November 3

5 Things I Learned Going Away to College

One of the most common questions I received when I first announced I decided to go away to college was, “Why in the world would you want to leave your home and state to go to a college?” At the time, I had no answer, but since leaving I have an answer.

  1. I became independent. From buying cleaning supplies to deciding whether or not that dress is worth your hard-earned money makes you learn a lot about yourself. I didn’t have my parents to tell me what to do, when to study, when to be nice or when to be mean. They were gone and I had to make a stand with my own two feet.
  2. I learned a different culture. I was in culture-shock when I first hit Florida soil. The people talked differently, there was less traffic, and the fast food was different. Even the weather had a mind of its own! I felt a stranger in my own country. I learned more about myself through the exposure of a different state than I thought possible. I learned that California is not the center of the universe and that I can appreciate the way other people do things.
  3. I relied on the Lord more. This is a big one. Before leaving home, I was content enough to rely on people around me for the reason I believed what I believed. Coming to Florida and meeting people with different takes on Christianity, has forced myself to study the Word more deeply and realize why I believe what I believe
  4. I was forced outside my comfort zone. I was or still am a very shy and reserved person. Being away from home and in my current job, I am forced to move outside my myself and be more outgoing. I still struggle with shyness, but the Lord has put me in leadership positions and pushed me outside my comfort zone to force me to become more open.
  5. I became my own person. Being away from your family, especially a large family, made grow more as a person and individual. Yes, I had my own character before I left home, but it developed more being away from my family. I am more sure of myself and more confident in who the Lord has made me

Yes, it is difficult to live away from home, but I have learned so much in the two-half years I have been away from home. I sometimes miss the mountains or the food (In-N-Out Burger all the way), but the Lord has taught me so much. I would never trade the memories and the growth that the Lord has given me. I am glad that I said, “I will go Lord, send me!”

October 20

What a Clownish Time

“It looks like everything is in order,” said the clerk, smiling through her lashes. “Let me get the bank manager, Mr. Jiggles.

I nodded my head, trying to suppress a laugh. Who in the world would be named Mr. Jiggles? The name reminded me of a clown. I pushed the evil thought away. I wasn’t going to think about that day. I sat back and tried to let the nervousness slip away from me. The time ticked by and my nervousness began to eat my insides. Where they going to allow me to get that loan?

“Mr. Jones?” asked a burly voice behind me. I nearly jumped out of my seat from fright.

“Yes,” I stand up and turn around. I took a step back. The man was dressed in a clown outfit, complete with curly McDonald-red hair and boat-like shoes. He smiled, slowly almost grotesquely at me. “What?” I started to say.

“Oh, I’m sorry for the costume,” said the voice behind the white gook. “Today, is national clown days and I love clowns. Don’t you?”

“Uh,” I took another step away. The idea of having to deal with a clown brought back too many horrible memories from childhood. “Not particularly.” I whispered.

“Why don’t you sit down? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. You are having a clown of a time…Get it?” He laughed at his own joke before pushing me into a seat. I numbly sat and shook myself out of my revere. I could hear the distant shots and hear my mother scream. It would give any grown person angst about seeing a familiar object associated with a death of a beloved parent. I tried to smile at the stupid joke that Mr. Jiggles said. He seemed not to be perturbed by my obvious unease about his costume. “Let’s see here. Angela was telling me that you were looking into getting a loan. Hmm…” He stopped and scratched himself. A few specks of white paint floated down on the piece of paper. My stomach revolted against it. I swallowed.

“Yes, I need to get a loan to pay for some medical bills.”

“Hmm,” said Mr. Jiggles. I could tell he was not listening to me. Nobody wanted to hear the sob stories. It would make the transaction too personal. I sat back in my chair watching as Mr. Jiggles pretended to be interested in the loan. “Looks like everything is in order. I just need you to sign here.” I reached for a pen. He laughed mechanically. “It’s like your signing your life away.”

I smiled thinly at his joke. “I am.”



October 6

Frog in the Throat

There was nothing on the TV! Why was I even buying this stupid service? Out of the five thousand channels there was nothing good on. Frustrated, I threw the remote across the coffee table.
Sitting on the coffee table was a coke. Wait, what? I stare at the coke trying to remember opening it.
“Man, I must be really losing it,” I mutter to myself. “I don’t remember opening it.” The offending coke still sat there giving me no answers. “Now that I think about it, I didn’t buy any either.” I walked over to the fridge. Nope, nothing in the fridge. Panic started to set in, did I have dementia? I sat back down on the couch. I took a cautious swig of the coke.
“Knock, knock” I hear my sister singing as she knocked on the screen door. I scowled at her as I opened the door. “What’s up with you?” She sang at me.
“Croak” I said. I touched my throat. “Croak.”
My sister giggled hysterically. “What’s up with you? Are we playing frog?” She started laughing again as I tried to emphatically tell her with my eyes to shut up. She didn’t listen. I tried again.
“Okay, it was funny the first time. There is a certain time when it stops being funny.”
“Croak.” I said trying to tell her I know.
“I said stop it, sis. Really! It was only funny the first time.”
I tried to gesture with my hand motions to the coke on the table. When I looked back at the table, the coke was gone. My sister was starting to look at me with horror. Where was the coke? No, I didn’t just dream everything, did I? True panic was starting to set in.
“Hey Mel, you look like you are a little green.” I glared at her. “No, really.”
This was not a good day for my sister to come over. What was I thinking? I pointed towards the door.
“No, Mel. Look in the mirror.”
I looked and stared in horror as I watched my face turn a deeper and uglier green. “Croak.” I tried to scream, but only croaks came out of my mouth.
My sister was slowly backing up away from me. “No, don’t leave” I wanted to scream. “Please, save me from myself.” But my sister was already out the door. I heard the door slam as I felt myself shrinking.
A disembodied voice called out to me as I finally shrunk down. “The Spell can only be broken through true love’s first kiss.”
I woke up with a start. The TV was blaring with the credits of the Princess and the Frog. Ugh, that was a horrible dream. Wait…why is there a coke on my coffee table?

September 28

My Adventure at Sea

The Bermuda Triangle. The words themselves seemed ominous. My crew begged me not to head into the Bermuda Triangle, but I refused to listen to them. What a fool I’ve been! The storm ragged and the boat rocked back and forth, groaning against the storm. My men scurried along the ship, baling water and screaming in terror. I stood stoically at the wheel, trying my hardest not to show any emotions.

“Captain! Captain!” My first mate scurried up to me. His dark hair was matted to the top of his head, his eyes showed fear and desperation. “The ship has sprung a leak.”

I felt my blood drain from my face. We were not any closer to our destination. For sure we were going to sink. I wanted to berate myself for not listening to my crews superstitions, for wanting to get there sooner to see my love. Julia. Just the name made me wish to see her, to touch her.

“Fix it.” I stated, trying not to let my feelings show on my face. “Get the tar and fix the stupid hole.” I took a deep breath as the first mate started talking.

“We threw over the tar, Captain.”

Julia, oh Julia. I thought to myself. I would never see you again. The boat lurched and I felt myself losing my grip on the wheel. I scrambled and righted myself, but the First Mate was not lucky enough. He pitched forward and fell overboard. I sucked in a breath and felt the icy waters splashing at my feet, soaking through the boots that Julia had given me. The roar of the waves crashed against the boat, true fear began to eat at me. Maybe this time I wouldn’t get away.”You.” I screamed at the nearest man. He turned to me and ran over. “Find something to get that leak taken care of.” He scrambled away as the next wave crashed over the struggling boat. The icy water was almost to my knees. The man I had sent had been swept off the boat. The other men around me had lost hope. They gripped the boat bleakly and stared at the churning water waiting, waiting for the death that would surely come.

I gripped the wheel as I heard the screams of the men that I sentenced to death. This is what it felt like to be responsible, responsible for the crew that succumbed to the watery depths below.

Goodbye Julia. I wish that I could have seen you one last time. If only, I had listen to my crew…

September 22

I Spy with My Little Eye

It was a long day. I passed into the break room after just getting off the phone with a difficult customer. I pulled my hand through my hair and grabbed the coffee pot–cold coffee…great. I grimaced at the bitterness of the coffee and glanced outside. I took in the pristine and impersonal skyscrapers that dotted downtown LA. If life was different… I stopped and my blood ran cold. A man stood in my line of vision sitting on a bench below. He had a black briefcase with him.

“Lisa, are you alright?” My boss walked in looking immaculate in a navy blue coat that brought out his blue eyes. His dark brown hair was combed to the side. I turned to him and gave him a reassuring smile.

“The coffee is a little cold.” I glanced outside again and the man had disappeared. Belatedly, I realized Rob was talking. “What did you say?”

I felt myself blush as he perused me again. “I said that is a shame. What is really troubling you?”

I nearly panicked. I couldn’t tell him what I had seen, it would raise questions that I was not willing to answer. I groped for anything that would satisfy my boss’s curiosity. “I just got off the phone with a particularly difficult customer.” I rubbed my neck and tried to smile at him. “They were upset about a delivery.”

“I’m sure you handled it just fine.” He gave me a reassuring smile.

“Thanks.” I tore my gaze from the window and skirted the boss. “I better get back to it.”

I walked down the hallway feeling his eyes on my back. He knew something was up. I entered my office and grabbed my bag. I knew that I only had two minutes to grab everything and leave. Rob had taken too much of my time. I felt the regret shimming down my back. If only things were different. I unlocked the top drawer and grabbed the familiar weight of the gun.

“Lisa?” I sighed and turned towards my boss. “Where are you going?”

“Family emergency.” I told him. It was partly the truth.

“I hope it is not serious.”

“No. I’ll call you.”

I rushed out of the office before he could ask any more questions. I glanced down at my watch–3o seconds. Drats! I hit the elevator button. The elevator opened and I ran inside it, pressing the lobby button. I held the closed button as it went down twelve stories.

“You’re late.” My contact said as I nonchalantly walked up to him.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” I glanced around. “I’m out of the business.” Rick laughed. He wore a black suit that was filled out with the muscles that he had accumulated from his line of work.

“That is not what your father says.” He took off his sunglasses and stared at me.

“My father doesn’t understand. After Dan died…” I broke off and blinked away the moisture. “It is no longer worth it.”

“Your brother wouldn’t have wanted this, Lisa.”

I heard the gunshots and saw Dan crumble before my eyes. I pushed away from Rick’s probing eyes. “I just can’t.” I started to walk away.

“Your father–he is dead.” I stopped in my tracks and turned back to Rick.

“What? How?”

Rick’s eyes looked distant. “There was a rogue spy. He didn’t see it coming–none of us did.”

I felt my heart ready to burst. I needed to get away, away from Rick, away from here.

“They are going to come after you, Lisa. Please, I need your help.”

I crumbled on the sidewalk. Gone was the normal corporate woman I wanted to become. I looked over at Rick.  “What do we need to do?”