Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Imperfection is Beauty

I’m not perfect. But I try so hard not to let it show. I’m a perfectionist. I try to be perfect at anything I’m good at. I also try to be perfect in my imperfection. I don’t like admitting I need help. And I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems, my weakness,  my imperfections.

This week has been a testament of my perfection (or lack of).

An Imperfect Me

Somehow last week became a celebration of Derrick being home (He was only gone a week; Army wives must be rolling their eyes at this situation). I had a whole day planned for this past Saturday – and Derrick had chosen not to know what was going on.  I prepared cards with pictures and information that would reveal to him what was next on the agenda. Lunch with Whitney and Aaron. Art Museum. The Social Network. Olive Garden with Derrick’s Dad.
Everything went wonderfully. It was a great day, including some of both of our favorite things. Lunch was a good time, catching up with friends. The Art Museum was an interesting cultural experience; it was fun to see what kind of art everyone liked. The movie was good. And dinner with Mr. Billy was the perfect ending to the day.

Let’s fast forward to 11:14 that night. We’re sitting in Derrick’s car, my face red and tear stained. I keep apologizing for acting like a girl. I hate acting like a girl. The patience from a few blogs back had decided to come crumbling down, despite my desire to always be classy and calm, optimistic and supportive.

                “It’s just not fair.” I cry. “After a wonderful day like this…we have to come home to my parent’s house…and I have to say goodbye to you. It’s stupid.”

He doesn’t really say much. He just looks at me with that kind, patient look. Which can be frustrating, but gives me the invitation to continue, expressing my instant guilt at the above statement.

                “I love my parents. They do so much for me and us, and it’s not that. It’s just not fair. After a day like today we should get to go to our home together. And not say goodbye” He may have commented, then I continued. At this point, I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted to be married. BUT the magnitude of marriage was also closing in. “Once we get engaged, then I have to plan a wedding. So many details. And I won’t live with my parents anymore, and I’ll miss them. And then we have to decide where we’re going to live…We have to buy a house.” Sobs. “I don’t have money for a house. I don’t know where we should live…and taxes. I don’t know how to do taxes. I don’t even understand my insurance. I’m a horrible adult.” Pause for reflection on what’s going on. “I’m sorry. I’m crying. I’m acting like a girl.” (This goes on for about half an hour).

Yes. The walls had come crashing down. Impatience.  Guilt.  Fear. Excitement. Imperfection.

A Patient Boyfriend

Derrick assures me that I’m not a horrible adult; it will all work out. That one day we won’t have to say good-bye, but he agrees that it is hard sometimes. He holds me. He tells me that he loves me.

And there’s the truth of the matter. I try to be perfect. To put energy into supporting Derrick and all those I love.  Into being strong. I try to be the best and hide my imperfections. Be patient. Don’t get upset. Don’t get frustrated. But even in the midst of me being an emotional mess, he loves me. And I dare say that we actually loved each other more in that moment and after that moment.

There’s a beauty in vulnerability. In letting those closest to you know your heart, without the walls protecting it. I prefer hiding my issues, handling them privately and quietly; other people have enough to worry about without my problems. I feel selfish whenever I reveal my personal burdens. But maybe it’s okay if I’m weak every once in a while. If I let my guard down. If I’m imperfect. (Although hopefully it won’t happen again anytime soon ():)


A Perfect God

I love that God is constantly there for me. I think that those of us who are perfectionists, who try to take the weight of the world on our shoulders, should especially relish this fact. When I need someone to fall apart to, when I need someone to cry to, be weak with, when I need to crawl in someone’s arms…God is always there. Always.

He doesn’t judge my vulnerable weakness, and He already knows my heart. He knows my desires, my frustrations, my hopes, my dreams. I feel so blessed that, as strange as it sounds, I can be selfish with Him. He loves being my best friend, and He wants me to cry to Him.If I get frustrated with someone or something – I don’t want to take it out on them, because most of the time it’s just my emotions and the moment – but I can talk to God about it. If I’m tired of working to be patient or kind, I need some strength and rest – I can talk to God about it. If I have a dream, a hope, a burden – He’s there to share them with me.

He died for me so that I could come to Him. What a beautiful freedom! (If you don’t have a relationship with God like that, don’t wait another moment. He wants to be there for you too!)

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Drops of Jupiter

“She wants to be an astronaut.” And that is why I love Derrick, and he constantly makes me smile.

Read on.

Music. It’s a passion of mine, although I’m not musically talented myself. Music has a way of changing your outlook, setting the mood, telling a story, conveying an emotion, and putting into words a feeling you can’t make sense of. To me, good music is one of those things that gives me a glimpse of heaven.

If you ask me what my favorite song is, the answer will be “Don’t Take The Girl” by Tim McGraw. There is something about that song that makes my world stop, and it always will. My parents say that I got scared the first time I heard the song. I listened to the radio to go to sleep and went to their room, saying “I don’t like that song. The one about taking the girl.” They didn’t know what song I was talking about – but now it’s my “make the world perfect for a moment” song. 

That doesn’t mean it would make my list of Top Songs – because it wouldn’t. That lists includes a myriad of songs that make everyone stop what they’re doing and turn up the radio (“Sweet Home Alabama” – you know it’s true!). There are so many songs from a variety of different genres that make my world a little better.

The first song that ever reminded me of Derrick is Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” . It was the first song I remember talking to him about, months before we started dating, when he stated that he could play it on the guitar. When Derrick and I first began talking almost 2 years ago, we would spend hours talking about music. He would tell me songs that reminded him of me, and I would let a smile rest on my lips as the sound of his feelings filled my room (Check out “Avalanche” by David Cook and “Gotta Be Somebody” by Nickelback).

Last week, when he was gone, “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About” came on the radio. This classic Bonnie Raitt song reminds me of when Derrick and I first became interested in each other. So I opened up an email and included a link to the song for Derrick, along with a link to “Avalanche” and “Gotta Be Somebody”. He could have a little piece of me in Asheville – thanks to music.

Derrick and I listen to music all the time, all kinds, having crazy conversations, jamming out, and dancing around.   I love it when Derrick sings : )

Now, after expounding too much on music (although I could honestly talk about it for hours and will probably post about it again), I will get to the point of this blog.

A few weeks ago, Derrick decided that country music was very simple. To the point. There was nothing deep about it. While this is a fairly proven point, I secretly made it my mission to find deep country songs – because country music is a fairly passionate love interest of mine. Derrick, on the other hand, decided he would replace the Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, James Otto CDs (and Celine Dion – which is the only one that Jessie, Derrick and I can all agree on, in general) with something a little deeper: Train.

This brings us to the conversation alluded to at the beginning of this post. “Drops of Jupiter” is playing, and I’m analyzing every word (AP English was one of my favorite classes in high school). Finally, I feel confident in my assessment.

                “It’s really not hard to figure out what this song means.” I state, somewhat proudly.

                “Yeah, I know.” Derrick too seems confident, never cracking a smile. “She likes women.”

                I give him that look. He’s crazy, but he makes me smile. Then I continue… with my serious thoughts.

                “It’s about a girl who wanted to experience the world. She wanted to travel, to find herself. She didn’t want to be stuck in one place. So now, after seeing the world, she finds herself back at home, back with this guy. He’s worried that he’s not cultured enough, experienced enough for her. She comes back home to him, to the smalltown and average life…but she still has ‘drops of Jupiter’ in her hair, proof of all she’s experienced.” (not an exact quote)
     I lean back in my seat, wishing I had worded in more eloquently but, in general, happy. Derrick pauses a moment, and then simply states:
“Right. She wanted to be an astronaut.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *
The soundtrack of this blog: Don’t take the girl –, Wonderful Tonight –, Gotta Be Somebody –, Something To Talk About –, Drops of Jupiter – Enjoy!


Waiting’s the hardest part, isn’t it?

I’m a writer and a dreamer. A romantic and a realist. And, on top of that, impatient by nature. This is a dangerous combination as a young girl – dreaming of falling in love, romantic moments, my future husband, and forever. Between the ages of 10 and 20, those are the things that consumed my thoughts. What did God have planned for my future? Did I know my future husband, did I pass him on the road every day? How would we meet? What would our love story hold?

For me, though, my future husband and our love story was more than just something to dream about. It was something that I prayed about fervently. I prayed for purity and patience. I prayed for my future husband – wherever he was, that God would protect him, be with him, and give him a hug for me. The desire to be married has always been in my heart, and I have prayed about and prepared myself to be a wife.

I had plans. There was the natural way for things to fall into place. Graduate high school. Go to college. Fall in love. Graduate college. Get married. That’s the standard plan, right?

In November of 2008, I began to fall for Derrick Green and, in January 2009, we began dating. By this time, I had grown up a lot, learned a lot, experienced a lot. I had some regrets and, through the events of that winter, I had matured in who I was and in my relationship with the Author of my story.

Derrick and I make sense together. But, more than that, we are each other’s best friend, and we are passionate about each other. I get excited when he comes in the house, and he normally has to prepare himself as I run and jump in his arms. He appreciates me, respects me, and makes me laugh. At times, he’s the epitome of strong and silent, other times he’s silly and sarcastic. I thank God for him everyday.

So, here I am. I love this man. I am done with college. I am 22 years old. And God is using this season of my life in big ways to teach me.
“So, when are ya’ll going to get married?” People ask it all the time. So I will give you an answer. Keep reading (if you don’t feel like reading all of this – skip down the end – when the question is asked again).

Last year it was hard, I’ll admit it. I worked at a wedding dress shop and interned at a wedding venue. It consumed my thoughts. It was hard for Derrick too, because I assumed things, expected things. But, over time, I was able to enjoy each moment, appreciate all of the amazing blessings in my life and celebrate love stories with my friends.

I have many friends that I have been close to and have loved since elementary, middle, and high school. We used to dream together, share crushes, laugh into the early hours of the morning, and wonder where we’d be at 20. Here we are, and I truly enjoy being able to witness each of their lives; their love stories, their careers, their passions and talents. The beautiful women they’ve grown to be. God has blessed us to still be a part of each other’s lives.

I have been able to truly be happy with them, celebrate their love, and appreciate their love story. I have been in their weddings and made memories that warm my heart. And that is only by God’s grace. I think that who I used to be would struggle, have a hard time enjoying my friend’s wedding and marriages. But now I know that this is their time to celebrate their love and move forward in marriage. I will have my time, and then they will be there for me.

I have learned patience and peace. (Although it is something I have to pray for every day, because my flesh is impatient).

God’s plan is better than mine. He continues to pour out His blessings on me, though I don’t deserve them. And He has taught me to enjoy this season of my life. I am excited to see what the future holds – to see where my job goes, how I grow, to see what God has planned for Derrick’s career and how he will use his talent. I’m excited to see if and when we’ll get engaged and married. Excited see what the next scene holds.

But I have learned that my life is full today. I need to enjoy today. My today is full. This season of my life is blessed and wonderful, offering memories that will last a lifetime and allowing me to grow even more as a person.

God has the master plan. And His is so much better than mine. Whether you’re single and struggling,wondering where Mr. Right is and why God is making you wait, or you’ve found the right one and now you’re waiting, somewhat impatiently – know that God has a perfect olan. Are you preoccupied with the wondering, worrying, waiting? Let God handle all that.  He’s writing your future and it’s going to be amazing. But never forget that today is pretty amazing too, and today holds opportunities you’ll never get back.

So, when am I getting married? It’ll will happen when it’s supposed to. God has the perfect plan, a plan I trust and find peace in. He is the Author of this love story I’m living. I also respect Derrick’s decisions, his wisdom and his heart. I will enjoy my life today. But, when the day does come that I get to become a wife, it will be in God’s timing and I will be the happiest girl in the world.

(Sidenote:  It doesn’t really get easier, I still desire to be married. It’s a daily struggle. But now I have peace about waiting.)

“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Light of the World

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

It’s busy...I sit at my desk. Windows cover the wall to my right, giving me a front seat view into the world out there. Couples stop to embrace before they go to separate classes; it looks more like they’re saying goodbye before the war steals one of them away. Students talk on their cell phones, pacing back and forth, promising their mom that everything is fine, everyone failed the test, the professor just doesn’t understand. Groups of students walk together, making their weekend plans and laughing at memories of yesterday.  People making best friends, falling in love, preparing for careers, and making decisions that will change their lives forever – right before my eyes.

Here at Campbell we have students from all over the United States. Small towns. Middle of nowhere communities. Big Cities. More than that, we have students from all over the world. Kenya. England. Switzerland. China. Malaysia. Spain. Just to name a few. Each of these students is a story; they have friends, heartbreaks, memories, parents, interests, quirks, passions, beliefs and struggles. Some have a passionate faith in God that is evident in everything they do. Some have a struggling faith, a knowledge of God from years of church, but an indifference to living for Him now. And some are being introduced to the truth of our Lord and Savior for the first time here in Buies Creek.

A college is the only place I can think of where God so obviously brings a million mission fields to one place. Thousands of students, who each go home and reach dozens of people all over the world. What a rare and blessed opportunity!

I meet these students as they are first introduced to life at Campbell. I get to tell them about our programs, our  professors, and make them feel the orange energy that exudes from the hearts of everyone here. I correspond with them as time goes by, find their talents and interests, and hopefully witnessing their first steps to becoming a camel. In so many ways, their life is just beginning. For many of them, they will meet their future spouses and future best friends right here on this campus. They will bond with professors who will help them find their way and become successful. They will grow and learn and experience things that shape who they are.

I don’t just get to interact with prospective students, though. I work with our faculty and staff – most of them have strong faith and an evident relationship with God, but some struggle. I get to work with current students as my ambassadors, and I am impressed with their involvement on campus, in their community, and in various Christian services. They are a group that will change the world. But I’m sure each of them face difficulties every day.

What a chance this is for me to make a difference! To encourage someone. To show someone a little bit of God’s love and joy. The peace and hope that comes with a relationship with Someone who can hold you close at any moment, who always listens, and who already sees what life will be like tomorrow.

I don’t have to go to Africa or Europe or India or New York or Maryland or California to make a difference there. God has brought all of those places to me. If you are a professor, student, or staff member who knows the Lord – what a great opportunity to serve Him. Right here.

Totem Pole

This past weekend my family went to the mountains. I love fall, and I love the mountains. Everything is peaceful and simple. Colors explode on the side of the hill and God’s creation rolls for miles and miles. The mountains mean hours in the car with my family driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopping at scenic overlooks. The mountains mean hot tub talks and adventuresome hikes with Derrick. The mountains mean Mom’s birthday, more than 10 minutes with my little brother, and my dad’s favorite Dan’l Boone meal.

Sunday, after a morning of pictures and lunch at Applebees in Boone, I not only had to say goodbye to the mountains…but goodbye to Derrick.

Since beginning to date almost 2 years ago, Derrick and I haven’t been apart for more than 2 or 3 days. We’re blessed to have been in class together, live 10 minutes from each other, go on vacaton together, and truly enjoy hanging out with one another. He is my best friend, beyond anything else. I love going on evening walks, watching television, listening to music, going out to eat, hanging out with friends and family, dancing in the living room, laughing, and making memories…with him.

But his passion and talent is for video and, while it’s a test in patience and faith, God has opened some awesome doors for Derrick in the realm of video. This week he is in Asheville working on a possible television pilot (no promises, so don’t assume anything). It is a great opportunity for him to meet people who have worked on actual television shows, people who know people. Every day we have to choose to trust God with Derrick’s future and career; but everyday I feel excited to see what the future holds, what God has planned for us. With Derrick’s talent and his ability to learn, he can do anything – we’re just waiting for someone else to notice.

As Derrick said last night, “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, but at least I’m on the totem pole.” (His positive spirit is another thing I love about him)

Now, the reality is that if Derrick continues to pursue this line of work, and we end up together there will be more weeks without him. More nights of Karen Kingsbury and Lifetime movies, waiting for phone calls. Dinner with my parents and girl’s nights. And I think that God has equipped and prepared me for that. I am not one of those people who has to have something going on all the time. And I’m not someone who hates to be alone. I enjoy the quietness of an empty house – I can clean, play music, dance around, watch whatever I want, read in the silence, talk to God outloud, work out and look ridiculous…

This does not mean I’d rather be alone than with Derrick. He is my best friend, and I look forward to hanging out with him at the end of each day. I’d rather listen to music with Derrick, dance with Derrick, watch television with Derrick, read while he’s on the computer just a few feet away…I miss him when he’s not around (I almost cried when I had to tell him goodbye). But I’m prepared for whatever God has planned.  And I continue to pray for strength to support Derrick in whatever the future holds.

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

A Letter From Christ

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
2 Corinthians 3: 2-5

I’m new at this. And, honestly, I don’t know why you would care what I have to say.

But singers sing, proclaiming their message to the world. Artists paint, sharing their heart with everyone in the form of colors on a canvas. I write – that is the gift and passion that God has given me. And when I say I write…I mean it. I have a journal, a future husband notebook, a Derrick document, and I’ve been meaning to start a journal to my children (future children). I have many partially written novels sitting on my desktop, and I’m hoping to write and publish a book of encouragement for young women. I write emails, cards, facebook messages…Also, I write to do lists…lots of to do lists. Sometimes “To Do List” will be on my To Do list – so that I take time to write my list for later. Truth. So I’m going to write – and you can read if you want to.

There will be no obvious theme to this blog. Anything goes: God, love, family, friends, work, politics, anything…Today, though, I want to talk about God and Derrick (check out “Totem Pole” post).