Monday, November 25, 2013

Living Out Loud, Fueling the Fire

WARNING: This post is very rambly.
Each day we are presented with hundreds of choices. From whether or not we hit the snooze button to if we go out of our way for someone else.
I am discovering that my anxiety seems to come from the unknown... or from knowing I cannot control everything and I am totally powerless at times. I have a bad habit of setting expectations for things and being really hurt when life doesn't produce what I expect. I cannot control this world. Last night I was feeling really anxious, so I sent Abby a text saying I wasn't feeling well and to just keep me in her prayers. Not 2 minutes later, sometime after 1:00 in the morning, Abby is in my bed. "Don't you ever text me saying that and expect me to just sit in my room and pray for you when I am only floors away!"
She reminded me that while there is a lot I have no control over, there are things that I am master of. I can make my own decisions... I can control myself even if my anxiety makes me feel like I can't.
I know that God is in control. I do. But when suddenly nothing meets your expectations, it seems like everything is in a spiral.
It is no doubt that the passing of Adam triggered this recent anxiety. Something such as this serves as an ultimate reminder of God being in control in all ways. Losing Adam was obviously not at all part of my expectations for life right now. I knew him very little, but hurt so deeply for those who knew him well. Before I get to my overall point, I want to share my few interactions with this incredible man.
I first met him in 2010. In fact, he was my very first experience with this whole Christian community I have come to hold so dearly and the openness of hospitality that comes with it (other than those in my local church). I had never been to a gospel meeting, but had recently started attending my congregation at home. Adam's dad was preaching the meeting and they were both staying at the Buntings'. I was sitting on the couch upstairs waiting on Kristina when a very tall man walked up the stairs balancing a laptop on his head with mild support from his hands. He proceeded to walk around in circles in front of me. After a good two minutes I finally asked what he was doing. "Looking for a signal." he replied and continued pacing. Then, he stopped and introduced himself...and continued his search for Internet. The next day he declared he would be adding me on Facebook, and lo and behold, I had a request from Batman Rodriguez. "Tina, who the heck is Batman Rodriguez and why does he want to be my friend?" Kristina cracked up and informed me Batman was just Adam.
In the time in between then and last fall (or maybe it was this past spring..), I barely communicated with him. Mainly, it was just a "Party Arthur!" from him on my birthday. But, when he was visiting FC recently we both ended up at Pie Night. From across the Village Inn he began flailing his arms "Erin Wells! That's Erin Wells! We haven't talked in so long!". Honestly, I didn't expect him to remember me. Why would he? We met once, 2-3 years ago and hadn't really talked since. But he did...and he made it a point to come talk to me. How many people do that?
I am grieved for this world's loss of such a special soul...but so happy for Adam. He no longer has to live in this world of sin. How wonderful is it that we have that opportunity?

The whole ordeal has certainly spiked my anxiety...but it has also made me hungry. Hungry, that is, for life. I have let my anxiety control me for too long. I need to let go. I cannot control it all...what I can control is how I live. I can be quiet and live in the background, or I can be like Adam and live out loud, trusting God in every step. I can take every moment and make it worth something and that is my choice. There will be days that are hard and that don't go as planned, but it shouldn't keep me from really truly living out loud.  Every day is a day to glorify God and live for Him.

I want to live out loud. I want to see the joy in every breathe I breath, every step I take, every tear that graces my face. I know it is unreasonable to do that 100% of the time, but I can aim for 98% of the time, right?

I have this fire inside me to do so much. I want to experience it, I want to taste it. I want to CHANGE it. I feel an urgency within me to help this world spin a little smoother. That's why I have chosen to go into elementary education. Not because I love children (although I do love children), but because I want to give them a chance they may not get...a view they might not have seen without me. I want to show them how wonderful learning is, but more importantly, how wonderful this world can be if we make it. If we show love and kindness...if we give opportunities. If we show others how it's done. I have a fire that begs for change by my hand. Each day I am learning to fuel that fire with hard work and lots of prayer. I know this world is not my home and that I am working towards a higher place, but while I am here, I charge forward to improve lives of others. We are given such a great opportunity of just being that it is a shame not to strive to make a difference. I am building myself up for the job, one brick at a time. Until I am ready, I will suck every moment out of the experiences I am given to get me to my ultimate destination.

Daily Scavenge:

A full house at a devotion in memory of Adam.
(I believe Brian Harbor took this picture..I stole it from Facebook)
The rest of these are from Fall Banquet (11/23/13)
Ugly Sweater day (for some reason, we look like weird shrunken people...)



Sunday, November 10, 2013

In the words of Little Orphan Annie...

We've all heard the stereotypical songs from Annie, I'm sure. And You know what? That little girl was right. The WILL come out tomorrow. Sometimes, we have rainy days, but we have to remember that the rain will stop (unless you live in Norway). Even if rainy days last months. and what may seem like a lifetime, but there are sunny days. And some day, there will be more sunny days than rainy again.

I feel like I have lived in world of rain for a while now, but suddenly, I feel like I've turned a new leaf. Yesterday, I woke up and just felt it in my heart of hearts that it would be a good day. I felt happy and I wanted to dance, which I did later in the day. Those days haven't been too common lately, and are welcomed with open arms when they show up. But for the first time in a while, I have felt like myself. For two days now (a record since August), I have felt like Erin. Really and truly like Erin. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry... I have missed myself so much. I am not done jumping hurdles, I know. My race is hardly over, but I'm ahead. It looks like I'm going to win.

My daily scavenge has really helped me keep things in perspective. I keep pictures in my brain (and my laptop) of things that make me happy and I can look at them when I feel sad. I can remember that just one bad day or bad moment is in control of my life, and that there is SO MUCH good. I can see the good again. I can talk myself out of irrational thoughts. Praises be to God, I feel like I can be of so much more use to Him now...

I have been complaining about Florida weather and missing home a lot... but suddenly, I was able to see the plus in being in Florida. I won't get sick of the cold...It will actually be a welcome treat when I get home. I might actually complain less and instead just be excited to wear a hat. Plus, the weather has been beautiful lately. Hot. But beautiful.

The people in my life are even more beautiful and I am so blessed by them.

I have the opportunity to experience so many new things. Like my first basketball game...where THIS happened...and we won!

I figured up that I spend, on average, 15 hours a week working with children. Teaching Bible class, observations/tutoring, and work. What a blessing is this? I get the opportunity to gain experience as well as be an example to a lot of kids. I pray I am a light to these kids because I love them all with all that I have.

Oh. And I have an amazing church family here in Florida that makes me even more excited to go to church than I am to begin with. We had a gathering today for the kids to perform a play they've been working on for 3 months as well as to just spend time together. It was a total blast. The kids did great with their play! The food was awesome! And the water balloon games were highly entertaining. I do adore these people.


No daily scavenge is really needed, because there's a lot I'm thankful for that I've already mentioned. So, it'll return later.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Patience to see the good... Patience in all.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who can honestly admit that patience is often a struggle for me. I remember being a kid and being told "5 more minutes"...what a life time those five minutes were.
The areas of patience I struggle in have changed over the years, obviously.
 I have to walk away and take a second to regain patience so I don't snap on my kindergarteners at least once an afternoon at work. I have to put myself back to that 5 year old mindset and remind myself that things are different for them...this whole school thing is still kind of new. But even through that, some of my kids are just poorly behaved plain and simple. So I have to remind myself to be patient, because one day they will do something so good, and I will be so excited to praise him/her for being the one kid walking in line correctly or the one who thought of something considerate to do for a peer. Because it does happen! That moment comes. When that kid who always makes poor choices behavior wise, suddenly does something that you can finally say "YES!" to...and seeing how proud he is of's so worth all of the "No!" s. But I have to have patience...

I am so ready to graduate and be done with school. I want to move into my own little place and really start my life, start teaching. I have to remind myself I am not ready, that's why I'm here in Florida working my butt off. That's why I study. That's why I chose to come here, to get experiences that just aren't available at home. I am getting those...but that doesn't mean I'm ready. And in all honesty, these next 2 1/2 years will fly by, and I'll be craving to revisit my college days I'm sure. I'll wish I could go back, just for a moment, to those late night conversations, carefree Saturdays, even the days full of stressful school work. There is good in all, but we have to 1) be patient for it to come forward and 2) be willing to do a little extra work to find it.

I've also had a tendency lately to jump to conclusions... I don't have the patience to give people the benefit of the doubt or see things from their position. That is really unfair of me AND to has caused some not so great feelings toward people I really care about.

And I've lost patience with myself in so many areas. That is a big struggle that I am working really hard on. Things are not as bad as they seem... Be patient, the good will come. Be patient, you'll see YOUR GOOD again. (and no, that isn't supposed to be "you're good"...I meant is possessive.)
Because you are (now it's you're) good. There is good within. There are good qualities. Just wait... you'll see it again, I promise.

Happy Monday, folks.

Daily Scavenge:

What could be better than getting this in a text at work?

These girls... that night.

These people...they make my days so much brighter.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Procrastination at its finest, ladies and gents

I have a million and one things I should be doing. Cleaning, studying Western Civ, studying Ephesians/Colossians, studying special ed, laundry, cleaning, oh, did I say cleaning? Because my room is a total wreck. I did manage to do the dishes, though. So, that's something, right?
Anyways, I'm pretty sure this blog is just another notch on the belt of things I can do to procrastinate.

First, I would like to complain for a moment about the fact I cannot sleep in. Unless I'm sick, then I can sleep forever. But, when I'm in normal health I cannot sleep past 9 at the latest and it is a celebration when I make it to 9. Today I woke up at 8:40, defeated. I was still observably tired, but apparently 8 hours of sleep is enough for me, so I got up...and it was FREEZING in my room. It got down to  the 40's last night (I KNOW!!!) and the heater in my dorm doesn't work. They ordered a part for it, the meantime, I'm just waiting for one of my toes to literally fall off due to severe frost bite.

Anyways, I thought I'd take this time that I should be using for many other things to share some Daily Scavenge. And none of them include western civilization and the test that will steal my soul this coming Friday.

This was a rough week to say the least. I haven't been at my best and have felt like a wilted flower... But I found a lot of things to be thankful for. I am surely praising God for His love and the ways He shows it.

A cup of hot tea and snuggly blanket to end the day.

1) A mother who thinks of me and sends me sweet packages with a new scarf and my copy of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
2) The fact I got to wear a sweater and a scarf comfortably in Florida. In October.
3) The 3 Stooges light switch cover. I don't know who put it there to begin with, but it makes me smile.

This. And the fact it felt like a Tennessee spring day.

Some of my crazy kids at work playing. They are stressful, but I do love them.

A quiet Saturday morning and the return of coffee...even if it is decaf. Oh. And peppermint mocha creamer.

I found this old webcam picture from when Badge was still just a little bit. I miss him, but this picture warmed my heart. 30 days until Thanksgiving break.
And today, I get to volunteer at a Feed America Tampa Bay event. I'm super excited.
Do you have a Daily Scavenge you want to share?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pot Holes Vs. Sink Holes

I think we all know that life is hardly perfect. We all encounter our own issues and difficulties and something to one person could be HUGE and the same thing could be small to another.

There are certainly different levels of "suck" and "wonderful" in life. When it comes to the negative, I'd say there are pot holes and sink holes.

A pot hole is simply, well, a pot hole. You should know what a pot hole is...but if
And a sink hole:

The difference is pretty obvious. A pot hole is a bump in the road. If it isn't tended to, it will grow, but it won't get out of control. It stops when the pavement stops.

But a sink hole? It doesn't stop. It swallows everything in its path, disregarding the pain it may be causing people. It gobbles up houses, cars, people, animals, anything...and drags it into the abyss.

But here's the thing. If left to stew, a metaphorical pot hole could turn into a metaphorical sink hole. We have to learn to take the pot holes with grace; just roll over it like a car. There will be a bump, but it can be conquered. I know I face a lot of pot holes. I also know I have ignored them, pushed them back thinking "that's silly, it'll go away." knowing deep down it probably won't. I've let all of those little silly pot holes grow, combine and swallow me up in a sink hole of thoughts and emotions. Suddenly, everything is blown out of proportion and the sink hole grows.

We have to be able to recognize the difference between a pot hole and a sink hole. Have a lot of school work and you're stressed? Pot hole. Conquer it. Get that work down, then reward yourself.
Been busy, haven't seen much of your friends? Set aside a day to enjoy them, even if you have to schedule it weeks in advance. Something doesn't turn out as planned? Reconfigure. Make it work. Compromise because sometimes things just don't do what we think they're supposed to.

It's when those things get ignored, the stress gets down played, that it festers within. When you haven't seen your friends in a while so you put yourself out there and get shot down. It pushes that pot hole a little deeper and now it means more so every little thing that could be taken in a negative way regarding it is taken as such and the pot hole turns into a sink hole. Suddenly, isolation sounds better than being with people because at least when you're in a room by yourself you know everyone there cares about you...and you feel like you just can't say the same anywhere else.

Sink holes are bad. And they only get worse if you give up. I've given up with a lot of my sink holes and now I'm trying to repair them, but, how exactly do you repair a sink hole? It's going to take a lot of dirt and a lot of people shoveling that dirt in...One person cannot do it all.

In other news, here are a few of my Daily Scavenge pictures:

The list the kids in the Bible class I teach provided of things they would look for in a future spouse.

My darling Sarah Kate doing something weird.

Getting pictures of this sweet little girl in text messages.

This terrifyingly hilarious picture of Eartha Kitt.
                                                     Finding pictures like this on my laptop and knowing I'll be back there in about 33 days.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Daily Scavenge

Every day in the cafeteria, I become discouraged. I pay $2,000 a year for my meal plan so I don't starve... And yet, I, along with the other 500&something students, participate in what I like to call "The Daily Scavenge". Which is what it sounds like, really. The main dish looks ok...I'll try it. Sit down, discover meat is half cooked and they somehow screwed up green beans (HOW?). Push the plate aside... Do they have good pizza today? Eh...not so much.. Cereal? I've had it 6 times this week already. I'm tired of Cheerios. Ok. Good ol' standby... my 12th PB&J this week.

And that with the help of canned foods in my room is how I do not starve as a college student.

But, I've been participating in a different kind of daily scavenge. I had a picture and story published in THIS  book last year. The project was originally created by a woman who had failed to see the good in things, enjoy the little bits of life and dug herself into a dark place.
As I have isolated myself a bit more this semester and been struggling with stress and emotions within myself, I want to prevent myself from going into that same dark place. Because where there are dark places...there are usually spiders, and I'm just not ok with spiders. So my new Daily Scavenge is to find something in EVERY day that I am thankful for... take a picture of it, and record it here with the tag daily scavenge. That way I can come back to them and remember how beautiful that flower was or how good that cup of tea was. Even the worst of days are not all bad. I realize how hard it is to remember that when things get overwhelming. Maybe one day, I'll print out all of my pictures and hang them in a room. How wonderful would it be to be surrounded by all of the little things that make you happy? How could one be sad then?

Also, as a disclaimer, don't expect these all to be good pictures. I'm sure many will be taken with my cell phone...which is far from "smart". They'll probably be pretty grainy. But it's whatever... It's the point.

And I want to challenge you to see the partake in the daily scavenge.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Peeking Over the Ledge

No...things are not nearly the same this year. People and feelings have changed. I have changed. Things are harder...

While I am still very confused about some things and debating a lot...arguing with myself, really, I felt a new change today. A change within myself. I have been unable to find my positivity for the last 2 months. I had lost the Erin that could find good in everything, and I was afraid she would never come back. Today was the first day in a long time I did not have the overwhelming desire to be locked in my room away from everyone. It was the first time I felt hopeful of something regardless of the issues I still face. Do you know what it feels like to be so incredibly hopeless? Like nothing will get better and it will all obviously continue to get worse? I've been in that place That terrible, terrible place for months.

Last year, I was consumed by an awe of "I can't believe I am here! And with these people who I love and feel like I've known my entire life!" It was easy to see the light in all situations.

This year, I feel like I returned missing my limbs. "Just keep breathing...just get through." What a terrible feeling to wake up every day and convince yourself you just have to scrape by, make it until you could go to sleep again, because sleep (when you could get it) was the only way to really escape. Getting through is no way to live. I want to enjoy, not just breathe!

I'm still not there yet. I haven't climbed back to the top, but I think I was able to peek over the ledge just a little bit today. I could see a sliver of light in my dark. Will it last? I cannot say...but I hope so. It's exhausting to not be yourself.

But I feel my fire coming back... my passion for life is making a come back. I'm getting there. I can see over the ledge, and the world on that side? Covered in flowers and fall leaves.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Learning Change

I have never been the best with dealing with change. It made it really hard to come to Florida last fall and basically create a new life. But it soon became a beautiful life full of new experiences, new family, new reasons to be thankful... So I was really excited to get back this fall.

And sadly, it has disappointed in ways I could never imagine. Things are shifted, they aren't what they were last year. We're all a year older, in harder classes, living in different dorms and now suddenly it seems we are on different worlds. Last school year, my closest friends were in my very room, or a walk across the hall... Now, those who chose to live in the other dorm barely even exist. With our schedules, it's impossible to just hang out every day like we could last year, when we congregated in the room at curfew. It feels as though my family has been chopped down to 4, with occasional visitors. Which sucks beyond suck, but it's something that I knew would happen when they decided to go to the other building.

On top of that, we have all changed in some way. And for some, not in a direction best suited for our relationship and it is obvious they are slowing drifting into another person, putting us secondary. That is hard to swallow. I have been confronted with a friendship degrading at its core... When one party gives up and stops caring, then it's very hard for me to keep giving it my all... do I quit, too? Do I let it go? Ignore it? Ignore them? Easier said than done... When you have invested a considerable amount of time and energy into a friendship, you don't want to see it crumble because you suddenly aren't "cool" enough for the other half. The beginning of the end, I guess. It just doesn't feel like it used to.

I should be studying Biology, but I don't wanna. I want to write and I want to feel better, feel empowered....I want to go back to being a little kid when life wasn't so complicated. And I want it to be Christmas. But in all reality, I just want to FEEL LIKE MYSELF AGAIN, because I'm not a fan of the person who has taken me over the last few months...

But I should be content, right? I shouldn't complain, I shouldn't worry, because in all reality, I have no control. Not even a little. I know that God is holding me up and carrying me, leading me through it all... but sometimes, sometimes I feel like I just can't. Like I'm too weak. He has given me too much to carry...and now I don't have as many people to help me carry it all because of this stupid change that has spun my world.

Deep breaths.

I am thankful for a God who knows my deepest pains, wishes, and needs without me saying a word. I can give up for just a minute, letting Him comfort me because regardless of what happens here and what change comes my way, He loves me and will take care of me. This world is not my home, right?

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Therapy can come in all shapes and forms... Talking through things, an evening alone, or my personal favorite, laughter. I've written about (non-religious) fellowship before, and that is therapeutic to me. As I continue to struggle through my stresses and day to day...things, I am constantly looking for forms of therapy, ways to get out of stress. Today was one of those days where I had plenty I could be doing, but none of it pressing and I lacked any and all motivation to work on anything. So after a random proclamation, we decided to hit Chick-Fil-A. At first it was just going to be Anissa and me, then Ariel decided to join followed by Kristina and Libby. A reunion of our old suite. Sitting at a fast food restaurant, catching up on life gave me a strange flashback to last year and a fast forward to a few years when we reunite after time apart, on our own trails of life. Being with these girls is just exactly what I need sometimes. An impromptu journey to a common place and time to catch up and laugh. So much laughing... When they say laughter is the best medicine, they aren't joking. In a bad mood? Go laugh.

Honestly, it's really hard on me to not live with all of these girls any more... I know we're still on this tiny campus together, but it just doesn't feel right. The only time we had to catch up was at curfew, and we don't have that together any more.

I have Ariel and Anissa almost constantly, but not having Kristina and Libby creates a weird void in my a part of my routine is severely lacking.

We get so busy, understandably, and start to miss out on each other.

But the thing is, with family, you can pick up right where you left off. For that, I am thankful.

After Chick-Fil-A, it began pouring down rain. When we got back to campus, we raced into the dorm, dripping with rain.
"I kind of want to play in the know, jump in puddles...and continue to not do any schoolwork." I said.
"Let's do it!" Anissa encouraged. I changed clothes, and away we went, with Ariel taking pictures from our window.

There are times when you have to take a break from being an adult. When you set down responsibility and go play in the rain. Run, dance, sing, squeal, jump in puddles. All of it. Therapy.

Childhood is something to learn from, and I refuse to fully give up being a kid. Sometimes, I will ignore what I should do...and do what I want. Put it off to let go for just one afternoon. Life is too short to not take advantage of chicken and puddle jumping.


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