Sunday, January 23, 2011

The House That Built Me

I love Miranda Lambert's latest song "House that Built Me." It's hard to imagine a time that my parents won't live in the house they raised us in, but I know one day that's a possibility. Why is that scary to me? What does it even matter? I'm not sure, but I know I almost had a stroke when they took me to a different farm the other day asking if I liked it.

swimming with Addison-summer 2010

To say I was against this purchase is an understatement. I just kept saying, "What's wrong with the farm you already have? What's wrong with the view you have? Do you know what you're giving up if you buy this place?" When I finally realized they were just wanting to add on to the current place, I felt complete relief. Going home just wouldn't have been the same, even if it was within a few miles of where I grew up...even if it would have been the same parents...even if it would have looked just like our homestead. None of that seemed to matter. And it raised an even bigger issue with me: what happens one day when I don't go home there?

Sure I have a house in Alma, and I spend the majority of my time at my own place. I have a life away from where I grew up. But parents' will always hold precious memories. Like the many basketball, baseball, and football games my cousins, sister, and I have battled through in the backyard. Like the times my sister would beat me within an inch of my life (okay..that's an exaggeration) just because she was older, and I was scared of her. Or like the times I would hide in my parents' closet and wait for my dad to get home from work so I could jump out and scare him. Really scare him. Every. Single. Day. It never got old! haha.

I love my dad more than I could ever express. To be honest I'm not sure I express it very well at all, especially to him. We push each other so much that at times I feel that I give him the impression that I'm just in competition with him. But in actuality I could only hope to be half as good as him, half as smart as him, half as professional as him.
not sure why he gets mad at me...?! haha

Within the last several months he's been gone many weeks as the Bank has been acquiring new banks throughout the South. Not living in the same town as him toppled with him being gone weeks at a time leaves me missing him more than I could have ever imagined. But what do I do the moment he gets home? Well, after slamming him with information from my new classes, I find some way to make fun of him. A few weeks ago he said to me, "Avery, I make fun of you because that's how we have fun."
"Oh...I didn't know it was that fun." I told him back...simply to make him feel like a jerk! haha. We had a good laugh afterwards, but he was so right. I'm not sure he and I would know how to act if we couldn't make fun of each other for one thing or another. My poor mother..she has to sit and endure it. No wonder she mows the entire farm...she's just trying to get out of the house! ha.
my favorite t-baller: Braeson!
I talked to my sister 3 times today. I've spent the entire weekend at my parents' house. And I called my Grandpa Kuykendall 2 times this week. I guess what has really stirred all of this is that it's been hitting me hard that life is going to be different this summer without them. Basically, I have 4 months to train my mom on how to use Skype. :)

playing in the rain with Addi
And although I'm sad to miss Addi's first season of T-ball, Braeson will be glad I won't be there to yell at him from behind the fence. He wasn't too impressed with his Aunt A last summer. I mean...just because I wore a shirt with name and number on it. And just because I took pictures of him standing in the dugout, in the batter's box, striking out, crossing home, sitting, standing, breathing. And just because I yelled, "Go 4...#4 is my favorite...4 rocks!!" constantly. And just because I tackled him with hugs and kisses once the games were over. None of those are reasons for him to yell at me from the field to be quiet and hit me after the game. I'm just doing an aunt's job. Nevertheless, I'm going to miss those little turds. And maybe somewhere way down deep they can find room to miss me too. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Life Before Grad School

Once upon a time, I had a life. That was before I started grad school this semester! Yesterday was a snow day, so I was off work all day. Therefore, my entire day was consumed (we'll use that word loosely) with articles for my seminar class. Since Dad was still out of town, I went to my parents' house to keep my mom company. Somewhere between the puzzle I helped her finish and the Woodrow Wilson article I read for class, I remembered that this past summer and fall...I had had a life!

Let's start with the archery picture. To me the fun of getting ready for bow season is actually a lot more fun than the actual season. I enjoy shooting in the backyard with my family, but sitting on a cold deerstand with icicles hanging on my eyelashes doesn't really appease me. I do love cooking with the deer meat my mom gives me though. Haha. Oh..I wish it was Spring, and I could sit in the warm woods with a box call in my hands.

Next, the Arkansas-Alabama game with my uncles and cousins. This picture is with 2 of my uncles, and we love the Hogs! Although we made the drive up the hill to Fayetteville, we opted for the atmosphere of Buffalo Wild Wings. One bonus to grad school? Cheap football tickets!

And last but not least--Amy's birthday party! We went to celebrate and ended up at the Blue House for the first (but definitely not the last) time of my life. I love Amy. I love the Blue House. I love life...even if I get carried away with busyness. Although the summer memories are gone, more are sure to come...even if the memories are in grad school.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Lies Within

It's been so long since I've sat down to write nevertheless blog. With the busyness that is about to crash into my life, I felt I should give my blog a little attention before it's too late. I love to write, but too many times I neglect my passions for going, doing, and serving others. I think we all do...that's why I've heard sermons on it my entire life.

Since I last blogged, I've celebrated Christmas, New Years, basketball season, admission to grad school, and the best Christmas present ever. All of these would typically spur an entire blog of their own, but none of them are the reason I sat down to just delve into writing tonight.

For over 2 years I've lived on my own. Sure many people do this, I'm not discrediting that. But if you aren't one of those people who have ever experienced this solitude, then let me catch you up. I wake up on my own every morning just in time to leave my house for work. I teach middle school kids all day long, my only break being a 30 minute lunch. After work, I may keep gate or go watch a ballgame. Then I come home, heat up a TV dinner, call my mom, make myself laugh. I take a lot of bubble baths, research all types of master's programs, and read. Reading saves my life most days. Finally, I go to bed, wishing myself a good night and tucking myself in with the indulgence of having my heated blanket on high.

Pitiful, you might think. How terribly boring. Or lonesome. Or desolate. But living on my own has been a far cry from any of that. It's been the most enlightening, challenging, reflective time of my life. I've done a lot of self-discovery. I've learned how to cook, albeit only a few things. I've grown into my true passions. But most importantly, I think, I've enjoyed it.

My friend Amy has been thinking about moving in with me, and I'm just ecstatic about it. We have so much fun together! But it's really made me start reflecting on my time alone and what that has meant to me. I've started realizing that there is no season in my life that will ever quite be like this season has been. When you have yourself to rely on, you learn what yourself can do.

Sometimes my sister will tell me she's mad at my brother-in-law for not changing a light bulb. Or I have friends who wish their husbands would go change their car's oil. And I've heard wives say of their husbands that he never takes the trash out. To be honest it burns me somewhere way down deep inside. Because I don't get that. I change my light bulbs. I send my car to get the oil changed. I have my trash out on Mondays.

I hear all the time that when I get married one day that I'll want my husband to do those things as well. I can't say I disagree with that, but I do hope that I recognize that I can do it still. I never want to lose sight of what I've learned living on my own.

Despite all the obvious reasons living on your own can be hard, i.e. chores, finances, boredom; I think the thing that has stuck out to me the most is the complete solitude. I can be as private and lonesome as I choose to be. If I want to be bored, I can be bored. If I want to not talk for 3 weeks, I don't have to talk for 3 weeks. But it's the challenge above the obvious that dig into your gut. It's the challenge that makes you realize what type of character you really have in you. Sure you can change a lightbulb, but can you...will you...make your life wonderful?

I believe I can answer yes to that question. A lot of my friends have amazing husbands and precious children, challenging careers and lakehouses. All of those are great things for them. I'm in no way saying they can't answer yes to that question too. What I'm saying is that with the life I've been given--singleness and living alone--I can say yes too. I've found passions in politics and crafts (they don't go together, I know) that otherwise I would have never focused on. I've learned that I can be outgoing and fun even in the most awkward of circumstances. (That one has been hard and the most challenging, but definitely the most rewarding.) But above all I've learned that no matter who or what is in my life, I never want to lose focus on my relationship with God.

A preacher once told me to go for God with all your heart, and one day you'll not look ahead or behind; you'll look to the side, and you'll find someone going for Him alongside you. Saying that, I see a lot of people who just looovee God and worship and praise and adore Him...until they find something else to patronize. However, in the past 2 years God has given me the freedom to go and find other idols. At times I fulfilled those selfish desires with false gods. But at the end of the day, I luckily found my way back to my simple yet deep relationship with Christ. I've learned how to love God. How to really love Him from the depth of my soul.

One day I'm sure I'll look at my life and find myself in a different season. But I'll know I would have never made it there without this one. I remind myself a lot of the Brad Paisley song "Letter to Me." What would you say to you? I'd tell me to savor the moment. Enjoy these ups and downs. Soak in these days of quiet and still. It's going to be different one day...just sit and listen right now. For what lies before us and what lies ahead are only minor in comparison to what lies within us.

**And say a prayer for my buddy Wes this week as he has surgery on his heart Thursday. He is set to graduate from the Naval Academy this spring. His commission depends on this surgery. I know his family would appreciate the support.**