On Our Way To Crazy

… like disco lemonade…

Friday Mixtape. October 29, 2010

Filed under: Music — brandi @ 8:59 am

In honor of the three month and nineteen day anniversary of my 30th birthday (yes, I am still talking about it, and, no, I have not done anything new from my list, so don’t ask), I present this installment of Friday Mixtape.

One of my favorite people gave me a mix CD (well, technically, a mix flash drive) that I literally have not stopped listening to since I got it. I am not exaggerating when I say I listen to at least part of this thing every single day. These are my current favorites.

“Dark Hotel” by KS Rhoades

This song knocked me flat over the first time I heard it. I love everything about it: his voice, the strings and percussion, the way it turns into a whole different song about three-fourths of the way through. And they lyrics are beautiful. I was so mad when I realized he’s a local Nashville guy who I could have been stalking for years.

“Pink Champagne” by Lovedrug

I love the chorus of this one. Sorry this video is so boring. I couldn’t find a live one that had good sound and didn’t feel like you were watching Blair Witch.

“Holding Us Back” by Katie Herzig

I know that I’m late to the Katie Herzig party. It’s one of those things that I can’t believe I missed, seeing as how her music is so perfect for me and my tastes. This song is simple, stripped down, and absolutely gorgeous. I will not be apologizing for this video… I learned from youtube today that this song was in the Grey’s Anatomy finale and all the videos I could find were interspersed with clips of Derek and Meredith. You should be thanking me for sparing you that.


Sweetcakes God. October 25, 2010

Filed under: Things That Are Awesome — brandi @ 2:38 pm

(via Yum & Yuk)


Middle Class White Girl’s Dark Night of the Soul.

Filed under: Books,Introspection,Youth Stuff — brandi @ 12:58 am

I had a hard time when I first started going to church back in middle school. I blame my dad. If I learned anything from him, it was to think for myself. Don’t take anyone’s word for anything. If you believe something, BELIEVE it, because at the end of the day you have to answer to yourself, not anyone else.

As a 30-year-old person, that advice makes total sense. It is invaluable. It has helped make me who I am. But as a 14-year-old, those ideas made me crazy, especially when I found myself in Southern Baptist Youth Group Land. (I didn’t know that was A Place when I was there. But, oh, how I can see it now.) Everyone in SBYGL believed the same things and knew all the answers to all the questions. They had it down. I? Did not.

Youth group had a lot of things going for it: my friends were there, we did fun things, there were cute boys. But I zoned out when it got to the serious stuff. I think the biggest problem I had was how cut and dried everything was. The entire Bible was boiled down into a few bullet points that everyone understood and applied to their lives. There was a lot of talk about having a ‘relationship with God’, but I didn’t connect to that at all. I would get so frustrated because it seemed like the God everyone else was in relationship with was ignoring me. And there was a whole mess of stuff in the Bible that didn’t make sense or didn’t align with the bullet points, and I couldn’t figure out why no one was talking about that stuff.

I don’t say all of that to implicate my youth group. They very well could have been addressing all of those things when I wasn’t paying attention. (See above re: cute boys.) Being wrong and looking stupid are two things I am very self-conscious about, and it was even worse as a teenager. I certainly would have never spoken up or asked questions. I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t get it, so I just rolled with it and played the part and wore the t-shirts. (I wish there hadn’t been t-shirts.)

That environment, coupled with my insecurity, led to a young adult faith that didn’t amount to much. God wasn’t personal to me. I didn’t feel connected to him. He felt like a guy in the sky who was really concerned with my behavior but not so much with who I was. I believed in God, for sure – I knew there was more to life than what I could see. But I didn’t appreciate the fact that he wasn’t all that interested in us knowing each other.

That’s why, when I read this passage in Susan Isaacs’ Angry Conversations With God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir (what a great title), I knew exactly how she felt.

When I think of the people whose character I admire, they’ve all walked through deserts or hells far worse than mine. And when they got to the other side–the ones who did get to the other side–they always said God got them through it. They have a peace and a friendship with God that I want. But the problem is, the man who’s stuck in the desert because God put him there looks exactly like the man who’s stuck in the desert because he’s lost. And I don’t know which one I am. I don’t know if I’m here to find friendship with God or if I’ve been left to die.

My ex used to get angry when I said that. He would say, “God isn’t personal. God isn’t good or bad. God is like science. God just is.” But even with science… Look at the stars. You see such beauty and order, and you sense the Thought that went into their making. But if that thoughtfulness is not extended to me, then all that order and beauty is merely cold and sterile space that mocks me because I’ve been excluded from it.

If God wants to burn up everything useless in my life, amen to that. But I want to know whether or not this sorrow has an end. Do these longings in my heart for love and purpose mean anything? I say yes. Is my need for God just misplaced longing that has no place to be satisfied? I say no. The body thirsts because it needs water and water exists. The soul longs for purpose because it needs it, and because it exists. And I wouldn’t long for God if he didn’t exist. I am taking this personally because I am personal. And I don’t think that an impersonal God could create humans to be personal. So I’m taking this personally from a personal God.

My life and my faith journey have brought me a long way from SBYGL. I do believe that God is a personal God. I don’t think I’ve been left in the desert to die, no matter how much it may seem like I have. I rarely feel it, but I’m learning that it’s not about feeling. I see God in my community, in the books I read, in conversations with junior high girls. The boundaries of my world are bigger, grayer, more forgiving. I believe that the thoughtfulness that brings beauty and order to the stars does the same for my life. And you can’t sum that up in bullet points.


Questions. October 16, 2010

Filed under: Introspection,Youth Stuff — brandi @ 10:00 pm

Yesterday I had lunch with a freshman girl who was really upset about her faith. She’s been visiting another, more charismatic church with her family and is really concerned about how her response to the music is so much different from the people there. She’s worried that because she doesn’t jump around and wave her arms and fall out that she’s not as ‘close to God’ as they are.

We had a good talk about how people are wired differently and how your emotions aren’t as tied to the status of your faith as it seems like they are. How there is nothing wrong with her for not being a jumper/waver/faller any more than there is with them for being the opposite. How it’s a lot like any other relationship… sometimes you’re super emotionally high and everything is lovey-dovey wonderful, but most of the time it’s just normal life together. We spent a long time discussing what ‘normal life together’ with God looks like.

I’ve been going through a pretty major faith shakeup over the last couple of years, and the last several months in particular. It’s a tricky thing, trying to figure out what you believe while trying to teach kids how to figure out what they believe. I keep trying to write about it here, but the white box of death is too intimidating and I end up looking at pictures of barn weddings for my recently-engaged sister. It feels like I can’t write about where I am now because I haven’t been writing about where I was then, and I can’t write about any of it with authority because I don’t have any confidence in it. Ugh.

I have a lot of questions without a lot of answers. And I have a lot of kids with a lot of questions. And I am learning that the questions are the place where we can be together. I can’t say anything to them with any authority if I’m not being honest. So when they say they don’t understand why God doesn’t speak to them they way he seems to speak to other people, I don’t try to explain. I can’t. But I can say that I have felt the way they feel, have the same questions they have, get frustrated by the same uncertainties they do. I can talk about how I don’t have a lot of experience with those big spiritual moments, but I can look back at my life and see God moving in my life through community, through books, through them.

I don’t know where this path is taking me. But I believe that it is the right one for me. And I believe that it’s the right one for my students. I spent a lot of time in church as a high schooler feeling like something was wrong with me because it didn’t all sit as well with me as it seemed to with everyone else. In the midst of my own personal confusion and searching, what I know for sure is that kids need a place to be who they are. More than the specifics of their beliefs, more than knowing all the answers, more than staying out of trouble, it matters that they know they are loved. Church needs to teach them that, and that’s something I can do.


Good things in September. October 7, 2010

Filed under: Good Things In... — brandi @ 11:52 pm

Sept 1 – Celebrated Susan’s birthday with delicious food and deliciouser sangria.
Sept 2 – No big deal, just took a limo to eat barbecue and see the last Brooks & Dunn show ever.
Sept 3 – First high school football game of the season! Kettle corn, drum corp, pom poms. So fun.
Sept 4 – Spent some good time with one of our new families.
Sept 5 – Finally heard from a kid who moved away and kind of fell of the earth for a while.
Sept 6 – Minute to Win It game night with the kids. So amazingly awesome.
Sept 7 – Lunch with my first Nashville friend. I am thankful for her.
Sept 8 – Belated birthday spa manicures with a friend.
Sept 9 – Aaron started reading The Hunger Games.
Sept 10 – Aaron and I saw amazing dancing kids and toured the local Orthodox Church at the Greek Festival.
Sept 11 – We grilled delicious steaks and I read a whole book.
Sept 12 – Lazy day, lots of football, two walks around the neighborhood.
Sept 13 – Today sucked. Our sweet boy Miles passed away.
Sept 14 – Retail therapy.
Sept 15 – A sweet older lady at church gave us a ton of homemade bread.
Sept 16 – Olivia Newton-John was put in the Celebrity bucket by three different people. Game night is awesome.
Sept 17 – Great meeting with some new parents who want to start a youth parents group.
Sept 18 – Movie date! One married couple, two separate movies, two happy people.
Sept 19 – Our sweet moms sent us sweet flowers.
Sept 20 – Had a confusing but hilarious conversation with one of my kids.
Sept 21 – Beautiful weather, lots of outside time, good music.
Sept 22 – Fun fun fun night of chili and wii and midnight trampolining and tipsy falling.
Sept 23 – Delicious Cuban lunch with a new/old friend.
Sept 24 – Yogurt with an awesome volunteer, coffee with an adorable 6th grade girl.
Sept 25 – Spent a lovely afternoon on the church patio reading and talking baptism with some of the kids.
Sept 26 – I baptized three of my youth group kids. And almost died of nervousness.
Sept 27 – Interesting conversation with the kids about their how their beliefs came to be what they are.
Sept 28 – Coffee with one of my favorite parents, lunch with a new friend, and Ferris Bueller on the big screen.
Sept 29 – Good catch up time with one of my favorite college girls.
Sept 30 – Much needed breakfast catch up with a friend, followed by mani-pedis and a long wandering walk around Trader Joe’s.