peace, love, and having a mind of your own

i refuse to look at life through the lens of tradition.
i refuse to believe everything i am told.
i refuse to live a life that doesn't promote peace, love, and having a mind of your own.

31 May 2011

today, start living the life you love.

stop whatever you are doing right this minute. make no excuses, just pause, clear your mind, and ask yourself this very important question.

am i living the life i love?

ask yourself if there is a deep reservoir of joy in your soul that you may draw from at anytime. because, trust me, the reservoir is there. the question is, what’s in it?

ask- and be honest when you attempt to answer- if anyone knows the real you. or is there a rift between your exterior and the silent, suffocating beast within? if all of our bodies disappeared, would anyone’s soul recognize yours?

the things you do every day, do they bring you fulfillment? your job, free time, and the education you’re currently earning- in or outside of a school- are they it? do you ever feel that you’re wasting your time? or that your life is missing some essential ingredient?

this is your life. you only get one of them. you will only be twenty-four years, one month, and three days old once and dammit, you’ve got to get this right.

if something is wrong, you must fix it. do not walk away from this screen until you have taken an active step in improving your situation.

call the person that hurt you and tell them you love them, because it’s more important to be loved than to be right.

sell every possession that you don’t absolutely love or need, and do something amazing with your money. go to Europe. check something off your bucket list. better yet, find someone who is really in need and give it all to them.

get a job you don’t hate. until then, find something positive about your current job and meditate on how lucky you are that you get to do it. i heard a story once about two guys who were building a cathedral. one called himself a brick-layer and the other a cathedral-builder. they both had the same job. be a cathedral builder.

go for a walk, leave your cell phone at home, and don’t come back until your heart is at peace.

and remember, this is a journey. you will never achieve perfection, but each day will bring you either closer or further away from the real thing, the life you are meant to live. choose closer. this is your life, and it matters.

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

11 May 2011

there's gonna be a showdown.

On Easter Sunday, you just don't expect to have a gun pointed at you. Right? You expect pastel dresses and chocolate bunnies. And perhaps a sermon about the resurrected King, if you're the church-going sort. [Side-note. I usually avoid church on Easter, as well as the entire month of December. Something about the all the decoration and festivity just really takes away from the sincerity of the Jesus that I imagine...]

Anyway, back to my Easter/gun story. So I'm polishing off a typical 4-hour coffee date with my good friend Kailee, at our usual rendezvous: the Starbucks near my house. It's about 10:30pm and the employees are dragging the patio tables in and closing up shop. This is the time Kailee and I go outside and have cigarettes before parting ways.

So we're standing by her car, smoking and talking and loitering, when this 20-something gangster looking kid with a hood over his head comes around the corner of the parking lot and starts walking directly towards us. Since there's nothing in our direction except us, we both decide it would be a good idea to get in the car. Apparently he was walking really fast, because by the time Kailee got her car unlocked, Baby Gangster was a foot away from me, with his Glock pointed at my stomach, saying,

"Gimme your bag, bitch, before I shoot you."

Now I should note that he sounded exactly the way I would imagine someone saying it in a dumb movie. Like he was trying to make his voice extra scary. Naturally, this made me think he was joking. Because who would do that in real life? So the thoughts running through my head in the half a second between him demanding my bag, and me responding were as follows:

That's a really nice looking gun. Is that real? How old is this kid? Is he serious right now?I feel like I'm being punked. Like, any second he's gonna start laughing and give me a hug, and be like "Remember me, from high school?"

So of course I turn to him and say, "Is this a joke?"

He informs me [still in his scary-deep voice] that no, this is in fact very serious, and he will shoot me if I don't hand over my beloved vintage carpet-bag immediately.


I've always wondered what I would do in this situation. I always imagined I would do something he wasn't expecting. Like turn slowly to look him dead in the eye and ask in a serious tone, "Is it really worth it, man?" [Because, has there ever been anything in a woman's purse that was worth more than, potentially, her life? I think not.]

Or stand my ground and confidently announce that I'm not afraid of him or his gun, because I fear only God.

I mean, I do, right? It's silly to be afraid of this guy. No matter the scenario, all I do is win. Let's say God protects me and I walk away unharmed... I'll be glad I didn't waste my time worrying. But what if I get shot and don't die? I'll have a badass story to tell and probably become a stronger person because of it. Worst-case-scenario, I get killed. Big deal. Everybody dies.

So clearly, I've got this all figured out. I'm brave. I'll just trust God and refuse to be intimidated or give into fear. Mm-hmm.

It's a lot easier to think like this when you're not looking past the barrel of a gun to a kid thinking he's The Man With The Master Plan. Sure, when everything's normal, I can say I don't fear death or any man, but when that statement is tested...?


I close my eyes. I'm too scared to look him in the face. I throw my bag on the ground in front of him, somehow get into the car, and hold my breath as he leans over me to take Kailee's purse and cell phone, then orders us to drive away before he shoots us.

The rest of the story is pretty basic: went home, called the cops, couldn't stop nervous-giggling because that's what I do in situations where most people would cry, and eventually went to bed scared shitless that this creep with my house key and driver's license in his possession was going to come and kill me in my sleep.

So that's the story of the Easter Showdown: Fear of God versus Fear of Man. This time, Man takes it. But I'm glad it happened that way... nothing is ever perfect the first time I do it.

06 May 2011

crabgrass & oak trees review.

okay, honesty time. a friend asked me to review a book, which i was really excited about, because i love reading, and the idea of a free book sounded great. so a few weeks later i get this book in the mail...

crabgrass & oak trees. i looked at it and thought, oh crap. i'm gonna hate this book and then i'm gonna have to give it a bad review because i hate lying, and then i'm gonna feel terrible for giving it a bad review. 

the back cover asks the question "is the church  more like crabgrass or an oak tree?" well i don't give a shit. these guys are comparing something as ancient and widespread and complicated as the church [as in the entire worldwide collection of christians] to a type of grass or tree? not gonna work. they'll stretch the truth to make their metaphor fit. and besides, it sounds boring.

regardless, i started reading... and it wasn't bad. in fact, i kinda liked it. and by the second chapter i had actually cried real tears. it's not easy to make me cry, but some of the stories in this book are just ridiculous. stories of extreme generosity, movements of God, and community as a real experience, not just a "nice idea." because that's what the church is, just a community of people with similar beliefs, who are learning what it looks like to be there for each other.

as someone who grew up hating church, walked away from God, and now by some miraculous sequence of events works at a church, the topic is pretty relevant to me. i've spent a lot of time trying to avoid, fix, figure out, or discover my place in this mysterious organism called the church.

last year while on the world race, i learned a spectacular lot about community, and it's become something that i hold at a high value. community is a powerful concept, with the potential to break or heal people, to exploit or provide for others, to flatten personalities or draw them out. sometimes all at once. the stories in crabgrass conjured up memories from my own experiences of living in community, and laid bare the hopes i had buried of what my community could have been. 

so, who should read this book? anyone who considers themselves part of a [Jesus-following] church. and anyone interested in what a beautiful community looks like. 

who shouldn't read it? literary snobs; people who care more about presentation than content. i admit, i didn't love the crabgrass metaphors. i really just rushed through each one to get to the next good story. and the style of writing was less than fascinating. 

on the basis of aesthetics, no thank you, crabgrass. but the message? pure. brilliant. genuine.