Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thoughts on a Snow Day

The best kiss I ever had was unexpected. I literally didn't see it coming.

We had been watching a movie in my dorm room. The first time we hung out just he and I, without a flurry of friends around us. We were awkward, as college kids can be, not really sure if the other person actually liked us.

The movie ended, and I was genuinely tired, so we said our goodbyes. I don't know why I didn't walk him to the door. I just snuggled up in bed and let him go, disappearing into the darkness, the room pitch black without the tv on. I heard the door open, but I didn't hear it close.

He walked back in quietly, bent down, brought his lips close to mine, and kissed me. It was soft, gentle, and sweet. Our first and only kiss. He left without saying a word, and I thought it was the most romantic thing to ever happen to me.

-

Today is my first snow day in Georgia. A light dusting would be an overstatement, yet our town has advised us to stay off the roads, so here I am.

In the stillness of the morning, I found myself conversing with God.

"It used to be easy. Now, it's hard. It's harder because of You. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything. It's just harder. I need Your help."

-

From ages 18 to 25, I dated a lot of guys.

If I was bored, there was always one to call. If I was lonely, I could find another. My self-esteem was tragically low, but all these boys wanted to be around me, for one reason or another.

I gave myself away again and again. Because they wanted to take, and I wanted to feel loved.

-

I haven't kissed anyone in nearly 6 years. I haven't dated anyone either. From one extreme to another, I suppose.

It's not because I don't want to. It's because my value has changed and my desires along with it.

The guys don't come around anymore.

-

There have to be people in the Church like me. People who lived a very different life before knowing Christ. People who feel, despite past experiences, like they're starting at square one.

Like they've never been kissed.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baja Bug

Phil and I weren't super close friends, but I always admired his calm spirit. And DIY punk vegan ethos. We went to college together and co-worked at the campus Women's Center. Both native New Jersians, we also had opportunities to hang out while we were home on breaks, so I visited Phil one autumn night in Toms River.

I didn't have any particular plans in mind. Just wanted to spend time with a friend. That's me through and through - I don't care what we do. I just appreciate being around you.

After helping Phil deliver Chinese food for a few hours (and much to my heart's delight, play games with the owner's son while we waited for orders), we went to his band practice in a friend's basement. I sat silently on a fold-out chair in the corner, earplugs in (it was REALLY LOUD), and pretended to read Lolita, though I was secretly enjoying every moment of just being there. Again - that's me. Experiences. People. Life.

Band practice wrapped up, and for us early 20-somethings, the night was still young. It was 11:30pm, which is way past my now 30-nothing bedtime. Phil told me his friend Jesse had recently finished working on a Baja Bug and was wondering if we wanted to go for a ride.

A whosawhatnow? Can't say I had any idea what a Baja Bug was, but sure, why not? Being a classic Type A crazy girl, it was exciting to be spontaneous for an evening.

We arrived at Jesse's house where two others, Drew and Danielle, were patiently waiting for us. I grabbed shotgun, as I tend to get car sick in the back. And Jesse was quite handsome, so I naturally wanted to sit up front with him. Phil, Drew and Danielle scrunched in the back, and off we went, bouncing around the streets rather slowly and loudly. I wondered where we would actually go at such an hour of the night.

Where we went was a dark, magical place in South Jersey - the Pine Barrens.

Despite living in New Jersey my entire life, I had never actually been to the pines, let alone in pitch black conditions. This was either going to be completely terrifying, wonderfully fun, or both.

Thank goodness Jesse had some idea of what he was doing. Once we were far enough in the trees that any nearby civilization wouldn't be able to detect us, Jesse stomped on the gas pedal, and we went flying through the pines at warp speed, seeing only what the bug's headlights illuminated a few feet in front of us. It was so thrilling that I figured if we died, it would have been totally worth it.

I had read The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was a freshman in high school, and this was the most infinite I had ever felt. Jesse didn't hold back, making quick turns through clearings and spinning donuts in open fields. There is much folklore about the pines (Jersey Devil, anyone?), so when we came across a small dwelling quite literally in the middle of nowhere, Jesse was sure to tell a scary KKK story that had all of us nearly leaping out of our skin. Though the fear just added to the excitement of the journey.

We finally stopped at "Thin Lake" and stepped out to feel the cool air rush across our faces. I knew in my heart of hearts that I would remember all of this as clearly as the moon's reflection over the water. This night, unplanned and unexpected, would become etched in my memory forever.

That was 8 years ago, and in a way, I've been chasing that night ever since. Chasing the feeling it gave me - the realization that we have the capacity to feel so much joy. Where is it? Does it only live deep in the pines, among one friend and three strangers, racing the autumn wind?

I often wonder why Jesus blessed me so much before I knew Him, before I even gave Him an ounce of my attention. And why I have incredible memories like this one and truthfully feel like I'll never have experiences again that could even compare. How can that be? I now have the Spirit of the Living God inside of me, finally and wholly, yet I struggle to find joy.

I pray that 2017 will yield a new Baja Bug for me (not literally, though that could be nice). A fresh perspective like I had that fall night in 2008 - one of spontaneity, cheerful surrender and wonder at everything around me. It doesn't matter if I didn't "have" Jesus then. Because I really did. He was there, and He knows that girl so well. That girl still longing, ready for the next adventure.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Insert Morrissey Lyrics Here

I've been depressed lately.

The excitement of "New life, new everything!" has transitioned to "Wait, this kinda sucks." I'm struggling with a bunch of stuff right now.

Missing home is a big one. I cried uncontrollably on Thanksgiving. It was my first time not being with family, and I didn't expect the emotions to hit so hard. I visited home for 10 days earlier in November, and it was everything I could have wanted and more. Awesome, quality family and friend time, cat time (SO NEEDED - seriously, my life would be greatly enhanced if I was allowed to have a cat at the trailer), beautiful weather, outdoor adventures - just a wonderful mix of relaxation and fun with people I really care about. I didn't want to come back to Georgia. At all. So, things have been difficult since then. I'm holding on to the fact that I'll be back home for Christmas, but after that, who knows. I probably won't be home again for at least another six months, and that's a scary/upsetting thought.

I'm also experiencing some challenges with work and church, which are obviously huge pieces of my life. I'm desperate for community that I don't feel like I've found yet. I do have some friends I would consider close or moving toward close, but they're spread out and all go to different churches. I'm used to having a core group of friends that meet each week and get super involved in each other's lives. I desire to know and be known on a deep level. Surface stuff isn't really my jam. I kinda wish people here knew everything about me like my friends do in NJ, so they could call me out on my crap and push me closer to Christ. Speaking of, an older mentor/pastor relationship would be amazing, too. Especially as I tend to slip away from Him when I get in funks like this. And make poor decisions, like I have over the past few days.

Basically, I'm questioning why I'm here. Meaning here in Georgia and here on Earth in general. I used to think I had a calling once, and I rode that wave for a while. Now, I'm not really sure what it is. And I feel very much alone in Georgia, missing everyone I love, missing the places I love, missing nature - what I wouldn't give for the luxury of walking out my door to the mountains or beach again. I live in a horribly boring, horribly congested, no pretty places to go town. And I'm learning that's not exactly the best fit for this nature-loving, hippy at heart girl.

I'm trying to find little bits of peace and happiness where ever I can - in the new boot camp gym I've been going to (even though it will severely affect my already dismal finances if I keep going there), in my box set of The Office (really though, Jim makes everything better) and in the Christmas lights my neighbors and I put up on the trailer to bring some kind of light to my dumpy dwelling.

I write all of this to confess where I'm at and ask for your prayers. Things are just really hard for me right now, and the holidays and impending darkness/cold of winter certainly don't help. Encouragement is very much appreciated, especially if you've experienced the exact situation I'm in. A lonely, confusion situation.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Make Me A Fool

Make me a fool
Take this away

Make me a fool
Shield my eyes

Wipe my tears
Wash my mind
Protect my heart

Make me a fool
I'm a living cliche





Today, I am bringing to light a recent struggle that has consumed me to an unhealthy degree. A struggle I'm embarrassed by, a struggle I never thought I'd have. But here I am, 30 years old and single, desiring a relationship more than ever.

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed myself noticing others. Couples in love, couples engaged, couples married. I'm noticing them and coveting what they have. I'm coveting their adorable photos and carefree smiles and kind words for each other.

I'm thinking of couples I know who very tangibly have what I want. They are living out Godly lives with Christ at the center, honoring each other and those around them. For this reason, I'm convinced that it's possible, yet when for me?

I'm looking at ring fingers. I'm trying to discern age. I'm browsing friends lists. I'm checking relationship statuses. And hating myself for doing so. Hating myself for being so distracted.

I'm resenting the in-between. I'm frustrated by the fact that seemingly every Christian man my age who I'd be interested in is married, and every single Christian man I'd be interested in is way too young for me. Guess this is the Bible belt, right?

I find myself praying for release from this nagging discontent. I've even asked God to trick me. Fool me into believing that you don't have someone for me, even if you do, just so my mind succumbs to the possibility of it never happening. Maybe I can be free if you fool me.

Maybe I am the fool. Maybe this is not "in my cards," as it were. If that's the case, please take away the desire completely. Force my gaze elsewhere, plant my feet where they are to be, just you and me, and not you and me and him.

I write this to encourage any other single woman who feels lonely, guilty, unworthy, confused and tired. I am with you. And He is still for us. I shake my fist at Him sometimes. I cry on my knees to Him sometimes. And He is still for us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Let's recap the past week, shall we?

My car started making a noise of death while driving 70mph on the highway. I brought it in for repair, and $450 unexpected dollars later, all that was done was airing away some brake dust and resurfacing my rotors.

I discovered that even though I'm making a slightly higher salary here and working more hours than I did in New Jersey, I'm actually taking home less pay than I was before moving. It's now been four years since I've been able to save any money whatsoever. Regardless, I truly love my job. It was just a major buzzkill to find this out, and I'll have to re-budget accordingly.

My neighbors and I have come across two gigantic dead mice right outside my trailer, as our extermination process continues. Three holes inside have been patched (one in my bathroom wall that was eaten through) and countless traps set. I have yet to sleep through an entire night here, and I run on fumes daily after hearing said rodents parade around inside my walls every evening at ungodly hours.

Today, I somehow ended up with a nail in my tire. Thank God my landlord's son and neighbor were able to plug it, and I pray the plug stays in because my tires are brand new, and I obviously can't handle another automotive expense.

On top of all this, there continue to be serious health concerns in my family that I of course can do nothing about, not even hug the person because for the first time in my life, I'm not a short drive/train ride away.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Some lovely things have happened in the past week too, such as beautiful photo shoots and shared laughter with coworkers. I just felt it necessary to pen these adventures down as I have been. I hope to one day look back and think nothing of this nonsense. I've only been in Georgia for a month and a half, and I feel like I've already dealt with a year's worth of junk, honestly.

What doesn't kill you, right? To be continued...

EDIT #1: Ooook. Can y'all please pray for me? If you read this blog post, you know the week I've already had. This morning, another tire (not the one we plugged) is totally flat. Can we like redo this whole week please? Or can I go on vacation or something?

EDIT #2: Jesus is so worthy of some praise right now! I can count on one hand the number of people I have on my side in Georgia (my neighbors and coworkers), because I don't have any other solid, established friendships yet. And *thank God* for them. I rarely ever ask for financial help; it just doesn't sit well with me, even if I'm in need. Without me asking, my neighbor paid for my tire patch + full tank of gas this morning, and my coworker is treating me to lunch today + pest control service for my resident mice. I am beyond grateful to the point of tears! I've been through so much in a short time and often feel very alone here, but through it all, God is faithful <3

EDIT #3: This also happened haha oh boy!

video

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Place Prepared

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?" -John 14:1-2 NIV

Jesus is talking about Heaven here, but I find myself applying the heart of these verses to my life right now. During worship at church yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the thought of God preparing a place for me in Georgia. He knew I would follow His lead. He could have orchestrated my job transfer then stepped back, leaving me to my own devices to figure out the rest.

But that's not what a good Father would do.

He prepared everything for me - from my vintage trailer, to my incredibly kind neighbors, to my joyful coworkers, to the friends I'm meeting, even to the little details in each day that He knows make me so happy, like freight trains and water towers and warehouses.

I can't help but be overcome with emotion by this! The God of the universe, the One who made the heavens and earth, loves me this much. Enough to take care of everything in advance and walk with me in the present toward my future with Him.

If you're wondering how I know Jesus is real, just look at my life. It's new, it's exciting, it's blessed - not by my own hand but only by His.

Take a moment to reflect on how God has prepared a place for you up to this point in your life. What do you think He might be preparing for your future?