Sunday, April 22, 2007

Here's to the Nights

Summer has never seemed so cold.

As May approaches, bags are being packed. Plans are being made for next fall as the new season comes crashing in around us. Some faces won’t be back when September rolls around, and it’s hard to feel like this year is really this close to over. I know most people are just telling me not to worry about it, because fall will come, and with it will be new friendships and faces… new memories and certainly new Facebook albums (psh, of course). But every year is different, and while I know a lot of things will be the same, there will also be a million things changed.

I came to this place skeptical of what it could offer me. Still clinging to my past back home, I was slow to pursue a life here and slow to make attachments. I was quick to judge and hesitant to really get involved.

But over time, I noticed that few things can compare to walking down the street with the California sun on my face and some good tunes in my ear. To living vicariously through APU, and getting to know some amazing people in the process. To standing at the top of a mountain looking down on the valley with some of the people you love the most. To getting to know my beautiful sister in a totally new way. To the nights I would bring pie to Bowles on Waffle Wednesdays. To Richie’s juice party. To driving with the windows down, wind playing in your hair and face, looking out on the ocean. To driving down the PCH singing along with songs from the 90’s. To Ian’s playlists. To donut man runs at 1 am. To really living instead of just existing.

This year I feel like even though I made some mistakes, no one cared less about me because of it. It’s one of the first times in my life I felt like I was really accepted… not just for who I am, but for who I am supposed to be, and everything I’m going to be.

So thanks to all of you who made this year what it was. Because to me, it was everything I had wanted and more. I can’t wait for more memories, more laughter, more new friends and another new beginning.

Live it well.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stolen Laundry and Spritual Switzerland

There are days when I just don't want to listen to what God has to say.

I don't just mean that I don't want to read the Bible. I mean that it's really hard for me sometimes to find the application that a 2,000 year old book can possibly have to my life, let alone how a God I can’t see could exist. As well as being passionately in love with me. What could a carpenter from Nazareth have in common with me?

Tonight my laundry got stolen. Not just one load, but two loads, and all of my favorite clothes and pants and undies now belong to somebody else. Which, besides being a little bit creepy, really didn’t make me feel very thrilled. I called my Mom. I cried. I made lame jokes about looking like white trash and wearing only sweatpants for the last month of school. But most of all, I just felt bad for myself, and began to reflect on my day.

I went to church today for the first time this semester, which was very refreshing, and the pastor talked to us about Paul. He was abandoned, imprisoned, contracted a disease, mocked, shipwrecked on a desert island, and on top of everything else bitten by a snake. “It would be nice to think we can go off someplace and find some ‘spiritual Switzerland’ without problems or hassles,” the pastor said. “But whether you love God, or you hate God, life is still hard.” We are all hurting in different ways, and sometimes in the midst of trying to get our pain noticed we forget that others are hurting deeper.

I’m complaining about having one pair of pants. Someone lost a loved one tonight. Someone is broken hearted. Someone is weeping.

I know that everyone interprets things and messages differently, but what I took away from what was said… is that it’s not all about me. It’s not. And it never will be. I may have to wash my clothes more to make up for missing underwear, but the world will still wake up tomorrow to a new day. I may be worrying about finances for my internship this summer, while forgetting that few have the opportunity to even dream of such things. I still get to come home at the end of the day to a warm apartment. A shower. A few dollars in my bank account. Friends and family that love me.

A life worth living isn’t measured by my fame or reputation. It is in the awareness that every day I will face decisions. I want to be able to look back and say that I did my best. That I was a good and faithful servant with the things that I was given.

I am selfish and I want my underwear back. I want things to go my way. But knowing that the plans God has for my life are bigger than even the plans I have for myself… makes the irritations and hassles of this world seem worthwhile again.

James 1:1"Consider it joy when you encounter trials of different kinds, knowing that when your faith is tested it produces endurance, and endurance will have its result – you will be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Best is Yet to Come

It was my first meaningful conversation in Spanish.

Sometimes I wonder why I work so hard at learning a language that I don’t have to learn, and I understand why most people choose not to. Sometimes I wonder if there is a reason why I am so passionate about this world, and languages, and other cultures. Then last night, finally, I found affirmation in the form of a busboy at work.

He’s a quiet guy, looks like he’s in his late 20’s or so, and we haven’t spoken much before, except for the occasional hello, and even then, only in Spanish.As I was cleaning tables last night, he walked by. “Como fue tu semana? (How was your week?)” I asked him as he picked up his broom and began to sweep under the tables. We started talking, and he looked a little more bummed out than usual, so I asked him if he was sad. He nodded, and for the next fifteen minutes we talked about where he was from in Mexico, and how he left his wife and little boy behind so he could come here to the United States and provide for them. He wakes up before the sun rises every morning, and gets home around midnight.

He doesn’t have days off. He doesn’t buy new things when he gets his paychecks. He sleeps in a small apartment with several other people he works with. I have many Mexican immigrant friends, and I know that most of them live in this same situation, so the story was nothing new, to me at least. But last night it struck me in a completely new way.

It just made me so excited for the day when I know God is going to bring an awesome man into my life, and it made me hopeful that I will find someone as true as my friend: that he would be willing to do anything to make sure I was provided for. I’m not saying I want the man I end up with to move far away in order to do that… but I thought ‘what a perfect picture of what a husband or wife should be like.’

Willing to sacrifice it all to take care of each other, ready to do whatever it takes to invest in the future, even if it means things being difficult for awhile. I’m sure he doesn’t get to talk to his wife and little boy every day, and I’m sure sometimes he wonders if when he gets back things will be the way he always imagined. But he has faith in what he cannot see.

We talked for a few minutes more, and I told him about where I was from, and some of the places I have been able to see in the world and what they were like. For the first time, words just came easily to me. Our manager walked by and told us we were lazy bums. We smiled, and as we both got back to work my new friend smiled at me and said (in Spanish) ‘Your Spanish is very good. Don’t give up on studying it.” And I walked away feeling more fulfilled and just… aware of the nature of things than I have in a very long time. Satified.

I am going somewhere. I am going to make a difference. I am passionately in love with finding ways to change the world from where I'm at. And someday, someone is going to fall head over heels in love with that part of my personality. Knowing this, coupled with the fact that I finally feel like I'm getting to a point in my Spanish where I can truly communicate... just made me feel butterflies all over.

Life is such a gift.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Wonderful Life

I was looking down my profile the other day and I noticed how many diverse and different types of people I am friends with, and that care about me, or at least know OF me.

A funny tidbit you may or may not know about me, but my biggest fear is being alone. I prefer to grocery shop in pairs. I can't even make myself go to a movie alone, and the worst thing I can imagine is living in total isolation, alone, on a desert island, with no one to talk to and no one to lean on if I need to cry, or shout for joy (whichever you prefer).

There are a lot of moments in my life where I sit in an empty room and for one reason or another, I contemplate my value in life. What am I really worth? What defines that? Then I log on, and I see that I have new messages or comments, and sometimes it's expected, and sometimes it's from someone completely random that I haven't heard from in forever. And either way, it makes my day.

Because God has really blessed me with a life that I can call wonderful, and meaningful. I've been given all these opportunities to go places, and see the world, and sing my heart out, and walk away with experiences and friendships that help define every bit of who I am.

At some point in the last few years, I came to the conclusion that letting go is a beautiful thing. How amazing is it that people in your life serve a purpose, be that for a day, or for ten years, and then you move on. You let go. You reach out. You change.

Might sound morbid to some of you, but to me, it's the perfect picture of beautiful.

My life, while it's moving forward, is still being painted and colored in ways I won't even be able to see until later on down the road. God's giving me all these opportunities - of internships and of travel and destination - and every day is an adventure.

If that isn't the epitome of cool, I don't know what is.

It really is a wonderful life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Middle

Upon beginning this journey into bloggerdom, I find it necessary to say a few words before rushing haphazardly into posting entries (as entertaining as that would be).

I am 20 years old.

Sometimes that makes me feel like I'm old, and other times I just feel entirely too young. I am too old to go to 'juvie', but too young to go to real nightclubs. Too old to have a tamagatchi, too young to get married.

I'm sort of in the middle. And while it puzzles me sometimes, most of the time, I just enjoy this middle ground for all it's worth. Knowing that some chances have passed me by, but that the world can still be at my feet if I try hard enough.

Oh, the middle ground.