Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An ill prepared train wreck.

I like to plan ahead. 
I was one of the first people signed up for the Romania trip, almost a year before we even left, all of my college applications were submitted during the early decision deadline. I was registered for two classes before most people even knew where they were going, and I know in August what I'm being for Halloween (This year is an exception. . .). 

This is why the future scares the living crap out of me. 
The future is like this far off distant place that is also incredibly close. The choices I make right now have a permanent impact on my future. Even the little things make a difference. For example, I could have chosen to just point the way to the library for the girl in my ASL class instead of walking with her, and then I wouldn't have realized I'm not the only person who has no clue what they are doing and I wouldn't have gotten a study partner. But see, I don't always get to make the decisions. That's where I have to learn to let go and trust that Jesus has it all under control. Easier said than done. For someone who likes to have control of their situation and know where I'm going, this is one of the most difficult things I've dealt with and will always deal with. I don't know if you've noticed this, but I can be kind of stubborn. (ME?! Stubborn? I know, shocking. /sarcasm.) 

God has been putting a lot of emphasis on faith in my life lately. He is really trying to show me that I can trust Him, and He has a hold of me and my future and every aspect of my life. Being a control freak, I don't want to let go and just walk through day to day life not being in the drivers seat. I'll just openly admit that. There's no use in pretending any differently. I know He handles it all better than I ever could and His plans for my life are far beyond what I can imagine or ever create. Still, it's incredibly difficult for me to let go and trust this, especially since what he's revealed to me is a challenge. It's out of my comfort zone. He brought me back from Romania, but he isn't putting me back in that comfort zone I left behind. He's pushing me forward and leading me into big things. But it's hard. 

See, I'm kind of a train wreck of disgusting emotions. I'm judgmental and I hold grudges (Over two years later, I'm still fighting back the urge to "accidentally" kick the seat of the girl from the youth group that hurt me as she sits in front of me in Psychology class) and I can be very short tempered. And hey, let's just look at my track record: I'm not exactly a nice person. I definitely struggle to love people.
And God has called ME to the mission field? Yeah. It still shocks me too. Don't worry. 
It's the times I look in the mirror and see myself through human eyes (MY eyes), that I feel so incredibly inadequate. Its those moments that I want to (and often do) look at God and say, "Really? I'm not the one you need for this job. Look at so and so, they have it together. They would offer their roommate half the fridge instead of biting back a bit of frustration when they put something in without asking or close the blinds by 7PM every night,". 
He and I were discussing these rough aspects of my personality last night as I prayed over the upcoming year and the decisions we have to make (Yes, we. Not just me. He and I.) when I got a text message from my friend Charis. All that was said was a verse from The Message translation. She claimed she couldn't sleep until she sent it to me, but she didn't know why. She just had to send it.

"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God."
- Philippians 1:9-11 (The Message) 

and from my translation: 

"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God,"
- Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

Thanks, God. Sometimes (Okay, a lot of the time) I do need those little moments of affirmation. Maybe I can do this after all. All it takes is a little (or a lot of) faith, trust, and God-sent-text-messages-from-dear-friends.

Monday, August 30, 2010



Yes, amidst all of my college reading and classwork, I finally got to read Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. But now that the reading is over, I actually have some college work to do before debriefing my week with Betsie Boo tonight. Therefore, you shall get a more detailed review later (plus, a lot of my friends haven't finished it yet, so I'll hold off on more details until they have. Nevertheless, my bullet point list will have some spoilers.). 

- "You love me. Real or not real?" Yes. Yes! YES!
- Despite the action that went on, I felt like the writing wasn't descriptive enough in these scenes.
- FINNICK. It was Fred freaking Weasley all over again. 
- The execution scene was just how I wanted it to go down.

Basically, Catching Fire was my favorite followed by The Hunger Games and then Mockingjay. But this was easily the best trilogy I've read in a long time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm too busy to really blog.

a. I am seeing two of my Romania teammates, Haley and Ian, in merely 11 days. Excitement doesn't even begin to cover the emotions I'm feeling. 

b. My cousin is going to be an exchange student in Ireland this fall. I'm a college freshman. We've been through all of life's big adventures together, so it's no exception that this happens at the same time. We're working on a joint blog called potatoesandtextbooks. I'm setting it up and editing it tonight. I'll link it for you soon. It's going to be awesome, and you can subscribe via email so it's easy to keep up with. 

c. I'm really excited for my Religion class tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exploding feet, space marines, and the classic panic attack.

After a lot of time off campus and the panic attack to end all panic attacks, I think I've realized that I can do this whole college thing. I realized this a bit late, rushing back to campus at 11PM last night to throw everything together and print off my syllabus for Religion and get everything ready to use my mad elliptical skills at this gym before class. (So the latter didn't happen this morning, but it will tomorrow morning. I have to get my morning routine timed and perfect first.)  

My English professor looks like Ryan Gosling with a ponytail and let's us call him by his first name. He's quiet and deep voiced with a Masters in Creative Writing and made me feel completely comfortable as I was the only one in class who spoke above a mumble and had to introduce myself first (darned "A" last name. You are the bane of my preferably quiet existence. . .). His class is going to be largely reading and analyzing and discussing with a lot of opinion based writing, and no final exam. In fact, neither class I've taken today had a final exam. Celebrate? Yeah basically. 
My Religion professor sent out the world's scariest syllabus that put pictures of a bitter old Atheist man into my mind. Needless to say, I didn't go into this class feeling too excited about life, and the classroom didn't help. It's in a giant lecture room with stadium seating, flickering lights, and no windows. Three minutes before class starts, a man with an almost triangular formation of black curls on the literal top of his head, diamond studs in each ear lobe, and a goatee walks to the front of the room, sets two books on either side of the chalkboard and shouts, "DO YOU SEE THESE BOOKS?! BUY THIS ONE *dramatic gesture towards the one on his right* NOT THIS ONE *dramatic gesture to the one on his left*" 
Imagine if Zach Galifianakis was teaching your Religion class, hated the classroom so much he joked about it being an experiment from the Psychology department and compared it to the Mel Gibson movie "Conspiracy Theory", used your feet exploding as the example of what to get a doctors note for, and screamed "MY DAMNED SON AGAIN!" when his phone rang then picked it up and went "I'M IN CLASS!" and hung up. 
Yeah, it's going to be a very interesting and entertaining semester in Religion class. 
My last class of the day isn't until 3:30, so I went and got some lunch and attempted to read some of the book I'm currently reading while the guys at the table next to me (very passionately) discussed what it takes to become a Space Marine. (Yes, I was dying to take them all outside and show them the real world, but I refrained.) 

Maybe I'm not so bad at this college thing after all. Who knows, before long maybe I'll even (Wait for it. . . ) LIKE it. (GASP, I know. Insanity.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dorm Room Tour.

I guess I should be that cliche freshman and show you what my dorm looks like. So ladies and gentlemen, sit back and buckle your seat belts, keep your hands and feet inside the blog at all times, and enjoy. 
My dorm is located right next to the tennis courts and soccer fields and houses mostly freshman. After a long climb up three flights of stairs, you arrive at my room. 
This is my bed and dresser. 
My bed is on 7 inch lifts and because I'm only 5'1'' (I grew an inch before Romania. I feel like I'm a whole foot taller now.), I am forced to literally hop up onto it. Hopefully I won't be breaking my legs this year or else I'll be sleeping on the floor. My slightly spastic and almost mentally challenged fish, Bashina, sits on the dresser. If he dies this year (Which he shouldn't. I'm a good mom.), Roomie and I are going to legitimately have a funeral for him and bury him somewhere on campus. 
Then we move onto my desk area. 

 My desk is home to everything from Paduch the computer to my books and make up and a Woody toothbrush holder who is serving as a holder for my computer charger chord. I basically live here, sitting in the desk chair that wants to be a rocking chair and scares me periodically when I move by making me feel like I'm going to fall backwards. It's baller. Behind my desk you see my closet door where basically everything else is stored. 
And that's it. 

It's small and simple, but it's where I'm living for the next two semesters and has a pretty decent view of the soccer fields and tennis courts, so I'll at least never have a lack of entertainment. So I'm not complaining.

The Very Worst College Student.

If I had to make an estimate for you, I'd say that since I moved into my dorm on Wednesday morning 95% of my time has been spent off campus. 
Obviously, I'm REALLY good at this whole college thing. 

I'm going to be completely honest with you, I'm not digging this too much. I'm hoping once classes start and I have something to focus on, things will get better. . . but for now I'm just not digging it. Nothing about this whole staying out late at night midnight freeze tag knock on strangers doors and live in a room with someone you just met lifestyle appeals to my born-30-years-old soul. There was a time when I found it exciting to play freeze tag at midnight and stay up really late and eat a lot of junk food, but that was in 8th grade. At this point in my life, I'm much more content with spending my evenings with a book and a cup of tea, then jumping (literally with this bed. It's lifted 7 inches off the ground and was already kind of high to begin with.) into bed by 11. Maybe I'm boring, but I'd rather sit and have coffee with you than throw a frisbee or go to a party. 
Another factor into my whole "College just isn't my thing" and off campus lifestyle is the fact that I'm going to school in my hometown. The past two years of my life have been filled with sentences like "When I move back to Greensboro. . ." and have revolved around plans for coming home to see the people I grew up with and my family we left behind when we moved to Charlotte. Unlike everyone who moved here from other cities and states, this is my home. I know this town like the back of my hand and have friends and family I've been dying to be able to spend time with again. It's not a necessity for me to make friends at school because I have friends here already. I guess I should have thought about that more before enrolling, shouldn't I? 

Basically, in short, I've spent the majority of my time off campus with my best friend and family and have gone to bed early the nights I've been here, while my roommate is always gone and out late. I'm perfectly content come Monday when classes start to be that girl from room 314 who gets up early, goes to the gym, goes to her classes, and studies. I'm probably going to look into the Campus Outreach group on Tuesday nights, because the guys from the group that helped me move my boxes on Wednesday were really cool, but otherwise I'm content with my chill lifestyle. If I get lonely, I'll talk to one of the girls on my hall or my roommate when she's here or I'll go see Ashleigh or call up a teammate or go see my family. I have options, and it's not like I'm planning on holing up in my room, eating alone in my room, and never seeing day light. I still plan on bathing and getting out in the sun and I'll definitely have my classes completely covered and my 15 gross Romania pounds lost. 
I'm just really content to read my books and drink my tea and go to bed at 11 when everyone else is just beginning their night out. I didn't come to college to party, I came to get a degree because college is such a necessary evil and I need to be prepared.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Team Romania.

Betsie drew this adorable picture of our team. From left to right: Jessie, Bryan, Sarah W, Haley, Betsie, Emily, Me, Ian, and Kelsey. This basically made my very, very dismal night so much happier.

One more day.

I move into my dorm tomorrow.
I'm not ready.

Sure, I have a pile of stuff and textbooks and my semester tuition is paid. But mentally, I'm just not ready for it. I'm not ready to leave the town I've learned to call home and the group of people who have taken me in. I'm just not excited about it. I can handle it, sure. I'm more than capable of navigating a campus and handling classes and making my own decisions. But do I want too? No. I could move in tonight and be absolutely fine, the problem is I'm just not excited about it.
Everyone else is excited. Everyone else can't wait to have "freedom" and be on their own. The problem with me is that I know college isn't my home and isn't where I belong. College for me is a necessary evil before I can be where I belong, and I just have to make the most of it while I can. The next four years of my life are going to be spent on a college campus where I'll be gaining life skills for the mission field and a degree in sign language, all while trying to be an encouragement to those around me. It's an adventure I'm not excited about, but I know I have to just accept that and move on. We can't always be called to things that are flat out exciting, can we? That would be too easy.

And hey, if all else fails, I was expressing this anti-college rant to a friend last night and if I end up hating it too much he's going to kidnap me and we're going to eat snails in Paris instead. So at least I have options.

Days until college: 1.
(I still need a countdown. . . let's all get brainstorming.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

(The Countdown) Two More Days.

How does someone with two days left until they move into college spend their last weekend of freedom?
Well, they might pack up all of their belongings into a box, shoot off fireworks purchased in South Carolina with their cousins, drive around blasting Paramore and Ke$ha with a friend, and becoming a mom.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I am now the proud mommy. Meet my baby, Bashina.
Bashina is a spastic, slightly challenged little goldfish who was left in a tank with three other goldfish that no body wanted solely because he wasn't golden or shiny and his only colorful splash is an orange blotch above his eyeball. Even the sales person tried to convince me to get another fish because "those are all so plain!", but I knew that someone needed to love this little guy even though he wasn't the most colorful fish in the tank. I brought him home and put him in his new tank and this Wednesday we'll be moving into my dorm room together.
I haven't had a pet of any kind since my tree frog, King Rupert Weaslebee, died during my freshman year of high school. Hopefully this is going to go well.

Days until college: 2.
(I need something else to keep count of everyday, like a countdown to something or number of a certain kind of food I've eaten or number of squirrels I've run over with my car, etc. etc. etc. Feel free to leave your suggestions for such a thing in the comments)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two cousins; an tale of adventure (and slight insanity)

Once upon a time, there were two girls. They were cousins separated by a three month age difference and cities two hours apart. The older one was quiet and unsure and just looking for a place to fit in. The younger seemed to always know her place and wanted to grow in it. They spent their childhood climbing the giant tree in their grandparents front yard and playing made up games about wizards and magic and left each other notes under the loose bricks outside. As time went on, their roles quickly changed from story weaving playmate to advice giving comforter and their days of eating butter before looking at Christmas lights and hiding behind a bush until their mom called them home came to a close. The older cousin moved to the younger cousins town and they both acquired boyfriends they would have been better off without and the younger cousin listened to the older cousin ramble on for hours about how she would never be happy. 
Where are they now?

The older one graduated high school and spent a month of the summer in Romania, where she found purpose and the answers she needed and finally found the place she belonged. Now she's starting her freshman year of college and preparing for the unspoken adventure that entails. 
The younger one changed her senior year plans and took a chance. She's leaving for Ireland, where she'll be an exchange student for six months, having adventures with leprechauns and nuns in the land of potatoes. 

This is the story of me and my cousin, and we're blogging through our experiences in these next few months as we face new challenges a whole ocean apart from each other. 
So, needless to say, the next few months are going to bring about changes of the major sort, challenges we've never imagined, and countless memories we'll have for the rest of our lives. 
My stories will be told here, obviously. And Carrie Lee's will be told on her newly started blog: 

Follow her and enjoy. We're all in for a bumpy but thrilling ride.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Make yourself useless!

My mom has already started my siblings back to school, which feels really weird since I'm not in high school and home schooling anymore. Going downstairs in the morning and eating breakfast knowing that the 9AM rule of complete readiness doesn't apply to me anymore and watching them pull out work books is just strange. Today I sat down at the dining room table while mom did a math sheet with Anna (My 9 year old sister) and Rachel (My 7 year old sister) worked through her spelling words. Still unbathed and finishing my morning cup of chai (which I had to make with almond milk instead of soy milk, and it turned out pretty decent!), I just sat and listening to them work while debating how much I felt like showering today. Rachel had a sheet of her handwriting next to her, which was done on lined paper with a picture to color on it. Mom suggested to her that I color the picture since I didn't have school work to do, so Rachel contemplated this for a minute and then silently got up and went to her box of pencils and pens. She then approached my seat, put the paper down in front of me, and slammed down a fist full of crayons and growled, "There! MAKE YOURSELF USELESS!" 

So this morning I colored a picture of Noah's ark and "made myself useless". My reward was 5 pennies, a hot pink balloon sticker, and an A+. Apparently I'm on the road to academic success and I haven't even gotten to college yet! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The beginning.

July 10th, 2010. Do you remember what you were doing? I do. Clearly.
It was almost 6AM, and I had already been up on the big hill behind Abi and Lily's house for half an hour. The breeze was just cold enough to be uncomfortable and the slope just steep enough to make laying down almost impossible, but either way I was content as I sat on the blue vinyl poncho that instinct has told me to bring because I knew the grass would be coated in dew. It was one thing to be cold, but to be cold with a wet butt? That would have been the worst. My team was scattered out in front of me and I said a prayer over each of them before beginning to process and pray for myself. Our time in Viile Tecii, like so many other things in my life, was coming to an end and home was so close I could see it coming around the corner. This trip, my time with these people, the summer, my time at home, my life before college . . . it was all ending. Looking ahead in my life, I felt like I was in one of those cartoons where the character is walking and all of the sudden they walk into nothing, just a big, white blank space where the animator either forgot to draw something for them or just chose to not draw anything. You know what I'm talking about? Well, luckily for me the one who animates my life never chose to stop creating a place for me and never, ever forgets about me.
The sun started to rise, as I prayed on that hill thinking, "God, what is after this? I don't know what to expect anymore. This is all coming to an end,". Just then, the sun broke over the hill and the breeze picked up, rustling the wildflowers and tall grass that surrounded my blue vinyl nest, and a voice whispered in my ear, ". . beginning,"

I thought at first this meant that my life post-Romania was beginning, but now I realize it meant so much more than that. It meant that I am beginning to really live the life Christ had planned out for me. I am beginning my life as a college student. I am beginning to continue to grow into that person I was meant to be. I am beginning to really make an impact. I am beginning to fulfill my purpose. And most of all, I am beginning to realize what an amazing, mind blowing, out of this world, powerful Creator I serve. He took a crazy, train wreck mess of a 17 year old and healed her and turned her into a missionary. He placed people her in life who spoke the things over her she always needed to hear. He sent her across the world to see her potential and realize that, just as one of her team mates prayed over her, that He makes beauty out of brokenness. He took the girl who hated herself and regretted her past and sat her on a mountain top in Viile Tecii, Romania and told her this was only the beginning. He turned her life around and made her whole.
Now, a month later, she's sitting by herself in Panera just people watching and reading her Bible. She leaves for college in a week and has been home for almost an entire month, preparing for the next phase that He is bringing. And she knows that even with the extreme challenges and lows, it's all worth it, because this is what she is here for and this is the beginning.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bullet point Saturday.

- My beautiful, fabulous friend Candace started a blog. Read it, love it, and follow it. http://candacelynne.blogspot.com/

- If you were getting a Macbook Pro, what would you name it? (Most everything I own I consider to be male, i.e. my car, my iPod, my camera, my phone. So this will be no exception.)

- Sometime after the 18th, there is a very, very good possibility I'll be seeing at least two of my team mates. No words can express how excited I am about this. Haley and I began our plotting last night.

- I've eaten so many sunflower seeds lately that I have lost a bit of feeling in my tongue and my lip was peeling last night. Sign of a bad addiction? Most likely.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Panera Paradox.

You know what the one thing I love to do more than almost anything else in the world is? Go to Panera at 7AM, eat bagels and pastries, and just talk with someone. Yes, that's right; 7AM. This is usually how I spend my Friday mornings with Charis, but since she is in Texas right now loving on some little ones for Jesus, I took my cousin on a Saturday morning and embarked on this adventure. Originally, our plan was to sit down, have our quiet times, and then discuss them after I put together this adorable encouragement note idea for my team mates. Yeah. . . it was a nice idea in theory, but once I had failed at avoiding my least favorite employee and awkwardly ordered a chocolate chip muffie* and Carrie Lee practically hid behind a wall to avoid looking like a creep while waiting on her hot chocolate. How could we NOT discuss such things? And then who can really pray and eat and read their Bible and journal all at the same time? Not me. I find it much easier to talk with my mouth full than smear powdered sugar and muffie crumbs on my Bible. So. . . we basically ended up talking the whole time and verbally processing everything we've been through in the past month, such as my trip to Romania, her trip to Canada, and the after effects of both. Sure, we didn't end up having the quiet time we planned before talking, but we still ended up discussing the same things we would have discussed anyway and we verbally processed and advised over a lot of things that needed to be covered. We talked about everything from our fantastic team mates to writing styles to our upcoming semesters as a college student and a foreign exchange student in Ireland to the ways we've seen God working through the hard things, and those were the things we needed to discuss most.
I do my best verbal processing at 7AM in Panera over pastries, bagels, and coffee. Even if I'm occasionally distracted by the cute group of old ladies meeting for breakfast or the long haired hippie who just arrived on his bike and lose my train of thought over this, I find I've had some of my best conversations over serious matters in that same corner booth by the window where the same employee always comes and closes the curtains at the same time, reaching over us and saying, "Sorry ladies," with a slight lisp. There is something so incredibly comfortable about discussing your struggles and frustrations as people shuffle past you with their food and go about their day, unaware that you've been sitting there for hours watching both the breakfast and lunch crowd come through and you long ago finished off your food but are still sitting. I usually know it's time to leave when the people around me are finished with lunch and my feet are on pins and needles from sitting so long, but it's totally worth it.
I know it's weird to go that early for no reason, but I find something really comforting in those 7AM "bagel dates" (as Charis and I call them). They are something I'll really miss once I'm at school this fall, so I might have to institute them as a Saturday morning thing with a friend at school and start a new tradition. One thing I really miss about Romania is having the time to verbally process and just discuss things, so now that I'm home I find I really crave that intimacy and vunerability in my life.
So, the moral of the story? If you ever go to Panera with me early in the morning and I order a cutesy named pastry, you're going to get your ear talked off and some sleepy feet, but you'll make my day so much brighter.

*(ASIDE: Muffies are the biggest paradox known to mankind. Well, at least for me they are. They combine the best and worst of the world: Muffin tops and cutsie names. The day I discovered that someone else in the world shared my theory of "the top of the muffin is the only part worth eating", I was exhilirated. I saw those glorious, golden muffin tops sitting on the platter in Panera, hit just so perfectly by the light so that it looked like God himself was shining a spotlight on them for me, and I immediately felt the love connection. Then, I saw the name assigned to these heavenly creations: muffie. MUFFIE?! Why would you give something as glorious as a muffin top a name that sounds like it was created for a 4th grader to nickname their friend or an animated children's show character. WHY?! Ordering such a thing made my stomach churn and skin crawl, but I knew that if I could make that word cross my lips, I would be handed the best thing I had ever eaten in my life. One painful, sugary word would equip me with golden, chocolate chippy perfection. . . This, my friends, is the definition of a paradox.)