I like coffee, but my family doesn’t. (an extremely honest post)

I really like coffee. I also refuse to align with any political party and I don’t think tattoos are bad. In many ways I am very different from my family. I love my family. They are amazing and wonderful and encouraging. My parents love me so unconditionally that I’m always humbled by what they are will to do for me. But I’m very different from them.

I’ve never written about this before. I think it can be intimidating sometimes to be different. To not hold the same views or to not feel as sure about certain issues. When my whole family (I’m talking about aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) gets together, it’s hard to get a word in. They are talkative sorts and I love that about them, but when your opinion isn’t completely formed about something and you’re trying to learn about all sides, it’s hard to express that. I’m terrified that writing this will offend someone. Even when that’s not my intent, it’s just that I’m a quiet person.

I rarely speak up about my opinions or beliefs, especially on controversial topics. I just don’t really know how to. I don’t believe that issues are ever black and white. I don’t believe that you can just puts things in boxes and leave them there. The same is with God. I had a friend once ask me what my political identity was. I said independent. She looked at me and said that she thought that was going to be my answer. When I asked why she replied, “because you don’t seem like someone who likes to be put in a box.”

I’d never had someone explain me so well in so few words. It was a moment of clarity. I hate the idea of being categorized, even though you could argue that I have categorized myself as unboxed. But over the last year I’ve realized the absolute freedom in living outside of the box. But it hasn’t been all roses and self-enlightenment. I didn’t go to church for about 8 months.

I should probably explain. Two summers ago I went to Jacksonville, FL to participate in a Summer Training Program with the Navigators. About a month or so before that, my church went through a terrible division that left me confused and a bit hurt. I had loved that place and then it became foreign. I didn’t connect there anymore. Then I went to Florida.

I was both nervous and excited for this program. I didn’t realize it then, but now I see that I was hoping so much that this program would help heal me. It was my last lifeline to God in a way. I had a lot of expectations that I didn’t even realize I had. Unfortunately though, I was severely disappointed. I left the program even more confused about Christianity and a bit disenchanted by the whole thing. I still believed in God, and I still believed in Jesus, but I lost my belief in the institution. There is nothing wrong with the Navigators and I would recommend anyone to check them out. But they didn’t fit me.

Which is partly why it bugs me that many denominations believe that their way is best because if all of our relationships with various people are completely unique, then wouldn’t our relationships with God be unique as well? He reaches all of us in so many different ways, so obviously we will all grow in different ways.

But anyways, when I came back to school, I did go back to my old church, but I was more disappointed than excited. I couldn’t really explain to people why the training program wasn’t a great experience for me and I just lost interest in the church. So I stopped going.

In a sense, I needed that. I needed the break from the church, or rather, the people in the church. So for 8 months I didn’t think about it. I still went to Bible Study, but that was about it. During that time though, I began to see what it was like to not have my faith as a primary focus. I never felt down-trodden, but I felt something missing. It felt like I was a hot air balloon that had been tethered to Earth by two cables and one of them had snapped. So I was floating a little wildly.

But I never felt like God wasn’t there. As the months progressed, slowly I could feel God doing something. I began to realize that it wasn’t “the Church” that hurt me, but the people. And people are human, they are as broken as I am. Slowly I began to see God again and how He was relevant to my life. I began to see how much He and Jesus loved me and loved all of the people on this planet. Then I moved to Pittsburgh.

I think subconsciously I made a deal with God that moving to Pittsburgh would be when I gave church another chance. So I started trying out churches. I tried two. They were nice, but something was missing. During one service, the pastors tried to throw in so many jokes that the topic was completely missed. While I do enjoy a bit of humor, it was too much. Finally I went to a third church and that was it. I found the right place. It’s also practically two minutes from my house. It was like God was saying, “I love you so much that I’m going to make it ridiculously easy to go to church.” It also meets in the evening which works best with my schedule.

I don’t really know if there’s much of a moral to this story, but it’s my story. I guess what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be a little lost sometimes. It’s okay to step back and just be. God’s not going anywhere. Honestly, I think He wanted me to just stop and not try to force myself to fit into a box of expectations. But most of all, I’ve learned that it’s okay to doubt. It’s okay to be hurt and to feel that because sometimes the best way to grow is not how you would expect.

I don’t know if that was a good ending, but in a sense, there really isn’t an ending because this isn’t a post of me saying, “I went through this period of whatever, but now I have everything figured out.” Nope. That’s not me. The thing I love most about the human existence is that we are always changing and evolving. That’s what I love about Christianity too. God is always changing us and guiding us through things. So, this is where I am.

What Harry Potter is Teaching Me So Far…

adoptingjames

Voldemort

Don’t judge me. It’s been a couple of years since the last Harry Potter movie came out, and I’m just now watching them all for the first time. I read the books years back, and they were a bit underwhelming – I guess after all the hype I expected something more. Don’t worry – I’ll be revisiting the books soon enough.

Last night I finished watching the fourth one, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And I started thinking about all the Christian groups banning Harry Potter from the classrooms and churches. And I’m thinking: Why? I mean, the last scene is Goblet of Fire does get pretty intense. You know the scene: when Voldemort comes back to life… it’s kind of sick.

But here’s the thing. That’s what evil is, isn’t it? Sick? Twisted? Demented? I know the controversy was stirred up because the protagonists are witches and…

View original post 264 more words

The internet makes people jerks. (sometimes)

Never do I get more frustrated and begin to lose hope in humanity when I read the comments section of pretty much everything on the internet. Whether it’s a news article, a funny thing on BuzzFeed, or the comments on a Facebook status, for some reason people believe that because it’s on the internet, you can be a jackass. (Forgive the language, but seriously, that’s the best word.)*

I think the rule of thumb should be that if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then you shouldn’t type it. Even if what the person has written is something that you disagree with, or that you believe is wrong or hurtful. Countering with negative reactions doesn’t breed love, it incites hate.

Here’s a revelation for you. It’s possible to disagree with someone kindly. It’s possible to say that what someone has written was mean and hurtful, kindly. If you can correct, challenge, and debate someone respectfully in person, then you can do it on the internet.

I do understand that there are times when the intent of your message was construed due to the lack of emotion in text. It’s so easy to think that someone is taking offense to your thoughts when in reality, they were just trying to respectfully disagree with your views. It just didn’t come across right.

But in this instance, it’s so important to edit what you write. Try and look at it from the other person’s point of view. If your intent is only to enter into a conversation and not to hurt or malign someone, make sure that the words you use express that. Our language has a ton of words. We also have this endangered animal called a thesaurus that will help you in this.

Many conversations that happen on the internet are super important and about relevant and, many times, over controversial topics. This can be an amazing opportunity to share your beliefs and ask questions when others believe different from you. You don’t have to agree with the other person, but you can, respectfully, tell them why you don’t and ask how they came to the beliefs that they hold.

Sometimes people post things that are simply mean or spiteful. In these instances, responding in a mean and spiteful way does nothing but cause even more meanness and spite. Instead you can do one of two things: first, ignore it. Don’t even respond to it because most likely that person just wanted attention. Second, respond kindly. Maybe that person was having a really bad day and they needed to vent and, unfortunately, use a public platform to do so. Or maybe the really meant in, but you can tell them respectfully that what they said was unkind.

Most of all, you are only responsible for yourself and the things you say. But if everyone is being self-aware, then maybe the internet would be an even nicer place where ideas are discussed and people are encouraged. I’m not saying that places like that don’t exist on the internet (because they do) but I think that even more can.

*Please know that I would call you this to your face if you were talking to me meanly.

My 106 year-old life lesson

About five years ago, I walked into a used book store and straight back to the antiquarian section. I love old books. The smell, the font, the design, but most of all- I love their histories. Notice I mentioned absolutely nothing about the actual story inside.

I found a book that day, let me describe it for you.

The title is intriguing, “The Cruise of the Make-Believes,” by an author I have never heard of, Tom Gallon. The name Mary Alice Rork is written in cursive on the very first page in a font that speaks of a time long ago. Turn a few more pages and there’s a beautiful illustration followed by a page of tissue paper bound along with the rest. Turn another page and see that it was copyrighted October, 1907.

In the book store, it came with a slip of paper that stated the price, $18.00, and “First Edition.” This means that my book, my wonderfully old book, will turn 106 in October. Naturally, the very first thing I did after purchasing it was research the author because I had never heard of him. I came up with his obituary and a New York Times release that stated “The Cruise of the Make-Believes” was first published in October 1907.

I now have a secret for you.

I haven’t read past page 26. Not because I haven’t wanted to, I do, I just haven’t yet. To be completely honest, I didn’t buy it for the story. I didn’t buy it because I loved books by Tom Gallon. I didn’t even buy it just because it was old and smelled nice.

I bought it because this century old collection of bound paper has a history. It’s own physical history. It has existed through times of economic success and times of war. It was dearly loved or possibly hated, or both. I haven’t quite decided because it is in fairly good condition.

This book represents the first time or maybe only time that this specific story existed in its final form. There was a day in October 1907 that the pages were crisp and white, the front cover illustrations were fresh, and it sat on a shelf. It was read by someone. Someone who also had a history.

The reason I bring this up. The reason that this book has captured my attention so much is that I can easily liken the life of this book to that of ordinary people, a group that I gladly belong to. There is so much talk that Gen. Y or millennials hold this belief that our lives are special. That we are meant to do great things, and this might be true. Every generation has a group of people that rise out of the mass of normalcy and whose works are remembered. But that group is too small to allow every single person to be apart of it.

No. The majority of us will live a life similar to that of “The Cruise of the Make-Believes.” Maybe that seems disappointing. I don’t know how interesting the story in this book is, and in an honest reality check, maybe your life really isn’t that interesting. But I’m coming to the conclusion that our own stories, in their solidarity, are not interesting at all. They are forgettable.

Just as it seems Tom Gallon’s story was. But I am not here to write about a cynical view of life. I am, and always will be, an optimistic dreamer. Our lives carry the same significance as the book sitting next to me.

I treasure this book not so much about the story inside, but because of the story that shaped around it. Without its history, I would have never come across it. Our lives are very much the same. On their own, they are just forgotten, and probably boring, stories. But the people around us are what give us significance. They shape us in ways that the daily grind cannot possibly accomplish. The love that is shown to us and the love we show are what make us important. Not by our own doing.

Maybe your perception of how life should go doesn’t match reality. I’m sure that Tom Gallon had hoped for his book to succeed and be remembered. Though whether or not it was successful is unknown, since I can’t find any credible proof, this book, 106 years after printing, is still very much remembered.

It’s sitting on my shelf, as it must have sat on shelf over the last century.

**I did another search for the book and it turns out that Google has digitized it so you can read it for free! There still isn’t any new information on the author though.

Two wonderful things

***To be quite honest, there is too much suck in this world. It’s kind of outrageous. But at the same time, there is also a multitude of amazing, wonderful, and hilarious things that happen as well. So Fridays at Curiouser and Curiouser are dedicated to the things in life that aren’t so troubling. I hope to start off your weekend with a warm heart or a belly full of laughs (or both.)***

This week I wasn’t too sure what I was going to post today, but then I cam across two wonderful things: music and inspiration. I also wasn’t planning on posting more YouTube videos this week, but then I found these two and I couldn’t resist!

1. The first is a bit of music for you. A cover, in fact of Katy Perry’s new single “Roar.” Now, I personally love this song by Katy Perry because it’s just anthem-y and fun and an encouraging song… even though the original music video is interesting. I happened to come across this video through a YouTuber that I enjoy watching. It’s honestly an amazing cover… by a few guys. So take a listen… it’s worth it.

2. Every once in awhile, as school becomes stressful, we all need a little pep talk. Kid President is at it again, encouraging all students and teachers with some wonderful words. I know I needed to hear some of it as well. Enjoy the cuteness!

I hope you enjoyed these two videos, what are somethings that you find wonderful? Comment below!

Some thoughts about things

Pittsburgh is not a city to live in without a GPS. Roads are more tangled than your headphones when you need them. No joke. It’s one of the reasons that I’m thankful I can take the bus to school.

Being away from a population that is, for the majority, full of Husker fans, I now never know who the Huskers are playing. No one on Facebook mentions that tiny little detail. I never noticed that before, but I guess now if I want to know I have to care enough to look it up myself.

It was a good thing that I brought an umbrella to school on Monday, though it didn’t save my lower half from getting soaked by the torrential downpour that seemed to pick up once I got off the bus. After awhile I just gave up trying to avoid puddles because they were everywhere.

I wish that DVDs were still the main format for movies. I know that in today’s age my thinking is archaic, no, sacrilegious, but I have to be honest. Blu-ray players are so expensive!

I drank soda for the first time in about three weeks which is probably why I can’t fall asleep right now (it’s almost 2 a.m. at the time of this writing).

I sat through a two hour lecture about computers and their components on Monday and nearly suffocated from boredom. No offense to those who find that stuff interesting, but I seriously couldn’t care less. I’ll stick to my class that lets me read picture books.

My ice skating blades got sharpened for the first time in four years and I couldn’t believe that I waited so long. The difference was so obvious. Hopefully I’ll be able to go to one of the open skates after teaching so that I can get in some good skating time.

After reading for about 6ish hours yesterday, I think I found the limit of information that my brain can absorb in a day. Sadly I didn’t finish everything I planned to accomplish.

We’re experience an Indian Summer right now in Pittsburgh (or at least I am saying we are because it was getting cooler) and I don’t like it. It’s hot… and muggy. I am ready for fall weather.

As of today, it’s been twelve years. It’s crazy how quickly time has seemed to pass, yet the impact of that day has grown more for me over the years. I didn’t really understand in 5th grade, but I do now. It’s been twelve years.

Well, those are some thoughts on things. Please let me know your thoughts on things in the comments below, and, if you really want to, share this post with your friends!

I met a man from Africa today

I met a man from Africa while waiting for the bus today. He’d been living in the U.S. for the last three years though he is originally from Nigeria. He’s in his 50s and working on his Master’s. He asked my name and what I do, I told him I’m also getting a Master’s. He asked if I was from Pittsburgh and I told him I was from Nebraska. We talked a bit about how some states are more well known than others internationally, and then he said something that I think I needed to here.

He said that the amazing thing about America is that you can move to a completely different state, yet you are still home. You still belong. The laws are the same (the essential ones.) you don’t have to worry about a green card or the right papers. Interestingly enough, I’d been feeling a little home sick recently. Not horribly bad, but just missing the familiar. This man’s comments made me realize that we are pretty lucky that way.

On the bus, I asked him if he would be staying in America once he finished his degree. He said absolutely. He planned to stay here for a very long time. Once again he said something I needed to hear. He began talking about how he has noticed that so many Americans have forgotten the opportunity that can be found in America when looking at other countries. The freedom here gives us amazing opportunities. Our country is extremely wealthy and the foundation that the forefathers laid was a strong one. But he also talked about how wasteful we are because we can’t see how lucky we are. He said all this more eloquently than I am, but I wasn’t recording the conversation.

With all of the division in this country, it leaves us entitled and blind to the chances that we were born into. We take our basic freedoms for granted. My new friend also said something else, our freedom that we have in America allows us to be the most creative country in the world. The best technology and inventions because we don’t have someone telling us who to be or how much we can attain. As he said, unlike countries like China or even Nigeria where freedom is much more limited.

By the time we came to his stop, I don’t think he knew the impact of our conversation. It’s rare to be able to see how America is viewed by others. The American dream in its purest form still exists. I was reminded of how my ancestors must have felt when they saw the American shore for the first time. Regardless of the current situation and how bad everyone says things are here (and I’m not denying that we have problems) we still are in a better position than so many others. I was reminded of that today and I hope that this is a reminder to you too.