Wednesday, December 29, 2010

June, like the month

I made a new friend today while working.  Work has been so hard lately, and I've been stressed out beyond belief because of my lack of sales and money.  And going to work has been...a very big challenge.  I'm an independent contractor, and although I have managers and accountability, it's up to me to get-er-done.  And just to give you an idea, I should be at a sales conference this week in Miami...but I missed hitting it by one client.  And I want be in Kansas City for a prayer conference...but I didn't think I should take any more time off.  My weekend trip to Michigan also got cancelled.  So I drag myself to work today...dreading... resenting... ungrateful.

And then I met June.  She is 85 and was a piano teacher for 40 years (and married for more than 50 I believe).  She is one of the happiest people I have ever met.  She is full of life, energy and opinions, mostly about God and how to be a good Christian...and I can't get enough of them!  Here is this woman who has walked the talk for the last 85 years of her life and it's working for her.  She tells me that she has never been lonely since telling God to take over...and she's been a widow FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS!  She gardens, she lives alone, and although she has never had children, she has many serogates through teaching.  She listens to Moody Bible Institute radio all day and will recommend a preacher for every topic.  She told me the three things she always told her students were don't give up, don't get mad, and don't run away.  She told me she is praying that her knees get better.  At the end of the day, she told me she didn't need doctors (or insurance for that matter) because she had God.  So we prayed for her knees and my attitude instead.  God, thank you for my new friend June.  June, like the month, she said.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Bu

So...I've mentioned him a few times...and after the horribly depressing blog from yesterday, I figured, now that the storm has calmed a little, that I should try and focus on a HUGE blessing...and my boyfriend is definitely been one of the biggest blessings of the year.

Without getting a gag reflex, I just think it is about time I went public with my new favorite boy.

His name is Jean.  We met through a mutual friend.  He's a physical trainer.  He helped me train for my first half marathon this past summer which was a huge landmark for me--I was able to raise over $500 for microfinance, 2 other friends did it with me and raised money also, and I had one of my best sales months of my career around that time. 

He did two triathalons this last summer, a half iron man, which I was not able to attend, and an olympic distance which I did.

So my friend Yvonne and I are suppose to go running just the two of us, and she invites her friend Jean, without telling me...I'm annoyed.  I don't really talk to him at first.  But he is nice, gives me running tips, and invites me to start training with him and this other girl he is training.  I don't.  But he now has my number from Yvonne.  So he starts offering to run with me in the mornings.  And eventually I start letting him...but only when I can't find anyone else to run with. 

Eventually, he starts picking me up at 6 am most mornings and driving me to the lakefront to run.  And you can get to know someone fairly well spending the first hour of the day with him 3 days a week or so.  He invites me to lunch with him...then ends up blowing me off to hang out with another girl.  I'm pretty mad, but I figure it's just as well, it just means we are going to stay friends.

I go to his triathalon.  He comes to my half-marathon.  After that we start biking together, and talking about taking a bike trip and canoing.  Then one day he kisses me on the cheek.  I'm totally thrown for a loop.  What was that?  I go to my friends wedding that night, dance the night away with my friends and a different guy, but am definitely thinking about Jean.  We spend the whole next day together, he takes me out to lunch this time (and appologizes for last time--says he thought I was just another pretty face...whatever that means) and go to a pumpkin patch with friends.  That night is my friend's suprise birthday party.  He comes out, we dance, the next day go see my grandma.  He tells me that is when he decided that he was 100% going to go for it--when he met her.  My grandma says she never knew she was such a matchmaker (she also told me that it's a good thing I have a pretty face when I told her about the blowoff...Oh Gramma, I love you).  We walk around the country club my grandparents were a part of for 40+ years and have the RDT (relationship defining talk).

And since then, he's been making me the happies girl ever when we're together.  I would say this has been the worst 3 months and the best 3 months...the worst because of being sick so much, work, financial stress and the loss of a dear friendship.  The best because of Ireland...and Jean.  He loves to cook for me.  He's given me one of his bikes (he's only about an inch taller than me, so all his stuff fits me), one of his snowboards (he's planning to teach me), and he's gonna train me for the triathalon this next year.  I laugh so hard every time I'm with him.  He always drives, and often will drop me off and pick me up just to spend extra time together.  He's one of the most giving people I have ever met.  He use to be in IT, but has been pursuing this career being a physical trainer for the last 2 years, and he's starting to really make it, and I'm so proud of him.

He helped me through hell day yesterday, which I bawled my way through (poor guy) driving me from one place to the next to help me get my car out of the impound.  Christmas eve we're going to mass (he's catholic) and then getting up super early to deliver gifts and food to children and the elderly.  Then he's gonna come home and do Christmas with my family.

So that's the story...thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Lament

Why God?  Why do days like this even exist?  Why the flu, why being sick a whole other week, 4 out of 12 now?  Why does everyone who works for the city have to be rude, hardened, and totally unconcerned with anyone's lives they are ruining?  Why does it cost $400 AT CHRISTMAS to get your car towed?  Why during the worst cramps of my life? 

You told me to come to you, and I am.  I'm here.  Waiting.  I've said my bit.  There's so much more, but for now it can wait.  All I know is that for now you can take it.  You hear me.  You're not say You love me.  I'm not too opinionated, too blunt, too inconsiderate, too much of a mess, too dysfunctional for you.  So I'll turn to you.  I'll keep turning to you.  One day maybe it will all make sense.  One day maybe I'll see that You did use me for something. 

Beauty From PainThe lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know i'm alive but i feel like i've died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that i made
I try to keep warm but i just grow colder
I feel like i'm slipping away

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best i can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though i can't understand why this happened
I know that i will when i look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here i am, at the end of me
Tryin to hold to what i can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sick in Dublin

The Paddywaggon tour was a smash hit, and one of my favorite things I have ever done.  To read more about the wild adventures I had go to:

This is the route that we took:

The highlight= my tour guide, Joe.  He's a corporate solicitor (lawyer), going back to school to do family law.  He's one of the funniest people I've ever met, and knew how to make history interesting.  He's brilliant.  Some Joe-isms:
"Put the lip gloss on and pucker up ladies: it's me or the stone."  (He's all talk, btw...I told him I chose him, and HE DIDN'T DELIVER!)
After he asks a question and no one answers, "Yes Joe, sounds like a plan, Joe, good idea, Joe."
"I've only ever heard 3 stupid questions: When do we go to see Stonehenge, when are we getting there, and Joe, are you Irish?  They don't make men slightly balding, slightly overweight, and white as a ghost, and not Irish!"
"Men wanted to be like him, women want to be with him."
"Feck" as in "those feckers fecked everything up and now IMFucked" =)
"Now you can choose to believe me or a bunch of geologists.  If you ask me, a bunch of guys that look at rocks all day need to get out more."
"She was so unseemly, even the tide wouldn't take her out."
"Canadians are just Americans that didn't make the cut."

Right now I'm sitting at an Internet cafe, trying to avoid going outdoors where it's below freezing and there is snow on the ground.  I have the flu.  It sucks.  Last day in Dublin, and I'm cooped up.  Did the same thing yesterday just to recover from the tour.  It didn't work.  That being said, I am a little sightseed out...and the last 2 days have been about something far more significant that seeing more cathedrals and/or taking walking tours.  My mom and I have had some of the best conversations in our history of being related.  Years of hurt, frustration talked through.  Granted, nothing is solved overnight.  But the doors of the dungeon  have been swung open, and our sleeves are rolled up ready to do the hard work of restoring trust.  And that's the best thing I could have gotten out of this trip, and well worth every cent.  Sure it's been hard.  Reliving the things we have both been through and put each other through was exhausting at best.  But what I told her this morning was, you know mom, everything we've been through (and believe me, the women in my family have been to hell and back--we've suffered about every type of abuse known to women) one day is going to make us so much closer than we ever would have been if our family had been perfect and our men had loved us.  One step at a time...we have each other, which makes it worth it.  I bow my head and praise a God who creates new life from the darkest situations, beauty from pain.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 7

So this may be out of order, but today I am inspired to write about today.  Today was brilliant.  Last night was brilliant.  We went to an Irish pub after an amazing walking tour in the rain of Derry.  Derry is Northern Ireland, but over half the population is Irish Catholic and cheers for Irish football and not Northern Irish and certainly not English.  It is separated by a river.  There is a group of protestants that live on the wrong side of the river, and there are two fenses that 'protect' them from their Irish catholic neighbors.  They have signs all over that say, 'we will not surrender.'  My catholic tour guide says this hurts most of the catholic's feelings because 99% of the people there don't want to hurt them; They care more about the winners of x factor than the protestants living in their midst, he says.  So that was interesting.  The night before that we did a 'black taxi tour' in Belfast and saw the peace wall (and signed it!), and saw a lot of scary murals that imortalized skin heads that fought for their cause of never ever joining the rest of Ireland and staying loyal to the English crown.  It's a complicated issue, but a lot of people died.  10 loyalists went on a hunger strike in jail and lost their lives for their cause.  Today, tension still exists, but the killings have come to a halt.  However, people bomb the hell out of this city.  The walking tour guide, Stephen, who grew up in Derry says that it use to be beautiful, but it's hard when you've had fighting for a couple centuries.  A couple weeks ago a car bomb went off and blew a Kabob shop and a furniture store to smitherines.  The alarm from the furniture store has been going off ever since.

So last night after the walking tour we ended up in one of the most colorful places I have ever visited.  A real dried pig's head with sun glasses and a hat greeted did over 10 other animal carcasses, included several birds, and a shark jaw.   An Irish band belted out famous Irish tunes that I have never hear of and the flutist moved his fingers so fast, I couldn't see them half the time.  It was a scene that belonged in a movie.  I kept hoping an Irishmen would ask me to dance...not that the lack of dancing Irishmen that night slowed me down any, mind you.   I went to bed several hours after my bed time, full of drinks that had been bought, and happy that a place like Ireland exists.  My tourguide's favorite phrase is 'and remember, 5 million Irish people love don't do anythign stupid!'  It's true.  They do love me.  And you.  And anyone else other than the damn people across the river.

Today we woke up, crawled on the bus, and Joe (the tourguide, not redheaded, but in every other way fully Irish) welcomed us to the day after Derry.  Thanks Joe.  We slept for a while, looked at a tomb or house (they're not sure) from 500BC, then saw WB Yeats' grave and most importantly got coffee.  A couple hours and a few kilometers down the road found us in Knock where we drenched ourselves in seawead lotion from the seaweed and massage salon (everything seaweed) and admired the costal scenery.

We arrived in Galway by 4 and had a look around at this tourist capital.  Almost everything here is original.  The streets are tiny, cobblestone, and it's one of the shopping areas that tourists frequent.  I ended up buying the traditional 'claddagh' ring.  The story is that a local man from Galway fell in love with a local woman and since he was going to be away at sea for a couple years he made her this ring.   Her heart in his hands crowned with his love.  Mine heart is right side up.  2 months ago it would have been upside down.  Amazing how quickly things change.

We visited the latin quorter and ended the night at a pub (suprisingly).  Dave, as in Dave from 'Riverdance,' was there.  Him and Pete (from 'Lord of the Dance') and him put on the fastest foot clapping extravaganza I, or anyone else in my American/Aussie/Kiwi group has ever witnessed...I'll post it when I get back to the states.  And I'll say something funny about it when I've had more sleep.  Speaking of which, I should probably get on that.  My mind works quicker and puts together cleverer thoughts when it's rested.  I just wanted to get something up since it's been a couple days.  Don't tell your friends yet...this posting still needs work.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 4

Was boring.  Woke up early to go get my mom from the airport.  Packed and went to church.  Fell asleep in church.  Left in the middle of church to go sleep in bed.  Woke up.  Waited.  Read Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity.  Waited some more.  Got ready to go out.  Waited.  Went out.  Bought water.  Waited.  Went back. Waited.  Got frustrated.  Went to call Jean (the boyfriend).  Hostel phone didn't work. Got refund.  Tried again.  Went outside.  No internet cafe across the street.  Got frustrated.  Went back inside.  Got more specific directions.  Went to internet cafe.  They didn't have video set up on gchat.  Got frustrated.  Went in the back and made a phone call.  Finally got through.  Talked to Jean for 10 minutes.  He told me that, "I can't get frustrated just because everything doesn't go my way all the time."  I tell him yeah, but nothing is going my way.  My friend is sick.  My mom doesn't want to do anything.  I'm in Dublin and can't freaking find anyone to look around this amazing city with.  But he's right.  And I know it.  So I start laughing.  He tells me exactly what I need to hear.  He's great like that.

Go to dinner with my mom and get a salmon salad and a glass of wine.  It's perfect.  We talk for 2 hours about life changing things.  God is teaching both of us so much.  So thankful for a mother who loves God and who is willing to admit when she is wrong.  It's been a long road.  Life, that is.  But there is so much to be grateful for.  And this is just the beginning...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 2 and 3

Yesterday I woke up to a man about 2 feet from me coughing in the bunk next to mine...and my first thought was, how fun!  I'm in Ireland.  It was already 9...after loosing an entire night on the flight, I guess I was in catch up mode.  Breakfast was SO European...toast, butter, jam, corn flakes, muesli, coffee or tea... brought me back to my growing up years in Belgium.  I met a couple french guys during breakfast, which was fantastique!  J'ai eu la chance de practique mon francais. =)  Um...for those of you who don't parle francais...look it up!  So the two of them, plus our new friend Nozomi, a Japanese gal I lovingly named "fashion show" (she has a soundtrack: for the amount of accessories and makeup she applied to go with us to to the Dublin Castle, took off to see the sights.  We stumbled upon a tour group in the chapel by the castle where I learned about the independence of Ireland.  Apparently one of the provoking actions of England in 1916 was to dress up it's prisoners as "black and tans"(police) and ship them off to Ireland (Australia must have no longer been accepting criminals).  When these voices of the law started performing executions at random, the Irish people got pissed and on Easter started a revolution that eventually kicked these notorious villans, along with the viceroys (ruling men that the kings and queens of England left behind for when they could not be there) and every other English scoundrel that did not aprove of their newfound freedom in 1920.

So the castle use to have 15 meter thick walls, motes, bridges and the whole deal.  It was never invaded, but it did explode...because it was a storehouse for gunpowder, and when a fire started near there the Irish solution was to try to put it out through a series of other fires.  It didn't work, but the prince at the time wrote a letter saying that it wasn't a big loss anyway because it was so ugly, and with that got the funds approved to rebuilt on top of the remains what we have today.  The original castle's mote was apparently pretty nasty.  In fact they called it Dubh Linn (meaning "black pool").  Ok last couple fun facts...Dublin was originally settled by Vikings, and they are the ones responsible for the red hair that is actually Scandinavian trait, NOT an Irish one (this includes folk from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland--I learned this on facebook thanks to Cerrie Gleason the red, and Savanah Crafton the actress)...typical Irish is far more Spanish-like with their features.  So the castle and different areas of Dublin flooded a couple years ago, so they started doing to excavating around the castle...and lo and behold not only did they find the remains of the old castle, but they found a ton of Viking stuff as well.

The lack of playmates has definitely been a little troubling...Chelsea is sick and when she is not sick she is working.  Fortunately it is Ireland, and all you have to do to make friends is to walk into a bar.  And they'll buy you a drink.  Or 3.  I'm not kidding.

More things I noticed:
-Girls wear tights...of all types and with everything...especially shorts.  I've been having bows/butterflies/flowers-all-over-my-legs envy since I got here
-There are pubs that don't have TV's's awesome
-A guy told me today that when he is in an airport in the states all he has to do to find Aer Lingus is look around and see where all the ugly people are he put it, it's a literary culture, not a visual one
-The Irish are undeniably very happy
-The bike stations that I mentioned in my previous post are a bitch...definitely not designed for fact they discriminate...but if you stand at a machine for long enough and get frustrated enough you may attract a tall redhead named George who may pay for your 2euro bike pass himself (not thinking about the potential 150e fee if I loose or decapitate the bike) and he might offer to show me where the park is and then offer to let me tag along his friend's free guided tour.  His friend's guided tour may stop by a drug store where the claim to fame is that there is an entire passage describing it in James Joyce's Ulysses.  The guided tour may also be the friend's entire Irish family in for the day to visit, and they may stop by a pub mid tour and start ordering Guinness and watching rugby, and that may be the end of the tour after all.
-The Irish cancer society is funded by second hand stores in Ireland...but these stores have no brochures or websites to direct you to finding out more
-Trinity College is quite snobby, which at 10,000 euros minimum a semester for a EU res is understandable
-There are skeletons that still have skin and red curly hair in the National Archeology Museum of Dublin
-Most Irish last names mean something and these meanings can be found on bookmarks that one can buy for 2.5 euros at the gift shop of the National Museum of Dublin
-The buildings here are beautiful
-There are 44 parliaments for 4 million people in Ireland--and it has some of the highest paid city/national employees of any first world country (part of the reason for the financial situation the country is in)
-40,000 people left Ireland last year to look for work elsewhere
-The IMF arriving here/taking over is the most significant thing since the founding of the nation in 1920
-Most of the people at the pubs drink approximately at twice the speed I do
-The nation is bankrupt, but cannot print off more money like the US does since they use the Euro
-They have 4 times the national debt here that we do (and we have 75 times the number of people)
-The Irish people however, have a lot of money in the bank, despite how screwed the government is
-Ireland is the best place to have a passport if you want to be a spy since they haven't invaded anyone and pissed them off since they have been a nation and therefore you can travel anywhere if you have one.
-Scarves go for about 40euros here in the gift shop (um...sorry Matt?), and the guy at the James Joyce drug store bought the last 2 pairs of cuff links that came through
-Despite waking up this morning to a naked couple in the bunk above me, I like it here.  If it happens tomorrow, however, I'm turning whoever it is in and they can suffer the consequences of that kind of behavior 2 feet from my head...even if I was asleep.

And with that, I'm going back out to the pubs.  

Cheers...and good luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 1 Ireland

It's not even 11 PM and I'm about to fall over from exhaustion.  But after all, I only got about 3 hours sleep last night.  Even for an already early bird, 7pm was a little much to ask for a bed time last night.  And 6 hours after that we were 9am.  So I caught a couple hours.  But not many.

Ireland is amazing.  I'm in Dublin, so other than from the plane (where the view was mostly blocked by clouds until landing--however from what I did see it is very very green) no stunning nature scapes...yet.  But Dublin is awesome.  Quaint.  Rather clean for a major city.  And everything is just smaller in Europe.  The buildings, cars, roads, people (what do they put in the food in the US?).  The restaurants seat half the people (but are twice as good) with half the food (and twice the price).

My favorite thing about Ireland is the Irish.  I told someone today that in the US and Irish person is kind of a commodity...mostly because of the accent, and partly because of Braveheart and the lucky charms guy, and partly just because they are European but still speak English.  But here they're's awesome.  I brought this fact up with a bar tender, and he said, "yes, in fact we are not just a bunch of leprechauns running around looking for pots of gold."  Right.  But they are clever, friendly, fun loving people (I realize I'm starting to sound like a guide book, but it really is true!).  As a lady on the bus put it, "The Irish always have something to say about everything."  I knew immediately I would fit in well here.

So I could go on and on and give you the blow by blow of my first day here, how my friend didn't pick me up from the airport, how I tried to put my credit card into the parking machine to buy a bus ticket, how I missed my stop on the bus (I was going the right way however) and had to flag down one going the other direction (took me a couple tries--one guy just grinned and waved at my frantic attempts to get him to pull ass), the hostel room I'm staying in (bunk beds, holds at least 30), and the cleaning gal who yelled at me for sitting on the wrong bed (not kidding), and a million other random funny things (my favorite was the adorable little boy in the coffee shop that I let color with my highlighters while his mom gave me parenting tips and his dad outlined all the hotspots of Dublin on the map and invited me to his standup comedy act--he actually is getting his PhD in standup--I told him it sounded like a scam--he agreed), but for time's sake, and because this paragraph actually is still technically one sentence, I'll just bullet point the main things I've noticed:

-People say "good luck" instead of "have a nice day"
-There's a lot of french speaking people here, which is cool since I speak french...and NEVER get to use it in the US
-The word "fuck" is used how I use "like" every sentence, and to give the speaker time to get out the next stream of thought
-Not all Irish people have red hair...but A LOT of them do
-There is actually a language called "Irish" that doesn't actually resemble English at all, and the Irish that we know is just English with some of the accent left over (or something like that).
-Some of the cabs say "Tacsai" on their sign...which apparently is the actual spelling of "taxi" in Irish.
-There are restaurants in every ethnicity here: so far I've seen lots of American (regrettably my first meal here was a desperate stop at a bagel shop in the airport), Mexican, Indian, French, and Thai.
-The Irish don't tip...probably because of the price of food
-Everything costs money here...and you have to multiply everything you spend by 1.5 because of the damn Euro...if Ireland is in a recession, why am I still paying twice the price for everything?
-Christmas lights are already up, but you can't buy canned pumpkin in any store in Dublin.
-Everything is co-ed...including my hostel room...or wait...maybe it's just my hostel room.
-I saw a panhandler that looked my age and was really good looking...just struck me as extremely odd...most of the panhandlers here actually look like they still have it more together than the ones I see in the States
-Favorite cultural thing so far...Guinness is everywhere and you don't have to be male and watching football on a Sunday afternoon at an Irish pub in the city to order's my favorite beer so I'm pretty excited that I don't have to face weird looks and comments every time I order it
-People walk much more
-They have this awesome system where you pay 10 euros for a month and can use any bike at their locks in the city for 20 minutes before returning it to any other stand/lock system.  This is so ingenious for so many reasons. a. It's less than the price of renting a bike for 1 day from my hostel (12 euros!), b. it's super convenient, c. I don't have to worry about the bike getting stolen, cuz as soon as I return it to a stand, it is NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY!  (good for all parties involved). d. It's orchestrated this way so that there will always be a bike at every stand e. I like bikes.
-Speaking of my plans for tomorrow, I should probably get a little more than the 3 interrupted hours of last night...good night, I mean luck!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Few things in life are more painful than rejection.  Let's face it.  We're all scared of it.  We all have defense mechanisms in place to either avoid it :keeping people at bay, being super nice and not ever saying anything someone doesn't want to hear, not trying out new things, sticking with the same people, being funny all the time, drinking, getting into one romantic relationship after the next, quitting, trying too hard/giving too much time to something so that our relationships end up suffering, telling ourselves on the front end why try since we probably don't stand a chance, hiding behind other issues or weaknesses.  And the reality is, when we come face to face with rejection it threatens to destroy us.  The message is, "you are insufficient, less than, just not smart, pretty, nice, considerate, punctual, talented...enough.  You don't add up.  And essentially, we in our confusion interpret that as, you're worthless.  And we allow ourselves to believe it.  And so we build more walls.  Walls so people, God, can't get close.  Walls so they/He won't ever figure out the "truth" that we are not worth keeping around, not worth spending time with, not worth knowing, or even existing.  With every blow to our ego, we die a little more, but keep the same "I'm OK" smile on.  Or maybe we don't.  Maybe we stop smiling.

The solution?  The cross.  Turning to a God who loves us enough to die.  Loves us enough to let us kill Him rather than withdraw.  Loves us enough to put up with all our defense mechanisms and pride, see through them, and call us to something higher.  We are all going to face rejection.  Sometimes from the people who mean the most to us.  We are so fallen, and so sinful that even to those we claim to love the most we hurt...let down...tear down...alienate.  Sometimes it's family.  Sometimes it's a friend of 8 years.  I've experienced both.  It sucks.  There aren't really words to communicate the pain of having a mother tell you that she doesn't want you to come home and quite frankly doesn't like you.  Or a dad who says that you ruined his life and there is no point trying to have a relationship.  Or a friend that you thought would be your maid of honor who tells you she doesn't ever want to talk to you again.  But there is One who will never stop loving...perfectly.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the resent nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

In the midst of the biggest suffering, the hardest hit, He is there.  Whether it is a job loss, the unemployment that follows, the demise of a friendship that you thought would be around forever, a slow month or even year in sales (aka all day rejection for day after day), financial difficulties that make you think you can't even take care of yourself, or having the love of your life inexplicably break up what you thought would last forever...He is there.  He will love you in the most vulnerable places if you let Him.  Don't ignore the pain.  Face it.  Jesus did (Matthew 26:37-39Luke 22:44).  But do it in the spiritual arms of One who knows you inside and out (Psalm 139), and One who can do something about it.  He is able to heal, able to help you change the things you hate the most about yourself.  He is able to set you free.  But it takes time.  The pain doesn't go away overnight.  It takes perseverance.  But it is worth it.  He loves us...and He knows everything we are trying to hide.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thoughts on conflict

Thoughts on conflict:

I’ve always been a high conflict person.  Always.  Let’s face it, someone with this much PERSONALITY is bound to rub someone the wrong way.  I generally say what’s on my mind the second it crosses my mind, which I’ve come to find doesn’t always win friends and influence people…surprisingly.  I joke with my boyfriend (you’ll meet him in the next post) that he’s fallen for a girl who is non-stop TMI, a walking exposé if you will.  So…I’m learning what a filter is…and how to use one…and when to use one…but there is still a learning curve, you see.

That being said, I like conflict.  No, I don’t like hurting people, and I certainly don’t like being hurt.  But all conflict (assuming it is non-violent, and non-abusive) can, long run, have really good results.  Through conflict we learn what our issues are.  Through conflict we learn what is absolutely not acceptable for how we treat others.  Through conflict we learn that we need God…that only He will ever love us perfectly, that only through His love can we learn to love others the way we need to.  Not just the way that we need to because He told us to.  The way we need to because if we don’t, than we will never stand a chance of receiving that love from others.  And without love, life is meaningless…empty…hopeless.  We fundamentally NEED to love others to survive.  After air, water, and food, it is our greatest needs as humans.  And only God can do it perfectly.  But we need to get a little somthun, somthun from each other too.  Or if you’re like me, you need a LOT OF SOMETHING to keep you going throughout the day.  My love tank depletes embarrassingly fast.  But that’s OK.  That’s how God made me.  And he made me that way so that at the end of the fight, I would turn to Him, receive HIS perfect love, and get back in the ring for another round.  Because what’s way more painful than being criticized is being pushed away.  Rejected.  Refused.  Shut out.  God, may I never do that to anyone.  All the times you’ve chastised me with your love, you’ve never, ever stopped caring.  You’ve never told me, “I’ve had enough of you, your sin, your pride, your know-it-all attitude, and I’M DONE!” And you never will.  A old African proverb I heard yesterday states that those who keep their arms crossed will not receive a blessing.  May I never have my arms crossed towards anyone.  That’s not the posture of LOVE.  That’s not the posture of the Cross…


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This one's for J...still into you

I screwed up.  I'm sorry.  You're one of my best friends.  You've been a friend to me when so many others gave up.  Everything you said tonight was true.  I haven't been considerate.  You've had every right to be frustrated.

But one thing you said isn't wasn't a waste.  Remember when you flew me out to L.A. for approximately 24 hours for the rose bowl...and I'm sure in a lot of ways by the end of GRS it seemed like a waste.  But it wasn't.  Because I still fell for you.  It may have taken longer than you expected, but...I gave into your schemes =).

Well, now things are different.  I found someone new.  I like him so's crazy.  He treats you always have.  He cares about me.  He puts my needs before his own.  But he sees the world like I do.  I know you got over me a long time ago.  You got over me before I got over you.  Maybe I'm still not over you.  But you're better without me.  I've never treated you well.  I'll treat him well.  For your sake...and for his.

J, you've gotten me through some of the toughest times of my life.  You've made me want to live when I didn't want to.  I thank God for you.  I'm listening to "our song" on repeat as I write this.  Tears are streaming down my face.  I'm so sorry.  I know those are just empty words, but one day I'll make it up to you.  I promise.  You may not see the return on your investment today...but eventually you will.  You've listened.  You've cared.  You've called.  You've loved me.  And I do love you.  But I have to do it afar now.

Please try to understand.  I know you will.  You always get me...but not all of me.  He does.  I'm happy J.  Happier than I've ever been in my life.  You helped me get here.  One day I'll give you the recog you've always deserved.  I'll miss you.  I wish I could take it all back.  I wish I could show you what you mean to me.  I wish I could redo the time we've had together.  I would have taken time to listen and not just talk.  I would have kept my boundaries.  I would have done the little things to make you feel special and let you know I cared.  I wouldn't have taken you for granted.  Sure it was fun...but I wasn't respecting you...and I wasn't respecting myself.  I've found someone who respects me.  He's willing to wait.

Maybe if I had acted like Christ, you would have been able to see Him.  Maybe you would have believed.  But I'll have to trust that He brings someone else into your life that does a better job of showing that He cares for you.  I regret how I've treated you more than anything else in my life.  I can't undo the past.  But I've got to step into the future.  It's bright...there are so many good things ahead for both of us.  You'll find a girl who treats you well.  You'll find you're  She'll have everything you liked about a heart.  I believe in you.  I'm rooting for you.  I know we'll meet again.  Until then, I'll take everything you taught me with me.  How to treat people well.  Relationships are worth getting over things for.  I'll find people to give to that don't give back...and I'll do it for you.  I only wish it could be with you...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At a loss for words

I'm angry.  Angrier than I've been in a long time.  Angry at someone I barely know.  Angry because something I care tremendously about is being threatened.  I don't want things to change.  I like things the way they are.  I don't want people to think that I said things that I didn't, that I feel ways that I don't.  I don't want for someone to tiptoe around me and my feelings.  But it's not something that would be wise to vent about on a public space.  Therefore, I'm just going to post this link and be done with it.  Plus, I need to get to work.

On a more serious note...
It is possible, gosh damn it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Founding Famothers

This post goes out to the people who made me who I am...this is my top 5 most influential people thus far.

1.  The God-man
Jesus Christ.  He's my creator, best friend, and reason for living.  He's gotten me through some incredibly tough times, and never turned away.  Things I've learned from Him:
-I am lovable!  And loved!  Beloved even...
-How to live a righteous life
-What real relationship looks like
-That there is grace and forgiveness for mess ups and sin (yep, I used that word in 2010)
-That life is good (but eternal life is better!)
-That there is NOTHING better than knowing and walking with Him

2. The birth-er
My mother that is.  She's the best.  One of the sweetest women ever.  I hope how much I adore my mother has come through loud and clear in these blogs.  Otherwise I might want to consider a different vehicle for communication...
Things I've learned from her:
-Follow your heart and your life's passion
-People do change/grow/learn/develop
-I am loved
-How to take care of others (she's a pro)
-The value of counseling
-If at first you don't succeed...keep trying!
-Enjoy the simple pleasures of life...she taught me to LOVE nature!

3. The matriarch
My Grandma.  I love my grandma.  She is the sh*t.  (sorry Grandma, I had to).  She is hands down one of the coolest people I have ever known.  She loved her husband faithfully her whole life.  She raised 3 strong willed boys.  She was valedictorian of her college class (right?).  She's hilarious.  She's my hero (all of these people are), and my namesake.
Things I've learned from her:
-I am loved
-You can have your cake and eat it is possible to live an incredibly good life...and have a lot of fun doing it!
-You can be married to one person for more than 50 years...that's crazy!
-Always do the right thing
-Go to church every Sunday
-Dwell on the good things in life
-Be wise with your're going to need it to retire!
-Keep up with what is going on in the world
-Play golf (Gramma, did you know that I played this last Tuesday?  It was SO FUN!)
-Be a good cook
-Be loyal
-Take one for the team
I don't know if we've ever had a conversation about any of those things...but she has taught me them through her example.  If I can be half as good of a person as she is, I will live a good life.

4. The Sheriff
This is our affectionate name for Aaron Schafer, my Organizational Leader, Associate Sales Leader, District Manager, and friend with The Southwestern company.  I moved to the tundra of Michigan in January to help him recruit MSU students to sell books door to door...and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  When people ask me what the best thing I got out of my time as a recruiter, one of the first things I say is the chance to work with Aaron.  He is also a lifetime hero.
What I learned from him:
-I am loved
-I am capable than far more than I give myself credit for
-I am a dynamic, cool, girl
-People like me for more than 20 minutes
-If you treat people right, it is amazing what you can do and help them do
-How to be a good friend
-How to be a good spouse
-How to be a good dad (and not just to his about 25+ college kids!)
-How to have a good attitude even when I really, really, really don't feel like it
-It's better to give people the benefit of the doubt and cut them slack then to alienate them
-Always have others' best at heart

The Outlier:
Nate Wiebracht.  I'm sure it will come as a complete shock to everyone, Nate especially that he is in this list.  But if I think about the best decision I ever made that got me to where I am today, it would be to sell books.  And Nate was one of the biggest influencers in that decision (unbenounced to him, I thought he was completely amazing when I first met him, and figured if this crazy summer job could make me more like THAT, then I was in).  More than that, however he taught me how to be successful selling books.
-Work hard
-Study hard
-Be coachable
-Don't whine
-Live what you believe without making excuses
Unlike everyone else on that list, Nate and I don't keep up.  Due to personality differences, we never got along.  But at the end of the day, his character, leadership and example changed the course of my life in a way that only Christ himself could have had a hand in.  Thanks Nate.

But most of all, thank you Lord for these and so many other people you have put into my life whose decisions and love for You have influenced me permanently.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meet the key players

Yesterday was another fabulous day...although it's tough to compete with one of the best days of my life.  My mom and I woke up early and went to church, then headed, with my roommate Ruthie to Lou Malnati's with Daniel and Matt.  Four favorites in one place: FLHTF (Favorite Lifetime Human Thus Far--my mom, of course), Favorite Roommate Ever (she's great!), favorite boy (currently), and favorite bonus friend.  What more could I want out of a lunch.  That being said I figured it was only fair to introduce you all to some of the key players in my life right now...

First of all, my first love:
The most beautiful woman in the world: My mother
Christmas 2006

Graduation 2005

My mom is the sweetest woman, she loves to make others happy.  She is beautiful inside and out.  She has not had an easy road, but everything she has been through has brought her to where she is: doing her life's passion and ministering to women.

And of course, my little sister, who I love dearly:

Another fave:
 At the Adler Planetarium:

Haha, she loves this represents the years of abuse she went through as my little sister...she always had to be the guy when we dressed up...but isn't she the cutest little man you've ever seen in your life?

Pretty cute, huh?  This was taken in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Yugoslavia. Marguerite: age 4, Me: probably age 6, dad: my age + 30 years...minus 3 days =)

My Gramma Evelyn Weibel (and Grampa and fam):

This was taken about 5 years ago before my Grampa passed away (about 2 years ago).  He had Parkinsons disease.  I miss him.  My Grandma is there, holding his hand.  My Gramma is one of my heroes of my life.  I was named after her (my full name is Evelyn), and I couldn't be more proud of that fact.  Behind her is my Uncle Chuck (who I adore), his wife Laurie and their kids Chad and Aubrey who are currently students at Rutgers where my Uncle teaches.

Then Ruth Bell Mejias: the Roomie.

This is currently the only picture I have of of the two of us.  It was at Halloween last year.  She's a witch, and I am Eeeeva, from Wal-E.

Ruth is probably the best roommate I have ever had.  She is very intelligent and reads a TON--therefore can talk about just about anything and gives great advice.  She is very considerate, and although she is not by nature a clean person, she has been very clean...for me.  I love her to pieces, and I miss her when I'm out of town!  And did I mention she cooks for me?  She's quite the catch.

My friend Sonya:

 Holloween 2009--she's Frida Kahlo--no the eyebrows aren't all naturelle =)

Holloween 2003

Sonya is one of the main reasons I moved to live with her for a few short months before she got married.  She is fun, smart, beautiful, and an all around good friend.  She helps run Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO, which I will blog about more later.  We've been friends since my sophomore and her freshman year of college.  We met through my boyfriend at the time, and then later in the ice bath in the physical training center since we both had running injuries.  We quickly became good friends.  Although we've certainly had our bumps along the way (probably more than most), if I only have a couple friends like Sonya in my lifetime, I will consider myself to have had a good life.  We've certainly had our fare share of ups and downs (probably more than most) but I love her dearly.  She is fun, gorgeous, but most importantly has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met.  

Other loves:  My small group

Blair's Bangin' Brigade:  From left to right--Kari Jennings, Alexis Wheeler, Jenny Tseng, Elise Linden, Tami Hardoby, Blair Bradburry, Stefanie Curry, me, and Anna Nystrom.

 Blair's goodbye party 2010

Christmas party 2009...yes there is a reason for the sunglasses that I won't go into here...another post maybe.

These girls are some of my very closest friends.  Elise and I have been friends since we were 18.  She introduced me to the rest of the group, and it has been true love ever since =)  

Here she is:

This picture was taken at a birthday scavenger hunt.  The challenge was to stand behind a cash register in a downtown store, drink a slushy, eat Garrett's popcorn, and wear the birthday hat...mission accomplished!

And last but not least, my current favorite (purely platonic) boy, Daniel Wiebracht, who I talked about in the last post:

And in case you're still wondering, no there is nothing going on between the two of us.  We are in fact just friends.

There are many other key players in my life that make my life rich, full, and wonderful.  I'm sure you'll get to meet them all in time.  But those are some highlights for now!  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The perfect day

Today was far to amazing to summarize in one or two lines on facebook.  Therefore, I'm starting this blog.  I've never wanted to have a blog before...but it all came together today, and so here I am, publishing details of my life that may or may be ever read or noticed by anyone else.  But for what they are worth, here they are.

I woke up this morning at 1:30 am, hoping that it was at least 6.  I got up, got a drink of water, looked at the time.  Dang.  Not even close.  I went back to bed, where I was greeted by the most beautiful woman I know (my mother, who came in last night for the weekend).  She asked me what time it was and I told her.  "Oh good.  It's worth waking up just to know you have a few hours more to sleep."  "But this is so boring!"  I told her.  The truth is, I just wanted it to be today already.

6 am rolled around.  I forced myself to stay in bed for another hour (we had originally agreed on getting up at 8) purely because my body is starting to tell me that 5 hours of sleep a night is not acceptable.  Finally I got up at 7, just as excited as when I had gone to bed.

The big occasion is that my mom, who I haven't spent a whole day with in over a year, is here, in Chicago, and I finally have enough time and money to treat her like the princess that she is.  You see, I've been working around the clock the last year and a half, just trying to establish myself in a straight commission sales job.  The second complication is that my wonderful mother found the love of her life 16 years ago--which is great--other than the fact that we've never gotten along very well.  So I rarely go home.  My mother and I have as good of a relationship as two people can have over the phone.  But this weekend, we are going to have it in person.

I finally secure 2 functional bikes, print off confirmations, get us both fed and out the door by 9 am.  We head towards the lake for our first stop of the day--a architecture canal boat tour.  I've been wanting to take this tour for over 6 months and finally have a really good excuse to do it.  I am not disappointed, to my amazement (sometimes when something has that much buildup, it can fall flat.)  The tour was totally entertaining, BEAUTIFUL, and very informative (Did you know there is a building in Chicago that looks like a drinking flask?  Or that the famous Mrs. O'Leary and her cow that started the great Chicago fire was made up by the press?  How about that an ordinance was passed that you could buy the air space above the train line--which is why most of the train lines are underground).  Personal highlights included: I took a picture of a couple kyakers, and when I yelled at them to smile, they stopped paddling and waved.  I got a picture with the tour guide at the end (he was really hot).  Coffee with Baileys--yep, at 11am.  Snuggling with my momma, because it was FREEZING.

After this we biked our way to my friend Danny's place (he actually prefers to be called Daniel, but whatever.)  His new roommate (who sleeps in the living room on their couch and will continue to do so) Matt is there, and that is really exciting.  We decide that Matt is a bonus friend.  I'm getting 2 really awesome friends out of one apartment, and that's exciting.  Not to mention that Matt is probably the coolest bonus friend ever.  He's in advertising, and he epitomized the creative, quirky, genius of what I would picture someone in advertising to have.  Matt could be a character in a movie.  In fact, he'll probably produce a movie one day.  For now, he works on commercials.  He is the one who first encouraged me to start a blog today.  This will never hold a candle to the genius I read on his, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing...if only for my own therapeutic benefit.

We hang out for 35 minutes longer than I told my mom we would.  That always happens in that apartment. Matt and I actually just met a couple months ago, and this is only our 3rd time hanging out.  We talked about hanging out more.   That was a month ago.  So while I re-establish this instant friendship that we seem to be able to kindle at a moments notice, Danny talks to my mom.  I comment to Matt that Daniel is probably the perfect guy to introduce to a mom.  Anyone's mom really.  I say that if I was less honest I would tell my mom that we were dating...she would like that.  Danny is one of the most honest, hardworking, caring, fun people I know.  He's my favorite boy...right now, anyway.

After leaving Danny's apartment, we head over to high tea at the Drake hotel.  We had the option of sitting by the fountain or the harpist--and actually were able to do both.  I got to meet the harpist in the bathroom, and complemented her on her dress (is that an insult that it wasn't on her music?  not sure...)  $30 for some sandwich bites, scones, unlimited tea and deserts...the $, I found out, went to the $10,000 flower arrangement in the middle of the room.  It was pretty...I mean, once I noticed it, that is.  All sarcasm aside, I'm glad I went--it's fun to be treated like royalty now and again!

Personal highlights of the grand tea: I gave my tip for the harpist to a couple elementary school girls because I figure tips mean more coming from kids and they would be excited to go up there and give it to her...both theories seem to be true.  I met the woman at the table next to us, who was sitting perfectly serenely, by herself, journaling.  I asked her if she was a writer, and she is--she has published a curriculum for school children on being peaceful.  I tell her that it's amazing how busy I can keep, even while having tea...checking my cell phone, making sure I knew how to get to our next destination, saying hi to a friend who happened to be there, etc.  I admire her state of tranquility.  I ask if she has a card or a blog, and she doesn't.  We both agree that we should start blogging.  She was my second inspiration for this blog.  Her name was Pam.  We exchanged e-mails.  Pam, I hope this blog helps further inspire you to start your own.  I'm sure it will far outshine this rambling experiment =)

My mother and I decide that we are both too tired and too full to go to the history museum or go for deep dish pizza.  We are going to bike back home and go by the Merchandise Mart (which I have never been in, but learned has it's own zip code from the architecture tour: 60654), Millennium Park, and Northerly Island.  I find out why I've never been to Merchandise Mart (super cool, but for people who are in the interior decorating business, I think).  Then we ventured over to Millennium park and took some signature pictures in the bean (which unfortunately are the only pictures that survived from the weekend...tragic accident where no people were injured, but the pictures didn't make it survive...)

I call these, Momma and the bean:

The biggest surprise of the day, however was first of all finding out that Chicago's Gourmet Festival was going on, secondly that it cost $150, and thirdly, winning a free ticket.  How I won the ticket is another story for another day.  Sauvingnon blanc (my absolute favorite) from New Zealand (I had it on a wine tasting tour while I was there a couple years ago); Scotch with orange, lime, and a blackberry; a cracker with salmon and cream cheese chive sauce; grilled watermelon with crab meat, apple and granola; chocolate and lemon Haagen-Dazs ice cream were some definite highlights.  Personal highlights were 2 guys asking to have what I ordered after I enthusiastically thrust my glass towards the festival worker for a taste of Sauvingnon Blanc, getting teased by a bunch of people for triple fisting (I was taking it out to my mom, I swear), and then hanging out with my mom by the gate as she was consuming the goods I brought for her.

After this excursion we made our way down to Northerly Island, only to turn around as soon as we got there (mom was getting pretty tired at this point).  We took the bus back (I never take the bus.  Ever.)  We figured out how to put the bikes on the bike rack on front of the bus (what a great city I live in!)  I got so much exercise today (probably went 10 miles) and loved every minute of it.  My new resolution?  I'm not going to drive anywhere that I can bike or take the CTA.  After all, one person can eliminate 4,600 pounds of emission waste in a year by using public transit.  And I'm sure I quadruple that (I've put 50,000 miles on my car in the last year and half).  I have to drive for work.  In my personal life, however, I'm going green (and buff!)

We finally made our way home, my mom took a bath, and I bs'd with my roommate about the day, and the horrible street evangelists that gave me the food festival ticket ( to publically admit that I'm not a good person), then took a bath of my own.  It was devine.  Now I'm recapping all of this to my computer screen...and to you...hope you got something out of it!