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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Can Protesting for Children's Rights Lead to True Love?

        Since my twin sister, aspiring writer Sandra Hughes, wrote about when she met her husband, I was inspired to write a short narrative about how I met mine. Instead, I wrote a long one. I hope you still enjoy it!

        I am not the protest-rally-attending-kind. But in the Spring of 2006, when I heard about children being kidnapped and impressed into service by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in Uganda, and that an organization, Invisible Children, had done a documentary on these crimes and were holding rallies to promote awareness for the children, I felt I had to attend. These rallies were called the “Global Night Commute.” You see, the children in rural parts of Uganda were walking into the city centers every night to sleep, under armed guard in public places so they would not be stolen from their homes. Every morning, before dawn, they would begin walking to school. This was their daily existence in 2006. If they were still unlucky enough to be captured, many were killed in front of the others as an example and taught to be ruthless killing machines. If, by some chance they escaped, they were still considered enemies of the state and could be killed for being traitors. Because Uganda doesn’t have natural resources important to the United States, however, or most other developed nations, not much was being done to assist these children and their families while Uganda continued its civil war.

          So Invisible Children asked us to “lie down” in protest in city centers as a show of solidarity with these kids, and let our governments know their welfare was important to us. A lot of my friends from California Baptist University (CBU), where I got my Bachelor’s degree, were attending the event in San Diego, so even though there was one being held in Bakersfield, my friend Tiffany and I jaunted down to the event in Balboa Park in San Diego to join the group my friend Melissa had organized. Trying to take the time off was difficult, and I almost didn’t go, but I felt compelled to be apart of rescuing and making a better life for these children.

This picture wasn't actually taken in San Diego, but this is what it looked like!

So Tiffany and I made the trek down to San Diego (a beautiful and awesome city, if you have never been), sleeping bags in tow, prepared for sleeping out in the park with thousands of other people all dedicated to the same cause. It was a very exciting time. The weather was beautiful (it’s San Diego!) and I got to see friends I hadn’t seen much since I graduated in 2005. We met in the shadow of a large palm tree with about 10 other folks who were alumni or still students of our university. Among the group, was a guy named Dave, who I had briefly met while we were both students at CBU. I thought he was only about 18 or 19 because he started there my senior year. I was already a wise 22-year old by that time, much older than him, for sure! I also thought that he and Melissa, who he had been very close friends with at CBU, were probably dating by now. I asked her about it privately, and she laughed and said they were just friends. He started talking to me, and I didn’t think much of it, because spirits were high and we were all chatting and laughing at each other’s jokes. He told me later, he can’t remember what I said, but after we had been talking for a few minutes, I said something funny and witty that made him think, I am going to marry this girl.

At this point, I am going to back up to tell you that I had pretty well decided I was done with relationships. What my few years on this planet had taught me is that in relationships, someone always gets hurt. Usually, it wasn’t me, it was the guy. I had been in very few long relationships, because I would start dating a guy, realize it was a mistake, break up with him, and leave him angry and hurt because he thought we really had something going. I had decided even first dates were risky because Christian boys are very keen on commitment (we believe in celibacy before marriage, so this is understandable) and by the time they are in their mid-20’s, they want to get pretty serious, pretty fast. So even a first date was a “big deal” and I felt like I was continually breaking up with boys before we were even officially dating. I felt like a heel all the time for breaking their hearts and had decided to just stop trying to meet someone because it would just be another person to break up with, another situation for me to make a mistake and be wrong and add another scalp to my belt. At 22, I had had enough.

With this mindset, I did not dress cute for the event; I dressed for sleeping in a park with thousands of people. I had these old, huge cream pajamas, patterned with giant pieces of chocolate, and an old blue T-shirt that I wore to the event. I wasn’t wearing any makeup and hadn’t done my hair. It was clear, I felt, that I was not trying to get any come-ons.

So, when this boy at the Global Night Commute started talking to me, I wasn’t trying to get his attention or flirt with him, I was just being my goofy, playful, crazy self- especially since I thought he was 18! In the course of conversation, however, I found out he was a transfer student- he was actually 25. He got cuter at this point! But I was not holding out hope for a future. This sort of thing had happened before, and somebody was going to get hurt. So we talked and laughed until 3 or 4 in the morning, and then everybody went to sleep. Before I walked off to settle down on my side of the tree, he patted my head to say goodnight, it was pretty sweet. He came over to my side of the tree in the morning to say “Good morning.” I found out from him later he wanted to know what I looked like when I woke up in the morning. He said I looked beautiful and he was even more sold on marrying me. As the event wrapped up, he took out his phone and nervously said, “Give me your number- I mean, can I have your number?” I almost said something to him about “demanding” my number, but I didn’t because I could tell he was nervous, probably because he didn’t want to come across like he was hitting on me (Turns out he was nervous, because he had never asked a girl for his number before). I felt ambivalent about giving him my number, and told myself he was getting all his new friends’ numbers, of course, he was just a friendly guy (he didn’t get anyone else’s number). I gave him my number, and, unsure of how to say goodbye, gave him a hug and said, “Bye, new friend.” After he left, Tiffany and I explored Balboa Park, and she asked me about what was going on with my “new friend.” I told her he seemed sweet, but that was all I would say. I was at cross-purposes with myself. First I told myself it was nothing, and then I found thinking about him and bringing him up again. When I got home, my mother, always a romantic, asked me if I met anyone. At first I told her, no, of course not. But I kept posted on Melissa’s Myspace that it was good meeting everyone, and tried to find out if he had a Myspace as well to make sure we stayed in contact. I kept checking my phone, but after two days, he hadn’t called or left me a text or anything. I finally told my mom, “okay, I kind of met someone, but he hasn’t called me, so I guess it really was nothing.” I was pretty disappointed and told myself, See, you knew it was nothing. That afternoon, half an hour after the conversation with my mother, I got a text, saying, “How are things in the armpit of California?” (If you have ever been to Bakersfield this will make sense to you). I got very excited, and I knew it had to be him because he had teased me about my hometown at the rally. I played it cool. “Great,” I responded “Who is this?” Like I didn’t know!!! Soon we were talking on the phone late into the night and I figured out he wasn’t just wanting to be friends.

Still, I hesitated. I had been down this road before, and I knew the more serious it got, the harder they fell. Sure, everything seemed great, but when was the other shoe going to drop? How long would it be until I had to scalp another one? But we started talking late into the night every night, until 2 or 3 in the morning, and there was just something about him! He was deep, but also funny, goal-oriented, a strong believer, and didn’t bend on his values. He was…substantial, not like a lot of the guys I had been around. Dave was Dave, without excuses or putting on a fa├žade. I had never talked to anyone so honest, true, and strong, or with whom I could be so transparent. We didn’t agree on everything (especially Pizza, he hates pepperoni) but, that was okay. And he had such high regard for me- it seemed like for the first time, I met someone who was actually interested in me, not in what I could offer or what criteria I met.

But here was the kicker- he was living in Riverside and I lived in Bakersfield. We were three hours and two mountain ranges apart! Talking on the phone was one thing, but making things work long distance seemed daunting. Also, I was beginning my Master’s Program at CSUB and I knew I had another 2 long years left. I explained this to him and that I wasn’t willing make any kind of serious commitment, to anyone, until I finished school. Despite all this, after 3 weeks, I was sure I was going to marry him. At least I was sure of this from 2:30-3:00am, long enough to proclaim it in my journal and feel embarrassed about it after a few hours of sleep.

Our first official “date” was in May of 2006, a month after we met at the Global Night Commute. Dave was turning 26, and I agreed to come down to CBU for the weekend, where I still had a friend on campus, Anissa, who would let me stay at her place. I was so nervous, I could hardly drive. I had only met this boy once, and I was going down to see him, instead of the proper way around, which was him coming to see me, and we were going to spend the majority of two days together. What if this is a mistake? I thought. I know this is a mistake. And when I arrived, it sure felt like one. That first night was incredibly awkward. I hardly remembered what he looked like, and all those glorious conversations we had had over the phone seemed like the conversations of strangers. He was quieter in person, and so was I. Neither of us knew what to say over dinner, and I sat as far away from him as possible in the truck during the drive-in movie (which was Mission Impossible 3, ironically enough). I was kicking myself inwardly the whole time for making such a mistake- things just felt wrong!!! After the movie he hoped to talk a little more, but I told him I was tired and had him take me directly to Anissa’s apartment. I don’t remember if I hugged him goodnight, but it was definitely one of the most awkward doorstep moments ever. When I got inside, my mind reeled. This whole thing felt like a mistake, I didn’t know what to do, and I still had to spend the next day with him! I went to sleep trying not to think about the next day.

When I woke up, I was still frantic, sure this was going to end in disaster, and blaming myself for getting into this situation again. I thought the best course of action would be to tell him right now that this was a mistake and to just drive home and try to do whatever damage control I could. But before I resolved to go through with this plan, I prayed a desperate prayer. I prayed, Lord, I am so scared and I don’t know whether to stay or go. If I stay, I’ll make things worse, but if I go, I could miss out on something that could be here. Please, please tell me what to do.” If you have a personal relationship with Christ, then you may know that sometimes He gives you a direct answer right then and there. In my head, I heard Him say, Wait. Don’t do anything right now. Just wait. So, I decided not to do anything until I saw Dave again. That morning, he came and picked me up, and I looked at him, and he smiled at me, and suddenly, I felt hopeful. Here was a nice, trustworthy guy who wanted to spend the day with me. He wasn’t scary. Let’s try this again, I thought. The rest of the weekend was really nice, and I went home confused, bewildered, but a little more willing to see this thing through. The awkwardness of the distance faded over time, and the rest, as they say, is history. We were married on December 20th, 2008, and we just celebrated our two year anniversary. For Dave, it was love at first sight. For me, it took a little longer (it was a year before I knew I was going to marry him). Just goes to show you, true love charts its own path, and once you’ve found it, a little thing like 3 hours distance and initial awkwardness just can’t get in the way.


*Pictures of event courtesy of wikipedia's article entitled: Global Night Commute

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just Keep Swimming!

A Picture of Perserverance
 One of my favorite films is Disney’s “Finding Nemo.” In this film, there is a character named Dory who reminds the other characters to “just keep swimming” when things go awry or they don’t know where to turn. One of my weaknesses- and I am confident I’m not alone in this- is quitting too soon and assuming that it won’t work if I keep trying. Lately, however, I have been reminded in the least productive of places to “just keep swimming” and keep working at it in my personal and professional life.

I consider playing video and computer games a time waster. But recently, they have helped me make a discovery. You see, up until now, I avoided strategy games, because I felt inadequate if I couldn't figure them out right away. I was supposed to be one of the “smart” kids, but I stink at Chess, Debate, Risk, Rubix Cubes, etc, pretty much any kind of strategy activities that are supposed to prove your intelligence. Hence, I can spell like nobody’s business and put words together, but I don’t try that hard to figure out mathematical equations or strategy questions because I don’t like to focus on them. But since I got my Ipad, I have been “wasting time” playing strategy games, and I been trying harder at some basic strategy games and not just giving up the first time I lose. What I am finding is if I “just keep swimming,” if I keep looking at it and trying different things, I can come up with an answer, and the longer I work, the better my answers become.

        This is somewhat of a metaphor for a lot of my adult life. Trying to stay fit, trying to get out of debt, trying to organize myself effectively at work- these are areas where I have been afraid I will fail because the answers are not readily apparent. And yet, as I continue to work toward these goals, new ideas come, and slight shifts are made which improve my overall strategy and outlook. If I “just keep swimming,” I find I am usually reasonably successful at most endeavors. But if I stop, and get discouraged, and give up, I’m out of luck.

So today’s lesson: if it’s not working today, it may work tomorrow. Keep going and looking for new solutions. Just Keep Swimming.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Was Therapy For You? Feedback Would Be Appreciated!

So, I would like some feedback from readers.
I work in a profession where people's reactions are a mixed bag. Hypothetically, we would like everyone who comes to therapy to love it with all their hearts and be helped by it. But that doesn't always happen. Some people hate therapy, or at least what their experience in therapy has been. Some people feel ambivalence, even guilt over "needing therapy," even when it worked and was a pleasant experience. I myself have gotten a lot out of therapy when I attended, but my twin sister did not have the same experience.

What about you? If you have attended therapy, what did you think of it. If you chose against therapy at some point in your life, how come?

Your answers will help me better understand what works for people, and with what perceptions my clients are walking into my office.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest Questionnaire

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog! Thanks. Today I'm participating in the the Bernard Pivot Blogfest, kindly hosted by Nicole Ducleroir of One Significant Moment at a Time. Its not too late to join in!

1. What is your favorite word?

Upon reflection, I like multisyllabic words which begin with “E.” Eloquent. Eccentric. Expedient. Effervescent. Elocution. Elementary. Ecstatic. And so on.

2. What is your least favorite word? Almost all words that end with “ump- bump, clump, hump, slump, dump, grump, etc.” They sound dirty, crude, messy, or just plain tired and lazy. The only exception to my feelings about this set of words is “jump”. Somehow the J transforms it into something palatable.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

1. Reading the Bible, and reading inspirational works of others like Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, J.L. Packer, etc.

2. Also, travelling and learning about different cultures, people, and places. I love learning about out of the way places in desolate landscapes that I never knew existed, and planning trips around the world to places no one else goes.

3. Taking new classes, learning new hobbies, and trying new foods.

4. What turns you off?

Feeling trapped by circumstances. I dislike having to stay put and be responsible to plan for the future, when I want to travel the world and be free.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Hum…probably “crap.” I don’t cuss, so this is one I can get away with when I am really mad and won’t get in trouble for using.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

Deep, low voices. There are some people I try to carry on conversations with because I like to hear their tone and cadence. It’s like listening to the rumbling of a rushing river.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Poor, lazy voice quality- when people slur and mumble as though they are drunk, especially on my answering machine. If people are going to speak, they should put some effort into forming their words- if they won’t put in the effort to speak clearly, I don’t want to put in the effort to listen.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would like to be a singer, an author, an artist- anything creative or productive that I could get paid for.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Anything which requires a lot of technical skill with high stakes, like being a neurosurgeon. Trust me, you do not want me to be your neurosurgeon. My current job allows me a margin of error I am comfortable with; if I mess up, no one dies.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant.”

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Creators- A Commentary on Message and Medium

For some of us, from the time we are born there is an innate need for output, output, output. Perhaps we are more self-centered, or simply more frenetic, but eventually everything comes down to a need to create. Drawing, writing, singing, creating stained glass, speaking, creating seminars,  all for other people to experience, and sometimes to lend clarity to self and no one else. Is this a universal human trait, or simply one kind of personality, of the artist, the philosopher, the speaker, the performer. Are there people in the world who do not feel the need to make, make, and make? Thing is, we don’t hear from them because they don’t say much!!! Even our studies on extroversion and introversion are skewed by the fact that some folks are much more likely to show up for a university study than others! Perhaps there is a whole world of people out there designed for receiving input, consuming, without the need to take information and materials and spit them back out into an original design for the world to see. Our media and our culture favor the out-putters because they are the ones who designed the mediums!

I don’t know. All I know is that in the meantime, I will write my blog, write my poetry, post on my social networking site, and work toward public speaking, hone my stained glass craft, and sing whenever I’m allowed. Because that is the sort of person I have always been, and want to always be.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lotus Seeds and The Gospel

"He who has ears, let him hear."

Have you ever heard about sacred lotus seeds? The ancestor of the modern lotus, these seeds are one of the oldest viable seeds in the world, meaning that some which were recovered in a dry river bed in China in the 20th century were judged to be 1200 years old, and they still got them to sprout!

What the lotus does to survive, is first to prolifically sprout seeds willy nilly. Then, nothing happens. For years, maybe hundreds of years. The seeds wait, possibly so they will survive getting eaten right away by greedy herbivores. In order for the lotus seed to sprout, its hard, shiny outer coat must be scraped off. Modern botanists and gardeners achieve this a variety of ways, but the cheap method involves sandpaper and lots of scraping time. Scrape too little, and nothing happens, but scrape too hard and you risk killing the seed. If all goes according to plan, the seed is immersed in water, (the lotus is a water plant )and within days a shiny sprout comes forth.

I thought about the lotus this morning in church, and how the gospel lies dormant in some hearts for years before it can be germinated. And in order for it to be germinated, it may take some scraping and hurting on the outer shells of the heart in order for people to respond.

This is relevant for Christians, too, whose hearts are hard. Sometimes it takes the diligent scraping away of our outer shells in order for us to grow. We may ask, "Why am I getting roughed up so much?" when the answer is that our master cultivator knows that we cannot grow without getting scraped up a little along the way. Take heart that He knows exactly how much hardship we need, and will not destroy us, merely prepare us to hear Him.

What about you? Have you been hardening your heart against Him? This will only cause you more pain, because Your Lord loves you too much to let you stay as you are! Eventually, even for the lotus, if a seed is not germinated, it will die. Growth is your only option in order to live.

"He who has ears, let Him hear."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Daffodil Shoots and Hope

Saturday, my husband uncovered a large bag of daffodil bulbs which we had dug out of the yard last fall when we suspected one of our puppies was eating them. The bulbs had been growing shoots despite the lack of soil, water, and only fleeting glimpses of sunlight. The bulbs at the top of the bag who had gotten some sunlight were green, but the ones at the bottom were sallow yellow and spindly because they had not received any sun at all (this reaction is called etiolation by botanists). They had grown in all sorts of crazy directions to try and get to the life-giving sun, and the bulbs themselves were shriveled and weak, showing that they had been using up all their reserves to try and survive.

So, I separated them and potted as many as I had soil and pots for, and watered them and placed them on the front porch. My husband came across a colony of worms in the muck he was cleaning out of the gutter which we placed in their pots, along with a layer of decaying leaves and compost. Then, having done everything I knew to do for them, I left them alone.

Sunday, they looked much the same, limp and yellow, and I wondered if they would even flower this year or whether there had been too much darkness and not enough nurturing for them to survive.

But Monday, a miracle began to happen. I came home on my lunch break, and noticed that all of the shoots were now green, or at least green-tinged. They were standing straighter and moving toward the direction of the sun in a heartened display of phototropism.

By this morning, all of the shoots were almost completely green, and quite purposeful in their angle toward the sunlight. I thought back to their long sojourn in the darkness, putting all their energy and resources toward the day when the light of the sun would once again give them nourishment. Bulbs are built to hope, because they themselves rarely see the sun, but they send up their shoots to find it. They used all their resources and all their strength to find the sun so they could be renewed and reinvigorated, and continue on.

What an awesome analogy for hope, that in our darkest hour, we look for the SON and plan expectantly for His presence, using the resources He has given us to withstand in the darkness. As long as we live on this spinning globe, we will never be fully immersed in his light, but when we see Him face to face in His Kingdom, all the pain we endured will melt away and we will be healed by his presence, finally able to completely fulfill our purpose, and completely live, moving toward the source of our life, His light.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Y replacing I

Yf only we could replace all our I's wyth Y's- yt would look so quaynt and old-tymey. Plus Y can't thynk of many sytuatyons where gettyng ryd of I would make that much of a dyfference yn understandyng. Lets do away wyth unneccessary vowels.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


                  Sometimes answers from God take time, and sometimes they are immediate. It has been amazing to experience Him showing me kindness over the last few days through the people in my life. First, before I heard about the change at work, I went to a wonderful lunch on Saturday with my mom and my sister and got to unload some of the worries I have been carrying around. Then, we had a success with the youth on Sunday night which was a morale boost. After I found out on Monday, my close friend who knew exactly how I felt comforted me and helped me feel better. That night, my husband came home with flowers, chocolate, and dinner, and let me take a nice relaxing bath. Then yesterday I met with my supervisor who talked me through it, my dad and my brother took me out to lunch and the ladies at my Bible Study (who did not know about the change) gave me a present and  a lovely card just for spending time with them (something which is not a sacrifice at all!). All of these were reminders of God's support in my life and that He will never leave or forsake me, even when work is scary. I prayed He would help me stand up under the pressure and He immediately reminded me of all the people He placed in my life to help me along the way.

So thank you, Lord:). I am reminded that no matter which valley I am walking through, You are there with me.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.