Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Miss Nin & Ti Ti's Excellent Adventure...Day 4

Miss Nin and Ti Ti began Day 4 just as they had every other morning: on the back patio, in November, not losing toes.

Good times.

Then, the pair began getting ready for church.

Ti Ti was very excited about being in church with Miss Nin. So much so, she had to take a photo to commemorate the event.

Ti Ti was so overcome with God's kindness in 1) giving her a friend like Miss Nin and 2) allowing said friend to travel so far just to visit with her, that she cried through the entire singing time.

Again...Ti Ti is a big ninny.

At church, Miss Nin got to meet some of Ti Ti's friends, including Matt (her worship pastor), Regina, Inge, and Wendy. She did  not get to meet Lisa. This made Ti Ti sad.

But, she got better.

After church, Miss Nin wanted to go see some of the remaining damage from Hurricane Katrina. So, Ti Ti drove around and pointed things out while Miss Nin took photos. Driving through those areas made an already overcast day seem gloomier and darker.

Next, Ti Ti took Miss Nin to her favorite spot for photos: an abandoned Mechanic's Shop in City Park. It looks like a crack house (and probably is), but Ti Ti loves it and thinks it makes for amazing photos. She even said she wanted to marry the building and have its little building babies.

Ti Ti is kind of weird.

But, she's right about the building making for amazing photos...

Having a beautiful subject helps, too.

Ti Ti could have taken photos of Miss Nin all day, but she promised her friend a trip to the Mall and some live jazz, so they needed to cut the photo shoot short.

After a quick stop at Ti Ti's parents for lunch and a few minutes of the Saint's game...

the pair headed to one of Miss Nin's favorite stores: Macy's.

And, there was much rejoicing...by Miss Nin....not by Ti Ti. She wasn't really a fan of shopping. But, she was a fan of Miss Nin, so she was going to suck it up and miss the Saint's game so her friend could indulge in some retail therapy.

For Ti Ti, the silliness in a photo booth more than made up for having to go shopping, for nothing in particular, on purpose.

Miss Nin shopped and shopped and shopped some more.

And, there was much rejoicing...by Ti Ti...when it was time to head home.

But, their adventure was not over. Oh, no. Ti Ti promised Miss Nin some live jazz and she was determined to deliver. So, they headed to the quarter and walked and walked and turned around and walk back the way they came until they found a band getting ready to begin their set.

and, there was much rejoicing...

There was also alligator meat. Miss Nin said it "tastes like chicken", but Ti Ti knew it was alligator, so what it tasted like really didn't matter.

Next, Miss Nin made a list of all the words she and Ti Ti say differently, words like: Necklace (neck lace/neck less), asking (asking/axing), cement (ceh ment/ceement), pecan (pee can/peh cawn), pralines (pray leens/prah leens), Mario (Mare ee o/Mah ree o), garbage (gar behge/gor behge) and about (a boat/a bout).

Miss Nin is in denial about how she says about...but, Ti Ti loves her anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Miss Nin & Ti Ti's Excellent Adventure...Day 3

(Read Day 1 and Day 2)

Day 3 of Miss Nin & Ti Ti's Excellent Adventure began much like the first. Ti Ti rose early and tried to wait patiently for Miss Nin to wake up so they could begin their day. The plan was to spend the day in the quarter again, perhaps with the kiddos. There were no other plans aside from going to a friend's house to watch some UFC matches later in the evening. Ti Ti daydreamed about lunch and jazz bands and blowing powdered sugar on the kids while she munched on her breakfast cereal. She imagined the group of them, leisurely winding their way through the narrow streets, unhurried and lazy-like, enjoying the thought of her friend having hours to soak in the sites, sounds and shops of the Quarter.

FYI: That didn't happen.

When Miss Nin wasn't waiting in the hallway after Ti Ti finished taking her shower, she decided to poke her head in the room to wake her up. It was almost 10am and they'd have to rush now if they wanted to not be rushed later.

While Miss Nin got ready, Ti Ti called Uncle Brad and the kiddos Mommy to see if they wanted to join the day's adventure. 

They did, but there were complications. Car trouble. Pookie trouble. Three other kiddos taking advantage of distracted Mommy and Uncle Brad trouble.

By the time everyone met up and the car was loaded and ready to go, it was well after lunch time and Ti Ti's dream of leading her friend through a lazy day in the Quarter was on life-support.

Never-the-less, they headed out (minus Mommy & Pookie who opted to stay home, afterall) to make the most of what time they had together in the City.

The girls rode in one car. The boys in Uncle Brad's truck. Ti Ti cried a little at the thought of 3 of her favorite girls in the same car. 

It is a well-documented fact that Ti Ti is a big ninny.

Since it was well after lunch, and there was hardly any line at all, the first stop was Maspero's....a pretty popular local restaurant which features all the New Orleans staples: fried seafood and various rice dishes.

FYI: The smiling man next to Uncle Brad is a complete stranger who just decided he'd like to be in the photo.

While they waited for their food to arrive, the kiddos kept Miss Nin entertained. They asked her questions. they told stories. They pointed out note-worthy things, such as: condiments on the table and firetrucks. They made Ti Ti and Uncle Brad correct them repeatedly. They also took photos of Miss Nin with Ti Ti's camera. 

Finally, the food arrived...and, there was much rejoicing. While the kiddos chowed down on fried shrimp and fries, Miss Nin prepared to taste her first bite of jambalaya (pronounced JUM-balaya, not JAM-balaya).

The Princess looked on, breathless with anticipation.

The verdict: yumminess.

Next, Miss Nin tasted her first fried oyster. She talked Ti Ti into trying one with her.
Despite growing up in the City, Ti Ti had never had a fried oyster before. She thought they looked like they'd taste yucky.

Ti Ti was a ninny about trying new foods.

The verdict: Ti Ti was right. They tasted as yucky as they looked.

After lunch, Miss Nin, Ti Ti and the rest of the crew strolled through Jackson Square. Miss Nin got to see a  Wedding Party Second Line down the street and a bunch of silver street performers.

The street performers couldn't hold a candle to those things called "fire trucks", but they were still entertaining. At one point, he called the kiddos over to give them candy...and, there was much rejoicing.

On the way home, Miss Nin asked if they could stop by and take a look at the strange cemeteries. Since Canada is not below sea-level, they do not have to build little hi-rises to bury their dead, so these little cities of death were pretty intriguing to her.

Sometimes people think these are ovens...large oven graveyards.

But, they are wrong.

After the cemeteries, the group shared beignets with the kiddos Mommy. Miss Nin told her New Orleans friends that beignet means "heaven in your mouth" in French. She should know, being Canadian and all, so they all believed her immediately and without question.

And, there was much rejoicing...

Then, it was time for some UFC. Miss Nin and Ti Ti are both huge fans of senseless violence, so they were very much looking forward to sitting for hours watching men beat each other bloody.


In reality, Ti Ti just wanted Miss Nin to meet some of her friends and that was her best option. Despite the punching and the blood, a good time was had by all. 


Finally, it was time to call it a night and go home. But, before going nite nite, Miss Nin played a few songs on her guitar for Ti Ti.

And, there was much weeping...

By Ti Ti

because she is a big ninny.

Also, because she loves Miss Nin and loved getting to worship with her. For real. In person.

Miss Nin & Ti Ti's Excellent Adventure...Day 2

(Read about Day 1, here.)

After a few hours of smiling and not sleeping, the girl from New Orleans left her comfy bed and began the arduous task of waiting for the girl from Canada to wake up. She posted photos on Facebook. She watched a little TV. She did a little laundry. She ate a little breakfast. Yet, still, the girl from Canada slept. So, in a last ditch effort to entice her friend from her slumber, the girl from New Orleans put on a pot of coffee and took a shower.

That did the trick, and soon the two were enjoying some very strong coffee on the back patio. In November. Not losing toes.

Good times.

Then, they proceeded to spend the next 3 hours getting ready for their first adventure.

 Finally, they were primped and ready to head out for the day.

And, there was much rejoicing...and teal eyeliner.

For their first adventure, the two rode the street car (NOT the trolley) down to the Quarter (NOT the French Quarter or the French Quarters) to see the sights and walk around.

The girl from Canada was so happy to see the city, all the different people, and buildings older than her hometown. The same could not be said for the man sitting behind her.

The girl from Canada was also very happy to see palm trees.

The girl from New Orleans was not. She hates all the palm trees in the whole world.

The excitement from riding the streetcar and seeing palm trees really gave the girl from Canada an appetite, so the friends stopped in at the nearest restaurant for lunch.

The girl from Canada perused the menu, looking for anything familiar. There was no such thing to be found, so the girl from New Orleans ordered for them: a shrimp poboy and a cup of gumbo to split.

 The food arrived quickly. Smelling divine. And, there was much rejoicing...and flexing of the neck tendons.

Next, the friends stumbled upon an impromptu blues concert just outside St. Louis Cathedral. The woman in purple was singing "House of the Rising Sun." It was sublime, evocative and mournful. The girl from New Orleans held her breath through most of it in anticipation of the next amazing, soul-stirring riff.

Meanwhile, the girl from Canada video'd the whole thing....while a nerdy, bespeckled couple looked on.

Next, the girl from Canada bought an ear warmer, from an Asian lady who was wearing a Parka, in New Orleans, while the girl from Canada wore a short-sleeved shirt. This was not ironic in the least bit.

The girl from Canada bought many other "essential" items, as well, but none of the other sales people wore parkas. This made the girl from New Orleans sad.

Before leaving the Quarter, the pair stopped for the obligatory touristy photo in front of St. Louis Cathedral. They could then strike "being trite and predictable" off of their list.

After a relatively quick costume change, the friends drove over to the girl from New Orleans' parents house.

There, the girl from Canada met the fam...including their newest addition: Pookie.

And, there was much drooling...

The girl from Canada also met, hugged and chatted with the other kiddos from the family: The Dudeler, The Princess and The Diva. They called her "Miss Nin". This made her very happy because, apparently, children in Canada have no manners and speak to grown-ups as if they are peers.

The kiddos then took photos of Miss Nin, the girl from New Orleans (they called her Ti Ti) and Ti Ti's brother, Uncle Brad. They took blurry photos, close up photos and way too far away photos. This was the best of the bunch, mainly because Ti Ti thought she looked "not gross" in it.

 Then, the trio went out for dinner. Shortly after Miss Nin sent photographic evidence to Ti Ti confirming her visit, she made Ti Ti promise that they'd go eat sushi together. Ti Ti agreed, but was filled with fear and trepidation. When the time finally came to shove that strange, round conglomeration of food into her mouth, Ti Ti expected to gag and spit it out.

She did not.

And, and there was much rejoicing.

The last stop of the day was Southport Hall to see a popular local band. There, the trio saw some friends of Uncle Brad's, old men "living the rock dream", a drummer doing high kicks, and a popular morning DJ. The DJ was there with this girl friend. It appeared they shared the same hair dresser. This disturbed Ti Ti, Miss Nin and Uncle Brad.

The band seemed unphased. They continued to rock...sorta.

And, there was much dancing...

Miss Nin & Ti Ti's Excellent Adventure...Day 1

Once upon a time, a girl from New Orleans and a girl from Canada started chatting on Facebook. They soon found that, aside from an affinity for silliness and random movie quotes, they shared a deeper, transcendent bond which gave way to a priceless friendship...and there was much rejoicing.

There was also much chatting and skyping and phone calling, as well as dreaming of a day when the two girls might meet. For real. In person. And hug.

Then, one day, the girl from Canada told the girl from New Orleans she was coming to visit. The girl from New Orleans said, "Psh! Yeah right!" 

The girl from Canada had promised to come visit before and totally flaked on the girl from New Orleans, and she was still a little bitter. The girl from New Orleans does bitter very well...and also brings it to potlucks with a side of bread.

The girl from Canada bore the girl from New Orleans' bitterness admirably and, not too long after the "psh'ing" and implied eye rolls, the girl from Canada emailed the girl from New Orleans a photo of her flight confirmation...and there was much rejoicing...and some giggling...and some skin-crawling (in the good way).

 The girl from New Orleans didn't sleep a wink the night before the girl from Canada was set to arrive. She tried, but kept waking up smiling, but since smiling was her favorite, it was ok. 

Finally, after many months of waiting for the day to arrive, and hours waiting for it to be time to go to the airport, the girl from New Orleans was ready to go meet her friend. For real. In person. And hug her.

She sat, waiting, and chatting with a stranger from Florida, swinging her legs anxiously (something she could still do despite no longer being six-years-old because the girl from New Orleans was short and had equally short legs that seldom touched the ground when she sat in chairs). So, she chatted and swung her legs and took repeated sideways glances in the direction of the concourse exit, hoping the next person walking out would be her friend.

And then,

at long last

there she was...

And there was much rejoicing...and giggling...and hugging...and weepy eyes.

The girl from Canada kept staring at the girl from New Orleans. This creeped her out a little bit, but she tried to play it off like people stare at her all the time and it was no big deal until they reached baggage claim and the girl from Canada was too distracted to continue staring. Then, the pair sat, and even drove, in the girl from New Orleans' car for the first time...together. And there was much rejoicing...and a little squealing.

The girl from New Orleans took the girl from Canada for a ride around her hometown, showing her the elementary school and her parents home and the Wendy's drive-thru. The girl from Canada was, obviously, worn out from all that excitement, so they decided to call it a night and head back to the girl from New Orleans' house.

The girl from Canada exited the car, entered, grinning, and then proceeded to walk around the whole house. She looked in every room, in every closet and cabinet, even the one's the girl from New Orleans tends not to show to company. Then, the girl from Canada called home to let her husband know she arrived safe and sound.

She also picked her fingers. 

Before they went nite nite, the girl from Canada and the girl from New Orleans spent some time chatting on the back patio. (Something they could not have done if the girl from New Orleans had been visiting the girl from Canada...at least not without losing toes.) The girl from Canada also gifted the girl from New Orleans with a bag of Canadian treasures. These included: a stuffed moose, maple leaf knee socks, syrup (one of the 4 major food groups), jam, bath salts, a water bottle and a key chain that said "eh" on it. The girl from Canada's mom also sent along a gift for the girl from New Orleans. It was a figurine of a child building a snow man. 

And there was much rejoicing...and ooohing and aaaahing...and picture taking...and yawning. So, the girls washed up and hugged and said goodnight for the first time. For real. In person. Then, the girl from New Orleans, who had not slept in over 24 hours, kept waking up smiling. But, since smiling was her favorite and her favorite Canadian was sleeping in the next room, it was ok.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


When I first met you, you were just "Carebear's sister with the unusual name."

Then, you got on Facebook, and I came to know you as "she who hearts movie quotes as much as I do."

Finally, one night in June, you popped on to FB chat. Silliness commenced, immediately. However, it wasn't long before we began to share our hearts, our struggles, our anger, our fight for faith, our "god moments" and, yes, some more silliness, too.

Now, you are a sister of my heart...in so many ways. Now, if a day goes by and I don't chat with you, it feels weird. Now, you are my Nin, my homie, my girl, my bestie. Now, I call you "honey" sometimes, and it doesn't feel awkward. Now, I can't imagine how I managed without your friendship.

RIGHT NOW, you are on a plane. You are flying through the sky, sitting in a chair that is probably too close to the stranger next to you and is making your back hurt...on your way to see me. And, in just a few hours, I get to hug you.

Without emoticons.

Part of me is a little afraid that the special friendship we have shared via the internet and the telephone won't translate once we are in the same zip code. But, the other part of me says, "Psh! Shut up! It will be so much better!"

That other part of me needs to learn some manners.

Nevertheless, I'm choosing to believe that ill-mannered part.

I can't wait to see you and hug you and have an amazing adventure with you. Oh, and, I love you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My life as a stalker...

The year was 1993. I was midway through my college career, just beginning to get into my core curriculum and I had a class with "him".

He was quiet. He seemed shy but very smart. He had olive skin and big brown eyes. Somehow, I found out that his name was Thomas. Though, I was generally a friendly person and spoke, at least casually, to most of the people in our class, I never spoke to Thomas. I couldn't speak to Thomas. When I'd think about speaking to Thomas, my head would get hot, I'd feel flushed and light-headed, and my tongue would swell up. So, rather than risk breaking into a flop sweat before I said "Hi", passing out or drooling uncontrollably, I opted for silence and distance.

That silence and distance lasted for over a year. I admired him from afar, where I could maintain control of my consciousness and bodily functions, and never so much as smiled at him. Instead, I satisfied myself with just being in his general vicinity. Where Thomas went, I followed. In fact, I arranged my life to make sure I had the best possible chance of seeing him. I'd rush my roommate out the door for dinner, study whether or not I needed to, take the long way to class, or sit and wait outside a particular building, just to make sure I maxed out my "Thomas sighting" opportunities.

Though he was a creature of habit when I first started noticing/stalking him, Thomas gradually became more and more unpredictable...sitting in different places, at different times, on different days. It was highly challenging for me to keep up with his new-found randomness. But, I was undaunted, ever ready to use my powers of deduction and detection to track him down and enjoy a few precious  minutes of sitting in the same room with him. Trying not to look like I was only there because of him. Not talking to him. Definitely, not talking to him.

My plan, my desperate hope in this endeavor was that, one day, Thomas would decide it was time he got to know that girl he saw everywhere he went. So, while I admired him from afar, I did my best to appear friendly, hilarious, studious, compassionate...I had to cover all of the bases since I had no idea what he was looking for in a girl. Friends scoffed at my plan. Some even offered to introduce us, to put in a good word for me, to set something up...but, I refused every time.

I didn't want to be too pushy or obvious.

Because, I was (clearly) Ms. Stealth up to that point.

So much so, that he barely noticed my near-constant presence and definitely didn't flash a look of sheer terror upon seeing me one night in the library when he'd done his best to hide from me.

Definitely, not.

(I'm shaking my head at myself, right now.)

Poor boy. How it must have traumatized him to know, wherever he tried to hide, I'd find him...that there was no escape from "the girl from government class." For the better part of the first year, I was certain that was how he referred to me (if he was being nice). Since we'd never spoken, not even to say "hi", I was sure he had no clue what my name was.

Yes, you read that right. I was stalking a boy I'd never spoken to.

John Hinkley, much??

Anyway...after that first year, things began to change. One day, right after we'd all returned from Christmas break, I passed Thomas in the hallway near the Government department and...
he looked at me...
and someone stepped in his way...
and he stepped backwards to look around them...
and made eye contact again...
and I smiled back...
and walked away non-chalantly...
and then the hysteria took over and I almost fell down the stairs.

Until that moment, I never understood girls who passed out when they saw The Beatles or Michael Jackson.

The next semester, after summer break, I was in line for dinner at the Caf. Thomas walked in and stood behind me. He said "Hi, Tina." He asked about my summer. I asked about his. He told me about his summer job. Then we went to our respective tables. I arrived at mine, shaking and smiling. My friends looked at me, clearly concerned, and asked what happened. I said four words and four words only:

"He said my name."

We were only at the same school for another semester or so, and during that time we had a few more conversations. Each lasted just a few minutes and left me near passing out. There were times when I literally thought I'd lose the power to speak or move my limbs. Mercifully, neither of those things happened. Yet, just as things were feeling less stalkery and more friendly, Thomas was gone...off to Baton Rouge to finish his degree.

It was a very sad day for me, and my friends who had to deal with the aftermath of emotion.

(I'm shaking my head at myself, again.)

Not too long ago, I reconnected with an old college friend via Facebook. Though I didn't ask about him at all, she told me that Thomas was currently living and working in my hometown.

Ever since, I've prayed daily that our paths never cross.

There are very few things about  my past that I am truly ashamed of. My Thomas phase is without a doubt one of them.

It's one thing to share Thomas-related tales in this quasi-anonymous way or even laugh about them with friends who lived through the Thomas era (and are still speaking to me). But, if I should happen to see him, to face him, in person, I have no doubt that I'd turn a shade of red never before seen by the naked eye. I'd likely stammer a great deal, too. And, my tongue would probably swell up. I also wouldn't have words to explain or apologize for my ridiculous and creepy behavior all those years ago, except maybe "I'm sorry. I thought you were super cute...and...um... I ate a lot of Chinese food.Yeah, that's the ticket! It was the MSG!!"

But, if there is a God in heaven, I'll never see my stalkee again.

Unless He thinks I need to be humbled further.

In which case, I just hope I don't break into a flop sweat or start drooling before I pass out.

OR...maybe...that grown-up Tina and grown-up Thomas could have a good laugh at MSG-addicted, college-age Tina and leave it at that.

Either way, I'm good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Attention Casting Directors...get with the program!

It's no secret that I adore Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman. If you've been living under a rock for the past few years and have no idea who The Pioneer Woman is,let me clue you in...

Ree started a little blog one morning in holey yoga pants and now has tens of thousands of people who read it daily. She also has a cookbook, has been on several morning shows and is an all around awesome person. On her blog, she features funny stories from her daily life as the wife of a cattle rancher and mother to their four children, recipes complete with step by step photos and color commentary, and lots of other interesting and fun things. She also posted a series about how she met, fell in love with and married her husband. Her readers know him as Marlboro Man. People loved the story so much that Ree was approached about turning her series of blog posts into a book...and a movie.

Since plans for the movie were announced, Reese Whitherspoon has been attached to the project.

I can not state more emphatically how much this baffles me.

Ree is a tall,
red head.

None of those words can be used to describe Reese.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike Reese. I enjoy her movies. But...let me say this as clearly as possible...Reese is no Ree.

I have no idea what the casting folks and producers were thinking except that Reese is a pretty solid box office draw. That's all well and good, but, what about the character she's supposed to play? What about the person, the dearly loved and admired person she will be attempting to portray? I don't think I speak only for myself when I say, we don't want no caricature of Ree. We want someone that will so embody this stranger we feel like we grew up with, that we will feel like we are actually watching her life on screen. We want someone with equal parts silliness and depth of spirit. Someone who can be equally comfortable burping and flambé-ing. Someone who can bring to life all of the many and varied attributes that make up Ree Drummond without it seeming two-dimensional or sterotypical.

Watch any of Reese's movies. You won't see that.

She's entertaining. Adorable. At times, funny. But, again, she is no Ree Drummond.

So, dear, sweet, clearly delusional and misinformed casting directors and producers, I humbly ask you to snap out of it and cast someone who will actually do Ree justice.

I'm casting my vote for Amy Adams...for what it's worth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That's what's up...

my view of the finish line
at the Fall Classic...
and my time....55:18.
~ I've been "running" for 6 months now. That is the most consistent I've ever been with any form of exercise in my life. The truly amazing part is, I still love it. I can't imagine stopping.

~ I ran the Fall Classic this weekend. It is an annual 5k. My first ever. I ran about 1/3 of the time. Before the race, I'd set a goal of finishing in under an hour. I achieved that goal with almost 5 minutes to spare. :)

It was an emotional run. But, in a good/much needed kind of way.

~ I'm down almost 50 pounds. For most, their journey would be complete. For me, it's just begun. Keeping my focus on the step/task/choice at hand, instead of the long road ahead helps me keep on keepin' on.

~ Photography's been going great. Its my busy time, which is fun...and, of course, busy. But, I love getting to meet new people and spend time with old friends and family in a different context.  I also love that I can see growth and that I'm feeling more confident about taking steps to grown this little hobby more and more.

Today, I ordered new business cards and mailing labels and made plans to get a real website in place.

Baby steps.

~ God has been very present. That makes everything better, even when some of that everything is not what I'd call good or nice or fun.

~ My nephew, Pookie, found his thumb today. I smiled a tearful smile when I saw the photo on Facebook.

Have I mentioned that I love Pookie? I do. He's such a cutie patootie! The other night, I had a dream that he was a big, chunky, smiley, dimpled thing.

I can't wait until he really is smiling and laughing and responding to us. That is going to be so much fun.

And I will probably cry some more, too. Tears of joy, of course.

~ Speaking of posting photos on Facebook...I am wearing a fun, colorful and downright sassy scarf today. It makes me feel fun and colorful and sassy. I liked it so much, I took a photo of myself wearing it and posted it on Facebook. The best part...I bought it at Walgreens for $5.99. Score!

My next two fun/sassy purchases are already planned - jeans and boots.

P.S. My hair isn't school bus yellow in real life (at least I hope it isn't).

P.P. S. My skin isn't that alabaster and clear in real life, either.

And...that's what's up.

Stay tuned for my next weight loss progress photo. I'll be donning the green shirt and taking that pic on Friday. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I love to tell the story...Part II

The sun streamed into my bright yellow dorm room, warming my face, which was wearing smeared mascara and a big smile. I sat up and raised my arms, stretching, as thoughts of what happened the night before began to skip through my mind. Little flashes of memory and emotion mingling with and overtaking thoughts of the day ahead. Wiping the good kind of tears from my eyes, I bounced up from the bed and set about getting ready for my 7:30 class...showering, dressing, curling and spraying my hair to the desired volume and height. Then, I grabbed my bible and backpack and headed out the door.

As per usual, I was early for class, so I took the time to open my bible and read a little before the professor began his lecture. After that, I headed to the Caf for some breakfast and a bit more bible reading. I didn't look for Thomas (the boy I was crushing on/stalking) or any of my friends. I just got my food and found a quiet corner by the window to read. I remember this feeling, like fizz in a soft drink, bubbling up inside of me. I remember feeling light. I remember feeling...happy. I also remember smiling a lot.

It was probably mid-way through my day, as I was walking back to the Caf again for lunch, that it hit me just how different this day was from the day before. Then, waking up with a smile, bouncing out the door, feeling fizzy inside and, even happy, pretty much never happened. 

Nothing had changed, circumstantially. I was still fat, I still hated my hair, I was still flat broke, Thomas still had yet to confess his undying love for me. Yet, here I was...bouncy, fizzy, happy. And, for at least the 12th time that day, the good kind of tears stung my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. 

I'd just experienced my first day of walking with God.

I'd heard people talk about "walking with the Lord" or "having a relationship with Jesus" before, but, honestly, I always thought it was a bit like a grown person getting excited about Santa. It was silly and made up. I was too smart to get excited about made up things...except for books and movies and the little stories that formed in my own head and the idea of me and Thomas together. Of course. But, here I was, bouncy, fizzy, happy, and knowing that I knew that I knew that it was all because of God. it was all because He made himself real to me, he spoke to me, he touched me in a way that no one and no thing ever had, and he was with me, right at that moment, loving on me, showing me more of himself and that...I was his.

Even now, sixteen years later, the reality of that just floors me and brings the good kind of tears to my eyes.

Over the course of the past sixteen years, I confess, I've gone through times where I lost the bouncy, fizzy, happy feeling. Times when I turned and walked another way. Times when the volume of my circumstances, the sound and pulsating beat of them, made me numb to anything else. But, God has never ceased to make himself known to me, to show up, to find me though I'm running to everything and anything else, to remind me of who he is and bring me back to himself. And through those times without the bouncy, fizzy, happy, I've come to know God in a different way. I've come to know the God who is patient with wayward hearts, who is near even in my fear and grief, who is big enough to handle my doubts and fears and loving enough to comfort me through them, who is always faithful, always there when the darkness lifts to show me that he was truly there all along. 

This God is my God and I am His. He made it so long before I was born, and whispered that truth into my heart sixteen years ago. I am forever changed and forever grateful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not Part II...

I know I promised a Part II to my last post, but...well...I've been kinda busy. With what, you might ask?

Well, with:
1. Photography. This is my busy season and I'm also taking the opportunity to do some extra marketing.

2. Family. I have a new nephew that I am head-over-heels in love with and I recently had a fun sleepover night with the other kiddos, followed by weekend of fun and festivities.

3. Meeting, playing with, and being slobbered on by a Bassett Hound for the first time.

4. Prepping for my first ever 5k.

I started "running" back in May. I say "running" because I'm not sure what I do actually qualifies. I'm very slow. Other joggers and some walkers pass me up and, due to various injuries, I've not been able to sustain my longer run times. I've run for 30 minutes without stopping a couple of times, but when I have to stop running for a week or two due to an injury, I basically have to start over again. Right now, I can run a little more than a 1/4 of a mile without stopping...which is about 3 or 4 minutes. I'm building back up, and praying I don't get injured again, but the 5k is this weekend and, well, I'm not expecting any major increase before then. At this pace, though, "running" for a quarter-mile and walking for about the same, I should finish the 5k in under an hour, which is my goal. Considering my size and that prior to May my "exercise" was walking to the kitchen for more food, I'm determined to be happy just to get through the day without creating a medical emergency that will then appear on the nightly news.

One thing I've learned, though, is, if I keep my eyes on my next step...not on the long road ahead of me...going farther is less of a struggle. I can take this next step, and the next one, and the one after that...what I can't see myself doing is making it all the way to the next landmark where I get to walk again and recover a bit. Once I started doing that, focusing on just the next step, I tripled my time. I went from running one minute to 3. Not too shabby for a simple mind shift! As I rejoiced in that achievement, God spoke and showed me how that principle applies to life. There is so much about my life right now, my life over the past 15 years, that I wish were different, trials that are still going strong, battles with sin and weakness and habits, hopes that keep getting dashed or deferred. When I look into the future and see the same trials, the same sin, the same unfulfilled hopes, its overwhelming, impossible-feeling, and my desire to fight or even try at all evaporates like a drop of water in the desert.  But, when I focus on what is immediately before me, the conflict at hand, the choice I need to make, the heart pang I need to submit to the Lord...its manageable, its possible. Following through and doing so, taking that next step, though it may be momentarily difficult, is not nearly as painful and hope-draining as looking into the future, forecasting doom, and giving up...in fact, its hope-building. It also brings peace, too. Agreeing with God in the moment-by-moments of life gives us strength for the long haul, but we can only get there...to the peace and the obedience and the strength for the long haul...when we realize that the long haul is God's deal. Ours is to do the next thing in faith, trusting that He will meet us, and will bring us to the place we need to be on down the road.

Looking back to see how far you've already come helps, too.