Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'd kneel down and pray about it, but...

Christmas is over and I'm nestled cozily in my mama's house.  I'm in my pajamas at three o'clock in the afternoon, and I'm thinking about sitting down and writing something.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to walk at the moment.  The day that Christmas break started, as I packed up my friend's car to ride home to my mother, I tripped and busted my knee.  I rode home in some pain and had to be helped to walk every time we had to make a pit stop because my knee just wouldn't hold my weight.

Long story short, after two doctors, two X-rays, and one MRI, we've discovered that I have something lodged underneath my kneecap and the kneecap is dislodged.  I have a surgery sometime next week and, oh yeah, I really miss walking.

It's funny... when crutches become the only way you can get around, you get VERY itchy to dance.  I'm dying to leap and run and do jumping jacks and spin around.  I want to go on a hike and hit the treadmill and just go walk around in my mom's backyard in search of a good place to sit and read my book or write in my journal.

But I'll be ok.  I'll go into my surgery and I'll come out of it achy but ok.

I just thought I'd update you all.  Prayers are always appreciated.  But people have gotten through much worse and been totally fine, and I am not worried about the pain.  Heck, I rode home with this thing for eight hours without crying.  So I'm keeping my chin up about it.  Don't worry about me. :)

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go enjoy the last couple weeks of not having much to do!

Love,
Caro


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bare Faced

I really enjoy being "put together."  I like the process of picking a nice outfit, putting it on, fixing my hair, and putting on some makeup.  I love that time in the morning to just prepare for the day and then greet it looking my best.  There's a certain confidence that comes with dressing well, and it helps even just the way one walks, speaks, and behaves.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

I have been exhausted lately, and so on Tuesday night, I went to bed at the early (for me) hour of 10:00 to try and fix the issue.  As it turns out, getting eight and a half hours of sleep when you're deprived of it only compounds the problem.  It was as if my body screamed at me all day "what was that and where can I get more of it? Oh, how about right here in the cafeteria!"

So I did something I never, ever do.  I rolled out of bed, put on no makeup, threw my hair up with a clip, and put on an oversized sweatshirt with leggings and my most torn up, but most comfortable, boots.  It was just not cute, but I didn't have the patience to care.  I flat out gave up.

I went to work, then to breakfast, then to work again, then to class, then to chapel, then to class, then to lunch, then to class, then work again, and then another class.  After that, I had a long dinner with some terrific people, got to catch up with a friend from high school, and stayed in one of the buildings drinking coffee and having a wonderful, lengthy talk with two great conversation partners.  Then I spent the next two hours with my best friend and then I went to my room and crashed out dead in my bed.

But it was good.

I went into chapel and one of my favorite people told me that I didn't need to be worried about not wearing makeup.  I laughed a lot with people I love.  I didn't think about the strands of short hair falling around my face all day much and I just focused on being present without worry about anything but the people around me and the things I was doing at the time.

Yes, I am wearing a little makeup and an outfit I like today.  No, I will not make the sloppy thing a habit.  But it was so good to know that regardless of what I look like, I can still be blessed.  It's obvious that God was trying to teach me not to rely on what I can do to be loved, but to realize that he blesses me no matter what kind of shoes I wear or how much time I spend getting ready in the morning.

Does that sound absolutely silly?  I hope not.  I think it's just a testament to how God has a personal relationship with us and really does specifically work in us and for us, even in the smallest things.

How has God shown you his love and big-ness today?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Open-ended question

It's quiet where I sit.  I'm squished comfortably down into a soft, green chair and eyes feel a little droopy.  I've done so much homework today that my brain is a little bit numb... but it was a good day.  There was some stress and I am weary, body and soul, but it was good.

I student teach at a public high school off the mountain, and I love it to bits.  Today was quite an experience, though.  I arrived in the classroom and, lo and behold, there was no one but a substitute teacher who didn't know what was going on.  But he knew I'd been a part of the class before so he put me in charge.

I essentially had to wrangle eleventh graders on my own, work on vocab with them, and then give an impromptu lesson on romanticism and Gothic imagery.  For the second half of the class, we watched parts of the film The Raven based off the works of Edgar Allen Poe.  That movie is horrifyingly gory and I don't know why they're allowed to watch it in class, but I was just glad I didn't have to sustain an entire class with no preparation.


I didn’t expect to love the students as much as I do, and I did not expect to dread the end of the semester.  But there’s a lot of sadness to the journey, though I suppose that’s what makes the triumphs so beautiful.  When a troubled kid looks at you with respect and learns something from you, and maybe even likes you as a person, there’s a feeling of joy for which you can really only thank God.  

This high school needs Jesus and a deeper level of grace in the classroom.  The students are not being given what they need and it does break my heart.  I would love to have a deeper investment in their lives than I’m able to have in this semester, and I’m hoping that when I become a teacher, I’ll be able to reach that point in my own classroom.

At this school, I can walk through the door and feel the brokenness.  If I get there before the first bell, I can watch all the students milling about as I weave through them to get to my class.  There’s a pervasive smell of stale cigarettes and an air of tiredness and some apathy, but overall I can just feel the need for something bigger than what they’re aiming for.  Something bigger than a tepid forcing of knowledge into brains with little thought given to hearts and souls. 

I see clearly that the public school system is awash with bad habits and a general complacency.  The teacher I work with asked the students if they knew where a fellow student was.  They all said he got kicked out, because he got “locked up” and if you go to jail you’re automatically out.  She responded with a simple “Oh, what a shame.  I liked him.”  And that was the end of it.  That little instance shattered many illusions about the career path that I want to pursue, but instead of scaring me away, it made me take it more seriously.  

My desire to be a light to these students has increased and I know that I just want to be the kind of teacher who can administer a love for English while also delivering an emphasis on the Gospel even in a public school classroom.
           
There’s a lot of damage done in the public school system that can’t be unraveled by singular teachers.  But, somehow, I still feel that the only way to reverse the cycle without major government intervention is to make sure that we have teachers who are bringing the gospel, or even just some common grace, into the classroom, even when they can’t explicitly share it with the students during school hours.
           
In my experience, the students I teach are fairly unruly and they need a lot of attention in order to succeed.  Some of them are special needs students and others are simply difficult or have attitudes that don’t lend to good study habits or successful learning.  However, I also see a lot of intelligence and sweetness.  I see kids who often are trying to do the right thing but are foiled by their surroundings.  I see a boy who tries to be the alpha dog and objectify women, when really he’s hiding the fact that he can do all the work put in front of him without batting an eyelash at the difficulty.  I see a girl who shouts out the answer to every question in class, when really, she doesn’t want people to know that she doesn’t test very well.  

But I’ve seen the grade books.  I’ve marked up the tests.  And I’ve interacted with the kids and tried to love them as best I can.

So how do you light up darkness like that? 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Missing Belgique

I love my mountain, as you can probably tell from the way I've gushed over it in previous posts.  It's a stunning place to live, and the people who are on it make it even more so.  I am so content here.  I love my school so desperately and I know that this is where I'm supposed to be living.

And yet I have a massive, Europe-shaped hole in my heart.  I don't think about it very often, but on occasion, I'm practically slapped in the face with how much I miss it.

Sometimes I'll be walking across campus in the fog, and I think of Belgium.  The stone pathway clicks familiarly beneath my boots and my well-used trench coat hugs me tight.  I can feel the wetness in the air and my fingertips get numb with each passing moment, so I shove them in my pockets and continue forth just as I did when I would walk to the train station in Brussels.

Often, I'll hear a song from one of my travel playlists.  I won't tell anyone which songs those are because they are almost like a diary of how I was feeling at the time, but now when I hear them I get melancholy.  Sometimes it provokes a tear, but mostly I just grow homesick and bear it as silently as possible.  It's silly to be homesick for a place that holds so many bad memories, isn't it?

Isn't it crazy that I love a place so much when I so hated it at the time?  I wanted to be nowhere but in happy, "perfect" America.  I knew it would be the ticket.  And to be honest, moving here did help me.  I was able to figure myself out in a comfortable, known environment, and I'm so much happier now than I was at the time.  But now I realize that I need to experience the parts of Europe that I loved so much, but this time with my refreshed and God-changed heart.

I loved my Belgium so much.  I merely hated my situation, and I still do.  I'm not bitter anymore, praise be to God, but it is right and good that I hate the circumstances for they are ugly and broken.  But I love what the Lord has done in my heart and I want to share it.

I want to walk through those old, familiar streets and smile at passersby because I have something to smile about it.  I want to look beggars in the eye and give them a euro or two, or maybe just a hot sandwich.  I want to speak to shopkeepers in my broken French and eat all the good food I can stuff into my belly.  Maybe sit by a fire in a pub with laughter on my lips and a hot meal on my plate.

Instead of being afraid of the city and of the world, even in its beauty, I want to embrace it and fly into it full force and experience it anew.  I miss my Belgium.  And, hey, maybe it misses me.

The homesickness gets harder and harder.  I will go back.  It won't be easy for so many reasons, but I'm feeling the pull and I know I must.  I don't know when, but even if I must go alone, I will go.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

City Lights and Joy

The weather on my mountain is breathtaking.  Tonight I stood outside looking over the city lights by myself.  They twinkled and it was like magic, and I couldn't stop grinning.

I inhaled the fresh, fall air and for the first time I made sure to taste it, too.  It's not sweet, but it's not unsweet, either.  It's melancholy and familiar and I love it more than any other season's breath.  It's too dark outside to recognize it by its colors, but I know my friend Autumn by her smell.

Deeply I sucked it into my nose and mouth, held it in, and then pushed it out back into the sky again.  I thanked God for my breath.  I danced my fingers like a piano player, though I can only play Twinkle Twinkle, on the railing and thanked God for fingers that move.  I bounced on my healthy feet and wiggled side to side with my happy legs.  I didn't sing for a while because I wanted to hear the last of the leaves dancing together... but, of course, it wasn't long before I couldn't help but hum a little.

Hallelujah screamed at me from every visible thing.  Even the invisible things somehow shouted God's glory at me.

God has blessed me, even in the midst of heartsickness, with an inexplicable joy this week.  I have been practically bouncing off the walls with sheer blessedness.

None of this is my doing.  When I go off by myself and retreat into chick flicks and chocolate and refuse to smile, life crashes without any mercy.  But God is teaching me to truly run to his arms in sorrow instead of running from him.

So as I watched the city lights flicker, I remembered my smallness and that made my love for God get bigger.  How could such a tiny thing like me be seen, much less loved by such an awesome Lord?  For every wavering light there are hundreds of people who all need grace and who all need love.  Who am I to pout about... anything?

Instead, I choose to grin.  And I pray that God will fill me with so much joy that it'll just bubble up and over and pour out all over the people around me so that they might feel joy, too.  I pray to serve and not to be served, and I pray that God will give me a heart for that more than anything else.

I want to weep with those who weep, because God holds my own tears in a bottle.  I want to put a smile on the faces of other's because God keeps giving me one.  I want to bring music into people's lives because God keeps putting songs in my heart.  I want to write words for people because of the one, true Word.

I love you who are reading this and I just want you to know that you can feel free to email me or leave comments or whatever.  I'd just love to send you encouragement if you need it, or anything else.  I don't write this blog for myself, and I would love for it to be a kind of conversation.

Be joyful, little people.  Because your God is big and his blessings encompass all.

Love,
Caro


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Importance of Journaling

Today is my last full day of fall break.  It's been so nice and relaxing.  The five-page paper that I had to write today seemed easy considering all the relaxing I got to enjoy.

I filled up a journal today and started a new one.  That's always bittersweet, isn't it?  When I flip through the old one, I can tell the most honest and heartfelt passages by which ones were the messiest.  I can also tell which ones provoked growth and which were purely for the sake of venting.

A lot has changed since I started that journal right at the beginning of the school year.  To follow the timeline forward through the past two months is to laugh at worry over things that turned out just fine and to see the absolute grace of God in granting this fool a good life.

Journals are like people.  No two speak the same way, and each one has it's own life and personality.  The journal that I just started is already more artistic than the last, because my writing bug has returned and I want to fill it's pages with observations and the deeper parts of my emotions.  I want to write not only prayers and little thoughts, but I want to also search my heart and try to relate it to Scripture.  I also want to give a good account of my days so that I can look back and know why I was feeling the way I was at the time.

My new journal is still unfamiliar to me.  I don't know the exact feel of it's pages or it's tone yet, even though it's the same size and brand as my last one.  But it's still a bit of a stranger to me, and a cold one at that.  It needs an ink stain more, or a teardrop, or a coffee spill.  But these things take time.

I want to pray all over this new journal.  I want to see real change and growth over it's pages, even more so than the last one.  Even on the pages that are just to-do lists, I want to be meaningful and intentional, and I want it to be beautiful.

So many things in my journals I will never share here on this blog, and that's the way it should be.  Some things I will share with only my closest friends, and some things I won't share with anyone but the Lord.  Sometimes I'll just jot down song lyrics that lifted my spirit or made me think, and sometimes I'll write my own poetry.

Maybe some days it'll be a mere account of events, and sometimes it'll be a joyful experience that I'll barely fit onto three or four pages.  Sometimes there will be sorrow that I can barely make to flow from my pen.

But journals are special books.  There's something about them that can't be conveyed with typed words, and I really believe that everyone should own one and carry it everywhere.

Buy a small one.  Big enough for your big ideas, but small enough to take with you.  Write every day, even if it's just a paragraph.  Put a date on everything you write so that you won't forget, because twenty years from now you will.  Doodle if you have to, but get your point across.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but it will be beautiful as a whole.

Be brutally honest with your journal, for who is it to judge?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Haps

I'm on Fall break right now, and so I made the trip to come stay with my sweet mama for a few days.  I'm loving our time together, and it's been such a great blessing!  We've been very relaxed and have so enjoyed each other's company.  I don't think I'll ever take for granted time with her ever again.

Talk about a Proverbs 31 woman, y'all.  I couldn't be happier that she's mine and Will's mama. We love her to bits.  So proud of her.

Otherwise, I'm just having a time of sweet refreshing before I go back to studying hard and getting back on my school/work schedule.  I'm in a coffee shop again.  Don't laugh.

Here are a couple of tidbits for you to give you a little overview of what my life is like at Covenant:


  • I work facilities to help pay for school, which means that 15 hours a week, I clean one of the buildings on campus.  I love my job!  Cleaning toilets and windows isn't so bad when you work with awesome friends and are filled with laughter, even at 7am.  Plus, my boss is such a light and frequently invites us into her office for a chat and some chocolate-covered coffee beans.

  • I'm an English major with a minor in education.  For my introduction to teaching class, I get to go off campus three hours a week and student-teach English at a public high school.  I can't give any detail for confidentiality reasons, but I adore it.  I am so aware that teaching is my calling, and I get so excited every time I go.  Plus, I get to dress professionally, which y'all know I love.

  • My friends are so solid.  I'm on a pretty regular schedule, and so I always know who I'm going to eat with for each meal depending on the day, and there's always someone up for hanging out at night, be it for deep conversations or laugh-fests.  I love them all so much, and they make me feel so normal!  Everyone has issues and we're all just making it by with the Lord's help.  What a blessing they are to me, especially after being so lonely for the past two years.

  • I've found a wonderful church home and I'm planning on getting more involved as time goes on, and I'll probably transfer my membership there at some point. The church is like the one I grew up attending in a lot of ways, but it's also a bit different and I just knew that it was my place.  It was immediate.  I had prayed for a while that the Lord would make it a clear decision, and almost as soon as I walked in the door, I knew.  I get excited to go to church every Sunday, and I can't wait to go back next week!

  • I have three lovely, hilarious, and sweet roommates.  I might do a post on them one day if they don't mind, but they're dolls.  It's not easy to get four girls to get along well, but we've conquered the tension and have been smooth sailing for a while now.  Love those ladies.

  • I cut hair now!  I cut one friend's hair, and then a roommate's, and then suddenly I had several other people asking me to do the same, even a guy friend.  It's so much fun and it relaxes me a lot.  It helps broke college kids, and I love doing it.  Tell your friends. ;)


I'm a busy, busy bee, and I love it.  When I'm busy and when I'm surrounded by a body of believers, I flourish.  I'm so happy at my school, and I owe it all to the Lord.  How blessed I am!  I don't deserve a lick of it.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." 
Romans 15:13

Monday, October 8, 2012

New.

I crack my knuckles.  Yellow leaves and foggy air swirl past the window of the Starbucks that I love so dearly. A sweater is warming my skin and a hot latte is warming my soul.  This weather and these smells are reminding me of my past.  It's a recent past, technically speaking, but it feels as if it's been a lifetime.

Nostalgia rips through me.  Belgian memories circle about in my brain and my heart does hurt a little.  But I'm so different than I was then.  I am not running anymore.  I'm done searching.  The fruitless pangs of uninhibited sorrow are over for me now.

I've been at school for a couple of months now.  It feels longer than it's really been and I just know that I'm at home.  I'm steady.  I am happy. I have friends on every side.  Such a far cry from my life in Belgium!

There are so many adjustments I've had to make.  Luckily, over the summer, I had plenty of time to readjust to living in America and to grieve over my broken family.  The mourning continues, but it's different now.  It's no longer hopeless.

Friends, when I was in Europe, I was essentially a dead woman.  My heart was so numb to everything and I was desperately alone.  There was so much I couldn't bear and so I simply did not.  I was crashing into a pit straight on, and there was nothing to hold me back.  I tried to read my Bible and I maybe had bits of spiritual feelings here and there, but it did not count for anything.  I was dull and dim.      Desperately more dank than the dirt that my boots wedged between the Belgian cobblestone.

But I have come alive.

My school, Covenant College, has a motto.  In all things, Christ Preeminent.  The beauty of that is that it's not an empty phrase.

Covenant threw me headlong into the Word.  Chapel three days a week, encouragement to attend church, godly people at every turn, and professors who emanate the Gospel in every aspect.  I don't know quite when it happened, but I was convicted.  I knew, almost immediately, that I didn't have what these people had, and I was stunned.

My head was stuffed with Christian knowledge and I had always called myself one, but I wasn't.  I just wasn't.

The thought makes me hurt, but now it also makes me laugh for joy.  Because, readers, the Lord softened my heart, and so swiftly.  If it weren't for all the pain, or better yet, anguish that I have experienced, I don't think I would have realized the depth of his blessings and the vastness of my need for Him.

God is jealous for me.  He weeps for me.  He rejoices with me.  He gives me so many new blessings daily, so much so that I can't even document them all.

My heart, though still scarred and often sorrowful, is whole.  I love my God and can't imagine why I ran from His great love for so long.  Now I crave to read His Word and there's a song on my tongue to praise Him.  And none of this is my doing!  He pursued me hotly and convicted me.

And then he made me to feel his grace poured onto my head like a waterfall.

I want nothing more than to talk about Him to everyone.  He is my strong salvation and stole me from a sort of death.  I am fully alive and I can only attribute it to Christ, for my own attempts had all failed.

I thank God for my circumstances, I thank Him for my time in Europe, no matter how painful, and I thank Him for my school.  I thank Him for my friends, for my mother, and for my brother.  I thank Him for sweet family and for professors that want to know me and who care for me, and I thank Him for simple mercies like the desire to write again.

Wretch that I am, the Lord wants me.  What greater hope can there be?  How can I not sing for joy?

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, 
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
ar your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:9-11

And so I smile at my sweet friend next to me and she smiles back.  She goes back to her studying and I know that I should do the same.  Yes, I even thank God for midterms.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Update

There's a reason I haven't been blogging.  It extends past the usual excuses... I legitimately have been at a loss for words.  My life has been in an uproar and I didn't know how to speak without mentioning why.

I feel that the dust has settled enough for me to be upfront about it.  Honestly, the dust will never completely settle, but it is what it is.

I have been unable to tell you this through my own emotional blockage, but my father left us.  I am not going to go into much detail because this is a public blog, but it has broken my heart and made my life change entirely.  I will not be traveling to Belgium on the holidays as planned because I no longer have a home there.  My mom has moved here to live in Georgia and I will be living with her when I'm not at school.  It's now just the three of us: me, my mom, and my brother.

This has been the greatest heartbreak I have ever encountered.  It's taken all of my creative energy and flushed it down the toilet.  It has caused ripples in several relationships, and it has led to me crying more often than I'd like to.

On a day to day basis, I'm doing fine.  I smile and I mean it.  I have happiness in my life.  But every once in a while it kicks me in the gut.  Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe.  I struggle with anger, too, and have to hold my tongue more often than I like to.

One day, I won't cry anymore.  Some day it won't be new. Sitting in a room with just my mom, my brother, and me won't make me grieve.  But I will never be ok with it.

Even though this situation is the worst I've ever known, I still have so many blessings in my life.  I continue to be amazed at the loving behavior of so many people I know.  God provides for us with exactly what we need, and he regularly instructs us in patience. We've learned what real love means.

The only thing I ask is that you pray for us.  There's nothing more that we need than that.  And maybe soon I can write again.

With a heavy heart but a future hope,

Caroline

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pictures. Just Because.

The day before I left Brussels, I found a turtle in my backyard.  I looked out our window and just saw him moseying across the grass, hanging out in the sunshine.  So I whipped out my camera and took a picture of him (I named him Freddie Baby) and also took pictures of some more things for fun because the light was good.

I thought I'd post a couple here for fun.

Freddie Baby!  He was very nice.

The door of a little play house we had in the backyard. I love cracked paint.

Roses bloomed on our bush in the front yard right before I moved away!

The only wind chimes in the world that literally make zero noise.  But they look cool.


Anyway, that's all I've got for today!  I'm starting my first day at work this morning (I'll let you know how it goes) and I'm pretty nervous.  

Talk to y'all later!

Love, 
Caro

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

6 Blurbs

1---  It takes a lot to get me to do laundry, or to clean my room, or to do the dishes, or anything of that nature.  I procrastinate and hem and haw until I have no other recourse but to grit my teeth and do it.

But, oddly enough, once I do grit my teeth and get going, I always enjoy it.  I truly like organizing things, and I love the feeling of being productive.  It's a natural high to check something off of a to-do list, and it doesn't come with any guilt.  Nope.  It's pure, unadulterated satisfaction in something that took some effort.  And yet... I still groan when I have to do a chore. WHY can't I get it into my head that I enjoy it? 


2---  I want to get fit this summer.  I'm a stress eater, and I've been going through a lot of stress lately.  So I've started saying no to food, and not mentally.  I literally say "no" at the fridge. It works surprisingly well, and I haven't snacked at all today.  I also biked two and half miles on the stationary bike and speed-walked for twenty minutes on the treadmill.  I cannot let life get to me so I'm trying to man up and call the shots.

Why I do these kinds of things I can't explain.

3---  All of my shows have been disappointing me lately.  The Grey's Anatomy finale was dumb.  Dumb dumb dumb.  And Mad Men has been an absolute wreck lately, though I haven't seen the most recent episode.  And I had to stop watching Justified because it got too creepy for me.  The only show that I consistently enjoy is Modern Family.  Don't let me down, guys.

4---  I really love my brother.  I'm glad I've got such a good one.

5---  I think I decided what to do about my blog name, but I'll update that later.  I really appreciate all of your help/comments!

6--- American things I've missed?  Hulu, Pandora, no YouTube country restrictions, no language barrier, warm weather, being able to text my buds, fast laundry machines, family nearby, easy access to everything and anything, and did I mention no language barrier?


Love,
Caro


Monday, May 28, 2012

The Trip to End all Trips (No seriously I'm never getting on an airplane again)

Hey, y'all!  I'm officially no longer an ex-pat!  I couldn't be more excited.  I have to say, the culture shock has been kind of heavy, but otherwise, I'm jazzed.

Let me tell you what.  I was awake for over 26 hours straight flying over here, and that is not cool.  I do not do well when sleep deprived.  I haven't been sleeping well lately anyway, so I was already exhausted to begin with and flying across the world doesn't help with that.

My first leg was an eight hour flight to Philly.  I got a pat down and the lady dug through my carry-ons, and at one point, she accidentally dumped my suitcase out everywhere.  Stuff went flying, and I was worried because I had valuables and clothes in there.  I was so completely embarrassed.  Not to mention, I have four stitches on my rib cage and she was not uber careful when she was patting me down.  They need to chill, and BIG time.

On my plane, I sat next to a basketball player.  I'm pretty sure he was a famous player, too, because his face looked so familiar.  But then again, I don't know why a famous basketball player would be sitting in coach next to a nervous seventeen-year-old.  He was all arms and legs and took up half my seat with his elbow... but he slept most of the time so I kind of forgot he was there.  I didn't sleep because I caught a cold, somehow, halfway through the flight and I could really breathe.

At Philly, I had a sit down lunch/dinner/whatever of Chick-Fil-A, which eased all my discomfort.  Seriously, they make magic nuggets and the lemonade is kickin'.  And the fries?  Who are we even kidding?  Delicious.

On that flight, which I think was about three hours, I got a little nauseated (I don't like flying) so I took a Dramamine.  ROOKIE MISTAKE.  By the time I landed in Charlotte, I was delirious.  My eyes were rolling around in my head and pretty much nothing made sense.  Since I was by myself, I just kind of wandered around looking for my next terminal like a lost puppy, but I made it.

People looked at me like I was Hitler every time I sneezed or sniffled.  I'm not trying to kill you, fellow passengers.  I can't help the snifflies.  This one lady glared at me and proceeded to pump her kid with some hippie voodoo vitamin juice in a dropper every time I coughed.  It was a bummer but I didn't really know what else to do, and I was too drowsy to think clearly.

On the third and last plane, I fell asleep... sort of.  I wasn't fully asleep because I was semi-aware of what was around me, but I wasn't fully awake because my eyes were half closed and my head was kind of rolling around.  I was too sick feeling to even get water from the drink service, and only woke up enough to get off the plane successfully and walk to the baggage claim to meet my brother.  After that, I was weirdly wired all the way home.

My brother and our friend tell me I was super weird.  Saying weird stuff and laughing like a crazy person.  I remember a lot of it, but not all of it.  I just need to never take Dramamine ever again.

When we got home, I was kind of antsy until about 3 AM, so I tidied a little and I'm pretty sure I curled my hair.  Then I dropped into the bed and slept till noon.

Now, I have a cold, but I feel good otherwise.  Sleeping well, living well.

I'm sitting with him now in a cafe and we've got to go because we're going to eat at our cousins' house. I'll catch ya later, people.

Love,
Caro

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Name Change?

Hey, folks!

My grandpa (Hi, Papa!) made the point, very rightly, that I might like to change the name of this here blog since I'm moving back to the states.  I agree, and had actually been thinking the same thing myself!

My Papa threw out some titles, all of which I loved.  I got really close to picking Each End of Georgia, because I'll be living, well, in each end of Georgia what with college and family.  Also, his suggestion of Coon dogs and Cotton had a certain ring to it as well.  :)  My idea was to call it True Grits.

All of this got me thinking that maybe I should ask you guys!  Seeing as y'all are the ones who have to live with typing it and seeing it every time you read my blog.

So, let me know what you think.  Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or just pick one that I've mentioned.

Thanks, y'all!

Love,
Caro

  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Little Things I'm Loving

///My mama making dinner.  I love her more than I can explain and her food... well, let's just say college is going to be a struggle without having access to it on a regular basis.





///A brand new Bible, complete with a pink cover and flowers.  I'm starting up a new Bible Reading program this summer, and I wanted a Bible small enough to carry around, and my mom found this cute one for me.  I had an ESV Study Bible that I'd been using before, and that doesn't exactly fit in my purse.




///Special K Dark Chocolate cereal.  This is a Europe thing and boy howdy.  It has rocked my world.  Good thing I found it shortly before moving away because having chocolate in my cereal every morning can't be healthy...




///Espresso.  We have a handy dandy espresso maker (which I will also miss) and it makes the most mouth watering coffee you can imagine.  



///Sharpies.  There's something about doodling with a thick, black Sharpie on pure white paper that, I swear, releases some endorphins. (And who doesn't love the smell of a fresh Sharpie marker?)



///Breaking out the summer clothes.  I love the colors of summer, and when I put on a bright shirt, my mood lifts.





Sometimes you get bogged down with everything that's going wrong, and that's when you need a camera.  Just run around your house and take pictures of things that make you happy, and that gratitude might put things into perspective for you.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. -James 1:17

Love,
Caro

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Haps

The countdown has begun.  I've got a job lined up in Georgia, I've got an empty closet in Georgia waiting to be filled with my clothes, I've got a bed in Georgia waiting to be rumpled by my sleepy body, and I've got my room here in Belgium almost ready to be packed out.

There are still a couple of piles here and there, and a large mound of things in the middle of my room to be shipped to my college.  This took me ages to manage, but I think I'm almost ready.

This week will be comprised of sorting things out and tying up loose ends, and then I'll leave.  I won't say what day I'm leaving because there are weird people on the internet, but it's too soon to believe.

I'm excited, scared, happy, sad... the works!  But the butterflies in my tummy are certainly cheerful butterflies for the most part.  Cheerful butterflies tend to exterminate the worried butterflies if you let them.  It can get pretty intense.

In other news, I'm trying to write again.  Nothing major.  Not a book or anything like that, but I'm trying to blog.  Also, I'm keeping a notebook in my night stand and forcing myself to journal every night, even if it's just a poem or two.  My love for writing nearly got knocked over by the fiction writing class I took, but I'm trying not to let it get to me.  I know I learned things from the class, but it killed my fire for a while there.  I'm going all Bear Grylls on the sparks, however, and trying to coax them back to life.  We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and hey, you'll know this if you're my friend on Facebook, but I graduated!  High school is over for good, and I'm mighty pleased.  I'm heading to college with a partial scholarship and I really do feel as if I accomplished something.  I tend to be a quitter, so finishing twelve years of school and getting a scholarship is a major gift from God and I am so blessed that he saw me through it.

Granted, school is mandatory, but you get the picture.

I'm excited!  And I'm watching lots of Gilmore Girls and sleeping in late and staying up late and it's wonderful.  Except for the (loads) of work I've had to do in my room to move out, I've been a summer bum and I'm embracing it till I start my job.  I've also noticed that, in conversations with fellow humans, I have been over-using the word "excited" so I think it's time to hit the thesaurus in all of my spare time.

So, off I go to watch some shows and then Skype with one of my sweetest friends.  I hope you all are having a great weekend.

Love,
Caro

P.S. Follow me on twitter if you so desire! Click click click here.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Name Game

There's something about your name.

It's something that's definitely yours.  Even if 400,000 people in the world have the exact same name, it's still, somehow, a mark of your individuality.  In your circle of people, you are the {insert beginning, middle, and last name here} of their world.  And if there are two people in their world with the exact same name, one of you has a nickname and people somehow manage to verbally distinguish you from the other {insert beginning, middle, and last name here}.

When you spend a lot of time with a child, there's a thrill when they first manage to say your name.  Even if they mangle it horribly, they're proclaiming that you're a person to them.  You're special enough to them to be distinguished from others they know.  And then you buy them a cookie and zerbertz their belly until they laugh and you're further burned into their memory.

When you grow attached to a person, they say your name a certain way that's recognizable.  Or maybe they give you a cute nickname that is only theirs to use.  But every time they say your name, there's a sort of endorphin rush that occurs.  I'm no scientist but I just know that it does something to you.

But sometimes you get tired of hearing it.  Some days you don't want to hear anyone call you or scream at you or tell you they love you, or to hear them tack your name on the end of their sentences.  Maybe you want to be nameless, just for a day, and wander through a town where no one knows you or your story.

I used to have a game every time I went into Jamba Juice when I lived in Hawaii.  The baristas always ask what your name is, to write on the smoothie cup, and I would never use my own.  But I would never plan it, either!  I would just say whatever came to mind at that moment.  I've been Cabriolet, I've been Jane, I've been Brita, and I'm fairly certain I've been Richard.  It's a fun game.

Someday I want to play that game again.  I want to tell someone I'm Amelia and put on accent. A brand-new persona.  Spend more money than I should because Amelia is rich.  Talk or laugh more than I normally would because Amelia is gregarious.

There's something in a name, and sometimes you just don't want to hear yours anymore.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Accent Tag!

Hola, muchachos.


I am suffering from a severe case of writer's block, so I filmed an accent tag.  I love watching these kind of things, and I figured I can't be the only human who enjoys 'em, so here we go!  (And forgive all the hair touching.  I am a hair pusher and there's no excusing it.)







Words:


Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught


Questions:




What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?


And that's all for now, folks!  Film one, if you please, and leave the link below.  I'll try to find something more interesting to talk about ASAP. 

Love,

Caro


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow

Sometimes, you forget how to speak, even to God.  Little things creep up on you until suddenly they turn into big things, and it's all you can do not to falter under their weight.

In those moments, it's hard even to pray.  Things will take over until you have no breath in your lungs and no words on your lips.  That's when Scripture comes along and gives you the wisdom and the strength to hold on for a while longer.

When I'm left wordless, there is always the Word.

I need this hope daily.  Maybe you do, too.


[14] Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
(Proverbs 24:14 ESV)


[16] So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)



[19] God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
(Numbers 23:19 ESV)



Love,
Caro



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Let's be real for a second

So I want to talk to y'all about something.

Here's the thing.

This is very important.

Pay close attention.

I have a serious problem.

This has affected family, friends, and yes, even my own social standing.  It's caused people to simply walk away from me, and yet there's nothing I can do to stop it.

.....I snort.

Not snorting like I do drugs.  Nope.  I just plain ol' snort.  Like a piggy.  If I laugh too hard, I snort.  If I try to hold in laughter at all, I snort unless I hold my nose.  (I wonder how many times I'll say "snort" in this post)

It doesn't matter who I'm around.  There's merely nothing to do about it!  Not to mention, my laugh is like a mixture of a chipmunk and a dolphin anyway, and when you add the intermittent snorts, it's even more attractive.

Mom says it's ok.  Heck, Sandra Bullock does it!  I said that was only Miss Congeniality, but it seemed to work for her I guess.  But when you make new friends and one of them makes a joke that kind of kills you, it's not a time you want to snort, no matter how congenially.  That's the kind of thing into which you kind of need to ease people nice and slow.

Deviated septum?  Who knows.  Blocked something-or-other?  Maybe.  But it's madness and it's incurable and I'm sorry.  I'm sorry to anyone who's had to sit next to me in the middle of any movie starring Hugh Grant,  or to any kind soul who's been able to withstand the nuisance that is my past-midnight-everything-is-funny problem.  The snorting could not have been easy for you to bear.

I'm not a serious person, at all, so this compounds the problem.  Constant laughter.  And, you guessed it, constant snorting.

Love,
Caro

*Other side effects of hanging out with me include: Embarrassment, headaches, higher risk of caffeine abuse, higher risk of sugar usage, panic attacks, lightheadedness, and PTSD.  Do not hang out with me while operating heavy machinery.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maybe doctors should prescribe happy newborns to anxious people

Well, I successfully braved the trip to the doctor's.  I'm not dying, it seems!  Still don't know what my problem is, but we're working on it.  Doc thinks the main issue is stress/anxiety.  I asked him if he could prescribe for school to be done now, in that case.  He did not do so.

Today, I get to babysit.  I say "get to," because I babysit some great kiddos and it's always a pleasure.  On this fine day I will be tending a sweet little four-month-old, who I've been babysitting for two months.  His sister, who is two, goes to Little Gymnastics and I take care of the baby then.  He is a total doll.  Poor guy has reflux, so he needs to sit upright after eating.  I take this as an excuse to cuddle.  Works out just fine for both of us.

He's the smiliest baby I've ever known.  You barely lift your lip in a half-smile, and he grins at you, open-mouthed.  It's almost unbearable, the cuteness.  And his laugh is the most adorable little squeak you'll ever hear.

After that, I'm going to come home and do school.  I'm trying to amp up my daily work-load so I can have Friday off, because I want to go find my mother (Hi, mom!) a Mother's Day present.  I'm only saying this publicly because Mama can think of nothing she wants for Mother's Day, so she would never be able to guess what I might get her.  Sweet woman, that one.

Lastly, I'm becoming increasingly terrified about my impending move.  No, it's not the fact that I'll be suddenly independent, but rather the getting there.  Yes, I'm freaking out about my first flight without a parent present.  And an international flight, at that!  Belgians aren't known for their excellent sign work, so finding my gate could be tricky, and  if I have a layover in some massive airport, I'm bound to get lost.  I get lost in the supermarket, for goodness' sake.

All this to say, I should have had a V-8.

I'm gonna go sniff a baby's head.  Byeee.

-Caro

"The pen is the tongue of the soul..." -Miguel de Cervantes

Well, I've got just about four weeks left of senior year.

Which, of course, would be the time that I have a nervous breakdown.

I had a little bit of a falling out with Economics homework and a literature assignment last night, so that was fun.  I'm doing better now, but I can't say that I wasn't medicated.  (Nutella is a drug.)

Also, I have to go to the doctor today which is like being on the outskirts of Hell totally my favorite thing ever.  I'm just having some weird symptoms so we'll see.  I'll let you know if I'm dying or something.

I feel like I spend a lot of time at the doctor's.  Honestly, I've never been sickly, and yet somehow I keep having to go back for one reason or another.  I think all the nurses know me by now, which makes the embarrassing questions they have to ask absolutely horrifying all the easier and more comfortable for me.  Mom joked that I should just rent a room there and do all my school at the clinic.  I did not laugh.

Anywhoo, in other news, I am struggling with words.  I am in a fiction writing class, and I'm made to churn out a short story every other week.  This is not going as I had hoped.

I have a good grade in the class, but only one of my story's has been a complete success, and that was the first story I ever turned in.  So sending in a story, having it be critiqued by your classmates and teacher, after having spent hours laboring over it and growing very attached to it, is no fun.  I do not like this one bit.

Stories are a little part of me.  I put a lot of work into them and I never do it halfway.  I analyze every sentence.  Every line.  And I put pieces of my heart into it and spend forever trying to convey them prettily... and then no one likes it, or a few people in your class confuse your female character with a boy or they all decide there are too many adjectives.

That, my friends, is what we call a colossal bummer.

It's taking away my desire to write fiction.

At least my parents like what I write.  But they also like it when I dance and we all know that that's not something anyone else wants to see.

Love,
Caro

P.S.  Would any of you guys be upset if I changed the name of the blog, or should I keep it Pasta and Waffles forever?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why I'll miss it here

The last few weeks of school are always the hardest.  You see summer looming happily in the distance, but the pen (or keyboard, as it were) in your hand reminds you of your still-packed schedule.  Belgium makes it especially hard because April is still freezing and wet and there is no way I'm getting a tan.  I mean, it's not like I can tan even in the warmest of conditions, but it's the thought that counts.  Luckily, though, it was warm and sunny today and my mama and I went for a walk.

I am getting a questionable mole removed in a month, so maybe sun-worshipping is not something I should do anyway.  Forget you, Irish heritage.  Forget you.

Nonetheless, I am itching for warmth and the chance to put on a sundress.  I'm dying to read books that I choose, and not ones assigned by the behemoth that is the school schedule.  I highly anticipate the ability to write more often and to occasionally zone out over some Gilmore Girls and iced coffee.

All this will come in four weeks when I move away from here.  I'm hitting the hot Alabama summer, and I'm so excited.  However, there are a lot of things I'll miss about Belgium.  Of course, I will miss my best friends and my parents so very much, but these are just some little things...

I'll miss how charming everything looks, from nature to the stones.



I'll miss the beautiful churches.  There's just something about worshipping, or even just thinking, in a massive, spectacular cathedral.

I'll miss the architecture.  Art Nouveau is stunning, and it's very prevalent here in Belgium.  It's definitely a favorite.



I'll miss the food.  Twice-fried french fries with mayonnaise?  Chocolate?  Caramelized waffles?  A bunch of other caloric nightmares?  I mean, come on.  (I will not, however, miss the impact these have on the fit of my pants.)





I'll miss city living.  Just a little.  I do really enjoy being out of the city, too, but having access to great stores and lots of stuff is always fun.  I'm not always a city girl, but it definitely has its perks.

(And you know Starbucks is what I mean when I say "perks.")


I'll miss European washers/dryers.  Oh wait, no I won't.


Broke-down busted


Love,
Caro

(P.S.  I just had my good friend, Brittany, over for the weekend and we had a blast!  I love her blog and it has inspired me to pick up the old pen that is Blogspot once more.  She writes here and you should check it out.  I think I'll try to document her time here at some point!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday-Funday: Some things

{1}  Quote of the day:  "Joad said, 'You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff."  - Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.

{2}  It's very spring-y out.  I've been wearing open-toed shoes, t-shirts, and sundresses in the past few days.  I may be whiter than sour cream but I just have to glory in the sunshine.

{3}  I've been mentally adding things to my bucket list.  I need to go to a Harry Connick Jr. concert, I must go visit Holland when the tulip fields are wild and bright, and I want to be able to do at least 50 push-ups without stopping.

{4}  Right now, I'm low-carbing.  I was eating healthfully before, but I was absolutely addicted to carbs and I just couldn't shake the little pudge around my middle.  So I'm now on Day 6.  The cravings are lessening a bit, and I'm finding that I feel better during the day.  I don't have more energy yet, nor is this easy, but I've learned so far that I can drink coffee without sugar and I am also strong enough to say no to birthday cake.  True story.

{5}  I'm moving to Alabama for the summer in a little under 10 weeks.  I've got so much school to do before then, and I've got to figure out what to ship and what to leave here for later.  I'm probably going to get a job as a waitress or something along those lines, and I'm so excited!  I can't wait to have a normal, American summer.  Then in August I'll be off to college!

{6}  College. I'm maybe a little terrified.  But mostly jazzed.

{7}  I miss a lot of people right now. I miss seeing their faces when we talk instead of just passing messages back and forth.  Skype is great, but I just never get around to using it as much as I could.  Ah, the worries of an online student.

{8}  I am swamped with school.  I'm blogging because I need a minute to rest my brain, but seriously, it's bananas.  I've got my senior thesis defense in two weeks, so I'm crazed about getting all the kinks worked out of that.  Also, AP econ is not my thing and I'm trying to beat it.  But I can do anything for ten weeks, right?

{9}  I've been making some new friends at my church.  The kids there are really very sweet, and it's been refreshing.  I think I even convinced one to come visit me in Alabama this summer!

{10}  I love following politics.  I do not love how some people skew truth and spew hatred instead of trying to seek truth in everything.  If you believe what you believe and I disagree, that's fine.  I will never resent you for it.  And yet, if I believe differently than you, you demonize me and those like me.  It's endlessly frustrating and it raises my blood pressure.

{11}  I could really go for a piece of bread right now.

Monday isn't my favorite, but positivity! Keeps! Me! Sane!  So Monday Funday it is.

Later, skaters.

-Caro

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An open letter to the ones who wait.

Waiting is hard.  Hoping for something big and important to happen to you, growing tired of sitting around... these are things that most young people deal with, especially girls.

Girls have it hard sometimes.  It's not exactly right for us to go around asking boys out or chasing them.  We all know that the ladylike thing to do is wait for that one guy who will chase us.

But it gets hard.  In an era where feminists will tell you that it's ok to be the pursuer and that you don't really need a man anyway, but Christians are saying that you must be meek and wait and be silent, we girls can tend to get a little bit muddled.

Here's my opinion on the subject of girls and boys.  Please let me know in the comments what you think about it!  I'd love to have a little discussion about it with you guys.

First of all, I do believe that men should be the pursuers.  I have it as a rule that I will never call the boy first, nor will I initiate any conversations unless it's something I absolutely have to talk to him about.  This is not an arbitrary rule, but rather a gauge. (It also may just be Southern thing, but I like it!)  I would much rather make note of whether or not he pursues conversation with me than never know, simply because I pursued it myself!  It is acceptable, in my opinion, to respond with enthusiasm and mirth and honesty, but when the girl is the primary initiator, it simply makes her crazy with wondering why he never calls first.  Granted, these "rules" are not super stringent.  I don't have any issues with talking to boys, and it's ok if you don't believe that men should be the main pursuer!  I, personally, would just much rather be actively chased so that I can know where we stand.

Second, I don't think that boys and girls have to go from nothing to everything all at once if they decide they like each other.  The idea of dates is sort of flying out the window these days.  I think courting is fine, and I actually think it's healthy and good.  However, I don't want to begin the massive courtship "routine" with someone unless I know they're a viable candidate for marriage, if only because it's a lot of hullaballoo!

I don't think there's anything wrong with starting out by going on a date, or even a few.  I don't think that going out for coffee and seeing movies and just eating dinner together before an official DTR (define this relationship) is a bad thing.  If you go out for coffee with a guy, you may find that he's absolutely not the one for you, and it would save you an immense amount of frustration and, well, time!  There's nothing dangerous about going out on a date, in my opinion, especially if you understand that it's just for get-to-know-you purposes.  Granted, if you already know someone very well, like a close friend, dating first may be unnecessary.  But I still don't understand why many Christians rule it out.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on that!

Third, in regards to waiting, I feel your pain.  I know that there are probably girls reading this who are fed up with waiting for the guy they like to say anything to give her some hope, and I completely identify with you all.  And it is hard.  It may sound trivial to some, but some girls (most, probably), are wired to want that.  Girls are wired to love a man and want to be protected.  There comes a time in your life where you walk around, and all you can see are couples holding hands and you don't understand why your hand feels so empty.

It hurts, and it's not a small matter.

I can't be a major encourager on this because I struggle with that so often.  All I can do is give some advice that I think is hugely important.


  • One:  Do not settle.  If you feel as if you've waited too long and just don't want to be alone, do not settle for the first guy that shows interest.  Be discerning.  Remember who you are in Christ and be encouraged that there's someone made for you.
  • Two:  Figure out what you believe.  If you know your mind on issues like marriage, dating, courtship, and love in general, you will be so prepared, and it will help with your discernment.
  • Three:  Don't play games.  Do not have your friend call your other friend to ask her friend if that friend knows if their friend of your crush knows if he likes you.  Trust me on this one.  I know you've probably done it, and I know I have too.  And yet we all think we're so clever.... ;)  This is where the waiting gets hard, but do it anyway.  Games never end well because they're not honest.
  • Four:  What will be, will be.  If a guy you like ends up with someone else, then he wasn't the guy. It hurts big time, and it just might break your heart.  But keep hoping, because that just means there's someone better.  If HE was good, imagine how much more wonderful YOURS will be!
  • Five:  This you've heard a million times, but don't give yourself away.  You are too beautiful of a prize to be lost just because you were afraid of losing someone.  Keep yourself, and once you find that one person for you, you will have no regrets.
Girls and boys... it's hard.  But girls, do not fear being alone.  Boys, do not fear going after the girl.  

I think it's really as simple as that.  When those two puzzle pieces of waiting and pursuing fit together, it makes for what can only be something beautiful.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, everyone!


-Caro

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dropping "Teen" from my Vocabulary

I want to talk about young people being put into a box.  A steel box.  Surrounded by barbed wire and guard dogs.  And a moat.  And probably some eyes in the sky to shoot down intruders.

This box is called by many names.  Sometimes it's "youth group."  Sometimes it's "Sunday School."  Other times it is "small group," and other times it's even "school."  Mostly, though, it can fall under the category of being a "teenager." This box with many names, if identified by those inside of it, is maddening.  It makes you bang your tin cup on the cell bars and pray for a prison break.

via


Youth.  Teens.  Kids.

I love the heck out of grown ups.  I've wanted to be an adult since I can remember.  I've never understood why Peter Pan wanted to live in Neverland, and I can't wait to be independent with my own house and my own family and the excitement of an unknown future.  I used to be upset when told to play with the little kids at dinner parties because I just wanted to sit and chew on whatever the adults were talking about, even though I didn't really understand all of it.

This is not me talking about how mature I am.  I still can't get through a sermon about "duty" on Sundays without biting my lip to keep from giggling.  SpongeBob cracks me up.  I still eat way too much sugar.  I'm not some kid who stands above her peers for this kind of desire and mindset.  This is about a lot of kids.


But the problem is, our numbers are shrinking.  We keep getting beat over the head with our youth, and so we start to believe it.  We start to believe that we're only capable of doing so much because of our age.  We start to build up little cells inside of the ones we've been put in already, simply doing more damage and giving ourselves less room to grow big and strong.

      Fellow young people,
            Fight it. Talk about this issue with people in your church or community with whom you share mutual trust.  Stop letting yourself believe that you can't do things because you are young.  Figure out what your passions are and go for them, even if you are met with doubt by people who say you can't.  Talk to your parents.  Meet adults and make friends with them; you won't regret their influence on you.  It is essential to grow up, and especially this day in age, you have to dig through a lot of stigmas to do so.  Just go for it.  Set examples for other young adults around you.  In the past, up until the past century, you were either a child or an adult.  No in between... no teenagers.  Only you, with the help of God on your side, can choose which one you will be.




     Adults,
          Give us some of your trust.  Try to believe in us.  We want so badly to live up to high standards, in our heart of hearts, but unless you set these standards for us, we simply won't bother.  We will postpone adulthood as long as possible.  Introduce your children to your peers.  Make your children sit at the dinner table with you when your friends visit.  Don't let us escape into our own worlds of self-centered entertainment, as we are so prone to do.  Let us be a part of a group of adults so that we can see how to act as one and learn how to shed childhood.  Segregating us to a particular age group and leaving us there will only slow the process.


I am so irked, lately, by the way people my age are treated.  We young people cannot give full glory to God if we are left to do less than our potential because of the age categories we're shoved into.  We need to be immersed in the world of adulthood so we know how to behave.

Where I stand, currently, there's not a whole lot I can do.  I live in a foreign country and will only be attending my current church for a few more months before I'm back in the States attending college.  But I am considering writing a book on this very topic at some point, maybe over the summer, and I would love to hear your thoughts, young or old.

This is not about accusing kids of not acting their age. Yes, this should be convicting and should inspire young people to action.  However, this should challenge adults.  If kids don't understand their potential, then we can't blame them wholly.  Churches and communities have got to learn that in order to raise young people into functioning members of society who will keep these institutions going strong, they have to raise the bar.

We want higher standards to achieve.

We love a challenge.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Speed

All I have to do is tie my shoes.

The hardest part of running is leaving the house.  I haven't gone a run in a long time and it's a vicious cycle.  You grow tired from lack of exercise, and when you're tired, you don't want to exercise!

So yesterday I was in a huff about something or another and I was getting a little bit stir-crazy.  I was beginning to feel confined in the four walls of my room, and my church clothes were making me itch.  I threw on a pair of leggings and a tank top.  I opened my closet to dig out my sweatshirt and I saw my sneakers gleaming, too white from disuse, from a corner.

No fully formed thoughts presented themselves in that moment.  I slapped on some socks and a cozy fleece, and then I tied my shoes.

Tying your shoes seals the deal.  The moment you put on your running shoes, you've made the commitment and you just have to exercise.

All it took was that small movement of putting on my Nike's, and I was motivated.  I popped in my headphones, said "So long!" to my folks, and headed out the door.

I walked quite a few blocks, not planning on running since I know I'm out of shape. I then perceived a long stretch of sidewalk in front of me with no parked cars or people in the way, and I told myself to run all the way to a certain street lamp up ahead.  I was off like a shot, not thinking about anything but Florence and the Machine's "Kiss With a Fist" pounding in my ears.

It's so freeing.  Your mind has to work fast to dodge loose stones in the pavement and posts and curbs, and, yet, at the same time, it's almost involuntary.  You're not really in control, at first.  It's just your feet flying across the terrain of their own accord.

I finally slowed, breathing hard and ready to walk.  I felt good.  Arms swinging, I made my way up to the park where I like to run, cooling rain drops hitting my head from the gloomy sky.

I didn't know this, but the road that wraps around the park is closed on the weekends so that pedestrians can use it.  All up and down this long road were families and couples walking, running, biking, and skating.  There were soccer games being played inside the park, and boats being rowed slowly across the pond.

I felt even better looking out over this scene.  The second I got onto the street, I ran again.  The song playing in my ears, which may or may not have been by Justin Timberlake, was in perfect rhythm with my feet and I was happy.  I ran farther than I thought I could, and then I walked.  I did a combination of walking and then running for a while until I realized I'd been gone well over 30 minutes.  I turned around and did the same thing all the way home.  My final burst all the way up to my front door near about killed me, but I loved it.

Now it's Monday and my legs and sides are ablaze.  Coming downstairs this morning for breakfast was a chore, and every time I have to face them I kind of want to weep, but that's ok.  I like feeling like I did a good job yesterday.  I like how my body is practically begging me for more of whatever that was.  I think I'll just walk today, though, because I get shin splints and I don't want to overdo it.

I always say that I hate running.  But, in truth, I think it's just that I hate tying my shoes.

Love,
Caro