Monday, April 19, 2010

To Dream a Dream

On Saturday, I left Knoxville once again and return to the place I now call home. It has been a pleasant and somewhat unsettling development to call that place home, but home it now is. It has been a week of sweet time with friends, family, and the Lord. Every time I take a step out of my life and go somewhere else, I gain so much perspective and insight into what I'm thinking, feeling, and praying at the time.
This time, when I took a step out of life and into that sweet, warm community that I have in Knoxville, I realized that I do not trust God with my wants, dreams, and desires. For some twisted reason, I think that if I tell God what I really want with my life and in my life, He will say no, just on principle. I feel like He will say, "Well, I've given you salvation- what more do you want?"
Is this the character of my Savior? Is He want to deny me out of spite? Absolutely not! The more I verbalize this belief, the more I realize what a ridiculous lie it is. But it springs from the fact that I've never really gotten what my heart wanted. This sounds crazy to people- on the outside, I really do have a wonderful and blessed life. And there are parts of that life that I wouldn't change for anything. Yet I can honestly say that I've never gotten my heart's desire... this job, these circumstances, many of my relationships- they aren't things I wanted. They are things that I ended up with. Some of them are better than I could have wanted, but some of them weigh heavy on my heart and make me want so much more.
But what I've been processing through is how brave have I been? How often have I been vulnerable enough with the Lord to say, "This is what I really want, in my heart of hearts. Would You give it to me? But not my will, but Thine be done."
What does it look like to trust Jesus enough with my dreams? Trust that He could and would give it to me if it's the best thing for me, and that if He doesn't, it's because He really has something better than I could have even imagine. "He will give you the desires of your heart." What does it look like to really believe Him for that?
I've been learning to trust Him so much more through the process of even asking these questions and talking it about it with my brothers and sisters. This is a question that every Christian has to wrestle with and what I'm seeing is that every one that meets the Lord here in honesty and vulnerability and does not let Him go until they get an answer, walks away from the fray with a deeper love of the Savior who is big enough to trust.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cherry Blossoms, Tourists, and Allergies, Oh My!

After 2 especially grueling weeks at work, you can imagine that I was more than a little bit excited about my day off last Friday. Not only was it rest from filling out pointless excel forms and reminding 50 year old men to do theirs, it was Good Friday, the saddest day in the liturgical calendar. I wasn't planning on sitting around all day and moping, or anything, but I was glad that there would be no jeopardy about making it to the service on time and I could relax and absorb the service for what it was.

So after doing a couple of obligatory hours of work in the morning to make sure everything wouldn't go to hell in a handbasket while I was gone, I packed up my things and went to the metro station to go downtown. One of the best things about living in a major city is the availability of pulic transportation, and I am so thankful that I don't have to try to park my car downtown... first of all, I'm a terrible parallel parker, so that makes the entire process extremely nerve racking and upsetting for me. Second, it costs your left arm and first born boy child to park in the garages. Third, since the Cherry Blossom Festival draws literally a million people to the Tidal Basin every year, trying to drive or park in the area is an exercise in futility. Imagine Disney World in June- that's the crowd level.

But I made it off of the metro safely onto the mall and met my friends Chrisi, Jen, Mona, and Shireen to go have a look. And the trees really were gorgeous... the pictures below for details. It was a windy day and every time a gust blew through, it looked like it was snowing. The water was pleasant, lots of people using the paddle boats (if you've ever used one, it's like pedal a bike but with the water resisting you with every stroke, so I'd recommend being a passenger, not a driver). And the Jefferson Memorial, though under renovation, is an austere, regal, and dignified edifice and it's really lovely surrounded by the sun and water and pink petals.

I had a really good time with everyone enjoying the trees... and then we had to go home. Now, we'd had difficulty with the tourists on the way there, doubtless. But as you are anticipating enjoying the sites, your patience for their ignorance, confusion, and general lack of consideration is considerably longer. However, after seeing what you came to see and walking around for a couple of hours and being exposed to the sun, you are tired and just want to go home. But the tourists won't have that. Oh no. They want to continue to gawk at obscure government buildings in the neo-classical style, they want to take pictures in front of random grassy patches, they want to queue up 3 blocks long for overpriced, subquality frozen treats. And by doing all of these things, they inevitably keep you from getting where you need to be in a timely fashion.
And the strollers. Let me just tell you about the strollers. I have no problem with children- I want some one day. They keep the species going, they teach their caregivers about God's love and patience, they provide excuses to do things that you are theoritically too old to enjoy. All wonderful things. But they lack the self-control to walk extended distances without whining. Not that I don't sympathize- when I'm tired I want to cry and complain, too. But I'm supposed to be too old for that, so I can't. Children, on the other hand, whine and get to be pushed around all day instead of hoofing it with the rest of us. Which is fine. More power to anyone who can cry their way into being carried around.

But while I salute children's right not to walk, I maintain my right to walk without being cut on my heels by their strollers. Which I was, repeatedly. And then yelled at by the parents pushing their offspring for being in the way. On my way home. In my own town.

Here's a tip. When you become a tourist, you don't cease to be a person. You aren't magically exempt from the common laws of human decency and rational sense. Anyways, I guess I learned the moral of this story is that I should not be allowed around tourist en masse because it makes me cranky and cynical, and I don't like myself in that mood.

Jen had the good sense to see the literal 2 block long line to get on the metro at Smithsonian and say, "I don't know what you guys are doing, but I'm going to L'Enfant." So we walked 4 extra blocks and got on at a station with no line and plenty of seating on the cars. And when all the tourists got on one stop later, I laughed at them and their fanny packs as they stood crowded and awkward in the car. Not out loud, of course, because that would be rude.

Well, friends, my annoyance came back to haunt me. What comes around goes around and in exchange for my sour puss attitude, I received the worst allergic reaction I've ever had. Eyes swollen shut on Easter, sitting in a dark apartment with sunglasses and floppy beach hat on, semi-comatose from Benadryl.
So the lesson is that cherry blossoms are beautiful, courtesy is a virtue, and that kind heartedness is never inappropriate, And that pollen makes me live like a vampire.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dance to the Music!

At some point, I'll post some of my thoughts on Easter. This year's has been especially meaningful to me, but I've not reflected enough to be completely coherent. So, in the afterglow of the joyous sentiments of Easter, I thought I'd make this week's music recommendations songs that I love to dance to. By that I mean when these songs come on, my body involuntarily begins to bust a move, regardless of place or company. Disclaimer: I definitely don't support a lot of the lyrical content of these songs. In fact, a couple of these I find flat out offense if I listen to the words- so focus on the groove, not the meanings. :)

"Bulletproof" - La Roux: I do actually love the lyrics of this one... it's so tough girl, but there's an underlying vlunerability, all set to a electronica nouveau beat. Reminds me a little of Lady Gaga, without the crazy outfits.
"Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" - Dem Franchise Boyz: This is for you, Maria. We danced to this all the time in my apartment sophomore year, and it still makes me want to bust the eponymous move.
"Cecilia" - Simon & Garfunkel: Just completely joyful. I always picture dancing under a waterfall with this. Reminds me of spring.
"Waterloo" - Abba: "Dancing Queen" is obviously a classic and a dancing must-have, but I thought I'd salute these Swedes in another irrepressible 70s masterpiece. Plus, how many dance records are centered around a metaphor using a landmark battle from the Napoleonic Wars? Not very many. And clean lyrics to boot.
"Dance to the Music" - Sly & the Family Stone: This song doesn't ask you to dance, it doesn't suggest you dance, it commands you to dance. And there's no resisting. So don't even try.
"Get Ur Freak On" - Missy Elliot: My body involuntarily begins to groove out when this song comes on. I seriously can;t help it.
"More Than a Woman" - The Bee-Gees: Thank you, Mom, for making this a time-old favorite. The Bee-Gees are a weakness for her, being a child of the 70s. Come to think of it, she's probably also why I like ABBA so much. Anyways, this is a great pairs dancing song, I would think. Good for wedding and mitvahs.
"Chop Me Up" - Justin Timberlake ft. Three Six Mafia: 2 lines of this song make me love it... "Going down, TENNESSEE, Justin Timberlak, Wha?, 3 6 Ma-ma-mafia" and "Why don't you take a sip up on this champagne?" I quote both often. And a great beat.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A New Song

This week I was listening to a lot of new music- I have a lot of mixes or albums from friends that I don't always listen to front to back and this week I wanted to discover some of the stuff on those CDs (love getting these goodies by the way, if you ever feel like sending ;) ). Some of these I've had for a long time, some short- these may be old to you but new to me:

"Be Careful"- Patty Griffin: I've heard for years about how great this lady is, but I've only really dug into this album recently (thanks, Jolene). This song says everything I've ever wanted to say about relationships, in a way. She wants to be vulnerable with this guy, but she's warning him up front that he needs to really think about how he's going to deal with her and their relationship, because she's fragile. She has a beautiful ache and wail in her voice. Wonderful folk music

"When You Walk You Make No Sound" - Matt Kanelos & The Smooth Maria: A quirky, mellow band that my friend Maria turned me onto (I think she mostly likes this because of the band name...). I like the instrumentation on this track- I haven't dug too much into the lyrics, but they seem to be sweet. And it has the meditative quality to it that makes it great background music for journaling or working.

"Cashmir Pulaski Day" - Sufjan Stevens: I've had/heard this song several times before because it's off one of my favorite albums (Come On! Feel the Illinoise!). But I'd never listened to the words on this one before. Besides having all the delightfully unexpected melodic and instrumentation elements that I think of when I think of Sufjan, it has such crushingly sad words. There's a resigned quality towards God that I think all believers can identify with, but it's not a denial of faith, which is why it resonates with me. For me, it's about what it looks like to live in a situation that you don't see a good way out of. Really pretty, which is something I value in music.

"Thank You (Falenttinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" - Sly & the Family Stone: My Daddy reminded me of how great this band is the other day. Bass line- amazing. Guitar- out of control. Horns- sexy sexy sexy. Funk- off the charts. Just so much fun and makes me want to get up and move. Sly is so great, and the band has one of best names ever. Plus, I love that he's thanking someone for letting him be himself- such a simple lyric, but pretty powerful if you think about it.

"One More Time With Feeling" - Regina Spektor: Thanks to Maria again for this one... Miss Spektor is one of the best singer/songwriters of our generation. She has a completely relatable sensibility... she's not doing anything abstract or untouchable. But she manages to bring a very fresh take to the pop songs she's doing that it makes it all seem revolutionary and innovative. This track is no different: surprising vocal choices, great turns of phrase, relatable sentiments, and catchy like you wouldn't believe.