Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time for a Detox

The beginning of this year has been absolutely wonderful, amazing, fantastic, so much fun, kind of like a whirlwind, full, busy, a time of learning about myself, and flat out draining.

I'm in serious need of a detox physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This month has been so full of important events and adjustments to a new routine that I haven't been able to even think about eating right.  Most of the time it's been coffee to tide me over in the morning since I didn't have time for breakfast (everyone knows what happens to Esther if she doesn't eat breakfast), fast food for lunch, and late late dinners.  Oh, and did I mention I'm getting yucky sugar headaches again?  Well, I am.

Over the last year, I've let social "obligations" pile up high around me in addition to two jobs and full time classes.  That has deprived me of many hours of sleep, and everyone also knows that Esther needs at least seven hours of sleep every night in order to behave like a normal human being.  It's also taken a toll on my study time.  I barely scraped by last semester.

What with everything else going on, I've let go of any sort of daily or weekly or monthly devotional time.  I've been focused on things that shouldn't be my first priority and definitely are not my first love.

Now, before anyone reads this and says "Man, I've never heard Esther griping this much.", let me say I'm not trying to gripe here.  I don't regret this season in my life.  So many beautiful things have happened.

I've reached a new level in several old friendships.
I've started writing my thesis.  I feel like I've reached the top of the mountain and it's just downhill from here.
One of my best friends in the entire world got married last weekend and I was completely happy for her.
I've opened up my heart more than I have in a long time.

But I want more beauty and, most importantly, more simplicity.  So, February is detox month.

Physically - I'm not eating sugar.  I'm not buying coffee.  I'm not scheduling any out of town trips for any of my weekends.

Mentally - School is first.  Right now I am a student and, at least for this time, my heart is entirely in my education.  I love what I'm doing with my life and I don't want to let late nights mess with a good thing.  Early to bed, early to rise from now on.  I will learn to say no to even the good things.

Spiritually - I love the Lord with all my heart and with all my soul and all my strength.  He is above school, family, and friends.  I'm going to do things I haven't done as often as I shoud - go to church, have quiet times, tell Him what is going on in my life.  I've forgotten how much I love hearing His voice.  And the crazy thing is, He loves hearing mine too!

I want to remember that again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Excited! (with a heavy southern accent, please and thank you)

The girls and I are starting a Bible Study.  I am super excited!
It's going to be fairly laid back and kind of more like an accountability group.  Basically we'll each take a turn leading and just share what the Lord is teaching us in our own quiet times.  But not quite that informal.  We're each going to choose a "theme" to follow in our private quiet time.  This way when one of us leads, the rest of us will kind of know what to expect.  It also keeps us accountable for actually pursuing a study with purpose.
I repeat - super excited.

This is great for me because I've always felt that it is my responsibility to invest in friendships with girls rather than guys at this point in my life.  I had the mixed friend group thing going real well in high school and it was great.  I was also in a mixed sunday school class.  But, as I've gotten older and (hopefully) gained a bit of emotional maturity, I've discovered how easy it is to invest emotions in a guy-girl friendship that shouldn't be there . . . without even realizing there is any investment going on at all.
That is not to say that I'm not friends with guys.  My friendships with guys are just a little more regulated than those with girls.  Almost everyone in my life is familiar by now with my "no one-on-one with boys" rule in friendships.  It has not been an easy rule to maintain and has caused me no little grief on a few occasions, but it has totally been worth it.
On the most recent grief-causing occasion, a friend wanted to take me out to coffee.  I'll spare you the entire complicated story, but in the end I discovered that he thought it would be a good idea to "invest" in a friendship with me because he felt like we could "get" each other and help each other on this road that is life (my words, not his).
This particular friend works with me and we don't really have any mutual friends.  So we had to give up even the possibility of more than a very surface friendship because I felt it wasn't right for us to "hang out" together.  That stung.  It stung both of us.  But the thing is, I can't have a friendship based on one-on-one interaction with a guy without feeling like maybe one of us is attracted to the other in a deeper-than-friendship way.
Admit it, you can't do it either.
We weren't meant to.
We aren't "wired" that way.
However you want to say it, that kind of guy-girl investments are not a good plan unless they're with out-in-the-open intentions of more than a friendship . . .  But that's an idea for another day.

I promise all this relates back to the Bible Study thing.  And here's how it does:
I haven't been in a Bible Study for a while now because all the ones I knew of were mixed.  (Well, not all, but all the ones I really would have considered on the basis of doctrine and genuine desire of the participants to pursue God.
Now you may be shocked at me for having a problem with mixed Bible Studies, so let me immediately say
I do NOT have a problem with mixed Bible Studies.
However, I do have a conviction from the Lord that, at this point, my purpose is to invest in girls.
And, girls, let's face it.  We are not completely honest about our insecurities, joys, fears, desires, quiet times, lives . . . you name it . . . around boys without investing deep emotions.  And in a Bible Study, one goal is to be raw and honest with each other about our lives and bring the scripture to bear on them.
So, in order to do what I want to do - help girls, learn from girls, go arm-in-arm with girls - I need this girls' Bible Study.
We all need it.
So, super excited!

PS - Please tell me if you feel I need some correction or am off-base regarding this touchy issue of guy-girl friendships (I am definitely not an expert and this is definitely not a treatise or lecture), but do keep your concerns grounded in scripture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kae Is Right. My Life Really Is A Movie

I'm sitting behind my desk at work, right?  And I'm making phone calls to twelve different people to tell them all the exact same thing.  So, by the eighth one I'm really in the swing of things.  I know what I say when I get someone's voicemail and I know what I say when someone actually answers their phone.  So I call the ninth person.  The phone rings twice and he answers:

Him:  Hello?
Me:  Hi so-and-so, this is Esther with Career Services, calling to let you know that the location for your training today . . .
     (He starts saying something I can't understand)
Me:  I'm sorry?
Him:  I think I'm standing right in front of you.
Me:  What?
     (I look up at a guy standing in front of my desk with an iphone to his ear, grinning awkwardly at me.)
        Well, that's funny.
     (I hang up the phone and we have our conversation in person.)

But really?  That actually happened?
Yes.  Yes it did.

How am I ever going to be able to draw inspiration for my fiction from my own life if my own life isn't even believable sometimes?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's All a Matter of Where You're Standing

So, I'm at a dear friend's house in Houston and the door bell rings.
My friend is upstairs and I figure it's okay for me to answer the door because some mutual friends are coming over and it would be logical for them to be the ones at the door, right?
But no, it's a girl scout.  A cute little, probably eight-year-old, black girl with the quintesential braids and barettes wearing a little green vest-y uniform.  And she looks at me with these big brown eyes, smiles beguilingly, introduces herself, and gives me the spiel about girl-scout cookies.
Of course I tell her I'm not the one who lives here and run upstairs to consult with the one who does. 
She says they've already bought some cookies.
So I go back to the door and tell the little girl that the people who live here have already bought cookies.
Side note - my mind decides to take the opportunity at the most absurd times to switch into "professional Esther" mode, so I end my little monologue to the girl scout with "Have a good day" as if I'm speaking to someone over the phone while I'm at work or something.
Girl Scout says "Okay" and turns to walk back to her mother's car.
Suddenly I decide that "Have a good day" is not the best way to end a conversation with a tiny person, so I say "Good Luck!" in my most cheerful voice.
She stops, turns with her braids swinging around, flashes me an enormous smile, says "Thanks!" and proceeds to skip down the walk, skirt and braids swinging.

She was just so cute that I felt sad we hadn't bought any cookies from her.  I would have bought some myself if I had been at my own house.  Now you may call me ridiculous if you like, but I really felt terrible for not buying any cookies from her.  It felt kind of like I'd taken something wonderful away from her.
(Haha, perhaps this is not wise.  I might or might not be revealing to the entire world that I can be easily guilt-tripped into anything.  Hmmmm.)
Then, when I'd made it back into the house, another friend looked at me and said "Esther, you were so nice!  I would have just said 'No Thanks' and shut the door immediately."  Now I know the dear friend who said that and I know that if she had seen that angel face at her door, she wouldn't have actually done what she said.
But she didn't see her.
Where she was standing, she couldn't see the eager eyes which not only looked up at me, but which looked into the house and saw "big girls" all over the place curling their hair and painting their toe-nails, obviously having a big girl party that the tiny one wanted to be a part of.  She couldn't see that genuine smile and those hands already half stretched toward me with the order form.  Where she was standing, she probably only heard my voice because the tiny one had a tiny voice to match herself.

And that's when it hit me.
I saw the situation one way because I was standing in full view of everything.  My friend upstairs saw it another way because she couldn't see or hear anything.  My friend downstairs saw it another way because she only heard tidbits and didn't see anything.
It's all a matter of where you're standing.

PS - Don't worry.  If two dozen girl scouts came to my door in a row, I wouldn't buy cookies from every single one.  And if some one smiled sweetly and asked me to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, I wouldn't do it.
Maybe I'm not so easily guilt-tripped after all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh the Things a Beautiful Sky Can Do

This weekend was wonderful.  Just the time I needed with old and new friends - people with whom I am almost more "myself" than I am in my normal everyday life.  However, despite the fact that the reunion was marvellous, the moments that were the greatest were on the ride over to camp.

From the time I left the house, the sky was full of literally every kind of cloud - stratus, cumulous, cirrus, nimbus - you name it, it was there.  There was such a conglomeration that, even though it was only 2:30ish, the horizon was already taking on a purple hue.  Since I was wending my way entirely west anyway, I actually got to watch the entire sunset from beginning to end!

Let me just say that I am very glad I was travelling on not-too-busy roads because my eyes were glued to the sky.  Okay, I was watching the road enough to not run off of it, but I was definitely enthralled by the process of the sun sinking below the horizon.

There were definitely dificult things about the reunion I was trying to emotionally prepare myself for and that slow sunset was exactly what I needed.  It was just like God was whispering to me over and over saying "I love you and that is all that matters right now."  In fact, there was one point where I just had this crazy urge to sing "Oh How He Loves Us", so I did.  I pulled out my cd with good old John Mark McMillan which has an enormous scratch on it, but still plays that one song and put it in my player, turned it up as high as it would go without blowing out my speaker, and sang at the top of my lungs.  Then came Francesca Batistelli.  There was some serious worship time going on in Esther's car on friday afternoon, let me tell you. 

It was just the beauty I needed.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Needed This Break

So, for a while now I've been feeling like I'm devoid of creativity.  I've gotten ideas for stories and poems, poems mostly (which is a good thing since that's what my thesis is in), but I haven't been able to actually get anything down on the page.  Don't worry, ideas are duly noted and will be completed one day.
But, despite the lack of creativity in my usual venues, I've found it in different paper and pens.

My plan is to cover most of the wall around my bed with these.  I'm pretty excited about it.
Also lately I've been spending more time just relaxing in the house with lots of hot coacoa and tea, so there's been a lot of normal mundane everyday things to make life happy, but I won't list those.  I'll just show you a couple of highlights from my break.

Item #1: A clean bathroom counter.

This is really an accomplishment worth noting in our household.  AND we've kept it this way for a week now.  Also a spectacular event.

Item #2: Knitting a Christmas Present.  I know, it's late, but it'll be done in time for me to see the future owner for the first time since Christmas.

Item #3: Shopping
for delicious "fat quarters" for Grandma's sewing room

and for the greatest ever bachelorette party/girls' night in.  So excited about it!

So, not my normal everyday activities, but good stuff nonetheless.  Headed to the Tejas Reunion tomorrow.  That will definitely be lovely.
Hope everyone had a marvellous holiday!