my journey with truth

Dear Beatrice,
Summer is almost over.  I have 17 days until school starts.  For vacation we went to New York City.  On the way we went to Kentucky and Indiana.  Kentucky was really depressing.  I kinda worry about all those aunts and uncles.  The boys are really cute.  They keep getting older and older.  Sam was much better.  Alex is into Shaq, and Daniel will do anything for Alex.  Then we went to Philadelphia and saw Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and Princeton.  At Swarthmore we saw Jimmy Bach.  He and his wife Ruth are so nice.  I really liked their wedding in Virginia two years ago.  I remember Jimmy talking to me then.  I was sitting in a chair and he knelt down and started talking to me at the hotel where they had the dinner.  It was so nice because he was so busy, but he still stopped to talk to me.  Then we went to New York.  I <3’d it.  The subway was awesome.  We went to the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, Time Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and had a lot of FUN!  I was Molly in the choir musical and had so much fun.  I think I performed very well.  At Six Flags over Texas I had so much fun!  I went on 3 rollercoasters 6 times.  I went on the Bobsled, 2 on the Runaway Mountain, and 3 on the Runaway Minetrain.  Plus the logride and Sombrero.  I have to go to bed but I PROMISE to write tomorrow.

Lizzie [there’s also a sticker with a cat on it…]

Just for clarification’s sake, when I say “the boys are cute,” I’m talking about my cousins in the “awwwwww, what a cutie shmoodgey woodgey” kind of way.  I’m not saying the boys in Kentucky are cute.  Or that my cousins are that kind of cute.  Though I can see how you might get confused as it is Kentucky after all.  And I’m sure there are cute boys in Kentucky.  Whatever.

It’s been a while since I’ve jumped back into 7th-ish grade Lizzie, and it’s always funny to me how helter-skelter she is.  Homegirl needs to learn how to start a new paragraph.

Also, if you know anything about Six Flags Over Texas in Dallas, you know that the 3 “rollercoasters” I name are pretty much the tamest in existence, hardly count as rollercoasters.  I have since then been on real rollercoasters and enjoyed them.  That being said, it’s been a really long time since I’ve been on a rollercoaster.  Like maybe 10 years.  Ohmygosh I have to end this post now and go figure out just what in the world I’ve been doing with my life for 10 years.

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**NOTE: This post was started in December of 2010.  It used to begin like this: I got my hair cut in October.  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I’m finally able to embrace it without crying, basically.  Yes, yes.  I cried myself to sleep three nights in a row after the incident.  Three nights.  In a row.  Me, in bed, crying quiet tears about my hair.  My hair.  Not the people of the world suffering – my hair.  But see, hair is like a secret power.  Hair is a stronghold.  Hair is a treasure.  It’s like the plumage of the human body.  And like Samson, my October haircut sapped my strength.

Now, it continues, a year and a half after the haircut incident… but then, that’s partly what this post is all about:  I asked around about a new place to get my hair cut because the last place I went in Durham I had the most boring haircut ever, and my hair had finally grown out from my first above-the-shoulders cut since 7th grade two summers before in Corpus Christi.  That looked cute:

but the inbetween phase was killing me.  And I’d finally grown out some length that needed to be shaped.  Anyway, I asked around about where to go, and a place in Chapel Hill called Moshi Moshi was recommended by a couple people.

So, I went.  And this is nothing against that place, I’m not reviewing it, per se.  But I got the world’s worst haircut.  Seriously.  I guess it was super “in” at the time, especially with hipsters and people who like to trash their hair to make a statement, or a sort of homage to many decades past – part 80s rock, part 70s lady-mullet, part 90s Rachel Green/Jennifer Aniston.  But mostly it was awful.  It was like a sort of nice haircut down to just above my shoulders and then this long single layer of hair that stuck out about 4 inches beyond the rest of the hair.  But there were layers (uneven, chunky ones) cut above my ears, for crying out loud.  Which might be okay if my hair is cut above my shoulders overall, but there was still length.  Awkward length.  And she just. kept. cutting.  (I will say this, though: I had some sexy, sexy bangs going on).  I don’t think I’ve ever had a haircut take so long.  I kept thinking “I don’t have this much hair to cut, lady… WHAT THE DEUCE ARE YOU DOING?”

But of course, I didn’t say a word.  When she asked what I thought, I tried to keep from imploding on the spot, grabbed my coat, and wrote her an obscenely large check in part because I just wanted to get out of there and didn’t want to think about what the tip actually should’ve been.  I’ve always had some combination of believing the hair person knows what they’re doing better than I do, a fear of confrontation and disturbing the peace of just swallowing it down and moving on, and the fact that after it’s done… it’s done and you’re supposed to pay that person for their services (and I know that I’m saying I was dissatisfied but see the previous parts of the combination that lead to me not ever saying anything to the hair person).

It was awful, though.  I remember calling Charlotte and heading to school after bobby-pinning the crap out of it, and she and Amy and Morgan are all trying to be helpful and positive and then I take down the bobby pins and everyone’s face is revealing the tension with which they are trying to maintain a sort of positive face and then Charlotte finally says “Yeah, I’d invest in bobby pins for the near future.”

Fast forward 4 months and I’m finally ready to let someone else try to touch up and correct the haircut (I have a thing about not really liking my hair short if that’s not already clear, so I didn’t feel like I could go to anyone to get the world’s worst haircut fixed because it would just mean chopping off most of my hair.  It stems in part from the fact that my mom made me keep this one chili-bowl haircut for all of childhood [see pic]

which in retrospect looks kind of sweet, but I was always jealous of Rachel’s long, luscious locks).  I have never given so much instruction before a haircut in my life.  I told the whole story, gesturing to my still-ugly hair, which by the way had always laid straight before and had picked up this weird habit of just always looking unbrushed no matter what I did.  The following 40 minutes was the most vindicating moment of my life aside from 8th grade when I was accused of cheating on a math test and then got a 100 on the replacement test they made me take.  She kept holding up pieces of hair and saying “See these?  They should be the same length.”  And then she said after a bit “…did… she… THIN your hair?” and I said “well she just kept going with that razor blade” and she freaked out and said “WHY would she use a razor on your hair??  You have the completely wrong texture of hair for that.  You should never use a razor to layer fine hair.”

So.  A year and a half later, I’m finally able to talk about it.  I mean, mostly I’m embarrassed now that I cried so much over my hair.  But the thing is, I’ve learned this isn’t an uncommon thing.  A woman in a class I go to on Sundays said when she heard the passage in Matthew about reconciling yourself to your brother or sister before laying your offering at the altar, she thought of how it took her TWO YEARS to go back to her hairdresser and talk to her about how she’d cut her hair too short.  And it’s not just women.  My friends Brian and Maggie visited me last Sunday and he told a story about trimming his beard really close (it was still there, just really short) and when Maggie got home, he kept asking “Do I look like a woman?” and staring off into nothingness about it.

What is it about our hair?

I think for myself, I can say that because I have long-held self-esteem issues about my appearance, there has always been my hair.  It’s blonde, naturally, which is supposedly a unicorn of sorts (though it’s getting dirtier and I kind of want to dye it all the way dark brown but that’s a whole other post about how I don’t know if I could basically give up being a blonde since hair never really goes quite back to what it was before once you mess with it chemically).  It lays straight without much effort (or used to).  It can be manipulated into all sorts of styles.  Yeah, my hair has been a physical refuge for me.  A stronghold.  It was my pretty part when all I could think about the rest of my body was “ugh.”

So, seriously strange, just weeks before my haircut incident, Willow Smith released “Whip My Hair,” weeks shy, herself, from being 10 years old.  Now, while she didn’t write the song, I have to give credit to the little sassy sasserson for her sense of self and willingness to do what she wants without really caring about convention.  The song suits her.  And she has some mad dance skillz in the video besides the actual hair whipping part.

I have to say I appreciate the gist of things lyrically, despite the hook being, as some describe, “grating” and “a nightmare of a brain drill.”  She knows that there’s power in the hair, too.  But she knows something more:

Don’t let haters keep me off my grind
Keep my head up and I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
Am down and I feel like giving up

I whip my hair back and forth…

All my ladies, if you feel me
Do it, do it, whip your hair
Don’t matter if it’s long, short
Do it, do it, whip your hair

A freaking 9-year-old knew better how to be herself and claim herself while I was crying in my bed 3 nights in a row.  She’s saying I can whip my hair back and forth no matter what it looks like, and I think that basically the whipping is a metaphor.  A year and a half later, I still can’t really tell you what that means fully.  But this is the truth I’ve come to understand via grieving my hair and listening to the wisdom of Willow Smith: I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.  I’m awesome even though I’m overweight.  I’m awesome even though I’m a pastor and that apparently makes a lot of people uncomfortable (which in turn, and I don’t think people realize this, makes me uncomfortable like I’m the one actually being judged for being assumed to be a judgy person myself).  I’m awesome even though I am not very good at sports.  I’m awesome even though I live alone with my cat.  I’m awesome.  I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.

Sidenote: I have these AMAZING new, big, argon oil hot rollers that make my hair look FANTASTIC.  But I’d be awesome without them too.

Phooey.

Well, obviously the writing on Friday thing hasn’t been happening – I backdated my post about resolutions to the date I started it… almost 4 months later.  So it’s probably no surprise that much of the other stuff hasn’t been happening either.  I don’t think I’ve taken my iron pill this whole year.  I struggle with breakfast still, though right now I have a big ol’ stash of grapefruits and oranges (thank you, Texas citrus).  And the past few nights I’ve gone to bed with Grey’s Anatomy running on Netflix, though I have been blacking out the screen.  As though that makes me more normal or healthy.

And as for my shoe sobriety, well… I sort of cheated shortly after the last post.  See, there was this Ann Taylor LOFT sale.  And there were the world’s second cutest pair of shoes on sale for $18.  I know they are the world’s second cutest pair of shoes because I made my mom buy me the world’s cutest pair of shoes for Christmas.  But I haven’t worn the ones I bought, the second cutest.  So that’s almost like being shoe sober still, right?  Like, I bought the drugs but didn’t do them.  Yeah, that doesn’t sound good.  Phooey.

Eat breakfast every day.  It’s only fair to myself on a few levels – I’m constantly beating myself up for not losing weight or being better about my food intake and yet I skip breakfast all the time.  Part of the problem is that I sleep in and need to get to work and I don’t want to eat as soon as I arrive at work.  Part of the problem is that I don’t always keep fruit on hand.  So then I continue the eating terribly thing throughout the day because I tell myself that I didn’t have breakfast so there are more calories available to me (not enough for a veggie Tex Burger from Pockets and fried okra as much as I order those…).  And I get off on my food schedule and eat at 10pm for dinner or something and stay up late and sleep in.  It’s a vicious cycle and it doesn’t help me lose weight or focus for the day. And generally, take better care of my body: including taking my iron pill regularly (but not every day – it tears my body up to take it too often, and I’m not super anemic anyway).  See post below for another resolution which is in part about taking better care of my body.

Read before bed more nights of the week than I watch a movie/TV as I fall asleep.  There’s all kinds of research about how the light from TVs and computers doesn’t let your brain actually shift into the deepest sleep.  Plus it’s a bad habit.  Plus I always talk about wanting to read more fiction.  I’d like to read more non-fiction, too, but would want to do that during the day, maybe set aside a time in the week when I go sit somewhere in the sun or in public to read non-fiction, work stuff.

Write on Fridays.  Whether on my blog(s) or letters to friends or poetry or short stories or a screenplay or a letter to the editor, I want to spend time on my days off from work-work writing.  Sermons don’t count.

Tell more truth.  I feel like I have gotten away from this some, and maybe that’s why I’ve spent some time away from this blog.  I moved to a new place and started a new job, both of which are major things that can wear me down in the truth-telling realm of things.  I need friends and I want people in my new workplace to like me = not always being my most honest self in case people don’t like that.  The problem with that kind of behavior is that it makes you friends that you don’t actually want or need or like AND my job is one in which I am called to tell the truth and be my most honest self so that I can help others to be their most honest selves, too.  So, bad girl.  But it’s a new year and I’m seven months into this job and this place, so it’s time to stop acting like everything is ‘new’ and start being true to myself and my calling.

Fact: I own over 50 pairs of shoes.

I joined our church’s Financial Peace class in August, and before the first class I decided it would probably be a wise financial decision and a step toward resisting consumerism (which I got a big boost of help in resisting when I moved to a town without a Target – you seriously can’t go in that place without spending $100.  Lists be damned, you just can’t stick to them when they dangle that dollar section in your face and have such a good clearance and home furnishings section.  I can always justify a Target purchase… and that’s a problem).

But today marks four months without buying a pair of new shoes. I have only had maybe 2 situations where I truly felt upset about not being able to buy a pair of shoes I found.  And sometimes when I have to go to Walmart, it makes me sad that I can’t stop in Payless Shoe Source that shares the parking lot.  And then I get emails from Zappos.  And Piperlime.  And DSW Shoe Warehouse.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  I’ve been a very good girl this year four months.

An additional confession: I have railed against Crocs since my first encounter with them in college.  I maintained they are garden shoes and ugly though possibly okay for children because of the ease of getting them on.  My last pair of shoes bought before my year-long vow was a pair of purple Croc ballet flats.  FOR SHAME.  I secretly love them.  Not as much as the lavender maryjanes in the photo above.  But I definitely wear the Crocs more than those.

[WARNING: This one’s long.  What else is new?]

When I found out I was being appointed to Smithville First UMC, I was SO EXCITED.  I have had Smithville on my radar since we did a Neighbor 2 Neighbor one-day mission project roofing and painting houses when I was in middle school and of course “Hope Floats” is one of my favorite movies of all-time.  So naturally, I got online and started searching to find out everything I could about my new hometown.  The Chamber of Commerce website is awesome, and I learned all about the Rec Center, the dog park, the community gardens, Rowdy the Tiger mascot, Jamboree, etc.  The most exciting thing I learned about?  The annual Festival of Lights, which, by the way, is featured in the last scene of Hope Floats (see photos).

So when Karen, my senior pastor, asked if the youth might take lead on a float, I replied that I’d been dying to ask if we could do one for the church.  Then when I found out we have a member who drives trucks and would pull and big ol’ trailer for us with a cool cab, I was even more excited.  We had a conversation rather early in the summer with the women of ACE (Association of Citizens for Education, Smithville’s first education foundation to benefit SISD teachers with innovative teaching grants) where Karen had the idea that maybe we could support ACE with our float and give them a little free-ish publicity.  There were a couple cute ideas about giant papier-mache pencils and such tossed around, but not a huge convo.  Months passed, a huge fire broke out in case you didn’t know, and blah blah blah.  The closer the need to begin on the float got, I didn’t have any ideas for the church to fly solo that didn’t feel super cheesy.  It felt like all I could come back to over and over was a manger scene.  Let’s be real – ZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzZzzZZzzzzzzz.

I mean, I know that’s the “reason for the season” but if I said there’s a Christmas parade in town and we’re going to do a float, what would you expect?  And see the funny thing about how you’re answer would be a manger scene is that the real-life, first Christmas manger scene was so unexpected.  God incarnate.  Sheesh.  But that’s a different soapbox for another day.  The Festival of Lights theme this year was “A Cowboy Christmas” and the best I could come up with was angels on horseback with cowboy hats on.  Not really.  That was my friend Nic’s idea.  That wasn’t ever really going to happen, obviously (only because they don’t allow animals in the parade.  Just kidding.  I’m obviously not that ridiculous.  Though somehow I sort of think the idea gets better when you imagine cowboy angels on stick-horseback).

I kept joking about how it was a shame there wasn’t a float-building class in seminary, but then I’d had some experience with floats when we lived in Comfort.  Anyway, it was like I had allllllll these ideas for an ACE-themed float, though.  So I approached Tina, my friend obsession of Smithville who happens to be the Vice President of ACE, and floated (ha) an idea by her scribbled on a napkin.  She was excited, really excited, and grateful for the church’s offer, but a little worried about the ambitious nature of the float scheme.  I was determined we could do it, described how we’d re-use a lot of stuff already lying around, and we went with it after approval from an ACE meeting.

Many, many, MANY, many hours of labor later, we had a rocking float.  Despite the fact that tempera paint doesn’t like to dry on felt, the threat/reality/threat of rain, the computer fritzing out on me when of course the projector is finally working, and about 15 logistical shifts and changes.  I think we went through 4 tubs of tempera paint, 200 straight pins, approx. 25 yards of felt, something like 40 packages of tissue paper between the chicken wire star and the apple pinata that had 2 incarnations, and I truly do not know how many strings of light; we hot-glued, we staple-gunned, we hammered, we un-screwed, we re-screwed, and sewed.

Tonight, we rode down Main Street for about 10 minutes at a speed of 5-ish miles per hour.  It was exhilarating.  There is something magical about Christmas lights.  There was something magical about driving past beauty queens as we moved to our spot in the line-up.  There is something really fun about riding on a trailer, four and a half feet up in the air with your legs dangling over, waving at a bunch of people waving back.  Not to mention, there’s something SUPER SATISFYING about winning the “Most Beautiful Local Lighted Float” on your first try (especially when you were working on a Friday night til 12:30am on it, and got up in the morning to work on it, gave up a Saturday afternoon earlier in the month, and wrangled youth to work on it for 2 Wednesday nights, besides the nagging the congregation for help and lights, etc.).   That’s right.  My float was the prettiest!  At the FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!

If you thought that’s what this post is about, you’re wrong.  There’s nothing hard about telling you my idea and execution of it got a prize at the local parade.  No… it’s the part of the story I left out so far that is painful and a little embarrassing to tell.

So.  I kept telling people we needed to leave the church at 6 in order to get in the line-up in time to be considered by the judges for prizes, “not that I think we’ll win one, but just because for all the effort we’re putting in, it would be a shame to get there too late to possibly win a prize.”  I went back and forth internally about it, though.  Sometimes I thought “THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME – NO ONE CAN BEAT THISSSSSS” and then I’d think “OHMYGOSH, the Festival of Lights is a really big deal.  People are going to show up with all kinds of crazy coolness and I’m going to have put everyone through this for what?  Some PR?  Some feel-good mojo?”  Something clicked this afternoon.  Maybe it was after we’d come up with our book cover and tracing it out with the aid of the projector turned out as cool as it did.  Maybe it was once the lights went on.  Maybe it was when the apple pinata showed up or the awesome kiddos or the school desks Michele Rutherford just happened to have in her garage to lend us.  I suddenly had an extreme desire to win.  And a confidence that we could.  We just might.  Holy moly.  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee (high-pitched almost-dolphin noise of glee).

We get down to the line-up and I begin my obsession of trying to figure out if the judges have already gone by.  Then we see this big ol’ white, 4-door ram with the “Judges” magnet pull up next to us and I get all kinds of waving and smiling going on.  Tina shouts out “THIS ONE!  This float is NUMBER ONE!  NUMBER ONE!  Look at this float!  It’s number one!” and we’re laughing and all.  And then it happens.  I see that they’re trying to find out what float number we are in line.  I literally see the front passenger judge’s mouth make the shape for the words “What number are they” and crane around to see where our number is posted.  And then it happens.  The kiddos in front of us who are marching in the parade to rep for the safe-walk to school program (like safety patrol?) hold up their #12 paper, and the judge stops craning and I hear not just see her say “Oh, they’re twelve.”  I am about 1000-238,406% positive they were looking for OUR number.  The kids were cute, they had on reflective vests and some strings of light and stop signs, and their cause is super respectable.

So I did what any self-respecting pastor competitive freak would do and sent one of the youth to run after the judges’ truck and clarify that the FUMC/ACE float is number 13 (lucky 13) in case they wanted to know.  He comes back and it’s clear he went to the registration table, not the judge’s truck.  I think “surely if we win, it’ll be clear it’s us and not them.”  Yes, I just referred to the little elementary safety kids as “them.”  See the scratched out words above.

The judges’ truck comes back around maybe 10 minutes later and they hand a prize out the window to the library lady who was with the safety kids and say “You won for ‘Most Beautiful Local Lighted Float'” and the library lady does a happy dance and I say aloud “WHAT?” (not shouted, but aloud) to Tina, who I don’t think heard me when I talked and talked and TALKED about how I thought the judges got our number wrong.  She, like a good momma should, shushes me and is like “Lizzie.  Be nice” thinking I’m reacting because I’m a sore loser, which I guess would be true either way, but it wasn’t that I thought the kids weren’t worthy of getting it if the judges were going to fall for that sort of thing.  It was the sting of possibly winning and then not getting to actually win.

So, as any self-respecting pastor competitive freak and J as opposed to P in the Myers-Briggs schema would do, I sent the same youth (who had now seen the truck in question in person) after the judges truck to innocently ask “So who won the prize?”  He came running back to and (bless his little honest heart) unflinchingly approached the library lady who was informing Jill Strube that they’d “won” that in fact, “the judges said the ACE float won,” thus confirming my theory that the judges had mistaken who was with whom and which number was which in the line-up.

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure Tina was right to tell me to be nice.  Because somewhere deep down, I wouldn’t have been okay with the cute, sweet, safety kids with their vests and stop signs and little strings of lights beating my almost 30-foot float with hand-maid, mostly re-used materials.  Yeah, that’s me trying to justify myself by pointing out that we tried to be as green as possible in the making of our float and that while of course a little group of kids walking down the street can’t compare to a classic 1960’s Ford cab and 30 feet of lit-up trailer behind it no matter what else we’d put on it, at least we weren’t one of the manufactured floats like the beauty queens and all ride on.  I’ve seen the websites where you can buy that stuff.  Really, I should kind of be ashamed of myself.  But I’m mostly really excited we won.  Which is totally sick, I guess.

You know how I know I love God?  Because there are times when I’m talking about God that my heart starts racing and I’m tingly all over and I start to smile and cry a little at the same time the way I imagine I’ll smile and cry a little on my wedding day (if that day ever comes).  I’m sure you’re thinking “Barf” to that in some ways.  And that’s ok.  But for a girl who has done a lot of pining for a companion, dare I say a boyfriend (I always feel like that must offend God for some reason… “You have me, God of all that is seen and unseen and you’re whining about a boyfriend???), it’s kind of a big deal for me to sit here and remember that I really do love God in a way that fills my being up, not just my brain.

If nothing else comes of writing this commissioning paper, and despite all the complaining I’ve done about my commissioning work and the questions and guidelines etc., I will be grateful for the moments of writing when I was able to pour out on the page how much I love God.


  • None
  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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