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Honking and Hoping

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” -Max Lucado


Tonight I had a group of girls with me after FCA to go to Taco Bell for 4th meal (or first meal for me- i was soooo hungry). I got to the drive-thru and told the woman “I have 5 orders” and she was like, I’m sorry, I can only take two at a time. So we placed two orders for three girls, combining an order and then I said I’d just drive back around. On our way back around there was a man in an oversized white truck trying to cut in the drive-thru line ahead of me, and WITH MY CHRISTIAN MUSIC ON in the background, I kept inching forward. He got ahead of me anyway and I annoyingly honked, but flagged him through and we made awkward eye contact. He looked like he had probably had a rough day, a white male in his late 30’s with dark hair and bags under his eyes, honestly coming across as harsh and unfriendly. The girls in the car were like, just let him go, it’s just taco bell, whatever. And that made me think…. “Ya’ll, what if this is one of those things where he does a random act of kindness and pays for our food? What if he’s sent here from God to test me? What if HE IS Jesus?” My friends chuckled at my quick flip of emotions from honking to hopeful… “doubt it, there’s no telling what he has in that truck or what he’s going through (true) he probably isn’t thinking about anything other than getting through that Taco Bell line as quick as possible.” Well, the conversation quickly turned to other random girl talk, my roommates wedding, our FCA meeting, class tomorrow, etc. When we got to the pick-up window to pay, the lady at the window said “oh, and I just wanted to let you know that the gentleman in front of you paid for cinnamon twist for you” I had chills. It wasn’t a large act, but it was an act, and the whole car was like, oh my goodness, Kaitlin, you called it.

But it’s not about the cinnamon twist. It’s not about the random act of kindness or even how maybe he thought this was being fair or even since I let him in front of me. It’s about doubting him, and then about having faith.

Faith is something that I rarely TRULY think about. I hear the word so often, and use it on so many occasions that I have ceased to remember what it actually means. I’d it and found these results

1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someoneconcerning honesty.
5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

I came to a big realization tonight. It took God putting this man in front of me at Taco Bell to open my eyes to the idea of faith. My whole life I have thought of myself as “average.” I was never a bad kid, but I wasn’t the best kid either. I didn’t really push myself to stand out from the crowd. I concentrated heavily on just fitting in. On just being comfortable. On doing what was easy. I dreamed big as a child, but when my dreams stopped coming true and the pain associated with entering middle school, boys, appearance, etc started setting in as I grew up I stopped expecting people to do nice things for me, I mean, why would they anyway? I was just me. I wasn’t anything special. This man tonight brought to my attention that I had lost the ability to trust, I lost confidence in other people because I expected to just be let down.

But that’s just the thing. I’m going to be let down. PEOPLE are going to let me down. God is not going to let me down. I have FAITH in God, I have faith in Jesus Christ, my savior, who was crucified and died for the sins of the world. The whole world. This man in this truck SURPRISED me tonight. He reminded me that it is okay to seek the good, not to be naive or foolish, but to be reminded just about one word. Faith. If I have faith in The Lord, than the Lord will provide. In Hebrews 11 the chapter is titled “By Faith” – Hebrews 11:1 ESV reads “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

In having faith I can rest assured that Jesus Christ is indeed my savior, and that this is the truth for ME. I can stand confidently and proclaim this without hesitation. I can have trust and hope and confidence in my friends, in my mentors, in my professors, my parents, etc. But I have FAITH in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is the one who is giving me eternal life. While I am here on this earth I can only strive to further God’s kingdom, to glorify him and to live a Christlike life to the best of my ability. I will stumble and I will fall short. The people around me will let me down. This is not to be cynical, but to be true. There are good people in this world, but my God in Heaven is greater. I have faith in that.

Right Where I’m Meant To Be

If you wake up in the morning excited to go to work than it’s not really a job, it’s simply where you are meant to be. Two weeks ago I had no idea what my summer would look like. I was nervous about jumping in to a new situation and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Turns out that my nervousness was a silly emotion to have. Day 1 I immediately knew that this was going to be an amazing summer. I met “the other Kaitlynn” who is the daycamp director for Capabilities and then my boss, Amber, at the church on Monday morning and waited for the kids to get there.

Our kids are the BEST! They each have amazing personalities and their hugs and laughs and smiles completely melt my heart. Though it may seem challenging trying to rally and guide anywhere from 3 to 8 special needs kids, it is all worth it when you learn something that makes them content, or when they come up to you and grab your hand to let you know that they love and appreciate you.

From the very beginning I felt 100% comfortable with my kids and following Kaitlynn’s lead, however, I realize that everyday is going to be different and that I am learning soooo much more every single day.

My whole life I have been so uptight and felt the need to always know what is going to go on when. I felt like by knowing what was coming, than I could sort of control the outcome of certain situations. Even when I worked at Holy Angels I still tried to maintain control of the set schedule and order. I still showed up to work each day with a full face of make-up, I still tried to control my body and my looks through my eating disordered habits.

This past week at Capabilities Daycamp I have gone to work make-up-less, without washing my hair some days. My kids still loved on me. Kaitlynn and Amber still seemed to want to work with me. God still loves me.

I feel myself growing closer and closer to God SOOOO much just in this past week. I have been so inspired and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to work with Capabilities. For the first time in my life I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.

Not once have I felt like I wasn’t good enough for this job or that I wasn’t capable. I have accepted that not everyday is going to be perfect, but there is still something amazing about everyday. Maybe these kids can see my inner beauty? I know that I try to see theirs. I love them so so much.

When you work with individuals with special needs you learn to put others needs before your own, but I don’t even think about that. I kind of forget about anything else going on in my life/ anywhere else in the world and I put all of my focus into the then and now of Capabilities. And that is an amazing feeling.

Here’s an example of our daily schedule

9:00-9:30 Arrival and structured free play
9:30-10:30 Outside activity
10:30- 11:00 Bathroom snack and water break
11:00-12:00 Fine motor skills (craft/art/puzzles)
12:00-12:30 Half day dismissal/ Full day lunch
12:30-1:00 Clean up/ Bathroom / Transition to exercise
1:00-1:45 Exercise (Warm up, Stretch, Yoga, Weights)
1:45-2:00 Fitness Activity
2:00-2:30 Music movement
2:30-3:30 Bible story time; learning through active drama
3:30-4:15 Game Time
4:15-4:30 Cool Down/ prepare to leave

I feel as if Kaitlynn’s brains and mine are somehow on the same wavelength most of the time, like it’s truly as if most of the time we think or go to do the same things at the same time. Not only is that cool while working with someone, but it’s really cool because I think that after this summer is over that i’m going to have an amazing friend out of this.

I truly feel as if I have come full circle. I have never felt healthier emotionally or physically, and though i’m not in the BEST shape of my life, I am happy, and I am strong, and I have the energy along with the patience to keep up with my kiddos.

I was listening to Britt Nicole’s song on my way home yesterday and it just hit home. Love it.

Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
You were walking on the moon, now you’re feeling low
What they said wasn’t true, you’re beautiful
Sticks and stones break your bones, I know what you’re feeling
Words like those won’t steal your glow, you’re one in a million

This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold

Well everybody keeps score, afraid you’re gonna lose

Just ignore they don’t know the real you
All the rain in the sky can’t put out your fire
Of all the stars out tonight, you shine brighter

This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world

Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold

So don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved
And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough
Yeah there are days that we all feel like we’re messed up
But the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough
So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
You’re a king you’re a queen inside and out
You glow like the moon, you shine like the stars
This is for you, wherever you areThis, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high,
It’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than goldSo don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
You’re a king you’re a queen inside and out

Happy 122nd Birthday to my most amazing school!

Please join us in wishing Meredith College a very happy 122nd birthday today!

Each year, a day is set aside for Meredith to honor its founding on February 27, 1891. Founders’ Day is marked by a convocation address and remembrance of Thomas Meredith, Baptist leader and advocate for women’s education. The College’s name was changed in 1909 from Baptist University for Women (Baptist Female University, 1891–1904) to honor his work in founding the College.

In honor of her birthday, we encourage each of you to take a minute to remember all of the reasons why Meredith College is such a special place.


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My thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy

Disclaimer: I really do want to start blogging. These are my thoughts. They may or may not always be grammatically correct, they may or may not always be backed up by sources, resources, articles, etc. They are my opinions. They may differ from yours. This is allowed. And that’s ok.

So- lately I, as most of the nation, have had Sandy Hooks Elementary School on my mind nearly constantly for the past week. I too have been at a loss of words about this seemingly senseless tragedy. It absolutely breaks my heart that those children, teachers, and principal had to die in a loving school environment, where they should feel safe. It breaks my heart for the parents of those children, so close to Christmas. It breaks my heart for their siblings. I have only the deepest sympathy, and I wish that there were something that I could say that could help ease the pain. I can’t even imagine a loss so great.

Since this horrific event has happened, the media as well as ordinary people in ordinary conversations have brought up the issue of gun control, and of mental health. People are arguing what’s right, what’s wrong. I too find myself asking why, as the world pauses and inserts all of the “if only’s” (I will interlude here to insert my favorite lullaby written by Louis Sachar in the book Holes:
“If only, if only,” the woodpecker sighs,
“the bark on the trees was as soft as the skies.”
And the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely.
He cries to the moon, “if only if only.” ) We always seem to be grasping for things that are just out of reach. We constantly find problems instead of being grateful for what we are given. People, myself included, take so much for granted.

As I get angry at the fact that this massacre occurred, I also get angry at the fact that everyone considers there to only be 26 victims (and well, also at the word “victim,” but that is a different story.) I believe that there were 28 tragic deaths that day. I also believe that everyone who has been affected by this shooting at Sandy Hook has been victimized.

But this brings up a deeper issue. Should we mourn the killer? Should we pray for his murderous soul as well? This is the part that people may disagree with me about. I pray for Adam Lanza. I am the type of girl who instinctively seeks to see the good in others. I honestly and truly believe that every person is good. I believe that good people do bad things. I do not believe in bad people. Perhaps I see the world through rose-colored glasses. Perhaps I am too optimistic, giving the human race more credit than it deserves. I am still torn, as I have given this thunk a lot of thought. I go back as I think about the other murders that I have seen depicted on the news, story after story of violence, night after night. I think back to this summer, the massacre at the Colorado movie theater, I think back to Columbine, to Virginia Tech, to Oklahoma City. I remember being 5 years old, living in Lawton, OK at the time and going to see the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial. I forever will remember a picture of a very pretty toddler pinned the the fence, wearing this beautiful dress and big sun-hat. I didn’t even have to ask my mom, I knew that she had been one of the children who died in the bombing. That picture has haunted me my whole life, knowing at a very young age that life was precious and that it could be ended by anyone, for any reason, or, sometimes even without reason, at any time.

I believe that people’s lives are made up by a series of choices, and I believe that one thing leads to the next. In the case of Sandy Hook Elementary, I believe that Adam Lanza made a very bad choice. Whether or not I truly believe he was a bad person, I just can’t bring myself to do that. I didn’t know him. I’m not at all defending him. He killed, he senselessly murdered innocent people. He stole precious lives away from precious families. How could he? So many questions. I can’t pretend that I have the answers. All I have is hope.

I know that much of the world still is grasping for answers in this terrible tragedy. I wish that we had the resources to protect everyone from this kind of instantaneous harm. I wish that we weren’t becoming so accustomed to hearing about these sort of tragedies.

Even still, I hold to my belief that people are good, and that circumstance, illness, and strings of bad decisions leads to bad things. Our responsibility? Be kind to each other.

Stay Strong Newtown. God Bless.

The Meaning of that Little Black Ring

The Meaning of that Little Black Ring
By Kaitlin Petruska

Onyxxxxxxx picture!!!!!!! “  Shouted a girl from the class of 2012 at last year’s class day; “Kaitlin, will you please take a picture for us?” insisted one of the girls. Without an ounce of hesitation, I took her camera and was instantly handed four more (for Facebook purposes, of course.) Quickly and effortlessly a group of twenty or more girls from my Big Sis class leaned in smiling, right hand out, onyxes sparkling. The lovely ladies of the class of 2012 were laughing and enjoying their day, despite the looming rainclouds that would soon move the ceremony indoors.  I couldn’t control my own smile as I snapped picture after picture, thinking to myself about how in just a few more months that would finally be me and about how I couldn’t wait to finally have a little black ring on my own finger.

After I handed the cameras back to their rightful owners, I glanced down at my own onyx-free hand, nail polish chipping, and I felt a rush of emotions wash over me like a bucket of cold water. I couldn’t tell if I was happy, sad, ashamed, or hopeful. There were just so many feelings racing through my brain as I recalled how much that onyx would mean to me and how many years I’ve been waiting to wear it—to  wear the ring that symbolizes so much here at Meredith and that has symbolized so much for so many past generations.

I thought about my own freshman year, which unlike the rest of the class of 2014, was back in fall of 2007. I made the decision to come to Meredith because my mom had gone to a small, private women’s college. The choice to come to Meredith felt so perfect and so fitting. However, back then I was so shy and timid, and I so wanted that “true college experience” more than anything. I remember trying to find my place in the sisterhood, desperately trying to understand and asking breathlessly over and over what Cornhuskin’ was, and trying to figure out who I was and where I was going. I remember as a freshman trying so hard to fit in, not yet realizing that true friends would accept me for who I was inside.  My efforts rapidly turned sour, and I became so overly concerned about what other people thought of me that nothing else in the world mattered. After a year and a half I wasn’t attending my classes, and all I cared about was losing weight and what I looked like.  I let an eating disorder take priority over my college experience. Once my parents finally figured out what was going on, they gave me a four-day warning to pack up my dorm room in Brewer and come home.  I still cannot look back on that day without shuddering. I look back as I carried out boxes to my mom’s minivan while my friends went on with life as usual on their way to classes, texting, and making lunch plans. Back then, I was convinced that day was probably the most humiliating day of my life.  Thinking about that day now, I think about it as the most humbling.

I missed Meredith every single day when I was back at home in Gastonia. I missed the freedom I had, I missed my friends—I missed the sisterhood. I kept telling myself daily, “This is only temporary,” as I fought tooth and nail against the eating disorder that was keeping me away from a place that I had learned to call home. I only viewed Ring Dinner from Facebook pictures as my original class, the class of 2011, received their onyxes. Finally, after two years of hard work and the patience that it took holding down a full-time job, I had proven to myself and my family that I was ready to return to school.

I still had some worries about returning to Meredith College as a sophomore last year and starting anew, this time as an Even, but I must say that the decision to return and enter the class of 2014 was the best decision I have ever made. They have embraced me and accepted me for who I am without question; I have learned so much from these amazing women and I have never felt so blessed.  I know that these friendships will last a lifetime. Most importantly, I know that these lovely ladies will be there to encourage one another throughout the journey and remind us that we can live out our dreams, just as so many angels already have. To the class of 2014, thank you so much! Congratulations on that little black ring, ladies! Always know that you are all strong enough, you are all smart enough, and you are all beautiful enough. Now it’s our turn, ladies! “Onyxxxxxxx picture!!!!!!!”