Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wishful Wednesday

Joining in over at The Seattle Smith's for a quick silly Wishful Wednesday. Come on over for some fun reminiscing.

I wish I could back and spend one day working at a job from my youth and it would be... Summer Day Camp at the YMCA!

(note: this is actually a picture from our church's VBS last year - I'm on the bottom right- because all my day camp pictures are hard copies and I don't have a scanner)

It's true, I was a summer day camp counselor for three years. I always felt that being a day camp counselor wasn't as "hard core" as being a counselor at an overnight camp, but honestly, I don't think I missed out on very much.

As a day camp counselor, I got to play, hike, climb, dance, ride, experiment.... and send the kids home at the end of the day. It wasn't always the cat's meow (temper tantrums, potty issues, snitty bosses, taking six-year olds on a hard hike), but it was pretty much a hoot hanging out with kids all day. I still laugh at some of the things kids said and did. One of my favorite parts about being a high school Spanish teacher is that we often get to do elementary-like things- so it's no surprise to me that I would find it fun to go back for one day. (But seriously, just one day. I'm a high school teacher for a reason!)

What is weird is that now, several years later, some of those same daycamp kiddos have turned into high school students and have been in my Spanish classes. They think it's weird to transition to calling me "Senorita" instead of "Miss Beth," and I think it's weird that those two stages of my life have collided.

On a semi-related thought (you'll hopefully track me in a minute), God did some nice talking to me today about Wishing. I was wishing that things were different at work as I was driving home, just wishing. Wishing is harmless, right?

I was wishing that I could teach some different classes next year. I was wishing that perhaps some changes would be made in our department. I was wishing that jobs would change.

Just wishing.

And then God reminded me that that kind of wishing does me no good at all (unlike the fun and silly wishing going on at Wishful Wednesday). The kind of wishing I was doing actually sounds a whole lot like discontentment.

Yikes. Discontentment. Not a great thing to be focusing on and living with.

And discontentment is friends with some people I don't want in my life, like envy, bitterness, and pride.

So my goal is to choose contentment- to keep working on not dwelling on the "what ifs," "if onlys," and "I wish's," and to instead focus on the positive, the beautiful, and the blessings.

Good reminder, God. Thanks.

(But I still like wishing for fun things, like someone to buy me a cup of coffee or the miraculous restoration of my kitchen!)

Monday, April 26, 2010


Just a quick question for you....

Is it vanity if I think I look really cute today?

Because I do.

I do think I look really cute.

And I'm pretty sure I do actually look really cute.

So perhaps I'm vain.....

but today, I'm okay with that!

P.S. Sure, if I'm going to be vain and comment on how I'm cute, I suppose I should have a picture, but today I couldn't find the camera. So you'll have to make do with a verbal snapshot. I have on my sassy Banana Republic wide leg dark wash jeans, fun silver colored heels, a really cute ruffly deep rose-colored shirt, brown cardigan, and long three-strand silver and pearl necklace. And my hair is straight, so no curly frizz today. I'm telling you. Cute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coffee Company 4.23

Hello, Company Girls. It's Friday (thank the Lord!) and time for us all to take a minute to breathe and catch up with one another. Let me just say that I, for one, continue to cherish the community the bloggie world provides- especially this community of women who uphold and encourage each other. I love the way a post can make me giggle or tear up, depending on what you're sharing. Here's to our friendship! And to being Company Girls!

This has been a week. A couple of weeks, I guess. Both Husband and I have been running around working, planning things, dealing with the stress of the house situation. It's just been exhausting. But God has been good in reminding us of Him. I've explained it to you before- I'm the type of girl who needs the house to have some semblance of order if I am going to have peace of mind. But that is so far out of my control right now (with the kitchen being torn out, and all) that it just doesn't even get to me. The other day Husband was mentioning that he was losing it because of the mess, and he couldn't understand how I, of all people, wasn't having a near meltdown.

"I guess it's because there's nothing I can do about it, so it's not worth getting bothered."

Even as I heard myself saying the words, I realized that the same truth applied to some things I've been dealing with at work- not student wise- never student wise. I love teaching and I love being in my classroom with my kids. It's the rest of the junk, the politics, that gets to me. But I realized- there's nothing I can do about them, so I need not get all upset and bothered. That perspective shift helped- and although the politcky junk was still going on at work, I felt much more able to deal with it and just focus on doing what I love.

That same perspective was forced to come back into play last night. I can't share the details of what is going on right now, because they aren't mine to tell, but I can say that we were on our knees praying for some family while trying to deal with our own hearts on the subject. Today we've learned that what appears to be an emotional rollercoaster has begun, but I'm hoping we can cling to the remembrance that when it's out of our control, we are free to let God be God and to keep moving forward. As I've been thinking about the situation, I began to see how, in several different ways, God was preparing our hearts, especially Husband's, for this. He's very faithful.

Anyway, although I should be working and teaching today (and I did have a few important things going on at work), here's who I'm hanging out with today:
Aren't they beautiful? Darcy and Georgie- Siberian Huskies our family rescued from the Humane Society about three years ago. I don't get to spend that much time with them, since they live at Mom and Dad's, but today, I'm hanging with them at their house.

And here's why:

I woke up to a phone call about a 2 hour delay, that, an hour later, became a snow day. Although it was coming down a lot at our house, the snow was only accumulating on surfaces other than the roads (since it's been warm), but here in the forest, well, you can see...

Since some of our students come from this very neighborhood, I guess it makes sense to cancel school!
The biggest bummer is that my mom, a choir teacher, had their big spring concert tonight, and when school's cancelled, so are all the activities. It doesn't make that much sense, since it's almost a guaranteed fact that by this evening, the roads will only be wet. It's pretty crummy- they've worked for months to be cancelled with no assurance that rescheduling is possible.
I guess, though, if everyone's house looked like this, it would make sense to have a snow day!
Of course this means we'll be going to school to who knows when! Oh Colorado, you're the only state I know who is sunny and warm one day and then has an unexpected snow day the next. And on April 23rd, no less. Sigh.
Well, I think it's about time for another cup of coffee. Think I'll put on a good movie and grade some tests and enjoy a respite from everything else.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Collection

Okay, so, are you a decorating guru?

I'm not, but I wish I were. Right now all I've got are decorative dreams, because we're still living with kitchen cabinets in the living room and everything all torn up. Insurance is a wonderful thing, but wow, a pain in the rear end.

The view from my couch. There's supposed to be a nice open space there, a coffee table.... a view to the kitchen and dining room....

But I digress. Back to my decorative dreams.

The other day my bestest buddy Liz and I went to Goodwill to do a little home decor shopping- twas fun. I got a few pieces I plan on painting and altering to make my mantel have a little more depth and color. Love it. Here are some of the before pieces- not where they would really go, because, of course, I basically am stuck on getting the kitchen back together before I do anything else.

I also keep seeing the "color book collections" on others' blogs and am slowly liking the idea more and more. I have these built-in bookshelves in the living room that are okay right now, but I think if we painted the back wall and added some colorful books, they would really pop.

I know, they're pretty boring. A nice rich brown background, some colorful books on the shelves... won't that look better?

Our living room is pretty bland, but Husband painted one wall this really rich brown and our hand-me-down sofa is a subtle tan-gold color with green, gold, and burgundy accents. So.... I'm thinking maybe red and gold books? Or green and gold? Can't have red and green- that would be too Christmas-y.
Please excuse the tests I'm grading and my phone and laptop. No coffee table. Do I sound like I'm whining? I don't mean to be. It's really so far beyond my control that I'm actually okay with it.

What do you think? I'm going to start hunting the garage sales for the right book covers.... as soon as I decide on colors.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When God Speaks

There are times I feel like David, crying, "How long, God, until you speak to me?"

And then there are moments when I hear him clear as if He were sitting next to me.

Husband and I have been doing some stressing on behalf of others. We're worried about them, carrying some weight on our hearts.

And then this morning, God spoke.

Our congregation was singing Mighty to Save. I love Hillsong, but honestly, I think our congreation was rocking it more than in this video- perhaps it's just that I was really feeling it.

And it hit me.

Hello. God is Mighty to Save.

He can save.

He will save.

He is Mighty to save.

It is not my responsibility to save anyone, which is darn sure a good thing, since I can't.

But I can pray for freedom for others.

And I can trust that God can provide them with freedom, because, as I may have mentioned,

He is Mighty to Save.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Be Known

There is something inherent in all of us, I think, that longs to be known.

To be loved, to be understood, to be known.

I'm sure it stems from our need as people to be Known by the Creator and to Know Him, and in His infinite wisdom, He lets us catch a glimpse of what it is like to Know and be Known in our relationships with others. A close friend, a family member, a lover- as we know and are known in those relationships, we see a bit of the big picture and understand a little bit more.

We crave being known.

I always wanted to be known as a "regular"- and preferably, due to my love of coffee, a regular at a coffee shop. I wanted to walk in and be cheerfully greeted by name, my usual brew being prepared the second I walked in.

I loved the idea so much that, my senior year of college, I decided to make it happen, if only just for the last semester. As an RA in the dorm, I worked at the front desk for a few hours a week, earning a tiny little bit of pocket change. I was also student teaching, driving 20 minutes every morning to a nearby town. For that one semester, I stopped at Starbucks two or three mornings a week, chatting with the same baristas and enjoying the feeling of being known. At least six months after I'd graduated and moved away, I visisted some friends in my college town and, of course, stopped in for a cup of coffee. To my great delight, the baristas were happy to see me and still remembered my favorite drink! I had lived my dream.
Seven years later, in a different town, I go to the same Starbucks, but usually only once a week at the most. I see the same baristas every week- they're a friendly and entertaining group of people- but they don't know me. I smile as the "regulars" come in and are greeted by name and their coffee gets brewed immediately. I'm glad they're known.

These last two weeks, though, because of the whole kitchen-in-the-living room and no counters thing, I've been in a few more times. Yesterday I was chatting with the same barista I see every week as she fixed my coffee, and she waved at a guy who came in asking, "the usual?" Laughing, I told her about my college desire of being known as a regular. I grabbed my coffee, joked about seeing her again another day, and left for work. This morning I stopped in again- the same barista was there. After she'd taken my order, she looked at me again.

"You're the girl who wanted to be remembered. Your hair is wet today, otherwise I would have remembered you earlier."

I laughed.

"No big deal," I said. "It's just funny to me."

"Oh, it's on," she replied. "I'm going to remember you."

Smiling, I took my coffee and left.

Smiling, because perhaps, I'll get to be known again.

Smiling, because I had my favorite coffee in hand.

Disclaimer: I love coffee- and I do love Starbucks- but I'm not a Starbucks snob. I drink coffee from home every day except for Fridays- and then I wouldn't mind going to a "local" coffee shop, but the few around my area are more expensive than Starbucks. As for going so much this week, well, my insurance policy includes money for being "displaced"- so as long as I keep my receipts, I'll be paid back for my coffee.

Aside: This morning, of course, I went again, because I still have no kitchen. The woman in front of me wanted to know if the free brewed coffee in your own mug because it's tax day deal was true (it is) and the barista (I now know her name is Jo) greeted me and remembered my drink (!). So brewed-coffee woman and I were laughing and talking and I was explaining the joke- even the part where the kitchen is broken- while the man-barista (haven't learned his name yet) was listening and getting her her brew. When it was my turn, I had my card all ready - and for some nice reason, man-barista waved me on and didn't make me pay. Yeay. Good start to the day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Mornings

Oh, Monday Mornings.

I don't think I'm one of those people who really hates Monday Mornings, but there is something about them that is slightly different.

Perhaps it's that, despite the fact that I slept in the day before, it's still hard to wake up when the alarm goes off.

Or the fact that, when I start to wake up, I start thinking about all the things that have to be done not only today, but also this week.

Yet it could be the fact that on a Monday morning, the possibilities for the week are endless. Who really knows what could happen before the end of the day, much less the end of the week?

Or how, on a Monday morning, I can sort of convince myself that I'm not behind, just yet.

And how Monday mornings bring me one step closer to summer vacation (where, though I'll still be busy, I'll find a tad more rest).

For whatever reason, I don't really mind Monday mornings..... And I'm guessing that is a good thing.

Here's a glimpse of today's Monday morning.

Let's call this abstract, okay? I wanted the colors, but the flash was just reflecting off the windshield (umm, no, I was NOT driving when I took this) and so I just turned it off, and got a blurry picture of a school bus with the sunrise colors behind it....

I'm one of those blessed people who, although it takes me a few minutes to get out of bed, once I'm up, I'm up and ready to go. I don't really need caffeine- last week I went many days without it- but I LOVE coffee.... and so I made sure to have some this morning. Here's my coffee pot.... filled with a Starbucks House Blend and Einstein's Vanilla Hazelnut. Mmmmm.

And just for some perspective, we only have one kitchen floor cabinet still in the kitchen - it's also the only one with a countertop still attached.... but it's not close enough to the outlet. The stove, however, in it's currently moved-and-unattached-thus-rendered-unusable condition is by the plug.... so we got creative to make a flat surface for the coffee pot.

And for a little more detail here's the rest of the kitchen. It's dry now. If you're wondering what the heck happened, you can read about it here and here.
That's it for me. I'm gonna take the last few minutes before class to enjoy my coffee and then I'll be ready to greet some high school students who, of course, despise Monday mornings, especially at 7:20 am.

Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Consumed.... But Trying Not to Be

Oh, what to blog about today.

I'd like to write about something meaningful, deep, and thought-provoking. But I got nothing.

Or maybe I provide you with a funny little quip from my life. Umm. Still nothing.

Perhaps I could share my wisdom on something, like balancing life or how to keep your house clean despite never being in it. Right. As if I have much wisdom to offer in those areas.

All I have to offer is that my house is a mess. And I don't mean the normal mess.

I mean a big mess. A plastic-sheeting-curtaining-off-the-kitchen-and-basement-and-big-fans-and-dehumidifiers-and-they're-going-to-take-out-some-ceiling-and-the-kitchen-cabinets-so-the-floor-can-dry-and-not-mold mess.

And the plumbing still isn't fixed, so there is a dishwasher full of dirty dishes and other dirty dishes stashed in random places around the house, and unless I cart them all to the bathtub to wash them, dirty they shall stay until the plumbing is fixed.

And we've had to rearrange the furniture in the living room so the kitchen cabinets can go in there for the time being. They're coming today to put kitchen cabinets in the living room (logical)). Oh, and that's right. Yes, those ARE the cabinets that Husband so painstakingly painted for D.A.Y.S.

And I spent the whole day getting the run around with the insurance company, not because they were trying to do so, but because someone forgot to assign a claim adjustor to me and so no one really knew what was going on. (That's all taken care of- after what felt like hours of phone calls and phone tag and phone messages, I finally spoke with the right people and things are now in order.)

So.... yeah. That's where my brain is at right now. I'm one of those can't-focus-when-your-house-is-a-mess people (and apparently I'm also a hyphenate-everything person today), so being in the house is stressing me out a little, and knowing it will be a while before I get to put it all back together is stressing me out a lot.

Whew. Small things, Beth, reminds God. There are lots of small, really good things. This crisis is a mini-crisis when it comes to real life. No big deal. Lots of people have lots of worse things going on- you've even had worse. (you as in me, I'm still writing what God keeps reminding me.) When it's all done, you'll know that things are in better shape than they were before it started. And there are lots of small things to find joy in, Don't forget.


I'll try to remember, God. I can't promise I won't forget for a minute, or two minutes, or maybe even longer, but I'll really try to remember to look for and focus on the small joyful things.

(But seriously, sometimes being an adult is not all it's cracked up to be.)

Linking up with my favorite Company Girls for our usual Friday Chat. LOVE it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wishful Wednesday and More

Today's topic: Wishful Wednesday: Diets.

I've never linked up with Wishful Wednesday before, but it looks fun- the whole idea being a "wish" to get you through the middle of the week. Although the topic of a diet is not necessarily something I'm excited about, I have some unexpected free time this morning and thought I might as well write about something new!

But first, you ask, why do I have some unexpected free time?

Oh let me tell you.

It's April 7, and my school district (and a few others) is having a snow day. I know many of you had big snow during the winter and were snowed in for days on end, but we had a pretty mild winter here with very few inches of snow. That is, until the last week in March, our Spring Break, where we had a blizzard with over a foot of snow in about two hours, and today, where we're having a snow day in April. I wish I could say that's rare for here, but of course, that's actually the way things always seem to go here.

But anyway, Back to Wishful Wednesday: Diets.

I wish had the willpower to stay on one particular diet, and it would be..... Self-Control!

Now, I know, that's not a real diet. Yes, I also realize that willpower and self-control in the same sentence is a bit redundant. But I'm serious.

I've taken nutrition classes. I've worked at a gym where I had free access to health information and exercise classes. I have a mom who reads up on everything and is really quite smart about health and nutrition. I've even been healthy before - when I came home from college, I got into a good groove of eating semi-reasonably (I still ate Chipotle at least once a week, but I ate a lot of other good stuff and didn't snack too much) and I worked out semi-regularly. I felt good, and I looked pretty good.

The last few years I've fallen off the healthy wagon, I think. I'm not fat, by any means, but I have inherited a belly-full "problem" from my dad- gain weight? Oh sure, let's put it right on the belly and no where else. That, of course, lends people to wondering if I'm pregnant. No, I'm not, thank you very much. It also makes me think I really need to work on that belly issue before I do get pregnant, so I can feel better then.

The main issue is that I don't feel healthy.

So I wish I had the self-control to snack less or to take the time to prepare healthy snacks. I wish I had the self-control to make the time to go to the gym (Husband and I just got a membership to Gold's- he's already been a few times, but I've been so busy I haven't gone yet. Maybe this afternoon, when the snow has stopped but we're still out of school). I wish I had the self-control to just do it.

Good news is, self-control isn't a fad that is going to go away any time soon..... so if I can just get going, I think I'll be able to do it. So healthy snacks and exercise, here I come.

At least, I wish.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Small Things

Have you ever noticed that it's usually the small things that really get under your skin?

At least, that's the way it is for me.

Husband's shoes left in the middle of the floor, the glass left in the living room for days, the dirty clothes literally 2 inches away from the hamper... (I know, and I don't even have kids yet- I'm in trouble). Little things often seem to really bug the heck out of me, and they can do it quite well.

Last night for example, I had to deal with this leak situation, which put me in a cranky mood, which, of course, I woke up still feeling with. Man, I was so frustrated.

But I got out my Bible and was reading (still working slowly on that read a Psalm a morning thing- I sort of fell of the wagon, but I got back on) and God was like, "Hello, Beth, it's the small things that you can be joyful about, too."

In the Message's version of Psalm 9, David writes, "I'm thanking you, God, from a full heart. I'm writing the book on your wonders. I'm whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy. I'm singing your song, High God." (vs. 1-2)

And so I drove to work, and found joy in the fox that crossed the street in front of me in a totally residential area. He was really cute- looked right at me as he trotted by.

And I was happy as I took in the really beautiful colors of a cloudy Colorado sunrise. And in the clouds themselves- there were some incredible shapes going on.

And I loved a guitar riff that was playing on the song that came on my iPod.

And in my classes, we had Pow Wows, where kids shared their lives with each other. It's incredible to see high school boys and girls listening intently to each other's stuff, both good and bad- feeling open enough to cry if they need to cry, all of us laughing together, them giving each other advice from their own experience.

And I found joy. That stupid leak is still there, and I still have to do with it, and the shoes on the floor, and all sorts of small things that will irritate me.... but how much better will it be if I remember to look for the other small things- the kind that point to God and bring me joy.

I guess that's the point of Tuesday's Unwrapped.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weepy Faucets

Oh, the joys of owning your own home. And by joys I mean things-that-make-me-cry-because-I'm-upset-and-frustrated.

Last May I didn't realize that the outside spigot was connected to a pipe that had burst over the winter and I had the water running and running and running as I potted some plants. A few hours later I went to the basement to find standing water and a ruined wall and carpet. We had to tear up the carpet and pad and deal with that, but pipe-wise, it was just the pipe connected to the spigot. And because the only problem was that one pipe, we haven't yet gotten around to fixing it. Here you can see the dry-wall patching we did (as well as the fact that we didn't get around to making it pretty) and the hole we left for whenever we did get around to fixing the pipe.
A few weeks ago I noticed water in the under-the-kitchen-sink cabinets and saw that the garbage disposal was leaking. Husband fixed that, and life was good. This morning I started to run the dishwasher, but then saw water on the floor and stopped it. I was going to check it out later, knowing that Husband had recently unhooked it when he was painting. No big deal.

Then tonight I went down to do some laundry and noticed this on the couch.
What?! At first I thought maybe Husband had spilled something on the couch and had tried to clean it up? Or maybe our old roomie had stopped by? Or could someone have used the spigot out back and totally ignored the "do not use sign"? And then I saw this.

And this.

And you can see just how far away it is from that other leak we still haven't dealt with yet.
And I estimated it was right under where the sink is, so I came up and found water all over the bottom of the cabinets. Hence, all the stuff in the middle of the kitchen floor and a yucky-looking cabinet base.

So I called Dad-in-law, who builds houses, and got some tips on how to figure out where the heck the leak is coming from. I'm still in the process of doing that, and yes, I've already had a few tears of frustration.
Although I know the damage could be much, much worse....
Sometimes I wonder why I bought a house.

Food and Family

Really, is there a holiday that doesn't come accompanied with food and family?

Or at least, is there a holiday that wouldn't be improved by food and family?

I can't think of one! I think that must be the "latina" in me- I can certainly claim the Italian heritage of family and food, despite my blue eyes, blond hair, and pale skin, but I have the "Spanish" in me too as a Spanish teacher. Nothing better than family time and good food to celebrate or commemorate something.

Aside- it was good to share my Grace story on Good Friday- it's a story that obviously means a lot to me, and, although summed up quite nicely in a blog post, really impacted my whole life and could be told in greater detail. Still, it was refreshing to come back after a bloggie break and share something so close to my heart.

Back to my Easter food and family day. We started the morning by heading to a nearby park for a short sunrise service with the youth group (drat, forgot to bring the camera- it was early!), followed by pancakes and bacon at a nearby church-family's house. Muffins and fruit were served at church between the first and second service, so Husband and I headed over there after stopping at home for a bit.
After church (where we had an awesome Easter sermon), we headed to my Mom and Dad's to check out our Easter baskets (yup, we still get them, despite that we're in our late 20s) and to play Sequence, our new addiction. Oh, and we listened to Grandpa play his favorite little ditty on the piano. So cute!
Husband and Sister showing how much they like each other, even though they were on different teams.
Dad playing Sequence- usually with a Chesire cat grin meaning he's going to win.
Grandpa playing the piano. Every once in a while you just hear the same little "song" being plucked out on the keys.
After a few rounds of Sequence, we went out for a scrumptious afternoon brunch/lunch/dinner with Mom, Dad, Sister, Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law and 94 year old Grandpa. Although we missed having Sis-in-law, it was fun to all be together and enjoy each other's company for the holidays. Our families only live about 20 minutes away from each other, but it's not always easy to get everyone together at the same time. I was blessed by the food and the conversation, as well as the laughter.
Love my Husband.
Probably the world's greatest dad with his pretty daughters.
Dad and Mom-in-law with their son- lucky to have them and him in my life!
Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Sister, Me, and Husband. Ages 94- 22(ish)
Me, Husband, Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law - outside trying to not blow away on a lovely but windy afternoon.
Hope your Easter was full of reminders of Christ's awesomeness, familial love, and, of course, something scrumptious.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Gracefully Good Friday

Hello, Company Girls. If you read my post last week, you'll know I've taken a bloggie break for a few weeks. The last few days, I've been thinking about what my first post back should be about, and when I woke up this morning, I knew. So grab a cuppa your favorite morning beverage, and go with me on a little gracefully Good Friday morning journey.

I've never been one to celebrate Good Friday. As a child, I knew my dad got a day off (worked at a non-prof Christian organization) and I didn't, I knew that it was the day Jesus died, but really, why would I celebrate that? We never went to church for the GF service- Easter was the big dang deal to me. It was there I acknowledged that Christ had died and then He'd risen- I didn't feel much need to observe the actual death day as a holiday (which, as I'm sure you all know, is a derivative from holy day, so the word holiday itself doesn't need to necessary imply something happy). That continued for much of my life, and very truthfully still holds till this day.
But perhaps it's because Husband is singing at the GF service tonight and I'm trying to make sure I be there, Good Friday has been on my mind a lot more this week. And when I woke up this morning and thought, "oh, it's Good Friday," I was immediately transported back eight years ago today.

You see, my junior year of college was a bad one. I call it my "dark year." First semester was okay, but my grandma was diagnosed with cancer and was failing quickly, I was struggling with some big time body image issues, and I could feel myself slipping into religious apathy, not a good thing as I'd also made friends with a girl under some serious serious spiritual attack- I might even be as bold to say there were some demonic influences there (but that's scary for me to say). I tried reaching out to some college church group leaders, and that kept me going for a while, but it was only a matter of time before things turned. My grandma passed away my first day back to class second semester. My friendship with the girl grew, as did my apathy, and I became frustrated with Christian hypocrisy as she kept throwing examples of it in my face. I began to date a boy- we'll call him BFM (Bad For Me)- who claimed to be an atheist and who, of course, was very accepting of my currently frustrated belief state. Dating BFM was where it all fell apart. I decided I was going to "take a break" from God- I knew that we'd probably get back together, but I was done for a then. I cut off ties to most of my Christian friends (thank the Lord for the one guy who would NEVER leave me alone even though I tried to push him away). I hung out more and more with BFM and the girl. I made some pretty bad choices in the physical relationship with BFM that left me with some big baggage.

I was miserable.

Each day I grew more and more upset. I imagined dropping out of college. I am so thankful for the professor who let me out of her class past the drop date so I could just have a chance to breathe. Dating BFM made me feel awful, but I couldn't break up with him. The epitome of my misery came one morning as I was drying my hair in my room, bawling my eyes out with no idea why, and knowing that if a bus hit me, I wouldn't mind. I wasn't going to step in front of a bus, I wasn't suicidal, but I was in pain.

But God was working. He kept calling me. BFM broke up with me, ironically, on April Fool's Day. I'd like to tell atheist BFM that God used him in my life, because if he hadn't broken up with me, I don't know where I'd be. Desmond Tutu came to my school to speak and it was a message from God to me. An RA friend was seeking God and I pulled out my Bible to show her some things, and they were also from God to me. I met some new Christian friends that lived in my dorm and one boy in particular just met me where I was at and kept helping me realize God was there waiting. But I was struggling- I couldn't forgive myself, I couldn't let go of the junk in my heart, and I didn't see how God would want me.

And then one morning, I was sitting at a local coffee shop, and it hit me. It was Good Friday. And it clicked. Good Friday. The day Christ died to offer ME grace. Grace, a word I'd thrown around my whole life but had never understood. Grace- the opportunity to come clean, to begin again, to let go of everything, to be loved, to heal. I cried.
I'd like to say that after that day, it was immediately better, but it wasn't. But God continued to show me Grace throughout the next few months. I spent the summer not doing much besides working, spending time with family, and reconnecting with God.

So today, I remember. Good Friday is a great day. It's a Gracefully Good Day.

And I'm glad to be back.
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