I Don’t Know. I Really Don’t.

I’m starting off with a disclaimer again, because I really have no idea where this blog is going. I just keep getting these feelings that I should blog even though I don’t have a plan for them. Usually when I sit down to type a blog, I have an outline in my head, a plan of everything that I want to include. Recently though its just been an urge to write. Maybe its because I’ve had so much on my mind in the past few months, but here I am sitting in Potter’s House writing a blog with no plan.

No plan. It kinda sounds like a metaphor, right? If you’ve read my last two blogs you’d know why. I’m literally at a place in my life where I know I’m supposed to do something very general, move to Pennsylvania, but I have no idea what else that means, much like this blog. I feel like I’m supposed to write something, but I have no idea what that is. Maybe its not that I’m supposed to write anything in particular, but just obey and do it. I wish I had my notes from Sunday’s sermon because I know I wrote something down along these lines, “its not about legalism, its about obeying what God has asked you to do.” I may have paraphrased it a little, but that’s the gist of it. Maybe that’s the point of me sitting down to write. I don’t even know, but our theme verse for this sermon series, Jeremiah 29:12-13, has been so incredibly relevant to my life recently.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I’ve been reflecting on my two years of Captive Free a lot lately and I’m starting to wonder exactly what that means. I don’t know if its because I have so many memories of both teams in PA, if its because its event season, or if its for some bigger reason that I don’t know yet. All I know is that tons of team memories have been flooding back to me in the past month, the biggest one being weeping at the altar at the church in Erie. I truly believe that has some sort of meaning, if only I knew what it meant.

Along with reflecting back on my Captive Free years, I’ve really been missing making music with people. I’m continuously spending my free time either trying to teach myself piano or drumming along worship songs, especially our team songs. It brings me more joy now than ever before to throw on my headphones and just jam. Does this mean anything? I don’t know. Some days I think back to the night at redemption when Austin caught me drumming on the tech booth while I was running pro-presenter. He threatened to tell Brandon that I could play cajon. I don’t know if he ever told him, but it has crossed my mind that maybe I should. Is that a selfish desire though because it would bring me joy? Again, I don’t know. For now I’ll continue to get distracted from blogging to drum on the table.

Like I said at the beginning, so many things are running through my mind and I don’t know if any of them are connected to one another, or if they even mean anything. I just had a feeling I should sit down and write something. I thought writing would give me clarity, but it didn’t. Funny how my last blog was so much about clarity that I titled it with the word, but now just a few days later my brain is muddled with a bunch of unknowns that I wish would turn into “knowns”. Only time will tell. I keep telling myself that God will reveal it all to me in His time, but I’m struggling in the waiting.

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Clarity

Disclaimer: This is truly a rambling from my brain. I felt like I should write, so I sat down to write.

Back in December I wrote a blog called “Stepping Into the Unknown.” That blog was a sort of proclamation of what God has been talking to me about for a very long time. Before I go any further, I guess I’m going to go ahead and announce to those that read my blog what it is. I feel as though God has been telling me to move to Pennsylvania. It’s still incredibly vague right now, because that’s literally all I know. Here’s a little list of everything tiny little thing in God has used to tell me this in chronological order:

  1. I started looking into the Tourism and Hospitality program at Temple University which is in Philadelphia
  2. My sister and her husband moved to Pittsburgh (now they’re in Erie.)
  3. My best friend, Emily, got based in Philly for her job.
  4. I visited Emily in Philly and kind of fell in love with the city. (At this point I thought moving to PA would just be a selfish thing to be near people I love.)
  5. Becca tell’s me (without knowing ANY of these things) that I should move to Pennsylvania.
  6. My mom tells me I should move to Pennsylvania to be near my sister (without knowing PA was already in my head, or what Becca had said. I told mom what Becca told me after the fact.)

ALL SIX of these things happened within basically a 6 month time span. I started looking into Temple around December 2017 and by July 2018 my mom had told me I should think about moving to PA. By this point, I had an inkling that maybe God was behind it all, but basically pushed it aside. It would pop into my head every now and then both on its own and from Becca or mom saying something about it, but I still thought of it as just a silly idea. I kept going back and forth about it. Yeah, it’d be cool to be close to my sister, Emily, and Becca (and all of my other PA friends! I haven’t forgotten about you!), but I have a good life here in Springfield. I have two jobs that I like. I have an affordable apartment that I enjoy living in. I have a great group of friends that support me, and most importantly I have a church home where I’ve felt more connected to both God and the people than ever! I’m comfortable! I specifically remember Becca texting me on a Sunday probably in September telling me again that I should move and I sent her back a photo of Dylan preaching with a caption that said, “but I don’t want to leave these people.” And that’s exactly what God used that Sunday in November.

If you read my last blog (I highly encourage you to do so before finishing this one. I also apologize if I repeat anything now that I said in the last one), then you’d know that there was a specific Sunday morning in which God wrecked me. Pastor Dylan made an announcement that hit me like a brick. All I remember thinking was, “Hey, if Dylan can follow a call on his life that takes him out of his comfort zone, why can’t you?” That’s the moment I knew for sure that God was calling me to Pennsylvania. Everything leading up to that moment was all Him talking and me ignoring it because I was comfortable.

In the three-ish months since that Sunday, I’ve gone through so many emotions. I felt so loved and supported by my life group ladies when I asked them to pray about it for me. When I met and talked with Pastor Selena about it, I got so much reassurance that whatever is going to happen in the next year is going to be incredible! One Sunday while Sherri cried during closing worship, I laughed because I could hear God talking to me so clearly! Every single sermon I have heard since, whether it be Dylan, Selena, or Brandon, has felt like it was directly spoken to me and my situation. Some days I’m pumped to see what God has to come, and other days I’m scare out of my mind because I have no idea was His full plan is. I’m excited for what’s to come, but sad to leave behind the family I have here.

Aside from every emotion possible, God has also revealed to me other times He hinted at me. The first one He showed me was back in the Fall of 2017 during a night of prayer and The Well He told me to be bold. I didn’t know at the time what that meant, but now I know it had to do with bigger plans. Then more recently I recalled my East Lakes’ team visit to Erie. We were sleeping on couches in the church, so we had free time at night. I have no idea what the rest of the team was up to, but I vividly remember feeling the Holy Spirit in that place. I sat cross-legged at the foot of the cross in the sanctuary wearing PJs with my pink plaid blanket wrapped around my shoulders, weeping. I had no idea why I was crying, but it was so intense that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The only time I’ve ever wept in that way is when the spirit is present. I truly believe that moment in the church in Erie is somehow related to what God is preparing me for now.

Only time and God will tell what the next year holds for me, but I know its big! The only other time I felt a call so clear was when I chose to do a second year of Captive Free, but this feels bigger. It feels 100% more terrifying, and that’s how I know its gonna be good!

“Standing on the edge of running away,
Being pulled this way that way,
Do I leave or stay?
You told me to go and this much I know,
Gotta give it all,
I’m going all in.
No more escape I’ll finish the race,
I’m giving You everything,
I’m going all in.
I’m giving You the key to steal my heart,
The end of me is where the journey starts,
You told me to go and this much I know,
Gotta give it all,
I’m going all in.
No more escape I’ll finish the race,
I’m giving You everything,
I’m going all in.” –All In by Bread of Stone

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.

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:
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