stories about memories

messes and memories.

at several points in time, i’ve meant to write a rambling post about how much i love my apartment, but haven’t done it yet.
this isn’t that post; i just thought i’d mention that so that, for the purpose of background info for the rest of what i’m actually writing about, you’d know that i do in fact absolutely love this place.

i just cleaned my entire room in 24 minutes flat.
as i guiltlessly put on an episode of Friends and sat down to play candy crush for a while, i started wondering why it’s so easy to clean here. true, my room is still usually a mess just like my room at home, but when i do get fed up with it and want it to be clean, i can set my mind to attacking the mess and get rid of it in usually less than half an hour. whereas if i start cleaning my room at home, i work for five minutes, get stressed out, and decide i don’t need to spend any time there unless i’m sleeping.

then last night, i found the answer.
as my getting ready to sleep routine goes, i wrote my to-do list for today(which read “CLEAN ROOM” in all caps at the top), and crawled in bed with the third book of the sisterhood of the traveling pants. i’ve read all four books more times than i can count(at least ten), but i still find something new every time i reread them. i came across this line and realized why.
“had she ever thrown anything out in her whole life? there were layers and layers of Tibby detritus both on the walls and on the floor…it was dusty and stuffy and it bothered her.”
that’s literally me. i always refer to cleaning my room as an excavation, because the more i clean, the further back i can trace my whole life.

my apartment is only me and my life now; the only memories in here are the ones i chose to bring. but my room at home is full of ghosts.
it’s easy to clean when it’s just putting away clothes and throwing papers from weeks ago into folders. it takes hours to clean when everything i find has a story attached to it. so it doesn’t stress me out to clean this room, but it also doesn’t have as much personality as my old room.
i’m learning that i have a major love-hate relationship with memories. i’ve saved everything my whole life, in hopes that i could look back at them one day.
past linda didn’t know that looking at them would be so hard for future linda.
people have said i live in the future too much. i’m always counting down to what’s next, talking about how excited i am for things happening later. they’ve told me i need to appreciate the present more. and i’ve always agreed.
i’m realizing that i like the future is because i’m afraid of the past. the present always reminds me of the past; the future, i can imagine that it’ll be brand new and different.
and yet, i don’t want the things in the past to go away. i want them to stay where they are, and think about them when i feel like it, and not have the present bring them up anytime it wants.
i want to remember how happy i was at certain times, without getting sad when i realize the present will never have that specific kind of happy again.
i want the past to stay contained in the past, and the present to stay unaffected by it.
so i hide it all away in boxes. but the fact of the matter is, you can’t put memories in a box; just things that represent them.

try as i may to leave half my life behind and move on, i can’t. my life today is made of all the bits of what it used to be.
the more i look at it, the more i can see that God broke each of my “selves” at the perfect time, and built the pieces into something new. when i think about all of them now, and i see what came out of it, i can’t stop thanking him for it. even the ones that are hard to look at.
i look at all of these random artifacts from different stages of my life, and i remember who i was at those times. i look at who i am now, and imagine what each old self would think of that person. which parts of me i wish had stayed the same, which ones i’m relieved have changed. and it tells a good story.
it’s easier to clean though, when there aren’t so many physical memories sitting around…so i’m happy to have both rooms. =)

parts of my whole story.

my safe place.

i didn’t get to sleep much last week, but i slept a lot this past weekend. which doesn’t make much sense because this weekend i was sleeping in a tent, in the cold mountains, with the threat of bears attacking me at any minute.
somehow, even after twenty total hours of sleep, i came home more tired than i’d been all week.
then last night recharged me more than any amount of sleep could.

i need people. being alone exhausts me and stresses me out.
but you can’t just plop me down in a crowd and expect that to do the trick. i can’t just be around people; i need to be with people.
if i’m sitting in a circle with ten people and no one is acknowledging my presence in any way(no one’s looking at me, someone talks over me every time i start to say something, etc), that’s just being around people. it’s just as damaging as being alone, because it’s essentially the same as being alone.
if people are trying to force me into whatever mold they want me to fit in, without even trying to first find out where i actually fit, i’d rather be alone.

but when i’m around safe people, it’s like my heart lets out a deep breath, then curls up and takes a nap. safe people are where i can rest.
so i guess i’m a picky extravert; i don’t just need company to recharge. i need people like my teammates.
i realized today that they’re becoming the safest people i know.
when i’m with them, i feel at home in myself. i don’t have to think about how to be.
they like it when i talk, but they still love me when i just want to listen.
they’re happy when i get to run, but they never make me feel guilty or lazy when i can’t.
whether i have to stand out and cheer for the rest of them, or i get to race with them, i feel just as much a part of the team either way.
everyone else makes me feel like a ghost; my team makes me feel seen and heard and wanted and loved. like i’m important, like it would make a difference if i weren’t there. and to them, i am, and it would.

they’re my camp away from camp.

i don’t need alone time. i don’t really need much sleep.
i just need people like that. =)

parts of my whole story.

things people wonder.

my facebook bio doesn’t say very much in it, on the principle that if we’re facebook friends, you should have heard these things in real life from me.
but due to random people favoriting the tweets i share my posts in, i decided i should write some super basic “about me” type things somewhere. and maybe then, the random people will feel like they know me and want to come back and read more of my other stuff later. if not, well, maybe the ones who do read it will learn something new today. =]

1. my name is linda. my parents have no clue in the world how they chose that; they’d had another name picked out for years before they even knew i would exist, and somehow changed their minds at some point. but i like linda better than julie(no offense to my best friend’s mom, and anyone else who may have that name), so it worked out.

2. i am a senior, not a junior, at columbia international university. that’s in south carolina if you didn’t know. i went to charleston southern my freshman year, and after not only hating it there but also getting bad grades and losing my scholarships, i transferred to ciu.
most people at ciu think i’m a junior because i came in with that class and lived on a freshman hall with them.
most people in the rest of the world also think i’m a junior…but they usually mean in high school.

3. i’m majoring in youth ministry. i don’t want to be a youth pastor at a church, but i love youth and i love ministry, and we have cooler professors than any other program, so i’m here. i love everything about what i’m learning and how i’m learning it and who i’m learning it from.

4. people are always asking me what i want to be when i grow up nowadays, only they phrase it in a scarier way: “what are you going to do after you graduate?” i’ve finally come up with an acceptably clever answer: “ask God and tell me what he says.” that sounds better and more responsible than “i have no idea, i’ll figure it out in 309 days.”
but if you ask what i want to do, i’ll tell you i want to change the world and i want to be a mom.

5. camp la vida is where my heart lives right now, and has for going on eleven summers. i went there for five years as a camper and this will be my sixth on staff. there’s nothing i love more than pouring into those campers’ lives, showing them how much they’re loved, and getting them excited about what God is doing. i am who i am because of what that place did for me as a messed up 13-year-old, and i’ve been ridiculously blessed to help do the same for so many other girls.

6. similarly to how i love working at camp because i loved going to camp, i love to write because i love to read. i share my stories because it blesses me so much when other people share theirs. i don’t write just to see my own words; whether i help someone see some truth, teach someone something new, get someone to think, or just make someone laugh, i want to do something good for people.

someday i’m going to write something important that everyone will read. but for now, i hope you like what you see here! =]

stories about memories

i’m thankful for thanksgiving.

most people don’t know this since i love christmas so much and go crazy about it all year round like a little kid, but thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday.
while giving people gifts and getting some myself makes me happy, getting excited about all the great things i already have makes me even happier. but that’s not the biggest reason why i like this day so much.
i don’t like change, and thanksgiving never changes in my house. it’s the most comfortably familiar day of the year.
while i’m always aware that i have the weirdest family in the world, our thanksgiving traditions are the best proof of it that i know of.

this is how our day goes down, every year, and it’s been this way my entire life. some new things get added sometimes, but the old things never get thrown out.

I.  the parade.
     A. i run through the house yelling and waking everyone up like it’s christmas. i’ve done this since i could talk and i did it today even though i’m 21 and old and stuff.
     B. dad tries to convince us that there’s no point in cutting on the tv until about 9:10, because that happens in the first ten minutes is al roker and matt lauer talking about how cold it is and some random people getting interviewed. but we remind him of the one time that we took that advice and missed the garfield balloon because of it, and i freak out about possibly missing the ribbon cutting, and in the end the tv always goes on at 8:58.
     C. we eat waffles for breakfast while making fun of all the corny broadway acts
     D. we comment that there are more commercials than the year before
     E. i make the pumpkin pie, and mom hovers and makes sure that i focus because i keep walking away to look at the parade.
     F. we have the same conversations about each float and balloon as if we’ve never mentioned these things before. my favorites:
          1. me: it’s so sad there’s no garfield balloon anymore.
              scott: THERE’S NO GARFIELD?
              me: no, there hasn’t been for years, and you’ve acted surprised every year.
          2. me: reckon those big balloons could hold [however much i weigh that year]? cuz wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever to hijack one and ride on top of it?
          3. scott: why is there still a ronald mcdonald float?? i thought he died!
              me: um no. but he scares me. they shouldn’t have him in there just because of the creepy factor.
          4. our surprise at there still being a sonic the hedgehog balloon(because one year there wasn’t, so we thought it was too 90s and they’d axed it for good)
     G. the skype date with susan.
          1. we all take turns sitting by the computer narrating the parade for her, but she goes to bed before the end since she’s 13 hours ahead of us.
     H. the stuffing.
          ever since we were kids we’ve always helped my mom make the stuffing by tearing the bread into pieces for her. we’d fight over who did more slices and daniel would keep telling mom i wasn’t making mine small enough(actually he still does that).
II. the national dog show.
     A. dad and daniel complain and ask if we really need to watch it, me and mom say yes of course, and scott settles it by pointing out that “the spirit of thanksgiving is listening to linda squeal every five minutes for 2 hours. we’re watching it.”
     B. everyone pretends to be annoyed but still ends up having enough fun laughing at me.
III. snunch.
     this is a tradition that i’m positive is unique to our family, even though it’s a very smart idea. see, since we have such a big dinner and we eat it earlier than usual, we don’t want to spoil that by eating a real lunch. so snack+lunch=snunch. our obnoxious word for crackers and cheese, chips and dip, etc.
     A. the olive count.
          1. this tradition started about ten years ago when my dad was looking at the serving size on the label, and it said there were 55 olives in the jar. well we all looked at it and thought there had to be more than that. so we got a piece of paper and every time someone took an olive we’d tally it up and when we finished the jar there turned out to be about 70.
          2. now it’s become a thing we do every year. and every year my mom asks if we really need to do it since we’ve proved the label wrong and know full well that there’s gonna be more than they say.
     B. remembering other thanksgivings.
          1. at some point we always end up talking about other years. some get brought up that we’ve never mentioned before, and some stories end up getting told every year.      
IV. miracle on 34th street.
     A. by the time this comes on(after the dog show), the food is all cooking so my mom is actually able to sit down. not only is this movie the perfect thanksgiving-to-christmas transition, it’s also her favorite holiday movie, so half the fun of watching it is seeing how happy it makers her.
     B. this is the only movie that my mom has memorized. so for once, it’s her, not me, that everyone is complaining about saying every word as the actors say them. though they get less annoyed with her than they do me. =]

and that’s how it goes down every single year. my family isn’t one to make purposeful traditions, but we do the same things the same way every year because they just happen. and my orange self likes it better that way.
so on this day to be thankful, i’m thankful for the day in itself, because of all the fun moments that repeat themselves on it.

stories about memories

monday memories.

this morning on my way back to school, i was thinking of times when i felt the most absolutely accepted by the people around me, and my mind pulled up this sunday from the summer of 2010.
we’d had our first mother-daughter camp that weekend. i can’t remember for the life of me what we did that saturday, just the wonderful sunday.
i slept nice and late that morning(again i can’t remember whose room i was in, because i know i wouldn’t have slept in cabin five all by myself), and me and jenn went to sonic for breakfast/lunch/whatever you call your first meal when you eat it at 11:30. we had driven around camp looking for other people but somehow ended up going by ourselves. we talked about how different the summer had been so far from the one before, how no one hung out with the same people anymore, and laughing at how she was one of those people who i hadn’t thought liked me the year before but now here we were.
when we got back to camp, me and her and marley sat around the office rolling around in our chairs writing postcards, filling out ACA forms, typing the camper essays onto the website, and intermittently showing each other youtube videos or funny pictures of cats. i remember running barefoot from the admin to my cabin to get my giant bag of sour patch kids, then walkie-ing them once i got there because i forgot what i had come for.
then on my way back it started raining, and i ran in the back door, dropped my stuff behind the fireplace, joyfully announced “there’s RAIN!” then ran straight through the front door to play in it. marley and jenn came out and sat on the porch and watched me do cartwheels for a while and laughed. when the hoodie i had just run all the way to cabin 5 to get was soaked through, i finally joined those smart people under the roof, and we just sat on the porch in silence and watched the rain.
i felt so full right then. it had been the kind of day that would sound boring to me if we purposely planned to spend it as lazily as we had, but when it just happened that way, i was so content with the simplicity of it all.
peace, quiet, camp, rain, friends. it was one of those moments where it feels like God is reaching down from heaven to give me a hug and a christmas present all at the same time.
after a few minutes of thinking, i turned to them and said a quote i’ve become semi famous for at camp.
“yall, we live here. isn’t that so cool?”
jenn just turned to marley and said “i love linda.” and we all laughed.
the rest of that afternoon is a happy blur of laying around in the office eating my sour patch kids, laughing at things the campers had written, and people one by one getting back to camp until the unit leaders kicked us out of the office to have their meeting and do busy things.
i think i remember that day because it was one of the few times, in this time that one day i’ll call my “college years,” that i didn’t have the slightest feeling that anything was wrong with who i am. the people around me not only let me play in the rain and say all the dumb things i wanted; those were reasons why they loved me.
i miss camp. and rain.

stories about memories

ghosts of farm retreats past.

this anniversary is extra special this year because not only is it five years, but it’s also falling on a friday again.

november 2, 2007 was my first retreat with my at the time new youth group.
it was today that i learned that i had a family in these people.
it was today that i first realized that i could be totally accepted for who i was. i’d spent the last four years hating myself and hearing every day that i was too much and not enough. too fat, too loud, too slow, too lazy, not smart enough, not cool enough. but now, these real friends had taken me in and shown me that i was just right. i wasn’t annoying, i was funny. i wasn’t fat, i was beautiful. i wasn’t complicated, i was fascinating. and i didn’t seem loud to people who wanted to listen to me.
i remember lying on the floor between melanie and shane that night and feeling more content than i had in possibly my whole life. i was loved.

i never imagined at that time that i’d ever have to miss those days. i felt like youth group would be part of my life forever. i’d grow up someday, but i’d always be able to come back if i chose. there were plenty of college kids on that trip; in a few years i’d just become one of them.

but nothing stays the same.

there are no more fall retreats, and ridge haven isn’t like it used to be. this time of year hurts now. instead of a weekend making new memories, i look back at all the old ones. and they make me happy for a while, but in the end all they do is remind me that there won’t be anymore of them. a lot like looking at pictures of someone who’s dead. remembering them can only do you so much good; it’ll never be like having them around.

but i have to make do with what i have…and i really can’t help but smile about these.

stories about memories · stories about nothing and everything

who needs sleep or coffee?

this morning i got up at 4 am. first and last time i’ve ever done that in my life.

like normal humans are at the butt crack of dawn, my poor team was dead when we all got on the road…but bless their hearts, i was kid-on-christmas-morning excited. i love them a lot for not throwing me off the bus. =)

around 6 when we stopped, coach ashley asked me, “you’re a morning person aren’t you?” and i said i had no clue how i was so awake.

but since everyone was asleep and i wasn’t allowed to talk until 7, i had plenty of time to think, and i came up with a clue.

i’m definitely not a morning person; i’m just a people person.

at camp, i’m high as a kite at 7 am every day no matter how late i was up the night before. my kids hate me in the morning. =p

on youth retreats, i was always the last one asleep. i’d stay up until the last leader finally needed to sleep and sent us all downstairs, then talk from my bed to the last few awake ones until they fell asleep. and as soon as i was the only one up, i’d suddenly feel exhausted.

so whether i’m waking up at 4 am, or staying up until 4 am, as long as i’m around my friends, i’m never tired.

which is why, even on a bus full of sleeping people, you’ll find me wide awake. =)

i wrote more about this a while ago…so if you feel like hearing more of my ramblings, go here.

rambles on ciu sports · stories about memories

a happy day on a sad anniversary.

three years ago today was the saddest day of my life.

you know how there are certain memories where you can replay a whole hour of your life like a movie in your head? this time in 2009 is one of them.

life changes fast. at 9:41 am, i was happy and motivated and determined to fix things, start doing work, eat again, find some friends, and make college work for me.

at 9:42, the phone rang. it was my mom.

whenever she has bad news, she always very cautiously asks “how ya doin’?” i guess she likes to know whether she’s making things worse, or knocking me off of cloud nine.
this time i burst into a happy ramble about my great weekend and all the studying i was about to get done.
still in her careful voice, she says “well i’m really glad for you…”
i ask her if she needs something.
she says, “well, i have to tell you something.”
i knew what she meant. i just asked when it happened. she told me it was the day before.

9:44 am. in a matter of 3 minutes, life as i knew it ended.

last night i went to bed thinking about how badly i didn’t want to run. when the person who would be the proudest of me is gone, nothing seems to matter.

my granddad thought the sun rose and set on my mundane life. he never let me quit anything, and he was always on my side. i get my fierce loyalty from him. if i were to get last in a race, i know he’d be convinced that something was wrong with the course, or someone else had cheated. he’d never admit that i’m not good or suggest that i didn’t try my best or didn’t want it enough. he’d find some reason to call me the best on the team; if nothing else he’d say i was the prettiest.

this morning as i got up at 4:30, i fought away the ache around the edge of the gaping, never-to-be-full-again crater in my heart with the idea that i would run every one of those five thousand meters for him. and i would smile the entire time, because he loved it when i smiled.

the last time i saw him was about a month before he died. it was a week before i left to start school. i knew he wouldn’t be around much longer. i was sitting with him one afternoon for over an hour just talking with him, and he asked me why i didn’t smile as much anymore. i lied and said i hadn’t realized that; i didn’t want to tell him how sad i was. he said he wanted me to stop looking upset all the time.

and then he told me something i’ll never forget.

“you need to always smile. because you’re my happy girl, and you make everybody happy when they look at you. so don’t you keep that sad face on. right?”
i’d never thought about that before. but i liked the idea of making other people happy. so ever since then, even when i have to fake it, i try to let everyone else see a smile on my face.

every time people at camp comment that their day gets better when they see me because i’m always happy, i feel like i’m making granddad proud.
and every time someone at school asks if i’m tired or something, i feel like i’m letting him down. i don’t make many people happy here.

today i ran my race imagining him cheering me on. i don’t know much of what he looked like when he was younger, so it made it funnier picturing 89 year old him running beside me. and i remembered something i wrote to myself during soccer season about the people who had graduated.

just because they’re gone doesn’t make the things they said while they were with you any less true.

i knew what all he used to tell me. and i knew that no matter how i did today, if he were here, he’d tell me i was perfect. any little victories would be like gold medals. and when i thought of that, i was suddenly free to enjoy running. every little mistake stopped mattering. 2 seconds slower than i expected on the second mile, who cares. second to last on the team, no big deal. i got 54 seconds faster than my last race, and that was all that counted.

plus, someone told me that it’s encouraging to watch me run because i’m smiling anytime they see me.

granddad, wherever you went, i hope you were able to hear them say that. i miss you, my biggest fan. i’m lost and weird without you here.

stories about memories

the worst movie…the best memories.

disclaimer: i don’t still like the movie. i haven’t watched it in years until today. =p

while i was trying to get ahead on homework, i got the most random urge to watch twilight. i wondered why in the world that was. but i needed background noise anyways, so i put it on, and literally the second i started it(as in the very first second when the summit pictures logo comes up), i knew why.

yes, it’s one of the worst movies ever made. but it has some of my favorite memories attached to it.
in high school when we didn’t know any better, me and my best friends were ridiculously proud fans. one of us read the book over the summer, then it was like a domino effect and one after the other we all got each other into it and by august it was all we talked about. our whole lives were hanging on november 21st. we bought our tickets for the midnight show a month in advance. we watched every single trailer/commercial/interview that came out(and as soon as one of us found a new one, we’d call each other and watch it together over the phone). and yes, shameful confession, i did have a team edward shirt.
a year or two later, we laughed about it and asked each other what we were thinking. but at the time, we thought we were so cool.

so when i watch the movie now, i don’t really think about the fact that it’s some of the worst excuses for acting, that all the effects are cheesy and could have been done with my 10 year old brother’s camera. every other minute, i think of some fun moment with someone.

waiting in the theater for four hours, never bored for a minute of it. going in pairs to the bathroom and having everyone else sit across our seats so they wouldn’t get taken. being more excited for this dumb movie than i was the day i got my first camp letter, and not even making fun of ourselves for it.
sitting between shane and leighanne, frantically squeezing our hands or looking at each other when things happened(because we believed the scary usher who said that if we talked out loud we’d get kicked out).
sitting through allllll the credits, for some legit reason, but i forget what that was…(i do remember katie being slam exhausted and telling us about five times that she had to be up early the next day)
the ride home at 3 am, crammed into leighanne’s mom’s van, replaying the whole thing and screaming about all the things we’d wanted to tell each other during the movie.
waking up the next morning, and all of us calling each other and still talking about it.
going to see it again that sunday night, because melanie hadn’t been allowed to go on a school night.
two days before Christmas, when me and leighanne saw it twice in a row. (yes, we paid full price. twice.)
and every scene(which i somehow still remembered every word this time…), i could hear us all saying each line. and shane shushing us.

there are a few semi-embarrassing phases that i look back on, laugh at and want to forget about. but even though it probably should be, this one can’t fit on that list because of the people i shared it with.

i was a dork, but so were my friends. and we had the best times being dorks together.

parts of my whole story. · stories about life and God


the more i think about going back to school, the more times i do introduce-yourself games with my girls and say “i’m going into sixteenth grade…okay i’ll be a senior in college,” the more people who ask me what i’m doing when i graduate, i feel more and more like i’m walking out of a bright, happy room into a dark, scary hole.
this is one of those posts where i get defensive of my relationship to camp. if you aren’t a fan of those(i doubt many people are…i whine a LOT and i say the same thing in every one), you can skip this and read about much more important and exciting things here.
i was arguing with God the other day after i had a conversation with one of the missionaries about how i wish i could work at camp the rest of my life. telling him there HAS to be a way for life after graduation to include camp. because i don’t understand how it can’t.
camp is not just a fun summer job, a chance to make friends, or an excuse to be away from home for a couple months.
i love camp with a bat junk crazy passion.
this past semester in my foundations of youth ministry class, i had to write a paper about my passion. we watched a video where this guy talked all about how to find out what that is.
a passion isn’t just something you love. true passion is something from God. it’s his way of showing you the work he’s planned for you to do for him.
in a nutshell, this is how to find yours:
-ask yourself, what can’t you stand?
think of things that get your heart moving. is it people overseas who don’t have Bibles? is it teenagers in gangs? homeless people? something like that.
i can think of a few things. most people can. but to find out which one is your passion, you move to the next step.

-of the things you can’t stand, which do you feel a personal need to change?
personal example. i hurt for orphans in other countries, but when i hear about them, my first thought isn’t to drop everything and hop on a plane. i wish that all those people on the little remote islands had Bibles in their language, but i don’t feel like i need to change my major to biblical languages and go be a translator.
but. you start talking about girls in america who aren’t loved, don’t know how precious they are, have no understanding of who they are to God, and i get slam angry. i can’t let that be true. i HAVE to do something about it. i can’t stand it.

that is what they called in the video a “holy discontent.” that is an itch that God put in your heart and he wants you to scratch it.

at camp, i get paid to pour God’s love into little girls’ hearts all day long. i get to share life with them and make God real to them. i have a chance to take all the lies the world tells them about themselves, and show them what God says about them. i want to get them excited about knowing Jesus, getting in his word, sharing him with others.
nothing in the world gets me more excited than the work i do at camp.
and if that was ever taken away from me, i’d never be the same.
if God has anything else for me to do for him someday, i know it’ll be just as fulfilling as camp has been; it only makes sense that whatever God’s will is would be the best thing. but no matter what i end up doing, a little piece of my heart will always belong to camp, and i’ll miss that little piece no matter how happy i am anywhere else.
but for now, he has me at camp. and i’m perfectly content. i don’t feel any part of me being called to anything else. however. i don’t have much longer in school. soon i’ll need something to do between summers, and that’s getting me anxious.
unlike other cases of senioritis, i’m not at all worried about being done with school. but i’m terrified of being done with camp.
because i’m bracing myself for the moment when God says that i’m done with camp.