Saturday, October 30, 2010

You'll Be Proud To Be An Alpha Gam Girl

Let's rewind to January of freshman year for a moment: my sweet friend Bekah and I had recently received our bids to join the sisters of Alpha Gamma Delta and could not have been more excited. We sat in her dorm room one night talking about our futures as sisters, which led to discussion of candlelightings. Some of you may remember Bekah's candlelighting back in April.

candlelighting: how we announce to the whole sorority that we are engaged.

This is how it goes: you keep it pretty quiet until the candlelighting. I mean, you can tell people (which I did), but just don't really announce it yet kinda deal. So everyone gets in a circle and we have a song we sing called Today. It's my favorite. A candle is lit by the president and she starts to pass it around. It goes all the way around the circle once and the second time around the engaged sister blows it out to announce her engagement to the other sisters.

I know it sounds lame, but I have dreamed of having a candlelighting and never in a million years thought I would get one. 

It was so much fun! Everyone was standing around beforehand talking and trying to guess who it was and it was so hard to keep my mouth shut! Love all those girls so much! Thank you for making this so special!

telling the story
 showing off my ring :)
 my awesome candle that my sweet little Sara made with inspiration by Linds

apparently it's our tradition :)
(from Bekah's candlelighting)

my favorite sweetheart- Bekah's fiance, Justin
my crazy littles
 favorite picture of the night, hands down

Today as we gather in our sisterhood
Remembering the moments and times that were good
To you, Alpha Gamma Delta, we'll always be true
Knowing the love and the friendship we've gained through you
I'll be a sister to all of the others
You'll know who I am by my badge set with pearls
I'll strive for perfection in all I endeavor
You'll be proud to be an Alpha Gam girl

Let The Celebrations Begin!

We had such a great time in Brunswick. Those precious boys are seriously awesome and I would hold sweet baby Philip all day long if I could. It's always so hard to leave them... but we had some great news to share when we got home!

Of course we were greeted with the camera as soon as we got there- which I love because we seriously have every bit of it in pictures and I love that.
Sunday night our families all came over to the Hollenbecks' for a little celebration. :) It was so perfect because we didn't have to worry about finding the time to see everyone like we wanted to in such a short time of being home. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful, loving, supportive people. 
LOVE this picture!

it was so fun to share our happiness with everyone and hear the proposal story from all sides: mine, Cosbie's, and our parents! so funny. I have a hard time with sharing stuff like that and my feelings about things sometimes in big groups, but I started to get over it about half way through the story.

and we got our 2nd present as an engaged couple! (our first being my first monogrammed thing- "H" napkins! and Mr. and Mrs. luggage tags from Jessica) The Barbers (family friends of the Hollenbecks) gave us a great book and I'm excited about reading it!

It was a wonderful night with our sweet families.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tonight Our Life Begins

Turns out I fail at the 30 Day Blog Challenge... but for good reason.

This is going to be pretty long (mostly because I never want to forget any of it), so sit down and stay for a while.

About 3 years ago, God really started to put dating on my heart. I wasn't sure what that meant for a long time, but God began to show me that He wanted to redefine dating for me. I started to see that "dating" by definition was not something I really wanted. I decided to stay away from it until I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was telling me I was going to marry this man and I was ready for true commitment.

I read every book there was and prayed scripture over my future relationship constantly and listened to every sermon. I was obsessed. I wanted to know how to be the kind of wife my man would need me to be. I was finally content with where I was in life. Sure, there were days that were hard. There were days that I would pray for that man and be mad at him for not being here. There were days when I would realize exactly how strange I am and wonder if anyone would ever love me for that. And there were so many days when I felt like God was just telling me to pray for him and I had no idea why and felt like a crazy lady. But I did it.

I mostly struggled with people telling me my expectations were too high. They told me that no man my age was capable of living up to such high expectations so I needed to be ok with waiting for a long longer. I was ok with waiting, butI didn't agree. Toward the beginning of the year I really began to feel like God was preparing me to be with this man, whoever he was. I was so emotionally invested in that relationship without even knowing who he was that I knew I would love him almost immediately and things would happen pretty fast, Lord willing. I always joked about the one year plan: meet, get engaged, and get married in a year. Why wait?

On April 26, 2010, the man I had been praying for walked into my life on the most unlikely day. I knew that day that he was the one I was going to marry. I got in my car and actually cried (don't act too surprised) because I thought I was crazy. And I didn't tell anyone. I was leaving for Panama in 4 days and wanted to just run away. So I did.

But Cosbie pursued me. I was pretty out of practice with the whole relationship thing, so I made it difficult sometimes. It took him forever to get my phone number from me... and I may or may not have been a bit of a smart alec about it... ;) but I eventually admitted to him and myself that I didn't want to go another day without him in my life.

Most of you know that he travels a lot. I have been totally fine about it until a few weeks ago. All of a sudden it got really hard to be away from him for so long. There were days when I wanted nothing more than for him to have a normal job so that I could spend weekends with my boyfriend just like every other girl. I just wanted to be normal. So I know I made being gone much harder on him too. I asked for one weekend this month- I needed some time with him where it could just be "us time" and we wouldn't be running all over the place- and we decided on this past weekend. I had been wanting to go to Brunswick since baby Philip was born, so we decided to spent said weekend in Brunswick with Coach and Jessica. I went down on Thursday and Cosbie came on Friday. Friday night we were supposed to go to Coach's football game, but Cosbie wanted to go to dinner before on St. Simon's. Of course I thought a real date was a great idea! Before we went to dinner, he suggested we go to Epworth. St. Simon's is a very special place for us and Epworth is a very special place to me. I have spent the most challenging and life changing weeks of my summer working camp there and it is most definitely my favorite place on the island, maybe even the world. We sat on a bench down by the water and talked for a long time, which was nice because, let's be honest, we never just stop and slow down and just spend time together like that. It was exactly what I needed. He was being so sweet (not that he's not always sweet, but extra sweet) and I thought it was just because he knew I needed a little reassuring after that long California with a 3 hr time difference trip. We talked about the first time we were there together (camp), the second time (vacation with my family), and this time and how much things have changed. Next thing I know, he's on his knee in front of me, asking me to be his wife.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I think in the back of my mind I had thought about how perfect this weekend would have been, but I have been so careful to guard my heart against wishful thinking and just focusing on being content that I wouldn't really let myself entertain those thoughts. Those words were the sweetest words anyone has ever said to me. I don't just want to marry him, I want to be his wife. I want to be the one who goes through life beside him, even when it gets tough. Getting married is an event. Being a wife is forever.

Of course I said yes (about a dozen times) and a few minutes later I realized that this girl was taking our picture. I am so thankful to have every moment captured. (both of these are from Rebecca Scarbrough Photography)

here is the link to the rest
(seems self explanatory, but in case it's not, click on Cosbie & Cait)
and this is my stinkin awesome ring
After we had all of our pictures done and I kinda began to breathe normally again, Cosbie prayed for us and our future and the future of our marriage and our family. I am so thankful for a man who will pray with me and for me and understands the importance of praying together, for our marriage, and for our future. Then he gave me a new Bible with my future last name on it and it's a Spanish- English Bible just like the one I have now and love so much. It is the most precious gift I have ever been given. (I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my ring too of course ;) )

We had an absolutely wonderful dinner on the island and a perfect night. We never made it to the football game because little Philip decided he was not a fan of the band, but spending the rest of the night talking with Jessica was just perfect, even if she had been such a little liar for the past few weeks. ;)

I am beyond excited, so blessed, and totally in awe of the Lord's faithfulness. Cosbie is everything I ever prayed for and so much more I didn't even know I needed. He exceeds every single high expectation I ever had. Together we can accomplish so much more for the Kingdom than we ever could on our own. I am so amazed at the ways that the Lord brought us together and worked in our hearts to bring us to this place and cannot wait to see what He has in store for the future.

I can't wait to become Mrs. Cosbie Hollenbeck and spend every day of the rest of my life with this man that I love so much.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"I Might Be Slow, But I'm Beautiful"

I am done with 5th grade now and teaching special ed at a different school. Mostly 4th and 5th grades (so I didn't get away completely) and one precious 1st grader. I was skeptical. On the first day, I got a chair thrown at me. The next day another kid did the same thing because he saw kid #1 do it  the day before. We spend so much time dealing with behavior that, some days, I feel like we get nothing else done. But if J stays in his area and gets one sentence written, that's a successful day. Success can no longer be measured by how much is done and how accurate it is, it has to be measured based on how far we've come since we started that day or week or month or even year.

The school is 98% Hispanic with a poverty level close behind. These kids live in the worst of the worst conditions. They hardly speak English. They have learning disabilities and behavior disorders on top of a huge language barrier. And in all honesty, some just have plain old horrible behavior that is learned from their environment. Some of them are children to teenage mothers and will never know their fathers. They live among gangs and cussing and alcoholism. They don't know any other life. They tell me about the fights they got into the night before and why. They are 10 years old and are the one responsible for their younger siblings' well being every night so their parents can work their second jobs. So even when they misbehave and act the way they do, can you blame them?

The more I hear about their stories the more compassion I have for them and the more my heart breaks. V was a perfectly normal 2nd grade boy until January of his 2nd grade year. He got a fever one night that spiked while he was sleeping and caused uncontrollable seizures. He was in an induce a coma for 3 months before they could get the seizures under control and bring him out. Now he lives with the effects of a traumatic brain injury. He has no impulsion control which causes intense rages (i.e. slamming a teacher's arm in the door and breaking it on Friday), memory loss, and extreme fatigue, just to name a few.

J has a behavior disorder and self-destructive tendencies. He stapled his hand the other day when none of us were looking and sometimes he talks about suicide. In 5th grade. What kind of pain does he feel to want such a thing at such a young age? He's so angry. But if you can get him one-on-one, he's so sweet.

A is the most precious little boy I have ever seen in my whole life. As soon as he smiled at me, I was in love. I can't even explain it. This is where I just lose my words. I just wish I could explain his little face and that sweet smile. It melts my heart. He has a speech problem and isn't fluent in Spanish or English so most of his sentences are about half and half and are almost impossible to understand. I'm in love. I have taken him on as mine for the next 6 weeks. A is also developmentally delayed. Cutting things out is really hard for him, so every day we pick a new color and a new magazine and cut everything we can find in that color. Yesterday we played number Bingo. Numbers have been a struggle, so I wasn't sure how that would go. He blew me away. He got every single one right on every single card in the box. He told me all of the numbers in and out of order. I know it seems so small, but if you could just see that face. If you could just understand how hard it has been for him. I couldn't even help it, my eyes just welled up with tears. I am so incredibly proud of him! Now we're taking on 1-30...

The 5th grade boys and I have a very intense love/ hate relationship. I love them, but I want to shake them sometimes, and they most definitely feel the same way about me sometimes. Like lately. They will not pay attention in math. So they have no idea what's going on. They are adding fractions without common denominators- hard stuff, especially when you have a learning disability. So we have been fighting all week basically. Today I finally got R to listen to what I was saying. I had to remind him a thousand times to look at his problem and pay attention, but he was listening. And after about 45 minutes, he did a problem on his own. I have never seen him smile like that. He hugged me and said, "Thank you for helping me, miss." (favorite thing about teaching Hispanic kids: they call you "miss" and it's just precious) Once again I was fighting the tears.

I have never struggled with a group of kids so much or been so proud of them before in my life. I know it's only been a week, but I already love them so much. So many people have given up on them, but I won't. Even if I only have 6 weeks, I'm going to make them count.

"I don't need you, I don't need you, I don't need you 'cause I know I'm beautiful. I might be slow, but I'm beautiful..." -Beautiful, Alli Rogers

30 Day Challenge: Day 9 & 10

dia nueve
a picture of your friends

I hate doing stuff like this sometimes because I am afraid of leaving people out. Lindsey always makes fun of me because she says I have a lot of friends and she can't keep up with them. The truth of the matter is that I just like people. I like building relationships. I like investing in people.

{home friends}

{school friends}

{camp friends}

(I hate this picture but it's the only one I can find of all of us right now)

 I got a wonderful visit from this sweet girl yesterday.

what I learned about myself through this post:
1. I change my hair a lot.
2. I like to wear my Love Is The Movement shirt at camp.

dia diez
something you're afraid of

this is easy.
in 3rd grade my teacher told us this story about killing a spider. It was a pretty fat one, and when she stepped on it all of its little tiny spider babies went all over the kitchen. I cringed just typing that. It totally freaked me out. I can't handle spiders at all. I'm talking crying and everything. it's not a good situation.

Dahlonega, Feels Like I've Struck Gold

2 things about this weekend:
{one} I took the GACE on Saturday. For you non education majors, that's the test I have to pass to be certified. big deal. I took general ed and special ed. two words about that: so hard. and by that I mean it's the hardest test I've ever taken. I legitimately made up one of my sped essay questions. Every bit of it. I'll find out my scores on November 15th.

{two} I missed Gold Rush on Saturday for said GACE which I was am very unhappy about. But I did get to go on Sunday and go to Rock-a-thon with my sweet sisters. And I got to see all my sweet friends who have graduated *cough*and left me all alone here*cough*. And Lindsey surprised me. :) It was the most wonderful surprise and much needed.
 And this guy came home for a day and came to see me :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

dia ocho
a place you've been to

note: I intentionally did not do day 7 because I honestly don't have a favorite movie that I feel very passionate about and could never do the day as much justice as this girl.

this is hard. because I have 2 places and I don't want to pick. so I'm not going to.

Mexico: laughter. smiles. Spanish. "muchachas". block parties. chickens at prayer meetings. sunsets. ham and cheese sandwiches. apple pie. Mama Tori. Saul. Mauricio.
a piece of my heart is still there.

Panama: stress. craziness. teaching. precious babies. movies. mall. bread and cheese. Super 99. floods. heat. JJ Heller. new friends. orange sweaters.

Te extra├▒o mucho...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 6

dia seis
a picture of something that makes you happy

For weeks now I've been wishing I was at this place that makes me happy. As soon as this darn leg is better... and if maybe these girls would come back...

Friday, October 15, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 5

dia cinco

this should be easy.
I'm an only child.
Linds told me I could adopt her for the sake of this post, which I would gladly do.
but the "siblings post" has probably turned into one of my longest.

When you go to college, friends from home tend to fade. For the most part, this has been true.

Rachel. we first met in 8th grade. and hated each other. Somehow 9th grade changed things and we have been friends ever since. We've been through a lot. We've had our fair share of disagreements. But we have never met anything that some coffee ice cream, Dove chocolate, sour gummy worms, and Jesus couldn't handle. We can take it. She's held my ginormous prom dress so I could go to the bathroom, helped me pack for college when I was so overwhelmed by all my stuff, took care of me when I broke my leg, speaks Spanish with me, and even thinks I'm pretty funny sometimes, which is fun. Sometimes she lives with us, which makes her the closest thing to a sister I have ever really had.
Kelly. She is my mentor, role model, and friend. She makes the best cupcakes and food you will ever taste. Kelly has been through a lot with me. She has listened to me shed many tears. To most people, we have a strange relationship because she is 8 years older than me, but it doesn't matter. She is such an encouragement when I need it the most. She can see right through any lie I try to throw at her. She knows everything about me and still loves me. And even though I'm just a "little kid", she still actually wants to hang out with me. I will be content with being half of the godly woman that she is.

I moved onto A100 of Donovan with 20 something other girls, none of whom I knew.
I went from having my own room to living with a stranger.
I went from having my own bathroom to sharing with all of them.
I went from having my alone time to scrounging for it.
I had a hard time.
But somewhere along the way, I began to love these girls.
They were there when school got too hard.
They studied with me for big tests.
They taught me how to knit and we watched America's Next Top Model and The Hills together.
They were there when I cried.
They were there when I got my heart broken.
We laughed until we cried, stayed up way too late, goofed off when we should have been studying, and went to Waffle House way too many times.
 In January of my freshman year I decided to rush. I never thought I was the sorority kinda girl, but, truth be told, I needed to get involved. I had some great girls on my hall, but I was alone too much. I wasn't sure I would pledge, but I wanted to meet people. I swore up and down that I would, under no conditions, be an Alpha Gam. First of all, their mascot is a squirrel and that's weird. Second of all, my aunt was an Alpha Gam and I wanted to make a name for myself. Then I met the girls. And I was sold. Every time I went to one of the parties for the other sororities I was nervous, wondered what I was going to talk about, and worries about making a good impression. But every night, the moment I walked into the Alpha Gam party, I felt like I could finally breathe. I was at home.

Everyone has their stereotypes about sororities, just like I did before I joined, but the truth of the matter is that these girls have made me a better person. They stuck by me when I made mistakes and never judged me. They helped me get through so much heartache. There was a time when I completely lost sight of who I am and what I was living for, and they helped bring me back. They encourage me, make me laugh, and love me unconditionally, no matter what kind of craziness I throw their way.

I may not know what it's like to have a real sister, but I think I'm pretty darn close.