The time I became an unintentional storm chaser.

This morning I woke up with the intention of mowing my lawn. But one glimpse outside and then a look at the radar I knew that our grass was going to be left alone for the day. I was also a little anxious because I needed to get to Omaha today… and severe thunderstorm warnings don’t help that process.

I spent the day watch Dr. Who (my friends are to blame for this) and watching the radar, hoping that things would clear up. Finally, I saw and opening. The storms looked like they would be past the interstate as I was driving so I would be safe. Things were great for awhile, a little overcast but that was about it.

Then there was a spatter on my windshield.

The rain came slowly and then all at once forcing everyone driving to slow down to 40-50 mph and turn on their hazards. It was absolutely terrifying. What I was unaware of though, was that it wasn’t going to be the worst part of the drive. Slowly the rain began to peter out and the overcast sky was relatively clear.

Accept for one spot a few miles ahead and to the south of the interstate. One clump of the clouds was hanging down a bit. This looked sketchy. I kept my eye on it as I continued to make my way to York. Soon I began to see wisps of funnel clouds poke out. Whether you’ve seen one in real life or not, everyone in Nebraska knows what a rotating cloud looks like.

My chest began to tighten as if the air was being squeezed out slowly. The rotating cloud now formed a real funnel and it touched down. Just as quickly it went back up. By this time I was parked on the side of the interstate flashing my hazards, talking to my sister on the phone. The tornado continued to jump and touch back down until it had crosses the interstate and continued to swirl menacingly to the North.

I have been in a tornado before, but I had never seen a tornado actually happen. As my sister stayed on the line with me, she said some very comforting words, “Stay where you are, stay safe… take a picture.”

Now I’m in the safety of my aunt and uncle’s house in Henderson, waiting for the morning (yay for family!).

Oh, and here’s the picture.

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Uncertainty in, well, everything

There’s several moments in life when we’re in what can only be labeled at limbo. It’s the in-between place that forces us to rely on absolutely nothing because nothing is certain. I think God allows us to be in limbo to get down to the very root of who we are. Now perhaps that’s not the case with every in-between time, but it certainly is when it comes to the major things.

I’m stuck in the in-between of looking for a summer job. It’s a scary place because a necessity this summer is to save up money in order to pay for things when I move to Pittsburgh. While I am trying to trust God in this, there’s a very big difference between saying that you trust him and actually doing it. It’s an abstract concept that easily leads to confusion and misunderstood conversations.

But is knowing still trusting? I’ve been learning lately that faith isn’t just a feeling. It’s an action. It’s knowing. While I might not “feel” that God is there, He still is there. So I want to believe that I am trusting him in this. I hope that I am because abstract concepts take awhile for me to hold on to. Maybe that’s why faith and religion and God become so muddled by us humans. They are abstract. They are difficult to understand. In fact, if we were able to understand God completely than He would be no better than the statues that the ancient Egyptians worshipped.

I also love that I don’t understand. I love that the more I learn about God, the more complex He becomes. Otherwise He would lose his impact on me. It’s kind of like when you come across a song that speaks to you. So you listen to it nonstop for days. Slowly it loses its affect. While you still enjoy the song. It no longer has a hold on you. You move on to something else. God is the opposite.

I’ve been reading in Genesis lately and the God in that book makes absolutely no sense to me. He creates Adam and Eve, then they sin and open their eyes to good and evil, and what does God do? He makes them clothes out of animal skins. Even though he has the right to destroy them, he clothes them. This proves to me that even though he punished Adam and Eve, he is still inherently good. He loved them even though they disobeyed. He clothed them.

Then he destroys the whole world in a flood.

My only conclusion to this is that God must know something that we don’t. We see good and evil, we associate bad things happening with evil and happy things with good. But what if it doesn’t work like that? What does God understand that we don’t and have no capacity to understand?

This is why, even with doubts, I believe in God and know that He loves me, even though I fail so often to love him. I am content with not knowing a lot of things. I wonder what the world would be like if we took one day and simply stopped striving to understand everything and just sat on our porches to watch the leaves dance in the wind. How beautiful that day would be.

A letter to my 10-year-old self.

Dear 10-year-old Caitlin,

You’re in fourth grade right now and this year has probably been a really difficult one. But also a really good one. However, there are a few things that I really want you know, things that I wish I knew back then. In a couple years you will begin middle school and it’s going to be difficult. There are going to be people who want to make your life hard and people who do make your life hard. Things are going to be really bleak in middle school. And to be honest you’re going to be really happy when it’s over.

But I don’t want to scare you. Though things will be difficult, other moments will be really great later on. Please hold on to the hope that things will get better in high school, that you will get better. You’ll have friends, but you won’t really know what it means to have good friends. Don’t be discouraged. Because on your final day as a high school senior you’ll turn your tassel and realize that you are done with required education. It will be a wonderful moment.

Trust me when I say the best is yet to come. In college you’ll find yourself, you will realize how smart you are, you’ll make friends who will stay with you all throughout and further on. You will come to find out that everyone else was wrong about you. You’ll realize that you are brilliant and you are beautiful and you have a fascinating mind. Not only will you realize how much others care for you but you’ll realize how much you care for yourself and for those people as well.

Throughout college you will realize that the best way to live, is to live like life is an adventure. You will hold onto the books that you grew up loving and you’ll see how they reflect in your own life. Forget the people who put you down and bullied you. They mean nothing in the greater scheme of things. You are your own person, so hold on to that when things get difficult. Hold on to that when it seems as if nothing will ever be right for you. Your life is just beginning. Know that things get better, and that you are the reason why they get better. Also know, that it’s okay to trust others. It’s okay to let them in.

One last piece of advice: remember the things that happened to you. Remember the stories, the bad ones and the good ones and hold on to them. One day they will just be memories, and you’ll look back and see how they strengthened you. You will see how you were not what people thought you were. And I hope that you know that God loves you more than anything. More than what anyone could ever describe to you. So please know that you are not alone in any of this.

Your 22-year-old self,
Caitlin

The moment when God teaches me to be humble.

To be honest, this happens ridiculously often. Sometimes it’s when my parents pay for things that I wasn’t expecting them to pay for, humbling me because I am always in awe of their unconditional love and sacrifice for me. And other times, it’s when I accept that my summer job will be something that I never really wanted to do.

Being humble is hard. I think this is so because it’s the very opposite of being prideful, and pride is one of the most socially acceptable sins. My decision to work in Kearney this summer was because I didn’t want to have to live at my parent’s house. I didn’t want to work in the fields for a summer. But as this month has continued and no jobs have appeared, God’s shown me the prideful thinking that I’ve been trapped in.

The reality, my pride has made me believe that I’m above certain jobs. And quite frankly, that is untrue. I am not above anything. As hard as it’s been to accept, pride is a sin that not only I, but everyone is trapped in. It’s a heart thing that has made me do anything to not have to live at my parent’s house.

I have no idea what this summer will hold and to be honest, I have no idea what this next year holds. But what I do know is that God has something incredible in store, and it might just involve an open field and long laborious hours. And only by the grace of God can I say, “bring it on.”

Post-it note Jesus

My faith is very important to me. I grew up in a Christian home and in college really discovered who I am and who Jesus is and how He fits into my life. During college I was involved in The Navigators, which is an international Christian organization. While there were many ups and downs in the last four years, one thing has always stayed the same. I am awful at reading the Bible. I just am. I use this excuse all the time when people talk about doing quiet times or just reading regularly.

However, I’ve realized that I can’t make that excuse anymore. So this summer, I’ve come up with a plan to kick that excuse out the door. As a Christian, I believe that it is very important to read the Bible because that is the Word that God gave us. There are so many books that I’ve never even flipped to in my 22 years going to church.

When it comes to quiet times, they’ve always intimidated me because every person who talks about them says you need to journal after reading. Needless to say, I don’t like writing in journals. But I needed a way to still be able to  have a reminder of what I read. Cue the post-its.

For my summer reading plan, I want to read the Bible  everyday. So, instead of journaling, which would make me lose interest. I must read a section, pick a verse, write that verse on a post-it, and them write a short thing about it. Sometimes I write questions that the passage gave me or just a little prayer.

I am hoping that this exercise will allow me to grow in my faith and create a habit of reading the Bible regularly. I can’t wait to see the end results with this!

Some whiskey and a farewell

After sitting through two hours of commencement and receiving my empty diploma holder, the fact that I had completed four years of college hadn’t set in yet. It wasn’t that exciting, I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and I didn’t feel as if I had come to an end. It was over, but it didn’t feel over.

Later that night a couple of friends and I decided to celebrate and went to Thunderhead. I’ve never been a bar crawler and never plan to begin, so this gathering was, supposed to be, a meeting of minds over Thunderpunch and beer. I didn’t expect, nor did I realize that I needed, to see so many of the friends that I have made over the past four years. It was the farewell that I desperately needed.

As the night continued on, congratulations were said, the future was talked about, and the past reminisced as we sat and stood in the crowded bar. Slowly, as some left and others arrived, I began to see the end of this chapter in my life. We were all going separate ways. It would be one of the last times that I would see many of the people I’ve met over the last four years.

Throughout the night, I didn’t feel sad, though now I do. It’s a good sad. The sad that happens when a beautiful thing has come to an end. As the finality of that night has washed over me, I see that endings are a marvelous thing. They allow new starts and fresh perspective. They force you to step out of your comfort zone and start over. The future can be terrifying, but exhilarating.

It’s very much like a roller coaster in that aspect. As you come to the beginning of a new chapter, it’s a slow ascent. You brace yourself because as with every roller coaster, your going to drop fast. But after that initial leap, the new chapter becomes adventurous. You raise your hands and let out the scream of a lifetime because you inherently know that nothing will ever feel quite like this again.

Endings are wonderful things. As sad as they are, the are necessary. And as my time at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has come to a close, I see that I must continue on. I must take life for the adventure that it is and live in the moments given to me, because if I don’t, then the memories will fade away throughout the years. I’ll forget and in the end forget how far I’ve come. And the memories won’t be the stories to entertain my children and grandchildren, they will be lost.

We shouldn’t lose the crazy stories that make us who we are. While we meet new people, fall in love, and experience pain, our past is what we have. While it doesn’t define who we are, it’s shaped where we are. I don’t want to forget the friends I’ve made and the stories we’ve written together. I will miss them terribly, but I know that there are so many more memories waiting to be written. I don’t plan on forgetting my pen.

Microwave pizza… and things of the sort

Today during my final commentary and blogging class we had a short discussion about pizza. If you’ve ever spent time in the Mitchell Center, then you’ll know that random conversations such as these happen often. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of pizza. Sure, I like it well enough, and if others are eating it, then I will. But otherwise, I’d rather not eat it. However, I love microwaved pizza. Maybe it simply reminds me of the unique rectangle pizza that we were served in elementary school, but it has something about it that just makes me like it better. Or perhaps I just like it because most people don’t. (I can be like that sometimes.)

But other than the pizza topic, today was my last official class at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This semester has been somewhat of a dream for me, like I haven’t really realized that it’s over. This is probably because it’s still cold outside. Thankfully we (Kearney) didn’t wake up to snow on the ground. I think this means God loves me.

It’s very odd to think that tomorrow I’ll be walking across a stage to accept an empty diploma holder. Hopefully I’ll be able to make my hair look decent under my cap, which I believe was purposefully created to make it impossible to take decent photos while wearing it. But then I’ll get my actual diploma (wouldn’t it be a complete disaster if they tried to give everyone their diplomas on stage?) I can only imagine the hilarity.

But then, after the fanfare, I will be left with only memories and a slip of paper stating that I spent four years of my life working towards something, and now I have it. And this fall, I start it all over (though for a shorter time).

I’m not going to think about that at the moment though. For now I have this summer and I get to plan for it! Besides working, I’ve got several things I want to do:

1. Continue writing: Whether blogging or working on developing my story, I want to establish more of a routine. Especially in the blogging aspect.

2. Read: Anything and everything. So far my list includes The Hunger Games trilogy (again), Escape from Camp 14, Cancer Ward and Anna Karenina. I might also attempt to finish Pride and Prejudice, but we’ll see.

3. SoulPancake: I love SoulPancake and I have the book of questions. So, I might be posting some of my answers here.

4. I have a smash book for my senior year and I need to finish it… I really should finish it.

5. Spend time with friends. Some of which I  may never see again. It’s a sad reality, but I need to accept it, so I’m going to do as much “hanging-out” as possible.

Besides those few things on my list, I think plan on simply enjoying one last summer in Nebraska before I head to Pennsylvania. What are your summer plans?