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h o l d i n g o n
Wednesday, August 11th (boo hoo... hooray!)
I heard somewhere that when you journal, you should pretend you’re talking to an old friend or someone you trust completely and know would never laugh at you. This is what I keep telling myself, ‘cause frankly I feel pretty silly writing in this dorky little book. And it’s funny- I’ve had this in my closet for several years, and suddenly it hits me- hey, I’m going to high school next year! According to some people, that will be one of the most memorable eras of my whole life. I’m not so sure I want to remember everything about being fourteen, but on the other hand, things seem to be looking up lately... for the most part anyway. It might be fun to track how the remaining months of junior high go.
First, let me say this. I am not looking forward to high school. I’ve been at my school since I was three. That’s eleven years! Of course I’m sad to leave it behind, but more than that, I’m scared I’ll make some pretty big mistakes or lose my relationship with God or something crazy like that. I’m afraid of being a loser that gets slushies thrown at them. But I’m afraid to get sucked into the demand for popularity. I’m afraid I’ll become someone I’m not. I don’t feel ready for high school. And I don’t have that much time to prepare myself... even if it is only the first day of 8th grade. Like this morning in my U.S. history class, my teacher, Mrs. Miller said, “Think about it, students. One year from today you will be sitting in a high school classroom. Congratulations.” I don’t feel like being congratulated. I feel like whacking myself with a baseball bat.
...Looking more at the present, I’m scared about this year too. Last year in 7th grade a lot of changes were made to our middle school (we got a new principal). But most of them were NOT changed for the better (at least in my opinion). I’m afraid that this year will be changed too and that a true hatred for this school will emerge in my heart. Can you imagine?! Up until 7th grade, I’ve loved my school. I really don’t want to spend my last year counting down to “graduation”! (They actually make us wear caps and gowns!)
Being positive... my first day wasn’t that bad. I got into the homeroom I wanted and my two best friends, Molly and Penelope, are in all my classes. Other than that, nothing really worth mentioning. Just excited to start a new year! And sad to know it’s my last first day!
DEAR GOD, PLEASE MAKE THIS A JOYFUL AND MEMORABLE YEAR. I KNOW YOU WILL ALWAYS BE NEAR, BUT I NEED
YOUR HELP TO CLEAR ALL MY SELF-DOUBTS & FEARS. AMEN.
Saturday, August 14th (no reputation?)
Okay, so it’s my first day off since school started and all I want to do is sleep. But it’s Penelope’s birthday party. (And I feel guilty that I don’t feel like going, but it’s going to take awhile to get back on a school schedule.) I ended up having a lot of fun. Penny’s mom took six of our good friends out to eat at Panera (we always end up going to Panera.)
A lot of touchy subjects came up at dinner. Lindsey actually brought up our “status”... you know the “lists” and stuff. I’ll admit it, my friends and I aren’t exactly what you’d call “popular”. A lot of so-called “jocks” pick on us and spread inappropriate rumors about us. But we get on fine. We stick to our own lunch table and go to youth group on Sundays rather than the movie theatre. We choose to be invisible rather than do some of the other disgusting things some of the cheerleaders do. And I don’t think any of the kids at school are “bad” necessarily. I just think a lot of them think having a bad reputation is better than having no reputation.
Anyway, we tend to not think about it and/or acknowledge it. So, when Lins brought it up, we were kind of astonished. “Why don’t people like us, guys? I mean, we try so hard to do what Mary Alice says at youth group. It’s not like we’re mean to them,” Lindsey said. I’ve always thought that out of the six of us, Lins is the one who craves popularity and attention the most. I’m kind of amazed how she wants it so badly, but gives it up because she knows what kind of things those kids do and talk about doing like it’s nothing. (I just hope she maintains it in high school!)
Well, I don’t think anyone breathed until Molly spoke up. “Well, Lindsey. We’re different. And people like Alice Blackwell (head cheerleader) don’t like people who are so-called ‘different’”. Lindsey still looked confused and hurt. “For one,” I said, “we enjoy mass and art- the two very things they hate. They just don’t understand.” I tried to smile at her, but I knew we all felt the same way as Lins. We love our group of six. We love singing songs and playing the piano in the choir room after school. We love meeting for youth group Sunday evenings. But let’s face it- we want to be loved and respected just like everybody else. Molly has told me numerous times about the tears she sheds in the spray of the shower and the privacy of her bedroom.
Jesus placed the longing to be loved in our hearts. I think, so that we will learn to love Him unconditionally. And in that longing, the six of us feel and share, we’ve had to love each other a lot more than normally. We are brothers and sisters in our love and in His. And though I still sometimes wish we could be popular, I am so grateful I have five amazing friends I can fall back on. To me, that’s better than twenty- five cheerleader friends that only like you ‘cause you’re “cool”. We need to remember not only our longing to be loved, but also how much He longs, how much God really wants to be loved by us.
DEAR GOD, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BLESSING ME WITH MOLLY, PENNY, LINS, APRIL, AND CARTER. I LOVE THEM ALL LIKE FAMILY AND COULDN’T PRAISE YOU ENOUGH FOR PLACING THEM IN MY LIFE. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ME FROM MY CRAVING TO BE POPULAR. YOU ARE MY ONLY HAPPINESS. AMEN.
Sunday, August 15th (my turn to be brave)
I guess if I’m talking to my “closest friend” or whatever and the whole point of this diary thing is to be honest, then I should probably tell you about Ms. Reynolds. Molly and I took private voice lessons from her for almost a year (since last September) and three weeks ago she moved to Guatemala.
It probably wouldn’t seem like that big of a deal normally. But Ms. Reynolds made Molly and I grow up. Every important lesson I’ve learned has been in this last year and I don’t know how many have came from Ms. R. Molly and I were absolutely devastated when she told us she was moving.
Well, Molly is a competitive dancer, mostly ballet and lyrical. So, when Ms. Reynolds moved, Molly began to choreograph a solo from Idina Menzel’s “Brave” to perform at the back to school recital. Basically, the song’s about falling back on someone too much and now that it’s time to say goodbye, we have to accept that it’s our turn to be brave. It’s a very powerful song. I’m tearing up just telling you about it!
Today was the actual performance. Now, I know the solo was supposed to be dedicated to Ms. Reynolds and all, but honestly all I could think about was high school. I have relied on this school since the time I was a toddler. It’s time for me to start learning how to depend on myself, to be brave. I’m happy to be able to use the lesson I learned from saying goodbye to Ms. R to help me say goodbye to my school and home for the past eleven years!
DEAR GOD, THANK YOU FOR BRINGING MS. R TO ME & FOR ALL THE LESSONS SHE TAUGHT ME. GIVE ME THE BRAVERY
TO LET GO OF JUNIOR HIGH AND ENTER HIGH SCHOOL,FULLY CONFIDENT IN YOUR NAME. AMEN.
Monday, August 16th (Penny for your thoughts?)
For Penelope’s birthday I was able to persuade my mom to get us tickets to see “Cats” (the musical) at the Queen Centre for tonight. (My mom’s pretty cool about stuff like that.) It was so much fun! I slept over and we did each other’s hair and make-up, probably getting too dressed up for a musical, but that’s okay! The musical was awesome. Grizabella’s (one of the cat’s) song, “Memory”, for some reason reminded me of what we were saying on Saturday about our reputations and status.
When we got back home from the theatre, we stayed up really late whispering back and forth from our bunk beds. Turns out, Penny feels the same way about high school as I do. It felt really good to get all of those ridiculous worries and fears off my chest. And Penny seemed eager to do the same. By the end of our conversation, we were so tired, just completely ready to crash. But Penny asked quietly, “Hey, Amy? Do you think God will hear us better if we pray together?” I was about to tell her to just go to sleep and we’ll talk more about it in the morning, but then I thought about what she said. Do you ever feel like God is there directly talking to you from another person’s mouth? “Yes, I think that’s a great idea, Penny,” I said, wanting to cry. We stayed up for another half hour praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, pausing now and then to tell Him something- a worry for the future or concern for another person. We probably would have kept praying, but somewhere along the way, we both drifted off. I forgot why I love Penny so much! She’s just like me- like my twin sister. And we understand things through the same eyes it seems. And now I wish more than ever we’ll be able to go to the same high school! It’s just always so rewarding to be with her. And I think that’s the first time in weeks I’ve slept dreamlessly.
Wednesday, August 18th (shepherd me, o God!)
I opened my e-mail last night to find a quick note from Ms. Reynolds! I was so happy just to hear something from her again, even if I couldn’t hear her voice! I thought I was going to scream. I ended up replying with a really long letter, which contained practically everything that’s been happening. I’ve started to realize that I get pretty carried away whenever I start writing. (I’ve also realized that I use a lot of parentheses.) But that’s alright, isn’t it? I like writing. It’s pretty much the only way I won’t drown in my own worrying!
Anyway, she didn’t send back a long reply, but frankly I didn’t care. I’m just glad she’s taking the time to talk to me at all! I had told her briefly that I was cantoring today at the school mass. She told me that she’d probably be sleeping while I was singing (their time is behind us), but that she’d say a prayer for me before she went to bed.
So, I know it sounds stupid, but when I sang the psalm (Shepherd Me, O God), I actually imagined it flying over to Guatemala and letting her hear my voice again, even if it was just in her dreams. It sounds ridiculous and obviously scientifically impossible. But I believe God could have made it happen if He wanted to. Let’s just say that I sang for Ms. Reynolds today and I prayed to God that she will be blessed and happy in her new home. That doesn’t sound as stupid, now does it?
Wednesday, August 25th (I’m not really alone... am I?)
Tonight the youth ministry had a perpetual adoration night. Basically we go in the church and Father Jacob says a meditation, we pray in silence, we sing a bunch of songs and that’s it. See, my parents don’t really go to church or anything and my friends are all busy on Wednesdays and while they make time for youth group on Sunday, they barely ever make it to adoration. I hate going to adoration by myself. I know I’m supposed to feel like Jesus is there and everything, but if I’m not sitting by someone else I love, it makes Him feel farther away.
Well, tonight was especially worse. I got into a huge fight with my mom and all I wanted to do was be in the church. But when I got there, I didn’t see anyone I knew. I was kind of early, so I tried to take a deep breath and tell myself that someone would show up, even if it was just Mary Alice, the youth minister. I sat down in the third pew from the front and tried to pray to Mary, asking her to be my mother right then, when I didn’t have one. I waited and waited and no one came. My whole pew was empty. I felt a cold shiver run through my body. I felt so empty and alone. It was the most terrible thing in the world. I began to miss Ms. Reynolds. And then I missed everyone. My friends. My teachers. My parents. I suddenly felt like they were far away from me and I needed to miss them. I told myself that Jesus and Mary and St. Claire were with me. But nothing worked. I felt colder and colder. And then I got angry. Why wasn’t my mom here to hold me and tell me I would never be alone? Why wasn’t April or Lins here to tell me a joke to make me laugh? Why wasn’t Ms. Reynolds here to sing my tears to sleep? Why had everyone abandoned me? Would I always feel this way? Was anyone going to come and put their arms around me? I tried to feel Jesus’ arms. Had He left me too? Was I even here at all?
I looked across the aisle at one of the girls that occasionally went to youth group, a shy 7th grader named Andrea. Her eyes were swollen red and there were rivers flowing down her face. But what I noticed most is that Andrea’s mom, who never goes to church and, as far as I know, isn’t even Catholic, was holding her in a tight, loving embrace. Embarrassed, I looked away, my own tears forming, but not strong enough to overflow. Was I too empty to cry?
DEAR GOD, IN MY MIND I KNOW YOU ARE WITH ME. BUT I CANNOT FEEL YOU BESIDE ME. SHOW ME, FATHER THAT YOU ARE HERE. AND HELP ME TO HEAL THE PAIN I CAN’T SEEM TO ERASE BUT KNOW HOLDS NO TRUTHS. AMEN.
Tuesday, August 31th (Amarilli Mia Bella!)
I know I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve just been busy. Friday was our field trip to Links that Bind, a high ropes course and trust-building exercises place. I know it sounds really lame, but everybody I think had a good time. I’ve been needing a day to just have fun and that was perfect. I was just a normal girl, no worries or fears (except for maybe height, but you know we can’t get rid of ‘em all in a day!)
Well, you’ll never guess who called me when I got home from school... It was Jeanne Brausta (Ms. B), Ms. Reynolds’s old teacher! She was wondering if I wanted to have voice lessons with her starting next week! I said yes. (How could I say no?) She’s like a legend! You normally have to go through a lot of hard auditions just to have a chance at being her student! She said because I was Ms. Reynolds’s student, she knows I’ll be good. (yikes!) I’m hoping she won’t be disappointed! What if I get in there and sing my song and she laughs at me and says there’s no way I studied under Ms. R?! What will I do then? That’ll be like I disgraced Ms. R or something! I’m not even sure I want to start voice lessons so soon. I mean I’m going to sometime. The last thing Ms. R said to me before she got on that plane was “Keep singing.” And I had said “I will. I promise.” And then she left. I just thought I was going to wait a couple months. ...I don’t really know why... I guess I just said yes ‘cause it was Ms. B.
My first lesson is next Thursday, the 9th. I looked at my old planner- I started voice lessons with Ms. Reynolds on the same day! Creepy, right? She asked me to prepare a song for her, something I did with Ms. R. At first I immediately thought, “Pie Jesu.” But now I’m not so sure... I don’t know what Ms. B wants. I don’t know which one would sound the best to her! I cannot mess this up! I wish Ms. R were here to help me.
DEAR GOD, PLEASE HELP ME TO BE STRONG NEXT THURS. HELP MY VOICE, GUIDE IT TO BE FULL AND INSPIRING, JUST LIKE YOU MADE MS. R’S. EVERYTHING I SING IS DONE IN YOUR NAME. AMEN.
Wednesday September, 1st (did I sing too loud?)
I used to think that being thirteen was bad... Well, let me tell you, being fourteen isn’t such a walk in the park either. And so far, I think today’s been about the worst day of my life...
Remember how I briefly explained that last year, everything was changed in the middle school? And remember how I was worried that the same would happen this year to make me hate it? Okay, well... nothing’s been completely taken away. See, Molly, Penny, April, Lins, and I are in my school choir (hence me cantoring two weeks ago). And it’s like really important to us. Mary Alice always talks about “professing your faith!” and helping others “see the good news!” Well, the only way the five of us girls know how to do that is through music. We can’t sing publicly that often (no one really likes hiring Christian groups.), but one way we can do it consistently is through the school choir.
Well, people started to notice we’re 8th graders. There’s this huge tradition at my school that the 8th graders serve the mass that is all the readings and bringing up the gifts during preparation. We can’t do that if we’re in choir. They couldn’t take choir away completely (I think they thought we’d double over in tears), but they could take it partially. So, we have to sit with the 8th graders, but we’re allowed to come and sing the communion and closing hymn. Now is that really being part of the choir, being leaders of the choir? I don’t think so. Molly doesn’t think so. Our music teacher didn’t think so. But, hey what can we do? It wasn’t that big of a deal, like with tears and drama and everything, but I got that same feeling I got last year. That I’m losing something that was holding me together and that was holding me to Him.
I remembered a quote from the diaries of Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” What I cannot lose is the feeling I get when I sing in church. What if I quit? What if I gave up choir to hold on to the memory and power it gives me? I mean I’m in 8th grade now. I won’t be in choir that much longer anyway. This will give the younger kids a chance to move up. That’s crazy right?! Molly thought so. But I cannot shake this feeling. I’m sure it’s just an overreaction because of what happened last year. I’ll just try to hold on a few more weeks and see if it gets better. Maybe Mrs. Hill will be able to get us back! I have to stop. The page is getting blurry from my tears...
DEAR GOD, EVEN IF I DO NOT REMAIN IN CHOIR THIS YEAR, LET ME CONTINUE TO USE MY VOICE TO BRING OTHERS CLOSER TO YOU. SHOW ME HOW TO LET GO, IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO. AMEN.
Sunday, September 5th (you can tell)
Wow! I am exhausted! I just spent the whole day with my family shopping! We’re turning our old guest room into my studio! Okay... maybe not an official studio per say, but I’m excited nonetheless. My cousin, Marc, gave me his old keyboard (with extra emphasis on the “old”), and my grandpa gave me one of his Church pews that I absolutely love! (He helped remodel the old church and they let him keep the old pews.)
We finally found the right desk and stopped at Cracker Basket for a late, late dinner on the way home. We were all happy despite how tired we were, even my four-year-old sister, Nora, who threw her green beans at me last time we ate out. Our waitress’s name was Debbie. She walked up with our food just as Mike (my stepdad) told us a hilarious joke about these midget clowns. I was cracking up hysterically (something I rarely do with my family.) Debbie complimented Mom on Nora and me. She said she barely ever sees families laughing and sharing a meal together anymore. It meant a lot to Mom, I could tell.
But what meant a lot to me was when Debbie leaned down to Mom and whispered, “Are you Catholic?” I smiled really widely and she laughed. “I thought so! You can always tell somehow! I think it’s Him, don’t you?” she said gesturing to the sky.
When I got home, I was so tired I fell asleep right on top of my blankets with my clothes and shoes still on. But I had a smile on my face. It makes me feel good to know that strangers a.) love Him like I do and b.) can see my love for Him without knowing me.
DEAR GOD, THANK YOU FOR HELPING MY FAMILY SHARE A PEACEFUL DAY TOGETHER. THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME EVEN MORE THAN I LOVE YOU (AND
THAT’S A LOT!). I LOVE THE WAYS IN WHICH YOU WORK & THE POWER YOU HAVE IN MY LIFE. AMEN.
Monday, September 6th (sacrifices)
At mass yesterday Father Jacob talked about how God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son & trust that God will see Him through. But it was just a test to see if Abraham loved Him enough to do it, so God spared Isaac & promised to send His own Son in place of him. Father explained that God calls each of us to sacrifice something we love & surrender it to our trust in Him.
I could feel that there was something I was supposed to surrender; I couldn’t think of what. Before school today, I walked across the school to the beach & sat in the soft sand under the dock, my favorite place to think. Whenever I’m confused, I sneak over to the beach & watch the sun rise.
I prayed for awhile and sang quietly to myself (it echoes amazingly under there.). But I figured it out. My Isaac is high school.
I am going to completely sacrifice all my worries & fears about leaving my beloved school & going to high school (!) to Him. I have full faith that if I can surrender that completely, He will take care of it for me & guide me more clearly. I actually have this horribly morbid image in my head of me raising a dagger & sacrificing the high school with blood flying out of the windows & stuff. Hey, whatever works.
DEAR GOD, I AM IN AWE OVER HOW WONDERFUL IT FEELS TO HAVE ALL THOSE FEARS OUT OF MY HANDS. THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME ENOUGH TO CLEANSE ME OF THOSE DOUBTS EVEN WHEN I FALL SHORT OF MY GOALS. THANK YOU FOR WATCHING OUT FOR ME AND GUIDING ME INTO YOUR ARMS. AMEN.
Wednesday, September 8th (sweet & spice)
We had mass again today. Honestly, the choir thing isn’t so bad. I overreacted (like usual). I still don’t like it, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not like they told me I couldn’t go to the school mass anymore. (That would be ridiculous. I would strike.) I said the reason I was so upset was because I want to bring the good news to everyone else with my voice. But this way I can learn the good news. Be the student, not the teacher. ...I guess.
Plus, Mr. Carlson, my religion teacher and the guitarist for our choir, told me and Penny that big changes are coming to choir. He acted like it was a good thing, so I’m really anxious to hear what he was talking about. He hasn’t liked the choir set-up anymore than I have.
On another note... I spent two hours on the phone with Molly after school. She had her first voice lesson with Mrs. B today (mine’s tomorrow). She said she was very, very nice. Just completely different. And I guess that’s okay. Maybe even better. Maybe that’s what I need right now. Some change? Maybe.
Surprisingly I’m not nervous about my lesson. I decided to sing Amarilli Mia Bella rather than Pie Jesu. It’s easier, but just as beautiful. And it’s one of the twenty-four Italian arias for mezzo-sopranos. (doesn’t that sound fancy?) You think that’ll impress her?! I doubt it.
DEAR GOD, PLACE STRENGTH IN MY VOICE TOMORROW. HELP ME TO REMEMBER ALL THAT MS. R TAUGHT ME. ALSO, GUIDE OUR SCHOOL LEADERS AND FACULTY MEMBERS TO CHOOSE THE BEST WAY TO SING YOUR PRAISES IN YOUR HOUSE. AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR THE AMAZING GIFT OF MUSIC AND THE CHANCES IT GIVES TO INSPIRE. AMEN.
Thursday, September 9th (intimidation kills)
That... was humiliating. It was horrible, my song. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel sad. Actually, I was feeling pretty confident... before I started singing that is. My voice was cracking on the high notes, landing on the low notes. It was a mess.
Mrs. B was very nice. I don’t know if that was because she felt sorry for me or because it was my first lesson, but she didn’t say anything I deserved hearing. (e.g. “That was horrible.” or “There’s no way you took lessons from Ms. Reynolds!”) I noticed though, they’re not as different as I thought, Mrs. B and Ms. R. Little things she would do (winking after teasing me about opening my jaw or telling some random story about this girl with a face transplant that was totally off-topic) reminded me of taking lessons with Ms. Reynolds.
I don’t know. I’m glad to be taking lessons again. But overall it was very intimidating and just made me miss Ms. Reynolds even more.
Friday, September 10th (only bad news)
When I got home from school I was feeling so depressed, I decided to write a therapeutic e-mail to Ms. Reynolds... since that’s just what I do to Ms. R- I whine and she pretends to be sympathetic. Anyway, I tried to be honest and tell her everything like last time, but after five paragraphs I realized I had only bad news to give. I was depressed about lessons, sad because I don’t like change (even if it is to bad things).
I mean, sure, some good things have happened. Links that Bind was fun. So was Penny’s party and Cats. And I’m not worried about high school all that much anymore. And I am excited about lessons, though I did make a complete fool out of myself and Ms. Reynolds.
She assured me that lessons would get better, told me to hold on to my sacrifice, and wished me a better week ahead. She couldn’t talk much because there was a major hailstorm and she was afraid her internet would crash her computer or something. Talking to her about it did make me feel better about voice lessons. I guess I’m just gonna have to ride this wave out!
Sunday, September 12th (Your grace is enough!)
I haven’t been able to get my mom to Sunday mass with me since... the summer before 7th grade. And honestly... I kinda gave up awhile ago. But today I just thought I’d be kind and offer to go together and she actually accepted! I was so happy! Mom has been diagnosed with depression for 8 years now. It’s hard for her to get up in the morning much less sit through one of Father Jacob’s homilies. But she went! And she sat through the whole thing and listened!
The closing hymn was Your Grace Is Enough (great choice). I was crying and smiling through the whole thing. It felt so good! It’s just so true if you stop to think about it- His grace is enough for me. It made me feel guilty for wanting or thinking I need more. But above that, I was so... happy and relieved to know I didn’t need to worry about anything else, to ask for anything more. Grace is so amazing. With Grace, God is both the Giver and also the Gift. And that is more than enough!
DEAR GOD, THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME
BRING MY MOM TO YOU TONIGHT AND FOR
PROVIDING US ALL EVERLASTING JOY IN
YOUR PLAN. I KNOW THAT WITH YOUR GRACE I CAN DO ANYTHING YOU CALL ME TO DO. HELP ME TO BRING THAT MESSAGE TO MY BROTHERS & SISTERS & SERVE YOU ETERNALLY. YOU ARE WORTHY OF ENDLESS GLORY! AMEN.
Wednesday, September 15th (just one chair?!)
Mary Alice had a special guest speaker come to youth group today. He was a missionary from Ghana trying to inspire us to become missionaries or you know, help missions out by donating and stuff. He was very intense! He was practically yelling at times. He was telling us basically how greedy we are.
He started dancing around the classroom, trying to calculate how much money was in it. “One chair is about $25, 30 chairs. That’s $750 right there. Desks are... let’s say $50. $1500. WE have three Apple computers in the back there, around... what? $1000 each? 2000? Then there are the lockers, the projectors, the whiteboards, the air conditioner, and the electric lights. How much money do you think is in this room alone? Do you think you could live without chairs? You’d probably complain, wouldn’t ya? $25 for one chair could buy a child in Ghana a couple meals. Or how ‘bout a couple bottles of water?”
Oh, my gosh! I just wanted him to stop! It broke my heart! Especially knowing that we would (though we’d never admit it) complain if they sold our chairs. We are selfish, spoiled rotten, and greedy! Think of all the things we think we need that millions of people wouldn’t even dream of having. And maybe it wouldn’t be as bad if we appreciated it. But really, when was the last time you thanked God for the chair you’re sitting in right now? Or how many (or how often do) people at my school thank God that their parents pay thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars every year just so they can learn how to be faithful and to pray and to love? I couldn’t tell you how many things I know how to do because I am at this school, things you wouldn’t, no, are not allowed to learn at public school. I don’t even think I could begin to calculate what percentage of me is because of my private education. And there are billions of teenage girls who can’t say that, who will never say that.
DEAR GOD, FIRST OF ALL, THANK YOU FOR THE CHAIRS I SIT ON EVERYDAY. SEND YOUR LOVE TO THOSE PEOPLE IN PLACES LIKE GHANA AND MEXICO WHERE THEY HAVE NOT RECEIVED SUCH SIMPLE GIFTS AS CHAIRS AS WELL AS THE MORE IMPORTANT ONES I HAVE BEEN
BLESSED WITH (E.G. EDUCATION, LOVE, AND PURE WATER). I KNOW I FEEL LIKE I NEED THINGS, BUT THEY NEED IT MORE. 10X MORE! REVEAL YOURSELF TO THEM AND HELP ME TO, AT THE VERY LEAST, APPRECIATE
EVERYTHING I HAVE. AMEN.
Friday, September 17th (“that guy”)
There’s a girl in my class, Marci. She’s a cheerleader, but I never thought she was like the rest of them. She’s really nice, and if she wasn’t a Cheerio and forbidden to talk to me, I‘d probably consider her my friend. All the teachers love her, though she’s far from an A-student, and I can always tell in religion class that she really does want to know God. She asks deep questions about things that most kids are uncomfortable talking about. I just always thought she was going to really go places, you know?
And then there’s a new kid this year, Zach. He’s not in my class, but from day 1, he’s been trying to “get” Marci. At first I thought he was just doing it because he was new and needed a way out of being labeled “loser” and getting dumped off at our table- the Island of Misfit Toys. But honestly, now I just think he’s this year’s “that guy”. Every year we have one. By the end of the year, they’ve learned. But from say, September to about... March, that’s hunting season. Which girl is he gonna get to next? It’s repulsive.
Well, yes, I’m sure you predicted right. Zach got Marci. That’s the third girl in two months. The first only lasted three days, but the second was much more serious. Marci and Zach have been together for a week and the rumors are piling up. I usually don’t listen to gossip, or try not to anyway, but I care about Marci. I want to be sure she’s alright.
Trying to be casual about it, I asked Marci’s best friend, Matt, how she’s doing. He’s not an idiot; he knew I was asking about Zach. “Not good. Zach was over at her house and they went in the den to watch a movie. Eventually her mom came looking for her. Zach heard her coming and ran to the bathroom, but when Mrs. Park opened the door, Marci was sitting there naked.”
I asked if they had done “it” and if Marci needed anything (she didn’t come to school- who would?), but he didn’t know the answer to either.
I walked around like a zombie for the rest of the day. I didn’t even tell Molly. I felt the strong urge to stay after class and talk to Mr. Carlson, our religion teacher, about it, but I was worried I would get Marci in trouble. And for all I knew, it was an exaggerated rumor. Yet it was still so unsettling. I would never have guessed that’s how serious this was.
And what’s worse is I don’t know what to do. Nothing happened at school, so telling a teacher wouldn’t help. If her mom really walked in on them, she already knows, and I can’t do anything for Marci ‘cause all I got from her phone was the dial tone. She probably got her phone taken away.
Even if it isn’t true, something must have happened to start the rumor, right? Either way I feel so scared and hopeless to know this can happen to people I know, people I’ve been with since I was three, grown up with and learned how to pray with. Matt told me Zach forced Alice Blackwell to do it with him all the way even though she didn’t want to and that’s why they broke up so quickly.
Again, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s sickening to hear nonetheless, especially when it’s someone you know. I want to talk to someone about it, but how do you tell someone something that might not be true and you don’t even completely understand? It feels good to write about it, getting out in that way.
I don’t know how I’d feel if it had happened to be Molly or Penny! I’m terrified I will somehow, someway end up in a situation like Marci’s. There’s that high school fear again. Does anyone else feel that way? Everyone acts like sex is no big deal, but it is! It’s meant to create human life, a gift you give your spouse. That’s not a gift a twelve-year-old should have in my opinion. It’s just not. We’re not mature enough, responsible enough to even be thinking about it. I thought Marci would understand that.
DEAR GOD, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TALK TO ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW. FIRST, OF COURSE, I WANT TO ASK YOU TO BLESS MARCI. LET HER KNOW THAT YOU STILL LOVE HER & THAT I AM HERE FOR HER. BLESS ZACH AS WELL. NOW THAT HE IS IN OUR
FAMILY AT SCHOOL, OPEN HIS HEART TO YOU,LORD. HELP ME AS WELL TO FORGIVE HIM FOR THE SINS HE HAS COMMITTED AND PLACED ON THE HEART OF A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL, MARCI. HE DID NOT TRESPASS ME DIRECTLY,
BUT I AM HAVING A HARD TIME PARDONING WHAT HE HAS DONE. AMEN.
Sunday, September 19th (pure)
The whole thing about Marci will not leave my mind. And because of it, I’ve noticed that sex is everywhere at our school, in every way, shape, and form. It’s disgusting. Especially at our school, where we pretty much all believe in Jesus Christ and want to try to live according to His plan. In a lot of ways, we do this well. But in this way, we fail miserably.
I even started to feel insecure because all through U.S. History, the two guys that sit next to me and in front of me were talking about the different girls’ chests. Penny would’ve slapped them right across the mouths and not have even cared if she got a demerit for it. But I can’t do those sorts of things, quiet, old me. I pulled my rosary out and I started praying. They gave me a suspicious look and went back to comparing (they were arguing over who had the largest- disgusting). I closed my eyes and tried my best to ignore them. I was praying because I was trying not to cry, praying because these boys obviously need to open their hearts to Him and learn some self-control skills, but mostly, in all honesty, I was praying because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wrong and they were right. I kept thinking, “Maybe I should be thinking it’s not a big deal too. Am I being too uptight and conservative? I can be like that sometimes... Maybe I just need to lighten up a bit. There has to be something wrong with me if everyone else seems to think it’s okay.”
I knew in my right mind it wasn’t true, but that thought kept nagging at the corners of my prayers like my dog when I’m trying to read the newspaper. Is there something wrong with me? Am I overreacting? What would Mr. Carlson say?
Because of this annoying temptation lurking around my thoughts, I have decided to make a vow, a vow between me and God. My purity is His until I commit myself to a man before Him. I’ve heard of people who make big celebrations out of doing this, throwing parties and designing ceremonies and stuff. But I think for the time being I like just keeping this between the two of us.
This is something I have to do in order to feel safe. I honestly feel so much better to know that I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I know it’ll be a lot harder to fight this strong temptation I have once I reach high school and have a better selection of guys! (jk) But for the moment I’m just going to trust God, because in my heart I know this is what He wants me to do.
DEAR GOD, TODAY I AM MAKING A PROMISE TO YOU. USE THIS BODY BECAUSE IT IS YOURS. I AM ABSTAINING FROM ANY SEXUAL ACTIVITY
BECAUSE THAT IS A GIFT I WANT TO
GIVE MY HUSBAND WHEN THE TIME IS
RIGHT. THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD TO DO,FATHER, AND I NEED YOUR HELP. BLESS MY FUTURE PARTNER. HELP HIM TO BE PURE FOR ME. AND KEEP US BOTH STRONG UNTIL WE CAN JOIN AS ONE. UNTIL THEN, LORD, HELP ME TO
REMAIN CLEAN AND PURE WHEN IT COMES TO SEXUALITY. HELP PEOPLE TO SEE YOU IN AND THROUGH MY BODY. I AM SORRY FOR ALL THE TIMES I WILL FALL SHORT OF THESE VOWS. THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME ANYWAY! AMEN.
Monday, September 20th (confronting evil)
Mr. Carlson had a discussion with us today during class about music and how today’s popular things are so impure and not at all life-giving (which is the purpose of music in the first place). Honestly, I can’t stand popular music, for exactly those reasons (not to mention the computer is not an instrument and all that synthesized stuff should not be called music, but that’s beside the point).
After an award-winning lecture on why the arts matter and how they are being abused in society, I asked if we should read books and watch movies that have scenes of impure things, but have an overall life-giving message. He responded, “When you are confronted with evil, take a good look at it.” Therefore, yeah, sure, but when you get to those scenes don’t accept it OR ignore it, study it and meditate on why it’s wrong.
That helped explain a lot. About the arts, about the drama with Marci, who is back at school, and just life in general. When we see something we know is evil, we need to take a good, long look at it. Instead of turning our heads at Marci and Zach, we need to look at them, pray for them, and embrace it as an effect of the devil and temptation.
On another note, choir is being completely changed around. But in a good way! In a fantastic way! Mr. Carlson promised me things would feel the same as they did when Ms. Reynolds was here, which made me sad to think about but very grateful. And I’m very glad I didn’t quit. It turned out to be an overreaction on my part. Anyway, Kristin Kane and her mom are going to be leading. They do the music on Sundays at the youth mass and I know Kristin from youth group. Her sister was my counselor at camp this summer. It’s going to feel just like it did before they changed it in 7th grade. I just know it! I’m so grateful and excited! (Especially because I’m cantoring their first mass!)
Friday, September 24rd (as it used to)
We had our first official cantor meeting today before school today. I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about cantoring! We’re doing all my favorite songs! She’s letting the cantors help decide just like Ms. R used to. It’s the feast day of the archangels, so the psalm is “In the Presence of the Angels”. The verses are really high! I absolutely love it!
And all of us cantors got to just pretty much sit there and talk about what we miss about choir, and Mrs. Kane just sat and took notes! I got to have a pretty deep conversation with Emma, a sixth grader and our youngest cantor... like ever. She was one of Ms. R’s three voice students too, so we talked about her for awhile. You don’t realize how good it feels to talk to someone that actually knows exactly how you feel.
I also had another voice lesson today. They’ve been getting better as Ms. R promised. I’m starting to get into the routine. It still doesn’t make me happy like it used to, but I’m just going to wait it out. I really do like Mrs. B and my voice is already improving, though I haven’t “earned the right to sing yet”, so I just do vocal exercises and breath management and ear training. I really screwed up doing Amarilli, didn’t I? Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now but work really hard on the exercises she gives me, no matter how boring they are! I know she thinks I’m pathetic and Ms. R was a terrible teacher, but I AM going to prove her wrong, you just watch me!
Sunday, September 26th (visions in white!)
Molly and Penny slept over last night. Life Teen hosted a free concert in the school auditorium. And then afterward we went out for ice cream and watched The Time Traveler’s Wife. It felt so good to just hang out with my friends and act like regular teenagers and feel like everyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in such a short amount of time!
And then the next morning, we spent three hours talking about our weddings! I don’t even remember what brought it up, but we went online to a huge bridal store in New York City and looked through ALL their dresses! Each of us picked out our five favorites and then we started talking about everything else: venue, cake, flowers, music, food, etc, etc.
It’s really cool how all our choices show our personalities. Molly picked all the elegant, modern things. Penny was really quirky and edgy but somehow traditional. And I of course was really dramatic and romantic, like knight-in-shining-armor-romantic. My dress looks like something out of the Middle Ages!
The singer at the concert is getting married in June and most of her songs were about how wonderful... and sometimes not so wonderful it is. We all just want to be loved. Especially the girls, we look for that true love everyone talks about.
Maybe that’s why, deep down, Marci did what she did. She wants to be loved just like the rest of us. Does that excuse it? Not at all. But it makes a lot more sense. Because I know that feeling, of wanting to be loved and not finding it. We want someone to hold us when we’re lonely, tell us we’re beautiful even when we’re not wearing makeup. But for the time being, in middle and high school, that’s God. God thinks we’re beautiful on those days we roll out of bed at noon with clouds of gunk in our eyes. And He always loves us, even when we fail to love Him back.
DEAR GOD, THANK YOU FOR LOVE. IT’S
A BEAUTIFUL GIFT. HELP ME NOT TO
ABUSE IT AND SHOW YOUR LOVE TO
EVERYONE IN DOUBT. BLESS AUDREY
ASSAD’S MARRIAGE. MAKE IT STRONG
AND UNITE THEM IN THEIR LOVE FOR
YOU. HELP THE GIRLS AT MY SCHOOL KNOW THEY ARE LOVED BY YOU AND HELP THEM HOLD ON TO YOUR HAND WHEN THEY LONG FOR TRUE LOVE. AMEN.