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…and all of a sudden, I’m an adult.

What? Wait…what?

A year ago, I was some girl with some job living in some city who liked some boy.

Now we are getting married. We have a bank account. Together. A GROWN-UP BANK ACCOUNT. I’m just saying. We are picking flowers and venues and music and colors and china patterns. Ok, not actually china patterns. Not yet anyway.

This past year has been full of beauty and growth. Beautiful growth. And sometimes hard and painful growth. I have learned how to let someone else help me, when I was trying so desperately to be the only one I needed. I have learned about the beauty and truth in a look or a moment or a tear in the eye of the one you love.

Friends, love is like the most beautiful thing I can think of or imagine. I think sunsets and kittens and babies are pretty good too, but love? It is like the sun shining in a dark night. A bright, bright star burning up all the darkness. …I’m waxing a bit poetic, but can you even wrap your head around love? I bet you can’t. Because it is too beautiful and good. So good, in fact, that it robs from me my ability to use a varied vocabulary.

Anyway, merry Christmas. I hope this season is full of awe and adoration for the love in your life and for our little baby savior, Jesus.

 

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That’s right! It’s official! Last Wednesday Elliot proposed to me, and I could not be happier! It was our first anniversary of being together, and he asked me, I said yes, and then there was a party waiting for us at my apartment!

It was like a dream. <3

Many, many thank yous to all the friends who were at our party, and even more thank yous to the friends who have already started giving us some ideas for the planning! It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am so excited!

(Also many thanks to Scott for some lovely shots from our engagement party!)

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First let me say that I am always planning out my life. Perhaps ‘imagining’ is the right word, instead of ‘planning’. ‘Planning’ connotes actual plans, I suppose, while ‘imagining’ lets me be whomever I please in the confines of my own mind for ten or fifteen seconds. In these constant daydreams, I, like Cinderella, can be whomever I’d like to be (Rogers and Hammerstein? Anyone? Anyone?): someone’s personal assistant in New York, a London local, a bakery owner, a pastor, a wife and full-time mom.

It is this last vision that has swum in and out of my dreams for the last 5 years or so. Before you decide that that is a totally creepy thought, hear me out.

When I began college, I still had the high-school-youth-group mindset that you go to college, get married, have a family, and that’s life. No career necessary. I remember standing in my voice teacher’s room, tearful when she asked me what it was I wanted to do with my life. “I just want to be a mom!” From there, however, I changed directions and threw myself in to my opera studies, deciding that it was opera that was my heart’s desire and not motherhood, as they were a dichotomy.

And then I graduated. And suddenly a career in opera seemed unattainable and, quite frankly, undesirable.

So that’s the background. This all came back up the other week when I read an article on Burnside Writer’s Collective (one of my favorite places online) called “She” by Sarah Thebarge. Sarah wrote a brilliant piece and really managed to encapsulate some of the pressures of being a woman. The bit in the article that grabbed me the most was a section where she explains women’s history to a friend of hers:

For the first few thousand years, women stayed at home. While their husbands hunted and fished, women raised children, made clothes, and cooked the meals.  When the Industrial Revolution began several millennia later, women – especially single women — were free to leave their agrarian, patriarchal homes and venture into the city. They lived in communities and worked full-time.

Then men began to give up their farms and urbanization began, and droves of men came to the cities and took over the factory jobs, forcing women back into the home.  And then came World War II.  So many men were away at war, it became socially acceptable once again for women to leave their homes and take their places in the workforce.  But then the war ended, the GI’s returned, and women were driven back into their home.  Women spent the majority of the ’50s and ’60s at home, and instead of simply being expected, this role was now glamorized and glorified.

And then the feminists reared their heads and let out a roar that shook the country, maybe even the world.  They were independent, militant, vitriolic.  They gave men a scathing review on the way they’d been running society, and attempted a coup.  Once again, women left their homes in droves, determined to assert their intelligence and independence.  But it seems that for many women, this was an empty and unfulfilling pursuit. Many of them also found they could not manage both a household and a full-time job.  So in the ’80s, after a few decades of feminism, women once again retreated back into the home.

“And now we’re in the postmodern era where there is no standard,” I explained to my friend as the dryer buzzed.  “There is no expectation. There are no established roles.  The new message is that women can do anything, which women often interpret to mean they can do everything.  So they try to have a marriage and a career and a family and end up feeling guilty all the time because they never do anything really well.”

This all struck me, because, well, for the past few months, the big question has been “What is my life’s work?” And as getting married in the next few years really seems like a possibility, I start to wonder how that factors into “my purpose”. As a disclaimer, let me say that I’m sure there are women who really do get to have it all–big career and well-raised children (my mother, for one)–but I have started to wonder if maybe my biggest success won’t someday be a couple of crazy kids.

Does that sound crazy? I’m sure to parents it must not be totally off the wall. A few weeks ago at church, we did an exercise where each of us had to complete the sentence “I am…” with something we wanted to be down the road. Two things immediately popped into my mind with almost equal ferocity:  ‘hard-working musician’ and ‘great mom’. ‘Great mom’ won out in the end, and I think was when it hit me: “I really just want to be a mom.”

Obviously, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to figure out what the heck else I’m supposed to be doing with my time. And for heavens sakes, no, I am not prego, nor do I intend to be for another few years. However, I think it does mean devoting more time to things I love, like music, and not spending too much time working at jobs that aren’t my heart’s desire. I think it means living life beautifully and meaningfully and full of love. This has all been an interesting thought process, and I’m glad to have finally taken some time to pour it out of my fingertips.

Praise be to God that this journey is on-going and ever-evolving.

It is officially my favorite season of the year! I love nearly everything about autumn: sweaters, pies, heartier beer, changing leaves, knitting, long pants, apples, apple-picking, and the cool chill of evening that feels just right with a cup of tea.

This week, my good friend taught me how to knit “in the round,” so I’ve been making myself a hat with some yarn I’ve been saving! Here’s what I’ve been doing all day (besides being thankful to be at the front desk at work, and not doing my actual job):

knitting and tea. good work day.

As dreary as it is today, I look forward to the days with crisp air and clear skies and changing leaves. I think most people see autumn as dreary and as being the beginning of the dying of the year, but I find a freshness and newness each autumn. Having begun something new each fall for the last 15 years (school, new job, new apartment), it’s hard for me not to feel expectant as the air starts to chill. This year I did get a new apartment, and with that, a new community. A small one of two other girls also living in the apartment, a slightly larger one in the “compound,” and an even larger one in the Neighborhood of the Arts. As I enter this season, I look forward to marking the first year with the one I love, to traveling to see family for holidays, to settling into (and finally unpacking!) the apartment, and to seeking after God and His purpose in my life, which is sometimes a nebulous thing, with a hopefully renewed fervor.

To newness.

Hello friends! Allow me to apologize for dropping off the face of the earth…it’s been a busy couple weeks, er, months.

Obligatory bloggy apology: check.

Here’s a little run-down of what I’ve been up to the past month and a half: I turned 23, took a roadtrip to Middleofnowhere, Ohio to go to (read: work at) summer camp for a week, came home to a surprise party, packed up my old apartment, moved it all into my poor boyfriend’s living room for the weekend, moved all my stuff again into my own apartment across the yard from him, painted said apartment, and since then have been trying to find a few minutes to continue to put my life away again.

Yikes-a-mo-mikes-a, as a friend of my brother’s used to say. You know, when they were 3.

Life is freaking crazy, and I’m sure only about to get crazier. I have decided to quit the evil restaurant before Thanksgiving, because my car will probably die soon, and also because the new manager there doesn’t like the idea of anyone taking off for any holidays.

Oh, I’m sorry, sir, I’ll just spend Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself here then, shall I? So kind of you. Thanks.

So that’s one less stress, and one more, I suppose. Less stress in that I’ll finally have (a little) more time, and one more because I’ll be making (a lot) less money per week and not having access to cash as easily (which could be good, I suppose). Oh money. Eff you.

What was this post going to be about? I suppose I have nothing of dire import to share; I’ve just been thinking about my poor, neglected blog, and like the 20-something-girl that I am, decided to update it and let my two readers know what’s going on with me.

I’ll be back soon with some meatier words.

Peace.

Big. scary. word.

Discipline. DISCIPLINE. Here are some things discipline is starting to mean to me:

Not buying fancy (read: expensive) coffee every morning. Tithing even when it’s scary. Bringing my own lunch to work. Sticking to my budget. Running. In the morning. Not eating that ice cream sandwich. Actually reading my Bible (note: this has only happened once in recent history). Going to bed on time.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of discipline for a while. I am not disciplined in regulating what foods I eat, thus I am, uh, curvy. I am not disciplined in regularly practicing, thus I am not as good a guitar player as I could be. I am not disciplined about where I spend my money, so I sometimes have to do some “creative finance,” as my mother calls it.

But there is hope! After trudging through on my own for so long, it finally occurred to me the other day that this is not a battle I can possibly ever win on my own. Cheesy as it may sound, I need God’s strength in this one. If I can not lean on His strength, I can never hope to be disciplined in following Him.

This feels like a new journey. I am a lazy, lazy girl, so I’m sure it will be a fight.

One more thing, and then I’ll stop yabbering. I woke up this morning, having talked myself into a morning run, and when I got to the door, it was raining. So I went back inside, knowing I had time to sleep another 30 minutes. Instead I turned my coffee maker on, grabbed some breakfast, and went into my room. I grabbed my Bible, which has been acting as a coaster, and sat on my bed. In the peace of my room, I opened to Romans 7 and realized Paul had the same struggles. Not being able to control his own sinful desires, He too had to lean on Christ.

I am freed to be disciplined in Christ.

To steal a phrase from John Mayer.

Today at work, I spent the afternoon looking at pictures of people’s tattoos online. I have a really cool one on my right foot — Psalm 46:10 in my grandmother’s handwriting — but I’ve been itching to get another one. As I saw some really beautiful tattoos, and some really terrible ones too of course (why would you tattoo your own name on yourself!?), I couldn’t help but want something totally badass. It was that moment that I felt like I’d settled into some kind of cookie cutter. I don’t really think that, but at that moment…I wasn’t sure.

Maybe I would be destined for mini-vans and always wearing shoes so the other moms at play-group wouldn’t see my tattoo. Deep inside, I know that’s not me at all. I am not destined for any kind of boring normality. But I can’t help but wonder what I’d look like at 40 covered (at least a little bit) in tattoos. Would I be excluded from any jobs I might want to pursue? What would my boyfriend’s parents think? Isn’t growing up and becoming normal what people do?

I just can’t own a mini-van. Ever.

I soon found myself looking back (from the ripe ol’ age of 22) on my earlier days of crazy hair colors and earrings spanning the entirety of both my ears. Not that I feel the need to be-jewel my ears again or dye my hair pink again. I think I’ve matured at least somewhat past the “I must look a certain way to be cool” stage. 

But really, do any of us really get over that? I’m just saying. We all dress the way we do for a reason. Because we like it, cool or not. We choose to present ourselves the way we do to make whatever statement we want to make.

I digress. You can go back in time and un-read those last two paragraphs if you’d like.

It was this whole issue, or at least my tiny mention of it this afternoon, that prompted Elliot to diagnose me with a quarter-life crisis. And…I think he’s right. I am in this very unsettling stage where I feel like I should have more things figured out. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t always know why I say or do the things I am saying or doing. I am lazy. I have an unreasonable desire to purchase a sportscar… No scratch that–that’s the mid-life crisis–but I am just itching for a new tattoo. And a path. 

Recently some things fell into place in my brain. If I can get a job that will actually pay me enough to only work that one job, I can actually have time to practice and play music. Friends, this is big. I am falling so head over heels for the So and So’s (my church band), for that feeling of connection and art and music–not just the sound but the spirit–ugh, I want to do it more. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Man, too bad I didn’t get a degree I can use for a job. Why don’t I like anything enough to do it for a job?” And then I have moments playing music, spontaneous “One clap…two claps” erupting from the congregation that I think “Yes. Yes, this is it. This is it.

So, step one: Real job. Step two: BAND. Practicing, writing, honing, disciplining, playing.

Yes.

Well guys, I guess I am going to sleep on the seminary thing for…another year. If next spring I still want to go, I will, and hopefully I’ll have saved up enough money for it not to be financially strenuous. If I decide I don’t actually need a master’s in theology, I haven’t spent $5k (just the first year, factoring in various scholarships) I don’t have to find out.

The money is not the only angle. Yes, I am trying not to incur more debt on top of what I already have from my undergraduate degree. Yes, I do think that jumping into seminary is a pretty expensive way to test out the waters. And I really just don’t know what I want to do.

I want to spend some time doing some disciplined reading on my own. I want to actually cultivate the discipline necessary to even do disciplined reading on my own, which is something I lack at the moment. For REAL. I want to practice and play more guitar. I want to write songs that have something to communicate. I want to have just one job that can pay my bills and not run me ragged like this two-job nonsense is doing. I want to open a bakery/cafe/gallery. I want to help people.

All in all, I’m only friggin’ twenty-two. I don’t know what the hell I want to do. Fortunately, I have plenty of time to figure my life out, and if it takes me a little longer than I’d originally planned, that’s ok too (or…I want it to be…). At least this way I’m not spending mass amounts of money for a degree that may or may not be useful in the long run.

Le sigh.

I hereby promise to blog more on the conference.  Patience, grasshopper!  I’m hoping tomorrow night (wait, tonight?) I can sit down and transcribe my notes before I need to present something interesting Tuesday night to the social justice guild at church.

Let me also say this:  I have amazing friends.  Moving to the city last summer was the best thing I could have possibly done, and I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have all the people in my life who are now present there.  I am a big believer in making sure people know what a valuable part of your life they are, so take this to heart:

Thank you, friends.  You have already changed me more than I could imagine (and not just because I am more nerdy now than I ever thought possible!).  I am lucky to know such a caring and funny group of people.

Goodnight.

Today’s schedule at the Mobilization to End Poverty (M2EP) was packed full of speakers, congress people, preachers, music, laughter, tears, and love.  I took about 20 (small) pages’ worth of notes, and I want to be able to take the time to really process all the things I heard today and post something interesting and cohesive.  So I’m going to wait on that.  Right now I just want to reflect on the last event of the day, the Koinonia Coffee House that was held for “emerging leaders” attending the conference.

It turns out that I have a huge crush on Donald Miller, who was the speaker at tonight’s Koinonia coffee house (interesting note: apparently “koinonia,” usually translated as “fellowship,” also necessarily implies some impending action).  Having read a lot of Miller’s work and his blog posts, I was half expecting him to be somewhat more dry in his speech and in his meeting of the people at the coffee house.  To my pleasant surprise, he was kind and sweet, his face soft, and his voice inviting and friendly.  He spoke about telling a story with our lives–one that would be interesting to watch if they were movies.  

Don told us that a good story involves a “character who wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.”  He also noted, however, that the character’s character must be shown to be good or we don’t care what he gets.  He must do good things with a good motivation for us to want the best for him.  He told us that there was conflict even before ‘the Fall,’ that Adam–walking in the garden with God Himself–was lonely.  Don noted that many people think they must be totally fulfilled by God and aspire to do so before joining in marriage with another human.  He laughed as he said he thought that was impossible, that God just isn’t meant to fill our every need, that God doesn’t want to, and won’t, date us.  “The #1 way we consume stories,” he said, “is through each other.”  Not through movies and television and music and media.  We invest in each other and each other’s stories.  …It was quite beautiful really.

In the q&a session afterward, one of the women in the crowd shared about feeling like she was bouncing from ministry to ministry and not feeling like that left her being able to make a palpable difference anywhere.  Don has this advice: “It’s ok, in your 20s, to feel like you’re practicing.  You’re still figuring stuff out.”  He went on to tell us how it took him til he was 33 or something to start the mentoring project.  That was probably the most encouraging thing I heard all day, pertaining to my own personal situation.  It’s ok for me to be practicing and building experience for what it is that’s coming.  

I’ve been dreaming about starting a community center in my neighborhood back home.  There’s an empty building on Atlantic that I want for it, and there I want to help kids with their homework, and feed them carrot sticks after school.  It’s just a dream right now, but right now it seems palpable.  Don noted that “it’s in the doing that we are changed.  Not in the thinking and planning and dreaming–in the doing.”  

Amen. So be it. May God give me the faith to jump.