Saturday, August 24, 2013

I have quite a few photos of myself with Olive when she was a baby, but not as many with Silas. My sister took this one and I stole it to post here (so photo credit goes to her). I think it's funny to see how they are such different people. His personality is a more low-key than hers is, but both still have big personalities and a lot of presence. It will be fun to add baby #3 to the mix and get to know a whole new person and see a new personality develop. I love these kids, but beyond that I like them. A lot.

After a tiring day at work we went to the lake and sat on the beach. It was perfect. I'm not much of a water person, but I am a sit-on-a-blanket-on-the-shore person and today's weather was perfect for resting outside, people watching, and visiting with my family and our friend who is in town. I am afraid though that I was not such good company today. In addition to normal tiredness after working I also woke up this morning feeling a bit under the weather and was very fatigued today. I am afraid I was feeling a bit blue.

But I left feeling much better. There was something so comforting about being outdoors. The experience of listening to the water, noticing the way the wind and sun felt on my skin, squinting because the light was so bright today, feeling that shock when my feet touched the freezing water in Lake made me grateful to be alive. Also, listening to Olive play, holding cuddly Silas in my lap, and talking to family made me grateful to be connected to the people in my life. It was one of those lovely moments where instead of wishing for the past and worrying about the future I just got to enjoy the blessings of the moment and was reminded of the fact that this life is such a lovely and miraculous gift.

Natural light...

Last night we went for a little walk. We started on the main street, walked around the campus, through the park, and back down the main street. It would seem that I moved to Mayberry. I'm not lying...the other day when we went to the park an older man tipped his hat as he walked past us. Also, last night two girls rode past us on a cute yellow bicycle built for two. It's a little bit Norman Rockwell around here. Anyway, the light was so pretty. I love that time of the day when the sun is starting to make its way down. It's beginning to look and feel like fall. Let me rephrase's beginning to look and feel like fall again. It felt that way at the beginning of July and then it warmed up. Then if felt that way at the beginning of August and it warmed up again. We had some cooler evenings recently but tomorrow and Monday it should get close to the 90s.

But yeah, although I'm sure you're just fascinated with my description of the weather patterns here, this post really was meant to serve as a reminder of a pretty evening downtown.

Speaking of reminders, I heard a talk by Ravi Zacharias on memory and how it is God's gift to us. He talked about memorials and monuments and how God instructed the Israelites to build them sometimes in order to preserve memories of events in which He made a covenant with them, or protected them, or provided for them. I was thinking about different times in my life that God has met a need or taught me something I needed to know. What events in my life have been of significance spiritually? Could I somehow make a memorial or monument that would serve to remind people of God's love and promises? Also, what would that monument be like? I love how the people of Israel would give their children names that described events or feelings during the circumstances of their birth and how in a way their children became monuments or memorials of those times and events. Children were and are in a way monuments and memorials. So if monuments and memorials can come in the for of humans, tangible objects, and written words, then how can I mark and identify and memorialize events in my life that I want to praise God for?

Just a little something I have been thinking on. It might be a neat art project.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You are my sunshine...

A serious conversation with my niece while I was cleaning my room today:
Olive: what's that sign say?
Me: It says "you are my sunshine." Are you my sunshine?
Olive: No.
Me: You're not?
Olive: No. I take the sunshine away.
Me: Really? Where do you put it?
Olive: In your room. Hey. Who drew that picture?
Me: My friend Meng Lei.
Olive: Aww, that's a nice name. Who drew that one?
Me: I don't know I bought it from a man in China.
Olive: Was he a zookeeper?
Me: No.

4 years old is fun. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life has a way of confusing us...blessing and bruising life!
--Fiddler on the Roof

More hatching ideas.

Someday maybe I'll actually finish something. That'll be the day, huh?


I worked 11 hours today and am now settled in at home listening to/watching Fiddler on the Roof on my laptop and writing, cleaning, winding down from my day.

Does anyone else ever experience end-of-the-day blues? Today after getting home, eating dinner, and finally sitting down by myself I almost felt ready to cry. Today was a good day. I have the next two days off. A friend is coming from out of town to visit this weekend which I am looking forward to. It must partly be because I am tired. And partly because for some reason Fiddler on the Roof was making me really emotional. I used to watch movies and laugh at the sad parts (they say laugh or cry...well crying gives me a headache and stuffy nose so I choose to be heartless and laugh) but for some reason I felt a lot of empathy for the characters in the movie. It was as if the stories of the characters' lives and the songs that accompany them really helped put my feelings about the recent changes in my life into words and pictures. I laughed at the funny parts and got closer to crying during a movie than I have in a long time during the sadder parts. It's such a beautiful film. Anyway, now that you know more about my emotions and strange mental processes than you ever wanted to know...

I think have too much time to think. And because when I am not at work I have no other goals to work toward right now I am afraid my mind turns to thinking about situations beyond my control. Sometimes I think about the things I want to do and wonder if I'll ever do them. I think about the things that scare me and keep me from doing things I want to do. Or the right way to pursue my goals. Then I have a hard time figuring out what my goals are which leads me back to square one. I feel a bit purpose-less and goal-less right one really needs me. Outside work I have no pressing tasks to work toward. I worry about whiling away my time doing nothing important. That's the worst feeling. But then I remember that God lets his people go through quiet, mundane times in their lives and I don't believe that it's for nothing. I think about Joseph being in prison for a crime he didn't commit. And Joshua and Caleb wandering the desert for 40 years waiting to go into the Promised Land. I don't think that time was just a waste even though they were kept from doing things that would have seemed much more useful and beneficial to everyone. I just have to trust that God's ways are so much better than my ways. But while I'm waiting I might still look into other options. Maybe I'll revive my old dream of teaching abroad. Who knows?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This one is for Olive

This post is in honor of my 4 year old niece, Olive.

Olive is:
  • strong-willed. She is very opinionated and stubborn. I love this about her. Not saying that I think it serves her well all the time. It is a challenge and responsibility to raise a child with those qualities. While no one wants their child to be obstinate, I find that the world needs people who love God and are stubbornly committed to obeying Him. I think the serious challenge in raising kids like Olive is training them to love and be committed to following Jesus. If strong-willed children can surrender their wills to Christ then I think they become determined and committed followers of Christ. They aren't half-hearted, apathetic, or luke-warm.
  • I guess that brings me to another of Olive's qualities...she is intense. She seems to feel things very keenly. When she's happy...she is SO happy. And when she is mad everyone gets to experience that too. Again, this maybe doesn't serve her well all the time, but I LOVE that she seems to experience life so vividly and intensely. Earlier this summer before the 4th of July she saw some fireworks and she was telling me about it and how it was such a wonderful day because she saw fireworks. I love that seeing the fireworks made her day. I love that she hasn't yet allowed herself to become inhibited in her enjoyment of things in her life. She doesn't worry if they're cool, or economical...she sees something lovely or fun and just completely enjoys it. I think that is so beautiful.
  • Okay, the kid is a budding artist. At four years old she is way committed to drawing and filling her sketchbook and she is pretty good too. She has these crazy ideas for drawing costumes and making party decorations and I love love love love LOVE to see her creativity.
  • It surprises me how much we have in common. We both love dancing. We both love artsy/crafty things. And baking. She even asks me to play "Would You Like To Swing On a Star" when I babysit. She watches Disney movies with me. And we both love the Wiggles (don't judge). I guess this really reveals that inside I am still 4 years old.
  • It's really fun to see her personality and style develop. She doesn't watch TV. She is home with her parents for the most part. So I think that while we are in a lot of ways the product of our environment, she definitely has her own unique sense of style. She knows what she wants and likes and so far doesn't seem to be terribly phased about what others think.  I've always been self-conscious about what I liked and what I thought others thought about my likes, interests, style, etc. Honestly, I still care and worry too much. We've been in Target together walking past the home goods section and she will run up to a display and ooh and ahh over some decoration. The last one was some shiny, chrome looking elephant. I really think that if she was allowed to decorate a house it would probably look pretty cool. Light pink is her favorite color. She comes up with some very creative outfits when she dresses herself. She is very outgoing and has introduced me to people in public, which is a social skill I lacked at 4 years old. 
  • She is so smart. Watching her take in the world is fascinating. She asks questions sometimes that I really don't know how to answer. Partly because I don't know what a 4 year old is capable of really understanding. Life seems very interesting to her. It makes me realize how much I take for granted in the way I view ordinary things. Somehow it causes me to feel more curious about things and about learning. She takes in massive amounts of information that I am already familiar with...I should force myself to continue learning new and challenging things. The other day she asked me what a 'place' is. I know she has a basic idea of what a lot of things are, but I think right now she is starting to develop a more definite understanding of what things are.
  • She has a very sweet side. She isn't very cuddly, but she will give hugs and kisses at bedtime or if she hasn't seen me in a while. She greets me enthusiastically every morning and tells me she wants me to stay home when I have to go to work. She calls her brother "her handsome" or "my little boy." 
I remember the week that she was born. It was spring break. She and her parents stayed with us for a few days before moving into their new house. I remember holding her and thinking about her. We had been expecting her for so long. We all said we loved her. But who was she? It was like having a perfect stranger dropped into my life and she was ours and I found it very unsettling somehow. It was the first time I got to experience a baby in the family as an adult (we are 20 years apart). So in 4 years I've begun to get to know this girl. I think she is amazing. She is inspiring. She really experiences life. She is learning so much all the time. She is beautiful. She is very outgoing. I really want to be like her in a lot of ways. It is an honor to know that she loves me. It is such a privilege to be her aunt. She challenges me to be better. She is a gift.

I love you, Olive!

Catch up

Yesterday was the first day of classes at my alma mater (I love saying that, ha ha) and...I didn't have to go! Yay for being graduated!

So, it's been quite a while since I wrote here. Lots of things are going on, but nothing big or exciting. I have a new job. It's not a career, but it's a paycheck which I am grateful for.

I am feeling much more comfortable here. I still get a little homesick. I miss my friends. I appreciate the loveliness of my old home and think of it fondly. But thankfully that desperate homesick feeling has mostly gone away. I feel more myself. I think I have to accept the fact that with a change in circumstance and environment I also change and that is another thing to understand and get used to. I still think it's so weird that I can be myself and still not really know myself or understand myself. That whole sentence sounds so trippy. But it's true in a weird way.

So while I miss my friends I have received lots of phone calls, texts, and facebook messages and I am so thankful for the effort my loved ones have put in to keeping up our friendships. It's hard to accept that with distance those friendships will change, but I can at least hope that they will continue regardless of proximity.

I still find myself wondering what I'll be when I grow up. I am happy to say that I have a better idea of what I want to do, but still not a clear goal or plan to achieve that goal. Baby steps, right? I am not thinking that this town is going to be my permanent residence, but I am trying to enjoy my time here regardless.

I've listened to quite a lot of teachings on family, relationships, conflict resolution, and forgiveness. It would seem that unforgiveness is a sin that I struggle with. And I am becoming aware of some of its effects on my life. I find that I am more cynical, bitter, and suspicious of people. I don't want to be those things. I also realize that if I do learn how to forgive it is a chance to have the gospel played out in my life for others to see. So even in the midst of a problem, there is this chance to still glorify Jesus by obeying his instructions for conflict resolution and following his example of forgiveness. I am also realizing that all my problems, as much of a bummer as they can be, are an opportunity to turn to Christ for His truth, wisdom, strength, and healing. In that way all my ugly problems can be turned into something beautiful as Christ's perfection and love is shown and (hopefully) changes me. It gives me a different perspective on trials. And it is a reminder of how Christ is with me always...working through every problem with me.

I don't get to see my sister, brother-in-law, niece or nephew all that much, but the time I do spend with them is so nice. I babysat Olive and Silas tonight and had lots of fun with them. I am tickled to death that when it's just me and them we really enjoy dancing together, singing fun songs, baking, making crafts, and watching old Disney movies because those are all things I love to leads me to the conclusion that I am still 4 years old. But it's great. I've also really enjoyed hanging our with Matt and Jacqueline talking, watching mysteries, and just hanging out. It's been very nice.

I feel slightly guilty because even though I have every opportunity to do so I am not making anything art-related. I have ideas. I just don't do any of them. I am so burnt out on art. I love it and plan to keep making art, but it's SO NICE to not feel like it dictates everything in my life. I still keep track of ideas and try to develop them. I can accept that right now my situation is not really conducive to try to break into the art scene. I am really fine with having this little break.

All in all, I would say that this weird, transitional time in my life is...well, weird but also has been interesting in that I am learning a lot of things about myself and what I hope for in the future. I have no conclusions. I wasn't expecting to. After getting accepted into the art school I let go of the idea of a career right out of college and expected to feel kinda floaty. I don't enjoy floating, but I am not shocked to find myself in this situation. I talked to my older sister about it and she reminded me that it is a lesson on living in the present and trusting God with today. Just today. Which is really all I'm guaranteed anyway.

Okay. Good night. :)