Sunday, August 28, 2011


i am not made to be a nomad.

two weeks ago i lived in lancaster,
this past week i lived in lake clear, new york.
last night i lived in wenham, massachusetts,
on tuesday i begin living in northern california,
wandering through the john muir trail,
sleeping wherever our hearts choose. 
(after that i'll live in rockport, then lancaster, then wenham...) 

like the avocados struggling to survive in my (temporary) window sill,
my heart is trying to grow roots. 

after a really solid week in new york our little adventure family returned to gordon for a few days before beginning our trip together in california. it's weird coming back to a place that you call home and feeling like you don't belong. new people live in the rooms i called my own. the friends that made this place home are not here. (they too are exploring the world.) hurricane irene forced us to be indoors, but since i had no room to call my cozy hide-away - i spent the day running from building to building, trying not to let the gordon police see me. (only once they caught me and made me ride in their dark car decked out with flashing lights. "you have to stay inside, " they said "you're not allowed to leave the buildings..." i don't think they understood that i was an "off campus" student so i did not have a key to get into any dorm) i felt so trapped. so stifled. so lonely. after a week of living in really close community with people, suddenly finding myself without a bed or place to stay was frightening.

so i've been moving from dorm to dorm, mooching off of people and passing time any way i can.  last night i found myself in dexter house and as i sat there and had food placed before me, i was humbled. so often i am the one offering food to others and it was so good to learn to accept hospitality as well. and i remembered something God began teaching me this summer, that we cannot sincerely love others until we know what it means to be loved, we cannot genuinely give food (spiritual or physical) to others until we know what it means to be hungry, we cannot properly offer hospitality to others until we know what it means to be homeless... and though this is a super small scale example, these few days of waiting for our trip have reminded me of what it means to be in need, to be at the mercy of those around you. i think this whole semester is going to be a really humbling journey.

i feel as though i am standing on the edge of something vast and dark; i am tip-toeing off the edge of it and i have no idea what is to come, but i am fairly certain that i will not be able to return to this same (and sane) safe little ledge. in four months i will not be the person that i am right now. i know i need to be changed. i know i need to learn and grow and experience new things.

this past week was a good taste of what is to come:

we learned how to tie knots and set up the tarps that will be our humble homes for the next three weeks.
we practiced lighting stoves and collected our gear.
we shared hopes and fears and goals.
we made a lot of food together.
we ate way too much ice cream. (the motto: "everything you eat now will keep you warm later." haha)
we wore sweatshirts and listened to good music.
we played banana grams.  (i am determined to get better at word games.)
we went canoeing. (nate and i may have tipped our canoe... on a lake, no current, no reason to tip.)
we practiced gunnel hopping! (and i have some super crazy bruises because of it.)
we danced.

already i am so very glad that this semester is going to be unlike any other semester i have experienced thus far. i am glad that the learning will be so tangible and practical, so hands on. i am glad that my heart's desire to know what it means to live in intentional community will finally be fulfilled. i am glad that we get to make our own food. our team is quite the eclectic group but even for that i am excited - we have so much to learn from each other. we all bring with us such different ideas, such contrasting backgrounds and varying values. already i have been so encouraged by such honest and vulnerable conversations. everyone is so great and i cannot wait to live with them for the next four months. (ok, i might not still be this excited after we spend every minute together for the next 25 days buuuuut, a girl can dream.)

so tuesday morning at 5am we fly out to california and i cannot even begin to imagine what the next month will hold. i'm hoping snow and grizzly bears are not in the cards but we shall see. your thoughts and prayers are so welcomed and appreciated. hopefully next time i update this i wil be a 21 year old certified outdoor educator.

until then...
may your days be filled with rhythms of rest, gratitude, and joy,
may you explore and love the places that you find yourselves in.

with a heart so full,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

adventure is on the horizon.

summer is quickly coming to a close. last week i sat outside on duke street and talked with my dear friend hannah about this fact as i sipped iced coffee. (i do not even like coffee, but it's cheaper than tea at square one and so for the past three weeks or so, i have ordered it every time i meet up with  hannah. drinking iced coffee seems like a good thing to do in the summer, specifically when sitting outside on steps watching traffic and discussing the deepest parts of life.) 

 hannah said she wanted summer's end to feel like dying in your sleep... natural and easy, pain-free. i've been thinking about it a lot. normally the transition from home to school is not entirely pain free. a dull ache creeps up on me and often hinders the joyful anticipation i have for the next place. this transitory life is not without tension. 

i am hopeful however, that the dull ache will be different this time. hopeful that the ache will not be so much of a nostalgic longing to return to all that this summer has been, but instead a dull ache of gratitude, an ache that appears because life has been so rich and satisfying and i do not want to brush it off in a couple sentence response to the inevitable question: "how was your summer?!" for it has been rich, my friends. the days overflow with (at times unbearable) beauty. 

if this summer's end is indeed comparable to dying in your sleep, then i think my breath is slowing and my eyes are growing heavy... and it feels just fine. it feels natural. something else is coming and i know that it is good. this preparation however, has not been without resistance and difficulty. allowing my eyes to close and my breath to slow has been a lesson in trust. 

on saturday i set out for a new adventure. for the entire semester i will be studying outdoor education. the thought of doing experiential, tangible learning for the next four months brings me great joy. the first part of the trip will be spent backpacking in northern california. for this i am both thrilled and terrified, but i am finding that is exactly where God requires us to be so that we can grow and learn and thrive in ways we never thought possible.

the (rather terrifying) cry of my heart as of late has been to learn to depend fully on God, to trust him wholly. he is teaching me this in ways that i did not expect, in ways that i often (shamefully) complain about. physically i have been wrestling with  knee pain along with a bizarre leg infection that has hindered my walking. emotionally i have been challenged as i found out that the one girl i knew doing this semester with me is no longer going. it seems as though slowly God is stripping me of everything that i am clinging to that is not him. he is the only one who can provide me with the strength physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, for the long journey ahead.

not only that, but God is reminding me that he calls us to the places that we are (and the places we are going.)...and that he fully equips us with everything that we need to not just survive in that place, but to thrive and grow and become the people he intends for us to be. he equips us with what we need to love and be loved, to give and receive, to learn and ask questions ...

and along with the reminders, he's encouraging me with emails of solidarity, cards in the mail, and text books that teach about backcountry baking, woohoo! slowly my fears are melting into some sort of trust and excitement for whatever lies ahead.

and it's funny, because this summer i set out to memorize psalm 25, and though i have not quite accomplished that goal (yet...) the very first verse is perhaps the one i need most.

'To you oh Lord i lift up my soul,
in you i trust oh my God.' 

God is good. 

so here's to the natural death of summer, to summer drifting off peacefully in sleep. 
here's to my summer eyes closing so that they can be opened to all that autumn has in store. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

my heart is an overgrown forest.

"it smells like toads," she said - slightly out of breath in her jean capris and green tank top. she wanted to go on a run with me - i was hesitant to agree, but with some frustration, i did. her little feet slapped the pavement beside me, her large headphones bouncing around on her tiny blonde head. i noticed how much larger my strides were- her little feet had to work hard. she was a champ. (though maybe i didn't want to admit it.) she completed the Grubb Lake mile with hardly any walking. i failed to do that until last year.

i have a little shadow, a shadow i always forget about. she waits in the yard next to ours, waits for my little red car to pull in the driveway.  sometimes she races over only to find out that the car belongs to andy. (or so i am told.) after a long day of work i pull in the driveway, anxiously anticipating silence, food, a run and some rest. my soul longs to be free from babysitting, to not look after children (until the next morning...) but just as i turn to roll up my window a little smiling (though perhaps a tad sheepishly)  face appears just inches from mine. she wants to play. she shows me her tennis racket. (i told her the day before that she could not come play tennis with me because i didn't have an extra racket for her...) i tell her that although i do not have to babysit again, i do need to go on a run. (thinking for sure the alibi is enough to explain to her that i am too busy...) i walk inside saying, "maybe tomorrow..." (feeling a tad bit guilty for refusing her again, dangit.) i settled down to check the blog i am keeping with friends and soon i hear a gentle knock on the door. standing to my right smiling is my little Lexi shadow holding her chucks in small hands. i open the door hesitantly. (and with a sigh, if i am honest.) "i can go running with you! i ran 3 miles before!" she says with far too much excitement for me to handle. i try to convince her otherwise, try to make the hills at Grubb Lake sound menacing...i have no success. soon enough we are both jogging down the road towards Grubb Lake.

a child's admiration is a difficult thing for me to hold. maybe it's pride and selfishness, but sometimes it makes me feel so trapped. this little shadow often shoots guilt through my veins. if i did not spend all day (most days) with people half my age, perhaps i would have more energy (and desire) to invest in her - but alas, normally an almost ten year old is one of the last people i want to spend time with. but what if this is my last summer home for quite some time? what if i am supposed to be spending more time with her? what if she is here to teach me more about love, patience, and sacrifice?


we passed this sign while hiking in colorado. i forgot that forest need to be thinned out in order for everything to grow properly.

my heart is an overgrown forest.
it needs a fire not every 50 years, but every day. a multitude of weeds eat up sunlight in my soul. that which is good and beautiful is choked out.  the cactus of 'what does everyone think of me' is running rampant. the thistles of what the future holds trip my feet while the dandelions of pride and selfishness keep me from loving others. (keep me from loving little shadows next door.) i need God to burn away everything that is choking him out, everything that is keeping me from loving everything within the ecosystem that i find myself.