Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be My Escape

My secret is...that sometimes I just need an escape. And that can mean a number of things. Sometimes I just have to have alone time. Sometimes I just need to chill. Sometimes I just need to get away. I can escape physically or mentally. The point is that sometimes I just need to escape. And I think that's healthy--as long as you're not escaping into unending solitude.

Today was one of those days where I really craved an escape. I woke up at the crack of dawn in order to pick a friend up from the airport in Charlotte. It was suppose to be a beautiful day of going to Elevation Church and hanging out with 2 friends from camp that I love dearly and miss a lot. That didn't happen though. Mary-Kate, my beautiful car, decided to die...while I was driving...on the 80mph. She spent the rest of the day alone on the side of I77. I spent the day stressed out.

I've decided that I really hate being an adult and having to take care of things like this. Figuring out tow truck details and where to send my car and how to pay for it was just not fun. I cried a lot. I stressed a lot...and I have the breakout to prove it now. Stress, worry, anxiety--they filled my day.

Marcus, my 'big brother', was quick to give a shoulder to cry on and encouraging words. He reminded me repeatedly that things would be ok and that God had to be trying to teach me something (I've felt lately like nothing can go right, so today was another score to that theory).

I've been reading the minor prophets right now (I feel like they get forgotten. I mean, really, did you even know that Nahum was a book?). And what I've been learning from them is that God takes care of those who trust Him. My stress and worry showed that I don't trust enough. Nahum is all about the Babylonian takeover of Ninevah. God destroys the Ninevites because they were a brutal people who disobeyed and who were horrible to Judah. They were so cruel that they would impale people and leave them in the streets. God takes care of Judah's enemy. And all Judah had to do in order to be taken care of was to trust. the end my car is being towed as I type. Yay. And I have a friend's car to use. Double Yay! And I'm escaping--watching Disturbia with Brianna.

Things could have been so much worse. Thankfully, I wasn't stranded. I wasn't kidnapped. My car is on its way to Columbia. God is so awesome.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wedding bells ringing

My secret is that when I'm bored I love to watch wedding shows: Bridezillas, Platinum Weddings, A Wedding Story, the list goes on. I love browsing and looking at dresses, invitations, cakes, etc. My excuse is that I'm a girl. We dream of our wedding day for years. Why not get a head start on the details?

This past week I spent a few days in Concord, NC for a wedding. My two best friends, Bailey and Josh, got married Saturday afternoon. The ceremony was beautiful. Everything from the color of our bridesmaids dresses to the flower bouquets were Bailey's childhood dreams come to life.

Of course not everything was perfect. Nothing ever can be.

Press, Bailey's brother kinda passed out during the ceremony. I've never seen someone without color in their face at all. Even his lips were white. It was so hot and the groomsmen had on so many layers. Then he locked his knees and lost blood circulation. He had to sit down and eventually be taken out. Another groomsmen almost passed out too, but made it through the ceremony. Unfortunately, all pictures of him show sweat drops the size of bullets.

Well thats just a fun story from the weekend. Now, to the serious message.

My secret is that, unlike my wedding will be one day, I'm not perfect.

One of the groomsmen made a comment at the rehersal. He said "You know, at most weddings the bridesmaids and the groomsmen actually talk to each other." It was true. We didn't mix at all. And I was part of that. I avoided some of them like the plague actually. I was so rude.

Sin. It seperates us from the One who desires us. It seperates us from the life He intended us to have. It's a barrier. Just like the one that we had built this past weekend. Once I realized what was going on, I did try to get over my anxiety and past my judgements. I mean what was the big deal? Forget about the past.

So, my point is, get over it. When you know you're wrong, fix it. And when you know you've fixed it, don't do it again.

And don't forget...davidsbridal and are awesome timewasters.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Please Don't Let It Be Clothes

My secret is that I aced my Professional Writing class this semester. Here's one of my favorite stories I wrote:

Please Don’t Let It Be Clothes

I was 20 years old when I realized what it meant to be happy, to be thankful, to be a servant, to be alive. I lived two whole decades thinking that I understood these things and thinking that they were a part of my life. That entire time, however, I was mistaken.

My story begins in the heat of summer, but ends at home in the midst of winter. It ends on Christmas Day. Gingerbread cookies that were the perfect shade of maple were on the dining room table. Pot roast with all my favorite vegetables was in the oven and the smell permeated the house. It was the kind of aroma that you could smell as soon as you pulled into the driveway and with one whiff the floodgates in your mouth instantly opened. Even though it was midday, the lights on the Christmas tree glittered and the presents hadn’t been opened yet. My ten year old cousin, Jackson, sat anxiously at the table holding his still wrapped presents.

“What is it? Please don’t let it be clothes. I hate clothes. What is it? Can I open it now? Why do I have to wait on Courtnie?” I swear he didn’t stop to breathe at all during this rant.

My younger sister, Courtnie, had decided to spend Christmas morning at her dad’s house with her step-siblings. Grandma promised her that we wouldn’t eat or start opening presents until she returned. Courtnie walked into the house, carrying an armful of gifts and Jackson immediately tore into his presents.

A few hours later, the whole family sat around the living room. A sea of multicolored wrapping paper covered every inch of floor space—waves of greens, blues, silvers, and reds. Jackson sat on the floor ogling at his new shotgun, complete with bright orange clay pigeons for target practice. One hand was on his new life-sized cardboard cutout of his favorite athlete, another hand on his new toy night-vision goggles—the ‘it’ toy of the year that my uncle had to search every store in Atlanta for. Courtnie, reclined on the couch, was taking silly pictures of herself with her new camera. Her legs rested on her new pink basketball. Both of them ignored the piles of new clothes they had received. I laid down in the torrent of waves that still flowed throughout the room. I let the shiny red and white, candy cane striped paper prop my head. I held up the purple pearls that my grandmother had given me—the one gift I had asked for. They were a beautiful shade of Columbia College purple, a perfect match for my graduation cap and gown. I looked down to my feet at the piles of clothes my cousin and sister had forgotten about. They were all clothes that I picked out weeks before, clothes that I searched forever for the right sizes, clothes that they needed.

As I began to lift my eyes from the depressing pile of clothes back to my sparkling pearls, my eyes stopped at my feet. They still hadn’t recovered from my summer’s adventures. They were dry and cracking. This seemed to have become a permanent state. Gallons of lotion and multiple pedicures still hadn’t fixed them. They still had my awkward flip-flop tan line crisscrossing across them. Despite being covered in shoes for months, the tan line refused to go away. I was ok with that. It reminded me of where I had been. It reminded me of where I had celebrated Christmas earlier that same year.

Just mere months before, I had lived in a place the farthest from ‘church-on-every-corner, freedom-filled, suburbia’ South Carolina. I was in ‘mosque-at-the-end-of-each-dirt-alley, poverty-filled, African village’ Senegal. Some friends and I volunteered to spend two months in an African village doing medical work and teaching English. I was placed in a house, if you can even call it that, with a girl from Texas I had never met, Bekah. We lived with the Sylla family—a husband, his two wives, and their six children. They were a Muslim family that spoke no English. They were the exact opposite of me in every aspect.

What I thought would be a great adventure turned out to be much more meaningful. Bekah and I ran a medical clinic out of our bedroom. Every hour a new kid would show up with cuts and scrapes and beg for a ko, bandaid. We treated lice, pink eye, skin infections, burns, cuts, and allergic reactions. The real health clinic took too much time and money, so people began to come to us instead. We would also teach an English class twice a week on the roof of our home. I must admit, we learned much more Wolof than they ever learned English. Yoff, our village, became home. Everyone knew our names; we were Ami Sylla and Awa Laye, no longer tubobs be, the white people. We ate, slept, cooked, cleaned, talked, and lived for two months with the Syllas. We were attached. We were bonded. We were family.

I will never forget the night before our plane left to return to that dreaded country, America. All my belongings were stuffed into a book bag and a camping pack. Earlier that night, we ate dinner on the floor of N’Daye’s room with the family as usual. The men sat on tiny wooden stools, seemingly symbolically, above the women, eating with their spoons. We sat with the women and children kneeling on the floor, using our God-given utensils—our hands. The heat of the day had subsided, and a cool breeze came in through the windows, rustling our ankle length skirts. The power had gone out once again so we used our headlamps and candles to see the one large, communal, metal bowl of cebujen—fish, rice, and vegetables—the tantalizing smell that I still miss to this day.

After dinner we ran to our room to prepare the surprises we had for our family. Though they had no understanding of Christmas and we didn’t speak enough Wolof to translate that concept, we wanted them to experience its joy. For weeks we had collected plastic bags from stores anytime we went to buy a soda or toilet paper. We had one bag for each family member. We put toys we had brought from America in each child’s bag: coloring books, crayons, yoyos, and bubbles. We put our used, dirty skirts and dresses, along with our leftover lotion and soap, in bags for the women and girls. We put our headlamps and leftover medical supplies in a bag for our husband, Mustafa. Finally, we put one outfit each in the boy’s bags, knowing that they would be more excited about their bubbles. Our family, unsuspecting, was preparing for the next day’s work, because even though we were leaving, their lives, full of hard work, would continue. We called them back into N’Daye’s room and passed out our presents for them. One at a time they opened their gifts.

I never knew true joy, happiness, or thankfulness until this moment. The adults and older children were so happy. N’Daye Fatu, our oldest daughter, immediately changed into her ‘new’ skirt. Ami, our youngest daughter, hugged us with more gratitude than I’ve ever experienced. The wives looked at us with tears in their eyes, thankful for the fifty-cent skirts we had bought at Goodwill and ruined throughout the summer. Omar, Alingae, Isaaxa, and Mohammad—our little boys, our brothers, our sons—broke my heart in the best possible way, however. They had never been given a gift. They didn’t want to tear up their bags the way that little kids back home ripped open presents. They set their crayons aside and picked up their outfit. Their eyes widened with both joy and tears and they smiled the biggest, warmest smiles I had ever and will ever see in my life. Mohammad ran to Bekah and Isaaxa to me, wrapped their arms around us and said Jerri Jiff ingir sama roba. Bugganala, “Thank you for my clothes. I love you.”

The next day we loaded our bags into our supervisor’s truck to leave. The entire family lined up to tell us goodbye. Each of them still wore their new clothes.

I was 20 years old when I realized what it meant to be happy, to be thankful, to be a servant, to be alive. I lived two whole decades thinking that I understood these things and thinking that they were a part of my life. That entire time, however, I was mistaken.

I didn’t know the look of true happiness until that last night in Senegal. I didn’t know the look of true thankfulness until Isaaxa wrapped his arms around me. I didn’t know what it meant to be a servant until I gave away all my belongings. I was alive for 20 years, but did not live until I put other’s needs before my own wants.

My head rested on the sea of candy cane-striped wrapping paper and I looked at the clothes that my sister and cousin had disregarded. I glanced at Jackson, his beautiful blue eyes still focused on his shiny new toys that I knew he would forget about the next day. Courtnie’s long, chocolate hair flowed over the side of the couch, while she now took pictures of her other presents. They felt temporary happiness. They expressed no thanks. They were living, but not yet alive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Something to Think About

My secret is that I can never remember the lyrics to an entire song. One of my goals is to be able to memorize an entire rap song.

I don't remember what song this comes from, but it has been stuck in my head this evening.

"Every beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

This is the end of a school year; the end of my undergraduate, and possibly my educational, career; it could be the end of some friendships too. I'll never again sit in my American Lit class and play brickbreaker on my phone. I'll never again rush to the dining hall on Wednesday for fried chicken day. I'll never again sing to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack as loud as possible in my dorm room with Mindy. It's the end. And it's sad.

But it's also the beginning. I get to work at BCM, which will be a new challenge. I get to be an adult and pay rent, etc. Not really cool, but its something new. I get to work camp this summer. Life is new. And it's exciting.

This new beginning came from another end. I hope that this beginning will be half as awesome as my beginning's end was.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On a rainy Tuesday morning...

My secret is that I know NOTHING about cars. So when Mary-Kate, my car, decided to act up, I don't really know what to do. That's why for the past 2 or 3 months she's been having temper tantrums and I've done nothing. Every now and then ( as in 8/10 times you try to go somewhere) she doesn't like to turn on. You have to turn the key a million (ok more like 10) times before she turns on. At first I thought that maybe I just didn't know how to properly turn on a car. So I tried a million different techniques. Eventually she turns on. Whatever. I always get where I was intending to be.
Well this morning, Mary-Kate said NO. She turned on eventually. But then I turned the ignition off, and she continued to run. WHAT?! Who knew that can happen! So I'm missing my internship this morning in order to go to the mechanic (My secret is...I really don't like mechanics and garages. I feel stupid there. And I think they want to take advantage of my lack of car-related knowledge). I have an eye doctor appointment and work tomorrow. Don't know how I'll get to either now. Frustrating. The weather today echoes my feelings. Literary term of the day--pathetic fallacy: giving inanimate objects human attribution. Ex: The weather seems just as frustrated as me today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Secret Is...

My secret is that I have no clue. Ever. I daily wing life. As much as I desire plans, I rarely have them. And when I do, God seems to change them pretty darn fast.

My secret is that I'm scared to death of graduation because life changes after it. May 2 marks the end of an amazing season of my life.

My secret is that I've never been so excited about being scared. Even though its the end of one season, its the beginning of another beautiful one.

My not-so-secret is that today my plans changed. In the Fall I interviewed to work for MFuge. I was a camper in the 9th grade and loved it. I've wanted to work for Fuge since then. Well, I got an email in February saying that I was put on the waiting list. Being the impatient person that I am, I told them never mind. I said to take me off the list. I felt like I needed definite plans. Leaving stuff up in the air kills me. (Did you notice how many 'I's and 'me's there were?) So, I forgot about my desire to work camp. I found a job with a private school teaching an elementary summer program. My secret is that, even though I've worked with little kids a lot, I crave interaction with older kids--kids whose noses I don't have to wipe, or that I don't have to escort to the bathroom. I was content with this plan. It would pay the bills. And that was what mattered, right? Well, Tuesday night I go to BCM as always. I love Tuesday nights. We had a time of quiet prayer. I've been on the verge of breaking for awhile. Like I said, I'm scared about my life changing. Well I poured myself out God. I told Him how much I want to please Him in what I do and that I don't care what I'm doing or where I am as long as I'm where He is. I don't care about His will for my life anymore. I just want to care about His will in general. I just want to be used by Him for His purposes and for His glory. I'm sick of it being about me. I'm sick of asking Him to focus on me, when I'm not fully focused on Him. Long story short, I get an email Wednesday morning saying that MFuge has an opening in Birmingham. They never took me off the list. How amazing is that? My secret is that I need to be a bit more patient and trusting.