Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is this normal?


I am hesitant to be blunt because I am not sure who my readers are, but I think my question "is this normal?" will alleviate any concerns from those who may be my superiors in the academic world... so here goes:

I just left a class where I spent most of the time thinking, "Seriously, people spend their time thinking about this stuff... why does this matter and who cares? Can't people just live their lives and figure these things out along the way." This may be because I have no background in psychology, but I feel the same way when I interact with my PhD peers... it appears that all that matters is school and learning and absoring knowledge... for some reason I am not that motivated... maybe not a good place to be when I am on track to spend the next 3-8 years trecking towards my title of "Dr."

I walked across campus thinking: maybe I should study something else, maybe this is just the first of the semester freak out, maybe I am experiencing something real about my calling in the world, what if I chose the wrong thing to pursue, what if I fail misserably, what if I just run away as fast as I can, do other people feel the same way I do?

On the positve side I feel like I am smart and should be able to accomplish a PhD. I was chosen by a group of people to be here with an assistantship because they believe in me. But, then why do I feel so much like I want to scream?

I get this lump in my chest (I think its anxiety)... it is right at the top of my rib cage in the very center... I have had this feeling before and I don't like it. It makes it difficult to breath, to eat, to relax, to focus, I just want to alleviate it. My hope is that this post will provide a bit of catharsis... and as we speak the lump is subsiding, just a bit...

Maybe I will do some coloring tonight, that usually helps. Well, off to Econometric Statistics...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I get caught up in all of my doing sometimes and was searching for a piece of advice about being and how it connects to doing and what that means for my life on earth in relationship to following Jesus. So, I prayed and I read... my verses for the day:

John 13: 1-5

It was just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God: SO he got up from the meal, took offf his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin and began to was his disciples feet...

The portion where SO is, just caught me as a big explanation of this connection that I am often wondering about... Jesus knew that he had come from God and was returning to God... the personal, the grace, the comfort, the power...SO he got up... the collective, the extended, the grace, the service, the meekness, the humbleness, the light, the salt...

any thoughts?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Okay, Yet overwhelmed


That is what my head and heart are feeling right now. This is what I expected. This is what I feel like at the beginning of every semester... will I be able to do it? will I be able to meet my own expectations for myself? will I let people down? what if I'm not as smart as I think I might be? what if I hate life for 3 -5 years? what if I can't stand the projects I'm asked to do?

Then there is the other side of me: I am okay. I don't have to be perfect. I can do it. I just need to try and do my best. I can be okay with whatever my grades end up being. I can balance life. I may not love every moment of everyday. I may find surprising insights that I would never get to think about if I wasn't getting my PhD in a new field. I may realize that I hate what I am doing. I can always change. I may love what I am doing. I can take one step at a time.

Well, I have taken too much time posting, back to reading about American Federalism.

Oh yeah, and in the grand scheme of things the world does not revolve around me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I have recently been convicted about the power of prayer. I pray, but I don't really get into it as much as I would like to. I think I might be missing something.

Last night I prayed with my husband before we slept. We do this sometimes, but I am starting to see the potential power of doing this more often. This morning I felt like I was praying in a new way, in spirit and in truth.

I was thinking about posting the prayer that I wrote in my journal because I feel like I am on to something with passionately and faithfully asking for God's kingdom, adoring him, and confessing to him... but, then I started thinking... didn't Jesus say not pray on the street corners so that others would see our long fabulous articulate prayers...

I do think that we can benefit from hearing each other's prayers, but I have to be cautious of one my tendancies (pride). Do I want to show people how awesome my faith is or do I want to encourage others through showing new ways to love and cherish our father in heaven? a little of both I think...

So, I'm not posting it. But, I am writing to say that prayer is sometimes a challenging thing to wrap our minds around but, I am starting to see the power of prayer and how much it can alter my perspective on situations, my ability to trust God, and my ability to take risks in faith. God is so huge! I love that!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Soaking the last of summer in

This weekend I got to go to the beach with some wonderful girlfriends from my home group. Thank you Sam for letting us stay at your parents' house.

Saturday was one of the most relaxing days that I have ever had. I actually laid out at the pool and at the beach for hours on end. I did venture into the waves for a little while, but was a bit scared of getting eaten by a shark. There have been recent shark attacks in Charleston, SC and I was VERY nervous. But, thankfully I faced the challenge with the boogie board and had a great time bobbing up and down in the water.

Sunday afternoon I got to lay out at the pool with my mother in law for a a couple hours. I had a great time and am glad that I felt completely comfortable just going over to Holly Springs by myself and hanging out.

I am also backing off of caffine and Sunday was my first 1/2 decaf 1/2 caff morning with no soda at lunch time. I took a great nap and went to bed at 11PM. We'll see how long this lasts, hopefully it will!

Well, I am off to orientation for the PhD program. Here I go...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Having friends is wonderful!

Next week I head back to school and I know the first two week freak out is coming soon. I am trying to prepare myself and know that I may not be as available as I have been this summer. I am going to strive for balance, but I have been spoiled over the past few months.

So, I'm soaking it in. I got to go to Winston-Salem to visit my friends Mary Beth and Jessica. It was wonderful to catch up with both of them. Its awesome to see how we are being formed into women seeking Jesus in all very different ways.

Thank you to everyone who is always patient with me when I am stressed. Thank you to everyone who has had lunch, drank coffee, savored wine, and walked with me over the past few months. I am looking forward to more walks, coffee, wine and lunches especially when I am feeling stressed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm Encouraged

So, this weekend was a little rough for me. I just had a bunch going through my head and didn't know how to sort it all out and figure out the world's problems all by myself. This is a tough situation to be in...

So, last night I dumped all my thoughts and anguish on my husband pretty soon after he got back from an exciting weekend with his brothers. (Sorry!) He loves me and listens, but sometimes I have a hard time letting go and letting God...

So, you may be asking "where does the encouragement come in?" and this is where. I am still reading "This Beautiful Mess" and read this line today...

"How screwed up have we gotten that we cling to a Christianity that can be lived out without God? Pretty screwed up." I stopped right there and went to scripture where I read in James "Be patient"...

Basically my thought is: How awesome will it be when God shows up in these situations that are difficult for me to understand. How awesome will it be when I start coming to him expecting him to show me more about what it looks like to trust and walk with him. How awesome will it be when I increase my awareness of the fact that God is already in control and allow him to take over.

So, my prayer is "God, I don't understand. I need you to show up. I can't do it on my own. Even our entire community 'doing' things can't fix the world on our own. You are teaching us. You are leading us. Help me to trust that. Help me to ask for your presense. Suprise me and give me patience through the process. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for your grace. Thank you that your kingdom is like a mustard seed...

Friday, August 10, 2007

We can't do everything and I wish we could

I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment. This might be because about 2.5 seconds ago I was feeling pretty proud... funny how these things happen. I have been feeling pretty good about my servant heart, how much I am learning and growing and helping. Seriously, over the past week or so its been pretty amazing to be a part of helping bring the kingdom of God to earth in a variety of ways. But, as soon as I start thinking that it has something to do with me I am reminded (once again) that I am not the savior...

I just got an email about helping a Refugee family, came from a visit trying to help a local family, spent all week coordinating efforts to help a new family, and desire to keep running after these opportunities, but at the same time I am lying on my couch exhausted, reading over my course syllabi for the upcoming semester, and thinking about all of the different possibilities for my life, for our church and wondering how the best ways are for us to go about making an impact on the world around us. I wish I could figure it all out! I wish that I could motivate people to meet needs. I wish I could clear my head enough to say "yes" and "no" appropriately. I wish there were no needs at all.

But the reality is: There are needs, I am called to meet them, the church is called to meet them, we can't meet them all, there will be heaven for that, we keep striving, we keep seeking Jesus, we keep humbling ourselves that he might lift us up, we keep praying, we keep walking, we keep living in grace and hope that the promises of Jesus will come true in our lives. He really said that we would do even greater things that he has done... imagine a world where we truly believed that...

So, I think this post was all over the place, but I just had to get it out! Thoughts? ???

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Through the country and back again.

So, here are all of the state signs that we saw on our trip. I have tried to put them in order, but it was little difficult because a couple of times we had missed the state coming in and decided to turn around and go back and get it.

We were a bit disappointed in Minnesota. There was no sign entering or exiting the state. What's up with that?

I think the total number is 13 states.

The road trip was fabulous and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes adventure. We may do it again at some point in our lives. Maybe we'll take our kids (someday:)

Ameica is truly a beautiful country and it is amazing to me how diverse the landscape is. I am in awe of creation and know that God had fun making the world. I love taking in different experiences and pondering what it would be like to live in all of these different places.

But, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I am glad that I do. Life here is amazing in itself.

Maybe it was being away, but coming home and jumping back into life with my community is providing me with another sense of what God has created. Just over the past three weeks I have gotten the opportunity to a part of a baby shower, a new birth, helping clean and paint an apartment, helping coordinate rent money, enjoying my family, babysitting for friends kids, seeing my sister-in-law's passion for slavery victims, singing songs of praise and worship, walks, coffee, wine, the list goes on and on.

God's kingdom is truly beautiful. His kingdom isn't just the US, isn't just Raleigh, its bigger than a trip or life on earth can capture. I am thankful for an opportunity to experience pieces of it. Wow! Life is wonderful.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Beautiful Wedding

One of my best friends from 6th grade on got married at the end of trip. She was a beautiful bride and I am excited for her new life with her husband Jon. I think they may still be in Hawaii soaking in the sun. Believe me, they need the rest :)

It was great to reconnect with highschool girlfriends, reminiss about old times, and talk about our current adventures. Some of us can still bust out our old cheerleading moves on the dance floor.

Watching our Words

Again, the words of scripture challenge me to think differently about my heart and my actions that flow out of my heart.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs tht it may benefit those who listen.
--Ephesians 4:29

My husband and I do a couple's devotional about once a week and this was the verse that we talked about yesterday. It is a challenge. In our marriage we came to the conclusion that for the most part we do a good job of encouraging each other and building each other up, but sometimes we take cheap shots or just don't think about how our words could hurt the other person. Its not only in marriage that we face this challenge though...

Why do I get a kick out of making fun of other people sometimes?

Even writing this blog has helped me to filter my thoughts. I ask myself, how is what I write going to be taken by those who read it. I recognize more and more that I need to consider this advice from Paul and truly apply it my life on a consistent basis. I generally think of myself as a positive, encouraging person (confident too :) But sometimes, I catch the attitude of my heart desiring to bubble over with unwholesome talk that would not be beneficial to anyone. For this I ask forgiveness, for this I pray for guidance, for this I am thankful for grace.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Almost Home

The final leg of our journey took us through Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. One of our pit stops was a dream world for my husband. Many of you know how much he follows Reds minor league baseball... we got to see another stadium and practice in Dayton, OH. So on our list of Reds minor league ball parks at the moment we have:

Billings Mustangs-- Rookie League?
Chatanooga Lookouts-- Double AA?
Dayton Dragons-- High A?

(I need my husband to make sure these are the correct leagues.)

After we left Dayton (which was a pretty cool town), we drove through the mountains of West Virgina. It started to rain! It rained hard! I was driving. It was scary! After we stopped for dinner in Charleston Matt took over the wheel and we pushed forward to Roanoke (just 4 more hours).

My brother's van has a gas gauge and an estimated amount of miles left before you run out of gas. It said 50 some miles when we left Charleston, so we thought we would drive down the road a little ways before stopping. This was a bad idea! Interstate 77 is a toll road with lots of tractor trailers, is extremely moutainous and curvey and it was pouring down rain so hard that we could barely see out the windshield at times...

About 15 minutes after leaving we saw a sign that said 38 miles to the next town. Our gas gauge read 37, we thought we could make it... I was nervous! Matt was calm! We felt like Kramer and his friend on Seinfeld. We kept going and I had my eyes on the gas gauge like a hawk. It would dip down lower than the estimated miles and then above them. Every exit provided another iota of promise for a fill up, but unfortunately the gas stations were closed this late at night and hard to find in the middle of the WV mountains, so we pushed forwards.

We were almost to one of the I-77 oasis' and thought we saw a gas station so we pulled off (probably because I had been freaking out for so long.) But the lights of promise turned out to be another toll road (did I mention that the gauge read 3 miles left at this point). I could sense that Matt was even getting nervous at this point. We were on another highway.

Ok, AC off, lean forward, coast, pray!
Zero Miles-- no gas station!

Then, on the left a blue sign Exxon! A huge sigh of relief left both of us as we pulled in and filled up our tank. It was finally time to relax and drive the last 3 hours to my parents house.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Back to the trip

I know you are just dying to hear about the final leg of our journey. What happened after Matt and Traci left Wisconsin? Well, here are a few more insights.

We tried to go into Chicago for dinner. Chicago is a HUGE city! We didn't really know our way around and there was no place to park. We got honked at a lot and had some fun watching people, but ended up driving around and bickering a bit because I was dying to get out of the car and starting to get hungry.

We finally found Wrigley field and a place to park. We walked around for a little while on the strip by the field and got to experience some rowdy fans that had just finished watching a game at the sports bars. Just before the rain started we found a cute little French/Italian restaraunt to eat at. It was delicious. Matt had a 4 cheese pizza to top off our "cheese day" experience and I had some aspargus with blue cheese and tomotoes to that was perfect for a late night meal.

Leaving Chicago was another experience. We were in the middle of a lightening storm. I had never seen actual bolts of lightening so upclose before. Very cool!

We finally made it to Merriville, Indiana for our last night away. We stayed in a nice hotel (thanks Ginny!) and slept wonderfully. I think I posted 5 blog entries that night because we had good internet access for the first time in a couple of days.

I forgot one

Two posts ago I was talking about pictues of the kingdom of God. This is one of my mom and her friend Bethany in a mask. My mom is one of the most loving and caring people that I know and has a natural way of playing with and connecting with children that is beautiful to experience.

I have gotten to experience this over the years and specifically in the past few days. I have to admit that sometimes I am cynical and wonder why my mom has such an easy time being "immature" and letting down her guard while playing dress up, singing silly songs, coloring, etc. However, as I continue to reflect on what it looks like to enjoy life and identify with children I must say I am a little jealous.