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  • acleveland 9:14 pm on June 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


         Greetings from San Francisco. It’s been a tiring yet eventful couple of days. Yesterday, we went to a baseball game at AT&T park, Red Sox vs. the Giants. Today we toured Alcatraz and walked around the city, and I’m currently finishing some coffee and settling in for the night. I’m exhausted, burnt, and so incredibly glad that I’m here instead of sitting in my room at home, listening to music and staring at the ceiling.
         Cities intrigue me; I love them. People seem to walk with a sole destination in mind. New York seems to be the epitome of purpose-driven people as they swiftly and quickly walk through the streets, weaving in and out of people. San Fransisco is much more relaxed and pretty. It’s nice to be somewhere new. I am approximately 2472 miles away from my home in Knoxville, TN. It’s been challenging to forget everything that’s been going on 2472 miles away from here. My head has been swarmed with the past week’s conversations and events.
    Today I’m challenging you to just forget for awhile – that’s what I’m trying to do. Knoxville and all my typical life’s craziness will be coming back at full speed. Get away, lose yourself, go for a walk, a bike ride, read a book, call a friend, whatever. Sometimes we all need A BREAK.

    Relief taunts me with a smirk and a wave, and then it runs.
    It’s a champion racer and I’m a young amateur,
    Unprepared for the shiny metallic clap of the gun, and “runners, take your marks”.
    I’m unsure of how I’m supposed to beat you since my shoes keep coming untied.

    New favorite song: The Unwinding Cable Car – Anberlin

    • Kate 11:00 pm on July 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      If no one has ever told you this (which I’m sure someone has) you have an incredible way with words. Don’t stop writing! God has given you a wonderful gift and He is working in You! 😀

  • acleveland 10:07 pm on June 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    Leaving on Friday until July 10th. Unless we decide to bring the computer, which we probably won’t, I probably won’t be back until then.
    Thursday will be: mowing day/packing day/PLEASE let’s-try-to-calm-down-Mom/final preparations day. Busy 24 hours ahead.
    I’m grateful for some time to clear my head. I tried to conjure up something to slop on here other than a “see ya in July,” but there’s nothing there. Talk to me while I’m gone, 2 weeks with the same people might prove to be … stretching.

    Have a good rest of June/beginning of July, whoever you are.

    New favorite song: Breathe – Anberlin

  • acleveland 10:59 pm on June 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    too much going on. 

    Sometimes, life is a house of cards on a wobbly plastic table. Flimsy, quivering cards, stacked high, ready to crash with the slightest gust of air. Thank God for glue.
    What’s your glue? What holds things in place for you, adding a little weight, meaning, and stability? It holds an important place in your life, and you might not even realize it. It keeps your heart intact. It’s a magnet that connects a smile to the eyes. Make sure it’s worthy of such a brilliant house as YOU. Grace marks your heart.

    Have you ever really thought about unconditional love? It’s hit me the past couple of days. It’s hard for me to let my heart and mind connect when it comes to unconditional love. It looks nice on paper, and it sounds promising. But, for me at least, it’s hard to believe. We live in a world that is based on actions paired with equal consequences. It’s not always about getting grounded, “time-out”, or having to do some extra chores. It’s the emotional aspect of ‘consequences’ that tend to cause the most pain. For example, when people take back their “I love you” and replace it with “I’ll never forgive you”. When “I’m proud of you” transforms into “I’m so ashamed of you”.
    Unconditional means that things change under NO circumstances, no matter how socially unacceptable or morally wrong. Unconditional love means that that love is overflowing too much to let bad choices stand in the way. 
    Whether we accept it and believe it or not, unconditional love is wrapping us in promises. You might not believe in wind, but music continues erupting from windchimes. You might not believe in gravity, but it keeps you grounded anyway. Why should God be any different?
    Let’s try and practice love unaffected by sin’s sharp edges.

    New favorite song: Testing the Strong Ones – Copeland

  • acleveland 4:10 pm on June 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    If sickness is temporary, when is my abracadabra healing?
    Is it hiding in the pages of books I’ll never read?
    Is it dwelling in the memories of people I’ll never meet?
    Is it meant for me?

    I like summer.
    Fireflies make my street sparkle at night. I walked fluffy dogs and watched the trees glisten and shimmer to nature’s pretty rhythm. Wind is playfully blowing colorful streamers, shooting shadows across the pavement. Heat is settling in waves, thick, heavy, smothering. Freedom takes a fight, like a butterfly shoving and bursting it’s way out of the cacoon. Sunglasses, wispy hair thrown into a ponytail, and light tees are the perfect combination. I climb out the window, sit on the roof, and watch Heaven melt into a sunset.
    Who knew you could cut a slit in the sky and it would bleed color and rain? Calloused fingertips from guitar strings, banging on piano keys, brewing coffee, magazines and bike rides, hummingbird laughter and puppy dog smiles. So cheesy it’s sinful. I gotta dwell on this.
    I don’t focus on the fact that I got rear-ended in the Kroger parking lot today. I push out of my head “I don’t understand so many things that you do,” and “Why the crap would you do something so stupid?”
    Because, ya see, I can be  a camera if I want. I’ll zoom in, focus, and click: on the support and the rustling leaves, the honesty and the dancing sun.  
    I bet the sun’s rays will burn me faster than you.

    New favorite song: Radiator – Family Force 5

  • acleveland 11:06 pm on June 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    Well. Yesterday was terrifying. Today is tense. Maybe tomorrow will flow smooth and easy, streamlined and right. I really don’t know what to say.
    I got this book today called “The Bondage Breaker”. On the front, it exclaims the high amount of sold copies in bolded letters. I was thinking about it, and why should that be surprising? Doesn’t everyone have at least SOME amount of bondage? There is such a thing as spiritual warfare, and it feels like being a mummy wrapped in the chains of everything gone wrong. All the bad decisions, secrets, cover-ups, and every regret weld together to form a tight and solid chain. We’re all searching for ways to cope, a reason to try, the key to freedom. It can be easy to discover a temporary answer, even when the eternal and holy solution is staring us in the face.

    We get busy wrapping ourselves up in metal, locks, and chains. At first, it’s just a bracelet. One set of links around your wrist, perfectly positioned to catch the light and be a “harmless” distraction. Then, a necklace seems like a good idea; a light-weight, thin, flimsy string of metal, small enough to shimmer and decorate.. Just enough to compliment the first strand. A few months later, and there’s still another strand of chains, guaranteed to complete the collection. By this point, your arms have gotten too heavy. They are weighed down by the chains that engulf you up to your shoulders, and it would be impossible to muster the strength to snatch one more string.
    It seems like an impossible situation to escape, ya know? So bogged down. So chained. So hooked on past actions and oblivious to consequences, self dependent and confused. But there is a bondage breaker. He already took the weight of our actions, so it’s time to be released. It might take some courage, some help, prayer, books, and pep talks. It might seem impossible to move forward or to see the next step. But freedom is waiting in the balance of past and future. Freedom is waiting to become our PRESENT.. our NOW.. our LIFE. No matter how big or how small, it’s possible.. We just have to trust enough to let Him break every chain.

    New favorite song: Paranoid Android – Radiohead

  • acleveland 6:52 pm on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    i know, i know… 

    It’s been a long time. Over a week, maybe almost two weeks or something? I don’t really know. But, I’m temporarily back. Summertime makes it more difficult to post stuff, with jammed schedules, trips, activities.
    First of all, mission trip was last week, from the 8th to the 14th. It was incredible. It really opened my eyes to how fortunate I am, and how I can use my blessings to help other people. I will be sure to write more about mission trip. So much has happened in the past 3 days that it’s hard to look back to this time last week, when I was finishing up service work at LaTreia. It already seems like a lifetime ago.

    These past 3 days have literally changed my life just as much as the mission trip. It was the most unexpected, scary, surprising, nerve-wracking, personal, and surreal thing that I could have imagined. I’ve done and said things that I earlier would have dismissed as impossible..or at least unlikely.
    In math, two negatives make a positive. Multiply -4 and -5, and you get a positive 20. I’ve discovered first hand that in LIFE, those rules don’t apply. Negative can only be conquered by positive, even if it doesn’t seem so positive at the time. Truth dominates and overpowers secrecy, even if it makes your knees go weak and your voice tremble.
    Sometimes, it’s necessary to do the hard and unpopular thing for a person that you love. When someone did this for me, I got a little mad. Unreasonably enough, I didn’t understand. I felt betrayed and revealed, and I felt like trust had been shattered. After some silent steaming, I realized that people must really care a lot if they’re willing to take a big risk…a risk of seeming untrustworthy…a risk of having a friend be mad at you that you’re only trying to help. Fortunately, I got over my burst of anger in a few minutes and remembered when I had been in the same position earlier in my life.
    Telling is not always the easiest thing to do, but it can be the helpful, considerate, and loving thing to do.
    I haven’t written in the past few days because I haven’t known what to say. All my little plans, all my stacked thoughts and hidden EVERYTHING came tumbling down. They fell into someone’s lap like boulders, confirming questions and raising new ones. It seems far-fetched right now, but with time and help, I’ll arrange everything again…In a different order this time.

    New favorite song: Fully Alive – Flyleaf

    • Becca Aronowitz 2:10 pm on June 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Amen to the power of TRUTH . . true, capitol T, Truth!

  • acleveland 9:18 pm on June 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    We’re not losers. We’re just non-winners. So, we came in 2nd place. But you know what?! We came from last place to 2nd, and I really couldn’t ask for anything more. Today was eventful, that’s for sure. I’m proud of the Mariners, and it was a great season. Thanks yet again to everyone that came out and encouraged us today. The sun seemed to be 10 feet away, ice was my best friend, and my catching gear was tempting me to burn its company to the ground, but cheers overpowered it all.
    So, after 20 games, maybe the Mariners still had some problems on offense and defense. No, we definitely weren’t perfect. Some of us got aggrivated too easily, sometimes we gave up before the first inning, and there were days when nobody wanted to play. Certain umpires made me so mad I felt my heart pound harder, and once I fell down when I got overly excited. But it was our team, flaws and all, that got us from last place to 2nd place.
    In the same way, we all have our bad sides. Just like fire, we all have the ability to take our potential in the right or wrong direction. I worry a lot, forget to run the dishwasher, procrastinate on my homework, and stay up way too late. But, as my favorite author says, “You don’t love someone because they’re perfect. You love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” Sometimes my mom is in a bad mood for no reason. My brother stole my guitar and broke a few of the strings. My dad works a lot. It’s easy to look at what they do and only see one side. But then, I try and remember:
    Maybe Mom is in a bad mood because we’re currently trying to put her dad with Alzheimer’s into a nursing home. She could be upset because her mom had a stroke and it’s up to her to take care of Grandma.
    Maybe Will stole my guitar because he was bored when I was gone. If I had ever taught him like I said I would, he wouldn’t have had to sneak it out of my room.
    Dad has to work a lot because he loves us, and because it’s his job. His hours are insane, but he can’t help it. When he walks in the door at 9:00 pm, I know it’s not what he wanted.

    When someone leaves your life, it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place, where all the nerves are still a little raw. When the baby tooth is gone, there’s always a surprise when a permanent tooth starts to come in. Suddenly, instead of continually rediscovering a weird void, you discover the ridges of adult teeth. These don’t fall out, and you don’t put them under the pillow for the tooth fairy. These teeth are forever, and they fit perfectly in the gaping space that needed to be filled.

    New favorite song: Stars – Switchfoot

  • acleveland 11:43 pm on June 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    halfway champs. 

    Wow. I have a lot to write, so brace yourself.
    I’m going to start off by saying I can’t remember the last time I felt such a genuine, pure, and whole joy. My parents said they don’t remember the last time they saw me so happy. After school got out, I had prepped myself. I prepared myself to remain somewhat melancholy. In my mind, the happier I let myself become, the higher I let myself float, then the harder the crash would come – what goes up must come down. I had convinced myself that in order to save myself, in order to cushion the inevitable fall, I couldn’t let myself fall from too high. After this week, I’m starting to see things differently.
    It started with Vacation Bible School, which was amazing. I was honestly heartbroken to have it end today. There were times when my patience was stretched to the limit, but I loved those insane kids. They spent a lot of time hopping on eachother, slapping balloons, losing their shoes, and doing high pitched screams, but the good outweighed the bad by far. When my kids hugged eachother, when one of them said he wanted to live at VBS, and when they talked about experiencing God with sunsets and dark rooms, my heart filled with joy. Yesterday, I offhandedly asked each of them what their favorite candy was, and then I went and got it for them as a gift. When I handed each kid their candy today, they all gave me huge hugs and were totally surprised. I was just so happy there with them. I loved making them smile and teaching them about Christ and seeing them realize just how good God is.
    And…then, there’s softball. Tournament is going on right now. Tonight we played the Indians, the 1st place team, at 6:00. We had already beaten the 3rd and 2nd place teams. We lost to the Indians 3-0, and then had to play AGAIN at 8:30 against the Pirates, which is the 2nd place team that we beat on Wednesday.
    This game was CRAZY. We were Home, so we batted last. The game was tied at the end of the fourth inning with a score of 2-2. We went into overtime, and it was the Pirates turn to bat. They got up and scored 2 runs, making it 2-4. We were all really frustrated as we ran back into the dugout. After some time, the bases were loaded. Their pitcher walked one of our batters and the other one hit a ball to shortstop, and then the score was 4-4..TIED AGAIN. After we went a little further through the line up, there were two outs and the score was still tied. Figures that when I got up to bat, there were 2 outs and the bases were loaded – talk about pressure. With some crazy, divine, supernatural strength that is unheard of at 10:00 at night (I’d been at the fields for over 4 hours), I hit the ball out and over the right fielder’s head. The base runners ran in, and I got tackled, picked up, and attacked by my teammates.
    I thought we were in second to last place, but apparentally in the regular season we finished in last place. The commissioner of CBFO talked to us after the game and said that the last place team has never made it to a championship before inthe 13-19 year old league. This. Is. Crazy. I’m so freaking ready for the championship game tomorrow. I felt so humbled tonight because I know it wasn’t me that hit that ball. I had no part in it, and I take no credit. That was God. And yeah, I know it’s just a CBFO softball game, but it was really important to us all, and God knew that. Something happened tonight that wouldn’t have happened if there was no God – I can guarantee that. So when you read about the crazy “coincidental” game/season, know that ALL OF IT was God. I’m so humbled by Him.
    This whole week, I’ve felt so incredibly loved. I looked in the stands tonight, and my aunt, her boyfriend, my cousin, her husband, my best friend’s dad, mom, and sister, my mom, dad, and brother, and my youth pastor were all there cheering me on. The active involvement that these people have in my life is my rock. During the school year, I knew for a fact that I was all alone. I didn’t feel loved by anyone or anything. God is proving me wrong.

    New favorite song: Anything other than VBS songs, honestly…

  • acleveland 10:11 pm on June 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    let’s go. 

    It’s funny how things can either be both destructive and beneficial. Fire, for example, is a two-sided monster and saint. Fire can warm the coldest hands, radiate a healthy glow onto a smiling face, and roast marshmallows to the perfect golden brown. Fire also has potential to engulf a house in flames and lick arms until an ambulance’s sirens flood the air.
    Maybe we’re all two-sided monsters and saints. It’s up to us to decipher what should be prevalent, and what belongs to the shadows. The problem comes when the monster is one of greed, devouring the saint until all that’s left is the remains of a bad decision that spiralled out of control.
    VBS started today, and I love my crew. I probably enjoyed today more than they did. It wasn’t the songs, it wasn’t the exciting and exhilirating Chadder video, it was the kids. Their enthusiasm and child-like faith was inspirational. We can learn a lot from those younger than us. I miss childhood. Today I watched my crew hide under sheets and hug eachother tightly, arms like security blankets. I watched the kids instead of Chadder the chipmunk, and smiled as their faces lit up when someone in the video said something funny. It was refreshing to see people so transfixed by simple activities, crafts, and games.
    I was reading a book, and it discussed the concept of time. There are future-oriented people, those who only focus on the present, and those who are stuck in the past. All have upsides and downsides. Now that I think about it, society does not give us a clear cut answer regarding which time perception we should adopt as our own. Those who are focused on the future can miss out on what is being offered today, yet they are ready for tomorrow. Those who are focused on the present might not learn from past mistakes or be prepared for the future, but they are embracing the here and now. Those who are stuck in the past – well, really, there’s not much positive concerning that, as far as I can see. Being sucked in by the past seems to be a major waste of time. We can’t fix or change the past. We can learn from past mistakes, yes, but in order to fix those mistakes, we can’t be stuck in the past. We would have to either be focused on the present, the future, or a combination of both.
    What are you holding onto? Are you too focused on the future, holding onto the past, or only seeing the present? There’s more in store, there are lessons to be learned, and there is a time right now that should be appreciated and fulfilled. Take the time today to focus on all three instead of limiting your mindset to only one.

    New favorite song: Let The Drummer Kick – Citizen Cope

    • Sharon 5:55 pm on June 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think I needed to hear this… Thanks!

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