Oscar time again, Part two

Saturday, I met up with my sister and movie friends to watch the last five of the nine best picture Oscar nominated films. Unfortunately, I did not get to see Gravity. The ice and sleet began in OKC and I preferred to drive home before it became worse.

Here is my reviews I tweeted after each film:

Nebraska

nebraskaNebraska is a story of elderly parents & their adult children. Quirky, hilarious, and so full of heart! #AMCBPS

Captain Phillips

captain phillipsCaptain Phillips is a breathtaking, adrenaline rush. I’ll be having pirate nightmares from here on out, thankyouverymuch. #AMCBPS

Her

herHer: relationships between humans and computers just got incredibly awkward. Consider it a warning. #AMCBPS

American Hustle

american hustleAmerican Hustle: Con artists and their craft at their finest. #AMCBPS

My predictions for the Oscars (In all honesty, these could totally change by the time I fill out the Oscar ballot this evening.)

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave (Every movie this year were such strong films. I am torn between 12 Years, American Hustle, and Dallas Buyers Club.)

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street (This was a tough choice, every actor absolutely owned their role. I am haunted by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance in 12 Years a Slave.)

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actress: June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Director: David O. Russell, American Hustle

Feeling like playing along with the Oscars tonight, go download a ballot!

Oscar time again, part one

It’s that time of year again when the Oscars are approaching. My oldest sister and I are going to the AMC Theaters Best Picture Showcase for the fifth year. This weekend we saw four of the nine nominated best pictures.

I tweeted my reviews immediately after each film was viewed and want to share them here again with you.

Philomena

PhilomenaPhilomena was delightful. Lithe & lovely & heartbreaking at every turn.#AMCbps

Dallas Buyers Club

dbcDallas Buyers Club: brutal and brilliant. #amcbps

The Wolf of Wall Street

wolfyWolf of Wall Street: whirlwind crash and burn about money money money.#amcbps

12 Years A Slave

1212 Years A Slave is an unwavering, earth shattering account of atrocities against other humans. Go see. Damn. #amcbps

So I’ve now seen four of the nine nominated. Do I have any predictions to make about who I think might win or most deserves the Oscar? Nope.

All four movies were based on true stories. All four movies are also books. This weekend was full of some seriously heavy drama. I loved every minute of it. Or most of the minutes anyhow.

Pinterest and Rilke

I love Pinterest.

I love Rainer Marie Rilke. Simply an amazing artist who inspires others. Ever read Letters to a Young Poet? Unbelievably amazing.

Awhile back I was on Pinterest looking for Rilke quotes.

I stumbled on to this pin:

8485762f7cfe897e2a5346dd79328989And I was so excited. What a powerful thought. And I was off on a tangent I wanted to share this with all my artist friends, I wanted to get this as one of my tattoos, I wanted to pin it on so many Pinterest boards.

But I hesitated. Why?

Because I am old school. And I like to verify quotes. I don’t verify all quotes but if it’s something I really, really like and have even considered inking my body with – well, I guarantee I’m gonna verify the damn quote.

I work in a library and began using my mad research skills and couldn’t find anything. I knew this would be difficult to research because Rilke didn’t write in English and his works that I read have been translated. So depending on the translator, the quote is going to be different.

So I contacted two different librarians. Both whom love research and finding obscure information. There are days I love being all nerdy and diving into the obscure.

Several days passed and neither librarian was finding much. They were having the same difficulties with translations and verifying if information they were finding was valid. And then BINGO. One of the librarians stumbled on to more letters of Rilke’s and found an index of the letters and where there might possibly be mention of this quote in part. I scoured the index and found a link to a database that had all the letters online. But I was still wary. I finally obtained the title of the book and requested the book. Two weeks later, the book came in from a university in Texas.

And there in the pages of an old and dusty book, I found this (3rd line of the indented paragraph):

IMG_0663It was one word different on Pinterest. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. Again these are translations of the Austrian poet’s words. Am I going to be putting either version on my body or on my own Pinterest boards? No for the tattoo. Best I stick with the original language if I were to tattoo it. And I probably will pin this on Pinterest cause I love it.

Did I have fun delving into the research and looking for the correct answer? Absolutely.

Go ahead and call me a nerd. I earned it.

An off week

Last week, I wrote about the magic number 21.

And then this week – nothing.

Completely unmotivated with a dash of lazy made for an off week.

Thank God for new days, new weeks, and new opportunities.

For myself, I do better talking about goals after the fact. Not before. Or during. This is a good thing to learn this and now I need to put it in practice.

Here’s to everyone working on dreams, goals, and visions. Keep pressing forward.

21 is my number

21 is my magic number.

Or as of two weeks ago, that is the number I chose for myself.

I figured I could stick to or eliminate something for 21 days.

30 days? Meh. It’s not gonna happen. I usually lose my uumph. 
My personality type is an all-or-nothing mentality.
Which is great when I’m all about something, but when it’s off – good luck!

The 21 days is taking those parts of myself and working on small changes. A sprint not a marathon.
With the tiny results or sense of accomplishment, my confidence gets a boost.

Here are two areas I’m focusing my 21 on:

1) Walking
I’ve chosen to walk 21 times. Currently I’ve completed 11 walking days. My friend Jules and I are walking in preparation to traveling to Romania and building up our endurance. We meet four times a week.

A text is sent : Where? What time?

We’ve already committed so the only questions are where and when. No “do you want to walk today?” messages are sent. Although, it crosses my mind.

But for me, each time I walk I’m one step closer to my goal of 21. Ultimately, this feeds into my general feeling of better. Winter blues and that antogonizing bouts of depression get a swift kick in their hindside. I look forward to my walks not because it’s something I have to do, but it’s already schedule and placed on my calendar. It’s walk #11 and I’m on way to 21.

2) Bible reading
I chose to read my Bible 21 times. I am a horrible crack-your-Bible- daily-and-read person. I’ll read a self-help book or listen to a podcast or look for quotes on Pinterest 50,000 times before opening up my Bible or YouVersion app on my phone. There’s some ugly truth for you. But I chose to read my Bible. 21 times. I can do that. I chose a 21-day reading plan from YouVersion, selected The Message as my preferred reading translation, and got to reading. It’s been tough. I’m not going to candy-coat it. But it’s been good. And everyday I’m one reading away from reaching 21. Oh yea, I chose a bible reading plan on fasting. Not because I’m fasting, but I’m interested. For me, research of an interest is where I’ll start first. So for fasting, I’m starting with the Bible. This may very well be added to my list of 21 to try.

These are just two things I’m doing. Each of these are nothing big or major, but there are not necessarily small either. They are both lessons for me in discipline.

Scary word: discipline. But it’s the word that is chasing me around and I’d be a fool to not take notice and action on it.

So there it is my rule of 21. It’s not scientific, whatever, it’s working for me. It’s probably only noticeable to me. But it is working and creating and inspiring within me. That good inside change is where it’s at. Evenutally, it leaks and seeps out. It can’t not. And I’m excited to see the footprint trail I leave as I move forward.

an untold story

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

An untold story. A vulnerability you haven’t yet laid out in front of those you trust the very most. A fire inside of you that just wants released. A message of hope, of warning, of joy.

We each have a story.

We each are a living story.

We each are a testament of life.

Share your story. Talk. Listen. And let your story unfold in ways you never anticipated.

Don’t hide or secret your life away. It is meant to be lived. Out loud. In words. In images. In all things that make us connected.

A year of changes

A year ago, I made some drastic changes. I sold my house and moved in with my cousin and his family.

One of the biggest, best experiences of my life.

Moving in with my cousin and his family has allowed me to be surrounded with those who really get me. They get doing things differently. They get making choices that set you apart. They get me. (Other than calling me a dirty hippie, I think it’s been a good move for everyone!)

I felt called to sell my house (check!). I felt called to embrace a more minimalistic way of living (It’s a process, people). I felt called to finish graduate school (9 hours down!). And I felt called to travel abroad (Romania trip is in the works!)

My cousin felt called to leave his Corporate America job. And did. He launched a business that joined his amazing design and artistic talents with communities, churches, and organizations that want their messages shared. Hello Creativity for the Creator! His wife encouraged him to go and be and do what God has set within him. Before my eyes, I’m seeing a marriage working in partnership and in obedience. Amazing. I get to hang with their hilarious kids, play intense 12 hour Monopoly games, and discover I kind of, sort of like hanging out in the great outdoors.

BUT

Sometimes on the journey you get lost or feel stuck or just forget who you are. In those moments, I am thankful for my community of friends and family who remind me of who I am, who encourage me to write, and who encourage me to have fun. I hope I do the same for them.

Here’s to the next steps in 2014: Romania, completing more school, paying down debt, and embracing life and all its whimsy.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

That’s what I’ve asked myself.

Days after tornadoes and unrelenting rain and hail left their unmistakable marks of damage, debris, and death in Oklahoma.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

In all honesty, the media and its frenzied thirst for sensationalism and drama numbed me out. Too much to process. Too many assumptions and “facts” that would later be changed. The numbers of deaths and damages raised and lowered, raised and lowered.

The souls. The children. The wounded. The desperate. The miracles. And devastation.

What do you do?

And then I saw something beautiful. Glimmers. Tangibles of something beyond this human frailty.

An outpouring of love. Of resources. Of undeniable hope in the face of overwhelming odds.

This is what is unfolding.

Out of the debris, we rise. Our faith shaken but not forsaken. Our hearts broken but not annihilated.

And the Church. What of the Church?

This cynic has had her cynicism skewered, punctured, and thrown aside.

Humbled in watching and experiencing the Church come together. Meeting needs. Searching out how to best be utilized. And doing exactly that. Large and small. All denominations. People from all over the state, the country, and the world coming to Oklahoma. Serving. Giving. Weeping with the grief-stricken. Sitting in the ruins alongside those who have lost homes. Celebrating over lives saved. Rejoicing in and over each act of love.

The focus is on need. And love. And rising each day. Rising to meet, to reach, to be alongside one another.

There is beauty in ashes. There is Jesus. In each outstretched hand. There is Jesus in each action. I see disbelief in the eyes of those unable to believe that help is here: Feeding, clothing, combing through the debris and rubble, cleaning and restoring. And that this very help will continue to pour in.

Love skinned in flesh. Love covered in dirt and grime, sweat and tears.

Each day we rise. Each day Jesus walks with us and in the midst of all the damage. Jesus is here.

In the weeks and months and years to come, let us remember.

Let us remember that when we don’t know what to do? We love as love does.

We crawl in to each other’s heartache and cry and sit and be. Sit beside others in strength. In gentleness.

We are called. Called to action. Not just today, but in every moment of this.

We are called. Called to remember.

We are called. Called to sacrifice. Meeting each and every need without hesitation today. Tomorrow. And the next and the next.

Give ruthlessly.

Give unabashedly.

And look and listen.

Your neighbor, your friend, your family, your community need you with them.

Meet with them. Look them in the eyes. See the depths. The joy. The pain. The loss. Listen to their story.

We are called to come alongside one another.

And this is where I find my Jesus. Right here. Holding and stretching and reaching. Unwavering in his unfathomable commitment to us.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Be love.

Because that is what love does.

 

Angels’ Retreat

 

These photos are courtesy of Tammy Seibert, be sure to stop by her blog.

 

It was the summer of 1998. I was fresh out of high school. And had an incredible opportunity to travel from Oklahoma to New York in an RV filled with babies, friends, mentors, and my pastor. I found this rough draft of an essay I wrote (I think I wrote this piece for a comp class, so pardon its roughness.) I’ve spent much time thinking of Tammy and her family and how they have shaped me. I am still so grateful for this journey and New York and for all the lessons I have learned.

 

It is the kind of place where angels come and seem to anoint the very place in which you walk. It is the embellishments of childhood that stand alone and it is here where I begin to sort through my own recollections. These memories, tainted with hate or those that seemed perfumed from sweet exotic fragrances that wisp through the air, capture me. This special place is where I begin to find solace. I have dreamed of a place like this to where I could travel on two levels while discovering and experiencing the fullness and richness of freedom. This freedom now envelopes me and I let go submerging myself in the light weight of its glorious burden. Until this summer I have only dreamed of this place, but upon arriving in Arcade, New York realization set upon me that this in fact was the place. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The words of Robert Frost echoed in my thoughts, for in this place was my turning point where I found my identity and did not pay heed to the expectations of those around.

The entrance to my haven was marked with an ordinary street sign labeled Seibert Lane. Turning onto the unpaved road the trees seemed to silently await my arrival. The branches stretched forth, curving over and bowing down as I passed through. I felt like a queen returning home after a long journey and just the view revived my senses, giving me the strength to carry on. A man-built lake comes into view as the road bends mourned. The lake is absolutely beautiful and is the color of greenish-brown, completely silent except for the ripples of surfacing fish. Behind the lake are gentle, sloping hills that round off into a wall of infinite blue spruces. Trails wind in and around the lush greenness. Located near the dock of the lake is the house where I will set up my camp for the entirety of ten days. It is a modest home with few signs of the increasing technology available. The house does not impose on Nature’s vast greatness. I settle in with my “adopted” family, the Seiberts, who from the moment I am introduced, accept me for who I am. I lapse into total comfort and can imagine no place greater that I would rather live.

The Seiberts and this land hold a strong connection for me. They both allowed and I guess in all actuality released in me the confidence to walk away from the monotony of everyday life and seek the simplest, truest form of realization of joy not happiness, and contentment not greed. Basically, for the past three or four years I had began to believe that I was here on this earth only to somehow please my mother and become all the things that my dad had at one time hoped for me. I had fallen under the trap of perfection and did not understand that this is my life and I must choose for myself what I will and will not do. I must remember that I am responsible forever for what I have ‘tamed’. With the opportunity to visit these friends in New York, I was given a way to escape for a few moments and decide what in all certainty I was going to do with each day of my life. From the moment I arrived in New York the Seibert family covered me in a positive atmosphere, exhorting me, and helping me find that which had been buried for such a long time. My passion for living and writing. Being out in the cool air, the welcoming silence, the calls of the birds and rustling of the grasses, awakened my perceptions and I fed on this gnawing desire. I learned to just be. By being able to sit, I learned to become one with what was surrounding me. I learned to breathe in and breathe out the sweet beauty, the sweet and sometimes bitter lessons of each experience thus far in my life.

I also discovered that life is not just about me and for me to truly enjoy experiences and those around, I must learn to give. Simple acts of kindness leave a mark on those you have aided. Selfishness only ignites a deeper need for what others could do for me. By being a part of the Seibert family I learned the importance of communicating, expressing my ideas and beliefs whether or not these opinions were the exact same or not of those I talked with. With my family at home we have mastered the art of bottling up what needs to be said, so for me to see people arguing, listening, discussing, I sat in amazement. The Seiberts became a prime example to me that laziness is not an attractive quality. Each member of the family was always doing what need to be done and yet they understood and practiced the art of relaxing and just being.

In just being away from my normal environment I had to act responsibly. I was in charge of my own money, food, and how I would spend my time. This, in itself, was a challenge for I am used to asking and just simply receiving from my family. Here, in New York, I had to interact with strangers and be able to express to them what I wanted or needed. My time at home is usually spent in my bedroom, within my own sheltered world, but here in New York I was not given that comfort zone.

The Seibert’s home in New York and those that I can call friends and family gave me a sense of worth. I returned home from my trip with my own thoughts in my head not someone else’s word that I came to believe as my own. What others thought of me did not matter–for who am I to judge and who are they to judge? In the land I connected with a part of me that had been dead. I learned to listen to the birds and even the nagging mosquitoes, appreciated the shade of trees, the warmth of sunshine rays, and to see what beautiful world God has created.