Wednesday, July 30, 2014

a wee little tale of mine.

Once upon a time there was a young girl. She was a dreamer, and a collector of moments, words, thoughts, and feelings. She was brave and never understood what people meant when they talked about fear. She was almost jealous of everyone else, that they got to experience the feeling of fear while she didn't, but the way they talked about it reassured her that life was better without it. 

She didn't have any friends, only acquaintances, and she was constantly trying to figure out why. 
Recently, she had come to the conclusion that it was partially because they simply couldn't relate to her. At least, those few acquaintances that she had couldn't. Maybe someday someone would, but she had settled within herself that that day was a long ways off. 
For now, though, she lived with her dreams and her bravery and collected things as companions and was perfectly satisfied. 

One day as she was exploring the woods near her house, she stumbled upon an old box. As she did with all old things, the girl stopped to inspect this box. It was decorated with muddy leaves accidentally stuck onto it by what appeared to be a long time living in the woods. The box was small and light enough to be held in her arms, but would be hard to hide in the brush until she could come back later. Her options stood before her: leave the box in the open and risk it being found by another human or animal, or take it back with her and deal with others' curiosity. "First," she said to herself, "I should find a way to open this." The bottom appeared to be weakly attached to the sides, so she found a rough, flat pebble nearby to wedge into the corners and pry open the box with. 

Surprisingly, after only a minute of pressing and wiggling the rock into the corners and bottom edges of the box, the box fell apart in her hands. 
Pocketing the rock to add to her collection (she did, in fact, collect concrete objects as well as abstract ones), she carefully laid the contents of the box out on a nearby patch of sun. There was a small journal no bigger than her hand, a tarnished silver chain necklace, a tiny sand dollar that couldn't have been bigger than a quarter, and another box inside. The box was smaller, a bronzey-copper colored metal, and had engraved nature scenes on every side. 

She cautiously ran her fingers across the aged copper box and couldn't decide what to do next. She almost treasured the secret the box held more than she could treasure what might be inside it, and she had a suspicion that it was one of the many things in life that was best when accepted as-is. 

With that, she tucked the box into the crook of her elbow and headed back out of the woods, tracing for herself a new path (as she did every time she visited these woods). Before she reached the edge of the woods, the girl stepped out of her own mind just long enough to realize she had left the journal, necklace, and sand dollar back in the woods. She paused, unsure whether they were worth going back for or not. After all, she hadn't inspected the journal to see what, if anything, was written inside. However, after a few moments of deliberation she decided the box's mystery drawing her was stronger than that of the journal, and she would risk never knowing about it, if it meant she got time to sit secluded with the box and open it. She continued on her path out of the woods and to her house. 

Instead of heading to her room, though, she meandered with drifting thoughts to the barn. Precariously clenching the box under her right arm, she clambered up the ladder to her Space. It, of course, smelled like a barn, but welcomed her with the warm familiarity of a place she had spent many hours thinking and imagining. Upon reaching the top of the ladder, she felt around the dim space for her box of matches and lit the antique oil lamp. Though there were still several hours of daylight left, the barn kept the light out and she needed the lamp's light to see by, plus it made the small upper section of the barn seem more intimate and secretive. 

She was, for no reason, nervous that someone would come upon her and want to share in her box's secrets. This strange sensation, almost akin to fear, was one she rarely experienced and didn't know how to process. As she pulled the ladder up with her to ensure no one would disturb her, the girl got a sudden chill that trembled through her body and out her fingertips. Somehow she knew it was not a chill from the cool temperature outside or in the barn, but rather something related to the box. She sat Indian style and set this mysterious copper box on her crossed calves, holding it gingerly. That odd cold feeling had not left her when the chill did, and before the suspense of the closed box could even build up, she had opened it. 

For some reason she had expected the chill to dissipate when she opened the box, but it only took deeper hold. She looked down into the box, stunned. An abstract fog had come over her and she was in a daze, aware of what was happening but not understanding it. The box held only dried leaves, some partially crushed, at first glance. Dazedly pushing the leaves around in the box to see if there were any other contents, she found two heavy buttons as dark as black onyx. She picked them up and held them between thumb and forefinger, feeling a weight settle in her chest. There was something about these buttons that was changing her, something about them that was irresistible but needed to be resisted. 

In her daze, she decided these buttons belonged on her shirt, and she began the short trek down the ladder, out the barn, and across the backyard to her house. Once inside she slipped into her mother's closet, where the sewing table was kept, and pulled out a seam ripper, needle, and thread. Carefully using the seam ripper to cut the threads and remove two of her current shirt's buttons, she worked stealthily, acutely aware of any other noises in the house. Before too long, she had replaced her shirt's buttons with the new onyx buttons and was replacing the sewing tools in their storage drawer. 

She closed the closet door and traipsed back down to her room, peering out hallway windows as she passed them as if she were on the lookout for intruders in her yard. Though still dazed, she knew that this uncertainty and suspicion within her meant something was awry. "What if this box belongs to someone else and I'll get in trouble for taking it?" she pondered. "Or what if this odd feeling I got when I opened the box never goes away?" Her mind quickly created absurd scenarios that played out in her mind and made more "what if" questions spin about. 

She continued in her fog for the rest of the day and evening, unbothered by anyone else. After a night of restless sleep, she awoke the next morning and headed to school. As usual, she kept to herself and silently observed her acquaintances engage in their boisterous greeting and social interactions. Suddenly she felt a small finger tapping her on the shoulder- but surely she must be mistaken, no one talked to her at school- and turned around. 

There stood a classmate of hers- a frail boy with dark circles under his eyes but a hopefulness on his face that made the rest of him seem happy too. 
"Hi, Alexandra."
She was shocked. It had been so long since she had heard her name spoken, especially by someone other than her parents, that she didn't quite know what to say in return. 
A "hello" eeked out somehow, and she tried to follow it up with a polite smile, though she was nervous to engage in conversation. 
"How are you today? You seem different. What did you do this weekend?"
Before she could even respond, he had continued with his enthusiastic but unobtrusive conversation. He didn't seem to be bothered by her silence and continued jabbering on and asking unanswered questions as they strode to their school room. Once inside, he finally quieted and turned thoughtfully toward her, offering one last remark: "You just seem afraid and I hope everything is ok." And with that, he slid into his desk and nodded solemnly before breaking eye contact. 

It was like she had been walking through autumn without realizing, then suddenly stepped on a dry and crunchy leaf. She looked around her and became aware, suddenly, that she WAS afraid. 
THIS IS FEAR! She thought, triumphantly at first, then with less excitement. 
This is fear. I dread conversation, I have a suspicious feeling of being followed, I can barely find words to express myself anymore. Once she realized it was fear she was finally experiencing, the fog began to lift, but still felt like it was hanging at eyebrow-level, like a hair that gets stuck in your eyelash and somehow impairs a great deal of your vision. 

She scooted through the school day, as she usually did, paying little attention to anything but her own dancing thoughts. 
There were many new thoughts, now, that included fear. It brought a darkness on her mind and day that was discomforting and hard to see past, but she quickly learned- as she assumed most humans had by this time in their lives- to push these fearful thoughts to the side and focus on other things. 
Soon enough, the school day was over and she found her frail- dare she say- friend! walking out beside her. 

"Hey there. How'd you do with the math stuff today? I'm not too good at math but today I did ok."
She looked at him curiously as he jabbered on, oblivious to his own eagerness in conversation. He seemed to be free from fear, as she used to be, or at least in this moment he was. She interrupted him timidly, finally gaining back the bravery to speak to this new friend. 
"Why did you decide to talk to me today?"
"You looked scared."
"That's it?"
"Well. Yeah..."
He hesitated, his eyes drifted away from her and caught on the black buttons, then darted back up to her, his face suddenly alert. 
"You never seemed scared before until today."

Surely, she thought, he couldn't really tell the difference. After all, she couldn't even remember his name (and had been avoiding having to use it because of that fact), so there was no way he had paid enough attention to her to notice something like that. 
They walked on in silence for a ways, Alexandra turning these questions over in her mind, and The Boy Whose Name She Couldn't Remember contentedly kicking pebbles in his path. When they reached the end of his driveway- it was just off the main road- they stopped and faced each other. 

Almost as if he had been waiting for her to look him in the eyes before he let his words spill out, suddenly the lock had turned and he whispered urgently: "I know those buttons. They were mine once." 
Puzzled, she stood in the silence, in the hopeful yet somber embrace of his dark eyes. He continued, "You found the box, didn't you?"
"Yes," was the only answer she could find. All the explanations or questions that might have tumbled from her lips sat locked up, too big to exit her body. 
"We should talk about it. Will your parents let you stay here for a little while?"
She nodded her response, and he led her through the chain-link fence into his backyard, to a rickety swing set. 

They sat in more silence, once again shoulder to shoulder (she usually found it easiest to talk to people in this position), and swung lazily, peeling off the rust of the swing's chain. The weight that had settled in her chest yesterday, she realized, had fully returned. There was a tightness in the pit of her stomach, a tremor starting in her body, a chill that, like yesterday, was caused by something deeper than temperatures. 
It was obvious to her that this was fear: the weighted down feeling that meant she could no longer fly whenever she wished. The knowledge that anytime, without warning, something could happen to knock her back down. 

In attempt to throw the weight off she found the energy to strongly ask, "Would you tell me about the buttons?" and shift her head ever-so-slightly to see his reaction. 
He smiled, which surprised her, inhaled, and let his words flow out with his exhalation: "Well, like I said, they were mine. I found them just as you did, in a box abandoned in the middle of nowhere. For me, that was by a river I was wading in during a family vacation. For you, it was the woods, right?" 
Again, he didn't stop for her response. "I don't know where they come from, but I think they pass from person to person. At least from what I can tell, they do. After me, they passed to Cora- you know Cora, from school? She's a year older than us. She found them where I had buried them, far off the hiking trail at the nature center. They made her afraid too, but she won't talk about it. She almost never got them off her shirt, but when she finally did she didn't recover like I did. I never see her anymore, except at school, and she ignores me there."

The information was almost too much to process. Though she was a dreamer, this current Button Owner had never been one for mystics or fairy tales- she much preferred realistic dreams. And this, well, it simply couldn't be real. 
"You mean the buttons stick to your shirt?"
"Didn't you find it weird that you wanted to sew them on in the first place? Yes, of course they stick!" She was agitated that he said this as though she was dumb for not having thought about it. 
"They're made of black onyx, Alexandra, and of fear."
She almost laughed at him. This frail boy must be trying to pull a joke on her. 
"Made of fear?"
"Yes. I know it's weird. But try to cut them off and you'll know."
"Fine, give me scissors."
Without a word, he stepped off the swing and jogged inside, returning seconds later with a small pair of trimming scissors. 

She tried, as he watched, to cut off the buttons, but it was like threading the eye of a needle- every time she thought she had it ready to snap, then closed the scissors and realized it had done nothing. After struggling with it, she looked up at him helplessly, knowing he must be right. 
His only response was a pitying smile.
"What did you do to cut yours off?" She asked hopefully, sure that there was some way to do it.
"I loved."
"I loved. It's the only thing that beats fear, or at least that's what I'd always heard. So I tried it and it worked."
"What do you mean?" she questioned. Once again, she was befuddled and sure that this was all an odd dream. 
"I just decided it was worth a shot to love people more. It was funny cause at first my mom thought it was weird. She didn't know what I was doing or why but she just said I was acting differently and she didn't like it- I was a kid, I needed to go have fun and play and not be so serious." 
Things started clicking in her head as he spoke. 
"When I started trying to love more, I just looked around at what I liked about people- even strangers. They help each other, even when it isn't convenient. I like that. They say good things, even when it takes some effort to find a good thing to say (our teacher does that one a lot- have you noticed how she only says good stuff? It makes you feel good, and smart, and like you can do it, even if you said something wrong at first). So then I started doing it. Most people didn't notice or care, but it made me feel better because I wasn't thinking about myself as much anymore. After a few days of it, the buttons just fell off." 
The eyebrow-level fog was all at once melted away.

"I don't know, maybe that wasn't the key to it, but I told Cora the same thing and it made hers fall off too. She decided she didn't like it after her buttons fell off though, I guess cause it was too much work. I think that's why she doesn't talk to me anymore."
Alexandra nodded. It did sound like a lot of work, especially for someone like herself who kept away from people for the most part. 

But this weight in her chest was making it hard to breathe, she was constantly afraid, and she had recognized how tired she was of keeping to herself. Maybe it would be nice to love. Or maybe it would hurt. It sounded like a risk, all the change and involvement with people, and it didn't sound easy. 

"It isn't easy," he said, as if he had read her mind, "and it isn't always fun because it makes you really tired and people don't really love back much. But it's good."
They were still swinging and picking at the rust, and as Alexandra thought, she pumped her legs back and forth, swinging higher and higher, until it made the rickety swingset jump and she was feeling her favorite sensation: the apex of the swing. The moment when the swing reaches the top of its journey and pauses, weightless, suspended in a laughter-silvered space only visited by happy children and relieved adults. It lasts milliseconds, or less, before gravity pulls the swing's occupant back down to reality, but the part Alexandra liked best about this sensation was that even gravity couldn't stop it from recurring. 

She swung, leaving her newfound fears and worries at the bottom of the swingset and revisiting the sacred high place as much and as quickly as she could. He must have known she needed it, or had a mutual love for that weightless sensation, because he let her swing and didn't interrupt her occasional laughter.

On the whim that maybe, possibly, loving people could feel something like this, she slowed herself and then stopped. Twisting her swing to face him, Sir Frail-but-Hopeful, she pushed past the fear before she had time to let it build and spat her words into the warm space between them. 

"I don't remember your name. Or Cora. I never pay attention to anyone so I don't know if I can love but I've got to try because I can't stand this weight in my chest and tightness in my stomach any longer. I don't listen in school so I didn't know that our teacher always said good things. But I'm going to try. I'm going to start here and say thank you. You're my first friend and I am glad you let me be silent sometimes. I'm glad my first friend is someone who knows how to love. That's the best I have and I'm sorry there isn't more and I'm afraid it isn't enough but I'm hoping it might be."
Her words didn't just hang there, as she expected them to, but seemed to waft around her and warm her. For the first time since opening the box, Alexandra felt warm again. 

The boy with hopefulness in his face looked at her and said, "It is enough. And my name is Isaac."
Relief danced around. Warmth existed once again. 

Her parents would be wondering where she was, so Alexandra took the relief and warmth with her as she silently hugged Isaac and walked home. It wouldn't be easy, but it would make life weightless again, so she started, with every step, thinking up ways to love. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

weblog the fourth: in which she empathizes and quiets down

I've recently become obsessed with Colbie Caillat's new song "Try" (you should definitely go watch the video here and let your life be changed). Basically it's about all the things we do to try to make people like us, when in the end we really don't have to try, or throw ourselves at things that mean nothing. We find beauty in being human, being vulnerable, and being who we were created to be; that is enough. It's a message that I struggle so much with accepting, and one that I love seeing other people encourage, so of course I'm absolutely in love with the song.
The other day as I was driving to Mississippi, I was listening to one of my all-time favorite musical soundtracks: Matilda. (yes, it's a musical and it's so much better than the movie. if you don't know about it, educate yourself here and you're welcome for me introducing you to your new love). There's this song titled 'Loud', in which Matilda's mother tells her that being her weird, quiet self isn't good enough.
"Oh, no one's going to listen if you don't stand out!
No one's going to listen if you don't shout out!
No one's going to care if you don't care!
So go and put some highlights in your hair!
'Cause you've gotta highlight what you've got!
Even if what you've got is not a lot!
The less you have to sell, the harder you sell it!
The less you have to say, the louder you yell it!
The dumber the act, the bigger the confession!
The less you have to show, the larger you dress it!

You've gotta be loud!
Give yourself permission to shine,
Stand out from the crowd!..."

In the musical, that number is over-the-top and gaudy and, of course, loud. But it points out an invaluable truth: there is always going to be someone to tell you that you aren't enough. You have to yell, you have to always stand out, always be perfect, whatever it may be. Sometimes that voice is your own.
But I love how "Loud" is juxtaposed with another song, one that Matilda sings, called "Quiet".

"But I wonder if inside my head
I'm not just a bit different from some of my friends...
And when everyone shouts like they seem to like shouting
The noise in my head is incredibly loud!...
And it's burning inside me, but usually fades.
But it isn't today!
And the heat and the shouting. And my heart is pounding.
And my eyes are burning. And suddenly everything, everything is...
Like silence, but not really silent. Just that still sort of quiet.
Like the sound of a page being turned in a book.
Or a pause in a walk in the woods.
Like silence, but not really silent. Just that nice kind of quiet.
Like the sound when you lie upside down in your bed.
Just the sound of your heart in your head.

I'm sorry, I'm not quite explaining it right.
the noise becomes anger and the anger is light
And though the people around me, their mouths are still moving, the words they are forming cannot reach me anymore!
And it is quiet, and I am warm like I've sailed into the eye of the storm."

And it's at that point that Matilda realizes she is comfortable just being herself. Being quiet, thinking deep thoughts on her own, and being different from what people tell her she should be. 
I am so often the girl in the Colbie Caillat song trying too hard. 
I am Matilda's mother, telling others to be louder and flaunt it and be selfish. 
I am Matilda, succumbing to these commands that myself and others give me, then suddenly realizing I prefer the quiet. I prefer not wearing makeup. I prefer reading books. I prefer having mosquito-bitten legs from summer evening adventures. I like myself the way I am and don't feel the need to have a thigh gap or bigger boobs or better hair. 

And though the world's motto is often, "No one's gonna listen if you don't shout. No one's gonna care if you don't care," I have to disagree.
I think that people listen most when you whisper. When you empathize. When you're there. When you do life with them. 
I think that people care most when they know you care. When they see you constantly being the one who cares more, and they realize that you have some battle scars, but empathizing and caring has made your life gilded with so much more hope and bravery. When you make them realize that being who you were made to be, and not trying so hard, and not shouting so loudly is the most brilliant way to live, because then you can be the person YOU want to be, not the person everyone tells you that you should be. 

My hero, Hannah Brencher, founder of MoreLoveLetters, shared her thoughts on this in today's Monday Morning Mail: "I will naturally expect the best out of you. And maybe you'll let me down. But I will expect the best out of you again. That has nothing to do with how I hope you will show up for me, specifically. It has to do with how badly I want you to show up for your own life. That's where my expectations lie-- in the hope that you will see at the end of your longer days that you were made for so much more than an "okay" life...
People show up. And they eventually stop listening to their own fear. And they care too much. And they are willing to move heaven and earth for other people. And I don't think it is our job to step in and tell them to stop. Maybe it's just our job to watch, listen, follow, learn, and question: what makes a person do life like that? It might be great expectations, or it might just be a fear that is so big, it swallows all the other fears combined: if you don't step out into the life you want, no one else will ever do it for you. If you don't become the person you've always wanted to be, that person will never exist and the world will never know what it missed."

weblog the third: in which she reads a book that changes things

This leads me into my next big news, about a life-changing book and a funeral for a dream.
Back in April, I began reading Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, because it had sat unread on my shelf for several years and I was curious. So I began reading this book that’s basically journal entries and prayers and wisdom from her college-aged years, when she first met and fell in love with Jim Elliot (the missionary to Ecuador’s Quichiua Indians, whom the movie The End of the Spear is about). The book is a lot less about physical purity than I assumed it would be, honestly, and much more about the waiting process God called her to- and calls many of us to- in that time of her life. One specific chapter discussed her realization that God was killing her to lay down her dreams of falling in love with and marrying Jim, without the promise of them ever being resurrected.

Earlier in the book, she quoted that great man Oswald Chambers, “If I hold spiritual blessings or friendship for myself, they will corrupt me, no matter how beautiful they are. I have to pour them out before the Lord, give them to Him in my mind, though it looks as if I am wasting them, even as David poured the water out on the sand, to be instantly sucked up.” She went on to say for herself, “God gives us material for sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice makes little sense to others, but when offered to him is always accepted. What was the ‘point’ in God’s asking Abraham for the sacrifice of his beloved son, Isaac? The story has often been attacked as ‘pagan’ and has been grossly misunderstood. Our offerings to Him may very likely be seen as senseless or even fanatical, but He receives them. Jesus received the precious ointment from the worshipping woman, although those present thought it a foolish waste… I have tried to explain it sometimes to people who are lonely and longing for love. ‘Give it to Jesus,’ I say. The loneliness itself is material for sacrifice. The very longings themselves can be offered to Him who understands perfectly.”

It was at that point that I began realizing what God was preparing in my heart, but wasn’t sure how it would be played out. I knew I was soon to be giving up something, but as I was still unsure what that something was, I continued on my merry way.

One night as I was reading, God slayed me. I was reading and pondering and before I could even process my own thoughts, He slipped in with them and said, "You have to sacrifice London."
and I lost it.
Weeping. slight hyperventilation. inability to process.
Not London, God. You gave me that dream. It was Yours, it is what You made me for. Why would I need to kill it now?
and doggone it, wouldn't you know He reminded me of Abraham. Now I know I wasn't sacrificing a child or anything, but I quite understood Abraham in that moment. This thing that God promised me and gave me many years ago as a hope for my future was now being taken from me, and I was being commanded to kill it. 
It was as I read the words, "How would we learn to submit to the authority of Christ, if we had nothing to submit?" that the truth was pounded home. This was my thing to submit. London was what was standing between myself and my Christ.
And I must be honest, my first answer was "NO." 
I requested advice from a couple close friends, and got exactly the words back that I didn't want to hear. 
"I know it's hard, but you know you have to do it, Becca."
So I told God my honest answer, "I want to say no, God. I want to tell you that you can never have London back, that it's mine and not Yours. But we know how that would go and how miserable I would be. So let me just say I'm not sure yet. I can't give you an absolute yes right now. I want to be able to, I want to have the faith to know that when I kill this, you will bring beautiful fruit out of that ground it falls into. But I don't trust that yet. I'm not certain that You will handle this in a way that satisfies me so right now I'm just saying I don't know. It's not a yes or a no, but it's honest and it's from my heart and I hope that's good enough for you."
And wouldn't you know that in just a few days, He tenderly knocked on my heart again and held His hand out for me to place London in the palm of His hand. And I did it tearfully and a large part of me went with it. 
But that's what happens when things die. When something or someone you love dies, part of you dies too. Those memories and hopes can never be made alive again the same way they once were. You can only hope that as you lay that dead thing in the ground and cover it with unworthy soil and water it with your own bitter tears, that one day, some better, more beautiful and exquisite fruit will arise from the ground. You can only trust that whoever is laying that dead thing in the ground knows what they're doing and knows how to make life out of dead things. Because you know someday you're really going to need it.

But for now, London has died. The part of my heart that held onto hopes of returning and living happily ever after has been given away to Someone that I really hope knows life the way I think He does. I water the ground where that dead dream lies, and I wait. 
Not because I love living in America that much, or because I love being with my family that much, or because I love doing life with my friends and Casey that much, or even because I love Jesus that much. 
But because Jesus has that much of me. He owns, controls and has more of me that anything or anyone else has. So when He tells me to kill this dream that was birthed not too long ago, I know that He has a purpose that is more intoxicatingly wonderful than I could hope or dream or understand. In the meantime, while I talk about this thing in my life that was once so alive but is now dead, He is making me.
Making me: to know Him, to know I need Him, to know I love him, to dream of Him alone. He is making me fully His.

(click to continue to weblog the fourth)

weblog the second: in which she tells you about the boy

**200th blog post, WHOOP WHOOP!

So now we get to the big things, the blog-worthy things.
FIRST: Casey.
Y’all, he deserves his own book. We’ve been officially dating for three months and already God has used that guy’s heart to change me so much and it’s been so beautiful. For those of you that don’t know the back story, let me lay it out for you, all sweet-like.
            In December, this freshman kid started occasionally tweeting at me. We’d met in October (he doesn’t remember meeting me. HE DOESN’T REMEMBER MEETING ME. How’s that for a self-confidence booster? Hehe) but it didn’t go beyond adding each other on the various forms of social media. 
Then December happened. 
I didn’t notice anything at first, then he started chatting me on QuizUp. 
Yes, the trivia app. Yes, it has a chat function. Yes, that is how Casey tried to talk to me. 
Hilarious, I know! He volunteered to get coffee with me and listen to me cry and blubber about my life (seriously, his words were “I volunteer as tribute!” when I mentioned the fact that every time I started talking about my life, I turned into a puddle of indiscernible tears). 
He asked me for my number, I turned him away. 
He asked me to go get frozen yogurt, I turned him away. 
He tried to flirt with me, I told him to stop (literally happened). 
Guys, I was AWFUL to him at first. Granted, he wasn’t like asking me out, they were all just pure-hearted attempts at friendship, but I continued giving him the cold shoulder. And as it turned out, the boy was/IS tenacious. One day he sent me a message saying “Tomorrow. Cups. 7:30.” And WOW WHAT DO YOU KNOW, I WAS SUPPOSED TO WORK LATE THAT NIGHT BUT MY BOSS HAD MIRACULOUSLY RESCHEDULED THAT CLASS AND I GOT OFF WORK AT 7. Not kidding. I had no excuses, no reasons to say no. 
So with a sigh, I responded that I would be there. Mostly in the hopes of making him realize what a loser I am so he would go away (it didn’t work). We coffee’d and talked and laughed and God put his little pinky in my heart and stirred. I drove away thinking, “Huh. Weird. That wasn’t too bad. I think I might actually like being that kid’s friend.” HA! 
Shortly thereafter, I gave him my number and we started texting- or, as my twin calls it, BATTLE TEXTING (meaning it’s basically nonstop and you’re trying to be the fastest responder). That obviously went well and about a month and a half later, after movie nights and evenings spent in the practice room playing piano and walks through the brick streets and SO MANY DOLLARS spent at Taco Bell, we sat in my car after making clover crowns at Taco Bell and I finally spewed the question, “Is it ok if I like you?” into the silence. I thought I was going to die or throw up or die throwing up, because just a few days earlier when I had confronted Casey, he had sworn up and down that he had no feelings for me (then proceeded to tell me things would be different if we were closer in age [we’re really less than two years apart, but he was a freshman and I was a first-time senior at the time, so it seemed like a huge age gap] which contradicted everything he had said and left me absolutely perplexed). Luckily, that night in my car, his response was, “Yeah. Same question.” And everything that had confused me didn’t really matter any more. HE LIKED ME, which was kind of a first for me. So after lots of “what are we?” discussions, and boundaries talks, and me freaking out over every little thing, we decided to officially start dating. And now, Casey is my very best guy friend, one of my overall favorite people, and a person God is constantly using to challenge and convict and grow me. and it sometimes stinks but that moment flees and I realize how AWESOME it is.

Guys, I wish you knew all the other little things that led up to that that I can’t fit in this blog post and find too sacred to be flung into the WWW for anyone to find. All the other words that were and weren’t spoken. All the conversations I had with my best friends catching them up on my latest Casey story. All the laughter. All the perfect (but WEIRD) timing that God so evidently worked out to bring us together. It’s crazy, and lovely, and one of my favorite seasons of life so far. Now, Casey is at camp being all counselor-ey and lifeguard-ey and we get about 24 hours once a week to talk (10 of which we spend asleep) and it’s far from ideal, but it is perfectly imperfect. It’s obviously God’s exact plan, and I love that, and it makes it all so very worth the wait. 

Neither Casey nor I know what God has planned for our futures. We're both in the "maybe this will last, maybe it won't" phase right now (which I think is actually a stellar phase to be in), but I will say that I am so pumped about doing life with Casey for as long as God lets me. Whether that's only a few more weeks, or it's years, or whatever... It's gonna be good. Up to this point, God has hand His hands ALL up in this mess, and I know He will continue to do so. And as my spirit always tells me, "Wherever He is working is where I want to be." So, since right now God is working to share heaps of truth and love with me through Casey, that's where I want to be. 

weblog the first: in which she catches you up and gives up 'busy'.

Where do I even begin after so many days and weeks and months (maybe not that long, but it feels like forever!) of not blogging? I obviously survived spring semester. MEANING I AM ONE SEMESTER AWAY FROM GRADUATION, YEE-HAW!
In the meantime I managed to smash my finals to pieces, get un-hired from the job I have been interviewing for (and planning on) since JANUARY, move home, get re-offered the job, decline the job, go back to work at my old gym teaching mostly preschool classes (my dream come true!), and have an oddly fantastic summer of humdrum and few excitements. Let me be that selfish person no one likes to read from and talk about all my minute life details for a quick minute (if you’d prefer to skip them, please move on to another blog post, heh) :
A best friend got married, another best friend weds in two weeks, and- oh yeah- I started dating someone :D (we’ll get to that in a minute). I went to the beach with friends (first no-adults-present beach trip and it was so lovely and surprisingly contained very little alcohol), and to Atlanta a couple times with my family. My boyfriend (Casey) came to my hometown and hung out for a few days. I saw my best friend off to Peru for a month, my brother off to Ecuador for five weeks, Casey off to camp for two months, and another best friend off to Ecuador for two months. For the first time in years, I didn’t watch fireworks on the Fourth of July. My little brother started dating someone that I actually like. I reinvented my iTunes playlist and committed new songs to my heart. I continued working on my New Years’ Resolutions and stopped biting my nails at one point. Sadly, that didn’t last very long. I worked on my spiritual and mental discipline and became accountability partners with my dear cousin. I wrote lots of letters. I moved into my first apartment with my dear college roomie (the most recent one {oh, and SHE started dating this wonderful guy that is so great for her and I love him so much and he loves her so much and it’s just splendid}). I started counting calories, eating healthily, working out, and cut out cokes. I started growing my hair out and tanning and biking and walking and actually feeling good about myself for the first time in too long. Preschoolers -and Casey’s campers that I don’t even know- stole my heart. I spent a lot of time on Netflix, watching HGTV, reading, drinking coffee, and laughing and crying with my family. I washed my car with my nephew and taught my other nephew to wink (almost). I went to antique malls, bought professional teacher clothes, and went to see movies in the theatre for the first time in months. I poured my heart out to my brother, my best friends, my parents, my boyfriend, my sister… basically I poured my heart out to as many people as I could because it’s good for me and for our relationship. I became obsessed with Hannah Brencher and the mission and hope I will be forever. I lapsed into futile, depressing, impure thought patterns and had to be saved (more than once). I held a funeral for one of my heart’s greatest dreams (also getting to that one later). I read a book that changed my life. I haven’t touched a piano in months and it has been superb. I bought a ridiculously soft blanket and fell in love with it. I worked beside adults and kids whose lives are absolutely devastating wrecks and am still working through how to process that, how to love them, how to pray for them, and how to convey how much I care about these people that I really barely know.

ALL THAT AND SO MUCH MORE! It’s been INSANE but in the lovely, un-busy way. 

I’m boycotting busyness this summer, and over my life in general. I'm tired of competing against my friends to see who is busiest, who has "too much going" to hang out, and the like. While I plan on being real about my commitment level (or lack thereof) to social activities, I refuse to use "busy" as an excuse. Maybe "making lesson plans" or "exhausted" will pop up frequently this fall, but I'm also going to be investing in people. Maybe those people are only my students, my colleagues, and my roommate, and I won't be very able to hang out with people that I am not forced to see. But I plan on trying dang hard to make time for people at every opportunity. I'm not using "busyness" as my crutch for being selfish and uninvested anymore.

(click to continue to weblog the second)

welcome to midnight.

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