Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the Season to LIVE

So, I am finally back, and considering I abandoned my poor blog for a while, I felt as if she needed a slight make-over. I am finally starting to understand how to find backgrounds after six months. This is where you clap for me, or let's take it Legally Blonde style and SNAP for me. Thank you. Yet, this new style makes my posts more skinny which also causes them to look as long as the Nile, so if you read these all the way through- you are a champ. I appreciate you.

Back to the point, I have finished my THIRD semester of college, survived finals, started Christmas Break, came home for a whopping two days, and then headed off to the most "magical place on Earth" for a week with the family. It was an absolute blast, and I will definitely add pictures and fun stories from our trip on the next blog. Although this post will deal with Disney World as well, I am going to steer away from Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain in the middle of December (oh yeah, you read that correctly) and share part of the "magic" I learned in the midst of my time with Mickey.

The second night we were in Disney, we were sitting at dinner, when I heard the all too familiar "Happy Birthday to You." Naturally, I looked up from my food to find the celebrated individual and to observe the smiles, laughter, and excitement of the special occasion. My eyes fell upon a baby, and I overheard it was her "first birthday." I was in awe of this precious baby who was at the start of her journey, and I got to experience one of the landmarks. Now, let's fast-forward to the end of my trip. I was boarding the last plane of the night, and as I was searching for my seat, a man dressed from head to toe in his Marine attire was sitting in the row behind me. I smiled at him as I took my seat, and our brief interaction ended. Yet, seconds after I sat down, the pilot announced that we had the honor of carrying the remains of a passing soldier and his escort was riding with us as well. The man behind me was the passing soldier's escort. My heart froze as I grasped the significance of this event. We were carrying an unknown soldier's body to his family. I couldn't help but wonder what his story was, what was his name, where did he live, and could he simply be my age? At the beginning of the week, I had encountered the beginning of a life, and at the end of my week, I encountered the conclusion of a short life.

So where's the magic? The magic is the knowledge that life is short. As I sat on the airplane, I wanted to go find that baby girl and hold her little hand and tell her that life is short, so appreciate every moment. Don't let one minute pass you by. Yet, the even bigger piece of magic, is the GIFT of life. This was the magic I received during my trip to Disney World. For one week, I lived the life. What does this mean? I spent an entire week with the three closest people in my life and the people I love. I made a new friend out of a stranger and shared part of my life with them. I ate two desserts a day without worrying if the jeans would fit the next morning. I acted like a five-year-old and laughed and laughed as I spun around in a tea-cup with my mother. I rode a carousel. I saw fireworks over water. I prayed with my family. I saw soldiers traveling home to their families after they served our country. I did a 195-free-fall ride with my dad. I rode Splash Mountain in the middle of December. I reminisced on the past and wondered about the future. I embraced the gift of life.

Therefore, it is not "tis the season to be jolly," but it is "tis the season to LIVE." Give yourself a Christmas present, and give yourself the gift of life. Live life, and live it abundantly. When I walked into church on Sunday morning, I found it ironic that the sermon was on the "abundant life" after my encounters the previous week. The preacher shared this verse.

"I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10.

Now, I had a blast with my family in Disney World, and I lived with enthusiasm. Yet, I can live with enthusiam because I have been blessed with the "abundant life." I have been loved and touched by a God who offers this abundance. Therefore, this Christmas season, I hope it is your season to live. If you have the gift of the abundant life, I hope you cherish that this holiday season and share it with others. If you have not opened the gift of the abundant life yet, I hope that it's the first present you tear open this Christmas. It's waiting on you.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

When You Wish Upon a Star, Your Dreams Come True

Tell me, TELL ME you are picturing JIMINY CRICKET in your head right now! Ahh. You probably sang the song in your mind too and then smiled because Walt Disney and his marvelous creations just have that effect on humans. I wrote this as the title because I WILL BE in the Magical World of Disney where "dreams come true" in exactly ONE WEEK. Eeek. I cannot wait. Finals will be completed. Stress will cease, and I will get to spend a week during "the most wonderful time of the year" with the three most special people in my life in a magical place that holds so many special memories from my childhood. Does it really get much better than that? I really do not think it does.

However, let me come back down from Cloud Nine and share with you why I also chose this as my title. So, this is finals week. Most students are harbored in an extremely quiet, hidden corner of a library with a pile of books, notes, study guides, and a world's supply of coffee. What is Shelby doing on the Saturday night before finals? Well, I finally did buckle down to type up my psychology notes, but I was jamming out to NSYNC in the process. It literally put me in the best mood, and I couldn't help but smile thinking about how these five boys completely dominated my ten-year-old heart and everyday life. Their poster was on my bedroom door. Their songs were constantly played in my room, belted out in the shower, and pretty much etched into my heart. Not to mention all of the NSYNC paraphenalia I had and still posess. No lie, I have an NSYNC lunchbox, ALL FIVE dolls, an NSYNC video about their tours, a signed picture, every CD they created (even the Bye, Bye, Bye single), and a picture of Lance Bass from when he was little. Yes, as I was sittng in Crosby tonight trying to study for the future, I found myself amazed by the past. I discovered how ridiculously blessed I was, and I discovered that dreams really had come true in my life.

Yes, as you can tell from the previous paragraph, I was slightly obsessed with NSYNC as a child. Well, thank my lucky stars, my mother got a new boss in the MIDST of my obsession. Would you like to know who her boss was? Lance Bass's dad- it would probably help my case to mention that Lance was my absolute favorite. So, I was instantly obsessed with my mother's boss and would spend hours upon hours in his office when I would have to go to my mom's work and ask about Lance, dance for him, just sit and admire the fact this was Lance Bass's father, and probably sang every single NSYNC song for him (like he hadn't heard them before). Well one day, this man made my ten-year-old dreams come true. Thinking about it now, I honestly wish I could go back and watch the look on my ten-year-old face when my mother told me one morning that I got to ride with Lance's parents to the airport to pick him up. I was in shock, I'm sure. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I still remember sitting in shock when the car door opened and my childhood love climbed into the seat beside me. I don't remember much, but I do remember the ONLY thing I could muster to say to him was "I saw in a magazine that you and Shania Twain were dating." Smooth, Shelby- real smooth. I look back now and shake my head and laugh in embarrassment, but at the time, it probably was a huge ordeal in my ten-year-old world. Also, as I look back and smile, I can't help but think a dream came true that day- even if it was just a boy-band obsession.

Yet, dreams are not just for ten-year-olds. Let's fast-forward seven years in Shelby's life. But before we do that, let's take a pit-stop at junior high. I can still picture sitting in a friend's room one night at a slumber party saying that I wanted a boy to throw rocks at my window one day. I am sure this conversation came after we watched A Cinderella Story/Legally Blonde/Sweet Home Alabama where the perfect man does all the right things and completely sweeps the girl helplessly off her feet. I am sure everyone else laughed at my idea- I mean it was so 1950s- but I didn't care. I was determined. It was my 13-year-old dream, and this one remained until high school.

It was Christmas Eve of my Senior year of high school. I had just started dating a boy three weeks before, but for some reason, he had been short in conversation the whole night and told me at 10:30 that he was going to sleep. I remember being so upset that he had been so short with me and was so confused that he was going to sleep so early on Christmas, so I just decided to go to sleep too. I was almost sound asleep when I heard a noise at my window. I figured it was just a branch hitting the window or my imagination, so I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Yet, just a few seconds later, I heard it again. Then, there was a third. By this time, I was out of my bed walking slowly to the window wondering what it could be. When I reached the window, I lifted up one of the blinds, and I could not believe what was staring back at me. A boy in sweatpants and a sweatshirt and an ear-to-ear familiar smile were outside of my window. I literally froze (all for about half a second). The next thing I knew, I was flinging my bedroom door open, sprinting through the living room and kitchen where my mom was "assisting Santa," trying to make sentences to explain to her why I was awake, why I was sprinting out of the house at close to midnight, and why for once in my life I was incapable of making sentences. I finally gave up, continued to sprint outside of the door, around the side of my house until I reached the side of the house where my window is. I can still see myself in my pajamas, standing in complete and utter shock, being 100% speechless for the first and only time in my life (if you know me, you should know this never, ever happens), and just staring at the boy who had just thrown rocks at my window. I seriously could not even speak. Yet, after he said Merry Christmas and handed me my Christmas present, I finally remembered the words "Thank you" and "Merry Christmas to you too." We talked for a few more minutes, but I honestly could not tell you what the conversation was about. I was the little girl sitting beside Lance Bass all over again with no idea what to say, and yet again, one of my cheesy teenage-dreams had come true. You might currently want to throw a block of cheese at me or say that it's a silly dream, but sit beside your childhood idol or let someone throw rocks at your window on Christmas Eve and then we'll talk.

So what is the point of my post and cheesy stories? I believe Jiminy Cricket's song about "when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true," but I don't believe he's referring to literal stars. No, I think Jiminy meant the "stars" in your own life. The people who care about you unconditionally. The people who shine for you and pour light into your life. The people who want you to cast your wishes upon them and make those wishes come true. You see, dreams of mine (although small) came true due to the "stars" in my life. I had people who cared about me tremendously and wanted to see me experience my "dreams." I had people who poured light into my life. I had "stars" for my wishes. Although I can only picture how excited I was about meeting Lance Bass, I am sure my mother, the biggest "star" in my life, enjoyed my reaction and providing that opportunity just as much if not more. Therefore, my hope and prayer is that you have "stars" in your own lives and that you constantly surround yourself with even more "stars." Surround yourself with the people who care about you the most and want to shine for you and to see you shine as well. Have a "star that you can wish upon" in your life. Furthermore, be a "star" in someone else's life. You never know when you might get the opportunity to make someone else's dream come true. So, always toss your wishes out to your "stars" and even more, be ready to catch the wish of someone else. Because when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Saved by the Anne Frank of Oysters

Freshman year of college. I looked to my right. There was a girl in a sorority that I really liked and would be visiting during Rush just a few weeks later. I gulped, and ten thousand butterflies came rushing into my stomach. I looked to the left, and there was a girl who looked like Eva Mendes. The butterflies began to wave their white flags and play Taps inside Shelby's stomach. I was a goner. Just write "L-o-s-e-r" across my forehead because this was about to be a crash and burn display. I looked back in front of me at the man who was interviewing the three of us and anxiously awaited his question. It, of course, was the infamous, "If you could have dinner/ a conversation with any person in history, who would it be and why?" He excluded Jesus, who was my instant first answer, so now I was stumped. Unfortunately for me, we did not have ample time to discover the perfect answer. We simply went one after another down the line. If I could not mention Jesus, a president was the next answer that popped into my head. Well, obviously it popped into Eva Mendes's mind too because what did she say? Thomas Jefferson. I didn't hear her reasoning because I went into panic mode- mad at the girl for taking my answer and thinking Eva just needed to go back to Hollywood and wondering what in the WORLD I was going to say. She ended her probably perfect answer, and then all eyes went on me.
I took a deep breath, and then something along the lines of this came out at a nervous-Speedy Gonzales rate. "I would talk to Anne Frank. She was only a teenager, yet she had such a tremendous impact on the world. Even when she was facing a concentration camp and being persecuted, she said that, "Despite everything, I believe people are good at heart." I would like to talk to someone who was capable of having a perspective like that even in the midst of struggles."
When I finished, I think I looked to the ceiling in awe at the great, great beams of celestial light and wisdom beaming down on me and mouthed the words, "Thank you." On a serious note, I honestly don't have any idea where that answer came from, but I was definitely Saved by the Anne Frank.
I think that in life sometimes I took the Anne Frank concept a little too much to heart. I mean a teacher told me once that she knew I was going to be just like her. I was puzzled by her statement and asked what she meant. She proceeded to tell me that on her wedding day, right before she walked down the aisle, her mother told her that they did not have to go through with the service. They could cancel it all right now. She did not have to do this. Apparently, she was marrying a man with a "bad boy edge," and my teacher thought I was going to wind up in her shoes. Comforting, huh? I suppose in high school, I was drawn to the boys that had a little rougher edge. I will justify myself by saying that Nicholas Sparks and A Walk to Remember warped my mind, and I expected my own "Shane West" to leave his wild days behind and build me a telescope. Once again, this is a joke.
Although I would hate to be the bride who is marrying someone that my own mother is concerned about, I feel as if we have to take Anne's advice and apply it to our lives. We have to set everything else aside and look at the heart. More importantly, we have to believe that there is good in everyone and that no one is hopeless.
After all, a pearl does lie beneath the ugly, ordinary, and at-first-glance useless oyster shells.
In life, we are surrounded by oysters. Heck, you and I both are oysters in a sense. We all can be ugly and hurtful at times. We can all feel useless and be treated like we are by others. We can be written off as ordinary. We sometimes forget that we have the potential to bear something beautiful- to bear a pearl. So to all of you reading this, if you are feeling more on the oyster side and feeling ordinary, know that you are EXTRAORDINARY and have the potential to foster a priceless pearl. Likewise, we must take this approach as we observe others. I can only imagine what our world would be like if everyone had Anne Frank's perspective and if we looked past the oyster and saw the pearl. Wouldn't it be magical? We have to set aside stereotypes. We have to set aside barriers. We have to set aside comfort zones and judgment. We have to set aside the oyster shells.
So the next time you go to judge someone or write them off as an oyster, think again. Who knows, there could be a pearl lingering beneath their surface. Even better, it could be a pearl that was only meant for you to find. The next time you begin to see the oyster, I hope you are Saved by the Anne Frank of Oysters. After all, He saw past the depths of your oyster shells and saw the pearl. He offered you a saving grace. Extend it to others.