Monday, September 7, 2009

Nice to Meet You- Part 2

Sadie and I are down in the cabin and I am hoping against hope that tonight is the night that she decides to sleep through the night. Actually I'm not really all that hopeful anymore. I was hopeful seven months ago. Now I'm basically more or less resigned to waking up three or four (or ten) times a night. I'll just have to accept that I'll have time to sleep in someday... and then I'll miss having a sweet tiny baby to cuddle!

When I first started this blog I intended to do a few introductory posts that explained who I am and how I came to be where I am today. Instead I got swept up in all the various topics that pop into my head on a daily basis and I never wrote a second introductory post, until today. Since I'm having a hard time figuring out where I should start I guess I'll just start typing and see where it goes.

As I was growing up my religion was a huge part of my life. While my goals shifted and changed the idea of becoming a missionary and spreading the word about God's love was a consistent theme (I was Baptist at the time). I was ambitious and did well in school and added every activity I could as I worried about getting into the best colleges and whether my applications would be good enough. I played basketball and was a cheerleader, was active in student government and graduated as co-valedictorian of my class. I sent out my applications and waited for responses. I was rejected by Stanford but accepted by all the others and after looking over the financial packages and the distances from my parents house (I didn't want to go too far), I decided on Saint Mary's College of California. They had offered me the Presidential Scholarship and my dad had taught there for years so I had spent quite a bit of time on the campus. In 2000 I set off to attend a Catholic College.

I wish I could say that I arrived at Saint Mary's and instantly realized that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus established on Earth. But these things take time and that was still quite a ways off. My freshman year I studied an insane amount, reading and re-reading assignments, perfecting papers, and holding down a job at Starbuck's (which meant waking up at 3:30am many mornings). As a perfectionist I was disappointed by my 3.7 GPA when grades came out. I don't know how long I could have kept pouring that sort of energy into my studies but, as tends to happen when we're young and a little stupid, I started to get distracted by the wrong things. By my sophomore year I was pretty wild. By my junior year I was already tired of being wild. I needed to get away.

So I applied to the University of Cape Town (through SMC) and in February of 2003 boarded a plane for Munich and then another for Jo-berg. A couple of hours later we finally landed in Cape Town. During the previous years I had earned my black belt in karate and had even taught a class at my school (I was never much good at teaching kids my age though). I'd fought in tournaments and had started playing rugby on my school's newly formed team. I thought of myself as pretty tough (or as tough as one can be at 110 lbs). Despite the six broken bones (and who knows how many concussions) I suffered while playing rugby in South Africa I can say that overall the experience was good. I finally began to settle down. I had a lot of anger about some violence that had occurred during my teen years (the inspiration that drove me to get my black belt) and had been diagnosed with depression, but I was beginning to feel like I was working things out.

The next few years after I returned to the states are kind of a blur. I wasn't nearly as wild as I was before I went to Africa, but I wasn't happy. Something just didn't seem right. I was happy, at least compared to my former state, and off the antidepressants. I had picked up surfing in South Africa and between rugby and surfing had destroyed a vertebrae in my back, but the pain and medical procedures I was undergoing couldn't completely explain my discontent. I hadn't considered myself to have any religion since my sophomore year, but I began to wonder if that was the right decision.

In June 2005 I dusted off my Bible and began to read it before I went to bed at night. I was in a bad relationship, yet again, but wasn't ready to end it. And I had been hired by the CIA's clandestine service. I thought that might be the key to the restless feeling that I just couldn't ignore. Then I started to try to pray. As a child and teen I had prayed constantly. Now the words felt awkward and dry and I simply asked for faith.

The relationship ended very badly, as things tend to do when they've dragged on for too long (and our relatively short relationship really was too long the day it started). The next day one of my best college friends came for a visit (I had graduated a year earlier) and raved about the friend of the guy she was dating. She swore that he was perfect for me. I wasn't really ready to date, but she was so enthusiastic (and a little sneaky). We were supposed to be going to dinner to meet the guy she'd been dating and on the way there she announced that his friend would be working at the bar next door and that I just had to meet him.

Two days later Paul and I went on our first date. A year to the day after our first date we were married. Sometimes you just know when something is right!

We did meet quite a bit of resistance from our friends at the time. We both started to behave more responsibly and a lot of people didn't like that. We finally decided that there were influences that had to be cut out of our lives completely as we began to move forward.

When we met neither of us attended church regularly. Paul did, however, make it clear that he was Catholic and that any children he had would be raised Catholic. I said that my only request was that we attend a church, I didn't really care which one it was. And that is how I blindly stumbled into the greatest gift of my entire life: God's Church. After we were married I began RCIA and I enjoyed going to Mass and learning about the Church. But it wasn't until after I was confirmed that I really began to read on my own, while Paul rediscovered his passion for theology and began to work on his Masters. Both of our lives have been transformed and when I look back the changes seem nearly impossible. It definitely would not have been possible without God's grace in our lives.

While Paul had planned on going to grad school eventually, it was moved up a bit. We had actually been planning a trip around the world that was set to last over two years. We had saved for two years and were only a couple of months away from leaving when... surprise... we found that we were going to be welcoming a little one. God's plans don't always match what we come up with, but they are the best possible plan!

Looking back at all of the changes I can't wait to see what's in store for us next. And I'm learning not to depend on the plans that we come up with too much...

And that is my life in a nut-shell! I hope I haven't put anyone to sleep!

And one more thing: todays pictures are all from my pre-conversion days. The first ones from high school. The second one's from Africa. The third is at a friends graduation the year after I graduated.


  1. I always find it amazing how we can be surprised by people's pasts. Your post has me thinking about whether or not I should share by pre-conversion story. I like to forget, but sometimes we don't know how it will affect others, in a good way. Thanks for your sharing some of your story. :)

  2. Hi Brooke, it is kind of a scary thing to do! I was nervous about posting it! And it's such a balance of how much to tell and how much not to tell. I find myself wishing a lot of the time that I'd never gone down the wild route, but then I probably wouldn't have met my husband and there's a good chance I wouldn't be Catholic. I do wish that I could forget a little more, but I guess time fades these things too.

    On the upside it does keep me from the sin of pride... all I have to do is have a stray memory pop into my head and while I know I'm forgiven and all.. it definitely helps keep me humble.

  3. Hi Cam, I know your profile says you're from California, but the woman on the far left in your high school picture is the spitting image of someone I knew. Is her name Beth?

    Thanks for sharing, and God bless you!


  4. Hi Maria,

    That's was our cheerleading coach Bright.


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