Tag Archives: God

26 to 26: Words

Sometimes words feel like a burden that I have to carry, backpack full of nouns and verbs. They feel heavy and daunting, like obligation.

Sometimes words feel forced and contrived. Sometimes words are familiar like a friend, close like a brother, intimate like a lover.

Sometimes putting words on pages feels like the only thing, the only way.

Sometimes words ink easy onto paper, playful words beautifully posed. Sometimes words bleed through bandages of old wounds covered, forgotten. Sometimes words spell Ugly.

Sometimes words bring relief; sometimes fear. Sometimes words put flesh to mystery.

Sometimes words bring to light the Truth and cast out the lies.

Sometimes I wrap them around myself, like a warm blanket, when I feel chilled and my heart rubs raw.

Sometimes words feel like a curse; sometimes like blessing.

Sometimes I’m tempted to leave them be, abandon my brain-box of jumbled up letters. Sometimes I want to stick them on the side of the road labeled only Free.

But sometimes I realize that words aren’t easily separated from my sense of self.

I am words and full of words itching to get out, little syllables of me, gathered together, forming new things—sounds with meanings and reasons and stories to tell.

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26 to 26: Sixteen things I loved at sixteen.

Today marks a measly 16 days until my 26th birthday.

Sixteen was such a great time. Life was fun and exciting. I was just getting my license, illegally driving my best friends around. I was dating my first (and only…COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH) boyfriend for a whopping three months. I was buying clothes from the Salvation Army, wearing aviators before they were cool again, and finally growing into my personality. I was also sweating a lot…that’s definitely an over-share but it’s definitely the truth.

I loved being sixteen and still feel so fondly about the things remind me of that time. This post is an ode to you, sixteenth year of my life, and all the things that made you so great.

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Chuck Taylors.

Mine were pink but mostly gray from extreme over-use.

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Taking Back Sunday.

Their album, Tell All Your Friends, pretty much was the anthem of my sixteenth year. Yeah, I’m that cool.

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The only thing better than TBS was their lead singer, Adam Lazarra. 

Adam, I have always and will always love you.

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The Format.

Before Nate was in Fun, he was in The Format. I liked him before he was cool. #hipster

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Cowboy Coffee at the Lady Killigrew Cafe.

A perfect post-youth group pickmeupandmakemestayuplate beverage.

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BYOT (Bring Your Own Tube)

This is something that you didn’t even know existed. This was a camp reunion before camp reunions were cool…and before any of us had our licenses. Basically, this was just a big ole’ slumber party.

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Bradley Hathaway.

I discovered Bradley’s poetry at that time I began to uncover my love for words. He’s still doing his thing but now he’s telling stories through music.and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

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The Ghetto Max.

My 1992 Nissan Maxima (which looked nothing like this). Leather seats. Sunroof. A/C. The numbers outside the doors unlocking thing.

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Aviators.

Before everyone was wearing them, I bought some at a gas station. My affinity for big sunglasses persists to this day.

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Little Kid’s Jewlery.

If it was plastic and cheesy, I probably owned it. Bonus points if I found it somewhere.

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Livejournal.

Before blogging was really a thing, I had a Livejournal. The things that I posted are just down right embarassing. And hilarious.

(Mine is still active and the last post alludes to Ashley Parker Angel…from O-Town…yeah, just Google it.)

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My Extreme Teen Bible.

Did I read it a lot? Nope. Was it filled with trinkets from camp? Yup. Did the paperback binding tear away completely almost immediately? You know it. But it was my first REAL Bible and I had purchased it with my own money.

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Thrift Store T-Shirts.

Nothing screams I’m so alternative like a good, pre-loved t-shirt.

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Emo Hair.

I’m pretty sure that I had at least three variations of this haircut.

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My nose ring.

My dad made me sign an agreement that this would be my final body modification. HAHAHAHAHHA. THAT’S NOT BINDING THERE WAS NO LAWYER PRESENT!

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Old Graveyards.

Don’t ask me why. I didn’t actually like them. They scared the crap out of me but the person who drove us all around loved them. I spent more time in them that I would have liked.

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Pine Brook Camp & Cabin Six.

Summers were always (and still are) meant for camp. Dang, look at those highlights.

Thanks, Sixteen. Now I feel even more self-concious.

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26 to 26: Finish the things you start

Finish the things that you start.

It’s the things that you finish, not the things that you begin, that will define you, shape you, strengthen you.

The beautiful, lasting things are the laborious ones.

Don’t give up.

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26 to 26: Family is a funny thing.

Das my dad.

Das my dad.

Family is a funny thing.

Me:   “Hey mom. Did you know that this yogurt has agave in it?”

My dad:  “AGAVIA!” sung to the tune of the Activia yogurt commercials

My family is a funny thing because they’re funny.

The older I get, even just by the day, the more I appreciate each of them.

Jamie’s dry humor.

Dad’s tight hugs.

Mom’s constant nurturing.

I spend Sunday’s, after church, with my family. I pick Olive up from my house and bring her to “grammy and grampy’s” to play with Shilah, their persistently naughty lab.

I bake apple crisp for my dad and use baby-talk to make attempts at communicating with my 23 year-old brother. I do laundry and watch movies and lounge in front of their pellet stoves.

I soak up all of the love and the home that is in that house.

Since I’ve moved out and as I live life on my own, I’m learning more and more how deeply the roots and bonds of family run. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The work of family is messy. There are shouts and tears and bruised egos. Yet as messy as it gets, it always ends up all that more lovely. And there are hugs and kisses and laughs and bound-up hearts.

Family is a funny, funny thing, but it may be the most important thing.

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26 to 26: It’s okay to ask for help.

creative commons: VinothChandar

creative commons: VinothChandar

Sometimes I think that I’ll be able to muscle the strength, the stamina, the courage to do something on my own.

Sometimes I think that I can try harder, push myself further.

Sometimes I think that I can bite my lip a little harder, grit my teeth a little tighter, lock my elbows and my knees and pull this life-load alone. My lips bleed and my jaw aches and my joints buckle.

Sometimes I tell myself lies so that I don’t let others know that I need help. They always echo: You’re alone in this.

Sometimes you can’t lift a weight yourself. Sometimes you can’t bear a load as one. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

And that’s alright.

We were built for community and relationship and life-load sharing. We’re wired to need and be needed by other people.

We weren’t meant to carry breaking burdens, secrets alone.

It’s okay to ask for help.

 

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26 to 26: It’s not your responsibility to make everyone happy

I often say that I am a people-pleaser both by nature and profession. My natural tendency, impulse to make people happy makes me pretty good at my job and pretty hard on myself.

This next one is a hard lesson to learn:

It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.

creative commons; efleming

creative commons; efleming

I’ve been seeking other people’s approval for just about 26 years but I’ve been doing it as my full time gig for just over two. I’ve had some frustrating interactions with ministry leaders, parents, and group members but they don’t usually shake me.

Until a few months ago.

Until a Hispanic woman berated me in the lunch line in her broken English and made me cry. All over a few baked potatoes. I didn’t cry in front of her, of course. I’m too proud, too stoic for that. No. I waited until she had said her peace and I had nodded and I’m sorry-ed myself out. Then I went to the basement and bawled.

Her group leader saw the whole thing and tried to intervene. She had consoled me with Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.

But they didn’t matter. Again, I nodded and smiled and said that it was fine, fine, fine.

This woman’s words shook me not because she upset with the situation but because she was upset with me. She made it clear how she felt about me. I was unqualified, immature, and impolite.

And the haunting fear: I’m not enough, I’m not enough, I’m not enough.

There will be people to whom you cannot say yes and you will have to say no.

There will be people who don’t like the things that you say, the jokes you crack, the stances you hold, the questions you ask, the answers you give.

There will be people who whisper about you behind your back.

There will be people who say hard things to your face.

There will be people who do not like you.

And that’s okay. That’s actually kind of normal. That’s actually kind of good.

Your life’s purpose isn’t to make people happy. Don’t let that scare you. Your life’s purpose is way bigger than that.

Keep your eyes up and your heart open.

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26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

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