Sunday, December 31, 2006

[With Subtitles]

I discovered my first real wrinkle. The pesky little crease is nestled about a half an inch below my hairline, and it gets more pronounced during a migraine--thus explaining my main suspect. Before, it was a crease. Now, however, it truly qualifies as a wrinkle.

Next on the news list, Mommie-deare--er, Mom, rather, is on the rampage tonight. She apparently woke prematurely from a nap, and everything is setting her off tonight. Thus I now am hiding out in my room the rest of the night. Happy-freakin'-New-Year!

Which brings me to my one and only (though two-part) New Year's resolution: get a job and get out of the freakin' house! Failure to achieve this goal might just culminated in my admission to the funny farm. For life. My parents: amazing people, impossible for me to live with anymore. Besides the peevishness, I am not appreciative of feeling as though I have to justify every word, every purchase, and every thought to my parents, especially since I haven't been having to do that for so long. Le sigh.

On a positive note, I watched Pride and Prejudice both in French and Spanish two nights ago. Fabulous, and I think doing stuff like this will help keep my foreign language skills semi-brushed-up.

Brief update... Mom's mood's improved. The just-woken-up crankiness must have worn off.

Michelle and I are such nerds. We're chatting online (while living 10 miles apart), reading our old archived IM conversations from almost 2 years ago. We are such special children.

Anyway, that's all I've got. My creativity's kind of lacking lately.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

[Tumors and Cysts]

I suppose I ought to write an update. After all, much has happened in the past week. [Warning: the following may be too much information for some of you, but it's relevant to my update] Wednesday, I went in to ask the doctor to put me back on the pill. My period's been really crazy lately, and that's why I'd gone on it in the first place... not to mention the killer cramps (see several previous posts on that note). What should've been simple ended up sending me to the hospital the next day for an ultrasound. In his examination, my doctor found that my right ovary was swollen and had growths building on it--less than a year ago, my examination came back completely normal.

Thursday, I had the great pleasure of waking up at 6:15 a.m. to inhale 32 ounces of soda before my test at 7:30. I sat for half an hour in the waiting room, my bladder hating me, and finally they took me in. My poooooor bladder.

The next day, the doctor's office called. They recommended that I get in to see a specialist as soon as possible. I have several cysts on my right ovary, one of which, due to the fact that it's filled with both fluid and solid parts, appears to be either infectious or neoplasmic. For those of you unaware, neoplasm is another way of referring to a tumor, either benign or malignant. Either way, it's gotta come out (possibly with my ovary) because of its increasing size.

I have an OB/GYN appointment on January 3, and if I need surgery (which I seem to at this point), I'll be going in the next day.

Anyway, that's what's been going on lately, and it explains why I've been feeling like crap all semester. In spite of the negativity involved in the diagnosis, it's kind of comforting to know that all my exhaustion, restlessness, moodiness, cramps, etc. was not all in my head or due to personal physical weakness. I have something going on in there, and by simple cause-and-effect, it's affecting everything else.

Moral of the story: Ladies, PLEASE do not neglect your yearly PAP smear... this is a very sneaky thing and more common than you may think.

Prayer is greatly appreciated (though I'm not really scared or anything yet). Anyway, now you know.

Peace out, yo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

[The End of All Things (Collegiate)]

Well, it happened. Tonight, I spoke at CCF Senior Night, just like I watched dozens of seniors do over the past seven semesters (I wasn't a CCFer my first year). Tonight was my turn. It was beautiful, traumatizing, emotional, delightful, heartbreaking, and frankly, exhausting. I hate hate hate good-byes. I know they're inevitable, and I can't expect to stay in the same place forever. It's just hard to watch this part of my life, which was both fabulous and extremely difficult, come to an end. Le sigh.

Mom and Dad are here. I've missed them, very much, though I'm not looking forward to moving home. I've become so used to almost complete autonomy that I don't know what I'm going to do for the next several months. I want a job, and not in Branson. Please.

I think I'm going to put off writing any more for awhile, until I've had a few days to process all these events and emotions. Right now it's just a rush of chaos with very little logic. When I'm back to semi-sanity, I'll be back here. Peace, love, and good-bye my dear Kirksville!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

[Creepy Venders and Procrastination]

I'm so ashamed. I need to write something like 10-15 pages by tomorrow at 9:30, and I'm sitting here procrastinating. *Sigh* Dang senioritis.

So the girls (Andrea, Sunshine, Kate) and I went to Columbia yesterday for some graduation dress shopping. Kate and Sunny found some lovely things... picky Andrea and Niki found nada. Well, I shouldn't say nothing, since I did find two pretty freakin' cool scarves for seven bucks apiece. Boo-yah. Ooh, and we were spooked by this creepy guy who was working the calendar booth in the mall. Andrea and I were walking back, and he comes behind us and says, in this unctuous voice, "Hey laaaadieees, would you like a free calendar for your purses?" He would not be deterred, so we took it, walked away very quickly, and threw the calendars away in perfect unison. *Shudder* It was way creepier in person than it sounds on paper.

Ok, I must stop typing this now. I am hoping to sleep sometime tonight, and procrastinating my final exam questions is not helping my case at all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

[I Think I Can]

Chug-a-chug-a-chug-I-think-I-can-I-hope-I-can-I-pray-I-can-sur-vive-this-week-and-next-week-a-chug-a-chug-one-day-at-a-time-step-by-step-a-chug-a-chug...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[Inevitable Nervous Breakdown]

Yesterday afternoon, I sensed its approach. Actually, if I had been truly tuned in, I would have felt its presence the night before when I couldn't sleep until nigh on three a.m. But I definitely sensed impending doom yesterday afternoon when the twitching began.

Some time after lunch, the muscle in my nose closest to my left eye started to twitch once or twice per minute. In Hebrew Scriptures class, the twitching upgraded to several jerks each minute. The last time my tick appeared was shortly after the CCF van accident, when I was feeling rather traumatized and was unable to express my reaction.

Sure enough, last night around 10:30, the nausea came. Then, the tightening in my chest. By 11:45, I was on Yahoo IM bawling my eyes out to Michelle. Thank You, Lord, for Michelle. After 30-45 minutes of an anxiety attack, I calmed down. I managed to fall asleep.

I really need to get through these next two weeks, and quickly. I have more coming at me right now than my emotions can handle.

And I don't like the twitch. It makes my nose tingly.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

[I'm Nuts]

Well, I am now officially insane. It's 1:30 in the morning, I have to be up in seven hours, I spent about five or six hours doing some hardcore studying for Hebrew Scriptures, and I'm still awake. Crazy, I tell ya!

Ladies and gentlemen, I will graduate from college in eleven days. That is sooooo creepy. I'll be sprouting grey hairs before I know it.

Alright, here's the grad-prep checklist as it currently stands:

Completed:
LSP Portfolio
All fees paid
Cap and gown purchased
Announcements purchased and mailed
Senior Capstone presentation given
Art History term paper turned in
All clearance signatures received

In progress:
BA Portfolio
Senior Capstone paper

To be accomplished:
Finals
CCF Senior Night
Graduate
Pack
Move home

It's really happening.

Ok, I know I had more to say than this earlier. Oh, well. I'll just bore you another time.

Monday, November 27, 2006

[I Wonder...]

I give up. I wrote six pages (out of a recommended 10-15)... it's all fairly coherent, it proves my thesis, so I quit. I simply cannot spare another brain cell tonight (and only one more tomorrow, to check it over and polish it).

Thanksgiving was pretty cool. I spent it with my grandparents (and my biological dad). That's pretty generally both fun and emotionally taxing. If you know my story at all, you know I've only been in touch with them since my 18th birthday. While Grandma and I get along famously, things with Michael (the dad dude) are more confusing and difficult. Not to say we fight or anything, but there's a difficult history, regrets on both sides of the fence, and I don't know what the entirely true story is, because I don't have my mom's story from her own lips. Somehow I am sure that her story would be the most fair toward all parties.

On the other hand, I'm now starting to feel more like a member of the Miniea family. We went to St. Peters to my cousins Lee and Phyllis' house, and we had a rather large crowd. I felt comfortable enough to joke around and be my usual smart alecky self ("Boy, I'm glad I got a piece of chocolate cake before Aunt Alex drops it on the floor in about two seconds...").

Grandma gave me pictures of Mom and Mike's wedding. When I get some free time for contemplation, I'm going to search these questions I have dancing around my head, like, "What must it have felt like to be sixteen, getting married, and having a baby? What if Mike hadn't screwed up with the drugs and alcohol... would we have stayed a proper family? And what if the stress of the marriage and divorce triggered Mom's cancer? What if? What if? What if?" I know it's pointless to explore the what ifs, especially since, as Aslan said, "It's not for you to know what if." The what-ifs will never be, so it's a waste to over-ponder them. Nevertheless, I have to wonder. What would it have been like to have young parents rather than old ones, like the ones who raised me? Would I still have found the Lord? Would I still be as comfortable around older people as I am? Would I have grown up faster in order to help take care of things around the house? Mike told me that when I was still living with them while they were married, I was just about two years old, but I would operate the can opener on a can of pasta, put it in a bowl, and microwave it. If I did stuff like that at that young of an age, what else would be different if I'd had to take care of myself more? Is my tendency to yearn for and thrive off of independence have anything to do with those first two years?

There are so many questions, but the one who could have answered them the best is gone. I just wonder.

[Term Paper Hell]


I'm in term paper hell. That's all I have time to say.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

[Music and Recovery]


I expect that this entry will be fairly brief. It's after midnight, and tomorrow's my extra-long day. But it's been awhile since I've posted, and thus I feel the need to write my thoughts.

I'm nearing the end of a rather vicious battle with a sinus infection. My doctor gave me a double dose of antibiotics since I seem to have so much trouble kicking these things and keeping them down. The first few days are rough, and my mind tends to be even more scatterbrained. But after the midpoint of treatment, suddenly I find myself with the energy and focus needed to do my homework! It's amazing not to feel despair looking at my list of things to do.

It's kind of funny, really; I'm sick so often that it's gotten to where I can't easily distinguish between me sick and me healthy. It seems like I'm always fighting something. Frankly, I blame it on surgeries 11 through 16. I think they pretty much mortally wounded my immune system.

The roommates and I have decorated the Boomchuck Pixy Townhouse (our apartment) for Christmas already (brief explanation: only 2 weeks after Thanksgiving, we'll be moving). My piano looks romantic and inhabited by fairies. We have white Christmas lights around the living room, the end of which I've draped over my piano and interwoven with the red-and-orange runner and the artificial grapevine. It's soooooo pretty!

Speaking of my piano: I've been playing again. It's awesome to play without obligation; suddenly I have no difficulty in practicing for an hour; five years ago, it tortured me to sit there for 20 minutes! I love music so much. I sat there playing this weekend, and as I played O Holy Night, I forgot about everything but the sound of the music just carrying me away. I actually played, not just practiced, and it's as though my love for music has been reborn. I'm so looking forward to December in that once I'm finished with work (or as will probably be the scenario for a month or two, job-hunting) each day, I can sit down and do those things I love, like music, painting, and creative-writing. I've missed being able to devote focused time on them without feeling guilty for not doing something else.

Well, I need to go to bed. I have more to say, but I can't justify sitting up much longer--I have to get up too early. Good night, and may His face shine on yours!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

[And Now, a More Serious Post]

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex, a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage, frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness, trinket gods, magic-show religion, paranoid loneliness, cutthroat competition, all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants, a brutal temper, an impotence to love or be loved, divided homes and divided lives, small-minded and lopsided pursuits, the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival, uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

But what happenes when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. -Galatians 5:19-23 [The Message]

And something I read in the Nov/Dec issue of Relevant:

Sobering Fact #23:
The Power of Giving
If Christians had given the traditional 10 percent tithe of their income to their churches in 2004, instead of the 2.56 percent they actually gave, there would have been an additional $164 billion available, according to a report released in October called "The State of Church Giving through 2004." If the churches chose to funnel just $80 billion of that additional income to missions and humanitarian works, the basic needs of every person on the globe would be provided.

What are we doing with our lives? Have you ever been face to face with a starving, impoverished community, forced to drink contaminated water and scratch a living off a rock? Millions around the world could be provided for if we who say we are Christians would live out what we claim to believe. No one would have to starve. What's 10 percent of an income? Not much... not much at all; yet if we all gave, we could love our neighbors around the world tangibly. After all, what says "I love you" more: preaching words that suffering people never hear from halfway around the world, or giving a bowl of soup to a child who hasn't eaten in days?

Challenge yourself, and challenge your church leaders. We don't have to living in a starving world. We really don't.

[A Little Musical Fun]

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening Credits: Grace and Love - Kutless/Kutless
Waking Up: Let My Words Be Few - Rebecca St. James/Worship God
First Day At School: Make That Noise - V*Enna/Where I Wanna Be
Falling In Love: (oh man, this is ironic!) He's Not Here - Hero!: The Rock Opera
Fight Song: I Need Thee Every Hour - Jars of Clay/Redemption Songs
Breaking Up: Living La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
Prom: Finding Who We Are - Kutless/Strong Tower
Life: I Got a Feeling - Third Day/Wire
Mental Breakdown: Notes/Prima Donna - Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack
Driving: This Day - Steven Curtis Chapman/Declaration
Flashback: You - Rebecca St. James/Worship God
Wedding: New World - tobyMac/Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia
Birth of Child: Speaking in Tongues - The Elms/Truth, Soul, Rock N Roll
Final Battle: (again, ironic!) Underwater March - Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack
Death Scene: All of the Above - MercyMe/Spoken For
Funeral Song: (ooh, nicely chosen one!) Where I Wanna Be - V*Enna/Where I Wanna Be
End Credit: (laughing outright at this title) God Only Knows - Forty Days/Forty Days

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Halloween 2006

Welcome to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood! <--
Sadly, this was not a good picture year. Perhaps it is due to a low level of enthusiasm, or perhaps I'm just all-around tired. However, I think this may be my best costume yet, so that almost balances out the poor pictures. Here's some evidence:



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

[Have I Frightened You?]

It occurs to me that perhaps I've been a little too forward with my emotions, doubts, and fears lately. Perhaps I've scared a few of you off, and I'm dreadfully sorry about that. The thing is, though, that I consider my blog somewhere to just spill my guts, whether my emotions are "right" or not. I hate the idea of pretending everything is all fine and dandy when I don't even know which way is up. By choosing to be forthright in my confessions, though, I think I may give the impression that I've lost my joy or that I've abandoned my faith; I have not done either. Let's make that clear.

I write about my doubts because they're real. They may indicate a lack of trust, and if they do, well, that's something I'm aware of and am trying to learn to overcome. Nevertheless, I do not choose to pretend everything is great so I look "okay". On the one hand, I'm fine, I really am. Even during my emotional breakdowns, I know that God is in control and has my (and more importantly, His) best interests in mind. But that does not prevent me from getting upset or frightented. I'm human, I'm loaded with estrogen and the like, and while my common sense assures me that I'm alright, my emotions stubbornly beg to differ.

I think that's why it bothers me when people try to reassure me with advice or by reminding me that there's no need to worry. I'm perfectly aware of these things, but my emotions don't really take that hint very well. I understand that those who reassure me are trying to help and I DO appreciate it, immensely. But trust me when I say that a rational voice is nothing but irritation to a worked-up soul.

Anyway, I wanted to clear that up. I don't want to scare you away, my readers; but at the same time, I will not hold back from expressing these emotions. I want--no, I need--to be real. If you have trouble with that, I am sorry. If you don't want to read anymore, I understand completely. I do hope that you will continue to read what I write, however. Just don't expect to figure me out just yet; I'm working on that myself.

[Career Woman... what?!]

Yahoo! Geocities hates me today. I just thought you should know that.

Anyway, I went to the Career Expo today. It's a little overwhelming, with all these booths crowded into the rooms, people shaking my hand before I even know what booth I'm looking at. And I felt weird... really weird. I wore a suit today, one of those uber-professional looking suits, and I felt like a small child playing dress up. I looked in the mirror before I left, and I saw this same face I've had for years stuck on top of a grown-up body wearing a suit. How did I get to this point? Now, the sensible side of me is telling me that this is okay, I'm 23 years old and an adult now; it's okay to look like an adult. But the me side of me says, "What the heck?!"

So weird.

Yeah, I don't have much more to say. I've got quite a pile of homework I need to take care of ASAP, so I'll leave you on that oh-so-tantalizing note.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

[Creative Writing Prompt]

Where do I see myself in a year?

You know, I used to love these prompts. As a child, I had grand dreams and goals planned out from my occupation to the day I would get married to the house I would live in. I was going to go to college for four years, graduate at the top of my class, make a million dollars right out of school, and get married shortly after my 22nd birthday. Instead, I've gone to school for four and a half years, I will graduate just shy of the 3.5 GPA mark (a concept that would've horrified me at 12 years old), make 20,000 a year if I'm lucky, and I'm a year past my marriage date and I've yet to date a single person.

That was the cool thing about being a kid. I could make the minutest plans and they, as far as I was concerned, were completely within reach... especially since it was still ten or twenty years away. Now even thinking about where I'll be in as little as a year is unthinkable and terrifying.

I suppose it comes with maturity. As you get older, your ideals of the world being in your grasp fade into reality. It's one thing to dream of graduating from a top-notch university with a 4.0 grade point average; achieving that level of perfection is a whole other story.

I have no real expectations for this time next year. I have a few hopes, such as being settled in a job, owning a small house that needs a lot of work, and making enough money to pay all my bills and to let me buy an occasional DVD. Past that, I dare not think. And dating? I'm just trying not to get my hopes up.

Monday, October 23, 2006

[Overwhelming Uncertainty]

Knowing that pretty much every time I write on here in the midst of a nervous/emotional breakdown I end up regretting it, I'm writing anyway. I need to get it all off my chest before I burst.

I'm scared. Right or wrong, faithful or faithless, I'm scared. I'm scared I'm going to fail. I'm scared that everything I've done these past four and a half years is useless. I'm scared that I'm going to find myself alone. I'm scared that I'll spend the rest of my life in a job that sucks my soul dry. I'm scared of it all. I've got this overwhelming sensation that I'm going to screw up everything I try to do.

All my life, I've worked to overcome obstacles so I could live "normally." All I've ever really wanted was a complete life, full of those things that bring others joy (and pain). I'm willing to brave a broken heart to have known a little romance (but I've never gotten the chance yet). I realize I'm young, but I hate that I keep hoping for something that may never happen, and even if it does, will never completely fulfill me. I hate that while I believe in Jesus with all my heart and soul that I'm too much of an idiot to trust Him explicitly.

I also hate that whenever I do one of these vents, someone, instead of letting me have my cry, tries to comfort me with platitudes. They always mean the best, but the truth is, it feels like an attack, like they refuse to validate my very real hurts and fears. Dammit, I can't be happy all the time. I'm too human, and I get scared. Please don't tell me I'm doing something wrong. Whether it's true or not, it is NOT the right thing to say. Just because I'm scared or overwhelmed does not mean I don't believe. Even though I'm crying and trembling, I still have joy. I have not forgotten that. But joy and happiness are not synonymous. They never have been.

Right now, I don't need criticism; I need affirmation. All your criticism, however good-intentioned, only makes it worse. Trust me on this.

It feels like whatever decision I make, I let someone down.

I need to move on, to get on to the next phase, but all the same, the next phase has me petrified. My faith tells me that no matter what, God will put me where He wants me to be... and His will is perfect. And I do believe it. But that does not take away the fear.

I hate this not knowing. In six months, I'll look back and wonder why the hell I was so freaked out, but in six months, that's the thing: I'll be looking BACK. All my knowledge of this time and the near future will have the striking advantage of hindsight. Up until now, even when things down the road were quite uncertain, I at least had an inkling of my next step. But right now, I feel like I'm groping in the dark, unsure if there are spiders or a light switch up ahead. The only thing I'm fairly certain of is that I will graduate with a BA in English from Truman State University on December 16, 2006, and whatever happens next is, well, alone. I can't help but think that if I were taking this step with someone tangible, I'd feel a lot less scared. I know God's got my back, front, and sides, I really do, but nonetheless, I'm scared.

I know it's normal not to have any idea. For once I'm "normal" and it's no amount of comfort. Ironic, isn't it?

I've vented now, and I don't know how clearly I've explained my state of heart and mind. Either way, I've gotten some of it off my chest, and hopefully I'll fall asleep now.

Thanks for listening. Sometimes, that's what I need, no more and no less. That, and a hug.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

[Twitchy Niki]

With job searching no longer on the horizon but rather now here, at hand, and urgent, as well as term paper season, portfolio organizing time, and rapidly approaching graduation, I am quite on edge. Time is taunting me with whispers of doom... it says, "Psst... if you don't find a job in the next month and a half, you're screwed! Doom! You'll have to move back home (doom!), and if you do that, you'll get stuck in Reeds Spring forever! Doom!" Not exactly logical, I know, but agitating nonetheless.

So, dear readers and beloved friends, I am apologizing ahead of time. If you find me snappish, unsocial, dazed, abrupt, temperamental (already, signs of this one), acting like a loner, hiding from the world, putting up walls around my heart in order to be prepared to break away from the place that's been more of a home than any other for a long time, I sincerely apologize. I swear, it's not you. Don't mistake my short temper with not liking you, because I do like you. I just feel like a ticking time bomb, and with everything I have to do, it's probably not going to change until after I walk across the stage to get my degree. Maybe longer. So please, I beg of thee, have patience with my shenanigans. The pressure has to release somehow, and sometimes it's not in the most pleasant manner.

I still love you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

[My First Abstract Painting]


I've never really done an original abstract painting before, so this is my first attempt.
Now, before I tell you all what it's about, I'd like to hear what you think. Do your own little art critiquing thing where you tell me what you think it represents (be specific if you like).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

[The Fowarding Epidemic]

Before you next forward a letter that makes whatever various claim (however plausible it may sound), do a background check first. Do your part to stop annoyance in its tracks!

~ For info on CHAIN LETTERS, check out this great description of chain letters: http://www.cs.rutgers.edu/~watrous/chain-letters.html

~ For info on URBAN MYTHS/SCAMS, check out: Urban Legends Reference Pages: http://www.snopes.com
Internet ScamBusters: http://www.scambusters.org

~ For info on VIRUS HOAXES, check out: Computer Virus Myths: http://www.vmyths.com/ AntiVirus Research Center: http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html

And yes, I shall fill you in on birthday details. I'm taking a rain check until at least Thursday night. Sigh, midterms.

Monday, October 02, 2006

[Birthdays]

I'll be 23 in a week. Already.



Yeah, ok, that's all I got. The rest of my writing energy is reserved for my senior seminar writing project.

Monday, September 25, 2006

[Owwwwww]

These damn migraines have gotten worse. I was really hoping beginning an exercise program would help relieve the annoyance, but no, I'm getting them almost every single day, and I've been getting more of the more hardcore headaches. Today, for example, I woke up fine, an hour later needed ibuprofen (which worked), and then 2 hours later and five minutes after seeing my less-than-ideal French test score, I got a hardcore migraine. I had a hardcore migraine on Thursday, and I'm pretty sure I had one the week before too. Used to be that I only got them every couple months.

I really don't want to go to the doctor about this. I'm fairly sure they're going to tell me again that there's nothing to be done. I have people praying for my migraine relief, I'm trying to take it easier this semester and not let myself worry so much about school, and I'm trying to be healthier with diet and exercise, but no avail. It's all gotten worse. I think this may be the thorn in my side, and I have to confess, I think I may lose it. If they were just periodic headaches, I could deal with it, but I get them almost every single day. Ibuprofen used to work, but it's definitely losing its effect. Tylenol hasn't worked for years, and Excedrine migraine only works for a couple hours.

I need to just suck it up and go to the doctor, don't I? Ugh.

Sorry if you're not a fan of complaint posts. I needed that off my chest.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

[In Heaven, I'll Eat Lasagna and Chocolate Everyday]

Right, so I'm pretty much dead tired right now, which may explain my apparently poor judgment in making a post right now. If anything I say tonight is strange, I plead "too much crap to do in too short of time!"

An excerpt from my roommate and I's conversation this afternoon:

Me: You know, for all my griping about being single and stuff, I was thinking yesterday while walking between classes, I don't really feel ready to be married at all. I think most of the problem is feeling left behind and a little lonely.
Andrea: Yeah. You know, there are a lot of things I still want to do before I take the plunge.
Me: Fo'sho. Though... it would be nice to know the identity of the Plunger.
(brief pause) Crap. That came out terrible. That was very wrong.
Andrea: (laughter intermingled with uncontrollable snorts)

Movie quote of the day: "Shut up you feline floozy!" -Batman, 1966

Ok, I think the old brain's fully shut down for the night, so I'm off. Peace, love, and CHOCOLATE!!!!!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

[So Ripped!]

French test today! Ack! No, I haven't studied (though I plan to do a quick refresher read from 11-12:00). I'm so incredibly burnt out on school right now.

It's time for another fitness update! I started using the eliptical machine a couple weeks ago along with the stationary bike. Since heart health is such an issue in my family, I've been trying to do some cardio work, and the eliptical really gets the old ticker tickin'. When I started out on the eliptical 2 weeks ago, my heart rate averaged about 175, and I could only endure about ten minutes of it. I got off, and my roomie did a double take at my very red face. I sure felt that one! But on Saturday, when I went to the rec, my heart rate averaged around 185 (kinda scary, but it didn't feel that uncomfortable), and I held out for 15 minutes. That was it for the day, though... hehe. But... Whoo-hoo! My face was not nearly so flushed, and it was equivalent to jogging over a mile. I've never jogged a mile in my life; I usually collapse after 1/4 of a mile and have to walk the rest of the way. I really feel improved. My energy's up about 2 notches, and I'm actually excited about going back to the rec this afternoon and giving it another go. My legs aren't protesting angrily, and in spite of the allergy med grogginess, I'm feeling like I can take it on with gusto. Plus, because of this new exercise pattern, I'm bending and twisting in directions I haven't done since... well, ever. I've never been very flexible or firm on my feet, but I'm feeling much more so now. It's pretty handy when I knock something off my desk and I can just stretch across and pick it up without having to get up and trip over my computer wires or my backpack I so carelessly dropped on the floor.

Ooh, and having lost another pound didn't hurt my feelings, either. I'm down 5 pounds from the beginning of June when I started. It doesn't seem like much, but it's been a steady decrease without any funny bouncebacks, so I know it's much more effective than dropping 20 pounds in a month. I'm thinking that if I can maintain the willpower to keep this up, I may get down to my proper weight and size by this time next year. It's not to say that I think I'm fat or anything, but I've definitely got a bit more padding now than I had when I graduated, and even then I wasn't exactly stick-thin. I might even hang onto my old prom dress; I may fit back in it yet, and it's classy enough that it won't go out of style very soon.

Well, kids, studying awaits. Peace, love, and CHOCOLATE GALORE!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

[I've Got to Post...]

...so I'm not leaving you hanging on that last crazy-emotional entry. Sorry, kids... I'm artistic and, naturally, very dramatic. It's my curse. Anywho...

My hair's long enough for pigtails again! I feel like a girl again. I don't understand why I'm so pathetic, to be honest, where I don't feel feminine unless I can pull my hair back. After all, I don't think that when I see other ladies wearing short hair, but I guess it's a personal thing. Actually, I think I'm gonna grow it back out all the way and cut it off again. It's kind of fun to see people's expressions when I show up with 10 inches less hair.

I really am looking forward to having an income and a place of my own. It's trivial, but I really want a new bed. I have no headboard on mine (it's actually a trundle bed), and because the head of my bed is in front of the window, I can't lean my pillows against anything. If I try to lean against the window, well, I basically would fall between the bed and the window. It's a very Niki thing to manage to do. So, new bed, full size or larger, with a headboard. The rest of the stuff can be replaced quite gradually, as far as I'm concerned.

Ooh, speaking of bedrooms, I'm actually COLD tonight! It's awesome! I've spent the past three months in this room melting or surviving with the fan blowing directly on me all night, but tonight, it's slightly chilly! I love fall! Which, of course, means that it's 22 days until my birthday. Normally, I get completely psyched, and of course I'm excited, but the age thing feels so, well, dull. I mean, 23. It's such an in-between kind of year. But that's ok, it's still another year God's given me in this world, for better or for worse. That's plenty reason to praise.

As the semester progresses, I'm growing more and more ready for graduation. I'm ready to leave behind reminders of my crush (which is particularly crushing this month so far) and just plain get past school. I'm looking forward to using the time that I currently devote to homework (and procrastinating on it) to doing things like FINALLY teaching myself to play the guitar that's collecting dust in the corner and tackling oil painting projects. In a way, it'll be good for me to be on my own for awhile. My walk has become such a corporate-worship type of walk in the past couple years, and while having a group of people to keeping me accountable is good, too much can result (and has) in my neglecting one-on-one time with the Lord. So, as much as I love everyone here, I do realize that my time is drawing to a close, and I'm growing at peace with it.

Furthermore, I'm starting to believe (even if I don't like) the fact that it's probably never going to happen with me and The Boy. Either someday God's going to place a gentleman in my life who is right, or He'll teach me to find joy in my singleness. One of the things about the Church that drives me a little nuts is this lie that's floating around that, if the desire of your heart is a spouse, if you devote yourself enough to God, He'll send that one to you. It comes from that verse in Psalm that says that if you seek after God, He'll give you the desires of your heart. But if you're seeking after God, He'll give you that desire... Himself. It gets taken the wrong way. We don't know that He's going to give us earthly happiness. He never promised that. He promised joy and peace in the Spirit, but that does not denote earthly satisfaction or eventual relief for our longings.

I might marry someday (which I really do long for), but it's not promised. So enough of the false/dishonest hope!

Seek first Christ, not so He'll give you what you want, but so He'll give you what you need: Himself.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

[Inexhaustible Joy and Inexpressible Sorrow]

At the end of 1992, Mom and I were having races around the nursing home parking lot... and she always won, even in her electric wheelchair. Her laugh echoed across the concrete as she teased me for being a slowpoke. As the year drew to a close, she began to feel tingling sensations in her legs--for the first time in seven years.

As I fell asleep each night, my mind came alive with grand dreams of her pending liberation from that imprisoning hospital bed and the cold wheelchair. I imagined her and I moving into a home of our own before I yet became a teenager. I'd hug her, and she'd be able to fully hug me back.

What eternal hope! Think of how the disciples probably felt as they watched this revolutionary man stumping the religious rulers of their time. This was Him! He was going to liberate them from these political and religious oppressions and set up this fantastic home, the twelve of them helping him lead this amazing earthly kingdom. Nothing could defeat them now!

Back in the 20th century, reality quickly crushed my mighty hopes. On April 7, 1993, we received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night, saying that Mom had been rushed to the hospital, her fever so high that her skin was flushed bright red.

But she's getting well, I thought to myself, so this is just a little setback. She'll be out within a week. She's been in before, and if cancer and all those pneumonia scares didn't break her then, she isn't going to lose now.

Sunday, what seemed to be just another pneumonia scare proved to be worse. That sunny Easter morning, we had to go back to the hospital. The hospital rushed her over to ICU to keep a closer watch on her and put her on life support. Her labored breathing grew weaker and more desperate with each passing hour. Doctors tuned out my pleas to go in and see her; she'd be well in no time, they assured me.

By Wednesday, the fight proved too much. Now getting less than half the oxygen she needed, she gave her permission to remove the machine. Just after noon, she breathed her last.

Words can never express the devastation I felt (and periodically still do). There is such finality in the word "death". Any more chance you had to demonstrate love to that person is gone (at least until your own death). Comfort that she's free of that perpetual pain and can now dance freely only goes so far.

The devastation I felt on April 14, 1993, I see in those disciples. The one who was going to create this awesome new life was suddenly gone. It made no sense!!! All the while they watched, they hoped (and probably believed) He was going to blow away his enemies and emerge victorious... and alive. But He signed His life away, and now they were all alone, stuck with questions that had no answers.

A few years ago I dreamed she came back. I walked into her old nursing home room; she lay in her old bed with a goofy grin on her face.

"Mom, you--weren't you--What are you--?!"

"I'm back, Niki-honey. I'll never leave you again. I'm back."

I haven't felt happiness like I did at that moment... well, ever. I sobbed in my sleep. Soon after, I woke, my pillow drenched with my tears, realizing it hadn't happened. She's still gone, and nothing will change that.

But in that split second I believed she was here, I saw into the disciples' hearts on Easter morning. Once they realized it wasn't some sick trick and that He really walked among them once more, nothing could defeat their ecstatic happiness! He who was DEAD is ALIVE!!!

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He's not here!"

How can I experience inexhaustible joy and inexpressible sorrow in the same instant? I don't know, but I do, even now.

I miss her with all my heart, but PRAISE GOD, He is ALIVE! He's not in that grave, and someday, PRAISE GOD, my dream of being with her, alive and well, will be fulfilled.

[Expliquer et Parler]

I don't make political posts very often; not because I don't have strong beliefs, but because I hate debate. You vote your way by your convictions, I'll vote mine. But every once in a while I read an article that helps to illustrate why I follow the policies I do. I don't like politics. As Derek Webb says in his song:

who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him
i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a King & a Kingdom

there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him
(chorus)

but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think

Anyway, that explains why I made the last post and why I refuse to jump into any political debates. That being cleared up...

I love coming home listening to good music. It puts me in a good mood like no other, sinus headache and all. Ooh, and I actually slept through the night last night! I think if I can pull that off once more, I'll be feelin' better.

I had something hyperspiritual/philosophical to say last night after the sermon, but I lost it. Sorry.

Se amo, Ustedes. Hasta luego!

Oh, and a welcome to my old xanga readers... did you get the hint? ;)

From Sojourners Magazine email:

Who is the enemy?
by Omar Al-Rikabi

I have been on the road a lot in the last three months, taking different road-trips to New Orleans, New York City, Nashville, and Dallas. Constantly in the shadow of the endless line of 18-wheelers, I noticed that one particular trucking company had this sign posted on most of their trucks:

Support our troops whenever we go!
No aid or comfort to the enemy!
No way!

So who is the enemy?

Last summer my older cousin Ali was able to come in from Ohio to be at our wedding. I think it was really good for my dad to have someone from back home who was able to be there, and he filled in as my grandmother's escort, sitting with her on the front row.

Ali was forced to serve in the Iraqi Army in the first Gulf War. Other cousins were also conscripted, stationed on the front lines and in Kuwait City. Some of them were rounded up in the mass-surrenders after the ground war began, and they all made it home. But Ali had a different story. He was a field surgeon on the front lines with the Republican Guard. Sadaam thought that if he placed the medical units close enough to the rest of the soldiers then the Americans wouldn't bomb and shell them. He was wrong.

Somehow the Iraqis knew when the American ground troops would be coming over the dunes, and so they were given a five-day pass to go home to Baghdad and say their goodbyes. Ali knew it would be a meat-grinder, and he knew that under Sadaam desertion meant death and trouble for your family. So while he was in Baghdad he had another surgeon friend take out his perfectly good appendix. While he was in the hospital, his entire unit was annihilated.

Around that same time a Marine friend of mine named Nelson had been part of an artillery outfit that was shelling Iraqi positions inside Kuwait. Suddenly an Iraqi artillery shell slammed into the hood of the truck Nelson was standing next to, but it was a dud and didn't go off. He lived to come home and tell me that story.

Also at our wedding, only four rows back from Ali, was my friend Joe, who is an Army Ranger veteran. On the other side of the isle from Ali was one of my two mothers-in-law, whose stepbrother was part of the Army forces that moved through the same area of Kuwait where Ali had been. On another pew was my friend Johanna, whose husband has served in Afghanistan and is now training for Special Forces duty in the Middle East.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The best phrase came from a taxi driver in Cairo, right after the invasion of Iraq three years ago, who upon finding out that my brother was half Iraqi and half American said, "Ahhh ... is funny. Your country is attacking your country."

I have often become frustrated when I have heard people in my church make statements like, "Remember who we're fighting here," before they lead prayers for our military victory. A professor here at Asbury once said that the only two choices we have is to either "convert them or keep them from hurting us."

Well ... first of all you can't fight and win a "war on terror." Terrorism is a method, not a country or ideology. I once heard it said that fighting a war on terror is like having the flu and declaring a war on sneezing: you're only attacking the symptoms. As long as there have been people, there has been terrorism.

But what frightens me is the mindset in this country, and in the church, that seems to think terrorism was born and raised in the Middle East, and if we can take out the Muslim Arabs then the world will be a safer place. Put this idea up against the idea in large segments of the Arab world that America has, in a sense, created terror herself with her policies toward the Middle East. So the cycle continues, and we have "become a monster to defeat a monster."

So who is the enemy? I believe that on this side of the cross, according to the scriptures, that "we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12)

If you track through the whole story of scripture, you see that while God may have fought battles on Israel's behalf in the Old Testament, the trajectory was always towards to the cross, which redeemed God's intention for creation. Jesus set for us an example of living and witnessing that intention through loving, serving, and forgiving our enemies. The way of Christ was not to kill and destroy those who had abused and killed him.

Imagine what would have happened if the entire mass community of Christians who prayed so fervently for our troops to "defeat the enemy" would have instead prayed against the real Enemy and for peace between humanity.

So who is the enemy? We must first remember that the enemies of America are not the enemies of God. I have Iraqi Army veteran family and U.S. Army veteran friends. I have been raised by Southern Methodists and Shiite Muslims. I cannot abdicate the gospel message of Christ to a bomb, but can only bear the cross: the ultimate battlefield victory over the Enemy.

Omar Al-Rikabi is the son of a Southern Methodist mother from Texas and a Shiite Muslim father from Iraq. He is in his final year of earning a Masters of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a declared candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

[News and Philosophical Tidbits]

First off, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to title my Senior Seminar project:

"A Cackle a Day Keeps the Funny Farm Away"


In other news... no, I changed my mind. In that same vein, I'm taking suggestions on what stories to share. My senior sem class is creative non-fiction, and after some discussion and reviewing, I've decided to have a common theme of laughing, whether it's easy or it's all there is left to do (except cry). Some stories (long and short stories both) that are on my list (I have to write 15-20 pages and read parts of it out loud):


  • Mom on the road and why the handle on the car is broken
  • Mom's sex advice from this summer (and why I now dread the words, "I have something I need to talk to you about...)
  • Why my roomie and I are going to be ___________ for Halloween (I'll fill that blank in on November 1)
  • My reaction to hearing what kind of infection I had in my face after my last surgery
  • My Michelle-mom's last known joke (bittersweet memory)
  • The results of her newfound electric wheelchair freedom that last year (what havoc she wreaked!)
  • Possibly a souped-up analysis of my life philosophies (such as my bedroom as a mood ring, the patterns of my crushes, etc.)

I'm hoping for contributions from you! Anything funny you can think of that others might be able to relate to? Any suggestions for a literary trick to tie each story together (besides the obvious theme of laughter)? I'd like to get on this ASAP, so I'm not overwhelmed at the last minute with this and my two other 15 page papers.

Ok, now onto other things before I try to sleep.

No, never mind. Just hope I remember what I was going to say tonight tomorrow afternoon instead. I need sleep so I can tackle my homework mountain.

Niki out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

[My Mood Ring]

Well, sleep failed. I took some Claritin D around 3:00 and spent the rest of the evening trying to stay awake. Finally, I decided I would just get up early in the morning and do homework, and so crawled into bed. A half hour of good sleep later, I woke up sweating and trying to find a cool spot... and haven't been back to sleep since. Dang. It.

So, that being that, I can no longer justify not accomplishing anything (though I do certainly still feel a bit groggy... just not enough to pass out).

New candles... Pumpkin Spice and Warm Apple Pie. It smells like autumn in our living room, and that makes Niki one happy camper. Minus the allergies, I'm happiest on a partly sunny fall day, high of around 60, with crimson, goldenrod, and sepia leaves floating down around me. WalMart and Walgreens have their Halloween stuff out now, and I completely walked down the Halloween aisle with a goofy grin on my face.

Jeans! Jackets! Frosty mornings! Gentle rain! Colorful trees! And allergies. Oh well.

The other day, I was sitting in my room, trying to motivate myself to do some homework (and failing, of course). I rather drifted off into a philosophical daze and found myself staring at the mess that is my room this week. I found myself wondering when my room had gone from spotless, with the bed made every day and clothes cleared off the floor, to the aftermath of a tornado. Finally it hit me.

My bedroom is a mood ring.

My roommate's personal mood ring is her appearance. When she's feeling like she and I felt today (i.e. like crap), she wears her glasses and putts around the apartment in her sweats. If she's feeling energetic and perhaps a little wild, her short hairdo is spiked up and she goes for the rocker-chick look. If she's in a sappy or a glamorous mood, her clothes and make-up reach unparalleled heights of chic.

Meanwhile, while my own ensembles do tend to resemble how I feel, my clothes have been known to lie. More than a few times, I've gone to Wednesday night service with my most flattering shirt on, my hair styled "just so", and my favorite boots adding that perfect boost to my height--but all I felt like doing was hiding in my room and never coming out again.

My bedroom, on the other hand, rings with sincerity.

I started out the semester a little reluctant but determined to do things right. I was going to read my Bible upon waking up first thing every morning. I intended to embrace every moment with my friends that I could--seeing as how it's the last semester. And finally, I was going to make That Boy mine. Yup, this was the year.

My room was beautiful. My bedside tables gleamed immaculately. The throw on my bedspread lay just right. Even my desk, which I can never keep straight for the life of me, was perfectly arranged.

Fast forward two weeks later. I'm stressed out, and my daily migraines have returned with a vengeance. The Boy has once again inadvertantly broken my heart. I definitely woke up this morning realizing I had not done my homework the night before, and my morning prayer-and-meditation time was carelessly shunted to the side.

My room is a certifiable disaster area. The floor is littered with papers and books. I can no longer see the surface area of my desk (darn... I was doing so well!). There's a pile of clothes in the corner now reaching about waist-high. I cannot get up in the middle of the night to take a tinkle without nearly taking a nasty sprawl.

Looking back, I realize this happens all the time. As soon as my spirits start to droop, I grow negligent. It starts with an emory board that I knock off the bedstand and intentionally don't bother to pick up. Within 48 hours, I'm no longer making the bed, I trip every time I walk, and I simply don't care.

Sometime next week, something will change my outlook. Either Mr. Boy will break up with his newest beloved, or I'll just be completely inspired by the autumn feel in the breeze. I'll come home, look around my room, and go on a cleaning frenzy. By the next morning, the blinds will be open, and the greens, violets, and blues of my room will smile at me in their perfection.

So, my dear readers, please share: what's your personal mood ring?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

[A little'o'this, a little'o'that...]

I'm having palpitations. I am in shock. Less than 3 hours ago, I filled my car up for $2.35 per gallon. I paid less than $29 for half a tank of gas in a freakin' SUV. There's only one proper response to that:

PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!

Ooh, and I also walked away from WalMart paying less than $20. It is a good day for Niki financially.

Pray for Steve Irwin's family... I can imagine the pain they're going through, especially little Bindy Sue. I was only a year older than she is now when my mom passed away. You don't get over that... you just don't.

Today confirmed that I need to take Hebrew Scriptures as credit/no credit. It's tough enough, and unnecessary enough for me to take, that I would do much better in my other classes if I am not having to study hardcore to make it. Just pass it. Yeah.

Migraines suck. My eyes have been bloodshot all day, and I haven't been able to walk in a straight line for the life of me. Wearing heels, I'm sure, didn't help.

Alright, well, I'm out of useful things to say. Good night to all!

Friday, September 01, 2006

[No Boys Allowed]



You know I rarely curse. And you also know I generally don't publicize this when it's going on. But there are days when it simply needs to be said publicly (so guys, avert your eyes, because you, I know, don't want to know).

DAMN CRAMPS!!!!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

[Request Wrought With Danger]

If you know me pretty well, you are aware that I'm a smidgen boy-crazy. I don't mean that I drool over men left and right, but I tend to fall really hard for one guy, and he sort of encompasses my thoughts. Ok, he really encompasses them. The thing is, part of it's fun... it's fun to daydream of him asking me out, gazing into my eyes (and of course me gazing riiiiight back), and so on. But the flipside is that I always end up brokenhearted... really brokenhearted. My mood becomes based on whether or not he spoke to me that day; and if he suddenly finds some sweet girl and dates her (often for several months), I find myself in the pits of despair. Thoughts of perpetual singleness and being unspeakably ugly or awkward fill my thoughts (against my will, so you know), and then when he's single again, I'm once again on top of the world. It's a vicious cycle. And every time I'm unintentionally rejected (because believe me, I couldn't dream of confessing my feelings without being directly asked... eep!), it hurts worse. Every birthday, though I tell myself not to think such things, I find myself wondering if this is going to be the year.

I'm doing a good long, hard look at myself this semester. I'm trying to confront these emotional and social banes that torment me. I tend play the blame game and pull the "it's not really my fault... this is just the way I am" excuse, and I tend to resent unasked-for advice (bad, I know, but I do these things). I'm trying to get past these things (as ever, but more proactively). The truth is, I myself am too weak to eradicate these things on my own. I have never been able to talk myself out of a crush; I tell myself not to get pissed off at people whose intentions are good but that I feel are overstepping their bounds, but I get pissed anyway. I cannot do these things on my own... I suck.

That's why I'm writing this. I'm praying, practically hourly whenever I catch myself doing these things (and sometimes more often than that!) that God will help me get past this crap, not necessarily tomorrow, but in the moment when I'm dealing with it.... one step at a time.

I want you to pray for me. This is scary... a dangerous thing for me to ask. Basically, I'm officially putting myself out there as someone who is working to get past these things and asking you to prayerfully keep me accountable, not by talking to me about it, but by praying, because this is going to be, at least for awhile, a G0d-help-me in my willpower. If you ask me now how I'm doing with it, and if you ask me probably anytime in the next few months, you're going to get the same answer: I'm way off. I'm needing supernatural help with this. And I'm giving up my "right" to be in like with guys until the time is right. That scares the hell out of me.

I cannot live this way, going from crush to crush with one broken heart after another (thus distracting me from the important things... and the important One), because it will probably destroy me from the inside out. It gets harder and harder as I grow older.

You could talk to me and give me advice all day long, but it wouldn't change anything. The change has to come from within, and I need God's help. I long to be a woman whose greatest passion is the Lord... and that's tough for me. Having a passion for Christ is easy. I'm a passionate person, very devoted, and also very eclectic. But to have Him as my overall, overpowering heart of hearts, that's completely contrary to my nature... but it's what I need and long for.

So please be praying for me. Pray for me as I lean on His grace in overcoming these vices. Pray for me to look at my current crush as my brother in Christ instead of my tendency to look at him as potentionally my future husband (yes, I'm that ridiculous). Pray for me that I'll be able to accept, with joy and peace, the fact that I may never marry, or even date for that matter. That one, I think, is the hardest one. Pray that fears, doubts, and pessimism would be replaced with trust, love, and joy, even when things suck. Finally, pray for sincerity rather than my masks.

This hurts.

Monday, August 28, 2006

[Allergies are the pits.]


I've sneezed at least twice today. No, really, that's a big deal for me. I don't often sneeze even once in a day, and twice very often equals pending disaster. But that's not the annoyance. I don't mind--er, well, I'm used to a stuffy/runny nose and obligatory hoarseness. No, the honest-to-goodness sucky part is when my ears get all funky and my equilibrium goes out the door. I was sitting down a while ago. All I did was turn my head the wrong direction, apparently, and I very nearly passed out. Eep! My roomies are going to kickboxing class, and I'd really like to go along, but I'm not sure that would be a smart thing to do with my head spinning.

Drama, drama, drama...

I heart new music. It just tickles my happy place. I got Kutless's Strong Tower in the mail today, and there's just no music that gets me quite like a driving guitar riff. Gah! An energetic drummer just completes it. Relatedly, I've decided my favorite instrumental combo is guitar and piano with a little bit of violin playing in the background. I just float away from earth when I hear it.

Oh, and I bought the wrong French workbook. Sucky, since I think I bought it about a month ago, past the return date, and now I'm buying a new one on top of it. Dangit, if I'm gonna waste money, I want to waste it on fun things, not buying two entirely-too-similar books for class.

What can I say? It takes skeeeeells, yo.

I'm making my brownies for the BBQ Wednesday night. Get excited.

In hindsight, wearing heels my first day back to class with too many books in my backpack was a dumb move. I got too excited that it was cool enough outside for jeans and boots. I'm actually not a fan of Missouri's extreme temps. My favorite season, hands-down, is autumn, especially around my birthday, not for the obvious reason, but because the weather is pretty much my ideal temperature and just overcast enough that it's ok that I forgot my shades yet again.

Ooh, speaking of my birthday (by the way, do I seem more talkative than normal today??), the Saturday beforehand, NEMO Fairgrounds will be holding the annual Galloway Scottish Games, and that's where I will be, lost in a happy place of bagpipes, clan tartans, and men who wear kilts. I think I have a new point on my checklist of my dream man (whom I doubt I'll ever find, but it's fun to think about): willing to wear a kilt. What can I say? I'm a proud Scotswoman. "By yon bonny banks and by yon bonny braes/Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond/Where me and me true love were ever wont to be/On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond/Oh I'll take the 'igh road and ye'll ta'k the low road/And I'll be in Sco'tland a'fore ye/But me and me true love will ne'er meet again/On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond!"

Teehee.

Well, I think I'll sign off now that you've become convinced that I'm certifiably nuts. Peace and Love, brothers and sisters!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

[Too Pooped to Pop]

...as my dad likes to say. The final main activity of CCF Freshman Week SPECTACULAR!!! is currently wrapping up. I left early because (A) it's raining and I didn't want my camera to get wet and (2) my body is clearly telling me that it's had enough. My head's spinning, I'm fatigued, and my stomach's feeling a tad queasy. So I'm parked in bed, contemplating turning in rather early tonight. I had every intention of going to the Rec today to work out, but when my legs didn't even want to carry me upstairs, I had a feeling it would be wise to nix that notion.

I bought a TNIV Bible yesterday. I completely agree with those who say it's wise to have more than one translation when studying the Word... only problem is, up to now, I've only had the NIV (well, and the KJV, but that's sitting on my dresser back home). It should arrive in the mail Monday, along with the Kutless (Strong Tower) CD I ordered as well to tip my total over $25 (yay free shipping!).

I'm definitely not ready to leave Kirksville. It's become more "home" than home really is. I dunno, but I just never felt all that comfortable in Reeds Spring. I had some good friends and all, but I guess the lack of diversity and challenging my faith left me in a perpetual state of lukewarmness. Here, I've got plenty of struggle and plenty of friends who both challenge and encourage me. I really pray that I can find a similar community after college (meaning, find a church somewhere that has a strong 20-something ministry that's grounded in the Word and still compassionate toward the culture surrounding... a lot of churches have one aspect while compromising on the other).

So anyway, these things have been on my mind lately. I'm ready, so ready, to be finished with school and be in possession of a steady income, but I'm frightened of the unknown future. Perfectly normal, I know, and I know I need to lean on Christ and trust Him. Nevertheless, it's such a transitional period that I'm gonna be scared until I get settled in the next stage.

Well, you're probably bored reading this by now, so if you're still skimming this with semi-interest, I'll end the agony now. Much love!

Friday, August 11, 2006

[Return of the Redhead]

I'll be arriving back in Kirksville sometime during the afternoon of August 15th. Now you know, so no excuses!

Yay!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

[Long Overdue Update]

There! Now that I've finally finished my almost-midnight snack, I can get down to this way procrastinated entry. Yes, I'm lazy. That's my explanation about lack of returned emails, too... that, and really, honestly not knowing what to say. Anyway, here is a list of updates and answers to questions I've got on my mental checklist:

1. In answer to the lovely Miss Sarah's question about whether or not I can take my dog to school with me, that would be a no *sniffle*. My landlord strictly prohibits pets in the complex. That, by the way, sucks in my eyes, big time. *sigh* Oh, well.

2. I've got a job interview a week from tomorrow at Stage. Yay! It'd be quite lovely to not be pinching every penny I can. It's my last semester of school, maybe ever, and I'd like to enjoy it.

3. I finished reading Blue Like Jazz today. Absolutely fab. Like most people I know, I highly recommend it.

4. Gulliver's Travels is a very slow read. Interesting, but incredibly detailed. Best digested in 2 chapter chunks between other books.

5. I've lost 3 pounds this summer, and that's with me being at home with Mom's cooking (you know, the lady who fills your plate to the rim and asks if you want more ((and then can't understand why I gain weight))). Once I get back to my own cooking, I think I may lose quite a bit of weight (thank goodness!). Gaining 25-30 pounds in 2 years cannot be healthy.

6. Speaking of returning to my own cooking, I could leave tomorrow if I wanted to. Actually, I want to, but one of my friends is hoping I'll stick around long enough to break up the six hour drive (he hasn't been driving that long, so I guess that's why he's weak--er, I mean, not accustomed to such a drive).

7. (Related to the previous bit) I got a phone call last night from the dentist saying my final caps had come in and I could come in the next day and have them put on. I went to Springfield with Mom for a 10:00 appointment. Then we went suit shopping. My fashion gurus, Stacy and Clinton, might not completely approve of the choice (though it's not a terrible choice... just somewhat less than the perfect cut for me), but when shopping with my mother and the worst migraine of the summer, you just gotta settle. It's really not bad, but I think I could've found a better one... that's all. Really, I'm not that shallow.

8. Big zit on my cheek, and it kind of hurts.

9. Naturally, Mom wants to get a picture made of me tomorrow, just in time for the peak of the zittiness. Whoo-hoo!

10. A thought to ponder: Why can't dentists use warm air and warm water on patients' teeth? It took 3 minutes for my teeth to thaw out today, and then they came back for more. Normally, it's not so intense, but my teeth were more or less exposed, nerves and all, and I was not feelin' the love.

11. God is good. I really need to remember that He has not forgotten me... because when I remember and pray specifically, He is always true to answer. Oh, me of little faith!

12. Did I mention I went to Indianapolis last month to find out about going to England for campus ministry? Until I went, I was pretty sure that was going to be it, but now, though the people were wonderful, something in my heart says to keep looking elsewhere. Then I read an article by John Fischer (by the way, read Fearless Faith... excellent read!), and he was touching on the idea of people living their faith in the workforce, not preaching, but loving and respecting, and letting people know that Christianity is not the shallow Pat Robertson version that is so publicized, but it's people who are striving to mirror the Lord's compassion and patience. He said we need to try to be good people first, who happen to be Christians and thereby influenced by Him in our actions, rather than thinking we have to do overt ministry. By simply loving and dialoguing, we become the ministry! And I think God was trying to show me something here... go to work, make connections, live a life of love and generosity, and I'll probably have far more impact for Him, by His grace, than by working inside the Christian subcultural bubble. I'd still be a missionary, but not so overtly.
So the short version is, wait, see what happens, and let Him do the guiding. Gosh, it's so simple, but I'm still too thick-skulled to get the point sometimes!

13. Achoo! Allergies. They're back!

14. All my caps are on, so I can chew gum again!!! No more funky breath after eating out!

Alright, I've bored you enough. I'm out!

Monday, July 31, 2006

[Etheria and Wishlists]

I'm in a happy place... I got The Best of She-ra: Princess of Power DVD and have been, well, devouring it ever since. She was my hero. There are no words. And the series is coming out on DVD, season one part one, on November 7. Eeep! I'm a total She-ra nerd.

*ahem* Now, don't think I'm posting this to ask for anything... I'm not. I've just had a few people asking me what I want (birthdays, etc.), and I thought it'd be easiest to have it in one place and so people wouldn't be trying to buy me something someone else has already bought (unlikely, but then again, it's happened). So anyway, here's my wish list (which updates itself).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/CA4444LRKHRQ

I'm not asking, but I also don't say no, either. ;)

2 more weeks... 2 more weeks...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[Boys are Dumb]

Ok, I don't entirely mean that... just venting a little frustration. I know there's a reason for almost 23 years of singleness... I just wish I knew what it was. Le sigh. Whatever. Stupid heart.

Anywho, that being said, I'm getting close to being finished with the dentist. 6 appts. down, 2 appts. to go. Whoo-hoo! My mouth is going to be soooo glad.

I'm ready to get back to Kirksville. I'll miss my dog, but I really miss my independence. I miss having entire days where I don't get chewed out for something or have some kind of guilt trip laid on me. Also, it'd be nice not to being hearing how much mom doesn't like my haircolor.

Eh, maybe it's just PMS. Either way, all this'll pass.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

[Coming to you live from my NEW COMPUTER!!!]

I bought it today: a Toshiba Satellite M105-S3041. It's pretty freakin' sweet, I think. Soooo light.

Crazy heat, eh? 103 today, tomorrow is supposed to be the same. My poor dog just sleeps the entire time we let her in the house to cool off, because she's so worn out.

I went to Indianapolis to find out about England. It's still tentative, because the application process is progressive, and I have to do one step at a time. For example, the third step can only be done in January. Then, if ok'd, then I do a 6-9 month internship with a campus ministry, such as CCF (which I'm rather hoping for!). So, as ever, stay tuned.

I'm missing K-vegas.

Well, that's all that's of interest, so I'll spare you further boredom, kids. Try to stay cool in this heat, k?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

[Yes. I know. It's been awhile.]

Ok, so you probably have been wondering what's happened to me. That is, if you even care. I went home, originally planning on hanging out for two weeks. Just before I left, I found out I was getting to go to Indianapolis July 17 to talk about going to England, so when I got home, Mom insisted Dad drive me up there. Boy, I feel like a big girl now. So two weeks became four. Then I went to the dentist to see about getting 5 caps replaced. Big problem. Turns out the nerves in my lower jaw are badly placed and hard to numb. Not wanting to overstress my jaw or put me through unnecessary pain, Doc sent me to a new doc to see about having dental surgery. Now four weeks had become two months. New Doc called Mom on July 5th saying he wanted to try something the next day, hoping to avoid surgery. For one night, two months became just over one month. The procedure worked, but scheduling resulted in me being here, once again, until just before Freshman week.

So, it being late in the summer, it was too late to find a job. The irony is that Branson is teeming with job openings, but frankly, no one's gonna want to hire me for a month and a half with all the appointments I have coming up. So, no income. Just rest, which is good, but still less than financially ideal. Oh well.

Last week was the annual cousin invasion. Crazy. They're not kids anymore. My 18 year old cousin Russell lost a whole bunch of weight, and ladies, I think you'd like. Which, really, is to be expected. I have a family of stunningly beautiful individuals. I always knew I was a little bit of an ousider. ;)

Some minor updates: I FINALLY found a dress that looks nice on me, is flattering, and still manages to be modest. I so have to learn to sew and make about 5 others, different prints and slightly different cuts. Believe me, it's a big deal for me.

Saw Pirates yesterday. I'm still in shock.

Oh, and I got a freakin' awesome mp3 player. 20gb (10,000 songs!)for about 200 bucks. Whoo buddy! The downside, though, is after about the 10th CD, my computer quite playing CDs. It is sooo time for a new one. In the past couple months, my cd player has gone out, one of my wireless card inserts and one of my USB ports has quit. Naturally, my warranty is up about six months ago. Anyway, I'd need a new one before England, since my current laptop weighs about 12 pounds, and that's basically my carry-on weight limit. Bugger.

My dear dog has been quite a source of amusement since I've been home. We took her out on the boat one day while Dad and Uncle Herb fished (I sunbathed and enjoyed a breeze whenever we moved). She loooved it. Sassy jumped up on the seat next to me at the back of the pontoon and doggy-grinned. She tried to eat (and would've if Dad hadn't thrown it back) a sixteen inch long wide mouth bass that Dad caught. It was funny when she figured out that it was the same thing she keeps trying to steal when they get back from fishing trips. "So, that's where they come from!" She cocked her head to the side and started trying to nibble. She was braced to leap when it flipped on the floor and we threw it back.

Then, just as we were pondering if we wanted to keep putting up with the heat, she tried to jump off the boat. I held her back, and she started barking, repeatedly and loudly. At first, we thought she was just excited (it sounded like her car yipes). But she didn't stop. So we started to move. She got more adamant. I think we finally figured out that she had to pee (she'd drank about a bottle's worth of water, and she's not a large dog). She kept trying to jump. Finally, we found a soft, gravelly bank, and we let her jump off the front (still on the leash, natch). That dog walked 2 feet, squatted and peed for AT LEAST a minute! I laughed till I couldn't stand, and Dad's face turned an attractive shade of scarlet from his laughter. After that, she curled up on the seat next to me in a state of utter contentment.

The next day, the guys went out on the boat without her and she got sooo pissed. She barked angrily, cried, and moped.

Hysterical! I love my smart dog.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

[Escape]

I need to get out of Kirksville. I'm ready to be on to the next stage in life... I think I have a four-year-sanity in one place or something. Everything seems to be annoying to me right now (so believe me, it's not you, it's not even the situation. I'm just an idiot). I'm having a hard time being gracious in gentle confrontation and criticism. It's like I know I'm no longer living at home so I don't want to deal with parenting from others. It's stupid and childish, I know, but it is what I'm honestly feeling right now.

Ugh, I feel like a brat. Anyway, I got some of it off my chest.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

[That's It.]

No more shall I consume caffeine (as in soda and coffee levels) after lunchtime. No more. Just two weeks of not drinking it at all and all I had today was two cans of soda. I've been too wound up (moreso than normal) to sleep all night. It's almost 3am. Gosh darn it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

[It's Not Easy Being Green]

(or, Why Niki Loves to Read Relevant Magazine)

The following article is an excerpt from a recent feature in the RELEVANT Leader magazine, the exclusive magazine of the RELEVANT Network.

Almost subconsciously, I dove into the kitchen trashcan to rescue the discarded soda can. I said nothing while reaching down to remove the aluminum can, but when I looked up, my wife's friend stared at me, mouth agape.

"You recycle?" she said, obviously so distracted by my action that she had momentarily stopped talking to my wife in order to discuss this late-breaking development. "Since when did you start recycling?" she said again.

What led to such bewilderment? Did my car dispense toxic fumes every time I hit the accelerator? Did I pour out old motor oil in my back yard? Did I chop down every tree in my yard? The answer is a resounding "no," yet in an instant, I understood why she had reacted that way: I am a Christian.

Paradigm Shift

While finishing up a writing project with Tri Robinson, the pastor at Boise Vineyard Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, a year and a half ago, he told me, "I've been really convicted about the way I care about the environment—and I feel like the Lord is calling me to do something about it in my personal life and with our church." I was bewildered. In my mind, environmentalists were liberal hippies who ran around worshipping the trees. Tri certainly was not one of these people. I was intrigued.

Could it be possible that caring for the environment is not only a godly value but a priority? If this is a priority, what should I actually be doing about it?

For many Christians, the resistance toward passionately caring for the environment has to do with political affiliations. When it comes to political platforms, the Democratic Party has put a stake in the ground, claiming the environment as their issue, while the Republican Party has skirted the issue, often opting for economic good over environmental good. As evidenced by exit polls from the last presidential elections, nearly 60 percent of Protestant Christians in America chose the Republican Party's platform. But what is it that almost compels us to resist taking up issues from the other party?

Peter Illyn, the director of the Christian environmental group Restoring Eden (www.restoringeden.org), speaks at churches and college campuses across the nation and explains this dilemma.

"Politics create a disconnect for people in the United States, whether they are Christians or unbelievers," he says. "We are presented with false choices all the time, meaning we have to choose between two things that we shouldn't have to choose between.

"Politicians create these false choices all the time, but so does the Church, sometimes making it 'us versus them.' Some evangelical leaders try to make it sound like if you're loving and serving the earth, then somehow you're not loving and serving God. We just need bigger hearts. For me, my faith is made stronger by my care for the earth. And in return, my care for the earth is giving me life because of my love for God, the Creator."

Creation: An Undeniable Witness

Consider Paul's words: "From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God" (Romans 1:20, NLT).

Paul is essentially saying that the earth is an evangelical tool, and who are we to destroy something that's bringing others to the Lord?

"I find it interesting that when anybody—no matter what they believe—enters into an untrampled place of creation, a sense of awe and wonder is almost always elicited," says Calvin B. DeWitt, one of the leading Christian ecologists in the United States and author of Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God's Handiwork (Baker). "Part of our witness to Jesus Christ, God as our Creator and what honors the work of the Holy Spirit in us, is we must be willing, able and eager to put ourselves in the marvelous places across all of God's earth that instill in us the praise, the joy, and the wonder that we have as human beings made in the image God—but also made as creatures to be in tune with God and with God's creation."

Changing Culture

Tri isn't just another pastor talking about the environment. Rather, his words signify the beginning of something amazing that is resulting in sweeping change for his city, church and state. On Sunday mornings, churchgoers can "tithe their trash," bringing all recycled goods to church for proper dispersal. Last fall, the church raised more than $4,000 to help fund relief aid efforts to the Gulf Coast region through collecting recycled cell phones in their community. And last summer, church members participated in numerous outdoor conservation projects that cleaned up the foothills and mountains of Idaho.

As this issue rises to a greater level of consciousness among Christians in the United States, it can no longer be ignored. Why would we ignore it anyway? Creation is the assurance of God's existence. Wouldn't every follower of Jesus want to be a good steward of this beautiful land God has given us? If we don't lead the way on this issue, we may miss the best opportunity to share the Gospel with the world around us.

Jason Chatraw is a freelance writer and co-author of Saving God's Green Earth: Rediscovering the Church's Responsibility to Environmental Stewardship (Ampelon). He loves nature and has become so proficient at sorting recycled goods, he is hoping it will become an Olympic sport by 2012.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

[Bonjour, Amis]

Tomorrow's plans: pestering potential employers for a job, then working out at the Rec. I think I'm starting to lose weight, finally! I wore a shirt today that I've not been able to comfortably wear for months. Granted, I never left the house and I likely would have felt different being seen in public (curious effect, isn't it?), but I can tell I'm making some progress. I predict by summer's end, if I don't slack off, I'll be at the weight I want (and need to be at). Yay!

I love this weather! Oh my gosh, it's so gorgeous to have the windows open and feel a COOL breeze!

I ran into Ally, my housemate from this year, at the Rec on Saturday. She is no longer Ally Shaffer... she's friggin' married. The youngest got married first. I've missed her. We did a couple laps of walking to cool down after biking and eliptical-ing, and had a lovely conversation, ranging from lack of employment to ministry hopes.

I read two books this weekend, too: That Hideous Strength and Jane Eyre. Gah, I so love reading for my own enjoyment. What's more, both these novels kind of lost me in high school, but with increased life experience and more literary exposure, I really enjoyed reading them both this time. I clearly understood the books this time and didn't feel overly challenged. Maybe all that tedious school reading has benefits after all!

Finalement, I watched Pride and Prejudice with French subtitles. It kind of piqued my motivation to better learn the language, and I think, actually, this may be a good way to get a better grasp on conversational French (and Spanish when I do the same). As tired as I am of school, I do enjoy learning on my own... it's the nerd in me. Knowledge for knowledge's sake, not for grades and such crap. I do honestly learn more that way, at least after I've got a basic grasp on the subject.

Well, I'm hoping to fall asleep before 2 hours prior to sunrise for once, so I'm going to enjoy a hot bath and hope to sleep fairly soon afterward. Bon soir, mes cheres!

Friday, June 09, 2006

[Want Ad]

Seeking a job in Kirksville. Getting somewhat desperate. Help, please.

Monday, June 05, 2006

[Quick Rundown of the Past Week]

  • Still no job... argh.
  • My roomies and I went to the Aquatic Center on Saturday afternoon. We swam and sunbathed. Lovely.
  • My nail just broke. Grrr.
  • I need to replace the tires on my bike or figure out how to fix it myself. Fun.
  • Roomies and I went to the Rec Center for a couple hours this afternoon. I lifted weights, did crunches, and even biked with a HR of 160+ for 15+ minutes. I don't think I've done a genuine cardiovascular workout since 8th grade before my jaw surgery. I'm astounded I actually did it.
  • My hair is starting to grow out. I think it'll be long enough to get a new cut-style by the end of the month. Yesss. I don't necessarily want it long again, but I do want some actual length. (And the peasants rejoiced.)
  • Summer + Iced Tea with Splenda = Me finally getting my recommended daily intake of fluids that are non-carbonated and sugar-free. Yay for being healthier!
  • Finally, I've been experimenting with making healthier versions of my favorite meals. For example, tonight, I made stroganoff using turkey burger (instead of beef), soy milk (instead of milk-milk (I'm semi-lactose-intolerant)), fat-free sour cream, and whole wheat pasta (instead of egg noodles). And it was just as good. I may lose this weight after all!

Well, that's about all I've got to say. Over and out.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

[Quick Update]

I know I haven't written in a while. My room gets pretty hot during the day, even with the A/C on, and a few days ago I spied a big, black, speedy spider racing across my carpet. I missed it, saw it again later in my closet, and missed it again. I'm quite arachnophobic, and sleeping in a room where there is a known spider whose whereabouts are yet unaccounted for terrifies me. So, I've been sleeping on the living room couch until it cools off up here and one of two things occurs: I kill the evil arachnid or my sense of fear decides it's been long enough that I am over it.

I'm still looking for a job. Please, if you know of an available job in Kirksville, please let me know. I really would prefer not to go home to Branson this summer. Yuck. I love my parents, but I know I'd lose my mind living with them for three months.

I miss my roomies.

Well, I better take a shower and get some b-fast in my tummy before church.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

[Sincerity]

I think that one of the things that people learn to do as their faith grows more genuine and less "churchy" is to ask the questions that seem wrong. These are the questions that eat at our hearts and we try to stifle because they seem doubtful. We feel like if we ask these questions then we don't really have faith. But here's the thing... faith isn't about blind acceptance. It's about being at rock bottom with nothing left to give, no reason to believe, ACKNOWLEDGING our limitations, asking those questions TO GOD, those questions that express our anger and frustration, and then believing because there is no way not to believe. I honestly believe that it is a sign that we are being real in our faith when we go before Him and say (when we honestly feel this way), "Lord, I don't get this. I hate this, and I don't understand why you would let me (or that person) go through this crap. I don't want to deal with it! Lord, I want to understand, and Lord, I don't like this. I don't want to deal with it. Nevertheless, I'll trust You (even though, to be honest, I'm a bit miffed) because You do see the whole situation. And really, I can't do anymore than this... I'm at the end of my resources."

I love this David Crowder song... I need to get the album, or at least download the single.

Lord, I'm tired, so tired from walking
And Lord, I'm so alone
And Lord, the dark is creeping in, creeping up to swallow me
I think I'll stop, rest here a while
This is all that I can say right now and
This is all that I can give

And didn't You see me crying
And didn't You hear me call Your name
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to
I wish You'd remember where You sat it down

I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that that was You holding me
I didn't notice You were crying too
I didn't know that that was You washing my feet