Stepping Into the Unknown

Surprise, I’m back for another blog! This may be short because I’m not sure if I want to go into many details yet. Within probably the last year, God has been tossing little hints at me here and there. You know how when you really want something, say an Instant Pot as a Christmas gift, you’ll subtly drop hints? You bring up that time you borrowed one from a friend and it’d be convenient to just have your own. You point out when it’s on sale somewhere. Maybe you even throw it onto your Amazon wish list if they’re really not getting it! God’s been doing that to me! I mean He’s not hinting that He wants me to get him an Instant Pot for Christmas, but He has been dropping hints at me for a while. When you hear people say, “God works in mysterious ways,” it’s true. He’s been so mysterious, I wasn’t sure if these hints were from God or just coincidences that I was putting together on my own. Since I wasn’t entirely sure, I just ignored them. It was easier. If I surrendered to the fact that these hints were from God, it meant stepping out of my comfort zone. Life as I know it would change. So I convinced myself that I was silly and none of these small things were related. They didn’t mean anything. That is until a few weeks ago.

See, a couple of weeks ago one of the lead pastors at my church (shoutout to Dylan!) made an announcement about a calling God had placed on his life. This calling would mean stepping into the unknown, but he’s doing it even though its scary. It was that day that I heard God say, “Hey! Have you not gotten my hints?! Go check out my wish list on Amazon!” In that moment, I realized that I wasn’t making something out of nothing. All the small pieces from the past year were meant to fit together to make a bigger picture, but I was too stubborn to see it because it could be uncomfortable and scary. I cried at the altar that day, not because of Dylan’s announcement, but because of what God had been trying to tell me.

Over these past few weeks, I’ve accepted the fact that God’s placed a calling on my life that means stepping into the unknown. I don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, but that’s okay. He’ll reveal it to me in time. I just have to wait and trust in Him. In the mean time, He’s reassured me in some of the most interesting ways. First, I have an incredible support group of women (shoutout to my life group ladies!) who have prayed over me and encouraged me more than I could ever ask for! (They’re actually the only ones who actually know what God has been telling me.) Second, He dropped another hint! He has also reassured me by speaking through song. Back when He was calling me to do a second year of Captive Free, I remember Him just wrecking me with the song Oceans which was new at the time. I bawled when Captive Free Central Plains ’13-’14 (shoutout to Emily, Sarah, MJ, Zach, Jack, and Chris!) played it during their debriefing program. (If you’re not familiar with the song, go listen to it and it’ll make sense.) A few weeks ago when I heard God speak to me we sang Oceans after the sermon, and last week we once again sang Oceans, and once again I cried.

I’m being vague about what He’s telling me, I know. Maybe it’s because it still scares me and saying it to the world makes it real. Maybe it’s because I just don’t know what it looks like exactly and I don’t want to share until I can give more definite answers. One thing’s for sure though, it means change. It means being uncomfortable, and it means stepping into the unknown. And with that, I’ll leave you with the lyrics of yet another relevant song which will always and forever be on my heart, but especially in this season.

Come away with me, come away with me.
It’s never too late, it’s not too late, it’s not too late for you.
I have a plan for you, I have a plan for you.
It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of me.
So open up your heart and let me in.

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First Times: Hostel

Hey I’m back! Also, I started writing this back in May and never posted it!

I recently took a short little trip to Philadelphia with my best friend (shout out to Emily) and chose to stay in a hostel to save money, but it ended up being so much more than just a budget friendly option! Every time I talk about my trip to Philly with someone I mention how awesome staying in the hostel was, so I decided I should just write a blog about it.

I think hostels have a bad reputation amongst Americans. They find them “scary.” There’s the horror movie (which I’ve never seen so I can’t comment on) and then there’s the factor of sharing a room with strangers. So I’m American, why did I choose a hostel aside from it being cheap? I watch a lot of travel vlogs where people stay in hostels and have an amazing time! Those vlogs made me want to experience hostel life myself, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The hostel Emily and I stayed in offered a variety of different options for accommodations including separate dorms for males and females, as well as coed, in a variety of sizes, 6-bed, 10-bed, and 18-bed. They also offered private and semi-private rooms. Ultimately we chose the 6-bed female dorm. When we arrived on Monday night we were the first to move in to the room and were hopeful that we might have it to ourselves. Ultimately, our room did fill up that night, but I couldn’t be happier that it did! We instantly got along with two of the other four girls in our room, Australian Izzy and British Izzy! The two of them stayed in Philly for the same amount of time as Emily and I did, so we were able to share our days’ experiences with each other. We recommended activities and locations to them and vise versa. (I also made friends with a Korean girl named Moon who moved into our room after Emily left. More on that later.)

In addition to making friends with roommates, there are always opportunities to meet other people in the hostel. There were couches, a pool table, instruments to play, a full kitchen, and even a movie room. Since our days were so packed with activities, Emily and I didn’t spend much time in the communal hostel areas, but had we taken a more relaxed vacation it would’ve been a nice way to chill and meet other people. The hostel also offered a free group activity every night. Our first night in Philly, we went on a ghost tour of the city. We were probably the only two Americans on the tour that night which I found to be really fun! The next two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, the hostel hosted a movie night and a spaghetti dinner. (Emily and I missed these activities due to our personal plans so I can’t comment on them.)

Thursday night the hostel took guests on a pub crawl. I hesitated on whether or not to go since Emily left Thursday afternoon and I was alone. Immediately after Emily left, I took a quick nap in the room. (We walked a lot and I was exhausted.) When I woke up from my nap, Moon was moving into the room in Emily’s place. After talking about our trips and realizing we would both be on our own for dinner, Moon and I decided to eat together that night. We got to know each other over the meal and decided to go on the hostel pub crawl together. I’m so glad we did, because I met some more amazing people! Two Americans: Dan and Chris, one Swedish guy: Deni, a French girl: Morgaine, and three British guys: Dominic, Iain, and Nash. What I’m trying to say by listing all of my new friends I made in Philadelphia is that hostels are an amazing place to meet people from all over the world!

Okay, so they’re a great place to meet new people, but are they safe and clean? In my experience, extremely! (I have only stayed in one hostel, but it was exceptional!) Upon check-in we received key-cards similar to those that get you into college dorms. The key-card was used to get into the stairwell, our room, and the bathroom. It also opened the hostel entrance late at night. Only guests and employees were able to enter these areas of the hostel. I felt incredibly safe! They also provided lockers in the rooms to keep your belongings in. I ended up not even using the locker because I kept my valuables with me at all times, but none of my things were touched by any of the others girls at any time. As far as cleanliness, the bathrooms and showers felt much more sanitary than those in my college dorm. We were also provided with clean linens upon check-in to make our bed with and turned them in to be washed when we checked out. All in all, the hostel felt very clean and safe!

I could go on and on about why you should consider staying in a hostel on your travels! I actually preferred it to staying in a hotel room and will stay hostels every time I travel from now on. Not only is it much cheaper, it’s so much more fun! If you’re a single twenty-something, I HIGHLY recommend it! (You know, just in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.) My ONE negative is that it can be noisy at night with people staying up late, but I live next door to a frat house so I wasn’t phased by it. They also provide ear plugs at the front desk if that’s a concern for you.

If you’re travelling to Philly, do yourself a favor and book a room and Apple Hostels. Here’s the website:
http://applehostels.com/

(This blog was NOT sponsored.)

 

A Feeling of Purpose

It’s been a long time since I’ve truly been able to say this, but I’m feeling a strong sense of contentment. For the past couple years I wouldn’t say I was living, I was just being. I had a job that I enjoyed enough to stay at and I was living rent free, but it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t have that feeling that I was in the right place. I had a serious case of “post team blues.” What does that mean? I spent two years with Youth Encounter serving people and churches all over the eastern half of the United States. (You can read a whole previous blog about it.) Everyday except Monday I would get up in the morning with my four teammates and share God’s love with the world in various ways. There was a reason to wake up and get going in the morning. I felt like I had a purpose, but when it ended I lost that feeling. I didn’t know what to do.

The next two years were so mundane in comparison. Although I was living comfortably and nothing was inherently wrong, I felt no sense of purpose. I spent my time home by myself, at work, or watching TV with my parents. There was rarely anything to look forward to. On top of feeling a lack of purpose, I lost both of my grandparents on my mom’s side within the last year. The only times I felt truly happy were the four weekends I spent volunteering at Quakes, the youth events formerly sponsored by Youth Encounter. I was able to lead and hangout with middle and high school students all weekend, as well as fellowship with the other leaders and YE alumni. Just connecting with the youth gave me a sense of purpose that I didn’t feel in my daily life.

Now I can say that I do feel like my life has purpose. Yes, I’m still working a part-time job that doesn’t excite me, but there are other things in life that do. I am back in school working towards a goal and I’ve found a church where I feel at home. Every week I meet with a lovely group of ladies and chat over coffee. We’re there to listen to each other both in times of need and just to laugh with. I’ve reconnected with old friends and acquaintances, and made new friends. I started serving on my church’s tech team, and volunteering with the youth as well. I have a feeling of purpose again, and I couldn’t be happier! In the words of my dear friend and former Youth Encounter teammate J.D. Leonard, “I found where I am, is where I’m supposed to be.”

Even though those two years were rough for me, they were necessary. I love summer, but if it was summer all the time I’d take it for granted. In the same way, if life was always great I would forget to appreciate it. The reason I can sit here and say that I’m happy where I’m at is because I went through a time where I wasn’t.

New Year’s Resolutions- A Reflection

Well it seems as though the last time I blogged was almost a year ago. That was my New Year’s Resolutions blog. I had the greatest intentions, just like everybody else, to reach these resolutions, but here it is October, and I’ve succeeded in none of them. To be honest, I completely forgot what they were until I just went back to read them. That being said, let’s revisit them and see where my progress is at!

  1. Find a new hobby- So I haven’t found a new hobby as far as typical hobbies go. What I mean is I haven’t taken up a new solo activity like knitting or anything, however I have added new activities into my weekly routine. I think the reason I included this resolution on my list was because I wasn’t involved in very much. The only things I did were go to work and attend family functions. Now I have school, work, church, and life group among other random activities, so maybe I did succeed in my goal with this resolution.
  2. Finish all the books on my shelf- I’m far from finishing this. I thought I’d do it by summer, but that didn’t happen. Somehow, even though I enjoy it, reading always gets put on the back-burner. However, with the amount of reading I do at work, I still think this might be possible. I will definitely strive to complete this resolution!
  3. Do some sort of “workout” every day- I don’t know that I’ve succeeded in the every day part of this, especially in the beginning of the year, but lately I have been walking or biking almost every day just out of necessity. I think I’d call that a win!
  4. Finish a writing project- Okay, just like reading, writing always gets put on the back-burner. I might just have to accept that this resolution just isn’t going to happen. Maybe next year.
  5. Take a solo vacation- I still want to do this, and I might a little bit in December, however I decided to use my funds to move out of my parent’s house and into my own apartment this fall, lessening my vacation fund. I feel like moving out was my secret 6th resolution, so I’m okay with this.

Okay, so I actually did better than I thought at these! I’m not upset that I didn’t succeed at all of these, because I did accomplish a lot this year!

New Year’s Resolutions

I know, I know. New Year’s resolutions are so overdone. Why can’t we make resolutions other times of the year. Every one talks about them. This is not a creative blog at all. Blah blah blah. I don’t care. A year ago I started this blog to give myself the voice I felt I needed at the time and it was an excellent idea that I neglected. Here’s my list for 2017:

  1. Find a new hobby- This is such a typical resolution for people to have, but I honestly feel like I need more hobbies. For the last year, biking was my hobby and not that I don’t like it anymore because I definitely still do, but I need something more. I have few things in mind and I might try them all out to figure out what I like best. We’ll see! =)
  2. Finish all of the books on my shelf- I know this is typical too, but I just got a new book for Christmas and I haven’t even read everything I own yet. I’ve been into lighter reading recently so some of the other stuff has gotten looked over. Now I want to finish it and I can, easily. Probably by summer.
  3. Do some sort of “workout” everyday- Now I’m getting really stereotypical, but honestly this shouldn’t be too hard for me. I use quotes around “workout” because I’m using the term loosely. On work days it’ll likely just be the short bike ride to and from the winery, but other days I’ll ride twenty miles and do an hour and a half of The Fitness Marshall. Right now I pretty much do something every day, but there are days when I just don’t feel like it so I do nothing. This year I’m going to do something every day unless I’m sick.
  4. Finish a writing project- I’m not talking about blogs, because obviously I’ve finished a lot of them already. I’ve started multiple fictional stories and not a one of them is finished. I want to wrap up at least one story line. The problem I have with this is that I get bored with what I’m writing and move on to something else. Another problem is that I don’t always have a full plot in mind when I start writing and just can’t figure out how I want it to end. So I want to finish one, even if it ends up being a shorter one. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a novel one day. (Yeah right. I don’t like people reading my fictional writing.)
  5. Take a solo vacation- Not only do I want to go on a vacation, I want to go alone. I discovered a travel vlog this year that has inspired me to take a trip by myself. Evan travels with friends sometimes, but he also does his own thing. He talked in one video about what he enjoys about traveling alone and one of those things was being free to do whatever he felt like that day. That’s what I want to do. This summer on family vacation I didn’t get to do one of the things I really wanted to because not enough people wanted to go. so even if its just for a long weekend, I want to get away in a city I’ve never visited and do whatever I want, when I want. If you have suggestions of a city I should visit, probably in the United States or maybe Canada because of the cost of airfare, please let me know where you think I should go! (Even though I want to travel solo, I’m not opposed to meeting up and hanging out with you for a little while in your own city!)

So that’s it! Five resolutions, some are easy tasks, and some will take more planning, but they’re all doable! Happy New Year everybody!

Here’s a vacation related photo:
13620059_10206956899703365_5660581684013511312_n

Unsent Letters

Hey friends! I know I haven’t blogged in a while, and I apologize! I’ve actually been writing other things including an extremely non creative fictional story. But hey, its something I enjoy doing so I’m gonna keep writing it! Maybe one day I’ll share some of it here, maybe not. I also recently wrote a long letter to someone that I don’t actually intend on sending. That’s what I’m here to talk about.

A little over a year ago I was encouraged by a friend to write a letter to someone with whom I’d had a falling out. I’d grown resentful of this person for causing another friendship of mine to falter. So I took the advice. I wrote a letter that I would never ever actually send. I was feeling extreme anger and said some incredibly hurtful things that I would never in a million years actually say to anyone, even my worst enemy! But the thing is, it really helped. I knew I was feeling angry and hurt, but until I wrote that letter I couldn’t pinpoint why. After writing it, I knew exactly what my feelings were, and I’d processed them in a safe way. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

A year later (a few weeks ago) I was dealing with some different feelings. The situation and person could not have been more different from one another. I’m not going to get into too many details, but I thought to myself, “maybe I should write a letter.” So that’s what I did. I wrote a letter. This time the letter was much friendlier. I talked about all of the good times we shared and even smiled while I wrote it, a far cry from the previous letter. In some ways, it still hurt me to write it. It felt like I was talking directly to the person I was writing to and it truly sucked, but in the end I again felt a weight lifter off my shoulders.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m encouraging you to do the same. If there’s anyone in your life that you have a lot to say to but you can bring yourself to admit it to their face yet, write them a letter that you don’t actually send. Make sure you use pen and paper or Word, not email. That could end up bad! I’m telling you that it works, especially when you just need to externally process! If I’m being honest, I could easily publish a novel of all the unsent letters I should’ve written by now! It doesn’t have a to be a long letter; it could be just one paragraph, but if you feel like you just can’t get something out of your brain, write a letter!

I hope this was all coherent! I’m not proofreading tonight. I’ll write a better blog in the future, but for now I’m gonna go write another letter because I just convinced myself that I need to!

Why I Hate Facebook

I didn’t even want to join Facebook in the first place! I remember when I first created my account way back in 2006 when you still needed an invite to join. One of my friends sent me an invite and I told her, “Why should I make a profile? I have a MySpace!” Well I eventually figured why not and created an account. As more and more of my friends joined, I grew to like it more. It was easier than Myspace, and didn’t have all of those annoying themes! In the last ten years though, I’ve begun to hate it more and more.

It seems as if everyone I know is on Facebook. My friends, co-workers, and family all have Facebook accounts. Sure, its nice to be so connected to people all the time. It’s easy to share photos, funny videos, and good life moments, but what’s also easy to share is the bad moments in life. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to ask for prayer from your friends when you’re having a rough time, and I know that Facebook is a great way to ask for mass prayer because everyone you know has it, but maybe its better to do so in private.

As you may or may not know, my Grandma passed away last week. In the last few months her health was deteriorating and just the week before we’d had to move her into a nursing home. What does this have to do with Facebook? Well, I happened to be in California for a friend’s wedding that weekend and was flying home the Sunday my Grandma passed away. My flight had been delayed an hour so to kill time I decided to scroll through my news feed. As I was scrolling, I came across a few posts that indicated my Grandma was doing poorly. I knew her health had been declining so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but after reading some comments, I came to the conclusion that she had died. I immediately got up from my seat, walked to the bathroom and had a good cry by myself in the stall. I knew my mom was waiting until I got back to St. Louis to tell me. When I finally landed in St. Louis one and a half hours late, my dad picked me up and told me the news.

It wasn’t until the next day when talking to my mom that I found out I had cried prematurely. I had read those Facebook posts and comments about an hour before my Grandma actually passed away. If people could just keep things to themselves, I never would have had to cry at LAX alone in a bathroom stall. That is one of many reasons why I hate Facebook. It makes people think that we always have to share everything with everyone just because we can, but some things are meant to be private.

Facebook has made people in general both more and less personal at the same time. On one side, we’re more personal in the way that we share every little detail with practically everyone we know! I’m sorry, but that random classmate from high school that you’re only friends with because you feel bad deleting them does not need to know what you ate that day! Some things are definitely worth sharing, I get that. I often share my good news on social media, but it has made us less personal at the same time. When we share news on Facebook, good or bad, that’s it. We don’t share it in person, over the phone or Skype, or even text! Sharing news with friends and family personally connects people. It creates more of a bond. I can personally say that I feel much closer to those people who call or text me personally with news than the people I only receive it from via social media. Facebook is disconnecting people from each other.

This is obviously all my opinion, you don’t have to agree, and I know I’m somewhat of a hypocrite. If I hate it so much, why don’t I just delete my account? It’s the only way I keep in touch with some of my distant friends and family. I’ve considered it before, but then I worry that if I do, I’ll lose touch with a lot of people. I know, if I lose touch with them they weren’t really my good friends to begin with, blah blah blah, but isn’t that part of the point I’m making here? Without Facebook, I’m not connected to people. If you’re reading this and we’re friends, don’t feel bad asking for my phone number or Skype name because I’d much rather text or call you than Facebook you! I miss the age of  deep personal relationships rather than superficial ones.