Thursday, September 17, 2015

life after reading the headlines

How do we go on with life when the CNN headlines say, "War has forced 1 in 2 Syrians to flee," and, "Finding little welcome in Europe, refugees ask unanswerable questions," and, "Building blast kills dozens in India," and, "Houses swept away, residents stuck on roofs in Japan"?

This is the question that haunts me.

How do I, as a person who believes that good overcomes evil, hear this news and read these headlines? How do I read an article about Syrian refugees overwhelming European countries and then close my computer, walk into the living room of an air-conditioned, well furnished, safe home and keep going?

I don't want to just keep going, I don't feel like I can just keep going, but at some point I have to. Little boys want me to read Curious George to them while their mom is taking their siblings to school and they want me to give them a snack and dishes need to be washed and I have to choose which pair of pants to wear and I don't think that so many other people's lives falling apart means I can bring my life to a halt, even though it just doesn't seem fair to keep going. I don't think stopping is the answer. I don't think not reading Curious George and not slicing peaches for snack time is the answer.

But what is?

If I can't just stop, how do I keep going? If I can't just keep going, how do I stop?

I accidentally came across a list of things I want to do this fall and on the list was to have my mom teach me her cooking skills. When I read those words I actually shuddered. How can I be so concerned that I know how to cook a good meal when these people don't have any meals at all, good or not? But does this mean I should scratch that off the list? Is it wrong to want to learn how to cook good food? Maybe I should only eat rice and beans for the rest of my life because it simply doesn't seem right to enjoy chicken salad and lasagna.

If I ever buy a house should I be sure it doesn't have air conditioning or electricity or comfortable mattresses because it just doesn't seem right to have those things when these people don't even have a roof to sleep under?

Should I quit my job because I feel guilty about having a good job when they have no job at all, and probably won't ever have another job for whatever time is left of their lives?

I don't think I can just stop.

But how do I eat grilled chicken and wear warm jackets and sleep eight hours every night and wash my hair every day and post pictures of my Mom's birthday party on Facebook and buy a cool gift for my sister-in-law just because it made me think of her?

I don't think I can just keep going.

But if I can't just stop, how do I keep going? And if I can't just keep going, how do I stop?

I think they go together. I think part of keeping on going is stopping and I think part of stopping is keeping on going. My response to this kind of news is to stop because life can't be normal anymore. And then my response to this kind of news is to keep going because, practically, I have to live life and because, lovingly, I have to do something about it.

Let me explain.

In order to be able to stop it often requires that I keep on going, I keep on moving. If I completely just stopped my life and threw everything out the window, literally and figuratively, how much would that help Syrian refugees? If I literally throw away everything I have - clothes, food, opportunities, experiences, relationships - because I feel guilty about having it when they don't, will it help them?

I just finished reading a book about the persecuted church and the author told a story of a conversation he had with an Eastern European believer. After a lengthy discussion about the persecution his family had endured he said, "I took great joy that I was suffering in my country, so that you could be free to witness in your country. Don't ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!"

When I asked myself that question - if I throw away everything I have will it help them? - I thought of this man and these words. His persecution did not make him bitter towards those with freedom but rather made him excited for them, hoping that they wouldn't take it for granted. I don't think those who are suffering desire that we throw everything out the window. But don't miss this: I think their desire is that we do not take for granted what we have and then that we use what we have well.

Don't dump everything out in a rage of pity and in a drowning sense of guilt. Instead, take what you have, the freedom that you have, the time that you have, the friendships that you have, the clothes that you have, the money that you have, the food that you have, take it all and use it well. Be intentional with it, with all of it. Think of the Syrian refugee and decide how you can use all of those things you have to bless them. I have freedom - how will I use it to love the refugee? I have friendships - how will I use those to impact the lonely? I have clothes - how will I use those to bless the poor?

So, if I can't just stop and throw it all out the window, if the answer is no, I must keep going. In order to stop and care about tragedy in Syria I have to keep going. And in my going, I send practical help to them. In my going, I pray for them. In my going, I make others aware of the hurt that exists. In my going, I use their hurt to open up conversations with my neighbors about their own hurt. I must press on, I must wake up in the morning, I must buy ingredients for dinner, I must show up at the lunch appointment I made with my friend. And in doing all of those menial, daily tasks I love a Syrian refugee. How? Because of the way I go: the way I give, share, pray, love, and expose while I go.

In contrast, in order to keep going, in order to run in the race, in order to press on, it often requires that I stop, not just once, but that I stop often: that I purposefully stop my mind from thinking about what will be for dinner, about sending a text message, about adding things to a to-do list. I stop my mind and I close my eyes and I talk to my Father. I pray for those who are hurting. I pray for those who are helping the hurting. I don't bring my life to a complete halt but I bring my mind to a complete halt.

I'm standing at the kitchen sink, scrubbing pots after dinner, and I rest my thoughts - and the only reason I can rest is because I have a good, sovereign God who neither slumbers nor sleeps. And so I put my mind at rest, and put my to-do list at rest, and I talk to that God, the very awake and always aware God, the never slumbering and never sleeping God. I talk to Him about what my part will be, not about whether or not I will give but about how much and what I will give. I weep with those who are weeping; even if I'm not sitting with them or holding them, I am weeping with them.

And so part of the pressing on in life and the keeping on going happens when I stop and I pray and I weep for them and with them. I stop, I clear out a few hours in my schedule, to sit down with peers and mentors to pray and to discuss how we are going to help. I stop, I close the Instagram app and instead find an organization that is giving help to Syrian refugees and I sacrificially give.

See how they go together? How if I stop I am actually stopping to do something? And how if I keep going I am actually going so that I can stop from the normal routine?

My responsibility, according to Romans 13, is to love. "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

So when I stop to keep going to love these people, one important way to love them is to love the Christians close to them. If anyone is going to show them that they are loved far more than they are hated, that good triumphs greatly over evil, that the One who made them also deeply cares about them, it will be the Christians close to them. If it is the duty (and privilege) of Christians to love them and if I cannot literally sit beside them and be that friend for them, the ones who are going to do that will be the Christians around them.

So I stop and keep going to love the Syrian refugees by loving the Christians among and around them. And I stop and keep going to love the Christians among and around them by praying for them: praying that their witness would be bold, that their love would be strong, that their compassion would run far and deep, and that their attitudes would conform to the selfless attitude of Jesus Christ.

But then here is where it gets real, gets personal.

When I pray that for them, loving them and loving refugees in the process, I hear it for myself. I wonder if someone, maybe someone on the other side of the world, is praying that my witness would be bold, that my love would be strong, that my compassion would run far and deep, and that my attitude would conform to the selfless attitude of Jesus Christ.

I wonder if maybe someone far away heard about the struggles in America regarding homosexuality and they are praying that I would be bold to show love. I wonder if maybe someone who doesn't know my name was told that there is poverty in America too and they are praying that I would have the selfless attitude of Christ. I wonder if maybe someone who doesn't know much about America but knows that sex trafficking is actually an issue there is praying that I would have compassion to reach those slaves. I wonder if maybe someone who once visited America found out that oftentimes Americans' wealth and instant gratification leads to pride and complacency and is praying that I would pursue relationships with people whose hurt is hidden deep and whose pain is surprising.

Am I doing for hurting people around me what I am begging European Christians to do for Syrian refugees?

If only I lived the kind of life I pray for others to live. If only I loved the way I pray for others to love. If I only I had the kind of compassion I pray for others to have. If only I was the kind of person I pray for others to be.

So as I pray for Syria, as I pray for refugees, and as I pray for Christians, I look at my own heart and life. Will I be the answer to someone's prayer? Will I stand up to display the way good triumphs over evil?

Will I keep going and press on in order to be a bearer of hope for those close to me and also for those not so close to me? Will I stop and make a conscious and intentional effort to pray for a revealing of hope to those close to me and also to those not so close to me?

Good will ultimately triumph over evil. I believe that. And because I believe that, I must keep going and I must stop. Both not only helpful, but also vital. Life must be lived. But life must not be lived the same way.

I cannot, and I refuse to, read the headlines and be unchanged. And so, when I close the computer and walk into the living room of an air-conditioned, well furnished, safe home and take the Curious George book off the shelf, I do it with a renewed sense of gratitude. Because tragedy has changed me. But hope has changed me more.

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'in him we live and move and have our being.'" Acts 17

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

UNC doesn't need me and neither does God

I have decided to take this coming semester, the fall of 2015, off of school. I'm not going to save the orphans and I'm not going to spend the entire break in an African village without running water and I'm not going to end world hunger and I'm not going through a mid-life crisis. I just want to take a semester off so I'm doing it.

I've thought pretty long and hard about it, all the pros and cons, just like anyone would do. Sometimes I make rash decisions, but not always. There are so many pros and everyone says, "Wow! That's so cool! I wish I had done that," or "Wow! That's so cool! I wish I was doing that." I can think of a million reasons to do it.

But I can't think of that many reasons not to do it. Except one that keeps coming back, running circles around me, and driving me crazy.

UNC needs me. God needs me. What if I leave? What will everyone do? What about all of the friends that I have made? What about all of the people that only hear about Jesus from me? All of God's plans for people and for UNC will completely fall apart. There are freshmen that need me to lead their Bible studies. There are girls that need me to encourage them. There are people who need Jesus and simply won't hear about Him if I'm not here. UNC needs me. God needs me.

Well, friends, since making the decision to leave I have already learned a big lesson from the semester off, even though it hasn't started yet. The lesson: UNC doesn't need me. And neither does God.

I had some sort of revelation recently that basically slapped me in the face or punched me in the stomach or something like that. Whatever it was, it hurt. Frankly, I didn't think the sun was going to continue to rise in Chapel Hill if I left. And then I realized that God's plans for UNC are so much bigger than me.

God has plans for me and those plans are great. However, God also has plans for UNC and while I can jump in and be a part of those plans, those plans will not come crashing down without my involvement in them. God did really cool things at this university before I was here and I feel confident that He will continue to do really cool things after I graduate.

I'm not leaving UNC thinking that I'm not doing anything worth my time here but I'm leaving UNC confidently knowing that God's work will go on here and that God's work can be done through me in other places as well.

I am excited to serve God and be used by God this coming semester in other areas of life. I am excited to experience things I've never experienced before, to serve Him in ways I've never served Him before. I am excited to let go of things that I think I need and to let go of things that I think need me and instead learn to glorify God in other capacities.

The fact that God doesn't need us does not give us license to sit back and relax on the sidelines and watch it all happen. The point is not that if you go to UNC you should stop trying to help God since He doesn't need you. On the contrary, you can and should serve God wherever you go; the things is, it's not so much about where you are but rather it's about who you're serving - yourself or Him. So, you need not worry whether or not God can use you in a certain location - He can. And you need not worry whether or not God can work in a certain location without you - He can.

That's the thing we must understand - God allows us to be a part of His work but He does not need us to be a part of His work.

The fact that He allows us to be a part of His work should drive our desire to serve Him because we by no means deserve to be used by Him and wow, what an awesome privilege it is to take part in that. It is a privilege to serve Him at UNC and it is a privilege to serve Him in places other than UNC.

But woe to you, woe to me, if we think God will not, can not, accomplish His purposes without us.

Friends, this is what I am trying to say: God is crazy about me. God loves me to the depths of hell and back. God has a strong desire for me. God seeks me. God pursues me. God values me. God wants me. But one thing I must remember - God does not need me.

And that, my friends, makes serving Him all the better.

Monday, September 30, 2013

this is the work of God.

John 6:28-29. "Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'"

I'm searching, constantly searching. Searching for a way to do the work of God. Wondering what I can do, beating myself up when I don't do it, packing the works of myself into my life instead of the work of God. 

The work of God is that I believe; believe in Him whom He sent, believe the Gospel.

Simple. The rest comes, but the rest is not the work. In fact, that's just what it Resting in God, resting in His presence. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Doing His work shouldn't be difficult, and it's not. Doing what you think is His work is difficult. Trying to find satisfaction in things that never satisfy is hard. But the choice to believe, the constant remembering what I believe, is the work that He wants me to do, and He wants the cause and effect process to come easy. He wants the post-belief part to be light, not to be work.

God wants us to believe, He wants to quench our parched tongues. We run around this world tasting everything we can get our hands on and all it does is make us thirstier and thirstier and the more we run around, the more exhausted we get and instead of gaining satisfaction we run farther away from the point at which we are satisfied. It's like when you're driving down the road looking for your next turn and you think you're almost there and you're so close and as long as you just go a little bit farther you'll find it and you just keep going and it's after this curve or maybe the next curve and next thing you know you're so far gone when really if you had turned around a long time ago you would have found it. And I'm driving down this road and searching for this place of satisfaction but all the signs have been turned around and they're all pointing the wrong direction. Satisfaction was at the tip of my fingers, waiting to be grasped, and I passed Him on by.

"...If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

It feels right that I would be satisfied in doing things that I think would make God happy. But it's not about what feels best because feelings are deceitful. Like hot water when you first put your hand in it and it feels cold. Feelings will cause you to be burned. Look closely. See the steam rising.

It is because we feel this way that a lot of us look for satisfaction in doing good things but by looking for satisfaction in them we make them bad things. I look to be satisfied in stressing over the perfect quiet time every day; or making sure I pick up another person's litter; or forcing myself to constantly smile; or pretending that I am by nature energetic and excited; or having all the answers to all the Bible questions.

And while all of these things are good, they become harmful when I start doing them out of guilt or because I feel like I have to. As soon as I make these things my focus, my work, instead of believing, I begin on the road again, the road away from satisfaction, the road with no sure destination. When I believe, I will naturally do these things and want to do these things but my eyes should still be locked in on the belief. Constantly reminding myself of what I believe, constantly dwelling on Him in whom I believe, constantly dwelling in Him in whom I believe, my satisfaction. I am completely satisfied when focused on Him. I am completely  unsatisfied when focused on doing things that I think would please Him.

That's the key. Maybe I have the belief down and the effects down. But it doesn't matter unless I have my focus on the belief. Eyes on the cause, not the effect. Eyes on the prize, the end goal, the eternal life, the hope, the reason for living, His work, not mine.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

finding God in the (not so) obvious places.

I’m usually looking for God at church. Always looking for Him when I’m having devotions. Occasionally looking for Him when I’m listening to K-Love. Maybe even looking for Him when I’m hanging out with other believers. But is that it? I have recently learned that no matter where you are or what you are doing you can find God there. You can find Him making Himself evident through any circumstance, as long as you look close enough. That’s the key part: you have to look close.

Matthew 14. We find the disciples in a boat in the middle of a storm. Jesus has gone away to pray alone. They are in the middle of the sea being tossed by the wind and the waves. They are scared to death. Next thing we find: Jesus. Walking on the sea. This is obviously extremely out of the ordinary, so naturally the disciples assume it is a ghost.

I find myself in their shoes. I’m in a storm and I see some object performing a humanly impossible task, walking on water. Do I automatically assume it is Jesus? No. I’m in the same boat as the disciples (pun intended), I think it’s a ghost. Naturally assume the worst.

Exodus 15. The Israelites come out of the Red Sea. They go three days in the wilderness without water. Finally they find water, but it’s bitter water. The people complain. Moses cries out to the Lord. The Lord gives him a tree to throw into the water. He throws it into the water and the water turns sweet.

This time I’m in the Israelites shoes. I’m thirsty (three days anywhere without water is hard, but try the wilderness). And just when I think I've hit the jackpot, I barely have time to yell, “Eureka!” when I taste it and spit it out. Major letdown. Never would I look to a tree and think, “Hey I think this is going to work…let’s just put this in the water.” It’s a tree. There are trees everywhere. There is nothing special about a tree. Ah, but there is.

You see, the disciples didn't think they would find God in a storm looking like a ghost and the Israelites didn't think they would find God in a tree. The obvious reason they were surprised is they weren't looking for Him; they didn't expect to see Him in the scary places or the ordinary places.

But that’s where He teaches us the greatest lessons. Instead of trying to find God in the obvious and assumed places, look a little deeper, a little farther, open your eyes a little wider, and look all around.
Find Him when you’re stressed about school. Find Him when you’re driving down the road. Find Him when you’re making a sandwich. Find Him when you’re in the middle of the woods.

That’s where I found Him one time. It was the middle of June and I found myself lying in a barrel, covered in leaves, surrounded by tires, in the woods, bugs all around. What in the world am I doing here in this barrel? Now of course I knew where I was and that I had gotten there because I was playing hide-and-seek at camp. But really, how did I get here? How did I make it to 18 years old and how did I make it to Mountain Top Youth Camp and how did I make it to Pinnacle, North Carolina and how did I make it to done with high school and how did I make it to child of God and how did I make it to 5 foot 3 and how did I make it to life full with joy and how did I make it to life and how did I make it.

God brought me to every one of these places and He brought me to a barrel in the woods and He’s willing and desiring to teach me lessons anywhere.

Wherever you find yourself you can find God there too. He’s there. The scary, ordinary, anywhere, you've just gotta look.

Monday, July 29, 2013

borrowing breath from its Creator.

There is an old hymn that I love. The name of it escapes me, but there is a line in this song that says, "I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, I will praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath." A preacher one Sunday morning mentioned this line. I meditated on it and how every breath we have comes from God and ultimately we have zero control over when God stops giving us breath.

And then I thought about the word "lendest". When someone lends something to you, they expect to get it back. That is the purpose and meaning of the word.

God gave us breath and He gave us a free will and I'm not forced to use it for Him, but that's why He gave it to me. That's the expectation.

God picked up the dust from the fresh earth and molded and shaped with His own hands until He formed a man. A dead man. God formed a dead man. Adam had zero life in him. He had a heart. He had blood. He had lungs, a brain, kidneys, intestines. He was perfect, except he had no life. Until God stooped down and breathed His sweet breath into this new man's nostrils. And as soon as God breathed into him He expected Adam to breathe it right back. To breathe it back in service and love and worship and adoration and praise. To breathe it back as he named the animals and tended the garden.

In the same moment that I decided to follow Jesus, God breathed His sweet breath of life into my nostrils. And in the same moment that God breathed His sweet breath of life into my nostrils, He expected me to breathe it right back. To breathe it back in service and love and worship and adoration and praise. To breathe it back as I sang to Him and shared His Gospel.

God sent Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones in the midst of the valley (Ezekiel 37). He said these bones could live. The bones came together, the sinews came, the skin covered them, but these bones did not live. They did not live until the breath came into them. But when it did, they lived and they stood up and they became an exceedingly great army. Breath is life. I heard Louie Giglio say so many times on this passage: "give God His breath back."

Often when we borrow something we forget to give it back, but if we're borrowing from the Creator of the universe, if we're borrowing breath from the Creator of the universe, if we're borrowing life from the Creator of the universe, let's be a bit more careful. Don't hog your breath, it was never yours to begin with. The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). I'm the borrower. He's the lender. It's time to start serving.

give God His breath back.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

hello is sweet, but goodbye is bitter.

It's funny how people come in and out of our lives. It's funny how your very closest friends can be some of your most distant friends in a matter of a few months. It's funny how life can become completely different when someone moves to another town, when you change schools, or when people change, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better. Things are constantly changing. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

Most people hate change. It makes us feel uncomfortable. I am one of those people. However, through experiences I have had, I have come to find that change can be - and often is - good. Yes, it makes us uncomfortable - and if life is about being comfortable, then by all means do your hardest to rid your life of change. But that's the thing. Life isn't about being comfortable. It's quite the opposite, really.

Things (life, people, times, etc.) are constantly changing, constantly moving; and if things are constantly changing and moving, they must be going in some direction. It is not so much important to notice that things are changing, but rather to notice in what directionthey are changing.

I've only lived a short 18 years, but there is still a large handful of people who have come into my life, have had some sort of impact on me (I believe that every person with whom you come in contact has an impact on your life), and then have walked right back out, not because they have decided they didn't want to be in my life but because circumstances have led them out.

I think back to times that I was so close to these people, times I said goodbye to these people, and I chuckle a little. I thought it was the end of the world. I thought I couldn't live without them, but my heart kept right on going and never missed a beat.

Sure, I miss them. But there comes a point in time where life changes, new people come in, you have a new routine. Their lack of presence isn't so obvious. I hate to think about losing the tenderness of missing someone. It is an excruciating thought. But it's okay. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He brings people in at the right time and, as awful as His timing sometimes seems, He takes away at the right time. [Sometimes the Lord gives us someone that we wish He would just hurry up and take away, but His timing there is perfect too.] He often gives us a few great friendships that will last a lifetime but we all have those friends who we are close to, but not enough to where we will stay close to in the years to come.

So, when the Lord takes them away, we hug and we cry and we say our goodbyes, if we get the chance. Sometimes He takes them away suddenly with no time for goodbyes. Sometimes He takes them away slowly, in a manner in which we don't even realize a goodbye is in order and we miss our chance.

But when we do say goodbye, we do all we can to pretend it's not real. Promise we'll hang out. Promise we'll talk on Skype. Promise we'll visit each other. And while we want to mean these things, and we even think we mean these things, we often don't. Somewhere not so deep inside I know that it's all fake. It's all because we want something in which to put our hopes.

A few nights ago was my last soccer game. Yes, we said tear-filled goodbyes. Yes, we agreed to hang out and we agreed to visit each other. It makes us feel good. Most (not all) of us probably won't hang out or have visits. I told them all how much I would miss them, and I was serious, but if we're being honest, a year from now I'll go days, maybe weeks, without even thinking about the soccer season. I'll miss them for a while, maybe even cry a few times. But while they'll always be so dear to my heart, the Lord is taking a lot of them away and I'll unconsciously come to terms with that.

It's cold and it's harsh, but it's reality. People leave. People change. Circumstances change. Acquaintances become friends. Friends become acquaintances. We're scared of the new, but one day the new will be old. Life is moving, and I think right now my life is moving fast, but in the right direction. At one point in my life I was scared of this new, I was scared to say hello to these people because it meant saying goodbye to other people. Now I'm at it again. Scared to say hello to the next people because it means saying goodbye to these people. And that's why I'll continue making fake summer plans and I'll keep skipping "goodbye" and I'll just say "see ya later" instead. It feels so much better. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

the (not so) martha stewart side of me.

Yesterday I went to the homeschool baseball game and if you have never been to a homeschool baseball game I strongly urge you to do so. Very entertaining. It was Patrick Bryant's birthday yesterday, who happens to play on the homeschool baseball team. Being the great friend that I am, I decided I should make some cupcakes in celebration.

Celebration of the birthday. Not the baseball game. Homeschool baseball games aren't usually worth celebrating...

You should know that I never have much luck with cooking. Never as in....never. Something always goes wrong. And when I told myself that I would make cupcakes I also told myself that something was going to go wrong. I guess you could say I'm some sort of prophetess. Boy, did something go wrong.

I grab a box cake mix out of the pantry. I know what you're in the world can a girl mess up a box cake mix? I don't know either.

I turn the oven on and begin mixing up the ingredients as directed on the box. I get to the part that says "3 egg whites" and have to Google images of egg whites because I never know which one is the white and which one is the yoke. I'm not Martha Stewart, yall. I separate my eggs nicely into a small bowl. I put one pan of cupcakes into the oven and start washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I am on top of the world.

Mishap #1: I don't ever pour the nicely separated egg whites into the cake mix. No egg whites. I realize this after I have washed the dishes and had one pan in the oven.

I interrupt mishap #1 to bring you...

Mishap #2: I don't know how much dark blue food coloring I put in those cupcakes (going for team spirit) but they will not turn dark blue. After putting in drop after drop after drop I finally settle for light blue cupcakes.

Back to mishap #1: I think to myself, "Well I sure can't have cupcakes without egg whites," so I take the cute soccer ball cupcake papers (yes, I was going to a baseball game) out of the cupcake pan that hasn't been cooked yet and scrape the batter back into the bowl. I put the egg whites into the bowl, mix it up, and put the mix back into the cupcake pan.

THESE ARE CUPCAKES MADE FROM A BOX. I can't even make cupcakes out of a box for crying out loud.

I take out the first pan, put in the second. All is going fairly well. I taste them and they are alright...only the most moist cupcakes I have ever put in my mouth. Not sure if that has anything to do with the lack of egg whites, or what. Some cupcakes are like twice as tall as others, but that is a minor problem. I figure once I put icing on them they will all look fine.

I load up my cupcakes and hop in the car. The plan was to grab a can of icing at the store on the way to the game and then sit at the game with my friends and ice the cupcakes. Great plan, right? Wrong.

I'm feeling great and having a nice drive down Lawndale Drive when I see Target. Perfect. Target will have icing. I get into the parking lot, turn off the car, open the door to get out, go to grab my main trio - phone, keys, wallet - when I remember that...

Mishap #3: as of this morning my wallet has been temporarily misplaced.

I ask myself if any soul in Target would buy this poor girl who cannot even make cupcakes out of a box a can of icing. I just need one can of icing.

I turn the car back on and started driving, imagining this scenario: Emily - "I thought you were going to make cupcakes?" Me - "I did make cupcakes." Emily - "Where are they?" Me - "In my car." Emily - "Well go get them!" Me - "No one wants to eat them." Emily - "Why?" Me - "They have no icing. It's pretty much just light blue bread."

As I am driving down the road I remember that I have 2 dollars. Perfect. 2 dollars will buy me icing. I keep driving until I find a Walgreens. In hindsight, the most logical thing to do would have been to turn around and go back to Target, but then again, why would I ever do the logical thing.

Mishap #4: Walgreens has icing. That's not the mishap. The mishap is that their icing is $2.99. I slowly walk out past the employee who had pointed me to the icing, and look at her, hoping that she will ask if I found it, and upon my telling her that I don't have enough money to pay for it, she will be a Good Samaritan and pick up the extra dollar. Nope. Way too good to be true.

Back in the car. Food Lion. Perfect. No mishap at Food Lion. Walk straight to the icing aisle and buy that thing for $1.27. Life is good.

I drive to the school where the baseball game will be played and after going into, I don't know, twelve different parking lots, I find it.

Somewhere during the 6th inning I decide to ice these awesome cupcakes.

Mishap #5: A good five or six of these cupcakes are falling apart. I thought since they didn't have icing on them I didn't have to be careful with them in the car. I thought wrong.

The boys finish their game, they eat the cupcakes, and I think they actually like them. I don't think they appreciate all the hard work and bedlam that had gone into them, though.

Mishap #6: I leave the can of icing sitting in the open. Emily uses this as a good opportunity to spread a very large spoonful all over my face.

Told you I have bad luck with cooking.