"When I was crossing the English Channel on a dark, starless night, I stood on the deck by the captain and asked him, 'How do you know Holyhead Harbor on so dark a night as this?'

He said, 'You see those three lights? Those three must line up behind each other as one, and when we see them so united we know the exact position of the harbor's mouth.'

When we want to know God's will, there are three things which always concur--the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances! God in the heart, impelling you forward; God in His book, corroborating whatever He says in the heart; and God in circumstances, which are always indicative of His will. Never start until these three things agree."
--F.B. Meyer

George Muller says there are four parts to ascertaining God's will--
-Surrender self-will
-Study the Bible
-Consider circumstances
-Pray that God will reveal His will
11 inches is what I measured a scant hour ago. I am officially snowed in. How I am going to get Shenadoah to the mechanic's, I have no idea. Maybe we'll do like we did the other night, where the whole family spent 2 hours digging and winching our Expedition out of the snow. It had started to slide sideways off the driveway, down the steep hill. No bueno!

On the bright side, though... I've learned how to put on chains.

And so far, no one is desiring to buy my car. *sigh* I think what I'm gonna do is park my car at the bottom of the hill, by the mailboxes, and just haul stuff back and forth on a toboggan. Oh, and get winter tires for the roads. I mean, my car can handle this stuff right now, it's just the stupid driveway. And probably other people's stupid driveways. But if I stick to the main roads, I should be fine. Besides, it's only a 20 minute walk. In below freezing temps. And snow. But really, it shouldn't be that bad.

The holiday week was a whirlwind. I'm still trying to corral my digestive tract back into some semblance of order. This last week, our meal times have been kinda wacky, and my body hates that. On the plus side... turkey! It's delicious. And nutritious. I'm finding that, though my body is not used to meat, having it once in a while is actually beneficial for me. I'm still watching closely and experimenting, though.

Haven't heard a peep about the tea party scandal. However, I did talk to my counselor-mentor-friend-person, and she helped me to see the issue from a different perspective than just my hurt feelings, which was awesome. It's hard for me to think outside of myself sometimes. So, I'm glad to be able to see various sides of the situation. One of her suggestions was that I may actually need to (lovingly) confront the unnamed freak-out person about this issue and clear the air. Buuuuuut... I don't WANT to! It would be so much easier to just let it lie. To let the waters ripple themselves out until they are smooth again. Well, we'll see what happens.

Ouch. My digestive tract is acting up again. Time for some soothing herbal tea.

Oh, and as a side note... I had a 2.5 hour conversation with my mom the other day, and it was fantastic! We talked about the past, about G, about lots of other stuff... about current issues and problems... about how the past has affected our presents... it was definitely NOT superficial. I can tell that my visit home is gonna be great. More... real. Less fluff. Less pretending. Less manipulation (on my part). It's gonna be good. I can't wait to just enjoy my family. Oh, yes. Less than a month!
Twenty-two years of life
Hearts knit close to mine
Abba, Father
New family
Kitties (especially my son, Juneaux)
Financial help from my dad and grampa
Understanding friends
Lessons learned

I'm thankful for alot. Alot has happened this year. I learned to play classical guitar last night (for two songs, anyway). Even in the midst of this seemingly-simple-but-really-quite-complex maelstrom, I still have so much to be thankful for. I have a vehicle. I have many families. I have even more friends. I have the unwavering, unswerving love of my El Shaddai. I have progress in healing, and hope for the future. I have food on the table (food that I can eat!!) and warm blankets on my bed. I have two kittens who love me unquestioningly and keep me company through the dark nights. I have many clothes, and a closet to put them in. I have the basic necessities of life, and then some comforts besides. I lack for nothing.

Who am I to receive these things? I could just as easily have been born into a homeless family, or a third world country. I don't know why me, but I want to use these things I've been given for the benefit of others.

I want to remember my thankfuls all year round.
I thought I was done, but I guess not. Today, I was going to think about why it freaks me out so much not to have a vehicle. That will commence in a moment. First off, I just realized how totally ironic it is that I just read the book "Frenemy Fire" last week, and now I'm experiencing "frenemy fire" of a sort. (A "frenemy"is someone who is supposed to be a friend, but acts like an enemy.) Anyway, I guess I'll have to browse through that book again, and gain some insights into how to handle this.

It's SNOWING!! More snow than I've ever seen in my life! You should see my car...

Okay, just kidding. It is alot of snow, though (for a girl from Yuma).

So, even if my car weren't broken, I still wouldn't be able to drive it. But I realized yesterday that I do not like not being able to drive. It really freaks me out. Why? Not entirely sure... but as I assess the emotions (antsy, restless, slightly panicky), I realize that there's more to this than just "I need this car to get to work". I think it has something to do with, again, losing my livelihood... with failure... with letting people down... And also with the inability to escape, or leave, should I choose to. I am now entirely dependent upon others to get me places... and I hate that. It's as though my very freedom has been taken from me by force, by an unseen, unknowable thing that I cannot fight against.

I'm also wondering if my Provider didn't touch it and break it for me (temporarily) so that I wouldn't attempt to drive on the icy roads and perhaps lose my life?

Without my car, I cannot get places... I cannot work. I cannot do what I am supposed to do. It's like I'm paralyzed. It's like the end of Bible Work all over again (not as emotionally charged, though, thankfully). I can't do what I'm supposed to do, and I hate it, but I'm paralyzed.

Fortunately, this week is a holiday week, so everything is cancelled. Phew. But next week...

I don't even know where to begin. This is so sudden, so searingly painful...

My previously satisfying breakfast now sits in a heavy, curdled, churning mass low in my stomach.

And how is it that something so small, so seemingly insignificant, could be the catalyst for such profound torment?

I was just trying to do something nice for a friend. You stumbled upon what seems to you a major transgression (when, in fact, my conscience is entirely clear), and you begin to attempt to systematically strip away all my supports, my loved ones, and my very livelihood?! What kind of Christian are you, anyway? What kind of God do you serve? I thank God that you are not my missionary.

But, on the other hand (for the one is filled with scathing indignation and rage), I know that you, too, have been deeply wounded, and never addressed it. I was once where you are, although not cemented in place as you seem to be. If it is not in your value system, it is wrong. Period. End of story. Moreover, it is your job to correct the error... no matter what. I am glad to be free from the crushing burden of playing God. You seem to thrive in it. And now I am in your sights.

You are supposed to be my friend, my comrade, someone I can count on to hold me up when I am weak. But instead you seek to tear me down?! Why? To teach me a lesson, so I'll conform to your worldview? I think not. Instead of loving me (what an idea!), you drive me away. If I were not determined to stay where God has placed me, you can believe I'd be so far gone. This is what drives people away from God. This is what wounds people to the point they never want to come back.

You have NO IDEA!!!!! (I can't use enough exclamation points!) And yet you come traipsing along, trying to force me into your mold, your conception of who I used to be. The perfect Bible Worker is now tarnished. What would you think if I told you that I'm eating turkey for Thanksgiving dinner? You'd probably take it to the conference.

I'm sorry. I don't want to be angry at you. I just feel so betrayed. I mean, can't we at least work this out between us before you take it to the whole church? Are you trying to drive me away? Because it sure seems like it. If you're trying to make me reform and conform, the only thing you're accomplishing is to make me want to swing far, far in the opposite direction. I want to dye my hair purple, pile on the leather and spikes, and show up at your house with a miniskirt and spike heels, a cigarette in my hand. Then you could abuse me with reasonable confidence.

"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!'" {1 Chronicles 4:10}

Those are my thoughts as I think about meeting with you. I don't want to hurt you like you have hurt me. If somehow I can make you understand that this is an unacceptable way to deal with people... I know you have my best in mind (I think...)... Oh, Yah, give me a cool head and a warm heart.

I am not abandoned, either. You still love me, right? Yes, yes, You must... you've said so. Nothing can ever, ever keep you from loving me... even a pearl necklace at a dress-up tea party.

And I have my friends. My family here. My family in Athol. My friends in Montana. They're behind me. It's good to know that I'm not cut off. That would be unbearable... I might die... (and I'm not being melodramatic.)

One thing, at least, is confirmed... I can never truly be myself around you. Or your friends across the way.
Oh, El Shaddai, what do I do? Your very name means "God the Provider", yet... I'm struggling to wait patiently. I believe with all my heart that you are asking me to stay and study social work, and part of that is that I need some sort of vehicle other than the one I have! I cannot possibly make it up the driveway in winter with Shenandoah (which breaks my heart, because I love that car--it's a reminder of my grandparents). But I'm acting out of faith, not out of a selfish desire to "upgrade" or whatever. It's because I'm trying to follow you! And I've been so confident that you would come through with flying colors.

The snow came once, and I was patient; twice, and I was satisfied to wait. The third time, I held my peace, for I knew that you would do all that was good in your timing. And now? The storm begins, and snow piles against the windows. I don't even know if I can make it out of my driveway, much less back up. Oh Yah, where are your promises? Am I too impatient? Or am I reading you wrong?

Am I supposed to just drive a snowmobile?! 'Cause I will, if you tell me to. My allegiance is yours, you know that. What do you have left to prove? I know you're big. I know you're massive. But I also know that you care about me, the blip on the cosmic radar screen, because you've proved it again and again. Now, El Shaddai... show yourself mighty once more.

I don' t have any time left.


So I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm the crazy one in the S family. Not that we're not all a little weird, but I'm the one that dances around, sings silly songs, and busts out the slang words all the time. As a matter of fact, I'm finding that sometimes the fam doesn't even understand what I'm saying!!

And here I thought that I was a well-educated young lady, capable of articulating her thoughts clearly and eloquently... but it turns out that I'm just a slangster. I'm the gangster of the group. That really, really amuses me, since I grew up with the real deal.

I never really realized how "slang" my language was, but up here, they don't say stuff like "jam", "ghetto", "kill it", "bomb", "bomb-diggity", "whazzup", "homie", "dude", "whatevs" (not a standard word, but one I like to throw in for fun), "sick", or a thousand other euphemisms that, apparently, have taken up permanent residence in my vocabulary. (It's funny, because I don't necessarily write that way.)

So, the question is... is it quirky and spunky, or just low class? I guess it's in the ears of the beholder.
Going over the concept of forgiveness in CR. I feel something stirring inside my heart. Something's different, changing... but I'm not sure what.

I was trying to walk away from the path God has set me on for now. That would have been folly, but sometimes you just get so tired of fighting, you know? But the experience was a great comfort to me, because it shows me that, if I'm starting to walk out of the way, God is GOING to let me know! He's not just going to let me drift away, silently staring after my footsteps.

For some reason, the group tonight made me think of all my "flings"(i.e.-"romantic" relationships of any sort) I've had. I started listing them, one by one, in my head... and the list went on... and on... and on... So now I have this compulsion to get it out. It's like baker's chocolate... almost sweet, yet incredibly bitter, these memories... especially as I see how many shards of my hollow heart have been carelessly tossed about to the highest bidder. I pity myself, my child self. I was crying for love, acceptance, importance, meaning. I did not attain it by academic prowess. In fact, life only seemed to get worse. So... the other way to get love is, of course, to be in a relationship! Of course! How simple it is. Heh.

Here goes nothing. And in chronological order, too.

Js H- 4
Mcl -6/7
Omr -8/9/10?
Billy the pedophile-12-13
Migrant field worker-13
R U-13

That's 23.

"When the flower of love blooms in your heart, you will be loved in return."

It's not time yet.
It's hard to be upset in any way when you have an adorable kitten falling all over herself for your attention. I love it. Emily reminds me of Juneaux in some ways, but she is so her own individual personality.

Went to work for B this afternoon. Found out that I botched (yet another) job. It's probably not so bad as I feel that it is, because I hate failure and letting people down so much... but I feel like I walked away from the day with a big, red FAIL across my forehead. I'm costing B money he can't afford to lose. *sigh* Am I really an asset? Or am I a handicap? Sometimes, I'm not so sure.

But, God brought a promise to mind as I thought about it later--Psalm 37: 23, 24--"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholdeth him with His hand."

Racquetball was good, though. I played, for the first time in over a month (broke my foot), and it was a great release for my tensions. I think I did pretty well, considering my skill level before I left, and the amount of time that's elapsed since then.

Instead of going over our script, I introduced a couple of activities and tied it all together with faith--what Christian and Hopeful had to have in order to use the key of promise. I think they had fun, and I hope, hope, hope that the message hit home. Sometimes (alot of times) I feel quite inadequate and insecure facing our youth group. It's like, do they even want to be here? Are they here because I'm somehow pressuring them into it? Are they getting anything out of this? Am I really just babbling and not making sense, but they're nodding anyway? AM I DOING OK??

I guess it's a mixture of pride--wanting to do well, to seem well, and to accomplish-- and a mixture of genuine concern about my friends. Yes, they are my friends. It's more than, okay, time to go work with the "youth", although that's sorta what it started as... but now, they're my friends. I want the best for them. And I DON'T want them in any way to go through a "spiritual" experience because they are simply trying to please someone, or because they feel pressured. I just feel so... inept. Am I really doing the right thing? Is this working? Like the Pilgrim's Progress thing... Is this just my idea I'm hoisting onto them? L was SO excited... but now he doesn't even come. So... yeah. I just don't know.

I have this burden, this burning in my heart for the young people here in our church, yet I feel so ineffective and powerless to help them. *sigh* Oh, El Shaddai... provide for their needs... whether it's through me or not.

And also, it's like... well... I went to a Bible college, right? And now I know all this stuff, right? So what the heck am I supposed to do with it?? Quite frankly, I didn't learn as much as it seems I did. A lot of stuff went right over my head as I was busy trying to figure out how to survive 'till the next day (emotionally speaking). And also, if you're not witnessing, then you're a dead Christian, right? But I have such a bad taste in my mouth for "witnessing" now! I loathe the very thought of it. But I know I'm supposed to be doing it. So this is my way of "letting my light shine" (whatever light I have, that is), and if this, too, is a bomb, well... then... yeah. I don't know how to express in words the sense of keen disappointment, fear, and self-loathing that prospect arouses within me. It's almost like, why keep trying if it's all gonna flop?

And quite frankly, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that, after all my years of going to school are done, and I'm out actually doing what I believe God is asking me to do, that I'll find out, hey, you can't actually help these people. You STILL don't know what to say when someone has a problem. You are too much like them, too close to their location to be able to point them higher. Tough luck, kid.

NO! I refuse!! God's callings are His enablings! He WILL give me what I need to help other people! Go away, you dumb fears! If He's asking me to do it, he surely won't just leave me to my devices. That's not like him. That's like the god of canvassing I learned to worship. That's what he'd do. But my El Shaddai? My Yahweh? Never. For he has said unto me, My grace is enough for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. It is when you are weak that you are truly strong.

May I ever remember this. Because, really... I am weak. It would be so much easier to just... walk away. Use my weakness as an occasion for abandonment... rather than an opportunity for empowerment.

Whoever has said that Christianity is a crutch is a fool. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
It's funny how I kinda blog in my head now... stringing words and paragraphs together to describe what I'm going through at the moment... The only problem is that I never actually put them on paper. They simply vanish into the mists of oblivion, never to be recalled.

I had a great day hanging out with a friend recently. I've realized just how much I value relationships, and I'm glad this one is growing. We complement each other well, I think. I ferreted out her secret (to her chagrin?), but surely she knows that I'd never reveal it to anyone. She needs her outlet just as much as I do mine, and it would be the worst sort of treason to betray such a tender, unguarded place. Like killing a kitten. She and I are alot alike... yet, I have the support of my family, and I gather that she does not. There was a sort of guarded sadness about the subject... I think there's alot of pain there. I understand that, too. I don't know why I get the support and she doesn't, but I know that El Shaddai, God the Provider, is walking with us both through our separate paths. I'll have to be content with that for now. But I wish I could fix her heart!!

Then the electricity went out yesterday. Actually, technically, it went out Monday night, because it was storming mightily. SO, we got to enjoy a whole day of pioneer living! Wood stoves, oil lamps, and hauling buckets of water--the whole nine yards! Only, we DID use the toilets, and I was texting. Even the phone line went out! But my cell was still able to text. It was a most enjoyable day of just chilling, reading, and... I was convicted. I had decided to take a "hiatus" from Therapy Day, known to the rest of the world as Tuesday. I was tired of fighting, honestly, so I decided to call it quits for a while. Well, God blacked out northern Idaho, and I was able to read instead of work, and I was totally convicted that, in making that decision, I was doing it out of self-protection, and going against God's plans for my life at this time. So I apologized, and I won't be skipping a day again. Who knows but we might get 7 feet of snow? ^_^
Went to the Clarkston church yesterday to do a special music, and... it went well! I mean, not that I'm TOTALLY surprised, because we did practice (some), and we're all naturally musical (some). But I guess I just get a little jumpy when it comes to music for church, because it's for church. What I'm trying to say is that you're in the sanctuary, God's house, presenting music to him and to everyone who's there, and I think it's important that it goes well. It's different than being outside. I just feel that, in God's house, everything should go smoothly and without fuss, calmly and beautifully. It doesn't always happen, but I want my part to be that way. And it was! The rising tide of nervousness almost swept me away in the first few stanzas, but I prayed and got a grip on myself (put it in perspective), and that quenched the fear. It also helps that I did it last week, too.

And then, the sermon was incredible. At first, I was kinda shocked, because, as he said, he's not you're typical theology student. But he is very confident, and I think that comes from God. It's not self-confidence, but a "I'm not afraid of what you think, even if I look weird/foolish/etc." Oh, what I wouldn't give to not fear people's opinions. Yes, I'm still ruled by, "will I look stupid?" "what will they think of me?" "what if they don't like me anymore?" Argh! I want to be free of those shackles! And it's happening... slowly but surely. Slooooooooooowly but surely. Heh.

Anyway, Chad shared his testimony interwoven with his chosen portion of Scripture--Ezekiel 36:23-28. Israel is being exiled (again) to Babylonia, including Ezekiel, who's writing the book, and as they're marching off to Babylonia, they're crying out to God, "What are you doing to me? What are you doing???"

We think too much. God says, "I will... sanctify my great name, be sanctified in you before the heathen's eyes, take you from among the heathen, give you your own land, sprinkle clean water over you, cleanse you, give you a new heart, put my spirit within you, cause you to walk in my judgments, be your God.

He is going to do all these things. All we have to do is say, "Yes."


Can it be that simple?

You've gotta be kidding me.

But, yes. All we have to do is say, "Yes."

He had a rough background similar to mine--dysfunctional family, alcoholic/druggie father, sexual abuse (and probably other kinds of abuse, too)... but God has plucked him out of that... because he's learned to say, "Yes".

I know that doesn't guarantee no struggles. (Oh, that would be so nice!) But, as a jeweler doesn't waste his time cutting and polishing common gravel, El Shaddai does not waste his time by cutting and polishing unless there is something of value there. And, eventually, he will hold me up to the light and see his reflection in my clean, bright facets. How long that will be? I have no idea. But it's happening.

Can I please hold onto this thought for the dark times I know are coming? They seem to be inevitable. Maybe I should stop wasting valuable energy trying to escape the darkness, and use it to cling to the light while I'm in darkness.

"Like a lighthouse guiding those who are lost, true hope shines on, and even the blackest darkness cannot overcome the power of its light. Even death itself cannot overcome hope. When it is built on the Rock, it will stand."

It's my wedding day.

Rather, it's what would have been my wedding day, had I chosen to stay.

He's been in my head alot lately. That's not unusual.

This year is better than years past, though.

Sometimes I wonder... will I ever move on? Or am I doomed to be shackled to ghosts and memories for the rest of my life? Feeding off the sour husks of what was once a great love?

I left it behind for what I thought was something better... Maybe I was deceived.

Though I see the damage it caused, I still want it back, somehow. My glory days were in your arms, C.

God, help me to overcome this. I don't want to be a prisoner of the past anymore.

Maybe irony's not the right word. Maybe just... contrast....

I made banana-nut muffins tonight. It feels good to do something productive after a counseling session. I also ran through a light workout. I felt I needed it... I overate again. So, let's up the calories being burned, and I won't have to worry about it! lol

Anyway, it's the muffins that really made me kinda chuckle. They turned out great (no, I didn't gorge myself on them. It was potato chips--my arch-nemesis), which I'm pleased with, since it's my recipe. I just got this flashback of myself in a tiny, dingy, very brown kitchen, trying to bake my troubles away. I made banana muffins for C (among many other things), which he never really ate. But it was my way of doing something, because I was so... unhappy? unfulfilled? lonely? bored? All of the above, and then some. I was happy when C was home, but when he wasn't, I got very restless. So I baked. I enjoyed it, too. I wasn't super great, but I was okay. I could turn out some pretty good cookies and muffins, provided I had a good recipe. But it never really filled the void within (much like the potato chips do not fill the void within, but make me siiiiick).

So flash forward 3 years, and I'm in a cozy, well lit kitchen, still by myself, baking another batch of banana muffins. And yes, I'm still trying to bake my troubles away. This time, though, it's different, somehow... Maybe because I'm baking for growth, instead of baking for anesthesia, if that makes any sense.

It's just funny how you can do the same thing, years apart, and have it mean two different things.... and yet still be so similar in motive.

Now, however, the muffins get eaten.

...I finally finished my video for Principle 4, #3- The effects. After the last video listing who had harmed me and what actions they had taken that had hurt me, now I had to identify the effects those actions had on my life. I'm not sure if I did it right, but just doing it is a big deal for me. I didn't really want to face those things again. Can't we let bygones be bygones? I am SO grateful to have the Friday night meetings to look forward to, and my Weds. meetings with J to help keep me accountable in my brain. They keep me moving forward, no matter how infinitesimally.

I didn't go through and actually list each effect. I've found what works well for me is to put it into pictures.. kinda like a virtual collage. So that's what I did. Maybe I'll even put the link up here eventually after I stick it on youtube. (Not as a generally searchable item, of course! How silly that would be.)

sigh. I'm just glad to be done with that part. The next one is going to be even tougher. Growl.
So I'm not sure what is going on with me, but Kent's death brought up some stuff that a.) I don't know what it is, and b.) I don't know how to deal with it. Lots of emotions that I just kind of ignored, tried to move on as best I could because my life is still ticking forward, at least... but it came out in my sleep. Saturday night, the night after I found out, I had atrocious nightmares... I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, bile in my throat and my stomach aching and churning with an inhuman load of shame, mixed with a large dose of fear, as well as many other unpleasant emotions that I have no words for, suffice to say that it was like all the emotions from my years of victimization had been rolled into one mammoth, putrid ball and shoved down my throat. That's what I woke up to. The early morning was worst. I didn't want to be touched, talked to, nothing. But as the day progressed, it got better. I spent Sunday doing alot of nothing, trying to distract myself from the unpleasant pall that hung over my senses.

That, of course, led to an upsurge of self-hatred. I hate myself when I get nothing done. If I'm not busy, I am a failure of the worst sort.

Sunday night was better, but still bad dreams. In one of the dreams, I was praying to God, and ended up screaming at the top of my lungs (maybe so that God could hear me better?). He answered, which was great, but I still was out of sorts all Monday. Last night was better. I don't remember what I dreamed about, but it wasn't nightmares, thank the Lord. I've actually been getting to bed around 9:30 for the last few days consistently. Although I still sleep till 7, I do feel more rested. I think I'm going to keep it up, or at least try. It helps to get ready for bed before family worship.

So, with all that junk happening, I come to today--Therapy Day-- and find that I really want nothing to do with therapy at all. I don't want to wade through this stuff anymore. I mean, I do... but I don't. I'm tired of fighting an unseen enemy. The deeper I dig, the greater is my realized ignorance.

And yet... that comment from thestrippedsoul ("that rare breed that shares their heart and it encourages someone to keep fighting.") makes me stop and think... Me? encouraging someone? I mean, Lord knows that I'm not writing for anyone to read, necessarily. If they do, then great. I know it's a great tool to keep J updated on my state so that she can pray for me, be aware of trends that we need to talk about, etc. But I don't write for her. I don't write for some mysterious person out in cyberspace. I write for the health of my soul... I write for God, because otherwise I'm not really honest with him. But to think that someone is reading this stuff, the vomit of my soul, and finding it encouraging??? It's a paradox to me.

But that also makes me think of the greater purpose behind my walk through the valleys. It's not just for me. Sure, it'll be great to someday be a healthy person who operates normally. But more than that, I want to reach the end of the rainbow so that I can point other people that way, too. If I give up now, how can I ever offer anyone hope? I want to help others, so I must forge ahead... for their sakes.

I do know one thing. If my classmates insist on canvassing during the reunion, I'm not going. Canvassing, that is. That would be a huge step for me in taking a stand against doing things just to please other people and portray a certain image of myself... but I won't put myself through that again. No matter how much I want them to like me, and how afraid I am of their rejection... I can't do that again. I won't. It's like jumping into an active volcano for fun. Even if everyone else is doing it, I sure ain't! 

So... now commences the therapy day. Joy. I think I'll go practice the piano some more. I'm learning a few songs, my favorite of which (right now) is Etude in E.
Kent is dead. He died Thursday night. And here I've been praying for him for days... while he's been a cold corpse, decaying by measures...

How can this be?! I mean, I passed by him every Tuesday. We shared smiles, some jokes, light conversation... he appreciated my music. I enjoyed him and his wife... but we didn't know each other, really. And now? Now I am stricken prostrate with grief over a man that I hardly know, who no longer walks among us.

I just saw him. O God, is life really that fragile? What stops you from taking my breath away from me? How can you let the adversary do this to us? God, IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!

Why do we have to hurt this way? I'm scanning through the facebook notifications, and it's all so glib and dry, so meaningless... and I put on the same shallow mask... but all I want to do is scream at them, I DON'T CARE! Someone just died. Someone I knew.

All this talk about evangelism and GLOW and whatever else... I don't care. Why this hardened hatred in my heart, Lord? I mean, that was mother's milk to me for how many years? And now... I don't want any part in it. Maybe because I associate it with everything false in my life... the quiet agony that lay locked behind my smile, screaming silently into the aseptic abyss of doing, always doing... and...

I don't know.

I'm tired. Not just physically. I'm tired inside. And I hurt. Way down deep.

God, all I need is for you to hold me in your arms and rock me to sleep. I can't handle this on my own. It's too much for me.

I hate evangelism. But, on the same token, I love you. How can this be? When people make mention of giving Bible studies, or going door to door, or Sunshine Band (I had a harrowing experience with that today...), I panic. My stomach knots and quivers, and threatens to evacuate whatever passengers I took on at my last meal. My heart palpitates and cowers before the inevitable beating it will take to convince it to go along with this farce. My mind steels itself, pushing down the mental bile and sternly rebukes itself, "This is right. This is proper. You WILL do this, because you are a Christian." And, once more, I am forced into the cold, iron cage of what is right, what is seemly, and what is expected of me... and I hate it. I hate what people will think if I rebel. I hate the prospect of being an outcast. I hate the prospect of people finding out what I'm really like. "The Bible worker is not who we thought she was! Deception! Heresy! Stone her!"

Heresy, indeed. A SOULS student who loathes evangelism. Go figure.

Yet, if you were going to zap me, wouldn't you have done it by now?

It seems that this good thing has brought little but pain and isolation to my life--two things that I hate beyond all reason.

Basically, I just want to throw back my head and scream a savage, guttural scream of frustration, fear, anger, grief, and a myriad swirl of other restless emotions.

I can't believe Kent's death is bringing all these other emotions up. I'm still so angry. I don't know if I want to sleep... I'll probably dream about voodoo dolls or something.

You say you can use me? How? All I see is brokenness. Fall leaves littering the ground, with no promise of spring.

...I guess this is where faith comes in, huh?

Oh, El Shaddai... provide for me now, in my need. I have nothing to give.

I feel pretty crappy today. And angry. Why angry? Because I'm having SOULS flashbacks.  If I were canvassing, it wouldn't matter how ill I felt, I'd have to suck it up and work anyway. It doesn't matter. And, for the longest time, I've thought God is that way, too. It doesn't matter if you're depressed. Who cares if you're sick as a dog? You get out there and do your job, because I said so. If you don't, you can bet that you'll not be ready when I come back, so watch out!

So, anyway, that just makes me angry. I know it wasn't intentional on the part of SOULS staff, but that's what I got. In response, I say, forget you! I'm never canvassing again, so there! Hah.

As if they can hear me. As if I'd actually say that to anyone's face.

And now, I am going to suck it up and work. Not because I have to, but because I want to do my part. Plus I've been resting for an hour or so, and I feel better.
I've been reading a book about Joseph by Terri L. Fivash (it's called "Joseph", which makes it easy to remember what it's about!), which I'm really enjoying. She has painstakingly researched the culture, traditions, etc. of the times that Joseph lived in, so she's able to re-create his experiences as he ended up in crazy Egypt. In other words, the sights of the market, the food he ate, the way he dressed, the political scene he would have had to learn about when he became second under Pharaoh... I had never realized that God's hand was in his being thrown into prison, for it was there that God was able to truly prepare him for his position as second under Pharaoh. Think about it. He met people from all kinds of classes as they passed through the system, he heard their complaints, learned what the status of the land was from the people who made up the land... like Moses, herding sheep, a seemingly futile experience was the stepping stone for his greatness. And seriously--if a slave/prisoner can rise to rule the country, then what can't God do with someone's life when they let him?

I realized that I really resonate with Joseph. He was violently betrayed by those who were supposed to be his family, who were supposed to nurture and encourage him... but they sold him, for their own selfish reasons. My soul has been torn to shreds over and over again by those who were supposed to be my role models, the ones to nurture and encourage me... and they stepped on me, squished me flat, for their own selfish reasons.

Yet it was in Egypt, the land of darkness, that Joseph found healing and a true perspective of his past. It was there he found out who God really is, and what it means that he's "there" when things are hopelessly dark. I, too, journey through darkness to reach the light. It seems so improbable, so impossible, so dichotomous that it is journeying through "Egypt", through the seemingly impenetrable darkness, that I would find healing. And sometimes I hate it. Can't I just travel through the magical land of sunshine and rainbows instead? But that's not where strength comes from. Anyone can be "strong" when things are going well. It's when your world crumbles around your ears that you find out what true strength is.

Something that struck me was God. To me, alot of times God is this vague, nebulous entity, not really a person, but more of an idea... and maybe that's because of the title "God". It's a noun, but not really a proper noun... like calling my sister "Girl" or Juneaux "Cat". But that's not his name. It's just his job title, really. Joseph knew God as "El Shaddai"--God the Provider, God the Mountain. Ruth knew him as "Yahweh"--He who is (truly present), or I will be to you all that I am. I mean, he was a real person to them, not just an invisible magic 8 ball floating in the sky somewhere.

When Joseph was in Egypt, they already had their own gods-- Ra, Isis, Osiris, Hathor, etc. So when Joseph spoke about El Shaddai, it was "my God". I see this as similar to a woman who refers to her husband as "my husband". It is a personal, individual thing. Anyway, that just really spoke to me. I'm tired of serving the gods of my imagination. I want to know El Shaddai, Yaweh-- the true God, who has desired to take a heartbroken young woman under his wing. I want to really know him as a person, not as slave to master, but as friend to friend. If he really is who he says he is, that is certainly possible.

And now, autumn leaves.

The landscape is a riot of fall colors, each brightly distinct, yet merging with the whole to glide symphoneously together in a beautiful, transient work of art. As I look at the leaves, I think, "Wow. They are so beautiful. What makes them so pretty? Because, really... they're beautiful because they are dying." I find that to be a fitting analogy for my life right now. (Except my life is not as beautiful as the fall leaves, I think.) I'm dying. Everything I've known is being stripped down, spun around, and turned inside out.

The leaves turn colors because, as the days get shorter, they take the cue that winter is coming. They stop photosynthesis, the process in which they convert sunlight into energy (glucose), and as the chlorophyll fades away, we see the colors that were in the leaves all along. They were just covered up by the bright green of the chlorophyll. In some cases, the colors are due to the waste products the leaves give off, or the glucose itself turning colors when it becomes trapped in the leaves.

It is fall in my heart. Photosynthesis has stopped, and leaves of habits long formed swirl slowly to the ground. Soon, winter will be here, and I will be stripped of all that is not necessary. Then? Then comes spring, where the buds of hope and future joy swell on my bare branches.

On second thought... maybe it's already spring.
It seems like the words are more difficult to find when all is going smoothly. ("Smoothly" is a very, very relative term, of course...) They remain curled amongst each other in their murky dens, loathe to untangle themselves and crawl onto the glaring white of my screen.

Today was hard. Not in the gut-wrenching, heart-rending way that is so common to me lately... but in a more wearisome, numbing way. I'm still working on Step 4-- my searching and fearless moral inventory. Fearless. Hah. Well, fine. I'll just rename my emotions... I am experiencing trepidation when it comes time to work this step. How's that? Anyway, I've already identified the objects of my resentment and fear (though more have come to mind since), and what actions they took to harm me. Now, I'm on #3-- what are the effects of those actions on my life? For crying out loud, I don't know!


I do know, however, that I'd like to have these facial features, arranged in this particular symmetry, with these particular colors:

I found her while looking for pictures to put in my #3 worksheet video.

Things are going pretty good on the homefront, though, and that's a plus. It was really, really hard for a while, because communication had pretty much broken down entirely, and we (meaning "they" and "I") were both in survival mode, with nothing to give anyone else, really... it was hard. I even contemplated leaving, but I realized that would be stupid. How am I ever going to learn to work through conflicts, tensions, and stress healthfully if I keep running away from it? Right. I'm not.

Anyway, we worked through that with a series of conversations, and it feels like I'm a plant that's finally getting water. I've just kind of perked up, without any effort at all. It's amazing. Now, if only it would stay like this forever with no maintenance... (Yeah... right.)

There's more to discuss, but all my brain seems to want to discuss right now is the peculiar qualities my pillow has been imbued with, especially when it comes in contact with a certain set of follicles possessed by yours truly.