Tuesday, December 23, 2014

So, I'm Coming Out...


I'm going to do it....

Even though I'm not at all sure about this....

I'm going to do it anyway....I'm coming out. I've spent enough time being a closet writer. I think it's high time I let you read the things I've written, and hopefully will keep on writing. Not that it's award-winning stuff or anything like that. But, by allowing you to see my writing, I'm allowing you to see a deeper part of me.

See, even though I'd like to think that I'm 100% confident in who I am as an individual, and that I don't require anyone else to give me affirmation, there is still a part of me that fears the opinions of others. Especially those I value most, those I respect. Of course, that doesn't mean I will change the way I view myself, because I know who I am. But even though that's true, fear is why I've not shared my writing with you, my friends.

My writing has always been more of a private, personal thing throughout my life. I've only let a select few read my stories or poems. With the one exception a long, long time ago when I submitted a short story to be entered in a contest at the library (it won second place, but, uh, that's not of much consequence...). So, now, allowing anyone who pleases the opportunity to read these words is...kind of a scary thing. Just the thought of you, someone who knows me, reading what I've written here, learning my thoughts, my opinions, my crazy ideas...well, it's actually a bit uncomfortable for me.

But I'm doing it anyway.

Writing has always been a source of relief, of comfort, meditation, therapy. I'm not the greatest at expressing emotions or explaining my innermost thoughts, but when I write them down, everything seems to magically come out in a way that's, believe it or not, actually comprehensible. I'm much better at communicating with the written word than I am with speaking. I can never seem to communicate things as clearly as I'd like, which makes me think that I'm misunderstood quite often. But writing, well, it comes so much more naturally. Why is that? I have no idea.

So here is where i reveal parts of myself to you, the one reading this. Here is where, every so often, I come to release the thoughts that I cannot manage to speak out loud, not from lack of effort, but because the correct words refuse to reveal themselves, or rather the wrong words escape me and I sometimes say stupid things, or use the wrong words which give my thoughts the wrong meaning to the person hearing them. Of course, there will always be things that, no matter how clearly they are explained, or how straightforward something is written or spoken, someone somewhere will misinterpret it. Oh well. All you can do is try.
But I always want to do my best to convey my thoughts as intelligibly as possible, which proves to be rather difficult at times; my brain is a jumble of thoughts and ideas and my own opinions based on many different factors. But writing is a big help in sorting through all of that. I don't know what state my mind would be in without it.

And now I think it's time to share it with you.

If you took time out of your day to read these words I've written, I want to thank you for that. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to show you a little bit of myself, a glimpse at who I am. Not just in this post, but in the others I've written as well, if you happen to take a look at them at any time. Some are more blunt and straightforward than others, and though writing comes more naturally for me than speaking, I know my opinions aren't always correct and I don't always use the perfect words. So please bare with me and my imperfect humanity.

Thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas! 

---------------Brittany Hastings--------------

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is Jesus Really In The Modern-Day Church?

"Oh crap, here we go," I think to myself every time someone asks the inevitable question: "So where do you go to church?" And what gets me is that they assume that I am going to a church somewhere.

I feel like I need a t-shirt that says, "YES, I AM A FOLLOWER OF JESUS. NO, I DON'T GO TO CHURCH. LEAVE ME IN PEACE!"

Thing is, I've been thinking about writing this blog post for a while. I've been playing around with different ways to approach this subject. And finally I decided that I wouldn't ever get it out there if I never started. So here I am. Starting.

I know there are a lot of blogs out there on the subject of church and the fact that there seem to be quite a few people (Christians) leaving them. A lot of talk is focused on why Millennials are leaving, which is true and accurate, but there are also people of all ages who depart after being members of a certain congregation for years. I've read blogs that tell personal stories and experiences. Some could have been my own.

Not too long ago I went back to the church I left, the one that I had grown up in, from the time I was about 6 or 7 to when I left at 18. I went back for a special event to see a friend of mine perform. That was the only reason I went. I wanted to be there to support my friend.
On the drive there, as we were getting closer, I started getting physically nervous. I started to get that weird feeling  in the pit of my stomach, kind of like when you're on the way to the doctor. Sort of jittery and queasy. On average I wouldn't consider myself a very anxious person. But this was causing me some anxiety. Now, when I left this church about 4 years ago, it was not under ideal circumstances. There was a lot of hurt involved between my family and some other people and it did not get resolved.
So, needless to say, I had no desire to go back there. But I went.
I didn't plan to stay the entire time, but after the pastor spoke his piece before the intermission, I was even more ready to get the hell out of there.
See, they had apparently begun a new young adults ministry and this event was to showcase some of the gifts and talents of their own young adults. So that is what the pastor was sharing during his brief talk before the intermission. He quoted some statistic about how 3 out of 5 young people wind up leaving the church, and that if you don't believe in attending church then you're taking a huge chunk out of the bible. So basically you're Christianity, your very faith in Jesus, isn't as valid if you aren't going to church. Hmm...

I understand that it's normal for pastors to want to see their congregation grow. They want people to come to their church and get to know God. I get that. I realize that they probably have good intentions. Their hearts are probably in it. But the attitude they have towards people on the outside of their Christian walls, literally outside those four church walls, is not, in most cases, an attitude of love. They might mean it to be, but it's not. It is an attitude of condemnation and judgement. It is an attitude that instills fear in people, both Christian and otherwise, because those who hear it get the wrong idea of who God is. When our example of God is seen through those who proclaim him and preach a skewed gospel with a judgmental attitude, we don't get the true image of who God actually is. Far from it.

I finally got sick of church. I got to the point where I recognized the smiles and greetings for what they were - fake, not genuine, just meant to be polite without any real concern. People would say, "Hey! How you doing?" And just keep walking by. So many times I never replied. They never stopped.
I got tired of the cliques, both in the youth group and in the adult congregation. I got fed up with pastors playing favorites. Those who had the fattest checkbooks got the best positions and the best treatment. New members didn't stick around because they weren't made to feel truly welcome or made a part of the group, because, let's face it, they didn't belong there. There was already a set amount of people. A set way of doing things. We had our organization, our regulations, our rules. Gotta support the pastor. Gotta serve, serve, serve. All the time. All day, every day. Don't rock the boat, don't ask the tough questions, don't let anyone know you're struggling with anything you shouldn't be struggling with. Don't be a real human being - you've got to be a perfect robot who fits in with the expected criteria.
I mean, why would anyone want to leave a place like that?         

This brings me to ask a rather startling question: Is Jesus in the church? I don't mean the Church (notice the capital "C"). I mean organized religion. Denominations. Congregations. A specific group of people who typically gather on Sunday mornings and follow a specific set of standard regulations. Is Jesus there? 

Is Jesus in their monotonous opening prayer that sounds, oddly enough, just like it did last week? Is Jesus in the practiced-to-perfection standard worship service? Is Jesus in the sermon that the pastor preaches that makes people feel guilty and less-than instead of feeling encouraged and hopeful? Is Jesus in the faked community of hurting and wounded people who are too ashamed to admit that they're hurting and wounded?  

Don't misunderstand. I'm not implying that those church-goers don't ever experience God's presence or that God can't possibly be there. What I'm questioning is whether those people are truly finding the Life they're searching for in the church.

One thing worth noting here is that the church, and the Church, are two very different things. Capital "C" Church is defined as the body of Christ. The bride of Christ. All the followers of Jesus Christ. The church, lower case "c," is defined as organized religion. A building. A denomination. A place where people with similar beliefs gather and take part in a set of regulations. People mess up when they use the two synonymously.

I think it is important to have relationship and community with others of similar beliefs and who share the same faith in Jesus. Community is so important. Sadly, it has been my experience that it's one of the main things lacking in the majority of modern day churches. And I think the false sense of that in most churches is because there's no room to be honest with those around you because of the fear of judgment and condemnation. And there is judgment and condemnation because we haven't concerned ourselves with truly loving others. We're more focused on what we're doing, the fact that we need to serve to be looked at as important to God, or to please God. We think we need to win his love and approval. And in that, we lose sight of those around us.

There is so much that could be said on this topic that I just don't have room for in this post. It pains me to see some of the ways in which God's people are condemning those around them, and even each other. Unfortunately, I am at a loss as to how to change anything. Churches have been established for hundreds of years and I don't know if I'll ever see one that I really feel at home in and can see Jesus clearly. Until then, I'm going to continue not going.

Thanks for reading!        

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

"I'm really happy that..." (Fill in the blank.) 

Right now, in your current circumstances, in your current situation, what are you happy about? Why does, whatever it is, make you happy? 

Now, is that something you could lose? 

I'm not saying that certain things or people in life can't or shouldn't be a cause of happiness. But what I am saying is that I don't think certain things or people should be your sole cause of happiness.
Being dependent on something or someone else to make you happy is not going to make you happy. At least not permanently. It might last for a little while. It might last as long as everything is good and going the way you want it to. But that can only last for so long. It's only a matter of time before something happens that steals your happiness. It's only a matter of time before that perfect boyfriend/girlfriend lets you down. It's bound to happen eventually. And then what? All your sources of happiness in life have failed you.


You see, the way I think of it is, relationships are like roller coasters, unpredictable sometimes from one day to the next; friends come and go throughout life; jobs are not permanent and neither are they guaranteed. And there are an infinite number of other things that so many people base their happiness on, such as financial security and other material things, as well as in other human beings.

The thing about looking to other people to make you happy is...they are people. They are human. They are not perfect. We are all terribly and hopelessly flawed. Even in the best relationships there will be times when those involved mess up. They will screw it up badly. They will disappoint their partners numerous times.
So, is it really fair to expect them to make you happy? Is it really their job? Is it your job to make them happy? I'm not talking about loving and cherishing the people in your life. Of course we should all do that. I'm talking about the source of your happiness.

I believe, personally, that we are all in charge and responsible  for our own happiness, and if we try to put that responsibility onto someone else we will wind up as very unhappy people.

So often, happiness is thought of, maybe unconsciously, as conditional. "As long as my life is going okay, I'm happy." Or, "I'm really happy now that I've found my soul mate." Or even, "I've never been happier! I've got the job, the car, the girl...what more could a guy want?" But, and yeah, here it comes, but, what about if you lose the job? What happens if the car breaks down or gets stolen? What will you do if the girl dumps you? Where would your happiness come from then?

To me personally, it only makes sense to find happiness in something greater. Something that cannot be taken from you. Something that will not vanish.
I think it's important to know what true happiness means, and where to find it.

Your personal happiness can only be found within yourself. It takes determination and resolve. It takes self-discipline and training your mind to see yourself, your circumstances, your life,  in a new way. A healthier way. But if you come to the realization that you're never going to be truly happy if your happiness depends on something or someone other than you, and you take action and make a conscious effort to change that, then your circumstances won't matter because your ability to be a happy and healthy (not necessarily physically healthy) person doesn't depend on that.

Now, please don't get me wrong here, I'm not by any means claiming that even if you do find your happiness within yourself and you don't rely on anyone else to make you happy, that you are always going to feel happy 100% of the time. Because that just isn't true. Life is full of all kinds of different emotions that we were meant to feel and experience, which is good. What I mean is that certain circumstances don't have to always dictate whether or not we can or should live fulfilling, worthwhile lives.

I think a lot of times, and I speak from my own personal experience, once you're okay with yourself and accept yourself for who you are, and actually get to a point where you like who you are, then it's a lot easier to be okay with where you are in your life and circumstances, whether they are the most ideal or not. And I think that's where true happiness comes in.

Note: I know that not everyone believes the way I do, meaning, not everyone believes in God or considers themselves to be religious, so while I think that true happiness has a lot to do with finding it in God as well as oneself, I purposely left this post free from religious references for the sake of making a point that is relatable to everyone.

(Images found on http://www.pinterest.com/ .)         

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is He/She "The One"?

This is something I've been thinking about quite a bit recently. I've been thinking about blogging it, and trying to get my thoughts organized.

So let's waste no time with pleasantries.

First, a question: Are you familiar with the concept of "The One"?

If not, I'll explain what I think of when I hear that phrase:

I think, when pertaining to myself, that "The One" is a man who is destined to be my future husband (because I'm single, if you didn't know ;)). I think it's referring to one particular man, out of the billions of men in the world, who has been created by God to fit the exact specification of my needs, my personality, my life.
You know, the whole "match made in heaven," "soul mates," "OTP" ("one true pair," as is a popular way of putting it  these days).

So that's the basics of what defines "The One" in my mind. It's something that I've grown up hearing. But not just hearing. I've been taught this concept as if it were the only "right" path to follow.

The path, as I understand it, looks something like this:

1. Make a list of alllllll the non-negotiables. That means you write down all the 500 things that you are looking for in a future husband/wife. These traits are things that, well, aren't negotiable. It means your future spouse absolutely must posses these attributes or it's a no-go. Don't even consider entering into a relationship with that person if they aren't: physically pure, attending church services weekly, spiritual leaders in the church, early risers, selfless, have a good job/work ethic, on good terms/have good relationships with his/her family, dog lovers, future father/mother material, etc.The list goes on and on. It can include any number of things you think are important in a future mate.

*Now, please understand; I do think it's important to have standards, and it's definitely not a good idea to date any random guy/girl you know nothing about, but let's be realistic here! No one is perfect, and no one person is going to posses ALL of the things you put on your list. Husbands and wives are not like Build-A-Bear - you can't create your own.

2. Pray pray pray. This one is simple, they say. You have got to pray for your future spouse because, hello! God already hand-picked them especially for you! Right? I mean, that's what they were created for - for you! But first, God has to shape them and mold them and prepare them...FOR YOU! And then, at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way God will guide him/her directly to you. Your paths will cross and you will eventually (if not immediately) fall in love with each other. In some cases God will even tell you, in a voice that sounds oddly like Morgan Freeman's, "He/she is The One." And you will stop whatever it is you're doing, *cue soft, romantic music*, you'll see that person as if for the first time, and, jaw dropping, glance Heavenward and hear the hallelujah chorus. It's as simple as that.
Oh, but make sure you pray about it often, at least 5 times a day, and if you don't have true faith, it might not work. Just so you know.

*Obviously, it is important to pray. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that praying is ridiculous or pointless. Praying is a very important part of having a good relationship with God. I just think that the way some people pray for/about their future husband/wife/marriage is...well, honestly kind of funny.

3. Don't fall for Mr./Miss. Wrong. So, obviously, from what I've already described, there is only one Mr./Miss. Right, but plenty of Mr./Miss. Wrongs.
Now, you have to be extremely careful at this point, after making your list and praying, praying, praying about it. And you absolutely cannot trust your heart in this matter. Because, after all, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (Jeremiah 17:9 - in case you were wondering.) You're heart is only going to lead you astray, make you believe that Mr./Miss Wrong is actually Mr./Miss Right. Yes, it's all very confusing, and by this time it may not seem quite as simple as everyone would have you believe, but it's proven to work as long as you follow all the steps in the correct order.

*I'm not saying this verse isn't true. However, I do think that, like so many other verses from the bible, it has been over-used, especially for things that benefit the user and help their opinion hold water. Context, people! Context.

4. Actually, don't date at all. Dating is, to be blunt, not of the Lord, unchristian, culturally accepted, which means that we, as christians who are called to a higher standard, should not partake in the ways of the world. Therefore, we should shun the practice of dating. Besides, what good can come of dating anyway? You're only setting yourself up for heartbreak and disappointment. So of course, the best way to avoid being hurt in life is by not dating. At all. Don't open your heart to someone who is only going to stomp on it, and who, ultimately, you probably aren't going to marry anyway. Save yourself the pain and trouble and just don't even go there. Trust me, there's a better, more superior way, (stated below in #5), and anyone who tells you otherwise is blind to the truth.

*I'm not saying that the way some people choose to date is absolutely flawless. But I don't think it's really about the actual dating itself. I think it has more to do with the maturity of the people involved and the reasons why they decide to date.

5. Just wait. After following the above steps, you've reached #5. Wait. It's as simple as it sounds. Or...is it?
See, the thing is, God already has a perfect person picked out for you. He knows who it is and how you'll meet each other. God will work out all the details. You, my friend, don't have to do a thing! That's great, right? Just kick back, relax, and wait for the delivery man to send your perfect, custom-made husband/wife right to your door! How much easier could it get?
So, instead of making an effort to get to know different people and develop unnecessary friendships, you just have to wait for God to tell you who to pursue, and then it'll be smooth sailing. You'll both become best friends, and then, since God will inform you both that you're OTPs, the guy will propose, the girl will accept, you'll have the perfect Pinterest wedding, and a hot (yet still very christian) honeymoon! And that's the way it will be forever after because this was a match made in heaven for goodness sake!

*By this time, I really hope you've noticed something -  Sarcasm. 

There was a time when I believed in "The One." I thought it was so awesome that God had a special guy hand-picked, per se, especially for me; a guy that I was destined to marry. I used to wonder what he looked like, what his name was, where he was in the world, and if he was thinking about me.
Now it seems silly. How could someone be thinking about me if he didn't know who I am? If he didn't know anything about me? And...who is this he? 

If I follow this train of thought, I begin to wonder if there really is a he at all. I mean, yes, I do hope to get married someday, so there will be a him. But I don't believe that there already is a particular, specific person who is already my him. 

I don't really think there is anywhere in the bible where God says, "I've created someone specifically for each of you to marry. Await further instructions." Or, "This is how you find Mr./Miss Right. See steps 1-5." It just doesn't work that way (though it might be easier if it did).

Of course, someone might say, "But God already knows who I'm going to marry." Yes. That's true. He does. He also knows what you're going to have for breakfast tomorrow. Does that mean he chose you and Frosted Flakes for each other?
He also knows what kind of job you're going to have in the future. Does that mean he created that job exactly to fit your personality?
God knows the kinds of friends you'll have throughout your whole life. Does that mean he created them to be your friends? Does that mean he chose them as your friends? Mm, maybe, depending on how you look at it. But I think he gives us the free will to choose. To make our own decisions. To bear responsibility for our own actions.

For me, to think that there's ONE person in the whole world, out of billions of other people, that I could have a good, healthy, fulfilling marriage with, is kind of...self-centered, selfish, and would make me feel like a jerk. I mean, think about it. We're so special that we have to have someone made for us to be able to get along with them and love them and share our life with them? It doesn't quite make sense to me anymore, now that I've thought about it logically and realistically.
And what about the christians who believed this, and truly, honestly thought that God had spoken to them, telling them that their significant other was "The One," only to get married and, years later, end up divorced. What happened? Did God lie? Obviously that isn't it. Did they hear him wrong? Maybe. But maybe the whole mentality of their being one perfect person for each of us just isn't true.
I think that there are multiple choices for who we decide to spend our life with. I think we should choose wisely, but not become so worried about it that we're actually afraid of making the wrong choice and miss out on a great relationship.  

One last point I'd like to mention is that when we become so focused on the other person being what we need, being right for us, being our Mr. or Miss Right, we sadly become more self-centered and expect that the other person is supposed to make us happy. We spend so much time thinking about our Mr./Miss. Right, that we no longer think about whether we're a good match for the other person. How can we contribute to their happiness? How can we show them that we love them? How can we meet their needs?
We spend way too much time making lists of what we're looking for in someone else and spend very little time thinking about which areas  we can grow in and how we can better love other people.            

I know there a lot of people out there who honestly believe some of these things, so if I've offended anyone, that isn't my purpose in writing this. It's meant to be funny, yet also cause you to question why we've believed these things. So, I hope it makes you think, and maybe laugh a little as well.  


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Series of Events Part 10 (Conclusion)

This whole series of events led us to our beginning. Or, as I've considered many times, maybe it wasn't the beginning, but rather, a beginning.

After "The Christmas Eve Kiss," as I like to call it, Matthew and I fell slowly and gently in love with each other more and more as time drifted past. Anne, needless to say, was thrilled when I told her. She squealed with delight to the point of annoyance. For over a week, everything that came out of her mouth consisted of either, "I told you so." "I knew it." "You guys are so great together." Or "Do you think you'll get married'?" And lots of other inquiries, exclamations, and speculations.

The three of us, sometimes along with Jake, (who did actually get around to asking her out) still hung out lots, and did some double dates every now and then. Life felt better than ever. For once I was hopeful about the future. I envisioned myself happy and optimistic, with Matthew next to me, holding my hand, and the two of us discovering the world together. It was a great vision.

And it was almost shattered.

A year and half after "The Christmas Eve Kiss" something pretty big happened. You see, my dad was the head manager-guy at a bank. Real exciting, I know. The owner, some big-wig, wanted to expand, open more fancy-pants banks in other areas, and since my dad was known for his diligence and trustworthiness, he was selected to oversee and basically run this new bank. Which meant moving. I repeat: moving.

Obviously, I did not want to move. I finally had friends, a job, a fantastic boyfriend. I tried to explain this to my parents. I felt selfish for even mentioning it. This job was something my dad had been hoping for, and though it was a difficult decision to make, he couldn't turn it down. They understood my perspective, and even considered rethinking their decision, but I couldn't stand the thought of holding them back. Especially my dad. This was something he really wanted.

So I had to come up with a different solution.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of staying here while my parents moved to a different state, but that was the only logical solution. I was definitely old enough to live on my own, but I only had a part-time job at Beck's Bakery and wasn't making enough to pay for rent and groceries and other bills and living expenses. I thought about trying to find a full-time job, and even started looking for one, until Matthew mentioned something he'd been considering.

We sat across from each other at the picnic table in the park, the one next to the lake where we got caught in the rain that time on Thanksgiving. He held my hand, looking at it with such focus, as if he were examining it for who knows what reason. Finally, after a long silence, he broke eye contact with my hand and looked up.
"What do you think about moving into my apartment?"
"What?" I asked, startled at this sudden question. He nodded, as if agreeing with himself. "Yeah. It's the perfect solution. Okay, maybe not the most ideal situation, but it could work," he added, seeing the look I gave him. I considered his proposal. Would that really work?
"I don't know... I don't think my father would be too keen on that idea. I mean, he can't exactly tell me not to, but I wouldn't really feel right about doing something he doesn't approve of..."
"I know what you mean, and I respect your father's opinion. I just think we have to be realistic here. There aren't many other solutions. I mean, we talked about a long-distance relationship if you were to move with your parents. Neither of us really want that, though if it came down to it, you know I'd do anything for you." He smiled and kissed the back of my hand, which he was still holding. "But if we can come up with something where we can avoid that, I think we should look into it. I'm not trying to pressure you into anything. Not at all. But just consider this: I've got a pull-out couch. I could sleep on that. We wouldn't need to sleep in the same room or anything. Your dad might be alright with that arrangement. What do you think?" He looked at me with those shining green eyes; the eyes I loved so much. The eyes that threatened to swallow me, to drown me in their deep green pools. And I knew I'd do anything to stay with them.

Admittedly, my parents weren't thrilled with the idea of my moving in with Matthew, but, all things considered, they didn't protest. Very much.
The week before they were scheduled to move, I was all settled in my new home. It felt different, for sure, living apart from my parents, and they didn't exactly like the idea of leaving me behind, as they called it, but after a while we all settled into a new normal.
Matthew slept on the couch-bed and I slept in the bedroom. Some nights we would fall asleep in the living room watching movies until the wee hours of the morning, but I would always wake up every morning back in my bed and Matthew on the couch. He carried me. I sometimes secretly pretended to be asleep, just so he'd carry me to the other room and I wouldn't have to walk. I shared that secret with him later.

After another six months or so, Christmas found it's way to us once more. On Christmas Eve it would be two years since that first kiss under the mistletoe.

Kate decided to have another party. She and Thomas had gotten married back in the spring, so this would be their first Christmas together. My parents were coming to visit, and both Anne and Jake were coming this year.

"Hey guys! Come on in!" Kate says when she answers the door. Matthew and I have just arrived. We hurry inside to get out of the cold. Kate and Thomas have put up all the usual decorations and then some. As I look around inside, everything has more lights, more tinsel, more holiday cheer than the last Christmas party my aunt hosted.
Knowing there will be some special goodies waiting especially for me, I make a B-line for the kitchen. Sure enough, there's the snack table with a "Gluten-Free" label on the plates holding my very own desserts. Oh how I love Kate.

"Ah. I thought this is where I'd find you." It's Matthew. He offers me his one-of-a-kind, signature smile. I smile back, and, pausing for just a second, I take that time to think to myself just how attractive he is. His hair is parted slightly to the side, longer on the top and shorter on the sides. It falls gently across his forehead, swooping perfectly to the side. It's true I'm jealous of his hair; it's so soft and shiny. My fingers itch every time I look at it, wanting to touch it.
Today, for this special occasion, he's wearing a light blue dress shirt underneath a grey vest with dark grey trousers and black ankle-high boots. He looks rather dashing, if I do say so myself.
"Well, you were right," I say. "You found me." He touches my shoulder and moves behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder, so his cheek is nestled against mine. I breathe a slow, contented sigh. He kisses my cheek and whispers in my ear, "I love you." I close my eyes. Warmth spreads throughout every part of me. I turn around to face him, his arms still around me, and, looking deeply into his eyes, I say, "Matthew...I love you."

A couple hours later everyone is in the den playing games, watching Christmas movies, or just sitting around drinking hot chocolate or eggnog. I've just finished a game of UNO with my cousins and Anne. Jake and Matthew seem to be having some kind of discussion about who won their dart game. He catches my eye and nods his head toward the door to the living room. I look back at Anne to tell her that Matthew wants something, but when I turn to her, she's looking at me, a slight smile playing on her overly-glossed lips. What's up with that? I'm about to ask when she winks at me and walks away, toward where Jake is playing darts with himself. I just shake my head. There's no telling with her.
When I get into the living room Matthew is sitting by the fireplace, holding two cups of hot chocolate.
"Come sit by me?" he asks. I chuckle a little. He's so sweet. I sit down beside him as close as possible, so our legs touch from hip to knee. He hands me the paper cup filled with light brown liquid. We sit together in silence for a little while, drinking our hot beverages.
When I'm finished he takes my cup and tosses it into the nearby trash basket, which is next to the recliner. I'm beginning to wonder why he wanted me to come in here, wondering if he has something to tell me, or if he just wanted a moment alone for the purpose of being alone. Or maybe he wanted me to sit under the mistletoe (which is exactly where it was the first time) so he'd have an excuse to kiss me. (Not that he needs one.) But he hasn't said anything and he hasn't kissed me. Just as I'm getting a bit impatient waiting for him to say or do something, about to ask what's on his mind, he stands up rather abruptly. With a confused look on my face, I watch him as he stands there for a second, his back to me. I see his shoulders rise as if he's taking a deep breath. Turning back around, he reaches for my hand. I smile. He smiles back, big and real and eyes gleaming in the firelight. He kneels down in front of me and says, "Bailey, I know I've said this many times, but I love you more than words can express. I don't think any word ever invented could fully explain it. So I want to demonstrate my love for you. I want to show you, to prove to you, and everyone else, that I love and cherish and treasure you, every day, for as long as I live.
"I know life will sometimes throw storms in our faces, and times will be hard, but I promise to always be there to walk through it with you, together.
So, will you, Bailey Evers, do me the incredible honor of marrying me?" As he says this last part, he reaches inside his front shirt-pocket and pulls out a ring. A gorgeous ring. An engagement ring. Throughout his declaration of unending love and devotion to me, and his promise to prove it to the world, I have sat in silent astonishment. Now, as he holds out the ring, offering me everything I could ever hope for, my emotions spill over along with the tears that run down my face.
I nod my head quickly, remembering that I haven't given an answer, and manage to squeak out a barely audible, "Yes!"
He sighs with obvious relief and smiles that brilliant smile that I love so much. And it's all for me. He takes my left hand and slides the ring onto my finger. A perfect fit. He stands and pulls me up with him. Wrapping both arms around his neck, I hug him and cry some more and breathe in the scent of him. He smells like soap and woodsy scented cologne and skin.                            
He pulls back and places his hands behind my neck and, slowly, he leans forward and kisses me.
"The Christmas Eve Engagement Kiss."

I open my eyes to flashing camera lights. For a second I'm confused, but then I understand. Everyone knew. Except me. And apparently they all wanted a picture of this memorable moment. Of "The Christmas Eve Engagement Kiss" under the mistletoe.
As realization dawns on my face, I quickly find Anne in the applauding crowd of my relatives and friends. She wears a smug smile and I glare at her. She sticks her tongue out. We both laugh. Everyone comes rushing forward to hug and congratulate me and Matthew, my parents being first in line.
I'm glad I'd chosen the water-proof mascara.

This is not the end of our story. No, it is merely another beginning. A beautiful beginning. Matthew and I have many, though this is the last one to be shared.

I wanted to tell these stories, these beginnings, because it demonstrates something I think is important. You see, when I first met Matthew, I was very reserved and skeptical, and I didn't want to let anyone in because I was afraid. I'd been hurt before by someone I trusted; someone who was supposed to have loved me. From that experience I learned not to open up. To stay far away from potential dangers. Don't trust. Don't reveal your heart. Don't love. Because in the end, love is dangerous. Love will only lead to pain. That's what I believed.

Matthew taught me differently. He patiently proved to me through his actions that to really live, you have to open your heart and let love venture forth; let love be what guides you, not fear. He showed me that real love is extraordinarily profound, more than feelings and emotions; love is built and grown.




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 14 of Construction

Today is the fourteenth day of construction being done on our house.

Today was much like any other construction day.

Today is February 4, 2014 - Tuesday. 

Had to get up early this morning to get ready before we had to head out to the camper. We thought there would be a lot going on today, so my dad took off from work, but that wasn't the case.

Some guys came to put insulation back in the attic. Progress. We also thought that the roofer guys were coming to put the tin/metal/whatever on the roof, but that didn't happen. Supposedly they couldn't do it today for some reason that sounds ridiculous - something about some kind of board needing to be put in place first...I don't really know. It's kind of stupid.


We had a few things to do in town so we left a little after noon. The guys were gone when we got back, but as we were getting out of the car, a couple guys showed up in a van to unload some materials or something that will be needed for the work on the roof. That was about 4:00.
They didn't stay long, just long enough to unload whatever they were unloading. However, one of them tried to stick his hand through the fencing in the front yard, where my retriever was out there barking his head off. Is that really a smart thing to do? If a large dog is barking and barking at you, should you really stick you hand in the fence and try to pet him? Um...no. No, that would not be a wise decision. Especially if you haven't asked his owner whether you can pet him or not. Whether he might bite you or not.
Fortunately, I happened to be walking to the camper to get my laptop and saw the guy trying to pet my dog. When he saw me, he started walking away. Yes, that's my dog. No, I didn't give permission for you to touch him. Yes, you should walk away now. Thank you very much!

I guess we'll see whether the roofers actually show up tomorrow. It's only Tuesday and I already can't wait for the weekend so I can sleep in some more and and not have to worry about strangers in our house and men trying to pet my dog while he barks ferociously at them.   

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 12 and 13 of Construction

I'm a little late with writing this. Stuff has been going on pretty much all the time. Busy. Bleh.

So, on January 29, (I think) which would have been Wednesday, the drywall people came to patch up the holes in the ceilings. It took two days, and, honestly, there are still things that didn't get done. But what's new, right?

It did, indeed, snow on the night of January 28th. Plenty of it too; nearly 3 inches, which, for us southerners, is a lot more than we're used to.

On January 30, Thursday, we were out in the camper again after coming back home from taking the sister to work. I had planned on writing this blog post then, but, alas, my laptop charger was in my bedroom, forgotten and unreachable. My battery only had 10% power left. So much for that.

Also on January 30th, the metal/tin/whatever was delivered to our house. At this very moment it sits, lonely, in the driveway around the back of the house, longingly waiting for the roofers to make it part of our house. At least, if metal had feelings, I imagine that's how it would feel. Just spit-balling.

Once again, no idea of the plans for construction this coming week. The forecast, as far as what's been predicted, looks rainy and, possibly, more snow. There may be three days or so that permit work to be done on the house. The insulation has to be put in, the metal/tin/whatever has to be put on the roof, the window has to be installed. And then, of course, there's still the matter of the siding that got melted off the back of the house, the counter that got burned and ruined, and the cabinet that got sliced from the outside with the firefighters axe or whatever it was; it was sharp, so, that's really all that matters.

Note: As a reminder, these posts are mainly a way for me to keep a record of what's been happening with the repairs being made on the house. If, for whatever reason, you find this interesting, that's great! If not, that's fine too. Just don't give up on me so soon. I promise to post more uncomfortably honest blogs that make you wish you hadn't read them, but somehow couldn't help it. ;)

Stay tuned!         

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 10 and 11 of Construction

January 27, 2014  

(I'm actually writing this on Tuesday, the 28th.)
Yesterday kind of sucked. No, it did suck. As I've aforementioned, the communication between the construction foreman and the rest of us leaves much to be desired. Apparently, there was a...rather wide gap in communication yesterday. We were told the crew wasn't going to be here until around noon. What time do they actually show up?


So, as you can imagine, that was very unexpected, especially for my mother, God bless her soul, who was busying herself in the kitchen, trying to get our diabetic doggie fed, and men are crashing around on the back deck causing a bunch of racket and blasting their stereo.
They removed the covering on the outside of the kitchen window whilst Mom was standing right inside the at the counter. Dust and dirt and whatever else littered the counter-tops (as well as anything else that might have been lying around unsuspecting).

Needless to say, we were all pretty upset about that. Don't misunderstand; I'm glad progress is being made, I want our house to be completely repaired as soon as possible and for that to happen the work has to be done. What's upsetting about it is the apparent lack of consideration for us and our schedule.
We've tried to inquire multiple times as to when they'll be working and at what times so that we can do our best to be out of the house and out of their way. Continuously we get the same run around. Either it "depends on the weather," which, I understand that to a certain extent, or they tell us one time and show up at another. In my opinion, that's inconsiderate and disrespectful.

So I'll be relieved when all of this is over with. It's pretty much a pain in the ass.

What they actually did yesterday was remove all the old boards from the floor of the back porch and put new ones down. Definitely looks a lot different. They also had to go up in the attic yesterday afternoon for something. I don't really know what they were doing, but I heard what sounded like sawing. So, not sure about that.

January 28, 2014 - Tuesday   

This morning I was forced to get up before 8 o'clock. For me, getting up even before 10 is something to be proud of. (I don't remember if I've mentioned it, but I have a chronic sleep disorder.)
We got up, got ourselves ready, and brought all the necessities with us out to the camper. It's been a while since we've had to stay out here. I'm sitting in here now as I write this.

I was so tired this morning that I felt like I needed more sleep to be able to function properly.
So I lay down on the bottom bunk and snuggled deep down in my sleeping bag, trying to warm up a little. It took me a while to fall asleep again, but I did sleep, however stiffly, for a while. My neck and shoulders are sore, but my mind feels more awake than it did first thing this morning.

The crew arrived as we were heading out the door earlier. I think they're gone now. They came to put the new door in on the back side of the house and touch up a few things here and there on the actual porch. I think there are some more guys coming sometime today to inspect the drywall/ceiling damage that was made by the roofers.

It's super cold and overcast today. I think there could be a chance of snow later. I love snow, but I really hope it holds off at least until we get some insulation back in the attic.

According to Google it is currently 27 degrees and is expected to snow. Heh...         

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 9 of Construction

January 23, 2014 - Thursday

I woke up this morning and thought it was a lot later than it actually was.
Even so, I dreaded getting up. I was still so tired, my whole body weighed down with sleep deprivation. Even after spending most of yesterday in bed, due to stomach issues, I was (am) still exhausted.
As I laid awake trying to convince myself to get up, (and eventually succeeding) I noticed my dog acting weird. He kept going over to the window, and, looking out towards the yard, he would wag his tail like he saw a friend out there. I thought maybe he could see one of the other dogs in the yard or something. But then he would back up real quick like something scared him. So, still in bed, I leaned over and moved the curtain to try to see out the window. That's when I noticed a ladder with a man standing on it.

And then begins the banging.

Today the construction guys were putting some underlayment on the roof. (If you're interested in knowing more about that aspect of roofing, here's a piece of information.) Basically what it was like for us, the inhabitants of the house, is this: "BANG BANG BANG! BOOM BOOM! *THE FOUNDATION SHAKES!* BANG BANG! BANG!!!"

We had some things to do in town, so we left as soon as possible. The crew was gone when we got back. I have no idea if they're coming tomorrow or not. I didn't think they'd be here today, due to the snow and fierce winds, but they came anyway. We don't know the work schedule, what days they'll be coming and what days they aren't, other than the weekend.

I'm thankful that these guys are fixing our house. I know it can't be easy or enjoyable being out in the cold and wind all day. I know I wouldn't want to be. I'll be really glad when it's all finished though. And especially glad when we get insulation back in the attic. Yes, I can almost feel the warmth.


But not really.   

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 6, 7, and 8 of Construction

January 14, 2014 - Tuesday  - Day 6 of Construction

Awoke once again to noise. Lots of noise. The electricians were here doing what electricians do. Lots of electrical stuff. And you wouldn't think that would be very noisy. But it is.

It was raining all day, so the construction crew couldn't do anything outside, though a few of them did stop by to talk with each other about their progress and what needed to be done next. We were hoping for some kind of schedule, but when dealing with outdoor work a lot of the planning depends on the weather.
One of the guys measured the kitchen "window." That's about all I know. Another guy actually took his boots off on the mat so as not to get our floor all muddy. I thought that was a pretty nice gesture.

After a while we decided to go get lunch from a little cafe out town. As we were getting ready, the electrical people were about to take a lunch break also. One of the guys said they were going to McDonald's and asked me if I'd like them to bring back something for us. I said no thank you, but I thought that was really nice of him to ask.

By the time we returned home they had finished; we actually passed them on the road not far from our house. All of the overhead lights/fans were back up and the electricity was back on in my room. Praise be!

January 16, 2014 - Thursday  - Day 7 of Construction

Today the electricians came by again and this time they didn't do too much banging, which was appreciated by me. They put in overhead light fixtures in all the rooms that didn't already have them, (except mine) and fixed the outside lights on the back porch where they'd been damaged by the fire. It didn't take them long to do those things.

That about sums it up for the work done today.

January 17, 2014 - Friday - Day 8 of Construction

Ah, the last work day of the week. We had some things to do today, so we weren't home whilst the crew worked on rebuilding the roof over our back porch. It wasn't there when we left, but it was when we got back. It is a very nice roof, I might add. Way better than the old one. The old one leaked. Not cool. But this one is great.

I have no idea what next week will consist of. My life right now is basically, "Take whatever comes at you with as much serenity as you can muster."

Note: I apologize that this post is being published a bit late. I haven't had much time for blogging this past week; life is crazy. Also, I know it's not the most exciting thing to read about. I personally prefer creative writing, and maybe it shows when I write fact instead, but I just wanted to write about the construction as a way to sort of kep a record of what's been going on concerning the repairs and whatnot. If you stick with me, there will be more stories and other, more interesting things.
Thanks for reading!      

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Series of Events Part 9

From then until Christmas Matt and I didn't bring up that subject. The subject we had an unspoken agreement to avoid. The subject of our almost-kiss.

I know we both thought about it often. More often than I cared to admit to myself. Even after I realized how much I cared for him, I was still trying to fight my heart.

Matt knew. Somehow I know he knew that I had, indeed, developed feelings for him. Maybe he was more perceptive than I gave him credit for, or maybe I just wasn't hiding it as well as I thought. Yet, even though he was aware of my feelings for him, he didn't pressure me. He must have known there was something more, something I wasn't telling him, but he he waited for me to share it with him when I was ready. For that I was extremely grateful.

It was Christmas Eve. My aunt, Kate, was hosting a Christmas party at her place and told me to invite my friends. I had asked both Anne and Matt to come, though only Matt showed up. I found out later that Anne had received a last minute invitation from Jake (the guy she was obsessed with) to go ice-skating. So of course she never mentioned to him that she had a previous engagement. She did apologize, and even though I knew she didn't really regret it, I forgave her anyway.

My aunt and I have always been close. She's ten years younger than my mom, and ten years older than me. She's not exactly irresponsible, but my mom thinks she needs to act more mature and take things seriously. I don't necessarily agree. I think Kate is a shot of life. I wish I resembled her more. Actually, now that I think about it, she reminds me a lot of Matt.
Tonight her house is decorated with Christmas lights inside and out. She's got icicle lights dangling off the front porch, clear white lights along the roof and on the trees and bushes in the yard, and colored lights lining the garage doors.
Inside there are snowflake decorations on the windows, a little miniature village across her counter top all lit up with white lights, and an enormous Christmas tree in the living room. It's beautiful. This is my favorite time of year. I love seeing everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Making my way through the house, I find Matt in the kitchen. He's talking to Kate's boyfriend, Thomas. They're hovering over the snack table. I smile at Thomas and move around Matt to get some punch. There's so much dessert on the table it's overwhelming. Most of it I can't eat, being gluten-intolerant, but I notice a few plates labeled "Gluten-Free" and I smile. Kate remembered me.
As usual. Leaving Matt and Thomas to their chatter, I head to the living room to sit in front of the fireplace and drink my lime green punch. Most everyone is in the den playing a game I've never heard of. It's mainly family here, though Kate invited a few of her close friends.
Just then she comes in from the other room and sees me sitting there. She grins like she's up to something. I shoot her a quizzical look, but she's already disappeared into the other room. Strange. But knowing her, it could be anything.

"I was going to ask if you wanted some hot chocolate, but I see you've got punch," Matt says, sitting down next to me.
"Yeah. Thanks anyway, though. Did you get some?"
"A little bit. I think I sampled every dessert on the table," he says, laughing. "Thomas seems cool." He starts to roll the sleeves up on his shirt. It's a hunter green cardigan over a white dress shirt. He must be getting warm by the fire.
"He is," I say. "Actually, I think he's planning to propose soon. Everyone except Kate already knows." Just then Kate comes back in. When she sees us she gets this huge grin on her face.
"Do you know where you're sitting?" she asks, as if she's about to reveal some great secret.
"Um, by the fireplace?" I say it like a question. I have no idea what she's getting at. She laughs joyfully. At that moment my parents and a few of my cousins come into the room.
"No," she says. "You are both sitting directly under the mistletoe!" I'm not sure what my face looks like when she says this. I imagine it may appear to be frozen. Not a single feature changing. Then I feel my cheeks warming and I know I'm blushing. I never blush. Ever.
I slowly turn to look at Matt. He's smiling shyly. I've never seen him shy. His eyes seem to inquire: "Is this okay?" For once in my life I don't think. I don't analyze the situation. I don't debate whether I should do this or that. No logic. No reason. I let my heart come out.
I lean slowly toward him, closing my eyes. My heart hammers against my chest. My stomach ties itself into knots. Butterflies? No. A flock of seagulls is more like it.
I feel the warmth of his hand as he touches my cheek. And then, so very gently, he kisses me.
This isn't one of those moments where suddenly it feels as if we're the only two people on earth. I'm distinctly aware of everyone in the room staring at us. But I don't care. I feel like this moment has been building up for a long time. And now that it's happening, it's not what I expected. I don't know what I'd been expecting exactly, but this isn't it. I wasn't expecting to feel so...alive.
 It feels like an eternity has passed, but in reality it's only been a few seconds when we lean back and look at each other. Everyone else starts cheering and clapping and I feel my face getting red again. Matt reaches for my hand. This time I let him.

Standing on the back porch, I breathe in the cold air. I needed some space. My cousins kept jabbing me about the kiss and asking when the wedding was going to be. I'm already having a hard enough time trying to deal with all these feelings that have come to the surface so forcefully. It's a lot to process.
The back door opens and Matt walks over to stand next to me.
"Your aunt said she saw you come out here. I wasn't sure whether I should come out or not. I thought you might want to be alone." I look at him and smile. "I do want to be alone," I say. "You can stay." He leans on his arms against the railing, looking very content. I rest my head on his shoulder.
"You know," I begin, knowing that I've got to get this out. "Somehow, and I haven't figured it out yet, but somehow you knew. You knew I'd end up falling for you. And it's not that I didn't want to, exactly. I was just...afraid. I realize that now. I fought it for so long because I was afraid of falling in love again." He straightens and looks right at me. "Someone broke your heart." He doesn't say it like a question. He knows.
"Yes," I say, remembering. "It was a long time ago. About three years, I guess. But I remember it so clearly. I'd been dating someone for almost a year. He was older than me. Not much, but still. He told me he loved me. He said he was going to marry me someday. Stupidly, I believed him. Then one summer he went to visit some friends. At first he called me almost every night. Then he called less and less, until he didn't call at all anymore. He broke up with me the day after he got back with no explanation. I didn't understand why. I didn't know what had happened, why he'd changed his mind about me. I tried calling him, but he wouldn't answer.
"I came to see Kate and told her everything, with tears flooding my eyes. She got pissed. I still don't know how she found out, and she was incredibly reluctant to tell me, but I demanded to know every detail. She said he'd met someone else, and that they had....hooked up. I guess he got tired of me because I wouldn't give him what he wanted. I knew he wasn't the kind of guy I deserved, but it still hurt so badly. The rejection... Later I found out he'd gotten her pregnant and ended up working at McDonald's to support her and the baby. So I am glad that wasn't me.
"But I was still afraid to open my heart to anyone else after that. I was afraid I'd get hurt, rejected, left... And I didn't think I could deal with it again." I've tried to remain composed as I share this painful part of me with him. He's the only person I've ever talked to about it other than Kate and my parents. I never told Anne.
Matt is quiet, a sad look in his eyes. It's more than sad, it's empathetic. I bite my lip, fighting to keep my composure, which I've pretty much already lost. Matt opens his arms and I fall against him, letting the tears flow freely.
He holds me in silence, allowing me time to not be okay. I like that I don't always have to be okay when I'm with him. I can be myself. My real self. He doesn't expect something from me that I'm not capable of giving. He never has. That's why he waited so long. He realized I couldn't give him the love he longed for at the time he hoped for it. But he knew one day I'd be ready. He cared enough to wait for that day.
When I've finally managed to gain control of my emotions, I pull back and breathe in a slightly shaky breath of cold air.
"Bay," he says, taking my small, cold hand in his strong, warm one. "I know you already know this, but I'm not that guy. I'm not going to do that to you. I promise you that. I care about you more than you can imagine. I'm so sorry that he broke your heart. He's a jerk. You deserve a lot better than that. If you'll let me, I'll prove to you that there are still gentlemen left in the world. We can take it slow. Will you give us a chance?" This is it. The moment to decide. Will I give us a chance? Listen to my heart, even though it's been broken before? Will I risk it being broken again?
I look up at Matthew. Handsome, funny, energetic, spontaneous Matthew. Green eyes. Strong arms. And that smile. The same one that's always there. I smile at him and say, "Yes."                              

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 5 of Construction

Day 5 of Construction 

January 13, 2014 - Monday - 9:43PM

Another morning where I awaken to the sounds of hammering coming from overhead. I was scared a man would fall through my ceiling, however unrealistic that may be. Of course it didn't happen. That doesn't mean it couldn't.

After realizing that I wasn't going to be getting more sleep any time soon, I got up, reluctantly, and went in the living room where the others were sitting on the couch, all wrapped up in blankets.
We sat there talking until one of the guys came in the back door, saying they needed to get into the attic.


So he went in the other room, where the opening to the attic is in the closet, but came out after only being in there for a minute or so. Yep, forgot the ladder. I don't think these particular guys (the attic guys) have been here before. The first guy didn't even know which room the door to the attic was in until we told him when he started going in the opposite direction.

After he and another attic guy disappeared into the space above our heads, my sister decided to take a shower (which, I myself was skeptical about, worrying that they might could see through the fan thinger that's in the ceiling of the bathroom). Luckily she got finished before we had to skidaddle right out of our own house.

See, what happened was that my dad had been told by the head construction person that they were going to be working on the outside of the house, on the back porch, so we didn't really need to be out of the house. Apparently these other attic people didn't communicate with the construction crew or Dad; the attic guys had to finish spraying some type of sealer in the attic, the kind from the other day that I guess never got completed. So, they "suggested" that we not be in the house while they do that.


So we were all rushing around trying to get our things together and carry dog kennels down to the basement so the dogs could stay down there, away from whatever fumes were expected to make their way into the house. None of us had had any breakfast and my sister was the only one to get a shower. After taking care of our kitties, we all walked to the neighbors' house, where the rest of us got to take showers and get something to eat. Thank God for neighbors who let you use their shower and eat their food. Amen.

The walk wasn't too bad, except that there was mud everywhere. I could feel my sneakers sinking into the squishy earth with every step. It could have been worse though. It could have been raining. Or snowing. Or frigidly cold. But the weather was nice; around 58 degrees.

That's about it for the construction that was done today. I'm not too sure what they actually did outside, other than take the tarp off the hole in the side of the house, remove the plywood that was covering the window hole, and make a big mess in the kitchen where junk was coming in through the "window." They did re-cover it with one of their sheet type things, fortunately.

As far as I know, the electrician is supposed to be here bright and early tomorrow morning to put all the ceiling fans/lights back in and hook up the wiring so that we can install ceiling fans in the bedrooms that don't yet have them.

Well, it was nice sleeping in yesterday morning. I shall miss it this week.          


Crazy Things Christians Post On The Internet

Have you ever seen these insane things that some christians post on sites like Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter? I've seen plenty!

Here are 10 that make me shake my head. (With my own commentary.) 

Note: This is meant to be funny, not an attack on anyone. 

1. "'Like' for Jesus, ignore for Satan."
("Crap! I have to 'like' this or else I must be a bad Christian!")

2. "You have 1 new friend request from Jesus."
(They're thinking: "Yeah, let's throw him in their faces!" That will save their souls!)

3. "Honk if you love Jesus. Text and drive if you want to see him."
(Do I really need to comment on this?)

4. "For real change, vote Jesus into your life."
(Oh yeah! Jesus for president!)

5. "Type 'Yes' if Jesus is welcome in your home!!!"
(Because if you don't that must mean he isn't and he'll get offended if you ignore this post!)

6. *Picture of Jesus in glasses.* Caption reads - "I had followers before Twitter."
(Hipster + Christian = Fail.)

7. "Will you pray for the homeless? 'Like' - Yes. Ignore - No."
(And, of course, there is always a picture of someone in dirty, ragged clothing who looks as if they haven't eaten in a month; you know, to help guilt-trip you into "liking" or commenting on the post.)

8. "Please don't scroll down without typing 'Amen!' YOUR 'AMEN' WORKS!!!"  
(Apparently the word "Amen" is a miracle worker.)

9. "Type 'Me' if Jesus is your Life today!"
(Yeah, because, I mean, it's all about ME, right?)

10. *Picture of someone's hand holding a cell phone with Jesus' face on the screen.* Caption reads - "'Can we video chat, my child?' Type 'Yes' or 'No.'"
(Didn't you know Jesus has the iPhone 5s?)

So, there it is; crazy things some christians post on the internet.

Share if you thought it was funny. Ignore if you hate kittens.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Series of Events Part 8

"Can we talk about this?" Matt asks. By "this" I'm assuming he means our almost-kiss. We're still sitting in his jeep. He just parked in front of my house.
"You know, I-I'd rather not," I say. I know I'm being selfish, but I can't dredge up my past right now. It's not the right time. He deserves the truth, but I can't talk about it. At least not today.
"Bailey, I'm sure you've got your reasons, and I'm sure they're good ones, but...we almost kissed. I mean, that's kind of a big deal." He pauses, taking in a deep breath. Letting it out, he continues. "You know, sooner or later you're going to have to face your heart. You might not want to, but it's inevitable. And just so you know, I'm still going to be here when you do." I expect him to turn and smile at me. He doesn't. He opens the door of the jeep and steps out into the cold night air. I follow.

Needless to say dinner was pretty awkward that night. I think my mom sensed that something was amiss between Matt and me, but she didn't ask about it. She did, however, make a big fuss over the fact that we were soaked to the skin. She kept going on and on about how we were going to "catch our death" from being out in the rain in November. She insisted on Matt changing into a pair of my dad's sweats and a flannel shirt. He complied, mainly just to soothe her, I think.

It hasn't been very long since Matt went home, maybe a couple hours. I'm lying on my bed staring at the ceiling when my phone rings. It's him. Confused, I answer. Maybe he forgot something.
"Hey. Are you doing anything tomorrow?" he says.
"Umm, not that I know of. Why?"
"I was hoping you'd say that. Do you want to go shopping with me?" he asks.
"Shopping? Are you crazy? On Black Friday?" He must be insane. People act mad on Black Friday. He laughs. "Yes, shopping. No, I'm not crazy. And yes, I know tomorrow is Black Friday. That's the point. Massive sales, great deals, and we can get a super early start on Christmas shopping." He sounds perfectly happy and excited. It's impossible for him to stay down for long. I hesitate briefly. I'm not very fond of crowds.
"I don't know. All the stores are going to be packed. It'll be a madhouse out there," I say, trying to use reason with him.
"Please come with me." Apparently reasoning doesn't work. I groan and say, "Don't you have other friends you can ask?" He laughs a little and says, "No. All my guy friends hate shopping. Anne would jump at the offer, but as you know, she's not in the state. If you come with me I'll buy you a gluten-free cupcake and we can have lunch at that new cafe," he says, working his persuasive magic.
"Alright, geez. I'll go. Besides, you had me at cupcake."

We head out really early the next morning, although I don't know how much good it will do. I heard on the news that people have been waiting in line outside of stores the entire night. That's ridiculous to me. I wouldn't even be going out right now if it weren't for Matt. I look over at him as he drives. "So, Captain, where to first?"
"I thought we'd hit the mall first, since that will probably be the busiest. There's an art supplies store in there I wanted to check out."
"What do you need to get in there?" I ask as we pull into the shopping center where the mall is located.
"I'm looking for an easel," he says, circling the parking lot. I don't even see an empty space. After circling again, I spot one and point it out.
"So you're really getting into the art thing, huh?"
"Yeah, I think so. I really like it," he tells me. I smile at him. Maybe that will be it. Art. Maybe that's his passion.

Inside the mall there are people everywhere. I've never seen it this crowded. I follow close behind Matt as he leads the way to the art store, weaving in and out of groups of people. The noise in here is practically deafening. People bump into me without even a backward glance. They just keep walking, so concerned are they with their own affairs.
I grab Matt's sleeve before I end up getting lost in the crowd. He looks back at me and laughs. It's like he's enjoying this. I'm not enjoying this at all. I feel claustrophobic. Too many people. Way too many people.

After what seems like forever we finally make it to the art store. I've never been in here before. It's much larger than I thought. And thankfully there are less people.
Matt seems to know where he's going so I tag along behind him, admiring some paintings as we pass by. I try to search for a restroom while we walk, but I don't see one.
"Do you know where the bathroom is in here?" I ask Matt once we've found the easels.
"Hm, I think it's upstairs. There's a different store up there and I think that's where the bathroom is. Do you want me to help you find it?"
"No, that's okay. I'm sure I can manage. You just stay here and look at these cool...artsy things." He chuckles as I turn and walk away.
Finding the restroom is harder than I anticipated. For one, this is a pretty big store; for another, I'm not even sure where the escalator is to get upstairs. This must be the third time I've walked around the entire ground floor. Becoming desperate for a bathroom, I've just decided to go look for an employee when I see the escalator out of the corner of my eye.
Once I reach the top level I immediately notice the sign hanging from the ceiling with an arrow indicating the direction of the restroom. Now why couldn't the escalator have been that simple to find?

"Matthew! Where the hell are you?" I mutter under my breath, not that he can hear me. I've looked all over the art store and am convinced he's not here. But where else could he be? I'm starting to get worried. Maybe he went upstairs to look for me. Making my way back to the escalator, I ride it up to the top level again. Nope. No sign of him. After another ten minutes of searching without success, I give up and call his cell phone. It only rings twice before he answers.
"Where are you?!" I say, not attempting to hide my frustration.
"Didn't you get my text? I said I'd meet you in Game Buster's once you were finished. I'm sorry. I should have called instead." Agitation still presides inside me, but I try to let it go. Shoving my glasses up and making my way to the exit, I say, "Okay. I'll be there in a minute."

"So you decided not to get an easel?" I ask Matt. We're sitting on a bench outside Beck's Bakery. He kept his word about the cupcake.
"No, I bought one. They put it on hold for me. It would have been slightly difficult to carry it through the mall and across the parking lot. I'll come back and pick it up next week."
"Oh. That makes sense," I say. I laugh when I look up at him. "You've got chocolate frosting on your face. Here."
"Thanks," he replies, taking the napkin from me.
It actually turned out to be a nice day, despite yesterday's downpour. The sun is shining, no clouds in sight, and I'm eating a double chocolate cupcake with my best friend. Not bad.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 4 of Construction

January 9, 2014 - Thursday, 10:50AM

Day 4 of Construction 

Not much was different this morning than the past mornings of this week. Got up (unwillingly). Showered. Gathered my things; laptop, The Book Thief, notebook. Put my dog on a leash and made my way out the back door and through power cords, angled boards holding beams in place, and hoping my dog and I didn't step on any nails as we walked out to the camper.
Thankfully it isn't too cold today. Not nearly like what it was on Tuesday. It's probably around 40 degrees at the moment. But since it's been so cold of late, we haven't been able to get running water in the camper; the pipes would freeze. That means no use of the sink, toilet, or shower. So, unfortunately, if we have to potty, we have to either hold it or go to the neighbor's since we can't really get back inside our house while they're working on it.
Today the men are setting the new trusses in place, which requires the use of a ginormous crane. Every time I've seen a huge truss swining through the air, I get really nervous, worrying that something will happen and it will fall onto our house and smash it to pieces.

So far so good.

Though it is getting old having to wake up super early every morning and rush to get ready and haul all my stuff out to the camper, I am glad to be seeing some progress. It's been a long time coming, that's for sure. We've been living with a hole in the back of our house for two months now. I'm not sure when that will get fixed, but we're getting there.

The only thing I really hate is being cold so much. Throughout most of the day, some part of me is cold. Hands. Feet. Ugh. I wish I was like Elsa (from Frozen) and could say that the cold never bothered me anyway. But that's not the case, unfortunately. I don't have magical powers to make it snow, or to create a magical snowman who comes to life, or to build a super amazing ice castle. Oh well, we can't all be magical cartoons. That's life.

I suppose that will do for the time being.

Later - 7:50PM 

Well, looks like (as of right now) I will get to sleep in tomorrow morning. Win!
I don't think the construction crew is coming back until Monday, due to rain throughout the weekend, starting tomorrow. Luckily they were able to get the roof on today (though it isn't finished). From what I heard it has been water-proofed and covered, so we shouldn't get rained on in our beds or anything. At least, I hope not.
Downsides To Having Your Roof Worked On By A Buttload Of Guys: 

1.You have to get up at the crack of dawn.
2. They make a bunch of freaking holes in your ceilings. 
3. It's really really noisy. 
4. They run you out of your house. 
5. You worry that a random man will fall through the ceiling of the bathroom while you're bathing. 

By the time all this is over I may have some more stuff to add to this list. 

Right now I'm not sure what the schedule will look like for the remaining work that needs to be done. They still have to get the tin for the roof and put that on. And then there's the roof of the back porch, which is nonexistent at present. So that will have to be rebuilt.  I'm not sure if the same people will be doing that or not. Then, of course, there's the matter of repairing the damage they've done to the inside of the house. It looks pretty horrible. 

Well, I think that will do it for today. I am looking forward to a nice long weekend of somewhat normalcy and hopefully a little extra sleep. And a lot less noise. Oh yeah, sounding good already.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8, 2014 - Day 1, 2, and 3 of Construction

Day 3 of Roof Construction

January 8, 2014 - Wednesday
At this moment I am sitting in a 32 ft. camper, eating apple sauce. It is 9:11AM.
After a restless night of very little sleep, (perhaps two hours total, if that) I awoke at about a quarter after 7, took a shower, gathered some of my belongings, and headed out into the cold, to the warmth of the camper, which is our temporary home during construction (at least during the day; we're still sleeping in our house at night).
Looking out the window in the small back room, I can see our horse pasture, which is actually where the camper rests. I can also see cars drive by along the road and clumps of trees here and there.
The sounds I hear are not pleasant. Banging, hammering, sawing. Needless to say it's very annoying. However, be that as it may, I am glad that our house is being repaired from the fire damage that was done back in the beginning of November, and I'm grateful there wasn't more damage than there is.
Looking out the front window, I can see several men on top of our roof, throwing wood and other materials down into our front yard, where another man stands watching, or maybe I should say supervising.
We've got our three dogs out here with us, and, to my surprise and admiration, my dog is being so good about everything that's been going on. I was expecting him to act out and get into things, which would be understandable since his schedule has gone down the crapper just as much as the rest of ours. But I'm really pleased with how good he's being. He's so chill, not seeming to mind at all that life has been flipped upside down. Again. Maybe he's getting used to it. If so, he's doing a better job about it than I am.
Today we have some things to do, some errands to run. My sister has to work later, so I'm not sure what we'll do after that.
As far as I know, construction will most likely take up to two weeks, maybe more. Thankfully the weather is supposed to be warming up slightly as the week progresses.
That is all for now.

Later - 5:22PM
Another day has nearly passed, along with another hole in the ceiling. This time in Mom's and Dad's bedroom. I'm beginning to wonder if these people really know what they're doing. How often do multiple holes happen in roof construction? And we're only on Day 3.
But finally we're back in the house. Thank heavens!
It doesn't feel nearly as cold as it was yesterday. Of course, it hasn't been half as cold out as yesterday either. I'm extremely glad about that.
A few people are still out on the roof right now, spraying some kind of sealer, which I'm told helps to seal the smell of smoke in the wood that isn't being replaced. As it's getting darker by the minute, I'm guessing they'll be leaving any time.   
We will be heading out again in about an hour or so to pick up the sister and her man. They decided to see a movie (Catching Fire) after she got off work. Unfortunately my presence wasn't welcome on the date, so I came back home earlier and took a nap in the camper. It definitely isn't a  Tempurpedic, but it will suffice.
Tomorrow will most likely consist of the crew putting the roof back on, or as much of it as they can get done in a day's work.
As of now, we are planning on going to see 47 Ronin at the cinema, which I'm still debating on whether I want to watch it or not. I may decide to see something else. If you've seen it, is it good? What did you think of it?
 I suppose that will do for today's entry. Headache. Gah.    

Day 2 of Construction

January 7, 2014 - Tuesday
I woke up to loud, obnoxious banging coming from above me. I knew what it was, but I thought I wouldn't be hearing it this morning. We'd thought the construction crew wasn't coming because of the frigid temperatures, literally below freezing; about 15 degrees, no higher than 25 throughout the day. But, unfortunately, there was a miscommunication, and they showed up to work before we were ready, and had to rush to get out to the camper.
I had enough time to take a power-shower (a very fast shower) and grab my things and my dog and head out the door. As I was getting out of the shower, about to get dressed, I realized that there was no curtain on the bathroom window, and men were climbing onto the roof from right outside. So, finding a sheet in the linen closet, I climbed onto the bathtub in my towel and managed to cover the blasted window and preserve my dignity.
It was so freakishly cold outside that by the time it took to walk to the camper, my fingers and face were basically flash-frozen. Thankfully it was nice and warm inside the camper, though once the heat cuts off it doesn't take long to get chilly again.
Most of the morning was pretty uneventful. I read a chapter or two of The Book Thief, got on Facebook, and checked my email. But then things started going downhill when Mom realized that part of our electric-rope horse fencing had broken loose and she went out, braving the cold to try to come up with some way to repair it temporarily until Dad got home from work to fix it.
After managing to tie it up enough to keep our miniature horse safely inside, and freezing herself completely in the process, she went in the house and discovered a gaping hole in my sister's bedroom ceiling. Apparently, from what I was told, something happened and one of the guys nearly fell off the roof, and somehow the result was a giant hole in the ceiling. As unfortunate as that is, at least the dude didn't fall off and get seriously hurt. That would probably have been worse than a hole.
We stayed in the camper until the evening when the crew had finished for the day. It was cold and dark out and, to make things worse, our house was extremely cold as well. Even though our outdoor wood furnace was working overtime, it didn't reach any higher than about 65. Big difference when we're used to 75 to 78. Especially after coming in from outside and trying to get warm. We even had the oven on with the door open to let more heat in, though the house wouldn't really retain it, since part of our roof was missing.
Dad decided that we'd be better off getting Mexican takeout for dinner; its quick, it's delicious, and we didn't have to cook it. Needless to say, my sister, her boyfriend, and I were the ones sent to pick it up. And then, as if we needed another obstacle, the car wouldn't start. Awesome.
I called Dad from the car and he came out to see if he could find out what the problem was. Finally he did something that I don't understand and it started! Hallelujah!
It took a while for everything to heat up and we were able to turn the heat on, which helped but wasn't nearly as warm as it would normally have been had we not been having such a freaking cold night.
Once we had the food in our possession, (which smelled amazing, making me realize I hadn't eaten lunch) we stopped by the store for shampoo and then returned home.
My room was the warmest in the house, which was great for me, but not so much for everyone else. Mom decided to sleep in my room, being cold all day and not too keen to attempt sleeping in her bedroom, which was the coldest. I was more than willing to share, though I don't think she slept very much.
I'm hoping that these weeks of construction and restoration will go by quickly and that we'll be back in our house as soon as possible.

Day 1 of Construction

January 6, 2014 - Monday
The morning of day 1 was pretty awful. We all got up around 7 or a little before, thinking the construction crew would be here around 7:30, which is what they'd told Dad. It was messy and rainy and we weren't sure if they were going to start today or not. I don't think they knew either; they sat in their vehicles at the end of our driveway for the longest time, probably waiting to see what the weather was going to do. Finally they drove up and began working on the roof. We headed outside to the rented camper, our temporary home.
This was also the day we were planning to meet up with my sister's boyfriend, as he was coming to visit us, but at this point in the day, we didn't know for sure whether we were going to be able to make it or not. The weather channel predicted heavy snow in his area, and they weren't sure if it was wise to make the trip or not, since he lives a few hours from us. We waited and waited and after a couple hours he texted and said it was on. Hallelujah!
We decided that the best thing to do would be to put the dogs in kennels in the basement where there would be a bit less noise, though still more than enough hammering, banging, and God knows what else. Although, it was rather difficult to actually get in through the basement door because the construction crew had left giant walls of plywood leaning against the side of our house where the basement is. We ended up having to yank the plywood wall away and let it fall to the ground. They'll never know it was us, we said. They'll think it was the wind, we said. (They were on lunch break at the time, gone somewhere to eat.)
After getting our pets settled we headed off to meet the sister's man.
But first, something very important: Lunch. That's right folks - Chick-fil-A!
The food of zombie slayers.
The trip didn't seem very long now that I had chicken and waffle fries inside me.
On the way home a stop was made for chinese food because we were all tired and exhausted and no one felt like cooking anything. (I promise we usually eat much healthier than this.)
When we arrived back home we saw that the entire roof was gone from the back porch, so I guess the crew had made quite a bit of progress.
I stayed up too late, thinking I'd be able to sleep in since, I thought, the crew wouldn't be here the next day due to the frigid temperatures. How wrong I was. But, looking on the bright side, I did get the conclusion finished for my "Series of Events" short story, which will be up on the 5th of February. If you haven't read the posted chapters yet, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!
I'm really happy to have finished it, since often time I will have a great idea for a story and get excited to start it, but then something always comes up and I neglect to complete it. Hopefully I will work to do better about that this year.                   

A Series of Events Part 7

My mind takes me back in time. It's the closest thing to time travel I believe we'll ever have

It was a little chilly. The sky was overcast. No rain. Yet.

Matt insisted on going to the park. I didn't know why he wanted to go so bad. We only had a few hours before we had to be back at my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

He had decided to quit his classes at the University. His dad wasn't happy about it. At all. He said Matt was making a huge mistake and throwing his future down the drain. Matt didn't budge. He felt he'd made the right decision. Even so, I knew it was hard on him, having his dad constantly lecturing him. I tried to be there for him. I tried my best to be supportive and encouraging. Eventually though, after weeks of nonstop arguing with his parents, he just couldn't deal with it anymore. He moved out. He decided to rent an apartment in town. Anne and I helped him move in and get settled.

"Want to walk to the lake?" Matt asks me. I shrug and say, "Sure." I don't know why he wanted to come here. I mean, who goes to the park on Thanksgiving? But I just went with it. I've learned to (somewhat) embrace his flares of spontaneity.
Anne couldn't come. She's visiting family out of state for the holiday. So it's just me and Matt.
I'm a little worried it might start raining. It's been cloudy and grey all day. I look up at the sky as we make our way to the lake. Definitely looks like rain.
"Why do you have that bag?" I ask Matt. He's got a leather messenger bag slunk over his shoulder. I've never seen it before.
"I needed it to carry my stuff in." He glances at me and winks. I raise one eyebrow at him and squint. "What 'stuff' are you talking about?" He doesn't usually carry extra "stuff."
"I guess you'll just have to wait and find out."

It's not a long walk to get to the lake. No one else is here. I wonder why.
"Will you sit on that big rock over there, Bay?" Matt asks, pointing to a boulder-type-rock-thing beside the water. I look at him strangely.
"Why do you want me to sit on that?"
"Because. I want to sketch you. The lake is a great background," he says, smiling at me. I chuckle a little and go sit on the rock.
"Are you sure you have enough time? We've got to be back by six, you know. I don't want to be late," I remind him. "And since when are you into sketching? I didn't know you liked to draw."
"I used to draw all the time as a kid," he says, sitting down at a picnic table nearby. "Then I started sketching  at school when I couldn't figure out the homework. I remembered my parents bringing me here when I was younger, and I thought this lake would be fun to sketch. Especially with such a lovely subject in front of it," he says, looking up from his paper and grinning at me. I roll my eyes and smile back. "Yes, you're really quite charming," I tease him.
"I know."

He concentrates on his sketch, getting a little crease between his eyes. I watch him for a while. He looks up and sees my eyes on him. He smiles in a way I wish he wouldn't; all gentleness and unspoken longing. I read it in his soft emerald eyes. They speak volumes.
I look away. At the lake. At the trees. Anywhere but at him. I just can't stand it when he looks at me like that. It's too much. Knowing I'm hurting him...it's just too much. He tries to hide it, but I know it's there. It's always there, underneath his positive attitude and his energetic personality. And I know he still hopes. He is still hoping I'll change my mind. Develop feelings for him. Will I? Have I?

"So?" I ask. "Are you finished yet?" It's been about an hour and a half. I am beyond the point of discomfort; sore in unmentionable places. The sky seems to be getting darker, threatening to pour out its contents at any moment.
"Just about. I can finish up the shading later. I guess we better head back, huh?" He stands, putting his pad and pencils back inside his bag.
"Well...can I see it?" I ask, slowly stepping forward. He grins and shakes his head. "Nope. Not a peak. You have to wait until it's completely complete," he says, smiling. He's always smiling. It makes his eyes glitter, even in grey weather. It's nice.
Just as we've started back toward the parking lot, the skies open and raindrops fall as if their sole purpose is to drench us.
"Crap! Come on!" Matt yells, grabbing my hand and starting to run. My legs are much shorter than his. It's hard for me to keep up.
"I'm sorry! I can't go any faster!" I shout at him, as he is pulling me harder and harder. After a few minutes of running, Matt stops and, bending down slightly, says, "Get on my back!"
"What?!" I yell.
"Just get on!"  I jump, wrapping my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck. He takes off running. We're actually moving faster this way. I can feel the tensed muscles in his back as he runs. With my face so close to him, I breathe in his scent. Mixed with the smell of the rain and the earth, it's like nothing I've ever smelled before. Dirt, rain, dry leaves. And him.
In no time at all we're back in the parking lot. He stops in front of his jeep and I slide off. He turns to face me and laughs. I don't know why we're just standing here. We ran all the way from the lake because of the rain, and now we don't move.
He's so close. As if I have no control over what I'm doing, my hand reaches up and moves his wet hair to the side. Raindrops continue to fall. With my finger, I follow the trail they've made down his face. He steps forward. I can't move. I can't breathe. His face comes closer to mine. Closer. He's inches away. My hand is on his chest. How did that get there? His face is so close to mine. I feel his nose touch my cheek. And with that touch it's like I wake up. I gasp a mouthful of air and jerk myself away. What in the world just happened? I frown and walk around to the passenger side of the jeep and get in.

Matt almost kissed me. I almost kissed Matt. Matt! I can't stop these thoughts from playing over and over in my head as we drive back to my house. I feel so stupid. How could I have let that almost happen?
I can't look at him. I stare out the window, not really seeing anything we pass. I'm so focused on my thoughts that I jump a little when he says, "You're freezing. Here, take my sweater." We're at a stop sign. He takes off his wet jacket and throws it in the back, then removes his sweater and hands it to me. I open my mouth to say I'm fine, but the look on his face makes me take it. I sigh and smile back. I am cold. And his sweater is soft and warm. Like him.
I take off my drenched jacket and pull his sweater on over my head. "Aren't you cold though?" I ask. He's only wearing a t-shirt now.
"No," he says, "I'm fine." I look over at him for the first time since we started home. He's trying to hide his disappointment. It's written all over his face. I hate this pain I feel. It kills me.