Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Post in Pictures

I feel like my posts have been lacking in pictures lately, so here's a few to tide you over...

The clouds have looked like this for the last few days.  I think they look just like when little kids draw them, big lines to make the clouds and coloring in the sky to leave the white of the paper for the clouds.

I passed this on my way home the other day.  County fair here I come - surely that means it's summer!

I got news yesterday that one of my oldest friends has gotten engaged - congratulations Brad and Bentley!!

In other news, I will be taking a hiatus the next few days preparing to go out of town, and then actually going.  Be on the lookout for an update upon my return though.  Cheers!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Knight in Shining Sneakers

I've been dog sitting for the last week, staying in a strange house with a strange animal.  Things had gone as well as to be expected until Friday evening, when I experienced a fear previously unknown to me. 

Let me preface that, growing up, I did not live in a neighborhood.  Our driveway was uphill and gravel and few visitors ever arrived unexpectedly.  We did not have a doorbell, and aside from known guests, UPS men, and expected visitors, few people ever arrived on my doorstep.

Friday evening I had retired, light out, head on pillow around 11:30pm.  Something woke me just after midnight.  At first I thought it was a clock, marking the hour, but upon further consideration, I realized it to be the doorbell.  Nervous, I decided to stay in bed.  My logic was, "It only rang once, so if I don't answer perhaps whoever it is will move about their business."  Ten minutes later, it rang twice more.  Following that same logic, I remained in bed while my small furry companion began barking.  Maybe 30 seconds after the bell, I noticed headlights shining in the driveway, signalling what I hoped to be the visitor's exit.

At this point, I'm still in bed, watching the window with intent eyes, listening for signs of someone in or around the house.  The house I'm sitting at is at the beginning of a subdivision, the first house.  While it is situated in a neighborhood, it's still a bit far removed, and one would have to have the intention of arriving here, rather than accidently stumbling upon a house.  The driveway forks into two, one leading up to the front door, one going down and around to the basement.  I have never before noticed headlights shining into the bedroom window so I have no idea where this car would have been in order to achieve that illumination. 

Unable to sleep, I lay in bed, my mind racing, until almost quarter till 1.  I finally decide to get up and walk around the upper level of the house, listening and reassuring myself that all's well.  Everything checks out and I get back in bed.  Not five minutes passes and the headlights appear in my window again, followed by frantic doorbell ringing.  Terrified, I call my father, who says he'll come over and check things out.  I end the night in the master bathroom, door locked, on the phone with my mother, completely outside myself.

By the time dad arrives, the doorbell has been ringing constantly for 15 minutes or more, and I've come to the conclusion that it's malfunctioning in some way.  Dad removes it from its perch on the doorframe outside, as I sit in the floor to ensure our furry friend doesn't wander out of doors, and as he walks in with it, I notice he's wearing new white tennis shoes.  His diagnosis is that someone did push the button and it remained stuck, which caused it to ring insessently.

I will admit to little experience in dealing with true strangers.  I'll also admit to an extreme dislike of confrontation.  While I was braver than I thought I could be (just getting out of bed was a huge step), I still wish to be more bold and willing to protect what's mine instead of lying fearfully by.  Last night my brother and his friend did me a huge favor and stayed the night with me, bringing video games and laughter as protection.  Now it's my turn to learn how to be able to protect myself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Snapshot: A Family

It's late and I instinctively hunch my shoulders as I make my way to the car in the rain.  The safety of the dry garage is maybe 5 feet from my car, but my feeble attempt to ward off the rain occurs without me registering it.  Although its dark and I can't see, I know exactly where I am, and I have no trouble envisioning the wide front yard and gray concrete driveway of my parents house.  I fumble with my keys, trying to unlock the car door in the angled stream of illumination from the flood lights.  Finally, the key slides into the keyhole and the lock makes that satisfying click, giving me access to a warm, dry space once again.

I slide the car into reverse and as I look back from the far corner of the long driveway, I see them.  My family.  Dad is in plaid shorts, wearing the green baseball hat that always covers his head while working outdoors.  He's leaning heavily against the frame of the garage door, the left leg bent behind the right, and although he looks relaxed I know he's as sturdy and enduring as the house he's built.  My brother stands behind my dad, his lean body hidden by his position and a large t-shirt bearing the name of a long dispersed high school rock band.  His peeking from behind dad with a comical expression on his face that took up permanent residence sometime long ago when he was a kid.  Mom is barefoot, wearing long shorts and a brightly colored t-shirt, standing slightly removed from the boys.  She's look every bit like the independent and strong woman I know her to be.

I switch the car into drive, my eyes never leaving the sight before me.  I inch forward and watch as three figures, silhouetted in the light, raise their hands and wave me on enthusiastically.  I recognize this as one of those moments in life I'd like a snapshot of, something to pull out when life causes me to forget my blessings.

As I drive away, I can't help but thank God for the supportive, loving, fun family He's blessed me with.  My heart swells with love and I continue down the road.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Letters from Home

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. ~Norbet Platt

Today I did something I haven't done in a really long time - I wrote a letter to someone I didn't know.  Not just a cute card sent in to a friend at college, but an honest-to-goodness, handwritten on lined paper letter.

hand writing
Not my pen, or my penmanship

Danielle, a friend of mine from college, had told me of a airman in her husband's basic training class that hasn't received any letters since the start of training.  She'd sent out a note asking if anyone would be willing to write to him, and without anything to fill my days lately, I had no reason not to say yes.

There's something romantic about handwritten letters.  I've always liked giving them and receiving them but nowadays it's much easier to power up a computer and send an instant email or message.  (I have at least two shoeboxes full of handwritten cards and letters that I've received since I was a kid).  I like to think about all the hands touching my letter, and the excitement the recipient will feel when opening it.

I love letters
I will admit, though, that the experience of writing to an unknown serviceman was more stressful than I'd imagined.  What do I write to someone I've never met?  (I'd also like to mention that not only have I never met him, I don't even know his full name - which means I'm also assuming the person I'm writing to is a he).  Danielle gave me some pointers, but I still wonder about the adequacy of my letter, although I'm sure any notes from home are much appreciated.

While I'm aware that I've romanticized much of (OK, all of) this situation, there is a part of me that hopes he writes back.  I mean, with songs out there like the Dixie Chicks' Traveling Soldier, and John Michael Montgomery's Letters from Home, what woman in their right mind could help but romanticize.  All morning I've thought about the person I've been writing to, wondering about him, and felt a bit like a WWII woman, working to keep our service men's moral high.  At the very least, I'll have a new friend and pen pal out of the deal.

I have also decided today to spend at least one day a week writing letters to people I love, local or not.  Who knows, maybe I'll be struck to do more than one a week.  I'll keep you posted...
Old postage stamp from USA 6 cent

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thirty-two flavors and then some

Yesterday at 12:40 I walked out of my job for the last time.  While it was glorious and much needed, I will admit to missing the people (already) and being a little nervous about the new financial situation I find myself in.  But I believe it's better to be happy and a little strapped for cash than miserable with all the money in the world.

After I left work, mom and I went out for lunch, and I took her to a Mexican restaurant she's never been to.  We spent some time wondering around the mall, and when we were about half way through the journey we ran into her younger sister, who had stopped in to purchase some shoes for her husband for father's day.

Mom and I accompanied her to Finish Line, where I was hit hard with a realization.  Mom was looking at a pair of shoes when the sales person (a boy I went to high school with) approached her and started making his pitch.  The shoes mom was looking at were called Brooks, and apparently they can do everything but actually walk for you.  They have a thing in the arch that's supposed to stabilize your foot and make you walk straighter.  Then there's this button of air you can see on the sole of the heel that is supposed to adjust to the pressure on your feet when you step down.  The salesman talked for probably 3 minutes without taking a breath, just giving information about this high-tech, yet surprisingly normal looking shoe.

I wasn't really interested, so I started looking around the store and my upcoming trip to Ethiopia popped randomly into my head.  I thought of all the people in that country, and in the world, without shoes.  We're not talking shoes that adjust to your walking style or shoes to help you lose inches or shoes designed for a specific activity like walking or running.  Just shoes to keep your feet covered, protect you from the elements, maybe help you to be able to walk a few years longer.  Here I am, standing in a store with 25 bays of shoes, each of which probably has at least 20 single shoes on display.  That's 500 shoes on display alone.  That doesn't count the mates to those displays, or the various sizes stocked in the back, or the shoes on display on tables in the middle of the store.

My mind was blown.  I sat on a bench for a moment, trying to imagine what it would be like to be a person who had lived without shoes my entire life, and walking into a store like this. 

I couldn't.

Then my mind took it a little farther - this is just one store in the mall.  There are at least 3 other stores devoted solely to shoes in the mall, not to mention all the department stores and small chains that sell shoes too.  We could shoe an entire country without making a dent.

Realizations like this one make me incredibly sad and humble but blessed and motivated all at the same time.  There are so many days I go through without thinking about what I have, about all I've been given and privileged to, and I use those gifts to maintain or obtain my own selfish desires.

Does anyone else think about these things?  Surely I can't be the only one...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chats and the Centennial State

Promise me you'll always remember:  You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  -A.A. Milne

This Saturday I got to spend part of the afternoon with my beautiful friend Katie just chatting about life and catching up.  I first heard about Katie when she was a freshman.  I remember seeing her around RC's campus and she was always smiling and talking with people (she was hard to miss with all her red hair).  It wasn't until my junior year, her sophomore, that I really got the chance to be blessed by her.  It was my first year as an RA and she was my resident, her room opening into the same quad as mine.

Yesterday's chat was much needed.  There were things I was able to verbalize with her that I have a hard time putting into plain English with many of my other friends, and there are a lot of things where our thinking is very similar.  Katie and I have one of those easy friendships, and we can go months or longer without seeing each other but each time we get together it's like no time has passed at all.

One of the things that really stuck out about our conversation was a desire that's been on my mind for a few weeks now.  A fellow youth group leader had mentioned to me, after I told her some of my dissatisfaction with my small corner of the world, that she thought I would fit in well in Colorado.  While the idea of moving terrifies me, I haven't been able to let that comment go.  In our conversation yesterday, Katie mentioned she'd been thinking that moving might be an adventure she needed.  Neither one of us has ever been out west but I'll give you one guess where she's been looking...

Isn't this beautiful?

Katie's leaving mid-week to return home to PA to help build a house for her grandparents.  We've promised to be in touch about the potential of moving and have some Skype chats together.  It's always so cool to me how God will plant an idea or desire in your head and then bring people around you to make it happen.  Who knows if anything will actually come of it, but it's nice to think about.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Sorry I've been missing in action lately.  My six year old computer decided to kick the bucket last month so I had to wait almost three and a half weeks for my new one to arrive.  It set me back a pretty penny but it's one of those things that's (sadly) kind of hard to live without nowadays.

In other (more exciting) news, I put in my two weeks notice at work yesterday.  While I can't wait to be free of that place and the feelings I associate with it, it almost makes it harder to go in everyday and work until the 24th.  I'll be taking the last three days as PTO (making my final exit on the 20th) and laying myself by the pool on my self-declared 'mini-vacation' until I can get back on the schedule at the Rec center.  And I know that being by the pool will be much more enjoyable knowing I'm being paid for it.

I'm excited I took this stand for myself.  I'm a pretty practical person, and it was hard for me to make this decision without having something equal in terms of benefits and stability.  The Rec center can give me almost 40 hours a week for the summer between camps and teaching, but it won't be forever and there's no benefits.  But I'll find something.  I'll live.  And probably with a better quality of life than I've had for the last few months.

Lately I've been feeling really sad (like sad enough that just thinking about work nearly brought me to tears waiting in the doctor's office on Tuesday), and not up to par physically either (no relation to the doctor's visit).  But what got me down more than anything was my lack of a spiritual life.  Not being able to attend church regularly has been really hard for me, and that is certainly the part of my new schedule I'm looking forward to the most.  I'll admit though, I will miss getting off at 4:30 everyday as a guaranteed thing. 

Last night was really the first night I've felt like myself in a long time.  Bekah and Sandy and I went to the eighth grade graduation of some of the middle schoolers and it was wonderful.  There were lots of laughs and witty comments, and I felt like I was speaking up and holding my own in a way that I've missed lately.

I'm excited to see where this goes, and this re-introduction to my freedom is perfectly timed for summer adventures.  Cheers to change.