26 October 2011

To-do lists

This is a run down of my agenda tomorrow:
8:15am wake up, shower, breakfast
9:30am Shakespeare (watch Hamlet in class and fall asleep)
11am lunch, work, Hermann attic party, do notecard for Contemporary
2pm Contemporary Lit
3:30pm work
5pm make dinner, work on Realism/Naturalism notecard
7pm Up Til Dawn letter writing
9pm study for Spanish test (Friday 9am) - vocab, lab book, study guide
11:30pm (hopefully) sleep

Friday looks a little like this:
7:30am breakfast, study
9am Spanish test
10am badminton
11am shower, snack, finish R/N homework
12pm R/N class
1pm nap
2pm spend time with my best friend
5pm dinner with friends
9pm Nightmare on Elm Street (maybe)
11pm Waffle House

Did I mention that I love my best friend? She's pretty awesome. Thankful for her.

25 October 2011

Three years

Three years ago I was in the middle of one of the worst semesters (my first) of college and one of the worst breakdowns I've ever had. I'd spent the last month in and out of school and the hospital in Macon with my Papa who was unresponsive.  This came on the eve of losing my great-grandmother and elderly best friend six months before.
Three years and two months ago my grandparents came to visit Rome on their way home from a vacation in the Tennessee mountains. That was the last time I saw my Papa in a conscious state.
September and October of the past two years have wrecked me in more ways than one. I've spent so much time dwelling on the hurt and anguish. Death makes you feel like you're drowning in a sense. I can't quite grasp it well enough to explain it beyond the blanket of gray that covers your life. It's just a gray haze.
This year has been different. I'd almost forgotten, but my memory doesn't come with heartache and sadness. Rather, I'm joyed to know that my Papa is resting. I'm at peace knowing that I've made it through that gray haze of frustration, confusion, emotion, heartfelt hurt, and simple anger.  I'm thankful that I lost him, but not in a narcissistic way. I've learned, grown, and am now here..on the other side...still me. I didn't lose me. I didn't lose God. And I didn't lose my Papa. He's still in my heart - all the books read and lessons learned. Family meals (and I mean BIG family meals) are still difficult. By no means have we forgotten, but we are still living now.

I had dinner tonight with two of my very favorite guy friends, Zach and Josh. It's been a while since I've laughed so much and felt so awkward in the presence of testosterone. That sounds really odd, but sometimes it's just so good to go out with guy friends and have a good dinner. It doesn't hurt that they are absolutely hilarious and never run out of things to say. They have an obvious bromance.

I've also come up with two essay topics, 34 addresses for UTD, finished guest cards, slightly outlined my upcoming presentation, and am in the process of finishing my notecard for tomorrow. Then I will finish my Spanish homework, get in the Word, and sleep.

This week is good.
God is good.

24 October 2011

Shameless plugs

Hey family. I hope you're all doing well on this overly productive Monday. I'm not sure what got into me, but I'm practically finished with my homework for tomorrow and I've tackled several tasks that have been daunting to say the least.
I'm begging, again, for some deep prayers.  This World Race deal is 11 months in 11 countries. I would miss quite a few things that I'm not so sure I'm ready to miss yet. Granted, It's October and my potential departure is 11 months away, however, I'm beginning to get cold feet. Whether or not God wants me on this trip is uncertain to me, but I know that I need to follow through on this application, regardless.
A good friend of mine, Josh, is going on a trip in the fall to Asia with his BCM. He, honestly, only asks for your prayers because that's the best thing, but is also in need of financial support. Go to this website and click on "General Donation" (not the SE Asia trip..that's from last year). If you'll add a special note to the recipient that says "For Josh," that would be awesome. I know he'll really appreciate it.
In other news, CAC and the Relay for Life committee are preping for our Kickoff this Wednesday night. I'm super excited. If you'd like to donate here's where you go: Http://relayforlife.org/berrycollege

20 October 2011

9 days until my birthday!

My to-do list for the remainder of October is large and in charge right now. I've marked off a few things that have been consistently listed for the past few weeks including my World Race application and letter to my Granny who wrote me a sweet card a few weeks ago during my hardest week of midterms (if there was a hardest week). Tonight at our CAC meeting we're making cards for Kody Lucas, which has also been on my to-do list.

Apart from these crazy lists, I've learned a few things lately. I struggle with being sensitive to the feelings of others. I feel that, at one point in my life, I was highly sensitive to how others would react to my actions or simply considerate of what effect my actions would have on another.  I don't think I've quite abandoned that  mindset, per se, but I believe that somewhere in my desire and growth toward being independent and not allowing others to take advantage of me, I've lost the mindset that my actions are felt by others around me, and can be destructive, even if I don't intend it. This comes into play lately with my attempts at acclimating myself to the idea of graduation and "life after Berry" as if it's somewhere I've been for my entire life. It's the place I've grown up, to say the least. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people and groups from which I'm not entirely ready to flee just yet. Maybe that time will come, but I pray it doesn't. I pray that, instead, these friendships will be some that I keep for a lifetime. They are crucial. God is my core, and they are next. I love them. I definitely appreciate prayer for these upcoming decisions and my current sensitivity to the feelings of those around me concerning it all.

The next few weeks are busy. We are kicking off Relay for Life at Berry next Wednesday which is always an exciting time. I am heading up Team Development again this year with my partner in crime, Hannah. We're excited to work together again and I'm excited to be back in the Relay groove again. This is such a crucial part of me as you can read here.  This year, I'm relaying in honor of LaDonna Kersey. She's a sweet woman that has been in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. She is the mother of a young man who played little league baseball with my older brother and the mother of another young man that I was close to in high school.  She was diagnosed with cancer in her leg a few years back, went into remission, and the cancer is back again. She is also the mother of another boy who is, if I'm not mistaken, a middle schooler now. Her family is precious and she works as a custodian at my high school. She's an incredible lady with tons of advice and encouragement, even on my worst days.

Among other things, my birthday is next Saturday! I'm excited...for selfish reasons that do not include presents. My best friend planned my birthday this year. I've had absolutely  nothing to do with it. Last year I had my first "surprise party" (that I knew about in advance, but that's okay) and it was precious. This year..this year it's relaxing. Close friends, time with my BEST friend, and just an overall incredible time. I'm excited and I've no idea what lies in store. Bring it on. I am so blessed and so thankful for my best friend. Beyond words.

In terms of school, I've got another paper due next week, a Spanish test, and a paper due the week after that. My grades are sufficient and I'm reading much more than I have in the past three years. I was scared that my science class would not fit into my schedule, but due to some last minute changes on the part of the faculty, I will be taking 14 hours next semester. It would be 13, but I'm taking yoga for fun. I've always wanted to and now is definitely the time.

Potentially, I will have two sets of visitors (outside my parents next Sunday) before December comes. My Aunts are both planning visits to good ol' Berry College for a bit. I'm terribly excited. I've only been pleading with them for three years to come. They'll be coming in time, I hope, to see the beautiful trees.
So thankful for my family.

It's been 5 days short of 3 years since my Papa died. I miss him, but I've made it through this fall without breaking down about it. I'm thankful for God's provision in times that seem unbearably dark and inescapable. His mercies are, indeed, new every morning.

I'll leave you with this thought: We have the opportunity to be face-to-face with Yahweh. Moses asked and was denied face-to-face because we cannot handle the shikhinah of the one true God. Paul speaks frequently in 1 Thessalonians about desiring to be face-to-face with other Christians. Jesus was face-to-face with the disciples. Let Him be face-to-face with you. Let everything filter through Him. He is good.

16 October 2011

The Exodus

Well this weekend has been an interesting one full of relaxation and stress all at once. I'm too fearful of separation anxiety to long for an extended break from school and its many facets
Friday night I was able to meet a dear friend for much needed quality time. It was in
credible to get some of those things off my mind, drink pumpkin spice tea, hear quality music, and just delve into one of those spirit-to-spirit encounters. I'm so thankful for the beautiful kindred spirits God has placed in my life.
I spent the majority of Saturday alone outside which was perfect. I'm well aware of the general disdain for the warmth among my peers and others in Georgia, but I am ever so thankful for it. Winter and I don't usually get along and, after pulling out my year-old long sleeved tees, this year will be no different. None of them quite fit after my weighty summer which according to my health is an incredible thing, but according to my bank account is not so fabulous.
It was wonderful to be back at Connect Rome today. I love that I can just worship there with no insecurities about what others may think. That's a God thing, not a CR thing, but there is just something about worshipping among your family.
We started our trek through Exodus, which has to be one of my all-time favorite books in the Bible I know that's ironic considering that it's an Old Testament book, part of the Torah, and really seems to have significance beyond simple Bible stories and illustrations from childhood, but it's incredible. I love chapter 3 when Moses tries to make excuse after excuse and God just says "do what I say..oh, and tell them to call me Yahweh." Talk about personal.
Even better is when the plagues are all over and God tells Moses that each first born male in Egypt will die, but He gives special instructions for the Hebrew people.
Kill their healthiest, purest lamb or goat and put the blood on the lintel and doorposts - the motion of this, as I learned to day, is in somewhat of a cross-shape.  Inevitably, they were putting the blood of an innocent on their doors in order to keep them safe. God told them to eat the meat with bitter herbs and leave none of it left for the morning.  This is the origin of Passover. God basically said, "Do what I tell you and I'll pass over you."
Isn't it so fitting that He died during Passover and rose again? He shed his blood to put on the doorposts and the lintel in order to save us. "Do this in remembrance of me," Jesus said. What an incredible picture of His salvation from beginning to end. Two times God has shown us an exodus through the spilling of innocent blood.
Wow aren't we blessed?

12 October 2011

two f words

As some of you know, I'm deleting my Facebook. It's not front page news or anything that should really be discussed in large detail, but it does require that I update my blog a bit more often than I have been (this is one of the reasons I'm getting rid of it), so get used to more updates.

Right now I'm in desperate need of prayer.  I'm praying through a big decision to somehow be involved with World Race Missions next September. It's a big leap, especially when I could be attending graduate school, but I know God has a big plan.

05 October 2011

Reach for the Stars

If you'll bear with my nostalgia once again, I have a little life story to tell you. From birth to graduation from high school I lived in the same house on the same street with the same neighbors. One of these neighbors was an elderly lady who lived in a brick house across the street from us.  The red brick was accented by various flowers, plants, trees, vines, and colors that come with the territory of a green thumb. Her name was Alice. She was upwards of 60 years old the first time I met her. I, in diapers and still unable to grasp a bottle, don't remember this first encounter, but my memory is made up of so many more that age only wishes to take.  The first memories I actually have of this incredible woman are faint, but still terribly real.  I would toddle across the road into her yard and help her water flowers, pull weeds, and simply take in the beauty of God's creations right there in her front yard. Her back yard was in the shape of a triangle, tapering the farther back it went into a small rounded point full of trees.  This was my secret garden.  The entire yard was shaded by various tree and bush families - great oaks, dainty dogwoods, green and white magnolias, red-tips, and so many more.  Mom would often yell for me out the front door, knowing I had somehow wandered my way into the hands of this older friend.  Her heart and knowledge were huge.  Her husband had been lost in the Vietnam 'incident,' and she had raised two girls on her own.  She'd lost a baby boy and was one of many children, herself.  Her sister, Dot, lived in north Georgia. Candy, one of her daughters, lived near by and taught at an elementary school in another county - she had two boys.  Vicki, her other daughter, lived in Jacksonville, FL and had three daughters.  They traveled up at least once a year to see her and Mrs. Alice often traveled to see them.  She had bowls from Campbell's that said "MmmMmm..Good!" on the inside. Her kitchen was a shade of green and white.  Her front door was deep mahogany red and always locked.  The brown table in the kitchen was often covered with our latest adventures - cookies, crackers with various toppings, letters, books, magazines, and always a magnifying glass.  There stood a four-tiered clear glass shelf in the corner of her living room near the front windows that held any number of knick-knacks - mostly angels and one so beautiful peacock feather.  Her couches were a deep blue, but always covered with quilts or crocheted blankets. And she had her rocking chair with the blue chair-pad sitting beside a short, dark wood coffee table covered with neat stacks of various books and magazines (Guidepost and the like). A closet to the left of her television held a collection of movies sure to shame Hollywood, though most were recorded from GP-TV onto VHS tapes.  Each tape had label after label with movies marked out, circled, and rewritten in the oddly pointed cursive of her wrinkled hands.  Others included Shirley Temple, Angels in the Outfield, and the greats of Katherine Hepburn.  On the lowest shelf sat a blue spiral bound journalist notebook, well worn and full.  It contained specific location details for each specific movie on whichever numbered tape.  We watched the finals of the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan more times than I can count. Figure skating. Tara Lipinski. I only wanted to be her.
It was here where I discovered book after book, great historian after great historian, and quilting.  We pieced a quilt once - "Grandmother's Flower Garden" - out of various dresses, t-shirts, and scraps.  We pieced it on the guest bed. This is the room where I found books - Nancy Drew being the first.
We sat on a squeaky swing under her carport often - she didn't have a car and had never driven - and looked around at the monkey grass, lightning bugs, squirrels, blue jays, and hummingbirds.  We walked to the mailbox often, avoiding the lengthy runners from Cherokee rose bushes that would 'reach out and get you' if permitted the opportunity. We raked with sklattering metal rakes, making lines in the dirt where the grass had rebelled against hot summer suns. (We avoided the concrete.) There was a vine of ivy here that I fell in love with, grasping tightly with its roots to the bark of an oak tree that dropped countless acorns each year.  I found a small evergreen pine tree here that I planted in the shade of a smaller pine on the opposite side of the front yard. Ice Cream. An odd name for an evergreen tree, but the name it is still named, standing proudly near the remains of a small field of lilies.
I only remember once instance of "getting in trouble" with her. I was thirteen or old enough to know better when I brought a small baby frog into her house. I was promptly and sternly chastened and sent outside. I was scared for a week that she didn't love me anymore. The end of the world. But my next big reading assignment proved that we were still the best of friends. I tackled Silas Marner, Romeo & Juliet, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dickens, Alcott, Chopin, the Bronte sisters, and The Scarlet Letter under her supervision. I read and read and read - biographies, fiction, non-fiction, Mother Teresa, Princess Di, and I taught her how to use her first computer. Dial-up. We spent hours working on her book - a history, if you will, of her family and ancestors. I fear calling it a genealogy because it was so much  more than that - full of so much. Oh how I wish I knew her secrets to publishing such a masterpiece. Where was she when I wrote my first?
The summer before eighth grade was the last full three months I spent with her. Breast cancer took her to Florida to live with Vicki who could take care of her and drive her to weekly chemo treatments. I would miss pushing her buggy around Kroger (the only grocery store she ever stepped foot in) and riding with her and mom to various doctor's appointments or shopping excursions. I have no idea where she got her clothes - we never went clothes shopping.  She wrote letters to me from Florida for almost a year before returning to the humidity of our neighborhood.  The ruthless, emotionless parts of me want to know what it was like to go through chemo with her.  I know so much more now than I ever did then - oblivious as a child - and I know there was so much sickness involved.  I never knew. Now home, she spent her days doing fewer of her favorite activities due to arthritis and an overall exhaustion from the perils of the relentless battle within her body.  Her rosary was more present then than ever.  Enter my disdain for The Great Gatsby.  I saw her less and less as homework and friends took more and more precedence in life, but I would sometimes walk over and visit after school when I had little homework. Unfortunately, this happened far less than it ever should. I now know the meaning of regret. My older brother cut her grass and my younger brother took his pb&j over to visit her after school like I had done so many years before.  We returned from a family camping trip to find her, once again, in the hospital. Broken leg. A stupid light bulb told us the answers that had been hiding for so long. The cancer had spread. It had never actually gone away. She hadn't wanted us to know - the kids, I mean. I'm sure, somehow, that my parents were aware. Tonya, a neighbor, had checked on her while we were gone and found her soon after her fall.  She went into assisted living and I was still oblivious to her sickness. Her leg soon healed, but she never came home. We visited her there twice. In the dark she sat and we knew it was time. April of 2008 she became far worse than we'd ever imagined. I still wrote her letters.  Hospice was called, but we weren't allowed to visit. I still have no idea where she was when this happened, I just know it hurt to know I would be graduating and she couldn't be there. Her influence was immense and immeasurable. You will never know, I was told, and I still don't.
She died after the shields of her immune system dropped low enough to allow other diseases and germs into her frail body. You won't want to remember her this way, I was told, and I still don't. I still wrote her letters. Mom made her a blanket that I now sleep with every night. She was my best friend through more years of my life than anyone at this point can say and, I have a feeling, that will remain.
Above my desk there is a flat felt doll with uneven stitching and button-filled stars on a twisted wire stretched between its hands. "Reach for the Stars," she told me, and I am.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Alice.

02 October 2011

A Call to Prayer

Nine months from now I will have my new mission.  A new place.  Part of my heart is too ready for that new adventure.  I can’t wait to find a new home, meet new people, and experience new parts of the world.  I can’t wait to grow.  I also experience nights and moments and days of sheer panic.  The thought of moving away from people, places, and things that I’ve become so accustomed to, so full of love for, causes my heart to pulse as if it is being suffocated and drowned in a sea of unknown.  I know this isn’t much, but I do pray so desperately that you all will pray with me.  I have options and I have grand dreams, but I’m never sure which task to check off my to-do list first.  I’m bound by the monetary worries of the rest of the world and the desire to squeeze every possible memory from the last few years with my granddaddy.  I’m not sure how all three of these things – dreams, money, and memories – will play into what God has next in my life, but I want more than anything to follow hard after what He has for me…even if that means giving up parts of my family that I hold so dear or friends that I cherish more than there are words on this planet.  Somehow, I know God has each of you in my future.  I know his plan for me includes you, but there may be distance there.  Please forgive me if it seems like I don’t care at times, but I’m really just trying to keep myself from hurting and crying and breaking in half at the idea of leaving.  I’ve never been so great at the task.  I dread it.  I dread the leaving and being left.  Please pray with me – whether it be the West, the east, another continent, or right here. Please pray with me.