Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a lot like love

This evening, as I was the final person to leave the clinic, I paused while walking out to my car, lingering on the sidewalk, staring out at the empty parking lot before me and the field beyond it painted by perfectly circular pools of street light, all because for the first time this season, I felt it.

It feels a lot like love, a lot like being in love. Or at least, that's the closest feeling I can compare it too. It happens in the autumn and winter, when I step outside and feel the cool, crisp air, I feel it, and I feel like I'm in love. It's not precipitated by any particular thought, it's just a feeling that overtakes me, triggered by this special type of weather. If you've felt it, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I wish that I had the words to truly describe it.

So for a few moments, I stood alone, and almost didn't recognize it at first as I gazed at the field and the lights. I tried to think, what is this feeling? Do I wish that someone was here? Then I realized, this was it, this feeling that I experience every year. It caught me by surprise this time. Upon this recognition, I smiled, allowing myself to feel it, to experience it, to let it settle into my body. Then, the lights in the park turned off. I entered my car, started the engine, and was welcomed by "Say it To Me Now" from the Once soundtrack. So I drove home, and screamed along with Glen like I always do when this song comes on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


So, the interview that was supposed to be this afternoon, is actually next week. Huh? I really thought that we scheduled it for today. I'm disappointed because I was all riled up and ready to go out there. I'm even wearing my lucky underwear. Oh well, I can do laundry, now I get a whole 'nother week to be nervous, and at least I found out before I made the 2 hour round trip. Now I get to go to stats class this afternoon, wheeeee! So, please pray for my interview next week, and the other application, and other sites where I may apply.

In other news, I have made two important decisions about my future:
  1. I will not cut my hair more than a couple of inches at a time before August 2009. Reason being: I will be in three weddings next year, and I want to be immortalized as long-haired and beautiful in other people's wedding albums.
  2. I will return to Europe before May 2011. Reason being: Eurail passes become more expensive once I turn 26, so I should take advantage of these deals while I'm young and adventurous and carefree (hah!).
It feels good to take a firm stance on these decisions, but I wish I had more direction and guidance in other areas of my life to make definite plans or take a firm stand. You know, politics, research ideas, dissertations topic, just little stuff like that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

applying and interview yet again . . . does this ever end?

There are few tasks that I dislike more that writing "personal statements" or "statements of interest."

"What is your interest in doing a practicum at our site? Include sufficient detail so we may come to know you better and your understanding of how a practicum at our site fits into your future goals. Please limit your response to two pages."

Buh . . . I want to
be a better counselor. I need the direct client contact hours to complete this program. Your site is really close, and I'd save money on gas. Most of the other sites aren't taking practicum students until the fall, so you made the short list. Derr . . . crap, that's not two pages yet! Can't I just send you my vita, and we can talk about it at the interview? Better yet, skip the interview, let's just go have coffee and you tell me about what I'll be doing at your practicum site. I'll buy the coffee, k

Yeah, writing these kinds of things really make me want to bang my head against the keyboard and hope something intelligible comes out. Hopefully it's not too bloody. After spending a year at our program's community based counseling center, I'm being set loose to spread my wings and go find my own field practicum site for the spring. Unfortunately, many of the sites that I'd like to apply at are not taking on new students until the fall. So, I'm applying at two sites, and hoping and praying that one of them will take me on as a practicum student. There's the one that I'm completing this application for, and they'll be interviewing people next weekend. Honestly, it's my second choice right now, but given the limited options, I'd gladly take it!

I do have an interview with my first choice practicum site tomorrow afternoon. It was a fairly easy process, I just called the director, she invited me to email my vita and scheduled an interview. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to interview, but I'm one of three students interviewing for one spot that will be open in the spring. This makes me nervous.

So, brothers and sisters, I'd greatly appreciate your prayers for me during this interview tomorrow, and especially over this whole process. I know that there's a site for me in the spring, and I hope that it's my first choice, but I also trust that God has a plan for me and I've often witnessed that the things that actually play out in my life are often better opportunities that I even imagined.

Our church is currently teaching a series called "Hope and Mission," which is a sufficiently vague enough title for me to avoid attempting to summarize the teaching. It's hard to summarize, because it's touching on so many valuable things, the nature of the gospel, salvation, what we're hoping for, and what our mission in the world should be in light of that. Something that I'm getting from this teaching is remembering that Christ has conquered death, and with that, the only that thing poses any real threat to me (death) has been eliminated, and I am free. There is nothing left to fear, for even death has no lasting sting. Last night, as I heard this message again and sang songs praising God for his salvation and power, I felt a confidence that I should have no fear in this application situation, or in any of the situations that currently frighten me. I can face these things because of who is beside me. I felt a sense of peace, and realized that the worst thing that could happen to me (short of losing a loved one or bodily harm) could happen and I would be ok. This "worst thing" is me somehow losing this program, failing out, being kicked out, etc. That could happen, I could lose this opportunity completely, and I feel peace that even that would be ok because God is here and He loves me.

So, I turn in this application today, I interview tomorrow, and hopefully will have another interview soon. I could flop at these interviews, and not get these placements that I desire, and that would be ok. This spring will hold many new opportunities for me and I embrace them, whatever they may be.

BTW, I say things like "practicum site" and expect everyone to know what I mean. If you're not in the field or not very familiar with my program, practicums are where we get practical, clinical experience assessing and treating clients. Practicums can be completed at a variety of sites, at university counseling centers, in hospitals, in private clinics, wherever you find someone to supervise you and work to do.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Things that are utterly refreshing that occurred in the past 24ish hours

Since yesterday morning, these are things that have served to refresh me, light me up, warm my heart, and make my soul feel light and free:

  • Riding my bike to campus the first morning the cold front hit, with no jacket or sweater. So invigorating :)
  • Finding an experienced student to help me with a qualitative research project. Qualitative research (as opposed to quantitative) being something that even my adviser doesn't really know how to do.
  • Scoring an interview with the field practicum site that I most want to go to in the spring! I'm one of 3 interviewing for one spot though :/
  • Finding out that my friend from church's third child will be a boy, probably named Noah :)
  • Being introduced to new, beautiful things. (Thanks Ben!)
  • Skipping stats class with 4 other students from my cohort to have an impromptu meeting/gripe session with my adviser, who really listens to our concerns and promises to answer our questions.
  • Enjoying an old friend from TCU rock out with his band with some new friends
  • Learning that the Frogs beat #8 ranked BYU 32-7!!!!!!
  • Washing my hair for the first time after a haircut. No tangles!
  • Riding my bike to campus while a light drizzle tickled my face. It felt like carbonation bubbles from a freshly opened soda tickling my nose, which I love :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

cilantro and strawberries

Last night, I got off late from the clinic, past 10pm. I was craving fried chicken. This seemed to be an easy craving to satisfy, as there is a KFC, Church's Chicken, Long John Silvers, and Wendy's all in a little cluster right next to our clinic. Unfortunately, KFC already had their lights off, and I drove up to Church's and Long John's and discovered that they were closed also. Wendy's was probably still open, but I wanted real fried chicken still on the bone, and Wendy's doesn't sell that. Plus they just went up on the Frosty prices, and that ain't kosher.

Instead, I just drove home and decided that maybe I just wasn't supposed to have my fried chicken tonight after all. When I got home, I decided to fix myself a salad. From fried chicken, to a salad? But I was determined that it would be a good one. I started by boiling a few eggs, except that I dropped the first two eggs into the pot and they cracked, so I cooked them on the stove with some milk, cilantro, and havarti cheese and put that aside for breakfast the next day. I tore up some Romaine lettuce leaves that I had washed a couple of days prior. Since I already had the cilantro out for the eggs, I added that to my bowl of Romaine. I finally managed to boil an egg without breaking it first, so I added the egg slices. I pulled out my feta and discovered blue mold, tossed it in the trash, and added the havarti cheese instead. Searching my fridge for something else to add, I discovered strawberries I had brought to my friend's UT-OU game watching party, so I sliced up the biggest one and added it. Had I remembered that I had already added cilantro, I would not have added the strawberries, but at this point, I was just adding ingredients, and the cilantro was camouflaged against the lettuce. I picked a sweet poppyseed dressing to go with the strawberries.

Then, I sat down to eat my romaine-cilantro-egg-havarti-strawberry-poppyseed dressing salad. It was really tasty, in an odd way. The pleasantly pungent taste of cilantro was a sharp contrast to the sweet tartness of the strawberry, but the more I ate, the more I liked these strange taste combinations. Sweet and savory flavors entered my mouth, and managed to stay distinct from one another, and rarely have I had a mouthful like that. I finished the salad with taste buds and stomach satisfied.

In some ways I feel like my life, and especially my friendships, are like that quirky, eclectic little salad. I stay busy, and the things I do are connected to one another, but sometimes it all feels so randomly throw together, but in an unexpectedly tasty, glorious fashion. I work, I go to class, I study, I meet with professors, I see my clinic clients, I see my older clients in the nursing home, I test kids, I test adults, I score tests, I go to church, I go to comgroup, I hang out with church friends, I hang out with classmates, I hang out with my roommates, I go home, I go to weddings, I go to concerts, I do laundry, I ride my bike, I listen to music, I read books, I blog, I read webcomics, I drink coffee, I drink wine, I drink shakers, I eat ice cream, I eat salads, I play with my cat, and on and on and on. I feel a sort of rhythm in all of this, kind of a routine, but when I really look at it, there's nothing routine or ordinary about the things that I do.

There's even less of a routine to the people that I hang out with. I rarely know who I'll be spending the weekend with until it's upon me. This past weekend, I ate Puerto Rican food and drank wine at a dinner party some 3rd year School Psychology students hosted, ate a muffin and drank coffee with some women from my church comgroup, ate homemade ribs and drank beer at a UT-OU party hosted by a 1st year in my program and her family, went a wedding of a friend from church and ate with mothers from my previous comgroup and danced with my church friends, most of them single girls my age, but also my worship pastor and his wife danced with us, then went with my roommate and her boyfriend to the home of someone in their comgroup to play Settlers of Catan. Cilantro. Boiled egg. Havarti. Strawberry.

I know many people, and I have many friends or acquaintances, but I don't really have a set, standard group of friends, and not many close, deep friendships. One night, while eating Chipotle with some of the biker crowd from my church (ie one girl and one guy have dreadlocks), most of whom I'd never hung out with before and several of them I'd just met that night, my friend Nathan turned to me, "You're such a gangster." "What?" "I mean, I've been at this church for 5 years, and you know just about as many people as I do." "Oh, ok, cool. I really like meeting people!" And in that way, I guess I am gangster. I am known by many and can easily move among social groups and do fine with almost any group of people.

But I really crave that fried chicken. Those close Christian female friendships that look like my friendships with my TCU friends. That great boyfriend who maybe someday possibly could become a husband. Good, savory, deep, satisfying relationships. Instead, I've been given some different ingredients. A close classmate who, aside from our religious differences, is remarkably similar to me. Other classmates who like to have fun and study and work on projects together. Their friends from back home, their families, their boyfriends. Students from other program in our department. Church friends, young married couples and singles all my age, younger college girls, grad students, families, women slightly older than me who I see as mentors. Roommates who are full of life and energy and in spite of the fact that I still feel a bit like an outsider around them, I benefit tremendously from their presence, and I hope that they benefit from mine. My roommate's boyfriends. Close friends from back home who I still talk to on the phone and visit when I go home. Friends living in other states that I talk to. Friends living in other countries that I blog, chat, and email with. Coffee shop employees. My family.

I still crave the chicken, but more and more, I'm finding satisfaction with the ingredients that I have been given. Maybe not as much by themselves, but tossed together, these relationships are surprisingly delicious and fulfilling. Even cilantro and strawberries.

an open letter to the men of my world, past, present, and future

I am not a part of your future wife tryouts. I am not someone that needs to impress you. I am not someone who needs to prove that I am worthy of you. I am not someone to be toyed around with either. I am not here to ease your loneliness until your ex girlfriend decides to take you back. I am not here to cure your boredom. I am not here to boost your self-esteem and make you feel happy about your life again. Yes, I am good at all of those, because I have a lot to offer - emotionally, socially, and spiritually - but if that is all that you are looking for, then look elsewhere.

I am a woman. I am already impressive. I already have a lot to offer. I am already worthy. No, I'm not perfect, far from it, but I am a daughter of the king, a bride of Christ, and that makes me worthy.

Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD."

Don't waste your time deciding if I'm worthy of you, because I am.

These may seem like bold statements, and they are, but I write this mainly for self-healing. I've been hurt in relationships with men, and when I'm hurt, I feel like I'm not worthy. Rejection to me means that I'm not desirable, but I know this to be a lie, but sometimes it feels so true. Once a friend told me that I'm great at getting guys, to which I lamented, "I'm the girl that every guy wants, but no guy wants to keep!" This is a horrible self-view, the girl that attracts the guys, but then the guys soon grow bored with her and toss her away. This view does nothing to help me, it only sets me up to try harder to please the next guy that comes around, hoping that this time he'll decide to keep me. Instead, I need to live in the confidence that I am who I am in Christ, and to see myself as already worthy and free from trying to impress others.

Friday, October 10, 2008

truth and freedom

thoughts processing
deep breaths
pounding heart
a desire to know
to be crumpled by the truth
or to have it set me free

but a still, small part of me
something not of flesh and bone
whispering that this is unwise
whispering that i need freedom
more than i need truth

i want, want, want the truth
but oh, i crave the freedom

follow the freedom
grace will come
and the freedom will set you true

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

give me your eyes, I need the sunshine

October, where did you come from? I like you and all, but please don't sneak up on me like that again, ok? Cool.

This semester is starting to wear on me a little. I'm busy and I'm doing things that I enjoy and I'm not stressed, but I guess since this weekend, I've had this sense that I'm doing and doing but there's still so much that I'm not doing. I stay busy, but I don't really see where it's going or what I'm truly accomplishing. Like a hamster in that darn wheel, I'm spinning, and spinning. Though not really. I feel like I'm at the optimal level of busyness for me. I'm doing enough that I know I'm productive, but I'm not doing so much that I'm stressed or never rested or never having fun. I rest and relax and have fun and connect with others and do things for myself and that is essential. And this is good for my spirit. But then I remember all of the things that I haven't accomplished yet, and I wonder, what will it take to accomplish those things? I'm afraid that I'll have to speed things up, and start doing more than I want to and then become stressed and sleep-deprived. It's weird, this time it's not a matter of laziness or procrastination that these things haven't been done yet, but just that I don't want to push myself beyond this current level that feels healthy.

It's grad school, right, we should all be stressed and constantly busy and worried about deadlines, right? No, I don't want that life. There are weeks and months that are stressful, but I refuse to take that on all the time. I refuse to believe that I must sacrifice my wellbeing to get another degree. I don't think that it's come to that, but I do fear that it will.

Hrmm, on that note, I'm going to lay in bed and read Anne Lamott and let tomorrow worry about itself.

Monday, October 06, 2008

sometimes, the simplest words are the best

"Your life is just so intense. You're so strong. I'm glad I'm friends with you."

She said. And that was enough.

Friday, October 03, 2008

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it

It was meant to be a night of celebration. We were to don our wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses, veils, thrift store finds, whatever. We were to take pictures at a beautiful fountain, then part for dinner with our comgroups, then return together at our church to eat wedding cake, look at wedding albums, and watch a chick flick. It was meant to be a night of laughter and joy.

Today, a beautiful, talented, precious woman named Stephanie found out that the baby inside of her no longer has a heartbeat. She is in the hospital now and the doctors will induce labor and tomorrow she will deliver and hold a baby girl who will not breath the air of this earth.

There was still some laughter and joy as a few women from our comgroup gathered for dinner. At her house, Kim showed us her wedding gown, which she had opened for the first time since her wedding, along with her bridal portrait and her veil. I bought Girl Scout nut mix from her daughter. But as I rode with her to the lovely restaurant in downtown Bryan, I sensed an underlying sadness so I asked her how she was doing with all of this. She's heartbroken for Stephanie, but also grateful for her three children. She told me of the complications that she had during her final pregnancy, and how thankful she is that her youngest son is well, how thankful she is that her family had no real problems creating children, when so many other families from our church have experienced inferitility, miscarriages, and now, a stillborn delivery. "This is worse than a miscarriage," she said, "I don't know what to compare it to. The only thing worse that I can imagine is losing a child that you already know."

Dinner was delightful, and fell on a special evening in downtown Bryan where all of the shops and art galleries stay open later and have life music and special events. We walked around after dinner, stopping by our friend's art crowded art gallery to look at paintings and jewelry and pottery and to listen to jazz music. A few blocks down Kim's husband and his best friend were playing music outside of an old hotel, so we stopped to listen to them. Earlier that evening, we had passed her husband and his friend setting up, and I had asked if she wanted us to go by and see them later. "No, it's ok," she replied, "This is really more his friend's gig, and I've seen them many many times." But towards the end of dinner, I noticed Kim growing more silent. By the time we left he gallery, she just simply stated, "I need to go see Adam play." When we arrived outside of the hotel, I watched her greet her husband with a kiss while his hands were still touching his drums. They spoke briefly, and then Kim turned to catch up with another friend who was watching the show. In many ways, this husband and wife sometimes seems so strong and independent, both of them able to receive strength and confidence from the Lord on their own, but they're still interdependent in a beautiful way, and I feel like tonight I witnessed her receive comfort and strength from her husband in a simple way, in a kiss, a few words, eye contact, and his presence.

We still gathered at our church after dinner. There was still wedding cake, three tiers of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. But instead of wedding albums and romantic comedies, there was prayer and scripture. When we arrived, the women were already in a circle, tears in every eye, reading scriptures of comfort and love and hurt and trust. I was soon informed that all of the scripture being read was being recorded, and this recording would be played for Stephanie tomorrow. I heard someone read the scripture, Isaiah 43:2, that I likely would have read for her . . .

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze."

The scripture continued to flow, until a woman spoke a blessing to Stephanie and her husband and stated that she would dedicate this song to them. A long silence followed, eventually broken by her voice singing out clear and free a beautiful song about coming to the river, letting the waters wash over her, dancing in the river. After we concluded the recording, we prayed for the other pregnant women who were among us, prayed protection for their babies, and prayed against fear and guilt. Eventually, we moved into a more casual time, and did eat the wedding cake, as we wrote on blue cards words for Stephanie to be built into a scrapbook.

I spoke with Ari, a woman from my old comgroup, a dear, wise, wonderful woman who has been with me through some of my toughest times this past year. Ari is pregnant with her third child, and experienced two miscarriages before her first child was born. I told Ari that I'd been praying for her pregnancy and praying for her baby since I found out that she was pregnant. She told me how she scared her husband today after hearing about Stephanie's baby when she told him, "I haven't felt the baby kick today." She was frightened, so she drank some cold water, laid down on her bed, and prayed for her baby's kick. Eventually, she felt her baby kick inside, but somehow this wasn't enough, so she pleaded with God to feel her baby kick one more time. Eventually, she felt the second kick, and she knew that God was answering her prayers, and giving her these signs to show her that her baby was ok, that she could trust him, and not be afraid.

It was a strange, beautiful, tragic blessing of a night as the women of this body, my family, mourned together. But our grief, deep as it may feel, was not without hope, not without hope of the resurrection, of the Christ who has taken away the sting of death, of the hope that God has not forsaken Stephanie, that she will be protected and healed and restored, and the hope that one day Stephanie and Mia will be reconciled together again.