Saturday, August 11, 2012


When Lizabee graduated from high school in June, there was a particular line in her superintendent's speech that we've quoted (and, okay, mocked) pretty regularly in the Farrow/Boyett household.
The woman, who I'm sure jotted down many well-meaning cliches that could apply equally to all the seniors in all the county high schools graduating that Saturday, said to the class of 2012: "Don't pass up any opportunities. Take every opportunity you're given."

Well, what a bunch of malarky. We've of course played many scenarios in which the rising college freshman is offered a ride home with a stranger, or the chance to try a "magic" pill (What Opportunites! YES YES YES!) and of course, these scenarios only get funnier each time we reenact them. (I say, if a roofie joke is funny once, it's funny every time.)

I'm particularly reminded of the superintendent's speech this week though, since, in the past month, I've turned down not one but two (semi-)legitimate "opportunities."

The first started at the mall when a girl at Cosmo Modeling Agency asked if I'd be interested in setting up an appointment to have headshots made. I told her sure and followed through with it, since there was no money or further commitment involved. After my pictures were taken at the studio the following week, I met with the director who gave me a spot for the five hour photo shoot the following Sunday, and then told me that as long as I could pay $475 up front, I could just pay $50 for the next two years to ensure that my portfolio stayed online.
Now wait, I said this was an opportunity, and it really could have been. I didn't take it, obviously, because it would cost as much as sponsoring two children through Compassion for the next two years. But there was a time in my life where all I wanted to do was be on stage or in front of a camera. There are still times that I miss acting so much it hurts. And this is the way that lots of local agencies, just like Cosmo, run their business and pay to promote their members. For those who are willing to commit to it, modeling can make some money.
I never, for a second, thought about pursuing this once I found out what it would cost out of pocket, but the greater opportunity here was an appeal to my vanity. It was the chance to be resentful that I couldn't afford to have my pictures featured on Cosmo's website and to question the goodness of my Creator: that he wouldn't make a way for this to work out in my favor. This sounds quite obviously vain and spoiled and prideful, so let me present my second opportunity.

If not an appeal to my vanity, what then? Oh, right, my academia. Or worse. My love of people, and particularly outcasts.

I got into University of Louisville's Masters of Arts program for English! Yay!
I did not get a teaching assistantship through the program. I still don't really know why. I really wanted tuition paid for, but more than that, I wanted to work in the writing center doing something I love full time.

Last week, I applied for a teaching assistantship with the U of L debate team, and I got offered the position without an interview! (Well, okay, first they said they didn't want me. And then they called back and said their first choice flaked so the position was mine. Don't let me fool you.)
So, tuition reimbursement: CHECK!
Small monthly stipend: CHECK!
Working with smart, passionate undergrads: CHECK!
Driving up to eight hours, often through the night: Check?!
Starting THIS MONDAY (two days from now). Check...
Being told, more than once, that the atmosphere may be hostile toward certain demographics (of which I am a member, eg: white and heterosexual). Check Check Check.

The last one actually made me want to do this more initially. People who have been ignored or mistreated by society? And they need me to prove I can rise above the White Christian Middle Class stereotype?! Well, okay. Sign me up. Let me share unconditional love that offers peace and redemption.
So, why did I turn this second opportunity down too? Because it wasn't my mission field to take on. It turns out, this appeal to my love of academics, social justice, and broken people was not for me. It wouldn't solve money problems. We'd still have to take out a loan for Ben's school, even if mine was paid. It might not solve time problems, since I'd still have to have a second job to cover anything other than living expenses. And honestly, as I sought God's face and his answer, I received a resounding answer: You are called to love the broken and the hurting and the outcast. But not in this way. Let the warning that you'll be lonely and often rejected in this capacity serve to protect you from future hurt and frustration.

But God, don't you call us to persecution? To rejection for your name's sake? Even to poverty so that we depend more fully and fervently on you? I know that the times I've seen your hand of mercy the clearest are the times when I'm most desperate for your help. And shouldn't I be looking for ways to love people that aren't like me, even when I'm uncomfortable?

I've got to say, I don't have answers to that. I know that all those things are true of God and of me as a Christian. I have often prayed that I would be ready to face persecution and wouldn't shy away from places where I know I'll be rejected or mocked. But, for whatever reason, God has chosen to keep me from this.

I suspect it's because he's providing for me right now and isn't done with where I'm at. And that's fine, because I don't think I'm done with it either.

What the superintendent should have said was: Many opportunities will present themselves. Feel free to be choosy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Family Was Here!

(This feels like the last day of calm before a storm that I can't size up.)

My mama and my Shannon Elizabee were just here! My daddy and my Jessie both needed to be home and I missed them, but it was so sweet to spend real time with two such wonderful women. It's the first time since we've moved here that I could relax with my family without agenda. I got to take them to some of my favorite places: Franklin Street Church and small group on Sunday, some shops on Bardstown where we got fabulous pictures (not yet uploaded), Queenie's for soul food and Tom + Chee for gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup. We even got in good we walked to Heine Bros. Coffee for breakfast and the Comfy Cow for ice cream!

(Here, my mother would like the reader to know that she ran every single morning and swam and even tried my silly weight machines. And that she didn't eat any ice cream.)

We discovered lots of new shops, went to see Batman (again), and shopped for curtain material. (Yes, my mother is amazing. My office has brand new curtains. Also, thanks Rachael for the sewing machine.)

It was actually a perfect way to spend three days, with just enough wandering and resting and enjoying one another without filling up the days too much. Though we did maybe spend too much time in JoAnn Fabrics. Now that they're gone, there's a silence I can actually feel.

The quiet in my apartment isn't strange like I thought it would be though. It's not a lazing, back to normal quiet. It feels much more like a silent rush. A push from behind, a pull toward an unknown future. It's the silent but startling realization that I have to start making decisions again about things that demand attention. This is August 2nd, and in 19 days, I'll be starting my first grad school class. Ben, who took a summer class this week, will have been back in school for three weeks by then. Mama has a kindergarten team meeting tomorrow. Shan moves to CNU in two weeks. Jess starts her last semester of undergrad. My family, here and states away, moves on.

The past three days have been such a respite from the things I have to do day-to-day. I have barely thought about work until now. I still don't know reliably how to get to my classes. I'm caught in the uncertainties of money and time and in the midst of it all, where are the plans my Father has laid out for me? The ones he has had since before the world began? Am I fulfilling them with all this dizzying uncertainty?

I get so sad when family leaves because I want to share all the parts of me with them, but today, it's possible that the sadness has another root as well. As long as the ones I love are close, I can shut out the upcoming uncertainties. I can devote my attention to something other than the stress that I know is impending. I can just stay still with them.

But the God I love, who is still close to me, is not a God of standing still. He's not a God of staying right where you are, even when you're in the shadow of His wings. He's a caring, sympathetic, comforting God, but He's not sentimental. He doesn't coddle. And He's ready for me to move on. To go forward and figure out what to do next. To keep moving, knowing that He'll keep the storm at bay for as long as He wills before moving with me through any driving rains He's ordained.

Okay God, thanks for this rest. Let's surge ahead.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Car Wreck

Psalm 86:15
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...

...Even when I wreck the car.
So, the lights were coming on in my car and kind of blinking and the battery light was on. It sounded like something was beeping, though that might have been the radio. And then, I looked up. And realized I was going 60 toward a stopped car. I swerved, I braked, I left some impressive skid marks on the road. I hit the car in front of me. I busted my head light and my hood and probably my radiator. I made our only car undrivable. Husbands, kiss your wives and thank them for not doing that yesterday!

Meika, our pit bull, was in the car with me. Neither she nor I nor the other driver, whose name I don't know, were hurt. His car was drivable. He called the police and roadside assistance and probably his insurance and never talked to me except to say that accidents happen and that's why we have insurance. Ben got a ride home from work and they stopped and picked Meika and I up on the way.

I asked the police officer how to get my ticket. He said, "What ticket?" I said, "Don't you get tickets when you cause accidents?!" He said, "No. That's why they're called accidents." He didn't even make me go to court or driving school. I was a little upset over that.

I was also upset that Ben wasn't mad. I let him down! I found another way to be late to get him from work and cost him our only mode of transportation. Why didn't he need time away? I knew it didn't change his love for me, but why didn't I at least have to earn back favor?! Why did that bother me so much?

Because I feel a very deep need to earn what I have. Ben loves me because I'm level-headed and reasonable and frugal. He loves me because I'm charming and cute and silly. I take care of the things that need to be done and love him back. That's favor I feel like I've earned. I deserve his love. When I mess that up, I should do something to make it right again. It can't just continue to be okay. I should have to face the consequences and work back to being okay. That's just!

But can it be that in reality, Ben loves me just because he does? That he likes all those things about me, but his love isn't earned?

I got a really clear picture of God's grace last night, after Chris dropped us off at home. I could feel grace in ways my brain could never understand on its own. You'd think it would be relieving, but in fact it was uncomfortable that I couldn't do anything to gain merit.  No dinner I could cook, no plans I could make, no excuse I could offer, could make my husband love me more than he already did. His unconditional love made my efforts fruitless. I hope you see the parallel between my meager offerings of "goodness" and Christ's promise of love and salvation.

And then we started to see God's faithfulness!
God has blessed us already with big weeks at work that mean we'll have some extra money. And Ben's parents felt led to send him a really generous birthday present for something we'd need in the future.

We emailed our church family and texted and called friends so I could get to work today. Within an hour, I had a ride. Within five more minutes, we had a ride to church on Sunday from another friend.

Then, Ben's brother-in-law and sister offered us their Trail Blazer. Brian said he'd been praying this week for someone to give it to. He's getting it fixed today so we can have it in a week or so, in case our Escort is too expensive to fix. We couldn't believe it. We were completely overwhelmed.

This morning while walking the dog, I ran into one of Ben's friends and told him what I'd done. He said they have an extra car, since his wife just had a baby and has been staying home. Just in case we need a loaner.

I just got off the phone with a new friend from church offering to drive me around tomorrow so I can run errands.

God, your forgiveness is one thing. It's enough that you're compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. But Oh, my God! You are so quick to take care of us in ways we couldn't have guessed! I did something foolish and you answered it by pouring out your blessing! Father, you amaze me.

Psalm 86:11
Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Like writing to an old friend

Let's pick up right where we left off. First, a brief catch-up.

Ben has started his second semester at Boyce. (And he made Dean's List last semester with a hefty 3.8! I couldn't be more ecstatic!) I'm still working at Brooks Brothers, and actually starting to feel like I understand this commission thing. Hopefully, the next step is to start building my own business within the company and getting to know the Louisville community a little better!

I'm still waiting to hear back from University of Louisville. I'm being so patient; can't they see that! I have resisted daily temptation to email and ask how much longer. The long hiatus from blogging included taking the GRE, getting a Kentucky Driver's License, and editing many papers to apply for a Master's Degree in English. I also am waiting to hear back about my Teaching Assistantship, so I can work in the U of L writing center and not pay tuition. The end goal is a Ph.D. and a professorship (somewhere).

Right at this second, I just finished a paper at Southern's Writing Center (come see me for paper help!) and am about to get my hair done again!

Phew! Good chat. Let's talk again soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

Tonight my small group leader said something that really resonated with me: "When you hear about someone else's wrongdoing, the fastest way to humility is to say to yourself, 'I'm guilty of that.'" The example she used was adultery, which to the women in my Seminary Wives class sounds absolutely heinous. It probably sounds pretty serious to most people, Christian or not. Our immediate response is, "I could never do that to my husband. I would never be guilty of that."
But what is adultery other than unfaithfulness? And haven't I been unfaithful to my spouse? Not through intimacy with another person, perhaps, but through putting myself or my wants at the top of my priority list? or through refusing to really listen to him because I was angry? Moreover, Christ is called our bridegroom, the husband of the church, precisely because his relationship to his people demonstrates the very tenderness and unconditional, gracious love that should exist within the marriage relationship. How often are we unfaithful to Him, our first love?
So, then we can identify with our brothers and sisters in sin not out of some false sense of modesty. Self-deprication is making ourselves out to be worse than we actually believe we are in order to gain people's praise. We don't identify ourselves as sinners for that reason. Rather, we take a steely look at ourselves and say "I am truly guilty of that wrong. I am literally no better, because that same heart attitude often resides within me. It is only by the grace of an Almighty God that I have been saved from the consequences I deserve."
Imagine being able to stand next to a sister or brother caught in a cycle of wrongdoing and say "I'm guilty of that just like you are, but we are both called to more than this."
Christians, there is no better way to restore a fellow believer than with humility and love. Likewise, there is no better way to create a barrier than to say in our hearts "At least I'm not like that." It is so very dangerous to decide that someone else is beyond hope and help, unworthy of restoration or forgiveness, and certainly less worthy than we are of love. If we are to be thought of as members of the same body, would we then say "My arm is diseased and hurting, so I'll immediately count it as lost"? Of course not! In your own physical body, you would take immediate action. There is nothing more harmful to the body at large than to ignore illness in one part and allow it to spread! You would not waste time in giving your body gentle attention and care, treating it with love and tenderness in the hope of restoring it to full health!
We are called to be a body of healthy believers, without factions, without dissension, without pride. We are called to restore with humility and love, and we cannot be humble without a careful examination of our own stubborn, prideful hearts.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Things

I've been reading a favorite photography blog of mine. And by reading, I mean getting lost in. I had a college acquaintance who started her own photography business and it's blown up. Her pictures are amazing and she has this great flair for business and details. If you want to get lost for a while, read

She also stole an idea from my favorite multi-millionaire of all time, Martha Stewart. So, in the spirit of Katelyn (who will probably never know I wrote this) and Martha, my best friend, I present you with five wonders.

1. Turning six months old!
October 23 was mine and Ben's half year anniversary! It's hard to believe that at this time last year I was picking out flowers and searching tirelessly for invitations. My bridesmaids all had their shoes, but not their dresses! I'm so glad my wonderful family, fiance and co-workers were all so patient and unbelievably helpful. My mother should stop teaching to become a wedding planner.

2. Finding a church
I think we've finally settled. I hope. I don't know. Maybe.
Franklin Street was the second church we went to, invited by our neighbors Lauren and Logan. It's smaller than Clifton, which is our other possibility. It's also pretty quirky. Our Sunday School teacher reads in English out of his Hebrew Bible and likes to dissect the grammar of the prophets. But mannnnnn is it solid. I have never been in a friendlier church. Ever. They are intentional in community and overseas ministry. They practice preaching the gospel to one another (which is crucial. Nothing about Christianity comes naturally to us. We need to continually be reminded of who God is and who we are, or we will quickly begin to add rules on top of the freedom and grace we have!) And they take communion every Sunday! Which leads me to...

3. Wine!
Because at Franklin Street, we can choose wine or grape juice. And I think that's a really really good idea.

4. Shrimp Enchiladas
And the husbands who have them waiting for me when I get home from really long work meetings. With NCIS on in the background.

5. Sisters
I love my sisters. I love nights, like last night, when I get to talk to them about silly things (and really important things like the dream I had about living in Dr. Seuss world). I miss my family pretty dearly and wish that I could go home a lot sooner than...well, I don't know when I'll be home per se. But they'll all come to see me the week after Christmas! I can't wait!

Look forward to more good things (hopefully posted more than once a month)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Afternoon Among Apple Trees

 Tuesday of Fall Break found Ben and I both off from work and studies, and thus in need of adventuring. Because it is really and finally fall, and because it was 85 degrees of amazing, we went across the river to Indiana to Huber's Farm and Winery.

Looking down on our apartment from Southern's main campus

Our day at Huber's started by finding a letter from Chico, my cat at my parent's house, to Meika, mine and Ben's pit bull. It read:
Dear Meika,
I do not miss you. Go buy some bones.
Love, Chico

So, thanks...Chico....and mostly Mom, for sponsoring our autumnal adventure!
Walking among the apple trees after a hayride to the orchard.
The branches were so heavy with round, hard beautiful apples!

I could only eat one apple: a hard, tart Nittany.

Ben, on the other hand, ate four.

Yummmmmm. He looks so happy!

Meanwhile, back at the Farmer's Market, there was cider and pumpkin bread for sampling.
And there were lots and lots of pumpkins
Ice cream and cheese together at last?! It's like a perfect marriage!
That is pumpkin nut icecream.
It's cold, but it's spicy and cinamonny so it tastes like it should be warm.
So strange. So, so good. Like frozen pie filling.
In between icecream and going home, we found ponds full of giant koi and a heron and some ducks. And I fell asleep in the sunshine.

And we finished the day with fried apples and sausage:
an homage to  fall harvests and the Creator of apple orchards!