Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cloudy Day

Sometimes there are moments when everything hits you and you wonder where exactly you are going and WHY?

I had one of those moments last night and I'm still sitting in it. My eyes are puffy from crying and every once in a while, they get watery all over again. Miscommunication with movers, reconciling with the fact that I will be living at or below the poverty line for the next four years (yeah, it hadn't really hit me yet until now), thinking of all that I'm leaving behind, sitting across from longtime friends over dinner and soaking in the memories of each friend and each conversation. . .everything is hitting me at once and I feel like I'm sinking. . .

But I will follow where God leads because that's all I can do. I still know that this is right, but just because it's right doesn't mean it will be easy. In fact, because it's right it may be super hard at times. But if a seminarian can't trust that God provides, then who can? I have my health, my family, and my friends by my side. All in all, life is good and just where it needs to be. In a month, I'll be immersed in a new life. I just have to trudge through all the ugliness in between then and now. . .

I'll get there.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
~Sobieski and Meehan

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Westlake grads and Lauren (Guess which one is me!)

I led the benediction at baccalaureate for WHS, and I thought of how much has happened in my life since my own high school graduation. Six years now. More than halfway to my 10-year reunion. When I sat amongst my fellow Arlington High School grads in May 2000 (go Colts!), I know I had different plans for my life than what actually has happened. I was going to be an orthodontist! I was going to meet the man of my dreams in college and marry him shortly thereafter! I was never going to work in the church!


And what's funny is that, six years from now, I'll be saying the same things. I like how life is a constant surprise. Makes it more interesting, wouldn't you agree?


I'm starting to enter the "last lunch/supper" stage of my time here. Today I'm having lunch with Rebecca, who has been an extremely influential "second mother" for me here in Austin. No doubt tears will be shed. My goodbye party is this Saturday, and over 50 people are attending. I'm receiving e-mails and phone calls with the sweetest messages, such as this one:

At the last confirmation class I am remembering one of the crazy 8th grade boys asking if they could call the new youth leader "Lauren." I really think there was more to that than trying to be funny. . .a compliment in their 8th grade way. I second it.

This is not the last time I will say goodbye to a place that has meant a lot to me; but since it's the first, I think it will always have its own significance. . .

Peace, my friends!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Austin, I Will Miss You

This is what I see every day when I turn onto my street:

Seemingly uninteresting, right?

There's a school bus in front of a house. No big deal.

Except I tend to think it's a bit weird. Here's why. This bus isn't dropping off children. It isn't picking up children. It remains parked outside of a house every day. Sometimes it's gone. But it always re-appears.

And I've been dying to know who drives it, and, even more so, WHY?

So Janie comes by one night last week to say goodbye to Leah. And as we're all three standing outside my house. . .we hear a sound. . .the sound of a school bus turning onto the street. And I was excited because finally, finally, we might get a glimpse of the mystery person who obviously drives a school bus (a short bus, at that!) as a personal vehicle.

And it stopped in front of the house, the side doors opened, and a nerdy-looking guy stepped off and walked to his house. Seriously, this guy looked to be about 17 or 18. He knocked on the garage door, it opened, and he ducked inside. I noticed today as I was photographing this peculiarity on our street that he must live in the garage because there's an A/C unit in a side window. Interesting.

I wonder how he got that bus? I wonder if he thinks it's cool? I wonder. . .just. . .WHY?

Cracks me up.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Life's a Beach!

What a wonderful weekend in Port Aransas! Relaxing on the beach is one my absolute favorite things. I could spend all day out there. *sigh* Here are some pics from our short-yet-fabulous trip:
Pretty sunset in Corpus
Fun in the car with Em! Some things I love about this picture: 1) I'm totally driving on the highway, 2) If you look closely, you can see clear down my throat, 3) The picture was intended to be taken of Emily with me in the background, but as you can see, it turned out to be mostly me. Cracks us up.
This is our mermaid. Her name is Shelly. When we went back down to the beach later that night, she was pretty much destroyed--most likely, we guessed, by parents of small children. We have absolutely no idea why they would destroy her. . .do you? Trishy and me

I spent some time chasing seagulls on the shore. This is me rejoicing in my victory over the 'gulls.

Me and Em

Rich and Trish

Court and I get the giggles.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Finding My Place

Tomorrow afternoon marks the beginning of a trip I have been looking forward to for what seems like forever: Port A, baby! My college buds and I have been spending weekends at Court's condo there for several years now. . .and Lauren is leaving TX, which means we absolutely must head to the beach to, um, celebrate? No. How 'bout send me out with a bang? Yeah.

I'm sad. I feel like I've been on the verge of tears for a week now. I approach everything with a "this is the last time I'll do this" type of attitude, which I've done since I was little and can be quite annoying. But I wouldn't want it any other way, because that's just how I deal with things. Today I thought about all the little things we as youth ministers "pick up" about our kids--what ticks them off, what they really mean to say when they can't get it out right, how to work with them in their many different moods. . .I know that the new youth minister (who hasn't been officially picked yet) will learn all of these things. I did. And it takes time. But dang, it's hard to let go. Much harder than I had expected. I'm finding that I'm not excited about someone new coming in. I thought I'd be fine with it, would want to spend time with him/her, would want to help the kids adjust. . .but no, I'm not fine with it. I'm sad. I need to grieve. And I think that means that maybe I need a clean break rather than to be active in the transition process.

And yet, even as I'm sad, I'm also so excited. It's the weirdest mix of feelings right now. I can't wait to move, to meet new friends, to have a new place and relax before Greek (!) starts, to spend time with Rob. . .I'm so ready for all of that. It's definitely an extra incentive that I have a special person out there who's waiting for me! :)

Okay, off to church yet again! Have a good weekend. I'll be enjoying some drinks on the beach with some of my bestest friends. Yesss.

Far away. . .I feel your beating heart.
I'll try to find my place with you.
~The Afters

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

I called one of our church families last night to see if their kids could help with Youth Sunday, and I ended up talking with one of my kids for a bit. I haven't seen this girl in a while, and I've missed talking with her. It was only a 10-minute conversation, but when I got off the phone, I thought, "Wow. If I had spent the last two years calling my kids, just one youth per night, just to see how their week was going, etc. . ." Then my head spun into all these "coulda, woulda, shoulda" thoughts. Of course, since I'm leaving, I'm realizing all these things I coulda done. Even shoulda done. And I know I shouldn't beat myself up, because in actuality, calling each of the youth woulda worn me out. But it was nice to chat with one of them last night and hear how things are going with her.

I think the thing that surprised me was that she was excited to talk to me. I heard her brother say, "Lauren's on the phone" and she grabbed it and said, "Hey Lauren!!" It made me smile because I guess I thought they'd be annoyed that their youth minister was calling, thinking, "What is she going to ask me to do?" or something. I don't know. But to hear her saying she missed me and was sad I was leaving. . .that was cool.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda was the title of a Sex & the City episode. I wonder how often I think I coulda, woulda, shoulda done something differently. . .

I don't necessarily regret things from my past. They happened. So be it. But I still like to process my past, just to avoid repetitive mistakes or whatever. If I had to come up with 5 Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas, they'd be (in no particular order):

1) I woulda kept dancing instead of giving it up for cheerleading and volleyball (stints that lasted one year each in junior high). Had I known that I wouldn't get near as much satisfaction out of those two sports as I had from dance, then who knows. . .
2) I shoulda heeded friends' and family's advice regarding certain relationships in my past. It woulda saved me from a lot of heartbreak and needless holding on. . .
3) I shoulda studied abroad while in college. I was an RA, and in order to protect my job, I really couldn't leave the country for a semester. However, I'm almost positive it coulda worked out had I tried hard enough. Of course, I can travel for the rest of my life, but there's something about traveling in college that's extra fun, I think. . .
4) I shouldn'ta made myself come up with 5 of these because I can't think of any more!

Which leads me back to a previous statement: I don't regret much at all about my life. For example, in reference to #2, I know I needed to experience heartbreak in order to grow. Maybe some people don't need that experience, but I did. Maybe I still do, who knows. The point is, even the things I listed aren't really huge regrets. I enjoyed cheerleading and volleyball. They each (especially cheerleading) taught me a lot about myself and about others. I needed that experience.

So, the whole Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda thing is really not that important, huh? But in the interest of discussion, any thoughts?

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm eating Alphabet Spaghettios in my office right now. Sometimes there just ain't nothin' better.

Leah and I paid $65 to have someone mow and edge our lawn this weekend. And there's something so nice about having it done. I even told the guy, "I honestly will pay you practically anything to get this lawn done." I know that's pretty stupid, but if you haven't seen our lawn, it was horrible. We'd become the crappy tenants on the street who never take care of their house. I'd decided that the lawn was just never going to get done by us, so lo and behold, we received a business card on our doorstep yesterday and gave the man a call. And now I can't stop looking out the window at our beautiful front and back yards. I actually want to go play outside on the grass now. Even the birds like it. They're all hopping around and enjoying the cut grass. It's the little things, right?

Youth Sunday is this Sunday and I'm feeling a bit stressed in hopes that it comes together alright. The one thing I know is that it always does. . .but somehow that doesn't make the stress any less. . .

Have a good one!