Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Good Life, Simplified

Do you ever have the overwhelming feeling that the world is saturated with endless amounts of corruption? That life is this endless downhill spiral of negative messages, sexual content, hatred and anger, and way-too-much information?

Honestly, there are so many days when I want to shut it all out, erase the mental computer and find the child-like innocence and pleasure of life. To spend entire days thinking only about good things and positive messages would be fantastic, and perhaps a little idealistic. But what can I say for myself, other than I am extremely idealistic in every area of life, and I don't always think it's a bad thing.

So if you're having one of those days where you want to close yourself of to the corruption-factor, I have a few suggestions for reviving at least the remembrance of innocence. And maybe in the end, we'll feel a little bit lighter, happier, and reminded of what most like to call "the good old days."

Find yourself a glass of lemonade
In homage to the road-side stand of elder days, I recommend starting with a glass of deliciously cold lemonade. Make it from scratch (a fun and "crafty" way to spend some time), stir up some Country Time or do the old concentrate mixture, pour over ice and enjoy along with any of the other activities listed. Don't feel bad about enjoying it from a plastic kiddie-cup, either.

Spend some time with puppies
Okay I'm going to make a shameless plug for dogs, because well, they're my favorite. Dogs are wonderful at helping you forget the negatives of the outside world. They're never mad at you, they're always excited to see you, and they have a sweet innocence about their eyes. They're not only man's best friend, but they're a reminder that the simple life can be oh-so-good. Driving with the windows down, going for a walk, and scheduling in some play time are simple pleasures that make life so much sweeter--whether you're a human or a canine. So play with your pooch, or borrow someone else's for a while, and live the good life.

Two words: Mr. Bean
Well, I suppose I should get specific and say Mr. Bean's Holiday. I love that movie, and I love Mr. Bean in it. Mr. Bean is the grown-up embodiment of innocence, along with some general ignorance. I can't help but wish I had someone like that around at times, so I watch the movie and laugh at the antics, determination and general lack of social graces that make Mr. Bean so lovable. He really is a child in a grown-up's body, something that gets him into chaotic trouble, but isn't all bad.

Hang out with some kids
Take some time out of your busy schedule to invest in children. Whether you do some complimentary baby-sitting, help out at a sports camp, or volunteer weekly, you will feel so dang good after helping a few kids. You will learn a some new things, tell a few stories and make fast friends. In addition, you may get to color, build a fort, explore or tend to a boo-boo. And while the kids are busy thinking they're the ones benefiting, you'll be silently blessed by the laughs, smiles, "kids-say-the-darndest-things" moments, and the knowledge that you're doing something for others. And once again, the simple pleasures in life will reign supreme.

Resurrect the stuffed animal
I'll be honest; I have multiple stuffed animals on my bed right now. Each one tells a different story, but each comes with that warm feeling brought on by a cuddly, childhood memento. So I recommend digging out the old stuffed bear that went everywhere with you and putting it out in plain sight. Or maybe even holding it for a little while. Don't have any stuffed animals? Well it's time to buy one, then. It'll sit on your bed and remind you that you're never too old to enjoy the must-haves of childhood.

Call your best friend
You know that one friend, the one that knows everything about you and still loves you just the same? The one you want to tell every random story to because they'll genuinely laugh and think it's funny? The one who has seen you at your best moments and your worst? Yeah, you should give that one a call. Even if you don't talk about anything important or serious, you will love every moment of hearing their voice. And fitting in some time for reminiscing is always a great idea.

Build a kids' movies collection
Remember those movies you grew up watching and loving? Yeah, they're still out there (and on DVD now, too!). I grew up in the kid-film era of the 80s and 90s and I'm still in love with such titles as The Goonies, (the original) Karate Kid, E.T., and the endlessly classic string of baseball flicks. There's nothing quite like getting a dose of the style, terminology and branding we grew up on. Kids' movies today are so different, yet still pretty good (I really enjoyed Up and Toy Story 3). So I recommend starting a section in your dvd collection devoted simply to kid-centric films. It may eventually rival your drama collection, and you may be surprised how many days you pull one out just to get that reminiscent kick.

Fit in some dancing

Even if absolutely no one is around and you're singing into your hairbrush, let yourself dance. YouTube is great for looking up your favorite songs that you haven't heard in FOREVER. And a little bit of "twisting," "jiving," "booty-shaking," or whatever you like to do, will feel amazing. If you're feeling brave, take a class, dance with your friends or get a dance-along video. The rush of this simple pleasure is totally worth it.

Buy a toy
When I was a kid, toys would go in cycles. We'd get something new and inevitably, the adults would want to play with it too. There was the yo-yo cycle (in which my dad would show off his tricks), the football cycle (which would inevitably draw us all into the backyard), the windbreaker cycle (goo in a plastic cup--I'll let you guess what that was for)... the list goes on. So if you don't have kids around, you may want to tour the toy section, just to see what's out there. Something my strike your fancy. Nerf items are back once again, and who wouldn't enjoy shooting their friends with a newfangled Nerf gun? Once you're done, you can pass it on to those kids you help out.

And beyond...
Really, there are so many things you can do to distract yourself from the overwhelming negatives of life. Some may involve resurrecting childhood pleasures, while others revolve around the simple things. No matter what, it really all has to do with the mind. It's what we think about, it's what we're reminded of regularly. Certainly it's impossible to completely shut-out the negatives of the world, but it is possible to spend time focusing on the good, innocent aspects of life that so often go forgotten. And in the end, you just may feel a little bit better knowing that there's still some good out there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dear Me: Two Decades of What I Know Now

How many times have people said, "If I had only known then what I know now..." and finished with how they would have lived differently?

It's almost too easy to look back and think how things should've been done differently, how we should've changed ourselves, how we really should've lived.

And what if we could? What if you went back and told yourself how to respond, how to act, how to live; how would that change your future? We like to think it would make a positive difference, and perhaps it would, but really, we'll never know.

All we know is, there is a path we each took, one step at a time. For better or worse, it has gotten us to where we are today. And if where we are isn't where we want to be, all we can do is change our present to dictate our future.

Nevertheless, here are a few letters I would send to the me from yesteryear if I could.

Dear 3-year-old me,
You're going to be asking for a sibling for a while. Don't worry that it's not going to happen any time soon, just keep asking. Eventually you'll get your answer.

Also, you're making a really big decision to give your heart to Jesus this year. (Yes, this does mean the angels are throwing a party in heaven.) This is really the best year of your life just because of that. Never forget it.

Dear 5-year-old me,
This year you're going to Colorado for the first time, to a camp in the mountains. You're going to love it, so just enjoy it while you can. Make the most of it, because you're going to miss it more than anything in 10 years. And oh yeah, you'll be living here in about 18, so falling in love with the mountains is a good idea.

Dear 7-year-old me,
This year you're going to start writing. At first it's going to be pretty lame and you're not going to like it. You'll draw more pictures than write. But mom is going to make you do it, and when you get into high school, you'll be really glad she did. Just keep with it, because farther down the road it's all you're going to want to do. And you will have the opportunity to touch lives with it, so practice while you can.

Dear 9-year-old me,
It's really not a good idea to wear jelly shoes while bike riding. I think you should reconsider. You should also reconsider trying to beat your dad in a race, he'll probably just let you win (if not, losing is okay). Also, wearing a helmet is smart, so keep doing that. Oh and the skin on your elbow will get some sweet looking scar tissue that you will later be proud of. Fortunately, your face will not.

Dear 11-year-old me,
Life is about to get really crazy, so just enjoy the simplicity while you can. I suggest soaking up the last bits of childhood with your neighborhood friends while playing with your American Girl dolls and Beanie Babies.

Dear 12-year-old me,
First, there's not much you can do for the awkwardness, and everything feels like a huge deal because you haven't had these feelings before. It's okay, and it's normal. Also, the best thing is to not tell anyone when you think a boy is cute. And you're going to suck at basketball, but just keep at it because in a few years you'll be kicking butt at it in college.

Second, remember when you were three? Well that prayer is going to get answered. And he will grow up fast, so don't worry, he won't be driving you crazy forever. (Oh and dressing him up in fun little outfits won't last very long either, so take lots of photos.)

Dear 14-year-old me,
Good job on the conflict resolution, that will serve you well in the future. Oh and this year, you're going to get some really hard news. The best thing to do is enjoy your last year with your best friends and to embrace what's to come. Keep remembering what you told God that you wanted to do, this will be your chance.

Dear 15-year-old me,
This year is going to be the hardest one of your life so far, so please keep a few things in mind. First, it will be over in three years, then life will be amazing. Second, you're not ugly, you're just a wallflower. You won't really understand this until later, but trust me, high school boys aren't worth your time. Third, family dynamics are going to change this year, but don't forget that your parents really, truly love you. Finally, you shouldn't be afraid to talk about your faith. In a few years, you won't give a rip what people thought of you. You might as well do something useful with your time instead of trying to fit in.

Dear 16-year-old me,
Don't be afraid to do what you have to do. Be strong, don't back down, and trust God. You will do what other people cannot, and you will be victorious.

Dear 18-year-old me,
This is a great year, you should (and will) enjoy it. Graduation is going to be the best feeling ever, you're never going to look back. Going to college is going to be wonderful. Say hello to freedom, lots of great friends, and college basketball. Oh and your first kiss with a guy you've liked since junior high. Yeah, that'll be the icing on the cake.

Don't forget to write in your journal. You're going to miss being 18.

Dear 19-year-old me,
You're going to struggle a bit this year. I can't tell you why, but you should just be careful, and maybe reconsider what you are wanting to do before you do it. Don't be afraid to tell people no, you will be glad you did.

Dear 20-year-old me,
Keep being yourself, keep living it up, and don't worry about what people think. People have been spreading rumors and they will keep spreading rumors. Just keep your good friends close, only their opinions really matter.

Also, don't worry about not having a roommate in the spring. You're going to get someone who is better than anyone you would've picked for yourself. And you will become best friends.

Dear 22-year-old me,
Don't be in too much of a hurry to get done with school, you will miss it so much in a few years. Keep loving on the people who need you. You need them too. Also, don't be too quick to push away those you are close to. You will miss them before you know it.

Oh, and if you want to put off joining eHarmony, that might be a good idea. I know you're doing it as a joke, but it will go up in flames in about a year. Just a thought, but you do what you want.

Dear 23-year-old me,
I can't really tell you to not do what you're about to do because I don't want you to live with regret. Well, I suppose no matter what you do, you will end up regretting something. Just know that if life was hard before, life will be even harder now. First it will be great, then it will be terrible. Just remember that it won't last forever. Eventually you will learn your many lessons and be back where God wants you.

In the mean time, stay strong. Tears aren't a sign of weakness, they're a sign of humanity. And if you have to mourn, at least you're in Colorado. You've always loved Colorado.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Texts to God

I'm not really sure what got me thinking about this concept of sending texts to God, but I sort of like it.

Of course it's really so much easier to access God than via text message when all you have to do is think. But still, if you only had 160 characters, what would you say?

Then I started wondering if I'd talk to God more if I could text him. But I think we sort of talk all day, without the texting or dropped calls.

For the sake of creativity and blogging, here are some texts to God--confessions, admissions, truths--even though I never had to hit send.

* * * * *

I promise I wasn't ignoring you today. I don't know why everything else seemed so important.

Some days, I really don't understand why people do what they do. Do you?

What's one thing I do that bothers you the most? I know, it's probably way more than one.

Thanks for not sending Jesus back today and proving those religious crazies wrong.

I wish I could love you as much as you love me. Maybe one day?

Thanks for showing me that it's not about me. It's so much bigger.

I miss some of the people that have gone to be with you. What are they doing right now?

Today I don't feel like doing ANYTHING. I need help.

So, whatcha up to?

I wish I could take back the last five minutes... Actually, how about the last five years; any way I can get a do-over? :P

Thanks for the sunshine. I needed it today.

Remember that one time when you provided for me to graduate college without any debt? That was awesome.

I guess cell phones are pretty worthless when you can read my mind, huh?

Good morning. So, what's on the agenda of unexpected events today?!

Can you please, please, PLEASE let the Mavs win the playoffs? Pretty please? :)

I miss how the vastness of the mountains reminded me of your vastness.

I know that this is where you want me... Is there any way you can make it easier?

I just wanted to say thank you. For everything.

On a scale of 1-10, how much does it bother you when I put off spending time with you? Actually, you don't have to answer that...

Please help me to remember I don't have to worry and stress; it's way too easy to forget.

I know you're not going to tell me when, but I can't help but ask. So, when's it going to happen?

You rule. Literally.

I need help not rubbing stuff in people's faces. Or trying to make them feel bad.

Please give me the strength and patience I need to just get through life.

When I have really weird and/or bad dreams, what does that mean exactly?

You created every person in your image. Thank you for the reminder.

Have I been driving you nuts lately? I've been driving myself nuts...

Thank you for being the real definition of the word good.

I seriously need your help right now to not do something I am totally going to regret.

Even though I'm having the hardest time feeling you, I know you're there... right?

When you say no, does that mean a complete and total no? I was just wondering.

God you are higher than any other. I like that song.

When we all get to heaven, can you do a re-enactment of the parting of the Red Sea?

Thanks for the really amazing, close friends you've given me.

Do sacrilegious movies make you mad, or do you just ignore stuff like that?

I could reeeeally use some help today, this is going to be hard.

Can I just ask one small favor?

Thanks for closing that door. As hard as it was, it needed to end.

How old are we going to be in heaven? Just curious.

Help me to really honor you in the things I say and do.

I can't wait for the end of sadness and tears. That's going to be a great day.

I'm just going to be honest, it is really hard for me to be kind to some people a lot of the time.

Have I told you today that I love you? Because, I love you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Outsider's Guide to Fitting In: Life as a PK

If you've spent any time at all in church, you've probably heard someone make reference to pastors' kids. "You know about those pastors' kids," some say with a wink and a nudge.

Pastors' kids are supposedly wild and crazy, or something. I've never quite figured out how we're supposed to be, but apparently everyone knows and everything goes.

I suppose Katy Perry is the poster child for "you know about those pastors' kids." Yup, Miss "I Kissed a Girl" is a pastor's kid, but these days, that doesn't really surprise me. (Other PKs include Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Marvin Gaye, Condoleezza Rice, the Jonas Brothers, and Denzel Washington.)

So if you're feeling at all like an outsider in this world of sometimes crazy PKs, here's everything you probably don't want to know about fitting in.

Everyday life looks something like...
Normalcy doesn't really exist in the life of a PK, but if it did, it may look something like this:

- Everyone knows your business, especially the people that you don't want to know your business. There may be privacy policies on every web site that exists, but trust me, there isn't one for PKs. Ever.
- Similarly, if you say one thing or do one thing, expect every person in your church (and beyond) to know about it within a few hours. This can and will come back to haunt you.
- Conversely, people will rarely remember important things, like your birthday. Also, people will tend to forget you when it comes to sending out invites to activities and events. Later they will say, "Oh you should have come!"
- You get asked the same questions over and over. Just memorize simple answers and you will be good. Attempting to create differently-worded answers will only confuse you.
- Be prepared to censor EVERYTHING. Biggies include Facebook/Twitter/any social networking posts, speech, appearance, and your friends. Yup, you not only have to censor yourself, you also have to censor others. You have a reputation to maintain!

People will assume
Truth doesn't exactly exist when you're a PK. For everyone who sees you regularly, the truth is what they want it to be. For example:

- If you're single, beware. Talking to the opposite gender where people can see you automatically means something is going on. This fact will be widely circulated, first to your mom, then to everyone else who will listen.
- If you're in a relationship, everyone is in it with you. Certain individuals will also want a play-by-play.
- You're either one of two things: a spoiled, bratty goodie-two-shoes or a wild, crazy rebel. There is no in-between. And it's nearly impossible to change people's minds on this, so it's best not to try.
- No matter how you intend to come across when saying something, people will interpret what you do however they want. Once again, it's best not to try. Nodding and smiling usually works best.
- People expect you to remember their name and who they are, even if you only met them once for three seconds. The fact that you are the PK and everyone knows you, puts you at a slight disadvantage. The best thing is to pretend you know who they are, then find out their names later.

Others may do it, you can't
It may be perfectly normal to do some things, but as a PK, you may not participate.

- Non-PKs can broadcast what their dads do for a living. This is socially acceptable and a form of one-up-manship. PKs cannot join in. If they attempt to, they will be given weird looks, and possibly subjected to verbal stoning.
- Other non-PKs will not know the answer to hard questions. You must know the answer, as well as the cross-references.
- Something may be funny, but if it's at all inappropriate, PKs may not laugh. Or even be present.
- Other people your age may be having fun with their peers, but as the PK, you are not permitted to join in. As an alternative, you should stay home and knit.

Great expectations
There are expectations set for PKs that they don't even know about, nor will they ever. PKs are supposed to be "setting an example." That can mean...

- PKs should always know the right thing to say. Not knowing the proper comment will result in blank stares, uncomfortable laughter or silence, and people quickly shuffling away from you.
- PKs should always be well-behaved. That means no dancing, or breaking any of the other unwritten commandments.
- PKs are not allowed to make mistakes. If you make a mistake you may be strung up by your toes, or ridiculed permanently.
- PKs must participate in church activities. You must be in the choir, even if you can't sing; you will be cast in plays, even if you can't act; you have to perform musically, even if you suck; and you have to go to every event for your age group, even if something else that you'd rather do is going on.
- People expect PKs to be homeschooled, socially awkward and nerdy. If you are not one of these things, as a PK something is wrong with you.

Reality check
For those of you who are guilty of PK stereo-typing, here are some true facts for you:

- PKs don't have all the answers. In fact, we're trying to figure out life just like you are. Crazy, huh?!
- Most PKs can't be spoiled. Our dads don't make much and our families are busy trying to help other people. Goodwill, anyone?
- There are some things we don't want broadcasted, and therefore will not be sharing. Sorry, but it's not TMZ: Church Edition.
- Not all PKs are completely wild and crazy, but who is perfect 100% of the time? Let that person cast the first hymnal. I mean stone.
- PKs really are just normal people. We make mistakes, sometimes get things right, and sing along with Katy Perry in the car.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...