Peace be with you.

Aside

I stand upon the shore
and stare as the sun sets,
as blue deepens to black,
the darkness dissolving
the line of water and sky
until both surround me.

And what have I to offer you?
No platitudes. No cheap refrains.
Just another living body-
my hands, my lungs, my tired mind,
my heart-that I would give to you
if only my arms were longer.

Instead I stand upon the shore,
with ocean before and above-
I am present in the darkness.
I cast my voice across the sea
into unrelenting chaos,
though it may be drowned by the waves.

I send what hope I have,
that the whisper of it
may reach across the miles-
Peace. Peace. Peace be with you.
Look up, and you will see-
the stars break through the night.
They stand with you also.
.
.
.
It is difficult to be away from those we love when they are hurting.
My thoughts and my prayers are with the community at ACU.
May God grant you peace.

Things I have to Share

I found a new camera app for the iPhone.

And I am in love.

The editing functions are gorgeous and it allows you to share your photos on all your favorite social media sites. (You know without maybe, maybe not taking ownership of and selling those photos.)

It’s called HDR FX Pro ($2.00)

I downloaded the free version (adds, limited editing tools) to try it out, and I was completely sold. Seriously, if you take photos with your iPhone, this is the bees (bee’s?) knees.

Here’s what it did for a couple mediocre pictures I already had in my camera roll:

Before

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After

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…….. In other news, I have no plans this weekend. (And my to-do list said “Amen”.)

Also, I have officially finished 3 of the 35 books I plan to read this year. Which means I am one book ahead of schedule, at least according to GoodReads. Looks like I’m not to bad at this getting started thing after all. And maybe I’ll give you an update/mini review every time I finish 5.

Yep, I just decided that I’m going to do that.

Anyway I’m looking forward to a weekend spent with my podcast queue and some cleaning supplies. I live a wild life.

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P.S. The first picture captures the rain that turned the flags pink. You can’t tell in that photo, but trust me, they are very pink.

P.P.S. I am just linking to myself all over the place today. So, I’ll do one more. Because I think most people didn’t see this post. Because I took it down pretty quickly. Because of reasons that you will see if you read it.

P.P.P.S. If you are not a follower of Rachel Held Evans, you need to go read her blog. Like yesterday. She is consistently smart and kind and spot on. She makes me want to cheer. And hug her. Pretty much every time she writes. Just, go read it.

Begin

I set my elbows on the desk and leaned forward, resting my chin in the crook formed between my thumb and forefinger. My hands form a little steeple, the way they did back in Sunday School, but all the people are outside the church this time.

I stare at the doorway in front of me, hoping that the answers will materialize behind my eyes the way they used to. But it’s not going to happen. This is the skill that always made me a fast test-taker: I know when I know it, and I know when I don’t.

And this morning, the only things I see are red and green swirls on the whiteboard, blurred by the tears of the night before. There’s nothing there.

I pointedly avoid looking at my professor. Because she knows I don’t know it, and because I’m about to turn in a nearly blank final exam. And I’m so humiliated by that fact that I just keep staring at the white-washed bricks.

I’m grateful that the only clock in the room is hung on the wall behind me.

———-

The second semester of my freshman year, I surprised myself and took Honors General Chemistry. We had a test every few weeks, and over the course of the semester I developed a system: around 6 pm the night before a test, I printed off the study guide, pulled out my book, and began studying. Then I kept studying until I absolutely could not stay awake any longer – usually 3 am.

Around midnight, I would pause to grab a sugar free Rockstar from the fridge – the stale soda taste now permanently infused with freshman dorm hallways and redox reactions.

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Then, in the morning, I reviewed whatever I hadn’t covered the night before on my walk to the science building. It was a terrible strategy and I don’t recommend it to anyone, but I loved it.

———-

That was pretty much par for the course in my life.

I spent every lunch hour of my senior year in high school finishing 4th period biology homework. The night before the SAT’s, I opened the prep book my mom had purchased the previous year and flipped through it for the first time.

I finished and submitted my college application essays at 1:30 am – thirty minutes before they were due, same with my Teach for America essays.

I wrote a 15 page research paper between the hours of 4:30 and 8:00 am, after going to the midnight premiere of the first Twilight movie. Because I’d put it off this long, what would another four hours matter? (It was a truly terrible paper, in case you were wondering.)

I memorized theatre monologues during physics, and I went through vocabulary flashcards while sitting at my desk just before the quiz. In truth, I put forth very little effort.

———-

I always joked that I would stop procrastinating when it stopped working. But I lied. It stopped working, and I just kept going. Which is how I found myself failing a biochem final in the middle of my senior year. My brain was being short circuited by raw emotions and anxiety, and I just pulled myself along in a well-worn trench of habit and self-reliance.

I kept studying for tests the night before. But when you find yourself sitting in the bible building at midnight with an army of dry erase markers, blinking back tears for the four hundred and fifty-seventh time that night, committing complex biochemical pathways to memory is surprisingly difficult. Even so, I never tried to memorize it a piece at a time, over weeks. I just stared down at the blank white page of my final exam in disbelief. Then I turned it in, mostly empty.

However gifted I may be at memorization, I am a slow learner.

———-

And I want to go back to that December, to try again, to push myself harder. But sometimes life happens, and the story isn’t inspiring. Sometimes you don’t rise to the occasion. But then life just carries on anyway, beautifully. And you can’t go back and fix it, but maybe you can redeem it.

I used to put things off because I could, because the words and the answers always came if I just sat down and focused for a few hours. I took a strange pride in the fact that I could get it done eventually, and that whatever I did would be good enough.

And then I procrastinated because that’s what I had always done, and because I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I was struggling academically. I pushed tasks away, waiting until the last possible minute because so much of my identity was wrapped up in my own intellectual acumen and the praise of authority figures. I didn’t want to face the prospect of failure.

———-

And now I find myself a year later, taking a moment to breathe, to look ahead, to wonder at what that semester means now. Now that I am no longer in school. Now that I am married. Now that the firmly plotted points of my life have ended with a charge to go live, and serve, and die.

Because I’m not in school anymore. There are no deadlines and no due dates. There is no one here to tell me that I must finish this project by November, no one to ensure that I have met the necessary criteria by May 12th.

But there is still so much that I want to do.

We spend so much of our life waiting – because the years left feel definite, feel infinite. Or because so much of our effort falls short. If you we try, if we give everything we have, and it comes to nothing, then what?

But I don’t want to waste away the hours of my life on Netflix. I don’t want to be left scrambling at 4am, holding off sleep, wishing for more time. I have been blessedly humbled with the realization that the least of my effort is inadequate to meet the demands of my life.

I have been asked to do more. I have been asked to be fully present, to offer up the whole of my being now, to risk myself on work that matters.

For 2013, this gold medalist in procrastination has chosen to begin.

For the years are not so long. And you only get one shot.

Backfire

The generals were coming
all the way from Washington,
four stars between them.
Food was ordered, carpets cleaned.

Then we turned, together,
to take in the sight beyond the window.

Our flags hung limply on their poles –
three beacons of power
that had seen better days.
The wind whipped up, flailing their tattered hems.

Like the string you find
on the bottom of your sweater,
which is pulled taught, for a moment,
before unraveling.

The cry went out: Unacceptable!
with a rush of orders.
The generals would feast their eyes
on only the best and brightest.

The new flags were hoisted,
with a day to spare,
and, within an hour,
the rain had them soaked through.

Red, bleeding into white,
rendered them a violent shade of pink.

The generals arrived, and our flags waved –
small, ubiquitous, unnoticeable,
except for their striking resemblance
to a Barbie Dream Home.

A look back.

Confession: I  am incredibly nostalgic person.

When I went home last month to help my parents pack up the last of their stuff, I spent at least 4 hours sitting on the floor, going through a box of my old, second-rate toys mostly saying things like, “Oh my gosh, I remember this.”

Four. Hours. And some of them I literally had not thought about once in the 12+ years that they sat in our garage attic.

And while that was probably a gigantic waste of time, I enjoy indulging my nostalgic tendencies from time to time. I like looking back. Facebook timeline was designed for people just like me, and I love it.

David, on the other hand, has this strange obsession with being present in, like, the actual moment in which you are currently living.

Which is great because while one of us is waxing poetic about the Noah’s Ark puzzle she loved when she was 6, the other can be like, “That’s great, babe. But it’s 7pm and I was thinking maybe we could, like, live life and eat dinner at some point.”

But looking back over the year gives me perspective. I realize that it’s okay that I only read 29 out of 30 books. And it’s okay that my year-end posts are about 3 weeks late. And it’s okay that I have four loads of laundry waiting to be done and seven boxes that still need to be unpacked. Because look at everything we got done this year!

So with that, 2012 in pictures:

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The year started with gingerbread houses and these pretty ladies coming to visit.

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I painted this and read a great book by John Green.

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I took a photography colloquia and made it to the final round of TFA interviews.

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I turned 22, and that’s what my room looked like. It was not a good birthday.

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David and I broke up. It snowed. I painted.

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I rearranged my room. I thought about dying my hair, but thankfully, didn’t.

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I adopted a puppy. I named her Harper Lee.

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I had no idea how much I needed her.

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Kaitlyn and I pranked a favorite, retiring professor. Totally worth going to bed at 4am.

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I took a wonderful, unexpected, and much needed Spring Break trip to Kansas.

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I read, I baked with friends, and both of these pretty ladies got married.

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Then somehow, in a turn of events absolutely no one saw coming, David and I got engaged. Go ahead. Judge me. If I were you, I would judge me. In fact, if you don’t raise your eyebrows at that a little, I judge you. But somehow, that worked for us.

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David was named a University scholar and we went on a joy-filled church retreat.

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I had my last class, and we graduated from ACU.

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We said good bye to this place.

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And these people.

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I was in the Most Beautiful Wedding Ever, when my darling friend Ali got married in June.

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We said Hello to College Station. And bought some furniture from this fine establishment.

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My parents moved out of the house we lived in since I was 4, and America had a birthday.

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And my grandfather had a birthday.

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And David had a birthday.

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David started graduate school, and I got my first real job.

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We were “showered” by our wonderful churches.

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And spent a lovely Thanksgiving in Tulsa.

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Then we got married!! Which was wonderful, and busy, and so full of family.

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My dear friend Kaitlyn couldn’t be there, but we got a picture anyway.

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And we spent Christmas honeymooning in Santa Fe.

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Then flew back to Dallas, drove to San Antonio for a friend’s wedding. Then rang in the new year at the wedding of a couple more dear Highland friends.

It was quite a year. It’s a wonderful life.

 




















 

I know what this winter needs: more AC

They sent around an email at work this morning.

The University has some work to do on the air conditioning unit today. Unfortunately, this means that the AC will not run at all today.

…..

Were we planning to run the AC?

It is literally 43 degrees outside. Granted, I’m not a meteorologist, but I have frequently heard that referred to as cold. (At least here in the South).

Now, I realize that this is Texas. We have a deep and abiding love for our Air Conditioners that simply cannot be understood until you have spent 30 consecutive days above 100 degrees.

But seriously guys, there’s a limit.

I have come up with a brilliant new plan that I plan to submit to the company.

It’s called: Let’s Turn on the Heater When We Get Within Eleven Degrees of Freezing.

Subtitled: Or at Least, For the Love of All That is Good in the World, Stop Making it Colder.

I believe this is what they call ingenuity.

You’re welcome.

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

I’m back!

Did you miss me?

I hope so. Because I missed you. And frankly I try to avoid that one way street.

Well, I am officially Mrs. Rebecca Kempe. Which is delightful, but also weird. I sort of feel like I’m borrowing someone else’s name.

But the wedding was lovely, if I do say so myself, and the honeymoon was very nearly perfect. We even arrived at the airport with time to spare. Solid proof that I am no longer a Fullerton.

I promise to tell you all about it. But as of today, I’m back in College Station and back to work. The Christmas decorations are mostly packed away and I’m mostly moved into our(!) apartment.

And I’ve managed to find a place in the kitchen of our one bedroom apartment to fit nearly all of the incredibly generous gift we received. I even got the cabinet doors to shut.

Dumbledore can just sign off on my acceptance letter now, because that was a work of pure magic.

——-

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s. We celebrated at the wedding of some dear friends. And I both convinced David to dance with me and got my first ever midnight kiss. Success.