(Self)Motivated Early

Yesterday I called my mom’s house to have a not-so-brief chat and catch up. The person who answered the phone was one of my little sisters, age 14, who entered her freshman year of high school 6 weeks ago.

We had some small talk and then she said, “[my nickname redacted], can I ask you something? I have a few questions for you.”

“Sure.”

“Can you send me the books you used to study for the SATs?”

Me, shocked at how ahead of the curve she is, didn’t know what to say. “Um, sure. Except…the books I used are outdated because the SAT has changed since I was in high school.”

“Oh.”

“But I’ll tell you what I can do. I will go on Amazon and poke around for some good study guides and order some and have them sent to you. That okay?”

“Yep!”

“Good. Now tell me where you’re thinking of going to college…”

From there, she gave me her list of schools she wants to get into (“I am thinking Yale, Stanford or Princeton, but I will apply to Harvard and probably MIT as well.”) and then I tried to strategize with her about how to make herself a more well-rounded college applicant. The oldest of my younger sisters is super motivated. Quiet. Loves to read. Straight A student. Natural leader. I think the beauty of it all is that no one in my family has pressured her to be this way. She just…is.

My sisters are growing up so fast. When I was in high school they were just babies and toddlers. Now we have full on conversations about life planning. It trips me out.

Recharging in LA

I’m turning 30 in a few weeks (more like 10 days), and I decided to pick up my bags and come to LA for a few weeks. I needed a life recharge, desperately.

I’m both excited and nervous about 30. I hear you get more confident in your 30s, and I’m looking to gain that. But, I still feel like an underdeveloped adult. Perhaps this won’t change until I have a child. And perhaps I won’t have a child until I change. Life seems like a big Catch-22 sometimes.

I’ve been picking fights with friends lately. I’m growing. Most of the fights have to do with how I’m growing. I’m hoping they stay patient with me.

I’ve quit dating for a year. 12 whole months. Yup. No dating until May 17, 2012. And I’m about to turn 30.  Am I crazy? I might be. But I’ve got some things I’ve got to get right with myself and with God. So for now, dating is off the table. More on that later. Or maybe, in another location and later.

Although I hated chopping my hair off 2 years ago, it was one of the best things I did for my hair. It’s much healthier now, and much like how I remembered it in high school. Don’t be afraid to look ugly, temporarily. Beauty comes eventually. Hopefully.

I miss my parents. I don’t really talk or think about them on a daily basis, as I’ve managed to make a life as far away from them as possible. But. I miss them. I have 4-hour telephone conversations with my mom and sometimes wish I could record them so I can play them back years from now and remember her words of wisdom. I’m staying with my dad in LA and within the first hour of seeing him, he’d given me sage advice about a lot of things I’ve been battling internally for quite some time. I know my parents aren’t perfect. Far from it. But the areas in which they’re top shelf, they run it. And I love them for it. As I grow older, I realize more and more just how amazing they are. Sometimes I think they feel the same way about me.

I am still jobless. But client work is a bit overwhelming. In a good way.

This changed my love/sex/dating/Jesus life. The whole series. If you ever had hangups or questions with purity, the church and celibacy, or ever wanted to know how to manage your modern love life while maintaining your faith, then this series is great: The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating. I have many thoughts and things to say on it, but right now is not the place or time. Stay tuned.

Back to recharging.

It’s Holy Week: My Journey Back to Church

A year ago this month, I decided I was going to attempt to take my faith in God seriously. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were very much like biblical scholars but often times poor in application when it came to their marriage. Their divorce and inability to get along hardened my heart when it came to the Christian community. As a teenager, I felt that my parents were hypocrites, holding their bibles close to the chest and being pious towards others, meanwhile back at the crib I had to call the police on them (several times) due to their domestic violence disputes. It never added up to me.

I’mma keep it real. Christians got on my last nerve with their duplicitous behavior. I had no problems with Christ. I had every problem with Christians.

Eventually I let these problems wear on my relationship with God. Because Christians got on my nerves, I would only go to church whenever I felt like it (read: maybe twice a month if I were lucky) until I rarely ever went. Pissed off at either duplicitous Christians or seemingly fake Christians, I resolved that I would go to church and just not talk to anybody. Yes, I thought this was a good idea. Later I realized not only was this not how God designed the Church, but this was counteractive to my spiritual growth (you can’t grow in a vacuum); furthermore, this made me no better than the hypocritical Christians I had beef with.

Oh.

So, I took my skepticism to church despite my beef. I told God that I was going to be obedient and do church, but I wasn’t gonna like it. Luckily I found a place were there was no pretense. No cliques. Nobody pretending to be something for somebody else. Just regular people you see on the street every day. Normal but not normal (right? because we are not of this world).

It blew my mind. So much so that I joined said church, got baptized, got involved as a leader, made friends and now? I love Christians. I don’t know why many of them like to pretend they don’t have some very jacked up lives. But, they do. We do. I do. And that’s okay. While we are called to lead perfect lives, we should know that we will never be perfect. But a lot of Chrstians will have you think they’re perfect.

What I really needed was a commuity of Christians who weren’t just going to church just to go, but who were actively denying themselves for God. Who were actively applying God in their lives, and not just giving people lip service. I’m trying not to judge Christians for this. It’s a balance, as I have to be sure I don’t fall into the trap of arrogance or maintain a judgemental mentality. So, I’m trying to check that as well. But, let’s be real. If Christians really did what the Bible asks us to do, we would have much better PR in this world.

Anyway. It’s Holy Week. Easter is on Sunday. I am going to be sharing a few more things about my journey to church and spiritual growth on the blog this week. Tomorrow it’ll be about sex and dating, and why I thought it would be a good idea to lead a bible study group about said topics.

I’m a Christmas Gift-Giving Grinch

I think I am a Christmas Grinch and didn’t know it.

As the Christmas season gets more intense, people keep asking me, “have you finished all of your Christmas shopping?” I look at them like they’re smoking crack because Christmas shopping rarely ever crosses my mind. I don’t buy Christmas gifts, not even for my mama.  I’ve been doing this for several years. Each year I think about sending Christmas cards, but I never seem to get around to it.

Confession time: I hate shopping, and I am really bad at gift giving.

I hate shopping any time of year, not just Christmas time. Shopping forces me to have to make decisions about what to buy and generally this involves money and well, to be honest I never really had a good relationship with money growing up. We barely had enough to get by, so shopping for things unnecessary for survival always seemed superfluous. The act of being thoughtful of others so one could deduce what gift to give someone wasn’t one we practiced often. It wasn’t because we didn’t care, it was because we didn’t have anything to offer in terms of a gift bought from a store. Sometimes my mom would stretch her funds and buy gifts for people, but this made things stressful. It created a lot of grief in my household. Money was always a source of frustration, and well, I guess I learned to stay away from anything that would create money grief.

Now that I am older, I have developed some insecurities behind gift giving. Am I going to give them the right gift? Will they like it or will it just sit in the closet never to be seen again? Can I get a better deal? What if they have this already? The questions are endless. So…I just don’t give gifts. Problem solved!

In a perfect world I would actively save every year for a Christmas Giving fund and then disburse gifts accordingly. I’d probably buy all my gifts online, as I’d rather be anywhere else on the planet than a retail store. I’m sure this sounds normal for most people, but for me this is a big step 🙂

Admittedly I have some issues around the commercialization of Christmas, and I try not to participate because of it, but this doesn’t excuse my non gift-giving behavior other times of the year such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Mother’s Day. Yes, I have horrific etiquette (ironically my mom used to lecture me about proper etiquette, which was probably why she would buy gifts for people  even when she didn’t have the money).

I was reading something the other day, (okay it was the Bible) about giving thanks and the message I was listening to deduced that unexpressed gratitude is a form of rejection. Furtherlymore, refusal to pay your ‘debts of gratitude’ is to live as if you have an inflated view of yourself. To that end, I agree. I hate shopping and feel like I can’t be bothered to shop in the name of showing gratitude towards others. That’s difficult for me to hear, but it’s true. I need to get over it. I need to get over myself.

I guess this is a post to say in 2011 I am going to work more on being actively thoughtful and thankful. As for 2010, I am going to do my best to figure out how to make the rest of the year work.