the in-between year: the year i bought a Crockpot and also spent spring break at a place called The Flamingo Bay Motel

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*I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I received an incredibly sweet and encouraging Instagram DM the other day asking me to write more blog posts now and then, so I thought that was the Lord nudging me to get back into it. And if no one else reads this, this is for the sweet girl who sent me that message.

There were a few titles I was debating on using for this post. “The Year I Got a VIP Membership Card to a Karaoke Bar.” “The Year I Finally Got a Speeding Ticket.” “The Year of Constant Googling and Calling My Mom.” But every title I came up with just didn’t seem to sum it up; this year was a whole lot more than just one little thought. And then, I remembered a song that Kelsea Ballerini just released on her album. It’s called “In Between”.

And that, my friends, is what this year has been for me. In between. In every way.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember a post from a while back called “A Letter To the Future Me.” If you haven’t, I’ll sum it up: basically, every year after Christmas, my mom has my sisters and I write letters to our future selves. We put them in our stockings and then they go into the attic for the rest of the year, and we read our letters the next Christmas when we get the stockings back out.

This year, when I read my letter, I’m going to be honest: I was disappointed, at first. I felt that I’d myself down in a few ways, and a lot of the things I kind of hoped would happen in 2017, didn’t happen. And that’s a hard thing, to feel like you’ve let yourself down.

HOWEVER, it took me a few days to come to a different conclusion. I’ve always been a big believer in the “everything happens for a reason” mentality – I don’t think anything that happens to us or anything we do is for nothing. And so I thought about this year and the things that didn’t happen that I had prayed for while writing last year’s letter, and then a new thought occurred to me (which is going to sound stupid, but to me, it was kind of revolutionary): what about all the things that did happen? What about all the things that I didn’t even think to ask for a year ago? What about all the things I learned this year that I didn’t even realize I needed to learn a year ago?

I guess that’s the way it always goes – we have no idea where we’re going to be a year from now, or even tomorrow, really. But my point is, a year ago, I thought everything would happen for me in 2017. I thought I’d be sitting here in January of 2018 with my whole life figured out. Subconsciously, I thought I’d be looking back at the girl I was in 2017 and saying, “Man, she had no idea she was just weeks away from taking over the world.”

Well, folks, I still ain’t taken over the world.

But you know what the weird thing is? I’m glad. I wasn’t ready. I needed 2017. I needed an “in between” year. A year of learning, of growing, of making mistakes and fixing them and just soaking in everything I needed to equip me for the road ahead. And maybe I’ll need a few “in between” years – there’s no way of knowing. But in reflecting on 2017, my “in between” year, I’m starting to think it may have just been the most important year of my life.

So, what do I mean by in between? Well, I mean a lot of things. To truly get it, you might just have to listen to Kelsea Ballerini sing about it. That song, combined with the title of this blog post: “The year I bought a Crockpot and also spent spring break at a place called the Flamingo Bay Motel.” I have to laugh at how contrasting those two ideas are, because it’s just so accurate. I moved into a house this year, with four of my best girlfriends, where we have to write bills and mop our floors and do dishes and make sure the trash is outside on Wednesdays. (And cook. Hence the Crockpot.) It’s this adorable, beautiful white house, and to be honest, some days I kind of feel wrong living in it. Because some days I think I’m not old enough, like I’m a little girl trying on her mom’s high heels and walking around in them. Laughing all the while, but still clunking around and tripping and falling. Lots of falling.

And I guess I feel like that because I am that little girl sometimes. Because I moved into this house straight out of a dorm room. Because weeks before I moved into this house, I was on spring break in the Bahamas staying in a room at the Flamingo Bay Motel, crammed with my friends into a room with these musty yellow walls and missing floor tiles, surrounded by about 300 other college kids drinking sketchy Bahamian tequila mixed with yellow Kool-Aid.

If that ain’t “in between”, I’m not sure what that is.

I relate to every single line in that Kelsea Ballerini song. There’s not one word that doesn’t resonate with me. I mean, “Sometime’s I’m my mother’s daughter, sometimes I’m her friend / Sometimes I play grown-up and sometimes I play pretend.” And then, “Dumb enough to think I know it all, smart enough to know I don’t / Young enough to think I’ll live forever, old enough to know I won’t.” THAT. IS. MY. LIFE.

So thanks to that song and lots of prayer and reflection on 2017, I’m realizing how much beauty there actually is in the in between. The big milestones are important, of course – I know it’s a great feeling to be able to look back on a year and list off the things you accomplished in those 365 days. But I think there’s also a lot to be said for 365 days that you don’t really have much to show for. On paper, nothing too extraordinary happened to me this year. But internally – internally, everything extraordinary happened to me this past year. In 2017, I grew. I learned. And, my dear friends, that is the magic of the in between. I’m still in between a lot of things – I babysit and act like a mom a lot of nights, and other nights I go downtown with my friends and stay out way too late. I’m not 18 anymore, but I’m not 21 yet either. I am ready to *take over the world* with my music, but I’m still constantly improving and getting better. And I don’t know what you’re in between right now – leaving your old job and finding a new one, getting over an ex and enjoying being single – I have no clue. But if you’re in between two seasons right now, I will encourage you to do join me in this: please find the beauty in that place. Don’t rush through it like I thought I had to do. Soak it up. Soak up every lesson, every memory, every tiny piece of light the Lord is trying to reveal to you in this time. And then, gather up all these little gems and take them with you on your road to wherever it is you’re trying to go.

My friends, these goals, these mountaintops we’re walking toward – we’ll reach them, we’ll get there. But there would be no mountaintops, no milestones, no accomplishments, if there wasn’t some time leading up to them – some time in between. So we might as well try and appreciate it.

God loves you and HAPPY 2018,

Caroline

 

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