New Year, NewMe?

I’ve never been the person to make a bunch of resolutions on January 1st. I know myself well enough to know that I struggle with keeping them. I’ve tried making the typical “don’t eat junk” resolution, but somehow I end up in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru just a few days later. I suppose I’m just stuck in my ways. 

But this year feels different. This year is starting off in a special way. I took the last few weeks of 2016 and cleansed myself of the people in my life that were holding me back, quit my two current jobs, and focused on friendships that I didn’t have time for beforehand. 

2017 will be a great year; I’ve already decided. I will turn 21. I will start a new job. I will spend some time on my own and focus on my relationship with the one Man who will always love me unconditionally. 2017 will be my year. 

No, resolutions aren’t my thing. But I did make myself a few promises this year. I promised myself I would spend time with God everyday. I promised myself I would be on my own for a while instead of throwing myself into the next available relationship. I promised myself I’d do a better job of walking wisely in the footsteps that God has already laid out for me. And nothing will hold me back from keeping these promises. 

“To thine own self, be true.”

9 Little Things To Celebrate In A Relationship

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over a year and a half. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far, it’s that it really is the little things that make a relationship worthwhile.

  1. He buys you little things that remind him of you. Today, Paden came home and had bought new puzzles for us to work on and a new coloring book for me, simply because he saw it on the shelf and thought of me.
  2. He holds the door open and carries all the grocery bags. Chivalry is not dead, ladies!!!
  3. He lets you play your music in the car. Paden hates country music, but I love it. When we’re in the car though, he will let me play whatever I want. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with a little persuasion to let me do so, but we’ll pretend it doesn’t. Most of the time he will let me jam out with little to no opposition.
  4. He calls you even when he knows you’re not awake. A lot of the time, Paden has to close at work which means he doesn’t get off until 1:00 in the morning. And even though he knows I’m asleep at that time, he still calls on the off chance that I might answer. I love those phone calls, even if I am half asleep.
  5. He gets a little upset when you beat him at a video game. I’m not saying that it happens very often, but when it does, it’s kind of cute to watch him stomp around and swear it was luck on my part.
  6. You watch other people’s children in public and tell each other your kids will never act that way. Okay, so it might be a big deal to talk about the future but it makes me giddy to think about the fact that he has the same plans for our future that I do.
  7. You love/hate all the same TV show characters. Game of Thrones is a big part of our lives and the fact that we hate all the same people in that show is freaking awesome.
  8. You send each other funny pictures throughout the day. Paden is notorious for this… he has a million ugly pictures of me that I have seen, and probably a thousand more that I haven’t. And he likes to send them to me throughout the day because he knows I hate it.
  9. You’re okay with silence. There’s something peaceful about spending an afternoon snuggling in bed, just enjoying being in each other’s presence. Even though there a million things you could talk about, you enjoy just being close to one another.

Having a Relative with Dementia

When I was little, I would spend days at a time out at my great grandparents home. They lived on the lake on a large property, with their tiny little double-wide home looking out over the water. I have countless memories from there, from swinging on the tire swing hanging from the big tree in the front yard to crushing beer cans to be recycled and filling up the hummingbird feeder. The best days of my childhood originate from that little home filled with love.

My great grandparents, Bandy and Grandmommy, were my favorite humans on the planet. There was not much else that trumped getting to spend a weekend with them. Days were spent playing, evenings were spent watching the “stars on the water”(a George Strait reference), and nights were spent on my little cot next to their bed. We did anything and everything together.

Bandy passed away when I was 11. To this day, I have never cried harder at someone’s funeral than I did at his. My grandmother moved into town and my childhood sanctuary was sold, and I had a hard time realizing it was gone and that I had to grow up. Then a few years later, Grandmommy started to develop dementia.

She’d lose track of her keys, get in the car to go to the grocery store and forget where she was going halfway there, and many other things. My grandmother moved Grandmommy into a house down the street from where they lived so they could take care of her. We stopped visiting on a regular basis… my grandmother would tell us that Grandmommy was having a bad day on any given day we wanted to visit, and ultimately we stopped trying to see her.

After not having seen Grandmommy in over a year, she was admitted to the hospital because she was starting to go into liver failure. I decided to stop letting fear get the best of me and go and visit her.

I walked hesitantly into her room on the second floor…

“Hello.” I said.

“Hello, there.” She looked at me with questioning eyes.

“Do you know who I am?” I was scared what the answer might be but I couldn’t help but be hopeful.

She thought about it for a few seconds. I could tell she was trying to remember. “No, I don’t,” she finally sighed.

“That’s okay. I’m your great granddaughter, Kathleen.”

“Really? I haven’t seen you in forever. You look so good, so grown up. How have you been?”

It was somewhat of a relief that she knew who I was, even if she didn’t recognize me at first. She asked me how I was doing, what all I had been up to, and how my family was. She remembered all the things I’d done as a little kid and all the adventures we used to have. She remembered my mom and my brothers and sister and for a moment, I felt like I was talking to the same old Grandmommy she was when I was 8.

But then she started repeating her questions, and repeating them again, and again, and again. And I began to see what the disease had done to her. She could remember 8 year old me, but she couldn’t remember adult me. After about 30 minutes, I told her I loved her and that I’d come back and visit her again soon.

I got in my car after that, and bawled my eyes out. She later told my grandmother that she didn’t have any visitors that day, even though I had been there. However, when I went back later that night, she did recognize me. And that made me feel better.

From what I’ve learned, how bad her dementia is just depends on the day. Some days, she talks as if she’s still 30 and running around with her best friends. Some days, she can’t figure out how she got to her new house or where her pets are. Some days, she knows what’s happening but no idea what to do about it. So I take that with a grain of salt, and go about my day.

“They come from miles around to dance the jukebox down, to hear the good times sounds they play. And all across the harbor, night life’s shinin’ on. It makes you feel just like stars on the water, like stars on the water, like stars on the water when it rains.” 

My Church Story

Growing up, church was not something my family was involved in. Sunday’s at our house meant a long list of chores, grocery shopping and football. God just didn’t fit in there. And since that was how I was raised, I grew up thinking that was the norm, that my life would always be like that. The only thing I knew about church was that it kept me from Saturday night sleepovers with my friends because they had to get up early Sunday morning. 

As I got older, I was curious about Christianity. One of my best friends in high school was and is still one of the best examples of a Christian I have ever had, and she had an incredible influence on my curiosity. She would invite me to church but my parents would seemingly always come up with an excuse for me to not be able to go. So I let it be and continued on with my life. 

My grandmother bought me a study bible one Easter, but I lacked the time and discipline to sit down and read, much less understand it. So it sat and collected dust for a few years. 

That is until Robert, my 12 year old brother, came home from his summer-long trip to my grandparents house. He told me they sent him to church camp while he was there and that he really wanted to start going to church every Sunday. At the time, I was dealing with relationship troubles and so much more so I decided I would take him and my little sister to Northpoint that very next Sunday to try it out. I had heard so many great things about it from many people close to me. 

In October of 2015, my siblings and I attended Northpoint for the very first time. I was excited and nervous, not knowing what to expect considering this was my first church experience ever. I immediately felt welcomed in by guest services. I dropped my brother and sister off in Transit and UpStreet and awkwardly made my way into the auditorium. 

I left my first service feeling rejuvenated. I knew that this was something that had been missing in my life. A hole in my heart had been filled. We spent the whole car ride home talking about what we talked about in each of our groups and how excited we were to go again next Sunday. 

To this day, my siblings still come in my room every Sunday morning to make sure they know when to be ready to leave for church. It’s something we all look forward to. I’ve started talking to God on a regular basis just to thank him for all the blessings he has given me and talk about the future and His plans for me. I have a new sense of purpose in everything I do. I can see Him working in powerful ways on my brother and my sister and myself. 

In March of 2016, I decided to be baptized. I went in on a Thursday to talk to Jordan Geist, the high school ministry director, about the process of getting baptized. I left that day as a small group leader in InsideOut, the high school ministry. To me, that was God’s way of reaching out and giving me a way to serve Him in the church. It has been an incredible blessing. 

On April 23rd, I was baptized. It is a day I will always remember. God has big plans for me. 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”​

Reflection

I’ve been struggling a lot a work lately, undoubtedly because I’m just tired. The semester is finishing up, the past cheer season is coming to a close, and the preschool year is almost over. I find it harder and harder to wake up in the morning and be excited about work.

But then I get to Good News, the preschool I work at, by 8:30 AM. As I spend 30 minutes preparing activities and getting ready to teach, I start to get excited. As we pray for the patience and strength to get through a day of working with 2-5 year old kids, we can hear them laughing outside the door and trying so hard to open it even though they know it’s still locked. And I wonder why I can barely get out of bed to come to work, but here they are with more energy than I can imagine.

Then I start to realize that this is the best part of their day. They love coming to school. They love getting to spend all day with their friends. They love getting to see the teachers and doing all of the fun things we’ve planned for them, whether it’s a really cool science project or a song about the days of Creation.

Their faces light up when we ask them a question that they remember the answer to. Their eyes shine with pride when we tell them they did an awesome job on their art project, or when they finally master writing a letter that they’ve been struggling with. Suddenly I reminded of why I do what I do.

I love these children like my own (even though I don’t have any of my own). Seeing their artwork displayed in the hall for everyone to see makes me so proud. Watching them write their name by themselves, something they didn’t know how to do last September, is enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes. I have the ability to make such a lasting impact on them and I don’t even know it. So you can bet that this school year is going to end with a bang. And next year, the incoming kids can’t even begin to imagine the exciting things I’ve got in store for them.

The Story Of Us

My senior year of high school, I applied and was hired for a job at HEB, a Texas-wide gem of a grocery store, as a cashier. On my first day behind a register, I was assigned to a mentor to be trained on the specific way to run a register at my particular store. The manager I was assigned to was Paden.

I went home that first day not knowing that seven months later, I would be dating him.

I don’t think there was a defining moment when I just looked at him and knew I liked him. Our relationship developed over time and various midnight IHOP dates. Nothing sounds better than pancakes at 1 o’clock in the morning. We’d close at HEB together and then head over to IHOP. Soon it became a ritual. We found ourselves sitting in a corner booth, the whole restaurant to ourselves, talking for hours and hours about anything we could think of.

On the nights that Paden would close and I wouldn’t, he would drive down the street to my house and we’d lay out on the driveway looking at the stars. Those nights are some of my favorite memories and I’ll never forget the way I felt after our first kiss. It still takes my breath away just thinking about it.

We kept our relationship a secret at work. We figured the less people knew, the better off we would be. And we were right, because as soon as one person found out, all hell broke loose. Paden was basically forced to step down from his position as manager and people gave us a hard time all the time. It made work unbearable at times and the day I left that place was so relieving for the both of us.

Our relationship while I was away at Tech was rough, as almost all long distance relationships are. We were trying to maintain a brand new relationship with six hours between us. There were a lot of frustrating nights and we were both fairly poor communicators. But somehow we survived.

When I moved back home, things got better for the most part. Since I wasn’t working at HEB anymore, I didn’t have to restrain from posting pictures of us. Eventually people got over it. We no longer struggled with not being able to see each other because we were back to being in the same city. Some of the communication struggle was still there though.

One of the most frustrating things that got to me in the early stages of our relationship was Paden’s unwillingness to open up to me about serious topics, like what he planned to do with his future. Any time I brought it up, he would shut down. For a girl who’s essentially got her entire future planned out, it was incredibly frustrating to be with someone who didn’t have a clue. So in October of last year, I decided we needed to take a break.

Our break lasted about a month and a half and even though we don’t like to admit it, it was good for both of us. During that time, I made new friends that I now consider best friends and family and started attending church regularly, something I never once did before. Paden experienced some sort of epitome, for lack of a better word, and realized that what he was doing before was pushing me away. I think that if we hadn’t gone through that time period, our relationship wouldn’t be as strong as it is now.

Paden and I are so beyond happy together now. We talk about the future a lot. We talk about not knowing how to get there, but knowing what we want our future to hold. We are more open with each other than ever before and it has made us so much stronger. At the end of May, we’ll be going on our first vacation together. We talk about standing before one another and saying vows and committing to a life together. We talk about what our kids’ names will be, what kind of parents we’ll be, and the type of dog we’re gonna get before we even think about having children. We laugh everyday. We hold each other up and put each other’s happiness before our own.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him. He’s the best one-man support system a girl could ask for. He is sweet and thoughtful. Everyday with him is better than the last. He’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last one I talk to before falling asleep every night. I wake up everyday thankful to have the opportunity to love and be loved by him.

First Things First

Blogging is something I’ve always been curious about. While I don’t have a handful of blogs that I follow closely or anything like that, I’ve always thought that it would be something I would enjoy. So here I am, giving it a shot.

I don’t have a glamorous life. I don’t travel the world. I don’t try new recipes every day. I get up every morning, work two jobs, go to school, volunteer at church, and try my best not to get lost in my chaotic schedule. With that being said, let me tell you about me.

My name is Kathleen. I used to hate when people would shorten it to Kate or Kathy, but when I was in high school my best friends started calling me Kat. When I started working with children, Kat stuck because it was a lot easier for a 3 year old to pronounce. I’m twenty years old. I’m a business administration major at the local community college. I have 3 younger siblings, with the youngest being 10 years younger than me. I live at home with my brothers and sister, my parents, and my dad’s parents. I work in a preschool in the morning and coach cheerleading in the evening, all while taking classes during the week as well.

See? I told you it wasn’t glamorous.

I’ve always had to work for what I want. Nothing has ever been handed to me and I never expected for it to be. My parents taught me that if I wanted something bad enough, I had to earn it. I’ve worked since the day I turned 16 and I wouldn’t trade my work experience for anything. It has taught me so much over the years.

I have a wonderful boyfriend of  year and a half. I’ll save our story for another post. All you need to know right now is that it’s impressive that he’s dealt with me and vice versa for so long already. His name is Paden and he’s my favorite person in the entire world.

As far as school goes, I graduated from high school in 2014 and immediately went off to Texas Tech in the fall of the same year. Tech was wonderful but I was very homesick (once again, that’s another story). So over Christmas break, I moved back home to Austin.

I could go on and on, but I’ll keep this post short. Thank you for taking time to read this. I hope you’ll stick around.