Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Wow, almost 3 months?  Yeah, I guess that's kind of my style.  At least I'll tell you it is if I'm going for honest. 

Tonight, I'm definitely going for honest.  I'm going for deep, sack-you-in-the-gut honest, because a) flattery isn't really all that flattering, and b) more than ever, I'm finding that anything less will leave you unsatisfied and unhappy.

How do you start it, though?  How do you, or maybe I should say, do you tell someone that you don't trust them or that you feel patronized by them or that you'd rather just go it alone?  Is it better to bring it up and put it out there, risking the calm facade (which is semi-bearable, if not fulfilling) in hopes that addressing the awkward can help you move forward to something better?  And then, the last bitter twist to the quandary, what if you don't really believe that those hopes can be realized, given the people involved?  Is it better to risk it for something that looks unlikely or to try to find a way to grin and bear it?  I just don't know the answer anymore.  And maybe I'm a coward, but my response is to duck and run.  Or tuck and roll.  Or something of the sort.  If the question is to fish or cut bait, I'm going to cut bait.  And then, I'm going to move into my panic room.  That's right, this coward doesn't just run, she runs and hides.  Maybe it's the easy way out, but I'm not in the best place right now and I'm not ready to deal with recent situations at work in a detached, professional way yet, so I'm just going to pull a classic Laura and retreat to what I know, avoiding the minefield altogether.  I may never get to the other side, but I won't get burned or blown up in the process.  Ugh, I even disgust myself.

That said, I've had 2 people now tell me that my employment (whether it be the actual work agreement, the people there, the team I work with, or the job I do) means too much to me.  If one person brings up something, it doesn't necessarily get ignored, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it if I don't break it down and analyze.  When more than one person brings it up (especially if the two or more people are unrelated in any way), then it's time to hash it out.  So beware, I'm about to.  In writing.  And it will, like most of my thought processes, probably be long.  Consider yourself forewarned.

I'm logical by nature so lets start with the facts.  Employment is important to me.  I have a job.  One of my top life priorities is to excel at my job and be the best <fill in current employment position here> I can be.  I spend more waking hours at work each week than I do anywhere else.  In the last year or so, I have lost many friends in my personal life.  Outside of work, I have few expectations of me or regular commitments to fulfill.  I tend to bring work home with me.  Part of my identity is found in what I do for a living, where I do it, and how well I do it.

It's a recipe for disaster. 

I may not see it exactly how the people who brought it up to me do, but I'm realizing that I may put undue importance on not just being good at my job, but on having "friends" there or "being a part of things" there.  It's a mental process that I've been sorting through for some time to break out of that and realize that socially accepted or not, I am a part of things there and perform an important function.  Granted, some of that function could probably be completed by a monkey who would then "be part of things" there, but some of it is unique and can't be done by just anyone, but I can do it.  What I'm really struggling with is how I can still value my work ethic and be who I am (neuroses about being a good employee and all) but remain aloof enough to not care whether those traits and skills of mine are recognized and appreciated.  How can I still be the person and employee I am without losing sight of the fact that my employment is really only a trade - hours for money?  And I struggle, because ideally - truly ideally, as in the very best thing that could happen - I would find a profession that doesn't just benefit from my personal beliefs and convictions regarding employment, but needs them, thrives on them.  Something like a pastor or a social worker or an activist.  Except I'm not cut out for any of those things.  It's all left me feeling like I'm not ever going to be able to just be at peace at a job.  Or like a job will never cut it.

And that's terrifying in its own right.  My job is really all I have right now.  Honestly - the unflattering, bare bones, open wounds kind of honestly - I'm lonely.  I have several good friends who are local, and I spend time with them, but they're busy with their own lives, trying to find a balance.  I have too much time and not enough to do.  I'm lonely.  I'm watching the people around me move on with their lives to bigger and better things, and I can't even bring myself to go to a church regularly because I've been so paralyzed by the pain cause by Christians that I feel like I have no more will to try.  How does that hurt heal?  How do you forget how awful people have been and get past the fact that they still get to live in the perfect world you used to live in?  How do you forgive someone who not only doesn't ask for it, but also gloats about being right in the face of your pain?  And if I could, if I could somehow reconnect to the world around me in a real and tangible way, would it matter?  I would still be the same person I am now, with the same dreams and hopes and fears and priorities, but I'd just be one with a support system of sorts.  If I had that, would my job mean less to me?  Would I get worse at it?

Does it matter?  Being a part of a body of believers seems like a pipe dream to me anymore, however depressing that is.  Maybe God will change me on that and give me grace to move on from what's happened before, but right now, it seems unlikely.  And in the interim, I guess I can try and make the finer points of my employment matter less to me and think of it as a trade, but if I cut that out too, what's left?  If I keep trimming who I am and what once mattered to me from my life, soon I won't be anyone at all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's getting a little funky around here...

So lately, I've been in a funk.  And not in the good, "get up off that thing, James Brown" kind of way, but an "ew, what's that funky smell in the fridge" kind of way.

My birthday is a week from today.  Usually, for those of you who don't know, I LOVE my birthday.  I try to stretch it into a whole week with festivities.  I'm awkward about receiving gifts, but I love that it's a time when I get to see the people in my life that I rarely see, when people make time in their schedules to be a part of my life for a day, or a night, or whatever.  I'll probably grow out of it at some point, but so far, I'm not so sure I want to.

This year, I'm down.  I'm turning 25.  I have a decent job.  I'm working on my education - slowly, of course, but working.  I'm pretty okay with most of my life, but for the last 2 weeks or so, I have been absolutely, earth-shakingly, depressingly lonely.  It's actually a little pathetic, if I'm being honest.  It's like I can't function, which certainly isn't helping with the whole "get over yourself" thing.

See, when I was a teenager, or at least until 17 or so, I didn't want to get married or do anything domestic.  I thought so differently than I do now.  But after I became a Christian, God totally changed my heart.  I want to be married.  I want to be a mom.  I want to experience familial relationships.  I want to tell my kids that I WILL turn this car around.  I want to make cupcakes for school snacks.  The domestic part of me awakened, and I think that it's God-given, like He's called me to something common, but good and as designed.

I always said (since I said I want kids anyway) that I really want to be a younger mom, one who can still play with her kids in sandbox and come up with cool ideas for them.  It doesn't really upset me that I haven't reached that stage in life, but lately, having been single for a long time and with not a single even potential prospect for relationship in my life, I feel like I'm going to die alone.  And if that's exaggerating, I definitely question whether I will be able to be the young mom I've always wanted to be. 

I'm almost 25.  And even if I met and started dating someone tomorrow (which is EXTREMELY unlikely), I'm thinking I'd be at least 30 before I could/would have kids anyway.  And that's not considering that I'd really like to adopt and there's a lot of time involved with that.  Nor is it considering that even if I had a biological at 30ish, it'd be a few years before I could actually play in the sandbox.  Okay, I'm going to stop crunching numbers in my head now, because I'm getting more depressed.

So anyway, all this to say that I'm in the funk, neck-deep.  I can't figure out how to get out.  I'm trying (if that's even a legitimate thing to do) to trust God, to be still and know that not only is He God, but He is God who loves me, has a plan for humanity that includes me, and has the power to work miracles that I can't even imagine.  I'm trying.  I'm trying to distract myself with other good things.  I'm trying to dig my way from the funk, but I'm just living there.  And I think I'm starting to grow mold that might cure a disease some day.

I'm praying, though surely not enough, for grace, because I'm at a loss for it.  I've got it in spades for the people around me, but the only thing I have for myself lately is self-pity and some good berating.

Here's to hoping that you're not living in your own funk, but if you are, please share the ladder.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who are you?

Okay, picture back with me to Alice in Wonderland.  You're a kid, you're watching this terribly peculiar movie with all kinds of characters.  Along wanders Alice into this caterpillar with awesome shoes, and you just know he's going to be funny and great, and all he says, puffing on his colorful smoke: "Who are you?"

And as a kid, you're thinking, "duh, she's Alice!"  But as an adult, I look back and would I even have begun to answer that question. 

Who am I?

Today, I'm wondering what the difference is between who we are - who we know ourselves to be at our cores - and who we are perceived to be.  When a person tells lies about you and they are believed, does their falsehood matter anymore?  The chips are down and you've got to play cleanup, so does it matter that they were wrong to begin with?  And if someone understands you to have a different character than the one you think you have...who is right?  Are you who you think you are or are you who you are perceived to be?

It's a frustrating tangled web to navigate.

But, as a Christian - though I'm sure many would consider me a substandard one, if that matters - I'm encouraged by the fact that Jesus' own disciples misunderstood him.  On many occasions, actually.  In particular, in Mark 4:38, they thought that Jesus didn't care that they were dying.

If Jesus, the best orator, the most genuine, the holiest, and the creator of authenticity, could be misunderstood, perhaps it's okay that I am.  And, I suppose, that who God knows me to be trumps both who I think I am and who others think I am, so I guess I'll go with that for now, and figure out the rest later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Murphy's Oil Soap

My house smells like Murphy's Oil Soap.

It's a smell of my childhood...of spring mornings and scrubbing and dusty jean knees and fighting and finding fun old toys beneath the couch that you just forgot you loved.  It's a smell of arguments and giving in because you know Mom is right and it really is dirty.  It's a smell of the family I grew up in, which is different than the one I have now.  Neither better or worse, but just different.  It's a smell that's tied to not just one emotion, but many. 

And today, it's a smell of uncertainty.

I'm sure, if you asked my mom, she'd disagree with this statement, but when I am upset, confused, disappointed, or distraught, I turn to cleaning.  It's not always cleaning by her definition, but it's something.  I take on a new project, something I can control the outcome of - something that lies solely in my determination, ability, and commitment.  (Mom, if you ever read this, you can stop laughing now.)

Today, my house smells like Murphy's Oil Soap.  For those of you who don't know, Murphy's is used on wood.  I have a lot of wood trim in my house - baseboards, chair rails, doors, cabinets, etc.  The Murphy's only comes out once a year...and honestly, sometimes not even that much.  It's a rare occasion for sure.  My house smells like Murphy's because I don't know the future.

What will my life be like a month from now? At Christmas?  A year from now?  Five years from now?  Where will I be and what will I be doing and with whom will I be doing it?

Though it pains me to admit this, I haven't got a flipping clue.

Today, I feel very much untied.  Not just in the "I'm not tied down and I can do what I want" kind of way, but in the "Nothing and no one is keeping me from floating away" kind of way.  I'm disappointed.  I'm downtrodden.  I'm a little anxious and a lot envious.  In short, I'm failing miserably at all the things that I thought my life would have.

I'm nearly 25, and while I understand that 25 is hardly old and decrepit, it is late.  Ten years ago, had you asked me what my life would be like by 25, I'd have said that I would be well traveled by now, probably working for a human rights organization, and fluent in at least 3 languages.  Five years ago, had you asked me what my life would be like by 25, I'd have told you that I'd be married, possibly with a child, and probably involved in a full-time ministry.  Today, I can tell you that by 25, all of my wooden trim will be spotless and shiny. 

I know that there's grace for this.  I know, because I've felt it before, but right now, I'm still finding my way to it.  Right now, I'm wiping the self-pitying tears from my faith and trying to remember that some people have legitimate problems, and mine hardly counts.

Right now, I'm also worrying - will the job I have continue to be fulfilling as it has been or will it peter out into a mindless, robotic paycheck to me?  And if it does, will I have the guts to leave it for something greater...perhaps without a paycheck?  Will I always live in a big apartment and have no one to share it with?  Will I ever figure out what it is that I'm good at and passionate enough about to make it my life?  Will I ever have those kids who will fight over the cool toys from under the couch on spring cleaning day?  And if I can't...if none of these things will ever become apparent to me and the status quo doesn't ever change...will I ever find the way to grace for these moments?

I'm frustrated because I don't have the answers to any of these questions.  But in the meantime - almost as a consolation prize, I think - I will have really clean baseboards.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grievous Grace

Sometimes, all I can think is "God, what are you doing?!"

Today I heard that a new but very dear friend miscarried her first pregnancy.  I know that she and her husband (also a new, but dear friend) were very excited about this, and to be honest, I was too.  They're the kind of people who NEED to be parents - the ones whose faith, knowledge, personalities, and genes desperately need to be passed on to the next generation, and with their pregnancy, not only they and their family rejoiced, but I did too.  And today, when I heard that the tiny, much loved person in her womb wouldn't make it to meet all who await him/her, I was devastated, as I can only imagine my friends and their loved ones are even more. 

"God," I thought, "What are you doing?!"

I know this will not shake their faith, though I'm sure it will be a trial as all loss is.  And it will not shake the faiths of their loved ones, I would guess, but there's always that question when you're in the grey areas, the dark nights that seem forever:  "God, why?"

And I know that God isn't afraid of those questions.  Cognitively, I know that there's a purpose to this experience for all who are involved and that, like Scripture promises, all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (a group in which this couple definitely is included!).  But why the heartbreak?  Why the surprise, the excitement, the blessing?  Why them, God, with their health and responsibility, when irresponsible, unhealthy pregnancies come to term?  Why them, when they have blessed so many others and would do so much more as a family?  Why that baby, why this day, why that way?

So far, all I have are questions, and today I'm struggling with grace in the grievous moments of life.  While praying, begging almost, for peace for them, I'm also praying for understanding, or for grace in my ignorance, so that I can stop questioning and start trusting.  And I'm praying for their future, that they would have confidence, that they would trust the God who made and sustains them, and beg for His grace as I do, and that they would know love more fully because of this.  Even as I pray it, I wonder if it even can happen, let alone will, but then again...that's just the questions talking and I'm waiting for the grace.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Art of Receiving

How fickle my soul and how woozy my eyes
I stuggle to find any truth in your lies
and now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
this weakness I feel I must finally show
- Mumford and Sons "Awake My Soul"

And I cannot decide where my heart will abide
Close to you is comfortable and safe...but just not right
- JJ Heller "The Last Time"

So again, a few weeks' time has passed between my posts, and I can't seem to feel guilty for it, though I admit I haven't tried much.  The past few weeks have been very revealing to me on the state of myself - my personality, my morality, my will, my spirituality...even my very soul.  I am a fickle creature.  I am selfish beyond all else.  I am prideful, I am spiteful, I am a liar.  I am so very human and so very sinful.

I've probably known these things for my whole life - in fact, I'm sure that I have.  I've never made light of the fact that I am human despite being a Christian.  I have never denied being a sinner or tried to make someone think that I was better than them (at least on purpose).  But in the last few weeks, I've come face-to-face, quite closely, I might add, with just how much I desire my sin.  For years, I've prayed (admittedly, half-heartedly) that God would teach me to hate my sin, that He would move in me to be inclined toward goodness, and not wrong, and I suppose, somewhere along the way, I stopped praying for what I considered an "imaginary fruit", something that would never come to fruition.

I've never been one for confession.  I guess I've always figured that because I tend to be judgmental of other Christians, everyone else is too, so why do they have to know what bad things I've done that I struggle to be sorry for?  However, I think God knew that about me, and brought me to the point that the sin that I should hate, the sin I've held to and felt comforted by (like the JJ Heller song above), shamed me.  It required confession - not only to God, but to another believer.  It required humbling myself to the body of Christ and receiving their wrath.  Except, when I went to do that, there was no wrath.  In response to my shamed confession, I received only grace.  In all honesty, I had no idea what to do with it.

It was a life changing experience in that I think, in the week(s) since that moment, I've learned to extend the same grace.  Not just in name, as I have before, but in practice.  I've forgiven more completely for things I'd already "forgiven" and done what I can to listen less judgmentally, and I'm very glad for that change.

However, sin isn't that easy.  It's not a once and done kind of experience, though I wish it was.  The grace that I received in response to my confession was a gift, and I am a selfish sinner.  I take my gifts and they're never enough.  In fact, even as I type this, I acknowledge that my sinful self takes the receipt of grace from a friend as a "get out of jail free" card - so I can go, sin again, and experience the absolution once more.

I know I'll need it.  I know I'll need to confess again.  But in the meantime, I'm still praying for God to help me hate my sin, because all I want to naturally do is exploit the grace I've been afforded, and that defeats the purpose, now doesn't it? 

Please....make this the last time.
So take my through this shadowland
I pray that you will hold my hand
and teach me to be who I am in You...
- JJ Heller "The Last Time"

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
but not before You show me how to die...
- Audrey Assad "Show Me"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, my life has been pretty crazy these last few weeks.  I've been working more than normal, and I spent a weekend away, as well as caught up on some housework, so it's been productive, though my blog has been neglected.

It seems like the overarching theme I can think of for that time is about the word "nice".  It kind of amazes me how different its meanings can be. 

For instance, those who know me well know that I struggle with being "nice" to some people, especially those who I feel have wronged or mistreated me.  Nice, in that sense, is kind, Christlike.  Not something easy...something to work toward.

Last weekend, I spent some time with a new friend from work.  It was nice in a totally different kind of way...a relaxed, comfortable, unforced kind of way.  Nice can be that too, I guess.

Nice can mean fine, like when a person wants "nice things."  Nice can mean not rude, like when you don't have anything nice to say so you don't say anything at all.  Nice can mean pleasurable, or friendly, or refined.  It just amazes me how broad the word really is.

And for me, over the last 2 weeks, "nice" has meant all of these things in one way or another.  Nothing is really too outstanding, but it's all been nice.

Additionally, I have realized yet another truth about myself that requires that I have grace for me: I'm not nearly as sure or content as I think I am.  Just the second I become comfortable and content, something comes along that has me wanting something different.  And the fact of the matter is that sometimes, I will make the wrong choice.  Today, I'm trying to accept that.  Today, I'm learning to have grace for both the niceties in my life, as well as for my future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

♥ Love is in the Air ♥

Today is Valentine's Day.  It's a silly holiday, though I guess at its root, when you get beyond the suffocating commercialism of it all, it can be a very nice holiday.  Usually it makes me quite lonely and a little discontented.  In fact, with the rash of engagements, marriages, and other huge life changes that seem to be happening to everyone but me this past year, I thought it might be worse than normal. But instead, things are quite different.

This year, much to my surprise and joy, I am feeling quite loved.  In fact, despite having spent 22 or 23 of my 24 Valentine's Days single (is it awful that I can't remember that one...eesh!), I feel very loved today.  My mother, an unfailing source of encouragement and love, left me a card, even though she is out of town celebrating 30 years since the day my dad proposed.  (Congrats, Mom and Dad!)  I spent the weekend with a dear friend who is sharing the single life with me, and together, we baked cupcakes that I took into work today, which people seemed to really enjoy.  I stayed late at work and came home only to work on some homework while periodically peeking into the lives of my friends on facebook and reading about their romantic plans for the evening.

I think there are two differences this year from all the other Valentine's Days that I've spent rather miserable.  First, I purposed today to do something for other people.  As silly as making cupcakes might be, I think it really puts things into perspective when you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about the people around you and how you can be a blessing to them.  And second, I've been thinking constantly today about this verse.

Jeremiah 31:3 - "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you."

And you know what?  I like that.  I am loved with a love even more eternal than my mom's, deeper than I could ever know, and more powerful than any I've ever seen.  And more, God's faithfulness continues to sustain me.  It's not a new gift; it's not some grand surprise.  It's a constant, beautiful, completely necessary thing in my life, and God continues to extend that faithfulness and grace to me, despite my sin and sorrow. 

So, on this Valentine's Day, my wish for you, single or taken, is that you feel as loved as I do.  No, scratch loved as you are. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hoot, hoot.

You know that commercial for Tootsie Roll pops with the owl who counts the licks?  He always starts counting, but never makes it past 3 before he chomps down and bites through, proclaiming that three licks is all it takes.  I can't say that I frequently identify with cartoons, but for the last few days, I've definitely been feeling like the Tootsie Roll owl.

How many times in my life have I gone and rushed ahead, even when I start out absolutely determined to take it slow, give it time, and "let" God have His way (as if I have a choice in the matter...)?  Most of my life, really.  I consider myself to be intelligent, hard-working, and driven - all traits that can be great when they're put toward a worthy cause - but those same virtues often come back to bite me when the thing that I desire is fleeting, selfish, and/or just plain wrong?  And who among us, myself chiefly, doesn't have fleeting, selfish, wrong desires? 

I've been thinking about it lately in both a historical context and a present one.  Historically, I have made bad choices and used my gusto, if you will, to chase after them.  I have pushed down walls that were likely there as protection.  I have ignored my better sense (conviction) in favor of what was easier, more "fun", and more immediate.  Specifically, I have been thinking about my hoot owl friend in regard to the present, and how it affects the future.  Sometimes, while the things I can see myself with in the future - a husband, a family, maybe even a ministry, locally or abroad - while these things are good things, and God-given desires, my timing clashes with God's, and they can be a distraction, some even so far as sin in my life.  Not that the desires are sinful, but rather that my focus is lost in the future and I miss the important things happening now.  I forget to be involved with the people around me personally, taking time to care about them and try to be a reflection of Christ in their lives.  I question God's sovereignty, not in an unequivocal, "He must not care" way, but in a "what are you thinking, God?" kind of way.  While I know He is up to facing my scrutiny, I also know that my attitude remains hardly reverent, and certainly not fearful in the way that creates wisdom.  I push, shove, and move mountains, only to find that what was on the other side wasn't what I wanted anyway.

It had me wondering: when will I learn to legitimately, in practice and in word, full trust God?  Or sometimes, I go so far as to wonder if I ever will, or if my potential-gifts will be my downfall.

I guess until God gets me there (since I clearly haven't found the right map yet), I'll have to make my mantra "hoot, hoot."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Laughing at Life

Do you know anyone who lives a life that seems like it can only be a movie script?  I've known people like that before - those who have amazing breaks in their career, inspiring success despite obstacles, storybook romances, or comedic flair fit for a box office hit.  I've never considered myself one of those people; that is, until today. 

My movie script life is really just a role that could be in any movie - the person who experiences coincidences that absolutely CAN'T be coincidences...can they?

For instance, and this is just one of many.  My mediocre date on Saturday = the nephew of one of the owner's of the company that I work at.  Love that.  I especially love that the date was less than stellar; if it was great, it might be "kismet".  As it is, it's one of those coincidences.  Also, getting hit by a deer...while running.  Literally - ask me about it; I'll tell you about it some other time.

So anyway, this particular coincidence, and these coincidences in general, really, have me thinking.  I'm not exactly a stranger to hard knocks or bad news, and because of this, or maybe in spite of this, I think that a life without laughter is a life that I'm not particularly interested in living.  Despite the awkwardness of this revelation today, it was my greatest laugh all day.  In part at the irony, and also, in part, because what other response could be fitting?  Really, what else is there to do but laugh?

I hope that I can remember that as I go through my life, that I can take the joy I currently take from my nephew's baby giggles.  Maybe I can even learn to giggle like him - with little reason but the sheer joy of it.

Laughing is food for the soul and I'm glad that my life (and I'm sure yours) certainly provides enough moments to partake in a balanced diet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mercy for Measuring Sticks

Today, I went on a date.  It wasn't my first date.  It wasn't my worst date.  It also wasn't my best date.  It just was.  The date itself was somewhat uneventful, I admit, but it made me realize something kind of important.  I do not want to spend my life using what I consider to have been a mistake (though a fun one) as a measuring stick for all other situations.

I've been on good dates.  And some of those good dates have lead to bad relationships.  I've known good men.  And some of those good men have been bad boyfriends.  Is it good or bad, then, to compare dates and men to ones that have turned out to be something less desirable?  I'm think it's bad.  And really, I'd rather not do it.

So as I berate myself for this driving home, I'm reminded, yet again, of my struggle with grace in my life.  Perhaps my greatest struggle with grace is the inability to extend it to myself when I fail.  Was today perfect? No.  If my life goal is to make each person I meet feel a little more loved, cared for, and to show Christ to them as best I can, did I meet it today?  Probably not.  But is Christ's sacrifice for me big enough to cover that failure?  Absolutely.  Just as it's big enough to cover good dates and men and bad relationships and boyfriends.  And really, if today showed me that the past isn't a good way to determine the future, I guess it wasn't all bad.

Today, I'm choosing to remember that the richer fruits are for me too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What makes a fruit rich anyway?

As humans, I think we're all prone to valuing our own opinions as more important than anyone else's, and in the technological age we live in, what better way to promote this idea than to give people a no-holds-barred way to share them?  A blog.  I guess I'm as self-important as the next person, really.

So what of these richer fruits, then?  Well, it comes from Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1865, "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."

When I think of what my life can mean, and what I'd like it to stand for at the end, I'd like it to bear those richer fruits.  In fact, I'd like it to be marked by them.  So, welcome to the journey as I struggle to find the balance between enjoying those richer fruits and my natural inclination of chucking the rotten ones as an outdated form of justice.