a song

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I don't know what a song means
to any of you.
To me,
it is freedom. 

I walk with a sinking feeling
in my chest.
It feels like
a tangible darkness has come
and taken possession
of me. 

It is prison,
and it is

I don't know
if the darkness comes 
from inside or out.
I don't know
if the darkness is me,
and has been all along.

It's hard, almost impossible,
putting one foot in front
of the other
when you've got 
that sinking feeling
in your chest
weighing you down.

But a song--God, I can hardly explain it.
A song is like light pouring through,
like waking up to a screaming pink sky
outside an airplane window,
like the feel of ocean water 
beating against your skin.

It feels as if your soul
has fallen in on itself,
torn to pieces
and made new again.

And, even if it's for only a second,
the darkness 
and that sinking feeling
go away.

I can breathe.

And it feels like
the moment for which
I was made. 

Senior Updates IV / high school story

Thursday, July 5, 2018
Freshman year, 2014-2015: 
I was timid but overconfident. Taking 'all honors classes' (insert smug grin),  I thought I was too good for everyone; or not good enough, depending on the day. Timid because I didn't have the knowledge base that most everyone had (I had a tendency to get lost in my own head); overconfident because I believed that the way I was--which seemed stark-opposite from everyone else--was the right way, and every other way was wrong.

My beliefs weren't my own yet; they were my parents, spat-out and reiterated to fit my agenda. My agenda--acceptance, superiority, audacity? I didn't want to blend in, and maybe I didn't. But I was counting my chickens before they'd hatched; wanting to stand out because of my beliefs and convictions but not having developed them yet.

Every day I waited for something, anything, to happen that would spin me into cosmic relevance. Perhaps this is why I abandoned my best friend, the one who' been beside me every drudging day of middle school. I ate lunch with other friends, who were louder, funnier, easier to shoot the breeze with, I thought. One day at lunch a college student asked me to join her and my friends for small group on Friday. It was her sheer authenticity that persuaded me to come. The next week I went to Young Life. 

And so with one year of high school down, I'd not only survived, but grown a little more into myself in the process. That summer I participated in an online writing internship. That, coupled with my joining of Young Life, pushed me onto a path I would have never had the courage to tread before.

freshman me

Sophomore Year; 2015-2016:
I'm not sure if anyone else has ever had this feeling, but it's happened to me every new school year. It's an uneasiness as you walk into your first class of the first day. You feel different, a little lost, even, because you've spent all summer growing more into yourself and you feel as if you don't know your friends anymore and they don't know you. Over the summer I'd grown deeply in my theology  and in my confidence, particularly in the area of sharing my writing. There'd been a fire inside me, and I finally let it grow enough that it was almost visible on the outside.

First semester I took creative writing and photography, really let myself grow artistically, let myself believe that, yes, I could be an English major in college and, no, I didn't have to go to Clemson if I didn't want to. I joined the literary magazine club; it was full of a bunch of geeky misfits, and I loved it, really felt like I belonged. I had made amends with my best friend over the summer, so we ate lunch together nearly every day. Her friendship was one of the biggest blessing of this tough year.

This was the year that the idea for my current novel project came into existence. It seems silly now, when I think about it; I got the original idea from purely aesthetic inspiration, passing a tree nursery on the way to somewhere and deciding I wanted my first novel to take place in an apple orchard. I started working on it but never got that far. To this day I haven't completed a full draft because I'm still feeling out the story.

That September, I fell under some false teaching; I let someone convince me that God's opinion of me could change based on what I did, even though that idea is completely at odds with the truth of the Gospel. I got caught up in legalism, and eventually, when I figured out that I could never please God with my own actions because I am an imperfect human, I stopped trying. That winter I got depressed. It was only then I realized that depression isn't sadness; it's a slowing-down of all bodily functions, a feeling of intense apathy (oxymoron, I know) that slips into every facet of life. My only real will to live was my fear of failure and disappointing others.

But through all this, I kept going to Young Life. I went to club on Mondays and Winter Camp in January. And throughout all the apathy and dejection, my leaders kept telling me that Jesus at his very core loves me like crazy, more than I could ever imagine, and a small part of me held onto that. That summer, I had the amazing opportunity of going to Young Life camp in Colorado. When I was there, I met God in a different way than I ever had before (you can read about that experience here if you're interested). One day I was writing in my journal, tracing back where I fell into such a hopeless manner of living, and I traced it back to the September before. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. It took courage telling my mom what had happened, but I did, and she was my rock through the whole process. I now know the Christian life is largely comprised of the practice of preaching the Gospel to yourself daily, reminding yourself of your own shortcoming and Christ's sufficiency and the grace you are given daily.

sophomore me
Junior Year; 2016-2017:
After my Colorado experience, I knew it was time for a change. I cut my hair to my shoulders, and when I walked into school I felt even more timid than I had freshman year. Looking back, I think I was afraid that I'd let myself fall victim to some false rhetoric, that it would spin me into the same downward spiral. Perhaps I was more than afraid; perhaps I was terrified. 

I stuck close to my best friend at school and to my homeschool friends; they were my rock. But besides that, I remember remaining largely inside my head. I was taking my first AP English class (which I loved) and taking more APs than I ever had in one year. It was the most rigorous academic year yet, and on top of this I had to drive myself to school every morning--let's just say I got my fair share of tardies. I was taking two history classes-- AP Euro and AP US--and as I studied political history and read political rhetoric in my English class, I began to realize that my parents' views didn't make the most sense to me. This realization was hard to face; I love and respect my parents and I would never seek to disappoint them. So I kept it to myself for the time being, gathering facts and evidence and making sure my impending party-switch was a wise idea. 

I grew intellectually this year. I really enjoyed my classes, kept working on my novel (even submitting an excerpt to the literary magazine), and I finally found a music genre that was intellectually and emotionally stimulating. I was learning about things I'd previously ignored: politics, the environment, the ugly parts of history. My underlying motivation was to search for and find the Truth--academically, religiously, emotionally.

When the winter came I found the apathy again, and it scared the hell out of me. At this time I didn't know about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), best known as seasonal depression. This time around it was coupled with anxiety. I remember sitting alone in a chair in my room, my hands clutching the seat, using every muscle in my body to keep myself grounded because I was petrified and didn't know why. I didn't know why I was feeling what I was and didn't know how to get rid of it, and I thought that if I spoke to anyone about it I'd lose their friendship. I didn't explicitly reach out to anyone during this time, but I can't stress enough how much my friends and family were there for me. I wasn't the best friend or daughter or sister during this time, but they stood by me nonetheless; they reached out to me when I closed myself in, enabled me to find the joy inside me that I didn't know was there. 

It snowed on my seventeenth birthday (which doesn't happen often where I live), and when I woke up that morning I heard my mom singing 'dancing queen.' She made chocolate chip pancakes and we walked in the snow and I was happy. Since this winter had been so awful, I grew spiritually, and I was able to feel deeper joy because I had felt deep depression. I learned that happiness is dependent on circumstance, but joy isn't. 

In the spring I toured Furman University. I was interested, knowing it was a better option for me than Clemson, but I was still skeptical. It felt a little too close to home for me. But as soon as I set foot on campus, I was shown extraordinary hospitality and authenticity from faculty, staff, and students. I knew it was a special place. The spring of my junior year was the beginning of a time in my life where everything mysteriously began to fall into place. I got my first job--nannying for a friend of a friend--over the summer, which provided me with something to do and a little income for my relatively event-less summer.

Even as things fell into the place, the summer brought its own trials--ones that I can't talk about because they aren't entirely mine to tell, but that did affect me deeply.

junior me

Senior Year; 2017-2018:
It's the year I'd been anticipating for what seemed like forever, but when it came I sort of rushed into it. I didn't feel like I was ready. There were things in my life that didn't seem to fit the theme. I'd idealized the idea too much, so when it came I was only disappointed. That's a constant struggle for me--realizing that my high expectations will never match reality because this world is fallen and imperfect, that the very dirt beneath my feet is striving for deliverance from this mess. 

This instagram post describes a lot of what the summer and fall of this year were like. My faith was tested so that I had to redefine faith in my mind. For so long faith had manifested itself in me as a feeling, but I was beginning to see that faith is not feeling, but it is an action and a choice.

When the winter came around, everything was falling into place. I was accepted to my top school and was given a scholarship; it wasn't as much as I needed, but my parents were confident that we'd make it work. So I accepted the offer, put down my deposit, and prayed we could find the rest of the money somehow. I learned to love the moment I was in, to close my eyes and memorize the feeling of joy as it rushes through me. I capture memories through feelings, like how my heart swelled when my friends sang me 'happy birthday' at midnight, how my heart beat against my rib cage when I reached the top of the mountain and saw the view, how sun rays feel on skin after months of nothing but cold, how salt water feels so cleansing when the waves slap my back. 

And then there were the more somber moments. When something is said or realized and I know that I was wrong all along; when I saw a homeless man read scripture for his church; when I realized that I'll always feel like an outsider, and that's okay.

This year was my favorite year yet. Everyone at school sort of banded together in solidarity because we realized it was our last year to be together. I did more 'typical high school things' like going to parties and dances and football games. I got to be Head Editor of the literary magazine. Oh, and that dream to be flung into cosmic relevance from freshman year? Sometime during this year, my friends and teachers began to really read my writing; they told me it was good, and I realized that all this time all I wanted was to be heard. I think I really treasured this year, lived in the moment as much as I could. I learned a huge lesson of gratitude and acceptance of reality, but I also learned to strive to be the best that I can be, to be who I was made to be. Looking back, I can't think of any regrets. I remember always having this feeling of being lost, but now I'm beginning to think that's normal. Maybe we're all lost, maybe we won't be found until it's all said and done. 

We were expecting bad weather on graduation day, but the sun was out for the entirety of the ceremony. It was a good feeling, hearing my friends scream my name from the stands when I walked. I'm so grateful for these past four years, but I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Later this month, I'm going to work at a camp out west for three weeks. I hope to keep a journal to record my experiences there, and hopefully I'll have time to write about them when I return. Then, I'll move into college! I don't know what this little blog will become during the next four years; maybe I'll write about my experiences, maybe I'll post stories and poetry, maybe I'll become too busy and stop posting altogether. But either way, I want to thank all of you for reading what I write; it means the world to me.

senior me : )

Senior Updates III

Friday, March 9, 2018

For the past month or so, I’ve been focusing on the little things: the way the sunlight comes through the window on a Saturday morning, that last glorious sip of coffee, the feel of the breeze through an open window, a quote from a book that shakes you to the core and makes you question everything for a split-second. I’ve found great power in these moments; they can carry you through something confusing or heartbreaking or inexplicable. And when you’re able to sit down at the end of a day and say to yourself this happened today, and it was good, your whole perspective shifts.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to step away and look at the big picture. But sometimes, the big picture is too much, too overwhelming, and you have to close your eyes and ponder the inherent value of the moment you are in. 

This idea is important for where I am in life, I think, because in a few months everything will be completely different. And when I look back twenty years from now, I won’t remember everything that happened, but I’ll remember people and what they said and how they made me feel; and I’ll remember the rush when that song I love came on the radio; I’ll remember the wind in my hair, driving with the windows down, the moment before everything got too complicated. 

I've realized that because the weight of college acceptances and decisions is now no longer a burden, I have the freedom to enjoy the moment. And I think that's what the Christian life should always look like, more or less, because we know that God holds our future. We know that from the beginning of time he's had thing whole thing planned out for our good and his glory, so we have the freedom to look at the beautiful little moments in life and really relish them.

MEMORIES: excerpts from my journal

01.13.18 / A late birthday celebration downtown; listening to one direction and 5SOS on the way home, screaming the lyrics that saw us through so much; reflecting on what was and welcoming what is to come

01.20.18 / my school's semi-formal, i.e. my first real dance ever. A friend did my makeup, I wore heels for the first time ever, and I felt pretty. I didn't know most of the songs, only the older ones, but the ones I did know I sang my heart out to. 

02.01.18 / "It's only two hours till you turn fourteen!"
"Well, technically, it's six hours and forty-seven minutes."

02.11.18 / a quote from spurgeon: "Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feeling and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you: 'Him that cometh  to me I will in no wise cast out.' If thou believes in him, thou shalt never be confounded."

02.13.18 / "consider the lilies" (Luke 12:27)

02.14.18 / passing out valentines in physics

02.16.18 - 02.18.18 / Work Crew Weekend at Carolina Point:
- singing in the kitchen over the noise of the sanitizer
- running through the dining hall in our dish aprons while middle schoolers shout "pits, pits, pits"
- the feeling of fulfillment at the day's end: achy bones and muscles, throbbing head, full heart
- on the ride home, windows down listening to the head & the heart
02.23.18 / drove with mom and jackson; just the drive thru, but we rolled the windows down and played Ben Rector and I felt alive

02.24.18 / that saturday smell. windows open. three cups of coffee. clemson basketball on the radio while dad sleeps in his chair. writing to John Mayer

02.25.18 / sitting on the bed with jackson and rocky and laughing at every little thing. mom came and told us to be quiet and I felt seven years old again.

02.26.18 / "you know i forget how fun and nice it is just to hang out and chill and just not care about responsibility for a while"

02.27.18 / Jackson said, "don't leave, I'm lonely," so he came to my room and sat on my bed to do his homework while I studied

03.02.18 / "Remember what you will become" - Don Whitney

03.03.18 / Paterson, poetry in a movie

03.04.18 / buying a bouquet of roses for a friend and listening to vance joy's new album in the car

03.05.18 / calling poppy on the bluetooth speaker in the car and all of us singing him happy birthday

03.06.18 / "drops of jupiter" on the radio; singing "I'll make a man out of you" in ap psych

03.08.18 / riding bikes with jackson around the neighborhood, laughing at the sounds that words make

CONSUMPTION: movies, books, + albums

the things they carried, tim o'brien:
"At the hour of dusk you sit at your foxhole and look out on a wide river turning pinkish red, and at the mountains beyond, and although in the morning you must cross the river and go into the mountains and do terrible things and maybe die, even so, you find yourself studying the fire colors on the river, you feel the wonder and awe at the setting sun, and you are filled with a hard, aching love for how the world could be and always should be, but now is not."

        - 'how to tell a true war story'

paterson, starring adam driver
"Get any writing done?"
"I did a little, yeah. Working on a poem for you."
"A love poem?"
"Yeah, I guess if it's for you, it's a love poem. It's kind of inspired by our Ohio Blue Tip matches."
"Really? Does it mention the little megaphone shape the letters make?"
"Yeah, actually it does."
"How beautiful. I can't wait to read it when it's done."

nation of two, vance joy
"no matter where you've been/ jump into this water/ and you'll come out clean"
        - 'bonnie and clyde'

darlin' oh darlin', the hunts
"peace be still my darlin' / all is well my darlin' / your anxious heat is well bestowed / oh it weighs deep down deeper than you know"
        - 'peace be still'

eurus, the oh hellos
"let be what is, let be what isn't  / it's a natural world in which we're living / and if you let it alone, it will surely grow / just leave it alone, child, and let it go"
        - 'grow'

notos, the oh hellos
"and though the eons may pass as slow as the sands of an hourglass / every grain that we've counted claims that even the mountains can change"
        - 'new river'

the great minimum, tow'rs
"please come soon, Lord knows I want you to come / home is a relative term, sometimes hope is the same / as help I've learned"
        - 'the swan & the east'

I hope you enjoyed reading this little piece of my life, and I hope that you, too, will learn the power and beauty of seeing and feeling the goodness of the moment that you are in. Hold on to Hope, my friends; he's always got his arms outstretched, waiting to hold onto you.

A Letter Long Overdue

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
coffee and letters. I wish I was better at writing letters. I buy blank cards all the time!

I was surprised when it happened, not because of the gravity of it, but because of the ease. You flipped off the radio, said none of that’s any good, then inserted your favorite mixtape. And with a few notes you brought me from that apprehensive silence I always dwelled in, that perpetual nervousness: I love this song. We didn’t have to speak because the music spoke for us; we sang through the mountain backroads, windows down, till our throats were dry. After that, we had to be friends; there was no way I could know all the songs on that tape of yours and not be. I liked being your friend. At school we’d sit in the courtyard under the dogwood during lunch; you knew the noise and lighting of the cafeteria gave me a headache, made me doubt myself. And you loved to see me outside it all, like that day driving through the mountains. You were the mountains for me: clear, quiet air with a view.
            In the beginning we just talked about your music, like that cover of “Mr. Brightside” you liked better than the original. At first I scoffed at the thought, but then I heard it and understood; the music was clearer, slower, more poignant. Looking back now I know that the cover wasn’t better, just different, more transparent. So of course you liked it better, because of its honesty; you always hated the liars the most.
            I didn’t fall in love with you as much as I fell into the rhythm of it. Midnight phone calls from the telephone booth down the street from the apartment when the yelling from the kitchen got too loud; phone calls sitting cross-legged on the toilet lid, the spiral cord pulled under the closed bathroom door so Emma Lou wouldn’t tell Dad that I was talking to a boy; and then, that one night, a phone call from the kitchen at three a.m. while Dad screamed and threw pots and pans and nearly hit me with one. My step mom took Emma Lou and left but left me crumbling on the kitchen floor, and I thought I was a gonner, but you charged in with a double barrel shot gun—unloaded, just for show—and took me back to your place.
            And that night you kissed me like we’d done it a million times before. You kissed me because you wanted me to feel beautiful, you said, and I did. Despite my messy sweat-covered curls and tear stains on my tee-shirt, I felt beautiful because of the way you looked at me. That was the night I knew I loved you. There was no pomp and circumstance, no heart-flutters, no shooting stars or strawberry wine. Just me and you, alive, dancing in the kitchen at two a.m. with no music at all because we couldn’t wake your parents. My whole life I felt unwanted, out of place, but dancing across the linoleum in your kitchen taught me the art of living.
            Oh, God, I hated the way it ended. I don’t regret it, because with the wisdom of retrospect I know it was meant to be. But in the moment, and for years afterwards, I hated what I did to you. But, of course, because the universe finds great humor in irony, you were the reason I did it.
            You were always telling me about the greyhound busses, romanticizing them. You felt the most at home on the road; blame it on my gypsy soul, you said. But you never had the courage to pursue that feeling of aliveness. You taught me what it meant to be alive but when it came down to it you didn’t know what it meant yourself.
            After high school I worked full time at the laundromat on Lexington and 125th, got a cheap place in Harlem. You offered to let me stay with you in a safer area of town, but I wouldn’t. So one night we found ourselves screaming in the kitchen, just like Dad and my step mom, and I knew we were done. I want you to be safe, you said. And I loved you for it, but I needed to know what it was like to look over my shoulder, to value life enough to care to look over my shoulder; I needed to know how quickly it could all slip away from me.
            That next year was all rhythms, no passion: on Mondays you brought wine from the Italian restaurant where you worked, Tuesdays we ate pizza, Wednesdays were Chinese. But two months after the kitchen fight I decided to take two more jobs. I was always working so you didn’t bring wine anymore. Some nights I’d come home to find you asleep on my couch, waiting for me. I’d curl up next to you because I knew that soon I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore, wouldn’t be able to hold you whenever I wanted.
            A year after the kitchen fight, to the day, I released you. First I kissed you fiercely, brought my nose to that leather jacket you loved and memorized its smell, held you. Then I climbed in the taxi that took me to the greyhound bus station and got on the bus that took me to where I am now.
            My daughter asked about you last week. Well, not directly, but she asked about the first time I fell in love with being alive. At first, when I told her about you, she rolled her eyes, said, Mom, we’re strong independent women, not damsels in distress. I smiled, touched her shoulder, told her she was right, I was no damsel, and if I ever was in distress I didn’t know it. I told her something I’d never told anyone. It was philosophical, I thought, and I owe the idea to your memory.
            I told her that we’re only human, and there’s no shame in needing other humans to help us off the ground every once in a while. I was in a place of darkness and you carried me out. And then when we found the darkness again, because we’d grown tired of each other, I let you go. We’re human, and part of being human is letting other humans in. You were the first one I ever let in, and that was what made me feel alive.
            I’m sorry I never called or wrote until now. But I ran into an old friend yesterday who’s a friend of a friend of one of your friends, and she told me about the dementia. Early on-set, she said; no one saw it coming. And then I knew I had to write you, because I’ve cherished your memory for so long, and I thought that maybe someone should tell you our story, just in case you’ve forgotten. Because when the tunnel gets foggy and dark, as I know it will soon, you’ll need something—someone—to take your hand and pull you out. So I’m sending this letter just in case you’ve lost that feeling of aliveness that you taught me to chase. If you’ve lost it, I hope that this sparks it again, that it will grow into a flame. 

           That flame will pull you out of the darkness. 


Monday, January 22, 2018
do you remember our first summer
how we climbed up to the attic while your parents watched reruns
and you showed me your favorite record.
you held it out to me with bony fingers,
said this is how music is s’posed to sound and I marveled at the magic,
needle carving vibrations into vinyl.

you closed your eyes as springsteen spoke to your soul.

you tapped the floor in rhythm;
the full moon and a million stars shone through the porthole window,
lit up your hair with a ghostly glow,
blond locks mingling with pale light
and it wasn’t just me and you anymore because you and music were one,
the damp dusty air thick with thunder road.

you carried around those words and notes like they were holy.

three summers later you met a girl;
she didn’t like springsteen like I did, always changed the radio without asking,
but she worshipped you, you told me.
after school you’d go to the attic.
I’d climbed the elm outside the porthole window, bring a new vinyl sometimes,
and you’d share your dreams unbridled.

then your dad’s truck sped down the driveway, gravel spinning, and didn’t come back.

your girlfriend called it off,
because you wouldn’t tell her the reason for your black eye, she said.
but that night I climbed the elm,
reenacted your favorite song,
and when you laughed, lips turning up in a sort of half-grin,
music poured out.

but we always knew springsteen would carry you away once you found the courage.

with the scream of harmonica
you found what you were looking for, redemption beneath a dirty hood
I didn’t know which was louder:
those living chords, the soundtrack to your life
or the screech of tires on tattered black asphalt and the clash of metal on metal,
seventeen summers gone in a blink.

the impulse of a dream evaporated in the miasma of blood and metal.

so I chased it for you,
six months late, graduation gown in rags in the back of this chevy,
windows down, springsteen thundering,
hightailing it out of this old tired town.
I left everything behind me except the lull of your song in my ears,
and I and the music were one.

the impulse of a dream riding fulfilled on waves of the night.

where do you take you denim?

two truths and a lie

Monday, January 15, 2018
my friend olivia tagged me in a fun exercise. it goes like this:

i write three short excerpts about my life, and you get to guess which one's the lie. 

1. i remember the days we'd pile into dad's old chevy, creaking with old age, and turn on the country station. there were a few songs we loved to sing together, "mr. mom," "when the sun goes down," "good ole boys like me." i always forgot in "mr. mom" when the line was rewind barney for the sixteenth time and when it was rewind barney for the eighteenth time, so i'd mumble that line and we'd all laugh. and even then, my eyes would gloss over when i sang the lyrics because i knew this would be a memory i wouldn't forget. heading to gradma's, we'd take the long way, turning right at the stop sign instead of left, then winding around the old country roads. on the big hill, the one next to those power lines, dad would speed down and we'd throw our hands up like we were riding a roller coaster, screaming ooohhh, the pitch of our voices climbing as we went higher on the hill. so young and so free, it was like nothing could stop us.

2. the first time we went to cade's cove in tennessee, where mom + dad had spent their honey moon years earlier, we walked down a foot path to the edge of the forest. at first i didn't see them, but when i looked into the forest at its movement, i saw: three black bear cubs and their momma bear. cameras were everywhere, tourists in awe. a man with a big camera kept leaning forward, trying to get closer.. i've always been a watcher, so i watched the bears and watched the people. caroline and will and i stood together and jackson toddled on his chubby toddler legs, stuffed barney in hand. then the man with the big camera got too close to momma's cubs, and she let out a roar. and we took off running back down the foot path; mom scooped up jackson and he cried when he dropped his stuffed barney. to this day, we haven't found it. we got back into our red venture and drove. lucky for us, dad was the man with the big camera, so we have pictures.

3. one day at grandma + grandpa's house in the country, we had a girls' day, a tea party with real tea cups. we sat around a small circular table, mom and grandma smiling because they knew this moment was special. i was young, had only had sweet iced tea before, so when i tasted the plain black tea i scowled, asked to make it sweeter. grandma pointed to the honey, farm-fresh from grandpa's bees. i took the spoon and filled the cup to the brim with honey--maybe i misinterpreted its size, or maybe i did it on purpose. either way, grandma looked at my cup, now a little tea with my honey, smiled, and said, let's get you some more. caroline laughed, and my cheeks reddened, but i was amused. i let mom put the honey in my next cup.



we did visit Cade's Cove and observed a momma black bear and her cubs off in the distance, but it didn't roar and dad didn't come close to it. Jackson did drop his stuffed barney, someone ran up behind our moving van to make sure we didn't forget it. 

Senior Updates II

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
What am I up to?

I'M GOING TO COLLEGE! I received my admissions decision on December 20th from Furman University, and I am now officially a member of their class of 2022! I know we hear it often, but God is so good. Furman is the only university I legitimately wanted to attend. I wrestled with God in prayer as I awaited my admissions decision, telling him I wasn't going to college at all if I didn't get into Furman or somehow wasn't able to go. I thought that if I gave him an ultimatum, things would go my way. As I got my official acceptance, I realized it had been in the cards all along.

A sweet friend of mine told me this over coffee one evening: God has everything planned out until eternity; he knows what you'll wear tomorrow, where you'll go to college, who you'll marry. This college acceptance was monumental to my human life, but merely a blip on the radar of eternity. He knows it all and I must put my trust in him.

My friend Olivia shared this quote by John Piper: Whenever your heart starts to be anxious about the future, preach to your heart and say, "no, heart. I will not exalt myself with anxiety. I will humble myself in peace and joy as I trust this precious and great promise of God: He cares for me."

- hanging with friends downtown, laughing about where we'll be in ten years. Married with three kids, they joked about me. I laughed as I said, three dogs maybe, but no kids. But really, we just soaked it all in, because there's no way to know where any of us will be in ten years. We all want to make the best of right now.
- brunch celebrating a friend's birthday. how is she nineteen already?! Wasn't it just yesterday when we were playing Hungry in the field in front of the church, playing sardines while our parents were in choir practice, watching disney movies in the basement? oh how time flies.

- celebrating christmas with family: annual christmas party one night, celebrating my grandma's birthday the next, and christmas the next day. I don't have many pictures, because I was trying to relish it all.
       - I received a record player and browsed dad's old vinyls. My favorites of his are Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and James Taylor.

- I had coffee with the lovely Grace Anne. She is a bundle of joy, a good listener, a talented and animated storyteller--both in writing and verbally-- and so much more. I love living not too far from her and hanging out as often as we can. College, here we come!


I MADE SOME RESOLUTIONS. I decided to exercise more, finish all my homework in the evenings, hit a weekly writing goal. But then I read this post on Jefferson Bethke's (author of Jesus > Religion and It's Not What You Think) instagram. It talks about how we should shoot for a rhythm instead of meeting every little goal. I encourage you to read it (it's not too long) and take it to heart in your goal-making process.

I TURNED EIGHTEEN!!!!! I spent the weekend at Young Life's Windy Gap January 5th-7th. My birthday was the 7th, and since we stayed up so late the night before, when the clock hit midnight my friends surprised me by singing happy birthday (I may have cried). It's weird being eighteen, but it doesn't really feel any different. What feels different is everything that comes along with being eighteen, graduating and going to college and things like that.

This past year has been my hardest: it brought me through times of darkness when all I could do was hold onto the hope that the best is yet to come. It was also my best year yet, and the one that has shaped me the most in my eighteen years on earth. I look forward to how 2018 will shape me, too.

Good things
-the smell of the fraser fur--mom's favorite--as christmas music wafts through the air
-laughing with friends, not worried about the future because of the pure sweetness of the moment
-coffee dates to escape the winter wind, smiles over the rims of mugs and talking about anything and everything
-the promise that the best is yet to come because of the goodness of God's plan and God's grace
-smiles from new friends; we've shared to much to offer nothing in passing
-the feeling of being known, understood, and loved in spite of it, both by God and friends
-hope--the thing with feathers--that gives us so much to look forward to
-Christmas movies, so familiar that we know every word, but we love them anyway
-coffee by an open fire
-a ray of winter sun that holds a glorious promise: spring is coming
-the faithfulness of God, look back at how he brought me through the fire; when a storm comes again, I will remember his grace and his plan and hold onto it with all I have

the history of great things - elizabeth crane

myths and legends podcast
born to run - bruce springsteen
madman across the water - elton john
james taylor - james taylor

the invention of wings - sue monk kidd
the handmaid's tale - margaret atwood
death of a salesman - arthur miller

Let me know what you're up to in the comments! I want to hear all about it!