Thursday, April 29, 2010

"...will you chase me?!"

No, I haven't asked anyone to chase me.  Well, at least not in the last 15-16 years.  Maybe when I was at Northern Hills Elementary School in Oklahoma. 

I love the memories of the recess times.  The girls would chase the boys and then (my favorite part) the boys would chase the girls! 

Oh, the joys of being a child and not having to hide behind formalities. 

Yesterday, after swim practices were done, Mr. President (of the swim team board) was telling me about his youngest child and only girl.  She practices with our 6 & Under age she's young.  And asks the funniest questions.  Every day when we gather to stretch before getting in the pool, she asks me if I'm getting in the pool that day (if I haven't already been in the pool like yesterday).  Then, I reveal that I do indeed have on a swim suit under my clothes and will, in fact, be swimming.  I'm the coach.  I have to swim, right?! 

Anywho...Mr. President told me a story about what happened after yesterday's swim practice.  She went up to Mr. Pres, and asks, "Daddy, do you remember that time you gave me lots of money?"  To which he replied, "Yes, honey."  "Well, will you do that again, because I really liked that..." 

Haha.  Kids say the funniest things some times...

Then she went over to one of our other little (read: tiny) 6 & Under boys and asked him, "Will you chase me?  Because I really like it when you do that..."

How darling is that?!  I laughed about it, and told Mr. President that I understood exactly what she felt.  I did the same thing when I was her age.  And loved doing so. 

The desires of a woman's heart are so transparent at that young age.  She wants to feel desired...and if being chased does that, then by golly, she wants to be chased! 

In the book Captivating, I know the authors talk about this phenomenon.  If my copy of the book wasn't in storage, I would have pulled it out to get the exact text...but since it is in storage and I'm not about to go digging through boxes in my hour of free time a day, the summary will have to do. 

For girls, we want to feel like we are worth fighting for, worth being chased after, and ultimately, being won, or told we are captivating enough to win the battle for.  For boys, they want something to fight for.  Something for which to win the heart, to feel as though they deserve it.  It's awesome how God designed us so well.  It fits together like an innate puzzle.  And it's perfect. 

And I love how Mr. President's daughter already sees her need (I mean, not exactly, but almost)...and it's become my prayer that one day, she will find the one who is ultimately pursuing her heart and has already saved her and won the battle.  That's my prayer.  I want this little girl to know Jesus! 

Being away from swim team for 2 years has really opened my eyes to way kids work.  It's like everything is new again (because it is!).  But I'm definitely learning a lot about how to talk to them and teach them effectively and seek them where they are at.  I want to be a positive role in their life, someone they can come to and talk to about anything.  I might not be going to China anytime soon, but I'm seeing huge ministry opportunities where God has placed me. 

And for now, I guess that's all I ask.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Wednesday

Or the 3rd day of the week...a very long, exhausting week.

I think the last time I actually had the urge to go to bed around 8 pm was in high school.  When swimming about 5 hours a day, 2-3 miles each practice, I was definitely ready to crash.  Last night?  My mom and I were eating dinner at 8, and I could have seriously skipped it and gone straight to bed.  My stomach would have reminded me this morning as a I rolled out of bed at 5:45 that action would not have not been the best idea...but it maybe would have helped my body to recover from this _____(fill in blank with a creative synonym of exhausting)______ week. 

So, I got only a measly 8 hours of sleep (9:45 to 5:45).  And I still feel like this?!  Crazy.  It either means I'm working/doing too much during the day, or I'm just quite unprepared to deal with the awesome crazy stress that comes with swim team.  I think I vote for both. 

But alas, only 2 more days of traveling...oh, and the trip back to Spring today.  But, okay, I thought I would share some funny/interesting/entertaining moments from swim practice.  I wish I had a better memory at this point...but these few are about all I can remember at this point:

In the 6 & under practice, we have 3 different groups.  One group is seriously just learning how to be comfortable in the water and going all the way under by themselves.  Another group is learning how to blow bubbles and learn how to use their legs correctly during freestyle kick.  And the third group, my group, is trying to learn the technique for freestyle.  Now, yesterday was just about the coldest day we've had so far. The sun was out and shining, yes.  But where was the humidity?!  It has completely disappeared.  Now, that's good for those of you who go outside and actually stay dry.  But for us who have to get wet, it's complete torture to stand outside of the pool with the dry wind causing muscle convulsions with monster goosebumps.  I'm not even joking.  Yesterday was the first day that we implemented our new, longer practice times.  The old ones just didn't allow enough time for us to really get a lot of swimming in with stretching and so forth beforehand.  Okay, so here's a little math for ya: longer practice + little kids with no body fat + dry atmosphere + freezing pool temperatures = torture for everyone involved (including the coaches and mentors!)

So, after finally escaping the depths of the ice cube, I was able to grab my towel and dry off.  Which helped, but my goosebumps never really left.  Man, swimming outside this early in the season is tough!  Anywho, Will, my assistant, told me after the 10 and Under practice (in which he still had to be in the water), that he couldn't feel his fingers.  They. Were. Numb.  Not only am I cold natured, but this stuff is chilly! 

For my 10 and Under practice, I got to finally see what kind of swimmers we were working with for this season.  The best way for me to describe them:  they are a mess!  Add in the fact they don't listen well and it's cold = makes for an interesting practice.  I'm hoping to get some good drill work in today.

Then comes the 11 & ups.  The oldest kids on the team.  The ones I have HUGE expectations of, because, well, they're older.  Up to this point, they haven't even come close to reaching those expectations.  They work hard during the actual swim part of the practices, but getting them in the water is like dental surgery: painful and frustrating!  I'm just sayin' I don't like the dentist and I don't like having to yell repeatedly to get them in the pool.  But sooner or later, when they really get me going, and we do a whole practice in butterfly, they'll figure out I mean business.  They just wouldn't last if I did that to them now.  I know this fact because every day, someone gets a cramp.  And not just a side stitch.  Like yesterday, I had them doing sprints from the block.  So they were out of the pool, and it's cold.  And I'm making them sprint.  Trying to get them in shape...and understanding that going fast is different than going slow.  You'd be surprised that some can't show me the difference in the pool.  Well, one of my high schoolers had a calf cramp so bad that from across the pool, I could physically see his calf in a ball.  OUCH!  He couldn't really walk.  But he also said yesterday (before the cramping incident) that he actually liked practicing now.  Accomplishment!  I've helped him to like swimming again. 

From what I've gathered about the past coaches, they seem like they were lazy and didn't really work on technique a whole lot.  Well, you can't have speed if you're not pulling the water correctly.  So, the next few weeks?  Technique.  The speed will come when they aren't turning over on their backs to breathe for freestyle.  Maybe I just went on a little rant...

Well, funny story of yesterday's 11 and up practice: I've been calling this one girl Rebecca ALL WEEK LONG.  And yesterday, when her older brother questioned it (Who is Rebecca?!?!)...I found out that this girl's name is Danielle.  And Rebecca is her mom's name.  But she's been responding to it ALL WEEK LONG.  I had a pretty good laugh about that one.  It still makes me smile.  Like Alejandro's cramp.  But that would be not like that at all.  I guess I'm just happy that they work so hard during practice, their muscles can't handle it. 

OR their diets are so horrible that the muscles have no other option but to cramp.  One guy, Chad, who has had a cramp almost every day now, told me yesterday that he ate 4 bags of chips and 2 Pepsis before coming to practice.  WHO DOES THAT?!  No wonder these kids are cramping.  That's like the worst thing ever to eat before a work out.  So, in addition to Swimming 101, I'm going to have to start lecturing about Nutrition 101.  It's a good think I'm educated in biochemistry and have a college degree.  These kids would be lost without me. 

Or that's what I'll keep telling myself. 

And I just had a stroke of genius.  I'll have to write about it tomorrow after I implement it tonight :)  Loving being a coach (even though I'm exhausted and seemingly overwhelmed every single day). 

Friday, April 23, 2010

[My] Life is a Highway... least for another week.  Literally, I feel like I spend the majority of my day on the highways between College Station and Spring.  Maybe that's because I am.  With over 4 hours of time in my car A DAY, and over 200 miles driven EACH DAY, I'm beginning to realize that no, I never want to be a truck driver.  But thanks for the offer!

So, I have a 3-hour commute (total time) to sit at a desk for 4 hours.  Then I have an hour commute (total time, again) to be at swim practice for about 3 hours.  Dude.  I feel as though I've been run over!  It's so exhausting...and I wanted to share with you some things that I've seen/realized/thought about while driving.

While driving, I've seen these things on the road:
  • A car battery hanging out in the middle of my lane (I had to swerve to avoid it!).  I hope the car that it belongs to doesn't need it soon...
  • Lots of farm equipment traveling at unacceptable speeds
  • A mobile home being transported
  • Lots and lots of roadkill
  • Lots of carnival rides heading back to where they came from (on more than one day!)
  • The Historical Site sign in Millican is 5/6 missing.  I'm not joking...something happened to 5/6 of the thing!  It's so weird looking at part of the sign, and not knowing where the other part went!
  • The sun rise through the foggy fields (this made Thursday's drive a little more intriguing)
  • Brooding clouds.  Yes, clouds can brood.  At least they did yesterday...
  • Lots and lots of cops/sherriffs/patrol units.  Don't worry, I haven't met any of them personally. 
While driving, avoid idiots like these:
  • A guy in a green suburban eating lunch who is especially good at "lane drifting".  He's dangerous!
  • The person who speeds up to pass you, gets in front of you, and then slows down...causing you to also have to slam on the brakes.  (GRRRRR!)
  • The person who drives slow (like 15 below the speed limit) because they can.  Seriously, that's not safe!
  • Fast lane-shifting semis.  Scary!!!
I've also done a lot of talking to the other drivers.  It's never really that mean, but come on people, didn't you take a driving test like the rest of us?!  It's absolutely ridiculous the amount of stuff people get away with these days.

So, basically, I'll be super happy when next week is over and my commute will drop a total of 3 hours.  I'm so ready for it!  Cuz really, my iPod can only play so much music to keep me occupied for so long.  I'm just saying.  And, I hit 2 different rush hours: the 6:30 Houston rush hour, and then the 8:00 College Station rush hour.  There's basically no way I make it to work in less than an hour and 30 minutes.  It's just not possible. 

4-hour commute + increased physical activity (increased back pain) + 28 six and unders + emotionally draining move = feels like a truck ran over my body and then backed up...

Here's to a weekend where I get to organize my newly refurbished room in my parent's house!  Yes, I've been living around boxes all week. 

My planned Saturday morning sleep-in can't seem to get here soon enough.  Sigh.

Now it's time to pack up and get on the road to H-town yet once again.  Happy rainy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meet Cynthia*

There's a lot to catch up on when you move around and travel and start new things all in the same week.  This is going to be a hodge-podge of things that have happened/I've been thinking about/I've felt since Monday.

Why Monday?

Well, Monday was my official move-out day.  I had been working on packing up all of my stuff in the Shalom Shack for a few weeks, and really, the time flew by.  For those who might be moving soon, I found that trying to do a box or two a day is much easier than waiting until the day before the move to start packing.  Just a little friendly word of advice :) 

Anywho.  Moving.  I graduated a year ago, and yes, I moved out of the apartment that I had lived in for 2 years.  But I never really experienced the emotional part of moving.  I knew that I would be back that fall.  So moving wasn't that big of a deal. 

This time, however, is way more difficult.  You see, I'm not going to be moving back to College Station.  And after the movers had everything that belonged to me moved out of my bedroom the living room and kitchen, there was a hole gaping in my heart.  The living room looked so empty and forlorn (missing a couch and a table).  I tried not to imagine my roommates coming home from work later that day and finding it 

When I pulled out of the driveway for the last time (because I no longer own a key), it was almost too much to handle.  I fought tears for the next 20 minutes, all the way to Navasota.  How in the world was I supposed to start swim practice that day when I was a mess like this?!  I had to pull it together. 

But really, I never would have imagined the amount of sadness I experienced.  Never.  I don't know if it's like that for all of the people who leave their college town.  It's the place you grow the most and figure out who are you, who your friends are, and where you want to go with life.  It's hard to leave.

We get to Spring about an hour and a half later, the movers unload the moving truck into my snazzy new storage unit, complete with climate control, and that's it.  We're done by 12:15.  And I'm in a funk.  Practice starts in less than 4 hours.  I'm starving.  I'm feeling torn open (on the inside).  And my assistant coach is gone until Wednesday. 

I was just a tad overwhelmed.  Maybe I'll try to plan these things better next time.  I mean, I've just recently been able to connect with  my emotions again.  And let me tell ya, they're some strong ones these days. 

My dad helps me to unload my car with some of the necessities I needed until the move, I eat lunch, and collapse on my bed while my dad goes to work.  Around 3, I rouse myself to get ready for my first practice as a head coach.  Whoa.  I'm nervous...go away butterflies!

I'm the first one at the pool.  And I don't start freaking out until 17 6&unders show up.  That's about a 1/3 of the size of our team.  17.  I've never dealt with that many small kids at once!  Lord, now's the time for you to show me what patience and creativity look like.  By the time the older kids show up, I'm already emotionally exhausted, and seriously can't really take anymore.  But, thank goodness that the older ones are more self-sufficient. 

All in all, I felt like a failure.  I had assured the board that I would be able to handle this!  If only I knew that this enormous number of 6&unders seriously terrified me.  FAILURE.  awesome.

Tuesday started 5:00 am!  That's the time my alarm is set for every day this week and next.  I snooze for 30 minutes, get up, shower, pull together my lunch, and then head out by 6:30 am to head to College Station for 4 hours of work.  By noon, I'm on my way back to Spring. 

Basically, what this amounts to is a lot of time to think about my time as a failure coach.  Positive, yes?  Actually, it gave me alot of time to talk to Father. 

"Okay, Lord, you clearly provided this job.  You were the one to make it evident this is where I'm supposed to be.  How come I don't see you?  I don't see your hand in this situation.  Please show me why you put me as a coach for this team."

When I'm weak, He's strong.  He provided 4 more 6&unders yesterday!  And two more-than-willing helpers.  Okay, so Tuesday was a little better.  And the 11&ups were in pain after their drylands.  Success!  I did my job well. 

My realization from the last two days?  Don't shut down, stay positive, supply encouragement, and seek out help.  I don't have to do this alone.  21 youngsters is a lot. to. handle.  Try it someday - it's not easy.  I definitely have a new-found respect for my Aunt, who teaches kindergarten.  No one could pay me enough to do that day after day, year after year. 

So I've discovered that my gifts do not include interacting with small children.  God definitely uses opportunities to show us how He wants to use us one day, right?  Yes.  I repeat: STRONG YES! 

Today is Wednesday, and I'm sitting at my desk in College Station, sore from practice.  And I'm growing in several areas.  My leadership skills are improving.  I'm finding out it's good to delegate and communicate effectively.  And it's okay to say I'm overwhelmed.  I'll eventually get the hang of it. 

At this point, you might be wondering, "Who's Cynthia?"  She's a junior in high school, attending the school "where the bad kids go".  She's also dedicated and from what I can tell, willing to learn from me.  So, she's the answer to my prayer (Where is your hand, Lord?)...

After talking to her for just a few minutes while waiting for her dad to pick her up, I had an immense peace about the whole situation.  Before that?  Butterflies.  But for some reason, I just know it's all going to work out. 

God gave me this job.  And learning how to lead is difficult to say the least.  I've gotten good at following.  But I'm being pushed and He's growing me.  It's comforting to know that I'm not doing this alone. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moving on...

Today marks my last full day as a resident in College Station, Texas.  Over the last 5 years, there have been quite a few different experiences and memories created.  Here's my collection of pictures to show for it:

Freshman year:
I went to Fish Camp (and Impact).
I was the only one to witness my older sister's ring day.
I went on a few road trips.
I went on a blind date to the BQ Ball.
I turned 19.
I went to the HLSR to see Pat Green.

Sophomore Year:
I was an Impact counselor.
I went to the BQ Ball (not on a blind date).

I turned 20.
I became an Impact Co-Chair.
I went to NYC.

Junior Year:
I went to Impact for the last time.
I was an Upstream leader.
I went to China for the first time.
I got my Aggie Ring.
I found my best friend.
I went to China for the second time.

Senior Year:
I went to midnight yell for the last time as a student.
I stood next to one of my best friends as she married her very best friend.
I turned 22 and got whipped cream smeared on my face.
I went to a dance for my Aggie Ring.
I walked across a stage and claimed my very own really expensive piece of paper!  Thanks mom and dad!

After Graduation:
I went to China for the 3rd time, this time for 6 weeks.
Had some amazing roommates.
I turned 23.
I interviewed and got my first real-deal full-time job.

So there ya have it.  The last 5 years.  The years where I discovered great people. The years where I discovered my passions and desires.  The time when I became a person with a degree that might actually mean something one day.

The days that taught me what life is really about: the Gospel, community, and good coffee.  I'm just saying that this time has made me who I am.  It's a bitter-sweet "See ya later" to College Station. 

{Hello, unknown...}

Friday, April 16, 2010

Part 10: The End (or is it?)

This is the final part of my Germany Chronicles series.  Click the link above to read the first 9 parts.

My heart couldn't be ripped out many more times and still survive intact.


After Matthias left for Germany, I knew that things were different between us. We had conversed about more waiting, something I wasn't really that willing to participate in. He didn't seem to worry about the massive amount of time it took communicate, albeit, we had decided to start talking more through emails because of my episode in February. And I felt like I had already told him the most important piece of information.

Early in this series, I mentioned in a fleeting comment about how impatient I can be. This situation is the ideal example of how much I didn't want to wait for the Lord to lead us together, if it was His will. I wanted a commitment; I wanted more than what I was offered.
So I started to pursue the option of dating Thomas. By the end of the summer, it was clear that I liked him and he liked me. After school started, things continued. We talked on AIM quite a bit (old school, right?!) and things seemed to be taking off in the relationship direction. But I still hadn't settled the situation with Matthias. I had no idea how he felt about me still. Becuase of his lack of urgency, I couldn't be sure that he felt even close to the admiration I felt for him.

By the end of August in 2004, I was certain of my decision to end it. "It" being a relative term, because we didn't have anything official. In an email, I told Matthias I wanted to send him a letter, so I needed his new stateside address.

I proceeded to write my version of a "Dear John" letter. I told him about Thomas and how I felt like things were going to work out and consequently, felt held back by our relationship. I explained how I had started to experience my feelings change earlier that year when I had been forced to break my own heart.

In my head, it seemed like it would have been easier to make a clean break than to continue this non-relationship-type friendship. Just let me tell you, it's almost impossible for guys and girls to be good friends without one or the other having feelings for the other. That topic will have to be another entirely different blog post in and of itself.

Before he actually received The Letter, he wrote, "To be honest I'm afraid it could be something bad, but I'll see..."

I felt horrible.  He already had a feeling of impending doom...

Nonetheless, I sent the letter several months later and he documented the actual delivery in an email to me. It also gave him a chance to express his feelings about the entire situation.

He wasn't surprised. He actually had been expecting it because we hadn't talked for a couple of months. He felt the same way as I did. Our relationship had lost its validity when we decided to wait. Overall, even though he seemed to accept everything that I had said well, he still seemed hurt. We had a lot of history, and I was still having serious doubts that it could be over. I had given him my heart. And then I took it back.

It was easier for me to move on from him with Thomas in the picture. 8 months later, I would question my decision to finalize the end with Matthias. I've been questioning it ever since.

It's been almost 7 years since I first met Matthias that fateful summer in Germany. 6 years since we ended it. 5 years since I've emailed with him (just to catch up, randomly). 3 years since I found him on the German facebook site. 2 years since he found the real facebook, and we became "friends" again.

Looking back through all of these memories and diving back into old letters and emails has shown me one thing: a heart can't really forget it's first love. I still wonder what could have happened had I been willing to be patient and wait out the time apart. He had been considering moving to Houston to attend school there in order to be closer to me. We had talked about future plans...and mutually, we had agreed that during the time we communicated, the other person was equally important to be in the other's life.

In the present, would he still feel the same way? Or, because I have been single since high school, am I just trying to hold on to the past and not move forward? If we were to meet randomly, what would we say to each other?

Why can't I let go? Since I started doing this series, I've been asking myself what the point was...beyond writing about my own "Dear John" experience. The point? I'm not finished. I let go some time ago. But I'm not done with the story.

[This part might only make sense to Twilight readers: When I read the Twilight series about a year and a half ago, I could never imagine Robert Pattinson's face as Edward. It didn't fit right for me. I had seen the movie first, so it should have been easy for his face to magically make its way into the action in my head. But not really. Matthias' face was my Edward. It definitely took me a while to figure out why I couldn't see Robert, but once I saw that Matthias just fit, it was no going back. All vampire qualities aside, Matthias is my "Edward" subconsciously.]

When I finished Dear John, I was so mad at the characters. She had moved on, and was happy, yes, but always wondered about what could have happened with John. It frustrates me to know that this will always be my reality, not just a fictional story. I guess I will always wonder what could have happened and what might have been. If given another chance, and knowing what I know now, things might look a whole lot different.

But there's really no reason to think about what might have been or what could have happened. If things had worked out with Matthias, there's a good chance I wouldn't have come to the greatest college of all time.  I wouldn't have had some of the best roommates on the planet.  I wouldn't have met my absolute best friend of all time. I wouldn't have been able to experience my love affair with Chinese people. I wouldn't be who I am, who God planned for me to be. So, no, I don't regret anything.

But I will always love him, whether he knows it or not.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Part 9: Leaving on a Jet Plane

This post is a continuation of my Germany Chronicles series.  Please click the link above to read the first 8 parts.

He was still the blue-eyed blonde I had left last summer. But something was different. We had a history this time. A long, detailed history...

Over the time that Matthias and his German buddies were in Houston, I was consistently busy trying to balance the time spent with them and my other responsibilities, mainly swimming. Because it was summer, I was doomed to awaken before the sun even rose to endure the torture of the lukewarm 50-meter pool. Swimming in the early mornings while watching the sun rise. It definitely sounds more romantic than the actual reality of the sun glaring into your eyes every time you turn your head to breathe. How annoying!

But during these mundane practices, I was fighting an emotional turmoil. With several hours to ponder the complexities of my "relationship" with Matthias each morning, swimming was generally the last thing on my mind. Swimming is a sport that doesn't quite completely takeover your thoughts, or at least it never took mine. Maybe that's why I never really advanced as far as I should have. I had the potential. I just never took the initiative to acquire those goals. Shame on me.

[What was I talking about? Matthias...yes, I remember now!]

During these few weeks with Matthias in person, there were a couple of opportunities for us to be together. I have to admit that I maybe kind-of skipped a couple of swim practices in order to participate in different service activities.

While their team of people was here, there was a certain organization to the madness. Because of the number of participants who turned out to help on certain days, we were split into several groups. My two other sisters were in a different group than myself.  It was strange how these things were decided. I learned later that because my family was hosting 2 girls, my sisters were paired with them and other host/hostee pairs. I was placed in a group consisting of my past team members with German teenagers that I already knew from the previous summer. Coincidence? I think not.

Regardless of the way we were split, Matthias and I were able to spend some together with other mutual friends. I remember one day in particular.

We had traveled to a nearby apartment community to reach out to the children and minister to them. Matthias ended up playing basketball on the courts, whereas I was playing different games in an area closeby. On this particular afternoon, Matthias twisted his ankle. Good thing I was there to take care of him!

In a matter of a few minutes, I had convinced myself that if I took care of his ankle, he would maybe see how much potential I had. By potential, I seriously mean "wife material". I wanted to prove my capacity for caring for him in a way that no one else possibly could. By this point in their trip, it was pretty obvious to other people that there was "something" going on between the two of us. I didn't try to hide it. I had been trying to "mark my territory" the entire time.

I'm fully aware I'm not a dog, but there were serious threats coming from fellow American girls, girls who were able to be at the different events quite a bit more than me. My thoughts towards these other girls went along the lines of "Did you go to Germany last summer? NO. Did you meet him and then write letters back and forth for a year? NO. Did you receive the best birthday present ever from him? NO. BACK OFF."
Now, I never actually said these things out loud...but let's be honest. I'm quite embarrassed to see how I treated the whole situation in my head. My heart couldn't handle losing him again - let alone to someone who was not as committed as I was already.

All these girls wanted was a "summer fling". Okay, so the accents make you melt, I admit. I will also own up to the appeal of being with a foreign guy. I met him innocently one afternoon with no intention of ever making it as far as we had come. I never intended to fall in love. I never wanted to have to "slow things down" from across an ocean. But it happened. And I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

During his stateside visit, Matthias and I made a point to spend some time alone. We had things to talk about. Through the last year, I had kept asking him what we were considered. His response? "We are just friends for now. Let's get to know each other better before we commit to being more."

Yes, logically, it made sense. My heart didn't want it to be that easy. So, my heart and my head were saying completely different things.

Over the last year, my dad had talked to me on several different occasions about my feelings for this man. During one intense conversation, he wanted me to seriously consider the possibilty of moving to Germany to be with this man. Gulp. Move halfway around the world? Learn a new language? Live there for the rest of my human life?

I was ready to commit.

But it was more complicated. It always is, right?

For starters, I still had another year of high school. And he was about to move to New York in the fall to work with an inner-city ministry there.

When we ever-so-quietly snuck away to have time alone, we discussed the details of what we were. I desperately wanted him to go ahead and commit. I wanted to be his girlfriend. I wanted to start heading in the "official title" direction. You know...girlfriend, fiance, wife.

My deepest fears became a reality: more waiting.

But wasn't it him who had mentioned something his father had once told him? "The three most important things in life are to find God, find a good job, and find someone to spend your life with. You already have the first thing. You already know what the second one is, and now you just have to find that third thing."

The suggestiveness of him saying this wisdom to me was enough to make me believe he was committing to me. In my head, that was him saying that I was the one. Right? I convinced myself that it meant one day, I would be his wife.

How absolutely bold and foolish of me. 

The time came for our German partners to leave. It was a cloudy, dreary day. And the weather could not have matched my mood more perfectly.

Memories of the last few weeks flooded my mind. I couldn't stop picturing the way his face lit up when he stepped off the elevator that first day and saw me. I couldn't get the feeling of holding his hand (interdigitated, might I add) for the first time that fateful afternoon when he twisted his ankle. The afternoon he spent with my family at our neighborhood pool. The trip to New Braunfels and Austin to see the Capital of Texas. And then the discussions that we had which ultimately meant more waiting.

I was an emotional mess. I was in love and having to leave my man for the second time. At this point, we had spent maybe 2.5 total weeks together physically. My heart was acting as if it couldn't find a rhythm. Surely someone had ripped it out in the last days and attempted to put it back in, good as new.

Before we left to take our two hostee girls to the airport, I wrote Matthias a letter. He was instructed to not open it until he got on the plane. I couldn't bear to have him read it in front of me.

Once my family arrived to the airport, I bolted out of the car into the terminal and found him immediately. I handed him my note. They checked into their flight, and left to go find their gate. I watched as he rode up the escalator to pass through security. When he approached the top, he turned around and paused. I waved. And then he disappeared.

My heart was in his hands. [Literally. Remember that note? I wrote to him that I loved him.]

I was so afraid of losing him.
Soon after he disappeared to finish his journey stateside, my face was buried into my dad's chest. Surely true love never really felt like this.
My heart couldn't be ripped out many more times and still survive intact.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Part 8: Herz Brechen

This is a continuation of my Germany Chronicles series.  Click the link above to see the first 7 parts.

And that night, I probably most definitely dreamt of him and his voice.

November passed...

December passed...

We had ceased to talk through emails. It was better for us to "slow down" our long-distance relationship and only write snail mail.

Whose brilliant idea was that? Mine.

After hearing from him on my birthday, several months passed without hearing from him. Everyday, I would frantically search the mail in hopes of finding an envelope addressed to me. Nothing. For months.

This kind of waiting is different from all the other kinds I've experienced since then. It wasn't just waiting to hear from a good friend. I wasn't frantically searching for a message that just said "Hi." Or the familiar ring of my cell phone.

My heart was on the line here. All of it - even though Matthias didn't quite know it. I never told him how I really felt. We had been more concerned about doing things in God's timing than sharing our real feelings.

So now, as I look back on that time in my life...I have to wonder if things might be different. The impatience that I experienced at that age was rampant. After several months of waiting for a letter from Germany, I had pretty much given up. I was on the edge of believing he had completely forgotten about me...the girl who made his hands shake and made him wonder what was happening to him.

In his previous letters, he apologized quite a bit about not responding as quickly as he should have and making me wait for him. At those times, I had cared less. I didn't really have to wait that long to hear from him...and it gave me more time to read the letters several times a day at school. Obsessed much? Yes, maybe I was.

I remember the night I received his next letter vividly. I had gone to swim practice that day and went home to eat dinner. After dinner, my mom went to pick up the mail. When she returned inside, I was already upstairs, preparing to work on homework.

She walks into the house, closes the door (beep beep beep went the alarm system), and yells, "ERIN!"

I stopped what I was doing, turned around slowly, and went to see what the fuss was about.

Upon seeing she successfully got my attention, she said, "You have a letter from Germany..."

[Remember to breathe, Erin!]

I ran down the stairs at lightning speed, grabbed the letter out of her hands, and ran back to my room.

Before even opening the envelope, I had tears running down my face. It had been way too long! I had basically given up hope. The whole thing might as well have been a dream.

And yet, here I was, holding the proof in my hands that it wasn't fake. It was a reality.

With my bedroom door successfully shut, I eventually opened the read the first few words...and then to start crying my eyes out all over again.

He was sorry that he had waited so long to write...again.

It was that winter night when things started to change. I had put my whole heart on the line without telling anyone, and I had to break it along the way because nothing had lived up to my expectations. The tears shed that night? My broken heart in pieces.  His letter acted as the final blow, without him even knowing.

But life went on...

We continued to be friends that spring and I went to a military ball and then a band banquet with other guys who might or might not have been "interested." I was boy crazy, I tell ya!

School ends, and summer begins. Beach Retreat (BR) happens. BR is exactly what it sounds like: high school teenagers going to the beach for a week all under the name of a church. Beaching. Retreating. It all happened.

It was that year at BR when I met Thomas. Nothing happened at first. And then later in the summer, something started happening. [My life is beginning to sound like a soap opera, yes?]

Matthias and his fellow German teammates arrived sometime in June.

Before I saw him again in person, my stomach had turned into a butterfly mill. When I thought about him, I still had those flutters deep down. I couldn't rid them...and didn't really want to. I was so excited to actually see him and touch him (by this I mean hug!) and spend actual time with him.

The youth group was really excited about our partnership with our German friends. Everyone wanted to be involved when they were here. This fact maybe, kind-of, annoyed me. Half of these people didn't even go last summer! That was me being selfish and wanting the Germans to be mine. But sadly, I didn't own them, even if I wanted to. Hello, can you tell I was 17?!

The afternoon they arrived into the country, their first stop was the church. That's where I was waiting for him...butterflies and all. When they stepped off the elevator, I immediately found him and made my way into his arms.

He was still the blue-eyed blonde I had left last summer. But something was different. We had a history this time.
A long, detailed history...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Swim Suits

Yes, I'm a head swim coach. 

And I haven't been in a swim suit for almost 2 years.


[let me take a moment and scream!]

I didn't even get to go to the beach last summer.  Huge fail. 

With that being said, I was told by a friend about this site: Lime Ricki, where they make and sell great modest swim suits.  These suits weren't made for swim practice, but I can definitely wear one to the beach if I get a chance to go this year!  I've scoured their website, and love the styles and longer-length options.  It's so great.  I wish I had known about this place sooner.  Because, really, if I'm honest, I'll never really be one of those bikini-clad beach goers, and I'm okay with that.  I'm just not sure that much skin should be exposed to the sun.  Skin cancer, people! 

So here's the kicker.  Go to this blog: Lime Ricki Give-Away and set yourself up to get one of these cuties!  You know you want to :)

Happy Thursday (it's my Friday)...And a Happy Birthday to my roommate and friend, Leslie J!!!  She turns 23 today - and is getting married in less than 2 months!  So great.