i’m leaving.

I get on a plane tomorrow.

I fly to Atlanta. I have a night of training camp. Then on Tuesday, I fly to Amsterdam, and then I fly to Nairobi.

From there, I have no idea what happens.

I’m ready. Maybe. I’m not ready.

Can you be ready? I don’t know. I don’t think so.

I’m leaving tomorrow, to spend a month in Kenya.

In case you missed it, you can read the about everything here.

Thinking back – all the way back to that car outside that Cookout that one night when Sarah got so excited and shouted “YOU SHOULD GO TO KENYA!!!!!!!!” (yes. all those exclamation points are necessary) and I promptly responded with something gracious and mature like OH HELL NO.

I think I knew then, knew the second she brought it up. Knew that I was going to end up here.

And so here I am.

I was going to write an eloquent post about leaving Malta and coming home and processing the past semester and looking forward to this next month and I just can’t.

So thank you, to everyone who has donated and prayed for me and supported me and encouraged me and loved me. It’s been a crazy journey so far. And I haven’t even left yet.

I’ll be updating you when I can.

Goodbye.

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in between | five minute friday

My whole life is in between right now.

I’m in between countries. Last Saturday, I flew home from four and a half months in Malta. On Monday, I leave for a month in Kenya.

I’ve barely begun to process the past semester, and here I am, leaving again. My bedroom floor is covered in clothes. I’m simultaneously unpacking and repacking.

My body is still in between time zones. I’m not fully integrated into EST yet, which is probably for the best, as I’ll just have to switch right back again.

At 21, I feel in between in every way.

In between a teenager and an adult.

There’s something about 21 that makes me feel like I have to have my stuff together.

I’m not a -teen anymore. But also, we all know I’m not grown up. I’m still in college, but the real world is looming, ever-threatening, on my horizon.

I feel in between cities, too. This house where I grew up is home, isn’t it? But my college town feels increasingly like home. My friends, my teachers, my church are all there.

This season of in between makes me restless. I don’t know what’s up ahead but I’m done with what’s behind.

I’m not quite ready to move ahead, but I don’t like being in between, either. It feels lost, in a way. Constantly in transition.

And then I think of the Israelites, wandering for 40 years.

40 years of in between.

And in those 40 years of in between, God was still good. God was still there.

And all I can do is trust that He is here in my in between.

———

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Five minutes, one word (or…maybe two), just write, no judgement. 

[june 2013]

Goodness. Is it July already?

Do I comment on how fast the month has gone by every time I start one of these posts?

Maybe. Don’t judge.

It’s been a long month. A fast one, but a long one. I’m home now. For a few more days, at least.

reading (books)

  • Coraline, Neil Gaiman. I read this delightful short story in a few hours during my travel day. It’s a quick read, but a good one.
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares. Because it’s been a while, and it’s a summer book.
  • The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan. This is sort of a tie-in series to the Percy Jackson books, and I’m hooked, maybe enjoyed it more than the Percy Jackson ones. Can’t wait to read the rest.
  • How to Eat a Cupcake, Meg Donohue. I couldn’t put this down – it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s touching. Also, it made me want cupcakes.
  • Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver. I picked this up because I loved her Delirium series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was as good. I also read Hana, which is a short story tie-in to the Delirium series.
  • Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver. I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and read Prodigal Summer on the recommendation of a friend. And fell in love. Kingsolver’s language reminds me that writing is an art, and how beautiful it is. I wanted to wrap myself up in these words and just lay there.
  • I am Number Four, Pittacus Lore. Since we all know I have a thing for fantasy/sci-fi YA, and I could not. put. this. down.
  • The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling. I’m maybe 8% done with this, and it just hasn’t grabbed me yet. Not sure if I’m going to finish it, honestly.
  • The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan. Another one of those fantasy/sci-fi YA books, this time with Egyptian gods instead of Greek/Roman.

reading (blogs)

Confession: my blog reader is full, overflowingly full, and I am so behind on my reading. I’ll catch up, someday.

  • “Has anyone ever told you that you deserve happiness?”  This beautiful reminder from Hannah Brencher.
  • Erin Salmon (congratulations, by the way, on the name change!) telling me that having a quiet and gentle spirit, contrary to what I tend to think, means being bold, confident, and strong.
  • “What if we didn’t need to be counted?” Words to think on from Antonia Terrazas.
  • As my trip to Africa rapidly approaches, I’ve been filled with worry and doubt . This post from Addie Zierman about short-term missions was exactly what I needed.

listening

  • really, it’s just been this playlist, by Antonia, over and over. and over.
  • and Wagon Wheel. the Old Crow Medicine Show version, obviously otherwise known as the anthem of Team Ratchet, aka the Kitchen Crew of 103E, aka my study abroad family.

watching

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on my plane ride home. I’d seen it in theater and decided to give it a second watch, because I’d been wanting to and what else is there to do on a plane for 8 hours? I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time, and I’m excited for the second one.
  • Skyfall, also on the plane ride. I haven’t seen a bunch of Bond movies, and I don’t think I’ve seen the other Daniel Craig ones, but it was fantastic.
  • a couple episodes of SYTYCD, but I don’t think I’ll really be able to keep up with this season.
  • catching up on Psych, which is still one of my favorites. Let’s talk about how this season made me cry.
  • still watching an episode of Arrested Development here and there.

loving

  • making a feast in our tiny flat kitchen to celebrate the 150th anniversary of West Virginia’s independence. Anything for a party, y’all.
  • enjoying the beauty of Malta. eating breakfast with my feet in the pool outside my door. a picnic on the beach in the evening. seeing the Azure Window with my brother.
  • being home, for all of week. I have a new appreciation for sharp knives and a spacious shower and quiet nights and air conditioning and not having to carry my groceries home. I do miss that pool, though.
  • kit-kat chunky. why do we not have a million flavors of kit-kat in the u.s.?
  • being back at camp, if only for a few days. my summer job is the best ever, guys. it’s family.

 

wading near the Azure Window, in Gozo.
wading near the Azure Window, in Gozo. That’s me in the yellow.

 

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for this month’s What I’m Into! Now tell me – was your June impossibly fast, too? What did you love?

rhythm | five minute fri(mon)day

Right now, my life is missing a rhythm.

My body’s rhythm – that whole circadian rhythm sleep cycle thing – is all confused from being flown across the Atlantic, from a 24-hours-awake-after-2-hours-of-sleep  marathon travel day. And this poor body o’mine has just enough time to switch back to EST before I throw it back on a plane and haul it back across the Atlantic.

There’s no rhythm.

Life is a jumble of countries and currencies, suitcases packed and unpacked and repacked, floors covered in clothes and cords and souvenirs.

And I crave rhythm. I crave a schedule, structure, I crave a daily routine.

My body needs rhythm. As a dancer, I know how to settle in, how to let that rhythm become part of me and exist within my muscle and my bones.

That’s a lie; ask my dance teachers. I’m always ahead of the music. I need to slow down.

In more ways than one.

———

No. It is not Friday. Am I doing last week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt on Monday? Yes. Why? Well, for one thing, #YOLO, amiright? For another, Friday was my last day in Malta and between my full schedule of pool, packing, and beach, I completely forgot about it. I’ll admit it. So now I’m joining up with Lisa-Jo Baker, a few days late, for a five-minute free write. Don’t think. Just type.

in which God is good, and you are generous. [East Africa update]

thank you.

That’s all I have to say, really.

Not really. I have a lot more words waiting – this is me here – but I think that sums it up.

My support deadline for Africa is today.

Not only has it been met, it’s been passed.

You all gave $4,069 to send me to Africa.

I’ve overwhelmed. I really don’t know what to say except thank you, thank you, thank you. Over and over again. There were times when I doubted this, doubted that the money would come, doubted my decision to go on this trip. Raising $4,000 from another country? I must be crazy.

But as it turns out, my God is kinda crazy too, and He provides. Oh, goodness, He provides.

You have no idea how many times I sat in front of my laptop, my fundraising account open on my screen, my eyes full of tears. The first donation I received to cover my trip deposit, from a dear friend who texted me 30 minutes after I announced that I was going to Africa to ask how she could support me. The very last donation I received, the gift that pushed me over my goal. Every single time I met a deadline that I thought I wasn’t going to make.

Large donations came in, and I was absolutely amazed by yours generosity. Thank you. Small donations came in, and I was blessed by your willingness to give what you could. Thank you.

To those of you who donated anonymously – I can’t tell you this in person, so an extra thank you in this space. Your desire to support me secretly humbled me time and time again. Thank you.

To family far and near, friends new and old – every single dollar you gave taught me about trust, about gratefulness, about God. He truly used you to show me who He is. Thank you.

So here I am, fully funded. Back when this whole adventure began, I could never have imagined how fast the time would go. I leave in two weeks, flying first to Atlanta to meet my team for a brief training session, and then flying out to Africa. I’m going to Kenya, by the way. It all still seems so surreal, especially as I’m still sitting on a rock in the Mediterranean right now, that in two weeks’ time I’ll be flying (back) across the big pond to spend a month in Kenya. I’ll have a week at home to unpack, find some ankle-length skirts and a mosquito net, and repack before I jet away again. And goodness, how that terrifies me, for a multitude of reasons. I’m excited and nervous and scared and overwhelmed and apprehensive and a whole long list of adjectives. But God has been good, and you have been so incredibly supportive with your words, finances, and prayers, and so I can go forward in faith.

Thank you.

listen | five minute friday

I don’t listen well.

Well, sometimes I do. In some ways, I do.

I’ve learned how to be quiet, how not to speak over and into the conversation. I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to let someone talk. I’ve mastered the art of sipping my tea and nodding along, of just being and hearing and understanding.

I listen well to others, usually.

I don’t listen well to God.

I talk too much, stumble and trip over my words, coming out by mouth or pen or keyboard, I scribble them out and type them down too quickly. Rushing, as if all I have is now and I have to say it all.

I scrawl pages of my journal full, full of questions and doubts and worries and uncertainties.

But I’m no good at the listening part. I don’t like the silence, the stillness, once the pages are full and the pen is put down. I’m not good at the waiting, at the quiet, at the calm. If God’s not saying something now, He’s not gonna say something in the next five minutes, right? So why am I still sitting here?

So I shut the pages on my questions without really listening for answers.

——–

Lisa-Jo Baker hosts a virtual writing party called Five Minute Friday, where she throws out a prompt and you write – just write – for five minutes. No editing, no changing, no thinking. Just words. I’m joining in this week, and hopefully for many more to come. Check it out, set a timer, get in on the fun. You know you want to.

 

when I am wordless, I will wash the dishes.

I actually like doing the dishes. Sometimes.

In a flat full of nine people, there is an abundance of dishes and a shortage of people who want to wash them. There are nights like tonight, when everyone is making dinner at the same time and in a rush and just tossing their dishes in the sink to deal with later. Then in the morning there’s an overwhelming stack in the sink, pots and pans and plates and forks piled so high there’s not really room to wash anything. That sink of dishes seems like a chore some days, something you just need to do and deal with and be done with. But some days, I don’t mind.

And so tonight, when everyone is gone and the house is quiet, the whole residence is quiet, and I’m enjoying the peace, the stillness and calm that are so rare around here, and I see the dishes sitting in the sink, I don’t mind.

I turn on the water and pick up the sponge, find the rhythm of soap and scrub and rinse.

——–

I’ve been quiet in this space lately. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot to say, not sure if my words are worth listening to. Wondering if I’m just one more voice, just another girl with a blog insistent on adding the clacking of her keys to the noise.

We don’t need more noise.

And I’ve felt lost, in this big wide blogosphere. Not really sure where I fit in. There’s all those blogs, all those bloggers, with the perfect  hair and the quirky smile, with the slightly hipster style and the twitter followers. The bloggers with words of wisdom and pearls of truth, the bloggers with book deals and camera skills and cute shoes. There’s words like marketing and branding that make me want to run for cover because I ain’t a brand and how the heck do I market myself when I don’t even know who the heck I am yet?

And I’m not sure where I fit in. Some days there’s a thought rattling around in my brain – you could be a writer – tantalizing and tempting with visions of being a capital-b-Blogger, brand and everything, being someone who does this as a thing. a real thing. and even beyond that, you could be a real writer. an author. but let’s not even talk about that, because up until a year and a month ago I didn’t even know I liked this whole writing and sharing and words thing and goodness gracious, what the heck could I ever even write a book about?

but it’s the thought – the possibility – the just maybe – that sits there. just out of reach. because I remind myself that I am just another girl with a blog. another girl with words. a girl who hasn’t felt like she’s had much to say the past few months.

——–

There’s something so calming about washing dishes. Something in the repetition, something in the simplicity and the beauty. Something in the labor, the working with your hands. The sink empties and the clean dishes drip beads of water into pools on the counter and my mind clears.

It’s a never-ending task, admittedly. Your dishes will never be clean long. They’ll just keep on getting dirty, and they’ll just keep needing to be washed.

isn’t that how it always is?

and maybe it’s sacrilegious, but just then I can see my soul as a plate in my Father’s hands. don’t bother, I want to say as He scrubs it sparking white, it’s just going to get dirty again.

——–

He’s been quiet lately.

Maybe He hasn’t, not really, maybe it’s just easier to say that He has been quiet than to point the finger at myself and say maybe I haven’t been listening.

Maybe it’s both. I’m not really sure. All I know is that He’s felt gone lately.

And I know He’s not gone, not really, because He promised. He promised to never leave, never forsake me nor abandon me, and I believe that. I trust that.

He’s not gone. But He’s just not here right now.

And I’ve found myself without words. Not knowing what to pray, only knowing that I need to. That I need Him right now. Because I’m trying to figure out who I am and what I want and where I’m going and Lord, a little guidance would be good but it’s all quiet on the heavenly front.

And so I am directionless. and planless. and wordless. I don’t know what to say to Him, and I don’t know what to say to you.

——–

I stare down at the plate in my hand. I scrub, rinse, place with the others to dry.

I’m just going to get it dirty again.

I’m sorry.

Thank you.

——-

He’s still quiet. I still don’t know what to say.

But tonight, doing the dishes feels like praying. And tonight, that’s enough.