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Archive for February, 2008

Exceptional. Or not.

It’s super late here, and I have a beast of a weekend ahead of me, but I knew I’d forget this if I didn’t post it now.

Why is it such a part of human nature for us to always think that we are the exception to the rules? Why is it so easy for us to justify every situation in our lives as unique? Even when we can verbalize the fact that we are probably not the exception, not the only one who has ever been where we are, not the only unique situation, we still act like every rule, boundary, and life lesson must be different in our case.

Quest has been a fun adventure for me so far.  I spent the majority of this week answering emails and phone calls, Just in case you don’t know, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: people are stupid. If you had heard some of the conversations I’ve had this week, you would laugh right along with me at some of the requests people have made.  Here a few examples:

1. “My son or daughter is going to have to leave on Saturday morning for about two hours. Can we pay half of the price for the weekend since they are going to miss part of it?”  They’re only missing two hours? Sorry buddy.

2. “I know you said that pay was double for college leaders if we come to training on Friday. Can you double my pay anyway even if I can’t make it to training? I have a class and I haven’t asked if it would be okay to miss it.” Are you kidding? Apparently this person thought it was exceptional for a college student to have a class on Friday morning. Ha.

3. “I was interested in signing up to be a host home. We’re not members at Long Hollow, but we’re members of another church in our hometown in another state. Shouldn’t that be enough?” Great idea! Let’s stick students in a home with people we don’t know or have any reference for.  What kind of other church are you a member of? Unitarian Universalist? I think not.

Hilarious. I have a tendency to lack any compassion for stupidity, so it’s been a rather fun week to get to answer these kinds of phone calls repeatedly. In the midst of all the stupid questions, I was just noticing that more than half of my phone calls and emails were based on the person’s concern that they would be an exception to a rule.  I laugh at them because I see the administrative end of things, and I know what a nightmare their requests cause.  But I also know that I do the same thing. I find a rule, and I try to find a way around it. I disobey God and don’t do something He has clearly shown me to do, but I make excuses as to why I am the exception to some sort of global truth. If there’s an annoying process or policy for everyone to follow, I’m trying to figure out the loopholes in the system  and who I know that could expedite my process or allow me to be the exception to a policy.  It’s good perspective for me to see this tendency in others. It definitely makes me more aware of my own self-centeredness, and I’ll probably think twice before assuming that I am the exception to every policy.

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Hinds’ Feet.

Okay, I’m supposed to be cramming for and taking my final exam  for my counseling theories class right now. My class is not over for two more weeks, but the comprehensive exam is due this week… and we all know how much free time Quest is leaving me these days. Go figure. Before I get down to business, I just wanted to post this excerpt from Hinds’ Feet on High Places. I’ve been reading it at bedtime for a couple of weeks now, and I finished it this morning before church. It maybe was not the most thrilling or in-depth book I’ve ever read, but it certainly qualifies itself as a Christian classic, and I would recommend reading it. I loved this quote.

…It had opened her eyes to the fact that right down in the depths of her own heart she really had but one passionate desire, not for the things which the Shepherd had promised, but for himself. All she wanted was to be allowed to follow him forever. Other desires might clamor strongly and fiercely nearer the surface of her nature, but she knew now that down in the core of her own being she was so shaped that nothing could fit, fill, or satisfy her heart but he himself. “Nothing else really matters,” she said to herself, “only to love him and to do what he tells me. I don’t know quite why it should be so, but it is. All the time it is lovely to love him in spite of this, and if I should cease to do so, I should cease to exist.” …

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Motivation and comfort.

Three unfailing motivators for my fitness level:

#1 – Competition

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#2 – Runner’s World Magazine. I get a copy every month, and I’ve never been able to read it without making plans to run a marathon.  Although that’s a goal that never actually comes to fruition, I can’t recall a single day when I’ve read the magazine and not gone for a run.

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#3 – NEW running shoes.  Who has ever bought a new pair of running shoes and not gone for a run immediately???

I only get new shoes once a year or so, and these were my purchase of the weekend. My ankles and knees were starting to hurt with my old shoes because I’ve worn them down. I had them for almost exactly a year, and I’ve put two half-marathons and one 12K into them.  It was time for a new pair.  I was pumped about these because they aren’t nearly as hideous as my last two pairs (I have to get specialized shoes, and they never come in cute styles). I took them out for a test run today, and they were (as expected) amazing. I had forgotten how good it could feel to run in the right shoe.

Travis did a message this week at River’s Edge about being comfortable with pain.  He talked about how often we settle into our pain. It is a reality in our lives, but we do little to escape it or control it. We just get comfortable with its presence, and we can’t really remember what life was like without the struggle.  So we don’t bother to change anything. I was reminded in my run today just how true that is. My knees and ankles have hurt after every run for nearly two months now, but I grew accustomed to it. I had gotten pretty comfortable with the pain as a reality, and I wasn’t doing anything to change it. When I was running in my new shoes today, I was reminded that it is never worth it to settle into the pain. New shoes feel great. And so does new life.  Pressing past the pain might put off the inevitable, but why do that when we can claim the newness that is ours in Christ?

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Quest.

Get more leaders and co-leaders. Put in check request for band and speaker. Book hotel rooms.  How or why I ever got involved in a job that is primarily event planning is beyond me. But it happened, and I’m learning slowly but surely. We’re getting into crunch time for QUEST. Email facilities. Call Judy about desserts. We have officially one week until we have to at least appear to have it together for this event, and I’m single-minded to the point of obsession. Format student curriculum into booklets. Email host home reminder. I just realized (after 11:00pm here) that I forgot to eat dinner tonight. Get directions for the Garner’s. I completely forgot.  I remember knowing that I was hungry at dinnertime, but I thought of something else to do, and I forgot about eating. Make John’s outline for Host Home meeting.  The office is a bit chaotic with students volunteers and parents. If I could just have some quiet (haha), I’m sure I could get some stuff done. Email band’s food request to Troutt. Create PowerPoint for registration help. Map out alternate bus routes for Sunday. Prior to this summer, I had never planned any event larger than a birthday party. Call Leah. Finish leader folders. These big events at Long Hollow are undoubtedly my favorite, but it’s trial-by-fire when it comes to learning the ropes. There just seems to be a lot of unreliable variables in this one, so I get a little nervous about pulling it all off at the last second. Follow-up with Service Project captain.  Regardless, I love the intensity of it all. Run Host Home background checks. There is something fun about running an event that you know is bigger than yourself.  Call ladies to help with registration. Check on childcare times.  There is no way our student ministry staff is prepared for all of this. Put students into small groups. Check voicemail messages. We are just hanging on for dear life and loving the fact that we have set up a situation that almost requires God to be big in us. Update registrations. Deposit money. I love it. Call leaders from Union. File medical forms. Call team captains. Even when my mind runs a million miles a minute and I have to keep my to-do list sitting next to my bed, I love it. Update Host Homes list. Remember to eat dinner.

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Awkward Turtle.

It’s probably not a secret to you, but I feel like I discover the reality of this a little more every day. I am awkward.

I seem to have a special skill at bringing out the awkwardness in every situation. No, seriously. The worst part of it all is that I nearly always know when I’ve said something awkward. I know immediately when I allow a silence to go a little long or when I’ve used the wrong facial expression or word. I know my awkwardness when I wave back at the person who wasn’t really waving at me to begin with. I know, but I can’t seem to do anything to stop it. No amount of awareness is enough to prevent or remedy my awkward tendency. 

At some point in the past few years, I learned a series of hand movements to signify all the awkward moments. I can’t teach all of them through a blog, but I did find a diagram of my most commonly used awkward expression:

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That is the awkward turtle. All the awkward motions are animals. Others (and yes, they all have motions) include the awkward turkey, awkward mosquito, awkward giraffe, awkward elephant, and the awkward moose.  When I find myself in the middle of an awkward situation (my own or someone else’s) I point out the awkwardness with an animal motion. Most of my friends know the awkward turtle, and it’s generally a humorous saving grace for my natural awkwardness.

I have more awkard turtle stories than I care to admit, and I keep telling the girls from church that I want to write a book about it one day, entitled Why Is My Life So Awkward Turtle? I am certain my skill in awkward conversation is related to my love for middle school students. In the mean time, if you run into me and I do a terrible job at holding a real conversation, or if you happen to catch my facial expression when I don’t think you are looking, please forgive me. I am already aware. I just haven’t figured out a way to fix the problem. 🙂

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Too bad.

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It has become a Sunday night tradition for me to watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition while I finish up any last-minute homework before the work week.  I’m not one to cry often, and I would consider myself to be a bit tough-skinned, but I have cried at every episode I’ve seen in the past few months (except for one stupid one about a haunted house). Every week, I watch and I think, “Too bad a Christian didn’t think of something like that. Too bad it took a non-believer to think up something that looks a lot like something Jesus would do.”

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Tiffanie Paige.

There are only two things in the whole world that I miss on a daily basis: living in Colorado and my best friend, Tiffanie

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 Tiffanie and I are a funny pair. Despite the fact that we grew up in the same town, played basketball together, and had a ton of mutual friends, we never really spent any time together until two summers ago. Even then, she was just home for a visit from living out in Idaho and I was on my way to K-Klassic in Missouri. We had one three-hour coffee date at Pathway, and I didn’t see her again until she flew to Colorado Springs to visit me for Thanksgiving the following fall.

Outside of the one coffee date at Pathway, her visit to Colorado was the first time we had ever spent time together. One of the first days she was there, we spent a few hours at one of my favorite coffee shops – Pike’s Perk. We went to the original downtown location where you can watch the sun set behind Pike’s Peak, and we sat in there for at least two hours sipping coffee (me) and cider (her). After a few hours of intensely deep and meaningful conversation, we hit the road and went to Target, where I distinctly remember getting weak in the knees from laughing so hard.  I don’t remember all of what we were laughing about (except for some child-size footie pajamas that we unsuccessfully tried to squeeze into), but at some point, I remember thinking that she had somehow snuck her way into my life and was quickly becoming my best friend. The rest is history.

Community is not something that has been consistent in my life.  I’ve moved away from more friends than I can remember, and I’ve had a ton of people move away from me as well. People come into my life and they go out, and I know that I am a better person for having just had the chance to spend some time with them.  But there is something significant in finding a friend who stays in my life through all of these moves and transitions, and there is something even more significant in knowing that she hasn’t been a part of any one phase of my life.  Tiffanie has become somewhat of a constant for me, and that is not something I’ve ever really known before. She has walked with me in brokenness and has celebrated with me in my victory.  She’s been a consistent phone call or text message or Facebook wall-post at all the right times, and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt safer bearing my heart with any other friend.

I don’t know how we initiated our coffee date at Pathway, and I’m still not sure why we felt good enough about our blooming friendship to commit to a full week together in Colorado, but I’m so glad we did. A God-thing, perhaps? Definitely.

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