growing old too quickly

I wrote the following in December of 2014, three and a half years ago:

This is a place for me to write personally and creatively as I wade through academic papers and assignments. College is a fascinating time, and I want to savor each moment as I dig lasting wells of growth, maturity, and friendship.

I graduated college five days ago, and I feel that I have achieved the goals in that second sentence. I dug wells in Ohio that will last until Jesus returns. I was sanctified, I was grown, and I was changed by the people I met, the classes I took, and the furthering relationship with my Savior. I feel that I have dug enough in the public sphere and now should turn to creating more purposeful content.

Thank you for reading these white pages, whoever you are. If you feel like continuing to read what I have to say, head on over to my new endeavor: tomatoes with sugar. Hopefully the content there will be less oriented to digging in my own soul and more focused on writing for the benefit and growth of others.

Further up and further in, my friends…it has been a good time.



my serial doubter

I should have written before this moment. I should have recorded a bucket list of things to accomplish before graduation, and I probably should have written out an actual list of goals to accomplish before I turn twenty-five. I should have applied for more jobs, I should have spent more time studying, and I definitely should have thought more about what I want to do after my days here in Ohio are complete.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about how each of my friends hugs differently, and how each of them smells incredibly unique. People and their homes all smell differently, and that’s kinda weird. Like, not bad-weird…just weird. Do animals think we smell weird?

I’ve also thought about the books I want to read after graduation, the fiction and non-fiction that I still need to buy or get from the library. I’ve thought even more about the relationships I hold closest, and about how I will inevitably let some of those people go from my sphere of direct influence. It hurts to think about that, but just as campus golfers lose tennis balls to the lake, so I need to let others make their own ways in the world.

(I’m failing my philosophy professor with these lame metaphors)

I will miss the boyfriends and brothers of my friends, I will miss the girls who lived on my hall, and I will miss the most cohesive team I have ever worked with. I will miss my wooden bench and my holey bench, the stairs by the water and the stairs that get slippery from wet boots in the wintertime. I will miss the eternally-long burrito line, I will miss Tyler 102, and I will miss the resounding voices of Cedarville that sing out in defiance against darkness.

I want to cry. I want to sit in my empty hall and pray over each room, sobbing as the dusty sunlight flows out of each room. I want to sit and memorize every sunset until May 5th. I want to lose this awful weight that is something between anxiety and apathy, between uncertainty and depression. Twenty-two and transitions go together like hipsters and Patagonia.

(I’ve never been a fan of expensive fashion trends)

The pear trees are budding, I graduate in ten days, and God is at work in my life. He is a sure and steady foundation, the only One among these endings who will endure. He is faithful, and I can trust Him.

though I falter

I have given away a lot of words this year, from papers and reports to notes for my best friends and my dearest underclassmen friends. It is good to write something for another person and feel a bit drained when I am finished.

I think there are people out there who can write a heartfelt note without breaking a mental sweat. They’re in the same category as those who actually write a first draft that is terrible and revise it (definitely how I’m supposed to write a paper) and who write birthday cards without worrying whether or not they’re just repeating themselves from last year’s birthday card (and without worrying that they are a complete fraud because shouldn’t I as a writer be able to come up with something more original than whatever I wrote last year?).

As evidenced by the parenthetical statements, I am not a simple wordsmith when it comes to the words I give away. When I enter the forge to create for someone else, I stress about the adjectives and the placement of my commas. I take more time to toss words back and forth in my head to ensure that this person will receive the very best of my mind and heart. Words seem more final when they’re for another’s benefit.

I think I need to find the balance of being drained and being filled by the words I put down on paper and screen. That is what amazes me most, I think, about the authors I appreciate most: they write for others and for themselves. Shauna Niequist’s joys and seasons, Maddie and Hannah-Grace’s struggles and hopes, C.S. Lewis’s theorizing and griefs….they write in such a way that you learn along with them through their words. They sacrifice energy and yet I know grow by writing their content.

Words will always come from my heart, and I would never want that fact to change, but I do hope to better learn the art of separation between personal and vocational content as I (hopefully) transition to a career that is fueled by sentences and paragraphs.

go read the letter in my desk

My fellow seniors and I are eighty-seven days from being handed a diploma and leaving these cornfields forever. We have keychains with cheap countdown clocks on them that keep reminding us. I haven’t checked it in a few days so eighty-seven could be a bit off–but you get the idea.

I was walking to the water fountain in our biblical studies building before a meeting started tonight. I walked down the main hallway on the second floor and looked to my left at the classroom where I have philosophy tomorrow morning at 9am. I smiled when I remembered that my spiritual formation class was in there as well, spring of my freshman year. That’s the classroom where I became friends with a now-best friend, first heard twenty-one pilots, and ate the fakest chocolate to stay awake during one of my least-favorite collegiate classes.

I smiled and then caught my breath because that was three years ago, pretty much a lifetime ago, and I am now a senior.

I’m a senior who has cried in almost every building on campus (except for, ironically, the psychology building), who has experienced a new chapel and eating establishment, who has gotten so used to one walk around the lake chapping my face that I think I’m almost close to thinking fondly of Ohio winds.

(okay, that last one was definitely more of a hope than a fact)

I’m a senior who can feel that she has about outgrown cafeteria food, dorm bathrooms, and Swiss Army-brand backpacks. I’m a senior who wishes these last eighty-some days would go more slowly just so she can take a few more breaths and say a few more words to the underclassmen she has come to love. I’m a senior who is terrified to leave this sisterhood I have formed and go back to a state where (frankly) I often feel lonely. I’m a senior who goes to bed at midnight on the dot and, when she hears her freshman laughing from down the hall, has to blink away tears that those days are past for her own friend group.

I never fathomed that an ending could have such build-up as this countdown to graduation does but here I am, a senior who doesn’t have a job yet and doesn’t want to say goodbye to friends who have become sisters…….and yet I have this hope in my soul that God is not yet finished with my tale on this earth.

I feel rather like a Pevensie, longing to stay in my Narnia and yet knowing that there are many more adventures to be had before I join Aslan for my own Last Battle.

Further up and further in it is, then.

a soliliquy

11:58 P.M.

I have three candles burning at once here in my room, each with a different level of flame and scent. This night to me is characterized by darkness with pockets of light. It’s not my most favorite night.

12:00 A.M.

My glass of sparkling grape juice is now gone, chugged in the first minute of 2018. My family declared that we much prefer sparkling apple cider but then beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe someday I’ll tap glass flutes with golden champagne at a swanky party with fancy dresses and people I adore.

12:02 A.M.

I’m not big on summarizing an entire year in one post on any sort of social media, especially since I’ve been in college. The years for me seem to run on a semester-summer-semester path, with every few months bringing their own lessons, joys, and trials. This will be the last year of such segments so perhaps 2019 will find me more willing to take a deep breath and look back on an entire twelve months at once.

12:04 A.M.

My silly neighbors are setting off fireworks. I just realized that I didn’t even wish for a kiss at midnight. Is that growth? I’d certainly like to think so.

12:08 A.M.

I wish every holiday could be on a Sunday. Starting such a day with a Sabbath gathering seems to put the mortal aspect in perspective (a word I struggle with in action but adore in thought). I’ve never thought much about the number eight…..I suppose it looks all right.

12:10 A.M.

My journals hold the resolutions and declarations for this next year, along with the lessons God has helped me through in 2017.

12:12 A.M.

I keep getting lost in thoughts and losing track of the minutes that pass. I hope I don’t lose track of the next twelve months, whatever they may hold. Currently, I picture them passing like the hour you have at a rollerblading rink—quick and slow, mostly fun but also painful, lots of falling on your butt and laughing as your friends pull you back up to join back in the circling under weird blacklights and with overplayed pop music all around.

12:16 A.M.

I don’t hate that analogy; in fact, I think I’ll continue thinking it through during the final week of break. There are many parts of life to think through while I’m here on the East Coast. My thinking alters so much on the drive back to Ohio.

12:18 A.M.

Twenty minutes later and I’m not unhappy with how this calendar year has started. Deep breaths, shaky prayers, and my head on a pillow will have to suffice until the sun appears again. Pleasant dreams and God bless you, my friend.

in flesh, appearing

Words have not come easily in this blur of a semester. Rather, words for myself have not come easily. I pick up books by Shauna and Dickens and am amazed that they had the thoughts and time to put down in volumes worth reading. I would like to write as they do, bursting through pages and either confronting or comforting the reader. Both would be fine by me.

(sidenotesolder is pronounced “saw-der” and everything I have ever thought before has essentially been a lie. Thank you, Kassandra)

I haven’t been this blocked for a long time. August to now has been captured with photos and laughter but not words. Christmas is approaching, though, so maybe the final caught breath of 2017 will allow me to put down something worth reading.

In my mind’s eye I picture Christmas in the Cratchett household, lights off and smiling faces flickering in the candlelight as the highlight of the year is revealed: the pudding, afire and smelling like clean laundry and food (Dickens, I may never fully understand your language but I appreciate how my mind imagines the rooms you wrote).

I picture the first ever Christmas, the one before that word was invented or gifts were given in honor of the best gift. That night must have felt fearful and lonely to Mary, confusing and stressful to Joseph. The carols had not yet been written, the fulfilled promises not yet understood, the animals probably didn’t smell like cinnamon and cloves. It probably didn’t feel like the most important Christmas night to those two humans who just wanted their Messiah-son to be born safely.

I remember every Christmas from my childhood, the gifts that seemed unthinkable (and were definitely undeserved), the melted chocolate in my stocking because “Santa” forgot to turn off the gas fireplace before we came downstairs, and the unmatched bubbles of excitement on Christmas Eve. I feel cozy and safe when the memories of Christmas Past come back to visit.

Literature and my own memories hold so many versions of Christmas that it is hard to sort out what I want to continue in my life and what is better left under the Christmas tree. Advent sounds good to my heart that is a little tired of shiny colors and overpriced presents that don’t have a heart-thought behind them. Jesus has already been born and died and returned once, leaving for the last time with a promise and a Holy Seal. Maybe that’s the expectation and sense of waiting that will keep Christmas warm in my heart for the decades to come, rather than reliving His birth each winter.

He is coming back, and soon. Praise the Father, and let us be ready for Him.


the stars in Ohio don’t lie

You know what I mean? They never twinkle like they’re about to fall upon the earth and wreak holy havoc, they never masquerade as tiny airplanes. They feel honest and simple, like this whole midwest home feels to me.

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran will always make me think of my cousin’s first dance with her new husband. I stood far to the side with my parents; as the slow sway began, sobs appeared in my throat and tears I didn’t know existed started to mess up my foundation. My dad patted my back and I continued to cry through the whole song, in awe that my cousin had a man who loved her enough to marry her and spend the rest of his life by her side, and that she had the sort of love for him to do the same.

It’s scary, but I don’t think I trust myself to care for the heart of a man. I’ve messed up two times already, moving hastily and (apparently) not asking for the sort of wisdom that Solomon thought he had. I want to be certain, to have a relationship that is secure, one that has been approved by some sort of priestly-seal.

(Did the Israelites marry for love? Did they go through pre-marriage counseling? Did they sob in tents because of broken hearts?)

I am not keen on taking risks when the heart of a good man could be hanging in the balance, but what sort of life is lived with fear? Where is the balance of caution and freedom?

(you’re wiser than I am….please enlighten me)

what a marvelous tune

The books that mean the most to me are perched on my windowsill. Kassandra says they will get weird spots on them from the sun, and while that is probably true I’m kind of excited to see how senior-year sunsets change them.

This morning, a few from Debrief braved the labyrinth that we call the cross country course. We screamed as Rheeme ran by; her face stayed driven but she said later that she heard us. I say again, for the hundredth time, that it is an honor to support my friends in their pursuits, even when it means sprinting to watch them cross the finish line.

The first month here at school has not been my own. I am feeling like Bilbo, “butter scraped over too much bread,” but I am also overwhelmed with how little time I have left here in Ohio. My body is worn, my mind is frazzled, but my heart is grateful for the opportunity to love such talented people. Soccer games in the rain, rugby matches in the heat, comedy shows that make me think I have abs again……I will never again have the chance to support so many people in one geographical area.

Ah Lord, this will be a memorable and aching year.

if I’m being real honest

Sunburnt skin flaking off my forehead. Sophomores who rest their heads on my shoulder. Blistered feet and no tub to soak them in. Friends who listen to my bitter words and chide me with love. A pair of extroverts who are trying out this whole married thing (and definitely succeeding). Puddles on the bathroom floor and photos of Paris on my door and a lumpy futon that will support many sorry bottoms over the next eight months.

I reflect on these aspects of the year so far and all I can think of is humility and sanctification. Humility, because I am a sinner who says horrid things and has a temper that sometimes vomits on those she loves best but God still uses my sorry self to glorify His Name. Sanctification, because it is hard to be a human with aching bones and a wandering heart but God has given His Spirit as an assurance that, one glorious day, the struggle with sin will be over and I will be wholly pure in His presence.

Hallelujah, death is overcome
And we are breathing
Hallelujah our stone hearts become flesh
A flesh that’s beating
Hallelujah chains have been undone
And we are singing
Hallelujah the fire has begun
Can you feel it?

| Tenth Avenue North, The Struggle

I read the book of Hosea last night and today, and was stunned for the umpteenth time at God’s redemptive work in humans and His tireless love. We fight our way through life, pushing back against temptations, failing along the way……but God is beside us through it all, gifting us with the breath and grace we need for each day. We don’t love Him as we should, but His fiery presence walked through the carcasses of animals to seal the covenant with an old man whose descendants would be the stars and so we are free.

We won’t always be Gomer, and that is a beautiful promise.

mouth of the river

This is the last summer of routine, the last summer where I have to switch my heart’s gears from Virginia to Ohio, the last Thursday in July that I will be twenty-one. This is the final two-week countdown to becoming a student again, the final two-week wait for my roommate to marry her man, the final two-week deep breath before the most taxing/rewarding job begins again.

On an unrelated note, can we just appreciate that TSwizzle is back on Spotify?

This internship has passed like a dream: quick and sort of fuzzy around the edges. The commute and learning curve have been interesting but I have processed much from last year and gained confidence and knowledge. This may have been the most stressful summer I’ve lived through (family will tear up your mind like that, huh?) but God has faithfully helped me in establishing a more set pattern of talking with Him and reading His Word. Despite being stressed, I am more at peace now than I was last July. He has to push me into the depths of the Gospel every few years and I am glad it came this summer.

I’ve been reading books lately from varying viewpoints on writing, the Church, and the Christian life. Praise the Lord, there are many arguments and points of view jostling in my brain but not in my heart. I am considering everything but only believing what I see is backed up with Scripture. My parents have raised me faithfully, my professors have taught me well, and I’m finally understanding how to sift out truth from all that I absorb.

In ten years I will probably look back and think, “Wow, I was so young then!”

But for now, I am glad to be twenty-one with a Savior who is unmovable, especially in these two weeks of changes and endings.