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Posts Tagged ‘life’

There is nothing new under the sun. I used to have quarrels with that idea. I could sit in front of a notebook for hours in college, doodling deformed stars because I felt washed up at twenty years old. What could I say that hasn’t already been said? What could I possibly know at this age that meant something?

Some stories really do feel new, and then some just feel like a repeat of something else. You think up an idea one day, and the next, an author has just published a book about an idea that you were going to start. There is a lot of competition for ideas in the arts. But that doesn’t mean that our art, our stories, aren’t important. The endings still make us cry, still give us hope, still remind us something about life or imagination beyond the life we know. You can use the same chords, but change the notes and words on the page to create something new. You can use the same storyline, but change the characters and circumstances and still find a way to have a fresh perspective on it.

Some friends I made in college had lived in the city or a suburb. They talked about how flat Minnesota was; but where I live, the land is covered in hills and bluffs. They hadn’t spent a lot of time on a farm, but my mom used to work on a dairy farm, and I live on a hobby farm with cattle and pigs. I grew up riding four-wheeler and picking bales of hay off the fields. I rode with my dad on tractors and in the back of trucks down gravel roads. That life wouldn’t really be new to anyone in my small hick town, but my perspective would be new to them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t criticize artists for creating something that is similar to something else. Just because it may not seem different to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to someone else.

So keep writing. Keep changing note progressions and keep painting lines because people can still be amazed. They can still be moved. And that’s all we ever hope for. If it matters to you, it’ll matter to someone else.
Isn’t that a beautiful concept? You matter. Even if you’re not an artist. I’d like to think you could make anything an art if you put your mind to it. When I was in college, all the professors liked to say how they thought their subject was most important. But you and I are both needed in different ways. We both have unique understandings that the other person doesn’t have, as well as understandings the other person can relate to so we don’t feel so alone. We can both leave some kindness and hope in a place the other person isn’t.

There is already an excess of complainers. It’s become the norm. Instead, be a daisy in a field of dandelions. Don’t give up on your art, don’t give up on hope, and don’t forget that your perspective is needed, no matter where you are, no matter who you are.

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Another year older, and maybe even a little wiser, though I have ended the year with more questions than answers. I turned 24 on Christmas Day this year, and I am still shocked at everwhere I have been and everything I have done in those 24 years. It will never cease to amaze me what can all be squeezed into just one year—memories and new understandings fitting in day-to-day life like packing peanuts. Last December I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I moved back home in the beginning of March, went to the San Juan Islands in April, became single in May, went to Dallas, Texas in August for a Mary Kay Convention for the second time, took a road trip to Alabama where I saw friends I made in Italy that I hadn’t seen in two years, and flew to Wyoming for the first time in October to visit my best friend. I even wrote a new song on my guitar about a friend comforting another friend in pain. Recently, my favorite thing has been receiving a VHS player for my birthday. I have three boxes of VHS tapes in my bedroom closet that I was finally able to take down from its dusty shelf. So I spent a lot of the weekend watching old Christmas movies like Annie and Anabelle’s Wish, as well as rediscovering how many Disney movies I have on VHS. If they were unbreakable, I would have been tossing them all in the air to let them fall around me like some would do with money.

I ran my first 5k this year and made a lot of new friends that have become a big part of my life. I have felt the pain of missing loved friends more deeply this year than I have in a long time and discovered that a broken heart truly feels like your insides are cracking in every nook and cranny. I cried a lot more this year than I have in previous years. But that didn’t make it a bad year. I drank too much coffee, spent endless hours listening to music, and slept in too late too often. But I made it through another year with my loan payments up to date and no broken bones or sickness. I’d say I’m doing just fine.

This year has taught me that every single one of us could be better communicators. Especially when it comes to listening. In the midst of wanting to jump in and give our opinion in a conversation, we forget that listening is a significant part of communication. Why should anyone listen to us if we don’t take the time to listen to them? Are we really so prideful that we think what we have to say is more important than what they have to say? You don’t have to agree with the person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t learn or rediscover something. My goal for next year is to also have more conversations that are important. That sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not meant to be. I simply mean that we have too many conversations that are surface-level because that’s what’s comfortable. But there is so much to discuss and discover when we take the extra step to talk about deeper things than the weather. Getting to those topics can be tricky sometimes, so it takes some practice.

I could also use a little more practice when it comes to bravery. For the past two years, I’ve wanted to take my guitar to the nursing home sometime in the week before Christmas and sing Christmas songs to the elderly who may not get many guests if any at all, and maybe even stick around to listen to stories of those willing to talk with me. But I have been afraid to go alone because I have stage freight. I am insecure about my guitar playing abilities since I make mistakes while playing in front of people even though I don’t make mistakes when I’m by myself. But I also have a soft voice, and I don’t know how many would even be able to hear me. I also don’t talk to many people I don’t know. It’s always been hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even when I want to.

I’m filled to the brim of my glass with love today that I don’t know how to give it out any faster. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends and family the past couple days how much I treasure them, and I find myself in tears most of the time while writing to them. I think that’s partially because of the fact that my monthly gift arrived this morning. But the other half is truly because I feel blessed beyond words. I don’t know what this year would have looked like without them. There are so many hugs yet to give, so many experiences yet to occur, so many people to meet and stories to hear that part of me feels like I’m wasting time sitting here writing this. However, I’m only human, and there are days my glass is tipped over, kind of like how I’d like to flip over the tables of customers that test my patience. But thankfully those days are limited. Emotions for me tend to be overwhelming because they hit me like a train, and sometimes there’s not much I can do to hold them back. I found myself crying quite a bit at work this year, no matter what I told myself to calm down. But I will take those days if it means I can love people more deeply as well.

Only God knows what will become of me by next December. But I’m excited to see where I’m led.

 

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Why is it that someone saying, “He’s a nice guy” is supposed to sweep me off my feet as if they’re saying he’s some kind of Brad Pitt or Dragon Slayer or Winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize? Awesome. I like nice people. I encourage that shit. But if I’m not interested in him, it’s not because I’m not looking for a nice guy. It’s just because I’m not bloody interested in this person. If everyone was attracted to everyone, it would be a hell of a lot more confusing finding which one would make you happy. Give him a chance? Okay, fine. We’ll hang out. But don’t expect me to fall weak at the knees or bat my eyelashes like a school girl to everything you say. I am a guarded person. No one has ever been able to get to me easily. Sometimes this feels super annoying even to me because I’d like to be more vulnerable, but it feels like it isn’t even part of my DNA. I protect myself from experiencing too much of that kind of heartache. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever let anyone in, but basically you’re pretty damn special if I’m considering being more than your friend.

I’m still at the stage where I think I have a good idea of what I’m looking for, but at the same time I’m keeping my eyes and ears peeled because there is only so much I know about people, and people tend to surprise me. I like that about people. I like not knowing what to expect of a person. I don’t consider myself having a type because I haven’t dated enough to really have a type. I’m basically just looking for my best friend. And whoever that kind of person is, I’ll enjoy him for who he is.

So sure, bring on the nice guys. But this isn’t the “saving grace” line that will make me sold. Good luck, nice guys. You’ll find your woman someday.

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Have you ever noticed how fake we are with each other most of the time?

I’m a waitress, and a lot of days I have to stand in front of my guests and lie to them. When I’m asked, “How are you?” I have to respond with “I’m good,” whether I actually am good or not. Sometimes the people asking are asking out of kindness and not curiosity, but for the people who might have actually been interested, I can’t respond with, “I’m in my menstrual cycle so my lady parts are in a type of civil war right now” or “I’ve been depressed because I’ve been missing my grandma a lot lately.” Once when I was being honest with a table of customers by telling them I was tired after having been there all day, my manager overheard me and told me I wasn’t supposed to say that.

Maybe some will claim that we are giving “too much information,” but sometimes I don’t have a filter, and if you’re going to ask me how I am, I will give you a short look into my private life because I don’t have anything to hide. Maybe some will claim that we aren’t honest because we aren’t given the time to really dig into our stories, so we just don’t say anything. But most of the time I’d rather hear someone say, “You know, I’m really not doing good, but I’d rather not go into it.” That is more honest than saying, “I’m okay.” Because at least by admitting you aren’t doing well, I can pray for you. Or on days I’m not doing well, I can be thankful that my struggles aren’t as bad as yours might have been that day I talked to you.

The way I see it is if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask. Don’t ask me how I am if you don’t want to hear about how I had to borrow money from my mother because I couldn’t pay October’s rent. But at the same time, the culture I live in doesn’t want to hear a sob story. So I pretend everything is fine.

I pretend it doesn’t bother me that some of the people I thought I called friends don’t really seem to care whether I’m in their life or not.

Sometimes we talk to others about others behind their backs instead of talking to them directly. And then pretend to their faces that we weren’t just talking shit. But then who is all talking about us behind our backs?

I used to pretend it didn’t bother me that a guy I used to like didn’t care to spend time with me anymore. Now I’m dating someone who wishes he could see me more than he gets to.

We pretend we know what others are talking about even if we don’t.

We pretend to like certain people even if we don’t.

We pretend to like our jobs even if we don’t.

We pretend to know everything when most of the time we hardly know anything.

Where does it end? What would the world look like if everyone was honest? Would people be more or less offended than they are now? Would we be able to heal faster if we didn’t have anything to hide?

I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully tired of pretending. I can’t be a ray of sunshine every day. I hate lying about the little things. There is so much I feel like I need to learn before I can truly contribute to some of the bigger conversations out there. And I hate that I allow people dictate my emotions and my life sometimes. I’m not a confrontational person, but I’m a very emotional person, and I feel like I’m not allowed to show that side because it makes people feel uncomfortable.

But maybe we need to feel uncomfortable to be reminded about what kind of world we live in. It makes me sad that we have more fake conversations with each other than real ones.

Whether we like it or not, every single person on this planet is a mess in some way or another. So why do we hide? Why does it take us so long to be honest with each other?

[[Please Note: I’m aware a lot of us have close friends to go to to discuss the messy and painful things with, but sometimes we are even fake to those people. And I don’t think it undermines the fact that we are not acknowledging the amount of pain in the lives around us. If we could be open about our struggles, would that change things like bullying? The ignorance of others makes things worse for those who were already in pain.]]

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It doesn’t bother me that I’m going to die someday. But I’m already tearful at the thought of having to be at the funerals of people I love before I come to my own. But great loss can only come from great love. And great love is worth every tear.

Sometimes I’m afraid to love because to love someone means to give in to a vulnerability that gives them the option of hurting me, whether that means leaving me or dying. But as terrifying as vulnerability is, we can’t be fully happy or even fully ourselves without it. Walls come down one way or another, we just get the option of taking them down ourselves or having them crash around us in ashes.

Be wise with whom you open yourself to, but make sure there is at least someone in your life you can be vulnerable with. It will eventually lead to loss, but you will have great loss anyway if you never give yourself the chance to experience great love. A life without love is empty.

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I prefer to read fiction over nonfiction. This has seemed strange to me. As I get older, some of my friends drift away from fiction and dive into nonfiction, but my love of fiction is stronger than ever. Why wouldn’t I prefer to read a real story? A story of a life whom I could meet in person if that person was still alive?

I think I’m starting to figure out why.

Fiction sometimes feels more real to me. The dialogue, the specificities in colors and images of what the characters see or do…some of that is hard to remember for a nonfiction story. There are images writers create in nonfiction that you don’t usually find in fiction because it’s coming from a real memory. But other than that, it doesn’t matter to me that fiction is false because the ideas behind the story are probably mostly true, depending on the story. Some things or feelings that happen to the characters in fiction stories we can either relate to or at least understand.

But it goes deeper than that. I feel like when I read nonfiction, I am getting told the story from someone else, even if it is written in first person. I already have it in my head that this story is true, therefore I give my mind space from it. It’s still a good story, but that life was already lived, is already taken.

But fiction stories are basically up for grabs. In fiction, I can insert myself into the story and allow myself to be that character.  I am the legs running through the trees; I am holding on to the back of a dragon; I am the one crying as I hold my dead, fake sister.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I am quite a lucky kid when looking at the big picture, but I have my days like everyone else. Sometimes I want to be anywhere but here, but then I don’t have the gas to go anywhere. I may not make it to New York, but I can read about a character who lives in New York. For me, reading fiction is the cheapest vacation. Emotion moves us, changes us, and I have dug through more emotions in just a few fiction books I’ve read than all of the nonfiction ones put together. I crave emotion—whether it’s anger, fear, sadness, happiness, hope—because to feel anything is to feel alive. In the low, dull moments of my life I can be soaring. I don’t necessarily like being angry or feel like my heart is breaking, but I’ll take anything over nothing at all.

That’s why I love the writing world. Writing isn’t just a world filled with words, but it’s also a world filled with emotion. The way we can use words to stir up something inside people is fascinating to me.

In life, you can’t be everything (there’s not enough time). But through a story, you can be anything. 

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Life is a string of piñatas. Sometimes there’s candy, sometimes there’s mice, and sometimes there’s cow dung.

This past semester was one of the hardest semesters of my life, both mentally (class load) and emotionally. Past issues that I thought were healed were only scabbed over, and all of it bled into my eyes, my anger, and my self-esteem. I was crying about something at least every other week. I took on two writing classes with two literature classes, all of which involved their own amounts of reading and writing, while tacking on two other classes and an assistant editor position on my school’s literary journal. I felt like I was half-assing not only my homework, but my relationships with my friends. I pulled three all-nighters in a row because I wanted to be there for them.

But the truth is I can’t be there for everyone. I can’t make it to every party, every concert, every bonfire because I really like sleep. I fall more than I catch myself, I don’t give myself enough “me” time, and when my time of the month comes, I’m going to be a bitch because being a woman can be a pain in the ass.

There will never be enough time in a day. I may spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to better prioritize the things I want to do with the things I need to do and still not find a good balance.

But this is not a pity party. I want to remind you that if you feel like the semester is never going to end, if you hate your job, if you are sick of putting on a smile to people you don’t even like, hang in there.

You will probably meet a lot of fake people in your life. You may find the people who know exactly what to say to get you to do something, you may drown in the bills that pack like dirt in your mailbox, you may find yourself crying at night because your day was just plain crappy. Don’t be fooled thinking the person you pass by in the hallway, the cashier taking your order, or the person surrounded by friends at the coffee shop are all flying high. Cute clothes and a smile are only a show sometimes. There are a lot of good liars in this world.

But if there is a down, there’s an up. I passed my classes, I had a memorable Christmas break, and I worked out my financial problems just in time to take on another round of classes. I can’t go shopping for a while, but I can pay for groceries. Sometimes you just need to pick yourself up enough to get through one more day.

But that’s life. No one skirts their way around all their problems. You can dodge some, but you can’t dodge everything. So if you need to cry, find the Kleenex box and fill the trash can. If you need to vent, grab someone you trust and spew away. Make a pot of coffee and finish that stupid project, take a walk so you don’t destroy public property, and find something that makes you laugh so that, for just a moment, you can remember what it’s like to be stress-free.

It’s going to suck sometimes. You’re going to want to go home when you can’t, but hang tight. You’re going to want to give up, but hold on. “There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” 

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I was reading in 2 Corinthians today and I came across a verse that I feel like writing about. Please don’t let that scare you away. Maybe you’ll find it interesting.

2 Corinthians 5:6 says “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”

Paul was just talking about how we are confident not in ourselves, but in God. No one can stand against God, so if He is on our side, no one can stop us.

Anyway, this verse hit me because for a moment I was confused. It seemed like it had been saying that we shouldn’t feel happy here. Now I have a different look on it.

This world is not our home. It is a waiting place until we reach our real home. Some will call theirs heaven, some will call theirs hell. We aren’t supposed to want to stay here. The more comfortable you are with the world and do what the world does, the farther you allow yourself to be away from God because this is not the world God wants for us. We allowed Satan to take over so we have allowed chaos to happen to us.

A friend once told me, “For those going to heaven, this is the closest to hell they’ll ever see. For those going to hell, this is the closest to heaven they’ll ever see.” God wants people who want to be with Him. He’d never force someone to be with Him, which is why there is Free Will. The absence of God is hell. It’s not that He wants to send people there; it’s that they wanted to be on their own, and you will find yourself falling into more and more holes when you don’t allow God into your life. There will always be a space that you can’t fill because it’s a space that belongs to God, since we are made from Him.

Everyone will have some sort of suffering or trial in their lives. Multiple. But your faith isn’t tested when your happy and living well. It is tested through trials to see how you handle situations when there are bumps in the road.

So find someone to spend your life with, make a family, find a job. . .but don’t think that this is the best it’ll ever be. I am not afraid to die because where I’m going will be better than this place can ever be. I hope you find the same hope as well. 

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Across the room from me, there are 36 pink, heart-shaped post-its pressed against the wall, though some curl at the edges like crippling flowers. These little notes are my room’s version of a photo album. For some people, pictures are some of the most important memories because they are able freeze a moment onto a sheet so they can relive it in their minds later.

Scribbled onto these post-its on the wall are quotes my roommates and I have said to each other that we’ve found humorous. This kind of memory is able to capture a personality. Whether it’s an opinion about something or someone, a whitty remark, a miscommunication or ignorance about something that makes us laugh is a way for us to remember each other and smile.

Memory can sometimes feel like a curse, but to remember things like your adventures into new places, your failures that became lessons, your loved ones whose bodies now shrink in boxes underneath marble nametags is a gift.

Memories become pillows and chocolate on the days you wish life wasn’t such a pain in the ass. Those moments in those pictures will never be lived again, or at least not in the same way; just as those moments on our post-its will never be relived except in our minds.

So when opportunities arise, take the chance to make some memories that you’ll want to remember. I’m almost 22, and already I have done and seen so much that it excites me to no end to think that this is only the beginning. Fear and worry are your enemies. They will do nothing for you, so don’t welcome them. Try new things, go to new places before you tire out and don’t have the energy to go anymore. Already I feel more tired than I felt even a year ago.

As addicting as Facebook is, it’s not going to do much for you. Of all the things you post on Pinterest, how many are you actually going to do/make/look at again? Trust me, I have these problems too. But remember how precious time is. Take your lazy day when you need it, follow the rules so you don’t get fired, but there is so much life in the trees just outside your door, and we have a tendency to use that time to sprawl on the couch and watch a second movie we’ve already seen. Even in your priorities, there’s life and excitement that you haven’t noticed. Never lose your sense of adventure, of wonder, of a love for life, for people, and for God. Let your mind be as free as that of a child.

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Everyone is a book on a shelf. 

But you’re not just a book. You’re a specific book on a specific shelf in a specific part of the library. 

I’m a waitress, and there are a few ladies who have worked at my restaurant for over twenty years. I have a tendency to get annoyed of the job by the end of the week. Sometimes I worry that I’m going to be stuck there for the rest of my life. But then I feel guilty for thinking that that would be a bad thing. At least I have a job. I have money to buy groceries every week and a new shirt every once and a while. But I tend to think of my job as something towards the bottom of the food chain. But when I take a step back, it’s not. A waitress is needed as much as anything else.

Notice how when the snow clings to trees, only a certain amount of snowflakes can catch the branches and hang on. The rest fall to the ground. Imagine those snowflakes as people. Only a certain number accomplish their dreams and stick to the branches on different levels. The rest fall to the bottom and get lost in the hills of snow. They find jobs as waitresses, janitors, bus drivers, cashiers. . .

Sometimes we tend to think of those bottom jobs as the lowly jobs. “Why would you want to do that for the rest of your life?” But just because I won’t be a lawyer, doctor, or scientist, doesn’t mean I can’t contribute something. Maybe I won’t end up being the writer I hope to be. Maybe the most I’ll accomplish is win a short story contest after losing twenty others. Besides, without that bottom snow, what would we use for snowball fights? For snowmen? What would we use to snowboard on? To snowmobile on?

Everyone is needed in this walk of life. You may not own the restaurant, but people are needed to serve the food. Without janitors, everything would dust and mold. Without bus drivers, those who don’t have a car wouldn’t be able to get around. 

I am in the middle of reading 1 Corinthians, and I came to chapter 12:12-31 that has a heading called “On Body, Many Parts.” I will quote a few of these lines so you can get the gist:

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other…”

So don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to climb the ladder. Work your butt off to get somewhere if you can. Find your gifts, and use them. If you are doing what you can to put food on the table for yourself or your family, then you are doing great. We don’t all need to be waitresses, but we can’t all be doctors either. If you kick yourself every time you fail, you focus on the struggles instead of allowing on the strengths to encourage you. You are needed in whatever you do.

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Sometimes it feels like there are more voices in my head telling me to do or not do something than there are stars in the sky. It is quite exhausting to figure out which one feels more right, but even harder when the majority of me wants to do the opposite of what would be right.

But there’s something I’ve been realizing lately: Of all those voices, only half of them are right; which means the other half is going to tell me whatever I want to hear or whatever may convince me to take its side. At the end of the day, our choices are our own. Sometimes we will choose the right path, and sometimes the stubborn sinners that we are will be blinded by what we want to see rather than what is. Sometimes those choices help us grow to make better choices in the future, and sometimes our choices wreck things for us just because we didn’t want to listen to anyone but ourselves.

So before you go thinking up other names that partake in where you are in your life, you got yourself there, whether that’s a good or bad thing. Your attitude, your laziness, your alcoholism, your stress, your busy schedule, your weight, whatever it may be. . .you’re where you’re at because of you. It almost feels natural to start thinking about how other people did you wrong, about other’s choices that landed you in the dumps, but the way we take in information, the way we deal with it is our choice.

This almost feels like I’m going off track, but I promise I’m not. Of all those voices in my head, there’s only one that truly matters to me, and that’s God’s. That is, when I figure out which voice is His. But after that, the decision I make is up to me, even if it strays from what God would have preferred. I haven’t always made the right choice, and there will be days where I make a wrong one again. But when the time comes to make an important decision, remember that the choice you make affects you. The ones who disagree with you aren’t the ones living your life. That doesn’t mean to not take what they have to say into consideration, but remember that there will probably be people fighting on both sides, so not everyone is going to be happy.

So take the time to weigh all sides, and choose from the heart. Sometimes we have to say no to things we want. It sucks. But when we are able to say no to those things, we save ourselves unnecessary heartache, as well as the time to find what we were meant to find all along.

As abstract as this may seem, I hope you can find some truth of it in your own walk of life. Don’t blame anyone else for where you’re at. If you don’t like where you’re at, change it. 

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I’m terrible with goodbyes. And they are everywhere. Each day has an end. Each book. Each adventure. Each person.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to Ireland and my 3 months spent in Italy. It is a deep sorrow that needs to be learned to live with and accept. But before the goodbyes, there’s life. There’s love. There’s hope.

Desires can be traps. To crave something you can’t have is a sorrow deeper than a grave. Part of me craves to go back to Italy. The other part of me craves to go back to Italy with the people I had been there with, but that would mean going back in time. I can now only relive those memories in my mind. I can hit replay on the laughs, but I won’t hear them there again. I can imagine laying out on a soccer field, but we won’t again. I can see the vineyards, the buildings, the mountains in my mind, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to see them again except in pictures. I can tell stories, but they will only be stories. The others will never really know, no matter how good of a story teller I am.

To experience is to live. But to live is to lose. For everything we’ve experienced will eventually come to an end.

Living in the past is like being dead in the present. I look back on my study abroad in Italy, my spring break in Ireland, and can smile at the amazing chance that I was given. But then the other half of me misses it to the point of tears.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. It has been almost 5 months since I’ve been back, but I have yet to find the strength to accept the goodbye. 

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“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

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This has been the busiest summer of my life. I wish the days had been longer, and that winter ended before April, but I have also been extra happy at times this summer.

I think it’s basically because of the people I am blessed to spend my days with.

If you can make me laugh, I basically already consider you a friend even if it would be our first time meeting. I love being with and around people that have a good sense of humor, and can make me laugh because laughter can brighten your mood, someone else’s mood, or even your whole day if it was being fed to the pigs. When you surround yourself with people that make you feel good or can make you smile just by being the dorks they are and saying the obnoxious, stupid, or wise things they say, you find less and less bad days.

Now don’t hear me wrong, there will always be bad moments, but then when you talk to or hang out with the right person, s/he can turn it around maybe without even knowing it. And soon, the things that seem to keep going wrong, or the problems that crush like and ever-rolling rock don’t seem as big of a deal, because you know who you can go to.

I’m a waitress, and some of my customers make me want to sharpen the steak knives, but then I get to go into the kitchen and work with some pretty amazing people who can make me forget almost instantly. I am also blessed to be so close with my family that I consider my cousins to be some of my best friends. If it weren’t for them, I would have gone to college in Tennessee.

All of them have their dramatic moments, but we’re only human. Doesn’t mean we all don’t also need space from each other every once and a while.

I guess what it all buckles down to is this: surround yourself with people that make you grin, make you laugh till your eyes sprinkle, make you look to the sky and think, “You know, life is pretty good.” Trust me, your good days will outnumber the bad. And wouldn’t it be nice to have a little break from stress? 

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21 sounds young, but to me I feel like I’m getting old, especially since I’m a senior in college this year. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me  that there’s plenty of fish in the sea, that it will happen when I least expect it. Sure, maybe it will. Still, that never seemed to help me.

But I think I was going about it all wrong.

God put it in our hearts to want love, to want marriage. Marriage will be a beautiful thing, a day to celebrate the joining of two families into one. I find myself skimming through Pinterest engagement pictures, thinking about that moment when he pops out a ring, how he’ll get down on one knee.

I’ve looked at wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, where we would want the reception, types of flowers and decorations. I’ve thought about those steps down the aisle, not being able to see anyone but him waiting for me.

I look at guys in my life, guys I like, and begin trying on their last names. I imagine honeymoon locations, and buying our first house. I imagine the private things that happen on honeymoons. I imagine tailgate parties, motorcycle rides, and picnics in the park as husband and wife. Sometimes I rub my stomach and think about experiencing that first kick, the excitement of seeing a baby we made even after the pain.

If I have a daughter, I hope to name her Natalie; if a son, I hope to name him Ethan. I’ve thought about what I’d decorate the baby room into, about having a summer cabin by a lake where we could take family vacations. I’ve thought about teaching my kids patience through fishing and hard work by feeding the calves and pulling weeds in the garden. I’d hope my daughter to be a volleyball player like I was. I would love to have a son on the football team.

I’ve thought it all, I’ve read it all. Most experience something of the sort, some don’t.

But then I have to remember something: my priority has never been marriage. My priority has always been God. I have even told myself that in my relationship God will always come first, so why do I have it in my head that I need to find someone before I spend the rest of my life alone? 

A part of me loves being alone. Lately I haven’t had enough time to myself, and I’m someone who needs “me time” if I’m going to survive being with people all the time. I love seeing my friends and family and just people in general, but, for me, there really is such a thing as too much people-time.

For me, to read, write, do summer school homework, play guitar, listen to music without having to participate in conversation; these things I need to do alone. When I was in Italy, I was with people every single day and never really just went for a walk by myself or sat in my bed reading what I wanted to read. I wanted to be in the lounge hanging out with people because I knew my time was limited and I wanted to see them all as much as I could.

But what I seem to keep forgetting, what I think we all forget, is that all of us need time alone. Some need it more than others, but you can’t really reflect unless you give yourself some space from the things that distract you. Since I’m single, I’ll get more “me time” than I will once I get a real full-time job, a boyfriend/husband, and kids. Once my life starts with someone else, my life will be devoted to them. However, right now, I get to devote myself to simple things that I love. This may be the most time I’ll ever get to work on writing my books, and that doesn’t even feel like much time at all.

At the end of the day, yes, I’m single. But I’m also using that time to work towards the things that God has me here to do. Right now, I don’t have a boy to distract me from my writing. I know with every part of my being that God has stories He wants me to share with the world, and He chose me to write them for Him. God is all I’ve ever needed, and I will always seek His Kingdom first. A relationship with a man will always come in second to my relationship with God.

God really is enough, and I hope if you don’t know that already, that you will come to realize it as well 🙂

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Stuff happens. Buildings fall. Sometimes those buildings have people in it. Sometimes one of those people is you.

But other buildings are bound to fall. And who better to steer people clear of the falling buildings than you who experienced the fall?

Sometimes things happen to us in life so that we can prepare someone else. I think God just knows you are strong enough to handle it. And what strength He must see.

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I am going to write this now, in case I somehow receive a ton of money and become selfishly absorbed. As of this moment, I plan on making sure I don’t let myself make money or things a priority in my life. I don’t think we ever really intend to in the first place, but as we become absorbed with cell phones, we find that we want to spend money on the best and brightest. Ipods, laptops, sound systems, TVs, houses, cars, RVs, furniture,dogs, flowers, food, fridges, ovens, paintings, yada yada, yap yap. The list is endless with which you can be picky, spendy, greedy, stupid. There are shops full of stuff to buy that is pointless. You buy it because it’s funny, and then all of a sudden you have a box full of crap that you don’t even know what to do with. I’m afraid of becoming a hoarder, so if I buy less stuff, that is less likely to happen.

Now don’t get me wrong–things age and need to be replaced. I’m just saying buy what’s wise, not necessarily what’s hip and cool. One of my friends is a Coupon Queen, and that is a smart way to go if you give a little time and organization. 

But why I’m writing this, is because when I get older and have a family, I don’t know what my financial situation is going to be. I don’t know where I’ll be working, where I’ll be living, and I could either be just getting by or rolling in the big bucks. All I know, is that I don’t want to let it change me. Money is a material that can either be a tree in your mind or a dust bunny.

Think about it, we all have money trees. You go to work, make your money, give it back to the community when buying food for your family, donating to a cancer cause,  just to make it back to spend it again. A tree grows leaves, but can’t grow them back again until they are let go and given to the ground. 

But then some are hoarders of their money, dust bunnies. You may spend it, but it is things on yourself, and it keeps piling up either in your bank account or in your house. You may play in the stock market or casino, but what you win you bet again at the casino to get more.

It never gets better, because it blinds you into an obsession. Once you get more, you think you can get even more than that if you made it that far. It is just paper that can burn, plastic cards that can melt, yet these thin, material things swallow us whole. Once you’re in, it’s hard to pull yourself back out. 

If you feel the tug, take your Mom out and buy her lunch instead of letting her pay for you. Mow someone’s yard or babysit for free. When buying gas, surprise someone by buying theirs as well, or when in the drive-thru line, pay for the person behind you. These little acts of kindness not only bring a joy to your own heart, but they free you from the grip of money. You only need so much, the rest is just because you want it. Put some away in a savings account for college if you want, but don’t wrap yourself up in stuff. You don’t need to be at the casino every other day.

My parents never bought me video games because they didn’t want me spending all my time inside on them. I had Barbies and used my imagination and brought them to life. i ran around in fresh air and got muscle from helping my dad feed cows. I got my tan not from a tanning bed but from mowing the lawn and picking up hay bales from the field by hand. I learned patience from fishing with my dad and to work for what I want by getting a job instead of my parents paying for me.

Don’t let yourself or your kids get wrapped up in material things. There is a ton to do that doesn’t involve electronics. Teach yourself how to play the guitar because music is good for the soul. Pick up a pencil and try drawing a picture, even if you think you suck. No one has to see it but you. Go for a run in the fresh air or plant a vegetable garden so you don’t have to buy as much at the store. Get an old notebook and write a song or a poem. Turn off the TV and read a book. You use your imagination more when reading a book than watching what is shown to you on a screen. Go to a park and play fetch with your dog.

And remember this: If you don’t give now, what makes you think you’ll give later?

Live through life, not through money. 

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I slept in till 10 this morning and realized I had to go to work at 3:30. I was annoyed. I’m not a big fan of working nights because everything happens at night. I sat up in bed and started wondering, “Is this it?” I will wake up everyday, get some housework done, go to work, come home and eat supper, and go back to bed. I love the people at my job, but I’m getting really tired of the actual job part. I’m a waitress, and though I like jobs where I work with my hands, sometimes I wish I could just quit. 

Then I started realizing that maybe that’s why I’m a Writing major. I would love to find a writing job where I could work from home. I like being home. I’ve been going going going all the time ever since I got back from Italy at the beginning of May, and now it’s June already.

Where are you at in your life? I decided that since I have homework that I don’t want to do and work that I don’t want to go to today,  that I am going to sit for an hour and do something that I actually want to do–read a book that I’m not forced to read. For you, maybe it’s going for a run or riding your horse. Maybe it’s watching your favorite TV show, movie, playing a game, working out, reading the Bible. 

There may be days where you are frustrated or upset about something, but if there is a way to change that for yourself, then do it. Keep a little time stowed away for yourself, even if that means you may have to stay up a little later. Do something that will make you smile, because no day should be smile-less.

I may have woken up disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep myself at that level. 

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Satan has a temper.
He is the tempter
he can make a grown man cry,
can make a fake saint cut flesh like an apple slicer.
Satan knows your weakness
he knows the thing that will tear you to pieces
if you feed sin like steak to a dog.
You can bury the bones but they just get dug up
by the very ones you were trying to hide them from.

It’s always the secretary.
Those little looks and chocolates left on the desk.
He puts his hand on her back, and lets her walk ahead.
They go out for coffee to talk about work
and talk about everything but work.
Still he drives home to, “Daddy, look what I made in school today.“
“Hello, dear. How was your day.”
“Great,” he says.

The road is narrow, like an alley in a movie
that makes you yell at the screen.
“Are you crazy, or just stupid,” you say.
“Someone is bound to be down that way.”

And there he waits
wearing shadows like a cape.

But what if you were a karate master.
Ain’t scared of nobody, nohow,
“Stop hiding like a coward and face your prey.
I’ll take you on any day.
Not so tough when I don’t see it coming, are you?
be gone,” you will say
“In the name of Jesus, get the hell out of my way.”

And Satan turns from thunder
to the crumbler.
From the devour to the coward.

The supernatural comes alive
in that moment of faith
when nothing nowhere
will ever destroy God’s grace for you.

Your body will grow tired,
your hands a wrinkled mess,
but after this life, this moment in time
you’ll never look back, never say remember when
because this is nothing, nothing
compared to what waits ahead. 

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We’re all waiting for something.
Sit with a coffee at the airport and guess who will stand up when someone walks through the door.

We are all lazy in something.
Wait in the frozen food section and see who picks out the pizzas and frozen alfredo.

We all have something that makes us happy.
See the girl sitting on the top suitcase of an airport cart,
the joy on her face as her father pushes her. The Simplicity.

Live while you’re waiting, even in the small things,
otherwise you are simply waiting to die.

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