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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.

*screams*

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.

*screams*

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.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Keep Dancing

*Please note before you read this that this post contains far more swearing than is normal for me. Just thought I'd let you know.*

This is rough.

Breathe, Charity.

Okay.

Here we go.

Yesterday, 4am-ish Pacific Time, my Abuela left us to go Home.

Keep breathing.

Okay.

Obviously, I'm undergoing all the standard emotions: sadness, frustration, then the second-hand anger. All of them. I'm not going to write much about what I'm feeling really because you can probably guess and that doesn't really seem to serve a purpose.

But I am going to write about her.

The thing about my Abuela was that she took whatever life handed her and she fucking dealt with it. She didn't mourn and she didn't complain. She got off her ass and she went to work and she handled things and she made people laugh and she kept on dancing.

That was the thing about her, she just kept dancing.

I could honestly write for decades about who she was and what our relationship was like. She was kind, she was loving, we were real with each other. But I have no doubt that most of the poetry and prose that I will pen in the years to come will have her tucked neatly between the pages someplace.

I wrote once about how most of the life lessons she taught me had to do with dancing in some way (my favorite being "life is too short to dance with ugly men"). And I really think that was significant. She was always telling me stories about how she loved to go dancing, she loved to wear high heels. When we were younger we would always click on the radio and tramp about the kitchen. I'm certain that's why kitchen dance parties make up such a crucial part of my existence. One time there was an earthquake and while my aunt did the sensible thing and dove under the table, sensible was not really a part of Abuela's DNA.

"I feel the earth move under my feet . . ." She sang the popular tune while spinning around the kitchen. That's just who she was. She was life. She was joy.

Like I said, I'm sad. No shit, right? But I also know that she would smack me in the face with a slipper if she knew that I was being sad and not learning and growing and rejoicing in her memory instead.

So I'm not going to wear black until I don't feel sad anymore. She was shades of colors the world isn't even ready to witness yet. I cannot dishonor her memory by mourning her. Oh no, she was not a mourner. She was a warrior and a celebrator. Her blood is in my veins. I am those things too.


The last gift she ever gave me was something of hers that I had always admired - a flamenco dancer doll. That doll fascinated me since I was a little girl. And a few Christmases ago, she sent it to me.

I think that's significant. That last token I have of her is a Spanish dancer in a red dress.

It'll probably be a while before I genuinely feel okay.

But if there's one thing that I learned from Abuela, it's that I need to keep dancing.

Life is sure one hell of a lot better when you do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Not Going Anywhere

Oh, Mondays. No other day is so greatly loathed by the general populous as thee. So like Papa to choose 6:30am on a Monday to teach me a major life lesson.

Since I left, a lot of my relationships with people have fizzled out. This doesn't really bother me much, I expected such a thing when I was getting ready to go. Some relationships just can't withstand distance and that's okay. You can't be "friends forever" with everybody; it's best to just learn what you can from them while they're there and move on when they're not.

That lesson in itself took a while for me to understand and even longer to be okay with. But now I am. And since I've lived in Germany, I have had many opportunities to put it to use. Some of the people I've drifted from were people that I used to be really close with - they were on the list of relationships that I genuinely thought were going to be able to last. Obviously my judgement isn't always the best.

I've been learning to let them go, learning to move on, learning to be okay even without them by my side. This weekend I breathed a sigh of relief under the knowledge that I am actually really okay without them in my life.

But this morning, at around 6am, thoughts of them came into my head that were stressing me out and I wasn't sure what was going on. Naturally, I asked Papa.

"You have learned to let them go in the sense that you are okay not being with them now. You must now let them go in the sense that they may very well never come back."

That revelation hit my like a sucker punch to the gut and I had to grip the edge of the kitchen counter to make sure that I remained on my feet.

See, relationships - and people in general - are organic, always changing, always moving. Just because I said goodbye to someone six months ago doesn't mean that we won't start over again five years into the future. I've been living life since I moved here under that knowledge - that nothing is permanent, not hellos or even goodbyes. We may very well find ourselves back doing life with people who we thought we had lost somewhere down the road. Nothing is for sure.

So yes, I had let these people go with the idea in the back of my head that I was just going to run into them again, whether that was when my season in Europe has run its course or years from now at a mutual friend's wedding. I hadn't even considered the fact that I might not.

Realizing this, I immediately became plagued with symptoms of anxiety - my heart rate picking up pace, my breathing becoming more rapid, I felt that sick knot you get in your chest before you have to give an oral presentation or confront somebody about a mistake they have made. Stress was making my head hurt, my teeth were chattering, my hands began shaking. Making lunch for the boys to take to school this morning, I found myself in the middle of a panic attack.

Never in my life have I suffered from anxiety, not enough that I couldn't just power through and be okay. This was a new experience for me, and it was terrifying.

"Charity, look up."

I did, out the window into the street, and I noticed that the light reflecting on the house across from mine had changed its shade. It was glowing pink.

I grabbed a cup of coffee - really only to warm my hands - and I slipped on my shoes and I stepped out the front door and I sighed.


The sky had been painted.

I took a couple pictures before Papa told me to just relax and watch. And as I did, He spoke again.

"You're going to be okay, alright? You really are. I know that this sucks right now. Trust me, I've been in your shoes. But I care about you, Beloved. See what I did? You don't need to worry. You're going to be just fine."

Anxiety melted, and I stepped back inside to finish making sure that the children got off to school okay. They did, and now here I am, a new sense of peace instilled within my heart.

People come and they go. That's life, and it's best that we not live in ignorance of that fact. But there is One who isn't going anywhere. And He will gleefully splash a couple of watercolors onto the horizon or send a sweet bird to the tree outside our window to remind us that even when our hearts are hurting, we still know how to sing.

Life isn't all peaches, and I shan't be so naive as to pretend or to think otherwise. But I have a divine Friend who genuinely cares about my happiness. And things can't really get much better than that.


Mondays aren't all bad, Kids. If anything, they're a fresh start, a chance to begin anew and learn great things. Spend some time with somebody you love today. And make sure you whisper a thank you to the One who's not going anywhere.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Overflow

As of yesterday I am two months in to my grand adventure and honestly, things just keep getting better.

Today I played some music and FaceTimed my person, Monica. Then I built a couch fort with two of my boys and played with them for a while. After Nan came to take the little one to the playground, I worked on my German lesson and helped the oldest one work on his French lesson. Then I built a slingshot for the boys to play with, we had pizza for dinner, and now I write and relax and maybe have a Skype date or two before I go to bed at a completely reasonable hour.

This life feels too good to be real.

I think part of me has just been waiting for something to go wrong. That's been the general pattern of things, at least. Life goes great and turns into something amazing and then one area crashes and burns and drags the rest down with it. I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about. We begin to live in fear, refusing to allow ourselves to get too happy, believing that at some point our happiness will just be taken away. But we don't need to live life that way.

The pastor at my church in Colorado told us about his mother's amazing cooking. He said that she makes the most amazing ribs in the universe and everyone who had tried them could attest to that. He described her process, how she cooked them for hours and every half hour or so she would pull them out and brush them in more sauce than seemed necessary.

"Mom, they're already dripping with this barbecue sauce, I think that's enough."

"Nope, just a little bit more."

This is similar to the way that Papa douses blessing upon us.

Subconsciously, I think a lot of us believe that we must work in order to be rewarded. And don't get me wrong, that is undoubtedly true. God loves to bless us when we do work for His kingdom. But He doesn't need an excuse to give us great things.

The Word says to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. I really and truly believe this. I have seen first-hand over the course of the 2015 year just how real this truth is. Seek His face and He lavishes His grace upon you. He doesn't need a reason besides the fact that He loves you.

I chase Him first. And because of that, I can now be happy even when I am sick or lonely or stressed. My joy stems from nothing but the fact that He is. And now nothing can ever take it away from me.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

I'm Still Here

Two years ago I was depressed and lonely, contemplating leaving life behind and just giving up.

Today I sang a victory song on my terrace in Germany.


It's strange knowing where I used to be. It's hard for me to process how I could have ever sunk so low when my reality now is so different from then. But here I am, on my two-year anniversary of having conquered depression and I get to celebrate yet again.

I think it's significant that twenty-four hours after I was puking my guts out and sobbing my eyes out because I wanted to quit, I found myself in a crowded theatre called Stargazer's dancing with beautiful people to the sound of amazing music, clad in a pair of red high heels. I think it ended up being important - that it was foreshadowing the years that were to come. So much music, so much laughter, so much life. And I never would have experienced it if I hadn't pressed on.

I want to encourage you in whatever season you are now, whether you feel like you are on top of the world or that you carry its weight on your shoulders. I was once at the lowest of low points, being hunted down by demons and fears and horrors unimaginable but in spite of all of their efforts to tear me to pieces I'm still here. I'm still here and I'm still strong and I'm still pressing on in spite of how not every day is sunshine.
"You must cling to hope even in the darkest of midnights and sunrise will always find you." --line from my novel, Uritus and the Sword of Fire
When I say that it gets better, I truly mean it with all my heart. I hesitate even to use that phrase because of how it has become such a cliche and, my word, how I loathe cliches. But it does get brighter and you will be alright. Let Papa carry you for a while if you need to. That's why He's here.


(Unrelated side note: I made a YouTube channel for my music if you care to give it a look. Cheers!)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

You Make Beautiful Things

This is not what I had in mind.

This weekend began the Carnival holiday here in Germany, leaving us all free from school or work until the 23rd. We have been planning the trip for weeks now - going up to stay at Sylvie's cabin in Austria for a long weekend of skiing and good food. The trip still ended up happening, I just bade everyone farewell when they left yesterday afternoon. Conveniently enough, I fell miserably ill on Thursday and decided it would be better to quarantine myself than expose everyone to my germs.

So here I am, horribly sick and horribly alone on Valentine's Day weekend when I was supposed to go skiing for the first time with my adopted family.

But the thing is, it's okay.

I'd be lying if I said this was even remotely close to what I wanted. Being alone is hell enough, being sick and alone is a whole new level of not okay. But I said goodbye as they all drove away, reassuring myself that Jesus has got this covered, that He's going to make this work out anyway.

He did.

Last night I had a bit of a mental breakdown. I felt miserable and feverish, tired and hungry while not actually wanting to eat anything. I sat on my bed and did that thing, you know, where you talk to Papa but you're just monologuing, not allowing Him any place to cut in. I went on and on about how I knew that I wasn't really alone, how I knew He was there with me and that was more than enough, how I was sorry that such knowledge hadn't passed from my head to my heart yet. After a while, He stopped me.

"You're not getting it, Beloved."

"Getting what?"

"This weekend is not about you falling in love with Me. You already are, so fervently. This weekend is about you falling in love with yourself."

I shut up and let His words sink in. Obviously, He was right. I've spent years trying to see myself as He does, trying to understand that I'm worth real love. But it is a far more difficult process than we think. So I got up off of my bed and crossed the room to where my little mirror rested on a shelf and looked at the girl in the reflection.

She was tired and her eyes were red. Her hair was frizzy and her lips were chapped and her nose was puffy from all the tissues. She was sad and defeated, all the while feeling guilty for feeling that way while she has such an amazing life. I took a deep breath. And then I started to affirm her.

"You're good, you know. Even if you're not perfect. You don't need to be perfect, you're amazing as you are. And you're beautiful and you're talented and you're smart. And I'm sorry that I never tell you so. I . . . I do love you, even though I never say it. And I'm sorry about that and I'll try to get better. And I will keep telling you that you are beautiful and good and smart and talented until you believe it for yourself. Because I know you don't see it now but it's true. And you're going to be okay. You already are."

I think there was a reason that I needed to have such a revelation when I was sick and sad, when I was at my physically "least attractive" and least content since I moved here. I don't for a second believe that Papa made me sick - that's not who He is - but I undoubtedly believe that He used my sickness and my lonely weekend to bring me something amazing.

Love. From myself. The only thing I've ever really been missing.

I know with certainty that it's not just going to be easy to keep loving me. Surely there will come days where my reflection or my personality or my voice will irk me indescribably. But I took off another pair of shades yesterday, one that was tainting my view of the amazing woman that Papa designed. I am no one to tell Him how to do His job.

Like He said to me yesterday, "Charity, you're always talking about how people are art, how they are so uniquely beautiful and fantastic. You, Dear, are the same way. The next time you count beautiful things, include yourself on the list."

Darlings, I implore you to do the same thing, to look at yourself the way Papa does and to accept yourself for the exquisite person who looks back. It is not easy. But let me encourage you in what I know, that life is too short to tramp through ignorant of the beauty that you contain. Let's make 2015 the year of self-love. I assure you, it's more than worth it.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

One Month Down

Come Tuesday, I will have officially lived in Germany for one month.

Wait . . . what?

This is strange to me for two different reasons. The first is that I feel like I literally just got here. I so vividly remember stepping off of the plane and seeing Luzian race out of the house waving hello when the car pulled up and eating my first meal here. It doesn't feel like a full month has gone by, like I've existed in this space for longer than even a week. But today I turned the page of my Beatles calender and admired how perfectly ordered February is (four full weeks, beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday. I find this more satisfying than I probably should).

The second reason is mostly what I'm writing about today, and that is that there is no way that I could have been here for only a month because I've done at least six months worth of healing and growing and learning in this time. Did my ability to figure things out just miraculously speed up when I crossed the border into the EU? Surely there's an explanation.

I sat in a Starbucks with my mentor, Rebekah, the day I had accepted the job here. She's been doing life with me for almost seven years now and so I wanted her to be one of the first to know that I was leaving. She was the only one who didn't express deep sadness or concern when I dropped the bomb, mostly because she knows that this has been my heart for so long and she was over-the-moon stoked for me.

I described the job and the location to her - four days a week taking care of three adorable children in a tiny town made up of five thousand people which sat between the Alps and Lake Chiemsee. I remember her saying that of all the places in the world, a small town in Germany was not at all where she had pictured me. She envisioned me in a city or on a beach, somewhere big and loud and always moving.

"This is better though, I think. I know you're a people-person, and you love being around others, but this is a chance for it to just be you and Jesus, for you to focus on yourself and not have anything to distract you from that."

I knew right away that she was right and that this was why all of my other attempts to escape the Rockies had fallen through. This was my chance to escape with Yahweh, this was my opportunity to just be away with Him.

And up to this point, that's exactly what it's been. I'm playing guitar, I'm editing a novel I wrote long ago, I'm going running. I'm eating three times a day, I'm drinking more water, I'm getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night. But even more than that, I'm learning about myself, I'm shaking off all of the fears and emotional issues and problems that I once dealt with, and I'm growing. On my own time, at my own pace, I'm figuring myself out.

I had a Skype date with my best friend a few days ago, and I was able to say with the utmost certainty that I am more myself now than I ever have been before.

I can't even begin to write down all of the stories and all of the dreams and all of the me-and-Papa dialogues that I've had that have taught me things about myself and about Him and about the world around me. At one point I became concerned that I should be even better off than I am, that maybe I should be happier or less lonely, even though I'm in a very good place in both of those areas. He responded with a phrase that I have dearly taken to heart.

Do not concern yourself with ever needing to be better, Beloved. You are exactly where you are supposed to be exactly when you are supposed to be there.

I'm resting in that now, that there's no pressure on me to be better, that I don't need to worry about pushing myself even farther forward. I am good. Here, now, where I am, it is well with my soul.

I live in a country where no one speaks my language. I don't technically have any friends here, save the family I'm staying with and a few people they know. It's not always easy to communicate with those I know back home because of the eight-hour time difference. But I don't really care. None of that really matters now.

I am where I am supposed to be and that is good enough.

I hope your 2015 has been at least half as great as mine has and I hope that it gets even better.

Here's to even more growth.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Video Blog

Hello, my dears!

I have been video blogging quite a bit since I have been away as a means of putting down my thoughts in a quick and simple way. I thought I'd post the most recent vlog as well as a link to my channel, for those of you who might want to watch them in the future or subscribe (*cough*).

I may or may not start posting music soon. You will have to wait and see.

Find my channel here.

Cheers!

video

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It Is Well

I moved in to my new home yesterday.

My new home just so happens to be on the other side of the world from my old one.

That photo was taken this afternoon when I had coffee. No different from usual, right?
Wrong.
I had that delightful cappuccino in a cafe on the top floor of a hotel that sat across the river from a castle in Salzburg, Austria. The funny thing is, I don't even live in Austria.

I live in Germany.

And I can go to another country to traipse about for a few hours in the afternoon and have coffee if I so desire.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to my new life.

I don't even know where to begin.

I'm staying in a charming house with a family who treats me like I'm one of their own. I'm in a town nestled comfortably between the Alps and Lake Chiemsee. I'm also living absolutely for free and getting paid to spend a few hours with three delightful boys Monday through Thursday. I don't have words to describe how perfect everything is. This is everything I have wanted for so very long.

But the ideal setup and the closeness to so much history and culture isn't even the best thing about this.

The thing is, for the first time in God knows how long, I am at peace.
I sat on my first flight from Denver to Reykjavik unable to sleep much. I met a darling woman who is a volleyball coach in Denmark, and who happened to know a friend of mine from high school. Everyone else on the plane settled in to sleep within an hour or so, but I, so dreadfully fueled with excitement, could not. I shifted over from the B seat I had been assigned to the A seat that was unoccupied next to me and put in my headphones.

I don't even know how long I sat there, listening to music and watching land and ocean pass by beneath me.

I do remember when Something Beautiful by NEEDTOBREATHE started playing.

I was somewhere an hour away from landing, looking out the window I could see ice caps and glaciers and, occasionally, little bundles of flickering lights where some brave souls had taken up residence. I rested my head against the side of the plane and took a few deep breaths and spent some time with Papa.

Hey now, this is my desire, consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful to touch me.

I always know He's there because I get chills. He's done that for a few years now, His way of turning the cold - something that I so desperately hate - into something that I associate with Him.

I know that I'm in reach, 'cause I am down on my knees, waiting for something beautiful.

The thing was, we didn't even talk. We just kind of . . . existed in the same space. And that was everything to me. I've always judged closeness with someone by not feeling the need to do or even say anything when you're together. I have that with Him.

Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh oh, something beautiful.

His name isn't even a real name. YHWH. It's breathing sounds. Think about that. Every time you take a breath you call His name. He designed us that way. We weren't supposed to function any way but without Him. We aren't capable of it.

Beloved friends, I don't even know what to say. I have never been so at peace, so rested, so happy in my entire nineteen-and-a-half years of life. I left behind everything I ever knew, everything that was ever familiar to me for a life that was so different from what I would have normally chosen for myself (a small town in Germany? I was thinking Paris or Casablanca).

And here I am and I can truly say that it is well with my soul and for the first time in forever, I actually mean it.

Whatever time zone you are in, rest knowing that you have constant access to Something Beautiful.

All you need to do is breathe.

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