Fragility

This semester has been a bit nuttier than others in the past.

Not because I’m barely staying afloat in my classes. They’re going fine. Not because I’m antsy about moving out of this square room. It smells of my Autumn Harvest candle and gives me access to a second closet full of cute clothes. Thanks, rooms ;)

I’m juggling, here. A full class load, my jobs as youth director and journalism intern, my identities as daughter, sister, fiancée, friend. I’m completely aware that I’m not the only one experiencing this, and it’s likely to happen many times in my future. But I’m also aware that sometimes my obligations interfere with what I believe to be true about myself.

I become a victim of the productivity monster. I see my to-do list with so many uncrossed items, and I simultaneously want to complete everything without stopping and throw it out the window. But I wouldn’t dare. I fall into the trap of thinking that my identity is built on this productivity, on writing the perfect story every week, on doing things in a way that pleases others, which pleases myself. With writing, in particular, I fight continual, unwelcome daily thoughts about how I’m not doing well, or enough.

And then I’m faced with the reality that this is not who I am.

This is not what defines me. And the day I forget that is the day I forget who I belong to, the God who reassures me that my very existence brings Him glory.

So I also encourage you to not feel bogged down by unrealistic expectations – not somebody else’s and certainly not your own. God made you and thinks you’re good. Shouldn’t we be trusting of that?

This beautiful fall day.

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This and That

These last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, trying to get in the swing of school again. I moved in last Sunday to the same dorm as last year. Shannon and I (roommates 3 years and going strong) considered switching things up in terms of layout of the room, but we agreed that last year’s arrangement was tops. So we kept all furniture situated the same except closet space, which caused some confusion manifesting in me opening her underwear drawer at least three times instead of my own. Ha.

Display above my bed. Simply printed images on dollar store frames. Thanks Danae for the inspiration!

I feel that I just tried to blow through my two previous years in college…like it was simply a bridge to something greater–a space in which I didn’t belong because I could not accept the phrase “This is the best four years of your life” (though now I’m beginning to understand what Dad said about this being the time of greatest freedom with the least responsibility…). I realized that as a Christian, I wasn’t enjoying the responsibility entrusted to me to represent Christ and be intentional in my relationships with friends and classmates. I was simply trying to get by. I was concerned with me. And for the record, I still am. I think that’s our instinctual focus, but it’s kind of refreshing to stretch that. For me that’s meant inviting freshman girls on my floor to CSF and just taking the time to talk to them and enjoy their company. Sometimes, though, it’s easiest to keep my door shut. I like my quiet.

So, in the latest news, I FOUND MY WEDDING DRESS! Bout time. It was only the second place I seriously looked, but I felt like I tried on a jillion dresses and didn’t know what was wrong with me because I wasn’t getting excited over any of them. I actually tried the gem on early in my round of dresses and came back to it at the end. There were no fireworks or flashing directional signs, only a bit of giddiness and the slightest tug that said I’d be coming back for it. I didn’t want to make any quick decisions, so I looked at the pictures and waited a week, then went back for it. I asked my sister how in the world she picked the very first dress she tried on, and her answer fascinated me. She said that things are different now, with all the television shows making dress shopping a life-changing event. Megan’s thoughts on making her decision? “It was pretty and fit nicely.” The beauty in her practical answer is that “the dress” didn’t overtake the truth: marrying her man was infinitely more important. I really don’t believe that the dress I got was created exactly for me and I could never love any other dress. But whew, this one is pretty :) I can’t wait to wear it for an entire day.

Here’s to the long weekend, hoping your grass becomes greener. The Lord knows we need it.

Another year..

Last night was my final night of sleeping in my dorm room. This doesn’t exactly break my heart, as there’s really no space to just wander, which I sometimes like to do. Right now, I’m sipping orange juice by my desk light to let the roomie sleep a little more, and there’s a row of packed bags up against my bed, almost like linemen ready to get the game going. Dad is helping me move my colossal collection of things (read: clothes) later this afternoon.

Another year done. I’m now closer to my degree, closer to getting married, and closer to realizing that beyond that, I have no idea what I’ll be doing the rest of my life…but that’s kind of exciting :) (WHAT? This is coming from Mal?) I mentioned in a previous post that after I accepted my invitation to go on the South Africa trip, I felt so relieved in taking a risk like that. Perhaps that was a turning point in my life.

Speaking of the trip, our support-raising has been ASTOUNDING! It was humbling to completely rely on other people’s generosity, but after talking to Thomas, we both admit that, at times, we did not comprehend how blessed we were. Collecting thousands of dollars in a matter of a couple months? That certainly was not our efforts alone. I’m nervous about the trip only because I’m a homebody. I will have Thom, but I sure do love my bed and my family. More updates to come before we leave, for sure.

This month also wraps up my first year as youth director at Memorial Church, which has certainly been an interesting ride. I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants the whole year…hopefully the kids didn’t notice ;) Only my lovely ladies showed up to bake cookies a few weeks ago for the Kairos ministry, but we didn’t mind not having any boys. Made for some girl time.

It’s interesting being relatively close in age to them. Just last week, one girl came up to me wanting boy advice, which I’m always more than eager to give.

In wrap-up news, I had a wonderful time with some of my best friends last night, catching up on the craziness of this finals week and what’s in store wedding-related for “Manic May,” as Mom has called it. Let’s just say it should be a fun summer :)

More later…

Who’s steering this ship, anyway?

I have diagnosed myself with the complex of everything needing to be planned and orderly for me to be at peace..I’m pretty sure it’s called being human. But I have also recently discovered that I am capable of letting go. And this, my friends, is exciting.

I found out almost a month ago that I will be spending five weeks of my summer in Cape Town, South Africa. Through Campus Crusade, Thomas and I will be traveling with 40 other students from around the country to assist new ministries on college campuses, share the Gospel with students and also work at a community center in a more rural area. After being accepted on the trip via phone, I just cried. I cried because I am nervous. I cried because I finally get to see another country and know people in it. I cried because I felt a freedom in taking a risk that I’ve never felt before. So now begins the support-raising, which will definitely require a lot of faith that God will provide.

In other my-life-is-so-uncertain news, I currently don’t know where I’m living next year. While I did have plans to stay at home, I found out A DAY BEFORE the housing sign-up that juniors with my scholarship are not allowed to live off campus..only the seniors. So that threw a heavy wrench in things. In a mad dash to figure something (anything) out, Shannon and I signed up to live in Candlewood Suites, which is technically off-campus, but a partnership with ISU allows students to live there. However, according to the res life staff, they are not certain that the partnership will continue. Hm.

And then there’s the cliche question, “What in the world am I going to do with my life?” and just as pressing, the question “Will we move away?” I don’t know at this point. But for right now, I’m really ok with that. I very much feel that God is in control and I don’t have to doubt that He can handle it. Maybe this has just been a mentally-peaceful week. Or maybe I’m learning to remember who’s steering this ship.

 

Treasure Hunt

I have found the store that has forever enhanced my appreciation of vintage finds: Nancy’s Downtown Mall. All the credit goes to Thomas, who put the visit on our agenda; he’s trying to build his newly-founded record collection.

 

This place had EVERYTHING. I was internally jumping up and down while browsing the china sets, ball jars, antique furniture and accessories.  Much of the stuff could be considered junk to some, such as the cups with no saucers and that once-trendy lamp shade, but I loved thinking about how the owners probably adored these things. One piece that caught my eye was this little baby:

 

The end result of the trip was a happy couple who both walked out with some goods of their own. For my guy, a stack of records by Frank Sinatra and Big Band artists, while I picked up some $2 earrings (2 dollars!) and a Hadley plate to add to Mom’s collection. I also nearly fell in love with a small armoire that would be so charming in a bathroom or hallway…maybe someday.

This was a fun break in the normal shopping routine. Besides, who doesn’t love a nice bargain?

 

I’m ENGAGED!

I wrote my previous post unknowing that I would be proposed to later that afternoon (if I knew, you can bet I would have put on cuter clothes that day). But now, I’m engaged! It seems like such a big word. You always hear about other people dedicating themselves to each other, but it’s a very different and very wonderful feeling to say that about yourself. In a nutshell, for those wondering (and those who have heard this twenty times) we took a drive out to Mansfield Dam on Raccoon Lake like we’ve done maybe 3 or 4 times before. Upon walking down to a bench by the water, Thomas played some guitar, he asked, and I said yes (read: nodded frantically and mustered a “Yeah definitely”). What followed was an outpouring of hugs, as well as details of weird “coincidences” that have taken place over the last four months. Yes. FOUR months. I tried so hard to glue everything about that afternoon into my mind, but when my memory fails, I will always have it on paper, which I wrote later that night. Just a side note: he asked my brother, in addition to my parents. Is that not awesome?

 

We have received an immense amount of love and support, which has been so encouraging. We know we’re young and that this isn’t the “typical” way to go about engagement and marriage, as we are anticipating a Summer 2013 wedding and will each still have a semester of college remaining (which we will finish both living in Terre Haute). We feel a whole lot of gratitude to be in our position, and I will most definitely be using this blog to document the planning process.

Hoping you have a stress-free and fun-filled next few days! Merry Christmas!

 

Breaking Routine

Christmas break has me celebrating inside and out. I’ve found, though, that it is slightly weird not having a million things school-related circling in my mind. In fact, other than my Nonprofit Leadership Alliance conference in Kansas City coming up in early January, school isn’t occupying my thoughts at all (as it should be). This has occasionally led me to wander throughout my house, not necessarily in boredom, but rather befuddlement that I have this much free time. I’m not complaining, as I really enjoy wrapping presents and I’m beginning to get more into cooking and baking. I also am able to spend much time with Thomas, which is great because we get to make up for lost time during the semester (Not great because we could sit and watch Dexter for hours).

I don’t always make the most fluid transitions into breaks and vacations, but I sure do appreciate them. To those of you still working this week (special shout-outs to Dad, Mark and Gina), know that I am thinking of you. At least you have something to look forward to, as you anticipate these delicious sugar-coated pecans that Mom and I made last night!

(Get the super-easy recipe here : http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sugar-coated-pecans/)

Keep the season merry!

The couple who cooks together…

I just returned to school from a beyond-lovely Thanksgiving break. It was so nice to be with the people who mean the most to me and eat way too much home-cooked food by mothers who dash around like little food fairies in the kitchen. But as it turned out, I spent some time cooking as well. NOT  like a little food fairy. And here’s where the story begins.

Thomas likes waffles. I like to make him waffles. So at one in the afternoon, he came over to the house and after putting the first  cup of batter in the iron, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Something was wrong, so I opened the iron and there was a white, still-mushy waffle. The 20 year old iron didn’t get  hot enough, so in dismay, I had a giant bowl of waffle batter and no where to put it. Thom was still set on breakfast food, so he recommended french toast instead (saying if I mixed it up, he’d make it). I had all the ingredients together except the six eggs. Upon looking in the fridge, I found two. That called for a Dollar General run, then we were finally able to make us some toast!

What was so fun was I had never seen my guy cook like that. He was flipping that toast like nobody’s business and was really enjoying himself, as you can see.

We then decided to keep going and make pancakes with the leftover waffle batter.   AND we heated up some bacon and brought out nuts, cool whip and powdered sugar. By 2:30 we were done. What started as a disappointed Mal over a broken waffle iron turned into a beautiful, sugary feast with my man that we both were proud of.

He’s so go with the flow. I admire him.

An Evening with Friends and Dorm Update/Competitive Decorating

Friday nights in college are kind of odd for me, and maybe for other people too. It’s like there’s this expectation that you have a rad party to attend (or 3 or 4) or a big date night to get dolled up for. And half the time it’s three o’ clock in the afternoon and I have NO IDEA what I’m doing later. But all things considered, it turned out to be a wonderful low-key evening :) Let me elaborate.

Emma, Shannon and I grabbed some Chinese food from the Commons for dinner and ate it outside by the fountain, which was extremely pleasant. The weather is GORGEOUS right now. Emma and I went bowling with CSF (ok, so I didn’t stay in the whole time) and came back and made a mess of her room making paper crafts. Shannon joined us and we tore pages out of old books and maps and used stamps and watercolor to turn them into pinwheels and other fun-looking art.

And I don’t know what you call these things, but I love much.

Earlier this week we also added a “clothesline” of pictures (remember that twine reference?) which we secured with clothespins along our main wall; love. And we also strung up two strands of lights criss-crossing our ceiling in the middle. Florescent lights kill the room’s comfy factor, and one floor lamp wasn’t enough, so the extra lighting is perfect for a more mellow mood.

So here’s where the competition comes in. ISU’s Facebook page has a contest where you enter a picture of your dorm. People vote, and there are ten winners, but the top two get a fifty dollar gift card. To where, we don’t know, but I was always taught in tennis that a win’s a win. So surely the same theory applies. We’re getting a late start in the competition; however, we’ve recruited our friends to vote for us. We’re in it to win it. And we’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the submitted entry photo.

Mmm…DIY and Christmas lights. A magical combination.

Moving: Part 2

All settled in! What a day. We got my stuff moved in a little after ten this morning, and I kept busy putting things away and finding a place for every last picture and razor. The organizing was interrupted by lunch (but who can complain about that?) and the Honors Fall Welcome session, which I attended because I’m an Honors Peer Advisor. My job is to help about 20 new Honors students get acquainted with the program. Kind of like Link Crew…college style! Then Shannon and I went to Walmart, where we were charged with a bill that was momentarily deflating, right before we found rubber door stoppers at Dollar Tree. Fabulous. And THEN we went back to Wal-Mart to get twine for an upcoming project. I guess you’ll just have to check back to hear more about that one :) We finished with Sonic for dinner and then I was able to sit. And relax.

Want to see my room now? I put it into a mosaic just for kicks.

I kept my bedding from last year, which is so warm and cheerful, I think. We’re also hooked up with a private bathroom, which we eagerly decorated with a damask shower curtain and teal bathmats (they look more blue in the picture). And a walk-in closet? We’re two happy girls! Makes me look like less of a clothes hoarder because there’s so much space. Not pictured is our bookshelf with the tv and our triple stacker right next to it (Bessie the printer sitting on the microwave sitting on the fridge).

It’s really a very nice room and building, and I’d be silly to complain about it. But it’s still an adjustment. I’m looking forward to classes starting so I can start my routine. Does that make me sound like a boring person? Hm. I’m feeling a good sleep coming on.

One last thought. With details like this one atop my desk, how could I NOT enjoy this place?

:)