Updates from September, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • acleveland 9:24 pm on September 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    We presented a play in Spanish today. We wrote our own scripts, memorized the lines, and braced ourselves for an awkward presentation. It was filled with stutters, “Uhhh”s, and a random “..Si!” when we forgot the next words. Much to the class’ dismay, Sra. Acevedo videotaped our presentations.  Right after we finished, she uploaded them to her computer and we watched our plays. 
    I realized how nervous I look when I’m in front of the class.
    I realized that I never made eye contact. Apparently the floor tiles were very interesting.
    I realized that my backpack looks like it’s swallowing me.
    I realized that my voice could hardly be heard.
    I realized that I said “uhh” and had random pauses every 2 seconds.

    It’s weird to see yourself through a different lens. It’s like when you hear your voice on the answering machine and you think, “is that really how I sound?”. We don’t always notice how we act, because we can’t see ourselves the way we see other people. Sometimes, we know more about other people’s mannerisms and ways better than our own.
    Has anyone ever pointed out something that you do, and you were completely unaware of it? 
    I’m sure there are things I do that look really bad, and I’m naive to them. It’s an unsettling thought. If we know ANYTHING, it should be ourselves – right?  Wrong? 
    In some ways, we are oblivious to how we appear to the world. Without watching the video, I could’ve told you what my partners did wrong. It would have been easy to point out their mistakes, what looked weird, and their personal quirks. Yet, I was clueless when it came to how I looked. 
    Without watching that video, I wouldn’t have realized how I presented myself. As I was presenting, I thought I was doing somewhat well, looking up, and speaking clearly and loudly. 
    Different perspectives are needed in order to see what should change.

    New favorite song: Set Me Free – Casting Crowns

    • Kelli 8:45 pm on September 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Best final line you have ever written. Love it! And you!

  • acleveland 8:45 pm on September 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    95,000 opportunites 

    I went to the UT vs UAB game this Saturday with my dad and my brother. There were over 95,000 people crammed into Neyland Stadium, radiating a bright orange that could probably be seen from space. UT sucks. Double overtime shouldn’t have even been necessary with UAB, but surprise – it was. UAB has quite possibly the worst kicker in the world, and that is the only thing that kept them from winning that game. After we got into double overtime, I was ready for UAB to win.. They deserved it more than us. Anyway, after being amazed by the sea of people, I started thinking. Every single person in that stadium had a story. Every person in there had problems, fears, regrets, wishes, complexities, intricate emotions, joys, memories, situations, and dreams. It looked like one collective mass of orange, but it was really individual people – each with their own story.
    As I reflect on what’s happening in my life, it seems like too much. People passed me and saw a girl in a UT shirt, not the girl I really am. They didn’t see my struggles, issues, or hopes. Nevertheless, those things are settling underneath my skin, clawing deep and holding tight. It’s crazy to think that the guy at the concession stand, the guy next to me, the girl on the stairs – they all probably have just as much going on as me, or maybe more.
    All we see is the projected image, edited and molded to their satisfaction.
    Neylond Stadium held 95,000 opportunites for listening, learning, empathizing, caring, and being transformed by authentic stories. Let’s start on a smaller scale and pursue the stories of those around us – starting with our friends, our family, our classmates, our coworkers.
    We would be nothing without memories, and memories would be nothing without stories, and stories would be nothing without listeners. Let’s be the listeners today.

    New favorite song: Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns

  • acleveland 8:27 pm on September 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    it’s funny 

    how right now i’m surrounded by the same people I was six months ago
    oh wait, who was that again?..oh, right
    some stuff happened in between, cool of me to push it away, to keep insisting and resisting until poof magic gone. happy now manda?

  • acleveland 8:02 pm on September 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    searching for rescue; coming up empty 

    Do you ever feel compassion for someone you don’t even know? It hits unexpectedly, like a surprise attack. It’s targeted directly to a tender, ragged spot in our heart that’s begging to be filled.
    It’s when I feel those surges of love that I realize, deep in our hearts, that we’re all connected. By this, we’re all obligated to be responsible for eachother. It’s our job to counsel eachother’s hearts, to ease the aching, to hear the stories, and to offer a home when what’s familiar is abuse, silence, and solitude.
    It can be hard to absorb someone’s words when they sink like stones. By listening to crashing stories, hope can turn to disappointment, and what you thought was potential turns into failure. It’s these times when our job gets harder, yes, but more fulfilling, too. Because for awhile, you might have to stop and slouch down in order to look someone in the eyes. Time might be pressing, and the schedule is screaming, and really – why should you bother to stop and help? But when you’re able to witness redemption setting in, I’m sure it’s worth it.
    We give so little when it’s in us always to give so much more.
    Our idea of “checking up” on someone has become a five second text that we absent-mindedly type while feeding the dog. At least it’s something, but we could do so much more. Our idea of congratulations is a pat on the back as we rush to the next meeting, the next baseball game, the next band practice. Our idea of a conversation has become reduced to “Hey what’s up?” “Not much you?” “Not much.” “K bye.”
    But what if we went the extra step? What if we followed through? What if we gave all of ourselves? What if we made ourselves available all the time?
    What if instead of a half-hearted text, we stepped it up to a phone call? And then to face-to-face? What if instead of a pat on the back, we gave a card and a hug? What if instead of a shallow conversation, we sat down and got honest?
    You promised not to let me drown. What happened?

    New favorite song: Through Any Window – Wisely

    • Kelli 6:44 am on September 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      LOVE THIS POST! It’s really something to think about. We don’t take that extra time to really make sure it’s okay, and then we lose that person. I love you 🙂

  • acleveland 9:01 pm on September 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    something better 

    Our society has turned love into something perverse instead of pure and divine. It has turned physical and based on sight and impulse. Sometimes we all feel desperate for love. We want to feel cared for, wrapped in warmth and some sense of security. Someone to offer a reasurrance that everything is okay, that we are worth it, that we are wanted. It seems like in high school, the primary way that is offered is not real love. It’s lust, it’s temporary..in the moment. But the thing is, I don’t want to settle. I see girls deserving to be treated like royalty, and instead they’re treated like an object. 
    One day last year, I got out of class because I had to take a note to the office. In green wing, there was a guy scolding his girlfriend. She was pushed against the lockers, and his anger was obvious. He raised his hand as if to smack her, and then knocked the books out of her hand instead. Then, he walked away.
    Last Wednesday in advisory, I overheard a conversation from a group of guys that sit behind me. We were nominating girls for homecoming court. The guys had very specific ways of deciding who to nominate. They started talking about everything rumored about the girls, what they knew from dating them, etc. I felt sick.
    No matter how alone or lonely I feel, I’m willing to wait to give any part of my heart to someone. It’d be easy to believe the hollow “I love you,” that’s really just focused on self gain. It’d be easy to fall into being “wanted” by the wrong person. We are so much more valuable than a carved out picture of love. We could have so much more than a messy, complicated, unholy relationship. So, this boy tries to persuade me over and over that he’s sincere…
    But when I see his life, it says differently. 
    As I’m faced by his true motives, it says differently.
    I am reminded of our worth when I see the cross, and that will keep me from settling.

    New favorite song: Ready For Change – Ben Rector

    • Kelli 6:44 am on September 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Amanda I love you. You are definitely the sincere one and I couldn’t ask for abetter best friend. Stay strong!

    • Carly Barley :) 1:54 pm on September 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I needed to hear this. I’m glad I’m not the only one with the same desires. Thank you, sister and bestest friend in the whole world!

  • acleveland 8:41 pm on September 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    wake. up. 

    Listen to this freaking song. I’m not kidding. PLEASE.

    I have so much to say. But then I remember, oh yeah! anyone can read this.

  • acleveland 3:50 pm on September 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    Last night I went to take care of Frodo, the gigantic labradoodle down the street. It was late at night and the stars were suspended in the dark sky, like holes of light in black velvet. The family has a pool and a diving board. In my hoodie and sweatpants, I laid down on my back and stared upwards. It was the same sky that you were under last night. The same stars were interconnecting all of us like a web.  
    I felt small and insignificant and in awe. At school, to feel insignificant and microscopic isn’t the best feeling. But that’s because we’re talking about a different scale.
    When I go to school, the only thing to compare myself to is other kids. He’s smarter, she’s nicer, she’s more outgoing, she’s got this and that. The scale is not ME vs. UNIVERSE, it’s ME vs THEM. Because I am on the same level as people (as opposed to nature), it’s easier to feel inferior in a negative way, instead of in a way that brings appreciation. “I should be able to be like that. Why am I not like that?”
    With nature, I never stop and ask “Why can’t I be as tall as that tree? Why can’t I shine as brightly as the sun?”
    Ya see? It’s a different scale. Two different things. Yet one is so much better than the other.
    I am a bag of chemicals and bones and muscle and tissue…compared to miles and layers of air, stars, and space. As I thought about this last night, I felt small, but good. I felt small, but protected. I felt small, but instead of leaving me empty, it filled me up with wonder and adoration. Seeing that there was something so much bigger than me put things in perspective. Parts of my life that I consider monumental are minute details in the grand scheme of things. If you ever want to be put in your place, look up at the stars.

    New favorite song: Sleepers – Wavorly

  • acleveland 9:05 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    I don’t remember the last time I felt this loved. It’s been a great day, and I couldn’t be more blessed or grateful for the people in my life. They went above and beyond to make me feel amazing today, and it worked.
    We should treat EVERYONE like it’s their birthday EVERYDAY. That’s going to be my own personal challenge, and maybe you can adopt it as your own, too.

    New favorite song: Call Me Out – Gungor

    • Carly Barley :) 12:47 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      You deserve every bit of love you receive. 🙂

  • acleveland 8:01 pm on September 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    make me new 

    FFUMC youth group returned from Youth JAM 2010 yesterday.
    It’s time to make a change.
    Focus on your giants, you stumble. Focus on God, your giants tumble.
    I’ve been so distracted and distraught by the sin in my life. I get hooked and caught on my own mistakes, when I should be revelling in the grace and mercy that I receive everyday. I get soaked in sin and am washed clean in the same breath. Forgiveness is waiting right where I fall, but I’ve been embracing the slips instead. I have been convinced that one night wouldn’t change anything. In my mind, even the smallest amount of progress would take months. God proved me wrong on Saturday night.
    It’s just the beginning, but that’s one step closer. With His help, I was able to grasp the rope that He’s been throwing me. I came home and was greeted by everything I left for 48 hours. Traces and evidence of what I left behind was waiting for me when I opened the door. At first, I was hit by discouragement. I remembered all the school work, exhaustion, and stress. I remembered the regret, defiance, and unwillingness. But then, I stopped.
    What happened on Saturday night was real. Nothing can undo it; it’s a sealed promise, written in Heaven’s walls. I’m finally desiring to find myself in Christ again. To find my faith again. To find ME again.
    I’m finally willing to break out of this shell and face the giants.
    I’m finally wanting to follow Christ’s will for my life instead of my own selfish temptations.
    I’m finally trying to do my best instead of giving a lethargic, leftover effort.

    For the past couple of weeks, the concept of being made new has shown up everywhere. Several times everyday, I’ve been reading/hearing about Christ making people new. I hope to see myself become a new person in Christ, with a new story to tell and a new experience to shape me. Struggle has potential to leave strains of compassion and sensitivity. Through all the mess, I’m trusting that God will instill something beautiful in the place of these ashes. 
    The hard part is trying. I was getting off easy before.. doing my own thing, not caring, and brushing it aside.
    I said it’s time to make a change. I meant it. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ll believe that it’s worth it. It’s time for the difficult part..following through.

    New favorite song: Bulletproof – La Roux

  • acleveland 9:41 pm on September 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    one more thing. 

    Give it over to God. Ask for forgiveness. Walk away. Recover.
    And I think: Now is not the time. I’m not in the right place, this isn’t something quick and easy. I can’t just sit down and say, ‘God, take this away, forgive me, make me new.’ If it was something small and managable, this could work. But not tonight. Not tomorrow/this week/this month. Not with this. It’s going to take something bigger. It’ll happen eventually.

    Every repentance has started with a simple “God, forgive me.”
    All recoveries begin with an easy “God, help me.”
    Yet, I continually believe those words aren’t enough to cover my dirt. That now is not the time.
    But if not now, when? When is there EVER going to be a “perfect” time? Never! I’ll be waiting until I’m in a good place, but it won’t come —BECAUSE I keep waiting instead of taking action.
    Shut up, brain.

    • Marian Lewis 12:38 pm on September 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply


      You answer your own questions sometimes the more you talk things out. 🙂 Doing nothing or not changing IS like giving up. People should not mourn what is left behind as they move forward. Change is good 🙂

      Don’t give up, look forward to the next situation and the next relationship. God has so much for you and you could choose a 100 different paths and He will use what ever you choose, with your own free will, to guide you, mold you and develop you into His desires and purpose for you, IF you ask and allow Him to 🙂

      Don’t fret over what to choose, you are a wise woman! God has given you a wonderful heart. Get advise, trust your friends and pray like crazy, but don’t do nothing. Live life and change the world one relationship or situation at a time.

      Like a needle moving in and out pulling thread through fabric, you move in and out of relationships, situations and experiences all the time. All the while HE is using you to connect, pull and knit together the church according to His plan. Don’t dread getting into a new relationship for fear that it might end before you want it to. Jump in and get as much out of it as you can and put into it as much of Christ as you can WHILE YOU CAN. Then the memory of it will be a source of joy not regret or sadness.

      And all your talk of your dirt, news flash, Jesus took care of that before you were even born. When He died, He put YOUR dirt to death. The same dirt you continue to wear and worry about. You keep picking it up and rubbing it back on you, but it is not yours anymore. It cannot hurt you anymore. Its dead 🙂

      2 Corinthians 9:8
      And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

      2 Corinthians 12:9
      But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

      Ephesians 2:5
      made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

      Ephesians 2:8
      For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

      Philippians 1:7
      It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

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