Monday, September 2, 2013

My 'Splanation: Part III

Thursday, July 26th. About 2:30pm.
 
The day I received the phone call.
 
"Talia, this is Captain H. calling. I have news for you."
 
Me: "Oh, boy."
 
Captain: "Do you think it's good news or bad?"
 
Me: "Well, I hope it's good, Sir."
 
Captain: "What do you think?"
 
Me: "It's good." Please, God, let it be good...
 
Pause.
 
Captain: "You're right! You got accepted. You're going to Quantico."
 
~ ~ ~
 
I've never been one to scream out loud. But the moment that phone touched the receiver, I couldn't repress it any longer. I screamed. The loudest, most high-pitched girly shrill of a scream that echoed throughout the house and bounced off the vaulted ceilings.
 
I had made it. I had succeeded in being one of roughly 1,400 that are accepted into OCS per year.
 
Then came the shuddering reality:
 
Of those 1,400 less than 700 graduate...
1/3 is usually dropped within the first four weeks...
Another 1/3 fails due to injuries...
Half a platoon can go home due to broken ankles...
 
*gulp* 
 
I was glad I had made it. But now the thought suddenly occurred to me: "Now comes the hard part."
 
~ ~ ~  
 
Preparing my application for OCS was no joke. You can ask any member of my family. I spent hours at the recruiter's officer, filling out paperwork, answering questions, hunting down references...I even had a surprise visit from the State Department where this guy showed up at my house flashing a government-issued badge and asking to speak with me. Talk about scary! :) Turns out all he was doing was following up on my security clearance.
 
Throughout this period, all I did was concentrate on upping my PFT score. Thankfully, with a lot of help and hard work, I managed to turn a 255 into a 280 (out of 300--not shabby!)
 
And then came the day when everything had been finalized and all I had to do was wait. and wait. and wait for the results.
 
It took three weeks longer than it was supposed to. And every day, I lived in a constant state of panic. You know what it's like to be in love and every time the phone rings, your heart stops beating? I can totally sympathize. The mental stress began to manifest itself as if I had met the love of my life. I haunted the phone. I couldn't sleep. In fact, I would have dreams that I got accepted only to wake up and find that no one had called. ;( Sometimes, I would think I heard the phone ringing in the middle of the night and would get up check the answering machine. Not even kidding.
 
So you can imagine my shock when at work, one Monday morning in the middle of a lunch rush, I received a phone call...from my mom.
 
"SSgt. M. needs to talk to you immediately."
 
Me: "What for?"
 
Mom: "Something about missing medical paperwork."
 
SILENCE 
 
To be missing medical paperwork at this stage in the game is like signing your own death warrant. And I knew it.
 
But in an effort to remain calm, I stepped outside and called the SSgt.
 
She answered. "You need to get this paperwork in today or your entire file could be jeopardized."
 
(Translation: everything you've worked for over the last 6 months will be null and void.)
 
Me (trying to keep a steady voice): "Okay. I have to get off work. Give me a half hour."
 
I let my cell phone drop into my apron pocket. By now the tears were rushing to my eyes and nothing I said or did could hold them back. Marines don't cry, I kept telling myself. But that helped about one iota of a percent, so I ran to the storeroom where I sobbed the whole story to my manager.
 
Thankfully, she let me go. And by the time the SSgt. picked me up there were no trace of tears. We spent the next six hours driving from one place to the another, collecting paperwork that should have already been processed a week ago. Unfortunately, the eye doctor at MEPS mislabeled something that indicated my eyesight (horrible as it is) was non-correctable to 20/20. Totally not true. And then, of course, there was the doctor's note for a specific medication that was not composed in enough detail. So that had to get fixed.
 
All in all, it was one of the most stressful days of my life, and one I would not care to repeat again.
 
But through it all, God was faithful. And as He promised, everything worked itself out. I wish I could say I was a pillar of faith throughout the whole ordeal, but *ahem* that would be lying. ;)
 
Truth be told, I was a mess, looking great on the outside and feeling completely vulnerable and helpless. I had forgotten what the Lord had spoken to me. I had placed my trust in man and man had failed.
 
In the end however, I can truly say that good came out of this whole situation. It allowed me to witness firsthand the faithfulness of God. But more than that, it confirmed to me (again) His will.
 
I could have missed the deadline. The Captain could have caught the error too late. Or the OCS board could have overlooked my file altogether... 
 
But none of that happened. God, once again, came through on His side of the bargain. And I am (again) reaffirmed that this path--crazy and unorthodox as it may be--is in His perfect plan for my life!
 
It will not be easy. I still struggle with doubts as to whether or not I will graduate. (And a very large part of me says I won't). But I can't dwell on that. I can only walk in faith, believing what God told me.
 
And that means shipping out to Quantico in less than three weeks. ;) It means placing myself in a hellish environment and trusting that God, and the training I've received here, will see me through.
 
After all, I'm running my race to win. ;)
 
So...that's pretty much it. Sorry it took so long, but I wanted to make sure I worded this right. ;)
 
Hope you all had a great Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My 'Splanation: Part II

Well, here it is: part two! Not that I think anyone has been sitting on pins and needles, but for those of you who are remotely curious, here you go! ;)
 
Alright then...where did we leave off? Oh, yeah. My inspiration to become a Marine stemming from Disney movies! lol Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I honestly believe that's where the idea of breaking boundaries and living outside of conventional, societal norms was first introduced. In many ways, I still identify with the "concept" of Mulan. You take a privileged, adolescent girl with big dreams, put her in a tradition-oriented society, and voila--you've got Talia to a "T." :) But that's another story altogether...
 
Of course, I couldn't have articulated all this back then. But looking back, I can see how the "seeds of revolution were planted." I'll have you know, I still work out to the song "I'll Make a Man Out of You." :) 
 
I've always sensed that I would live a different life than that of my friends--or my parents for that matter. Much as I love and respect them, I've never been the type to abide by the "graduate-high-school-go-to-college-get-married-have-children" formula. I have big dreams. I have "high and lofty" ambitions as some would call them. And many of them may or may not come to fruition. The important thing, for me, is to be in the center of God's will...and that's where this story takes a bit of a turn.
 
Up until a few months ago, the idea of joining the Marine Corps was a purely self-centered goal. I would give four years to the service, gain some job-related experience, satisfy a childhood dream, and use the money from the GI bill to attend graduate school at Oxford. All of it sounded like a golden plan--until one quiet morning this past January. 
 
It wasn't a particularly eventful day. I was sitting in my room, doing my quiet time, when I felt the Holy Spirit undeniably whisper to me: "Talia," it said. "I want you to use your platform as an officer in the Marine Corps to spread the gospel. You have led such a privileged life, growing up in a Christian home, learning from Christian parents. It's time for you to share what you have learned with others. They say you have to want to be a Marine before anything else, but I want you to be a missionary before you ever want to be a Marine."
 
That was it. But I heard it--crystal clear. And it kinda scared me, because for anyone who has heard the Holy Spirit speak to them, it eventually clicks that the God of the universe has just spoken...to you.

And suddenly, the first part of Ezekiel 34:16 popped into my head. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick..."

To put it simply, it was if the Lord was asking me to do exactly what He promised to the people of Israel. To be that "shepherd figure," in a sense, to women who use the military (and especially the Marines) as an escape route, a means of affirmation, an attempt to resurrect purpose and respect...  
 
Call it the spiritual strangest encounter I have ever had, but immediately, I felt an incredible sense of peace and security wash over me. It was as if something confirmed, deep down in my spirit, that this was not only something I had been called to do, but something I had been prepared to do all my life. And I knew then, as I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what challenges or difficulties lie ahead, I am never alone; for Christ is my Captain, and where He leads, He also provides. Even if it's not easy. Even if it breaks me in the process. I know I have been called to serve (both physically and spiritually) in the military, and that assurance is what gives me the boldness to face any obstacle/criticism/fear the Enemy throws my way.  
 
 But it gets better...      
 
Two hours after that encounter, I called a friend of mine to see if we were meeting for lunch. After exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, she said she had had the oddest vision about me the night before. "It was weird," she prefaced, "but I started thinking about how strong you are and how disciplined and structured your life has been up to this point. And I started wondering, 'what is she hoping the Marine Corps will give her that she doesn't have already?' And then the thought came to me: maybe the Lord is putting you in this position to share the gospel with people who really need to hear it."
 
To share the gospel...now where had I heard that before?
 
I don't know how you guys make life-altering decisions, but by this point, I was shaking. I mean, to have someone confirm what I felt the Lord had spoken to me two hours earlier?  But it gets better. ;)
 
It's hard to explain how God speaks to you. After all, we're not exactly privy to big, thunderous voices from the sky. But confirmation, I'm finding, is manifest in the little things. Things I read in the Word. The peace I experience each time I step into my recruiter's office. Even when I'm running ridiculously exhaustive PT drills with other candidates, I know that this is where I belong. There's no guarantee I'll get selected into Officer Candidate School or even make it through to graduation. There is a 2/3 drop out rate for women. But I know, like I know, like I know, like I know that the Lord is in this, and I'm walking by faith--as if it's already happened.
 
There will always be those who look at my decision and question my motives, my reason, my judgment, my spiritual attuned-ness. ;) After all, this could potentially blow up in my face and then where will I be? Don't I have any idea what I'm getting into? Have I read the news lately? Don't I know that a disconcerting percentage of women in the armed forced have been verbally or sexually harassed?
 
Of course I know all those things, some of them in grisly, grimy detail. But then I ask: where would David be if God hadn't delivered Goliath into his hand? Where would Elijah be if God hadn't rained down fire on the altar at Carmel?
 
Sometimes, you have to step out in faith and trust that God will show Himself faithful...before you see the evidence of your eyes. Because if you stay trapped in the security net of "if it's the Lord's will," then you'll never see Him move mountains!  
 
Like I said before, I know my decision isn't popular, nor was it particularly well-received by my parents and loved ones. But what can you do when you have God shouting in one ear and your support group whispering by comparison in the other? :)
 
This has been an inexpressibly scary journey for me. It's required a lot of thought and prayer, time, and research. But ultimately, I'm confidant it's the right choice, and I look forward to seeing what God will do in and through me.
 
You never know how little steps mount up to big ones. One minute you're watching Disney movies, the next you're shaking a veteran's hand...and the next you're signing papers that say things like "four years" and "active duty"! I never in a million years thought I would seriously be joining the Marine Corp. I never thought I would actually be in this position. But it's real. And it's happened.
 
And it feels like the culmination of everything I was ever meant to be.
 
One more things: the Marine Corps' motto is "semper fidelis," which means "always faithful." As I sit here typing out this blog post, I can't help but think how appropriate that phrase is. That the duty to which I am called requires trust and loyalty, both to my superiors and subordinates on Earth, but especially to my Father in Heaven.

Stay tuned to Part III.

Blessings,

Monday, August 5, 2013

Three Months Later..

Wow. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was getting ready to graduate from college, and here it is--AUGUST 5th, 2013--already. Eeeesh! Well, for those of you who bother to check up on this blog from time to time, I apologize for my absence.
 
To be honest, I just haven't felt inspired to write anything lately. Or if I have, I'm usually not suicidal enough to publish it. :)
 
I haven't been particularly busy of late (at least not by my standards). But as I sit here and type, I realize I have a whole lot of intel that needs to be shared before any of you can appreciate my latest news! ;)
 
First of all, we have remodeled our kitchen and downstairs bathroom. Talk about a big project! We spent pretty much all of the month of June/early July living outside. 'Course as we're used to camping, the accommodations and food made up for the slightly uncomfortable living conditions. lol Such first world problems! For those of you who are interested, here are some pics:
 
before
after
 
before
and after
So yeah...pretty drastic difference! I have to say though, we are LOVING the new look and it's been a blast "trying things out." :) I never knew how wonderful it could be to cook with a double oven! :)
 
Other news:
 
1) Nick spent the greater part of the summer at camp (through our church). Five weeks later, he came back tanned, slim, and several inches taller. [His manly ego grew a bit too, I think] =) 
 
2) Joe landed his first paid film "gig." He spent a week capturing a debate camp on camera and making a documentary for the event.
 
3) Mia has been enrolled in a day camp since the beginning of June...a diversion we thought necessary during all the construction chaos. Poor kid!  So as not to interfere with the workers, she spent the majority of the day in her room. So we thought this would be a fun and health solution. Praise God, her English has definitely improved, and she has made several new friends her own age! Even better, she has bumped up to the 2nd grade class at church, which means her social skills have improved beyond that of a kindergartner!
 
4) Random fact: I have been to the movie theater more times this year than at any other point in my life! Fun summer flicks include: Man of Steel, The Lone Ranger, and Monsters University. Looking forward to Catching Fire and Noah with Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. How's that for eclectic taste? :P 
 
Of course, there's a whole slew of information regarding the Marines that I'm eager to share. But first I have to post the long-awaited "'Splanation: Part 2." So stayed tuned and I'll spill my guts in the next post. ;)
 
Love lots,
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Run, Forrest, Run!"

Running does not come easily for me.
 
No, really. I'm not just saying that because I'm a wuss. Running is (and has always been) a perpetual  struggle for me...ever since I was a kid. Every step, each individual breath hurts in some way, shape, or form. Side stitches, shin splints, legs that feel like lead weights, aches in my elbows or knee caps, stomach cramps, calf cramps, quad cramps, you name it! I never run without feeling one or all of these symptoms for the duration of the exercise. Runner's high? Doesn't exist for me. Neither, for that matter, does the term "good run." It's just not in my vocabulary. ;) Every run is the result of mental determination and lots and lots of prayer! Unfortunately, it just so happens that  the job I have chosen for the next four years is predicated on the ability to run--fast, for long periods of time. ;D
 
Soooo. All that to say I have been training for my PFT (Physical Fitness Test) for going on two months now. And failing miserably. :) I  just could not make it through the 3 mile route without stopping. I also--for. the. life. of. me--could not manage to break 27min.
 
Until today. ;)
 
Today, for the first time ever, I ran 3 miles in 23:19! Praise God! I am so, so, so happy! (And so is my recruiter!) Not only is this a first, but it's just testimony to God's amazing power. I could not be more thrilled, more thankful, more in awe of what He is doing in my life and in my spiritual walk!

"They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 
 
I wish I could say I was looking forward to running the PFT again, but for now, it is enough to know that "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me."
 
...even muddle through a grueling 3 miles. ;)
 
A very sore, stiff, but otherwise elated,

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Yes, Sir."

That is what I have been saying all day long.
 
"Yes, sir."
"No ma'am."
"Aye, sir."
"Aye, ma'am."
 
This morning I had my MEP (Military Entrance Process) in Los Angeles at the oh-so-convenient hour of 0445. Yep, you read that right. 4:45AM!!!!! And just to clarify, I had to be there, standing in line, at 0445. Which means I had to wake up at three this morning. *yawn*
 
Can I just say how nice it is to use the freeway during the wee hours of the morning? There's no traffic...like none!! And some of you are probably wondering why on earth that is such a big deal! Well, I'll tell ya! It's because driving into LA at any other time other than 3am means bumper to bumper traffic, a zillion and one cars, and the stress of trying to get to your destination within the same eon of time.  But today posed no such problems. I was in line and standing amidst a throng of strangers at precisely 4:45am. ;) Thank goodness I had made myself a coffee beforehand!
 
I have never felt such a surge of adrenaline in my entire life. To be there, standing before guys in uniform and feeling as though you are one inch tall...there are no words to describe it. ;) The pressure, the straining to hear the sergeant's voice from across the room--everything felt so surreal. Even though it was, quite possibly, the most disorganized, bureaucratic experience I have ever had. lol
 
Today's agenda just involved taking my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and my physical. Talk about an exhaustively invasive process! A three hour exam (which I passed with flying colors, praise God!) followed by two more hours of being poked and prodded, stripped and sterilized! lol Thankfully, I had nothing serious to report to medical--other than a few DUIs, some tattoos, and a four year jail sentence. Almost forgot that part. ;)
 
In all seriousness, though, I'm so glad my life (up until this point at least) has been free of baggage. That God, in His grace and foreknowledge, has kept me from experiences that are not only harmful, but degrading to the soul and spirit. I'm not perfect by any means, but I do feel very blessed to have had such a positive, healthy childhood, a substantial upbringing, and a (mostly) drama-free adolescence. ;) It's something I never really appreciated until now.
 
So, yeah. That's about it. I know I still have to post part II of my "'Splanation." Believe me, it's coming. But first I have to catch up on some much needed sleep before I take my practice PFT Physical Fitness Test) on Wednesday! Here's to running 3 miles in 21 min. Or trying to. ;)
 
Love,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My 'Splanation. ;)

For those of you who aren't acquainted with I Love Lucy, I've decided to borrow Ricky's English pronunciation for my blog post title today. ;)
Well, it's a beautiful 72 degrees in sunny So. Cal. A trifle windy, but nothing too serious.  I spent the bulk of the morning at the beauty parlor tending to my fried/frizzled tresses. Remind me never to put blonde highlights in my hair. A few touches of the hair straightener later and my hair underwent a revolution of all its own. Sound bad? Well, to give you an idea, my stylist literally spent 30 minutes trimming fuzzy, frazzled split ends--yikes! But now I'm back to being a brunette, so the whole "confused blonde" joke has officially expired. ;)
 
All that to say, as I was leaving the salon, I couldn't help think about the irony of it all. Here I am, barely 20 years old, doing a normal thing that most girls my age do...and yet a mere two days ago, I was sitting across the table from U.S. Marine Corps Captain, filling out paperwork, and practicing for the ASVAB. We were talking guns and weapons training, stress fractures and deployment...he was telling me about sequester cuts, and I was asking about Intelligence positions.
 
It made me realize just how incredibly bipolar I really am. ;) But it also got me thinking: how did I even get to this point? How did I go from playing "princess dress up" in my bedroom to wanting to be a Marine Corps officer? Where would I even begin?
 
That's when I decided to write it all down. I want to make sure this journey is recorded, for my sake as well as my family/friends'. Consider it my defense against those who would say I've gone off the deep end! Seriously though, I just need to get it straight in my own head. Where this all started, how the Lord has led me to this point, my motivations, etc. So. Without any further ado, here is my 'splanation, part I. ;)
 
I have wanted to experience Marine boot camp since I was roughly 13 years old. Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say I first considered the possibility after watching the Disney movie, Mulan.

 
There's just something so magnetic about that movie...and yeah, I know what you're thinking. Why Mulan? Because um, duh! She and Belle (Beauty and the Beast) are the only princesses with a brain between their ears! ;) I remember, even from a young age, always wanting to be that perfect combination of grace, strength, beauty, book-smarts, and spunk. And for some reason, the thought of anything "military" always translated into the Marine Corps. Thinking back, I think it's odd that I never considered Army, Navy, or Air Force...Not that I didn't respect those branches or didn't have any emotional ties to them (I have family members who are ex-Navy), it just never crossed my mind. Neither, for that matter, did actual enlistment. It was just something I wanted to do as a dare to myself.
 
I remember saying to my mom one day, "I wish they had boot camp for civilians." An inevitable "why" quickly followed. "Just to see if I could do it," I answered.
 
For those of you who know me well, you'll know I'm extremely competitive. I love challenges, I get a sick satisfaction out of pain, and I love the idea of someone pushing me to do better, accomplish more. Military movies where the drill sergeant is yelling in someone's face always gave me a thrill. You know, the "yeah-I-wish-that-would-happen-to-me" kind of a thrill. ;) I remember watching films like Glory and The Patriot and marveling at how these rag-tag militias became disciplined, devoted soldiers.
 
I have also always incredibly empathized  with anything military-related. To shed a little light into my personal life, I don't have many "soft-spots"...I've never been a touchy-feely, cry-because-the-puppy-died kind of a girl. But the one thing that will get me in the gut every single time is the military. Doesn't matter what it is. It could be a movie, a song, a tragedy in current events, or even the effects of my woeful imaginings, I will break down into tears. Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, The Great Escape...need I go on?
 
I think being politically-minded, not to mention patriotic to the hyper extreme, contributed a lot to my heart for the Marine Corps. But admittedly, the sentiments I felt (and still feel) were not entirely normal. For example, my family also shares the same patriotic and, to some extent, political fervor that I do. They are also incredibly grateful to all the men and women who have fought and died to preserve this country's freedom. Yet none of them gush tears when Lonestar's "I'm Already There" comes on the radio. And to my knowledge, neither do any of my friends. I remember a few months ago, ironing some shirts while listening to Pandora. That song came on the radio, and I was literally wiping my face with the back of my hand to insure that I wasn't starching snot and tears into my dad's work clothes. In about 30 seconds, I was reduced from a state of perfect happiness to one of complete misery. And no, it was not that time of the month...it's a regular occurrence where this song is concerned. ;)
I could go on and on. But the point is, my decision to join the Marine Corps was not something that I did on a whim. There was rhyme and reason, if not a bit of Divine intervention. I'll get into that in my next post. For now, looking back, I can say that this whole thing has been a gradual process that has really been shaped over the course of my life. And to think it all started with a Disney movie. ;)
 
Stay tuned for part II!

A tired-but-fighting-to-stay-awake,
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Here We Go!

5:39am--Today marks the first day of training. Starting today, I will be waking up at 5am M-F in an effort to prepare myself for OCS. *yawns* I've been up for 40 minutes already, and already I'm wondering why anyone would choose this ungodly hour to begin the day. *yawns* Oh, well. Better get used to it. At least its quiet. Come October *fingers crossed* I'll be hearing nothing but drill sergeants "blasting" me from dawn 'til dusk. I'm so excited! Why? Because for the last six months (but really the last several years), I have felt God knit my heart to the Marine Corps. I have seen Him give me a vision that is so much greater than myself, watched Him orchestrate events and circumstances in my life that have pointed me in this direction. And I could not be more excited/terrified!

Today I call my OSO (Officer Selection Officer) to schedule a phone interview which will kick-start the enlistment process. I don't know if I'll qualify for OCS (Officer Candidate School) or if I'll even make it through to graduation. But I know this beyond a shadow a doubt: I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me…even run 3 miles in 21:00. *sighs* That will be a testimony in and of itself--I'm such a terrible runner. Still, I'm choosing to look at the bright side, knowing that the God who has brought me this far will not leave me stranded. In spite of a 2/3 drop-out rate for female candidates, in spite of all the uncertainties and inevitable pain that lies ahead, somehow I will make it through. Because if God is for me, who or what can stand against me? ;) Wish me luck!
From one tired Marine-in-training. ;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Learning To Say "No" When Your Heart Wants To Say "Yes!"

Learning to say no when your heart wants to say yes...

This is something I've become quite practiced at in the course of the last month of so. 
That little voice inside head that says, "just go with it," when your gut tells you to stop, drop, and run as fast as you can in the other direction...or at the very least, approach with caution. :)

It's not easy to obey "common sense" when opportunities cross your path that are anything but common. But ultimately, it's the right thing to do. And being able to sleep at night, for me, wins out over the "thrills" of being awake. At least, that's what I tell myself...

I've also learned that faith in ones standards can waver just a bit in the face of temptation. That no matter how solid you think you are, until you're presented with an alternative of some kind, you have no right to say you practice whatever it is you believe. Kind of like the scientific method--you can't put any kind of faith in a hypothesis unless you've tested a conflicting theory...

What else...Oh, anyone who tells you to follow your heart is a complete idiot. I don't know where Hollywood came up with the assertion that impulsivity triumphs over methodical consideration, but someone screwed up along the way. Big time. There's no such thing as "happy endings" for those who dive into decisions head-first! We live in a real, non-scripted world, people! :)

Overall, this month has had me scratching my head, wondering why we as humans invite chaos when it's so much simpler to just--hang. 

Wish I was all alone on an island somewhere with a book and a bottomless strawberry-banana smoothie...then I wouldn't have to worry about important phone calls or speeches or saying the right things at the right time. Who ever said growing up was fun? Ugh. :\

Monday, March 4, 2013

Morbid Monday!

[Caution: The following work is the product of late night creativity, candlelight, and the emotional effects of a nostalgic day. Read at your own peril and try not to think the worse of me for posting such sentimentality on the internet! lol]

I didn't mean to leave you there,
That summer by the sea.
But Life moved on,
Screaming louder than a possibility.
It moved more quickly, spinning faster
Than any protest I could make,
It took me down that well-worn path
And left my dreams to break.
What happened then, so long ago,
When you were by my side?
Crafting the thing I wanted most
Into the thing I most despised?
Ah, yes.
You went your way,
And I went mine.
The veil between us tore.
And in its place, stony walls
Erected
Barring my waves from shore.
You didn't mean to break my heart,
That summer by the sea.
You didn't mean so many things
That gutted the core of me.
Did it never once occur to you
That the smile upon my face
Was a thin veneer of wounded pride
That could have been erased?
Or were you busy,
Preoccupied
With the mask you always wear,
Too absorbed with grief to see
The grief I tried to bear.
But sorrow is a heavy load,
It proved too much for me.
So I left you there, with shoulders hunched
Praying that you would see.
But you stayed blind.
And so I left in kind
A bitter-sweet memory.
I didn't mean to leave you there,
That summer by the shore.
But that chapter's closed, the gavel falls
And the tide goes out once more.

 ©SprinklingsofSunshine2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Enjoying the Ride

Just something that I've been mulling over this morning...a friend of mine mentioned this a while back, and I've found it to be extremely comforting since.

Life is like a roller coaster in the dark. So many times, we ask God to turn on the lights in order that we may see the dips and turns ahead. We scream so loudly, in fact, that often we don't stop to hear that still, small voice whispering: "Relax and enjoy the ride."

A reminder of God's sovereignty. By the way, you can read my Valentine's Day post here: A Candid Valentine

Hope you're all enjoying your day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Over. Forever.



Today marks an epic day in my life, for today's the day...
 
I GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!
 
[AHHHHHH!!!! WAHOOO!!!!! *THROWS IMAGINARY CAP INTO THE AIR!!!!*] ;)
 
I can't believe it's over. After three and a half years, endless hours of studying, late nights, exams, deadlines, tears, typing, and wondering how on earth I was going to survive...I have officially finished. Forever. Permanently. And I won't have to worry about grades ever, ever, EVER again! Oh. My. Gosh. What kind of a world have I just entered? :)
 
It's funny. I'm overcome with this sense of elation, but it's not coming across the way I thought it would...as in screaming all over the house, collapsing into a puddle of tears, or dialing up every single person of my acquaintance to tell them the news! *cough* Actually...well, I only called three people. ;)
 
Instead, I just feel this sense of calm...like "Yeah, I've done it. Good job. Next?" ;)
 
Lol, I have to work really hard not to get caught up in the "what am I going tomorrow" mentality. This is a monumental moment, and I want to savor every bit of it.
 
I want to remember those days I thought I was going to die.
Those days I felt like shooting myself in the head to get away from it all. (not really, but kinda)
All the times I wanted to reach through the computer and smack my professors upside the head. (okay, maybe take their faces and smash them against the wall!)
The times I got a great score on a paper I thought I failed.
The times I did badly when I poured my life's blood into an assignment.
Driving to Fullerton to take my exams at nine in the morning.
Circling the parking structure for one empty space and having to park up on the roof.
I want to remember those late nights that I nearly drowned myself in coffee.
The pain of writer's block where time is ticking and you can't think of single sentence to save your life.
The times I spent writing emails or "cleaning" to avoid studying.
Venting to my parents about the general lack of sympathy for Western Lit. ;)
I want to remember those nights I spent wide awake in bed planning out future papers.
Rehearsing speeches in my bedroom mirror.
Growing lethargic from sitting at a desk all day.
Walking upstairs to "my dungeon."
 
I want to remember today as the day I have dotted the last "i" and put the last period at the end of a sentence. Today is the day I end my academic career (for the semi-foreseeable future). And all I want to remember is this sensation of not being able to breathe.
 
I can't really begin to say how grateful I am...to my parents, but especially my mom who homeschooled and supported me over the years. Who taught me to read and write, who drove me to all the park days and choir practices, soccer games and swim meets, who spent hours figuring what classes I needed to take and made sure to pray with me before every exam...This is a graduation for you as much as it is for me! ;) To my dad: thanks for working so hard so that mom could stay home and homeschool all of us. Thanks for empathizing with me when I thought I couldn't take it anymore...the late nights we spent talking about the future...
 
I can't say I'm going to miss anything...I've had enough deadlines and due dates to suit me for a lifetime. I know it's not over. This is just the beginning. But I'll think about that tomorrow. Today, I just want to smile and look out at the sky knowing I don't have to write a paper about it...lol!
 
Thank you to everyone who supported me over the years--even though most of you don't read this blog. Mrs. Ersalius, you were my favorite CBCS teacher! Mrs. Wilcox, I'm sorry for spilling formaldehyde all over the brand new carpet! It really wasn't my fault! ;) Thank you Professor Pannullo for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself.

And thank you, Lord, for directing me to Thomas Edison, for providing financially, for seeing me through to the other side.
 
And now, as a Thomas Edison State College graduate of 2013, I bid you all adieu!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love Unspeakable


I know it's been a while since I've posted.  Believe me, I fully intend to go back and recap the last few weeks. You won't want to miss my Valentine's Day post. ;)
But I really feel led to share something that God has recently impressed on my heart. This morning, as I was sitting on my bed, sipping my cup of hot tea and looking out my window, I was praying. Recalling how many times I've put God in a box and kept Him there in case of a crisis.
I was craving that sense of being completely dependent on Him for everything. That string of constant communication between His spirit and mine. The way it was in Austria when I was completely alone and isolated from anything that was familiar…forced to rely on Him on a moment-by-moment basis. How my comfortable So Cal life really eliminates a need for God. And I just kept thinking to myself, "Lord, I don't deserve Your love. Why did you create me when I'm so full of fault? What pleasure do I bring to You in the day to day grind?"
And then, I just felt this still, small voice whisper without a second's hesitation. "Talia, why do you love your writing? It's full of faults and errors and mistakes. It doesn't always 'conform' to your wishes and desires. But you derive pleasure in the challenge of making something from nothing; making the imperfect, perfect. You receive satisfaction when a sentence comes out just right…when your characters are like clay in your hands. You love your writing because you are its creator. And in the same way, I love you, I find pleasure in You, simply because I am your Creator."
How simple and yet how profound. To be assured of God's love not because of anything I've done, but because of what He's done for me. Doesn't that make you smile? To know that before the foundations of the Earth were laid, God was already pleased with you…simply because you were an awesome idea? Let us carry that thought into our day, confidant that nothing--absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God…or make us any less beautiful in His eyes!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Candid Valentine

Hey Guys!

Well, it's Valentine's Day again! Does anyone feel a bit left out of today's gushy, mushy festivities? ;) lol

To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to write about. I feel like there's this unspoken rule that I must spend today either bewailing the fact that I'm 19 and single…or else I should spend my time writing a blog post all about how Christ is my "Prince Charming" and how I shouldn't mind "Single Awareness Day" because He is my fulfillment, strength, Lover of my soul, etc. After all, who needs Valentines when the Bible is (duh!) the ultimate love letter? Right?
Wrong. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not buying into that logic. Call me what you will, days like today just plain stink! Big time. Because while the rest of the nation (and maybe the world, I don't know…is Valentine's an international holiday?) is out celebrating romance, butterfly feelings, and sexual intimacy, I'm at home in my flannel polka-dot pajamas, popping Hershey's kisses, and watching Beauty and the Beast with my 10 year old sister! lol Funny, for the first time in my adult life, I feel like a homeschooler! ;)
Of course, being single has its (many) benefits. And I'm the first to admit (sadly) that I prefer my own company to a lot of things…But I digress.
Believe it or not, I am actually 99.999% happy about the fact that I'm single. I'm just really not a fan of drama. In fact, if God were to throw a relationship into my life at the moment, I'd probably high-tail it in the other direction! ;) (Naturally there is always that fraction of a percent that wishes for something more.) My point in highlighting days like today is not so much to affirm my feelings on the subject, but rather to make a statement. Because I know what every (or almost every) Christian young woman is doing out there today in blogville. And well…kudos to them, but sugar-coating reality never did anyone any favors.
It's time to take a good hard look at where we are as Christian women and come up with something more substantial than "Jesus is the Love of my life." Because you're right, He should be the Love of our lives. And every day we should strive to make that more of a reality than the day before. But let's be honest, girls. If any of us can look ourselves in the mirror and profess that that statement is 100% true, we're kidding ourselves. The very phrase forbids it. In order for God to be the Love of our lives, we must be attuned to His spirit 100% of the time…or else incredibly resilient to the things of this world. And if that statement were true, why would Christians desire to get married /have relationships in the first place? Wouldn't God be enough?   
We all have multiple "loves"--distractions that push and pull us in a million directions. It doesn't necessarily mean we are less spiritual or somehow an inferior Christian…it just merely means we are human.
If that's the case then, why do we Christians feel this overwhelming need to justify our spirituality? Do we honestly believe we are convincing others as to the immensity of our faith? Or are we self-deceived? I can't tell you how many times I've heard godly women say that they are "perfectly content" waiting on the Lord to bring them a husband/boyfriend/future significant other, etc. It's like a beautiful recited speech, filled with dozens of Christian-ese terms, long sighs, and time-appropriate scripture references. And every time, I come away feeling a trifle less sure of myself and my (apparent) lack of faith in God's timing/will. I've probably done the same thing, so understand I don't say this to offend anyone. It's just part of what we have been taught: to say our prayers, wear our purity rings, and wait patiently.
I don't know about you, but I'm done waiting patiently. In fact, I'm so sick of waiting patiently, I've thrown away/deleted all my journal entries/sentimental "I-wish-you-were-here" letters to a future mister somebody! Not that I don't believe there will be a future mister somebody. But I'm done with the mentality of "when I get married…" or "when it comes time for a relationship…"
I think we should just accept that when it comes to romance, the Christian's perspective on the subject is dichotomous. ;) On one hand, we acknowledge the sovereignty of God; on the other, we are ever-so-aware of our own physical, emotional, and communal needs. I don't think it's wrong to be of that opinion…or to say that most days, we struggle to reconcile these truths.
I just really want us, this Valentine's day, to take a good, honest look at our own lives and motivations. Can you really deny that NOT having a special someone in your life today--for lack of a better word--smarts? Are you smiling between your teeth? ;)
Please, I beg you. Don't go around today professing that everything is hunky-dory when, in reality, you would like nothing more than to receive a bouquet of flowers from some gorgeous hunk standing at your door. Or at the very least, an "anonymous" (but-not-really-anonymous-because-that-would-be-super-creepy) Valentine with an invite to coffee!
Please. You give Christianity a bad name. Why? Because when the world looks at us they should NOT see some hyper-spiritual, holier-than-thou, have-it-all-together superwoman. You know what they should see? Brokenness. Humility. Admittance to the fact that maybe we don't have it all together. That God is so much bigger than our problems, He is able to overcome them for us. That is our testimony. It's a little hard to overcome something that doesn't "exist" in the first place… ;)
It's ironic, isn't it? Here we are pretending to have our little lives all ship-shape and Bristol fashion…and yet we completely eliminate any opportunity for God to work through us.
So, dear sister in Christ, I ask you: what good is your "Son-shiny," Christian life if it is does not lay open to exposure your specific areas of weakness? Insufficiency. Suffering. Is not order in the midst of chaos a greater testimony to the work of its author than order in and of itself?
I'm not saying we should throw up our hands today and wail for our lack of boyfriends. ;) All I am asking is that we stop pretending we're more spiritual than we really are.
And if you're on the flip side of the coin and can't sleep at night for thinking when/if/how/where you're going to find a relationship, I'd encourage you…find your identity before you waste it on someone else. God has so much more in store for you than butterflies and roses. A life that is brimming full of adventure and opportunities that you can't possibly imagine. You're in the garden. There's an entire forest out there just waiting to be discovered! And it's not so bad, really, to be independent. ;) Trust me.
I really hope this post has, if nothing else, brought some awareness to the fact that Christians are a little afraid of appearing weak. Okay, a lot afraid. And there's nothing wrong with that, per se. The problem is when we put expectations on ourselves (and each other) that even God didn't intend for us to carry.
So let's not waste today. Send Valentine's to your friends. Eat some chocolate. Enjoy the flowers from your dad/brothers. And watch Mr. Darcy sweep Elizabeth off her feet. But all the while you're watching them banter, as you watch their lips pucker up for that oh-so proper, English kiss, I want you to say to yourself, "Someday, that's going to be me." 
And I guarantee, the Lord will be looking down from Heaven and smiling, "Beloved, I make all things beautiful…in My time."
In the meantime, enjoy this video, which I think encapsulates the general sentiment towards February 14th. ;) XOXOXOXOXO 

Friday, February 1, 2013

From Star Wars to Merry-Go-Rounds!

Hanging out at Knott's Berry Farm's last week.
Lucia and I have been friends since 5th grade...To this day, I'm not exactly sure what brought us together (actually I do--it was God!), but one of the things I distinctly remember was our fanatical obsession Star Wars. lol What can I say? When you're a lonely Jr. Higher almost any commonality is enough to throw you together! That, and this girl just happens to be an amazing person! ;)
 Two costumed versions of Padame Amidala for Halloween. ;) We made the burgandy dress out of something in my closet. Pretty impressive for two twelve year olds!

 That was the same year I broke my ankle and had to walk around in an ugly black cast. ;( Can you tell me and my brothers were slightly Star Wars crazy? Nick (middle left) is Boba Fett and Joe is Anakin Skywalker.
 Goofin' off even back then...
Yeah. Who do you think begged their parents to take the them to the Star Wars exhibit in LA?
Check out how much we've matured since then? lol ;)
Balking at the idea of riding...a kid's ride? ;) Such a great sport, even when I drag you (quite literally) onto Big Foot Rapids! 
Ostriches all the way! 
 Havin' way more fun than a 19 year old should be allowed to have on a merry-go-round!
Kodak moment!
 The most expensive ice-cream on the planet...and half of it melted within ten minutes! ;) lol
Yes, the hole in my hand is the top of my ice cream! lol
 
And yes, I'm still a fan of Star Wars. But I've learned to appreciate the kindred spirits in my life more than galactic star ships! :) Thanks, girl, for a wonderful day and innumerable memories. ;)
 


Monday, January 28, 2013

Messy Mondays!

Every once in a while, someone comes along and says the truth that we're all afraid to voice ourselves. ;) Particularly in regards to relationships. Honestly, sometimes I think we take ourselves way too seriously...not that we shouldn't be careful. After all, we're only talking about the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. No big deal, right?

But seriously. Why do we treat relationships like one, big gladiator game--waiting for the thumbs up or else...???? Am I the only one who thinks God is more than capable of directing us to Mr. Right? Why do we put such pressure on ourselves to "get it right?" So. In there spirit of Valentine's Day, here's Blimey Cow Productions "How to Be Just Friends in (Nine) Easy Steps!" They also have some very hilarious videos about homeschool stereotypes. And yes, I know what you're all thinking...Blimey Cow? Yep. Leave it to a bunch of homeschooled graduates to come up with a name like that. And they say we're sheltered...;) lol
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Yes, I'm Still Here. ;)

I realize it's been a while since I've posted. To be honest, I just haven't felt that there's been anything to make it worth my while to sit down and type. And then I remember that that's precisely what this blog is for...to record all the those inconsequential nothings that will make them of some importance later on. ;)

As a matter of fact, a lot has happened since my last post, the most obvious being that I've completely refurbished my blog. Sprinklings of Sunshine. What on earth is that supposed to me mean? And isn't it a rather trivial title for someone who can't stand to be cliche? Probably. But I chose that name for a very specific reason. And not because it was late at night and I was too tired to come up with something clever (although that might have had something to do with it!) I chose this title because at this point in my life, nothing is certain, the future is dark...and frankly, I'm in need of some sunshine. Even if its only a sprinkling here and there. ;)

I want to capture those moments that make life so meaningful. Because we only live once, and a moment once passed is past forever. ;) So...I want to rejoice in the things I have been given, knowing that every day is a gift, and that God is with me through smooth sailing and storms. And if you think about it, what are rainy days but downpours of liquid sunshine? :) Concentrated manifestations of God's love that saturate us in His grace...so that we might thrive and grow?

But enough of my ramblings...a lot of fun things have happened since the last time I posted. For instance, I am now 27 days away from GRADUATING!!!!!! *dances around room* I seriously think that, come February 23rd, I'm going to paint my face blue alla William Wallace and run around my house screaming "FREEDOM" at the top of my lungs! ;)

I also had the good fortune to attend a fundraiser/dance several weeks ago. Initially, I was really skeptical about going because growing up guys never asked me to dance...Don't ask me why. I just know that from Jr. High to high school, I spent the greater portion of every dance (which totals about four) being a wall-flower...or dancing with a girl half my age. lol However, I'm happy to say that whether my warts and hooked nose have suddenly vanished or whether guys are more courageous in college than they are in high school, I had the time of my life!

Which leads me to a very important point. Guys: dancing is not a proposal. It is not a invite to coffee. It's not a declaration of your feelings. It's a dance. It's a social art. And it's good practice in hand-eye coordination. For crying out loud, suck in your breath, wipe your sweaty hands on the seat of your trousers, and go ask a girl to dance! The worst she can say is no. But just as a little heads up, unless you're Awkwardness himself, she probably won't refuse. In fact, most girls would rather stand up with Quasimodo than sit along the wall all by herself. ;) *exhales* Moving on...

I also started (and stopped) a diet that was, by and large, very successful. Even got down to 139 lbs. which I haven't been since I was like--15 years old. ;) But I realized, after about three weeks, that God gave us all kinds of food to enjoy and refusing to eat carbs because they're "bad"essentially makes an idol out of foods that the world considers "good." And Jesus broke bread, right? So. Anyway, I'm off of it now. I guess I still need to learn more about moderation and freedom in Christ. ;)

Other than that, not much has changed. Except for the fact that my family and I started Downtown Abbey this month, which has been heaps of fun!
Can I just say that I really like Mary Crawley? I mean really. I know most people find her uppity and annoying. But I can't help feeling sorry for her. I love her strength, her inner passion--and her sarcasm. ;)
 
We're only on season one (yes, I know--shockingly behind), but we took our time due to some reservations regarding objectionable content. Suffice it to say, this series does have two or three brief scenes that need to be skipped in some early episodes. All in all however, we are enjoying the upstairs and downstairs lives of Downtown's inhabitants--and sighing for the fact that we can't afford servants! :) lol

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The House Retreat 2012

Just got back from an amazing time up in Twin Peaks! I don't know what the weather was like last weekend, but up there, it was snowy and cold. Beautiful, though. I can't remember the last time I was privy to a winter wonderland! :)
 
I went up with the college group from my church. Course, as I've been attending a different church from the one my family goes to, I didn't know a single soul. But I was super excited to hear that Ben Courson would be teaching, so in the interest of getting questions answered and spending some time with Christians my own age, I went. ;)
 
The theme of the retreat was on sacrificial worship. You have no idea the kind of things God did in my heart, but one thing He kept impressing upon me was my need to be broken. That instead of putting up walls to protect myself from pain, I must relinquish control of my heart back to Him. A living sacrifice, as it were--or as Ben put it: "staying on the alter even when the going gets tough."
 
I thought I'd copy down my notes from his talk on the fruit of the spirit. He put the "fruit" in such perspective...I don't think I'll ever look at Gal. 5:22-23 the same way again. I'd encourage you to read through it and see what needs tending in your own orchard. ;)
 
The fruit of the spirit is...
 
LOVE
agape--unconquerable benevolence
 
JOY
a holy optimism
 
PEACE
a calm delight; inner tranquility or repose
the size of your problems are only as big as the backdrop you're comparing them to
 
PATIENCE
courageous enduring
 
KINDNESS
thick-skinned and tender-hearted
to be thick-skinned against your own needs and tender hearted towards the needs of others
 
GOODNESS
virtue equipped at every point
 
FAITHFULNESS
trustworthiness and reliability
 
GENTLENESS
always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time
 
SELF-CONTROL
self mastery
when the Spirit controls your life, he enables you to control yourself
 
And then one quote that really spoke to me..."Jesus gave his hands to the nails and his heart to the spear--lived a flawless life and died a felon's death."
 
Wow! I came away feeling so humbled at the majesty of God. So incredibly insignificant and yet so exceptionally empowered by Christ who lives in me. ;)
 
Here are a few pictures. Sorry they're blurry, I took them with my iPod.
   
 
My roommates: Melanie, Lucy, and Caitlin
 Chapel (with Nanci smiling in the foreground). I used to dance on this stage when I was just five or six years old. Who would have thought I'd be back all these years later?
My happy, peppy roommate. The first time I met her, I thought Rapunzel had walked into the room!
 
Old friends and new ones...Jordan, Ben, and guy on the far left whose name escapes me at the moment. *bites lip*
We stopped for Mexican food on the drive back. So good!
Time for another photo op!
Who's idea was it to pose for pictures in freezing cold weather?
On the car ride home...
Snow makes me happy! ;)
 
Hope you guys are having a great evening...or is it morning? lol
 
Lots of love,