Friday, October 8, 2010

Sometimes a hug is all you need.

Sometimes a hug is all you need. It doesn't necessarily solve your problems or make you feel better, but a hug is a sort of symbol.

Last week, I received the news that one of my teachers from the middle school years had committed suicide. It was a terrible incident that shook the whole community and disrupted the lives of so many in my small town. Being here at school, I was so far from the event itself that I had almost no reaction to the news. It haunted me so, that I called my parents to get more details that night after all my events for the day were done. The details were horrible, and after I had hung up the phone, I was numb. I still could not react, so I stood in the hallway outside my door until my friend Annie stopped to talk to me. She told me about something funny that had just happened to her, but I couldn't really listen. After she had finished her story, I told her everything that I had just learned, and what I thought, and how I didn't know what to do.

Then Annie hugged me, and I started to cry. That hug was exactly what I had needed to get me started. It was the kind of hug that let me know that God was watching out for me, and that it was alright to grieve. It didn't make the sadness less painful, or wash away the images flooding my mind, but it was a symbol of all-encompassing love. That no matter where I am or who I am with, God's loving hand will be there to support me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A reminder...

It feels so wonderful to be back at school, and back in the community that I love so dearly. It seems so ironic to me that despite my various commitments to my studies, clubs, student council, and sleep, I still manage to have more time for prayer, meditation, and church than I have had in months.

The church that I attend in Durham is home to a vibrant, active, well-established, and progressive congregation that I look forward to joining each week for worship. It reminds me of the church that I was raised in, before the pastor moved away and attendance fell. When I was little, I used to imagine raising my own children in the same church, but when my parents left the church, everything changed. My dad often says that he is sorry we did not have a church community growing up, but in truth, I still think of the Presbyterian church as my home. The wrinkled and soft faces kissing my cheek, the sweet (and sometimes tone deaf) voices joining together in praise, the haunting sound of the organ echoing from the vaulted Gothic ceiling, the smooth feel of the lacquered pews, and the taste of cookies and juice after each service are all vivid memories of my childhood.

When I set foot in church each Sunday that I'm at school, I feel those memories rushing back to me, and through the week I am filled with thoughts of God's love for me. How He always makes things come full circle. It's a wonderful feeling, and I'm so glad I have found a place that will help me cultivate that feeling.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

School is Back in Session

It seems like ages ago that I last posted, and it really was, in the scheme of our fast-moving age of technology. Here is a brief recap of my wonderfully long (and blog-less) summer.

After leaving my position as an RA at the end of May, I moved back home for the summer to work as a camp counselor for my local recreation department. I worked through June at the local bakery (my fallback employment since Senior year of high school,) and helped my parents keep the house together as we anticipated my sister's graduation. Oh, the stress of two children in college. It had begun to wear on me before Claire had even received her diploma.

Aside from working at the bakery and keeping the family sane, I spent most of my time in the garden in June. Each day I would wake up, eat breakfast, dress, weed and tend the garden until about ten or eleven, then work on some project for the rest of the day until work. Within the first two weeks of being at home, I made a potting bench for the back yard, a tin lantern, a nesting box, and about fifteen candles.

As June wore down, Ethan prepared to leave for his summer math program at Hampshire College. We dropped him off on July Fourth, and immediately our family dynamics changed. It was strange not to have him around the house, eating all the cereal from the cabinets or playing Chopin on the piano, but we became used to it. Claire and I both started working the week after he left, but were briefly interrupted by a family reunion in Michigan. It was wonderful to travel this summer, as the previous summer found me away at sleep-away camp.

The Antrim Rec. Department turned out to be the perfect summer job for me, and I felt that I had made the right choice as soon as I started. I learned valuable lessons from almost every aspect of the experience, such as working with the kids, getting along with co-counselors, and balancing my home life with my work life.

Although most of my friends were working for the summer, I was able to spend a lot of time with a few of my dearest friends, which was more than I could have asked for. Barbara and I traveled to Maine with her parents and spent an unbelievable week on Eagle Island. Our adventures left me with an even deeper love and appreciation for her than ever before, and memories that will last me a lifetime.

Too soon, the summer drew to a close as camps ended, Ethan came home, and Claire began preparing for her great departure to Skidmore. I tried to take everything in stride because it was all happening so quickly, but the last night before leaving for school was still difficult. I wasn't sure I had made the right decision moving back to Hubbard and no longer being an RA. I was nervous that I wouldn't get along with my roommate, and that I would have a difficult adjustment to being back in school.

All my fears were proved wrong almost immediately. I feel so blessed to have been able to move in early, because I formed instant bonds of friendship to people I would have otherwise missed. My roommate is wonderful, and I feel as though we share bits and pieces of each others' soul. So much has happened in the past week, that I cannot even recount it, but I praise God for all that He has done for me. In the dark days that I experienced just months ago, I could never have imagined that He would bring me to this contentment in such a short period of time. He is so good to me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let it out

Today the world seems to be letting it all go.

Yesterday was a rough day, full of anticipation for finals, anxiety about friends, end-of-year frustration, and pent-up energy. To make it worse, the weather was grey, chilly, and ominous all day. I awoke today to the sound of heavy rain outside. It was almost as if the sky couldn't take the suspense, and let loose the torrents of water that have now soaked the campus. The suspense is over for me as well. I finished the last exam of my sophomore year, and now instead of studying or puttering around in my room as I have been doing the past few days, I am free to do whatever I like.

The small trickle of residents that I've been signing out of their rooms over the past week has turned into a stream of inventories, room checks, and goodbye hugs. Tomorrow the rest of my freshman (now sophomores,) will lock their rooms for the last time, and move out for the summer. My emotions are starting to get the better of me, as I've begun to realize that this is not just a break, and that the people I've seen every day for the past ten months will no longer be living with me. Come Saturday, I'll no longer be an RA, and by next week, I'll officially be free of school for the 2009-2010 year.

So much has happened in the past year, I can't even begin to comprehend it. The weeks slipped by too quickly, and for all my longing to be done with school, I know that I'll miss it as soon as I'm home. I've been trying to pray more often, and with my hyper-sensitivity about the end of the year, I'm finding a lot more to pray about.

My poor friend, Katie, was spending the last few days of school here, waiting to take her final on Thursday. We had been planning wonderful trips and adventures to get us through the week, but all of it was cut short when she got sick on Monday. I had been bringing her soup and other things throughout the week in hopes that she would get better and be able to have some fun before going home, but today I called from the dining hall to ask if she needed anything, and she told me she was in the hospital with what they thought was a "ruptured appendix". I've been praying for her health and recovery, but there is no way that she will be well enough to attend her exam and move out on time.

The end of the school year was always busy in high school, middle school, and elementary school, but I never expected it to be like that in college! I can only hope that this overwhelming flow of events and emotions slows down within the next few days and leads into a relaxing summer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wrapping it up

Gosh, this past month has been absolutely crazy. I've been writing papers, sending in scholarships, running events for the dorm, taking exams, reading books, having meetings, going on field trips...and the list goes on and on! Last night was the first night in weeks that I was able to sit and read my Bible before bed, a ritual that I have tried to carry on since the beginning of February as one of my goals for the semester. I have been reading along with a daily Bible study guide, and although it is very helpful in motivating me, I felt like a slacker when I realized that I am a month and a half behind on readings. Such is life as an RA.
It is strange to think that this lull I have been experiencing the past few days is not the normal mid-week sluggishness that has followed me throughout the year, but the beginning of hibernation before finals. My residents are locked away in their rooms studying and sleeping, only emerging between the hours of 8PM and 10PM to eat and socialize. Those who don't have looming final exams are mostly at home until next week, and so the hallways and lounges are eerily silent.

Looking back on the past semester, I realize how much I will miss being an RA next year. Sure, it'll be fun moving back to my old dorm, where my old friends are; but there is just something about hearing the pitter-patter of feet in the bathrooms, the giggling of girls from the room above me, the sound of slamming doors and crazy music drifting through the hallways, the special little notes left on my door, the quiet conversations whispered in my room, and the rowdy lounge gatherings at one in the morning. When dealing with an incident on a Thursday night, I would always think, "why did I ever agree to this job in the first place? Who would be crazy enough to want to work with these kids?". But then I would come back from midnight rounds to find twelve people in the lounge who were eager to find fellowship and friendship in each other, and I would think, "who wouldn't want to be an RA? To be able to witness friendships blossoming is certainly the greatest job in the world."

What a bittersweet experience it was. I can't count the nights that I wanted to cry with frustration after an unattended meeting or social, or the many times I did something special for someone with no acknowledgment or thanks. I thought that being an RA was a thankless job until Monday, when I had a knock on my door. One of my residents, Jess, was standing there with a card she had made. She and some others had knocked on every door in the building to get people to sign the card, and they had planned to present it to me at an end of the year celebration that I had missed on Saturday.

I was shocked that she had done this for me, and that everyone had signed the card, whether they had been around this semester or not. I didn't think they cared about how hard I worked this year, or how much of my life was put on hold for them. How can I ever tell them how much this simple act meant to me, and how much their time with me has changed my life? I don't know if I can ever do it in words or deeds, but I think deep down they know.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today things are looking up. For the past few days I've been battling a bit of a stomachache which I assume is caused by an imbalanced diet (oops.) I know it's terrible, but this year I have had a bad habit of replacing real meals with cereal or tea when I know the best thing for me is leafy greens and iron. Today I've done pretty well, with one out of two meals so far eaten in the dining hall, and a snack from the cafe in the afternoon.

The weather is beautiful and I tried laying outside to research for my term paper that is due in a few weeks, but I only managed to be on the lawn an hour. As I sit in my room, sipping my Mint Mocha Chill and looking out the window, the sun seems to be taunting me with its warmth. Of course, in New Hampshire, when the sun is warm it doesn't mean that everything else is! A little after 1 o'clock, I laid out my blanket, spread my books around me, and began to read. At first it was nice to feel the hot sun on my back and head, but the wind picked up and tried to blow the blanket out from under me. It was not a nice Spring breeze like you read about in romance novels, but a New Hampshire Spring breeze that comes from the glacial depths of the White Mountains or blows inland off the freezing Atlantic. I am not a particularly attentive person to reading, and as such was distracted nearly every time a petal fell from the tree above me, or whenever a helicopter went by during its training flight. When my hair began to blow into my face so that I could not have seen what I was reading even if I had wanted to concentrate, I decided that Mother Nature was not willing to share nice Spring weather with anyone else quite yet.

I dropped my books and blanket in my room and headed to the cafe to obtain a treat which had caught my eye the previous evening. Being a Thursday afternoon, and having finished classes, homework, and an attempt at researching, I came to the conclusion that this particular treat was warranted. Besides, it would help my uneasy stomach.

I've just finished the last bit of the Mocha Mint Chill, and my stomach does feel better. My friend and I are about to head out on an adventurous walk, which will fool us into thinking that we've done some exercise for the day, and afterward I assume I'll have dinner with friends and go to bed early for once. Yes, my life is fulfilled for the moment. I am content.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bread, Tea and Marmalade

Last weekend I went grocery shopping for myself (something I rarely do while I'm at school.) It is something I have always enjoyed because it gives me a sense of independence and maturity that is otherwise absent when I rely on dining hall food. Walking down the isle of the market with my list in hand and a basket slung over one arm is so gratifying to me. I almost feel that I am a real person, not some post-adolescent stuck in the limbo that is university.

Since that glorious shopping trip I have had fresh white bread to eat with marmalade for breakfast every morning. Each morning I sit at my desk, thinking about the day before me, sipping my tea and listening to the sounds of spring that come from my open window. Life is good in those few moments, and I am reminded that no matter how difficult life may seem at the end of the day, God continuously provides a time for me to enjoy His gifts.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Procrastination and a Clean Room

One of my greatest talents is procrastination. I don't know how I developed it as my parents are both very driven individuals. In my case, procrastination can result in the accomplishment of almost everything but schoolwork. That is not to say that my schoolwork doesn't get done, but it is not completed over a planned and extended period of time. My best work is born from pressure. Ironically, so are my best prayers.

Today I don't have a lot of work, just reading for my class in two hours and for my class tomorrow morning. I might have been motivated to get it done earlier if I had not felt the need to clean my room and do my laundry for the first time since Spring Break. Also, it's raining, which I don't appreciate. But as soon as my laundry is done, I think I'll get to my homework.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blessings on Palm Sunday

Here goes, my first post on this blog. I guess I'll start out by introducing myself. My name is Maddie, I am 20 years old, and a sophomore history major. I have lived all my life in New Hampshire where I currently go to school. For the past 7 months, I have been working as a resident assistant which has been one of the most challenging jobs of my life. I am an honors student, although my procrastination habits would have you think otherwise. I enjoy a variety of activities including swing dancing, historical research, singing, sewing, drawing, yoga, horseback riding, laughing, and studying the Bible.

Although I was baptized Catholic and raised in a Presbyterian Church, I had my doubts about the Savior until my freshman year of college. I remember the exact moment when He revealed himself to me during a campus worship service. My life has changed drastically since finding Him. Jesus is indeed my strength and my salvation. It has been strange and uplifting to see the changes in my life because of Him, and I use every opportunity to sing His praises.

Today I went to church at the community church downtown for the Palm Sunday service. I had previously attended four or five churches in the area surrounding the university until I found this loving and welcoming church just three weeks ago. Our God certainly is an Awesome God in His plan for our lives. Without Him, I would never have had the courage to try this wonderful place.

It feels wonderful to praise the Lord in writing. I have never done it before, but I'm beginning to like it more and more. I hope that this is the beginning of something wonderful!