So if you are displeased with this blog and I end up dead somewhere, Shelby, everyone will know it was YOU. But no need to do anything drastic, dear, 'cause I got your long blog right here. Ask, and you shall recieve. I asked for more requests and got a few, one from Julie, one from Maggie, and one from Megan. Sift through this long blog, and you'll find them somwhere in there. No particular order.
PUT YOUR HANDS UP
As I sit in the sanctuary of New Hope Church, I am asking questions. The worship music is loud, but sadly does not succeed in drowning my thoughts.
I am sitting Indian style on the floor in between two pews and two of my favorite people. Thomas Wilson is on my right, his outstretched fingers only centimeters away from my messy brown curls. His eyes are closed, so he is unaware of this awkward proximity we share. I want to stand up, but if I do, I will bump his guitar-blistered fingers and thus disturb his worship. If I shimmy to my left, I’ll bump into Brandon Clark, and bust his little worship bubble as well. So I sit. Indian Style. Playing with my Hair.
The voices above me are singing Hosanna, but I am refraining. I am distracting myself with possible escape routes that would enable me to get away with out bursting anyone’s bubble. I hate bursting bubbles, even if there were some bubbles in the room that I would love to not only burst, but completely demolish and erase from the earth. It would’ve been just like dropping the atomic bomb on Iwo Jima. It would be exactly like that, only in imaginary bubble terms.
I am angry because I can't worship. Rather, I can't sing passionately like those around me. Everytime I close my eyes (the mark of "true" and "sincere" worship) I feel fake. I began to feel like I was going through the motions, and was becoming overtly envious of the people who looked like they weren’t. I was zealously jealous of Thomas’s shaking fingertips and tear soaked eyes. I was envious of Brandon’s smile and prayer curved back. I was covetus of Megan’s high-held hands and jumping, spinning feet. Why couldn’t that be me?
I decided to doodle, because this is what I do when I want to avoid my life. I grabbed a “Tithes and Offerings” envelope and began to draw the lyrics of whatever worship song was playing in large block letters. “I Believe” was the first thing I heard, so that’s what I began to doodle.
While doodling, I began to ask myself if I was going through the motions of doodling to avoid going through the motions of worshiping, which would mean I was avoiding going through the motions of Christianity, which would be going through the motions of…
I hate when I do this. I go in circles in my head and come to the same thought that I do not want to hear. This is why I never ask anyone for help. Because by the time I have the opportunity, I have gone through every single possible aspect and suggestion they could come up with. It’s annoying, so I avoid it. This is exactly what I did in this case. I avoided it. Thomas had moved somewhere with more space to dance like the crazy Jesus fool he is, so I finally had space to escape.
I quickly made my exit from the sanctuary, past the lounge area, and through the glass doors before taking a sharp turn and sinking effortlessly to the ground beneath the West Texas starry sky. I exhaled, closed my eyes, and then rubbed them hard. When I drew my hands back they were black with watery mascara. Apparently, I was crying. So I looked up to the sky, and asked the Big Guy a very important question.
What do you want from me?
All I wanted to do was worship, and wasn’t that a good thing? Is that not what I was made for? Did God not give me a voice for His sole purpose?
As the back of my head dug deeper into the spackled exterior of New Hope Church, I felt something sharp poke my thigh through my jeans pocket. It was the “Tithes and Offerings” envelope with “I Believe” scribbled all over it. I was about to throw it away when…the Big Guy spoke to my heart.
What do you believe, Mary?
And that’s when I remembered my journey. There were times of jumping for me. But There were also times of emotionless, thoughtless worship sessions I attended only for social reasons. There were the nights of immense frustration, and the nights full of God's voice. Nights full of asking questions and having them answered before I even finished the thought, and silent nights.
At that moment in time, I chose to believe that worship didn't come in bulk. It’s independently manufactured, and independently sold to the Lord. Just as there are seasons during the year, there are seasons of worship.
I grabbed the “Tithes and Offerings” envelope and scribbled away. I completely dissected the thing. It was no longer an envelope. It was a fold out map of my thoughts on worship.
I Believe that worship is a process. I believe it’s about asking questions and later rejoicing in their answers. I believe it’s about being selfless and releasing the things that hinder and grasping the things of life. I believe that it's pupose can be forgotten, and can then be frustrating. I believe that it can be so beautiful that to an outsider it can be almost discouraging; making them feel as if such beauty is not to be shared with them. I believe that worship is sometimes a challenge...
Worship is not uniform. It is not bound to songs or lifted hands. It is not limited to standing and jumping, sitting or laying. It is limitless. It can be the way we live our lives everyday. It can be uttering Jesus’ name when no one else will.
The people around me were worshiping by singing and dancing, and I was envious of it. I thought that if I couldn’t do what they were doing, that I was not worshipping. That night I discovered that a great portion of my worship and development in Christ takes place in writing. Just as I am not to conform to the contours of the world, I am not to contour and restrain myself to the people I share faith with. Rather, I am to be the individual God made, and I am to worship the way He designed me to. I don’t need to put my hands up to worship, but that in no way is going to restrain me from doing so.
As previously mentioned, I once had to write a research paper on the views of love in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Instead of trying to summarize the entire paper, I’m going to copy and paste my thesis statement, which is supposed to do the job nicely:
Jane Eyre is not simply a love story. It is a plea for recognition of individual worth (Themes 1), a masterpiece that confronts social issues, hypocrisy, and the struggle for true love. It is not a “happily ever after” story full of beautiful dresses and diamonds; but rather, it is an exploration of the complex nature of love. Jane Eyre is Bronte’s endeavor to portray that love is only acceptable and full when it is evenly balanced in an unconditional, faithful, passionate, and logical manner.
Love: This is an area I’ve always struggled in. Even though I wrote an entire paper on “balanced” love, and even though I wrote my SAT essay on how emotions shouldn’t be a main determinate in big decisions and USED Jane Eyre as an example of this, I still don’t know if I believe love is completely about balance. Should love be balanced? Should it meet at the intersection of love and logic? Say we meet someone who doesn’t meet up to our logical list of what we believe we want in the opposite sex, but we fall passionately in love with them before we could even say no. Should we grant mercy to their faults and issue unwavering love at the sight of true passion, or should we reject this person because it doesn’t make logical sense? Is unwavering love discarding the balance of love and logic, or is it the byproduct of the two?
No idiot would enter a relationship that was COMPLETELY unbalanced and unhealthy. Okay, let me rephrase that, I realize that one cannot have a successful relationship if it is unhealthy and unbalanced. Everything faith or love oriented seems to be all about balance. Balance your days between work, school, prayer, eating, bla bla bla and achieve ultimate success! That’s why we have schedules. We feel this need for balance. That’s why I make so many freaking check lists. I have to know that I’m doing things right, and need something to look at to reaffirm that I’m on the right track. I know things need balance.
What I want to know is this…. Should I really throw away a relationship with someone I love if he doesn’t meet up to my own standards?
I feel like the answer is yes. But it’s hard. When I think about this, I can almost feel the way the Titanic felt when it hit the Iceberg. That bittersweet, inevitable crush. I knew the answer all along. I knew the perfection must end. It was inevitable, too perfect, but shocking and painful all the same.
I LOVE LISTS
CDs I love/Want to buy
Fleetwood Foxes-Ragged Wood
Fiest- The Reminder
City and Colour- Bring me your love
Matt Kearny-ANY of his CD’s would be awesome
Make the Deadeye Miss- Lorien
Of Confidence-The Dangerous Summer
Change Your Mind-Boyce Avenue
Go Baby-Lupe Fiasco
Little Weapons-Lupe Fiasco
Sensible Heart-City and Colour
Empty Corridors-Luke Pickett
Come on get higher-Matt Nathanson
The aaronic benediction(I think that’s what it’s called)-Misty Edwards
I will waste my life-Misty Edwards
This side-Nickle Creek
So much beauty in dirt-Modest Mouse
Bury me with it-Modest Mouse
When it rains-Paramore
We are broken-Paramore
When our hearts sing-Rush of Fools
The Con-Tegan and Sara
Put your hands on me-Joss Stone
Wrapped around your finger-Kelsey and the Chaos
That’s not my name-The Ting Tings
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot-Brand New
Love is waiting-Brooke Fraser
Oh good God there’s a ton…
Muska Hannah Capra
Table 4 Photography
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Waolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
I Was Told There’d be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
Looking for Alaska by John Green
A FAIRY TALE
Julie’s Request: What is your dream Europe trip? Example: The Lizzie McGuire Movie...
Paris and all its glory sit behind me as I sip a mocha latte in the shade of a sidewalk café. This cup of joe is particularly good not simply because I am in Paris, but because I am here with my cameras and husband, having quite the lovely time.
My husband and I have been touring Europe for the past couple months documenting the European religious lifestyle. While seeing the sights, we’ve been hanging out in subways with the homeless, and in rehab centers with the drug addicts; going deep into their hearts during late-night theological conversations. We are here visiting the broken and rejected to stretch our comfort zones both as journalists and as Christians. Our goal is to write, photograph, and video the lives of others to move one step closer to showing real-life financial and emotional poverty to prove that in our modern, do-it-yourself culture, there is a vast need for a higher power; for love, and for God.
We’ve been finding scraps of cardboard and writing messages on them like, “God is real,” and taking pictures with them by all the major landmarks in our awesome, artistic photographic style. When we’re done, we discard of them in public, visible places. Every night, we find a body of water and take a swim. If we’re not staying in a hostile, then we’re pitching a tent somewhere in the woods or beach.
Just in case you were wondering, dear reader, we are NOT here for just any assignment. We’re here reporting for the Christian magazine we launched together back home.* He’s videoing our journey, while I take the written and photographic side of things. After saving up tons of money for this trip and spending endless nights storyboarding, researching, and dreaming, we are finally here. Together. Working in harmony. Living the life we’re called to live. The life that makes us want to fall on our knees in worship every time we wake up. We’re living in our very own, European, God-designed fairytale.
*While we’re away, Maggie Shirley is taking care of the magazine as the Editor. Thomas Wilson is keeping things up to date with his All Things Cool section (a section of the website/magazine where Thomas posts a whole bunch of cool videos, music, clothes, books, and charities for our beloved readers. He has a knack for finding cool things), and Megan Shipley is challenging and inspiring everyone with her writing. Maggie is also our official head blogger, with Colt Keller being our movie, music, and HILARITY blogger. Tyler Grimshaw is giving tips on how to truly love people, how to be loyal, and how to utilize testifying skills. Bradye Waddell writes articles for all the female readers on how to be a woman of Christ, and lots and lots of fashion tips. Robby Jencks is Head Art Dude (yes, that’s what the position will be called), and will maintain an art blog on up-and-coming artists. He will also do a ton of illustrations for us. I will also need someone to continuously recruit young (high school and college aged) writers and artists to make our magazine wonderful. I’ll do lots of writing and layout design. That’s my favorite. I’ll be the founder/writer/Layout Girl. Oh, and of course. This husband of mine (if he’s a videographer like this describes him to be) would be in charge of documentaries-which are a MUST for this magazine. Who loves documentaries? MARY DOES!
And last, but not least, Maggot's** request.
**Maggot is not a misspelling. It is an awesome, awesome nickname. It sounds funny, so naturally I love it.
I expect MANY MANY MANY comments to welcome me back to the states, readers! I challenge you to leave comments. I love them, and this blog took a long time. haha I loved it though. I hope you enjoyed!
P.S. You can leave comments even if you don't have a blogger. There is an Anonymous option. But tell me who you are, otherwise it'll drive me nuts.