TBT: The perils of SWD (sneezing while driving)

Let it be known here and now I acknowledge that I’m not the best driver. In my almost eight years of having a license, I’ve been in almost as many accidents — all minor and typically not actually my fault (fate is cruel mistress when I’m behind the wheel).
While my accident details range from eye contact with an Amish man to a cyclist who refused to follow the rules of the road, my family’s favorite is the time I wrecked when sick.
I will preface this by saying SWD is incredibly dangerous. Many people (like my family) think it’s a joke, but there have been dozens of accidents caused by sneezes.
It’s early 2012 and I’m working at Sears (round 1) as a fine jewelry sales person. It’s Friday night and I’m scheduled to close and then go home after to spend the weekend with my family. Like most of my shifts, I contemplated calling off due to general apathy but tonight I had a legitimate excuse: I was really sick. Like the gross, snot everywhere kind of sick. Ultimately, I chose money > health.
The drive from school to the mall is around 30 minutes, but in that time I’ve accumulated enough tissues in my lap to wipe the noses of an entire daycare population. So far, the trip has been without incident despite my constant, illness-fueled distraction. Feeling like death, I began the final leg of my journey and turned into a parking spot.
Then it happened.
Without warning, the largest sneeze ever sneezed rose from my lungs and caused the air to be expelled from my body at such a high force I had no choice but to react. Impulse and instinct removed my hands from the wheel to block the large amount of snot and goo about the explode from my nostrils. In the same instant, I fumbled for one of the soiled tissues in my lap to help ease the blow. All of this happened in less than a second, I’m sure of it.
Now if you’re perceptive, you’ll realize I was parking my car and then my hands came off of the wheel. Mid turn into the spot. Most days, the Sears parking lot is abandonded but not on this fateful Friday evening.
Just as I began to process what had happened, I hear this terrible scraping sound and remember I’m operating a vehicle. To my great surprise, I’ve just side swiped the vehicle next to me. Immediately I erupt into tears.

I shakily finish parking and exit my darling LeBronda, just recently recovered from the accident pictured above (a story for another day, involves the aforementioned Amish man). Minimal damage to my car, but that much scraping had to leave a mark. And so it did. Down the length of the other vehicle. The tears begin flowing again as I slowly drag myself into the building. Before I make it, some man in the lot begins yelling at me telling me I can’t hit and run.
First of all, this man isn’t perceptive unless he thinks I’m a terrible criminal. Not only did I leave my car next to the one I hit, but I’m slowly walking into the store. He continues to scream at me until I turn my tear-stained face and tell him I would never do that, I work here and am going inside to make it right. If my sad face stirred any emotion inside of him, he didn’t show it but continued to mutter indistinctively as I walked away. Not only did the sneeze heard round the world cause an accident where I was most definitely at fault, this joker comes along and questions my character and makes me cry more by yelling at me. Seriously, I can’t handle being yelled at. No matter the reason, I will cry.
Second, I’m not so stupid that I would ever walk away. I’m a moral human being and terrified of legal action so I’d rather face the immediate wrath than try to get away with it. I’m not a criminal. Crime makes me nervous. Police officers yelling at me. No thank you.
So finally, after what seemed like hours of crying, contemplation and harrassment, I make it into the store and begin relaying the tale to everyone who notices my incredibly weepy face, mixed with tears and boogers from my ever flowing nose. I call my mom, still sobbing, and she all but laughs and calls me an idiot. Also she’s wonderful and advised me what to do.
Soon I find out it was a coworker’s car, she isn’t mad, we deal with everything and I start my shift, puffy eyed and filled with emotion and germs. I continue randomly crying and leaking a variety of fluids everywhere until I think a manager took pity on me and said I could go home.
It’s been three years since this happened, and I haven’t lived it down. Do you see how much I cried? Yet my family continues to act as if it was the greatest thing imaginable. I get it, I’m not a great driver, but who can stop a sneeze?! Next time you’re driving, pay attention if you sneeze. See the involuntary reactions that occur and put yourself in my shoes. Wrong place, wrong time and you’re hitting a parked car.
The moral of the story is never go to work if you don’t feel like it. JK. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t risk minor accidents and infecting the public. Now, if I ever feel the slightest twinge of illness, I stay put. One time I didn’t listen to my instinct and look where it got me. Never again.

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

As I write this post, I’m sitting in my parent’s bedroom in my childhood home as my mother packs the last of her belongings. Tonight is the last time we will sleep under this roof, the place where we spent the last 16 years laughing, crying and annoying the heck out of each other.
Tomorrow morning, the final move begins and we will say goodbye. Spending one last night in my purple bedroom seems surreal. Part of my identity is that room and realizing it will no longer be mine brings tears to my eyes. As my parents move to the next stage of their lives, I’m moving to mine.
Needless to say, the feels are running strong.
It all began a few Christmases ago. As we decorated our trees, the idea of my parents moving to Buffalo was thrown out. My sister broke down into tears, but as someone who recently considered herself an adult, I remained smug as if it didn’t bother me. In reality, I didn’t believe it was possible. Sure, I could live my life in Pittsburgh, but my family couldn’t leave. It was their job to stay and be my rock.
Within the next year, all of our lives began down a different path. I left the apartment I believed would be my home for years. My stepdad was promoted to the job in Buffalo.
My sister and her husband began seriously talking of transferring to that branch. My career wasn’t going anywhere and Buffalo seemed like a good idea for me, too.
With my (formerly smug) adult life in shambles, I had no choice but to return to my family, my rock, my home and think about a new life somewhere else with them. It only took me a few months to realize God had other plans for me.
In fact, God’s plans broke my heart. Didn’t he know I wanted to stay with my family where it was safe and I felt loved? Instead, I lived in five different places for five months while my family tried to find their own security. I spent a summer hiding in my bedroom, pretending to work but really just overwhelmed with loneliness. I didn’t understand His plan or why he’d separate us and make us live in this state of turmoil across the board. But then I saw a glimmer and it was enough.
Sometimes a glimmer of God’s plan provides the understanding we need to not lose hope. For example, if I signed a lease or found something permanent, my best friend Sam wouldn’t have been able to move in with me. The timing was nothing short of perfect when she needed me most*
*it’s important to note how strong she is and undoubtedly could’ve done it without me, but God still made me available for a reason
Now as we prepare to move into our new home together, I’m reminded of that glimmer and why God is so wonderful. My excitement for this new adventure is almost enough to diminish the sadness in my heart realizing this house is not my home anymore.

God not only gave me the glimmer, he showed me something better – home is not the house where I grew up, rather the bigger blessing of the people who lived with me. My family means so much me and sometimes how much I love them makes me cry (FYI – I cry a lot). As our lives fell into this organized disarray, our time together became less and less, but our relationships grew stronger. When we’re together, I forget how long we’ve been apart. They are my home; a bond of love rooted in the love of God. How can moving from something temporary compare to the eternal joy I have?
(Shoutout to Oliver Wendell Holmes for providing the quote that summarizes my realization and earned a spot as the title of this post)
If I hadn’t followed God’s plan and returned to Pittsburgh and trusted him through the hard times, I may be with my family permanently, but would things be the same? Would my love have grown and matured? Would my relationship with Jesus? I’ve learned to depend on Him so much, which is the point. My family is wonderful, but they can’t complete me.
Tomorrow I move into my new home, and my parents move into storage units waiting for the next step in their path to be revealed. It’s frustrating, but God is ahead of us fighting the giants and preparing the way.
Our series at church right now is titled “You Make Me Brave,” and this week we learned about the fear of God forgetting us, when in reality we forget God and try to live on our own. My pastor said something that really resonated, especially during this time in my life:
“God seems late because He doesn’t operate on our timetable.”
TBH, it was kind of a slap in the face. Sometimes I wonder why God hasn’t shown up yet, but I remember two things: a) He doesn’t need to return because He never left me and b) His timing is perfect. Period. I sit here pleading with God for direction in my life as well as my parents, questioning my Creator for His willingness to allow this to continue. But God is doing so many things we can’t see and I trust that He is working for the good of those who love Him (aka us).
I’m excited. Scared. Sad. Heartbroken. Ready. I think ready is the most appropriate feeling. Seeing how God is working is so wonderful and I’m happy we’re all taking the next step. We’re trusting God and stepping into the unknown.
This time, things feel different, It doesn’t feel like a move to a temporary space where I will leave in another year. It feels like I’m going home. Every time I’m there, especially with Sam, I just know. This is going to be a place I grow in with my best friend.
Do you hear that, God? I’m excited for your plan even though I’m sure you take a sick pleasure in uprooting my life constantly, but I’m down. After like 27 moves you got here, ready for what you throw at me. Until you do and then I’m sure I’ll doubt and be unsure and sad again. Always trust that I’m yours and ultimately I will listen.

WWJD? Probably not use His words to spew hate

We live in a complicated time where the actions of the world conflict with the teaching of the Word. Christians are faced with daily battles about being in the world or of the world and trying to stand in a culture desperately trying to knock them down.
There are a lot of things in this world I don’t understand, like why God calls His children home too early or why ships capsize, killing hundreds. I don’t know why nations go to war so thousands and millions can die when we’re supposedly civilized and could probably spend a little bit of time talking out our issues.
You know what else? I don’t understand homosexuality.
Please understand me, dear reader, my lack of understanding doesn’t stem from hate, but confusion. I don’t understand why God’s children are born this way and then hated by the world. I know the scripture, but I’m not enough of a theologian to get into the meaning and implications, nor do I want to.
What I don’t get is why people choose to target this group and slew hate at them, hiding behind these verses as if it makes it ok. As if hating with a foundation in scripture clears us of wrong doing, because that’s what Jesus did, right?
He hung out with the elite and religious, using His father’s words to mock those who were different or less fortunate. He dined with Pharisees and threw dirt in the faces of the beggars. He said “here is the way to Heaven if you follow these exact rules.”
Hopefully none of that is ringing a bell because I pulled it out of my butt.
Jesus was the exact opposite. He chose to spend time with the people no one else would. He scorned the rich and religious and taught about God’s love, commanding us to love others as ourselves. He didn’t say love only those who deserve it or those who follow my law. God loves everyone and that’s what we’re called to do.
This rant doesn’t come without precedent. Last week, a school near Pittsburgh held a Day of Silence for the LGBT community and it was a beautiful thing to let students know they are loved and accepted in high school. The next day, however, redneck bullies executed their own hateful protest against these students. They wrote ‘Anti-Gay’ on their hands with a cross and used Bible verses and social media to shame their classmates.
(Yes, I realize calling them redneck isn’t the most Christian thing but I’m mad)
You know what else grinds my gear? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” How can my fellow Christians justify condemning a group of people when we’re all sinners?! None of us deserve the love of our Father yet through grace we receive it without fail. Sometimes I feel we get so self-righteous and hold ourselves higher than other sinners, when in reality we’re all the same. We all suck. And God still loves us. All of us.
So next time you want to hate someone because they’re different, take a step back. You don’t have to understand and I think it’s wise to admit if you don’t. God doesn’t want us to understand. He wants us to follow Him and listen and last time I checked, that didn’t entail using derogatory language to bring down your fellow broken humans.
Love God, love people. Period.

Starting this blog seemed like a good idea at the time

When you feel compelled to bare your soul, it can be a little intimidating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a notorious oversharer, but it seems different when your story is floating around the Internet and can never truly disappear. Sharing my experiences where I know the secrets are safe, no problem. Purposely writing down this information where my mother and dozens of others may read, terrifying.
This is a blog based on honesty, not to live in regret but explore how every decision led me to where I am now. I am flawed and I’ve made mistakes I wish I could take back, but all I can do is move on and hopefully help others who’ve felt like me.
Sometimes we got lost in a season, trying to be this imagined version of ourselves. Sometimes we meet someone and they seem great and it doesn’t work out and we’re broken. Sometimes we take things too far. Sometimes we’re lost and alone in the world.
Dear readers, please know I am here for you. I have been there. I am there.
As a Christian, I’ve read so many cookie cutter articles about the struggles of temptation and struggle, but rarely do they feature people I relate to. I’m not nearly as perfect as those people, able to shut down a situation before it escalates. I am a human and more often than not, I fall short.
The title of this site comes from explanation for every decision, good and bad. Prone to impulsiveness, I tend to look at the aftermath of my choice and think, “well it seemed like a good idea at the time.” I become so lost in moments that I can’t see past to what awaits. While this can be beautiful, more often than not it leads to pain.
These are stories I carry with me, that remind me of who I was and how I needed that person to get me here. Not every post is based on a bad choice; sometimes I will just ramble aimlessly when I need to get something off my chest. This is best illustrated by all the posts made prior to this, pulled from my Tumblr in an effort to provide some exposition to Chelsea as she grew up.
The more I think about what I have to say and the posts I could write, the less I think this is a good idea, but for once my contradictory impulse is wrong. I am scared, reader. Scared to be so honest, scared of what others will say and think, scared to try something that may fail. But I’m doing it anyway.
God calls me to be strong and courageous, so here I am. I will not fear and will not be discouraged. I am doing this for a reason, and it is for you, whoever you are.