About Me

I'm creamy and flavorful. I go well with raspberries. I plan to keep getting more delightful with age, so stick around! I like to travel, both physically and in my own head. I buy a lot of books just because I like the way they look and smell. If "old paper" was a glade scent, I'd plug them in all over my house. Ummm... I can lick my elbow. If you're reading this, you've probably already had the pleasure of witnessing it. Also, I love dishwashers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
It's been a remarkable couple of weeks. It started right after Valentine's Day. Though I was not exactly the jolliest soul on the planet that week, I had been learning a lot about trials and what it means to trust God. By learning a lot, of course, I mean I was thinking a lot about it with very little measurable progress. I don't remember what put the idea in my head, but I decided to read through Ephesians 6 one night. It's a passage that is so familiar to me that I have trouble concentrating when I read it. It's old hat. I had it memorized when I was twelve. When I reached the end, however, something changed.
"...and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
...which IS the Word of God... I stared at those words for a few seconds, and I asked myself, "How long has that been there?" How could I have forgotten about that little phrase? Those of us who find our armor awkward and difficult to strap on every day want to be told how. I'm picturing myself trying to get into one of those bulky metal suits that guard the halls of creepy mansions (I want one, by the way), and I don't think I could get it on. If I did, I'm not sure I could stand up straight.... Paul might not tell us in Ephesians 6 exactly how all the armor works, but he does tell us exactly how to pick up and sharpen our swords. He doesn't just expect us to magically know how to wield them. He does expect us to open our Bibles on a regular basis.

So that's what started it. I can't get away from it now. It's everywhere. Every sermon I hear, every passage I read on my own, every page I turn in my devotional book - reminds me of the incredible weapon that I put down so often.  I could go into detail, but then this would turn into much more of a sermon than it already is, and I would never get to the thing I most wanted to write about.

Like I said, it was a great week. I was learning things. My family was very good to me, and I spent some quality time with friends. People at church have reached out to make me feel welcome. Things at the newspaper finally seemed to be moving forward. And then on Tuesday, I came home in the middle of the day to check my e-mail. Before I'd even reached the front door, I saw an envelope sticking out from under my doormat. I picked it up. Written on the front of the envelope was, "Brie, God has heard you". I came inside, put my bags down, poured myself a glass of water, and sat down before I felt prepared to open the envelope. As the little presidents on the bills showed their faces, revealing just how much cash was in there, I felt myself tearing up. Ashamed, I started replaying in my mind every complaint I'd voiced over the last couple of months. I know guilt probably is not the response the giver would want to see.

It's going to drive me crazy not knowing who gave me that money. I don't even know whether it was one person or a whole group. I wish I had someone to thank... and hug. A big part of me also wants someone to repay someday, which is maybe one of the reasons the gift was anonymous. Whoever it is probably knows that I'd try to turn it into a loan.  I stared at the handwriting for a long time, and it's very familiar, but I can't quite place it. Actually, it looks a lot like my own handwriting... I have my suspects, of course, but no way to confirm my suspicions. Whoever it is obviously doesn't want to be found out, so I've made a commitment to stop looking for clues. Instead, I thank God every day for that person.  I'm overwhelmingly fond of whoever it is. It's strange, feeling affection and loyalty toward someone you can't even identify.  A weight has lifted off of me. I've started taking my supplements again. I also have a heightened appreciation for a lot of everyday things that I'd pushed back into the "luxury" category.  I have never been so excited about coconut milk creamer, makeup remover or bobby pins. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Right now, I can honestly say, "my cup runs over," and mean it. God is awesome.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime

"Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap."

February 14th is the one day of the year that the world measures your success as a human being based on your relationship status. "Who?" you ask. "Who thinks like that?" I wish I knew.  I've never heard anyone say that they actually believe it, but somehow we all buy into it.  Someone had to start it. I think Jim Carrey's right: The greeting card companies figured out that they can feed us the belief that we're worth less because we're single. It scares people into finding a date for Valentine's Day, boosting restaurant and grocery store sales on what would otherwise be a slow Monday night in February.

By the world's standards, I've reached new heights of lameness. It's Valentines Day night. I've been home alone all day and all evening: vacuuming, watching Friends, dusting, chatting online watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, blogging, and eating my fill of things that will make me feel very sick in the morning. 

My mom used to tell me that no one could make me feel any particular way without my permission. I never really believed her. The truth is, someone or something is almost always making me feel a certain way.  My guard goes down, and suddenly anyone can swoop in and "make" me feel insignificant, guilty, or even unlovable. It can come from any source, in any aspect of my life. 

I gave up months ago on the idea that I would only work in a field that used my degree.  I like to blame the job market, especially now that I cannot even find a job outside my field. I have applied for dozens of jobs in the past few months - 30? 35? Most were jobs that I didn't really want. If I'd been hired, I would not have been all that excited to share the news.

It's funny - when we graduated high school, they told us we could be anything we wanted to be.  It was far enough in the future that we believed it without having any real idea of how to get there. It seemed then like growth and success would just come naturally. When we graduated college, they convinced us that there wasn't anything we couldn't do. I wish that they'd warned us that we'd experience many more failures than successes - that failure would start to feel like the norm after a while. I wish the world told us that it's ok to have absolutely no idea what we're doing or where we're going.  Maybe then I wouldn't feel like such a failure this year.

I know that sounds dramatic, but I won't lie to you. Things aren't easy. It would be easier to spend my evenings alone if I had a good job. Unemployment would be bearable (and job interviews would probably go more smoothly) if my nervous system worked properly, without aches and tremors and sleeplessness.... and nothing stops those aches and tremors like a long hug from a guy I trust.  With even one of the three, I tend to feel I've regained my footing in life. Maybe, in removing all three at once, God is simply testing the limits of my trust in Him.  If so, it's working. I don't buy dishwasher detergent or write a check to my doctor now without pausing to take a deep breath and remind myself that He will provide those next few dollars. My health has made it impossible lately to do anything on my own strength. Most days, I have to be in constant prayer just to be able to take a shower, cook lunch, run errands or fill out job a job application. Even so, I know I am blessed. Helplessness is probably the best thing that ever happens to most of us. It's then that we have nothing to cling to except Him. Trust could not exist without some form of fear.

I can honestly say that I trust God to take care of me when it comes to health and finances, even though I'm often afraid. He knows what he's doing. It's much harder in situations that bring to mind what I think I'm worth. I put myself down a lot today. It being one of my least favorite days of the year and all, I took my frustration out on myself. Then I tried to make amends by stuffing myself with ice cream. My fears and criticisms are usually disguised as jokes, but they really aren't funny.  By insulting ourselves, aren't we basically telling him God that He didn't know what he was doing when He created us?  I'm learning that my opinion of myself means very little.  It's deeply flawed.  The world tends to tell me I'm right, but world's opinion means even less. Only God knows just how to contradict me in a way that hits home, and His is the only word that counts for anything.

"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." - I Samuel 16:7b

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grasping the Trivial: Bucket Lists and Honey Pots

"Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is." - Flannery O'Connor

I keep seeing ads for Living Social’s “Albuquerque Bucket List”.  I can’t help but wonder whether any of us really want to spend our last days (and all our money) in Albuquerque. For the most part, the things are the list are coupons and recommendations for restaurants. You can sign up to receive these special deals via e-mail. They put things like “Get a facial,” and “Visit the Rio Grande Bio Park,” on the list, and they call that a Bucket List?  I’m beginning to wonder if they even know what a bucket list is.  From what I understand, it’s the things you want to accomplish or experience before you die, not things you’d like to do next weekend if you have the time. Really, if you have never been to a zoo before in your life, and you’ve added that to your bucket list, please don’t waste it on Albuquerque’s zoo.  Skip the overpriced facial and spring for a trip to San Diego. 

Maybe I’m missing something.  This list could be an exercise in appreciating the little things in life…. or the little things in Albuquerque.  I’ve lived in this town my entire life, and I rarely take the time to enjoy it. It seems I'm always too busy trying to accomplish things, but when I look back a day, week or month, I see very little that really mattered. There must be a line between enjoying the simple things and focusing on trivial things.  

I had a substitute teacher in my middle school orchestra class who asked us to make a list of things we want to do in our lifetimes. I put down, "fight with a monkey," and I suppose she legally had to pretend to support me in my unique aspirations.  My tastes have matured slightly. Today, my "bucket list" is mostly comprised of places I'd like to travel to and skills I hope to learn. I want to learn a foreign language, master gourmet cooking, publish a book, and travel basically everywhere. If I ever make it to Africa, want to swim in "Devil's Pool" at Victoria Falls.


But none of those are things are actually meaningful in the grand scheme of things.  I believe God gave us this world to enjoy, but never to become so lost in that any of his gifts compete with His lordship. 
I could experience everything and learn everything human beings can learn, and I would still know next to nothing. If my pursuits were all of the highest, noblest nature, I still couldn't take any of it with me when I die. And most of my pursuits are not noble at all. I would be lying if I said I’m less shallow than most people. True, I’ve never been one to buy a lot of hair care products, and I don’t care what kind of car I drive… but there are some pretty trivial things that I really wish I had.  I collect pictures of the things I look forward to and value in a folder labeled "daydreams" on my laptop.

A honey pot.  These are hard to find nowadays. My mom had one. It broke a long time ago. I don’t have a picture of it, but I want one just like it.  It isn’t just something I’d like to have. It’s very, very important to me, and for some reason, I don’t want to buy one online.  Maybe I’m hoping a guy will surprise me with one someday, and then I’ll know he loves me… It’s more likely that I’ll find one I like in the next couple of years, and I’ll buy it myself. As long as my honey pot looks old-fashioned and comes with a real wooden dipper, I’ll be happy with it. This one comes close:

Maybe some day I’ll learn how to make one on a pottery wheel.

I also want a coat rack. I once tried to barter for one with a guy in whom I was somewhat interested - a coat rack for a back massage.  He didn’t want the backrub badly enough to spend money, and I didn’t really want to give him one. We soon lost interest in the whole arrangement.  I’m still looking for a coat rack.

I want a fancy fireplace screen.

I want to make my dresser look like this:


Or maybe more like this:


I'm trying to figure out how to combine the two looks with blue and gold, using both a parchment finish/color wash and a crackle finish. I may not be able to get a job with which I can support myself, but I'm confident that I can do this!