sweet tennessee

Saturdays just feel different around here.

Maybe it’s because there’s a coffee shop with a solid cup of coffee and just enough noise for you to drown out the stress of every other day.

Or maybe it takes me back to sweet spring memories.

Or maybe I feel removed from everyday life.

Maybe it’s just Tennessee.

Life over the past two months has been insane. I don’t mean in the way that work is kinda busy or it would be helpful to have anywhere from 2-8 extra hours in each day. It has been more of an – I barely remember the last two months and feel like I have haven’t taken a breath or left my car – kind of insane. Don’t get me wrong, I have LOVED every moment of it. I wouldn’t take it back, or trade it, or breathe an ill word about it. (Except for the fit my car has been pitching. I’ll probably breathe several ill words about that. I just wouldn’t ask.)

Being back in Brevard has done the heart good. I missed my friends. A lot. I missed the mountains. I missed the familiar.

At the same time, I crave adventure. Moving from place-to-place keeps life interesting. I love connecting with different friends, meeting new ones, and exploring familiar places with a different perspective.

Loving home, but having a wandering spirit makes for a restless heart. I’m constantly wishing to be where I’m not. My heart is split in about 5 parts, and I don’t know how to feel whole in any of those places. Being completely present in one means that the other four are lacking. It’s a vicious cycle of not being content. Let me tell you, living like that is exhausting. It’s bound to end with a burnout.

Having said that, I love where my life right now. It’s a life of jumping from adventure to adventure, just waiting to see where God takes me next. It’s thrilling and most times I feel like I’m floating through some life that don’t seem to resemble mine. Somehow, a balance of all these places and people who have a bit of my heart is needed. It’s going to be a matter of enjoying each piece while I’m present there, and not compare one piece to another. They are completely different and comparing them is asking for disappointment. I need to start enjoying every minute, in the present, because soon it will be gone and I’ll be on to the next.

Now if you’re as confused as I am at this point, high-five. Somehow writing down words, as incomprehensible as they are, makes me deal with the thoughts that I tuck away hoping that will somehow keep them from surfacing again. I still have no idea what I’m doing in this life. I still feel consistently lost, but somehow completely peaceful in that. I’m learning as I go, continuing to make mistakes, and will probably start making even less sense.

Maybe Saturdays here give me the space to process, to enjoy good coffee, and just be. Whatever it is, my arms are open wide.

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take care

Coffee shops.

My third environment. Sometimes my second.

Nothing makes me feel more at home than having a coffee shop to frequently visit. It’s close to a number one requirement within several days of moving to a new city. Let’s just say I discovered Flavours on my first day in Jinja. I should have used that as an indication for how much I would enjoy being here. There’s nothing like walking into the café first thing in the morning, being greeted by name, and asked if you want the usual americano. Some people would take that as a sign that they are too frequent of a visitor (and I should probably be thinking that at this point), but there’s something quite comforting about it.

Comfort.

Something you long for in a country that is entirely foreign to you. In almost every aspect. Whether it be in the form of a familiar face or just a really good burger, you crave something familiar. Although good friends were here to greet me when I arrived, there are still many things that have been completely different than my “normal environment”.

Different sights.

Different surroundings.

Different smells.

Sometimes I find myself going with the flow to such a degree that I don’t even really recognize the things that may be a challenge. While this at some times can be a great asset, I’ve come to realize that I sometimes don’t process things as I should…or at all. I have a tendency to just block things out and move on, when really I should be working through those feelings and emotions. I would much rather make the necessary adjustments and continue on in life showing nothing more than a small hiccup. The moments where I consciously notice and digest the things that happen are few and far between.

It has not been until more recently that I have realized how deliberately God has placed people in my life who force me to face these things and not just nonchalantly pass them by. I love conversation. I love being in relationship with other people who are walking through the same things that I am. I love that these two things are able to overlap. More and more, I am realizing how much I value the relationship I have with people who will ask me the hard questions. Maybe their observant enough to know when there is something I should really talk about, but would never necessarily bring up. Maybe our personalities just fit so well that conversations like that are like second nature. I’ve come to realize that nothing means more to me than someone asking what I’m thinking about, how I’m dealing with a situation, or what my thoughts were about a conversation that took place.

Once again, I’ve been so blessed by something that I didn’t even know that I needed. Slowly the walls I didn’t even know I had are crumbling down. I’m venturing out of my shell more and more.

Two of my favorite things: coffee shops and road trips. Both practically scream, “Great conversations happen here!” In the middle of Uganda, away from everything familiar and “normal”, I still have both of these things. I have amazing friends, wonderful conversations, and delicious coffee. I am blessed beyond what I can even comprehend. Leave it to Him to send me half way around the world, into the unknown, to learn more than I ever could have in the safety of the familiar.

miles of skyline

Again, here I sit at the Frothy Monkey, drinking good coffee and digesting week two of the Red Bus Project Spring Tour.

It’s been a wild ride.

We thought the first week was cold. HA. Not even close. Week two was even colder FREEZING. Take 26 degree Indiana cold and add 30 mile/hour winds to that. It’s a wonder that I can feel my toes three days after.

While the weather was awful less than desirable, week two of tour was amazing. It was a lot of driving piled into three days, but I’m so thankful for that time that we got to be together as a team. You’re bound to get to know someone fairly well when you spend as much time together as we do, but this week pushed our relationships to the next level. This week I started to get to know people’s hearts, and not just the crazy personalities that we witness on a daily basis.

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I have a theory. The best talks happen while either driving, or sitting on the ground. Both of these prove to be even more valid after this week. Try sitting on the ground while driving. Jackpot. I don’t know what it is about these two activities, but somehow they draw out conversations that wouldn’t happen at any other time. We are at the point as a team where we feel comfortable enough to share things that we wouldn’t tell just anyone. It’s been such a cool experience being part of a team like this. There’s nothing like a eight hour drive in Penske truck to bring out great conversations, Panic! At The Disco, and extremely loud singing. Needless to say, driving may have been the highlight of my week. Either that or choking in the middle of a restaurant and having soda come out of my nose. It’s really a toss-up.

Having said that, we also had a great time at the campuses this week. Although the weather wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, the conversations we had with students definitely made up for it. We get to meet such awesome people at each school, and I love being able to hear their stories and what they want to do through their last years of school and beyond. At the end of the day, you remember who you talked to and what a great time you had, not the fact that you couldn’t feel your toes or nose most of the day.

I would definitely deem week two of tour a success. It may not have been the week we were expecting or hoping for, but it was 200% worth it. I cannot wait for this coming week when we will be travelling back to good old Brevard, NC. I can’t wait to see everyone at home and share my Red Bus passion with them. Watch out North Carolina, the big red bus is coming back.

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Again, I just want to acknowledge what a stellar team we have working with the Red Bus Project. These guys are awesome. This definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun or rewarding without y’all. I love you guys tons, and I cannot wait to see where God leads us over the next few months.

Red Bus on Three…