Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Theory #3 Happiness is....

Happiness is........unnecessary? No, I believe it serves a purpose. Self-serving? Most often, its a personal prize. The meaning of life? Definitely not. It's so easy to get caught up in the life-long pursuit of happiness. Obviously, it is something deemed important even by our forefathers, but is it really a fulfilling prize? Happiness comes in many shapes and forms but ultimately it is self-seeking. Also, it tends to be very exclusive. The things that make me happy won't necessarily make others around me happy. It usually only benefits yourself.

So often, happiness has become the underlying motivation behind the majority of our actions.  Yet we are never truly satisfied.  There is always that yearning for something more, something a bit greater than ourselves, something a bit better than what there could ever be.  Happiness never travels alone, it constantly coupled with expectations.  We are happy when our expectations are met and we are unhappy when they are not met.  The problem is: people, weather, circumstances, opportunities, the ice cream flavor of the day, events, and life is rarely as we would have it be.  This results in disappointments which results in unhappiness which results in an insignificant life?  Incorrect. 

The goal of our lives is not to be as happy as possible at all possible moments as we attempt to store up happiness for those unhappy days that always seem to be around the corner and cast a shadow on the happiness that we are happily enjoying in those happy moments. (happy appeared six times in the last sentence if you were wondering)  For me, the goal of my life is to serve my Creator and the one who gave His life to save mine.

All this to say, my third theory of life is as follows: Happiness should not be the center of our lives (it is a nice perk) as it will usually disappoint and can be quite hollow. 

Oh look!  Below are lyrics that wrap it up quite nicely.  You could have just read them instead of my long-winded post. 

"Happiness is overrated
It always lets me down
It's artificially inflated
She's a flirts and she burns me every time
Happiness is just a dream and nothings what it seems"

Happiness by Eleventyseven

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Very Honest Christmas Message

I was thinking about starting this blog off with some blithe remarks on how fast time is going, the beauty of Christmas lights, or how awesome the Thai food was that I just ate this evening.  But honestly, that has nothing to do with what I want to say and will just waste your time.  So enough with pleasant descriptions. 

The truth is, I've lost Christmas in the act of celebrating Christmas.  The busyness of the season has distracted me so that I've spent less time with the person that the holiday is celebrating.  It's ironic and completely wrong.  Unfortunately, this problem isn't limited to Christmas.  I might have just as well have said: the busyness of my life has distracted me so that I've spent less time with the person that my life is supposed to serve.  It is so messed up, it feels wrong even typing it.  I've recently felt very torn with the different relationships in my life.  No matter what I do, I feel that I am disappointing someone.  It doesn't have to be that way.  The selfish head in my voice says "That's right!  If everyone could just adjust and be less demanding and more understanding, then things would be better!" 

Shut up. 

 Changing others is not the way and it won't work.  At this moment, I feel like one of those bendy people I used to play with.  Everything and everyone is tugging me in opposite directions.  I can't keep up this game of tug of war, I'm about to snap.  So I'm giving this inflexible self to God.  I know I can't keep squeezing God into my life anymore. I have to choose if I'm going to go all the way in for God or not at all. So here it is: I've decided to go all the way in.  I feel like who I am in my actions and interactions with others isn't even close to who I am on the inside. I need to make those two match up better and I think giving the whole Chloe to God will do the trick.   I'm giving my whole self to God and I'm going to let Him sort out the relationships.  He can do a much better job than my muddled blumbering has done.

Maybe you feel like me.  Maybe you think that I am insane and should go to bed.  Nevertheless, here is the best gift you will ever receive.  It's freedom from death and sin.  It's not based on works or merit badges. Because you see, God doesn't grade us on a curve. He doesn't grade us at all. We are all share a sinful nature and the punishment of death that should be ours was taken away by the death of Jesus for everyone. Did you catch that? For everyone. Not just the "top ten percent" of humanity, or those with the most gold stars. There is no grading scale for God. You either believe in Him, accept His gift of salvation and spend eternity with God or you deny Him and spend an eternity separated from Him. It isn't based on the amount of good things you've done, the amount of money given to charities, the bad things you've avoided, or even the sins that you've committed (thank goodness).

It doesn't get any better than that.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You'll play lonely games too.

"Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes they won't.

I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Wheter you like it or not,
Alone will be something you'll be quite a lot."
~Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Suess~

Fame is exciting, motivating, whimsical, depressing, destructive, and wonderful.  People have gone to the ends of the earth to find it and hold onto it. I love the reality check that Dr. Seuss throws in here.  "Except when they don't because sometimes they won't".  Life can't always be a mountain top view.  Being at the top is fun, but completely unrealistic.  No one gets a free helicopter ride to the peak of the mountains of life.  You have to get out the grapple and hook and start climbing.  And once you get there, what are you going to do? Stay there forever?  In order to move on with life, you must keep moving.  Sometimes that means going back down to the valleys.  Sometimes that means finding an even bigger mountain to climb.  However, it is times "when they don't" praise you and applaud you that really let you live.  Those are the times when you aren't living for someone else.  Those lonely games can teach the most valuable lessons.  God's will and your own personal expectations should be the only benchmarks for success.  Comparing yourself to others won't get you anywhere, expect maybe into a deep abyss of insecurity and unhapiness.  Don't go there.  That is not a neccessary part of the journey.  Rise above the temptation to base your own success on someone else's failure.  Or worse, the temptation to label your own efforts as worthless because of what you see others doing.  It's a waste of time, energy, talent, and a perfectly wonderful you.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Silence is a beautiful thing. It is rare. It means you are alone. Today, people are aloneaphobic. They can't walk down the hallways alone. They can't enjoy an evening alone. Even if they can't find humans, they fill their spaces with noise and distractions and needless communication. No wonder we are so confused as to who we are. The only way we can see who we are is by observing our constant interaction with others. In the end, we base our idea of who we really are off of how we talk, what we say, what we do, and who we are associated with. I can't think of a more innaccurate means of measurement. Where is your heart in all that? How can you tell who you are when you are so busy trying to control how you appear to others? You will turn into that ficticious person. You will cease to exist. Try being alone and then see who you are. When you are alone you can hear your thoughts. What are you thinking? Right now? Close your eyes and stop reading this blog. What fills the empty spaces in your brain? Or do you even have empty spaces? Is your life so full with other people and priorities that there is no room for unintelligble nonsense? Don't let it be. Dream the impossible.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random Rant

For some reason, I have a strange compulsion to share about myself. I have all these thoughts spinning around in my head and I'm starting to get dizzy. Plus, I am not focusing on my art history like I should. So perhaps this will help.

  1. I am a dreamer. I dream almost constantly. Not just when I'm sleeping and not just nice "here is what my future will look like" dreams. I imagine every scenario in my head, realistic or otherwise. It's my type of escape. The only problem is, I often forget to come back to reality. So if you hear me talking or gesturing and I seem completely disconnected that's probably exactly what has happened. I disconnect when things aren't going well. I know eventually I'll have to always live in this world but I don't know what I'd do without my dreams.

  2. I have a bad habit of trying to make everyone happy. Not because it isn't a noble goal, but because it is impossible. I try to be everything to everyone and I end up burned out. But I know I also am quite selfish. So its not that I am always giving or anything like that. I just change who I am to fill in voids way too easily.

  3. I love my job. Even though I rarely want to go, spending time with kids can make my day so much better. I like the fact that I'm needed and that there is someone always asking "Chloe, can I show you something?"

  4. I am horrible at lying to other people but amazing at lying to myself. I have figured out how to change my memories. While this helps with the rough patches in life, it also makes me doubt what really happened and can be quite confusing. I can seperate who I really and who I am being so I end up unsure of which is real. I'm sure I'll figure it out someday soon.

I have more to say, but I think I've sufficiently emptied out my brain so I can now memorize more pieces of art. ta ta for now.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

So there's this new drug called Facebook.....

Hello. My name is Chloe Smiley and I am addicted to Facebook. This addiction has afflicted an entire generation. I know several friends who have reached a point of no return. You know the part of all of those medicine commercials that list off all the potential side effects? And if you listen closely you start to wonder...why in the world would I take medicine that might kill me just so my legs stop feeling restless? It really doesn't add up. The same goes for facebook (see, I wasn't completely off topic). We are so easily impressed by the flashing images before our eyes that we stop hearing the side effects. So I am going to spell them out (cue images of happy people walking through fields of flowers to distract you)

1. Tendency to walk through life seeing it through the eyes of "ooh! that could be a good status" This has been reported to cause fatal narrow mindness and inability to enjoy life for what it is instead of enjoying life for the status it could inspire.

2. Leads to fatal self-centeredness. Many people have found that facebook leads one to base self-affirmation in number of comments, likes, friends, wall posts, etc.... Once reality hits, these empty affirmations will hurt you more than a denied friend request ever could.

3. Abnormal behavior and seizures when denied access. Life seems empty and meaningless with Farmville.

4. No longer able to communicate with friends face to face. People with this side effect often try to link things to their friends in the real world, only to recieve weird looks. Also leads to attempts to comment on others conversations resulting in the unsavory titles of "evesdropper" and "creeper"

5. Unexplainable urge to poke people as a form of interaction. The results when one finds others do not think poking is endearing can be disastoursous.

6. Inability to go on the internet/do homework/fulfill responsibilities/pet your dog/eat........without checking facebook first. These distorted priorities will catch up with you and the resulting chaos will provide the perfect sympathy evoking status. Lucky you.

Some claim that the benefits of facebook (being friends with people you don't know, seeing events that you weren't invited to) far outweigh these side effects. Don't let the pretty pictures fool you.

This is only the beginning but I can't finish this post now...I need to go post this on my facebook.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Ripple Effect

Here is a sneak peek at my speech for Induction....please tell me what you think!
I apologize that I have not finished my five theories series...it will happen...eventually.

Service isn’t about the hours logged or points earned. It’s about the smile on someone’s face and seeing the incredible power that helping others can have. One of the best volunteering experiences I have had wasn’t so rewarding because it helped me meet my volunteer hour goal. Instead, being able to see the gratitude and happiness on the face of the person I helped was very potent and gave me perspective. Just a small sacrifice of my time and energy meant the world to someone else. A comparison of how much time we spend serving ourselves and serving others can show how easy it is to have our priorities wrong. Being able to serve others and see the huge impact it has on them helps us realize that helping others is infinitely more rewarding than helping ourselves. When we serve ourselves, it only benefits us. However, when we give our time to help someone else we create a ripple effect of happiness and service that build a stronger community. An act of service never stands alone. Helping others is contagious: inspires other acts of service. This ability of service to multiply itself is incredibly powerful and cannot be ignored. It is often just what our community and family needs. Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Serving others isn’t limited to volunteer hours. We have the opportunity to help others every day of our lives. Service isn’t something that can be switched on and off like the lights. It is an attitude, a smile, an awareness of others’ needs, an intentional act, and one of the greatest gifts we could ever give.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Way I Saw It: 9/11/01

I found this story on a piece of paper under my bed a while ago. It is about the way I saw 9/11. I don't believe I wrote it while I was six but rather a few years later. I'd date this around ages nine or ten. I typed it up as is, please excuse the grammar and incomplete sentences.

War to a child

Sitting inocently, playing with her sister, her Mother rushes to Tv. People on the screen talking frantically. Billows of smoke.

What Is Going ON!

Mother explains two very tall buildings have been hit by airplanes. Olders sister seems to understand. Everyone is so gloomy. It's rather confusing and consuming. A family that rarely watches TV has the news on. The only thing that makes any sense is that there is a pattern to the news. They repeat the same clip every fifteen. In between are reports of more terrorist destruction. Everthying is touched; even her birthday, the on month anniversary. The airplanes flying by seem rather frightful. The years pass, the war does not. It is continual. It slowly slips from the child's mind only to suddenly be brought back with a new "terror" report.

Will it end before her childhood is over?

I wrote this so long ago and yet the question is still valid. Will it ever be over? My childhood is quite gone. Yet the war and terror remains. Is this a passing phase or new era?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Theory #2

Today’s world offers many different gauges for success. In high school, success is often judged based on grades, test scores, athletic ability, or number of friends. Later in life, success gauges usually come in the forms of spouses, job, income, housing, or type of vehicles. People are often judged by what they achieved or what level of living they have managed to reach. The difficulty with this way of judging others lives is that it fails to take into consideration extraneous situations. No one ever starts on the same square in the game of life. Everyone is endowed with different opportunities and begin at different “life levels”. When this is considered, society’s current method of gauging success is not only very biased, it is also incredibly inaccurate. I believe that a better method would be that of gauging others improvement when determining whether they are a “success” or not (even thought that title is often arbitrary). When others are judged by their efforts at improving themselves, it doesn’t matter where they started or where they end up. What is truly important is that there is an endeavor to be a better person, daughter, husband, sister, etc… The person that is truly living every day striving to be, act, and think better than they had the day before is a true success in my eyes.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Theory #1

Throughout last year, I came up with five theories about life. I believe these theories can relate to anyone's life but you may disagree. That's nice. So, the next five posts will be in a series about these theories. So, without further rambling:


The real reason behind the beauty, innocence, and wonder of childhood. NOTE: If you had a horrible childhood, please stop reading. This does not apply to you. Oh, and I'm very sorry. I hope the rest of your life is better.

When I was young, I lived in an entirely different world. This is why I saw things differently. Time never seemed to run out because the clocks and I were friends. Really, I used to talk to all the clocks in my house. I even tried to arrange a marriage between the two of them. The world wasn't depressing because I had no idea what was going on. ever. My comprehension of words, emotions, actions was incredibly limited. Relationships weren't ever stressful because my mom arranged playdates for me. I didn't have to worry about who was hanging out with who. My best friends were inanimate objects like my scooter or a plastic bag and piece of string (aka sweet homemade kite). I wasn't ever bored because everything was new. There was so much to learn and experience. I could create a game with absolutely nothing. I wasn't insecure because I didn't know enough to ever think that there might be something about myself that wasn't completely awesome.

Once in a while, I wish I could switch back to that time. I realize now that my happiness as a child had nothing to do with my age. It had everything to do with how I viewed the world. And sometimes, if I imagine very hard I can go back. It's beautiful.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

  • warm chocolate chip cookies and milk

  • bouncing a rubber ball

  • finding something that I thought I had lost forever

  • adults asking (then listening) about my life

  • potato soup in a bread bowl

  • color-coded anything

  • knowing that God has a perfect plan for my life

  • organizing anything (drawers, school supplies, my friends' lives, you name it: I'll organize it)

  • turning off my alarm and going back to sleep

  • chocolate milk

  • running past a house that recently did laundry and smelling the detergent and dryer sheets

  • watching old home videos

  • wondering at how I survived my childhood after watching old home videos

  • ducks (any type)

  • a really good book

  • writing in this blog

  • knowing my future husband is out there somewhere and wondering if he is thinking about me

  • making up impossible life situations

  • going home after a long day

  • people that remember something that is going on in my life and ask me about it

  • peanut butter, chocolate, and pretzels

  • genuinely friendly strangers

Friday, August 27, 2010

Senior Year Bucket List

Planners, colored pens, thumbdrives, color-coded folders, notebooks, and binders. Nothing could make me happier. The organization and schedule of school was calling me and I was very excited for school to start....until five days ago. That was the day that I went to school for a NHS meeting and registration. After spending four hours in that building, my spirit yearned to be free once again. (Sidenote: While I'm really bored at school, I pretend that I can seperate my spirit from my body and while my body is slowly dying from boredom, I pretend that my spirit is having a grand ole time) So, in order to rejuvinate my excitement for senior year, my MJL and I decided to make a senior year bucket list. That is, a list of things we wish to do before senior year is over. While bucket list often signifies death, nothing could be farther from the truth. We plan on emerging victorious from senior year, with not only diplomas in our hands and caps on our heads, but also the deed to the entire territory of Canada (the 51st state). Overthrowing the Candaian governement is one of the items on our bucket list. Others include: thai food outings, lunch box exchange days, and making a music mash-up. If you have other brilliant ideas as to what we should do this year, please leave a comment. If it is within the laws of physics and Canada, we will attempt to do it and I will report back on its success. I hope all have a wonderful school year doing new and interesting things.

Monday, July 26, 2010

3D Vision Missions Trip

My youth group 3D Vision went on a missions trip to Washington, D.C. last week. We made some great memories and some great impact in the area. Having a good time and helping others was pretty much my only goals going into the trip but by the end, well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

10 hours in a mini-van + 5 teenage girls + Mr. Mike and Ms. Susie + way too many twizzlers = lots of laughs. I think I got a good 15 minutes of sleep. It was a pretty noisy trip down, but I really can’t complain because I’m pretty sure I was making most of the noise. We found 40 states on the way down and made lots of good jokes (i.e. bacon and……..POTATOES!!) I think we all lost a bit of our sanity that day. I joined Team Domination during dinner, a very smart move on my part. Oh, and I woke up to Kayla petting me in the middle of the night.

We went to the Washington Christian Center for church in the morning. We got introduced by the pastor right before the “meet and greet” time. I don’t think I’ve gotten so many hugs from strangers before. Their incredible enthusiasm and love was unlike any thing I’ve seen. It was a good reminder that we need to welcome visitors at our own church with that kind of love. We also learned to “pray not panic” and to lean on God rather than our friends. This proved to be a valuable lesson for Monday….. We went on a walk to nowhere along the water. This was our first taste of the crazy heat that never let up throughout the week. We had a two hour lunch at McDonalds.

In the morning, a group of us went to Hillcrest Baptist Church and helped them go door-to-door handing out Bibles and VBS flyers. I did something similar three years ago and was absolutely terrified. God has definitely grown me throughout the past years in being brave for him. Also, the other people seemed less then excited about it so someone needed to just go for it. My partner and I got rejected a few times but mostly just stood in front of empty homes. God willing, those Bibles we hung on the outside of people’s homes will find their way inside someone’s heart. Oh, and the people at the Baptist church gave us amazing food. We went back to Washington Christian Center where Shelby and I put on these incredible potato sacks that said “VBS is Fun!” and danced by the driveway in typical Little Ceasers guy style. We only had 3 or 4 kids and so another group of us went to the spray park, another neighborhood, the grocery store, the library, and the dollar store. After VBS, we went out again to hand out Bibles. We got a few more responses, a few creepy people peering at us through their blinds, and a lot of sweat dripping down our faces (if I lived there, I wouldn’t have opened the door either, you could smell us a mile down the street). Showers never felt so good that night. After our worship and debrief, we were hanging in the hallway (this would become a nightly ritual). While playing kung-fu, Ken accidentally hit Emily in the nose giving her a nosebleed and a great story. All of a sudden, Emily starts shouting about Alaina hurting her knee. I run into the room and see Alaina at the ground moaning. I rushed over to the door connecting that room to the room our leaders were in and got them to come in. After we all herded into the lobby, Kevin suggested a prayer circle. The immediate application of “pray don’t panic” was amazing and it was great to see our youth group come together like that. After things had calmed down somewhat and Alaina was on her way to the Emergency Room the girls had a crying fest in the bathroom. Thankfully, kept my mouth shut so I could be a less active member in the “Let’s get our emotions and hormones in a huge tangle club”. We finally went to bed around midnight.

In the morning, after a less-than-fulfilling breakfast of a mini-bagel, Team C went to the housing authority. Some of us painted a fence in amazing jumpsuits while myself and others weeded a huge lot and then proceeded to spread mulch all over it. Emily and I became kidnapping buddies and worked out a safety plan. We also averted an attack by a Killer African Bee. One person stopped to say how they had never seen anyone helping in this neighborhood before. It was nice assurance that we were meeting a need. All the while, I was struggling with the fact that we weren’t teaching the gospel at VBS. I attempted to rewrite the script for my pre-teach that day but ended up chickening out. It turns out God had a different plan for me (see Thursday). VBS went fairly well, we had a lot more kids. However, I was trying very hard not to measure our success in numbers. After the team time, we went outside to play. I gave two girls numerous rocket rides on the swing and train rides on my back. It was so much fun to play off their imaginations and get to exercise mine, even if I had difficulty breathing during the piggy back rides. We had an incredible dinner of pasta (my favorite). The evenings were a lot of fun with the bathroom/rollercoaster game, card games, illegally exploring the church, and other shenanigans. This night also ended in a crying party in the bathroom. Although the crying wasn’t good, it provided an open door to get to talk to some of the younger girls. I was able to share some limited but hopefully valuable wisdom from my own experiences and walk with God. God was with me all the way, and devotions were a great time of connection. Worship was great too, even though I didn’t know most of the songs I was still able to worship my God. Debriefs were encouraging, many people had a lot to say. The youth group really connected and it was a deeper connection than what I had seen before. We had another good “girl talk” that night.

Wednesday: Team A and B switched from Daybreak to VBS today and Teams B and C went back to the neighborhood to hand out more Bibles. Adam and I got to pray with one lady and got a good response from some as well as some rejections. It’s in God’s hands. We got pizza for lunch (yum!) VBS had an even better turnout that included several older girls. Music went really well, it was so much fun to see the kids getting into it. The puppet skits went well too. We had a water balloon toss and bubbles outside. For dinner, the church had a meal that we went to. A few of us went to the communion service upstairs, the church is HUGE!!! Worship was amazing, and I began to get a taste of what it felt like to fall in love with God. However, I had a horrible migraine and had to run to the bathroom during prayer. Katy followed me and we had a really good conversation in the (you guessed it!) bathroom. We played concentration for a while that night, and none of us were very good at it. The power also went out for a while which was exciting. Emily and I were rubber ducky buddies (we always took showers together).

Thursday was ATL day. I was very excited to get going. I felt led to go to a children’s hospital, something that has been on my heart for a while now. However, we couldn’t go visit anyone (which I expected) but we did get to pray for a while and pray with someone at the chapel. I also felt that I wanted to share the gospel at least once. The fact that we hadn’t at VBS was bothering me, so I thought I would tell the King story with some girls there. Kevin was wanting to do the same thing and so we worked together and were able to have a script and then share the gospel afterwards. It was amazing the way it all worked together. What an amazing God we have! VBS went really well that day and I was able to connect with Carmin and see a little bit of how the VBS impacted at least one person. That night we all went a little crazy with trips to Narnia (the children’s ministry area), a two hour long debrief, and lots of craziness in the girls room before and after lights out. We had a guest speaker that night who was incredibly inspiring and helped shed a new light on our trip. It wasn’t us who were helping others, it was God getting to know us better and us to get to know Him better. He doesn’t need our help. Oh, and my God can outimagine me!! Which is incredible since I have so many ideas and thoughts and plans but now I know that God has better ones and more of them! YES!!

After a slow start in the morning, we finally got going to go tour Washington D.C. It was super hot out but the train ride there was exciting for us small-town folk. First, we got lunch and talked to some Boy Scouts who were having their Jubilee in Washington D.C. They were everywhere!! Then, we went to the Washington Monument and laid down with our feet on it. Next stop, the Lincoln Memorial. Some of us decided to be really smart and attempt to run up all the steps. We did and then felt like we were going to die. I had to rescue Rachel from dehydration a few times. We also found the (now fixed) typo in Lincoln’s 2nd Ignaural Address. From there, we moseyed on to the Vietnam Memorial and then to the White House. It takes an extraordinary long to move 32 people with a power scooter for Alaina. I believe it was getting close to 100 degrees out and I have never seen a group of sweatier people. Lovely. Our last stop was the Smithsonian Museum, which had an incredible combination of history and air conditioning. I joined the “bopping” group and we started at the Science wing, then moved to entertainment which was disappointingly small, and then the American wars. It was all very interesting but we only had about 45 minutes. We employed the “walk as fast as you can, take pictures, and look at the pictures later” technique. It was worth it. We then headed back to the train station and caught a train back to our hotel. Once we got to the hotel, we went swimming. It felt amazing. There is nothing like a body of water filled with chemicals and twenty other sweaty people to refresh and revive you. I combed my hair out that night, giving shock and enjoyment to all who witnessed my afro. I “accidently” kicked Kayla off of the bed too. oops.

Today was the long travel day. If we contained a last bit of sanity in the store holds of our brains, it was promptly discarded about two hours into the drive. We dressed up like ganstas and hippies and rocked out to Toby Mac while Mr. Mike’s bald head bobbed up and down and served as a shiny disco ball. Some sleep was had but not much especially after Olivia’s and my delicious and nutritious lunch of pretzels and ice cream. For dinner, we went to the golden corral, which was less than appetizing but we were so hungry pretty much anything would do. Ken, Emily, Olivia, and I played cards and Katy and I watched Hitch and Man on Fire with Kayla. I still don’t know how that movie ends.

We only had about an hour and a half to get to North Oaks on Sunday. I was glad to be going home but really sad that it is all over too. Right now, I’m sitting alone like I have been doing all day. Its just weird not to have so many people around you. Nunna and Pappa came to church which was nice and the service went really well. This is not where the story ends.

During this trip, I finally fell in love with God. It felt amazing. The only thing I can begin to compare it to is that feeling before a dance competition or after you win or the guy you like likes you too. But its so much bigger than that. It’s the feeling that comes before knowing your life is going to change forever. It’s the feeling that you just won eternal life from God and you didn’t have to do anything. It’s the feeling that there is a God who not only likes you in return, He loves you even when you don’t deserve His love. It was amazing.

Things I learned:
I need compassion. I don’t have it all together.
I need to concentrate on what God thinks of me, not what others think of me.
I want to serve God to get to know Him better.
I need to pray more.
If God loves everyone the same, who am I to think that I am better judge and can differentiate my own love?
It is so much better to love others than to love yourself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perception and Preparation

I realized today (while on a jet ski) that difficulty is largely due to perception and preparation. Perception deals with the view. Who is describing the difficulty of a task? People have very different thresholds for hardship. It does not mean that one person's difficulties and way of dealing with said difficulties is less valid if they have a lower threshold. They are feeling the same level of personal angst as one with a higher threshold. It is, however, harder to sympathize with the person who is complaining about a scratch after you have undergone surgery.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

navigating my bike thorugh life

I recently have become involved with a cycling team. Honestly, I did not know what I was getting myself into when I first joined. I had never been mountain biking before. While the first few rides were terrifying and thrilling at the same time, my most recent one allowed me some time for speculation. I seem to do my best thinking when my life is in obvious danger. Here are the parallels that I drew between mountain biking and life (be it mine, yours, or that cranky neighbor down the street)

  • My coach always tells me to keep "looking ahead. never look down. you go where your eyes go." When I look to the ground, and see my bike skipping over rocks and roots, there is a high probability that the next thing I'm going to see is myself, flipping over my handlebars, and becoming very friendly with those rocks and roots. However, if I keep looking down the trail, my bike is going to keep going with me (hopefully) on top of it. In life, looking at the ground is focusing on your failures, your insecurities, the way you don't seem to measure up to the one person who has it all together. Sooner or later, you are going to make that reality. You are going to end up where your eyes are looking and if you are always looking down, your life will soon follow. There is another alternative; however, you could look straight ahead. Picture where you want to be, and you might very well end up there. I'm not talking about the law of attraction or other myths. I'm talking about setting goals and not letting them go. You aren't going to teleport to that place where you want to be in your life magically. Everything you want out of life isn't going to *poof* appear. But there is no way you are going to get where you are going if all you do is concentrate on what's on the ground.

  • Up ahead are two trees. The trees are about 13 inches a part and my handle bars seem like a good 20 inches. They are coming towards me, faster and faster. My hand is frozen, incapable of squeezing the brake. All of a sudden, I look behind me and those trees of death are several feet back. And I'm still going. I'm still on my bike. All of me is on my bike. The close call has done some damage though. Not physically, but the adrenaline has left my nerves in a bundle. I can't concentrate on the trail ahead. But I have to. You see, like in life, if I keep dwelling on the past and the "close calls" I can never move past that. I'll keep reliving the times when things almost (or did) go horribly wrong. In the meantime, life hasn't stopped. If you don't regain your focus and concentrate on what is ahead, you'll never get there in one piece.

  • 50% of the time, mountain biking requires no physical effort. You are speeding down hills and curves at 20 mph. All you have to do is avoid obstacles and stay on your bike. But for every downhill, is an uphill. The other half of the time is grueling. You have to pedal fast and hard, and oftentimes (if you are me) you still can't make it all the way up the hill. Rarely are there flat stretches of trail. In the same way, life isn't a smooth, flat path. Whether your trail is wide or narrow, you are going to be going up and down.
    Coasting down the hills, sometimes a little too fast for comfort and then struggling to get up the next one.

  • Whoever made these trails must have had a thought process like this one "So they are climbing up hills at a 90 degree angle and then rocketing down an equally steep hill at 50 mph while avoiding tree roots....Hey! I've got an idea! Let's put a pile of rocks at the bottom of the hill!" Thus, the rock garden was born. I don't know why they call it a garden, there is nothing beautiful, scenic, or peaceful about it. Approaching the rocks, you brain is shouting "SLOW DOWN!!!" However, going slow is the worst way to get through the "garden". The only way to do it is go as fast as you can, and pedal so fast your pedals look like a pinwheel. It is so counter intuitive to common sense that rock gardens are more mentally straining than physically. When we come across bumpy parts of life, the tendency is to slow down, take it easy, find the path of least resistance. With that kind of mentality, you aren't going to get past the first boulder. When things get tough, going faster, harder, stronger, is the only way you'll make it to the other side.

This is what I've learned from my limited experience in mountain biking. Oh, and going through puddles is fun but expect to find mud in your hair.