Sunday, June 27, 2010


Bonjour ami! Just a few more days left of my Baton Rouge adventure. I can't believe it's almost over! I'm not sure why I was ever so scared now :)) This has been a great experience and I've really learned a lot! As far as graduate school, research, and most importantly God. The best part? My adventure isn't over yet! I'm spending the next week driving through Texas to visit family and friends! Which leads me to an important lesson I think God has been trying to teach me...

It started last week. I got a little (or very) dramatic with my last post and I didn't ever really get to tell you what I learned at church. I remember listening to the preacher last week and thinking that what he was saying was really important, but being so focused on the fact that it was Father's day, the pity party I was planning was the only thing I told you about. I officially know that God was in fact trying to tell me something more important because He told me again today. Luckily, today I was less focused on myself and more focused on church. Hmm, I guess life works better, and I listen to God better when I focus more on Him and less on me. Just a thought

So what is this incredible message that God's telling me? Well it comes from the book of James 1! And before I start yapping, I'll start with a relevant story! The preacher used it last week, and I think it helps to make sense of the situation. Let's say you wanted season tickets to see your favorite football/baseball/basketball/soccer whatever team...but they were either too expensive or all out. Now let's say that someone you don't know very well called you and offered you season tickets to this sporting event. They said that all you had to do if you really wanted them was stop by and pick them up. Free of charge. That's it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?! It wouldn't be a hard decision at all to get in the car and go pick them up! Well that's a lot like God. He's offering more than we could ever want, or ask for and all we have to do is pick it up! Problem? Sometimes, it takes a lot more to get into that car. The doing something part is hard. For everyone, I think.

This morning at church there was a similar lesson presented. Today was geared towards the importance of leading children and he tied in leading the children of Israel is Deuteronomy. The preacher talked about how kids learn by example. Last week, the preacher gave a statistic saying that if the mother is a consistent church goer then there's a 15-20% chance that the child will be to and for the father to be a consistent church goer the percentage goes up to 70-90% chances. Sure, the percentage goes up a lot for father's but the important thing is that it makes a difference.

So you may be wondering what exactly James 1:22, well here it goes! "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Starting in 19 all the way to 27 is awesome, but this was the important clip. Last week I learned about how dad's teach this kind of stuff to their kids and this week, I learned about how important it is to teach this kind of stuff to not only kids, but everyone.

One of the notes I took said that the best way to do this sharing is to speak from experience. Nothing is more of an impact than telling something what has earnestly happened. For kids, they are a lot more likely to keep up with stuff that means a lot to their parents. If nothing else, they remember the stories that were told to them about how God has impacted the immediate people in their lives.

The rest of the lesson was mostly about the importance of obedience and the word obey.

Obey (v)- To comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of; to respond conformably in action to; to submit or conform to in action.

As much as I learned this morning, the definition only clarifies it that much more! In Deuteronomy 6:3 Moses says "Here, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you." So, in order to get what was promised, I must obey. And from the definition of obey, I must act. And if that isn't reason enough, James said that I need to be a doer and not just a hearer. If I don't act on the things I read and learn and hear, then it's like looking at my reflection in a mirror, only to walk away and forget what I looked like, James 1:23.

The preacher said this morning that a lot of times in the Bible and in different translations of it the words 'walk' and 'live' are interchanged. So when a scripture says to walk in the light, it's the same as needing to live in the light. It makes a lot of sense because being a Christian and being Christ like are a lifestyle, not just a part time job. Being doers should be second nature. I learned that the willingness to obey comes from a love of God that we have. Which also makes a lot of sense. I talk about true love and agape and only wanting what's best and helping that other person, well being a doer and sharing my faith is one of those investments into a good relationship with God. I learned that obeying His will, is an expression of faith in God's faithfullness to us. Which also makes a lot of sense because He has promised us these season tickets in the sky, but we need to do something about it, like get in the car, or else we'll never get to them.

I don't want to be "decieving myself," or decieving you and I know I can't decieve God, so I want to do more. I think that God is calling me to do more. Why else would He have reminded me of the bigger picture I was supposed to get last week? You see, I decided to try something new. When something happens, anything...good or bad or just a happening...look at it and think about what God may be trying to tell you. I've always had this problem where I pray but I don't listen. I don't listen because I think I was always literally expecting God to appear and just let me know what was up. In believing in God, I know that there are no coincidences, just opportunities. It's important to take these opportunities and find what God wants us to do in whatever situation He presents us with. This is what I think God wants me to do. I'm not entirely sure how, but I think I've got a few ideas...

So what does this have to do with adventuring? Well not knowing what's going on all the time is an adventure. Therefore, life is an adventure. I want to make the most of this adventure by doing and not just hearing. I want to be a better servant. Regan and I were talking not too long ago about starting devos and gearing them towards a more college age level. I said I would pray about it, and he joked and said something like, yeah like God would turn that idea down, lol. So yeah, when I get home, that's something I want to start. Something else I was thinking about...making things more personal. If you want to hang out and talk about God, just let me know. If you're going through something and just need someone to listen to you, please don't hesitate to ask. I don't have all the answers, but I know that the big guy in the sky certainly does.

I think this is really forward. I hope this is what God had in mind. I'm not perfect and I certainly won't claim to be, but if I can help you in avoid mistakes I've made, or if I can listen to you, or if I can pray with you, or if I can even just pray for you, or if you'd be interested is starting weekly, or biweekly or monthly Bible studies, please please let me know. I want to take my relationship with God to a whole new level. And I want to take you with me :)) If life is an adventure, then I know I could use a few extra hands getting through the tough stuff and maybe you could too.

I love you! And thank you for reading. And thank you for being part of my adventure. I'll be home in just over a week, so plan accordingly to fit me into your schedule :)) Oh yeah, and the last thing is this little saying that the preacher said this morning that I wrote and found helpful:

"As I walk and as I talk, rest, and as I stop and I start I'll bring it all back to You"

Just a helpful reminder of 5 areas of life that we could attempt to bring God into. Which is everything about everyday, but the more we do it, the easier it'll become. Like riding a bike :))

Au revoir!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who's your Daddy?

A couple of weeks ago on Gossip Girl, this was the line on the trailer for the following weeks episode and I loved it. I was already going to watch it, but this fact that they threw this line in assured that.

I have so much to say! I'll do my best to cut out the fluff, but you know how talkative I can be...

First, I have a crazy story to tell you. You may not know this, but I started wearing this small silver anklet a couple of months ago. Yeah, I know, "no one wears anklet's anymore, Amanda," but I don't care, I do. I found it in a basket from home and I'm not even sure why it was in that basket because I hadn't thought about it in years. My dad gave it to me. When I saw it, I figured I was ridiculous enough to attempt to bring it back...and if nothing else, maybe it would distract from the scare on my ankle. Occasionally when I run, it gets knocked off, but I usually feel it and can pick it up and put it back on later. Last night, after we had gotten back from shopping, I put on some leggings and after a while I noticed it wasn't there anymore :(( My heart sank a little. I went to my room and checked for it. And then checked in my car and on the sidewalk, but it was gone. I considered crying, but decided not the think about it, and watched Twilight instead :)) I decided to blog about it today and say something along the lines of "I don't need it to remember my dad," because I don't. I think about him a lot. I even started carrying a picture of him and my mom on their first date in my Bible. It was going to be ok. I wasn't losing him again, it's about keeping him in my heart. This morning when I woke up, my leg itched...the kind of itch you get when you leave something on your finger or wrist that's too tight. I changed into church clothes...and there it was...on my ankle like it had never left. And I guess it never did, but surely God had something to do with it

Serena Van der Woodsen (the girl on Gossip Girl) finally had the chance to meet her father this season. He was charming and elite, like the Van der Woodsens, and Serena wanted to see the best in him and believe in him, but he turned out not to be a good guy. Why? Because he wasn't her daddy. Althought Rufus (her mom's husband) hadn't been in there lives for long, he was already the best dad for Serena.

Last Sunday at church there was a young couple at church with a daughter at around 5. The mom was carrying her at first, but after a while, she started getting fidgety and reached out her arms towards her daddy. He took her, of course, and held her until she was ready to be put down. I admired the way he held her and the way her head fit perfectly in the space between his head and shoulder. I was jealous.

When I was 10 my daddy died. Just a month before my 11th birthday. That's almost 11 full years that we spent together. Unfortunately, I don't remember a whole lot about us. I have a handful of sweet memories that I hope I never forget, but there's also a handful of terrible memories that I wish I could replace. Times I misbehaved or wasn't nice or said things I didn't mean. All these things that I wish I could go back and redo. I've been told many times that my dad knew I loved him, but I wish I could have told him, one last time.

Well, it's Father's Day. The one day a year I could probably do without. I hate this yearly, consistent reminder that I don't have one. It used to be a lot harder, for example when I moved to Farmington. If you went to middle school there, then you know about the Watch Dog Dad's program. I remember getting papers about it and just feeling so sad for myself. For months after his death I would have dreams about him, but I could never see his face and then I realized I was forgetting him. I wished for a t-shirt or a bottle of his cologne or anything to remember him. I wished I could feel him rubbing his scratchy beard against my cheeks when he'd kiss me, just one more time, even though I used to push him away when he would.

This morning at church, there was a whole piece on father's, of course. And a part where they prayed for all the father's and despite the girls I was with didn't have there father's there, I don't have one at all. And they were talking about all the important lessons kids learn from there father's and how father's are fixer's and special times that they have with their kids, and me? My dad wasn't there the day I had my first kiss, or the first time my heart was broken. He wasn't there when I graduated from high school and he won't be there when I graduate from college. He won't be there to give someone permisssion to ask me to marry them, or to give me away, or for my kids and I hate feeling sorry for myself, but I know if it was someone else, and not me, I'd feel bad. I hate throwing pity parties that only I attend. One of the lines that stuck with me this morning was that even when we can't fix something, we should always be part of the solution.

So I'd say it's impossible to bring him back. I think it's safe to say that I will never be able to replace him as well. So how can I be part of the solution? Well, I don't know for sure, but I think that focusing on the one person who has always been there, is still always here, and will always be here would be a good start. I can certainly keep my dad in my heart, so that he'll be at these events, but God is constantly proving to me that He's my daddy. He always has my back, is constantly comforting me, and only has the best planned for me. He says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5. "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future," Jeremiah 29:11.

I heard recently that you can't know where you're going unless you know where you're coming from. Deciding to give my life back to God was a pretty change for me. Now I'm in the process of finding what these plans for my future are and furthermore, my identity in God and as a Christian. I can't know where I'm going without knowing entirely where I came from.

After my dad died, I completely lost contact with half of my family. That's half of who I am. That's half of my medical history that I know nothing about. That's my blood, and my DNA and half of my identity. I'm friends with a few of these family members on Facebook, which only peaked my curiosity to the situation. It's been over 9 years since I've seen them and there's so much that I don't know and am completely clueless about. My sister was telling me recently that I should get to know them, they're fantastic people. Again, my own family and I don't even know what kind of people they are.

I was told recently that honoring your father and mother doesn't end when they die. By avoiding my family, not getting to know them or keeping in touch with them, is not honoring my father. Honoring him is keeping him with me and his memory and knowing more about him, his life, and our family. So I've decided to see them in a few weeks before I head home.

I'm terrified. This is all a lot of change for me. It's a whole lot of thinking about stuff I could easily avoid thinking about. I could always wait, but I don't know the next time I'll get a chance like this. I'm very scared and I wish I had my dad to comfort me and hold me and wipe away tears, but I do. I have God. He's my daddy. I've been praying about this and I feel like this is the next step to growing up that God wants me to take. And as for my fear, well growing up isn't supposed to be easy. Sometimes dad's have to push their kids to do what's right, even if it's hard. It would be nice to physically have someone sitting there, holding my hand as I reconnected with half of my life, but if I've learned anything the past few months, it's that God knows my every thought. And usually, before I ever ask, He gives me an answer and comforts me.

It's a sticky situation. They haven't even agreed to see me yet, nevertheless, it's what I want, eventually. Whenever they're ready. I was scared about coming to Baton Rouge, and now I can't imagine spending my summer anywhere else. I know I'll feel the same for this.

Honor (n)- honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's belief's and actions; high merit, as for worth, merit, or rank; such respect manifested.

Used in a sentence: My father's family deserves the same honor that he did.

According to

Daddy (n)- The word daddy is not defined by wether or not a man has a biological child. You can never produce a child and be a daddy, likewise you can have 20 kids and never be a daddy. A daddy is a man who cares for a child's both physical and emotional needs. He puts the child's wants and needs ahead of his own. A true daddy is hard to come by, and a truely special thing.

Used in a sentence: God is my father, but he's also my daddy.

Urban dicionary isn't usually a site I refer to, but I knew it'd have something slightly ridiculous yet very appropriate for God. I suppose I got very personal with you today. I'm sorry if it crossed any boundaries for our poster/reader relationship. A piece of advice, don't wait for Father's Day or Mother's Day to celebrate your parents. Spend time with them and always let them know how much you appreciate everything they do. I'll take my own advice as well :))

I'll be home in about two weeks! I'm sure you miss me very much :)) Have a fantastic Father's Day! And week. I love you! Au revoir

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Blindside

The turn around rate for my blogs is usually a day or 2 at the least, but sometimes, I just have tell people important stuff! For instance, what I learned at church this morning :) I could wait until after I finished my personal statement, but really, I might as well do this now because it's all I can think about! If I get it off of my chest, then maybe I can focus.

Praise: I went to the "dashboard" of blogger last night after I posted and I was looking for updates in my friends' blogs. After I read their updates, I noticed how many people were following them and I had a tinge of jealousy. I automatically felt ridiculous, because one of the main reasons for my blog is to help myself. It's selfish, yes, but sometimes I need reminders and uplifting and there have been times when I make a lot more sense then I do at any given point in a struggle. So yes, my blog is for you, but it's for me too. I canceled the pity party, and called it a night! This afternoon, I received a message on Facebook from a sorority sister of mine telling me that she and another sister had been reading. I am so thankful for them being encouraged by what I have to say, but more than that, I am so encouraged that God took my jealousy and helped me see that it's not about how many peoples names I have attached to my blog, it's the shear fact that one person may read the one thing they need to hear exactly when they need to hear it. I'm so thankful that He is more amazing than I can even begin to comprehend.

I love that God can take what I think I know about something and twist it and let it still mean the same thing, yet so much more. I brought up the flowers for the second time yesterday. This morning at church, which was an interesting experience in itself, the preacher talked about tribes. And as it turns out, there are just a whole lot of words that mean exactly the same thing. Gardens, tribes, cliques, clubs, friendships, and finally, marriage.

Now, in case you haven't noticed. I don't date well. Especially recently when I think too much about it. On top of that, I change my mind all the time. Sometimes it's exactly what I want, to be serious and to have this significant other. Then other days I wake up and I can't imagine always having to be considerate of someone else. And even more on top of that, I'm very picky about everything and I do want certain aspects of my life to be a certain way. I guess I avoid dating because I don't think there is someone that will ever meet every expectation I have, so why bother? That's a terrible attitude to have about it, but when you throw in expectations and broken hearts and trust, it's just a whole lot of gumbo I don't want any of.

When the preacher started talking this morning, he was talking about all the bad stuff that's been going on in that area. Hurricane after hurricane and now the oil spill! But that in February, that entire state was able to join in one cause, the superbowl. That after that day, everyone wanted to be part of the "who dat" nation. I wasn't sure where he was going until he started talking about all the other "tribes" we belong to; the whole "i" nation, with iPods, iPads, iTouch, iPhone...gym memberships, work, clubs, etc. These are all gardens that we're part of. Soon after, he started relating everything to couples and to marriage and at first I was not pleased, but the more I listened, the more I was able to relate what he said to all the areas of my life, including dating.

So the first thing he talked about is how we have all these tribes, but really, the idea of tribes comes straight from God. The 12 tribes of Israel, Noah being called to save his tribe, but most importantly, God giving Adam a tribe. So when we think about dating we have a set of things we want and don't want and we often tend to make it more complicated than it has to be. I've heard so many times to be patient and it'll happen when it's meant to happen, which is all true; however, it made a whole lot more sense when he was talking about Adam and Eve this morning. He brought up the fact that God had Adam fall asleep. He didn't send him hunting or fishing or give him a task to accomplish while God made Eve, God told him to rest. And while he was in this deep sleep, God took a single rib and formed Eve. And after Adam had woken up, God didn't tell him that he had to go find her now, or that she was being hidden from him, but God "brought her to the man," Genesis 2:22.

I'm not a man :)) haha, but after reading this story, that I've heard a thousand times, presented like this, I can't imagine God doing it any differently. I absolutely believe in this fairy tale story that God has planned, where I don't go looking, but where I can sleep and wake up one day and everything will fall into place. So I guess this was step one of the preacher's lesson: starting your tribe.

The next things he talked about was how to make your tribe last. Like I said, it was mostly geared towards couples so his advice (mostly for men) was that everyday for the husband to look at his wife at random times and say "you know what I really love about you?" I laughed because it's ridiculous for me to think that any guy would say that to any girl, but here he was saying that he did it all the time for his wife. He started talking about unconditional love and there's a saying "that if dating brings out the best, then marriage brings out the rest." It doesn't sound appealing, but if people can't make it through "the best," they certainly won't make it through "the rest."

He finished his thoughts on making it last by describing marriage as a bank account. We all make deposits and withdrawls to our accounts, some more important than others, but as soon as our investments get low, then we have nothing to gain from it anymore and eventually, the bank has nothing left to offer us. In the same way, couples must make investments to their marriage and relationships. It's things like making coffee for the other person, or making breakfast in bed that are substantial investments to relationships. It has to come from both sides and from our hearts or else we really just end up with 2 seperate bank accounts. When we stop investing in it, that relationship or marriage has nothing left to offer and it becomes void.

Finally, the last point he made was the importance of having a tribe. He refered to the saying "if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us." In the same way, tribes have must have each others backs. He then referred to Ecclesiates 4:9-12 that says "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken." Obviously, this makes a lot of sense when it comes to friends and being in good soil, but I've never thought about it in the sense of marriage.

The way he put this in perspective was by having a guy come up on stage and face the opposite direction. He then asked the audience if they thought that he could take down the man standing there and the audience agreed that he could. Afterall, the man standing there was facing the opposite direction. He'd never see it coming. Then he had another man come up, a very large, scary looking man who had been in the Navy, and had him stnd back to back with the other man. He then re-asked the audience if they thought he could take down the first man standing there, and the answer was of course no. Now, the man had his blind side protected by someone who could see things that he just couldn't. In the same way, men and women are good at picking up on completely different things. We're not supposed to be the same or have the same talents, and in a marriage, all of these talents gets used. He said that marriages should be a balance of those talents and constant fight, not with each other, but for each other. He said that one of the most important things couples can do is to establish early that giving up is not an option.

Ok, so all of this was about marriage, but the more I think about it, the more I can relate it to not only precursors for dating and friendships, but in my relationship with God. Step one, I recognize that I need help, and God comes into my life and takes care of the rest. Step two, His investment was His son, I must constantly be investing my share to ensure that our relattionship never reaches NSF. And why is this all important? Because God will always have my back.

On the other hand, I also realized a little more about what I want out of relationships and my marriage. I'm extremely ridiculous. I come up with outlandish ideas all the time and it's hard for me to imagine that I will ever meet someone who compliments that perfectly. Someone who can see all my flaws and know all of my past and love me anyways. Someone who will always go along with my ridiculous ideas and play along. The other day I decided that after I get married, I want my husband and I to get stage our engagement everywhere we go! We can cause a huge scene and everyone will think we're just getting engaged, but really we're already married. Don't ask me where I came up with this, it just happens, lol. Genius :)) The point is that if I told someone I liked that, they'd probably laugh and never see me again. On the same note, I am 1000% in love with God, and when I tell someone I'm dating how important He is to me, what if they laugh and never see me again. "...perfect love drives out fear..." 1 John 4:18, remember when I used this a few months ago? It's the same thing now. I don't need to be afraid of silly things like that because God doesn't want me to be with someone who doesn't love Him as much as I do and He won't send me someone who would laugh at me and leave me because I have crazy ideas.

Have you heard that saying "A girls heart should be so lost in God, that a man will have to seek Him in order to find her?" Well, that's what I want. I don't want to have to work to make something happen, or to force something to work. A square will never fit into the round hole, but one day, I'll find the square hole. I've said this before, and I still believe every bit of it. I know that God made someone who is absolutely perfect for me. Someone that I will be able to pray with and share God with and start a tribe with and be silly with. So step one, I stop looking and worrying about it and I let God lead him to me. And I worry about step two later :)) Of course. But for right now, I need to be more lost in God or else there won't be anything to find.

Yesterday one of the things that Shirnelle inspired me with, was when she told me that her and her boyfriend prayed together all the time. They're in a long distance relationship, so it happens over the phone. Phone conversations, and long distance relationships are hard enough without throwing in the added pressure of trying to stay religious, so for her to tell me that she has someone so special, and for the preacher today to share the good things in his marriage, gives me all the confidence in the world. I am so thankful for God's continuous encouragement that I'm playing for the right team and for all the proof that He has it all under control.

Whew! I'm glad I told you all of that. If you laugh and leave, well ok, then it wasn't meant to be to begin with, but God always has a plan. Now I must be productive on this road to graduate school. Je t'aime :)) Au revoir!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Whoa Baby Jesus!

I should be writing a personal statement. Not blogging. Not watching Toy Story 2, yet here I am, doing both :))

Wondering about my title? You may think it's ridiculous, but so do I. I'm just so overwhelmed with God sometimes that I have to stop and say wow...and tell you of course! Like, "whoa, God, you are so cool!" And baby Jesus is fun to say :)

From the beginning? Ok...

Remember when all I wanted was to move to South Carolina? I would have done anything I possibly could to be able to move there. Anything. And to find out I wasn't accepted was devastating. I knew God just had something different in store for me, but it was still hard. It may never be easy to find out that God and I have different plans, but it will always be interesting.

How do I know? Because it seems to be happening to me all the time. Who knows how long this has been going on for, but I've only started noticing after I started looking.

Last week, I mentioned that God blessed my by coming to Baton Rouge, but everyday I find that more and more true. Last week, it was finding out that Dr. Henry was from Arkansas and that I was going to be and to continue working with amyloid-beta. This week, it was not only learning all about graduate school, but when I was able to have a long conversation with Dr. Henry about Glee, Broadway, and American Idol. Not only that, but I was talking to him about some graduate school I am looking into and as it turns out, he has a few contacts for me :)) And today, the most magical of all!

I talk about my friend Shirnelle here, but of all the girls here, we're the most alike. We just went to dinner and had a 3 hour conversation about everything, basically. We talked about race issues, graduate school, and this program that we're in. As it turns out, she wasn't particularly excited about Baton Rouge either. She wasn't looking at South Carolina, but North Carolina. She didn't think she was going to be able to identify with anyone or make any friends, and neither did I. And after we talked about all of this, we talked about God.

I told her all about how hard I prayed about this summer, and how it was only when I didn't get what I want that I was reassured of God's plan for me. I told her all about all the crazy things that happen every day that remind me that God listens to my prayers and how happy it makes me and she had similar stories to share with me! We talked about how awesome it is thatwe know that God really won't ever forsake us and we talked about times when he's shown that to us. We talked about different stories in the Bible and verses that we really liked.

All I could think about was Proverbs 27:17. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Remember the flowers? It's about being with those good flowers in that good soil in order for you to be able to reach full potential. Shirnelle? She's a beautiful flower and super healthy soil. I've known her for 2 weeks and we didn't talk about this stuff until today and I wonder if she could see what kind of flower I was? Could she tell what kind of soil I'm in? I guess it's completely different when I look at myself and when I think about what others can see. I guess where I want to be isn't quite where I'm at yet, and that's ok, I have a whole life of growing and learning and harvesting to do and I'm excited.

You know how I always have a plan? I used to have a really ellaborate plan. I wanted certain things by certain ages, not before and not after. I always knew I'd go to medical school and then all of a sudden, I realized that wasn't what I wanted anymore. All of a sudden I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. When. Where. Nothing. I still have no idea, but I'm excited! I didn't know what what I was going to do this summer, and God took care of it. It was a surprise, and I didn't know where He was going with it, but I'm still excited. And I'm really excited about not having a plan because as it turns out, God still does. And when I let go of my plans, it's a lot easier to be happy with His. Because He always wins. Always.

The point? Well first of all, I won't be able to just let go of all the plans at once, but when I see these other flowers blossoming and growing and being strong, it's encouraging to let go of what I'm holding on to so that I can be as beautiful and blossomed as the other flowers. Secondly, it's always nice to be reassured that I'm still exactly where I need to be. And third, I don't want it to take 2 weeks for someone to know how much I love God. Yes, it is a lot easier to blossom in a garden full of flowers but I want to be ready if God ever uproots me to start a new garden. I want to be a strong, beautiful flower and one day people will be able to look at me for inspiration and guidance. It's easy to talk about God when someone else brings it up, but I want to be able to be that person that brings Him up. To talk about Him, even when I stand alone. I hope I get this chance soon. I hope that I'm never embarrassed or shy to talk about God because I'm afraid of what they may think, or the friendships I may lose.

Be adventurous. Talk about God.

I love you! Je t'aime. I'm so excited about the future. And I'm so excited to have you with me every step of the way, but most importantly, I'm so excited that God will be there every step of way. Good night :) Bonne nuit!

And no, I didn't re-read this.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Church Gumbo

Well hello there! First, I would like to say thank you :)) Why? Because I took a practice GRE test on Friday, and although writing has never been my stronger subject, it was very strong Friday and I think that it's due to the fact that I've been writing a lot more recently! Well, I don't blog every single day, but the fact that I do has helped writing quality. I think. I'm not doing a study on it or anything so don't cite this in any papers :)

Second, I'd like to let everyone know that my Twilight baby cells have doubled and are very healthy. I know all of you were concerned as to how their growth was coming along, and I just want to let you know that they are, in fact, coming along fabulously!

Third, I rode my bike today, and it didn't rain on me! Whoop whooooop!

Fourth, yesterday on my run I started to feel sick and the heat/humidity just made it worse...I was too far to just go back so I adventured on and I found the most BEAUTIFUL coral colored rose on the trail. I'm convinced that it's from God. It's too pretty and exactly my favorite color to not be. I felt much better after :)

Fifth, the lakes are also lined with houses. Not just houses though, probably the most beautiful houses in the world. They're just fantastic. I will be a creep and take pictures and put them on Facebook, so be on the look out!

Sixth, and the main point I want to get across today, I went to church yesterday! But I was so mad when I left that I couldn't write about it because I would have given it very bad reviews instead of taking a look at the whole experience. Which can be summed up in just one word: interesting.

*Disclaimer* I would just like to apologize in advance for anything offensive, denominationally degrading, or racially degrading I may say. I pinky promise that's not my intention. I just want to be able to really describe the events I witnessed with complete honesty and an objective point of view. If you're offended, I truly am sorry. Please don't be upset with me.

Before ever getting to Baton Rouge, I knew I would be going to church somewhere. I had hoped to find something similar to what I was used to, but I also wanted to experience something I was not used to. I knew that church here would be different regardless, but I'm a fairly objective person.

Saturday night, Shirnelle and I were looking for a church and looked at a visitor's church list given to us in our information booklets. We decided to just look up the first one and go there! Shirnelle goes to a very conservative Baptist church in Georgia, so we were looking for the same things. We never could find out what time it started so we agreed to leave at 9:30 to give us plenty of time to get there. The name of the church was Bethel AME. Do you know what that means? Because I sure didn't. It stands for African Methodist Episcopal. Not a problem! I was excited about visiting a church I had never been to or really knew anything about.

On our way there, we got turned around and couldn't find it, and when we drove around long enough, we ran into it only to find out that they only had service at 8 am. Several churches only have service at that hour because they don't want to let church out when it's too hot. Luckily, one of Shirnelle's roommates had given us directions to another church, which was very easy to find.

We pulled up to what looked to be a very traditional church. Shirnelle and I were both under the impression that it was nondenominational only to get there and find that it was interdenominational. Not that I had any idea what that really entailed until after we left.

I want you to know that I walked in very optimistic. The sweet ladies at the door were very friendly and we found 2 other girls in our program to sit with. The inside was really nice. New chairs, a chandelier, and several floral arrangements. The sermons are all broadcast online if you ever have a free afternoon to watch :)) It's called Interdenominational Faith Assembly

So we walk in, sit down. The choir is in the front and this woman just starts talking. The church was only about half full and people were still walking in, but I guess she was ready to go! So the band started playing shortly there after. Although it was all very loud, I thouroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm and atmosphere! I felt slightly out of place, not only because I didn't feel comfortable jumping or screaming myself, but also because as you may imagine, I was the only non-African American in the room. Neither bothered me. It certainly didn't bother me that they did it, I loved it! I also loved that I could see how earnest people were while they were singing. It was more than just a song to some of them, they were prayers and they were lifting them up to God. Singing with their faces towards the sky as if they were actually conversing with Him; it was very moving!

30 songs later, another man walks up and starts to talk and I'm thinking he's the preacher, but the band keeps playing and the choir is still humming. One second he was singing and the next second he was talking about how he used to have a drug addiction and the next second he was sort of praying. Meanwhile, the band and choir keep going. Then the man says to welcome the 2 best pastor's in the nation and the audience went crazy. It was like a concert. They were like celebrities and they came out to the stand waving with presidential smiles plastered on their faces. I was fine, with everything. Even the 30 songs of praise they had going on, but then the Pastor man starts talking and his wife sits down in a grand chair behind him. He starts talking about the worship that had been going on and how "alive" and "on fire" some people were that morning. He went on to say that there were still some "cold" people in the audience. He argued that we all cheer at football games, basketball games, soccer, baseball ect, so we should be just as enthusiastice at church. I agree. He carried on the subject by naming other sports and the church people were yelling other sports and there were "AMENS" and "HALLELUJIAHS" all thrown in there. Like I said, I completely agreed, until he looked in the direction of where my friend and I were sitting and softened his voice and batted his eyelashes and added about the enthusiasm at a sorority tea party.

Was I just called out at church? Umm, yeah. In case anyone hadn't notice the blinding reflection of my pale complexion in comparrison with the rest of the church goers, it was just broadcast to everyone there :))

As you can imagine, my cheecks flushed and my heart sank. At this point, my attitude about that church changed drastically. While I didn't enjoy the rest of my time there, I will do my best to represent the church exactly how it happened.

So he insults me and then he goes on talking about "cold churches" and about how everyone should be "on fire" and before he forgot (like he had last week apparently) he was going to let the choir sing their 3 MORE SONGS. Mind you, they had just taken an hour singing songs.

So they spend another 20-30 ish minutes singing their songs. Please ask me where the pastor was. Ok, he was sitting in a chair next to his wife. His wife? Well she had her hands up, eyes closed, and was clearly passionate about the songs being sung. Pastor? He was sitting back in his chair with his arms on the arm rests. Not singing. Occassionally he'd write something down and eventually he got up and left. Honestly, I was furious. He had just called me out on something that I'm not even used to being a part of and here he is not doing something that he's preaching against and part of every week? Hypocrite! I was so mad.

He came back at the end of the last song, just in time to preach. He didn't have a Bible or notes in his hand. I learned last night, after talking to Regan who is much more knowledgable on the subject of religions than I am, that they are part of a group that believe they don't have to draft anything, God will just littereally speak through them. That's fine, I believe to "divine intervention," to an extent. I mean, I don't wake up knowing I'm going to blog that day, I just let stuff happen and then I let you know as it does. I do, however, usually have an idea what my point is before I sit down and open this new post. Not him. He just goes out there and wings it every Sunday morning.

He has a designated reader, who stands behind him with a mic and his Bible ready when the pastor is. He decided to go to Revelations. He talked about the word reveal a bit and then he had the reader start reading from Revelations 3, because that's when it gets good. Before the reader got more than 5 words out, the pastor would have something to say. I just want to remind you that at this point it was 11:30, and the service started at 10. He only spoke for about 20 minutes, because he was "trying to get us out of there," but he never really made his point. Probably becasuse there wasn't a point to be made because he didn't have one planned out, but he honestly didn't talk about anything in particular. He had a reading from Revelations, and then I remember a small blurb about STDs. He was all over the place! The members of the church? Still shouting their Amens and Hallelujiah's whenever they felt like it was necessary.

He starts coming to a close and I start thinking about what an interesting experience this had been. I wanted to visit a church completely different than anything I had ever been to, and it certainly was. I was still angry, but it was eased knowing the event was coming to a close.

He starts taking prayer requests and says that it's really important for the sick to be healed and then he just started talking about how God couldn't let him let the sick people leave just yet. The band started playing and the choir started singing and the sick people walked to the front. There was a line of about 4 older women and after they were in line, shoulder to shoulder, a line of black men stood behind them and a line of women stood in front of them, some holding blankets. Some other people came by and started taking the glasses off of their faces. The pastor got to the first woman and is talking to her, but facing the people of the church, he tells her to put her hands in the air and two of the men come up behind her and each grab a wrist and put their other arm around her waist as the pastor grabs her face, starts yelling some words and then throws her head back. This happened four times consequtively. Each woman having the same reaction with great emotion and lots of tears and disorientation. Time check: 12:10

I think, "Yes! We're done! I'm so well rounded, that was crazy, but I'm glad I saw it. It must be time to leave." No. He walks back to the front and starts talking about speaking in tounges and then he says that he can't leave because the whole time he was in front of the church he could see God around these girls in the back. He then calls these two, unsuspecting girls up to the front who look very confused as to what is going on, and he continues talking about how he could see God with them and he just wanted to let them know that God was there for them. He followed this by laying his hands on them. Same routine as before. This time, the second girl collapsed when he pushed her back and she was hysterical. The men caught her and the women quickly came and threw the blankets on her body which was now laying on the floor. Time check: 12:30

I was sure this was it. No. Then he said that God was not going to let him be done until he had blessed every girl in the church, but he only called the ones that were 16-25. The girls Shirnelle and I were with, went up to the front, but we stayed in our seats. I thought that maybe he would just say a quick prayer with all of them up there, but no. He wanted hands to be laid on each of them. And then all of a sudden all these random people had magic hands and there was a lot of wailing and falling and it looked as if there was a huge girl fight. Girls was screaming and laying all over the floor and they'd stand up disoriented, frazzled and messed up hair from rolling around on the floor. I'm pretty sure my eyes have never been so wide. A woman came up to us and very enthused asked me how old I was. As much as I wanted to lie and say 15 or 26, I said 20 and she told me to get on up there. I said I couldn't because I wasn't even entirely sure what was going on and she said "oh honey, he's just prayin' for ya" and I said, "oh, no thank you."

The band played and the choir sang the entire time. There were always people shouting Amen and Hallelujiah. The enthusiasm level stayed the same for everyone in there, besides Shirnelle and me, all 3 hours that was spent in that church. Yes, 3 hours.

Interjection- I'm so sorry for all the times my blogs have been entirely too long and when you've walked away thinking, "wow, did I really just spend 15 minutes reading that?" This blog in particular is starting to get very lengthy, so I'm sorry for this too.

A lot of things are just kinda thrown together here and the word they use for it is "gumbo." I doubt the church I visited itself would consider themselves gumbo, but that's exactly what it was for me.

I'm not saying that anything they did was wrong, but remember when I brought up the "Do it yourself" method to chuch? Well that's exactly what this was. They didn't believe in just one thing, they believe in the whole shebang! And again, I'm not saying it's wrong and I don't want to offend you but here's what I think about the whole thing:

Yes, we all should in fact be very much on fire for God. He is magnificent and fantastic and awesome. Personally, I believe there are different ways of showing off this fire. Like starting a blog. Like starting devotionals for you and your friends. Like sharing God with someone. I don't think that being on fire means you litereally need to act like you're on fire all the time. Yeah, all those people were very enthusiastic about God Sunday morning with the band blaring and the choir singing, but who are they outside of church? I think that's what matters. Not showing other church people you love God, but showing the lost that you love God.

I'm sorry if I've offended that pastor, but I'm not used to going to a church where there's a band, choir, and praise that's so active. I stood and clapped my hands and participated to the best of my ability (which yes, I'm sure looked very ridiculous). I don't think that God cares that I wasn't jumping or shouting like everyone else. I listened to the words and absorbed them in my thoughts (because I didn't know any songs) and I appreciated the heart felt choir and members that I could see. It was inspiring, but it wasn't for me. I think that church should be a place where I feel safe to go and not be judged, even when it's obvious that I don't exactly belong. They didn't make me feel welcome, they made me feel like I was doing something wrong and deserved to be punished, when that's really not the case. Or so I think.

As far as the whole spending 3 hours at church thing goes, fine. It would be different if I felt like I was actually getting something out of it. But I wasn't. On top of that, I started getting hungry and my attention span went from short to practically non-existent. There are times, especially at Green Valley, when people get caught up talking about God or someone gets caught up preaching, and in those instances I've noticed that time will fly without my even realizing it. I hope that this is the category that most of my posts will fit into. They may be long, but they're relavant. I know that sometimes I ramble, but I try and get to a point and end it.

And finally, laying his hands on people. I'm sorry if I offended that woman by declining a prayer, but I hope you see why. I'm not saying that the pastor doesn't have healing hands. I'm not saying that he isn't ordained by God himself. And I'm definitely not saying that no one has that power. What I had a problem with was the way he went about it. Not one time did he give credit to God for what he was doing. It was all him walking around laying his hands on people making people cry. It was as if he thought he was God.

There was a lot about this experience that was very...eye-opening. Enriching even. Unfortunately, that's all I have to say about it. It was an experience, an adventure. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It just was. My point? Well after I made this whole thing about having a point I'm not sure if I even have one. I do know what I believe in and what I don't believe in a little bit better now. Not only that, but I also know what to expect next time. As in next Sunday when I visit another church. I won't be caught off guard and maybe next time, my heart won't be so angry when I leave.

Defiently, I wanted to visit IFA again. Just to prove to him that I know exactly what I'm doing, but there's no point in going to a church for all the wrong reasons. At this point, I'd rather start over, giving a clean slate to the next church I visit.

Thanks for making it this line :)) As always, I love you! Je t'aime. And so does God. Have a beautiful week!

DRO as in...didn't read over. I win! Or I guess God does again...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

FREAK! Jesus Freak

Whew! I've had quite the jam-packed past few days. I apologize for not keeping you better updated. This week has been such a whirlwind of events! Beautiful events of course.

Why the harsh title? 1. I just re-watched last weeks episode of Glee featuring music from Lady Gaga, who is in fact, a freak. Nevertheless, I'm entertained and therefore strangely captivated by her nonsense. 2. I was so nervous about making friends here, remember? Well no need, because throughout the week I've slowly been going back to my strange ways and after 2 cups of coffee today (strange because I have coffee about once every 6 months), I couldn't contain my self any more! I'm strange. Let's face it

So yes! I have in fact made friends! Very good friends, I'd say. I love them! I can completely be every part of ridiculous me. I laugh uncontrollably, and I love it! They are so much fun :)) Making this whole experience, that much better!

I meant to blog about 2 days ago, but honestly, time just got away from me. I haven't had a great deal of time to be reading my Bible, but I try and keep God on my mind all the time. He's like my imaginary friend. Minus the whole imaginary part. Or like my second personality! Besides it not being me at all...Well, you get it! I know it's not enough, our relationship is always best when I spend a lot of time reading and spending quality time with Him, I am just attempting to find routine here. I hate to make God routine, but it's what I need to keep me focused. For now at least. Anyways, I did get the chance to read a few days ago, and I felt like I learned an important lesson, but I can't think of it right now. I'm sure I'll remember when I need to :))

For now, I'd like to tell you about my day! It's not all that interesting, but then again it always is when God's involved, right?

So I woke up. Went to seminar. Headed to the library to catch up on some light 96 page dissertation papers. I'm reading and reading and I had to leave around 11:45 to get to lab about 11:55. Having my first cup of coffee because I was super tired and I look outside and it's pouring. Not just pouring. No, it was like God cut a huge hole in the heavens and straight poured water on the LSU campus. I had taken my bike, and because of that, had no umbrella. Either I walk and get wet or I ride my bike and get wet, so I took my chances with the bike. I made it there, soaked and just barely on time, which here means late, but Dr. Henry understood.

Remember when I wanted to go to South Carolina? Because Dr. Moss does research on Alzheimer's disease as well. It's the phase 2?? Well God made everything about coming to Baton Rouge everything I wanted :))

Not only is my research here over Alzheimer's disease, it's another method of treatment. It might sound pointless, but I want to be as well rounded on the subject as possible. Today when we were discussing the project, I was completely fascinated by what he does, and I just felt like the biggest nerd because I understood it. When I didn't understand, he fully explained it! I feel like I know more about this than I do about what I do in Fayetteville! Which really I know very little about either...but does that make sense? I was carrying on a complete, nerdy, scientific conversation. I was able to turn around and explain the whole thing to him to make sure I completely understood. Then, I posed my own research question that he hadn't thought of and he said it'd be interesting to see and work on when I got home :)) Thanks God, you always pull through.

The lab here is really different. A lot more laid back, but that's because this lab is for biomaterials instead and flammable chemicals. What did I do today? I started my first 5 cell cultures! I separated them into 5 different flasks and then named them! What did I name them? But of course...Edward, Bella, Alice, Jasper and my spare flask is named Jacob. Haha, cruel, but it follows the book :))

I kinda drew the short stick as far as peer mentors go here. Don't get me wrong! Mine is really nice. Too nice. And very helpful. But too helpful. He doesn't speak english well and he's not even an engineer. God fixed that too. Dhruva :)) He's the graduate assistent for Dr. Henry. It's actually his project that he'll share with me for a month. He's brilliant! After we finished in lab today, we went for coffee and he answered all my questions about graduate school. He seriously may be the smartest person I know. And not strange and not too helpful or too nice. Just right.

We left the coffee place only to find that it had started to pour again, without warning. Again. So I got back on my bike, attempting to protect my precious lab papers, camera and phone and get to the meeting we had in just 5 minutes. It being hot in Baton Rouge, I was wearing a sleevless shirt, but going into lab meant wearing jeans. My sandals started to get slick and I had water in my ear so it was hard for me to not only hear cars, but be able to tell where they were coming from. I started praying very quickly and as I looked right for cars to cross the street I didn't look left until I had almost gotten hit. Same time? My wet sandal slides off of the pedal and scrapes the back of my ankle. It wasn't until I had gotten inside that I realized I was not only bleeding profusely, but managed to get rocks wedged in, lol. I'm fine :)) Nothing a few bandaids won't take care of!

What am I worried about? Getting sick. It's bad enough when it's a hot box outside and you walk into any building and it's a partial igloo, but the temperature change is even worse when you're soaked. Twice. Obviously, I'm a big baby. I don't want to get sick because that means taking care of myself, which I'm not even sure if I'm qualified to do. But like everything else that happened today, I am sure that God will take care of me. No matter what. In whatever bad situation I may get myself into, God will always be a constant in my life. My very own Clark Kent.

Thank you so much for your prayers! There's not a doubt in my mind that God has heard us all. Will hear us all. Will always hear us all. And will always deliver, even when I can't quite work Him in. Praise God!

Je t'amie! I'll let you know how my baby cells are doing before I kill them with amyloid-beta and then attempt to cure them. With what? Sugars no less. Definitely my babies :))

And no, I actually can't read this out of necessity for every spare moment of my days now! Off to study graduate school applications! Bonne nuit! Goodnight!