sometimes i start three separate "new post" documents,
i fill them up with words -
and then i delete every single one.
then i do it all over again.
and probably once more.
i have this problem.
"Ashley's head is so full of thoughts and words and pictures and dreams and ideas and questions that she doesn't know where to start or how to begin to decide what should be put in a blog especially when the secret part of her wants to be really thoughtful and inspiring and funny and yet oh so true to who she is."
so watch out, i'm not sure what this post is going to turn into...but it's been far too long and i've got to put something on here before i make the trip back up north.
break is coming to a close and for the first time since i left for school as a freshman, i think i am more excited to go back than i am sad to leave this place. it's a weird feeling, but also really good. i'm realizing and learning that the more i am there, the less i am here. (haha, simple enough.) but seriously. the longer i spend in the little town of Wenham, learning and growing and loving - the more i invest myself and pour my life into that place, the harder it is to find the parts of me left to pour into this place. i have been thinking a lot about pouring yourself into wherever you are 110% and it's good, but also challenging - because it's hard to pour yourself into where you are when you are constantly moving back and forth, constantly transitioning and preparing and anticipating the next move. i guess that's the life of a college student- transitory and uncertain. exciting and spontaneous. i do love it love it LOVE it, but i am also excited for the day when i can live in one place for years - to really develop myself and know a community of people that isn't changing every single year. and sometimes every couple of months or so.
regardless, break has been really good. full of rest and love and joy, packed to the brim with little moments of life in it's truest and sweetest forms. there's been much music, a whole lot of knitting, a handful of laughter and so many worthwhile conversations i have lost track. i have been encouraged and inspired. there has been time to rest, but also time to continue learning. time to re-connect with people, time to recognize the value of the relationships i still have here, in this place, in Lancaster. so as much as i am looking forward to heading back to Gordon, seeing the smiling faces of the girls on Lewis One East (!) , giving everyone the biggest hugs and digging my tandem bike out of the snow- i will miss the people here too. every time i return i am reminded how blessed i am to have people and a place to return to, how wonderful it is to have people who care about you all over the place - people who genuinely and sincerely care.
...it's really rather ironic when i think about how much i have been struggling to fill up this blank white post with words, because words have been on my mind so much over break. [now, this could be partially because i think i have learned that the arrangement and use of words is definitely one of my love languages...(seriously. write me a letter and i will read it at least three times, and then i'll put it somewhere special and pull it out a couple weeks later and read it again. i'll cherish whatever it is that you say and i will do my best to pour myself into a little envelope and mail it back to you. or have a really good conversation with me, or let me listen to you talk for a while, let me hear what's on your heart, what questions you're asking - let's think deeply about this life and what it means, let's imagine to do things a different way, tell me a story or write me a song... i'll be in love. haha)] anyway - so maybe that's one of the reasons i've been thinking about words, but it's also because God has been showing me a lot about the power of words, and yet at the same time...how terribly weak they are.
it boggles my mind how much God is always trying to teach us things, attempting to reveal to us more about himself and his love for us - how often we are blind to it! it brings to mind this quote from A.W. Tozer:
"And always he is trying to get our attention, to reveal himself to us, to communicate with us. We have within us the ability to know him if we will but respond to his overtures. We will know him in increasing degree as our receptivity becomes more perfect by faith and love and practice."
i'm trying to be more in tune with the movement of the Holy Spirit and the little ways God is whispering to me throughout my days...like the way he is teaching me things through my unicycle and my harmonica, through conversations with friends - through a card i received in the mail and a chapter i read in a book. his fingerprints are all over and his voice is always straining to get my attention (and yours, too.) if only i could learn to listen, to hear only his voice, and not another. (these days i have been fighting my flesh a lot, and often failing. but God is good and somehow he redeems all of my mistakes... glory hallelujah.)
anyway, back to words. they're powerful, you know that? this break i have been reminded how we are the mouthpiece of God. we have the ability to speak life, to speak love, to speak joy and peace and encouragement into one another. how important it is to tell others how we see God at work in them, how he is touching us through them, inspiring us through them. how crucial it is to be real, to be honest and authentic. i'm learning more about not hiding parts of who you are. we are each created to be just who we are - how dreadful if we are all trying to be each other! i'm discovering the importance of explaining yourself to someone else, of learning to express our feelings and emotions, our thoughts and questions - the process of figuring out how to genuinely describe yourself and the inner-workings of your thoughts is really hard, but really, really good.
words have a way of challenging us, of teaching us and inspiring us and i absolutely love it.
but as wonderful as words are, as touching and heartfelt as they can be...they are also never quite enough. they cannot capture this life. and that is what i have been fighting every time i sit down and try to update this blog, because there's simply no way, my friends - there is no possible way for me to adequately describe the most beautiful sunsets that have graced the skies over break, there are no words for this escalating excitement rising up in my bones for the future and all that God has for me, i cannot adequately explain to you how thankful my heart is for this place and these people and all of the adventures i have been able to take part in, no words could depict this heart's journey or my mind's long wanderings all day long... Frederick Buechner again says it best:
"Words are dangerous because for better or worse they are so powerful, and yet at the same time they are dangerous because they are so weak. They are weak in the sense that, for all their power, they can never say all that there is to say about anything, and the danger is that we are perpetually inclined to forget that."
so again i find myself in this weird paradox - of learning how to use words well, to speak thoughtfully and compassionately (and not just to speak well and wisely, but to listen with just as much care and thought.) but also knowing that words are not enough - and words must be coupled with action, and this side of heaven - a lot of things cannot be described adequately or explained enough for anyone...but that's ok, i think.
my goodness this seems like just a ramble-y mess, but i suppose that's the most genuine post i can give you right now. and since being genuine and authentic with people is one of my biggest goals in life, i suppose that's just fine. haha
Also, next time you have - oh, 5 weeks of complete freedom and zero responsibilities, please do the following:
1. Watch "My Name is Khan" - but look out, it will rip out your heart if you're not careful.
2. Go to bouncefunplex. it will change your life.
3. Learn how to knit socks.
4. Paint your kitchen yellow.
5. Go to Jenny's Diner with your dad, brother, and sister- bring quarters for the jukebox and laugh really really really REALLY hard when it keeps playing surprise songs that you didn't choose. and laugh even harder when the tables around you start a sing-along. haha
6. Read "A Room Called Remember" by Frederick Buechner
7. Spend a whole day baking silly penguin cupcakes with your sister.
8. Transform the couch into the coziest bed ever with a million blankets, place it strategically right in front of the fireplace, pull out a mattress for your sister and have a sleepover while the fire crackles you to sleep.
9. Bake apple cinnamon scones, eat warm with home-made apple butter.
10. drink tea at least three times a day.
11. Visit someone in the hospital; the hospital is one of the scariest and loneliest places on earth.
12. Play Broomball.
13. Go to the Pemberly Tea Shop and then walk around Lancaster City, specifically over the old train bridge.
14. Go sledding. Sled so hard that you are sore the next day, ok?
15. Sleep "backwards" on your bed (or your brother's bed if your bedroom is too cold and lonely...) so that you can watch for shooting stars as you are trying to fall asleep.