Friday, December 24, 2010

Let your heart be light

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)

Merry Christmas, wherever you are this season.  May your heart truly be light in the joy and peace of Christ's coming, even in the midst of pain and struggle.  You are not alone (you never have been), and you can make it through this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 13.1 New York (yes, that's half a marathon)

Here it is, folks.  Hold me accountable.  

I've joined my church's running team for the 13.1 New York on April 2.  All fundraising goes toward World Vision efforts in Africa.  Please visit my personal fundraising page to help me reach my goal and to open doors for children and families in Africa.  Donations in honor of a friend or family member make fantastic Christmas gifts!  

Thanks for your support.  Love you all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

party dress reprise

So the party girl talked a bit about how she's been contemplating her place in New York.  But here's what she's discovered about her priorities:

1. Friends--and good ones--are everything.  I never valued my friendships as much as I have in the last few months.  I've rekindled a few old friendships and invested in even more face-time and phone calls with my college besties.  I've also made a serious effort to start new friendships which, surprising as it may sound coming from an extrovert, is very difficult and intimidating for me.  For those of you who have called me, gone out with me for drinks, and chatted with me in church, thank you.  I'd be miserable without you.

2. I love my family more than ever, and I cannot wait to get home for Christmas.  Enough said.

3. God is unreasonably patient.  I am slow to talk to Him, read His word, and sing His praises.  And I don't know why because every time I do, my life is fuller and brighter for it.  More than ever, I want to feel the closeness of God, so it's my goal this Christmas and in the New Year to take firmer, more deliberate steps toward Him.  Sure, I can wait until I'm curled up in the corner for Him to come banging on my door.  But I think we'd both be happier if I met Him halfway.

4. I have an ugly habit of gradually sabotaging my dreams.  I freak out over taking dance class (it's really not as scary as I think), half-practice for my voice lessons, and delay headshot retakes (go cheap now or wait for the first-rate ones when I have an extra $1300 in the bank?).

5. Confession is necessary, even if it feels icky.

6. Love.  I walk a very fine line each day between reveling in singleness and hating it with all I am.  More friends are getting engaged and married each week, and part of me feels like I'm missing out.  While I have a lot of dreams in sight, I'm no longer convinced that they're best accomplished alone.  I'm also not keen on the idea of having my first child at age 38.  That seems to be the trend here in the city, and silly as it may seem, I'm tired of seeing old moms.  I feel like I'm on another planet.  On one hand, I am hungry for companionship, affection, and someone to bear witness to my life.  On the other hand, I think I'm secretly terrified of commitment, abandonment, and rejection.  Wherever my heart truly stands, I have decided not to be complacent about my love life.  So I've (gasp) joined the world of online dating.  There you go.  Another icky (for some of you) confession.  But you'd be surprised how many of my friends are doing the same thing.  Think of it like Facebook chatting with a dinner date on one end.  Not so scary.  All that said, if you happen to know the Man of My Dreams, by all means, introduce me to him.  And if he's standing right in front of me, slap me.

Well, I think that's all the soul-baring this (almost) birthday girl can stomach for one night.  Wise words and birthday wishes are most welcome. :)  Love you all.

party dress

Sometimes, I have so many thoughts and so many things I want to say that I don't even know where to start.  I'm six years old again, in my party dress and ready to go.  But I panic under the expectation of my friends and family, and instead, I sit wringing my hands in my skirt, chin buried in chest.  Sometimes I just want to sit in my bedroom closet, blowing raspberries and cutting out paper dolls.

This hand-wringing complex only gets worse the longer I go between blog entries, so I guess the paper dolls will have to wait. Time to party, little girl.  

Sorry if this all comes out a bit random and stream-of-consciousness. Because it kind of is.

Today's opening quote to worship at City Grace Church was from G.K. Chesterton: "I have attempted in a vague and personal way, in a set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions, to state the philosophy in which I have come to believe. I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me."

I like that what he says is at the same time both puzzling and perfectly clear (at least to me).

I don't know that I have a definite life philosophy--or at least not one I could easily explain to a stranger in a five minutes.  It all comes together much like an Intertextual (for my Whitworth theatre comrades).  Snapshots, a few measures of music, letters, fragments of conversation, news headlines, poetry, and those split-second out-of-body moments each of us has from time to time when you seem to see your life from the outside.  This is to say that I don't work very hard at constructing my own philosophy.  Like Chesterton points out, the philosophy made me.  The collective experience of God and people and every day of my life have made me into who and what I am.  It's not static and readily defined because I'm still living, and God is still moving, and there are still billions of people I haven't met.  It's kind of a massive concept to wrap my brain around.  But I try.

Travel has undoubtedly contributed to the substance of my character and my perspective on the world, especially in the last four years.  Two of my favorite places in the world are still Argentina and Thailand (but those stories are for another blog).  New York may not seem worlds away, but for a girl from rural Washington, it most certainly is.  And I'm experiencing all the culture shock and awe that comes with total immersion, like it or not.

Since moving to New York, I have spent a lot of time--either intentionally or by accident--contemplating my place and my priorities.  

Most days I still have a very pronounced understanding of the small fish-big pond thing.  The gravity of all I don't know can be terribly frustrating.  But then I have really great days when I feel like I can do anything.

Last week, I sang for Ben, who is in the Musical Theatre Writing grad program at Tisch.  He needed lab singers for a new piece he'd written, and I was happy to step in and help.  We rehearsed on Monday and presented Tuesday morning.  The first time we sang through the music, I did a little mental shout-out to my new voice teacher, David, for helping me get more of a contemporary pop musical theatre sound because the role I read for was a twelve-year-old girl.  I wouldn't have pulled it off nearly as well six months ago.

After we sang on Tuesday, Ben surprised me with quite the news flash: I'd just sang for Michael John LaChiusa (of Wild Party fame).  Apparently, he likes it when students bring new faces in to sing.  It gives him a better idea of who's around town.  You know, new faces to remember.  Holy cow.  I'm so glad Ben didn't tell me before I sang.

Then, on the way out the door, Michael John calls to Ben, "Introduce your friend once more, will you?"  So he did.  And I ran through my mental check-list: eye contact, bright smile, sincere greeting, firm handshake, thank you.  I kept my composure for the five seconds that took, but the minute I was out the door, I was doing heel-clicks and the Superstar-lunge.

It was a pretty terrific morning. :)

But like I said, most of my days are all about the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach.  Lots of patience and hard work and being okay with feeling like a speck.  

If I feel this small in a city of 8 million, think how minuscule I must be in the grand scheme of the entire world.  That's when I get to thinking about working on everything but me and my voice and my acting and my barre work and pirouettes.  My thoughts shift to where I've been and what I've seen and how I want to make a difference (and how I must seem like a walking cheese ball of clich├ęs to a lot of people). 

Today in church, I picked up a packet of info on Team World Vision.  In a nutshell: if I do this, I'll run 13.1 miles (a half-marathon) on April 3 to benefit World Vision.  Any funds our team raises will go to support well-building efforts in Africa, primarily in Kenya.  I got so happy reading that silly tri-fold pamphlet that I started to cry.  And I don't even like running.  I really want to be one of those girls who runs for fun, and now I have a terrific reason to become that girl.  I'm not just running for me.  I'm running for clean water and safe kids and healthy families.  Best motivation ever.

And on the topic of church, I can't even begin to say how happy I am to get up every Sunday morning.  Little by little, I'm building a community of friends there who know some of my story and seek me out each week.  They ask how my week was, and we swap life stories over coffee and cookies.  Today, at the post-service Christmas party, my friend Annie and I talked about travel and photography and merging our passions with our gifts.  She's great.  And Dana and I are making plans for a get-together, though that will probably have to wait until after the holidays.  Ryan and I discussed the merits and shortcomings of Glee, and I met a new friend, Scott, who's working on a big architectural project for the University of  Glasgow.  I'm caroling with the church choir this week, and I've already connected with a social justice small group.  It's good to have a little home away from home (away from home). :)

Well, the party-dress girl still has lots to say, but she's off to a playdate with Taryn (one of the massive blessings in my life right now).  More soon. xoxo