Saturday, December 31, 2011

Life is funny. So It's Okay to Laugh at it.

It's New Year's Eve. So of course people expect me to make a list of resolutions. Well, let me just say that I've never really made a list like that. I have goals, but generally they are goals for the day, goals in the near future, or life goals. Not goals for the year. The reason behind this is that January 1st isn't the only beginning to the New Year.

That's because a new year begins every single day. January 17th? It begins a new year. March 3rd? New year. July 6th? New year.

For example, September 18th 2011 to September 18 2012 will be a full year. I don't like to think of things in terms of years from January 1st to December 31st, because your defining moment could be at any time. You should be living your life with the same attitude and intensity regardless of what point in the year it is. Some people appreciate the New Year's because they think of it as a new start—but I believe every time you get up in the morning it's a new start. Think of every day as the end of a year, a segment of your life, and the beginning of another one.

I told a friend of mine at the end of the summer that 2009 was the best year of my life—up until that point. 2009 I graduated from high school, had an awesome job in the summer, and went to my university in the fall, which I absolutely loved. However, 2010 left 2009 in the dust and soon became my favorite year. And, of course, 2011 did not disappoint either, since it has now taken the place of the previous two as the best year of my life.

I've found that time enjoyed is never time wasted. And I've also found that we should strive to use time wisely rather than avoiding wasting it. So here's to 2012, another chance to live, to love, and to laugh. Laughing is very important. I laugh all the time, and I believe it can heal a person in a way nothing else can.

These are great. If you don't find any of these funny, I'm sorry but you and I can't be friends.

When people say "Think outside the box" to me, I always respond by saying: "What box?"

Happy New Year, everyone! May your days be filled with blessings and laughter.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Advice for Movie Characters Part 2

Since it's Christmas, I decided to write something a little more light-hearted. Therefore, I've compiled a list of things all movie characters should know. Be sure to read Advice for Movie Characters Part 1 as well.

1. Somehow the little kid is always strong enough to pull his dad up onto the ledge and save him from falling off the cliff.
2. Don't introduce him to your older sister. He'll fall in love with her.
3. Don't drive up to her house on a motor cycle. Dad will load his shot gun.
4. If you're new at school, the teacher will introduce you to the class in the most awkward way possible.
5. Pay attention. You're going to get hit in the head with the baseball.
6. Raptors can turn doorknobs.
7. Just because he's your old friend doesn't mean he won't turn you over to the authorities for some cash.
8. If it's raining, and you can't seem to see the oncoming traffic clearly, you're probably going to crash.
9. Don't pick on the runt of the playground. He'll punch you in the face by the end of the movie.
10. If you yell at the wild animal you've been raising to "GO! Go back in the wild where you belong!" you'll probably regret it later.
11. Shoot him again. He's not dead.
12. Never try to escape unless there's a lightning storm.
13. Just go get the stupid baseball. The dog's probably not all bad.
14. There's always a vent in the basement. You just have to find it.
15. Holocaust cloaks are invaluable.
16. Make sure it's really a costume party before you dress up.
17. Don't have a fight with your dad before going for a swim out at the drop off.
18. If you notice the other characters watching the weather channel excessively, assume a natural disaster will strike in T-8 days.
19. However, if Will Smith or Tom Cruise is in the vicinity, then it's not weather. It's an alien attack.
20. Speaking of famous people, stay close to the big names, especially early in the movie. They're less likely to get blown up.
21. Steady beeping noise = bomb.
22. Anyone who has taken flying lessons of any kind can land Air Force 1 at a moment's notice.
23. Bad guy: Your parachute is broken. Hehe.
24. Every serial killer lives next door to someone...
25. Check to see what your mortal enemy is wearing to the prom so you don't end up wearing the same thing.
26. If you wake up in the morning feeling like you might get chased by a bad guy today, don't wear heels.
27. Wife: Buy your husband a watch. Husband: Buy your wife a locket.
28. It's always possible to get into the elevator shaft.
29. Instead of letting the millions of dollars fly away in the wind because you're so happy your family is safe, why not just grab a couple 100's? Would that kill you? No!
30. It will probably not be the best Christmas pageant ever.
31. Check the picture frame. There's probably some old note or code hidden in it.
32. A restaurant is a wonderful place to make a scene.
33. Just listen for a cotton-pickin' second. This is all just one big misunderstanding.
34. Don't sit with your back to the window. Um... that should go without saying.
35. It's never too late 'til the movie's over.
36. Jet skis are a wonderful date idea. Just don't kick her in the head.
37. After you kill the six-fingered man, make sure you have something else in mind to do with your life. Like becoming a pirate or something.
38. Don't hide in the bathroom unless there's a window. You know he's just going to break down the door.
39. Your mom spent all that time making breakfast for you before school. Would it kill you to just sit down and eat some of it?
40. If the mannequin is standing in the middle of the street, it's because the zombies are waiting to eat you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy WHICH Holiday?!

You're in line to check out at Kohl's, and the big bags of gifts in your hands seem to be getting heavier.

You try to ignore the two eight year olds having a fight behind you and regret your terrible decision to get in line behind the 30-something lady in front of you who bought about $450 dollars of merchandise. Does she REALLY need eleven pairs of shoes? Lady, the Christmas season is about buying presents for OTHER people. We all know that every single pair of those shoes is size 6 1/2. And let's face it—you're probably size 10.

You finally get to the cash register and pull out your Kohl's charge—they're offering 4% off today with the purchase of 10 or more items! After fishing out a pen, you look up at the clerk's face. He looks nervous. Why? Is his boss standing behind you? Is this his first day of work? Did he look that scared before?

"That'll be 55 dollars and 49 cents," he manages to say. "With the four percent off discount, that's only 53 dollars and 27 cents!"

"Great," you mumble. After paying and getting your receipt, you take the bag and start to step away from the cash register. You say, "Have a nice day."

The clerk looks like someone's holding a gun to his back, and suddenly you understand why. "Happy Holidays!" he bursts out. He stares at you expectantly, hoping you won't be offended.

Now, if the shopper who was lucky enough to get 4% off was me, I'd look at that little nervous dude and say, "And a Merry Christmas to you."

Why are people these days so nervous about offending everybody? Did you know that in some places, workers are actually prohibited from saying "Merry Christmas?" They HAVE to say "Happy Holidays," if anything. Because what if whomever the shopper is celebrates Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or something? Well, so what if they do? That's cool with me.

I think "Happy Holidays" is silly. Say, "Happy Hanukkah." Say, "Merry Christmas." Or whatever you'd like to say. "Merry Christmas" probably applies to most people, and that's what I celebrate, so that's what I say. I'm not really offended, per se, when people say, "Happy Holidays." It just frustrates me.

Sometimes when people say "Happy Holidays" to me, I just want to say, "Happy what? Happy which holiday? Do you mean all of them? Like, Happy Easter, Happy St. Patrick's Day, Happy Halloween, all rolled into one?" Gee, thanks. This dude just wants me to have a happy everything.

Some people don't believe in ANY holidays in December or maybe no holidays at all. I think we're excluding/offending them when we mention a holiday at all. So should we do away with Christmas or whatever just because some others aren't a fan of it? No, of course not.

Sure, you shouldn't go around insulting people, and it's nice to be polite and aware of other people's feelings, but if I want to say, "Merry Christmas," by gosh and golly I'm gonna say it.

I'd probably get fired if I worked at Kohl's. Haha.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's the Best Holiday?

Our birthdays are all holidays, right? Or are they...

My birthday is June 23rd, 1991, so it's obviously in the summer. I was home schooled in elementary school, but eventually I went to school in junior high. When I did, I noticed that whenever it was someone's birthday, people would post signs on lockers, he or she always got gifts and stuff, and OF COURSE there were always cupcakes involved.

Sure, they had to go to school on their birthdays, but they also got a lot of other cool stuff. I had a summer birthday, which certainly lent itself to pool parties, but sometimes I felt like I was missing out. 

Sometimes I ask people what their favorite holiday is, and often they will say, "Oh, that's easy! My birthday, of course." I've long debated this idea: Are birthdays—Is MY birthday—(a) holiday(s)? I'm not sure. Mine is in the summer, so school was automatically canceled. However, I've noticed that unlike a usual holiday, school was never canceled for Johnny or Gabe or Becca's birthday. In fact, there are very few birthdays that everyone notices.

However, most of the world celebrates Christmas. What is Christmas? Well, it's a birthday. Whose birthday is it? It's God's birthday. God. Not Abraham Lincoln, not Mother Theresa, not Santa Clause. It's Jesus' birthday. 

You know, the guy who created the universe, knows everything, loves everyone, is perfect, can do anything, and single-handedly changed the course of history. Yeah. Him.

Who else's birthday is recognized all over the world? What other holiday has hundreds of songs written and sung about it? What other holiday brings about sales, food, parties, decorations, gift exchanges, movies, and traditions? 

There are tons of famous people. Does anyone really know or care when their birthdays are? Well, I'm sure some people do. But the world celebrates Christmas.

What do you do on your birthday? You probably eat cake, open presents, hang out with your friends, avoid work, and just generally do whatever you want. People also sing this fun little "Happy Birthday" song to you. No matter what, your birthday is generally about you and what you want to do.

What does Jesus do on the celebration day for His birthday? I have no idea. 

I know it must include watching little kids tell a big fat guy in a red suit what they want for Christmas. It includes watching middle-aged Americans drag giant pine trees into their homes. It includes watching people eat inordinate amounts of candy and watching them trample eat other to buy the cheapest, newest, and best Barbies, iPads, and video games, before the other less vicious shoppers.

I wonder if it all makes Jesus laugh. For He remembers that 2,000-ish years ago, He was born into this world to Mary and Joseph, a young couple who had just traveled to Bethlehem. He was fully God and fully man, lived a perfect 33-year-long life, died to save the world from their wrong-doings, and rose again three days later. Basically, He saved the world.

Just like your birthday is about you, Christmas is about Jesus. In fact, every day should be about Jesus. Do you know Him? Check out the first sentence on Wikipedia; they've got it right.

Luke 1:30-33 says, "But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; His kingdom will never end."

Wow. Talk about an important day in history! Jesus was born to be great and to save the world. Anyone who confesses their sins and accepts Jesus can have everlasting life and be saved from eternal destruction. What are you going to do on Christmas? Singing Christmas carols is great, and even exchanging gifts is a commemoration of Jesus' gift of salvation.

So yeah. Christmas isn't about you, or the presents you bought, or all the awesome food you're going to eat, or the big pine tree in your living room. It's about Jesus. 

So wish Him a happy birthday and thank Him for coming into the world. He didn't have to, but He did it because He loves you, and He loves the whole world.

What's the best holiday? In my opinion, it's Christmas, the day Jesus was born, the day the world was given hope. So Merry CHRISTmas, people. Remember what it's all about. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nike - Just Do It

Some kids don't try in school. Why not? Sure, some people are more serious about it than others, and that's fine. I realize that not everyone is OCD about learning like I was/am. But why don't they try at all? How can they just sit in class never doing work and failing everything? Or, how can someone barely try at all and barely pass when he or she could do so much better? I just don't get it.

If you're in school right now, then actually do your work and learn something. God calls us to try our best with whatever is put in front of us. If you just coast through and don't try, you're defeating the purpose and hurting yourself, your future, and even those around you. God hasn't called us to coast—He's called us to give life our best shot. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

I've realized that this disturbing apathy stretches into other areas of life, too. It seems like no one is really passionate anymore. We Americans just want our fast food, TV, and modern conveniences, and we don't want to work for anything or actually think for ourselves. Whatever happened to setting goals and working for them?

Anything worth having requires work. Life isn't going to just hand you everything on a silver platter, and if it has been that way for you, then it won't always be. It seems like people are okay with moderately trying and then just accepting whatever the result is. People have jobs they hate for years just because they're afraid to try anything else. People don't reach out to others because they have hung out with the same friends for years. They don't ask questions, look for options, break the mold, actually try.

Okay, I get it. Some people are super chill, and not everyone wakes up in the morning thinking about how they're going to get one step closer to taking over the world today. But would it kill you to put some effort into your life? Probably not. We all have some stuff we hate doing. It's easy to watch TV instead of studying that boring economics material. It's easier to ignore people who tick us off instead of being nice to them. It's easier to read a book instead of writing one. Easier to sit back and watch the world turn instead of changing it.

This is something I've been thinking about a lot as I get older. I only have three semesters of college left. How have I used my time? How have I used the resources God has given me? When I get to the end of my life, I want to know that I've taken every opportunity I should have and worked like I should have instead of turning away from what God had for me. I hate it when people make fun of the saying, "Life is short," by saying, "That's so stupid—what's longer than life?" Well, eternity is. We only have a short time to make a difference in this world, so don't waste it.

Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." That doesn't sound like an easy journey. But just because it's not simple doesn't mean you should give up. If you don't play, you can never lose. But you'll also never win. If Jesus had given up because His life journey and subsequent death on the cross was inconvenient or unpleasant, where would I be?

I would have no hope or future.

I also understand the wisdom in sitting back and seeing what God is up to. It's good to have goals and plans, but God's plans are always better than ours, so listening for His voice and following His plans is always the best course of action to take.

So be like Nike, and just do it. Take a chance, go the extra mile, and put some effort into your life. You won't regret it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What I Learned This Semester

I categorize parts of my life using semesters of school. I remember things from the past in terms of "Oh, that happened when I was in Mrs. Bell's seventh grade science class" or "I did that stupid thing when I was a freshman in college." After a semester or a season of life, I usually have a bit of time to reflect on things. In the past, I've referred to these bridges between adventures. I still agree with my aforementioned realization that the bridges themselves are adventures, but these bridges are also good times to reflect.

I learned a lot this semester. A LOT. In fact, I told one of my professors near the end of finals week that I've learned more this semester than any other 4-month time period in my life that I can remember.

Therefore, here are some of the things I learned this semester. Some of them are silly, but they're still true.

1. I am really, really bad at Call of Duty. Honestly, it's embarrassing.

2. It's impossible (for me) to write a page for Wikipedia without it getting deleted one hour later, no matter how legitimate it is.

3. Sometimes God answers prayers exactly the way I ask Him to, and I still question Him.

4. It's possible to run 1.5 miles after having not eaten for 17 hours. Without dying.

5. The 180 line is a very real line, and it can be violated in a real way. (DFP class)

6. I don't listen to nearly enough music.

7. It's not necessary or important to wear matching socks.

8. Centipedes may reign for a season, but in the end, humans prevail.

9. You never really know what you can accomplish until you have to.

10. The Media Comm building is a lot more fun at 3:30 a.m.

11. Nashville is a wonderful place. I wouldn't mind living there.

12. My friends are fantastic. Knew that already. It was more of a reminder.

13. It's possible to swing on the rope swing with up to eight people. AT THE SAME TIME.

14. A 65 degree day in the middle of December isn't totally out of the question.

15. Convertibles are awesome.

16. Everyone at my university is awesome. (Already knew that, but discovered all the freshmen are awesome, too.)

17. Playing guitar is, in fact, as fun as it looks.

18. Soccer polo (soccer on a field with giant "lake" puddles six inches deep) is now a sport.

19. Being too sick and weak to get up and get water absolutely stinks.

20. Dressing up as a superhero for Halloween is a wonderful idea.

21. InDesign isn't really THAT difficult to use.

22. It's possible to turn an alarm clock off by throwing something at it. (Yeah, I did it.)

23. Class assignments sometimes make lovely blog posts. Like this or this.

24. If you walk too close to the road during a rainstorm, you will stereotypically get covered in muddy water when a car drives by.

25. Everyone laughs at you when you have a broken umbrella.

26. There's a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville.

27. The thrift store is a great place to find clothes for the decade dance.

28. Anything is possible.

29. Scheduling 6 semesters in a row with no 8:00 classes is a very real possibility.

30. HTML is fascinating.

31. There's this card game called Spades, and it's really fun.

32. Spotify is a great way to access any music you want for free.

33. Sweet tea is just what people from the South call iced tea.

34. There are some youtube videos that will make me laugh every single time, no matter how many times I watch them.

35. It's still fun to throw napkins at people in the cafeteria.

36. Sometimes cookies can turn an entire day around.

37. Pinterest prevents my roommate from doing homework.

38. Football games are actually kind of cool. (Went to my first one this semester.)

39. Don't send an email to a professor during class. It might pop up on the screen everyone in the class can see while he is teaching...

40. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

41. Robert's Rules of Order.

42. Anna makes really, really good pizza.

43. I shouldn't go four months without a haircut.

44. If you do something stupid, you should share it so at least people can enjoy laughing at your failures.

45. There are some things I'll never understand.

46. Sometimes not even coffee will keep me awake.

47. I apparently yell at my roommate in my sleep.

48. Nutella is good. (Yeah, tried it for the first time this year.)

49. I now know what would come to mind if someone was breaking into my house.

50. 100 million other things that would probably take months to write down and even longer to explain.

In other words, this is by no means an exhaustive list. I know some of these were silly, but hey, this is just a blog post. Let's just say that I really value learning. And remembering. I'm looking forward to learning less academic stuff this break, like more guitar, the plots of numerous fiction books, and updates on the last several months of my home friends' lives. And after that, the spring semester. Hey, life, teach away. I'm listening.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Your Thoughts During Finals

Okay, here I am at my desk. So I'm studying, right? Studying, yes. Here are my notes. I took some great notes. Okay, Public Relations as related to non-profit organizations...

Ooohh what is this? Facebook notification! Gotta check on that. Ooh, Lateisha wrote on my wall? Gotta see what she said. She said "HEYYY!!"

Now I have to write back! "Guurrl whaddup... I'm 'studying' for finals, too. This is ridiculous!"


Lateisha just liked my comment! She must be studying, too. Maybe she wants to go to Taco Bell...


I can't. It's Public Relations time. PR time. Like, PR as in the acronym. Maybe I can make acronyms for everything! Like, uhmm... Four ways PR works in time of crisis. Assessment, Planning, Integration, and Evaluation. AH HA! Avid... Penguins... Isosceles... Electrocution.

No, that's stupid.

WOW I'm hungry. Gotta have some crackers. Nah, I need something better to study. Like, um, I'll make pancakes. That's a great idea. I can cook them in a coffee cup in the microwave.

That'd be gross. I'll just have Ramen noodles. What a classic! This is such great studying food.

*15 minutes later.*

Wow, this is good. My life is kind of worth living now. But I should definitely finish this before I go back to studying. Wouldn't want to ruin it by thinking of eating penguins.

Okay back to studying. PR. Crises. That's such a weird word. CRY-SEAAAAAASS!!!

Hehe. That sounds funny.

Wait, when the heck did it get to be 11:00? Holy poop nuggets, I'm missing reruns of The Office. This is so not okay. Dwight, I need you...

No, Dwight can wait. PR is more important.

But doesn't the business area, like, have PR in it? I'm totally watching an episode.

*Three episodes later.*

What is this like a time warp or something? I could have sworn it was only 11:00. Now it's 12:30.

Back to studying. NO LATEISHA! I said NO to Taco Bell! I don't care that you didn't have lunch or dinner. I have to study. I don't want those delicious, delectable, scrumptious burritos. The juicy chicken and...

How does PR relate to food? There are those food law things. You're not allowed to poison people. Or something. See, this is why I need to study.

But why do I NEED to study? This is the dumbest thing ever. Finals are stupid. Who cares if this is worth 40% of my grade? I've got, like, and 80 in this class already. Why do I even need this for real life? Who even relates to the public anyway? Totally not applicable. All of these Profs. are crazy.

But if I get bad grades, I'll fail out of school and never get a job. Then I'll be stranded on the side of the road wearing dirty clothes and holding out an empty Cheez-it box for donations from passersby. And the only job I'll be able to get is counting goose turds for a local fertilizer factory.

My life is worthless. Who said I could even deal with college?

MY ROOMMATE IS BACK! "Roomie! Roomie! I don't want to count turds! I don't want to! Make the  electrocuted penguins go away!"

"Wait! Don't leave! I just need a hug... come back..."

All my friends hate me. See, that's what studying does. It turns you into a FRIENDLESS LUNATIC.

Gee, my room is messy. Maybe it's finally time to wash the rotten cheese out of my carpet. How did that even get there? Oh, I remember now. Lateisha and her darn chicken and cheese burritos. See if I ever invite her back here again.

Well, how do I clean it up? The only soap I have is detergent. Oh well, that will have to do. Might as well clean up the rest of the room, too. Ooh, a note from Grandma! She sent me stickers! Why didn't I see these before. I am SO decorating my desk.

Charlie is texting me. CHARLIE! I haven't seen him in like three hours. I'm going to die.


Yeah dude. I'm studying, too. You're in the library? That's cool. Keep it up, dude. Nice twitter updates, too. Funny how you can tweet every eleven seconds for 3 hours straight and still study. You're like multi-talented or something.

Back to PR. PR Crises. That's RIGHT this is a crisis! I've been studying for five hours, and I still haven't made it past the first page. But that's okay. I only have 29 pages left. Not that bad. If I only spend five minutes on each page, then I'll only be studying for another 2.4 hours. (I am SO good at math.) That means I'll only be up 'til... eh... 4:30 a.m.! That's a gift! I'll be able to sleep for 3 whole hours before I get up for my 8:00 exam. Sweet.


Yeah... 3 hours. Well, if I'm going to do all that studying, I might as well take a shower first. Of course. I have to take one anyway. Who can think about PR when they smell like rotten cheese and detergent?

*30 minutes later*

I feel so much better now. Good thing I didn't pass out in the shower.

Hmm... time to eat some Teddy Grams. But I'll be healthy and eat the honey-flavored ones instead of the chocolate. Will it still be healthy if I eat the whole box?

Well, here I am back at my desk. Let's turn on some music! Justin Bieber... absolutely not. Maroon 5... nah... Enya is good for studying.

This is absolutely ridiculous. It's almost 3 a.m., and I'm STILL studying. I've been doing this for, what, 6 hours? I'm going to bed. I'll get up early and study tomorrow.

I'll set my alarm for 6 a.m. Some rest will be good.

*3 hours later*

I be pushin' that snooze button. No one can take an exam on 3 hours of sleep!

*1.5 hours later*

Wow. Good thing I didn't go to Taco Bell with Lateisha. Then I wouldn't have gotten ANY studying done. Makin' good decisions every day. BRING it, PR! Your frankenstein penguins DO NOT SCARE ME!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best News I've Heard All Week? Cold Blooded Murder.

The best news I heard this a week was that one of my acquaintances was murdered.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: You must be having a really bad week if THAT was the best thing you've heard! Well, sort of. Thanks for your concern.

We didn't know each other well, only three months really. He kept visiting my house uninvited. Now, don't get me wrong—I never really ASKED him to leave. However, I did scream and yell a lot.

Sigh. I guess I'd better start at the beginning, or you're just not going to understand. It all started back in September when I went on a retreat with my class. By my class, I mean the juniors at my university. I'm the vice president, so I helped plan the event, but I had no idea of the dire consequences the location of the retreat would bring about.

We went to a little camp a few hours away from my university, and we had tons of fun. We learned in particular about the John 16:33, which talks about taking heart because Jesus has already taken over the world. I may write a separate post just about that. But ANYWAY, I was an idiot and left my suitcase open in my cabin. Little did I know what a TERRIBLE idea that was.

Sometime in the night, or perhaps even in the day, when I wasn't looking, he crawled into a deep cavern of my suitcase, entirely unbeknowst to me. I wouldn't discover the horrifying truth for days.

Fast forward two days. I'm back in my room, and of course it's messy. Stuff is stinkin' everywhere. It's 3:30 a.m., my roommate is asleep, and I just came back from the shower. She'd fallen asleep with the light on, so I just sneaked inside, trying not to wake her up. I kicked some things out of my way, because it was a little more difficult than it should have been to get in the door.

I kicked my suitcase, when suddenly, to my utter horrification, something awful happened. My heart momentarily ceased to beat, my blood stopped pumping, my stomach clenched, and my own grass-breaking scream echoed in my ears. For there, just inches from my foot and out of my suitcase, sprung one of the more horrifying things I've ever seen.

In fact, it puts such irrational fear in my heart that I'm actually scared to post a picture of it here. Yes, I have Chilopodophobia.

Picture this centipede, except bigger, with more legs. Picture this, except picture it running 50 miles an hour NEXT TO YOUR FEET and STRAIGHT INTO YOUR CLOSET.

This situation was just unfathomable. What was I supposed to do? At this point, my roommate woke up yelling to find out what was wrong. Breathless, I explained the situation, shaking and pointing at my closet. She mumbled something about going back to sleep, rolled over, and did just that.

I spent the next hour painstakingly removing each article of clothing from my closet with a the pole that had previously held up my closet curtain. I'd hold up the skirt or whatever, beat it with the stick, declare it clean, and move onto another. I did this with EVERYTHING in the closet, even checking the shoes.


It was nowhere to be found! Which only meant one thing: The call was coming from within the house!

Okay, I don't really care if you got that reference. But anyway, this meant that the centipede was: SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE ROOM! Now I ask you, how the HECK was I supposed to sleep in that room knowing that somewhere in the shadows, lurked that THING.

I slept with the lights on.

The next few days, I was on edge. I was afraid to look in my closet, afraid to sleep, afraid to pick up objects for fear the horrible creature would spring from beneath it. It was a scary time.

Yes, I'm being goofy about this, but I'm also serious. I really do have an irrational fear of centipedes. I went out and bought Raid and proceeded to spray almost the entire can all over my room. It smelled unbelievably bad in there, and if I hadn't departed and left the door to my room open for two hours, I think I would have died from asphyxiation.

But gradually my fears ebbed. Days past, and the centipede remained missing in action. I decided it was safe to assume it had either keeled over and died from Raid poisoning or fled the vicinity because of the putrid smell.

I was wrong. I was very wrong.

One morning I was sitting bleary-eyed at my desk trying to fix my hair. I reached toward one of my drawers when all of a sudden, the long-missing creature sped out of one of the cracks in my desk, stared me as I screamed bloody murder, and slipped back into another crack.

I gave a whoop and a battle cry as I quite literally yanked my pencil drawer out of my desk. No centipede.

My roommate was yelling again, running to my aid. She told me not to scream so loud; I'd scared her. She promised me that she's kill it if it ever showed its face again.

I didn't feel better. I felt worse.

Months passed, and life went on. It so happened the next part of this saga happened during probably the worst week of my year. I was trudging back to my dorm room when I got a call from my roommate. I answered it in the elevator.

"Hello?" I asked without enthusiasm.

"Are you sitting down?" my roommate asked.

I glanced at the opening elevator doors, suddenly feeling like I was in a movie. "No... why do you ask?"

"I have some news, and I think you should be sitting down to hear it," she specified.

"If it's not going to make me happy, I don't want to hear it," I grumbled and walked into our room. 

There she was, sitting up rod-straight on her bed, her eyes wide and her hands clenched by her sides. "Melissa," she said. And suddenly she went nuts. "I KILLED IT!" she yelled.

I dropped my bags. "Killed WHAT?!"

Her eyes got even wider. "I killed the centipede."

I gave a battle cry and jumped up and down, suddenly realizing that this day was suddenly worthwhile.

And that, my friends, is why the murder of my unlikely, unpleasant, and unwanted acquaintance, the centipede, was the best news I've heard in over a week. 

Try to beat it. No, please do. Good news is good.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

50 Posts - May to December

So, this is post number fifty. I figured this is some kind of milestone, I guess. I mean, I remember the day I wrote my first post, which was two days short of seven months ago. I sat there thinking, thinking, wondering why I was even doing this. What was I going to write about?

Basically, I was going to be away from my university, which is my home away from home, for three months, and I had 4 weeks at home before I left to work at a camp. I needed something to do to help me count the days, to record the meaning I saw in things. Thus: Dreamchaser. This was my very first post: "What hath God wrought?"

Funny how I decided to call my first post that. I've realized that we ask ourselves that question every day. Except, it's probably more like: What is God up to? Well, I think He's always up to something. He's definitely worked in my life a lot since May, when I started this blog.

I still remember thinking to myself that this was going to be another long summer away from school. Now don't get me wrong: I like summer. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends from home. But I always really miss my university and the wonderful people there. However, those first four weeks of the summer at home were very relaxing, not boring.

Those were the days when I wrote a post per day. Random things, mind you, about that poor Aflack salesman I traumatized. Or, heh, the melted Barbies. Or... the dehydrated grapes. Yeah, I know. You're thinking: You're crazy! Well, you're kind of right. Give me a break; it was summer, and I felt like being creative. All three of the posts I just mentioned were true stories, by the way. :)

Then I went to camp. Camp was wonderful. It was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. Not sure if I ever wrote about this on here, but working at a camp wasn't my original plan for the summer. I had planned a mission trip overseas, but it fell through. When that happened, I wondered what God was up to. Why wouldn't He want me to go on a missions trip? Well, because he had an entirely different mission field waiting for me. I loved that summer so much. Just the thought that I had the privilege, the responsibility, of helping to lead kids to Christ made my life. I worked to be a blessing to the kids and to those I worked with. And though sometimes I failed, they stuck with me. I learned so much that summer. I went to serve, and I was blessed. I went to work, and I had the time of my life. I sailed and laughed and lead worship and played games 6 hours per day and watched the stars and smiled at God. I was very sad when I had to leave, and I still miss everyone dearly.

Summer had turned out to be awesome. And now it was time to head back to my other favorite place in the world: my University.

Never could I ever expect the adventures that junior year would bring. This semester, I got to shoot three short films. I have always wanted to do that, ever since I was little. I got to play lots of soccer, though not as much ping pong. (That situation must be remedied.) What was interesting is that I was going to take seven classes, each of which was in a different department. That turned out pretty awesome, too. I got to do lots of cool things, such as help launch a global campaign against human trafficking. I also got to write the Wikipedia page for that, which will be posted soon.

I got to write an article and design my a page in a magazine that will be published for campus to read next week. Part of my article was about my friend Becca, the napkin eater. I learned some cool acting techniques and learned about leadership in my ridiculously hilarious business management class.

Also, this semester I got to hang out with a lot of different people. Of course I was thrilled to spend time with my roomie and my class, and friends from whichever class, really. But I also met a lot of awesome new people. It's funny. There's just something about this place. Everyone here is awesome. Now, I'm not sure if this place simply attracts awesome people. Or, if this place makes people awesome. But either way, I met a ton of legit people, and I'm glad for the new friends I've made.

And now, my friends, what is God up to? Well, I can certainly hope that good grades on my exams is part of the plan. But I'll do my part for that, just like in everything else—I'll study until my eyes glaze over and I literally can't read the pages.

But hey, it's been a whole semester. And it's almost time for another "bridge" between adventures: Christmas break. I put "bridge" in quotes because I fully expect Christmas break, in and of itself, to be as much of an adventure as a semester is.

In the meantime, it's the week before exams, and this adventure isn't over yet. What's God up to? Lots of stuff. What am I up to? Trying to survive dead week. Whoo-hoo!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christians are Narrow-minded?

I wasn't really aware of the idea of narrow-mindedness until I went to high school. If I'd come across the term earlier, I might have pictured a person with an unnecessarily oval head who, strictly as as result of bad genes, had wound up with an abnormally shaped brain.

What is narrow-mindedness really? According to the Wikipedia Dictionary, it means "having restricted or rigid views and being unreceptive to new ideas."

So why are Christians in particular accused of being narrow-minded? Well, people say that they have a right to believe what they want to believe and that we Christians can't force our ideas on them. Yes, that's right. We cannot, nor should we, try to force people to believe what we do.

Christians believe in the veracity of the Bible, in an eternal and perfect God, and in Jesus, who is God's Son. Jesus was fully man and fully God, and He died on the cross to abolish the sins of the world. He rose from the grave 3 days later and lives today. Christians believe that those who place their faith in Christ will have eternal life with Him in Heaven. (Romans 10:9-13)

Then people say that our beliefs may be right for us, but something else may be right for them. For example, if someone believes that he can simply live a good life to make it into Heaven, then supposedly he can do that. These people say that we have no right to tell the world that they are sinners and need to repent or pay an eternal penalty for it in Hell. "Your God is fine for you, but don't force it on me," they say.

In essence, they believe we are narrow-minded because we believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" Okay, so that's YOUR way, these people claim, but that's not what I want to believe.

I ask you: Just because you don't believe it, that doesn't make it untrue. For example: whether or not you believe in flying machines is irrelevant. Airplanes exist. Simple as that.

And do you know what I have to say to their claims that we Christians are narrow-minded?

Newsflash: THEY'RE RIGHT!


The core principle of saying there's only one way to do something is narrow-mindedness. I have another name for it: it's called truth.

No matter how much you believe something, if it's not true, IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP YOU. Imagine you have cancer, and you're being offered radiation treatment and surgery to help eradicate the illness. But no, you've heard that's unpleasant, so you've decided to just eat really healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, exercise, spend time outside, and take two showers per day. You'll get clean and healthy in no time, right?

Wrong! You're thinking, that's totally ridiculous! How could anyone possibly think that they could get rid of cancer by eating certain foods and taking extra showers!?

Well, that's what people are saying when they reject Christ and try to get to Heaven their own way. Humanity is very ill. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." —Romans 3:23. Every human being has done wrong and therefore is not fit to go to Heaven and be in God's presence. This is something worse than cancer, because if you don't get cured, you'll suffer for all of eternity. You can't get rid of this illness by helping little old ladies across the street, being kind to people, and giving money to charity. These are all good things, but they're just like trying to eat healthy foods and exercise to get rid of cancer!

GOD created man, and He created the entire universe. I think he knows how Heaven and Hell work. How does it work? Well, here's the honest, narrow-minded truth: Every human being is a sinner and headed to Hell after death if he doesn't accept Jesus, who is the only way to God.

As Christmas approaches, remember that from the beginning, this holiday was about the Good News, which is the birth of Christ. Praise the Lord that even though God is a just God whose very nature demands humanity to be judged, He is also a loving God. He loves each and every person on earth, including you.

That's why He offered a way to be saved, to be accepted into God's family. IT DOESN'T MATTER what you've done. Jesus came to the world to save sinners. If you've committed murder, lied to your parents, stolen money, or cheated on a test, all sins are the same to God, and He asks you to confess them and accept Jesus.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." —John 3:16

All you have to do is pray to God and confess your sins and ask Him to save you. All you have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for YOU and for all humanity.

Don't keep trying to get rid of your sin "cancer" by "being good." It's not going to work! Jesus is the only way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life is on Repeat!

Life is on repeat!
Running up a mountain forever. Never getting to the top.
Stop on a carpet and it pulls from under your feet.
Chase the wind and you can't catch it
Chase anything and you'll just tire.

Life is on repeat!
Run though you may
You'll run in circles and find the same things
Run in patterns and find the same people
You're crazy and should have stayed at home.

Life is on repeat!
Here we go again. You're stupid enough to walk ahead.
And this happens againagainagain.
Can't we learn the first time?
Can't we learn the game?

Life is on repeat!
Running up a mountain forever
Does this sound familiar?
Because it is.
Beaten by the same people.

Life is on repeat!
The people point and laugh
Sunrise, sunset.
Running, running, still faster.
But lose, always.

Life is on repeat!
It's like a hamster wheel!
Round and round goes the world
And your life, too.
And your life, too.

Life is on repeat!
No escape.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

100 Blessings

My mom sings this little song about blessings sometimes. Even though I unfortunately get it stuck in my head for long periods of time because of the number of times she often sings it, I do recognize that it has a good message in it. Part of it goes like this:

"Count your many blessings; name them one by one...
Count your many blessings—see what God has done!"

I don't think it's possible for any of us to count all of our blessings. We'd be counting forever! So I decided to make a list of 100 things I'm thankful for, especially since my last post was depressing. Haha. Again, they're in no particular order. I'm thankful for...

1. My sister, who is also my best friend.
2. Supportive parents.
3. My university, which is my favorite place in the world.
4. The ability to play, listen to, and appreciate music.
5. The camp I worked at this summer, which was one of the best experiences in my life.
6. No 8:00 classes next semester. Again. That's 6 semesters so far.
7. Facebook, texting, and email because they help me keep in contact with friends from across the nation.
8. God's faithfulness.
9. Milkshakes.
10. My awesome roommate, who always listens, gives great advice, and makes me laugh.
11. My jobs, which are currently the yearbook and the writing center. I love them both.
12. Second chances.
13. Enough food to eat, so I never have to be hungry.
14. Laughter.
15. My churches: one at home and one at school.
16. My friends from home, camp, and school.
17. The beach.
18. Health.
19. The power of prayer.
20. My grandma and my Meme who always pray for me and our family.
21. AMERICA, land of the free and home of the brave.
22. My two majors, both of which I enjoy.
23. Hot chocolate.
24. The ability to type 80 words per minute, which makes assignments go by much faster.
25. Sarcasm.
26. Forgiveness.
27. My laptop, which makes it easier for me to do my work and stay in contact with people.
28. Free time.
29. Getting to see/talk to old friends.
30. Salvation and a future home in Heaven.
31. The English language and grammar.
32. Excellent books.
33. Entertaining professors.
34. Kittens.
35. Good memories.
36. People who are actually up as late as I am.
37. Summer.
38. Freedom.
39. Coffee.
40. Heat/air conditioning.
41. My scooter.
42. Mysteries.
43. Sunshine.
44. The Bible.
45. Travel.
46. New perspectives.
47. An umbrella on a rainy day.
48. A never-ending supply of potential new friends.
49. The ability and opportunity to teach others.
50. Fridays.
51. Haircuts.
52. Jeans.
53. Canceled classes.
54. Warm coats.
55. Sunsets.
56. The ability to learn from mistakes.
57. Mountains.
58. Pleasant surprises.
59. Parties.
60. My green chair.
61. Falling asleep right away almost all the time.
62. God's perfect timing.
63. Piano.
64. Harmony.
65. People's patience.
66. Speed.
67. The light youth group brought to my senior year of high school.
68. People I can admire and learn from.
69. Bible verses that pop into my head at extremely opportune moments.
70. Random encouragement.
71. Hope for the future.
72. Beautiful days.
73. Remembering something last minute that I almost forgot.
74. Every day.
75. The ability to walk and run.
76. Hairties.
77. Tasks that turn out to be fun or hilarious instead of annoying or tedious.
78. Indoor bathrooms.
79. God's grace.
80. You.
81. Hope.
82. A never-ending supply of things to learn about.
83. Forgiveness.
84. The stars.
85. Every person I've ever learned from.
86. History.
87. The economy is getting better.
88. My camera and the memories it records.
89. Love.
90. The ability to drive.
91. I still get the opportunity to play soccer.
92. Writing.
93. Comfy couches.
94. Healing.
95. Rest after a long day.
96. The ability to choose.
97. God's presence.
98. My life.
99. Wisdom.
100. All blessings in general, whether great or small, expected or unexpected.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things That Drive Me Crazy

Although these are all legitimately things that really annoy me, this list is for entertainment purposes only. Also, these are in no particular order.

50 things that annoy me:

1. People who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.
2. When it rains, and I don't have an umbrella.
3. Itchy bug bites.
4. Teachers who call on me when I didn't raise my hand.
5. My alarm clock.
6. Sticky fingers.
7. Movies with stupid or cliffhanger endings.
8. When people spell "losing" like this: "loosing."
9. When girls wear leggings as pants.
10. Feeling sick to my stomach.
11. When tests have a bunch of questions that weren't in the book and that the teacher didn't cover in class.
12. Gross profanity.
13. Mean people.
14. Guys who pick on younger/smaller guys.
15. Parents who are mean to their children or don't parent at all.
16. Those stupid little 100 calorie cookie bags that have like four one-inch diameter cookies in them.
17. People without backbones.
18. When I run out of hairties.
19. When I drop my toothbrush on the ground.
20. When people won't shut up while I'm trying to sleep.
21. Getting up early.
22. When the stupid iron stains my clothes.
23. When people put their shoes on other people's furniture.
24. When my nose is running.
25. Sunburn.
26. Bad grammar.
27. Bosses/teachers who insist you do things their way, which the the hard way/wrong way that takes forever.
28. Being in a group with a bunch of people who don't care for a group project.
29. When I put on an outfit and later discover it has a stain on it.
30. People who pee on the seat and don't wipe it off.
31. People who leave hair on the sink. We're in college. Clean it up.
32. When people play loud music/talk loudly in the morning.
33. When I'm stuck next to a smoker and can't stop coughing.
34. Stupid drivers that pull in front of me or won't drive the speed limit.
35. People who think abortion is acceptable.
36. Disgustingly inappropriate clothing.
37. When I forget things.
38. When teachers mark grammar things wrong on my papers that aren't actually wrong.
39. When I sit on my sunglasses and break them. (Yes, this has happened multiple times.)
40. When I step in gum.
41. When people cough without covering their mouth.
42. People who cheat/plagiarize on tests/papers/assignments.
43. Being unable to remember what I was going to say.
44. Pointless assignments that are just a waste of time.
45. When I try to clean a window and realize the smudge is on the outside.
46. Split ends in my hair.
47. People who talk incessantly during church or performances. Shut up. You're rude.
48. Having to go to the bathroom when there's nowhere to go.
49. Asking someone to repeat themselves like three times and still not understanding them.
50. When the character I liked dies.

More to come. Wow. I could come up with so many more...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things I Wish(ed)

A list of things I've wished for throughout the years:
(This is by no means an exhaustive list. And it's only for entertainment purposes:)

When I was one:
I wished I was taller.

When I was two:
I wished I could eat ice cream and/or chocolate cake every day.

When I was seven:
I wished I could write a world-famous novel.

When I was nine:
I wished I could fly.

When I was ten:
I wished I could stay up late all the time.

When I was twelve:
I wished I was better at things.

When I was thirteen:
I wished I was smarter and could read minds.

When I was fourteen:
I wished I had a laptop.

When I was fifteen:
I wished the people around me weren't upset and worried.

When I was sixteen:
I wished I wasn't upset and worried.

When I was seventeen:
I wished I could build a time machine.

When I was eighteen:
I wished I had a money tree.

When I was nineteen:
I wished decisions were easier to make.

When I was twenty:
I wished for opportunities to do awesome stuff and make a difference in the world.

Funny how pretty much nothing has changed.

I still wish for all of those things, although some aren't as much of a problem as they used to be. Also, I'm happier now. Wishing is fine. But I'm happy with how things are. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Originals

Remember that time when I shared original photographs on my blog? Oh, wait. That's never happened. Why? Well, because I'm not really a photographer, and I've never claimed to be. However, I did like these photos that I took during my trip to Nashville with my friend Anna.

Behold, I give you SQUIRREL:


 I was tempted to steal this flower.

The end.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Someone Else's Shoes

"Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes."

This is a good saying. It's by no means a concept I've mastered, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about.

I also like the version that goes something like this: "Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Because then you have seen things from their perspective... and plus you have their shoes."

However, I think the saying is wrong. "Judge" is too strong a word. Maybe evaluate. Or something like that. But anyway, a mile isn't long enough. Not at all.

Anyway, here's something you and I should have learned long ago: Be careful not to take what people say to heart, whether it be good or bad. People say stupid crap sometimes, and that's all there is to it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Year-Long Week

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity."
—Albert Einstein

Ol' Albert was a smart man. However, I have my own equally accurate version of that quote. In my humble opinion, anyway.

Here it is:

"Go on vacation with friends for a week, and it seems like a day. Spend the day throwing up, and it seems like a week. THAT is freaking relativity."

So why did I choose to preface this blog post with such a gross, awkward original quote? Well, because this week was pretty awful. It had some high points, but for the most part it was just bad.

It all started with the apparently rancid macaroni and cheese ate late Sunday night. And by late, I mean 2 a.m.

To say I woke up Monday morning feeling queasy would be an understatement. The events that followed are true, and I can prove it, since my roommate, unfortunately for her, was present for this awkward display of athleticism.

So here's some context. I sleep in a lofted bed, which means I'm like 10 feet off the ground. When I climb down the ladder, I always do so facing away from the bed.

Anyway, that morning I was just lying there, when suddenly I knew that in about 8 seconds, I was going to have some major problems. (In other words, I was going to throw up.) I'm quite serious when I tell you that I made it about halfway down the ladder when I realized I was going to spew half-digested mac and cheese all over the room if I didn't take action. Fast.

I super-man dove off the ladder, landing on my stomach on my desk chair. Thankfully, my trash can is located conveniently nearby, and I'm happy to report that 95% of the pesky digestive-system-escaping noodles made it into my little orange decorative trash can.

I'm sorry for that hopefully humorous, yet disgusting description. Actually, I'm not sorry at all. My roommate had to see it in person. Also, she cleaned up the 5% that missed the trash can. Thank you, Katie. You are wonderful.

Anyway, I spent the next 8 hours half dead and throwing up. I had to skip all of my classes, work, and meetings. Plus, I couldn't work on any of the enormous projects or studying I had due this week. I was so thirsty but barely had enough strength to stand up and go get some water. I ate nothing. It was just awesome.

I finally was able to sleep from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at which time I got up and drank some gatorade and ate 10 saltine crackers. I stayed up late because it took me forever to get ready to go back to bed. Also, I'd just slept for five hours, so I wasn't tired. So I wrote a horrendously depressing monologue for my acting class. I'll post that later.


The best part of this whole shenanigan is I had this assignment for my health class that I had to record everything I ate for three days. And here part of it is:

Day two:
16 oz. of gatorade
10 saltine crackers.

Yeah, that was like 200 calories. I lost like three pounds. My Prof. probably now things I have an eating disorder.

Anyway, the next day (Tuesday) I still felt like crap and could hardly function. That day was boring and horrible. I got a bad grade and was upset. I don't remember anything except staying up 'til five writing my massive communications paper.

Wednesday was the bright spot in the week. Instead of throwing up all day, I spent 6 hours studying for a wicked hard test. Upgrade, right? Also, I went to Panera and went for a walk in the rain. That was good.

Thursday was fine. The drudgery of that day was really just the norm. No cookie-tossing or fantastically disappointing grades. I just spent 6 hours studying and whatnot. What did happen today, however, was that for the first time in months, the scooter was stolen and moved.

I'm not sure if I told you, but about two months ago, some kids from the area took my scooter for three days, and I went straight up crazy. However, I scared the crap out of them, and no one has taken it since.

Yesterday was different. I stopped by a Prof.'s office to talk with him about classes next semester. The scooter was literally TWO FEET from my right foot. But when I leaned back out the door, the scooter was gone. I'm pretty sure I scared some prospective students when I stormed up that stairs, muttering about beating up whomever had taken it.

I looked around for five minutes or so, getting steadily more annoyed since I was now late to class. Turns out, Don Mink took it. If that name means nothing to you, that's unfortunate. All you really need to know, though, is he is part of the staff at my University. I mean, first students took the scooter, then little miscreant children in the town, and now staff? Really?

Best excuse for being late to class. Ever.

Today, I'm hoping for a better day. I'm glad this stupid week is almost over. Generally I wouldn't be one to use an entire blog post just to complain about my week, but this one just took the cake. It was necessary.

What I learned this week:
1. Never eat macaroni and cheese at 2 a.m.
2. Rain isn't always bad.
3. The scooter isn't safe. From anyone.
4. Einstein was right. This week seemed like a year long.

Peace out, week of awful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who gets 80 dollar library fines?

I made a lot of amusingly stupid mistakes as a freshman in college. In fact, I may expand this delightfully entertaining topic into several blog posts. However, I'd like to start with perhaps one of those most ridiculous things I did. Or, rather, forgot to do.

It all started with advanced exposition and research. I had to write an eight page research paper, and I was very serious about it. I took maybe four weekends working hard to make sure it was an excellent paper. I checked out 13 books from the library, found countless Internet sites, wrote, re-wrote, and edited. I made the works cited list, designed the title page, and did spell check. I didn't forget anything.

Well, except for one thing. Somehow, I still to this day don't know how, but somehow, I forgot to return my library books. Some way I managed to forget about the email reminders that the library so kindly sent me. Maybe I figured I'd just return them when I had time.

I took my time all right. Those books were in my possession for over a month. Now, you have to understand. The library charges late fees PER book PER day late. Sure, I'm an English person, but I can do math. To my utter chagrin, I owed the library EIGHTY dollars and change. It's hard enough for me to pay for college without THAT.

What reason could I possibly give for my negligence? It's not like they didn't remind me. It's not like the books weren't sitting in a pile in my room every single day for me to stare at. This was entirely my fault, and there was no way to get out of it. Basically, I didn't know where I was going to get eighty dollars, and my parents were probably going to kill me. Plus, they'd just say that I was behaving irresponsibly, just like they probably thought I would at college.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I brought the 13 offending books to the library the last day before Christmas break. It was cold. My heart was even heavier than the books, and any trace of Christmas joy in me had frozen and gone into hibernation.


I walked into the library and set the books on the counter. "I—I have some books to return," I remember faltering.

The girl behind the desk didn't seem to notice my nervous tone and panicked expression. As she reached for the first book, I started to feel nauseous. How could I have been so irresponsible? Had I learned nothing in the past 18 years?

I looked up from the desk when she'd scanned in the last book.

I swallowed. "Well? How much is it?"

She looked at me. "How much is what?"

I paused, swallowing again. "My fine. For the books."

"Oh," she replied, looking at the computer screen. "Let's see..."

I already knew. I already knew. Just hearing her say it aloud would really send the point home, make it real.

Suddenly, her eyes left the computer screen and rested on my face. "Well, this is weird. We don't have any record that you ever checked these books out."

"WHAT?" My eyebrows shot up. "Well, I did. I checked them out!"

The librarian seemed unconcerned. "We've been having some problems with our system. It must have just gotten deleted."

I stared at her dumbly. "Deleted? So I don't have to pay a fine?"

She laughed. "No, of course not. As far as we're concerned, you never even had these books. Have a nice break."

I wished her the same and left in a daze. I didn't have to pay eighty dollars! I never had to tell my parents about this (although I did eventually.) I was so thankful for the library's system problems.

Her words echoed happily in my ears: "As far as we're concerned, you never even had these books."

My record was clean. I had no debt to pay. Thinking back on that, I can't help but relate it to my existence as a sinful human being who has found new life in Jesus. My sins were as scarlet, but He has washed me white as snow! Not only are my sins forgiven, but He has forgotten my transgressions. Just like my library fine, my sins aren't just paid for—they're covered by God's grace! Erased!

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." —Psalm 103:12

Expunged: to erase or remove completely.

Thank you, Jesus. For paying ALL of my debts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Weird Guy from Iowa (Part 2)

This is part two of this story. Before you read this, read part one.

        Suddenly, John felt like he couldn’t see straight. In that moment, he could feel his heart beating. His feet seemed stuck to the ground. Time seemed to have stopped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
          Everything except the pickup truck barreling down the road going 40 miles an hour faster than it should have been.
         All at once, with a force that seemed otherworldly, John was thrown off his feet, flying through the air—straight in front of the truck. Just as the girl turned in terror, frozen in utter shock, John clotheslined her in the stomach with one arm, making her fly backwards into the other lane and to safety. They tumbled onto the pavement.
       There was a loud screech as the truck came to a stop twenty feet away from them. The driver appeared to lean out the window, seeing they were okay, and then he drove away. Hit and run.
        The next thing John felt was pain. His knees were bleeding, and he’d smashed his chin on the road when he’d fallen forward. Ouch.
        The girl sat up slowly, her eyes wide. “Are you okay?”
        He shook his head to clear it. “Am I okay? Yes! Are you?”
        “Yeah, don’t think anything’s broken… except my phone.” She pointed to four broken pieces of iPhone that were scattered across the lane. “That’s okay. That conversation needed to end anyway.”
        After rising painfully to his feet, he followed her to the side of the road. She turned and offered him a handshake. “I’m Dana. Thanks for saving my life.”
        Pausing, John finally took her hand. “I’m John. Thank my biology test.”
        “It’s a long story. But if it weren’t for a missed soccer tryout, a late arrival to class, a failed biology test, and a subsequent walk to blow off steam about the coming bad grade, you probably wouldn’t be alive right now.”
         “Series of fortunate events?” she asked.
        “I guess they are now,” he said. John wouldn’t have traded Dana’s life for an A on that biology test.
        She glanced at his jaw, which was obviously scraped and bruised. “Come on… let’s go to the nurse. What did you say about soccer tryouts?”
         “I’m a transfer student, and I just barely got my transcripts turned in in time to get into college at all. Too late to come three weeks early to try out for the team.”
        Dana’s eyebrows settled low over her green eyes as she thought something through carefully. “My brother’s the only senior on the team. They lost quite a few players last year. Maybe he can pull a few strings with the coach,” Dana said casually.
         John stopped walking to stare at her. “You think so?”
         “Not making any promises, but hey, it’s worth a try.” They started walking again.
           In high school, John had just been a face in the crowd… the kid who played chess and sat on the bench in soccer. After working hard for years, he’d finally gotten to start at forward on the college team his sophomore year… and it was great until the whole cheating accusation had flunked him off the team and made him lose his scholarships.
          “Where are you from?” Dana suddenly questioned.
          “Iowa. I’ve already heard people refer to me as ‘that weird transfer dude from Iowa,’” he replied.
         She laughed. “Well, now you’re that cool transfer dude from Iowa who saves lives… and hopefully plays soccer.”
         With a smile and a glance at Dana’s bangs, which were slipping into her eyes again, John thought carefully about what she had just said. I think I’m okay with that.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Weird Guy from Iowa (Part 1)

I wrote this for a class. It only needed to be 1-3 pages, but as usual, I went overboard. So I just thought I'd share. Anyway, this is obviously part one, so read this part first. Any similarities of the characters and events in this story to real people, living or dead, or real events, past or present, are purely coincidental and unintentional. Enjoy.

        “I told you this was going to be just like the last school,” John said, pacing his dorm room. “I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I already want to go home.” He stubbed his toe on his chair while he was walking by, so he grabbed his foot and sat down at his desk chair, annoyed. “If only I could have gotten here early enough to try out for the soccer team.” He listened for a moment. “Yeah, sure, Mom. Sure I’m not going to be known as the loser kid who cheated, but now I’m just the loser transfer student from Iowa!”
        Suddenly his roommate Taylor walked in. John wasn’t sure if he’d heard the last few words of his conversation or not, so he said a few more words and hung up the phone.  Taylor just gave him a weird look and sat down at his desk to eat the slice of cold pizza he’d left randomly sitting on his closed laptop.
        John’s eyes drifted over to his digital alarm clock. It was 12:59, which meant—which meant he was late!  He had already been nearly 15 minutes late to this class—Biology 102—on Wednesday, so he couldn’t be late again! Throwing a book that probably wasn’t even the right one into his bag, he charged out the door, leaving Taylor with the last bit of pizza hanging out of his mouth.
        He didn’t want to run to class. It would seem weird to see the 6’3” transfer dude carrying a backpack and sprinting across the grass. Another student, a girl he’d met two days ago in the cafeteria, was walking toward him on the sidewalk.
         “Hey, John,” she said.
        “Hey Andrea,” he replied, happy she’d remembered him.
        “It’s Abby…” she called over his shoulder.
         John muttered an apology, kicking himself. “Always the wrong place at the wrong time… wrong name wrong person…”
        When he finally made it to class, Professor Bell was already handing out some papers. The class was unusually quiet. This couldn’t be real… When he glanced down at his desk, he came nose to nose with the words “Biology 102—Exam 1.” Under that was the friendly information: “This exam is worth 25% percent of your grade. Good luck.”
         In one moment it dawned on him: when he’d been late to this class on Wednesday, he’d missed the test announcement. He’d also failed to check his syllabus. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could remember the professor mentioning that they might have a test this week…
        Question number one: “What are the five kingdoms of living creatures?” Uh, animal, not-animal, and still-not-animal? I’m doomed. John was jealous of Taylor and his stupid cold pizza. In fact, he was jealous of anyone who wasn’t sitting here staring at this biology test that might as well be ancient hieroglyphics. He was going to fail, and that’s all there was to it.
        He guessed on most of the questions. After class, he tried talking to Professor Bell about it, but Prof. said he’d announced the test multiple times, and he couldn’t let him have a re-test. John walked out the door, dragging his feet. The two freshmen ahead of him were comparing answers and talking about how happy they were they’d studied so much for the test. John reached in his book bag and pulled out the book he’d thrown in there; it was his college orientation book, which was still book-marked in the section about time-management and keeping a calendar of upcoming tests. John planned to burn it later.
        A feeling of total dread settled over him. If he failed that test like he thought had happened, there was no way he could get a decent grade in that class. He was going to have to drop out of school, just like last time. Except last time hadn’t been his fault. He hadn’t really cheated; he really had gotten a 100 on that math exam even though everyone else failed. That was why he’d left—he just couldn’t stay in a place where everyone thought he was a cheater and a liar. Wrong place… wrong time, he thought to himself again. That much hadn’t changed.
         John was walking around campus to blow off some steam and forget about the test, and he found himself walking by the soccer field. If he’d decided on this college and filled out his paperwork sooner, he could have arrived early enough to go to tryouts. I would be out there right now, he thought to himself.
        Deciding to walk down the hill and back to his dorm, he neared the street. One car passed and then another. A girl stood on the other side of the road, talking very loudly, almost yelling into the phone she was clutching in her left hand; she held a few bags in her right hand. He watched her awkwardly, wondering who was making such a pretty girl so angry.
        “You don’t understand, do you!?” she was saying. Her bangs swung in her eyes as she began to cross the street. She made it halfway the way across the street before stopping to swing her bangs out of her face and adjust the phone on her ear. “What!?” she demanded in disbelief. To avoid dropping her bags, so took three quick steps forward, putting her in the middle of the lane.
        Suddenly, John felt like he couldn’t see straight. In that moment, he could feel his heart beating. His feet seemed stuck to the ground. Time seemed to have stopped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
        Everything except the pickup truck barreling down the road going 40 miles an hour faster than it should have been.

        To be continued...