Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm not moving on...

... I'm moving forward.

Today, I start nursing school. I was running errands this morning thinking about all of the things I think about all the time (it's exhausting to be in my head), and I decided that I want to share my thoughts with those I love. And maybe in the process, I'll even share my thoughts with people I don't even know, but who need to hear someone else voice her inner thoughts.

I'm sitting here in front of my computer wearing my "shooting star" earrings from my best friend, flip flops I rescued from Betsy's Goodwill pile, my first "grownup" watch, a shirt I bought yesterday for $5 at Target with a dear friend, and jeans that I successfully removed quite a bit of blue Sharpie ink from within a week after I bought them (rubbing alcohol. Brilliant stuff. I love Google.). I'm texting a friend who is already sitting at campus, trying to figure out what time we need to get there to lay claim to "our seats" (second row, middle-ish seats). And I'm thinking about how many things in my life have changed since that last post I wrote in May of last year.

I'm a completely different person. It's strange. It's not in a "all of my values have changed and you wouldn't recognize me at all" kind of way. It's in a "my capacity for understanding and coping with those around me has grown and grown and grown and I'm living in the tension of multiple ideas/realities." That's a quote from my head. I still believe there is ultimate Truth, but I think I know more than ever that I have no idea what that means. I believe God will help me navigate the tension and bring me through it. There have been some painfully sweet experiences in my past year that have changed me, and as much as they hurt (both past and present tense), I wouldn't trade them for anything. My capacity for love and relationship has expanded.

I'm rambling, and it's been a while since I've actually written anything down except for myself, but what this post is about is this: I'm committing myself to a new mindset. But I'm not moving on, because the connotation of that is that I'll leave the feelings I have in the past. That is not what I'm doing. I'm simply going to consciously allow my capacity for existence to expand some more. Those feelings, the amazing friendships and relationships I've formed over the past year (let's be honest, I'm really talking about over the past 25 years!) aren't being left in the past. They're simply moving to a new place in my consciousness so I have room for the new, more present feelings, friendships, and relationships.

That being said, if you're reading this, you're valuable to me. Even if you're not someone I've met, you are now a part of my story in as much a way as anyone.

Let's choose life today.


Monday, May 9, 2011

I know, I know, It's been a while

I'm posting!! I know that each and every one of you have been anxiously awaiting a new blog post, so here is a little update on my life. I have the best intentions of doing this more often, but for now, just accept this new post with my apologies.

I'm going to be a student again! Unlike many of my friends growing up, school was my haven. Not a place I had to go, but a place I liked to go. I'm good at being a student, and I get to take my place in the classroom once again. For what, you ask? Nursing school!! I'm going to start my pre-reqs at Nashville State Community College this summer, finish them up in the Fall, then hopefully start nursing school at Belmont University in Spring 2012. I'll be doing the accelerated nursing program there, so I will graduate in Spring 2013. Crazy, but true!

Being back in the classroom will be quite a blessing. It's a place where I thrive and where I find my center. And learning about scienc-y things will be great, too! I'm excited and nervous about the prospect of trying to enter an over-saturated market (here in Nashville, for sure) in a bad economy, but I feel that this journey will help me help, and that's just what I want to do.

Sweet CeCe's is going well- Samantha (our General Manager) asked me to be her assistant, so I am going to be taking on a few more responsibilities, which will be nice. I adore the girls I work with and I have been so blessed to meet some fantastic people who are regular customers. On the days I most need it, I find encouragement and support from everyone around me on so many levels. Life is good.

I've also been blessed with a great Life Group from my congregation here in Nashville. It's a group made up from the Singles Focus class at Harpeth Hills, and they are fabulous! I'm so glad that Ashley found such a great church and that I decided to tag along with her when I got here.

I really don't have much else in the way of news. I feel like I've abandoned my dear blog for too long, though, and I really do want to change that. Keep checking in!

Be blessed. Love!

Monday, December 6, 2010


"I've wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants."

I'm reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The subtitle is: What I learned while editing my life, and the book is, so far, about Donald Miller's journey to turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie. He's struggling with how to write a screenplay about a memoir he wrote about himself.

Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has a podcast that I listen to quite regularly. I never thought I would be the kind of person to listen to sermons and NPR voluntarily, but I have become that girl. A few months ago, there was an interview with Peter Rollins who has some fantastic ideas about story and the significance stories/parables play in our lives. In the interview, he talks about how we aren't really the person we think we are. Our vision of ourselves is greatly skewed- the person we present to the world and the person we truly are inside are very different people.

Now for Donald Miller, trying to write a screenplay about the individual portrayed in his memoir is bringing this dualistic nature of us to the forefront of his consciousness. He has this image of the person in the book, a cool person who has it all together and who doesn't doubt himself, but this person called Don isn't really Donald Miller, even though it is. It's a fascinating read, and I'm really enjoying it, but the quote at the beginning of this post is really what stuck out to me. Because don't we all want to be the heroes of our stories? The answer is yes. The harder questions is: ARE we being the heroes of our own stories? For me, the answer is quite often a resounding no.

I feel like I've lost a bit of my writing voice. I don't know how to say what I want to say, but I'm hoping you can feel what I'm trying to say. I'm ending this post with a challenge:

Live courageously. Live your story in such a way that people see God working through you as His magnificent creation and are drawn to Him. Love. Laugh. Smile. Give time, give energy, give your heart. Be where you are, and be the best you can be NOW, not later. Write a story worth telling.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breaking the Silence

Today, I'm breaking my blogging silence. In my head, I've been breaking my blogging silence for about three months now, but I realize that does no good for those of you who aren't in my head... which is all of you. So, here it is.

It's a story, actually. It starts with a young girl who had just finished her Freshman year of college going to a new place with only one other person she knew (and him only a little bit). Fourteen hours north of her hometown, she went to the North Woods to counsel at a Christian youth camp for two months, with no cell phone, only one hour of internet time a day, and a dream of seeing a moose.

When this girl got to the North Woods, she fell in love with the natural beauty surrounding her. She fell in love with (most of) the other counselors she was to be working with. She fell in love with her cabin (Cabin 3, even though it smelled like a weird maple syrup sometimes). And she eventually fell in love with absolutely everything else.

Despite the incredible number of loved things this post could be about, I'm narrowing it down (just in case you missed it, I'm the girl in the story). This post is about one of the two directors whose love kept me going throughout my three years as a counselor: Scott McEndree.

I honestly don't remember when I first met Scott. If I was to venture a guess, I would say it was probably about Sunday at 10:00 am right before the first week of Teen Camp. At this point, I had been at Flaming Pine Youth Camp for a week, going through counselor training, so I was comfortable. However, our first counselor meeting with Mr. McEndree found me as the proud caretaker of twelve 16-year-old girls, putting me in my place. It was Scott's first time directing Teen Camp, and he was armed with wonderful things, including a t-shirt for the Bible award winners from the session. At a camp where t-shirts aren't guaranteed, this was HUGE. Most importantly, he was armed with love and energy, ready to take on the two-week marathon that is Teen Camp.

At that point in my life, I acted like I knew I would be amazing at counseling, but I didn't really know that any more than anyone knows they'll be amazing at something before they've shown themselves and the world that they can be. That was a confusing sentence that basically translates to "I wasn't sure about anything other than my name for that first session." Having Scott in my corner gave me the courage to keep going that year. He acted as mediator when I had trouble with another counselor, as cheerleader when I felt like I was failing, and as friend when I just needed someone to care. The third year I counseled, Scott had finished his final round of chemo from his second bout with cancer two weeks before camp, and he still came. His courage and perseverance as a director gave me the courage and perseverance I often needed during Teen Camp (it's not easy, you know).

His beautiful wife and amazing children were always a bright spot in my weeks up at camp. The way Bonita interacts with her kids always left me in awe of how effective a soft-spoken word to well-behaved children can be. One of my favorite memories of Scott and his kids was the time we were standing in the Togo Dome when Mac and Rhone entered. They came running to Scott yelling, "Daddy, daddy, daddy!" hugging him before running to play basketball or something like that. As they ran off, Scott got a wistful look in his eye, and I asked him what was wrong. "Someday, they won't be that excited to see me," he answered.

Scott passed away one year ago today. The man who was determined that I get married someday because I "would make a great mom," the man who often mortally embarrassed me by making comments to his friend Kyle about me, the man who gave me hope for obnoxious boys everywhere (claiming that he had once been one, and I needn't worry), the man who believed that I was a great counselor, died after a long battle with cancer. I was blessed to get to see him the January before on a trip to Minnesota for Harding. I got to stay up late and talk with him and Bonita before I headed back to Arkansas the next morning, and it was fantastic. He had just been diagnosed with cancer for the third time, but he was just as wonderful as always. It was great to get to see the McEndrees in a different setting than camp. They took me upstairs to see the kids' rooms where Scott had built this AMAZING structure to serve as playground/bed. Basically, totally the room I would have wanted as a kid, second only to the PINK walls and bunk bed I actually had.

Scott is home. And while this post isn't everything I want it to be (not even close), it IS about a wonderful man who I love and miss. A wonderful man who many love and miss. It is such a blessing to know Who is in charge of this crazy world.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My New Job

Well, the day has come... I'm a grown up. I have a grown up job, I'm about to rent my first apartment, and I have monthly bills. Oh, and I'm apparently supposed to have my own insurance now, too. I know it's been too long since I wrote on my beautiful blog, but I wanted to give an update on what I'm doing now.

I live in Nashville, TN, and I work for a company called Orange, LTD. Orange is a direct marketing company who directly markets for, which is an office supplies website. It really is a good company, so I'm happy about what I'm "directly marketing" but it's basically a cold-calling sales job. There are some amazing things about doing this incredibly difficult job though. I will now list/explain a few of them:

1. I am learning how to deal with all sorts of people. When your method of sales is "tight to the right" and attempting to hit every business in a given zip code, you meet all kinds of people. Since this is my job, I am blessed enough to have this as a daily option... or requirement. My goal is to keep smiling, no matter how unfriendly some people are.

2. I am learning how to get out of my comfort zone. Some people are born with the ability to sell. My brother was one of those- he used to constantly be the top seller in his troop for Boy Scout popcorn. I, on the other hand, hated fund-raising, even for good reasons. I didn't even like fund-raising to go to Africa last year. Asking for money, even in exchange for a good or service is not something I've ever been good at. While this job isn't fund-raising, that's what little box people immediately put me in the second I walk into their office; their perceptions make it hard for me to believe something different about myself. While I work through their perceptions, I'm working on labeling myself to myself as a "business consultant..." which is actually what I'm doing!

3. I am going to learn how to let things slide off of my back. "It's business, it's not personal" is something I'm going to have to learn VERY quickly in this job. That's really all I have to say about that.

4. I'm going to learn how to better organize/utilize my time. This position is completely commission based and about 80% of my day is spent outside of the office in the field. This means how I do is completely dependent on me. The Law of Averages means that if I see enough prospective customers, I'll eventually sign enough, too. But in order to see enough I must discipline myself to make it to those doors. I also have to ensure that my notes from each day are in an organized state so that I can get where I need to be when I need to be there. While I think I'm good at organizing and utilizing my time, this will only reinforce good habits.

I'm blessed. I know this. But since I've gotten this job, I've had to constantly remind myself of this fact. I'm terrified of a completely commission based sales job, but I know that I can do it, and I know that if I stick to it, the rewards of the position will be great. Please pray for my continued perseverance, though, because every day is an uphill battle for me at this point.

To come: A beautiful post on my new living situation! It doesn't belong on this post, because it's just so awesome, it should get its own shout-out! Be excited!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nashville is My New Home

I leave for Nashville in less than half an hour. It's not college, it's not a year-long commitment... it's a "real" job. I wish I could counsel at camp or take classes forever, but that's just not how it works, so here I am, a lot of my stuff packed up and ready to go, not crying but only because I'm borderline dehydrated from all of the crying I've already done.

I'm excited, don't get me wrong. I just wish I could be closer to home. Except, I don't really wish that, because I was looking for jobs in Nashville. Until I had the position offered to me, I wanted to live in Nashville. Then I cried a lot. BUT it's a new experience! Historically, I've rocked new experiences, so I plan to do no less for this one.

Wish me luck. And give me a call if you think about it- 8 hours is a long time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At Least We didn’t Get Stuck in Accra

I am in London. It is 10:35 pm, I’m listening to Shrek the Musical and finally regaining feeling in my toes and fingers. My eyes are droopy with exhaustion, and all of my bags (backpack, purse, and drum) are hooked together. The floors are being extensively cleaned, and I have migrated through three different spots throughout the day. What is this new adventure? Missing our flight by literally less than a minute.

See, here at Heathrow, they have a rule that you have to be through security 35 minutes before your departure. When the girls and I got into Heathrow at 6:30am and decided to go into London proper, a lady helped us with our tickets and communicated that to us, telling us to aim for an hour earlier. What we heard, though, was “Make sure you’re at security at least 35 minutes before.” Now, I understand that we were cutting it close with that, don’t get me wrong. We just didn’t realize we would regret those extra seconds in the left baggage line.

London was glorious, and we made it back to the airport in time to get through security. But a series of things that took three seconds too long got us a, “Sorry it’s too late” at the gate. I don’t know if you can imagine living in a developing country for eight months as a fresh college graduate female who is just ready to get home who “slept” on the plane the night before, but I bet you can at least imagine that with me involved, many emotions were then introduced into the mix. Fortunately, a beautiful lady with customer service aided us in getting our tickets changed for free, which was helpful. However, I also had a Delta flight to get me back to STL from ATL, and since I got it off of Orbit for a fantastic price, I ended up just having to buy another, very expensive, stressful ticket. Our itinerary is the same, though, so all that changes is my mom and dad come a day later to pick me up.

How do I feel about this? I’m so glad you asked. I feel glad, stressed, upset, poor, irresponsible, responsible, silly, depressed, anxious, exhausted, relieved, grateful, loved, stinky, and adventurous. Glad, because the girls and I have been absolutely forced to sit back and relax. We don’t even have free WiFi, so our time is literally full of nothing in particular to do but eat, talk, and process. I don’t know how many of my readers are familiar with the concept of reverse culture shock, but it has something to do with coming from Africa where my feet were always dirty to London where this Zamboni looking thing has passed me going over the same patch of floor four times now. I had Starbucks, was cold, and was not the visible minority today. Weird things happen in an individual’s brain when a cultural change is made, and the girls and I just made a ginormous leap. As Nicole says, we entered the “magic portal” (airport) and travelled into a different world/time. Even short term missions often have symptoms of culture shock... Eight months is a while.

When I called my mom, she was utterly sympathetic, not upset at all, worried for me, and asked me what I needed. She just loved me in the way I needed. That’s where all of those good feelings in that last paragraph come from. The ones like stressed and upset, I bet you can imagine. I feel poor in the financial sense only; there are so many blessings in this situation. I’m stuck in London rather than Accra (where I hardly feel safe during working hours and the security guards constantly hit on us), I’m with two of my closest friends, my mom loves me and can support me financially when I need aid, my friends’ parents/siblings responded with grace and offers of helping hands. I’m exhausted because, I mean, who can actually sleep on a plane? Really. Relieved and grateful for our parents’ reactions and the help the staff here have given us. Stinky because travelling for three days doesn’t wear well on anyone. Adventurous because I’m about to sleep in an airport.

Airports stress me out. They really do. I don’t know why other than exactly what happened today- mistakes cost you in time, money, and stress levels. Trains aren’t like that, or at least not as extreme. With planes, you spend hours and hours getting your bags packed just so, and then you pay extra money for the extra pound that somehow was still there. If you miss your plane, there really aren’t alternatives that are viable, especially not here where my goal is to get from London to Atlanta. Talk about stressful. I was working to analyze this experience, and I’ve come to the conclusion that while my various airport experiences might have the effect of easing future flights/pre-flight stress. However, I don’t think that’s the effect at all- I think it’s having the effect of making me a permanent Stateside resident for a while. It’s not that I’m scared to be here or to be sleeping here. I feel completely safe, I really do. I know I can protect myself, and I know I’m going to be ok. It’s just the pre-stress, and now the prolonged stress that just glares into my being. I didn’t cry until I talked to my mom on Skype... Then I lost it. I just want to be home.