Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mark Gary, Beloved Uncle, Son, & Brother 12/25/1962 - 5/14/2015

I almost laughed. Almost. At first I thought he was talking about someone I didn't know, one of his friends from North Carolina. Then I heard the name he'd used. Mark. But that couldn't be right, so I almost laughed. Almost. Mark, my dad's closest brother. Mark, who had lived with us when I was 12. Mark, my uncle who now resided in Seattle. Mark, who I hadn't seen in years. Mark, who was only 52. Dead? And then my mom came in, and I took one look at her and knew. Mark was dead.

The finality of that word seemed hard to grasp. Suddenly my joyful homecoming was filled with grief. My sister's celebration was tinted with pain. And I was angry. Why couldn't he have waited one more week? Just one, so Emily could have her moment. Emily didn't deserve this. She deserved a true celebration. Graduation is supposed to be happy. Coming home to my family is supposed to be happy. But Mark had died, and now all of those happy things held a twinge of pain, of sadness.

And then it hit me. Mark was dead. So when I went to give my grandmother a hug, we both cried. Mark is dead. I'm really glad to see you. But Mark is dead. And I don't know what to think, or how to process this, but my uncle is dead; my dad's closest brother is dead. And he's not coming back.

The weekend carried on as best it could have.  There were times of celebration, of joy, and there were times of sorrow.  There were times when someone would mention him, share a funny story about Uncle Mark, and we'd laugh. But our laughter was laced with sorrow.


Despite having not seen him in years, I feel close to Mark through all the stories my dad and grandmother shared and the memories I do have.  It is these stories that remind me of him, make me smile, and bring some form of peace to his passing.  I have a lot of processing to do, and I can't even begin to imagine how my dad, grandmother, and the rest of my family must feel, but I do know this: it is the stories people share of us that we are remembered by.   So forgive me if I share too much, or if you don't relate, but I'm honoring my uncle the best way I know how: by sharing the stories I've heard about him and mixing in some of my own stories and memories.  No one ever truly leaves us if we choose to remember them and everything they brought to our lives -- the joy, the pain, and the hilarity in between. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go!

That's right, I got a job!!  Actually, God blessed me with TWO jobs -- both of which are for guys from Chi Alpha, and have very flexible schedules!  God is so good, amen?  I'm working for Mason, the pastor for Chi Alpha, doing mostly administrative work as well as working with Ben and helping him set up and promote his business that he's starting.  Both are going really well, and I'm super excited about working for Ben, especially, because it's something I can continue doing once I move back to California, which is a huge bonus.

Which brings me to my next piece of awesome news.... I'm coming home!  As those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram (and possibly Twitter, although I don't "tweet" very often) may already know, not only am I planning to come home in May (for good!), I also have already bought my plane ticket.  So it's officially official!!!  I'm flying in late May 17th, and I seriously cannot contain my excitement! Michael's also very happy (imagine that?), and we're really looking forward to celebrating our 2-year anniversary in person (instead of Skype - bleh), as well as enjoying our summer together before classes begin again in the fall.

Life is on the up and up, and I'm planning to make the most of my time left here in Mobile.  The moral of the story? God is in control, and prayer works!  Okay, so that's two morals technically, but it really is just one: God loves us: me specifically ;)

I will wrap up this rather short post by sharing this with you: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28, NKJV.

Much love,
katiebell @>->--- 

Monday, February 18, 2013

If there was a song for job hunting.....

....then it would be my theme song right now!  Three weeks ago I was actively looking for a job, but now I'm hunting.  Did you know how expensive it is to move from Alabama to California??  I started looking into the prices, and discovered that just renting the smallest moving truck -- just the truck alone -- would cost about $1,000.  A thousand dollars!! Once I added in the cost of fuel, food, and boxes, I realized I need a job.  ASAP.  I literally cannot afford to move to California, unless I fly with a suitcase (and believe me, I'm seriously considering that at this point).

With this revelation in mind, I am hunting down jobs.  I have turned in many applications, with no feedback or response so far.  I had a walk-in interview today at Books-A-Million, but unfortunately they are only hiring people with sales experience (of which, I have none).  This is a shame, because the guy I interviewed with was clearly impressed by me; he mentioned two or three times how organized I was.  I have no classes on Tuesdays, so tomorrow I am going out and talking to as many people as possible to try to get something.  At this point, I would be happy with anything.  So if you want to pray for me (I would really appreciate it!  There is great power in prayer!!), please pray that the people I talk to tomorrow like me, and that I am able to fill out many applications.

My moving out to California this summer is kind of a window-type deal.  I have a job lined up IF I can move back by August.  I have struggled with the lack of control I feel I have in this situation, and it has caused me great stress, anxiety, and depression this past week.  However, I believe God's promises.  He already has provided me with an amazing job and a wonderful place to live, and I know He wouldn't desert me now.  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11.  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28.  With these two promises in mind, I have taken to reciting this verse every time I feel myself becoming anxious or worried: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

If you could join me in praying these verses over me, and praying that I will get the right job (and soon), I would very much appreciate it!

Do you have any go-to verses that help you through difficult times?  Please share!  And feel free to leave a comment; I'd love to know what you think.

Much love,
katiebell @>-->---

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Let Me Catch You Up.....

I'm back! hopefully for good this time.... Life got busy, but busy is good right?  So here's what's new:

I'm attending the University of South Alabama now and I just started my second semester.  Last semester I took Music, German, English, and Psychology and got two A's, a B, and a C.  I enjoyed my classes, for the most part, and I enjoyed being back in school full-time, without having to worry about work.  I didn't really get involved in extra curricular activities on campus, except for Chi Alpha.  Chi Alpha is a Christian organization on many university and college campuses across the US, and the Chi Alpha here at South was a blessing to find.  I was immediately welcomed to the small group, and have formed many good relationships with the people I've met in it.  I began leading worship almost immediately, and it has been a blessing to be singing and playing the guitar for them.  I've also helped plan many activities that Chi Alpha has put on, and I was recently asked to be the Vice President of Chi Alpha at South.  This past week, I was even hired to do some administrative work for the campus pastor, which was great.

Outside of Chi Alpha, however, I'm not making many social strides.  My roommate of last semester, with whom I never really spoke, moved back to Pensacola, Florida over the break because she didn't like Mobile.  I don't blame her, but now I don't even have someone to share a room with, and it can get pretty lonely.  Don't get me wrong; I'm enjoying having this much space to myself, but sometimes I feel like I might go stir-crazy just sitting in my room all the time.  I met a few people in my classes last semester, but I don't have any classes with them this semester, and I haven't seen them around campus at all.  So right now, it's mostly just me and my classes.

This semester, I'm taking Math, another German class, Biology lecture and lab, and US History from reconstruction to present day.  The Bio lecture is my first real "college lecture" class, so that's a new experience.  I'm about three weeks into classes, and so far I'm pretty much enjoying them.  However, this semester quite a few things are different from the last.  I'm actively looking for a job now, because not having any income is taking quite a toll on my account balance.  Also, my plan as far as how long I'm staying here has drastically changed.

When I moved out here eight months ago, my plan was to finish my four years at the University and then decide -- based on my relationship status and how many roots I'd put down here -- whether I was going to move back to California or just stay on living here.  It seemed like the best idea at the time, mainly because it was what everybody wanted me to do.  When I decided to move with them, my parents were thrilled beyond belief.  And who can blame them?  I'm their first daughter, and to have their oldest not only move out, but choose to stay on the opposite side of the country, must have been a hard thought to consider.  Even my sister seemed pretty happy that she wasn't moving alone with them; that she'd have someone to share the experience with.  Many of my grandparents also experienced relief that I wasn't staying in California, but moving out to Alabama to focus on school. 
But once I settled in, and the reality of everything became -- well -- real, the actuality of my own feelings became clear.

In August, I moved into my dorm on campus.  Being across the country from my boyfriend, and now across the Mobile bay from my parents really isolated me and made me reconsider all the decisions I'd made.  Was I making this decision for myself or for my family?  I do believe that, at the time, the decision I made was my own.  I had to come out here, live out here, and consider settling down out here, otherwise I would've always wondered about it.  Alabama had been a sort of "greener side" for me.  Ever since I was in middle school, I would always tell people, "I was born in raised in California, but I'm an Alabama girl at heart," and I believed it.  I always thought I should've been born in Alabama; that it was where I really belonged.  I thank God that I had the opportunity to move out here, mainly because if I hadn't moved out here, I never would've know how wrong I was.  Living in Alabama, just like any place, is a lot different from visiting it.  For me, there's something about it that just doesn't quite fit.

Besides all that, I of course miss Michael.  I will admit that as much as we talked about the future, when I left I wasn't sure we'd make it through the long-distance.  But since moving out here, I've realized how important he really is to me.  I honestly couldn't imagine a future with anyone else, and the fact that we've made it this long in a long-distance relationship really just reinforces that for me.  I'm not saying I'm moving back only to be with him, because I'm really not, but he is definitely one of the main reasons.  My life is in California, and my love is too, and it took me moving to Alabama for a year to realize that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alright I'm doing it: Day 2 of my blog.  We arrived in Spanish Fort yesterday, and the reality of everything is definitely sinking in.  Everyone in my family is on edge for many reasons.  One, we are still waiting for the loan approval.  There is no real doubt that we'll get approved, but the company is dragging their feet and it's been frustrating.  Second, assuming we get the loan in time, the house doesn't close until this Friday at the earliest.  We got here Monday (and had been on the road for five days straight), and now must live in a hotel for at least another four days.  Third, our POD that we put all of our stuff in (like beds, for example) doesn't arrive until anytime between this Monday and next Monday.  This means that even if we do get the house Friday, we still won't have a bed to sleep on until three days later, at the earliest.

And that's just the stuff that everyone's dealing with.

On top of all that, I'm dealing with the realization that, although four years is not that long in the grand scheme of things, it is a long time for me to be separated from Michael.  Logically, I still know all the things I continuously told myself before I left California.  Things like, if it's meant to be and blessed by God, it will all work out; this will strengthen our relationship, and we'll come out stronger as a couple than we ever were; we're both committed to each other and God, and we're strong enough to make it work.  But now that the reality of living here for FOUR YEARS is sinking in, I'm realizing how hard it will be.  Not to stay faithful, or to remain committed to each other, but to suffer through the distance of not being able to see him whenever I want, just a 20 minute drive away.  Sure, he's just a Skype or a phone call away -- just a text away -- but none of those things will let me lay on the couch watching a movie with him or hold me when I'm overwhelmed or sad.  And the reality of that is definitely hard to swallow.

I still hope this is God's will for me, and that He has a plan.  I'm constantly praying for guidance, and maybe that's part of His plan: that through this journey I will return to the state of fully relying on Him, and praying constantly.

Prayers would be greatly appreciated as I struggle with this journey God has placed before me, and try to figure out what His plan is for me.

Love and hugs,

katiebell @>->---

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Welcome to my blog!  I started this blog at the prompting of my friends and family I left in California, who wanted to follow me as I journey across the country to Alabama and begin my college life.  My parents are retiring to Alabama, and after much back and forth thought and prayer, I realized that God wanted me to move with them.  This decision will better help me concentrate on school, and get it done, rather than working and trying to squeeze school in between work and hanging out with my boyfriend, Michael.

Which brings me to the downside of moving: leaving Michael.  My relationship with Michael was built on the idea that we were dating with the intention of marriage (this is way down the road, and only if everything works out, but it separates us from dating just for fun), so the idea of moving to Alabama without him was not something I took lightly.  In fact, I couldn't bring myself to think about it.  I focused more on looking forward to the positives of Alabama and enjoying my present time with Michael rather than dealing with the coming separation.

This brings us up to date.  Today, Michael came over and helped as we finished packing up the odds and ends that we hadn't put in the pod.  We loaded up the truck, packed the van, and piled in.  Leaving him today at noon was the single hardest thing I've ever had to do, and it hurt like crazy.  But then we were on the road, looking forward to Barstow.

The drive to Barstow was pleasant.  My dad and I left in our Ford truck around noon, and he drove the whole way.  My mom and sister caught up with us around Bakersfield, and we caravanned the rest of the way.  Now I'm sitting in our hotel room, waiting for a call from the boyfriend that he's off work :)

That's all for now, but leave a comment and let me know what you think....what you're curious to know about, what you liked, what you didn't.