Monday, November 3rd, 2014
College is the foundation for any identity crisis. At least, that’s what I would argue. Here I am, in a new place, with new people, and no idea what I want to do. I mean, to be fair, I do have a vague idea of what I would like my life to look life after these four years are over, but beyond those wispy ideas knocking around my head, it’s a time characterized by a lot of uncertainty. I ask myself a lot of questions; questions about who I am and what I want to be doing and what I should be doing and did I eat enough vegetables on Tuesday. Besides creating a lot of awkward situations in which it appears I am talking to myself, all of my relentless questioning creates a lot of pressure. It’s self-made pressure, for sure. There’s no beating around it. It would certainly be easier if I could shrug the responsibility or the blame off to someone else, someone else who has got their life together and actually knows what they are doing beyond 5PM. But the truth is, we are notoriously our hardest critics.
I’ve always been extremely tightly wound. A classic type-A person. It manifests itself in different ways. In my obsession with tradition, my distinct distaste for change, and my inability to sleep in an un-made bed. It’s certainly served me well over the years to be detail-oriented and extremely organized. (I was still picked last for kickball, but hey, we can’t all be good at everything…) Most often, however, it rears its ugly head in the form of crippling stress. Stress that causes endless tears and headaches and sleepless nights. Stress that makes even the simplest of tasks seem insurmountable.
I had three tests this week and in a slightly un-characteristic turn of events, I found myself remarkably un-stressed for the first time in a long time. At first, it was marvelous. All, “Wow, look at me! Way to go! I’ve got this!” And then, of course, as was to be expected, I freaked. The kind of freak that starts with some shallow panicky breaths and ends with lots of back rubs and hiccup-y tears. I was so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy life in the moment. Frustrated that I had three tests. Frustrated that no matter how hard I tried, stress always seemed to win me over.
It was over breakfast with someone older, someone wiser, that I realized the real root of my problem. Here I was, sitting across from someone whose hair hadn’t been washed in a few days, who was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and who was a little behind on her reading. But what struck me was her joy. She found a profound sense of joy in being who she was and enjoying it. She didn’t spend her time comparing herself to other people or trying to measure up to the standards of the world. She was happy to be herself. I found myself, at the age of nineteen, feeling a little bit like someone had punched me in the gut. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to oversleep and make mistakes and not wash your hair for three days. We are all imperfect children of a perfect king. That means we get to own it.
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Dear Husband, happy birthday.
I can’t believe that the goofy, shaggy haired, football playing, history geek that I fell in love with at 16 is now 21. You’re finally legally allowed to do everything (ha).
Your silly smile this morning when I told you “happy birthday” was the best part of my day. Birthday’s never got you too excited, but you’ve been talking about this one for a while.
You are so young still, but you have taken on a lot of responsibility. You took on the responsibility of being a husband, the responsibility of a future commitment to your country, the responsibility of school and work and bills and life. You chose to grow up perhaps a lot faster than most.
You have become an incredible man.
I am endlessly thankful for you. This marks the fifth birthday that I have celebrated with you, and each year I am reminded that your life has been a gift to me.
So, while none of your gifts managed to make it here on time (and you have class absolutely all day today), I hope that your birthday is everything you want it to be.
I love you, handsome man.
Monday, October 20th, 2014
As I write this, I’m sitting in a beautiful lobby, in a beautiful building, on a beautiful campus. Yet, somehow, I feel less than beautiful at the moment. I don’t really want to be at school right now; in fact, I’d much rather be at home, where I was a mere four hours ago, snuggled on the couch, basking in the sunlight, reading for pleasure, and enjoying the comforts of home. Alas, fall break is over, and tonight I was welcomed back to Grove City with a marvelous sunset. It is always so funny to me, how such beauty exists in such a place of struggle.
From day one, college has been a challenge for me. I was challenged academically, as I learned how to study for tests and prepare for classes. I was challenged socially, living as an introvert in a hall full of extroverted girls. But most of all, I was challenged emotionally. I missed my family and the sweet simplicity of life back home, where things like GPAs and midterms and papers didn’t seem to carry as much weight. I’ve cried more tears in the past eight weeks than I have in a long time. At the same time, I’ve been richly blessed in a multitude of ways. The people here are kind and loving and have come alongside me while I am feeling lost. My parents, although lacking in physical proximity, are a mere phone call away. They love me in the midst of my pain.
It’s funny how beauty exists in the midst of such intense struggle. I feel lonely right now. I would love a hug from my mom. But instead, God has placed me here. I am here to learn. I am here to love. And I find, most often, that when we lean in to him, the gritty fray of life doesn’t necessarily go away, or even get any easier, but the little things, the small moments of joy, are illuminated. They shine bright in a sea of relentless studying and reading and writing. And tears. They even manage to shine through tears.
God is so intentional. He loves us in the midst of our failures and insecurities. He is acutely aware of our pain and wants us to be aware of his love. I find that on nights like these, when I miss home, and the tears just don’t seem to stop, that when I put down my work and focus on him, his peace washes over me in an amazing way. On nights like those, all we can do is rest in his unfailing love and grace and mercy. We must rest in the fact that he is God, and we are not. And in time, he will make all things good.
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
So, New Mexico has the Taos River Gorge and it is amazing. We stopped by on our way to Eagle’s Nest, and took in the view. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery on my big girl camera, so I only had the iPhone. We definitely plan on going back-and not forgetting to charge the camera!
This bus hung out in the Gorge parking area and sold snacks.
Not the Gorge. But close to the Gorge. Fun story: That little cage looking thing is actually a trolly. It runs along a cable from one side of the river to the other. Nathan surmised that it is probably used mostly by rangers. But very brave rangers ‘cuz it looked straight up terrifying and rickety (so says me).
Monday, October 6th, 2014
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” -2 Timothy 4:17
*Editor’s note – the following essay is devoid of any specific details in order to protect the privacy of those involved. It is not my news to share and they deserve to not have their intimate affairs splashed all over the internet. That being said, if you feel so moved, say a pray for a family out there that is hurting right now.
Two Sundays ago, I received a phone call from my mother informing me of some devastating news from back home. As soon as she spoke the words, I wept. Big, fat, heavy tears flowed down my cheeks. The cuff of my sleeve was damp in no time. I’m not sure why the incident affected me so much. I had heard of situations like it in the past, and although they troubled me, I never felt as emotionally torn apart as I did, sitting on my bed on that Sunday morning, mourning with and for a family that I barely knew. Perhaps it was because they are from my hometown. They live a mere five minutes away from my house. Perhaps it was because the gravity of the situation was absolutely incomprehensible. Perhaps it was because I am here, and they are there. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to hug each member of my family tightly and thank God for what I am blessed so abundantly with.
I realized as I began to come to terms with this terrible tragedy that we, as humans, are so hesitant to be open with one another. We put on a smile and offer a vague, but nevertheless satisfactory answer when someone asks us how we are doing. I pass my peers in the hallway each and every day without giving even a second thought to what they might be going through or the feelings that may be tearing at their heart this very minute. Why, in my school, in our society, in your neighborhood, in our country, are we so afraid to tell the truth? Why do we shrink at the idea of feelings? Why do we try to cover up bad days and rush to close doors when things get hard?
I can’t say for certain that this particular situation would not have occurred had people chosen to pay more attention or not felt ashamed to share their feelings. It is certainly not as simple as spilling your guts to stranger on the sidewalk. But God does call us to community, and I believe wholeheartedly that living and being in community requires that we, as Christians, make a conscious effort to be open with one another. We must strive to embrace the messy, disorganized, terrible, even, perhaps, tragic, moments of our lives and turn first to God, and then to one another for support and love.
Our Savior has so graciously blessed us with people wherever we look. And we are relational people. That means going out and inserting ourselves into people’s unclean, imperfect lives and loving them despite their mistakes. It means welcoming people with open arms. It means the kind of love that doesn’t speak, but instead, offers an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on. Our world would be a vastly different place if we chose to share our joys and our sorrows and our successes and our frustrations when they happened. Let’s choose to draw close and wrap our arms around one another in the good and the bad.
Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
The lodge that we stayed at in Eagle’s Nest was such a wonderful surprise. I won’t lie-I was a little skeptical. Sometimes small town motels can be a little sketchy, but we really lucked out. They have normal hotel rooms, an entire house you can rent, and little cabins. We stayed in one of the little cabins, and it was darling. The grounds also had picnic tables and grills. Down the street was the hotel’s saloon and restaurant.
The trip was so relaxing and so needed. The weather was beautiful, the cabin had cable TV (something that we don’t have-it was AWESOME), and we found a bar with a dog hanging out under our table to have dinner at. Being able to spend some time alone with Nathan without the distractions of being home was pretty much the best way to spend a weekend. I am so thankful to him for getting online and finding Eagle’s Nest and then finding the cabin and then convincing me that hopping in the car the next morning was a good decision.
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
Nathan and I took a fun little trip over the long weekend a few weeks ago. Nathan did all of the leg work and found a great little cabin at the last minute, and we headed to the New Mexico high country.
The landscape was gorgeous. Living in the desert, you get kinda used to everything just being brown and tan and dry. But as we were driving everything was green and blooming and lush.
Once you get out of the city, everything just clears out and opens up. All of a sudden we were on winding roads surrounded by cliffs and little rivers. We were headed to Eagle’s Nest which is past Taos and pretty close to Angel Fire. We would really like to go back in the winter when everything is covered in snow-although I am sure we wouldn’t get such a good deal on a room.
Monday, September 22nd, 2014
So, here it is! The surprise! Molly is my best friend, and when she expressed interest in writing for A Lovely Intention I was so excited!! She will be here twice a month sharing various musings as well as thoughts about her first year of college. I know you all will love her as much as I do. Now, I’ll let her take it away…
Hi there. I’m Molly. Sydney and I are so glad you are here.
I met Sydney through my high school bible study and we instantly bonded over our mutual love of fine food, expensive clothes, and adventures in the city. For two years, we were inseparable, attached at the hip, riding life out together. When Sydney moved to New Mexico, we each bought a roll of stamps and vowed to not let the miles keep us apart. ‘Best friends’ doesn’t seem to adequately the relationship that Sydney and I share. Soul sister, maybe.
I grew up in a small, sleepy town in Southwestern, Pennsylvania, on a quant, tree-lined street in a fixer-upper of a house that my parents poured their heart and soul into. The walls bleed love. I am the oldest of four children, a size 9.5, and a Gilmore Girls fanatic. I love C.S. Lewis, pineapple, and reading the Sunday edition of the New York Times. I could eat breakfast food all day long. I am passionate about non-profits, building personal relationships, and Jesus. I am studying English at Grove City College, a small, Christian liberal arts college in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania.
You can find me on Instagram @wickerm1
You guys, go follow her on Instagram and get excited for her posts!!!! She has such a sweet spirit and such a way with words. She is so smart and so insightful, and I know her contributions here will be great! She is spot on in her description of our relationship. Good food, clothes we want but can’t afford, and getting lost among the city skyscrapers defined and solidified our friendship before college swept us across the country, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this woman and her presence in my life!
Friday, September 19th, 2014
I love this little writing, brainstorming exercise. It makes you think and reflect.
P.S. Be sure to read on for a hint at a fun surprise that is coming to this little blog.
Making : A concerted effort to get up earlier and use that time to just be quiet.
Cooking : Pasta for dinner. We eat so much pasta.
Drinking : Le Croix. We bought a case of it at Costco, and the more I drink it the more I like it.
Reading: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and loving it. Also a smattering of books on mediation and communication.
Wanting: To just be a wife. I am really ready for school to be done!
Looking: For a small dresser for some of Nathan’s clothes.
Playing: King of the Hill with bed covers and leg space with a certain husband of mine.
Deciding: On whether or not to buy a new computer or continue to share one. It is a battle of necessity and bank accounts over here.
Wishing: For certain aspects of this season of life to pass. It’s been a bit of a tough one in some ways, and we Pawliks are ready for a break.
Enjoying: The way our orange cat is determined to cuddle. She is so persistent in her pursuit to love us.
Waiting: For answers to prayer.
Liking: The few days that we’ve had cooler weather. It makes the husband more cuddly, and I am so so ready to wear jeans again.
Wondering: When we will see family again. I long for endless days off for road trips and hugs from loved ones.
Loving: Nathan. Being freshly married seems to punch you right in the face. It is hard and exhilarating and exhausting and beautiful, and it demands a lot of God-given grace, and I end each day loving the man I married even more than I did when I woke up that morning.
Pondering: This article. The end gets me-how often do we intentionally proclaim that God condemns all abuse and then how often do we act on that proclamation.
Considering: The merits of buying a duplicate pair of these jeans, and then jettisoning all the other pairs I have (except the high-waisted ones, cuz high-waisted=life changing)
Watching: House of Cards. I know, I am late to the party.
Hoping: Our camping plans work out.
Marvelling: At the way that the “capsule wardrobe” and minimalist dressing trend is sweeping the blog world. The more I read about it, the more clothes I seem to get rid of.
Needing: More sleep, more time at the gym, more time spent on relationships. Less school, less stress, less busy.
Smelling: Like lavender essential oil and coconut oil. The combo has become my go to perfume. Also, this deodorant which makes my pits smell like oranges, holla!
Wearing: Jean shorts and keds. But I am wishing I was wearing jeans, boots, scarves, and slouchy sweaters.
Following: More and more people on Twitter. I am pretty bad at using Twitter, but had to start following some people for a class. You can find me here.
Noticing: The briskness of the air when I take Nathan to class in the mornings. Fall is coming, however slowly.
Knowing: that everything works out- even if I have to fight off my own anxiety to believe that.
Thinking: That cereal is the most perfect solution for every meal.
Admiring: Those who commit to leaving “fast fashion” behind and investing in quality, ethically conscious clothing options.
Sorting: Through all of our stuff. And it is just stuff. I feel like every weekend, when I clean the house, I get rid of more and more of our stuff.
Buying: eggs and milk and cereal. Every week on repeat.
Getting: More and more comfortable with my new haircut.
Disliking: People who are jerks. ’nuff said.
Opening: my Bible and books that aren’t for school. Having to share a computer with Nathan has led me to find different (and arguably better) ways to fill spare time.
Giggling: At the way our boy cat squeaks at us. It is as though he doesn’t understand the concept of meowing just yet.
Feeling: Nostalgic. I never thought I’d like to revisit my old high school town, but lately I miss the people and the vibe and the quaintness.
Snacking: on Caramel Almond and Sea Salt Kind bars. They are so so good, but so so spendy. I’m gonna start buying them in bulk on Amazon to save a few bucks (kidding, sorta)
Wishing: to have more girlfriends that lived closer.
Hearing: Some of my favorite songs on the radio. The popular songs have been surprisingly good lately; a lot of really happy music is hitting the airwaves.
Time for some news!!! We will have an awesome new series on the blog starting on Monday. I am so excited for it because it is a collaboration with someone who is so dear to me. Twice a month you can expect someone other than me to be talking to you here, and I think it is going to be wonderful!
Check in Monday morning!!
Thursday, September 18th, 2014
I love pretty much everything about the State Fair. In fact, it may be my most favorite event of the year here. The animals, the food, the people watching-all amazing. The State Fair feels like the emotional start of Fall. It can’t be the literal start of Fall because it is still in the eighties and nineties here, so it definitely doesn’t feel like fall weather; and none of the colors are changing yet. Although, I do count the fact that it was cool enough to wear jeans and boots for our fair outing a victory. One of our friends happened to be in town and was able to go with us, which was such a great coincidence.
We sort of went to the fair on a whim. It was pretty rainy on Wednesday, but Nathan stopped by my office and mentioned that it was free admission day. I am not one to pass up free anything, so we decided that we would spend the money that we would have spent on admission to buy fair food. The food is really the best part of the fair-all fried everything. Normally, we spend money on admission and then don’t get anything to eat because everything is seven dollars and we are college students (read: poor).
I was a bit concerned about going at night because I have a deep love for seeing all of the animals that the fair has to offer, and I worried that if we went at night then they may all be in for bed. My worries were unfounded, though. There were plenty of animals to be seen, especially baby animals. There were ducklings and chicks hanging out next to each other in one of the pens. I would have a chicken coop in a heartbeat. I think that chickens are so great. They are so methodical with their pecking and nesting and roosting. Also, fresh eggs. Nothing bad can happen when fresh eggs are involved.
There are two pigs there-they kind of blend together. They are cuddling, so, obviously, pigs after my own heart.
I LOVE cows. No joke, they are one of my favorite animals. I think they are so cute. I just want to cuddle one of them. Like, just run up and give one a big hug. Is that weird? Nathan is reading over my shoulders saying that, yes, it is so weird. Whatever. I don’t care. Every year, the cows at the fair are my favorite thing to visit. This year, I got to pet one. It was pretty much the highlight of my whole week. The big girl was just layin’ there eating hay, and the farmer was all “sure you can pet her!” Her cow friend that was standing next to her started giving me the side eye, though (rude).
As already mentioned, the food at the fair is the best part. We really indulged since we felt like we were rolling in cash after not paying the admission fee (ha ha ha). Corn dogs, fried oreos, fried cheese curds (amazing delicious-your life isn’t complete ’til you’ve eaten a deep fried cheese curd), and a fried snickers bar all found their way into my mouth. I’m pretty sure I consumed my entire weekly allotment of calories in one night, and I regret none of it. I didn’t even feel that sick after eating all of it, which makes me a little concerned. I mean, what is wrong with my body that it didn’t just revolt on me??
Nathan and I go to the fair every year, but this was definitely the best year yet. I’ll be cheesy for a moment and say that everything seems more fun when I’m doing it with my HUSBAND! But, this trip really seemed perfect. I just love that sweet man-especially his willingness to buy me as much deep fried cheese as I can possibly eat. A keeper for sure.