hometown glory.

i spent a small chunk of my adolescence craving to move on to what i thought were bigger and better things, and i firmly believed none of them would be found in my hometown. i thankfully lost this sour perspective fairly quickly, discovering how much i loved being able to say that i hailed from a tiny town with so much to offer. this past weekend i made a spur-of-the-moment visit with two of my dearest friends to my home in southwest oklahoma - mountain view.
i spent my first 18 years on the same street in the same house, staring at the wichita mountains from my front porch and watching the sprinklers shower the lawn my dad took such pride in maintaining. i graduated from high school with a class [nah, family unit is more like it] of 16. these were the kids i made mudpies with, began kindergarten with, fished and camped with, and worked alongside in the summertime. for every seemingly rough thing about living in the boondocks - like being an hour away from any wal-mart! - there are endless things i love about where i come from. wouldn't you like to know a few?
having complete control over all of the intricacies of planning a graduation ceremony is a luxury for most, but our small classes have such fortunate freedom. our class of 2007 decided the football field was the perfect spot, which allowed us to invite and seat as many loved ones as we could convince to come, and made throwing our caps up to a background of fireworks possible. :) and, had i grown up anywhere else, being crowned prom queen my senior year never would have happened. and believe me, i ain't forgettin' it.
the wisdom of neighbors and elders in mountain view was such a priceless gift. a heritage of hard work, faith, and appreciation for all circumstances permeated my upbringing here. what a blessing. help is also always available, whether you've requested it or not! i remember stopping by the post office late one evening after work, and accidentally locking my keys in the running car. of course my cell phone was inside, so i sat on the curb wondering what my next move should be. another car immediately pulled up, and the driver's offer to run by my house and grab a spare key is nothing unusual in my neck of the woods.
and oh, the mountain view free fair, a three day celebration when every former dweller returns to ride the state's oldest running ferris wheel and eat calf fries [yes, it's what you think it is.] from the junior/senior stands. the state fair's got nothing on us, friend.
opening up my mailbox each monday to find the mountain view news gives me a little piece of home in the middle of a whirlwind semester. i'm thankful for the wheat fields, backroads, and wide open skies of where i come from, and pulling back into town each time i visit makes my heart skip a beat. what do you love about your hometown, big or small?


the thursday thirty, issue seven.

my roommate kelly is currently threatening my life if i do not post the following. i am being forced to type kind words about her; she will beat me if i fail to do so.
juuuust kidding. :) these are 30 things i adore about my roommate.

  • i love getting notes from kelly. last semester especially, when we were only suitemates, finding cards on my desk - just because - was the sweetest thing!
  • she gets, giggles at, and [[hopefully]] appreciates all of my quirks. i never have to apologize for who i am when i'm around her.
  • her taste in music is like no other. thanks to kelly and the woman inside of her car that controls her ipod, i have been exposed to the likes of sigur ros, deathcab for cutie, and emmanuel moire - just to name a few. i'm on my way to being cultured!
  • she is the beatrice to my dante.
  • she is also the only other person i've met who will sing along to 'mmmbop' with me, or will gladly sit on a living room floor and sway to nickle creek. =)
  • this girl stayed three hours with me in a germ-ridden, trashy emergency room. now that's friendship.
  • i never had to go a day of spring break without getting a call or text message from her. :)
  • as the student grader for my french class, she always writes smiley faces in flashy gel pen colors on my worksheets. it makes my lack of fluency in the language easier to bear. :)
  • surviving freshman and sophomore year with me makes kelly a saint. she sits through my pity parties, crying sessions before civ tests, and snooring like a trooper.
  • kelly brought our pinata-daughter, sandra, into the world last fall. parenting with her is a dream come true.
  • my niece kaitlyn adores kelly, so i know she must be a good gal. my sweet niece often tells me, "kelly and me are buddies!" too cute!
  • this girl is stylishhh. it's refreshing not to be embarassed while in public with her.
  • at one time in my life, i was terrified to let my closest friends know bits and pieces of my past. whether she knows it or not, kelly helped me ease out of that - without ever looking at me with a judgmental glance.
  • she stood up for me when a few of the kids we work with at church said some very hurtful things, and i'm fairly certain they learned not to mess with either of us after that. :D
  • okay, so introducing me to and actually getting me to join twitter was one of her best moves.
  • she doesn't complain about my stinky shoes, even though i know she wants to...
  • we've made a plan to visit iceland after graduation, and i wouldn't want to traverse that country with anyone else!
  • she lets me keep the the sheets of of her daily 'peanuts' calendar for my tesol portfolio. so generous.
  • we often grab a $6.99 pizza from mazzio's on monday evenings, in which we split the cost. even though i get a topping only on my half of the pizza, she never complains about getting charged for part of it as well.
  • kelly and i co-teach conversation labs with obu's international students. she is so great about getting the paperwork side of our job done, which makes my end of the work so much smoother.
  • hearing words of affirmation is always good for a girl's heart, and kelly often tells me i'm beautiful - even when i'm not!
  • her handwriting is gorgeousssss.
  • and she's photogenic!
  • we're about to play 'guess who,' a board game likely meant for children 6 and up - but we have no shame. who else would spend their thursday night trying to figure out my gender and age?!
  • one sunday night when i returned to the dorm from a weekend at home, she had sweet tea and macaroni & cheese from mcalister's waiting on my desk. that almost made up for her extensive criticism about my book and movie collection.


musings on modesty.

my dear friend sebastien has finally provided a voice of reason amidst the hot debate on modesty at obu. below you will find a tongue-in-cheek editorial from a man's outlook - something long awaited and vitally needed in the often catty, female-dominated dispute over what is and isn't modest. i hope you too can get a little giggle and some perspective on the responsibilities both genders have in keeping our thoughts in check.


musings on the “modest” girls of OBU:
baptist girls are an odd lot. okay, maybe not all of them, but there are enough here at OBU to at least merit a mention. i’ve heard numerous girls talk about and read a few blogs about girls causing their “brothers” to “stumble.” for those of you who don’t know what i’m talking about, let me fill you in. these girls feel as if wearing clothing that isn’t completely covering all of their body below their neck and above the elbows and knees is causing troublesome distractions to guys. tt makes them fall by the wayside. it leads them away from their journey with God. they talk about guys as if they’re these poor creatures who can’t handle seeing a collarbone or who will fall away from God if they catch a glimpse of cleavage. some even go as far as to proclaim that guys have it far worse than girls, saying that they can’t do much in their manner of dress to make a girl stumble.
i have female friends “stumbling” all over the place thanks to guys.
apparently guys are akin to some poor child who just can’t help himself, as if he may go hire a prostitute or get a girl pregnant after seeing a female student wearing heels or a skirt that’s above the knees. the guys just see that and lose their minds, i suppose.
others make promises to never intentionally make a “brother” “stumble”. i promise you that guys can handle your clothing. none of the girls here at OBU wear anything that scandalous. i also promise you that if a girl wears clothing that is flattering to her body, that can present just as much of a danger, whether she is showing cleavage or not. a girl who dresses for her body is going to get noticed, skin or not.
what i find worse is that some of these girls then target other girls in the school who, painful as it may sound, dress better than them - girls who take care of themselves and take pride in how they look. these “modest” girls write hateful things that are very clearly intended for specific people, thinking that they’re doing it for a greater good. they make snide comments to the faces of girls who wouldn’t dress scandalous if their lives depended on it, because they think their top is too low or showing too much skin. they make themselves feel like they’re the better person because they chose not to put forth any thought into what would look good.they quote scripture, using verses like 1 timothy 2:9-10, saying not to "braid your hair or wear gold or pearls," and 1 thessalonians 4:7, saying that "God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. " i don’t know if that’s an attempt to equate dressing nice with being impure , but i know you’d be hard pressed to find a female anywhere that hasn’t worn gold or pearls. not all Bible verses are still relevant to our times.
having said all of that, here is my proposal for you girls. wear a potato sack. wear big sweatshirts and oversize jeans. give up makeup and don’t even think of shaping your eyebrows. stop getting haircuts to accent your features. buy all of your clothing 3 sizes larger than normal. don’t wear anything that clings to your body or curves in any way, please, for we may stumble. and to those of you promising to never make us stumble: fear not, you probably never have.


something beautiful.

my church and i spent time yesterday serving at a splendid ministry called all things baby, which a woman from our campus started in her garage last year. i cannot brag on this ministry enough! courtney had a desire to combat abortion, and He has overwhelmed her prayers by providing both a warehouse to house clothing, diapers, furniture, toys [you name it!] for new mothers, and also an office where she will hopefully minister to hurting women who have experienced past abortions with bible studies and love. part of our group painted this new office yesterday, but only after many of us wrote prayers on the walls for this new place. i wish i had taken a picture before two coats of beige were slathered on, but i'm sure you can picture the beauty of it all regardless. :)


ballet lessons.

call me crazy, but i think i'm possibly insanely biased toward my three precious nieces. these last three and a half years, i've found myself scrambling to etch all of their little moments and eccentricities into memory so that, as my siblings and parents so affectionately do with me, i can relay them to the older versions of sydni, zoey, and kaitlyn. par example, kaitlyn is terrified of automatic flushers in public restrooms. she will refuse to do her business - or, at the very least, complete it with her fingers in her ears - if the toilet flushes without her consent. she also has an imaginary brother named carson who lives at the circus. :) i'll never forget the time that i asked my mom to pluck my out of control eyebrows, and sydni and zoey began to sob and beg her to stop because they were convinced i was in pain (which we all know is truuue). sydni is also in a phase of adoration for that nasty arm & hammer toothpaste with baking soda. she claims it's "nice and minty". priceless. :)
so, of course, this brings me to yet another opportunity for bragging on one of my girls. last week at kaitlyn's ballet practice, one of the little girls in her group had an accident in the studio. as my sister scrambled to help the girl's mom clean up, kaitlyn did an amazing job of getting the other dancers to shift their focus away from the embrassing moment. she marched right up to the little girl, put an arm around her, and announced, "it's alright, i sometimes have accidents too."
what a kid.


the same power.

last night was beautiful.
i admit, after a year and a half of non-stop serving with three different ministries at lifechurch.tv, burnout was creeping in. in the middle of worship at switch last night, however, He so graciously reminded me why i do what i do week after week there - to pray over and share my story with students He has entrusted to me. i ache for the future of our church to claim and fully understand that the same power that conquered the grave lives in them, that the Love which rescued the earth resides also in their core. what mountains could be moved if they believed these truths! they are so powerful and are being prepared for such giant feats, and i wish they realized the victory that they possess.
as the message moved toward the subject of purity and heart-mending in light of past mistakes, i just wasn't sure i could make it. another leader and i held each other, knowing the moment He wanted us to share our stories with the girls in our small groups and spheres of influence was soon coming. i used to fight that, and at times i still do in fear of the judgment which seems to plague our christian culture so heavily. but with my girls, letting go of secrecy's comfort didn't compare with communicating the truth that they own the power to overcome an entangling past and the power to change their future. [and yes, i'm aware that all of this sounds very life coach-esque. :)]
see? this is why i just can't give up that servin' stuff. it breaks me, pushes me, and asks me to rearrange my life almost daily - and i fear who i might be if i didn't let Him take over my pretty little schedule like that. =)


faith's fine lines.

what a week. the previous seven days were overrun by sickness, brief hospital stints, recovery, near-fatal exams, and getting my laughter back. what a week. i'm proud to have survived it, and thankful that spring break will be showing its glowing self soon. fishing and target shooting with my dad in the boondocks, a mission experience with my switch kids, and seeing some old friends are sure to refresh me for what is left of this semester. then, of course, the two papers i also have to knock out will snap me back to academic reality. oh well. sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.
i have a deep and important favor to ask of y'all. my presentation over public schools' accommodation of religious practices for my church/state class is swiftly approaching, and i'm dying to hear some outside opinions on a few issues i'm examining. i would love, love, love to hear your thoughts, so please share them with me in a comment if you get a spare moment!
  • some public schools with significant muslim populations are now providing rooms for students to perform their obligatory prayers in and are being excused from class periods to do so. is this at all a promotion of religion, or is this accommodation acceptable?
  • the university of michigan's deerborn campus has pledged $25,000 of student fee dollars to construct foot-washing stations in bathrooms for muslim students who must perform this ritual cleansing before prayer. walking a fine line, or promoting safety and sanitation for those who would otherwise be forced to wash their feet in sinks?
  • christmas programs are a longstanding tradition in many schools, filled with both secular symbols and faith-based carols. should kwanza and hanukkah programs also be held? is a "christmas" concert or program a violation of the establishment clause?
  • the head scarf, or hijab, that many girls in islam are required to wear has become a hot-button issue with public american schools. an elementary student in muskogee, oklahoma, was suspended several years ago for violating her school's head covering policy with her hijab, and her plight was eventually supported by the federal government. should religious wear be exempt from these policies?


the unrelieved quest.

from today's passage in oswald chambers' my utmost for His highest:
feed My sheep. // john 21:17
this is love in the making. the love of God is tin-made, it is God's nature. when we receive the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is manifested in us. when the soul is united to God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that is not the end; the end is that we may be one with the Father as Jesus was. what kind of oneness had Jesus Christ with the Father? such a oneness that the Father sent Him down here to be spent for us, and He says - "as the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you."
peter realizes now with the revelation of the Lord's hurting question that he does love Him; then comes the point - "spend it out." don't testify how much you love Me, don't profess about the marvellous revelation you have had, but - "feed My sheep." and Jesus has some extraordinarily funny sheep, some bedraggled, dirty sheep, some awkward, butting sheep, some sheep that have gone astray! it is impossible to weary God's love, and it is impossible to weary that love in me if it springs from the one center. the love of God pays no attention to the distinctions made by natural individuality. if i love my Lord i have no business to be guided by natural temperament; i have to feed His sheep. there is no relief and no release from this commission. beware of counterfeiting the love of God by working along the line of natural human sympathy, because that will end in blaspheming the love of God.