Thursday, December 31, 2009

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye . . .

With 2009 coming to a close, I couldn't resist listing a few developments and surprises that caught me this year.
  • Went to Tahoe and intentionally spent the weekend in the motel room (next time I'll snowboard), January.
  • While ice skating, I took a fall that caused someone to come up to my friend and say, "Wow, that was quite a fall."  Considering the left side of my back hurt for 2 months, I'd have to agree. February.
  • Received a prophetic dream, April 21.
  • Bible college.  Got that message in May.
  • Began a love affair with the beach and walking in the surf.  First official date:  Memorial Day.
  • Visited my hometown for the first time in 3 years, along with a first-ever visit to my dad's grave, June.
  • Fired for the first time.  When it happened, I texted practically everyone I knew--joyfully.  July 13th.
  • Modeled.  Me:  Miss Camera Shy?  Shocking!  August.
  • Stopped fighting the idea of becoming a missionary, August.
  • Sold/gave away every movie I own, September.
  • My bag with my wallet and journal inside it was stolen.  I was most traumatized about the journal.  September.
  • 90-block prayer walk to and from the beach with a good friend, October.
  • Different prophetic dream confirmed by Christmas gift.  When I opened the package, I couldn't help laughing and thinking, "Really, God?"  December 30th.
Thank you for joining me on an abridged tour of "That'll never happen" and "Let me tell you what happened" and "Whoa!  What just happened?"  This may not be the most poetic reading ever, but I believe it's important to see where you've come from and where you're headed.

Sometimes you see your future begins in the past.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hugs: A Call to Arms

Here's to kamikaze hugs.  To hugs from women who go find you the last piece of cheesecake.  And hugs from women who've never been told they're prodigiously awesome.  Here's to hugs from women who squeeze the breath from you as they comfort you--as if their lives depend on that embrace.  Here's to women who hug with no premeditation, no guile, no agenda.  Here's to hugs from women who know the hug is not fully appreciated when they give it.  To hugs that crack the taut facade of a woman in control, that leave her shaking and clinging to the person cradling her.  Here's to hugs from women we haven't seen in so very long, and hugs from women we saw earlier today.

Here's to hugs that come in a "thank you" or a "you're welcome" or a "you rock."  Here's to hugs that involve no touch, but a helping hand in tough moments.  When someone drops everything to come be with you when you've been fired (and feel jubilant about it), or friends who leave the party early and bring you cupcakes when you're crying and don't know why.  Here's to hugs in the form of silly jokes to distract you from your problems, since you can't change circumstances anyway.  Here's to hugs that come with truths difficult to accept about ourselves.

Here's to embracing our own ability to affirm life in others.  Here's to making that our mission.  Applauding someone's success with no thought of "why not me?" or "when's my turn?"  Giving someone a "you rock" without expecting a "you too" in return.  Here's to genuinely complimenting someone you loathe.  Looking for new things to compliment in everyone, and telling them to their face--and even behind their backs.

Here's to seeing, acknowledging, and reveling in our own worth.  Here's to dropping our baggage long enough to give and receive hugs.  If we could really know how awe-inspiring we truly are, the angels would weep and Satan would turn tail and furiously run back to Sheol.  And we wouldn't miss him.  Praise God for creating us in His image.  Here's to embracing this truth:  you are not an accident.  Repeat after me:  You are not a creationary afterthought.  Your existence is on purpose for a purpose.

Here's to hugging that to our hearts.  Let's live up to it, and live it up.  When we embrace who we really are, we go forth as originally intended.  Inhaling and exhaling life with every breath.  Then, as we hug someone else--whichever form we use--they are encouraged to embrace that same spirit of life.  This is not a call to wrap your arms indiscriminately around every person you meet.  Rather, it is a call to arms.  You know that love we so desperately wish was shown to us?  It will never be borne if we don't give birth to it ourselves.

Here's to giving away a bit of yourself.  Here's to running toward someone and lifting them off the ground in a hug (kamikaze hugs).  Here's to hugging as though your life depends on it.  Here's to encouraging that person you can't stand.  Here's to looking in the mirror in the morning and not judging yourself but thinking, "I am the only one who can be me."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Way with Words

1) To many who know me, I am renowned for loving words and using some pretty obscure ones.  Yay!

2) To a fairly small number, I am also known for being positively oblivious to male attention. . . .  Yay?

Allow me to unite the two characteristics in one tale:

Once upon a time, I worked in a fairly prestigious department store's lingerie department, specializing in fitting women for bras.  During the post-holiday-rush of January, I began talking to a man whose daughter my coworker was helping.  It was dead; I had nothing more pressing to do.  Somehow, we started talking about dictionaries.  For some, this would appear a strange conversation, but remember point #1.  Eventually, I shared my views on the hierarchy of English dictionaries (unabridged OED, Webster's 2nd International (out of print), Webster's 3rd International).  He asked me to write down my suggestions, and I used my business card to do so, adding a few extras.

I am a nerd.  I am aware of this.

Time passed, and I thought no more of that day.  Then, one Saturday in April, I came back from my lunch break to find a call holding for me.  "Hello, Valonna, this is Mike X.  You might not remember me, but I was in your store a while back with my daughter."  Okay . . .  "Your card's been following me around . . ."  It grew legs and walked?  " . . . and I wanted to ask you a few questions about these suggestions."

"Okay, how can I help you?"

I won't bore you with the details of how I waxed poetic on Samuel Johnson's definition of "bustle," but I do remember thinking, This guy sure is interested in dictionary comparisons.  We finished, and he was very grateful for my time, saying, "Well, thanks for taking time out of your day at work, and I'm not at work, but I understand, and thank you. . . ."

After hanging up, I went to talk to my coworker about how cool it was that someone called me back to ask advice about dictionaries, recounted the whole conversation.  She smiled.  "What I like about you is how sweet you are."  Eh?  I was just sharing information.  It's what I do.

I told that story several times over, to some of my best girlfriends.  Then, when I told my roommate, she burst into laughter and said, "Valonna, he was interested in you!"  Huh, what?  But he was talking about dictionaries.  She told me not all men are direct, told me to ask any of my guy friends what they thought of this scenario.  So a few days later, I was hanging with one of my best buddies, and before I even got to the halfway point in my story, his face said it all.  But just in case I was still lost, he summed it up with one embarrassing observation, "I know of only one other person who's more naive than you."  Yay . . . ?

My mom's told me multiple times that I am my father's daughter, referring to the fact that he was never aware women ever looked at him with any interest.  Oblivious as can be, I am his female counterpart.  And I really can't see how it's beneficial except to keep the ego in check.  But I can say it came in handy:  a few of my friends were talking about how one of them had been hit on while riding MUNI, and one person asked, "What about you?  Do men try to pick you up on the bus?"

"Well, funny you should ask.  I can't answer that question, but I do have a funny story."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog

Jeremiah. The first chapter. The verse: 17.

Get. Yourself. Ready!

I'm still trying to figure out what this means, but I woke up with it in my brain.

If people doubt that God still speaks through His word, send them to me. Be warned though; so far all I can do with this verse is point and hyperventilate. Get yourself ready. That's Him talking, TO ME, terrifying me with the power He's offering. Yes, power is the word. The verse warns me not to be terrified of them. Why be terrified of them? God's doing a fine job scaring the bejeezus out of me all on His own. His plans for me (just in claiming me for His own) are HUGE. And I can't quite fathom it. Heck, in truth, I can't fathom it at all.

This is the fear of the Lord, and it is on me. Luke 4:18. My God (!), I can't be shy. It's not allowed. I have to be soft and mighty. I have to get myself ready. There's no more hide and seek; just seek. There's no more excuses. . . . And the plain fact is, I know I will fail--or at least feel inept (Jer. 1:6). Yet, He doesn't accept excuses (v. 10), because in Him, I don't need them.

"What do you see, Valonna? What do you hear?"

"Get yourself ready for God knows what."

--Part of an email exchange on 18 September 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prayer #1

This is my prayer, Lord: that You reveal the secret petitions of my heart so that I'll know what I desire.

Let my heart yearn for communion with You, to such a degree that men, career, friends, and finances take a backseat. I want to turn to You first with happy news, aches and pains, and emotional woes and complaints. I want Your advice, to hear Your voice telling me, "This is the way." Please help me to follow You, to discern Your will. Don't let me be deceived back into the old comfort zone. Let me ask with authority for things I long for, and I will rely on You to take care of everything.

This is my prayer, Lord: that I love You first and foremost, that You bless me in that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yet Another Awkward Epiphany

You know that point in fiction where the character speaking gradually slows to a halt, mid-sentence, goes slack-jawed, and does a mental about-face? It's smooth, seamless, and a dozen other things that make the audience wish they had an epiphany every hour, on the hour.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that has never happened for me. Reality is usually messier and--without fail--more embarassing. Take my complete lack of humility in career transition for instance. It should have gone something like this:

Valonna: Good morning, God. Love ya. You're awesome, which you know of course, 'cause you know all. I was thinking about trying to find a new job that's right for me, suited to the talents and passions you instilled in me. I ask most humbly for your blessing in the search, transition, and new adventure. Guide me, and I will follow you.

God: Thanks for coming to me with this, Valonna. I love you, and I'm always happy to give you your heart's desire. And I'm sure I don't have to remind you that I'll make certain the timing is perfect for my plans before you see much happening on your end.

Valonna: Oh, absofrigginlutely. You're infallible on that score, never late, rarely early. Just keep talking me through the process so I don't go batty.

God: Of course.

Instead, the conversation went something like this:

Valonna: Oh, yeah . . . God, I've decided you will bless me with a new and completely friggin' awesome job. You couldn't have given me these talents and passions for no reason, so I will let you do your thing and hook me up. I expect everything on my timetable and on my own terms. Naturally, this will be a stress-free and easy process.

[God rubs his forehead, chuckles ever so minutely, and grins at his Son.]

Valonna: [looks around for source of laughter] . . . God . . . ? God . . . ?

Um, yeah, humility is never my forte. And in a meeting Wednesday, mid-sentence, nearly slack-jawed, I found myself stricken with Epiphanitis. (Thankfully a pretty mild bout, whose side effects happen to include a runny nose.) I've been expecting all this blessing from God, wrestling around with Him, struggling to keep up my faith. All without ever asking Him for the blessing, without exercising any real faith. Now I'm pinned, convicted, rather humbled; embarassed as usual.

Thankfully, God's not too into embarassing me. That's all my own doing. He was totally cool when I went back to Him and said . . . .

Really? You expect to eavesdrop on all of a girl's conversations with God? Nope, no verbatim recountings on this one. Suffice it to say, we're cool, we've discussed timing, humility, etc. I know I'm decidedly in the dark on some things, but He's drilling me on how to get over it. Namely, He's whispering in my ear, "Chill out. Don't worry. I won't leave you out in the cold. I didn't give you those talents and passions for no reason, but you don't see the full picture. You'll come along fine. Stick with Me, and you will be blessed, just by virtue of hanging out with Me."

Huh. You got a soundbite after all, and yes, He really does sound like that.