What do you want to be when you grow up?

As an aside to this entire post… I should mention that if you are blogging while on a MacBook, save frequently.  I just swiped my trackpad and lost half of this post, and so now I’m in rewrite mode.  If it’s not that great…. that’s why.

It’s 11 pm on a Sunday night.  The weekend is gone.  And what a whirlwind of one it was.  I got my classroom on Friday, I spent 6 hours at the school yesterday rearranging, unpacking boxes, organizing, filing, sorting…. I am so very thankful at this point that as much as it was a disappointment in August, it was such a blessing not to get my classroom until after I was settled nicely into the house.

The dog has been out and is now chilling beside me, the garbage and recycling are out (including all 13 lawn bags full of leaves thanks to my 3 giant trees in the backyard), hardboiled eggs are boiled so I have lunches until Wednesday…. all my grown-up responsibilities before Monday morning hits are fulfilled… I want to be reading, but this post has been on my mind since Friday morning, and I know that I’m at a point where if I don’t get it out, I likely won’t sleep well.  Writer’s curse, maybe?  Funny that the writer in me is making me ignore the reader in me and I likely won’t get to my massive (and growing) stack of books tonight…

On Thursday at Bible Study we were asked to write down 3 things that we’re good at, and 3 things that we’re not in our study guides.  We’re working our way through Chip Ingram’s Living on the Edge:  Dare to Experience True Spirituality, which is an expositional walk-through of Romans 12.  It’s been a challenging book for me lately.  Especially last week’s read, but I found out when I got to Bible Study on Thursday evening that I’m 5 weeks ahead in the reading… no wonder it felt like so much reading every week.

Anyway, three things…

I had a little trouble thinking of things I’m good at.  It’ll coincide nicely with one of the things I’m not.

My first one didn’t surprise me though, really…. Talking to people/explaining things.  It’s a helpful strength when one endeavours to teach a foreign language to elementary school children.

My second came fairly quickly, as well… singing.  I sing a lot.  I sing myself hoarse sometimes.  Music is the language of my soul.  Someone else’s lyrics always seem to match my situation so clearly, no matter what it is.  I’ll sing in front of people, in the car, doing the dishes, it doesn’t matter really.

The third, though… I sat and couldn’t really think of one.  Started to chide myself a bit too… that’s it?  That’s all you’re good at?  Explaining things and singing?  Nice.

I came up with a loooong list in my head of things I know I’m not good at.  But we were told to be prepared to share one of each out, and so I kept them simple…. but my first thought was “say them out loud?  This would be much better if I could just write them down… preferably in my blog… send everyone the link, and be done with it.  I don’t want to tell people what I’m not good at, even though they likely already know… and even though everyone’s got things they aren’t good at…”  My inner dialogue, folks… there you have it.  So I went back to the “I’m good at” section, and added writing.  I don’t know why it didn’t come to me sooner… I’ve often contemplated quitting my job and becoming a writer, haha… but I can’t pay my bills on it.  In fact, I wanted to be a writer for years before I decided that I should teach French.  I wrote books as a child… I wrote for fun.  Well, I attempted to write books.  My biggest accomplishment was getting 150 pages into a not-so-loosely X-Files based science-fiction novel at the age of 12… but when you can recognize even at 12 that your plot is spinning in circles and losing steam rapidly, and you have nowhere left to go without backtracking and rewriting… it’s probably time to quit.  I think I still have my many attempts at book writing kicking around somewhere, I’ve refused to get rid of them for nostalgia’s sake every other time I’ve moved, so I can’t imagine this time would be any different.

Here are the things I’m not good at:

1.  Self Esteem.  This week’s whole theme was ‘how to come to grips with the real you’ and when I’m totally honest with myself I have to say that I don’t like me that much, on the whole.  I have good days, sure, but there are many where I look in the mirror and just shake my head and walk away.  Maybe I can blame my bullies… in elementary school, in high school, in university, in teacher’s college, even… or maybe I can blame myself for not being able to see myself through God’s eyes.  God doesn’t make losers, after all.  But that was  a hard one to admit in front of 14 other people… they may see it in me, but it was hard to come out and say “I don’t really like myself”, and even harder to admit that our challenge for this week, to look into the mirror and tell myself that I am uniquely significant, eternally valuable, and unconditionally accepted… would be very hard for me to do.  I still haven’t managed.

2.  Time Management.  heh.  I learned quickly growing up that I’m pretty smart.  What that ended up looking like for me was homework that got finished on the bus ride into the school, or in front of my locker before the bell rang, or in the class before… and I got mediocre marks to show for it, acceptable marks, mid 70s to low 80s.  With very little effort.  I learned pretty young that I didn’t need to put much effort into academics to be successful (though I regret that, because with some effort, there would have been endless scholarship opportunities which would have reduced my debt load at the end of 5 years of university, and I would have gotten into the teacher’s college I wanted…. but I can’t redo it, so no sense dwelling).  When you don’t need to put in much time or effort to be successful, it teaches you quickly that you don’t need to start anything early… why bother when you can do well the day before?  So if you need me to do something for you, I suggest you give me a deadline… as I work much better under the pressure that comes with not being done hours before a deadline.  That’s when I write and think my best, some of my best papers were written between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.  Consecutively.  That’s all well and good, until you have three papers due in one day… or an entire set of report cards.  My name is Laura, and I’m a procrastinator.

3.  Self Control.  I wrote this down specifically with regard to materialism and food.  I’ve talked about all of those things before, I don’t need to again.

It just struck me so funny that I was able to come up with a list… and a long one, at that… of things I’m not good at, and that I couldn’t even remember while trying to think of some things that I AM good at that I’m a good writer.  I suppose we can attribute that to my aforementioned slightly too low self-esteem :p

Something else that hit me on Thursday night was the following question:  “If neither time nor money were an object, what would do you?”  My gut reaction was to open a school that I would run where anyone could attend but that there would be a high standard for behaviour and if you couldn’t measure up after whatever our progressive plan was, you’d be gone.  It made me smile that what I chose was directly related to what I’m doing, and that I didn’t even give myself time to think myself out of it.  I’d have thought that there would be many other things I’d do first if time and money became no object.  I would have thought… Go back to school to be a meteorologist (and hire the private tutor necessary to get me through the physics, if it’d even be possible).  Be a writer.  Be an editor.  Open or curate a museum.  Go back to school to be a photographer.  I have passions that I thought all would have won out over the career that sometimes drives me nuts.  But… it’s quite nice to know that my gut reaction and my instinct is still to teach kids.  Notice though, that it wasn’t “stay in the public education system and continue to do what I’m doing right now.”  :p

I’ve wanted to be many things growing up:  A doctor, a meteorologist, more specifically… a tornado chaser, a fighter pilot (no one told me you needed to understand math and physics to be a meteorologist or a pilot… and no one told me you needed good vision to be a fighter pilot… and also…. I hate flying.  Good thing I didn’t become a fighter pilot.  What kind of 9 year old girl who’s never been in an airplane before aspires to be a fighter pilot??? Yeah… I was THAT kid.  No wonder I was bullied :P)  I wanted to be a lawyer.  I wanted to be a journalist…. and not just the columnist kind… the kind that storms the front lines of conflict and reports back with an edge to her writing and exposes what’s REALLY going on…. you know, the kind that gets killed in the movies for what they know.  I wanted to curate a museum.  I wanted to teach French.  I wanted to teach History.  I wanted to be a photographer (6 weeks into the beginning of my career as a French teacher, might I add ;))  I think it’s funny how God puts us where our passions are even sometimes unbeknownst to us.  I’ve known for a long time that this is what I wanted to do, I just never would have pegged it as what I’d do if I had no restrictions.

So there are my thoughts for a rainy Sunday night.  I’m going to go huddle into bed with a book and pretend that there isn’t a hurricane headed for my house…. well, ok… what’ll be left of one by the time it hits here tomorrow night……. aka lots of drizzly icky rain and some higher-than-average wind speeds.  And I’m going to pretend I don’t have to get up for work in the morning.  As a completely unrelated side note… I’m really glad the time changes next weekend, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to wake up in the dark, and I don’t like it.

Also unrelated to this post… went back to my old church this morning.  Felt like going home.  I should never have left, but I’m back with a new understanding of my purpose for being there, and I’m so thankful for all the welcoming arms that met me with hugs this morning.

The end.


Where do you hide when you’re running from yourself?

Let me give you a brief synopsis of life in my world the last little while.

I haven’t been that happy.

And I haven’t wanted to talk about it.  To anyone.  At all.

But here I am, talking about it, because it’s time.

Well….. I’m typing about it, as if blogging it seems to have less of a heavy weight of having to get it out there, even though more people are going to read it than I would actually spill my guts to…. but I’ll pretend I didn’t realize that logic, and on I shall write.

Though not entirely certain why I haven’t been all that happy, I have a few theories, and I imagine it’s a culmination of the lot of them, rather than one specific thing.

Theory # 1:  I’ve gained 45 pounds in the last two years.  I feel gross.  I also struggle with emotional eating.  Big time… SO ipso facto colombo oreo, I get mad that I’ve let myself gain weight, and I eat because I’m mad.  But it’s not just when I’m mad that I eat.  It’s when something is awesome, or stressful, or celebratory, or because I’m bored…….. really, I don’t need a reason.  I like food.  But it’s come down to this:  I’m unhappy where I am, and eating is only going to make it worse.  Plus, this is not what God wants for my body.  For my mental health.  For me.  I always feel better after I’ve eaten better or gotten exercise, but that “in the moment” default action gets me every time.  I have a support system in place to help me break those patterns…… but it’s going to be hard.

Theory # 2:  I’m single.  I’m not going to whine about this, because I’ve hashed it all out before, and I’m at a point right now where I genuinely don’t care.  It’s not worth fretting about, it’ll happen eventually, when the timing and the guy are both right.  Whatever.  But has it been a contributing factor?  I certainly wouldn’t doubt it.

Theory # 3:  Work is a struggle right now.  There are people I’m not getting along with, and big political S words (strike…) are being thrown around, and I don’t like it.  But I’ve talked about all that too.  And I won’t hash that out again either, because I’m sometimes hourly giving that back to God, as I have enough life experience to remind me that He will take care of me, and worrying won’t.  Which is the better option?  duh…. haha.

Theory # 4:  I have hardly spent any time with God, in the Bible, etc. in the past little while.  Part of running from yourself involves running from the One Person who can see all of you and everything about yourself that makes you sick, too, I guess…

Theory # 5:  I had a convicting summer where I was challenged and stretched and yanked out of my comfort zone.  And it made me think about how I do things.  Things like not getting involved in the ministries at church.  And here’s the hard part to admit, that I don’t know if I could admit to anyone sitting across a table from me… so please respect the very raw nature of this post.  I have had a tendency throughout pretty much my entire church-going life……. which is my whole life….. to get involved as little as possible.  I don’t want to give up my time.  I’m selfish that way.  I can give up money, fine, whatever, not an issue.  I can sing, I enjoy that.  But I don’t want to teach Sunday School or Junior Church, and I don’t want to volunteer here or there or anywhere really, and I’ve wanted people to just leave me alone about it.

How selfish.

I started to feel convicted about that.  I started to feel like I wasn’t giving/doing enough, and like I needed to check my heart and my motives.  I started to think thoughts like “this church isn’t doing anything for me.”

Of course it wasn’t.  I was doing basically nothing in return.

So…. long story short, I fled.  I ran.  I left.  And what I left behind broke me even more.

I left behind a community of people who love me, support me, affirm me, encourage me… and I intensely value and appreciate the love and dedication to me that these people have shown.  They haven’t let me run too far, even though I left them behind trying to run from my self.

I thought I could run to a new church and be anonymous.  I thought I could go, and sit, and learn…. and not be asked to do anything else.  I could just exist.

Well, I don’t know what I was thinking…. but God obviously met me in that stupid idea and said “I know what you can try…. go to the Meeting House.”

What I quickly found upon arrival was that I couldn’t do that.  Even moreso than in the community that I left, I felt like I needed to be involved, to be serving… we are, after all, the hands of God… and faith without works is dead.  My second week in they put out an all-call for volunteers and I rationalized away… I don’t have time.  I can’t.  I work with kids all week, I don’t want to on Sunday morning.  I need a break.  Oy.

God met me there and convicted even harder.  But at the same time, I started to deeply miss the community that I left behind.  And I left them behind for stupid reasons.  Family programming that doesn’t let me in (technically speaking I suppose) because I don’t have a family…. I translated that into “I don’t belong anywhere.”  That was never the intent.  The intent behind that programming is to foster an environment where families can bring their children, get to know other families better, and fellowship in their similarities while being a community where they feel comfortable raising their children… who will later become the church.  Family ministries should be strong and well developed.  I respect that intent.  I support it.  I love it, in fact.  But I was too blind to my own selfish whining to see it.

And…. what I found when I got to the new church was that they do it too.  Who knew?  A thriving church would have a good family ministry….

I left because I thought I could go and meet Mr. Right and settle down and get married.  It could happen… sure.  But I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t let my desire to be married get in the way of what God wanted from me or where He wanted me.  So if that’s my only reason….

Shame on me.

I left because of some silly other little reasons.

Basically, it all comes down to this:

I thought if I left and went where no one knows me I would be safe from having to explain why I was perfectly comfortable sitting in a seat and refusing to get involved, and I would be able to just hide in comfort, with no one asking questions and no one prying… no one asking if I’m ok.

Well, yeah, I could.  I could easily just blend in and not be noticed.  Come and go without consequence…

But it turns out that I went to the wrong church if I thought I was going to be able to sit and merely exist.  In fact, part of last week’s sermon involved the truth that you can’t and shouldn’t just go to church to learn, that the church IS the body of Christ, and we need to ACT.  The past 6 weeks that I’ve been there, I’ve been convicted a bit each week about something else that I thought I was running from…. to the point where this past week when we were urged to get involved and use more than our heads, it became pretty clear that while it’s a great place to be, it’s not the right church.  I love the preaching, but I can get that online.  I’m pretty thoroughly convinced that I’m not where I’m supposed to be and that I need to go back.

I need to go home.  Back to my church home.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that God had me leave so I could get stirred up to want to come back and actually be a part of the community that I was taking for granted, but the thought has crossed my mind.

At any rate, I’ve spilled my guts now.

I’ve wrestled and come to grips with the fact that I was where I was supposed to be all along.  Maybe I needed to drift away for a bit to see the value and figure that out… Maybe I’m a prodigal church-goer.  Who knows.  What I do know is that God met me in my brokenness without my even knowing He was doing it, without my even knowing what I wanted or needed.  He met me there.

That’s so excessive.

Imagine this.

Close your eyes if you need to….

well, ok don’t, that makes it hard to read.

Imagine this.

It’s late Sunday morning, you’ve just come out of church.  You remember that you need dog food, and church is now conveniently located 300 feet from Costco.  Give or take.  You drive on over…. cuz ya know, you can’t walk.  Well, I don’t know that I’d want to walk back with a 40 lb. of dog food anyway… but indulge me.  You drive on over, and you miraculously find a parking space, looking around in the parking lot, shocked at the sheer number of cars.  The sheer volume of people.  At Costco.  At 11:10 am on a Sunday.

I love Costco.

I love that I can get everything I need there…… *cough* want.  I can get everything I want.  And I can get it all in one place, all for a 50.00 membership fee, or something like that.

But there were so many people.  I died a little inside as I tried to navigate my cart through the throngs of people to get to the dog food.  That’s all I wanted.  Just a 40 pound bag of dog food.  It’s so much cheaper at Costco that two bags in a year pays for the membership alone in savings.  It’s a no-brainer.  The trouble is…. I have never left with only a bag of dog food.

Last time I went in, I went out with a bag of dog food and season 1 of NCIS, which I considered a success, because I *only* spent 20.00 more than I needed to.

Let me tell you another story.

Fast forward one week.  I’ve been mulling over the very notion of excess, and the more I think about it, the more of it I see.  Bigger, better, more more more more more.  And then some more.  I need.  I need.  I NEED.  No.  I want.


Everyone around me WANTS… but few seem to understand that they don’t need.  They want.

It’s now Thursday afternoon and I’m mulling over what I’ve been thinking about for a week and a half.  Excess.  Too much.  Stuff.  Stuff everywhere.  Need confused with want.  Real need…. seeing real need in the lives of others, and I say I can’t help, when I’m drowning in excess.  I make a decision for myself.  My life is going to change.  I’m done with “all you can eat.”  I’m done with “buy one get one”…. unless I really need two, of course… NO!  BAD!  Justification creeps in even in the very attempt to strip the excess down.  (But honestly, sometimes, I will not disagree, BOGO is a pretty sweet deal, and if two of something was legitimately a planned purchase and was in my budget, I’m still gonna go for it…)

I’ve come up with a plan.

I get to Bible Study Thursday night, and a friend hands me a stack of books she wants me to read… they’re mostly centered around the biggest area of excess in my life anyway — food.  I eat as if I’m never going to have another opportunity to again, and then I whine that I can’t lose weight.  I’ve become what I loathed two years ago when I successfully ditched all the excess food that was holding me back.  She hands me Made to Crave, Every Body Matters, and 7.

7 is interesting.  Its full title is “7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker.  I started reading it on Friday night.  Can I tell you how much I love this woman’s writing?  My friend was right, she reminds me a lot of my writing style, and maybe that’s why I love it so much, I don’t know, but it flows, and it’s super easy to read.  I imagine it’d be like listening to her talk.  Anyway, she is going through, one month at a time, and working on the excess in her life in 7 areas — clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, stress.

Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  I know she says the book isn’t intended to be a guilt trip, and that’s not how it’s reading, but…. if the shoe fits.  It’s incredible.

According to this book, I am incredibly wealthy.  And on many levels, I knew that.  But she says “How can I be socially responsible if unaware that I reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world?  (You probably do too:  Make 35,000 a year?  Top 4 percent.  50,000?  Top 1 percent.)”  I’m in the top 1 percentage of wealth in the world.  That’s sick.  What do I do with that?  I tithe, sure.  I give my 10 percent.  But pretty much just my 10.

I want to give more.

But I spend so much that I don’t feel like I have more to give.

Time to trim back, then.

Friday night after reading some of this sure to be life altering book, I decided.  No more buffets.  No more clothes shopping.  Be happy with what you have.  Give some away.  “Hey, maybe I can cut down to only 7 foods for a month, too, just like Jen.”

I wake up Saturday morning.  Look at the heaping pile of clothes on my dresser thing at the foot of my bed, and sigh because I have nothing to wear.  I crawl out from under my two comforters in my 65 degree house and don’t want to get up because I’m cold.  I run the hot water in the bathtub until it’s so piping hot it turns my skin red (that’s the way I like it, I assure you.  Had to turn the hot water heater up twice since moving in to get it there).  My cousin comes down for the day, I go pick him up at the train station…. but first.  I go to the mall.  At the mall, I buy a tank top.  I needed it, you see.  I joined the yellow colour house at work and that means I have to wear yellow on spirit days, and I look horrid in most shades of yellow, so I don’t own any…. so I bought a yellow tank top.  Fantastic justification skills right there, folks.

My cousin arrives.  We go for a walk by the river.  I talk about why I changed churches, how I’m feeling less and less comfortable, and how I’m so pleased about that.  We decide what to do with the rest of our day…. and decide to go to a Chinese buffet, then to a movie, then for frozen yogurt, then get up the next morning and go out for breakfast before I take him back to the train station.

Someone hit me, please?  EXCESSIVE!

I’ve been so upset with the excess AROUND me lately that I’ve not been able to see it IN me.  Costco is excessive.  Treat days at work are excessive.  Buffets are excessive…. but it’s people like me who buy right in who make it so that those lands of excess can thrive.  Costco wouldn’t be here if it weren’t so insanely popular.  Buffets wouldn’t exist if people weren’t willing to spend 26 dollars to stuff their faces full of food until they thought they could eat no more… and then do it again.

I don’t totally know where I’m going with this, to be honest.  I don’t really have it figured out quite yet.  I’ve been tossing around some ideas in my head, praying about them, ruminating…. if you will.  I’ll let you know what I come up with in the next few days, and as I get deeper into the book.  I’m sure I’m soon going to disgust myself enough that I’ll finally act.

Stay tuned for that.

In other news, I read this blog by Jen Hatmaker herself, the author of the book I was talking about… She talks about God saying “I’m not done yet” to her plea for being able to adopt two children.  She got the confirmation that one child was approved, and she and her husband got confused.  “We thought you said two, God?”  “I’m not done yet.”

Is it possible God’s saying to me, “I’m not done yet?” in the area of marriage, and I’m not listening?  I don’t know how to listen.  I’m bad at that.  Must focus.  Focus focus focus.  Are you just not done yet, God?  All I hear is cars whizzing down the street… I don’t know.  I don’t know how this works.

And I read this article shared with me by the same friend who’s given me the epic stack of books to work through.   It talks about the very thing I was mentioning a bit ago, about not knowing where I fit because I’m in this odd single adult lifestage and no one really knows how to talk or minister to me because of it, and subsequently they say things I resent or I feel ignored.  That’s probably partially my attitude, too, but it was a good article.  I like Boundless.  It’s good reading material.

Oh, sidenote… speaking of books… I went into Coles today while I was at the mall, and managed to behave.  I very much WANT the book “A Nation Worth Ranting About” by Rick Mercer, but I can’t afford it, and have a month’s worth of reading to do anyway…. I put it back.  I was happy.

272.  My wonderful neighbour, Wayne, who loaned me his ladder and came over and pulled out the weeds behind my shed and cut up the wood he’d taken down from the fence part I didn’t want up so I could get it to the road for garbage day.  He also gave me a watering can.  He’s sweet.  *side note* I got halfway up the ladder, half way to my roof, and it turns out that while heights don’t typically bother me… the roof of my house isn’t somewhere I want to be.  I didn’t make it up, and so my gutters remain full of leaves.  Doh.

273.  Home Church — going deeper.

274.  Making new friends/meeting new people.

275.  A church that challenges and won’t let me leave comfortable.

276.  Beautiful skyscapes. (taken with my Motorola Charm)

277.  Spontaneous friend visits.

278.  All things coconut.

279.  Strong bones.    (Funny story here.  Yesterday, walking up the steps to the house where Home Church would be held, I tripped over my own feet somehow… and I wiped out.  Landed on my knees, then bashed my shoulder into the door.  It hurt.  I almost cried.  But I told no one, I’m a champ, haha.  You should see the bruise on my right knee.  It’s impressive.  But I’m thankful tonight that nothing broke.)