April 23, 2012

here is something nice

I love that people all say things differently. I love that we could see the exact same thing and then we'd say totally different words about it. Today my friend Kim gchatted me and she said the best thing, and with her permission I am guesting her words on here [in italics.] She was in a coffee shop, she said, sitting near two little brothers. She said they were about 11 and 14. They arent saying anything, she told me, just eating next to each other. And the older one was helping the younger one get all his things, she went on, and I just am emotion queen watching. [We love emotions, me & Kim.]

This is my favorite part, what she said next:
They are so awkward but they love each other. I am pretty sure about it.

I loved hearing about it. But then I've always had something of a penchant for the awkward types, so no surprise there. She said, when we were talking about why we loved it so, I was thinking sometimes I am shocked when people serve for others. Mmmmmmhmmm, I said. It's refreshing when it's a way of life for 11 and 14 year old strangers. Can I get an amen?

I tend to think love needs to look a certain way. Kim didn't see those boys say two words to each other, and she saw the love in their exchange regardless. Because the thing is, loving another person looks so many ways. The best kind of ways, I think, are just the ones that leave other people pretty sure about it.

I think that may be the trick, in the end. To try and do life so people will say of us:
They are so [whatever way you are] but they love each other. I am pretty sure about it.

April 20, 2012

true confessions of a person who recently watched an entire TV series in a very short period of time

Disclaimer: First of all, it's about to get all kinds of crazy exaggeratory up in here. You've been warned. Secondly, if you've never seen the show Friday Night Lights, you probably aren't going to care about any of this or think it's that funny. Sorry to be writing for such a niche market today, but I guess that's just life in the big city, baby.

Ya'll, over the last few months I accomplished something important.
I watched the hit TV series Friday Night Lights - all 5 seasons of it - in it's entirety.

Am I embarrassed to have watched that many hours of TV in such a short period of time? I wasn't until I conversationally wrote that question to myself and now I kind of am, but we're already here so I'll push through it. I fell pretty instantly in love with everything about that stupid show. By the end of Season 5, I was so attached to everyone and everything that I literally had to stand up to watch the final play of the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME YA'LL, I was so nervous! I can't help it. I am one with the fabricated town of Dillon, Texas and every made up character in it. There are two particular people I will miss the very most.
First, Coach's wife. Hot diggity. Talk about a sassy lady.
The reasons I love her include but are not limited to:

She wears cowboy boots with every outfit she ever wears.
She's married to Coach Eric Taylor, the hott with two t's molder of men himself.
When a-hole football coaches ask her to call heads, she calls tails.
She has bombshell hair, like, all the time.
She is content [happy, even!] with her life even though Julie Taylor is her daughter (woof) and Gracie Belle has the most giant forehead I've ever seen on a human child in my life up to this point. Yes, everyone, I'm talking about it. Don't pretend like you didn't notice.

Here's the thing about Tami T: she always knows the right thing to do. She's brilliant and everyone knows it because every person on that whole show goes to her with every single problem in their life whether it makes sense for them to or not. Plus, homegirl sticks to her guns. She is strong and steady and doesn't falter even when she's making understandable compromises for the betterment of her marriage or town or children's lives or whatever. If I don't know how to handle myself in a given situation, I will ask myself one question: what would Tami Taylor do? And then I make great choices. Sassy, strong, wise, bombshelly choices.

Real talk: when I grow up, I want to be just like Tami Taylor. It's just that simple. I'd do anything she told me to, except I feel like she might tell me to stay away from Tim Riggins. In which case, Tami, I'm sorry to let you down... but I mean... have you seen Tim Riggins? The only thing that could possibly outweigh my goal to be just like Tami Taylor is my life dream to be all up on Tim Riggins. [Don't worry ya'll - he's 31 in real life so it's not weird.]

Tim Riggins? He's like the heart-of-gold-guy-with-a-rough-past-who-just-needs-a-good-woman-to-love-him-through-it poster boy. Pick me, Riggs. I will love you through it.

I can't say much more about it without getting embarrassed and also upset because Tim Riggins is not a real life person [although on a bad day I'm moderately convinced Taylor Kitsch is actually a Canadian Tim Riggins and if we happened to run into each other near his current home in Austin, Texas we would fall instantly in love.] The real test is this: I can think of no scenario in life where I would ever wish it upon myself to be Lyla Garrity, Tyra Collette, Becky Sproles, or Julie Taylor. Except for the scenarios in which they are being seduced/befriended/loved/protected from tornadoes [are you kidding me with that by the way? be still my beating heart.] by Tim Riggins. For that I'd happily trade lives with any one of those crazy fools. And that, I think, is true love. Right?

I may have slipped into a mild depressive state for a minute there when I finished watching, I have to admit it. Anyway I think it's what Riggs would've wanted. The hurt of the loss makes me feel like slamming my car into a mailbox on purpose, Julie Taylor style, or drinking a million beers like Lyla did when she fell on hard times, or brooding silently on my open field of Texas land like #33 himself. But I will be strong, Tami Taylor style, and I will move on with my life. Because I've lived long enough in this Texan fairyland, and in the words of Tami herself, it's my turn now. It's my turn, ya'll. 

April 18, 2012

birthday hangover

I know you've all been confused and wondering what's been missing from your lives over the past week - and I will tell you. It was me. It's just that, you see, it was my birthday week. So I've been busy being showered with love and attention and extravagant gifts and doing fanciful activities all week long. Far too busy to write anything or even remember I have a blog. Or a job. Or any other role aside from birthday-haver. You understand.

I love birthdays. We know this. And my birthday week was, for all intents and purposes, stellar. Here are some items I'd like to highlight as being especially lovely on what was a great segue into *GASP* my late twenties.
this picture is my new favorite thing.

I drank a hot toddy, ate free banana pudding and watched open mic comedy. I saw Thoroughly Modern Millie on a big screen - wearing long pearls - and we danced the (tap-tap-tap)Tapioca in the aisles after. This in particular was the kind of wondrous activity I wouldn't have even wished for because I didn't know something so wonderful could exist. I saw a brilliant production of Wicked. I'd seen it before and I love that musical, but this was a level of good where I was choked up during every song - not because it was emotional - but because it was so unbelievably beautiful. I got cute shoes and pictures of tomato plants and cakes and DrawSomething drawings of cakes and birthday cake oreo ice cream [somebody get that outta my house please] and phone calls and texts and words of affirmation out the wazoo. I got my very own karaoke party with so many people I love and I got to dance the Cupid Shuffle and really, what more do I need? Nothing, that's what.

I don't mean to sound braggy, but honestly, I feel a little braggy.

And now in closing, thank you, all of you, for knowing just exactly what would fill me with birthday joy. Thank you for a perfectly lovely week in which you attended happily to my every whim and desire, which apparently includes watching weird musicals from the 60's, laughing at amateur comedians while consuming geriatric treats, and singing Mandy Moore for an audience. And to those of you who know me so well, who know my craziest, ugliest, and most broken parts and who have stuck around to love me, I've said it before and I'll say it again: you are, by far, my most prized gift.

Though I love my birthday more than words can say, I know when it's time to step out of the spotlight and resume normal life. If you need me I'll be here listening to the Oldies but Goodies Pandora station to cope with it all. And so with that, I bid you adieu, birthday week. Hello, late 20's. Let's try to be friends. 

April 8, 2012

reflections on a holy week

I know I go to the right church because I'm consistently doing things that
1. are awesome and
2. make me wildly uncomfortable

Case in point: Maundy Thursday.

I didn't actually know what that service entailed until I got there and learned that we would, as a congregation, be washing one another's feet. I was sitting with a friend, so there was no stranger danger [you know, when you're in danger of having to touch a stranger's foot], but still I was sweating it a little. It wasn't so much that I didn't want to touch her feet, because I felt confident her foot hygiene was just fine, and I didn't think she'd judge my washing techniques or anything. No, what made me nervous was having another person holding my feet in their hands. I hadn't prepared. I haven't had a pedicure in months, but this was going to happen even though my nail polish was chipped and my heels were calloused. Our feet, in a way, serve as a symbol of where we've been. In order to get anywhere our feet have to take us, so at the end of a day, our feet have on them all the mess of a day we lived and sinned in. That's a scary thing to put in the hands of another person.

I tried to put myself in the position of the disciples on that night when Jesus knelt before them and took their feet in his hands. I tried to imagine the panic that the disciples must have felt when they prepared to have their dirtiest part examined, up close and personal, by their leader, their savior, their mentor. I imagine their thoughts were similar to mine: COME AGAIN? We're going to do what, exactly? But I didn't prepare for this! I get why Simon Peter flipped out a little and tried to refuse. He wasn't ready, hadn't prepared. Had he known Jesus would be washing his feet, maybe he would have walked more carefully on his way over. Maybe he would have avoided that one place where things get especially messy. I thought of how I approach Jesus all the time - prepared, prettied, primped. Ready to go, looking my Sunday best. Heaven forbid he see the real, true, hot mess that is me.

But regardless of their lack of preparation, Jesus took their feet and washed them of the mess of the day. And in so doing, I think he sent a very clear message to the disciples (or at least, to me): I know. I know the very messiest parts of your mess. I know where you've been. And I know what I'm doing. Then he instructed them to do the same for each other. It was a symbol of humility, of service, yes. But I think it's also a command for vulnerability in community.

At our Good Friday service, we were given the opportunity to write down any sin we felt convicted of and nail it onto a giant wooden cross near the altar. [Revisit the above checklist for my feelings on this.] I thought of the most depraved parts of myself, and I scribbled them quickly, carefully onto the paper. I approached the cross, praying no one would see what I'd written, and the previous day's thoughts began circling in my head as I put together the pieces. I thought, my sin is too great. My list is too long. There's no way Jesus can cover this much. And there's no way, if Jesus had known what I would be doing, how I would betray and deny and doubt him, he would have done this for me.

But I wonder if it's not exactly what he was saying when he washed the disciples' feet. Jesus knew full well how awful you and I would be. He knew he would be betrayed and denied by the very men whose actual feet he washed. And God sacrificed Christ that we might be saved in spite of that. Jesus saw their feet. He knew their messiest, dirtiest, most shameful places. He knew, and he gave his life anyway.

For the season of Lent, we purposefully omit my favorite part of the liturgy of my church [which for the record 1. is awesome and 2. no longer makes me uncomfortable]. At the end of service every Sunday, we throw stuff at the cross. Not objects, that might get violent, but we mimic throwing stuff at the cross. It's the best. Our pastor says the "all of our..." part, and then all together we say the rest:

All of our problems - we send to the cross of Christ
All of our sins - we send to the cross of Christ
All the devil's works - we send to the cross of Christ
And all of our hopes - we set on the risen Christ

Today we will throw things again. Today is Easter and Easter is my favorite because it means that we are saved. We are free. We are loved. We have a place to throw our junk and a place to set our hopes. We have a Savior who loves to wash us clean and we have a community of believers to be our messy selves in. We get grace and mercy and all kinds of wonderful gifts we didn't earn and don't deserve.

I've had this song in my head all week:

To make a wretch his treasure.
To make me his treasure.
To make you his treasure.


April 4, 2012

Jesus loves me, this I know

Yesterday I had a horrible day.

I won't get into it because it's so not worth it, but it was bad. I was crying before I even got to work, and everything from then on just made me do more of that. It was like for one day I just had zero stress tolerance. The stuff that happened wasn't that bad, but I felt completely and uncharacteristically ill-equipped to handle it. So I didn't, not well anyway. I cried a lot and spent more than average amounts of time on the phone with my mom. It wasn't pretty. Also it was snowing. In April. Which we all know I don't love.

I was so ready for the day to be over, but I had long-standing plans to spend time with my sweet friend Morgan, as she has recently returned from being cool and living in France for a bit of time. But as the day dragged on, I was feeling less and less like spending time with anyone, and started thinking I might cancel. I sent a few non-committal texts and we decided we'd grab dinner right after I got off work and then I could go home and go to bed dramatically early. Like salt in a wound, on my way to fetch her from her place of residence, I got stuck in a million hours of women's basketball championship traffic. I continued to feel woe-is-me about the state of my life. But then, while sitting at yet another traffic stop perusing the endless abyss that is Twitter, something caught my eye.

One of my all-time favorite old movies, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, was being screened tonight, for one night only, at this artsy little theater not far from my friend. I looked at the clock - the timing was perfect. After a moment of I'll never get anyone to go with me sadness, I realized something great: if I was going to convince anyone to go sit through 2+ hours of Debbie Reynolds at the last minute on a Tuesday night, it's absolutely going to be Morgan. How fortunate that I have such good taste in friends. And how fortunate that her response when I presented the option to her was, without a moment's hesitation, "well, should I make us some popcorn?" Didn't I say I have good taste in friends?

Now, I don't want to sound sacrilegious, but Jesus loves me, this I know: this was no ordinary night at the movies. The event was put on by the Molly Brown Society, and it was a whole to-do. There were women everywhere in period costumes, a band playing music that sounded straight from Christmas Morgan's saloon (banjos and bagpipes, be still my heart). They even had complimentary "gin and titonics" for us after the movie, in which there were ice cubes in the shape of the Titanic, I'm not even kidding. [Not to mention, compounding good with goodness, this whole movie deal is a series. And next week, the very day before my birthday, they are screening the only movie that I could possibly be more excited to see on the big screen than Molly Brown - Thoroughly Modern Millie. It's a birthdayweek miracle.]

For those of you who don't know me well, all of this is right up my alley. I was giddy. I can't imagine a more tailor-made event to turn around my terrible, hopeless day than this one. Like, a normal night at the movies would have been great - this, though, felt like a party planned just for me. That might sound really stupid to you, but I felt full and loved. Not in a generic, ordinary way. In a hugely personal, intimate kind of way.

The kind of way I believe we're supposed to experience Jesus.

So no, while I don't think Jesus commissioned a bunch of ladies to dress up in big hats and that cute bartender with the 50's haircut to make us free drinks just to turn my bad day around, I do believe it's a picture of how Jesus loves us. Personally. Intimately. At the end of a long day when hope feels lost, joy is restored in a way that nothing and no one else could even come close to doing. I think it's apt that this came during holy week, too. Because as I've thought about it more, I wonder how much more beautiful to experience the death and resurrection of Christ through the lens of a love so profoundly and personally intimate. Christ's sacrifice was for everyone, but it's not selfish or silly to feel like it was for you, specifically, because it was. All at the same time, each and every one of us is loved by God in a way that feels like walking unexpectedly into a party thrown just for us.

That's just about the best thing I've ever known.