...I decided that, after massage school, I wanted to go to school for neurobiology and/or counseling?

Oh, that would be so much fun... such a challenge... Neurochemicals fascinate and excite me. For instance, the book "Hooked" is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Hmm... what if?
Yesterday I got sick, fever and all. (Okay, really, it shouldn't surprise me, since I've been fighting off a low-grade respiratory infection for... a month now? And I've had--relatively--quite a bit of sugar over the past few days, since it's a holiday and all. A chocolate bar and my very own container of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Oh, and I shared a gallon of green tea with J. Bad idea... but delicious. ^_^) So I didn't do much of anything, really. I stayed in my pj's most of the day.

Today... I stayed in my pj's until, like, 3 p.m. Didn't do much. The fever's half gone, just a very low-grade one of a degree or so. Paltry, really. (Emergen-C saves the day!!)

I'm torn between whether to enjoy and luxuriate in the freedom to do absolutely nothing if I wish, or whether to give in to the guilt and scorn I feel toward myself upon doing absolutely nothing.

But can I not, if I choose, stay in my pajamas and watch 2 chick flicks in a row if I desire?

Yes. I can. I have that choice. Is the the wrong choice? That I cannot say, but I do know that I have the choice. It is my decision, and I need to be okay with it, whichever way I choose.

Moving on from that... Mom and R (mostly R, I think) have decided to give J the counseling she desires, once they found out that on our insurance it's only a $20 copay each session. She and I had a talk on the way home from church last week, and she broached the topic.

"I think I need therapy."

"What makes you say that?"

"I'm really depressed."

Ah. I get that. I shared with her what I've learned, how it's helped... and how I used to (and still do) self-medicate with music, relationships. She was like, "I do that too! I listen to music to make myself feel better, to forget everything." Huh. We're more alike than I thought. Which is odd, considering that we haven't lived together much in our lives. Once Mom finally got custody of the two little ones back, I was already in high school, and a couple of years later I went away to academy. Then they moved to the midwest, and we've seen each other, like, once a year for the past four years.

Anyway, I told J that I'd champion the cause for her, and I shared our conversation with R two days later. I could tell that he really wanted to help J get better, but he just hadn't realized that it was so affordable. (PTL that I started counseling and worked out the cost on our insurance already!) He's going to start looking around for someone good to take her to, and possibly even Jr. We all agree that K needs it too, but the problem is the desire to change, you know? K doesn't seem to feel her need, so she won't talk or work through things. J feels her need, and that makes all the difference.

I've discovered that I love perch. The fish. It's delicious. I'm finding that I really enjoy fish! Who knew?

The reason I felt the urge to blog was because I need to process through the future, and the coming changes.

I haven't had the guts yet to even touch my feelings about the S's, because they're so ambivalent. Maybe after I leave and it's "safe" lol. When I left for summer camp, there were no problems, but the intervening months have brought up conflicting feelings within me, and I desire to understand the roots of these feelings. I do know that I love them, and they're family. That's enough for now, I think.

Gramma agreed to allow me to bring Holly with me! She's not *thrilled* with the idea, but she'll accept it... I think more for the sake of her love for her granddaughter than anything else. Oh well... what are connections for, if not to milk for personal gain and satisfaction? Kidding...

The movies I've been watching lately and the books I've read have gotten me to thinking... what's my focus in life, what's my purpose? What am I aiming for? And what are my "side focuses"?

I kind of see it as having one large passion to pursue, and then having little passions (like hobbies) on the side. And this, along with personality, comprises who you are.

So who am I?

Being here, without a schedule, without expectations, has given me a glimpse into the near future, when I will be on my own, determining a vast portion of my daily life. And, truly, it's those little decisions that collide against each other, one by one, until you have this massive pileup that is "how the day went".

What food choices am I going to make? How often will I eat, what will I eat, and how much? (This affects my budget, too!) (Oooh! I can work my way through the soup cookbooks I got for Christmas!)

How will I get my exercise? I'd like to go for walks and go hiking in the nearby mountains, but I definitely don't want to give up racquetball. Ought I to join a gym? I'd love to join an exercise or dance class. I've been toying with the thought of taking up jogging... which I've previously hated, but who knows? I passionately love nutritional yeast flakes, onions, and avocados, three things I could not stand until just a few years ago.

I think I'll join the library. I need a fresh supply of books to occupy my mind.

I'll have sermons to prepare, undoubtably, and special musics to prepare for as well. I want to work with the youth again-- at least start our game nights back up, get some activities going. The family that plays together stays together :).

Of course I'll be taking piano lessons, which I'm SUPER stoked about. Music is definitely a "side passion".

I'll be working with the Healing Journey, so that means support groups at least once a week, plus additional extras, like fundraisers. I am going to ask S if I can job shadow her as a social worker, so I can see what it's really like. Mom and K brought up the idea of volunteering at the animal shelter to walk the dogs, and I'd LOVE that! I also want to get involved with the homeless shelters around Y. Homeless people frighten and intrigue me. I'm not homeless in the sense that they are, but I have been. If not the homeless shelters, then the battered women's shelter. It's a secret location, but unless they've moved in the last 6 years or so, I think I know where they are.

Above all, my decision to attend school in the fall must remain firm. It's partially because this is a good thing I know I'll benefit from, and be able to help other people with, but more than that-- it is my commitment to a decision, my undeterred pursuit of a goal that I have set.

I've been tossed about by circumstances, chance, and whimsy for so long... I want to push through obstacles and achieve something. Yes, my personality is partially fickle and capricious, and that's fine, but... at least this once... I want to persevere.

This is a season of change, I recognize that. And I'm discovering much about myself, about what I like and dislike, about my boundaries. That's a good thing. (Heh, realizing that D and I may be more compatible than I had initially thought, too... interestingly. But figuring out who I am apart from a desire to please anyone else is a much better way to do things!)

I'm realizing how paradoxical I am, too. I am fragile, to be sure, but I am also strong beyond belief. It takes a special strength to have lived the kind of life I have and come out the other side a survivor, rather than a victim. The very next breath I took, the very next heartbeat, made me a survivor. Victims die, survivors live. And even though I survived broken, I still survived. Nothing can change that.

Now, in this time of uncertainty and learning, I am still strong. I will not shatter, even as the waves of risk pound and rush through my very being.

I will pursue my goal, and I will enjoy it! I'm going have fun living, for crying out loud!

And if that means that some days I stay in my pajamas until 3 p.m., then that's okay.

By the way, you know what sucks?

Yeah, I still love D. For crying out loud. I wish I could just forget about him, but... he's got a tender place in my heart. Don't get me wrong-- it's not like I'm ready to move to Alaska and marry the guy. That would not be a wise decision. But I still find hope floating to the surface, and I think about him frequently enough for it to be noticeable to me.

I asked my mom how you know when you love someone, and she said that, basically, it's when you want what's best for the other person no matter what, even if it goes against what you want, or even hurts you. You care about what's best for them before you care about what's best for you. Upon digesting and pondering that... that's where I'm at with D. It's pretty simple, really.

Unrequited love bites. That's all.

Part of my pressing forward and pursuing my goal is forgetting about D, forgetting about Alaska (for now-- I still REALLY want to go there someday), and forgetting about romance and relationships.

Did I mention that I feel doomed-- er, that is called-- to singleness? LOL. Seriously, though, I've finally come to that place where I've made peace with the thought of being single for the rest of my life. Thanks, D. You helped with that. No, it's not a knee-jerk defense against being hurt again. It's a thought out conclusion, something to the tune of You know... being single really isn't bad. I mean, I enjoy it. I want to get married someday, sure, but if that doesn't happen... that's okay. Doesn't mean I won't be lonely at times, but it'd be okay. Yeah. I'd be alright. I can focus on learning about God's love instead of some guy's. ^ _ ^
"I am preparing you for what is on the road ahead, just around the bend. Take time to be still in My Presence so that I can strengthen you. The busier you become, the more you need this time apart with Me. So many people think that time spent with me is a luxury they cannot afford. As a result, they live and work in their own strength--until that becomes depleted. Then they either cry out to Me for help or turn away in bitterness.

How much better it is to walk close to Me, depending on My strength and trusting Me in every situation. If you live in this way, you will do less but accomplish far more. Your unhurried pace of living will stand out in this rush-crazed age. Some people may deem you lazy, but many more will be blessed by your peacefulness. Walk in the Light with Me, and you will reflect me to the watching world."

{Isaiah 64:4; John 15:5; Psalm 36:9}

-Jesus Calling, pg. 378-
Today... was a good day. Yeah, it was.

As I learn more about free choice and personal responsibility, it becomes easier to spend time with my family. As I told my sis, J, though... I don't want to live here full-time. The family's just still too... dysfunctional?... for that. But that's okay. God's working with us. He's healing, I know he is. I can see it.

So we got up late, and ate breakfast around 11. I made tahini-basil polenta, R made coffee-cake, Mom fried up some chicken and beef bacon, and we had some fruit.

Then we sorta tidied up (sorta! lol) and headed into the living room for gift opening. I think we probably got started on them around noon, and we got done around two. Our family has a tradition of going around the circle, youngest to oldest, each person opening one gift at a time. That way the entire family can appreciate the gift and the giver... and the reaction :)

I received many lovely gifts (I had the most out of everyone! Everyone else finished opening theirs, and I still had a whole stack to go. A little ironic, since I'm the one that dislikes money spent on me the most lol), and they're pretty much all practical. Jr. got me a set of matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) measuring cups that are SO CUTE! And Mom and R got me a set of teeny, stacking measuring spoons that are just perfect. I got face wash and body spray, a couple of cookbooks dedicated exclusively to soups (I love soup!), a jar of Amish Apple Butter, a notebook, a cluster of colored pencils made out of sticks, some sticky notes that look like an apple (quite clever!), a hat/scarf set in grey, foot-pampering lotion and soak from Mary Kay, a miniature hot glue gun, some ink for my fountain pen, and a button/pin that says "Meh." on it :) Oh, yes, and the piece de resistance, a Swedish Chef plush doll!! Yay! I had a Swedish Chef, but he mysteriously disappeared during one of my many moves. I don't know what happened to him, quite frankly. I know he's not at C's, but he's just... gone. :( But now he has been replaced! I'm so happy :)

I asked Mom if perhaps, next year, she and R would consider getting me just one or two things (since gifts are her love language, and she would be most unhappy if I didn't accept anything from her) and then donate to a couple of charities of my choice in my name? She said she thinks that would be okay, so that's a hopeful thing to look forward to for me. I choose Amazima and Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.

After presents, we pulled out The Game of Life that K had gotten, and played a game. I ended up making potato tacos in the middle of it, but it was a long game! Fun, though. I look forward to trying it again. Mom popped their turkey in the oven mid-afternoon, and we had a "fancy" Christmas supper, complete with nice plates and wine glasses- turkey, stuffing, broccoli, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, and perch for me. (I've never had perch before, but it was really good!!!) Oh, yes, and Martinelli's sparkling apple cider. No festive occasion is complete without Martinelli's.

Then we had dessert while watching Horton Hears A Who. The fam had pumpkin pie, I had mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream. Mmmmm.... Then the kids started playing Call of Duty again, and I pulled out the Count of Monte Cristo for some quality time with Edmond Dantes.

I've realized, upon being here... my family has contributed in a great way to the development of my personality. I mean, really. It's so strange being around 5 other people who crack jokes like I do, who goof around like I do, who quote movies and break into song like I do... I mean, I fit. This is where it came from. It's a trip... and yet, very refreshing and calming. Wow, I'm not the only one! I don't agree with all the humor, of course, and they know that, but they're good about keeping it clean for me.

R mentioned on the way home from the airport that he wants to talk to me about school. He's not aware of any of the details of my plans, just vague generalities. He didn't even know it was a two-year associate's program. But he did throw out this suggestion (which I promptly dismissed as not an option)- if I wanted to stay in Y and go to AWC for a degree in social work, staying with my grandparents, he and Mom could probably cover my tuition.

Whoa, hello! What an offer! But I told him I didn't want to, partially because I want to try to do this myself, you know? And partly because I know they're struggling financially already, and I will not impose the burden of my education upon them.

Right. He did say, however, that I could pay them back afterward, like a school loan, and, quite frankly, I'd rather be indebted to my kin than the government or a large, capitalist establishment. So I told him, why don't you just pay my way through massage school?! LOL. That's when it came out that he didn't realize what course of study I was pursuing, exactly, so he said we'd talk about it later, as we had arrived at the house and Mom was impatiently awaiting my departure from the truck. We haven't had a chance to talk about it yet, but we will. He won't forget that discussion, and neither will I. We shall see.

I still fully intend to go to this massage school come September.

Another opportunity arose, though, when a friend of mine called me up and said I should come work on a farm in eastern Az until school starts. Wouldn't that be super cool?! But the draw of working with the Healing Journey is just so powerful that I can't dismiss it, nor do I want to. I am toying with the idea, though, of going for a month this summer, like July. J will be there too, and that would be a super awesome aggie party- roomies reunited. Bliss. JC will be there, too, and we've always gotten along well. He's a neat guy, and we have fun. Plus the O's are there, and that's, of course, a huge draw.

Food would be, of course, my big concern (as always). It's hard to work with an operation like that and find time to prepare special meals. :-[ The curse of my life... (although, I have found that having food allergies has really helped me make healthier food choices. A lot of times, even though I want something, I simply can't have it, and that makes saying "No" infinitely easier. Somehow, I need more severe ramifications than a ruffled conscience.)

It is now 4 am. I think I should fall asleep now. I haven't stayed up this late in a very long time... especially when nothing is wrong. Usually, it's when I'm having a battle with darkness that I'm up all night. Tonight, though... I just didn't feel like sleeping.
For today... Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Outside my window... My bed's in the basement. No egress windows. Besides... it's the middle of the night. Nothin' to see. :)

I am thinking... about food. And school. And moving. And the fact that I haven't called the S's at all since I've been gone (oops!). And R changing my ticket so I can stay here longer. And exercise regimens. And sticking to my "healthier lifestyle" commitment.

I am thankful... for a family that understands me... sorta. :) For people who crack jokes the same way I do. For respect of my personal beliefs, regardless of differing personal beliefs. For practical Christmas gifts that (hopefully) didn't cost an arm and a leg.

From the learning room... The Count of Monte Christo is equally fascinating and tedious... and quite a bit unlike the movie... but enough to where I can still watch the movie with enjoyment.

I am wearing... Pajamas, wool socks.

I am going... to go jogging with one of the dogs tomorrow. To work on K's farewell present. To work on our camp-in plans. To call the S's. To have worship with the kids again tomorrow night (got sidetracked by festivities). To call my grandparents and see if they'll let me bring my cats with me :) To talk to R about school plans and funding and whatnot.

I am reading...  The Count of Monte Christo. It's all-absorbing right now.

I am hoping... to not gain weight while I'm here. I seem to invariably put on five to ten pounds. I am hoping to help Mom clean/paint the house in Indiana.

I am looking forward to... church next week. Getting into a more favorable routine that doesn't involve staying up until the wee hours of the morning and having breakfast at 9, 10, or 11 am. (Ugh!)

I am hearing... the silence of a sleeping house.

A few plans for the rest of the week: R's surprise bday party on Thursday. Mb Indiana on Friday? No plans, really. Just enjoying my family, reading, playing board games, watching movies, and making good food.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

I had a teacher in grade school that didn't like me much. I think it was a grudge against my family that somehow got redirected towards me, but I'm not sure. Regardless, my teacher didn't like me much, and I sometimes got into trouble. (I would NEVER get into trouble otherwise! Uh-uh, no m'am! lol)

One year, we were drawing pictures of the Advent- you know, classic manger scenes- and I got into trouble for making mine too realistic. In my drawing, Mary was lying in a pile of straw on the floor of an empty, dirty barn, her dress hiked up to mid-thigh, blood all over her legs, and bags under her eyes. Yeah, in retrospect, that may have been a bit graphic. I mean, aren't ten year olds supposed to be sheltered from that kind of thing? But I was tired of all the serene, surreal manger photo-ops that had ushered me through so many holiday seasons.  I wanted to draw it how it really was, how it really happened- dirt and blood and lack of sleep and everything. (To placate the teacher, I went back with an eraser, got rid of the blood, and lengthened Mary's hemline. The bags stayed.)

Today, the church service got me thinking... we tend to make Christmas so shiny and magical, we lose sight of what really happened. It's become so sparkly and tinselly that it has lost all relevance to every-day living.

What really happened?

First of all, you have a girl, probably younger than myself, facing her first pregnancy and her first marriage, all at the same time.

Will he believe me? I mean, what a story! He's going to divorce me, and then what will happen to me? I can't support myself, especially with a child! I have to believe that God will work it out somehow, because this was his idea, but... seriously?!

And I thought applying for schools was tough.

After Divine intervention, Joseph decides to go ahead with the marriage after all. Stressful for the both of them, as people are prone to talk, but probably a great burden off of Mary's mind. She had stability and economic security for the future, both for herself and her coming child.

Then, they get news that they have to travel to Joseph's ancestral home-town, in relation to a tax hike. Great. Just what they need- heavier taxes, not to mention traveling expenses! But they make the trip regardless.

A modern day walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem is 157 km (97.5 miles), which would take about a day and a half, depending on how fast you walk.

If you think about it, the trip is probably what induced Mary into labor, irrespective of whether she rode a donkey or walked.

So, there they are in a foreign city, all the hotels booked, and Mary is going into labor with her first child. She has no women around to help guide her through this very important event, no hospital to check in to... no private place to have this child. Is she going to have the baby on the street? No, someone offers the use of the barn. The barn. You know... the place where animals eat, sleep, and relieve themselves. Not exactly the most sanitary place to have a child.

So Joseph helps his wife have her first baby. She has no anesthesia. They have no umbilical clamps. Where did they get the water to clean up Mary and the baby? Where did they get the cloths? You can't exactly use a towel and then throw it in the washer for the next day. Did she bring a spare change of clothes? Did she have a spare change of clothes?

But, really, I see the beauty in God's bringing shepherds as the first people to come pay their respects to the very new family. Shepherds are accustomed to birthing sheep, and know what to do in the aftermath of the entrance of a new life. Perhaps they were able to assist Joseph in making Mary more comfortable, offering tried and true remedies to relieve the pain, practical tips on keeping the baby safe and sound, making sure infection doesn't set in, etc.

The manger scene we present now is gilt-edged and sparkly, echoing with the sounds of the Vienna Boy's Choir. In reality, it was a pretty crappy day from our perspective. Nothing went "right", and yet all went according to plan.

That amazes me. Nothing went "right", and yet all went according to plan. God's hand was still on them, even though it did not fit the mold of the typical situation.

I think we tend to do that to Christianity, in general. We airbrush it, spray paint it with gold, scatter some glitter on it... we pretend it isn't hard. We present this glamorous, sparkly facade so that people will want some of what we got, but when they break through the thin, scintillating crust, they find that it is hard.

Yes, Christianity is hard. But we don't want to tell people that, because they might not want to follow God if they know it will be hard. My generation was raised in a culture that embraces, and even glorifies, instant gratification and the path of least resistance. We don't like difficult. People don't, generally, as a rule, like difficult. I have come to the point, however, where I like difficult... in a certain way.

It's like the day my Mom brought home new cups for everyone. She had found a great dollar store and brought us each home a cup. Mine was made out of stone, and K's was made of ceramic, painted pearlescent silver and gold, and styled to look somewhat "Roman". It was pretty, but I have always preferred wood or stone over ceramic. Now, years later, we still have our cups, but the ceramic is cracked, and the paint is chipped and peeling. It's still lustrous, but not as appealing. My stone cup, however, has maintained every iota of its charm and dignity throughout the years, and now currently houses my toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.

I see this as a comparable analogy. Yes, following God is hard. It's not the pretty painted, ceramic cup that we sometimes make it out to be... but it's sturdy. It is beautiful, but a beautiful that has substance, purpose, and lasting value.

The damage that we do when we superficialize the manger scenes is this-- we trick the world into complacency. They don't understand that we serve a God who understands "hard". He gets it. He did it. As the newborn in the ill-equipped barn, and as the one who had to let him go into a world fraught with danger and pain... God gets it. He understands.

Christmas is not about shiny. Christmas is about reality- about grit, and hay, and excruciating pain, and... enduring beauty. Substance. Hope. Meaning, purpose, and joy.

There is joy, but it's not necessarily sparkly. There is glory, but it's not necessarily shiny and gold. Our plastic and paper Christmases have robbed us of the understanding that, in following God, things don't have to be going "right" to be according to plan. In fact... it's usually when things are at their most "wrong" that God blazes through the most brilliantly.
I like to walk while I talk to God. It does so much more for me than kneeling by my bed.

On the trip here, I read a book... a really good book. It stirred in my heart a longing for something more-- to really know and experience the love of God, and to let that love flow through and spill over into every day... to really love the people around me. Every single person.

I can't do that, I'll confess it right now. No. I don't know what it is to truly love, just as I struggle with what it is to truly trust.

But God's been working with me on that.

As I look back on this past season of my life, I see a predominant theme: Trust.

God has been asking me, "Will you trust me?"

The more we work through, the quicker my answer comes back, "Yes."

It's hard, though. It's hard to trust something that you can't tangibly see, that doesn't always make sense, and that is, quite frankly, under the greatest of attacks. The whole world tells me not to believe in God, to forget about this "religion thing" and move on with my life. Try to recoup the years that I missed while I've been "deprived", and have some fun before I die.

But here's the thing... I've been looking at the actions and underlying messages that are coming through, and all I see is emptiness. Hollow, meaningless banter and canned laughter that does little to disguise the purposelessness of it all.

I want to live with fervor, passion, and meaning. Every day. And I think it's possible. But the key is love.

And here's the thing... I've been looking at the churches around me, at the actions and underlying messages that are coming through, and all I see is emptiness. Hollow, meaningless platitudes and thinly veiled attempts at control and manipulation. That, that is purposeless beyond purposelessness, when the people who are supposed to have found the answer and the antidote have only found a prettier avenue to walk down to Sheol.

I have seen, though, that this last season God has been working with me on trust. And, just as clearly, I see that the next step is love.

God, teach me to love, please. In a real, practical way, show me what love is. I cannot give what I do not have, and I cannot share what I do not understand. God... teach me about love. Please. I want to learn.

In worship with mom and the kids tonight, I read this little gem from the first chapter of The Messiah. It's a seed for the harvest that will come later, and I want to record it to remember.

"The law of selfless love was broken in heaven itself. Sin began as selfishness. Lucifer, the brightest and mightiest angel, wanted more. He wanted to be the most important being in heaven. He tried to gain control of the other angels by breaking their loyalty to God. He wanted the angels looking at him.

He began implying that God was demanding worship and loyalty. He painted God as a self-centered dictator who tolerated no questions and no doubts. (This SO aptly describes the picture of God I've had for so long, it's unreal!) With these suggestions, Satan deceived the angels. With the same ideas, he would deceive humans. He led them to doubt God's word and to question his goodness. He tricked them into seeing a God of justice and awesome majesty as cruel and unforgiving. By misrepresenting God's character, Satan pulled humans into his rebellion. The long dark night of earth's history began.

The only way to lighten the shadows was to show that Satan's description of God was wrong. This couldn't be done by force. Force has no place in God's plans. He wants only a response of love, and love does not happen on demand. Love cannot be forced or ordered of anyone. Love is returned only when love is offered.

To know God is to love him. So the way to lead humans back to God was to show humans what God was really like. This could be done by only one Being in the universe. Only Jesus, who knew the limitless love of his Father, could make that love clear to all others.

The plan to save humans was not an afterthought. It was in place before Adam and Eve sinned. The plan was a natural result of the law of selfless love. God's throne and the operation of the universe was founded on this principle. From eternity, God and Jesus knew of Lucifer's fall and that his lies would lead humans to rebel also.

God didn't create sin. He did not want it to exist. But he knew that it would happen and made a plan to deal with that most critical emergency. His plan revealed the great love he had for this world and for humanity. He promised to give his one and only Son, 'that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.' (John 3:16)

Satan in his selfishness wanted to be more important, more honored. He wanted to become a god. Jesus, in his selfless love, did not care about glory or honor. He became a human being."

(All emphasis mine.)
Okay, okay, so I'm not really "ogling", at least not in the true sense of the word.

But I've realized... I'm really, really attracted to handymen. Men that build houses, like the guys working on the house next door to my mom's home. Even though they might not be my "type" physically at all, the fact that they're building something magically infuses them with this desirability that's pretty potent.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't know these guys from Adam. Personality plays a huge role in attractiveness to me, but the fact still stands that I am attracted and drawn at a very visceral level to a guy that can build things, fix cars, repair stuff, grow food, hunt and fish, etc. And if they're musical, too? I'm a goner.

Maybe that's why I was so smitten with D. He's a handyman for sure, and can do all of that other stuff too. (Except the musical part. He sang, but that was about it.) C was similar in that regard, as well.

So, with those thoughts in mind, I'm really, really trying not to stare at the guys next door.

At least... not where they can see me. ;)
For today... Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Outside my window... A different state than I am used to-- I'm in Wisconsin! It's a suburb, sorta country. Nice. Not too overwhelming. Lots more people than I'm used to, but they're all tucked away in their houses now, due to the dark and the cold that accompanies winter nights.

I am thinking... about how to love my family in real, tangible, God-honoring ways.

I am thankful... for safe travels. For a family that loves each other, no matter what. For money to buy food, for clothes to wear, and for a warm bed at night. For health care. For clean drinking water. For water to take my showers and wash my clothes and my food. For running water, period.

From the learning room... Abductor means moving away from the body, adductor means moving toward the body.

I am wearing... black t-shirt, my mom's "Because I'm the Mom, that's why!" apron, jeans, smartwool socks given to me by K (one of the best gifts I've ever received!), and my sister's purple slippers, which are much too small for me :)

I am going... to make supper for the familia. Kale soup and rice. Go grocery shopping. Have worship with the kiddies, make truffles with Mom. Play a board game or two, and hit the sack.

I am reading...  Finished Kisses from Katie on the plane, and now I'll be continuing Hooked. Oh, and I read the 5th Justin Case book while I ate lunch.

I am hoping... to make an impact while I'm here. A positive one.

I am looking forward to... having nightly worships with the kids... whether they like it or not. Ha! lol

I am hearing... classical music (Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Bach), J's shower water running. Jr. muttering to himself while he plays a video game.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I don't have any! I'm gonna just go with the flow and see what happens. A grand experiment :)

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

Well, I've made my decision. I'm going to Y, and starting school in September.

It's a good decision, and it's been confirmed on several fronts. (Most importantly, my financial aid advisor at the school told me that it's my wisest option right now, financially.)

The Christmas concert is over, and it went well. I came to the point where I thought, "Que sera sera". It is what it is. The kids did well :)

So... I'm supposed to be packing. But I'm not. (Clearly.) I just want to veg, and not DO anything anymore. I'll get plenty of that on the plane, I suppose. I am going to exert my will and do this thing! Pack my suitcases like a boss.

Tonight, we're going to open gifts, and that'll be nice. We did a secret gift exchange, you know, drawing names? That made it so us poor people could still do something in the way of gifts :)

I had quite the experience on Thurs. I drove up the grade to drop off some bikes at a friend's house (they're currently in Thailand, and we're borrowing their bikes), and when I hit the "unlock" button on the car (not my car, btw), I accidentally "locked" the car. I ended up being locked out of J's running car for three hours... the ONE night that it had snowed several inches. And I was wearing tennis shoes, having just left racquetball. And, naturally, I locked my hat, gloves, scarf, and jacket inside the car (which was also remarkably warm and toasty). And, just as naturally, J has no spare key. Of course.

Well, after hiking down to the neighbor's house and essentially hijacking his cell phone (he had a severe  toothache and sort of endured the situation, but was a great sport and a wonderful help), finding out that AAA will not come to your aid unless you are the owner of the car, finding a piece of wire in the snow and getting in the window (only to find that it was too short to do anything), and ending up in the neighbor's house watching TV for a while, I finally got into the car when our local transvestite locksmith came up the grade to my rescue.

My, oh, my. I drove the hour home and fell into bed about one a.m.

I guess that's what I get for liking adventure ^_^

Thinking of going to Y, I had to challenge the "all-or-nothing" cognitive distortion that I follow so easily, and realize that, just because I'm not going to school immediately does not mean that it's not happening.

I heard this song today, and feel like it applies to me and this next phase of my life.

Talked to my grandparents- they'd LOVE to have me for many moons. :)

As I told my grampa, going to this school is not a matter of "if", but "when"-- will I go in January, or will I wait until September? As I told the family at the dinner table, when you think about it, 9 months is not a big chunk of time. In the grand scheme of things, this decision really isn't a huge one. It could change my life forever... but then again, it probably won't.

Turning left at the stop-sign instead of right could maneuver me away from a potential fatal car accident, but do I know that? No. Life altering decisions are usually not conscious ones, I think.

However, I have a place to stay in SoCal now, if I choose to go in Jan. That's nice.

Here are my lists...

Sept- Pros
-Housing in Y
-Healing Journey
-Experience working w/support group
-Time to work out finances, save $
-Day classes
-Less time crunch
-Less gas $ to get down there
-Able to re-apply for FAFSA as an independent
-Able to apply for WISP scholarship
-Transition time
-Free piano lessons from a good teacher (my Gramma!)
-Don't have to re-apply to school

Sept- Cons
-Uncertain job situation (can I get one while there?)
-Changing plans... again.
-Old friends around (C, namely)

Jan- Pros
-No delay
-No "going back on my word"
-Close to friends
-Can go ahead and come- don't need loans to get a place to live anymore

Jan- Cons
-Uncertain job situation
-Go straight into "life" with no finances- living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, or living off loans
-Evening classes

Hmm. Now, time to pray. Lord, what would you have me to do?
I could be watching a movie with the fam, but I know I need to process, or else I will lose myself in the swirl of activity that tomorrow will bring, and whatever insights I might have gained will be lost.

How do you force yourself to process through feelings? It's kind of like... well... like... something that doesn't work very well, that's what it's like.

By the way, I wish that I played cello. And fiddle. And piano. Those are the next 3 instruments I'm going to tackle. I've already begun piano a little bit.

Okay, focusing back on topic now...

I was just so frustrated today, so upset... it seems like all my plans and ideas are crumbling, turning to ashes... like it's all for naught.

And here's the kicker-- this is the first time I've really researched and done my "homework" and laid out a plan and saved and... tried to do it the responsible, mature, motivated way. Most things, I just kind of go with whatever opportunity presents itself and assume that's God's will.

No, I take that back-- I did the research and homework and whatnot with summer camp, too. That didn't turn out so good.

And here I am again. Maybe I should just make opportunism my modus operandi?

Let's chart this out...

My first big decision for myself was to go door to door. Research? Nope. I didn't even know what it was about except that I was selling books. How hard can that be? Hah! But that was a step towards God.

Next: Attend academy. Research? Nope. I just visited it several times as a kid, and knew that I wanted to go there. And my family friend wanted me to go, too. Another step towards God.

After that, move in with boyfriend and get a job. Bad decision, I realized later. Hmm...

Then, leave boyfriend-now-fiance and go to SOULS. Research? Nope. J talked to me, I knew that I had to get out of the situation I was in, and this was a handy out. Yet another step towards God.

When I'm about to graduate SOULS (about a month left?) and no idea where I'm going next or what I'm doing, the Idaho guys came down to interview students. They interviewed me, and I got a job a few weeks after graduation, which led me to Idaho.

I did do some research that time, to see whether I wanted Spokane, or the little country churches. I looked at the cities' websites, and I chose the country churches.

Aaaaaand... I've been here two years now. I did major homework on which summer camps to apply to, took the first one that contacted me, and... what a summer that was. (Mer.)  So that decision was a mix of the two types of decision making, really.

Then, I left camp early and decided the night that I left that I would drive out to WI for my dad. It was a great decision. I have absolutely zero regrets, and I'm so glad I did it. Talk about impulsive ;)

And now... researching and contacting schools, figuring out where I'd like to go, which schools offer what I want, etc. etc, looking for places to stay, figuring out viable options, researching scholarships and grants, filling out my FAFSA forms, and... for what?!

I talked to the financial aid lady today (finally!). It's weird, because I seem to have a semi-difficult time getting ahold of the staff at this school, whereas the school in Colorado was always so prompt... I wish this school were like that. Anyway, I finally talked to her, and realized that she had no idea that I needed to work out financial details now, because I have no money and no place to stay when I get down there. She said she'd do some figuring and call me back.

I about fell apart on the way home. It seems like everything I've tried is just not working out. The $10,000 scholarship that I thought I was guaranteed fell through. The churches I've contacted asking for a place to stay haven't contacted me back, except one. (Seriously? At least call me back to tell me, "No"!) The job I applied for hasn't contacted me, either.

As I was driving home, crying and praying, it occurred to me that perhaps God is setting the stage for something awesome. I'd really like to believe that.

I'm scared. Terrified, really. I'm scared that I'm going to go down there, only to wind up homeless. I'm afraid that I'll find out that I can't get enough money and I'll have to leave to do...???

I'm afraid that it's not going to work out. I'm afraid that I'm going to be dependent on others forever. I'm afraid of getting stranded on my way down because I only have a few hundred dollars. I'm afraid of failing. I'm afraid that I can't actually make it on my own.

I'm afraid that I'm going to be living in poverty forever, that I'll never make it out. I'm afraid that I will have to sacrifice my dreams on the altar of necessity.

I'm afraid that life will become nothing more than a vicious battle to simply survive.

I'm afraid because I have no backup plan. Everything I have is staked on this. And it seems to be falling apart.

I just feel so helpless!! Why can't I be self sufficient and independent, dammit?! And why do I still say bad words?! lol

I want so much to be consistent, stable... mature. Responsible. And yet I find myself constantly swinging from idea to idea, from thing to thing... It's like I have this conception of my ideal self, yet I cannot achieve it. And that frustrates me. And angers me. And scares me.

I don't want to be trapped in mediocrity.

I was sharing all this with Mom today, interspersed with tears, of course. How scared I am, and how frustrated, and how I have nowhere to go and I don't know what to do and why is this not working the way it's supposed to?!

She pointed out to me that I do have somewhere to go. Gma and Gpa would love to have me, if I wanted to wait a few months, or if I can't get this financial stuff straightened out in time.

I told her that the S's want me to leave. The sentiment in the statement is not quite the same as the sentiment they express, but it's pretty clear that it's time for me to move on. And January is the time they ("they" meaning C, lol) have set for me to move on.

And you know... E would love to have me work with her.

I could wait. I don't have to rush off. Going back to Y is a viable option. I don't know if the school has a spring starting date, or if I'd have to wait until fall, but... I could.

Who says I have to start in January? Nobody. And who would rag on me if I didn't? Probably just myself. Because once I say I'm going to do something, I want to do it! Right away! lol

And if I did go back... I could get a job, maybe. Like Mom said, there's always Denny's. Yuck. Actually, maybe not...

But seriously. Would I be a failure if I did not start school in January? Because that's what that voice in my head tells me... "You said you were going to start in January. So either do it, or scrap the whole idea. None of this 'wait till later' stuff. That's failure talk. Either you do it or you don't."

Who to believe? Mom sounded awfully believable while I was talking to her.

I need to pray about this some more.... and make phone calls.

I'll take L's advice and start pushing on some doors ;) As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

But, oh... I just don't know.

Sure, it's an adventure. That's one of the only things that keeps my spirits up.
For today... Monday, December 12th, 2011

Outside my window... There is finally a thin dusting of snow on the ground-- and it stayed all day! I think winter might be settling in at last.

I am thinking... about last minute details to pull together for the Concert. About school... about wheretheheckamIgonnalivethisisridiculousamIreallygonnahavetoliveinmycar?! About trusting God. About fears and failure and hope and tears and independence and overcoming. About strength. About flexibility vs. instability, spontaneity vs. irresponsibility.

I am thankful... for my mother, and her words of wisdom. For friends and objective opinions. For becoming hairstyles. For a heater in my room. That I didn't drink that bottle of Coke.

From the learning room... The coloration of lunar eclipses is due to the sunlight filtering through Earth's atmosphere as it passes in front of the sun. The amount of volcanic activity on Earth at the time of a lunar eclipse significantly affects the perceived color of the moon during the eclipse.

I am wearing... white socks, green cargo pants, navy blue t-shirt, grey and black hoodie.

I am going... to pack a lunch for work tomorrow.

I am reading...  Nothing. Except I almost finished A Bridge Across Time... but put it back away.

I am hoping... to have an answer to this mess soon. To learn valuable skills and lessons.

I am looking forward to... sleep. Seeing my family next week.

I am hearing... my beautiful classical/instrumental music. Currently, Toccata by W. Byrd on the harp.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Work tomorrow, decorate/rehearse for the Concert on Weds. See the counselor on Thurs, last racquetball, then over to S's house to spend Thurs. night and clean her house on Fri. Church and Christmas Concert this Sabbath, Sun. and Mon. packing for my trip to WI. Also, making phone calls about school, tying up loose ends, trying to get the financial aid stuff figured out. Packing for school, maybe thinning out my belongings again?

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

I felt, for the first time in recollection, what can only be described as vindictive happiness.

I know, I know, it's an oxymoron, really.

The thought process behind it was such:

Wow, you're sure in a crappy mood. Hmm. How about that. Well, you know what? I've got a whole day ahead of me that doesn't need to be affected by your crabbiness, and you know what else? You can be miserable by yourself. I'm not going to let your mood affect me. I'm going to be happy anyway. So there. Take that, Crabby McCrabberson.

Unfortunately, my thoughts didn't stop there, and I shortly realized that I, too, was a Crabby McCrabberson... sorta. I wasn't letting it show on the outside, but I was just having one of those days where I can't, can't, can't wait to move out.

It's funny, the swings I go through.
Ach, they're my family! How will I ever live without them? I shall miss them so!
 all the way to
Good grief, I'm so done. I'm not yours. You don't have claims on me. What I do is out of free will, voluntary service, and I'm ready to pull the plug.

And, today, I was on the outer edge of the pendulum swing.

Part of me gets a bitter, smug satisfaction out of the thought that You're gonna miss me. Nah nah nah nahnahnah. Just wait... just wait till I'm gone. Then you'll see how hard life is without me.

Dumb, right? Especially since J is coming home. It'll be a smooth transition, probably. While she was gone, I was here. Now that I'm going, she'll be back. They'll always have had 2 daughters in the home to help with the family mechanics.

As I was pondering my mood and my irritated thoughts (and praying!! Lord, deliver me from this b****iness!), it also occurred to me... the world ought to be grateful that I'm not the Messiah.

Because Jesus is sympathetic. We don't have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but rather one who was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.

I was definitely not sympathetic. And so it was a vindictive happiness, not true happiness, as I later discovered.
I forgot exactly how many days I had left, and I was thinking that I had one more week, so I was internally freaking out a little bit, but then when I was doing dishes I realized that, no, I have two weeks.


Excerpt from an email from a friend entitled "cow head":

Cow head is under the stairs. (vacuum closet) Please don't let the children play with it. I can't think of anything worse than a broken cow head.

That pretty much made my day.

Oh, and finding ten bucks in the pocket of my jeans (gas money) that I had put there a while back. That always cheers a body up!

Oh, and finishing a top secret project for some topsecretness which I cannot currently unveil due to the sheer topsecreticity of it.

It's been pretty good, today. God reminded me not to worry, not to freak out. After all, am I not worth more than many sparrows? His love is unfailing, and if I can see the big picture long enough to realize how fleeting and insignificant my money troubles are in the face of the reality that I have the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe taking care of me (the one who created gold and silver, aight?), then I can rest peacefully in the assurance that I am going to be okay. No matter what my bank statement says. God is not limited by Wells Fargo, people! I just want the world to know that.

More importantly, I want my own soul to know that.

I like good days. Especially when they end with my hand in God's hand.
Coming down to the wire. I'm packing my room, and it's a total mess. It's driving me nuts. But I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff, downsizing again.

I just may be able to fit all my possessions in my Buick again. That'd be nice.

I don't like the feeling of having more stuff than I can take with me.

I've got a lot going on right now, besides just school. That Christmas Concert is becoming a love-hate engagement. Who knew it took so much work to plan even a simple event? *sigh*

And Adventurers is a lot of work. Honestly, I'm glad I'm leaving. It gives me a chance to step out gracefully, because there's really no one else around who would/could help out. Ahh, the challenges of a small church... It'll be SO different down south. There are more churches than you can shake a stick at, and many of them have Sabbath school classes the size of our entire church!

I don't think I'm working at the bakery this week. Mixed blessing. I sure could use the cash, but the Lord blessed last payday, and I had enough to buy Christmas gifts, which I wasn't sure I would. I've got a housecleaning job after I get back from WI that should net me about a hundred bucks. I keep forgetting that I'm used to calculating gas for a round trip to and from Cali, but this time, it's a one-way. So that hundred bucks might actually get me there.

If not, I mean, I can always panhandle for a while, right? ;)

I guess the reality is finally setting in that I'm leaving, and I'm excited/dreading it. I mean, it's always exciting, moving on to the "next thing", but I know that the grass really isn't any greener on the other side, and life is not a bed of roses. I'll have struggles and pains and worries, and this time I won't have a family around me. It'll just be me. No buffer. Just me and God against the world.

On the other hand, I'm getting restless. I catch myself thinking (especially when I'm annoyed about something), "Yeah, just wait. I'll be outta here soon. Just a little longer..."

There's so much I'll miss, though. I love this place. Idaho has captured my heart. The people have won my admiration, respect, and loyalty. (And, at times, bemusement.)

If it's up to me, I'll be back.

But on the other hand... what if there's somewhere else equally amazing out there?

I've begun compiling a list of the adventures I'd like to have, including but not limited to:

-Hiking Half Dome
-Visiting all 7 of the 7 Wonders of North America (still)
-Hiking Mt. Whitney
-Backpacking across Az
-Taking a summer to backpack across the U.S. and see how far I get
-Visit Alaska
-Go hiking and dog sledding in Alaska
-Paint balling with K

I can't remember them all right now.

Regardless... I'm ready for another adventure. The drive to WI really revved me up. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I loved the independence of it. I'm not scared to travel by myself. I've been doing it for years. (Although... it is nice to have a traveling buddy, but one of the same mindset.)

This song has been running through my head lately.

I'm gonna go pack up some more of my room.

The walls and dressers are so bare... it doesn't look like anyone lives here anymore. :(
For today... Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Outside my window... There are thin, sparse, ragged patches of dusted snow on the ground... but only in shadowed places.

I am thinking... how happy I am to have accomplished so much toward the Christmas Concert in the past few days. That there are so many things about Idaho that I'm going to miss.

I am thankful... that even when I become distressed and anxious, I know that those feelings don't have to rule my life, and they're not going to last forever. They are not who I am. I am thankful for learning and breakthroughs and counselors.

From the learning room... Did you know that candy canes were invented as a testimony about Jesus and his sacrifice for us? Yep.

I am wearing... slippers, blue sweatpants, tie-dyed t-shirt, and blue and white kerchief.

I am going...  to buy Christmas presents. Thank the Lord for the internet!

I am reading...  The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel. It's good.

I am hoping... that my visit home will be good. And productive.

I am looking forward to... getting all my stuff packed.

I am hearing... K typing, C talking to J on the phone, the dehydrators going in the background.

A few plans for the rest of the week: To work or not to work? Depends on if my boss calls me back or not. Finish packing my room as much as possible. Talk to the school about financial aid. Prepare for Adventurers. Begin collecting cardboard for Christmas concert decorations. Spend Thurs. in the "big city" getting a haircut, researching trailers, counseling, having dinner with J and visiting her youth group. Prepare for my solo song this coming Sabbath. Work on Christmas presents and going away gifts.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

For today... Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Outside my window... It's dark, but I know that there's a slight, chill wind. The colorful leaves have dropped from the trees, and winter is making a charcoal sketch of the landscape.

I am thinking... of what all I need and want to accomplish in the next few days, before work strikes again. I'm also thinking of how good our Adventurer meeting was today, and how worth it it is... inconvenient or no.

I am thankful... for today. For responsibilities (they're a sign I can be trusted, no?). For friends. For cell phones. For scented wax warmers.

From the learning room... I know what to do in case of a downed power line on my car now, even if the car catches fire. There's an upside to teaching kids about safety-- you learn about it, too!

I am wearing... wool socks, grey capris, large hunter green shirt, larger red flannel shirt over top, and headphones.

I am going... nowhere in particular. (Wow. Haven't said that in a while!)

I am reading...  about the origins of holidays, esp. Christmas. It basically has nothing to do with Jesus. At all. And everything to do with the pagan gods of yore. Bummer.

I am hoping... that D will find it within himself to allow a modicum of communication to pass from himself to me once more. Hoping that my paycheck is sufficient to cover my needs and yet be able to save some money for gas to get down South.

I am looking forward to... getting this whole Christmas concert OVER with.

I am hearing... Nothing. I've got my headphones in, but I stopped listening to music, for some reason. I guess I'll turn the Brothers Frantzich back on.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Clean my car. Thin out my belongings (again). Begin calling churches around the area of my school to see if anyone's willing to put me up for a few months. Working on scholarships/financial aid stuff for school. Visiting a friend. Working on Christmas concert plans. Planning for the next Adventurer meeting (again). Work. Possibly a dr's appointment. Racquetball. Work on Christmas presents. That's probably about it.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

I had a good chat with my friend J today. She's on the verge of a relationship, and I'm very happy for her. He seems like a really solid, nice guy, and she deserves that. She's pretty amazing. She needs someone good. Anything less and, well... I just can't see her with someone not totally awesome. Her standards are too high.

I shared with her about the confusing text from D, and we talked about him a little bit. What she told me made sense, and having those thoughts bouncing around in my head helped to crystallize some thought processes that were in the works, so as I continued thinking while at work, I came to some realizations.

One thing J said was, "A bird can love a fish, but where will they live?" And she knows this from experience, having been in a similar situation not too long ago. She loved this guy, more or less, but realized that it was not "right". They would not make a good match in the long run, so she ended it.

Another thing she said was that she thinks that I need to do better. Then she rephrased it--"not necessarily a better person, but a better match".

That helped sort of bump me over a mental block I'd been having. A few people have told me, "You can do better," but I think, how? He's such a great person! But we definitely do have clashes in values. It's not that he's not a good person, it's that we're not necessarily a great match.

As I talked with his mom some time ago, I realized, Whoa! I am really not the girl for him! I mean, I could try to be what I think he wants, but how lame is that? Who wants to spend their life pretending?

So, this bird loves a fish, but truly, where would we live?

Anyway, I realized later on in the day... it dawned upon me... I can say no. Just because he says he needs me doesn't mean that I am automatically tied to him. I can say no, and I'll be okay, and he'll be okay. His world will not end, and neither will mine.

You see, growing up in dysfunction and abuse, "No" didn't mean much. In fact, if I said "No", I might lose love. The desire for love is a driving factor in a lot of my choices, or at least, it has been. And deep down I'm fearful that if I say "No", then I will be losing my chance, forever. If I don't seize the opportunity of someone who likes me, I'll be alone forever. So, even though it's not ideal, it's better than nothing, right?

Fortunately, that's not actually true.

I thought to myself earlier today, Why did he have to text me?! If only I could just say "no" and move on with my life!...

Later I realized... I can. Yes, I can. Just because he's longing or lonely or whatever in no way means that I am obligated to reciprocate.

Wow! Does anyone else realize how earth-shattering these realizations are?! I am not obligated to reciprocate!

And I thought to myself, Boy, it sure is flattering to be needed... but don't let yourself be flattered and beguiled into the wrong decision. That's how Eve went down.

 It's just exciting to me to see how God's bringing me along. Used to be that I could not walk away from a potential relationship.

Don't get me wrong-- I'd love to date him again. I mean, I really like him. But I don't think that, at this point, it's best for either of us.

Ah, well, people change their minds all the time. My actions may switch around, BUT these realizations stand!
Today was significant.

I spent more money than I'm comfortable with, but it was all on necessities (vet bills, car repairs... those can sure add up!). Got my poor epileptic kitty on meds, which is good, and got de-worming meds and ear mite meds for cats across the board. (That's what was so expensive! Five cats on two different types of medicines?! Gee whilliker!)

I got a lot accomplished at work, and I'm feeling good about the rest of the week. I was daunted by the amount of work my boss seems to think I can accomplish, but I'm beginning to think she might be right. Also, these longer hours are translating to a good paycheck for me later, which I can definitely use.

We had our first practice for the Christmas Concert. I see some bugs that need to be worked out, but I think it will go okay. Our group of kids is so spastic and hyperactive, it's unreal! But, hey, that's what happens when you work with kids, eh? Fortunately, all the parents are on board behind me, so I don't feel quite exactly like I'm drowning. But the thought of trying to iron out any more details is, well... overwhelming. *sigh*

Upon arriving home, I checked my email to find that I'm accepted into the school in California! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! I made it! :)

That means I'll really and truly be heading down south in just a few short weeks. Eight, to be exact. That's two months. And I know I've been itching to be on my own and independent lately, but today I realized... I need to slow down and enjoy this time here. It's all I've got left. Once it's over, it's over. I'm not coming back, at least not in this same way. I won't be living with the S's anymore. Hmm. What an odd thought. I'm leaving home, for good. (Ahhh!)

Fly free, little birdie.

On another note of craziness... got a text from D last night. Totally unexpected, and the content was more than unexpected. The first thing I see is a gorgeous picture of the sun reflecting off of completely snow-covered mountains rising above a road and a stretch of snow and bare trees. Then, as I scroll down, I read this message:

Working in Valdez, ak. its strange but i have been thinking about u. i know u r what i need. but i cant stop chasing what i want. i think about u a lot and that scares me. u r in my prayers.

Needless to say, I freaked out and ran to C's room so she could pray with me. That helped me re-focus, and I went to bed... but I thought about it throughout the day today. Basically, the conclusion I came to is this: I need to leave him right where I found him-- in the hands of God. I can't do anything about this situation, nor is it my place to. This is something he has to work out between himself, God, and his own heart. So I'm praying for him, but I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing... just being a friend. Praying for him. Going forward with what I feel God is calling me to.

I've learned quite a bit since our breakup, but I know I still have a long way to go.

It's just hard, because... I thought we were done. And now my heart is aching a little again.

Like, seriously... what does that even mean?!

I did reply, though. I didn't just leave him hanging. That would be cruel! I recognize that it took a lot of guts for him to send that. I wrote back:

I thank you for your honesty. i have no idea how to respond to that... i thought we were done, so it's confusing to me. you're in my prayers too.

*sigh* Boys...
For today... Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Outside my window... It's dark... as it always is when internet is on these days.

I am thinking... of school, of the many projects which I find myself ensconced in, of how life is comprised of the daily struggles and toils and is yet somehow more than that...

I am thankful... for our country. For religious freedom. For plenty of food, shelter, and love. For a job.

From the learning room... Colossians 2 doesn't mean what I was always taught it meant. It's amazing what you learn when you actually stop and look at things.

I am wearing... a red sweater (actually, it's on the floor beside me, but it'll be on again before I get up and walk out of the room), black undershirt, denim skirt, leggings, navy blue long socks, wool socks.

I am going... to the vet tomorrow!

I am reading... poetry. Lots and lots of poetry.

I am hoping... that the Christmas concert will go well... and won't flop.

I am looking forward to... independence. Moving. Why? Just because.

I am hearing... Cat grooming himself, the typing of the rest of the familia on their computers, J chuckling to herself, the fire crackling in the stove.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Work. Take cats to vet. Finish up Adventurer details. Christmas Concert practice. Work on parting gifts. Thanksgiving dinner with the neighbors, then Thanksgiving dinner with the fam on a different day.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

Actually, that's not true. I am just having a hard time adjusting to the "workaday world" after spending several months unemployed. And, for the past several years, I've been working several odd jobs/part time jobs at the same time, so I'm always doing something different. Now, I'm doing a bunch of volunteer stuff, but only one job, so... the job takes precedence. And they're milking it.

It's decorating season. I pulled an 11-hour shift yesterday, decorating the shop in the morning and then frantically trying to catch up on the day's dishes, and the dishes from the day before (as they somehow neglected to bring in a dishwasher?). On top of that, it was Tuesday, which is the delivery day for all the groceries for the next week.

I'm tired.

And I wonder... can I really pull off working part time and going to school?

I will, because I have to, it's just... I had no idea how well-rested I was when I was unemployed! lol

You know what, though? I praise God, because my body is able to handle what it could not have handled before. I'm tired, sure, but I'm not flat-out exhausted, wiped out, unable to function. I still have gumption left.

And, tomorrow, Youth Group is going backpacking, and I'm going with them.


Dodge 3500

The brain amazes me. Truly.

Today, I worked overtime. While I was moving Christmas decorations from the warehouse to the coffee shop, I had to use the owner's big, BIG Doge 3500 truck. It was a standard transmission. I haven't driven standard in... in... um... Yeah, well, it's been that long!

And I knew exactly what to do. My feet and hands didn't skip a beat, even when I had to press the clutch, step on the brake, shift into the next gear, and switch on the turn signal all at the same time!


It takes almost as much coordination as playing the piano. I thought I was just practicing special music for church, but no! I was practicing driving at the same time! LOL
For today... Sunday, November 13, 2011

Outside my window... The wind is moaning and crying.

I am thinking... of my very first canning adventure by myself, and hoping it goes well (an hour and a half!)... of the lunch I'm going to make to take with me to work tomorrow... of how happy I am that my potato curry turned out well... of how many applications I'm going to have to fill out before I'm finally in the school doors!... of my plans to switch my car for a truck, and how to achieve that...

I am thankful... for rice cakes, peanut butter, and fruit.

From the learning room... nothing much. Haven't gotten back to my neurochemicals. :(

I am wearing... a knitted grey beanie, a tie-dyed robe (blue, purple, and green), a grey shirt, blue "life is good" sweatpants, and white socks.

I am going... to can green tomato pickles... to finish this job application!... to be prepared for my early departure to work tomorrow, food-wise and sleep-wise... to get more food.

I am reading... I gave up on reading this week. Too much to do. Wait! I take that back! I read a piece or two of poetry.

I am hoping... to add more beautiful, wonderful classical music to my tape collection.

I am looking forward to... decorating the bakery with Christmas decorations! (and getting paid for it! hehe)

I am hearing... myself chewing grapes, the family discussing supper logistics ("K, you don't have a bowl yet, do you?" "No, I don't."), the lack of wind (surprisingly!).

A few plans for the rest of the week: Work a couple of long days. Finish Adventurer stuff. Hammer away at the Christmas Program. Backpack into the hot springs with the youth group. Sleep in the hot springs ;) Set and maintain my adult, thought-through boundary/decision to take time for myself and God this coming Sabbath and forego the door-knocking festivities planned. Do some more applications.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:
For today... Monday, November 7, 2011

Outside my window... It's dark. Night fell several hours ago.

I am thinking... of whether or not I ought to continue working at the Bakery... damaging my health... but I could use the money... and how my dopamine reward system is functioning well, rewarding me for the excitement and risk of taking steps toward independence.

I am thankful... for the life I live.

From the learning room... Reading "Hooked", and learning about neurochemicals and neurohormones. Fascinating, really.

I am wearing... a comfy, oversized shirt and my "life is good" sweatpants. They don't match. Oh, and wool socks.

I am going... to bed, sometime soon! I hope. And I am going to put on a pot of beans before I go.

I am reading... the Little House on the Prairie series. Again.

I am hoping... to be a good influence on my co-workers.

I am looking forward to... sleeeeeeeeep!

I am hearing... K and C commenting on some fb pictures of friends of theirs, the dryer methodically tossing its load, and cats grooming themselves. (I've got one on the left, and one on the right, both doing the same thing, so I hear it in stereo! lol)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Work. Get my tires switched over. I want to can green tomato pickles!! Send in my completed application for school, and begin work on scholarship applications. Racquetball. Practice my special music.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

(How much my life has changed! C and I had planned to marry on Nov. 11, 2008. Now, almost 3 years later... I'm preparing to go away to school. Single. And content. Amazing.)
Lately, I've been running in place.

You know... running away, without actually going anywhere.

This, from the girl who talked to a support group about how to break the cycle of "survival mode".

I'm still in survival mode.

Although C and I had that talk, it didn't do what maybe she thought it would do. I launched myself into full-scale defense mode-- shut down, withdraw, and survive.

And yet... I know there's been progress, because I can feel the difference. I know what's happening, although I don't know how to stop it... and God's been talking to me.

I realized that the conscious commitment I made to not be hurt anymore is the response of a fallen heart trying to deal with its pain. That's understandable, but not healthy or helpful.

But what do I do with my overwhelming, overpowering desire to be safe? I'm beginning to think that my definition of "safe" and God's definition of "safe" are fundamentally different. My way of being safe is to distance myself, put up walls, and subdue any longings or desires that might lead to an awakening of my heart. If those longings are aroused, and then unmet, or worse, purposely thwarted, well... that could and would be devastating. It's "safer" to not take the risk at all.

And I had decided that I wasn't going to take the risk anymore. No, sir. I can still be pleasant, I can still have friends, but there was a large, padlocked gate re-erected that said, "Hither, and no further" in large, red letters.

And God is trying to talk me out of it. I agree with him, on certain levels, but I'm still just so afraid... afraid of hurting, of pain, of... broken relationships. Of dashed hopes. Of being known, really known, and then abandoned. It's happened too much.

So... what's God's definition of safety?

All I know is that he said, "I'll always be there."

Is that enough? Can I trust that?

I want to.

Running in place... running against the wind.

I'm not getting anywhere... but it's better than not doing anything, right? ;)

I'm trying to be healthy, I really am.
Just got this message on fb from C:

"Update on D! D is recovery nicely! He is staying awake for longer periods. His is sitting up and walking 2 times a day. Still feels wiped out which is normal. They are looking at possible release date on Sabbath. Nurse Anesthetist came in yesterday and told us a little more of the surgery. Said is was a very big procedure, one of the biggest. The cancer was very extensive and they took a picture of the tumors. He wanted to do a case study on D because he said he would probably never see a surgery like this again in his whole career. I always knew D was a rare find."
...I enjoyed work yesterday. I awoke heavy with the dread of it, but found myself smiling, laughing, meeting and enjoying the challenges of the day, and, indeed, finishing well.

What a gift from God. I surely didn't expect that.

D's doing as well as can be expected. I don't really have any news other than that. Here's an excerpt from a letter I'm writing to a friend:

"I don't feel anything about the situation. Not scared or upset or relieved or pensive or... anything. Before they left, I did choke up at the thought of him not coming back, but since then... I guess I've realized that he's not my father. I'd be very, very grieved if he were to pass away, but... not in the same way that J or K would. I have R, but truly... I have no father but God. Maybe that's what it is? I dunno. It's just rather weird to be so apathetic in the midst of such a maelstrom of emotion.

Another thing that's weird is this juxtaposition of two very distinct seasons of life-- D's life may very well be drawing to a close. Yet, in the midst of this "Autumn", my plans for the future are coming together-- "Spring", as it were. It's like kicking through the fall leaves and uncovering a daffodil. The two are seemingly incongruous, yet the sheer impossibility of it lends a majesty, solemnity, and beauty that would not otherwise be there. A daffodil doesn't stop you in your tracks when they are all in bloom. And I feel that, because of the solemn circumstances that surround my plan-laying (a cocoon comes to mind), I am receiving a special gift. I don't know what it is yet, but I can feel that important pieces are being laid in place. Something big is coming, and with the passing of time, I will look back on my daffodil amongst the leaves with gratitude and awe. Yes, and reverence too, for I know that God is weaving himself into every little detail."

That's where I am right now. 
Today, I have been responsible. More so this evening, than anything else... because I didn't roll out of bed until 8:30. The horror! The humanity! The 9 hours of sleep and then an hour of daydreaming! The I can't believe how bad that actually sounds until I write it down! Heh.

Well, leisure time, I bid you adieu. I got a job as a sub waitress/dishwasher at a local restaurant today. I work tomorrow and the day after, and can I just take a moment here to mention how much I dislike working in the food industry? Good thing it's not all the time. Still, it's something to be endured, not enjoyed... especially a joint like that. They're notorious for having a bad working environment. But a paycheck is a paycheck... and I'm alarmingly low on funds.

So, after catching my first appointment of the day, I headed over for a hastily arranged orientation at said restaurant. Then I ran an errand, caught my other appointment for the day, headed home, and dutifully did my duties. I made lunch and supper for tomorrow, I filled out all my paperwork, I took care of the cats and the mess that they made while I was gone (one accidentally got locked in the pantry this morning and freaked out. He knocked a jar of applesauce and two jars of peaches off the shelves onto the cement floor. Sigh.). I didn't overeat at suppertime, and I took my medicine. I have been responsible.

There's something about being responsible that sucks the energy, joy, and life out of me. LOL. Is this why grownups wear drab colors?

Eh, on second thought, it's just that it's been a long day, and... I realize that I'm working at a restaurant. Mer.

D went in to surgery today. I prayed for him quite a bit, but I'm not frightened, or worried, or sad, or happy, or... anything. I haven't let myself feel anything about it. It's odd to feel nothing about something so typically emotion-inducing. He's in ICU now, from what I understand. The surgery was quite extensive.

As I was writing that last paragraph, one of the new kittens, Holly, had a seizure. It freaked the living daylights out of me-- I thought she was going to die right there in front of me. The vet says that, though they look horrible, it's okay. If she has multiple seizures, it means she has epilepsy, and we'll have to put her on meds. She's fine now, though.

There's a fly spinning around in circles on my floor, like a buzzing top. Has this whole world gone mad?! (Upon closer inspection, I see that it is because it somehow landed upside down, on its back. How does that even happen??)

Now, responsibly, I am going to bed, so I can go to work tomorrow like a good adult.

Would it change anything if I claimed I had the soul of an artist? That typical work isn't for me? No? Oh, well. Guess I'm going to work, then. :)

Besides... I have the goal of getting rid of my car and getting a truck and fifth wheel, so I don't have to live in an apartment. Wouldn't that be super cool?!
I got this from Homespun Simplicity, and I really like it-- thought I'd give it a try.

For today... Sunday, October 30, 2011

Outside my window... The remnants of last night's light frost are almost gone. Warm sunlight washes over everything, but doesn't do much to dispel the chill of the air coming through the window. Birds are singing, and all is apparently right with the world.

I am thinking... of what I'd like to get accomplished today, and also thinking how we really can't know what the day holds. I can make plans, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

I am thankful... for the warmth of my house, for having the house all to myself while I process and recharge (introverts, you know ^_^), for the cats that bring delight to my life, and that I have food and shelter.

From the learning room... I've been studying God's holy days. Quite fascinating. Quite intriguing. Quite... interesting.

I am wearing... my pajamas. :)

I am going... Absolutely nowhere today. I am going to work in the garden, plant the overlooked cabbage and kale seedlings, put up produce, and sort through my hope chest (what do I want/need to take with me when I move out?). I am also going to begin planning our church's Christmas Concert dealie. And, time permitting, I'm going to work on a couple of going-away gifts. I'm definitely going to tackle the remainder of my school application today.

I am reading... He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobsen and Best Loved Poems of the American People.

I am hoping... to accomplish a lot today without having to prod myself on with guilt or shame.

I am looking forward to... Moving into my very own little apartment! I was researching apartments last night, and I'm getting jazzed.

I am hearing... The breathy hum of my heater, birds outside, and the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Adventurers planning session tomorrow, along with getting the Christmas Concert sorted out and emails sent and hanging out with H (driving out to the Selway?). Thursday, a meeting with my counselor followed by racquetball. Welcoming the family home from D's cancer surgery whenever they release him from the hospital. Perhaps baking bread? Organizing, cleaning, packing some. Getting my school application done and turned in.

Here is a "picture for thought" I am sharing:

When First

When first I came here I had hope,
Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat
My heart at the sight of the tall slope
Or grass and yews, as if my feet

Only by scaling its steps of chalk
Would see something no other hill
Ever disclosed. And now I walk
Down it the last time. Never will

My heart beat so again at sight
Of any other hill although as fair
And loftier. For infinite
The change, late unperceived, this year,

The twelfth, suddenly, shows me plain.
Hope now--not health, nor cheerfulness,
Since they can come and go again,
As often one brief hour witnesses--

Just hope has gone forever. Perhaps
I may love other hills yet more
Than this: the future and the maps
Hide something I was waiting for.

One thing I know, that love with chance
And use and time and necessity
Will grow, and louder the heart's dance
At parting than at meeting be.

{Edward Thomas}
Mmmmm... not!

I feel better, if somewhat numb. Glad I have space to myself. I had a good convo with J, who lauded the growth she sees in me. In our conversation, I stumbled across a very simple, yet very profound concept.

Same feelings + different reaction = growth!

Anyway, I can choose to go elsewhere if God leads me to a settled conviction that it's the right thing, but I won't be running. I am different in that respect, at least.

And a pertinent question was raised-- how much of these things are unfortunate circumstances, and how much is actual character flaws that need work? Good question. There are a few things that I would say are the product of unfortunate circumstances-- violations of unspoken expectations, hurts and hangups of all parties involved that need healing, etc.

There are a few things that I would say are things I need to work on for my sanity and the sanity of those around me. The question is... how to go about doing that?

It's a bit overwhelming, quite frankly.

It's funny, but this whole situation reminds me of the last Market of the first year I lived here. I was bumping along, thinking I was doing the right thing and helping and being such a great person, and the S's were very distressed and upset because I wasn't helping like they thought that I would or should... but no expectations were voiced, and I had no idea that I was violating them. All I knew was there was tension and upset, and I couldn't figure out why.

So, anyway, now I get to go off to church and smile and pretend that I'm normal.Yippee. I said I'd help with song service, so I have to go, plus there's a meeting, so... at least I feel better. Thank goodness.

Oh, yes, and I was thinking yesterday... about how very unfair it is that I don't have a dad. I've got R, and I love him, and he loves me, but... he's got walls of his own. My whole family is that way. We love each other, but it's more like... well... what is it like? Well, I guess it's more like a guy who married a woman with four kids and is still learning how to be a dad. Lol. If I had a dad from the get-go, he'd have 23 years of practice, instead of 5. That makes a difference.

How come I didn't get a family, a real family? Why did I grow up with the shattered mockery of a family that I did? Maybe it's because I could handle it... I think about J or K trying to survive something like that, and I know that it would crush their souls. (Like it didn't crush mine? lol) They're, how do you say, daddy's girls? They need that tender love and affection that their parents lavish on them, like little seedlings. J is really struggling because her parents can't be there for her right now like they always have, and I'll confess that I don't really understand. I'm like, what's the big deal? Put on your big girl panties and get on with life.

But that's a very callous response, because just as they have no clue what it is to grow up without a family or a father, or indeed with an enemy for a father, I have no clue what it is to grow up with a steady and inexhaustible supply of healthy familial and parental love. I do, of a sort, because my mom has always been there, but it was more like we were allies, sisters, friends than mother and daughter.

We do not, cannot, understand the other party's experience, because we were raised so fundamentally opposite. How interesting. (Just how did I think that I was magically going to fit in? I laugh at myself sometimes.)

And as much as I luxuriate in the safety and stability that living with a family provides... that darn independent streak keeps screaming out to me that I'm not cut out for family life. I need to be out on my own. But I do enjoy the economic stability. That's my greatest discomfort and fear about living on my own again.

Okay, I really need to go get ready for church. But it feels good to get this stuff out... like popping a pimple or cleansing a wound. Hehe.