Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Death and Rainbows

I think the strangest part is the normalcy of it all. The way everything keeps moving forward as if nothing ever happened. The house looks the same. The people look the same. The familiar tv shows are playing in the background that normally do on a Tuesday night. Everything so….normal. I'm not really sure what I expected, but that feeling…the normal feeling…that's what took me off guard the most.

I'm always very interested to see how people deal with the most traumatic circumstances in life. Maybe so I can prepare myself for my own, or possibly to encounter people on a very deep level. I got a chance last night to spend some time with a family who lost their husband and father a few days ago. I listened to the wife speak of her love lost and how she whispered to him on his last day that he had loved her enough to make it through the rest of her life. What an amazing thing to be able to say to someone in their final days. I sure hope someone can say that I loved them like that when it's my time to go home. And it IS going home. I imagine when I'm in Jesus' arms I'll feel a feeling of belonging like I'd never known on this earth.

On our way over to the house we were driving in this really heavy storm that was actually quite scary. We couldn't see the cars in front of us and everything around us seemed really dark. Our blood pressure and stress level was up really high, but we figured we wouldn't die, because how terrible would that be if we died on our way to comfort someone who had just experienced death? The Lord promises not to give more than we can handle, and they couldn't handle us as well! Not this week! We figured we had plenty of angels keeping us safe considering the circumstances.

As scary as it was braving the storm, it was totally worth it. I feel like it was used to give me the words to say to that family at the right time. The storm went on for a while, but there was point where the clouds came to a complete stop. It was like we were entering a perfect summer day with a huge storm behind us. I said in a note to them that I had been going through a storm and I couldn't see the sun at all. But when we came out, the realization was that it was always there just as Jesus is for us and when we are in such a dark time, it's impossible to see the full picture.

Next I looked back at the storm and saw the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen. It was stretching high into the sky in a strait line full of color and hope. I felt the Lord wanting me to remind them of His promises and how He will do what He says He will. No traumatic circumstance can take away that incredible truth. The rainbow was put in the sky to be a reminder of the covenant and promise the Lord made with Noah and all the creatures on the earth concerning the flood. I also see it as a reminder of all of God's promises for us. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promises to come get us soon and take victory over this world. He promises no more separation and eternal joy with Him. He promises that one day tears will be gone forever. He promises that nothing can separate us from His love and that we never have to face anything alone.

These sorrows we go through in life are not the end even if it feels like it. The truth is for believers if it isn't a happy ending…it isn't the end at all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

*Camp Counselor-MY NIGHTMARE*

I was outside on a blacktop in the heat of the day this afternoon, and do you know what thought crossed my mind? I thought about how thankful I am that I'm not a camp counselor!!! I want to kiss the air conditioned floor of my home and dance in my bug-free shower. Most people dream of their summer camp bliss, but I just see things like that as a nightmare. I am not saying this as a bystander who has no idea about camp life, but as a veteran counselor from that week from you-know-where. That's took me a week of being a counselor to realize it was not for me.

First of all, I got to the camp and it was SUPER HOT. Air conditioning was nowhere to be found and I had to scrape gum off the gym floor with a plastic fork the first night. Not to mention everyone was ALWAYS in shorts and a tshirt!!! That is not the best look for me. I did not look cute at all and my 16 year old dreams of finding my future husband were thrown out the window. I had to clean out these lockers with scary animals living inside and was told I couldn't scream. It was like I was taken hostage. There was nowhere to run and screaming was against the rules.

I was told to go set up my bed in a tiny cabin that looked like it could collapse at any moment. A daddy long leg greeted me on my mattress and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Why had everyone talked about how great being a counselor was?!?! I had yet to figure that out. Maybe when the kids arrived I would forget about the horror that had already ensued. But that never happened.

Each night I was forced to stay up till 2am in order to be the last one awake in the cabin. Bad breath ran ramped morning, noon, and night. The kids decided since their parents were gone, teeth brushing didn't have to happen. It was a nightmare. Along with many other things. I can't even talk about the bathroom or shower situation without crying, so I'm going to have to leave that part out.

There was one particular night when I was assigned to the barn for night activity. It was right after a break so the hay maze had not been cleaned out for a while. If you don't know what the hay maze is...let me fill you in with a little childhood flashback. I was at this particular camp when I was about ten years old when I decided to go to the barn because I had heard it was fun. The people I talked to CLEARLY had a different definition of fun than I did. You could milk a disgusting cow or ride a dangerous zip line into a bail of unsanitary hay. You could also choose to go through a hay maze that promised joy and fun for all.

The hay maze is so small that you have to get on your belly at times to fit through. It is pitch dark with so many ways to get lost. Not to mention there are bugs everywhere ready to crawl inside your clothes for dinner. I was NOT a happy camper!!! I remember this panicked feeling when I got lost in the dark maze and I tried to go a different way and the maze COLLAPSED on me. I was stuck in pitch black with all these hay bails around me and I couldn't move. I was stunned in the worst sense.

Flash forward to my summer as a counselor and there I was standing before my biggest terror yet again. "Abby, go put candy throughout the maze" my boss said to me. "Look at all these boys around, can't they do it?!". Let me remind you that there had been a summer break and spider webs were lining the entry and It hadn't been cleaned in about two weeks. All the boys looked terrified and said there was no way they were gonna do it! They ran off leaving me with an angry head counselor. As tears filled my eyes I said "FINE!!!!!!!" and stormed to the entrance. I was not by any means on my best Christian behavior. Camp brings out the heathen in me.

I remember crying so hard as I got on my belly and crawled through that dark maze feeling the spiders webs get caught in my hair with every turn. I felt like that 10 year old child again and I was so afraid the hay maze would fall on me. I have yet to find the fun till this day. As I came out of the maze everyone looked at me really shocked. Apparently there was not one inch of me that was not covered in spider webs or tears.

Did I mention what my job was during the day? I was stationed at fun swim at the top of this zip line. I had to stand on a platform that waved side to side in the breeze really high in the air. I pulled that zipline up for four hours a day and got a huge muscle that was just frightening. Everything was frightening.

Luckily the Lord used me anyway in some of the kid's lives. I even got letters for a few years from some of them about what a great counselor I was. If only they really knew.

Just a little post to make me feel thankful for where I am. I am SO glad I'm not one of the many college kids having "fun" at camp this summer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

*Freedom of Confidence*

I was once told by a woman in her sixties that I had a strength she wished she had. We were standing over my great grandmother's grave and began in a deep conversation about life. She'd been keeping up with my blog and said with such sureness that I was a strong person. Me? Strength? Strong? Not an adjective I'd ever used for myself before.

I am not afraid to be honest and it's easy for me to stand up for myself which apparently is hard for some people. I always thought I was NOT strong because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. It's all a matter of the way you see it, I suppose. I've always been a pretty confident person which has mostly been brought about by my love, Jesus. The closer I am to Him, the more I feel like a beautiful and valued human being. I am a prized treasure of Christ and nothing can change that. The Lord is in love with me. He waits patiently and longs to hear my innermost thoughts. It's such a blessing that I could never, ever deserve. And the more I learn about the goodness and love of Jesus, the more in awe I am. I truly believe He watches me and smiles thinking of how gorgeous He has made me. Even if the world does not see me as beautiful, I know the Lord does. There is not one moment in my life that my beauty isn't being taken in by the Savior, and I can't wait until I do the same for Him. He is going to be more beautiful than I ever dreamed. Even though I am undeserving, I am very special to the Creator. I think He laughs at me and loves to watch the way I live out my life. He made my heart, so He understand every single thing I do. He understand me more than I understand myself. He has captured my heart…a heart He created to love himself. I am His bride and the bible says He takes great delight in me. He is rejoicing over me with singing. And He's doing the same for you.

Some of my confidence has come from my parents as well. They never criticized the way I looked even when something probably should of been said. I think correcting the way a girl looks or always being critical is a key action in bringing insecurity. Just from the things I've seen and the way I am verses the way some girls are that were not raised the same way. I truly believe that my parents think me and my sister are the most beautiful girls in the world and that's always been nice. I was a chubby fifth grader with bushy eyebrows and an enormous double chin and I got nothing but "You're beautiful!!!". I even said something to my mom the other day about how she should've stepped in and helped a child out, but she honestly said…"You are wrong! You've always been perfect!". And I really think she believes that. Giving your children the idea that you think they are the most beautiful in the world is vital! Because something has gone wrong.

So many girls that are half my size and absolutely gorgeous have told me they are jealous of my confidence. Girls that have boys chasing them, and I'm the one that is not first on the eligible bachelor's list. How does that even happen? It seems so twisted. Shouldn't I be the one jealous??? Sure, there are days when Satan gets a hold and I feel so ugly. But I realize it's the enemy and His lies and I fight that. Normally I look in the mirror and am happy with what I see. Sure, I see lots of flaws but all in all, I leave feeling great. The flaws do not control me. Why aren't the girls who are actually more beautiful than me in human standards doing the same thing? Because most gorgeous girls look in the mirror and always feel disappointed. I don't understand.

I can't even imagine being phased after watching Miss USA or America's Next Top Model. I've known people who can't even watch those because it makes them feel like they are not enough. I have never felt that way! I just enjoy looking at beautiful people. It's never an option to compare myself. The comparing game is a losing game. You will never win. There are ways I will fall short to you, and there are ways you will fall short to me. I am not saying we should just let ourselves go and be confident being homely. I am ALL about dressing up cute and wearing make-up and doing my hair. I think it's great to play up our strengths. I just don't think it's great when it becomes everything. I don't think it's great when we compare ourselves to our neighbor that we could never possibly live up to.

I guess what I'm trying to get across to girls is that I REALLY REALLY REALLY want you to experience the freedom of confidence. I went through a few weeks this semester where I lost all confidence and my life was miserable!!!! I have been insecure and I have been confident and there is MUCH difference in the quality of life I experienced. I see women enslaved to their work-out schedules and calories and fat percent almost everyday. One time in my dorm a few girls who are TINY were all standing in front of the mirror pulling at their arms and grabbing their stomachs saying "Look at this! So fat! I gotta work-out!" Excuse me?! Aren't you like 115 lbs?!?!?! And there I am looking in the mirror thinking ya, I'm a bit on the chubby side, but hello! I still like what I see! I tell my friends who are constantly judging themselves: "You are a waste of a pretty person!!!! Enjoy what God gave you!!! You are blessed to wake up and look like that!" haha It's true.

I would NEVER trade my confidence for being the prettiest girl in the entire world without it. The reason I am not jealous of most girls is I see the struggle they have with their outward appearances that I do not have. They may be gorgeous to the boys and they may be the ones being called, but I am the one who is secure in myself. I am the one that knows I am worthy because Jesus does not make junk. I am not constantly driving myself to perfection in order to fit some social mold. I am not consuming my thoughts in outward appearances that will only fade away. You can diet until you are blue in the face, you can become as little as a tiny stick, but in the end…you WILL get old and ugly. Not to say that dieting and staying fit is bad, because it's not!!! It is REALLY good and I'm even going to work-out today because I'm definitely not doing the right thing, either. There is a middle ground that I am on the opposite end. But if we make it our LIFE, if we are constantly trying to jump hoops that we can never live up to, it's just not right.

I think if we put half as much energy into our relationship with Christ as we do worrying about our outward appearance, we would be on a very stable road.

Monday, May 17, 2010

*A Day in Dairy Queen*

Because of a conversation on a status change on fb a few moments ago, I've had a sudden flashback to the summer of 2007 when I was staying in Russellville for summer school and working as a Dairy Queen worker. It will always be deemed the most miserable summer of my life, but I am proud to say that I have made it through! There is more fight in me than I ever knew. I've decided to give the public and glimpse into the life of a Dairy Queen worker, but I could never do it justice.

Flashback: Summer 2007

I begin the day by waking up at 6:30 am to go to two of my summer school classes that I slaved over and would not even count towards my degree once switching schools. I went to class from 7:30-11:30 am, then would run back to my lonely apartment and put on my Dairy Queen clothes. Black pants, ugly black tennis shoes, and an oversized grey t-shirt with Dairy Queen printed across the pocket. I'd grab my visor on my way out to the car and rush to make it to work by 12:00.

The smell as I walked in the door is so familiar. A hint of icecream, a hint of greasy burgers, and another hint of old cleaning supplies mixed with dirt. I'd go in and look at the back schedule to see where I'd be placed and head of to the register to make myself "comfortable" for the next eight or nine hours. Standing up for eight hours really takes it's tole on the feet. But the standing up wasn't the worst part.

As I hear my boss yelling on the phone to the police about her crazed daughter she has a restraining order against, i'd see my first costumer coming through the door. "Welcome to Dairy Queen!" I'd say and smile, but usually I was only greeted back with blank stares or just rude comments. It's like I was worth nothing because I was a register girl. I felt so out of place… opened to the way things truly are. I was treated so poorly because of where they thought I stood in the social system. I was the lowest to all the redneck costumers, and it seems like they were on a power trip and I was a person they could control. I wanted to scream that I came from a private school and my father is prominent and I AM getting an education!!! I didn't want to be treated like that. But for those days…I played the part of a fast food girl. And that's the way I was treated. It honestly makes me treat all the people I order from with respect and friendliness. We are all God's creation no matter where we fit.

When people would tell me what they wanted, my blood pressure would go up, because it's honestly REALLY hard to type in the orders right. So many buttons and options that kept me nervously hoping that I was doing the right thing. I'd been "trained" but it was honestly so fast and hard to keep up with. I finally got the hang of it, but if someone wanted a special order it was next to impossible to get it right! No pickles..cheese?! Ketchup!?!!? No ketchup?!?! The stress! lol Not to mention I was on a time crunch and being timed to see how fast I could do everything. Mass confusion and chaos.

Often times there'd be a long line and I'd be doing order after order then having to take food out to the tables and run back like a chicken with it's head cut off. Most of the time people were very rude and made me feel like two inches tall even when I was doing my best. Lots of the mistakes weren't even my fault, but the public loves to yell. Sometimes when things were slow, I had time to just stand there look around and see the creepy burger men staring at me and winking sometimes. Oh, I'm sorry! You must be mistaken…you think I WANT to be winked at by you? Oh, brother. I was in an oversized grey,ugly collard shirt. Nothing to look twice at, but the cooks apparently thought otherwise. One time a greasy man even put his hand on my booty cheek and I had to slap his grubby hands. "Excuse me, mister! This is definitely not meant for your grimey hands!" I don't play around. He must have mistaken me for someone else.

But the cooks did come in handy at the end of the day when I was told to go clean the bathrooms. One day I walked in to mop the boys restroom to realize that there was poop on the floor. Like someone had just squatted and left a big one just for me. I ran out screaming "NO WAY!!! Fire me!!!! FIRE ME!!!" and one of the cooks went and took care of it instead. All it took was me going back and putting on a big smile and saying "Hey there…I know I was rude before, but could you do me this LITTLE favor?!" and he went a runnin. There are things that I just cannot do. But I would clean the toilets every night and the entire place after closing. I remember getting the coke machines ready for the night was the hardest part. You have to pull off these nozels under each one and only a big muscle makes it possible. I hurt my hands many times. I never look at coke machines the same again.

Oh, and have I mentioned the fry machine??? If my orders had fries I had to go back and start frying them a lot of times. That thing is SCARY!!!! It is so hot and so many opportunities for my poor little hand to be burned. I'd hold my breath and sometimes close my eyes a little out of fear.

It seemed like I worked my tail off for so many hours and when my paycheck finally came in it was such a low amount that it made me gasp every time. All that work for THIS?! Wow.

At the end of the day after I did all my closing chores, it was finally time to go home. I'd rush to the shower because I felt so gross from my day and go to sleep to start the same day over again and again. It was one crazy summer. But I truly learned the value of an education and was able to see that I can work hard and do things that I never thought possible. We all have a lot of fight in us that we don't know about until it's time to use it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Writing in Nowhere

I've decided to blog in order to get my mind off my massive headache and the fact that we've been driving through nowhere for about two hours now. Mom says if you use the bathroom in a cornfield you will be shot or arrested, so if ya gotta go, you are out of luck. I keep thinking civilization is around the next bend, but that's never the case. Kinda how school felt for a while, but that long road has come to an end...for now anyway.

I shouldn't be complaining because I'm one blessed girl and I've just had one of my favorite weeks in my life so far. I've even gotten a new contentment for where I am in life because I had a nightmare that I had to pay my own bills and I'm embarrased to say I woke up with real tears running down my face. In the dream I owed $600 but I only had $100 in the bank! It was the worst feeling and I never want to feel it again. It made me very happy to realize I'm still riding the dad train for at least one more year. It's a cozy ride and I'm thankful.

I think a trip to the beach is definitely the best way to start of a summer vacation. This entire week has been nothing but fun with hardly any worries at all. I love that the Lord blesses us with weeks like these. I am so undeserving, but He allows it anyway!

Being around the ocean makes me feel very close to the Lord. It's so huge and unfathomable and full of so much power. Sometimes the waves would pull me around like a rag doll and that's the Sea the Lord can calm with just a word. Not to mention the edge of the ocean is obedient to the Savior. It was told to go no further, and it didn't! The same Lord who is with me right now is the one who controls where the shore and sea divide. The same God who holds my right hand and tells me not to fear and that He will help me. It's too great for me ever to fully understand!!!! But i do understand enough to be thankful and feel very loved by God :)

That's all for now because my eyes are going cross eyed and blurry from the screen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

*More legitimate fears*

Right now I'm sitting on the condo porch waiting for my sunscreen to dry before I go play in the sun all day. And when I say "play" I mean PLAY. I think one of the reasons I will do well at being an early ed teacher is I seriously love to play as much as the kids do. I love to escape to imaginary worlds whether it be through writing or pretending. I enjoy playing "house" with kids more than I probably should. Me and Macy get on our little blue raft and take to the seas and act like we are on deadliest catch, but we definitely laugh a lot more than they do on the show. I am 22 years old, and happy to report that I LOVE to play. If you don't like that, then your life is probably not as exciting as mine anyway, so I'm sorry for you. Life shouldn't be all this seriousness all the time. Tap into your inner child! I know its there in all of us.

I watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel not too long ago and it's definitely been in the back of my mind this entire week. The first day we were on the beach I was TERRIFIED of the water. I would only let Molly pull me out in the boat a little ways and I kept thinking I saw things and screamed quite a bit. There WAS a sting I wasn't too far off in my questioning of the seas. Steve Erwin was on my mind and I didn't want to be the next! It was sort of comical because me and Macy were in the boat screaming and holding onto each other then we looked to our right and there was this three year old kid standing next to us throwing a ball. We were in knee deep water the entire time. The water doesn't get deep until REALLY far, but we were unaware of that before.

The next day we got a little braver and realized we were being a little ridiculous. But I mean....there ARE creepy sea creatures all around. I was told by a friend during a tornado a few weeks ago that I should get more "Legitimate fears" because freaking out over being smashed by a tornado is nuts considering people die in different ways a lot more. So I told myself..."Abby, keep your fears legitimate! What are the odds of your arm being munched by a shark, anyway?" So I decided to go further this time. Sometimes I wasn't even in the boat.

Then I got REALLY comfortable being in the waves. Not long after I stepped on a crab and got pinched and chased viciously out of the water. Creepiest occurrence I've had in quite a while. And Macy got attacked as well and started bleeding. But watching her run out of the water and moon the whole beach because of it was worth it in my opinion. I've never laughed so hard in m life. In her defense, the crab is painful and SCARY! But I refuse to let that stop me from the waves, because I am really trying to be less fearful. And I was hoping to get into a bad predicament that caused a very attractive Christian man to come rescue me from the waters! But that hasn't happened yet. Maybe one day. A girl can dream.

Well, my sunscreen is dry so I am about to go outside! Hope everyone has had a great summer so far!!!! :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bloggin in the Car

I've been up since 3:30am and I'm happy to report that I'm surviving so far. I would not suggest getting only four hours of sleep though, because my stomach feels like there's a match lit inside. It sometimes feels like a coon is taking bites out of it as well, but mom says I can't describe my stomach anymore because it's a form of complaining. I'm falling apart for the sake of fun and it WILL be worth it!

A desperate public restroom goer busted in on me in my stall a few miles back. She pushed so violently that it busted the lock and I was forced to scream bloody murder. That lady must have been in quite the pickle cause she shook molly's stall door for a while as well. We got outta there as fast as we could because that was a shocking experience for all. Public restrooms are a jungle I tell you!

We are listening to a really dramatic book on tape that is supposed to make the time go faster. In Jr. High mom made us listen to Dr. Dobson puberty tapes during car trips and it's sorta ruined all books on tape for me in general.

Right now I'm looking at the back of dad's head and sitting next to sleeping Zach. Molly and Logan are holding hands looking lovingly into each others eyes in the back. Mom is happy about the book on tape and i'm just sitting here writing, laughing outloud in my own thoughts. That happens a lot. I'm happy to be me because I keep myself entertained thanks to my exciting thought life.

Anyway....Happy Graduation to those who are not on the super duper senior train!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

*Hold Lightly*

I am going to relive my 8th grade glory days, because I have written a little poem. Not a great poem by any stretch of the imagination, but a poem indeed. The only reason I'm sharing this is because it tells exactly what the Lord has been teaching me lately. Learning to hold onto our blessings lightly will save us a lot of trouble and help us to see God for who He is, instead of being angry at Him for always "taking away" things all the time. Let's be the kind of people that say "You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name!"

"Hold Lightly"

I give and you praise
I take and you groan
Each blessing has a phase
but you'll never be alone

I want to bless you highly
yet you hold blessings tightly
I wisely take them from your grasp
Holding on will never last

Come rest your hands and seek me nightly
and hold onto your blessings lightly