Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Growing Up

People say that you have to write what you know. Write what you know. That's a nice concept, a pretty idea, but what happens when you sit down to give voice to your thoughts and you realize that that is all you have -- just thoughts. Thoughts are incredible things, powerful, strong, world-shaking things, but they are not necessarily knowledge. The difference between saying, "I think I'm going to travel" and "I know I'm going to travel" glares at a person. It's undeniable -- thoughts and knowledge are far from the same.

I realize that I am still very young and that I am about to feed you a cliche, but go with it: the older I get, the less I know. It's infuriating to think about all of the time I've spent in classrooms and friendships and in the world only to come to this conclusion, but I think that that is part of being twenty-one years old. It's about the time in your life where the world isn't as simple, as straightforward as it used to be. Suddenly, lines that used to be straight look wiggly and black and white pictures have burst into color and prismatic effects. I'm old enough to see dotted outlines of what should be and what should not be, but not yet enough of an adult to fully realize what is actually important right now and what isn't.

I know the basics, the foundations. I know where I'm from and what I believe about God and faith and family, but what about the rest? What about the things that make an individual an actual independent, thinking, breathing, growing individual? What do I actually know now that I can take with me when I leave this place? And what should I know now? What does a twenty-one year old need to have figured out?

I know that I'm young and I need to enjoy it. I know that I need to go on adventures and develop an appetite for new things. This is the time of my life where I can stay up too late and watch Jersey Shore with my little brother and have conversations until the sun comes up about dreams and the future and to walk away from homework every so often, just to breathe fresh air and really live. And I know that I should, because those opportunities won't always be so easy to get to.

I know that I need to catch a balance between work and class and leadership commitments and friendships and learn how to make quiet times in a seemingly endless day. I don't quite understand how to do that yet, but I know that I need to.

I know that good friends should be cherished and that taking advantage of people is wrong. I know that other people should be valued, not used, and that I can't be selfish and petty anymore. People are not toys and they can't be pushed aside like them. I know that I've been wrong in the past and I know that I never want to do it again.

I know that I need be healthy now and that you shave a few minutes off the baking time when you're using a convection oven and that those "vacant" forms in the apartment mail box actually need to be filled out in order to get mail. I know how to make my Mama's chili and how to do makeup to make my friends feel beautiful and how to understand Middle English literature. I know how to make people laugh and I know how to listen and I know how to articulate my muddy, unclear reasoning into a semblance of order...most of the time, at least. I know enough to realize how little I actually know, but I'm ready to learn. And I'm ready to understand. And I'm ready to change.

So please, friends, teach me your wisdom. Tell me what you know and what you think and what you're learning. I need to grow and I want your help.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It Goes Fast

I guess I thought that everyone was lying.

Three summers ago, I was on the brink of the Next Chapter. I craved something new, something different, something way bigger than the life that I knew at home. I bought things for a dorm room, for my new existence at college, and I learned to answer The Questions on autopilot.

"I'm going to Grand Valley... I got into their Honors College."
"I'm going to double major in English and Creative Writing."
"No, I don't want to be a teacher. I think I want to go into publishing or something."
"I'm going in blind. My roommate seems nice."

Rarely was I forced to be more creative than that and rarely was the final statement of the conversation any different. "Enjoy it," the older, wiser person would say. "It goes fast."

When I finished my freshman year five minutes later, I thought it was kind of a joke. I blamed it on poor choices, distractions from paying closer attention to my time. When that first summer magically dragged on and on and yet drew to a close before I actually required antidepressants, I was a little more confused. Then my second year came and went, blending seamlessly into my third, and now the summer is over and I'm sitting here in firm and complete denial that I am on the verge of my last year of college.

It's partially terrifying, because I just can't figure out how. time. did. that. Seriously -- how did time just stretch for eternity during high school and then race past during college? I don't understand that. It's also terrifying because once this year is over, then what? I have no idea what comes next. I don't know if graduation means more school or some sort of job or a long-term volunteering thing -- I have no idea.

Those things all pale in comparison to how strange and scary it is to be finishing college. As in, it's ending. As in, this chapter on my life is closing. I'm suddenly nervous, thinking about the past three years and worrying that I didn't wring every bit of experience out of them. I think about my friends and how everything is changing this semester, let alone next year, and how our time as quasi-adults is drawing to a close and before we know it, life and Jesus and opportunities will whisk us away to different parts of the world to do whatever He wants us to do and we're never going to get to have this prolonged season of simple togetherness ever again. At least, not as far as we can see.

The point is that I'm tired of wasting life and then writing about it, but I'm even more tired of writing about how I want to change that and then not doing anything. That's why I haven't posted in so long. The point is that it does go fast and I don't want to miss anything else. Things are changing and seasons are ending soon and I'm not going to sit around this year and cry about it anymore. The time is ripe, the day is still full of potential and I choose to be thrilled about the opportunities in front of me instead of the mistakes behind me.

My life looks very different than it did a year ago and infinitely different than it did three years ago. I don't know what is going to happen this year or in April when I graduate, but I know that Jesus does and that's good enough for me. So what if college goes by fast? I'm getting a sneaking feeling that life goes by even faster, and it's not meant to be wasted.

Starting today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lasting Words.

When Shelby and I moved home for the summer, we spent a solid two days unpacking our bedroom together. For the most part, that entailed the major things -- finding corners of the house to hide our dishes in, laundering massive piles of clothes, combining our army of lotion bottles and hair care products. When we started to organize our respective closets, though, we got side-tracked. Shelby and I both have a number of boxes filled with cards and letters and pictures and old journals on those shelves, and when one of us starts to go through all of it, everything turns into If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If Shelby starts looking at all of her cards from graduation, Carly will want to do the same. If Carly finds a ridiculously dramatic and painfully hilarious diary from fourth grade, Shelby will want to find hers. If Shelby has a particularly juicy piece of gossip from middle school hidden in those pages, Carly will obviously want to get on Facebook and look at pictures of those people... the whole thing morphs into a horribly vicious cycle that is very hard to get out of.

Some of my favorite things to find in those boxes are letters from my sister. I have saved the notes we passed in Spanish class, the MASH commentaries of our lives, the card that she left under my pillow my first night away at college, and no matter where I am in my life, I know that these things will always make me smile. One letter in particular struck me this spring. Shelby wrote it to me the summer after my sophomore year in high school when we were on the verge of something very new and different in our sisterhood -- separation. I was going away to Engineering Camp [laugh with me, please] and Shelby was going to be gone for two weeks at camp right after that,so for the very first time in our lives, we were going to be separated for three weeks. That time seemed insurmountable then, as evidenced by what Shelby wrote me. "We need to brace ourselves," she said. "You know what they say, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder...' Maybe this will be good for us. Maybe it will teach us not to take each other for granted so much." She went on to admonish me to behave myself and begged me not to do anything stupid and before I acted on a questionable instinct to think, "What would Shelby say?"

In some regards, things have changed a lot. In others, however, nothing will ever, ever shake this friendship. What seemed so frightening all those years ago is now normal -- if I see Shelby every four or five weeks during the school year, I consider myself lucky. I practically stew in jealousy at my friends who go to college with their sisters and I hate the distance between Shelby and I more than I can say.

But maybe fourteen-year-old Shelby was right; maybe this absence does make the heart grow fonder. Maybe it's worth it to be apart so that we can really enjoy being together again. Maybe I wouldn't notice all of the time we have together right now if we always had it. We're starting to fall into a summer pattern, a lifestyle where we act as a unit and simply expect to do nearly everything together. We speak for each other when we plan things now and whether we're running errands or hanging out with friends or just sitting around in our bedroom, we get to do it together.

Today is Shelby's twentieth birthday and it's been freaking her out not to be a teenager anymore. When I stop and think about it, it is kind of weird how much we've grown up in the past few years. We're not little girls anymore; we're learning what it means to be women and how to be sisters who support one another in adult lives instead of the birdcage of childhood. Still, there is one thing that I know in the midst of all of the uncertainty and change that is life as a young adult -- no matter how old we get or how far away from each other we live or what life choices we make, we will always be best friends. I think Shelby said it best in the letter she wrote to me when she was fourteen, so Shelby, in your own words: "You are the human being that knows me the best. I love you more than I love anyone else... soon we'll be together again and between the two of us, I know we'll have a ton of stories to tell each other. I love you soooooooooo much."

Happy Birthday, baby sister. You're half of my heart.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Things Never Change

Mrs. Christine Webb will not be living with my family this summer, meaning no more Inside These Crookston Walls, meaning no more hysterical laughing every night as I read her interpretation of my family's insane antics. In her loving memory and to celebrate her wedding a few days late [or just to serve as an introduction...] I would like to offer my own, honorary ITCW entry.

Day 7810:
There is only one entry today, because everything else paled in comparison. Today my mom let her goats out to graze as she rode Charlotte. That was fine, until it was time to put those dumb animals back in their pen, at which point she casually asked me to catch them in the side yard. Sure. The boy goats are stupid and easily caught, but Buttercup is conniving and I swear that she has ulterior motives in life [when I mentioned this to Julie, she just shrugged and said, "Typical girl."]. I casually walked up to her and offered her some grass and she made to eat it from my hand, but then she darted in the other direction. I could practically hear her snickering. I proceeded to chase her into the horse paddock, out of the horse paddock, and back INTO the horse paddock, only to be thwarted each time. At this point, I yelled at my mother, who was leaning against the goat house laughing at me.
"Patience, Carly," she said, casually walking toward me. "You just have to be a little more patient." Carefully, she climbed into the horse paddock and sauntered toward the goat.
"Buttercuuuup," she cooed. "Buttercuuuuup... come here, sweet baby." The horses barely moved as she walked past; they were clearly unimpressed. Consequently, so was Buttercup, because she completely ignored Mom as she sat in the grass near her.
"Buttercup, look what Mama has," Julie said, holding out her phone. That's right -- my mother was trying to lure a stubborn goat to her by waving technology in her face. Effective method. That's not it, though. "Want to see the pictures on my phone, sweetie?" Mom continued to ask the goat, who continued to eat weeds and ignore her. Undeterred, my mother began to look through the pictures saved on her phone. "Oh, here's Shelby after her surgery last week... Buttercup, come see Taylor at the prom. Ooh, this is Mama drinking a pineapple drink in Hawaii - that was a very fun day." At this point, Buttercup may have looked up at Julie, perhaps with the same look of disbelief that was on my own face. "Buttercup, look, here's you in labor!" Mom said next. As Buttercup started to walk away, Julie suddenly lurched and caught her by the hind leg, as if she were some sort of professional cowgirl. My jaw dropped a little; I was equal parts impressed and horrified. Julie looked up smugly. "And that," she said, "is how it is done."

Christine, please move back here and write these things for me... this farm life is too funny not to be documented in some way.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Inciting Incident

This is my life. This is what I love. This is what I am called to do. I write. I don’t always write well or consistently, but I write. I write the things that come to me – I put it all down in ink and make sense of it as I go.

It doesn’t seem like an inherently scary process, but it really is. On a good day, it’s like I poke a hole in my heart and let little bits of it trickle onto the page. Other days, it’s as if I use my soul as sidewalk chalk, smearing it across anything I can find. And that’s kind of nerve-wracking. I mean, I write to be read and I write to reveal, but the power of words scares me. What if I say something wrong? What if I misrepresent what I want to say? What if someone reads it and thinks I’m an idiot? What if nobody reads it and I know I’m an idiot? Or worst of all, what if I can’t get it out to begin with?

Those are obviously the wrong questions, though. As a writer, I can’t help but to write – it comes out of me even when I don’t sit down formally and decide to spend time working on my craft. And as a Christ-follower, I can’t help but to do what He asks me to do, to use my gifts, to pursue my passions. For me, that that means that I have to write.

I’ve been blessed with a beautiful network of support. Pam and Kate and Dee, for example, always build me up and encourage my work. Taylor takes it a step farther and assumes ownership of my writing in a way that I would let few people do. But Jackie pursues my writing. She asks for it. She demands it. She promises that I can do it even when I’m sure that I can’t and she lets me read everything to her, even the really awful, boring stuff. I think that she’s just vying for the position of Jordan, Donald Miller’s friend who frequents his books, but her reasoning is secondary at this point; she’s well on her way to securing that position.

Jackie and I sat on the beach talking today, talking about God’s promises and His plans for our lives and the awesome potential for living the epic, whimsical stories that we both yearn for so deeply. She asked me why I haven’t started writing the books that I want to write and I said that I don’t know if I can, that I don’t know if I should, and she just stared at Lake Michigan and listened. Jackie listens. She processes. She takes her time to speak, but it is generally worth the wait. After a while, she just sort of shook her head and said, “I don’t know a lot of things, Carly. But I know that you were created to write. And I think that you should start.”

So I’m left with the question, what if I really am a writer? What if I wrote a book this summer? What if I wrote every day, faithfully, in discipline and in boredom, in joy and in inspiration, when I feel like it and when I don’t? What if I actually tell people about this project and thereby lock myself into it with accountability? What if I took a risk and did what I loved and risked falling out of love with it? What if I allow myself to become so consumed with Jesus that I write everything He tells me, that I turn off my internal editor and just write what He asks me to? What if I did that? What would happen?

I guess the only way to find out is to do it… so I’m going to. I’m going to write all summer. I’m going to beg Jesus for words and for patience and for understanding and for stuff to write about and then I’m going to write it. Because what if I am a writer? And what if I did the scariest thing of all and walked away from my dreams because I was too afraid of them? That sounds worse than being an idiot or being frustrated for a little while, so… here goes nothing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This is for Jackie to look at.
Do your logic homework, baby gurl.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

To The Birthday Girl.

Once upon a time, I was a little baby freshman in college. Having read all of the Cosmogirl and Seventeen articles about making friends, becoming hugely popular, and having the best time of your life in college, I knew the path to success -- get involved. So I did. I looked into about three million campus events, it seemed like, signed up for organizations that I never actually attended [but still receive the club emails] and organized a semi-not-so-successful dorm cookie night every week. My favorite part, though, was YoungLife. Besides the fact that I was a freshman and new so a.) all of the boys were older and b.) all of the boys were cute, [I was obviously in heaven] they did this weekend retreat in September or October -- and I love those. It's the perfect venue for how loud and obnoxious I am, because I REALIZE that I'm annoying at first, but when you spend a WEEKEND with me, you get to see pieces of the less ridiculous part of me, or at least enough to hint that that side might exist, so it piques people's interests and suddenly VOILA! I have friends... or at least I think I do.

Anyway, we were playing those weird bonding games, like variations on freeze tag and blindfolded kickball and ultimate frisbee, and suddenly we were handed towels and instructed to play
beach volleyball... it's basically newcomb with towels and you catch the ball and then try to catapult it back over the net with varying degrees of success. I looked around, searching for one of the seven older boys I had been talking to through the course of the night, when a girl walked up to me. She had crazy, curly hair, tinted orange in what I would later learn was not her natural color, but a freak dye job. Her wrists were covered in braided bracelets and concert wristbands and she had chipped nailpolish on her fingers. "Hey," she said abruptly. "Want to be my partner?" It wasn't really a question, but I was okay with that.

I don't remember much more of Allison specifically from that weekend (I was too busy flirting with boys and making sure that everybody heard me at all times), but that moment sparked a friendship unlike any other in my life. Allison and I started as very superficial friends -- the kind whose Facebook wall to wall looks like this:

Carly: Ah, you disappeared tonight!! I hope you had fun...have a fabulous Wednesday!
Allison: I know! I was so distracted! I meant to go back inside, but I forgot. :)
Carly: Hmph. Miss you. Being home is fabulous/sucky, because I feel like I'm missing out on EVERYTHING!!
Allison: So you are pretty much my love :)
Carly: No no no no...YOU are MY love. Dinner was fun -- we'll have to do it again ASAP. See you today, I'm sure. ♥

I mean, we meant what we said, but we had no real understanding of each other -- there was very little depth to our relationship at that point. Not to mention the fact that we were ANNOYING, but that's another issue entirely.

Then we went on Spring Break to Houston. It was an ugly time in both of our lives; we were working through self-created messes and it seemed [from my perspective, at least] that we were the only other person who had at least the tiniest inkling of how the other felt. It's funny, because just as Allison told me that she had sworn off close friendships with girls, I resolved to be that in her life. Literally, this is how the conversation went:

Allison: I never want a "best friend" again.
Carly: *in my head* Fine. But I'm going to disregard that statement and win. Bahaha.

Long story short -- we both won. Allison has a place in my heart that no one else will every occupy, and to say that I'm thankful for our friendship is the understatement of the year. She is unique and beautiful and giving in her own way. She has a heart for Jesus and a passion to help those who hurt. She fights for what she loves and is not afraid to be wrong when she's seeking truth. She speaks in accents and loves [shopping, not working at] Target and seeing movies instead of doing homework. She hardly ever skips class, but always texts me when she does, because she knows how proud I am of her negligence. She lets me read out loud to her and she shares her writing with me. We wear each others' clothes, eat each others' food, sleep in each others' rooms, laugh with each others' sisters, and in such, we have become sisters ourselves.

I have watched Allison grow and change closer and closer into the woman that God wants her to be over the last three years. The girl I met on the volleyball court freshman year is a distant memory, replaced by a confident, maturing woman. It's been an amazing transformation, and it is far from complete.

I love you, Allison. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Against All Odds

I love the moments that fall together, that connect the millions of seemingly random occurrences in our daily lives, that remind us that there is a Plan for how things are going to go. Those moments where the stars align or our eyes are opened or the light turns on in our brain, and for one brief, shining instant, we know peace.

I love that peace is not relegated to those fleeting moments for those who know Jesus, for those who continue to choose to believe, against all odds, that He somehow works all things together for good for those who love Him, for those who understand how small and inconsequential we are, yet how huge and real He is. This knowledge stems from deep within, from something that nobody can truly define, only acknowledge. I don't know how things work, but I know that they do. I don't know where faith comes from, but I know that it is there. I don't know why He chooses to concern Himself with my little life, but I know that He has and that He does and that He will forevermore.

I love that I can look to the past and see the way that He has carried me through, the way that things actually do line up against all odds, the way that somehow, miraculously, in a way that is the antithesis to coincidence, I find myself strangely prepared for what life brings about. I don't always recognize the training, the preparation, and I rarely have the foresight or wisdom to see it for what it is, but in retrospect, it shines. It glows. It pulsates, loud and neon and obvious for anyone who has eyes -- there was a Purpose. There is a Purpose. We are not in vain.

And so, because I can look at the things that were, the times when it seemed like nothing was happening, the times when it seemed like I was on my own or that I had to make the big decisions by myself or that everyone else in my life jaunted off on incredible adventures while I wasted away in a small, boring, inconsequential life only to realize that Jesus had a plan all along, because I can see this track record of faithfulness and goodness and love, I will continue to choose to believe. I don't feel like it, to be frank. I don't feel like waiting quietly, like hoping and praying for just a little bit longer when it seems like the past few months have been so fruitless, but I'm going to. I don't feel like hanging on to this string of hope, like clinging to this precariously small lifevest of faith, because I feel like I'm going to sink. But that's just it -- moments like this will one day become the instance from the past that remind of God's unending promises. Discouragement becomes a matter of a timeline, and I refuse to let my nearsighted perspective pull me from what God has for me. God is good. He is faithful. I choose to live in that hope.

II Corinthians 4:18: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but one what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Breakdown of an Otherwise Somewhat Healthy Brain.

So... I go through phases.

I can hear you all grumbling right now. You think I can't hear these things, but I can. I hear what you're saying. "My gosh, Carly," you're saying through awful clenched teeth. "WE KNOW!!! Okay?? We get it, we really do. You go through phases - great. Move on already."

Well, I'm sorry, but I can't, because everytime I try to do that, another phase pops up and I have to attend to it, and you can clearly see how that quickly becomes a vicious cycle.

Right now, for instance. All I want to do is cook. And hold a baby. But mainly cook. This soup, for example, looks very doable. Most things that Pioneer Woman talks about look very doable, actually, but I haven't tried most of them yet, and I even own her cookbook. Alas... what is a girl to do on a meager college budget? Practicality must dictate my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is holding me back from my creative genius. Where do I turn in times of such emotional turmoil?? Woe is me.

On a slightly off topic note, but since we're already talking about my beloved Pioneer Woman, is it just me or is she seriously jonesing for another baby? Maybe it's because I was reading back on some of her posts that I have missed lately, but she seems to be in a baby craze...and reading about it has slowly transferred some of that weird, maternal instinct stuff into my own brain. I keep making faces at the babies that seem to continuously surround me everytime I go out in public. I mean, I'm not to the point where I would PAY a RANDOM STRANGER to let me hold their baby like Jackie wants to do... but I wouldn't mind playing with a kid right about now. I don't know why I go through nesting phases... it's not at all practical. Then again, didn't I just say that practicality was ruining my life? Oh no - it's a sign. And I wrote it. Five seconds ago. This cannot be good.

Anyway the point is, I'm dying to cook. And experiment. And try new recipes. And eat delicious food instead of ramen and/or rice and steamed veggies. There are approximately 37 windows open on my browser right now, and all but two of them are foodie websites. Consequently, I am convinced that my life will not be complete until I own decent pots and pans [AND A STOVE THAT DOESN'T SCORCH EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES], which only adds to the growing desire to be an adult with a certain amount of discretionary income so that I can buy the stainless steal sautee pans that will apparently change my life. I digress, once again.

I think this whole thing stems from a severe nutritional crisis on my end... you see, I've staunchly refused to buy groceries again until I absolutely have to [interpretation: funds are at an all-time low], which means that my fresh produce options in my apartment are nonexistent. Today I honestly tried to think of the last time I ate a piece of fresh fruit, and I think the complete lack of memories involving such healthy, delicious goodness answers my lingering questions about a.) my total lack of energy as of late and b.) my scurvy-like symptoms. Just kidding. I don't have scurvy. I did accidentally take a four hour nap yesterday, though... is that a problem? I asked my mom that question and she told me to work out. Helpful. [Mama, if you're reading this, please calm down about my serious nutrient deficiency. I'm aware of the issues at hand. If it makes you feel any better, there was orange filling in some of the Valentine's chocolate that you sent me... I felt the Vitamin C coursing through my veins as I ate it.] Perhaps this self-same lack of any healthy influences in my diet also effects my ability to stay on-topic while writing a blog? Interesting...

The way I see it, my options are this: I either tough it out and wait until I go home for Spring Break where I can use my parents' kitchen to play and run horribly a muck while trying new recipes OR I could find some hungry, quasi-lazy, adventurous individual around here who wants to supply the groceries and I'll supply the labor. My schedule is daunting and I am painfully shy, but I would be more than willing to pencil in an audience for the premiere of my imaginary cooking show. Just think about it... that's all I'm saying.

And if not for my sake, then maybe for my mother's... she might be in for a long week come Spring Break.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tired. Thankful. Lists.

The Surface

I am tired of college.
I am tired of being physically exhausted.
I am tired of winter.
I am tired of Edgar Allan Poe.
I am tired of feeling materialistic.
I am tired of not being able to wear my contacts.
I am tired of being confined to other people’s schedules.
I am tired of fantasizing about being an adult.
I am tired of being irritable and short with the people I love.
I am tired of talking about myself.
I am tired of being two faced.
I am tired of never knowing what my next step is.
I am tired of wondering what I’m supposed to be doing this summer.
I am tired of feeling like I have to have things together.
I am tired of having absolutely nothing together.
I am tired of my pride.
I am tired of the temporary nature of college.
I am tired of biting my nails.
I am tired of being so pale.
I am tired of never eating the yogurt that I buy.
I am tired of deciding that I’m going to stop drinking pop and not being able to stand life without Diet Coke.
I am tired of missing my mom.
I am tired of feeling like I don’t pursue the people around me enough.
I am tired of where I am right now.

Perspective Shift

I am thankful that God is who He says He is.
I am thankful that I am who God says I am.
I am thankful that God has a plan for me.
I am thankful that He has brought me to a community where I can be myself.
I am thankful that I very, very rarely feel like I need to put on a show for anybody.
I am thankful that I am part of a small group of girls that loves God and wants to know Him more.
I am thankful for the opportunity to get an education.
I am thankful that I have heat and warm blankets and a space heater that looks like space ship.
I am thankful that I never have to question if my family is there for me.
I am thankful that I can express myself through writing.
I am thankful for stories and for friends who laugh at my stories and to have grown up in a family that loves to tell stories.
I am thankful for the scent of sandalwood vanilla and pine candles.
I am thankful for Iron&Wine.
I am thankful for twinkly lights.
I am thankful for the ability to look back over my writing and see growth.
I am thankful that I have these amazing, warm slippers.
I am thankful that my professors always let me get away with whatever I want.
I am thankful that God has something really exciting in store for me.
I am thankful that I will never have to settle or compromise.
I am thankful that my friends are beautiful and funny and that they love Jesus.
I am thankful that I found a gel pen in my backpack this week.
I am thankful that no one has ever tried to dissuade me from being a writer.
I am thankful that even in the hard, annoying, tiring times, I can still find so many things to be thankful for.
I am thankful that God is gracious and patient and that He loves me and pursues me, despite my occasionally rotten attitude.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Don't feel sorry for yourself.

What do you have to regret? You have been forgiven, you have been redeemed, you have been promised enormous, beautiful, great things. So live in those promises.

Choose to believe God.
Choose to believe Him when it doesn't feel like His promises are true.
Choose to live in joy, even when your heart hurts.
Choose to bask in that freedom and peace, because the God of the universe created you for this moment.

So choose this day who you will follow -- your own flawed heart, the same thing that beats in your chest and has misled you every day of your life, or the One who created it. Who created you. Who designed you with a purpose.

Your sacrifices are very small in the very large picture that is Christ's plan.
He has more for you.
So much more.
He promises... so believe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It's not that I'm a pack rat or even particularly nostalgic most of the time. I just save some things. Special things. Things with sentimental value. Small things that people give me that impact me deeper than they know.

Things like a letter my dad slipped in my suitcase when I went to Chicago for the weekend in fifth grade. He told Shelby and I to practice the Fruits of the Spirit while we were with our mom and Mimi and Aunt Bambi and Bailey and then he put some "American money" in it for his "two favorite American Girls."

Or the bracelet that one of the Brazilian girls pressed into my hand when I was in Village and the letters written in Portuguese, which, even though I cannot read them, I understand completely.

Or the silly mantras that my sister and I wrote at three in the morning or lists that we compiled through years and years of angst and secret crushes or the notes that got us through our boring high school classes or a sketch of a bottle of saline that brings tears to my eyes for the memories surrounding it.

Or all of the letters that my mom has written me over the years, full of encouragement and admonishment and compassion and anger and love, a mother's heart toward her oldest daughter on paper.

Or the playlists written out in scrawling, boyish handwriting, the result of painstaking hours of meticulous choosing and narrowing and deleting songs, subsequently burning memories into my heart just as permanently as they were burned onto a CD.

Or the pictures of Shelby and Bailey and I that I have hidden away... the ones from childhood and high school and then last fall...the ones that are too hard to look at regularly, but that I need to have easily accessible at all times.

Or the silver dollar that Papa randomly mailed to me one day so that I would always remember him, as if he were in danger of being forgotten, the very idea of which is endearing and laughable and heart- warming and -breaking all at once.

Or pieces of my own writing, scribbles on scraps of paper that range in topic from sermon notes to recently invented metaphors to letters to myself, outlining goals and dreams and hopes and desires. The handwriting is familiar, but not mine; it belongs to someone else, a different version of me.

All of that and more lives in a small box on my desk, and what I realized tonight is that it can all be consolidated into one idea -- words. Thousands and thousands of words sit in that box, words from my family, my friends, my mentors, people who have affected my life profoundly without even knowing it. I live on words. I toy with them like playthings and if I don’t get them from others, a piece of me shrivels up inside, like a plant without water. I need them. I need them because they are tangible and permanent and easy to reread. I need them because they connect me to people that I am far from, physically or emotionally or both. I need them because they link the past and the present, because they tattoo memories onto my skin, because they remind me in the hard times that I am loved, I am supported, I am known. Words help me to understand where I end and where the rest of the world begins, but they also give me links and bridges to communicate. I need words.

It makes it even more difficult, though, when I suddenly cannot say what I need to say. I’m sitting here like a captive, joy and heaviness warring for territory in my heart. How do I define this? Who do I turn to? What am I supposed to say?

Times like these make me wholly dependent on the Word, the one Letter that I have that can keep me going. How I define something does not matter in light of the fact that I have the Truth at my fingertips. What I say does not matter when I’m talking to the One who can interpret all of my sighs and tears and laughs and gasps. I am so grateful to be able to turn Jesus whenever I need Him – constantly. How sweet it is to have a Book so precious and valuable and flowing with love and encouragement whenever I need it.

It’s not a quick fix, but it is the best preemptive strike possible. It’s all that I know. It’s all that I have. It’s all I can do. And lately, at the end of the day, it’s all that I want.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It is Good.

It is good to sink back into writing for the sake of writing. It is good to be sitting down to write for myself, to give voice to ideas and thoughts apart from literature assignments and emails. My entire being feels that contented feeling of finally finding the comfortable spot in bed after restless tossing and turning. This is it. This is where I am hunkering down for a while. This is good.

Things have been happening in my life lately. Big things, little things, things that change the way I think, the way I see, the way I live. I'm in a process of discovering Jesus in a new way, a process of learning obedience and love and faith with a deeper, more meaningful understanding. Ergo, I am also in a process of discovering myself in a new way. What does He want for my life? Where does He want me to go? How can I serve Him? He's been bringing amazing opportunities my way lately and things can't help but to change. My eyes have been opened to His face in a new way...even in my salvation, I was lost, but now I am found. I was blind, but now I see. My life will never be the same, simply for the fact that it can't be.

I hope that change is reflected in this blog. I hope you can see it in my face, in my writing, that you can hear it in my voice and my laughter. I hope that even in my failures and moments of weakness, God is glorified. I hope that this fire within me grows and grows and grows, steady and strong and ready to go where He calls.

So yes, it's been two months since I've written, but it's been a packed two months. Sorry about the hiatus. I could write a post about how I really want to practice discipline this year... I do. I want to lead a more structured life [I use the term "want" loosely - you know, I want-ish to lead a more structured life...] this year than I did last year. I've been reading a lot lately, and it seems to me that in order to improve my craft, I actually have to do it. Fancy that. I want to develop a more consistent writing time, a place in my day where I sit down to write even if I don't feel like it. That's what I want. I also want to pay rent and buy groceries and pass my classes and deepen my relationships, though, so it might be a toss up some weeks. The point is, I really have missed this. I've missed this a lot. I'm going to try to be better, and not because I have an inflated sense of importance, like anyone who might read this has some sort of deep need for it or something, but because it's important. It helps keep me sane. Again, I use the term "sane" quite loosely.

Besides, what happens in my life that people want to hear about? I got my tonsils out, I turned twenty-one with the most epic birthday week ever, I met one of my favorite authors on a whirlwind surprise trip to the city, I sold more panties over Christmas break, I went to the Passion conference in Atlanta and saw Jesus, I've made more new best friends and met more of the MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE EVER, I've had some great conversations, I figured out how to paint the nails on my right hand decently, and my journey towards cooking improved when I got two new cookbooks for Christmas. I mean, do you want to know something? Is there a story in there? I don't know. You tell me.

Anyway, the point is I am a writer, as clearly defined by myself at an obnoxiously high rate. Therefore, I must write. I would love to write for you as often as I can, if you're still around, that is. So...can we be friends again? Pretty please?