Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spilt Milk

Well, as you may, or may not have noticed, I updated my FB status the other day to read something along the lines of:

"My day, my week, my weekend, ruined. This seriously cannot be happening to me."

Ok, so that's exactly what it said. Now, you may be wondering: "What on earth could have been so bad to ruin an experience in Australia?!" Many dear friends even commented and messaged me letting me know that I was in their prayers and at the time, I felt like they were well deserved. So here's what happened....

On Wednesday's, my friend Gini and I always make something special for dinner. We always stop at Cole's (the grocery store) on our way home from school that day since we usually decide what we feel like last minute. Before meeting Gini on campus, I always listen to my iPod. It's always in my wristlette because it's he most perfect fit since it seems I rarely have pockets. This week, Gini bought the groceries for dinner that we would later split, and I bought another box of baked cheese crackers because they are my new favorite afternoon snack. We stopped in the self check-out, as usual. But unlike usual, I had some change to pay for the box of crackers as opposed to using my debit card. In order to get the change out of my wristlette, I took out my iPhone and set it on the counter. As I paid, I looked down and thought to NOT let yourself forget that, because I know that's something you would do. I wasn't in a rush, so I wasn't too worried about it, but as I was trying to stuff my change back in my purse, grab my receipt, and crackers a line formed and I felt rushed and in the mix of it all, I just grabbed everything and left. As soon as we made it outside, I opened my box of crackers and snacked while we waited for the train. We then made dinner as usual, ate, and got ready to go out for a little while with our friends.

When I got back later that night, I got ready for bed, turned off the fan and lights and laid down. After a few moments, I realized I needed to see what time my alarm was set for so I reached over where I usually put my phone when I get home from school...and it wasn't there. So I got up and checked my backpack. And it wasn't there either. I proceeded to empty all of my drawers, threw the papers on my desk on the floor and then emptied my backpack again and it wasn't anywhere. I started thinking back, as fast as I could, to the last time I used it and it was right before I met Gini. I took it out to pay for the crackers at Cole's and remembered looking at it thinking, do NOT leave that. And then that guy came up right behind us and I just wanted to leave and we left and....we left. I had left it. I knew I did. That was the last time I had seen it.

So I got redressed and ran to Cole's. Yes, at 2 am. Luckily, they're open 24/7, and I've never understood why, but I couldn't have been more thankful for that. The whole walk over there, which was quite a few blocks and mostly sketchy considering the time of night and the fact that pubs were closing down, I just kept having flashbacks of the first time. My ruined 19th birthday. The panic and the disappointment and worst of all, having to tell people that I was so irresponsible. And then I started walking past groups of drunks in the alleys, ignoring cat calls, and with my security/rape whistle tight in my hand, I just started to pray. The conversation kind. And I prayed to stay calm and focused and I prayed that I wouldn't get mugged on my way or jumped and stabbed in one of these alleys. Ridiculous? Yes and no, you know how silly I can be sometimes.

When I finally made it, I just asked if anyone had turned in a phone, which they hadn't. Tears started breaking in the corners of my eyes and we talked about security cameras on the self-check out, but they said I'd have to come back at 8:30 to see it. I walked outside, I sat on the curb and I just let my face fall into my hand s and I cried. Just when I thought I was becoming more responsible, I start making freshman mistakes. The thought of having to tell my mom and my sister...again, was painful. I just let myself sit there for a few minutes before I started walking back. My plan was just to not go to sleep. To stay up and get ready for the day, make breakfast, and be there promptly and professionally at 8:30 am. So I stopped at the Hub (city campus computer lab building place), and got on FB, updated my status, checked my email, and then encouragement hit. Friends were commenting on my status and sending messages and letting me know that whatever happened, it would be ok. I had their prayers. I felt even more sick. But this sick wasn't just any guilt sickness, it was the serious kind of guilt sickness.

I live in a world of wristlettes and iPhones and MacBooks. Trains and daily groceries. The other day, Megsy was telling me about how sucky classes have been this semester and that finding a silver lining was getting to be really hard. My reply? At least there aren't bombs going off outside the window as she was trying to do homework. Jokingly, yes, but seriously. There are people in so much more need than me and a small piece of technology. Even if my entire life was on it. Which made me realize something very important about myself....that's not very good. Yes, I'm say the least. I've never really thought of it as a problem, but too much of anything can be hazardous...including myself. Especially myself.

I realized that I spill milk, I don't just cry, but I lay down in it, throw a temper-tantrum, and then get up-soaked in milk, and walk to the grocery store to ask them why me. And then I wear a milk stained shirt around so everyone knows just how not perfect I am. I'm doing it right now. Airing my dirty laundry.

I'm finding it harder and harder to find a place in between. To live in the tension of 2 lives. Either I am as honest as I can be, so that I don't trick myself into believing I'm someone I'm not, or I just stop. I stop spilling the most intimate parts of me and waving them around like I surrender. I just don't know what else to do. And I'm so young to feel like I live in a crisis for Christ, when I have my entire life ahead of me still. I haven't hit anything close to hardships yet but I feel stuck. Stuck in the middle with you.

On top of that, I wasn't entirely surprised that I had lost my phone, again...because like I said, I was waiting for the plug to get pulled on the fairytale I've been living. And when all this happened, I knew it had been coming.

The rest of the story?

I left the hub after about 30 minutes, now making it 3 am. I walked back up to Brown Street and decided to throw in the towel, and go to sleep. I figured out how to set the alarm on my Australian phone and checked and emptied and moved everything one more time and then fell into my bed. After what seemed like just a short period of time, because it was, I could hear a buzzing. I thought it was an awful trick my subconscious was playing on me. And then I heard it...Bruno Mars singing to me as he does every morning and on this particular morning at 6 am. Of course, I jumped up and started ransacking my room again, homework papers flying everywhere before I realized it was in my backpack. And there it was, letting me know it was time to get up.

I'm honestly not sure how it happened. I checked my backpack 3 times. Twice by completely emptying the contents onto my bed and yet there it was, as if nothing had happened at all. You can think I'm crazy, or that I didn't thoroughly check it, but why would I risk my life at 2 am to go to the grocery store if I wasn't 1000% sure it wasn't in my room. Oh well.

The point is this, I am the "ye of little faith." I have been looking for something to go wrong, instead of just letting things happen. I had come to the conclusion that my life and trip was ruined over something as small as a telephone. I was so convinced that God couldn't just let my life be, that anything could have happened, a paper-cut, and I would have acted hysterically. If I spend my life focusing on all the bad things that happen (or in this case, didn't even happen), I won't notice the amazing things that come along as well. I'll never let myself fully enjoy anything if I continue to focus on what could go wrong and not fully put my faith in God.

I'm not entirely sure what I was supposed to learn from this experience. But these are my thoughts. I guess that's just me. Maybe someday, I'll look back and read this and know exactly what I gained from it. As for today, I'm just glad that Bruno Mars will continue to wake me up in the morning and that there aren't bombs going off outside my window.

I love you. As much as ever. Which is more than usual because of all the oceans it has to span to get to where you are.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sundae, Sunday

Hello there friend! It's another rainy day here in Newcastle. Not much going why not blog?

I don't have a great deal to share today. Just a thought that came to me earlier this week. It's not anything new I suppose, but I found a better way to explain the sudden change. And what better way to describe it than with delicious desserts :))

I realized after my post, I made it sound as though I might sound like an alcoholic. Not true. I also realized I gave off the wrong impression when it comes to drinking. I don't think it's wrong. But that could be an entire post in itself, so I'll save it for when it's a more pressing issue. No, this is about something else. This is for lent. It's just about giving something up. Certainly, it should be something that means a lot to me...but this doesn't. What I do think, is that it may be getting in the way of my focus and this is the best way I can put it.

God brought me here. He blessed me with this trip and I have absolutely no idea why. None whatsoever. I had no idea why I went to LSU last summer either, but after the trip, I realized what a better person I was for it. I look back on my blogs and I'm inspired by who I was last summer. I didn't drink at all then and yet, I made amazing friends with similar goals who were inspired by me as well. If I didn't share anything else, I shared my love of life and my joy for simple things like jumping pictures and that left a bigger impression than I've left here in the month and a half that I've had.

So the at the base of this sundae is a split banana for my trip. And then He piled on ice cream of the good fortune I've had with funding and support. And then he poured on chocolate and caramel syrups for the luck in finding an affordable and mostly nice place to stay. And the nuts are the friends I've made since I've been here. And the whip cream is the constant support I'm now getting from friends and family back home. And the cherry on top? Nothing seems to be going wrong for me.

I feel like I have a very specific purpose for my life. Everyday I feel like I've been given a gift in the fact that I'm completely in tact. I didn't wake up to ruins or to the aftermath of an earthquake or tsunami. God has entrusted something with me. A plan. An ice cream sundae plan. I don't think that drinking is wrong, but I do think there is something wrong with making stupid decisions when drinking. I usually don't, but that doesn't mean it's too late to start. So what if I was the one making bad decisions with this gift? What if I took this spectacular ice cream sundae God made especially for me and I threw it in the dirt?

I feel like that's what I would be doing if I let anything cloud my judgment. I don't want to miss any opportunity I may be given. I don't want to skip any steps of this plan or process, because then it just won't be right. Does that make sense? If God has a specific plan for me and why I'm on the other side of the world as we speak, then why would I be so selfish as to make this about me. What I want to do. How I want to spend my time. I can't. That'd be rude. That'd be taking a gift and throwing it in the dirt. I asked to be here and I don't think He just does things to do them. There's a plan here.

I hope that clears things up. I hope you see the ice cream sundaes that God has made for you for the exact place that you are in your life. I hope that you see the banana, ice cream, syrups, nuts, whipped cream and cherry on top of your life and just devour it. That's why He made it for you. Not to look at until it melts, but to enjoy it the way He intended you to.

God loves sweets. And so do I. And I love you. And so does God.
Have a spectacular, spectacular week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Honestly though, I should just go to sleep. It's 11:21 on Sunday night and I have to get up to do laundry before class, but I won't be able to sleep if I don't confess right this second.

In case you haven't been reading lately, I'm in Australia. I've been here about a month and half and it's been fantastic. I live near the beach. I can take the train to school. My classes are manageable. And I've made some pretty good friends! All in all, I'm living a pretty top notch life these days.

This weekend I went to Surfest at a local beach and laid out all day. I play in the waves and dry off in the sun. Tonight I made enchiladas for dinner (finally), I had a cookie for desert with a glass of milk. I cleaned my room and showered. I painted my nails. Then I got on the computer to waste some time before going to bed. After exhausting Facebook and email, I thought I'd check up on my blog.

Since I had free time, I thought I'd read through some old posts. I read about when I found out I was coming here and about my internships later this year. I read about my mom. I read about church. I read about flowers. I read my very first post. And then I read what I posted on my birthday. All of a sudden I remember why I started blogging and I couldn't be more thankful for having this reminder here.

My blog has always been great to let out all I've been feeling. To share what I've been thinking. To share what God has been doing in my life. But now, this blog and I have taken our relationship to a whole new level. It grounded me. I read these blogs and I admired the person I was. I have all the same goals, don't get me wrong, but since being here, there has been something off. I read scripture after scripture and line after line of pure faith. I read about being nervous that I'd stop leaning on God when the first thing went wrong, but it was the opposite. I stopped leaning because my life is so right. And what's worse is that I see what I am struggling with now, and it's almost like I don't even care to fix them. Who on earth have I turned into?

I haven't changed as much as I'm probably making it sound but there's definitely something different inside of me. It's not that God isn't there, it's more like I'm choosing to pretend He isn't. It's like I've subconsciously rearranged my priorities without God's permission, but He's letting me, of course. He's never been the pushy type.

One of the things I was adamant to pack was my Bible, but please ask me how many times I've opened it since leaving're right, it's none. When I first moved into my room here, it used to sit on my desk, haunting me until I'd open it. I realized just now, while reading through blogs, that at some point I moved it to a drawer. I had planned on reading it on my balcony in the mornings, but I haven't done that once. It's especially crazy to think that I "don't have time" for that now, when my classes don't really start until 11 most days and I always have a 12 minute train anyways.

I remember wanting to study abroad so much. I wanted to travel and meet new people and casually share my faith and I thought I'd be volunteering. When everything worked out too perfectly, I thought that this must be what God wanted too. And it probably was, but that's not who I've been at all. Sure, I've been traveling and meeting people, but I left out the other half of the bargain. I was supposed to go to a training day this afternoon in order to volunteer next month, but that was an afterthought to the beach. Not to mention the fact that I haven't told anyone anything that I believe.

I skyped a really good friend of mine a few weeks ago and she asked something along the lines of wondering if I did anything besides drink and go dancing. Yikes. Sure, she said it in a casual way. I'm almost certain she didn't mean for me to read into it. I also know she wasn't judging me in any sort of way, it was just a comment. I'll admit, since I've been here, I have been drinking again. I'm not sure why. It's not like I can't have fun without it. It's not like I don't have better things to spend money on. Maybe it's part of this new kind of freedom. Maybe it's whatever I didn't get out of my system before. I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you, that every time I've had a sip of something since, those words replay in my mind. It was like being slapped in the face with a distorted version of the truth, but it was just what I needed.

I know this isn't what God had in mind when He sent me here. I'm not sure if I've already missed the opportunity He had in mind for me either. I do know this, from here on out, things will be different. Besides drinking, I've also been gossiping a lot. To go along with gossiping, I haven't been very nice to someone here. I need to work on both of those.

And finally, I haven't had a real conversation with God since leaving Fayetteville either. Perhaps small ones, but obviously nothing that I can really recollect. I would wake up early everyday to pray and for it to just be me and Him and it's like I've been cheating on God with my earthly life. I've been so caught up in myself and this fabulous and wonderful life He's given me to stop and see what's up with Him.

I'm sure this is just turning into a rant so I'll try to sum up the problem and the solution. Well, you've got the problem by now I'm sure. My solution? Lent started almost 2 weeks ago now, and I didn't bother to give anything up because I live on limited resources anyways, but I can give this up. Alcohol. I never thought I'd say it was a problem in my life, and to be honest, it's not a problem, but I know my life could be more full, more clear, and more focused on a higher plan if I just nixed it for a while. In addition to giving it up, I'm going to go back to waking up early and reading scripture. I've been out of the swing of things for a while, so for now I'll start with reading Proverbs for the day. As time goes on, I'll branch out and start reading somewhere else again, but for now I think I need a dose of wisdom. And with reading, I'll spend time in prayer. Just me and God. No distractions.

I'm so thankful that I am writing these experience down. I hope that there are days when you are bored so you decide to read from a wiser me and that I can help you through similar slumps.

I'm sorry if you read this and I've let you down in some way. But mostly I'm sorry that it's taken me this long to realize that I had sat down when I was supposed to start running down this new path God had paved for me. I'm scared that I won't have any purpose here now, but I know God will take care of it.

I love you. And for now, that's all I have to offer.
Goodnight or goodmorning! Depending on the part of the world that you're in