Buried Innocence-A Short Story

**I wrote this short story for a Creative Writing class at Texas Tech as a college student. It was definitely my favorite class ever!

It was nothing like I had remembered, yet somehow all the same. The weeping willows still sway in the front yard and the small currents still crashed lightly against the wooden dock in the backyard. The sound of crickets and locusts chirping still made for the sam pesky annoyance while bringing a sense of calmness to the still mornings. The only thing that had seemed to change was everything’s size. What once seemed to be a large throne-like rocking chair on my front porch was merely a rugged seat worn with age. My father’s old woodshed had shrunk too and didn’t seem as decent of a hiding place as it once was. I stood at the tip of the walkway continuing to examine my childhood home, allowing myself to reminisce on old memories one at a time.

As I began to make my way towards the front door, I heard a low howling bark from the side of the yard. I turned to find what looked like a heeler-mix. He seemed to be guarding the house and continued to bark as any watchdog would. Seeing this unrecognizable dog had made me feel even more like a stranger, even more as if I didn’t belong here. I stared blankly at him as the pathetic howls kept echoing on. Just then, the screen door swung open and my mother stood in amazement to see me. I ran to give her a big hug. In that moment, I finally felt a joy to be home. She hugged me for a good five minutes straight then invited me in for breakfast.

I hadn’t been back in Wilmington for many years now, and had to admit that seeing my mother and revisiting my past for a few days was going to be great. I was there for visiting purposes only and really wanted nothing more to do with that town, though. The people here were warmhearted but everyone knew your business. Everyone tried to keep a clean slate to make sure that their lives weren’t the topic of conversation amongst the community. That is why I figured I needed to get in and get back out.

“I’ve missed you so much, Eddie,” my mother said, “things have been moving rather slowly around here. The Wilmington Courier keeps telling us we are about to see the most rain we’ve seen in ages very soon. We’ll see though. Can’t ever count on much here, that’s for sure.”

That was for sure. Weather was probably the most important piece of news for this town. We sat there for about half an hour while I told her about my hectic life in Chicago and about my experiences in the advertising business. I could see the gleam of interest in her eyes as I spoke about where my life had taken me thus far. It was as if she hadn’t hear something so exciting in a long time. Since my father passed, I knew she had been lonely and could tell that she would be absolutely thrilled with anything I told her. As I rambled on, I began to feel guilt for not having kept better contact with her through the years. I knew I had always been a difficult child and caused her a bunch of grief growing up, always getting into some sort of trouble.

Noon approached. I began to grow more curious about the outcome of this old town and wanted to rekindle a little more from my past. I told my mother I’d be back in time for supper and went on my way. I headed into town towards Barney’s Barber Shop to catch an issue of the Wilmington Courier and to build conversation with some locals. I may even recognize some familiar faces, I thought.

I started off down the road. The sounds and smells of eastern North Carolina brought about a different feeling in me, a feeling that I have not revisited in over a decade. I listened intently as I walked. Every so often a car would pass with a low roar or a dog would bark foolishly at birds flying by. I also heard a distant noise of young children giggling and playing throughout the neighborhood, running in and out of the sides of houses, climbing the old oak trees, and lurking around the wharf without caution. I was there once, I thought.

For an instant, I took it all in. The young, naive feeling arose again and I could almost see myself running aimlessly around these parts with my best buddies, getting into more mischief than a toddler with crayons and a white wall.

Barney’s Barber Shop was just like your classic barber shop. The typical neon “open” sign hung slightly crooked from the glass door. The old-fashioned red and white spiral pole ran up alongside the building and two newspaper stands sat right out front. I popped a quarter into the slot, grabbed the top copy of the Wilmington Courier, and walked in. As the door chimes banged against the glass, all heads turned and looked towards me.

“Good afternoon Sir,” said the voice of an older fellow who was busy trimming a man’s hair, “how may we help you today?”

“Hello, I just thought I’d stop in for some of your fresh coffee and a newspaper, if that’s alright,” I asked.

“Well certainly, take a seat. Make yourself comfortable. What’s your name? Are you from around here?” the old man asked as he swept up loose hair off the floor.

“Yes sir…grew up here. I live in Chicago now and I’m just visiting my mother for a couple of days. My name is Edward Flannigan,” I answered.

At that moment, a man who looked about in his mid-fifties tiled his head down just so he could see above the rim of his eye glasses, as if to get a better look.

“Edward Flannigan!” the man shouted from across the shop, “by golly, look how you’ve grown, son! How is everything going for you?”

I instantly recognized the tone of the voice and that obnoxious grin. It was Mr. Cunningham, a good friend of my father’s who spent a lot of time at our house on Sunday evening when I was younger, usually for coffee or my mother’s homemade vanilla biscottis. I knew I would find some familiar faces that would allow me to get through the days spent back home. I figured we’d talk business or of politics. After conversing about every subject imaginable, Mr. Cunningham picked up a newspaper and read aloud the front headline: “Man Still Searching for Ring after 40 Years”

There may actually be some mystery in this town, I thought. This article became the topic of conversation between the barber shop men for the next half hour. It sounded somewhat interesting to me, so I decided to stay a little longer to hear more. I knew gossip in this town was rare, so I couldn’t pass this up.

“That poor Thomas. He worked like a mad man to make payments for the ring of Mary’s dreams. It’s been missing for decades now. It says here that even after his wife’s death, he will continue to look for that treasure that resembled his love for her,” Mr. Cunningham exclaimed.

“The young man never even got to place it on her finger,” another man uttered.

Certain details from Mr. Cunningham and the article began to spark a bit of memory out of me. I then remember a young, fresh couple of only eighteen years who were married and that lived down the street from me as a child. The names, Thomas and Mary, echoed through my brain for a minute as more and more of it became clear. What a shame, I thought, that something so unfortunate could happen to two good people. Thomas and Mary were very well-known around town and highly respected by their friends. Even as a young married couple forty years back, they were of high importance to Wilmington. The two were very passionate about their involvement and service in the First Baptist Church, the yearly food drive at the market, and their volunteering at Curtsinger Elementary School for things such as field trips and educational outings. They had contributed a lot to our community and so I knew the town would go to great lengths to make sure this mystery was solved for Thomas.

“Suppose someone stole it?” I asked as I sipped the last bit of my coffee.

More chatter started up. They were roaring on and on like a bunch of wild animals, throwing ideas out left and right and discussing this matter which was so destructible to Thomas and this whole town. I couldn’t imagine who could have done such an awful deed. Wilmington wasn’t like any other town. People knew people and everyone was loyal to one another. Whoever is guilty of this should never show their face here again, I thought to myself.

On that note, I stood and walked to the door, bid them all a good day, and started back towards home. My mother would most likely be preparing supper and expecting me to return soon.

The sky grew darker. In the distance I could see the building gusts of winds gradually splashing the water up on the dock as a flock of birds flew overhead, signaling that the storm this town was raging about was on its way. The autumn leaves rustled across the ground scattering spontaneously like mice around a garbage dump. The somber clouds hung heavily over me looking as if they were about to release a waterfall. My clothes suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable and sticky due to the unbearable humidity that took over the air.  A feeling of composure and collectedness drew over me as I picked up on the familiar scent of the dry earth about to be damp with rain. It was a chalky aroma that only lasted during the prior minutes before the rain fell. I loved this smell. Just then, intervals of thunder exploded, gaining strength and volume as they continued. Knowing the rain would catch up to me in any moment, I picked up speed.

As I turned the corner onto my street, I noticed a swarm of news crew or possibly reporters standing out front of what I vaguely remember being Mr. Thomas’ and Mrs. Mary’s home. Some of them held notebooks and others mouthpieces and microphones. A camera man also appeared from the front porch of the house. I saw about four of them pull out black umbrellas that had KWIL-TV printed on them and preparing to pack up before they were ambushed by the storm. I then spotted Thomas standing near his front door answering questions form the KWIL-TV crew, looking exhausted. He hardly looked like the same neighbor I knew and remembered as a young boy. I had to imagine that the death of his wife, and losing something of such value, definitely had to take a toll on his aging process. That ring was the only real memory he would have of her, I thought.

I continued on about six more houses down till I reach my home. There lay the mangy mutt next to the willow tree, which now appeared to be dancing wildly with the wind. He was lounged out comfortably sniffing the air with his greasy, black nose.

“You stupid dog,” I murmured to myself, “don’t ya know it’s about to rain?”

It was almost as if he understood me and stood up immediately, making his low howling noises. I ignored his pitiful excuse for a bark and walked in the front door. The instant warm smell of a home-cooked meal lingered in my nostrils. Cornbread, I thought. That most definitely had to be cornbread.

“Eddie, dear, is that you?” my mother hollered from the kitchen.

“Yes, mom. It smells great. What’s for supper?” I asked.

“Roast and potatoes, with your favorite, cornbread. Don’tcha know I would cook my boy his favorite meal while he was home?” she said with a warm smile.

“Thanks mom,” I said and grabbed a china plate from the top cupboard.

As we sat down for supper, the steam from my roast fogging up my eyes, I couldn’t help but think about Mr. Thomas. THe symbol of his devotion for the only woman he had ever loved vanished a long time ago, and he was still bound-determined to find that precious ring. I was starving and would normally tear into my food like a lion to its prey. Instead, I lightly poked my potatoes and crumbled my cornbread with my fork because I was still concerned with the town’s dilemma. My mother stared at me fixedly while pouring her start fruit spiced tea into her mug. She reached across the table and grabbed a copy of the Wilmington Courier that was folder to where Mr. Thomas’ story was face up.

“Just breaks my heart. Who could have possibly had the nerve to steal from such great people?” my mother asked.

I would have never thought I would come home to such a story in Wilmington. It was a relief to know that I would be leaving soon, back to my everyday life in Chicago, without any ties to my old hometown.

We sat there long after we had finished our supper, sharing stories and catching up on lost time. My mother told me numerous stories of my youth and all the trouble I used to get myself into. I was that one kid in the neighborhood that everyone knew about, that everyone despised. My mother told me how she and my dad would call my best friend, Nate, and I the “double trouble twins” because we had a different scheme every day. These were memories that had already faded in my mind.

The thunder popped loudly outside and the rain hit the top of the roof like coins dropping into a stainless steel pan. It splashed against the kitchen window causing the scenery through it of the backyard to be blurred. Suddenly, a lightning bolt lit up the small scene that was bordered by the yellow, wooden window frame. A large oak tree appeared in the burst of light. It was beautiful, as if the season of fall had reached out and kissed it. I saw leaves of red, orange, and some brown. A wooden swing hung from one of its thickest branches flying back and forth in the gusts. I continued to stare at its splendor as the earth quenched its thirst. My mother caught my stare right away.

“Ya know, that very tree meant a lot to you when you were little, son,” she said. “You spent almost every waking hour out there with Nate, always swinging or jumping off them branches. You nearly scared us all half to death. You were always sneaking stuff out there, too. Little knick-knacks here and there.”

My memory of this became lucid and I turned again to stare at the tree. There really was something familiar and significant about that very spot. I began to loosely remember my time spent there with my best friend. I sat wondering for another five minutes, relating my childhood back to this very location. My mother got up from the table and started the dishes. The rain lightened up on the top of the roof and settled slowly. All that remained was a calming thunder that reverberated through the house. I wanted to go check out this place place of my past and try to recollect a little more on my life growing up here. As I started heading towards the back door, I heard a reporter’s voice from the television in the living room speaking of the case of Mr. Thomas’ long lost ring.

“I’ll be back in a minute, mom. I’m just gonna get a little fresh air,” I lied as I walked out the back door.

Tiny sprinkles of rain still hit the top of my head outside. I made my way to the side of the house and finally saw it. There it was, so familiar, yet so strange to me at the same time. I swept the water puddles off the top of the swing and sat down. I allowed myself to swing slowly back and forth as the excess rain from the tree fell in droplets on my head, eventually dampening my clothes. I sat there for another ten minutes, enjoying the calmness of it all, when suddenly the same crazy dog ran from around the side of the house over near my feet on a little mound of dirt. He sat there for a moment, without barking for once, and pushed his nose to the earth. He did this several times and then looked back up at me every time.

“What is it, boy? Why don’t you go on home?” I said.

He continued to nudge the ground with his nose and then ran away quickly. I was curious as to what this strange dog had in mind. I pushed the soggy mud around with my shoe until something caught my eye, There, right in front of the tip of my shoe, was somewhat of a rusty marker with three small stars on it, which looked as if it were there to symbolize something. I reached down and grabbed it out of the ground to get a closer look and found that the stake was molded like an arrow.

“Wait a second…” I whispered to myself.

My curiosity grew and I remembered the very significance of this spot. I went into my father’s old woodshed, grabbed a shovel, and prodded at the earth as if I had struck gold. After about two feet deep, my shovel his something hard, making a dinging sound.

“My treasure box!” I exclaimed with excitement.

I quickly pulled it out. Inside I found little pieces of my childhood that reminded me of all the days Nate and I spent getting into trouble. I found many items of my fathers that we had stole from his dresser: a gold money clip, an old cologne bottle, and one of his old special navy notepads. I also found pictures and letters and other things that appeared to be stolen because they had no belonged to either of my parents. As I kept digging through the old paraphernalia and laughing at its content, my fingers ran across something small and hard. A tiny bit of sunlight peaked through a rain cloud and hit directly on the object, causing it to send a great glare into my eyes. Right then, I reached in to grab the item from the bottom of the box to reveal its identity. I froze. My heart stopped beating for a split second and the box fell out of my hands. I stood there, drenched now, without feeling and without words. There, in my hands, was a ring. But not just any ring, Mr. Thomas’ ring. It fit the article’s description perfectly. Its exuberance and value sparkled as if it was just freshly cut. Its petite size fit comfortable in the palm of my right hand. I couldn’t breathe, nor could I move a muscle.

Seconds later, I heard the back door swing open.

“Eddie, dear, Mr. Thomas heard you were in town. He is in the living room. Come visit for awhile,” she shouted across the yard.

I felt my blood run cold. My brain and thoughts were racing. I threw the ring back into the hole, kicked the mud back over, and walked quickly towards the house.

“I’ll be right there, mom!” I shouted back.

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20/20

My vision is poor without my visual aid. Weak and distorted. Blurred at the edges and in between. My sight is questionable and uneasy. Unstable and dark. My seeing aid would benefit me greatly should I choose to take the time to adjust to its clarity and trust in its finite perscription. Making the decision to wear the unmistakably clear lenses and exposing a previously foggy world to a world of certainty. My sight would then be sharpened and without a doubt intensified to the best degree, but at the expense of being more aware of the many pestilences that intrude my path. The idea of a clearer vision is now susceptible to harmful things. 20/20 now allows for a front seat to my fears and the evil that surrounds me, BUT the power to know its distance. The POWER to know that you have an indisputable advantage over any evil with this visual aid. To recognize any wicked before you walk yourself straight into it. A chance to take this new vision to good use and pray when those mishaps stand before you. Even though the new glasses will reveal the battles at hand, they serve as protection and a shield once you’ve made the decision to simply put them on.

God is your visual aid. Your 20/20 that weeds out the unstable, blurred accounts of life. The protection against the unknown because He knows. He is the ability to see your day-to-day in a way that once appeared hazy. He promises to serve as your protection and shield when you agree to set your stubbornness aside and peer into his unmatchable viewing glasses. However, just as the thrill of a smooth new perception comes about, so does the notice of things unpleasant. What a blessing it is to recognize these setbacks through the eyes of God, rather than your own.

There is a vision that reminds me of this very gift that God grants us. It’s one I continually think about because it was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had. It was last December when we visited Seattle. We stayed in an amazing cabin somewhere east of there. After our sightseeing in the city of Seattle, we arrived at our cabin after dark. The cabin had a huge floor-to-ceiling lookout window in the living room/kitchen. However, given that we were surrounded by nature and far enough away from the city lights, there wasn’t a sight to be seen out that window that night. Even after my eyes adjusted to the darkness, there was absolutely nothing more than pitch black. We even went down the side of the cabin out to the back to see if we could catch a glimpse of some of the view. Absolutely nothing…still pitch black. So dark, in fact, that I wouldn’t have known if a tree was within feet of me. The only thing I could do was listen, and the sound of the flowing river was a loud, constant sound. The eerie part about it is that we had no idea how far away we were from the river itself. All we could do was listen and look out into the darkness. On our first morning there, when we woke up, was an image I’ll never forget. I couldn’t even if I tried. That picture of the mountains, large as they were, beautiful as they were, was unbelievable. The green was so green and the river so big and SO close to us. It was all so beautiful, in fact, that it would have been easy to deny what was in front of me. It would be easy to be doubtful of its beauty and to stand in disbelief of its splendor. However, it was as real as my hand in front of me and revealed all that was blacked out the night before. The vision was clear and what was left up to assumption before was now clearly laid out for me.

This reminds me of how we all begin our spiritual journey walking in the dark. We may hear glimpses or pieces of the beauty that is before us, but until we give ourselves fully we will be walking in the dark without a leader. The funny part is that we are that close, a prayer away. Just like we were that close to the beautiful scene. Prayer can wipe out the uncertainties and give you light and clarity. The morning scene that I saw reminds me of the gifts He gives us and the new vision that comes about when He is invited into our lives. We get to realize how close His presence really was the entire time, and how His absence was never in question.

No Strings Attached

“For whoever wishes to hang onto their life, will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Mark 8:35

Break away. Let go. Free yourself. And do it for God. I am in love with this verse from Mark. God had promised me a number of blessings and an abundant life when I chose to unselfishly hand my old life over. Answers to prayers become exaggerated. Jesus, my provider, makes Himself present and powerful. My strings have snapped, sending me free-falling into the arms of Christ.

Instead of hanging onto MY life, I’m clinging more and more to my faith and finding that what is and will be behind this new door is much better than before. I’ve read that short verse several times, and each time placing it over a different area of my life. And every single time, I am blown away by the promise it states. If we are to loosen that grip, He promises to us a life worth living. Wow. 

Replace the general word “life” with something more specific to you…like “job” or “relationship.” Pray that the Lord will strengthen your relationship and that choices you make job-wise will lead you to his ultimate destination for you. In a relationship, don’t cling to the wants and needs of each other, trying to fulfill what is really unattainable. Instead, lead each other to Christ and strengthen the most important bond two people can have. Worry shouldn’t exist because a promise has already been made. 

Year in Review

 

Lots of people will use tonight in reflection. Usually the first memory that clears from the fog begins in January and works its way to the present day. Hopefully, most are counting the blessings and recognizing the accomplishments. Everyone’s a little different. Some managed to hit some major lifetime milestones, others continued to flow easily down the river of life, just getting by…calling themselves one year older, without any further significance. Given that a year is a big chunk of time, it leaves much room for life to throw us the good as well as the bad. My prayer for those who experienced some unexpected tough events this year is that they carry on with the utmost faith in our God and that they use every downfall or loss as a chance to bring themselves and their family closer to God. 

I’ve had a FAST year. One that began with a prayer, and is ending with a continuation of a lifetime of love and faith and trust in the one I call my Father. This time last year I desperately wanted to be on a different spectrum. I couldn’t quite tell you what that was, though. Blessed with a new job and graduating on my 23rd birthday made for a happy self, but I knew I needed to put my dreams in the hands of something bigger.

My year went somewhat in this order: Surrendering first, the game of tug-of-war (an all familiar game, but with a greater persistence to sway me to one side or the other), the gift of a strength I’ve never been able to obtain previously, and a safeguarded armor which was physically invisible, but surpassed the ability of my own hands and words. I never really was walking alone, but this year had made more of an effort to invite the company of a savior to walk by my side.

So, it began with surrendering. One of the toughest things to do. Surrender to the fact that I’m not strong enough on my own. To learn that by myself I can do, but with Him, I can be.

 One of my favorite verses:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4

The realization came to me that even as He listens intently to your deepest dreams and desires, He incorporates what He knows will suit you and give you life. That’s where I connected another familiar verse:

“For I know the plans I have you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

“He will give you the desires of your heart” and “For I know the plans I have for you”….a contradiction? No. Rather, a beautiful offering involving the two. We must remember, He created us individually. He created those desires of our heart.

Following a clearer understanding of God’s word, came the opportunity to be faced with obstacles or interferences that were meant to break me. Thankfully, my gift of armor came first. I was covered 😉 The unbelievable, unmistakable, undeniable, and most definitely the unexpected was thrown. Tests of faith became the healthy reminder that I was being taken care of.

Next? A chance to disclose the new life I had been given. To speak out. To share. To disclose without the usual hesitancy. Normally with such a modest personality, I began opening up about something I could not shut up about. One of the ways I found I could do this was to write. And a blog was born! So were the words I once heard through other’s lips, but never quite had the confidence to proclaim.

After a newfound voice, came a different form of communication: prayer. Hard, consistent prayer. Also, a chance to experience my spiritual growth through this new language. Praying with thanksgiving being the primary theme (much different than the previous “I want, I want…” prayer).

Lastly, as the year draws to an end, the opportunity to surround myself in a beautiful setting. One that I had dreamed about for as long as I can remember. A true blessing with an obvious source. Washington. The opportunity to see just a glimpse of one His masterpiece’s in its realest habitat. Seeing with my own eyes images that I was almost honestly convinced didn’t exist until they stared me down. A mountain, the beautiful cascades. An undisturbed river with a constant flow, trees that STAY green and weren’t planted by man 3 years ago. Greens so vibrant and white so bright it may have blinded you. A scene that literally took my breath away because of its visual appeal, of course, but also the freshness of the oxygen I inhaled. Even better, an awesome group of people to share it with.  There are no words that can do that trip or scenery any justice. I am so thankful for that gift.

So, year in review consists of surrender, combination of His plans & my dreams, obstruction and hurdles, warfare, fearlessness in faith, the certitude of sharing, and a much longed-for trip.

All of this from January to December…I remember making specific plans for the year 2013 (given that 13 had always been my lucky number 😉 )…but now I’m much more anxious about the revealing of His plans. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 😀

Imaginative, Inspired, Inventive

I transform these attributes into life, those most true to myself, under unusual circumstances. Well, unusual to most people. Ideally, my perfect Saturday would consist of a steadily rainy day and a cup of coffee with one or two of the following things: a book, a pen and notebook, a blank sheet of paper and colors, Priscilla Ahn Pandora station, construction paper, or the occasional mess of artsy tools. I don’t usually have to have a purpose once I get hold of one of those. For me, life happens when I can casually drift off into this state…The state of being imaginative and stretching my dreams into a printed story or a vibrant picture. The state of being inspired to replay the goodness of life on paper or canvas. Or the state of being inventive and creating what my mind ventures off to experience. This is when I’m in my most comfortable, most recognizable element. My patience takes its highest form when I can immerse myself in the company of my creativeness. 

What setting, phase, or factors set off your most identifiable qualities? When do you feel the most YOU?

The Week of Weakness

I’m randomly irritated. They usually say the week is in a descending motion once you hit Wednesday, but I’ve felt like this since Monday morning. Rough week so far. I’ve been reminded here and there in small instances to regroup and remember. It’s harder this week than last week. What’s going on? Why a sudden/instant struggle?

The weight of some obstacles that  I have freely handed God fell heavily back into my arms as if I must have snatched them selfishly away, back into my own possession…to conquer on my own. It always seems heavier the more times you reach for that control over your stuff. Your stuff that isn’t meant for you to deal with independently. My recent lessons have put me in a more settling, yet troubling position. I don’t know whether to sit on decisions more intently (now that I have found out more of what’s good for me and what’s bad) or to look less into them and just give it up. Am I still trying to run my life? Sometimes when I get back to this state, I get angry at the fact that I seem inconsistent at times. Why must I invest so much time and effort into what is supposed to be? That’s not my job! (and I should be relieved for that!)

So, then I read this: “I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for me.”

I had a conversation with someone last night, a special guy ;), about how I learned more about what our mission really is. I learned that everything that God is seasoning us for is ultimately for His glory. A way to advance His kingdom by bringing us closer to Him and inviting others along with us. The plan that He has for our lives is for His purpose. So, with weaknesses present, blessings can pour out because there lies a gateway to our longing need for Jesus Christ. The temporary weaknesses and shortcomings stem from a crucial calling to us from a loving source.

Like I’ve been saying ALL week, “It’s only (insert day here)”…..but I have a chance to change the connotation of that statement to, “It’s only (insert day here)…and that means I have ___more days to praise God this week.

Blessings!

I’ll leave this with one of my favorite Priscilla Ahn songs. She’s great!

Distracted from Truth

It was like trying to fit a square inside a circle. I wrote a post a few months ago about something I’ve sat on for awhile…and will continue to sit on for time to come.

“If your faith does not fit into the door that’s opening, it’s not the right door to go through.” 

I heard it before a time that I needed to put it to great use, but ignored it. It was there for me to reflect upon, but apparently had to be neglected at least once before I learned something from it (like most things in my life). I now see how important the very message of this is upon my life decisions going forward. God knows that there are many qualities that I hold highly in another person, but reminds me that such things are merely idols and examples of fleeting factors when they stand against the presence of a Godly person. I have come to find out what should be put first in my journey (or searches) …and that His existing presence is alone fulfilling, without additional attracting attributes (alliteration much?).

What a blessing to be aware of God’s gifts that He is freely offering me. In order to receive such things, I’ve learned that He must be the focus of any type of opportunity given, including relationships. I can relax comfortably knowing that if my heart is aimed towards His plan, His love, and His purpose, I will be given the desires of my heart. 

It is very..VERY… easily to become distracted from the Truth. Our feelings, our emotions, our wants/need become our ultimate goals. These are known as idols. Yes, even ideas or thoughts are “idols.” The guy/girl we drool over because they seem like the catch everyone’s trying to find are idols. Without warning, these take full control over us. It’s sad to think that we do this, but there are times where we get angry that God may be “intruding” upon our dreams for ourselves (or relationships). I’ve been guilty of becoming caught up in these temporary “idols” that were all too appealing, while with stupid courage decided to tell God he needed to step aside for a second so I could gain this dream that was falsely placed within my reach. However, God is faithful and was faithful then, and didn’t let me stray beyond my ability. I was brought back and learned of the crucial need for God in my life and relationships.

Sissy

I just thought I might dedicate this post to my sister 🙂

I love my sister so much! I’m am so incredibly proud of her! She is so beautiful and has such a kind heart. It is so crazy that she is already a junior in high school because that feels like yesterday for me and we’re a full 8 years apart. That must mean I’m getting really old. I’ve always wanted a person that I could call a lifetime best friend … and who better than a sister? We are so vividly different, yet so much the same. I see a lot of the same traits in her as I see in myself, but also so much more. She’s everything I could have hoped to be at her age of 16 . Our age separates us a bit right now, but having lived through this life a little longer than she has, I get the opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned with her. She is such a person to be admired, by her age group and mine. I am so proud of the young lady she has grown into and so happy that God blessed me with the baby sister I cried for some 17 years ago. I pray that I can continually live a great example of a life engulfed with the love of Christ that she will notice and model after. She deserves everything good!

The picture I’m attaching totally describes my personality of being timid and bashful, especially at a younger age, when my little sister first arrived. I was so excited, but didn’t know how to react and wrote this note for her days after she was born 🙂 Haha!

I love you, Peyton!

Training My Heart

I’ve noticed a difference in my daily routine. A difference in the way I “handle” situations. A way that takes a lot of the load off of me. What’s that way? Well, I don’t “handle” them at all. Rather, someone else does. What used to be a fear of not being able to cope with something I couldn’t handle, now becomes an assurance that regardless of what it is, has already been done…made right…taken care of….mastered…”handled.” When recent occurrences or ideas have introduced themselves to me, I’ve seen them with new eyes, like I mentioned before. These fresh pair of eyes have allowed me to feel how I should feel before even going through the meat of the situation. To feel that breath of relief that it has already been done. God has given me these opportunities to work in my life and to train my heart. This year has been full of training sessions. Call it, “Professional Development for Jesus”….hey, do I get contract hours for this? (JK) Truth is, and I didn’t know until this season of my life, that Jesus has been training my heart since before I can remember…since before my earliest memory. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve been aware of the work as it’s happening. What a beautiful gift. The training before this year lead me to that prayer, and the training so far this year has been the most rewarding and rigorous yet.

Within the past year, I was blessed to be the teacher of a remarkable student who taught me a lot. What amazes me is that someone who is half your age can open your mind and be such a notable influence on your heart. The work that this child did in my classroom on Tuesday afternoons during bible study influenced me in a way that was probably more significant than he ever knew….but I think someone else knew what it would do, and put him there for that reason. I was in the process of learning to live my life for Christ alone, and there it was. Many times while listening to him speak confidently about his savior, I would have flashbacks. The flashbacks were of myself at that age, shy, reserved, and introverted as I was. Remembering how bad I longed to have such a personality as someone like this at that age and talk passionately about something that grabbed the attention of others. What a gift! That also brought me to the thought of how God has seasoned me to who I am today. Funny to think how He had been working in my life, right by my side even then, and I wouldn’t have attributed anything to Him completely before. Now, I see vividly how everything He is giving me in my life is to train my heart for His glory. His armor is indestructible.

A Calling

I was thinking of something recently. Something that used to really irritate me, but now I get tons of joy out of. I used to cringe when someone would ask me the question, “What grade do you teach?” Mostly because of the anticipated reaction they would give me. It’s almost always, “Oh, bless your heart!” or “You are one brave soul!” For some reason, that would bug me to where I felt like I would have to be on the defense. I approach that question in an entirely different way now. They usually end up saying, “Well, some people are just called to do that.” And THAT, I love. There is so much pride in knowing that. I never really thought of teaching middle school as being too much different (or harder) than teaching high school or elementary, but to most people, it’s something they would never decide on. I like that my response triggers some shoulder shrugs because it means that I have a special job that some people deny the courage to do. I’m not ashamed to mention 6th, 7th or 8th grade because I love hearing that it’s a particular “calling.” I love this age level and all of the great memories and adventures it brings. It’s such a special, yet fragile, time in a young person’s life. What better time to have a good impact? I’m very blessed to be a middle school teacher and I can’t imagine it any other way.