Thursday, December 30, 2010

So delicate and precise.

It's been ages, and for that, I apologize.

Lately, I feel as if growing up has been fast forwarded a bit. I had gotten quite used to the gradual process of learning lessons and slowly figuring out how to apply them to my life. We grow up delicately, so delicate, in fact, we barley notice our body growing taller until we look back at pictures from seventh grade when all your t-shrits were from thrift stores and your mouth was filled with braces. Seeing those pictures, however, makes us thankful for where we are now, I believe. Makes us appreciate our straight teeth, and the awkward conversation from our mothers telling us, "you know, sweetheart, you're going to have to stop wearing t-shirts eventually."

However, sometimes, the changes aren't as slow as the (forever) long process of shifting teeth. Sometimes they are unexpected. Sometimes they completely shake your world, or wake up a part of your brain and/or heart that you thought was long asleep or forgotten.

It's interesting that in my last post, I talked of disruptions. How important they are, how much they are necessary to our lives. When I was writing the post, I thought that I was reflecting on an already disrupted mind set. I thought that I had, "come up on the other side" and was able to tell my tale of routine-ruining. Little did I know, however, this would be only the beginning of a long series of plot twists. Some of them small, some of them exciting, some of them life changing, and some of them terrifying.

I feel like my entire life, people have been telling me to conquer hard situations. But, what does that even mean? Is it an inspirational way of telling someone to "get over it?" Lately, I have realized that there are some things that I thought were "conquered" in my life. Certain things that were over, had been dealt with, and would never really have to be re-visted. Because, when one conquers a village, they don't go back and few years later and try to conquer it again. That's just silly. And this is the mindset that I was living with. But it's impossible and entirely untrue.

Once something is broken, it stays broken. No matter how strong your super glue is , you can always tell that it's not just not whole. If you are to ignore it's brokenness, however, it will only become more fragile. Even if, on the surface, things seem to working as usual, the foundation is crumbling because it is not being held together by what it once was.

However, if you recognize the brokenness, you can learn how to best accommodate. We can understand that it is fragile, and treat it with more tenderness and patience than we would something that is perfect.

Now, please understand that the recognition of brokenness isn't easy. At all. It can come suddenly, and when it does, it hurts like hell. The recognition of the brokenness in my own life has brought back memories that I had buried deep inside of me, conversations that I had never thought would take place, and a lot of hard days. And some days, it seems impossible and I beg for ignorance, because ignoring things is so much easier.

However, I know that this it. This is life, and no one ever promised me it would easy. I know that this is not something I have to "conquer." It is something that is disrupting my life, and making me grow. And I am so thankful for a God who sees the ugliness and brokenness of my heart, and forgives me anyway. And who says, "You are not alone."

Together, we much recognize our own brokenness.
We must treat each other with tenderness, love, patience, and kindness.
Because we are fragile beings.
and let us remember that

We are not alone.

Happy new year, friends.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Disruption of Hospitality.

This weekend, I hopped in a van with some friends and drove to Milwaukee. I caught a ride from them after I overheard them talking about going home for the weekend, and decided to visit some friends in the area. The road trip was filled with laughter, sleeping, and conversations about the importance of Outkast and the evolution of music, according to our lives.

After being dropped off in downtown Milwaukee, my dear friend picked me up on a curb, and took me to one of the cutest coffee shops I have ever been to, filled with a lovely staff, organic scones, and incredibly appealing light fixtures. After having a wonderful and refreshing conversation, I was dropped off at another friends house for the rest of the weekend.

Now, this house isn't really like others. There is a certain warmness about this place that I will never be able to fully articulate. Upon entering, you are hit with a rush of love and joy that fill every corner of the home. The house is located on a small lake, that sometimes looks impossibly still. There is a handmade pier that juts out into the lake, submerging you in it's beauty. The house is framed in trees, but the sun always seems to make it's way through at all the right times. I was staying in a room with 5 windows all pointed towards the lake. It's the closest thing to sleeping outside, without sleeping outside. Laying in my bed, I couldn't help but notice the tree branches stretching towards that sky, and the majesty of the stars perfectly placed between them. I was exhausted, but fighting to stay awake for the sake of keeping my eyes open just a little bit longer.

The thing that gives this home the most beauty, however, is the family that lives in it. This family loves the way Jesus did. They understand what it means to be hospitable in the name of the Lord, which is the most beautiful kind. They all love God in a unique and real way that is so encouraging to witness. I see Jesus in the way they are as individuals, and as a working family unit. They have an indubitable understanding of the character of God, and live their lives accordingly. This family has been through a kind of suffering that I can't understand, and wouldn't know if I could bear, but they love so loudly throughout it all. Spending time with them this weekend completely shattered this "college routine" that I had gotten so stuck in since being at Taylor. They reminded me what it was like to have a living and breathing relationship with God.

They disrupted my life in the best possible way.

This idea of "disruption" came from a church service that I attended this morning with this family. He was talking about the importance of open-mindedness and the danger of becoming black and white with our framework of reality. The whole service, I sat there as each word went into my ear and straight down to my heart.

The word "disruption" I feel has a connotation of something that happens suddenly, without warning, and often, annoying. It almost makes it seems that disruptions are an inevitable force of nature.

I would like to suggest, however, that we must seek disruption in our lives.

Capernwray completely shattered my ideas of myself, my relationship with God, and Christianity as whole. This was the best thing that ever happened to me, and while I was going through it, I kept think that this was the one time in my life that I would be broken, and that my new ideas from the lectures and fellow students would stay forever. I have come to realize, however, that keeping the things I learned at Capernwray is a daily effort that I most actively be watering and nurturing.

I need to understand what it means to seek disruption for the sake of growth.

Let us not be controlled by our routine and become comfortable.

Let us be disrupted, and let us be the ones to disrupt.

and, let us do it for His sake, with His grace.

Now, please, go on an adventure, and ruin your routine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Minimums for Maximums.

College, so far, is hectic balancing act of social interactions, extra curricular activities, new people, and, yes, of course, academia. I am taking quite an easy schedule this semester, which is nice. I get to do a lot of things that I wouldn't normally be able to do, and get really plugged into the community that defines Taylor. It's great. I've already had some really wonderful experiences, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Now, I'm not sure if you are aware, but at college, I am required to take classes with other human beings. This means that learning takes place not only through the knowledge of professors and the text that we study, but also from the input of other classmates that have, sometimes, very strong opinions. It's so important to learn from one another. What a poem means to one person, means something entirely different to another. True learning only takes place within a community. Ya know, the whole iron sharpens iron thing.

Something that I have seen in every classroom, however, is a group of people that simply want to get things done. They want the grade, they want the teacher to think they are intelligent, and they want to do it in a way that requires the least amount of work. They are building a beautiful home with all the decorations and furnishings of a perfect student, but they are building it on sand. Efficiency becomes the most important thing, and excellence isn't even considered. I just participated in a class that was student-led. The professor wasn't there, a college kids dream, right? But we were left with specific instructions of what to do. The assignment was fairly simple, something we could've gotten done in half the class time. Instead, we just schemed and made-up brilliant ways to make it look like we did what was assigned to us. We were planning these mistaken impressions, while, every five minutes the cliche kid in the corner chimed in with a banal, "Can't we just... leave?"

Now, I am avid user of sparknotes, and don't always things get done by their due date, but I also have a hunger for knowledge, and a responsibility of excellence. "Blah blah blah education is power. Blah blah blah education is a gift." I realize that I'm being painfully cliche here, and, if you have any experience in an educational facility, you've been told not to take advantage of your education. But all of these people are aware of that. They are just lazy, and they work hard at being lazy. Ironic, huh?

I want to embrace the quality of being outstanding, and apply it to everything I do.

Because of the love of God, I am already set apart.. so why don't I start acting like it?

We need to understand that the result of a situation is not what we're working for. It's the journey that gets us there. It's the long hours in the night when we only have one more page to go, it's the proofreading, it's the re-reading, it's riding our bike instead of taking our cars, and it's cooking a meal instead of grabbing something to go.

We are all excellent creatures.

So, friends, let's get off of the lift, and hike up the mountain.
See you kids at the top.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Recital of Events.

I've been working on a new blog for awhile now, and today, when I came back to work on it some more, I read it... changed some things... read it again... and then deleted it.

Today, I was reminded of why it is that I love to write.
I just want to tell a story. A story of significance. A story of honesty.
I want to be able to string together my day to day beings, struggles, and interactions in an eloquent way. And when all of these anecdotes make their long journey to articulation, I pray that they will point somewhere else entirely. I pray that they would point to the One who is really stringing all these things together.

I want to help someone. Not for the sake of myself, but for the sake of my God.

I am just so wildly in love with the stories of these other beings that are living around me. When I see someone, I just wonder who they are. Why they are where they are. Everyone is a story. A beautiful one.

We are stories of redemption, of adventure, of heartache, of epic success, and epic failure. Stories of love, of loss, of friendships, and of music.

The greatest things I've learned about life, love, and other mysteries (Point of Grace reference?- Absolutely.), have been from the stories of other people. Honest ones. Honesty, I believe, is the greatest teacher. It's when we all step down from our pedestals, and we realize that we are so fortunate to be creatures that experience grace. It's when we let our human struggles show, for the sake of the representation of the goodness of God. The sharing of stories is so important. Really.

It's just the brave ones who choose to write it down.

Today, this is my story:

God is good, and today I was reminded in so many different ways. Through the Swell Season's album Strict Joy (this album is beautiful in 100 different ways, it makes your heart speed up, and slow down, and gives you goosebumps at all the right times. These heartbreaking lyrics will remind you how to feel.), the smile of a familiar face, the inspiration of an unexpected conversation with an acquaintance, the keys of the piano, and the perfect breeze slightly blowing across campus.

Somedays, nothing can make you feel more alive than the wind kissing your cheeks and dancing across your eyelids.

So, my honest friends, go and live.
and may the story of your life burn brightly as you go.

(and also listen to Strict Joy. I promise you won't regret it.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Momentary modulations.

Well, here I am. At college. And, after a week of surprising loneliness, awkward introductory conversations, creating new and beautiful friendships, and trying to remember how to study for things, I am finally feeling a sense of comfort. Ryan Adams is usually always playing through my speakers and all my pictures and ceramic bowls are choicely placed around my closet-like area in a poor attempt to make this feel like a temporary home (Why does Ryan Adams make me feel like I'm home...? I don't know. But it does.) Desk lamps, dried flowers, and carefully selected trinkets are what keeps me company in my small area- And I'm completely fine with that.

My transition to Taylor has been an interesting one, to say the least. (here we go again, kinsley... talking about transitions. what's new....) It's not at all what I expected. Going to Capernwray was indeed a leap of faith, but I was thrown into a room of people just like me. People ready and waiting for an adventure. People that were ready to meet strangers. And people that desperately wanted to be like Jesus. Coming to Taylor feels much like showing up late for a party.... a party full of strangers. A lot of strangers. Now, please understand that these strangers are some of the most lovely and kind and welcoming people in the world. And God has blessed me with a few very wonderful people that I care about a lot and couldn't imagine being here without. But still, this is unlike any of the adventures that I've experience before. I think I might be growing up, or something...

In a song, the key changes, and in this momentary modulation, we feel something. Whether this transition is slow and soft, or fast and chaotic, it gives us a feeling of excitement, and of progress. We can feel the song continuing and it makes our heart beat a little faster than before.. It becomes a part of us, even just for those few precious moments. And when the song ends, we are able to admire and dwell in it's completeness.

Right now, I can feel my life changing and transitioning at what feels like a rapid pace. And, like a song, with each key change, I get a bit more excited and a bit more scared.

But I am so joyful. More joyful than I have felt in a long time. God is showing me His love in brand new ways. He is showing me through loneliness, through a simple poem, through a certain prayer, through new friendships, through old ones, through the piano, through distance, through a certain someone that looks me right in the eye, through professors, through the life of living in a painfully small town, and through the knowledge that I am a beautiful, forgiven creation of God.

Let us remember to experience these momentary modulations with joy.
Let us remember that we are constantly transitioning, growing, and learning.
and Let us remember that we are not alone.

[Lately, I have been thinking so much about my short time in Edinburgh, Scotland. This picture is one of the most peaceful pictures I've ever taken and reminds me of how badly I would like to return to this beautiful city...(one day.)]

Thursday, August 19, 2010


It's hard to believe that this summer is over. It seems like only yesterday that it began. When I think back on this season of humid weather and trips to the lake, I feel like it's flown by, but I also feel like a lifetime of memories were made. So many joyful moments, packed into a few precious months. Scenes of two sets of feet balancing off of the most perfect pier in all the world, emergency runs to mcdonalds for ice cream way more delicious than half a dollar, old friendships becoming older and stronger, and new ones becoming more than i could have ever imagined.

It was a challenging summer, but a wonderful one all the same. Sometimes I have to press the pause button on my life, take a few steps back, and realize how blessed I am. How fortunate I am to be given these beautiful opportunities in life.

I strongly believe that these opportunities were given to me by God. I do. But I also believe that it was my choice to take them or not. This whole, "taking advantage of opportunities" thing is new for me. Because, well, it's sort of terrifying. Actually, it's really terrifying. It's human nature to want to control things. I mean, it's the reason there are rules in classrooms and pedals on bikes. Some people are attracted to the unknown, but there is still a speck of terror. But, this is what I've realized: even though the results are unknown, I have no reason to be scared. God is in everything. He is in every result. He is in every opportunity, even the ones I choose not to take. And if i truly believe that, than fearing the unknown is pointless. So, I will realize that God is faithful, and live accordingly.

I will see the unknown as beautiful and exciting.

I realize that this will not be easy. But it's something that I desperately want to work for. Especially now.

So, friends, let us not hesitate, but leap into the unknown...

Pack up your bags and move to a castle in the middle of rural England.
Let a boy hold your hand.
Get lost, just because.
Look at the stars for so long that your eyes hurt.
Stay out past curfew.
Surprise a friend.
Say yes.

and dwell in the peace that comes from the acknowledgement that the entire universe is taking care of you.

[I'm moving to a new place soon. And I'm trying to leap... but it's sort of hard.]

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Look up.

I have spent the last few days in Lake Tahoe along with my family. This little trip has been restful in every way possible. Simply having time to sit down and be with my family.

Lake Tahoe is beautiful. The clearest most blue body of water I've ever seen. It's breathtaking.

My family is so wonderful. The most wonderful people I know. As I get older, I realize more and more how precious and important it is to spend time with each other and just, listen, laugh, learn, and love.

This wonderful, but short trip, however, has come to an end. And here I am.... on yet another plane...

Planes can be frustrating. Delays, re-routes, cancellations, a loud or obnoxious seat partner.... the potential things to complain about are endless. I was on a plane today, and just about all of the previous things had happened to me, not to mention I was extremely hungry. I was sitting there on the plane, my eyes to tired to read, but not tired enough to sleep. I know we were starting our descend, and I just kept thinking, "you're almost there, this is almost over, you get to stand up soon, and get off of this airplane." Then, in an act of pure desperation, i lifted up the window covering hoping for at least one cloud to stare at.

Little did I know that this cheap, plastic window shade was the gate to the one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.

I was flying in the middle of a sunset. The clouds around me were impossibly orange, and the rest of the sky on fire with the rays of the sun. It seemed to cover everything in sight. My mind emptied of absolutely everything, and I just stared out the window upon what seemed like a flame-licked kingdom. The warm tears streamed down my face representing all the words I couldn't say.

I glanced around me to see if anyone else was moved by the masterpiece surrounding us. I was sad to see all the drooling men, annoyed women, distracted children, and angry flight attendants. All the glory, this majesty, this beauty, going completely unnoticed. And then I realized,

This is not about them.

Right now, in this moment, this is about me, and my Creator. He is telling me He loves me and I need to accept it, and be grateful from the very bottom of my soul.

I can choose to notice this beauty and accept this kind of love each and everyday. Whether it be through the sunsets, the laughter of my brother, the wisdom of my grandfather, the clearness of a lake, or in the comfort if knowing that I am beloved.

Let us look up, and see the love that is waiting for us...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Responsibly hospitable.

I know that people who have blogs update them often. Little musings about how their week is going, the things they are thinking about, the projects they are working on. The reason there is such a large amount of time between blogs, is because it takes me this long to reach into the swirling vortex that is my brain and fish out one of the thousands of thoughts catching speed as the spin spin spin around in my head. When I catch hold of this thought, I then attempt to articulate the best I can... Which is not always an easy task.... especially when you are crazy.

I feel like I have learned so much since my last blog, which makes this even harder to write, because I'm not even sure where to begin. There have been a few words that have really seem to come up several times in the last month. So most of my thoughts, as of late, have been centered around these words.
What are these words?


When I think of the word responsibility, my mind automatically travels back to the list of chores I did when I was a kid. I see a checklist. I see specific things that I have to do, even if just for the sake of crossing it off a list. I don't remember feelings of joy, or of servanthood. I feel obligation. I can hear the authoritative tone in my mother's voice.
I don't like that this is my connotation for this word. I need to redefine this word in my life. I need to think past the feeling of clenching teeth, and I need to have an open mind.
I want this word to be one that directly makes me think of my relationship with the Lord. I want to know Jesus so well that it becomes a responsiblity for me to follow him so closely, that it's hard for people to tell a difference.

But not just any responsibility....

...... a joyful one.

One that will only make me smile. One that will make me excited.

One that I will never be able to cross off of any list, but one that I will be constantly working towards.

I was to be joyfully responsible.

Now, I think this word ties in perfectly with the next two.

In the journey to become more like Jesus. I want to be selfless, and unbelievably hospitable. I want to be a kind of person that you unashamedly ask to do things for you, with complete confidence in the fact that I will say yes. And I want to do it joyfully.

Last week, I was given a perfect example of this lifestyle. I perfect symbol of Jesus, hospitality, responsibility, and selflessness. It was this couple of precious days that finally allowed the process of reaching into my brain feel safe....

In some of the best solitude hours I've ever spent in my life, I drove up to Chicago all by myself. I laughed, I cried, I prayed, I sang, I stared... It was great.

I was warmly welcomed into the cutest apartment I've ever walked into in my life. Quotes and pictures and books and laughter and trains and organic lemonade and music and crafts filled the home. I automatically felt like I belonged there.
These unique decorations and crazy amount of books are not even what made the apartment so special. It was the couple that occupied it.

These two individuals were a home. They are unashamedly in love, and they don't care who knows it. The common knowledge of their mutual love for one another seems like common sense. It seems like it is just a universal truth that they are together.
Simply put... they love each other more than they love themselves, and they do so loudly, and obviously. And that's it guys.... that's like Jesus. They are Jesus to one another. And to everyone else they meet.

I am so thankful that I spend these two wonderful days with these people. I feel like the peace and love that I had been praying to feel, that seemed to far away, was finally shown to me in the most unlikely situation.

So friends.

Let us be Jesus to one another.
Let us be selfless.
Let us be responsible.
Let us be hospitable.

[What is it about strawberries that scream summertime?]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Set yourself free.

Airports are the strangest places. A place, set apart for everyone to meet up, so they can go somewhere else. Everyone is leaving, or coming. Goodbyes, homecomings, everything. Thousands of people wanting to go somewhere else. I feel like I have spent more time in airports this year than I ever have in my whole life. Going different places all over the world. And every time I am in one, all I can think about is everyone else's story. Why are they flying to Tuscan, Arizona at 9:00 am on a Wednesday morning? What on earth is making them go to Ft Wayne, IN on a thursday night? Why are they alone? Who is going to pick them up when they land? Who is on their mind? Are they excited to go? Or are they dreading it?

This year, I have found an extreme fascination with people's stories. Why they do the things they do, what events in their life has shaped them? What is their family like?

Stories. That's all people are, anyway.

We are all the result of the things, places, people, and events that have happened in our lives. No one, absolutely no one, you can take at face value.

Our lives become a series of embracing and avoiding certain parts of our stories and living within the balance of that. The good, the bad, the ugly, all play a crucial role in our lives.

Some of the things that happen to us are inevitable. Things we have no control over. I mean, what is a story without a twist, anyway? Unfortunately, trust is a risky business. We cannot control the humans that we are in relationships with in life. Every individual make their own decisions, which effects the people around them. There are times when I feel so helpless. I feel that no matter what I do, not matter how much I guard my heart, or open it, no matter how careful I am, something that is out of my control comes swooping in to screw it all up. And it is those sudden inevitable things that make you experience the kind of hurt that you feel in the pit of your stomach.

Here is the great thing though...
Amidst this crazy uncontrollable life that we all live, there is something we can cling to.
Our reactions.
We have this awesome power to twist the story back around. To surprise the reader in reacting to the inevitable twists with love, and character. We have the power to embrace the unwanted edits in our story, and make them the most beautiful parts. We have the power to change ourselves.
Once we cling to this truth, once we drop the expectations of life that we have, we are allowed to feel a freedom like no other.

The greatest woman in my life shared this quote with my recently, and it's change the way I live my everyday life:

"Everything in life falls into three different categories:
Things we can change,
things we can influence.
and things we can do nothing about.

We spend most of out emotional energy on things we can do nothing about.
We always underestimate the things we can influence.
And the only thing we can change is ourselves."

So friends,

Let us recognize the inevitable. But, don't let us dwell there.
Let us embrace everything we influence, and turn it into light.
and let us understand that change can only come from within. about that next chapter...

Monday, April 5, 2010

The reality of Neverland.

Throughout my adventures of the past six months, I was able to spend the last week doing a bit of traveling. I was down in London, and my friends and I were determined to find the Peter Pan statue in the Kensington Gardens. We looked far and wide, and right as the excitement was at it's peak, we turned the corner... and there he was.

Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up.

Now Peter Pan is a classic character from our childhood. A story that we all know, love, and adore. When I watch it, it just makes me want to go exploring, and forget all my responsibilities. I want to run through the forests, live in a treehouse, sword-fight with pirates, and hang out with mermaids. What is it, besides these previously named adventures, that draws me to Peter so much? Why is it that a life of staying young, remaining irresponsible, and never growing up seem so appealing?

I think the reason I cling to this story so dearly, is because I am scared. Scared of growing up.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Peter. I think he teaches us what it truly means to be joyful. Ya know, the kind of joy you feel in the pit of your stomach, and the bottom of your heart. I also think Peter teaches us courage.
There is something so beautiful about the fearlessness of a child.

So, something to keep in mind is this:
We are never to old to sword-fight a pirate.

Anyway, if you remember the story of Peter Pan, you will recall that his relationship with Wendy was not always perfect. And the flaws in this relationship were always rooted in the argument of whether or not to grow up. Peter never wanted to grow up, and Wendy did.

But here is my point. Even though Wendy grew up... She still went to Neverland.

Now, I believe that Wendy's trip to Neverland changed her life. She learned things there that she could have never learned in the real world. She learned courage, and she learned the value of keeping the good things about being a kid.

But, the things we learn aren't real, until they are applied.

We aren't "changed" people, until we take the things we learn, and apply them to our life. We can sit down and be taught something, but until we do it ourselves, we haven't learned anything.
Think about when you learned how to tie your shoe. The teacher showed you a thousand times. But you can't say, "I know how to tie my shoe" until you do it yourself.

Now, it's obvious that the trip to Neverland is absolutely necessary. I mean, if it wasn't for Neverland, Wendy would have been the person she is today. But, Neverland is only a chapter of her story.

I think I view my time at Capernwray as a sort of "Neverland" experience. I had the best times of my life. I learned the biggest lessons, and made some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for. I would not be the same person right now, If i didn't go to Capernwray. But it is now the point in my story where I apply the things I learn. I make those things my reality. I become the changed person that I think I am. I make my Neverland a reality.

I think this principle also greatly applies to our faith. It is one things to believe in a God, and it is something else entirely to follow a Saviour. No, I am not preaching grace by works in the least. But I am saying that nothing is real until we apply it. So, you may believe in God, but is it real? Are you acting like it? Have you taken what you've learned and applied it to you life? Or are you still in Neverland?

So, my friends.

Let us find and appreciate our Neverlands.
Let us see all the beauty we can there.
Let us learn unique lessons.
and then, Let us bring them home with us.
Let us apply them to our life.
Let us be the people that we have the potential of being.
Let us be Wendy, and Peter.

Let us make our Neverlands a reality.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let's get together..

I must start of this blog by apologizing that I haven't written in ages. But, the last month of my life has been, what I think to be, the most influential one yet. And I needed time to process it, and truly have to time think about the things I have learned. And it is only now that I can even think about articulating it.
Since I have last blogged, I have been in five different countries. And as I slowly flip through the once blank pages of my passport, I can now see them decorated in memories. England, Dubai, Kenya, Uganda, France, America.

Yes, as we all know, I love to travel. I view each added stamp on my passport like a reward, a trophy of sorts. But alas, my time for traveling has been paused for awhile, and here i am at home. My time in England is done for now, and I have unknown adventures ahead of me. It is a strange feeling. but it is not a sad one.

Very recently I have witnessed the beauty of community. A group of people that are nothing alike, working together for a common goal. And by working together, I mean loving one another. I experienced a glimpse of this at Capernwray, I believe. But, to be honest, it's a bit of a community with an expiration date. But i'm talking about a real community. One that has seen you grow up, make mistakes, try to sport different fashions, leave, come back, laugh, cry.
That's the kind of community i'm talking about.

I'm talking about the church.

I, personally, have never really been able to call myself a part of a church. There is not a building that I come home to where a bunch of old people come up to me, and ask how i'm doing. I don't have a group of people asking me what i've been learning, or what is on my heart. I don't have a church driveway to have a car wash in.
I never realized how much I was missing, until I witnessed a beautiful church, and a beautiful family in the English town of Rougham. That is a small church of Jesus loving, people loving, fools. It's unbelievable to see. It was beautiful. And it makes me realize why it is absolutely crucial to one's life to have a community to fall back on.
So please, if you have one, recognize it.
If you don't, get plugged in somewhere.

I have been going, I feel from place to place for the last six months. But the past few days, I think, have been the best. Because I felt rested. I felt like I was part of a community that was genuinely interested in my well-being. I felt like I was part of a family.
And that provides a peace and a comfort like no other.

So, one can get easily caught up in the excitement of a life of travel...

But what is a tree without it's roots?

We all have a home. We all have a community. We all have family.

So please, my friends, take advantage of it.
Organize a free car wash.
Raise money for a good cause, together.
Pray for each other.
Look out for one another.
Goof around with one another.
Have a bake sale.
Or just tell your parents how much you appreciate them, by taking them out to a meal.

It's amazing how much of an impact one person can have on your life, even in the most indirect way...

Now, go bake something.

[this is a photo i took from the tippy top of the eiffel tower.]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The choice of joy.

I tend to forget the brightness and intensity of the sun. Especially here in England. But the past few Saturdays i have been blessed with a very bright sun. I'm beginning to appreciate this rarity, though. Because when these sunny days do come, I am just in awe of the intensity, and the majesty. A huge star, so far away, that I can feel on my face. Incredible.

I go to Africa in three days. Yes, three, which is much closer to zero than the previous numbers. I honestly can't even believe that it is almost here. This week has been a hard one. Feelings of inadequacy, fear, anxiety, and defeat have been bigger than any of my other feelings as of late. For me, there is nothing worse than the feelings of being defeated.

In the midst of all this darkness, I was reminded in the most beautiful way of the light.

We had another media fast this week as Capernwray. This really isn't hard for me, I'm fine with not checking emails, watching movies, etc. But the one that seems almost impossible is the absent of music. You don't realize how much it plays a role in your days, until you go without it. This time it seemed even harder, because i was feeling all these feelings of inadequacy, and I wanted to escape them via music. So, I felt far from home, and just... sort of crazy.

But then, I learned a lesson...

I had recently finished a journal that I have had for three years. This is what I like to call my "moments" journal. So, it's not consistent in the least. But it holds my most favorite moments from the past year. So, on prayer day, I decided to read through it. Mind you, I'm still in this sour mood. So, I grabbed my journal and attempted to decipher my writing. When I stumbled upon January 31, 2008, I read it. And then read it again, and then again. Then I just, cried.

It was an entry about joy. It was talking about how joy is a choice, not an emotion. Joy is a set of mind. So even through the darkness, we can choose to set our minds on things above. We can choose to claim the promises and truths from our Lord.

We can choose joy.

Then, I had written a quote from a friend that has experienced a kind of darkness that i've never known, and he says this,

"I do not deny the darkness, but I choose not to dwell there."

So, something I had written in my journal 3 years previous, was exactly what I needed to hear on February 18, 2010.
So funny how perfect God's timing is.

I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn in Africa. I can't wait until I see God's beauty in a whole new way. And I can't wait to tell all of you about it.

So friends, let us choose joy.
Let us not dwell in the darkness.
Let us recognize the light.
and let us dwell there.

Let's not forget to be thankful for the darkness, though. Because without the darkness, we would forget the intensity of the sun...

[This is a picture I took at Lake Windermere, on a day that the sun seemed brighter than usual.]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let us be hopeful...

I love that this beautiful place still holds so many surprises for me. Just when I think that I know this place a little too well, I get a surprise thrown right in my face. And to be honest, I couldn't be more delighted.

This weekend, most of the students were gone for the weekend for outreach preparation purposes. There were few of us left behind to stay at the castle. And i couldn't have asked for a better gift. The sun was out all weekend. It was bright and in your face. It was beautiful. I went on adventures everyday. On friday, I walked to the old ruins up on some hills.
There are wild horses up there that come right up to you. There is also a small sheep that is convinced that he too is a wild horses that gallops around like his brothers. He has a very strong presence about him, that little sheep. He just knew he was meant for bigger things, I suppose. Good for him.
Anyway, we bared through the cold, so we could watch the sunset. It was truly magnificent. I took some of the best photos i've taken since being at school, and that makes me feel very happy.

On Saturday, I walked even further to a local pub and enjoyed dessert with some close friends. We started to walk back, and the night seemed to be one step ahead of us the whole way. The giggling, ghost-story telling, and singing came hurling to a stop. And we all noticed what was so apparently sitting to our left. We saw the moon rise. Yes, I looked and saw the most yellow half circle i have ever seen in my life. And i watched it slowly dance above the hill that it was hiding behind minutes before. Everyone was silenced and i just stared at the brightest most beautiful moon I've ever seen in my life. I felt like I was the only one there. The moon was reflecting perfectly off of the railroad tracks in front of it. And in awe of all of my Lord's glory, I felt the uncontrollable tears stream down my face.

In that moment, I felt content.
In that moment, I felt limitless and free.
In that moment, I felt hopeful.
In that moment, I felt God's presence closer than I ever have in my life.

It pains me to think that people can look at a sunrise, a sunset, a moon rise, or just simple beauty and not have someone to thank for it. I can't imagine seeing what I saw, and not being able to see my Lord's infinite glory.

See beauty, and give thanks.

[This is a picture I took on friday of my friend Jake.]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Go plant something.

I think the transition of going home for Christmas, and then coming back is so much stranger than the transition of coming to this school for the first time.

When I first got to this school, Everything was new, everything was exciting, and everything was constantly grabbing my attention. I was worried about missing something, or being torn different directions to do different things. This experience was great, and much needed. Introductions are always exciting.

However, there was something really wonderful about coming back to Capernwray. To walk into the castle and be greeted by familiar faces, to know exactly what to do, and where to go, to miss people that I had only known 3 months prior, to hear stories of Christmas break, and how much things can change in the course of three weeks, and to just, settle back in to the routine of going to school here. It's almost just a reality check to see how much i've grown.


This is a word that has been on my mind a lot lately. The miracle of growth is so simple, it seems, but it's so magnificently beautiful. I mean, think about it...

We plant a seed in the ground.
We try to care for it. We want to give it the things that it needs, and keep it away from the things that will hurt it.
And through some sort of miracle, it begins to grow. It's beauty and potential becomes too small for the seed that contains it. It becomes so great that it bursts through and begins it's process of realizing it's full potential.
Quickly? No.
But day by day, if cared for, it gets a little bit bigger, and little bit stronger, and a little bit prettier.
And it finally blooms. And it becomes the essence of all it's beauty and potential finally executed in the most perfect way.

Yes, the final stage is the most beautiful, but it couldn't have gotten there without the process, without the growth.

So, let us burst from our seeds. Let our potential become a reality, our beauty be seen by all.
And may we find beauty in the process.

The miracle of growth.

Go plant something.
For yourself, and for your friends.
Symbolically, and literally.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in awhile. To be honest, it's probably because i haven't been able to articulate what's been going on in my head for quite some time now. But here I am, attempting to let you know what's going on.

I am so very thankful that I got to come home for the holidays. Every moment I spend with my family, I realize how thankful I am for them. I love that the term "family" seems to grow bigger and bigger with every event. Weddings, births, friendships... It's funny to look at my family now, and see people added in, and it just feels normal to have them there. And i suppose it will only grow from here. It is nice to know, however, that whoever is added in, there will always be that core group of people that you can rely on with anything. Siblings, I believe, are some of the greatest gifts that God has provided for us.

Christmas was full of joy. I was lucky enough to receive two ryan adams vinyls, an extreme coffee mug, some toms, a nice messenger bag, every single Jane Austen novel and Adobe Photoshop 8. My family knows me a little too well, i think. Gifts that are thought through, are the best kind. Although a girl can never have too many scarves...

It's a funny thing to come home, the place you've lived in for most of your life, and be a "visitor" for the first time. Yes, it's still my home, but for the first time, i can avoid people from high school, i can be amazed at the new restaurant in town, notice the pot-holes that have been filled in, be greeted with a hardy "welcome home" from my favorite coffee shop, and lay in my bed with more appreciation than ever before.... Man I love that thing.

Well, it's a new year. I think back at this time last year, and realize that these were the days in which i decided to graduate an entire year early and move to England. All in one moment. That just proves that you can never really predict the course of your life. It will constantly surprise you. We must always remember that no matter how flawless our plans seem to be, God's are always better, whether we think so or not. And thank the Lord that I'm not a Senior in high school right now, that's looking forward to PROM '10. I'm so thankful for the plan that God had for me instead.

Who knows what 2010 has in store for me, but I cannot wait to find out what it is.

I'm headed back to England in one week. I only hope that my experience this next term will be half as good as the one first term. I know the Lord has new things to teach me, and new challenges and struggles to show me. I would like to take loads more pictures and maybe try to sleep more. But then again, who wants to spend their whole life sleeping when there are adventures to have! Sleeping is a luxury.

I have no idea what I'm doing this summer, or this fall... but I'm not worried........yet.

I promise I'll do better of writing on here more. It's one of my favorite things, really.

Go outside, and bundle up. Breathe in the cold air and feel it in your lungs. Thank God for everything He has blessed you with, and use those blessings to bring Him the glory.