It’s Friday! Friiiday, gotta get down on…

Sorry, y’all. It’s in my head. And apparently it’s just not ever going away.

I’m busy, busy, busy doing work things today. Three cheers for the excitement of Financial Policies and Procedures!!

So here are some things making me happy this week:

1. This chicken. Oh. My. Gosh. Guys, I made a chicken! Like from scratch. Well, technically, I bought it all plucked and cleaned and all the gross inside stuff was taken out, but other than that, totally from scratch!

I found this recipe on Monday and I was determined: we are having chicken this week. And I know this sounds kind of weird, but I discovered that I love handling a whole, raw chicken. Like having to acknowledge that this thing I’m going to eat lived. Something had to die so that I could have dinner. I mean, I don’t think that’s wrong obviously, (because nothing that delicious can be wrong). But it’s not nothing either. Basically what I’m saying is I like to get all philosophical when I cook.

Anyway, here’s a before and after picture as proof:

Super props to my Aunt Holly who, in a very serendipitous story, bought me this clay pot. And I love, love, love it.

2. I can’t seem to find ACU’s Summit 2012 anywhere on iTunes so I’m listening to previous years. I found Rachel Held Evans‘ talk from 2010 (which I missed somehow when I was there) and I’ve been listening to it at work. I practically started sobbing at my desk. I never experienced that thing where I wanted to be friends with celebrities until I started paying attention to authors I loved. Now I have these wild fantasies of meeting her and somehow becoming best friends and drinking coffee together. I realize it’s probably never gonna happen, but it has to be more likely than all the girls who think they’re going to marry Robert Pattinson, right? right?

3. David and I were assigned this book to read for counseling, so I bought it yesterday. We’re supposed to annotate it, and then pass it back and forth so we can read each other’s notes. (Which incidentally, I would do with all my books if David promised to read them with me).

On the opening page I wrote:

“Most of my comments are snarky. Just thought I’d warn you.”

I gave it to him when he got home, and he said:

“I wonder if this counselor is prepared for the full weight of our combined cynicism.”

Then he drew faces in all the hearts that precede the chapter titles.

4. These beautiful, beautiful earrings. I know I won’t spend over $300 on a pair of earrings…but I kind of want to.

If you want to buy them, go here.

5. I’ve been reading this blog the last few weeks, and it is just so beautiful. If you grew up in the church or found your way into the church, you need to check it out. Right now. Go.

Here’s a couple of my favorite articles I’ve read:

“We knew exactly what our future husbands should be like…My future husband will love God. Buy me flowers on Valentines Day. Pray with me every night. Open the car door for me when we go anywhere…He would be a kind of Christian Prince Charming, Zack Morris’ hair and Billy Graham’s faith…And it is sort of darkly ironic, this list of expectations in a faith that’s supposed to be about grace. About our inability to be perfect. We fail, we fail, we fail, and Christ comes down anyway, lets his feet grow dusty on our weary roads, chooses us, settles for us who cannot live up to the List, settles deep into the pain and love of it all.

Here is the truth. Here is the paradox: Where Christians gather there is love, wild and full of grace. And. Where Christians gather, there is pettiness. Gossip. Pain. Hate.

6. This awesome onesie that my child will definitely, definitely wear someday.

7. I’m going home this weekend. Wedding invitations and La Madeleine here I come!

8. My boss told me I was “doing a good job”. And you know what, positive affirmation will get you far with me. As would a hug, but I don’t think bosses do that.

Just ask Gary Chapman. Cause he wrote a book about it. And then he referenced it in his other book 17 1/2 times, just in case you forgot…About his book…The one about love languages…The one he wrote.

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Thankful Thursday

Warning: this is really singularly applicable to the Christian University social club experience. If you don’t know what a social club is, this may not mean a whole lot to you.

This is also significantly girl-biased.

Also, if this offends you, that’s really not my goal here. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments. But, you know, with respect.

An open letter to the the clubbers, the new pledges and mostly the ones who didn’t get in:

Tonight, as you all know, is the beginning of the pledging season. And I’m gonna tell you something that I couldn’t have said honestly on this night three years ago: I’m thankful that I didn’t get into club.

It’s still kind of hard for me to say it honestly now. I’ve experienced a good bit of social rejection, some it deserved. Some of it not. But for a lot of stupid reasons mostly having to do with who I wanted to become in college (and also a silly promise I made to a cousin in the aisle of Michael’s when I was 14), that was one of the hardest.

Now, I could write this letter to you the easy way. It would sound all bitter angry. It would come from a place of hurt and rejection. Mostly, it would come across as whiny and self-righteous. At the end, I would be mad and 2/3 of the intended audience would be offended and no one would want to read it.

Because we all have our own stuff to be angry and bitter about. And none of us benefit by indulging the murky, victimizing corners of our own mind. Because that place is lonely, and populated largely by Fox News contributors.

It beckons to you when you’re wounded, promising to ease the pain, but bringing infection instead. It defines everyone else in terms of their offenses against you. It prevents you from recognizing the validity of other people’s choices. It feeds on division and pride.

So I’m going to try not to go there. But it’s a tempting place, you know? It promises vindication. It’s that snide little voice that tells you how right you are, always. And let’s be honest, I think most of us enjoy being right.

So if you hear me backing up into my corner, if you see my eyebrows narrowing and my gaze grow steely, feel free to stop me, disagree with me, remind me that my point is not the only valid one. I’d appreciate it.

But I’ll be honest with you, this thing, this process of impressing and voting and selecting, I don’t like it, especially when it presents itself behind the veil of Christian friendship. Mostly, because I think it’s inherently divisive, and kind of self-serving. And that is pretty much the last thing Jesus asked us to be.

But that’s my opinion, as someone that really wanted to be in, and wasn’t.

I know I won’t convince many people. I’m not trying to. I know that for those of you who were/are in a social club, it’s full of happy memories, it’s comprised of so many people you love. You don’t understand what people are so upset about. “That’s the way the world works. Some people get picked, and some people don’t. Don’t make me feel bad that I got something good.”

It’s kind of the mantra of wealth in this country. Some people are born with the family connections or skills that enable them to become enormously wealthy. Some people are born into poverty and broken families, and they end up poor. That’s not the rich person’s fault. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to enjoy their money.

No, it’s not. And it doesn’t. It isn’t the fault of wealthy people that the poor starve. But that doesn’t make the system fair, or good.

Now, obviously, poverty is much more dire and unjust than peer rejection. But that doesn’t change the fact that a system is in place which inherently creates a group of people who are accepted, and a group of people who are not.

I know many, many people disagree with me about this. And several of those people are my friends and family members. But for those of you in club, (if any of you have actually read this through and don’t hate me yet), I know that those of you in club are going to stay there. I might too, if I’m really honest with myself. Who doesn’t like friends and singing competitions?

But please tomorrow, can you remember that there are other people in class with you who aren’t excited about pledging? A few of them really wanted to get in, they really wanted to feel like finally, here with other Christians, maybe I’ll be accepted, too. And they got the message, once again, that they weren’t good enough.

I’m not asking you not to pledge. I’m not asking you not to be excited. I’m asking you to see them. To acknowledge that this thing you’re about to take part in, the costumes and the screaming and the notebooks, this thing that makes you feel loved and blessed and accepted, it might be making someone else feel very alone.

And maybe remember that in the eyes of this God we all claim to serve, you are not better than them because you were chosen, and they are not better than you because they weren’t, and I am not better than you because I think what you’re doing is wrong. At the end of the day, don’t forget the big picture: that the bringing about the kingdom of God has nothing to do with social clubs.

But for those of you who didn’t find what you wanted when you opened that envelope tonight, who feel really stupid for trying, it is not the end of the world. Seriously.

I know rejection sucks, but for the rest of your life there will be people who don’t want to be friends with you, just like there will be people who don’t want to kiss you or hire you. You have to figure out how to be okay with that or you will make yourself miserable. You have to decide that you’re worth more than what those 100 girls or boys think of you.

Go make other friends. Go to church. Study. Lead a spring break campaign. Start dating that tall guy who sits on the couch with you tonight and eats Chinese food while you cry about something that ultimately, seriously does. not. matter.

This can be a good thing. You have time. You get to wear whatever you want. And you don’t have to sit around and vote on next year’s candidates for social acceptance. That can be a blessing. Maybe someday you’ll even be grateful for it, for all the other things you got to experience. And maybe through this you’ll realize that trying to convince a room full of strangers to like you, is really uncomfortable for you. And that’s okay. Maybe you’ll even dedicate a Thankful Thursday blog post to it.

At the end of the day, this life that you have, it’s yours. And you will have to decide what to do with it: to honor God or not, to love generously or not, to embrace what you’ve been given or not. And that can be beautiful, whether you’re in a social club or not.

Sincerely and with love,
Becca Anne

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PS
On a totally unrelated note, look what I got today!!

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Harry Potter and the Fear of Failure

Depending on how big a book nerd you are (and how many Harry Potter figurines you had as a child*), you may or may not know that J.K. Rowlings’ first post-HP book releases tomorrow.

It’s adult fiction this time, and much discussion was had after the announcement, mostly comments about how few authors succeed in multiple genres.

And I’ve wondered this week if it scares her, this new book. I wonder if she worries that no one will like it, that she won’t be able to live up to the expectations, that nothing she ever writes will be so beloved as that wizard boy under the cupboard.

I wonder if she ever experiences that heavy twinge of nostalgia when she remembers the midnight release parties, the millions waiting in lines and gathering excitedly in warm-yellow-lit bookstores, waiting together, sharing tangible anticipation for the stroke of midnight?

Maybe not. Maybe tonight, she’ll just enjoy a cup of tea and go to bed, glad that she doesn’t have to stay up all night.

But I wonder if it’s ever easy to create something you love, and then hand it over to the world. I wonder if we ever outgrow the shaky knees, the self doubt, the am-I-enough’s.

I wonder if the author who wrote what might be the most iconic book of a generation, who inspired songs and art and musicals and intramural quidditch games, is ever scared to write.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

― J.K. Rowling

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At least we know the Barnes & Noble employees are grateful they won’t have to spend the morning cleaning the remains of pretzel wands and butter beer lattes.

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*Guys, I had drawer-fuls.I had figurines and boxes and a “collectible” edition of the first book. I had bumper stickers that my poor mother had to scrape off my bunk bed and my closet doors and my blue textured walls. Go ahead. Judge me. I won’t blame you.

I’ve calmed down since elementary school, but they still feature prominently on my bookshelf, and as far as I’m concerned, they always will.

Also, I wrote this ridiculously sappy post when the last movie came out. Tumblrs everywhere were all having a collective memorial, like someone had died, and I might have become a tad bit sentimental.

This God thing, it’s good?

It’s something like love
Something like light
Something like gold
Something like fight

Something like free
Something like cost
Something like sunshine
Something like frost

Something like mountains
Something like air
Something like cathedrals
Something like prayer

Something like broken
Something like grace
Something like falling
Something like embrace

Something like obedience
Something like tearing
Something like questions
Something like repairing

Something like knowing
Something like tears
Something like hiding
Something like fears

Something like leaving
Something like burning
Something like the father running
Something like the son returning

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David and I had our first evening of pre-marital counseling last night. And before we met with our counselor guy, there were the ubiquitous forms to be filled out.

Under the religious beliefs and upbringing section, there was the request: Describe your relationship to God. In two 12 pt. lines. To which I responded: It’s good?

Because I’m articulate like that.

Really though, what are you supposed to say in that space? I’ve been asked that so many times, as though there should be an ready-made answer: microwavable beliefs. I’ve been working on it my whole life, and I haven’t come up with an answer more concise than a seven stanza poem.

So maybe now I’ll just give them this.

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PS. I promise I haven’t lost my deep love of prose. I just found this beautiful blog a week or so ago, and it’s so full of lovely poetry. It just seemed like so much fun.

I think I’m jealous of a bird

I arrived outside the office just moments after a small brown bird descended onto the concrete outside the sliding glass doors.

She seemed like maybe she wanted to go inside.

So I stepped in, just a toe at a time, until the mirrored doors whirred open in a rush of cold air. And then I waited, hoping she would take off into the dark, silent hallway.

Because that seemed like a fun distraction from work.

But she just stood there. So I stepped through the doors and turned back to her, Come here, bird. Come inside bird.

She stared, unmoving.

Maybe she just wondered what all the fuss was about, the constant coming and going. Obviously, it’s not for her. She prefers sunlight and wide, blue skies.

Smart bird.

The view from the conference room.

Guys, I think I’m jealous of a bird.

What is love if not the little things?

It’s in the movies that love is grand,
Scripted and well-planned.
Maybe Landon gave Jamie a star,
But mine filled up the tank when he borrowed my car.
And truthfully, I prefer the latter,
Because what does the former honestly matter?
It’s nice, I suppose, good food and fine wine,
But his arm around me is better, his hand holding mine,
While we lie on the couch, watching DVD’s of Friends,
Our own little ritual of lazy weekends.

It’s the bookcases that separate hotel rooms from homes,
The pictures frames and novels, theology and poems.
He calls it “an inefficient use of space,
But lovely” and slowly, this becomes our place.
It’s a humbling thing, this forming one life,
This chaotic time between diamond ring and wife.
And the flowers may always be far between and few,
But after petals wilt, there will still be us, whispering,

I love you.

I think I prefer poems that don’t rhyme. It’s hard. But there you go.

I moved my new bookcase into David’s apartment this weekend.

Thankful Thursday

On Friday!

I think I might make Thankful Thursdays a thing. Because I like gratitude, and alliteration.

But I think I’ll start it today. Because this is my blog, and there’s no rule that says Thankful Thursday has to start on Thursday.

So here are things I’m thankful for today:

-It was cold enough this morning to wear a scarf. I’ve been waiting for this since March.

-My parents are driving down this weekend and bringing the bookshelf that I ordered in June. So now I can finally unpack all those boxes full of beautiful things that have been cluttering David’s floor since I moved down here.

-This picture that describes my life.

-Pumpkin bread. It doesn’t matter how many food/beverage/dessert concoctions pinterest tells me can be made with pumpkin; pumpkin bread will always be my favorite. Except for maybe pumpkin cake balls.

-The absolutely lovely comments I’ve received from friends and family about this blog. Seriously, you guys are so kind.

-My wonderful heatherelaine who went out and found cake and flowers and tables and all manner of things for me this week when I called her to tell her I was stressin’ about wedding-y things.

-This picture that made me laugh out loud.

-A beautiful piece about church from Micha Boyett over at A Deeper Story:

I want to write this for you. You, the one who sits with your face in your hands and begs yourself out the door into the church on Sundays. You, who questions hierarchy and recognizes the broken tendencies of leaders. You who wonders how the church can ever be its true self, how Jesus’ dream for God’s people could end up so flimsy. I want to write a story for you about what is possible.

-A brave guest post from a week or so ago on Rachel Held Evans’ blog:

I don’t know why the church pedals reparative therapy as an answer to their theological dilemma, despite it resulting in countless suicides. I don’t know why they think it’s fit to equate gays to rapists and murderers. I don’t know why they say dads make kids gay…I don’t know why they flog my father.

-The fact that we are officially 92 days away from our wedding!!

-Which also means we are 95 days away from Christmas.

Life is good.