyone around me thought I must not like babies or something because I had to completely turn my body away. Every time I looked at her, I had to fight back the tears.

The scariest part is that the idea doesn't scare me in the least. Even the idea of not having a significant other and raising a child on my own doesn't make me blink. Maybe I'm just sheltered to the hard facts of how difficult that undertaking would be, but I really don't think so. I've watched enough people do it, and I have no doubt that I would have enough support from my family and my Stephanie. Don't think this means I'm thinking of ordering off the "menu" any time soon, or luring some random into helping me out. The idea of being alone and prego just doesn't scare me as much as it probably should.

The hardest part right now, though, is knowing that of course, deep down, I want to be in a solid, committed marriage when I have the happiest news of my life to deliver. I meant telling people about it, not...anyways. I really, really want that.

I think I came out of the womb 10 years old, and have only progressed from there. That would make me thirty right now, and would also make my current freak-out over no spawn somewhat legit and not crazy-person-talk. I know people think I'm psychotic because I want a baby at 20, but I wonder what they'd think if they knew I've wanted one since I was about 16.

I was born to be a mother. Plain and simple. I guess God's timing on this just isn't my own, and I'll need to wait it out. Until then, I'm going to do my best to be patient and not steal random toddlers from passing strollers.


The Biggest Question of Life

This will probably be my hardest blog yet. It is the expressed version of an epiphany I had just a little while ago, and it's taken my life and heart by storm. That is why I have to get it out. I've found that I have all these crazy thoughts and emotions constantly bouncing around in my head, and they need a place of release. If I try to hold them in, even for my own sake, I end up falling apart instead.

The question that is currently rocking my soul:

Am I lovely?

Growing up, Lovely was a nickname given to me by my mom. I don't know where she got it from, why she deemed me worthy of it, or if she ever questioned her judgement. And until this moment, I have never thought to ask her any of these things. So from the time that I was very small, I always had this word lovingly thrown upon me, but I never knew if it were actually true. And it didn't occur to me that this was underlying until only a few weeks ago.

Someone was telling me a story about something (as you can tell, I was obviously paying so much attention; I'm sure I would have remembered it all if a certain point hadn't completely stopped my heart). The point of the story, by the end, was that whoever was being talked about finally realized that the problem God was working out in her life rooted in a simple question: Am I lovely? And without even knowing why, I started to cry. And I couldn't stop.

So I guess this is my deep-rooted hurt. The thing inside me that tears apart my self-confidence even as I walk through my day unaware? It's the secret part of me, deep inside, that wonders if I have worth. And somehow I've grown up with the notion that worth comes from beauty.

This thought, while seeming foolish, has never been negated. Every past boyfriend I've ever had started having feelings for me because I was hot, then for my personality...if he ever decided to find out if I had one. I have never in all my life had a guy love me for me, and then appreciate how I look.

So somehow, through this skewed view and my own insecurities, I became hopelessly addicted to compliments and attention. Although I'm (mostly) over it now, that part of my past still haunts me. What is it that makes me special? What is it that makes me worthy of love?

The hugest part of me has always been asking this question, even though I never admitted it to myself: if I did not look the way I do, would anyone care to get to know me for who I am inside? And, if they took that crazy leap and decided to try, would they find anything worth loving once they dug around a bit? The most insecure part of me wonders if anyone would love me at all.

So here comes the dilemma. I know I am beautiful in God's sight, made in His image, and He loves me unconditionally. But (I know, why does there have to be a but? Yet somehow there is), to everyone else in the world, am I lovely? If you strip away all my physical attributes and are left with only the insides, is there anything redeeming remaining? Is my character that of someone who can be loved for exactly who they are, or do I need the supporting elements of my physical extremities?

And here I stand at a crossroads. Not knowing if all my twenty years summed up is enough to make someone stay, I sit here and wonder if I'll ever find out. No one has ever stayed...but maybe that's just because they weren't meant to. Maybe God has bigger plans beyond those too shallow to look beneath the surface. Unless they did, and that's what drove them away. And the list of insecurities continues.

I have a feeling I'm only going in never-ending circles now, so I'll wrap it up.

I'm waiting on the person who can come along, see what God sees in me, and love me for who I am. Even when I'm old, wrinkled, and have lost all signs of youth. And then, standing in front of him with my laughter-etched skin and gray hair, I'll look deep into his eyes and ask: "Am I lovely?" And then he'll smile, and I'll know when he says "Yes" that he means it with every heartbeat.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Today I've been reading over a mini-journal I kept at camp this summer. It was a compilation of thoughts based on what the speakers had said, as well as new things I was coming to understand about God. As I read them now, I can see the things I grasped and have worked into my life already, and the thoughts which haven't yet completely sunk in. Six months later and I'm still trying to understand the same truths. So here is a sample. I think it's so awesome.

"I need to be ministering to people. If I'm not loving on them, it doesn't matter who I am. My self is no where near important as the one [lost sheep].
I want to be genuinely pleased with who I am.

"Joshua 5:13-15 -> Joshua at once realizes his mistake, that God does not work for him, but the other way around. They're on God's side, not him on theirs.

"Romans 11:33-36 -> God's plans for my life are totally untraceable.
His plans are so beyond us. We cannot possibly understand the intricacies. I cannot know the mind of God, or counsel him as to what he should do in my life, or think that for anything I've done he would owe me.
The fact that I'm breathing is evidence of God's grace for me.
Everything originates in God, is held together through God, and exists to glorify God.

"This INCREDIBLE God loves us.
It's ridiculous.

"None of it is for my glory, for me.
It's only for HIM.

"John 12:41-43 -> These leaders cared more for human approval than God's.
Stand. No compromise. That's leadership. That's belief.

Who am I to say that anyone owes me an apology, owes me ANYTHING, when I owe God my life?

"The only cure for guilt is to understand that God IS compassion.

"Hebrews 4:14-16 -> Jesus gets us.

"Romans 8:1 -> 'Therefore there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.'
God is always asking us to come back to him, ready to give and have more.

"My heart's cry: I want to know I need God like the air I breathe."

To me, this is inspiration in its purest form. Looking back on what God was teaching me half a year ago, seeing how far I've come and how far I still have to go.

I hope that I never reach a day where I think I've had enough God, where I know enough about him that any more would just be silly. Every day, I want to come to know him better. Hopefully I can put myself aside long enough to allow him to change my heart.

"I Want You, I Need You"

The more frustrated I get, the more I'm realizing how crazy my priorities are.

I am stressed beyond belief because of finals and trying to finish all my assignments on time, I have no car and almost no money to get a new one that I desperately need, and I'm not getting enough sleep to nurture my battered body back to health. But where is my head in all of this? Marriage.

What is wrong with me? I've barely begun life on my own, and all I want in the whole world is to give myself completely over to someone else. My life is a mess (but are lives ever not?), and I want someone else to come in and either help me tidy up or just sit with my in the midst of the chaos.

Then I remember that there's someone who loves me more than life itself, and he is desperately trying to romance me. The same way I'm waiting for the perfect person to come along and sweep me away, Jesus is waiting for me to acknowledge his attempts and love him the way he loves me. And being the jealous God that he is, he's waiting for me to fall for him before I'm allowed to fall for someone else.

I often wondered why I was never as close to God as I wanted to be, until a couple months ago it was revealed to me: I am desperately afraid to let him love me. My experience on this earth has told me that any time someone said they loved me and promised me that I could count on them, they left. And it was always my fault. So how could I offer myself up once again to someone promising love and expect him to stand by my side, even in the rough times? Impossible.

It has taken so long to finally let him in, to let him love on me the way he wants to. I still push him away all the time, afraid of how much this will hurt if it ends. I still cannot wrap my head around the idea that he will NEVER leave. Ever. And no matter how many times I mess things up or try to push him away or get too emotional, he won't throw his hands up in the air and tell me he's through. How did I get so lucky?

Yet even knowing all that I do, I still try to do things on my own. I give it "all" to God, but tell him that there's just this one space in my life that I've got under control and I don't need him meddling in. Or when he tries to go deeper with me, I push him off and tell him that it's really okay, I'm good for now. I tell the maker of the universe that I'm fine without whatever it is he wants to reveal to me. In fact, I'm just fine here on my own. ...but I know, deep down, that's not really true. The human condition that we all suffer from is loneliness. Here is the one who wants to cure my disease, and I push away the remedy.

So this is why I'm still single. This is why I don't yet have my hubs and everything that comes with. I'm still too stubborn to let God all the way in. I haven't yet figured out how to be loved. Thankfully he has enough grace to sit through the process with me and whisper in my ear all the ways that he has planned to make me fall more in love with him than ever. And with every word, I get a little bit closer to trusting him.


Don't Forget Your Backpack

I'm learning how to not close up, shut down, or fight back. My immediate reaction in the past has usually been a combo of the three whenever someone has hurt me, even unintentionally. As I ask God to change my mindset and give me greater patience, he doesn't disappoint.

I think the hardest part for me is to remain open and vulnerable, even as I'm being torn apart. How in the world do I continue being gentle and kind, even as my heart is breaking? The problem is that the answer is not of this world; it only comes from above.

I used to have serious anger issues. It actually got to the point where my bursts of rage were uncontrollable; even I wouldn't see it coming. In the process, I would be hurting the people around me and, ultimately, myself the worst. I don't know when I became so angry, but I do remember the day I decided I needed to change. Every day is still hard, but God has so much grace. Even when I miserably fail and lose my cool (usually resulting from forgetting to count to ten), he softly corrects me and tells me that we'll do better next time.

People's responses always differ when they realize I'm no longer going to fight back. Some push harder, expecting to get a reaction. Others simply stop talking to me. I'd probably be confused too.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I am far from perfect, but I'm working on it. Trying SO HARD, but it's all for nothing if God doesn't have my back.

I fully expect that one morning I'll just wake up and all of this won't even phase me anymore; I'll be so beyond this issue and be working on another one that God brings to my attention. But until then, I plan on doing everything within my power to control what is within my control, and let go of the rest.


View From the Top: Part I


For the first time, I felt like I shared too much. It wasn't even that personal, but something inside myself felt betrayed and I can't explain it.

PS - I'm adding this so late that you'll never read it. In fact, it's entirely possible that no one will ever read it. This picture reminds me of the hill where we worked out our first fight...and then made out in the back seat. Part of me still misses you. I think a part of me will always wish I could have known how we would have turned out. I miss you.


Where Are You, Christmas?

Christmas is now less than 23 days away. And once again, I find myself single.

This will be my fourth consecutive without-a-man Christmas. I'd far rather, times a million kabillion, be single over Valentine's Day than the holiday which takes over the entire last half of December. No other holiday in our culture takes up so much time, money or energy. 1/24th of our year (if you're a late shopper; if you're an early go-getter, then possibly up to 1/12th of your year) is consumed with gift picking and giving, cooking and eating, celebrating and wishing we could take back about ten pounds of celebrating (unless you're me). And there is nothing more depressing than being alone this time of year.

Everywhere I go, it's cute couples bundled up in poofy coats with pretty scarves and matching mittens. They cuddle and hold their mittened hands, while walking along the anywhere they might be, looking at Christmas lights and dreaming of the future. Yet while they look ahead, they also know that in this particular moment, there is no where else they'd rather be than in that second with that person.

I miss that. I miss the knowledge that no matter what goes wrong during the holiday season, whether family spifts or gravy that gives everyone food poisoning, there is that one person who wants to spend every moment of it with me. Wow.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Ultimately, that is all. Our culture has transformed it into a whirlwind of media pressure to eat, buy and live a certain way. Yet in the midst of both polar opposites, there is a beautiful little space filled with vanilla-scented candles and God-centered carols and softly drifting snow, topped off with the constant surrounding of everyone who loves us. That is the place I dwell in.

Let me rephrase. Christmas is not about being attached, and is not based on having a significant other to attend all festive functions with. But the truth is...I'm at a place in my life where I want to be with the person I'm supposed to be with already. I want to be sharing all of this with him.

I love this holiday. I love everything it represents and all the warm fuzzies that go with it. I'm just so tired of waking up to the snow and not having a special someone to pummel snowballs at me, and then care enough to wipe it out of my hair.


Turning on the Tap

The concept of "fear of God" has always eluded me. I was brought up in typical modern-Christianese fashion, which states that Jesus is my best friend, he would never let anything bad happen to me, and life with him means a life devoid of fear. What changed us to be these people who have lost any respect for a God so much bigger than anything we could imagine or comprehend?

Going through life in the church only taught me one thing: God loves me. That's a pretty loaded statement. Do we realize what his love for us means? Obviously we have no clue. God: creator of the heavens above and of the earth we stand on, breath-maker, one who encompasses what it means to be good and holy and righteous, father who ordains every heartbeat. He LOVES me. Me. Creator of nothing but sinful thoughts and actions, gap-maker, one who encompasses all that it means to be prideful and self-seeking and stubborn, child who takes every second for granted. The God of the universe loves me. Unthinkable.

And going through this experience of growing up in the church, yet not understanding the full truth of what it means to be loved by God, I have fallen short on taking in the fact that I should hold God in the most amazed awe. He is awesome! He is powerful! He is wondrous! Yet all these human, English words fail to do him justice by a long shot. There is no word on this planet to describe the majesty of our God or the ways in which he works. I think that if we had any idea, we would be scared, literally, to death.

Fear of God is holy reverence, to revere him above all else.

Genesis 31:42 refers to our God as "the fear of Isaac." Here is a man who is so blessed by God, who is being given so many good promises and awesome things, and he knows the honour that his heavenly father is due.

I wonder what God would have to do to make it clear to us that he is worthy of our fear. Yes, he is my best friend. Yes, he loves me and has great mercy and compassion on my life. But no, this does not mean that I can take his tremendous power for granted.

I want to learn what it means to fear God, to live my life as a holy, living sacrifice to him. What would that look like? How much of this world would he be able to affect through me? I can't wait to find out.


Feeling the Pressure

Being stressed is one of my favourite states. I thoroughly enjoy having less than adequate time to accomplish something to the best of my ability. For example, right now I have six papers due next week, 120 chapters of the Bible to read and an assignment due Monday, as well as several other assignments and readings to be completed throughout the week. And then it's exams.

I, however, am not the least bit phased. As much as I know I shouldn't be blogging right now, I also am well aware that this state of confusion perfectly conditions my body to get the most done in the least amount of time. After this, I probably won't stop working on homework except to eat, but all the time in the last few weeks spent watching Gilmore Girls and doing things that are less than important have been well worth it. I wouldn't go back and change anything even if I could.

I'm going to cut today's blog short. I only partook in today's writing because I've so missed vomiting my thoughts in a slightly productive, if not marks-worthy, way.



Remember that big binder of my random writings that I mentioned a few blogs ago? So I was reading through it just now and got some inspiration.

About six months ago, I started reading this book called "Sex Detox." Before you run away with yourself, it's not what you think. The book is broken into two parts, one for people in relationships (and then it is what it sounds like) and one part for single people. The whole point of the book is to take a month out of your life to evaluate what is important to you, your values, and the things you'd like to change. I'm going to focus on the single aspect of the book, because that's the part that applies to me and the section that I was working through. Each day had questions to answer in a journal, and even though I only did it for the first three days (I'm such a slacker), I definitely learned a ton about myself.

Here is a small summary of what I learned about myself, without the too-much-information information. I found it so interesting just to see how I used to think, and how much of it is still the same.

Day 1: I had to answer 26 multiple choice questions relating to past relationships, my hopes for the future, my current (and at the time non-existent) relationship situation, and how I viewed my parents' relationship. (Sidenote: this is, once again, me being vulnerable. I share, but it's from my heart. Don't tear me up please).
From the quiz, I learned:
- I am very future-focused.
- I avoid dating to, in turn, avoid the rollercoaster of emotions that I always put myself through.
- I am beyond concerned with how others view me.

Day 2: This exercise was definitely less controlled. I had seven vague statements that I had to link together in any way I wanted, and explain.
Example: mushrooms, love, friend, coffee. coffee is connected to mushrooms because my first date was at a restaurant that only served mushrooms and after that we went for coffee. mushrooms are connected to friends because...and friends are connected to love because...and it continues.
So in the connections I was making (which I won't list, but I assure you were much deeper than mushrooms and coffee), I learned:
- I used to believe that, indirectly, sex = love. The part that I missed was that sex with the wrong person = heartbreak.
- I am breakable. I like to imagine that I'm solid, a wall, but the truth is that I am easily shattered.
- I used to have a serious addiction to compliments. Thankfully, I'm now in a place where I can allow God to speak to me to the point where His affirmation is the most important.
- As important as it is to find someone who fits my idea of the right guy for me, it's nothing if that same guy doesn't see the traits he needs in me.
- Because of what I saw as a child (or lack thereof), I was convinced that once I hit marriage, life would suddenly make sense and be perfect. And because it had been ingrained in my head that sex only comes after marriage, I somehow drew the conclusion that sex must make everything perfect as well.

Day 3: I had to make a pro and con list of different events that I experienced in the past. All of the situations had good lessons for me to learn, but in the process were also damaging in some way.
I learned:
- I tend to have ideals that can NEVER be matched up to. I cannot put those expectations on anyone and expect them to be perfection for me.
- I grew up thinking my worth was based on beauty.
- My previous relationships actually had a purpose. I learned what I need, and what I cannot, under any circumstances, put up with. My expectations are now more realistic as a result.

And that was where I stopped. I can't really remember why. The reason I'm sharing this? It's self-awareness, as well as a snapshot of who I was at that time. I can look back on it, see how far I've come, and see the way that God is moulding and shaping my thinking to be more like His.

None of this was meant to be too revealing or uncomfortable to read, so if it was I apologize and please let me know.

The more I write, the more I'm coming to understand what this blog is for me. It's my way of communicating to myself and the world who I really am, behind my walls.

So This is Me Being Vulnerable

So this is me being vulnerable. To the max. There's my mini disclaimer. Here goes.

I use sarcasm and harsh jokes to cover who I am. Yesterday someone asked me in all seriousness why I treat him horribly one day, and the next day I "actually have a heart," and then I go back to being...not so nice. The truth is that I bury my heart so that no one can touch it. When I'm kind and open, I've only ever been trampled. So I hide myself away and put up a front that unfortunately (yet according to plan) no one sees through and they just assume that this harsh, crass person is who I really am at the depths. And the part that scares me most is: what if I wake up one morning and discover that the person who I was trying to protect doesn't exist anymore, and has been body-snatched by this alternate-Leanne who treats the world with disdain? Worse, what if I don't notice at all?

To hide the fact that I have my own horrible insecurities, I put on a show of pride and disguise my pain as a joke. The truth is...I'm rarely even comfortable in my own skin. Just when I think I have this whole liking myself thing down, I let someone tear me down with the smallest comments. And of course, I react in typical me-fashion.
"Thanks so much for pointing out that I'm pale! It's not as if I've never looked in the mirror before."
"I'm skinny? Really? And here I was, all this time, thinking I was fat! Well good thing you pointed that one out, or I could have been really embarrassed."
I suppose people say the things they do because they assume that I'd like to know. Do you not understand that I can see my own faults well enough without you pointing them out? I know everything that I do and say wrong, I'm well aware of my numerous physical flaws, and I'm more than capable of beating myself up over it. I honestly don't need your help.

So in response to my own brokenness, I erect these impregnable walls which I hide behind and only appear on top of occasionally...and usually only to hurl down tomatoes and insults. It's not you...usually. It's me. It's all me, and my own selfishness and pride.

I don't really believe the things I say about myself. I know I've said this before, but somehow people take me literally every time I say something extremely-over-the-top prideful. If I honestly thought I was wonderful, trust me, I'd be the last person to mention it.

And then, to top it off, I get the typical response: "What do you have to be so embarrassed of?" Because I'm not allowed to have issues or problems I'm struggling with. It's not as if someone "like me" (whatever that means) can have self-esteem issues.

I love the person I'm becoming as I change. I really do. I am just so sick, so physically ill at the thought, of how I'm viewed. But it makes sense. And I take full responsibility. I keep people at arm's length, I treat them with disrespect, and I'm cold. I deserve it.

Just one last note, though. I did let myself be vulnerable a while ago. I put myself out there, thought I had made a careful decision on the people I was letting into my life, and my heart got trampled. Nice one, Leanne. You really know how to pick 'em.

So I guess for now I'm walled up within my fortress, waiting to be rescued. What does that look like? I haven't the slightest clue. All I know is that until then, I'm not strong enough to break the walls down myself. I'm definitely not strong enough on my own. Wow. That was hard to admit.

So, that was me being vulnerable. Sorry. Wait, not sorry. I'm not apologizing. This has been bothering me way too much lately, and I had to get it out.
Amazing. I can open up to the world (or whoever decides to read my blog) but I can't tell the people I've hurt why I wasn't able to treat them the way they deserved.


Anything and Everything

Lately I've been under the strange impression that it's wrong for my blogs to be getting more serious (thus the most recent one). Maybe it's just who I am underneath; I forget that I'm way more serious than I let on to most. I guess I had even myself convinced.

I have a massive binder on the shelf above me that is full of poetry, stories and songs that I've been writing since I turned fifteen. Out of the hundreds upon hundreds of entries and hastily written scraps of imagination, I can maybe find three funny articles. I don't think humour suits me in writing.

From this collection, mostly poems about love and jealousy and the woes of a typically rebellious teen, I can see the progression of how I reached the place and person I am today. I still screw up...a lot. Way more than I admit; but I guess this, in its own way, is an admittance to the horrible brat I can be sometimes.

I love sarcasm. I feed off it like a frat boy discovering his first mini-bar. I incorporate it in every possible moment, but then get hurt when it's used against me. This, of course, makes me a hypocrite: the type of person I despise above all else. Once again, in itself, a hypocritical paradox. Sometimes I wonder if I'm completely mentally unsound, or just in desperate need of a padded room for awhile.

The inner workings of my mind always amaze me; I'm able to pull something out of thin air, present it in a pleasing way, and somehow remain objective enough to not rip it apart. I tend to over-analyze anything and everything, particularly that which I said and was said to me. For some reason, however, my mind is able to keep that judgmental side of myself at bay while I write. The same is unfortunately not true in regards to other aspects of my life. I used to criticize my mom for needing to constantly analyze absolutely every situation. Then I became her. It's not a bad thing, honest. I love my mom. And now that I have a deeper understanding of what it means to think somewhat the way she does, I can better appreciate the way she views the world. I think seeing her from the outside also gives me fascinating insight into my own tendencies.

Should I be committed for thinking the way I do? Probably. For the way I act? Most definitely. But as this is highly unlikely due to the shortage of space in mental hospitals lately, I think I'm being given a new outlook into why I am the way I am. Also, more importantly, I'm constantly in the process of changing myself to (hopefully) become a better person. What good is realizing my deficiencies if I never plan to do a thing about it?

I remember the first time I really attempted to change who I was into the person I wanted to be. I was eighteen, just graduated, and had finally realized that I was not happy with myself the way I was. I was absolutely determined to become the woman of God I was called to be, and not just sit around waiting on the world to change. I started a journal with a hard-hitting theme: anything and everything that's wrong with Leanne. Every time I conquered a new issue, I immediately tackled another. Sometimes I backslid and ended up working with the same problem for a few weeks at a time, but after only a few months I was a completely changed person. Looking back on the things I used to struggle with, I can hardly believe that was ever me. The problem with the system came when I thought I finally had it all together. I stopped working on new things that God was bringing to my attention and simply let myself be where I was in that moment. Now when I look back, I can see the foolishness in that decision. I've still come so far since then, but not at the same rapid pace as when I was consciously working on all that I was struggling with.

I think I need to get back into the same old routine. I won't post what I'm working on, but every time I see this blog, it will be a reminder to continue working out my issues. I honestly want to change, I just desperately need God's help to get there.


Piece of Pie

I'm basically the funniest person I know. That isn't meant to sound prideful, so if I come off that way just ignore it.

People who laugh at their own jokes are a dime a dozen, so I don't try to pretend that makes me special in any way. But tell me this: how many people do you know who laugh at a joke as it's forming in their head to the point where you wonder if you'll ever get around to hearing it? Exactly. That's how funny I am.

The witty remarks that frequent my mouth are so deliciously original that I often tell myself that I should have a personal slave to follow me around and record every word I speak. That way, none of my brilliance will go to waste on the unobservant and those who have been ravaged by society and are no longer touched by humour.

My brilliance, however, has been slowly deteriorating with old age and I'm beginning to fear that I may lose my cleverness altogether in no time at all. To fight time and its evil plan to rid me of my magic powers, I plan to simply live forever. Starting...now. Ha. Now I will forever be at least this funny, if not more so. I have the rest of eternity to grow my laughability powers to the point where I could take over the world based solely on said powers (and that's not even taking into account my superior beauty and breathless charm).

Oh, and did I also mention that I ooze humble pie?


I thought I'd post an example of exactly how funny I am. Just for the record, all quotes are only approximate because my memory ain't what it used to be (re: getting old).

J: Hey, can I buy you some sleeves sometime?
L: Is that a come on?
J: No, you just never have sleeves.
L: I've never heard that pick-up line before.
R: You know Leanne, not everyone wants you.
L: Oh, I know. There's married people and children.

Update number 2:

This was far too good to not post!

L: (speaks vaguely about someone with potential)
R: That's filthy!
L: Yeah it is.
R: No, not the good kind of filthy.
L: There's only bad filthy.
R: No, the productive kind.
L: Don't you mean reproductive?

Peter Pan

Writing came a lot easier when I was younger. I don't exactly know why, or if something inside me has chemically changed to make the flow from mind to paper so much more painful, but whatever is different seems to be set in stone. I can't just sit down and pen out a rantacular monologue filled with the ever-so-high highs and never-been-so-low lows of early adolescence. In fact, I can barely sit still long enough to find a pen anymore.

My brain has turned into one of those machines that operates to survive and do so with the greatest success, never mind the heart's desires. I think some people would refer to this as the act of "growing up." Ugh. Just typing those words hurts. I never asked for an adult brain, the kind that can be enjoying a beautiful moment, but still be thinking about what I still need to clean before bed, or how I'm going to afford that new sweater I want. I have officially gone over to the other side.

From the time that I was very small, I have always likened myself to Peter Pan. He never had to grow up. One of my favourite people on the planet passed away several years ago, and I'm so glad to say that she never lost her childlike attitude. At the incredibly old age of 5,223 (give or take a few), she was still able to giggle about boys with me and enjoy gummy bears and get lost driving from McDonald's to my house. Occasionally I've caught myself wishing she could have been around to see me grow up, but that's lying to myself on so many levels. I went through a space in my life that would have destroyed our friendship if she'd been around to see it, and in turn destroyed me. The only good part about that time in my life was what I learned, and that she didn't have to be humiliated by the person I became. Part of me will also never grow up; I determined that a long time ago and don't plan on changing my mind. And then, the hardest one: what if I somehow outgrew her? Grew up to the point where we could no longer relate because I became an obnoxious, self-serving adult who was above it all and could not have cared less for the simple joy of running down the pier at midnight in the dead of winter with no jackets on? Shoot me now.

I want a wheelchair with spinners. I want to giggle about boys until my face gets stuck that way. I'd like a massive box of chocolate to be open in every room of my house until the day I die. And I never want to stop relating to people who are younger than me.

Where is the joy in growing up? Please don't confuse this with growing older. I think that aging is a beautiful thing and, if done with grace, is the marking of a life well lived. What I'm talking about is the notion that getting old means putting away childish things. I love sticking my hand out the car window while I drive, and laughing at Napoleon Dynamite, and singing obnoxiously along with 90's boy bands. I don't want to lose that part of myself. I'd hate to be lying there dying and all I can think about is if there are dirty dishes, while everyone I know stands around me thinking what an old cow I am. I want to go out exploding into laughter! Popping a lung because Cyrius was too funny to deny. I don't want to be regretting that I spent my last weeks, months, years making sure life was being lived "properly" or "as expected" or "respectably," while the whole time I was wasting away the last precious moments of life.

So I just got way too serious again. What happened to light and cheery blogging before going to bed too late (must be up in less than 7 hours)?

Writer's block seems to have eluded me again. I try and try, but the more I talk about how I can't write anymore, the more I write. Maybe it's just different. Maybe I'm different. As long as it's just because I'm old now, not grown up.


Where Has All the Sanctity Gone?

There has been a lot of discussion going on around campus lately about the subject of soulmates. Is there any such thing? Is there really only one person on this entire earth for each of us?

Apparently this has been on lots of minds lately, especially because of outside expectations on us to find our significant other while at Bridal College. Being the ideal place to find a potential mate, the more commonly called Bible College has earned its alter-ego from the number of marriages which have come from meeting under the pretense of learning about God. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that all of us come for the same reasons: drawing closer to God and preparing for our ministries. The trouble comes with outside pressure to be hitched before the end of week one. Other comments on the topic are generally sarcastic as well; we cannot help feeling bitter towards the intense pressure put on us to immediately find "the one" and settle down with two and a half kids, a mortgage and a ministry in place just in time for graduation.

So back to the original question: do soulmates exist or not? Some will argue adamantly that there is no way that only 1 in over 6-something billion people on the planet is perfect for any one person. On the other hand, others will argue that there's a reason so many people are getting divorced these days: they're too hasty and just jump into marriage, rather than waiting for the person who is meant/created for them.

I have seen enough examples of failed or regretful marriages in my life to know that this isn't a choice to be taken lightly. And certainly not a choice that should be made within the first seven seconds of stepping onto the college parking lot, no matter how good the options may be.

My personal view is that God did create one person for each of us, who in a perfect world we would end up with, and everything would be perfectly dandy. We do not, however, live in a perfect world, and so we do not always end up with the one created for us. Because sin gets in the way and our own selfish desires mess up what might have been, we make choices that inhibit us from receiving what could have been ours. Aside from that one person, I think there are a handful of people that we could be perfectly happy with, and these are often the people we end up with. Although they may not be our perfect other half, they are more than capable of making us happy, and vice versa, and will be more than able to build a satisfying life with us. And then, there are the thousands upon thousands who we might look at, and at first glance appear to be a favourable candidate. However, this is just an initial impression, but we are more than willing to jump straight into a long-term relationship, get hitched, and THEN realize that they may not be who we thought they were all along. Suddenly, it's the D-word and heartbreak runs rampant in all lives involved. Divorce. The big, ugly breaking of a soul-binding relationship that steals love and life from children who aren't at fault but are dragged through the mud by parents who (hopefully) have the best intentions.

Yes, I am cynical. No, my parents haven't split up so I haven't personally been through the situation. But I am a huge believer in true love, the kind that transcends the moments when passion fails and the warm fuzzies go away. If love is based on physical attraction, then I want nothing to do with it. I firmly believe that once you choose someone, your choice is made, and you do your absolute best to make sure that it works. Of course there are exceptions. Infidelity and abuse are more than good enough reasons to end a marriage; a dry season is not. Second thoughts or wondering about a former flame are not. Marriage and commitment are thrown out the door so quickly these days that it makes my head spin. Where did the sanctity of vows go? What happened to "for better or for worse?" What happened to pushing through until death, because you know beneath it all that you really do love them, despite it all?

I don't believe that there is only one person we can be happy with, only one person to share this life with, or only one person who we can build a home and a family with. I do, however, believe that there is only one person who we would be perfectly compatible with. And I do believe that it is a choice, but that the choice made is sacred and to be upheld. Maybe I'll change my mind one day. Maybe I'll be in such a state of anger and hurt that I will no longer want to continue the fight to stay afloat with the one I chose for my life. But for now, I am more than fine with standing on the foundation that marriage is of worth, love is a decision, and that it is so important to choose wisely.

So here I sit in Bridal College, feeling pushed and prodded towards commitment ASAP, but I'm not giving into the peer pressure. I'm more than willing to wait for the one I was created for, and to trust God that in His perfect timing it will happen.


Always the Advocate

I've never been much of a drinker. I don't think it ever really occurred to me except in too-hot-to-bear summer weather when my mom was making iced tea by the bathtub. And you thought I meant alcohol.

But then again, I never really drank a lot of that either, especially since I turned my life around. Back in the days when I did, though, it was never something I needed or a way to prove my own significance like so many I hung around with at the time; I was simply expressing myself in a new way until something different came along.

I remember last summer when it suddenly struck me that water was probably healthy. Doctors and family had been telling me for years that water was delicious, nutritious and cool, but it wasn't until I had a medical check-up and found out I was severely dehydrated that I began to seriously change my ways. For several months I was drinking up to six or seven glasses a day, and I felt amazing! Not only did I have the clearest skin of life, I also had so much more energy and far fewer headaches.

But, as everything always seems to go, all good things must come to an end. In this case, it was summer and the accompanying heat wave. With the last warm-tinted breezes and bikini-wearable days went any desire to take any water into my body. And that's where the story ends.

...Until it picked up again several weeks ago. Half way through the semester I realized that instead of gaining the "freshman ten" (the ten pounds every college freshman in the history of the planet has always gained as a rite of passage into adulthood, until me), I had in fact LOST ten. Due to my already heightened insecurity on the topic of weight, I set out to gain fifteen pounds by the end of the semester. The only problem with my daily eating regime was the inevitable break-outs I knew were bound to erupt with that kind of volume of snack food entering my body in such a short amount of time.

The solution? Water.

I started with three glasses a day. Which progressed to four. Then six. I was finally at an average of eight glasses a day when I eventually plateaued. Since then, not only has my pees per day ratio gone up, but so has my self-esteem and skin-wonderfulness. Although I am currently at only about three or four glasses, I still feel amazing for it.

I know that some of you may not believe me, and others think I'm drugged up again. So not the case! Water is refreshing, tastes delicious (especially if you add small slices of cucumber, lemon wedges or do it the old fashioned way: use an old 7-Up bottle instead of a fancy $40 job), and cleanses your system from impurities you never even knew you had!

So like I said, never really been one for drinking. The thing is, though, I plan on looking this way until at least forty, and there's no way that's going to happen without a little bit of sacrifice. So why wait until I'm 35 to start taking care of myself, when I'm fully capable of starting today?


I'm a Big Kid Now

When I grow up, I don't want to be famous, have groupies, or anything else the Pussycat Dolls try to imprint on impressionable minds. In fact, I'd rather not have more than enough money, be photoshopped until I'm not me anymore to be on the cover of a magazine, or not be able to walk down the street without being recognized. Now don't get me wrong, nice cars and seeing the world would be really nice, but that's just not where my heart's at right now.

I want to grow old. And not sitting alone in a pile of cash, while my plastic face slowly melts to my feet and my tattoos sag until you can't tell what they are anymore; I don't want to have everything the world can offer, but have no one in the world to remember the good times with because I spent all my time trying to have good times instead of letting them happen. I want my face to be scattered in laugh lines and permanently creased from the times that made life worth living. I'd love to be covered in scars from all the times I took chances, not all the times I was too hammered to walk properly.

And the older I get, the cooler I want to get, not the other way around. Of course I'll have purple hair by the time I'm fifty (who really wants to spend all that money dying their hair to cover the greys, only to have it look natural? Ugh), learn to salsa and breakdance, and definitely go skydiving every chance I get. I'll go to bingo every Thursday and play the real way, with dobbers instead of machines. Best of all, I'm going to be the kind of grandma who bakes cookies and cake and those cute little custard things ALL THE TIME!

I know this isn't my usual, but it's just been hitting me so hard lately all the things I want, and everything I can definitely live without. I'd rather be in love and in debt than gloriously rich and full of regret. I want a house that's always full of laughter and Lucky Charms. And best of all, I never want to look back and wish I had done something different. I will never let myself live in the past...or without bingo.