The Final Story Of Me: The Tallahassee Years

I’m finally concluding my Story of Me series, which if you haven’t been following along you can read here.

My last post was about our wedding, which I can hardly believe was over four years ago.

These last few years in Tallahassee were great. They included our newlywed year(s). (I really have no clue how long being a newlywed lasts, I think it varies.) Taylor and I both got our undergraduate degrees from FSU. Taylor managed a Starbucks for a season. I worked my first job out of college. I helped moms in our community with their precious babies. Taylor got his master’s degree. We spent lots of time in Orlando with our families. We made some of the best friends in the last four years – friends I hope we have for a long time to come.

Taylor and I grew together as a family in Tallahassee. We’ve loved our years here in our apartments, making them our homes and enjoying cozy evenings. We’ve decorated for and hosted holiday celebrations, celebrated anniversaries and so much more. Tallahassee and our years here will always be so dear to me.

We found our place in our church, we served as Sunday school teachers, enjoyed time with our small group and grew together as as a family living in light of the goodness of the gospel.

We traveled a good bit over the last four years too! We went on a cruise to Mexico and Key West,  visited family in Missouri, spent weekends falling in love with Atlanta and took our first trip to the west coast in March to San Francisco. (Not to mention the countless fun we’ve had in Orlando at Disney, with family, at delicious restaurants and so much more.)  I am looking forward even more to all the travel we’ll get to do in the next four years!

In some ways, I’m positive Tallahassee will always be a part of me. It’s where I’m leaving myself as a college student, as a new wife and as a young adult. I’ll always look back on it fondly.

And now, you’re up to date with the story of my life, but you can keep following the adventure as it continues in real time. Hooray!

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May 8, 2009

This is from my story of me series.

Have you ever planned a wedding? If yes, then you know it is absolutely bananas. So many conflicting opinions, so many tough conversations about money and so many details.

I happen to looooove planning and details so wedding planning  itself was actually a joy. I would totally love to plan a friend’s wedding – I seriously think it’s so fun. Maybe that’s weird. The stressful aspects of joining two families…. yeah, I might pass on that joy again. It was stressful. My family was not overjoyed and it was so sad to come to grips with, but it was good because I had the wedding I wanted and I became more of an adult in the process.  It just wasn’t going to be a movie magically familial celebration that I had in my head and I came to realize that’s okay too because I was still getting married. I used to have serious panic attacks about spending time with my in-laws too and anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows that is not cool. Brides shouldn’t get panic attacks but I had a good few during the time we were married.

Oh, yeah and the part where my photographer cancelled the day before my wedding – not awesome.

Our actual wedding was pretty perfect and perfectly us, well, us at the time – which is actually pretty far away from who we are now, but that’s life. There was dancing to our favorite jams, smashing cake in each others face and lots of people watching us kiss. It truly was a beautiful day and it is so crazy to think that this was four years ago. It seems like it was yesterday and yet it seems like so much has happened. Life is so much better than it was four years ago. Taylor and I are better. Everything with Taylor’s family got better with lots of time.

After our wedding, we basically took the best vacation of all time. Off to Europe for a week to visit Budapest, Vienna and Berlin. What a ridiculously fun trip!

wedding

It was a black and white spring

My story of me sections keep getting so spread out! Sorry, friends. If you’re looking to read them all from the beginning read from here.

Taylor and I officially started dating on January 8, 2008. Taylor had orchestrated the cutest way to ask me out which involved these three different colors of roses for each aspect of our relationship. It was adorable; I was over-the-moon and Taylor was super nervous.

Over the next week, I went from over-the-moon this-is-the-best-ever to pit of depression/anger. Taylor’s parent’s didn’t agree with our plans to start dating and made it a point to end our relationship fast. Needless to say, this didn’t really work out in the end. God had other plans for us to grow together and be strong and hold convictions quiet dearly. Of all the times in my little life thus far, this was the most challenging. I really became so depressed about who I was and what I had caused in this family I wanted so much to impress. I lost way too much weight and thought super unhealthy thoughts. Through it all, I had the most amazing roommate, friends and pastors who came around side me to love me through this season. Who fought for Taylor and I and who loved us.

But, it spite of challenging family circumstances, Taylor and I grew together. We spent a summer working hard and hardly working in Orlando. We drove back to school at the start of our sophomore year with new freedom and not long after that Taylor must have purchased a ring because on October 8, 2008 he proposed and I said yes. He proposed in a most equally cute way with a whole story through important moments in our relationship and like any good hipster – a perfectly timed playlist. And then we were off with plans to be hitched in the spring.

Black and White

The Start of It All

Another story of past post. You can read them all here.

I moved to Tallahassee only a few short weeks after my trip to Romania. I was still reeling from a bit of culture shock, full of waves of religious excitement that come from monumental moments like that trip and full of anxiety about the future.

I knew I was going to be a full-time missionary. I switched my major to International Affairs and knew that in just four short years my life would finally be on its way overseas.

I was wrong and now I’m so glad I was wrong.

I look back at that year with so much fondness. I had so much fun meeting new people and staying up late.

It was good that my religious high came when it did because it really helped me to pick a church and I ended up in a college ministry and for the first time in my life I really studied theology to try to figure out what I believe as an adult, not as the girl who just went to church with her parents.

I grew in every way. This was really when I started to see myself apart from my parent and from their home in Orlando. It started feeling less and less like home and it’s never really felt the same.

I also met the man I would marry. We met the very first night I lived in Tallahassee. I had been out with a friend and when I got back my roommate had old friends and new friends over in our dorm playing cards (I think). Taylor was one of the new friends that showed up. We had a mutual friend from high school but had not met each other before. From that moment, we were rather inseparable friends. We spent an entire semester pretending that’s all that was going on, but I’m pretty sure everyone around us knew that was false.

More on that in the next installment.

Friends with an FSU Statue

Friends with an FSU Statue

In Westcott Foundation!

In Westcott Foundation!

Hungary and Romania

This is the second part of my Story of Me series about my high school years. You can read the first one here.

My religious beliefs for the first part of high school were more or less nonexistent. I didn’t really grasp anything and at the time my family’s church had recently fallen apart at the seems and I really didn’t know what to make of it all.  I had very little guidance and I was kinda just floating along.

I can’t pinpoint the moment that something changed. I know it was sometime toward to end of my Sophomore year, but I can’t really pick anything monumental that happened to cause me to really delve deeper into the bible. I just remember picking it up one day and that was that. My worldview slowly started to shift and I slowly started to see the bigger picture of the gospel and my own sin.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Not too long after that, a couple of friends were planning a Spring Break missions trip to Budapest and for some reason, I knew I needed to be on that trip. It really did change my perspective on the urgency of missions and gave me a deeper trust in God that I didn’t have before. I subsequently traveled back to Hungary to spend a little over a month teaching English and talking about Jesus to high school students. It was exhausting and it was trying. In hindsight, as my perspective on missions have changed, I don’t know if I really think all the highly of this method now, but I know the heart of the people working there is in it and I know God is working through those people. These trips gave me a deep love for Hungary, which might be strange, but it is an amazing place that more Americans should know about. It’s absolutely beautiful. Some days, all I want to do is eat a palaczinta (basically a crepe) overlooking that beautiful city. That city became so much a part of my life that when it came time to plan my honeymoon we ended up going to Budapest, but more of that in the story to come.

Szent Istvan Basilica - March 2006

Szent Istvan Basilica – March 2006

Before,  I left for college I also traveled to Romania with the church my family was attending. The most memorable part of that whole trip was spending time in a poor village cleaning a small hut for an elderly women whose brother was dying in the other room. Seeing the need and the trust of that women is something I needed to see at 18 and something I don’t think I could ever forget.

Romania - August 2007

Romania – August 2007

These trips and my high school bible study (which could be a whole post on its own) made my faith stronger. They put me on a path that I could go away to college and struggle with my convictions and theology and not be shaken by the collegiate system. I truly think that in those years God really did work a miracle in my life to put people in my life to teach me and encourage me and to show me how big His plan is and how much He loves me.

From Dracula to the End: A Story of High School Theater

This is a two-part post about high school as part of my Story of Me series. Check back for the second part next week. 

When, I think about high school, I find that I have compartmentalized my experience into two distinct parts: theatre friends and Christian friends. I had two very distinct sets of friends in the social hierarchy of a high school that really was more like The Breakfast Club than I’d like to admit. (I would know, as in high school I also went through a major Molly Ringwald/Brat Pack/ 80s phase.) It’s actually quite a shame how segregated that high school was, but no fighting for change now.

This is about my life covered in paint, memorizing lines and learning lots about myself.

Arsenic and Old Lace, 2006

Arsenic and Old Lace, 2006

I have the fondest memories of theater productions and competition theater pieces. (If you don’t know, competition theater is a little like Glee and thankfully, a little not like Glee). Some of my greatest friends at the time were theater friends. Most of whom, I don’t really speak to all that often, if at all these days.

My life really did revolve around a schedule of fall play, spring musical and competitions. Those were the highlights of my life. It’s actually a bit sad to think my life at the time could be reduced to such small things, but at 15 that was my world. It was a good world full of crazy kids (some of whom I’m sure my parents thought were really crazy).

Honestly, one of the highlights on my high school existence was a pantomime of all things.  I know, that sounds absolutely absurd now, but trust me it was fun. I’ll admit, it did get me and a group of classmates out of class to “practice” but that was the name of the game.

What did I really learn from my 4 years of painting sets, making props, memorizing lines and agonizing over auditions?

I might have gained some self-confidence, but I’m pretty sure most of that came much later. Mostly, I learned some things really are just for fun. Theater didn’t end up being my career and although, I love going to see plays, I haven’t even auditioned for one in ages. I learned to enjoy art and I do really think that’s been important for me. I started to learn about critical thinking, which is unfortunately a very underrated skill.  I gained an appreciation for the people who do make it as actors because really I might have just a twinge (albeit not much) of jealousy. And maybe, something about working together/ not hurting the people you’re working with – a valuable life lesson.

I wouldn’t change anything about those years, even though some of the most awkward experiences of my life came out of them.

I feel like this post would be lacking if I didn’t mention that during this time and with this group of friends, I knew amazing people who were hilarious and fun and talented. But, I had a friend, who helped when things got really tough (and even at 16 my life had its rough patches) and made fun of me when things weren’t (and if they’re reading this are likely making fun of me right now). This friend, in hindsight, was wise beyond their years and I think at 16 everyone needs that.

Moving On

This post isn’t about Valentine’s Day, but I hope you’re having a great one! Shout out to Taylor for an awesome Valentine/Husband/Person. 

Jean Jacket

Now, onward with my life story. (Like the picture above:  jean jacket and terribly huge glasses. I was hipster before it was a thing!)

We moved from Colorado to Florida in November of 1997. I was 8.

I don’t even remember when or how my parents even told me we were moving.

I remember the letters my classmates wrote me. I hope teachers still have their students do that. It was so encouraging to take a little stack of poorly written letters with me to the new and foreign land of Orlando.

I was so scared the first day at my new school. Doesn’t the unknown always have the effect, at least a bit?  I remember sitting and waiting in the office for my new teacher to come get me. She was exactly the kind of teacher I needed. Isn’t it great how God does that?

The first thing my teacher did was ask me a simple question. One I definitely got wrong, but I was glad I did. She said “Seminole or Gator?” I was 8 and from Colorado so I didn’t even know what a Seminole was so I blurted “Gator?” Apparently, being the week after Thanksgiving, those teams had just played and the Gators won.

I came home so happy because I had gotten out of homework for a whole week.  I’m not sure my mom really believed my story about this. In hindsight, shouldn’t she have been worried about this new educational system based on football game wins?

It was the makings of a good new start – for me as a little 8-year-old in a new land, for my family it would be the first time I remember my Dad ever having a real job. It was the start we needed.