Friday, January 15, 2010

Losing Lifeguard

At birth, I believe that we were all born with an innate desire and willingness to attach ourselves to an inanimate object. For some friends it was "blankey" for others, their pacifier. For me, it was "Lifeguard."

On my fifth birthday party, my big sister Katie's boyfriend brought me a gift. I opened it and inside was a white, fluffy stuffed animal. A seal. This began my obsession with sea animals, which was further encouraged by "Free Willy" and the Lisa Frank school supplies (see penguin pic above).

It was love at first sight. The naming of my new best friend was quick, and i thought, ingenious. "Lifeguard." Not like the kind that wears red swim trunks and sits in the stand. That kind of lifeguard didn't even cross my mind. In my brilliant five year old mind, I knew that he was going to literally guard my life.

I took Lifeguard with me everywhere. I would draw pictures of him, and dress him in doll's clothing. He could be my pillow, my playmate, and occasionally my dog's chew toy (which did NOT make me happy). Eventually his stark white fur turned a dull cream, and his stitching came undone and left him nose-less.

One morning when I was ten or so, I woke up and Lifeguard was gone. My family and I searched everywhere. He was nowhere. I still don't know what happened to him. I had gotten really sick in the middle of the night a few days before and think that perhaps he was thrown away with the throngs of dirty sheets and towels. Maybe Emma grabbed him and dug a resting place for him in the backyard. He was never found.

This past Wednesday I was eating dinner with my nephew and mom at our church. Surrounded by my good friends and loved ones, we chatted about jobs, the delicious chocolate cake, and things going on in the church. I happily scanned the room and my gaze stopped when I saw a plastic carrying case in a corner near my table. It was one of those cases that kids keep their stuffed animals in. Probably to keep them from getting dirty or lost. This one in particular had big openings in the top, with the ability to look down in to the cage. Something white and soft was sticking out of the open slits.

After realizing who the case belonged to, I asked the child's mother, "Leslie...what's inside of Johnny's carrying crate?" She responded, "Oh, it's just some of Johnny's stuffed animals." "Right, but I'm reffering to the white one in particular." She looked down at her beautiful 3-year old and said, "Johnny, why don't you show Maddie 'Christmas Seal'?"

He looked up at me with unsure eyes. Why the heck would this 24-year-old woman want to see my seal? And why are her eyes filled with tears? And why is she looking at "Christmas" like a hungry wolf? He slowly opened the case, and pulled out his new toy. He carefully handed it over to me and the floodgates opened. It was Lifeguard. Not my lifeguard of course, but the exact replica of what he looked like, felt like. There I stood, nearly 15 years after losing my childhood friend, crying my eyes out.

Johnny continued staring at me as if I was the weirdest "adult" he'd ever met. I reluctantly handed "Christmas/Lifeguard" back to him and tried to explain to his mom and dad why I was crying over their child's toy.

The past couple of days I've been wondering what made me react the way that I did. Sure, it's just a silly toy. But after thinking about it, the loss of Lifeguard was so much more than losing a stuffed seal. Lifeguard represented my childhood. Soon after I lost him, I had to grow up and throw away my childish fantasies after my dad left home. I think I often times desire to revert back to the ignorance and innocence I felt when I was with Lifeguard. He literally "guarded my life" from the realities that my dad could leave my family. That the loving "daddy" that I saw in movies and yearned for, wasn't going to exist in my life.

Feelings of sadness and loneliness aside, the loss of Lifeguard has taught me to hope. Hope that I will be the mother of a family that loves her children to the ends of the earth. Hope that my "Jim" will be the kind of father to my children that I never had. Hope that the Lord will continue to sustain me and show me my worth despite the shortcomings of my earthly father. Hope.

Allie Moss - Corner...Take a Listen

Monday, January 11, 2010

5 Months of Prayer

After my friends from Elon agreed to pray for me to find community in Charlotte, God provided in abundance. I am so thankful for the new friendships that I have been blessed with.

One person in particular was introduced to my life, and has impacted it greatly in just the few months that I have known her. Christen Forysth is an unbelievable friend and woman of God. I can't believe how close our friendship has already become. It is rooted in selflessness and honesty, and simply, she brings joy to any and every situation. It is rare to find a friend for life, and I am sure that I have found one in her.

She is getting ready to head out to Mexico for five months in search of adventure, new experiences, and to be the hands and feet of God. Despite my selfish broken heartedness over not being able to see her whenever I want, I couldn't support her more, and I have committed to be one of her prayer warriors. I can't wait to see and hear about all that she accomplishes.

I uploaded a little video of pictures that I put together of all the fun that we've had in Charlotte, so she'll remember to come back...:)

I love you, Christen! Make us proud!! (i know you will).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that I love...

Those of you that know me best know that I am a lover of many things. I decided to write down those "things" and contemplate what makes up my personality.

**NOTE: I don't take the word "love" lightly. I really, truly, LOVE these things.**
1. a cappella music.
While at Elon, I was introduced to the big, addictive world of collegiate a cappella. Appropriately labeled an "acapalloser," I lived and breathed a cappella for four years. Before going to sleep at night I would go over my song parts in my head and make sure I remembered my choreography. Every song that I heard on the radio became a specimen that I dissected in my mind...attempting to discern whether or not it would be a suitable choice for Sweet Signatures. Too often I find myself YouTubing various a cappella groups and listening for hours. The new show on FOX, "Glee" has been bittersweet. One one hand, I sit on the edge of the couch and grin obnoxiously for the full's just that good. On the other hand though, it makes me miss singing with my girls so much that I go in to a minor depression for the following 48 hours. cappella.

2. fans.

Growing up, I don't remember taking big notice of the fan in my room. What I do remember though was the fan in my parent's bedroom. When I was scared after having a bad dream, I can remember climbing in between my parents and getting under layers of heavy blankets while the air was being twisted in to a vortex. I always slept the best under these conditions. Not until my freshman year in college did I realize the necessity of using a fan while sleeping.

It was my first night in our closet of a dorm room and I swear I could hear the breathing of the girl two rooms down. It was hard enough realizing that my life was about to change forever...I could have done without the supersonic hearing through paper-thin walls. That's when my older brother came to the rescue and brought me The Blizzard...later lovingly named, "Bliz." Bliz gave me countless hours of delightful sleep. What loud party? Someone was knocking on our window? Bliz drowned out the most distracting noises. And for that, he earned my love.

It must be stated that just because you get a good night's sleep with a fan, it doesn't mean that your roommate does. If I had an 8 am class and Kimmy was still in bed, it was not uncommon for the fan to be off when I returned from the shower. Sorry were a trooper!

3. italy.

This past May, I was given the opportunity to travel in Europe with my best friend Lauren for 3 weeks. Cinque Terre to Sorrento to Capri to Positano to Ravello to Amalfi Town to Prague to Krakow to Berlin to Paris to Normandy to Pisa to Florence. It was a whirlwind adventure to say the least!

My favorite country, by far, was Italy. Namely the towns along the Amalfi Coast. Lauren and I were big fans of the "Rick Steves" Italy travel book. After being easily coerced by Rick to make a stop in Capri, we started researching the best/least expensive ways to get there. We were staying right outside of Sorrento in the most charming hostel/hotel ever..."Mami Camilla's." On the bulliten board in the main lobby we found a posting informing us that they take a group of people to Capri every day. Normally, tourists ride large ferries filled with other Americans in order to get to the sacred island. We, on the other hand, traveled in style.

Navigated by Augustino...our flirtatious Italian boat captain, we hopped aboard a private boat along with 9 other tourists all around our age. The weather could not have been more perfect nor the surroundings more magical. The hostel provided us with delicious caprese sandwiches and cold beer and water. After dropping us off at the island, we meandered for about three hours and then returned to the boat. From there, Augustino took us on adventures swimming through grottos, cliff jumping, and cave wandering. Despite being stung twice by a jelly fish, this day was by far, the best day of my life.

4. nuts and chocolate.

Doesn't really matter what kind of nut, but it definitely needs to be milk chocolate. I'm pretty traditional when it comes to that kind of stuff. I consider peanut butter to be in the nut family as well. Without fail, when I go to the movies, I will buy a box of "Goobers." Within the first ten minutes of the flick, I'm shaking the box, getting the last little, forgotten about remnants...wishing there was more.

5. planning parties.

In the past couple of years, I've realized how introverted I really am. I used to think that having fairly good people skills meant I was extroverted. These days, when I find myself in a big group of people, I usually stand back and watch. I love watching my friends having a good time together. I guess that's why I like throwing parties. I love getting the opportunity to serve my friends and be creative with themes, decorations, music, food, costumes...Who doesn't love a good costume party? I've realized that I love doing the behind-the-scenes planning and preparation for get-togethers. Especially when the guests have a good time!

Some recent parties:

admittedly not my best look...

to be continued...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Post Mortem Arrangements

During my sophomore year at Elon, I roomed with one of my great friends, Marella Peele. I met Marella through Young Life leader training and we joined a bible study together, which would later be known as "Garden Club." "Bella" was raised in Bath...a small, river town near Greenville. She is the epitomy of a good 'ol country girl with perfect manners, pristine posture, and a smile that you cannot help but be drawn to.

During our senior year, Marella started dating Troy. Before the attraction began, in my eyes, Troy was just a tall, goofy, kind-hearted identical twin from Hickory. Marella and Troy were leaders on the same Young Life team. For those of you that are unaware of the rules and regulations that go along with being a YL leader, before you can become a leader, you must sign a contract committing to follow a certain number of rules. Leaders in a certain county are divided and assigned to different high schools in the area. One of the agreements made through the contract is, "I will not date someone on my team (someone that leads at the same high school as I do)." As fate would have it, Marella and Troy both became leaders at Williams H.S. in Burlington. The obvious and genuine feelings that they had for one another would not subside and the two lovebirds bent the rules (bent sounds better than broke) and started dating one another. Within a month, we were all sitting in Garden Club when Bella, accompanied by her unmistakeable grin, shocked us all. "I'm in love," she said. The courtship had begun, and the once goofy Troy I had known turned into a godly, courageous, spiritual leader. Troy boy was now a man that I would send any guy to if he wanted to learn some lessons on how to treat a woman.

Troy and Marella soon became engaged and planned their wedding for this past weekend in Little Washington, NC. I was so excited when I got the calls from Marella - 1 telling me about her engagement and 2 - asking me to sing in the wedding. The long-awaited weekend finally arrived and I jumped in my mom's minivan (the "party bus" for the weekend) and headed up to Raleigh to pick up Lauren. Before leaving Charlotte, I raided Brooks' car for some good cds to listen to on the way. One was blank. While at first skeptical, after seeking through some of the selections, I realized...this CD is a goldmine. With the likes of Ben Folds feat Regina Spektor, Ben Lee, Rihanna, and select oldies, the CD kept me busy through a good portion of the drive. There was but one negative aspect to the list of songs. "Come on Over" by Christina Aguliera. Now some of you may be saying, "But I love that song!" That's the problem. I love that song. I also love to replay songs that I love. After a good thirty minutes of singing the same song, mind you...I realized that the original fun idea ended up doing major damage to my vocal cords...and my ego. Cough drops were consumed by the handfull for the next 48 hours.

**Note: Steer clear of Christina, the "Wicked" soundtrack, and anything Lauren France sings if you have a vocal performance in the near future.**

Lane (Izzy's hunky BF) was nice enough to let a bunch of us Elon-ers stay in his apartment in Greenville during the weekend. We all snuggled up together and rekindled our friendships through laughter and YouTube videos.

Things that I loved about the wedding:

1 - Communion. at the rehearsal, Bella and Troy served communion to everyone in attendance. it was so, so special and meaningful.

2 - "First glance." before the wedding started on saturday, their photographer did something that she calls "first glance or first look" or something. it's a chance for the couple to see each other and talk before the wedding. just them and the photographer. she got it all on film. troy immediately started crying. i can't wait to see the pictures.

3 - little washington. i swear the whole town shut down for the wedding. i felt like i was in an old movie with the mom and pop stores, the down-home cooking, and the sweetest country accents.

4 - Marella's attitude. she was calm and collected the entire time. while she and troy were exchanging rings (i had the BEST seats in the house), Bella looked right at me and flashed a huge giddy grin...right at ME! they did an incredible job making everyone at the wedding feel important and special.

5 - The rainbow. The rain started and persisted before and during the ceremony. As soon as it was over, the rain subsided and left us with a cool, refreshing night. As the sun went down, a rainbow appeared. As it faded, the sky turned in to an array of oranges and reds and we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. God's presence was undeniable.

At the reception, I felt like I had a grin plastered to my face. I honestly believe that every single wedding guest came up to me and complimented me on my solo of "Come Thou Fount." At least 5 people asked me if I had ever thought of going on American Idol while countless others gave me head nods and pats on the back.

While I appreciated every gesture of kindness, there was one conversation that was undoubtedly most memorable: NOTE: this was within the first 5 minutes of the reception, therefore the lady had not had a sufficient amount of time to abuse the open bar.

Lady: I loved your solo tonight, it was so beautiful.
Me: Thank you so much!
Lady: I have two daughters that are already married but I also have two sons that are unmarried so I need you to come sing at their weddings.
Me: I would love that.
Lady: And I need you to sing at my funeral. That song.
Me: (awkardly) That's horrible...
Lady: No it's not! You did a great job. And are you single?
(she takes my hand and looks at my left finger which is, obviously, bare)
Me: Yes, I'm single
Lady: Okay good. I have a son. He's 6'3". And he's single. But the only problem is...he has a baby. Maybe you can save him.
Me: (VERY awkward laugh) sounds great...
(turn to Lauren to remove myself from conversation)

Not only was I asked to sing at a stranger's funeral, but I was also was deemed worthy of "saving" her son and his child. Interesting to say the least.

The whole weekend was a blast and Marella and Troy are so deeply in love. A type of love I can't wait to find!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Makes Me Me.

I am obsessed with my family.

Let me try to explain how we came to be:
My mom and dad (Nancy and Dan) gave birth to my older sister (Katie, 33), older brother (Adam, 29) and me and my twin sister (Izzy, 23). When they divorced 12 years ago, my mom remarried my stepdad Lou, who brought along two of his children (Brooks, 25), (Sarah, 19). At first, our family was completely dysfunctional and often at each other's throats. Eventually though, hatred turned to tolerance, tolerance turned to like, like turned to love, and love turned to...well...obsession. I can't imagine my life without each one of my siblings...Even when they make me absolutely crazy (which is often).

My brother Adam married Mandy (who are expecting a baby!!) and Katie married Alan. This is where another obsession of mine emerged: My nephew Aiden. Aiden recently turned 3 in July and despite his naughty-boy tendencies, he is the love of my life. He is the funniest kid I've ever met and when he loves on me I feel like the luckiest girl alive. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when we have another little one running around at our already 20 deep family functions. There's always room for a little more chaos in the Phillips/Fuller household!

Life is good when family is good. I feel so blessed to have such a tight-knit family. We defied a lot of odds and came out on top. I can't wait to see the clan continue to multiply!!

It's a Big, Blog world out there...

Everyone I know seems to be blogging. In an effort to keep my friends and family updated on my life, and make the work day go faster, I have decided to jump on the bandwagon. Thanks for being a part of the ride!

The title of my blog, "I'm just Pam looking for my Jim" has been a constant quote of mine recently. I started working as an Administrative Assistant to the Marketing and Sales teams at Alpha High-Theft Solutions a little over a month ago. It's basically a fancy name for receptionist. I take the mail, make copies, put together binders, fax documents...basically all the same responsibilities that Pam from "The Office" has. Unfortunately, I work with all married, middle-aged engineers in an economic recession. No "Jim's" here, and no prospect of hiring one anytime soon.

I want to be in love. All of my friends are getting married or near engagement. While I generally make a gagging noise while thinking or talking about their relationships, I have a desire deep down to have what they have. I plan to use this blog for the purpose of getting out my thoughts and feelings about love, relationships, faith, etc. Read along if you wish!

See ya out there...