September 28, 2007

Find out what it means to me

My generation and the generations before and after have issues with respect. I'm sure every generation has them, but I guess ours seems different because we have these issues with everyone--not just our parents or teachers. How often do we hear people say that kids these days don't respect their elders or their grandparents or don't say yes ma'am or no sir...pretty darn often.

Here's my question(s): What are we basing this respect on? Who gets respect and who doesn't? What exactly is the difference between respect and having no sense of humor or personality? It's my humble opinion that all people, regardless of age, position, gender or anything else, deserve the same amount of respect. Granted, this does not mean you treat everyone exactly the same. For example, I would never greet my grandfather in the same way I greet my friends. This isn't because I respect one more than the other. It's because my relationship with my grandfather is drastically different than my relationship with my friend. My friends know me and my sense of humor, whereas my grandfather would think I'd gone insane if I treated him like my close friends. In other words--they're different people with different personalities and therefore react different to situations and people.

I'd say I give people the proper amount of respect...most of the time. Unless they are half-witted bosses who leave their employees to clean up their messes. ::Disclaimer-this is not my current boss. Thank goodness:: This is my own personal fault and rebellious nature and (as my mother has put it over the years) attitude problem. But for the most part, I treat everyone with respect. I don't treat them the same, as I explained above, but I treat them with respect. So here's my problem: why are we expected to give some people more respect than others? When I'm told to show an extra measure of respect to someone, I often think that the word respect is being used incorrectly. It's as though they're using respect when they should be saying "be overly serious" or "be a suck-up" or "be a sycophant." None of this has anything to do with respect--it has to do with ego. Boost their ego and maybe that person will condescend to your level and give you what you want. Treat them like royalty so you'll make them and make yourself look better.

So I have a hard time showing an "extra level" of respect simply because they're older than me or they're a man or they have a master's degree. I'd rather show them the same amount of respect every other person deserves and not suck up to them. I'll do my job and let them do their job. I'll be friendly to them and keep my mouth shut when the situation calls for it. I'll feel them out to find out if they have a sense of humor or not. But I will not be overly serious or grovel for their approval just for the sake of being seen in a false light of respect.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:8-9

September 25, 2007

Putting it off no more

I'm all moved into the new place. We still need a couch, but you'd be amazed by the difference not having a couch makes in the amount of time spent watching television. I think this also has to do with the fact that there's another person in the house to talk to, rather than being alone and filling the quiet with television. I still like having something in the background to fill the silence in the morning, and nothing fills that silence quite like Josh Lyman, Sam Seaborn and President Bartlett. Yes, I'm referencing the greatest show ever: The West Wing.

I feel like such an adult now. I have rent to pay, a car payment and all other manner of bills. When I was a kid, this was not what I imagined would bring about the feeling that I'm an adult. Shouldn't it be something more fun? Like the choice to skip work and fly to California at a moment's notice? So this message is for kids: Don't desire growing up too fast. Take advantage of the freedom and lack of responsibility you have. And as long as I'm talking to you--kids, don't play with Bratz dolls. They're ridiculous.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I have the tendency to put things off and blame it on my circumstances. I blame my lack of motivation on my circumstances or on my surroundings. For example, I tell myself that I'll be more disciplined and spend more time painting or sewing once I have the perfect equipment or I'm feeling more motivated. Yet, I have supplies and ideas, but I still don't do it. So I've told myself that once I had a 'real' house and had more room, I'd take advantage of it and really invest time into my creative pursuits. I'd sew more, paint more and begin writing a children's book. Yet I say this every time I move or get a new job or anything like that. So what am I waiting for? I'm obviously just making excuses to be lazy. But no more! No more excuses. If my dream is to write books and own a bookstore and see my name in print at Barnes and Noble, then I should stop procrastinating and waiting for the perfect circumstance or the perfect idea or the perfect anything. I should just do it! So I will and the three people who might read this blog are my witnesses. I should stop daydreaming and just do it.

September 20, 2007

Thoughts on relevance and a cute picture

Read this article first.

How true, how true are the words of this article. Even Christians have the desire to be thought of as cool or hip. We ache for the world to look at Christianity and see that it's not just a bunch of fundamentalists who are opposed to women cutting their hair or opposed to listening to good ol' rock 'n roll. Too often, though, we lose the depth of Christianity and it becomes this cotton candy, surface "religion" that is more worried about looking good than being good or in making a difference in our own life and in those around us. When this is the case, is 'cool Christianity' any better than Joel Osteen's 'prosperity Christianity'?

I think we should also point out the fact that just because a Christian doesn't shop at Urban Outfitters or listen to Sufjan Stevens or know who Bansky is--it doesn't mean they aren't a Christian making a difference for the Kingdom. It's foolish for us to think that the way we look has anything to do with whether a person comes to know Christ. It has nothing to do with what we can do or say--it's about what Christ is doing in their heart and life. Yes, we still need to strive for excellence and for love and righteousness. But even if we're the 'perfect little Christian,' if God isn't with us, then it's meaningless.

There seems to be a big push by a lot of Christians (including myself) to show that Christianity is still relevant 2,000 years after its beginning. For many, this means having a well-designed website or letterhead or listening to/playing "good" music that is original and new. But what about people who just don't like the things that are considered aesthetically pleasing or up-to-date? Are they any less Christian or being used by God any less? If they love the Lord (with all their heart, soul and mind) and they love their neighbors as themselves, who are we to judge their "bad taste"? Yes, it would be wonderful if every church stopped using papyrus font and hired professional designers and updated their websites to get rid of their flash intros (who actually looks at those?). But God never said he would only use those people who have good taste, so why should we? There is a market out there for everybody. There are churches for the postmodern artist who wears nothing but black and red. There are churches for women who haven't changed their hair since the 80s. And there are churches for people who think papyrus font is the greatest font since Times New Roman. God loves us all, good taste or not.

And for those who are concerned with the world thinking that churches haven't changed since the 1850s--is that what we really want to be known for? Do we really want to be known for having great websites and cool youth t-shirts and great music? Or do we want to be known for giving everything of ourselves to others and for helping out the widows and orphans and showing God's love by our actions? Should we change the perception that we don't care or love
others (or that we all agree with Pat Robertson) before we worry so much about changing how we look?

Now after you've thought all of this over, go here and see the cutest picture ever.

September 16, 2007

Living on a balance beam

I love weddings. Several reasons come to mind--some of them come from my hopeless romantic heart that likes to see two people make a commitment to love each other for their whole life. Whereas others just come from my desire to plan a wedding. That doesn't mean I'm itching to get married, I just want to plan a wedding and use all the ideas I've seen and loved over the years. I'm a Martha-Stewart-loving kind of girl, so I look forward to planning a wedding someday and using all the ideas I've been storing up in my memory. I'm also competitive when it comes to domestic stuff, so I just want to prove that my wedding will be the best. Sorry, female friends out there, but it's true. You are my competition. Love ya!

I went to a wedding Saturday (the next to last of several during this wedding season) of a college friend. The fact that weddings often turn into mini reunions is another bonus. But as I sat at the reception, many thoughts went through my mind about how much you can learn about people at weddings. I'm a firm believer that small things about a person's personality often reveal larger truths about them. For example, the fact that someone refuses to dance at a wedding reveals a larger truth about their overall personality. Or if someone is willing to get up in front of everyone and dance like a fool just to get others involved or make them smile, that also reveals a great deal about that person.

I enjoy dancing, but not so much when I feel like there's potential to make a fool of myself. So I'll dance, but it will probably take some convincing.

I'm jealous of those people who can get out on the dance floor and shake what their momma gave them. They don't care what you think--they're just having fun. And thus comes the balance beam of life. Do you want to be too far to the right where it's safe and you don't have to dance and there's no chance of making a fool of yourself? Or would you rather say to heck with it all and dance your heart out and risk looking ridiculous--but still have fun?

This question applies to almost every situation in life and I've found in the last year or so that my mantra has become 'balance.' I'm always trying to find the balance. I want to be free, but not disrespectful or rude. Many rules (those on paper and those just understood in life) may seem stupid or pointless, but you have to search for balance. Some rules are meant to be fought, but others are not worth looking arrogant over. So how do you find the balance?

I keep thinking of a wedding I went to in which there were people from both ends of the spectrum. Some were dressed to the hilt and others looked like they just got back from taking a month-long hike on the Appalachian Trail. The excuse of the the under-achieving dresser was that no one would be looking at him--they'd be looking at the bride. Is that so? Not so much, skippy. Out of respect for all the work they've put into this wedding (and out of respect for the importance of the occasion) and out of respect for those who have eyes, please go change into something clean. It would also be nice if it matched. When you look that ridiculous, people will notice that you stick out like a sore thumb. And deep down, I believe he was also just being rebellious and arrogant. If you are fighting a rule just to be rebellious, then please sit down and get over yourself. If you have a legitimate reason, then feel free to fight. Once again, look for the balance. You don't want to let your life be overcome with meaningless rules and regulations, but you also don't want to disrespect others.

Maybe the key here is selflessness. Stop thinking about your own comfort, vanity and pride and ask yourself what you can do for others. Does someone really want you to dance because they just want to share that time and opportunity with you? Then get up off your duff and dance! Did someone spend months planning something and is making the largest commitment of their life and wants you to share in the experience? Then show some selfless respect and take a shower.

September 14, 2007

Thus begins the journey

Call me crazy, but whether or not to start a blog has actually been a personal debate raging in my head for a while. Who would read it and do I really have anything substantial to say to the world? It would be one thing if I were going through a major life change (moving to another country, getting married, having a child, etc.), but I'm just going through life, normal as can be. Or at least normal by my terms.

So let's start things out right. Hello--my name is Tiffany. I'm in my early twenties and I'm the editor of in-house publications (monthly magazine, weekly bulletin, website, etc.) for a church. I like my job because it's four million times better than my previous employment. I'm moving next week to a townhouse near the airport and I'm very excited. Part of that excitement comes from the fact that I'll be near the airport. Folks, I love the airport. If you ever need a ride to or from RDU airport, let me know. Any time. Any day.

I'm also excited because it's something new and I enjoy change. I like new things and surprises and new adventures. I also enjoy pocket change. The jingle and the extra weight and different sizes--love it. Many other things are exciting about this whole moving thing, but I'm already getting long-winded. So I'll stop now.

So what will this blog be for? My thoughts on life, current events, personal life events, general ramblings and epiphanies. In other words--it will be for writing whatever I feel like writing on any particular day. So sit back, relax and don't judge me and my Christian feminist ideals.