Friday, March 31, 2006

The Nutty Professor

Leah went home this weekend, so I'm looking at a few lonely/boring days ahead. I guess I should get used to it, since we won't be living together for too much longer. . .but I've realized lately that it's going to be a lot more difficult than I thought to say goodbye to her. :(

She and I met for lunch yesterday, and she told me yet another story about her crazy professor. This guy is pretty funny--he's random as ever. And I told her, "Trust me--you will have many crazy and weird professors throughout college. It's like a requirement for a professor to be a bit strange." I laugh whenever I think about the random profs I had in college, and how my friends and I would actually take notes of the hilarious acts or sayings in order to share them with each other later if we'd missed class-- "You missed what Dr. G did this morning!"

Most TLU students and alumni would probably agree on which professor is absolutely, positively the most hilariously weird: Dr. Roger Guy (can't find a picture of him! dang).

He's a sociology professor, so naturally, he's curious as to how people react to things, what will get them going, etc. I don't think anyone knows for sure whether the things he does are simply him or whether he's trying to get a reaction from everyone. I think it's a bit of both. I can't even describe the silly things he'd do--to try to do so in writing wouldn't do his antics justice. I remember all of us students looking around at each other a bit awkwardly following a comment or action from him that seemed to come out of nowhere. We were obviously thinking, "Is this guy for real? Did he really just do that?" and, almost more importantly, "Are we supposed to laugh?" It was an honest question because, you see, he didn't act like he was trying to be funny. That's the thing about professors--they can do anything they want (well, provided they have tenure. . .but even sometimes beforehand, I think they're just plain weird because they want to be!). They can act crazy and make you wonder if it's supposed to be funny just because they can. They've been to school already, and much longer than you have. They know their stuff. They can give you an "A" because they like you or an "F" because you pissed them off. (Of course, we all know that this isn't supposed to happen--but let's face it, it does. Because of my whole point that professors can do whatever the heck they want.)

Now, I know there exists a committee or a board or whatever that keeps up with professors and their behavior. And no, they can't do absolutely whatever they want. . .but c'mon, pretty much. If they feel like canceling class for a day, they can do it. If they feel like bringing their latest "invention" into the classroom and turning it on so everyone can see how it works (as did my sister's crazy prof a few months ago. . .and when he turned "it"--whatever it was--on, it blew a huge force of air and all of his papers flew off his desk. He then started running around, frantically picking them up. . .just the visual of the event makes me smile), they can. Because they're the professors. Not you.

I love this about professors. I want to be one someday. And I'm sure, if I am a professor, I'll be one of the "normal" (or yes, even "boring") ones, but to have that freedom to be absolutely weird and make everyone wonder if this is who you really are. . .that's just awesome.

For years, TLU alumni will say to each other, "What about Dr. Guy, dude?" and there's a sort of immediate understanding between people who may have never even had a class together while on campus. This Guy is weird, crazy, random. . .and you never forget him. Maybe that's his goal. :)


Saturday, March 25, 2006

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

-ee cummings

I love this poem. Although sometimes love poems like this seem a bit. . .idolatrous? obsessive? I don't know. I just know that when I read them, I'm thinking, "Wow, that is so amazing," while at the same time also thinking, "Is this person you're writing about all you live for?"

I've learned that one person can't be all you live for. There is something greater. And if it's not God for you, then it's gotta be something else, I think. If you put everything you feel and believe and long for on the shoulders of someone else, onto a human who makes as many mistakes as you do each day, then there will be a point when it crashes down. It's inevitable.

Feelings cause us to do some crazy things, and I've learned that even those of us who profess to trust in God alone for our wholeness can easily get swept into relying on a person to satisfy what only God can. We are imperfect. We are childish. We are selfish. We are mortal. We can't be everything to someone. We can't be everything to anyone.

But we can be something. And when we are, it's a beautiful thing. And I do believe that human love, romantic love, is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Why wouldn't it be, when every single person on earth is in search of it? It's a treasure! So when we find it (or, better, when it finds us), we soak it up and breathe it in and allow it to rush over us because it's the best thing we've ever experienced. But it's only a taste. As overwhelming and comforting and magical as it is, it's still only a taste of a Love that's perfect.

To me, that Love comes from God alone. And it's harder to keep that in perspective because, hey--it's not like God's right here in front of me to talk to, hug, lean on. But from where does my peace come? Not always from the boyfriend, and most certainly not from myself. And this isn't our fault. I think we were created to need something more than human relationships. Everything about us proves this. I know many will disagree, but I look around and can plainly see that we are never satisfied solely by even the most wonderful things that human relationships bring.

And the best thing about it all is that God knows we won't always remember how much we are loved by God. God knows that we will turn to others, desperate for acceptance and love that only God can provide. And even when we forget about God, there is no way God ever forgets about us.

When I forget, help me remember. . .

Whatever is done by only me is Your doing, God.
You, God, are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing.
Your love is higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide,
You are the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.

What, am I a devotional author now? Goodness, I wasn't expecting to write all of that. I must be in a "preachy" mood since I'm preaching the sermon tonight (!) at church. Which reminds me, I better get back to that. . .

Love to all. And PEACE.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cute Is What We Aim For

Tonight I stumbled upon what I do believe is going to become one of my favorite bands. Check 'em out. My goodness, I can't stop listening to them.


*I think it's funny that several friends from college call me LD (it'd be fun to spell it out phonetically-- El'dee). Court's mom even asks her, "How's LD?" I think it's cute.

*I saw my first green worm of the spring this morning when Leah and I were running! I hate these things. Hate them. They suspend from oak trees during the springtime, hanging on pieces of silk or whatever, and they get stuck on you when you walk or run past them. In springs past, I've seen them stuck all over the outside of my car, stuck on my clothes, and there was even one crawling on Em's neck once when she came to visit! We were pretty grossed out. Ew ew ew ew. I had never seen them before I moved to Austin, and I will say with confidence that this is one part of Austin that I will not miss.

*I'm still not feeling quite "caught-up" with life following the Mexico trip. Silly me for thinking that once that trip was over, life would be smooth sailing! :) Who am I kidding? It's spring, the season that is famous for being the busiest time of year. I know the holidays are busy, too, but sometimes I think spring might be even busier.

*Janie bought me a North Carolina/South Carolina map as well as a Georgia, NC, and SC Tourbook from AAA! I'm excited. Lots of stuff to see and do--friends, start planning your trips to visit me now! :)

*I have several going-away events already on my calendar. I never knew leaving Texas would spark such a need for numerous parties, but how silly I was! Of course we need to say goodbye properly. Some youth minister friends of mine just planned a Happy Hour at Baby A's (I've never had their margaritas, which are made with Everclear and very strong. . .so I said we must go there before I leave), a group of college friends (and Em and Leah) and I are going to Port A for a weekend in May, and there are many people I need to see one last time (*sniff*) in the two and a half months I have left in the Lone Star State.

Man, this is real, isn't it? Dang.

Lots of love to you all. Have a bodacious weekend.


*Leah has a crush on her bald African-American bus driver. She told me all the juicy details about him last night. *Giggle!*

*I've had random songs stuck in my head every morning this week, including Michelle Smiling performed by Uncle Jessie on Full House and Lionel Richie's All Night Long. As is usual with stuck-in-your-head songs, I'll burst out in them without even meaning to while I'm getting ready for work. . .and five minutes later, Leah will burst out in them, followed by a loud, "Damn it, Lauren, why'd you get that stuck in my head?!" I just love being annoying. ;)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Like Sunshine & Rain

I just finished wiping away the tears that came after reading what some of the youth and sponsors wrote on my "affirmation sheet." We do these at the end of each mission trip--everyone writes their name on a sheet of paper and they all get passed around for everyone else to write on. At the end, you have a page (or more) full of notes and affirmation from everyone in the group. It's quite touching. I've even kept some of mine from high school youth group. Anyway, all of the kids mentioned something about being sad that I'm leaving, but the part that made me cry was their recognition of God's call in my life and the fact that they're not selfish about it because they know I'm not leaving just to leave them. As one freshman put it, "I'm not worried because I know you are going where God leads you, and I am content with that." Wow. To be sad about something and at the same time recognize the bigger picture--this is not normally the thought process of teenagers. :) I may be biased ;), but mine are the best.

Our trip was a bit stressful for me. I joked with the kids that, since this is my last trip with them and all others have gone relatively smoothly, God's laughing because God knows I'll definitely remember my last trip with Shepherd of the Hills. No doubt about it. But even through the stress, I laughed so hard and experienced such joy. That's the best word for it. It was joyful. Few complaints. Many smiles. I'll say it again, my youth group is the best ever. (Kinda like a parent, each youth minister thinks his/her kids are the absolute best. I'm sure when I work at another church, I'll say the same thing. . .but there will always be a special place in my heart for the SOTH kids.) And this particular group on this particular trip was amazing. I do believe it was the perfect mix of people. I love them all and I will miss them so very much.

Here are some pictures. . .Blogger is being a boo whore about uploading pics today, so I might post more later.

Here I am posing for the camera while my kids work hard. I'm such a good leader. :)

This is Liliana, a precious girl full of personality. She made us smile a lot.

Alycia and I work on the soffets (?) around the roof of the house. Alycia looks confused. Power tools are my friends.

Here's our group after we got back to church--all fresh 'n clean!


In other news, I'm spending the day chillin' in the beautiful weather that the storms from last night left behind. Lee-lee's back in town and we're going to the park. I have lots of people to catch up with whom I have missed, so some phone calls are in order.

Do you ever take a second to reflect on how you've acted and feel utterly disgusted with yourself? I kinda feel that way right now. When I step outside myself, I realize that if someone was acting the way I am acting, I would be horribly annoyed with that person. Yuck. I need a relaxing day in the sunshine to clear my head. Good thing I am loved in spite of myself.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Viva Mexico

I leave with our high schoolers on Sunday morning for our mission trip to Juarez, Mexico with Casas por Cristo. When I was in high school, my dad and I went together on these trips with our church, and it's an experience we still talk about. Those trips in my high school years were very influential. . .I think they gave me a glimpse into my passion for ministry in other countries, specifically Mexico and Central/South America.

I learned a lot about myself on those trips, and so when I became a youth director, I decided to take my kids on the same mission trip. They loved it. They couldn't wait for the next trip. It was so cool to watch the kids in Mexico--to watch them work (we really do build a house from the ground-up in 5 days. Promise. Sounds crazy, but it's true.), to watch them play with the Mexican children, to watch them care for each other, to watch them sacrifice everyday comforts to serve God's people. We don't shower for 5 days (well, maybe we can, but most of us don't). We sleep on a cold church floor. We wear the same workclothes (and usually sleep in them, too, because we're too exhausted/cold to change--plus, you'll just put 'em back on in the morning!). We make our own meals, sometimes eating dinner at 9 or 10 pm. We make new friends. We laugh. We pray. We live for a week away from Austin and find out that the world outside is full of things and people to discover and to love. I think it is very important for kids to travel outside of their comfort zones. And I don't mean to Cozymel, Mexico on a cruise. I mean to the border or to the inner-city. There is a certain compassion and knowledge that one cannot escape once one has entered a poor part of the world that demands attention. And many people, upon visiting, cannot leave it the way they found it. In fact, many feel called to return again and again.

For pictures from last year's trip, check out my blog entry about it. (I tried to link to it, but it's being weird. Go here and scroll down to the entry dated March 21 if you're really interested. I'll be impressed if you actually work that hard to find it.) I think this year's trip will be wonderful. . .I just have to get there first. Planning a youth trip is extremely stressful. But that's probably due in large part to the fact that I insist on doing everything myself. Therefore, I'm running around crazy right now. Back to work!

By the way, any prayers for our mission group would be greatly appreciated. :) Even though I'm going kinda crazy right now, I know from many trips in the past that God always has a way of pulling things together perfectly. God's just cool like that, yo.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Here I Am

Stained glass window in LTSS chapel
Worship space is really important to me. I have to "feel" something in a chapel at seminary since, you know, I'll be worshiping in it every single day. And I definitely felt something in the chapel at LTSS. It's a beautiful place.
The verdict is in. :)
Friends, our visit to the Carolinas honestly couldn't have been more perfect. As I sat in church on Ash Wednesday, I distinctly felt like I am on the edge of some pretty big stuff in my life. Stuff I'd never imagined would happen. . .but wouldn't trade for the world. My life is just one giant testament to the fact that God knows what's up. There have been moments when I've seriously cried to the heavens, "God, what's up with this crap?" and then sometimes God waits a while to answer my question. But when He does, I find that all I can do is sit back and say, "Ohhhh. Now I get it."
Christians speak about this stuff all the time--how God answers prayers on His own time schedule, etc. And somehow it doesn't mean as much as when it is actually made evident in your life. And when it is, it's kinda all you can think about for a while. Kinda like witnessing a miracle or something. You just can't get enough of how dang cool it is.
And that's where I am.
Becky and I will have more stories to share as the week goes on. Our trips together are always fun. . .it's a bummer that this may have been our last one (for a while, at least). I love you, Beckycita. ;)