Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's Time

I'm sorry I have been away. I've had quite a time adjusting. And while much has happened and probably more than I can say, I will try to fill you in as well as I can.

Tonight I danced again.

For the first time in over seven months, I let go of my inhibition and became undignified. It was anything but pretty. But it was very good.

Those of you who know me well or barely at all know that the love of my life, my Abuela, went home this past March. I claimed to handle it better than I did. There was still an underlying joy in my life because I was still one with the Spirit, but the pain of loss became difficult to bear.

I returned to the Springs. I started to drink. I put myself in compromising situations with people who I shouldn't have, and I woke up one noon and stared up at my ceiling.

What am I doing here?

I had let my pain make me its bitch, and while there were no consequences for my actions because my Lord is good and loves to protect me, I knew in my heart that if I didn't stop, there would be, and they would be difficult to bounce back from, even for a badass like me.

I sobered up. I started a few new jobs. I started walking in the favor that Yahweh has placed upon my life and all of my problems drifted away.

But I still refused to dance.

Dancing was her thing, our thing, an action of celebration and ecstasy, which I didn't feel. I was still grieving. I still am grieving. And the longer waited to dance, the more significant it had to be.

It has to be perfect. It has to be perfect for her.

And then tonight I attended my first WorshipMob and heard very clearly that unmistakable still, small voice.

It's time.

 And so I did and so I wept for I knew in my spirit that she was right there.

Beside me.

Dancing along like we always used to do together.

I still miss her and I always will. Nothing can ever or should ever replace her in my life. But when I tattooed a pair of sunflowers on my shoulder - a tiny one for me and a complete one for her - it was very important that while the two of them should be close to each other, they should not touch.

For I am my own person, my own strong and radiant person, even without her here.

I love you.

I thank you for standing beside me even when I choose to be a prodigal.

Listen to the still, small voice, Beloved.

It's time to dance again.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Auf Wiedersehen

I’m writing from the Miami airport today. Six months and six days after I began my German journey, it comes to a close.
I’m a whole tornado of emotions right now.
I visited my church for the last time, bade everyone I met farewell, stopped in once more at the hole-in-the-wall döner place (the owner of which always knew what I wanted), hopped onto a train, and that was it. I left the country. Now here I am with a few hours till I board the last flight of my adventure, and I have a lot of processing to do.
My last night in Bernau was everything that it should have been. My closest German friend came into town and we went swimming at the lake and got ice cream. Then we all had a barbecue (because I’m an American and that’s how we do in summer time) and the family gifted me with a gorgeous new fountain pen – the perfect gift for a writer, really. I walked my friend back to the station late that night (we had to hide in the tunnel between the platforms to avoid getting swept away by the wind and rain that was ravaging the place) and then I walked home, alone with Jesus and my thoughts.
Naturally I started to cry. Naturally I started to thank Him for things.
Thank You for this place and all of these people.
Thank You that even though this wasn’t as long as I planned, that I still learned so much.
Thank You for this weather (the storm had stopped by this point) and that I can walk home barefoot in the drizzle and still be warm.
Thank You for teaching me how to love myself.
For now I am certain, that was the entire reason behind why I left in the first place. Yes, I met people who moved me and I like to think that I moved some of them too. I learned a lot and tried new things and got to taste-test this kind of a life that I’ve always wanted. But above everything else, I learned to love me. Maybe not the way He does, but enough to know that I am good.
I am stubborn as an ass and He and I both know this very well. Certainly that’s why He had to disguise a mission for myself as a means of escapism. And I don’t at all believe that I needed to leave to get to this place in life – surely He could have done all the same work in the Springs had I been willing to listen to Him where I was. But I am so exceedingly thankful that He took me by the hand and led me to Bavaria. I am eternally changed because of it.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken to be leaving. I met some incredible people and did some amazing things and Europe really amazes me. But I am confident now that wherever in the world I am (even if it’s not where I want to be) is good and right as long as He was the one who put me there.
To everyone I met on my adventure – I love you relentlessly. Thank you for taking me in and making me feel at home in a place where the language often sounded terrifying. Thank you for letting this crazy American dime piece into your hearts and your lives, holding my heart when it became a burden, and letting me touch you more than is probably normal in your culture. I leave a little piece of me behind everywhere that I go and I am beyond certain that a little piece of me is always going to be yours.
To everyone else who supported me along the way – I don’t even have words to express the depth of my gratitude. All of the messages and Skype dates and sweet notes and comments on posts and videos made me feel so incredibly loved and so aware of how richly blessed I am to have you. Thank you for praying for me, for fighting for me, for interceding on my behalf, and for always being there to listen when I needed to pour my heart out. Because of you I am able to cling to the promise that even when I am lonely, I am never alone.
To the One who brought me here – I could write for centuries to You about everything that You have done, and everything that I love You for. You have touched my heart in the deepest of places and made it impossible for me to ever run away. Thank You for pushing me past what I thought I was capable of. Thank You for showing me that my greatest plans are sheer rubbish in comparison to Yours. And thank You for always knowing what I need, even if it comes in a package that looks so very different from what I thought I wanted. You are the reason I sing. I love You.
And so, sweet loves, ends this season in the storybook of Charity’s life. To be honest, I have no idea what this next one is going to look like. But I think I like things better that way. As long as Yahweh guides my steps I know that I will always be at home. So I raise my (no longer alcoholic) glass to Germany and all of its inhabitants. Here’s to the end of this chapter.
And here’s to the beginning of the next.

Friday, July 3, 2015

I Love This, I Hate This

Today is six months!

Today is when I should be saying I'm halfway through my year in this country!

Today I have less than a week before I return to the States!

My head is spinning with emotions!


I booked a ticket a few weeks ago. July 9th. That is my return date. I fly Frankfurt to Miami and Miami to Denver and then I'm home. This doesn't feel real.

I'm torn between two different halves. One half is stoked to go back, get a job, move in with some buddies, buy a car, build a grown up life, and start supporting myself for real. Being in communication with different people about different potential jobs is exciting for me. Skyping friends and talking about potential autumn living arrangements has got me so stoked for my future.

I love this.

The other half gets super emotional whenever I do anything here because I realize . . . it's the last time I'll get to. I've been to the island on the lake for the last time. I've been to worship practice and sung with the band for the last time. I went to that cute little ice cream place in Rosenheim for the last time.

I hate this.

I've never been one to swing back and forth between two ends of any spectrum but that's kind of what I've been doing since I found out my adventure was getting cut short. I think I kind of feel like there isn't room in my mind for everything I'm feeling right now.

At the end of the day, I know that Papa's plans are good. I know that He's got my back, no matter what that looks like and I know that my going back early is for my own benefit.

I'm just . . . really going to miss it here.

Be praying for things to come together and as always, thank you for your love and support. You really are rockstars.

I'll see you soon.

xoxo Charity

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How many announcements am I really going to have before my life gets dull? Well . . . it probably never will.

So, for those of you not following my video updates *hintcoughwinknudge* I made an announcement recently that I felt you should know.

Behold! The update in the flesh! Except not really . . . okay just watch it.

Just to recap: I am leaving Germany at the beginning of August.

That's two months. Not seven.


Honestly, I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to writing about this. It all went down so suddenly, and while I know Jesus was definitely preparing my heart and my mind (gaggles of new friends and potential coffee shop gigs, anybody?) I was the farthest thing on Earth from prepared.

It's a strange place to be in, this one. I was on a walk today thinking about everything and how . . . two months is almost no time at all. I've been here for five and that feels like no time at all. Like, I'll be back in time to have a belated birthday party in the Springs. That wasn't supposed to happen.

But if I kept a list of all the things in my life that weren't supposed to happen, it would undoubtedly be parallel with the list of things that have blessed me the most. It wasn't supposed to happen according to my plan. But since when do I actually live by my plan?

The thing is, all of the learning, all of the healing, all of the growth that I was supposed to do ended up getting accomplished in a far shorter window than was originally anticipated. I actually love myself now. I'm far more of a patient person now. I've let go of grudges and crap. What else is there to do? I've been blessed so immensely with this opportunity and I'm stoked that I've been allowed to have it. While leaving early is not at all what I would have wanted, I know with certainty that it'll be good for me.

Yahweh's plans always are.

All that being said, pray for me. I'm not really stressed much because ultimately, I know how the story ends. But I do still need things to fall in line if I'm supposed to start building an adult life for myself someplace now.

*screams again*

It'll be good. I know it will. It always is. Thanks again for everything, my sweet chickens. I'll be sure to keep you in the loop as to what happens next.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Hurricane of a Holiday

Wow. Okay. Hi, all, how's it going? I'm back! I was intending to be back a while ago but as the title of this post is stating, I just went on a very wild trip, so much of a whirlwind that I'm still processing everything that went on.

Also, I've lived here for five months as of Wednesday and that's a pretty big deal too.

So. End of May, I took a 50-hour journey from Bernau to the Springs to surprise my sister for her high school graduation. After three flights and two 10-hour layovers (if you are ever given the option to spend the night in the Dusseldorf airport, it would serve you well to politely decline), I met up with my father in Denver as well as my cousin who flew in from California to contribute to the surprise. We crashed at my bandmate's house that night and surprised my sister at the ceremony the next morning. We laughed, she cried, and later that night the trio partied at my favorite open-after-midnight place in the city where I met some amazing people. But more on that later.

I was in town for two weeks before I took three more flights (and only a 26-hour journey this time) to get back to the place I currently call home. And my word, this trip absolutely flew by. I played music in coffee shops and on sidewalks, I visited my church and went to an old friend's baby shower, I spent time with old comrades and made many, many new ones.

Let me talk to you for a second about the new ones.

I met five of them the night of my sister's graduation. Five different men, all from very different walks of life, who gathered in the same smokey, dimly-lit room and who I had the pleasure of having conversations with. And that was only on the second night of my trip. There were far more men and women who I encountered over the busy fortnight than I was anticipating. Don't get me wrong, I expected to meet people - I make friends everywhere that I go - what I was never counting on was becoming so close with them over such a short period of time.

Honestly, I made more close friends over this past two weeks in Colorado than I have over these past five months living in Germany. Now don't get me wrong, that's not saying anything about Germany.

But I think it says a lot about Colorado.

I've known pretty much since I was sixteen that Colorado is ultimately where Jesus wants me to be. I still get to travel and move around a bit, but at the end of it all, the Springs is my home base, my jumping point. And for the most part, I've been consistently fighting that plan of His for about three years. I've been blessed enough to travel a fair amount for someone who isn't even twenty-years-old yet, and to be honest, Colorado Springs is one of the more dull places that I've been. Everyone that lives there is head over heels for the place or is dying to get out. Yeah it's health conscious and hipster-friendly, but the most exciting tourist attraction is a bunch of lumpy rocks. Like, no amusement parks, no beaches, no major concerts, nothing. Freaking rocks.

Try as it may, Colorado Springs just cannot measure up to Verona or Bangkok. It's the biggest small town that exists, everybody knows each other, there's a church on every street corner, and all the little subsections of the city are subconsciously biased against each other. I can't tell you how much flack I've gotten from "trendy west-side people" because my family lives in the suburbs up north.

But I left my exciting European life anyway to return to the Pit of Despair for a short while because I'm a good sister. And while I was there, a lot of things changed.

My official "public debut" was about a week into being back when I played an open mic at a coffee shop with Monica. People from all different corners of my life showed up to hear me play, people who had never met each other before. It was weird having so many sides collide, like I had done such a good job keeping them separated and they all just decided to wall-of-death me at the same time. That night in itself was one of the most chaotic of the trip and I left in a daze, unsure of who I'd even gotten the chance to talk to. But shortly after, I met up with Bekah, who had gotten to witness the entire affair, and she gave me her much-needed insight on things.

In her eyes, I just fit there so well. I was stressed and trying to balance so many things at once, but I was thriving in that kind of an environment. The coffee shop and the music and the people who wanted my attention and needed to be introduced to each other, it was all so Charity, she observed. And I couldn't help but realize that she was totally right.

I don't really think place matters to me nearly as much as people do, and I've begun to notice that while Colorado Springs as a place is one of my least favorite things, the people hold my heart like nothing else ever has.

Just take these few I met while I was visiting. One of them is exactly like me, down to the brand of shampoo we use. Another, despite barely knowing me at all, voluntarily stood outside of my car window while I whined and wailed about all the reasons I felt like a terrible person and then proceeded to comfort me. There was one of them who I liked so much that I ended up setting him up with my best friend (they're adorable and their couple name is "Mervid"). I seriously love them so much. I was on the verge of tears while saying goodbye.

My last night visiting my church before I returned to Germany, the man who spoke was discussing how God's plans for us are often wild and He leads us on journeys with ends that we cannot see. I was dialoguing with Papa during this message and we came to some conclusions about my life.

"Charity, you know this is where I want you to be, right?"

"Yes, Daddy, I know. And I mean it when I say I'll follow You wherever you lead me. But if I'm being honest, my heart is not fully here. There's a lot that's wrong with this city."

"Exactly. And most people don't see that. But you do, and that is why you are the one I want for the job of making this city look like Me. I can change it, and I will. But I'm asking you to be My glove."

After that conversation I had my mind made up - Colorado Springs is the city where I'm going to end up basing my life.

I'm excited for sure, though not as much as I want to be. And I know with time that I'll learn to love the place, maybe even as much as I love the people. But if I know one thing it's this: the only thing I want out of life is Jesus and more Jesus and if that means that I have to settle down in Colorado Springs of all places, then I'm willing to swallow my pride and do it.

His plans are always better anyway.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Development I Never Saw Coming

It's been four months today, and I have to declare, the glory of April really did a good job of brushing away the stress of March. Like, really. April was good. April was great. A lot of cool stuff went down in April and I am deeply grateful for that.

April brought a lot more involvement with my church which meant joining the worship team (exciting) and making friends (even more exciting). Not like I hadn't met people that I've gotten on well with here. It was because of a friend I'd made that I even found the church in the first place. But these are like, good friends. Friends who I play music with and laugh with and cook with and try (and fail) to Americanize. For a person as extroverted as me, making friends is probably one of the biggest things that has happened thus far.

These aren't just any friends, either. They're friends who work super hard to make me feel included. They're friends from multiple different corners of the world. They're friends who laugh at all of my lame jokes and invite me to do fun things and never fail to remind me that I'm talented, that I'm beautiful, that I'm great. They're exactly what I needed to make my life just a bit more perfect than it already is.

Thanks for that, Jesus.

And this church. Oh, this church. One of the things that distressed me the most about leaving Colorado (which was a very short list, mind you) was the fact that I was leaving my amazing church family behind who I was really bonding with. I'd tried on a few different churches here, none just really fit. Then I met another au pair who was due to move back to the States but who wanted me to come with her to visit her church before she left. I did. And bam, just like that, new family.

The pastor invited me to join the worship team my second week there and I didn't really see a downside to it so I did. And now I have an excuse to do music and worship more often. And of course, the whole "friends" thing.

Sorry, I'm just super excited.

But probably the most out-of-the-blue thing that happened in April was a slight change in my view on one area of life.

I'm now a bit of a romantic.


I've never been a romantic. Not really anyway. I always got super grossed out at any sort of display of affection or eros. But now I smile like an idiot when I see a middle-aged man greet his wife at the train station with flowers. Ugh. Pathetic, right?

I mean, I kind of felt it coming on ever since I moved here. The whole "I'm an honorary European" thing probably definitely brought that on a bit. Visiting Italy in March didn't help at all. And then somewhere near the beginning of April I was totally sold, and all of my cynicism (and probably a bit of my dignity) went out the window.

But I'm not really all that bothered by it.

See, these past four months have taught me how satisfying it is to not be a sad and miserable person. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but being cheerful and optimistic and even a romantic is a really satisfying way of living life. I see things in brighter shades and most of my conversations with new friends (!!!) are punctuated by my squeals of how beautiful ordinary things are.

I've been told that my new found joy is contagious. And if being a good influence on people's lives means that I have to let go of a younger, more cold-hearted version of myself then so be it.

This is the way I was designed to be anyway.

So cheers to the beginning of my fifth month and all of the more beautiful things that are sure to come with the dawn of Summer. Spring was phenomenal. It was representative of receiving lots of new and exciting things. I'm stoked to see how those things will flower and grow in the coming months.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Power of Three

Three months as of yesterday.

Holy crap.

I know that I keep saying that this is going by super fast and I know that it's probably getting annoying, but oh my word. My time in Germany is 1/4 of the way over as of yesterday. At this point I really don't know how that makes me feel.

The past month was hard. Jesus let me know when it began that my Abuela was going home soon so I spent weeks trying to walk through that grieving process on my own. Everyone in this household got a cold or the flu (or in most cases, both). My Abuela passed away the weekend of Palm Sunday. I had dozens of nightmares that I'm still trying to make sense of and pray off.

In general, March was just difficult. I won't go so far as to say that it sucked because it didn't. There was some amazing writing and conversations and experiences that happened (and things just really don't suck for me anymore [and they never will again]). But, while I didn't hate it completely, I wouldn't do it again.

But it ended and I came out of it better and I'm three months in. And as it turns out, that's really significant.

A few years ago, I sat in a booth in Chick-fil-A with my mentor, Rebekah, after I'd gotten off of my shift at work there. I remember that meeting so vividly - I could tell you exactly which booth we were sitting in - because the conversation that we had there stuck with me for a long time. Bekah's been mentoring me since eighth grade, for about six or seven years now. We've had a ridiculous amount of amazing conversations, most of which I can still recall word-for-word, but this one has really stuck out among the rest.

We were talking about varying things going on in our lives when there was a pause in the conversation for a second or two. She broke it by asking me a really interesting question.

"What do you think is significant about the number three?"

The number three had been coming up a lot in her discussions with Jesus about her health problems and she wanted my insight on what it could mean. This was a really big deal for me, because so much of our relationship up to that point had been me being dumb and her gently coaching me on how not to. That was the first major question that she wanted my intellectual/spiritual council on. That question meant that I wasn't just a student and I was - to some degree - on her level.

I admire her so much. I always have. And a lot of my aspirations for who and what I want to be are modeled after her. I have a ton of great role-models in my life. Abuela was the greatest. Bekah is a close second. And so, since this question was such a milestone, I sat back in the booth and thought for a minute before I gave an answer.

"Well . . . the number three comes up a lot in the Bible. Jonah was three days in the belly of the fish. Paul was blind for three days. Jesus waited three decades before starting his ministry and was dead for three days. Then there's the Trinity and Peter, James, and John . . ." I paused as everything started to make sense. "Three . . . is representative of victory. There's struggle and there's pain and there's crap for a time and then three comes and everything is better. That's the pattern. Three means you endured all of the crap. Three means victory."

It does in this season too.

My lucky number is two. I don't know why. Jesus told me that it was sometime in late February of 2013, but three is always significant. Three difficult years of being lost in high school before Jesus rebuilt my identity my senior year. The past three years of breaking off lies and stepping out of darkness leading up to this amazing year of beauty and rebirth.

Three long days of Jesus in the grave, resulting in the greatest victory the world had ever seen.

The ones who buried Him failed to take into account that He was actually a seed.

I believe in the beauty and significance of metaphor and Jesus uses this to get points across to me a lot of the time. Three comes before victory. And here I am and these three months have been the most amazing of my life but that doesn't change the pattern. I don't have to go through crap to get my victory.

March was hard. That's just how it was. But nothing happened that didn't end up for good. We were all healed from our sicknesses and took a victory lap around northern Italy. My Abuela went Home to be with Jesus. If there's one thing I know with full certainty, it's that there is nothing on this earth that can suck so bad that Yahweh can't turn it around and make it amazing.

Genesis 50:20, Kids.

Victory is ours.

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