heartbeats

Oh Nashville, you were good to me.

Each time I go back, I worry about the city losing its sparkle. I’m scared that the beauty will fade and my love will fade with it. And while I would be lying if I said it hasn’t come with its struggles, the beauty & excitement outweigh it – tenfold.

The city itself is full of charisma & charm – the community there has roots deeper than anyone could comprehend just skimming the surface. It’s full of coffee shop conversations, balsam fir lattes, library puppet theater & hot chicken.

One of my most absolute favorite parts of my most recent trip was just doing life with my dear friend Nat and her two beautiful kiddos. It was the most I felt “at home” since returning from Uganda. While dealing with sickness and all that it brings, Nat extended the most gracious and hospitable hand, opening her home and life to me.

In between the moments of coffee shop hopping and naps, we stole away to the stream in their backyard, snapping a few pictures of them in their “home” environment. I had completely forgotten about those pictures until today. I loved reliving those moments as I went through each picture, smiling along the way.

Here are a few snapshots of our quick adventure.

IMG_8012-2

IMG_8020-2

IMG_8021-2

IMG_8026

IMG_8027-2

IMG_8036

IMG_8035

IMG_8042

IMG_8040-2

And because this is real life.

IMG_8051

FullSizeRender

Advertisements

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.

living proof

It’s been five days since I left Jinja and I already want to go back. Actually, by the time I reached the compound gate on Monday night, I already wanted to jump out of the car and “accidentally” miss my flight.

All I can say is that I’ve never experienced a shorter two months. There is no way that I was there for 70+ days. It must have just been a week, maybe two. While the time went by far too quickly, so much happened during my short time on the ground.

I was able to learn so much about Ugandan culture.

I was able to explore just a piece of that beautiful country.

I was able to build relationships that I’m certain will last a lifetime.

I was somehow able to leave the country without a small child stashed in my luggage.

While I’m currently sitting in my favourite coffee shop in Nashville and I’m loving every minute of it, a piece of me didn’t make the journey to Tennessee with me. In fact, I don’t think it made the 48 hour trek home from Uganda with me. I’m quite certain that it’s still at that white house on Wilson Road.

I already miss those Collie kiddos. I miss arguing with Quinn about having to finish her school. I miss Asa’s ridiculous giggle when he thinks something is truly funny. I miss hearing Silas scream in the middle of the night, but then seeing him wake up the next morning with the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen.

I cannot fully describe in words how thankful I am for Drü and Asher. To think that when I arrived I only planned on staying with them a short two weeks. Somehow two weeks turned into two-and-a-half months, and I’m so glad it did. While it was a crazy, busy, emotionally and physically draining two months, I had more fun than I have in a while. They introduced me to the Ugandan culture, they showed me how to interact with Ugandans, and how to show them the utmost respect. I couldn’t have asked for better role models to set an example of how to love like Jesus does. They are acting as the hands and feet of Christ through their personal lives as well as through Sole Hope. I seriously cannot say enough good things about them. Instead, maybe I’ll just sing a line or two of “Thrift Shop” or maybe some Celine Dion and call it even.

I’m sure I’ll have more words to describe the second half of my trip in the coming weeks. It’s been a lot to process and I haven’t been able to find words to describe how my heart is feeling. I don’t think it’s really even clicked that I’m actually back here. I think my brain is expecting to walk out of this coffee shop, hop on a boda, and direct them to Wilson Road – just past Arise Africa. Instead, I’ll leave this coffee shop, get into my car (which I’ve been driving on the wrong side of the road all week), and continue my weekend in Nashville, half a world away from where I sat exactly a week ago.

I miss my dirty red feet. I miss bad wifi (okay, that one may not be 100% true). I miss my Uganda family. Don’t you worry, I’ll be back.

happiness

Another city, another transition, the same heartache.

elisabethmichal

Another trip to North Carolina, another hard transition back into everyday life at home.

The idea of this trip was to surprise my dear friend Sarah for her birthday last Friday. Let me just say: mission accomplished. There is nothing I love more than a good surprise. When it comes to a successful surprise, I say go big or go home. In this case, I went big and I went home. This trip solidified the fact that Brevard is right where I’m supposed to be. It feels more like home than anywhere I have ever been. When I first arrived in Brevard last week, the anticipation and excitement was too much to handle. Within minutes of being with everyone again, it just seemed like it was normal for me to be there and be a part of it all. It is still such a strange feeling for me. Don’t get…

View original post 501 more words

last goodbye

And break!

Well, another chapter has come to an end. Friday marked the end of my Red Bus Project internship, and Sunday brought unwanted goodbyes and a sad drive back to North Carolina.

I don’t even know how to sum up these last three months into a blog post. Actually, I don’t even know how to describe these last three months in words. Or at least words that make some kind sense or could even possibly form legible sentences.

So much happened
So much life was lived.
So many lessons were learned.
So many friendships were formed.

Let me just start out by saying that I like LOVE Nashville. I think I fall in love with that city every time I visit. Somehow I have Nashville in my blood. Sure, I was born there to two Canadian parents, but I am almost positive that they snuck a little Nashville in my veins. Visit after visit, I knew there was something special about that city, but it wasn’t until I ended up back there (more grown up than thirteen year old me was) this semester that I really saw myself in the city itself. I love the culture, the coffee, the people, the architecture, the boots, the atmosphere, and did I mention the people? I don’t understand the magnetic pull that Nashville has on my heart, but it’s doing something right.

When I first arrived at the beginning of February, I had no intentions of being there long term. I was strictly there for a three month internship and then I’d be off to Uganda and back to North Carolina. It wasn’t until a few friends started planting a bug in my ear that maybe I should think about coming back to Tennessee after my trip. I remember the moment when we were talking and it finally clicked…this might just be a possibility. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what will happen through and after my trip to Uganda. Who knows where I’ll be when I get back.

I don’t know what plans God has for me in the next few months, but I do know that Nashville is on my list.

At the top of my list.

In all capital letters.

Underlined…twice.

You win Nashville. You’ve got me.

Will it be work? Will it be school? Will it be an internship? Will it be all three? I’d love to know the answer to that more than anyone. Time will tell. Plans will form. Connections will be made. God will provide. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

As evidence by the rambling directly above, leaving Nashville last weekend was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had a great last couple of weeks there trying to fit in as many “Nashville” things as possible. We did a pretty darn good job. But it wasn’t until I said my last goodbye, got in my car, and made my way to the interstate that I truly realized what was happening. I was closing a chapter in this crazy book of life. Sure, I’ll be back and those relationships will continue, but that part of my life was over. Never again will I be in the same spot. I am so grateful for the people and experiences He placed before me throughout this internship. I could not have imagined anything better. It had it’s ups and downs, but somehow my heart was healed in ways that I didn’t even know it needed healing. It repaired things in my life that I didn’t even know were broken. I left Franklin, TN last Sunday a different person than I arrived three and a half months ago. I have Red Bus to thank. I have my fellow interns to thank. I’m just so in awe of what God has done through this Red Bus Project journey.

Now I’m home in North Carolina. I’m back with some of my best friends in the world. I’m back in one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. I’m trying to process the last three months. I’m trying to think about packing for the next three months. I’m trying to be in a spot where I’m ready to experience and learn everything that will be thrown my way throughout this next chapter of my crazy story. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a hard adjustment coming back. It’s been a lot to process. It’s been a lot to wrap my mind around. It’s been a little overwhelming. Somehow God will show up. He’ll calm my nerves. He’ll take my hand and yet again ask me if I trust Him. At this point in my life, I don’t know why I still doubt that.

Like I said, there is no way that I can completely sum up my time in Nashville into words. To be honest, I’m not sure I did a great job of attempting to put words down here at all. All I know is that God is good. His hand is on all of this. I don’t understand the half of it, but I’m trying to reach out my hand and simply say, “Okay, I trust you.”

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. – Proverbs 14:13.

photo

out of my head

Well Nashville, you’ve stollen my heart…yet again.

I don’t know what it is about this city. It got ahold of me oh so many years ago and it’s refusing to let go.

I cannot believe that I only have less than three weeks of my internship left. I refuse to believe it. I can’t begin to describe how amazing this entire internship has been.

I’ve learned more throughout this internship than I ever could have hoped to. I’ve discovered more about myself and my passions far more than I ever dreamed. I’ve developed more solid friendships than I thought possible in such a short amount of time. My heart has healed even more than I even thought it needed to be.

I’m so trying to enjoy these last few weeks and not allow myself to get caught up in the anticipation of an abrupt ending to my time here. I keep reminding myself that I have so much to look forward to over the next few months, but I just can’t help but think about all the things I’ll be leaving behind…for now.

For now. That’s what I need to keep reminding myself.

I know that nothing will compare to what I’ll experience in Uganda. I know it’s going to be a more wonderful and stretching experience than I can even imagine at this point. That alone is terrifying in itself. I’ve come to realize that I’m doing a really horrible job at balancing preparing for a trip that I know is going to be harder than I can even start to understand, and being completely excited for the entire experience. I realized that I’ve been leaning much more to the side of preparing for a difficult trip. I’ve lost a lot of the excitement that I once had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m unbelievably excited for my upcoming trip, but at the same time the knowledge of having so many unexpected things in the near future is psyching me out. I need to work on balancing these things better. I think it’s been even harder knowing that soon something that I love so much is ending just as something even more challenging is starting up. I think at this point, I just have so many thoughts running around like maniacs in my brain, and I have no idea how to sort through them, let alone process them all.

In slightly other news, I recently decided to jump into the world of hammocks. Yes ladies and gents, Elisabeth bought an ENO. I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to realize how amazing they are. How I lived for a year in the mountains of North Carolina without one is completely beyond me. (I promise these thoughts will connect with rest of this blog post. Just give me a moment.) Anyways, for the last week I’ve been spending every free moment hanging in a tree somewhere. Those moments have become my quite times. Even if there are other people around, I constantly find myself lost in thought, processing life. Is there a coincidence between the time that I purchase a ENO and the time that my brain is most unsettled? I think not. I’ve decided that I’m going to set aside time to just be still. Right now, that stillness comes with the rocking of a hammock.

Tomorrow we head out on our last run of multiple tour dates. I can’t wait to spend time on these campuses connecting with students. There’s nothing that I love more than being on the road. Pray that our dear bus stays put together and runs well all week. She’s such a sweet girl, but sometimes she gives us some trouble. Pray that our team has the strength to be push through all three dates and can finish with energy left at the end. I love this group of people that I have the honor of traveling with. I can’t wait for the conversations for years to come where we will be able to say “remember when…?” The anticipation of those days is what keeps me moving forward.

And off we go. Red Bus on three!

on top of the world

IMG_9164

Nothing can top a weekend full of sunshine and good friends. We have finally been able to catch a glimpse of the summer weather that we’ve all been praying for since right around last October. It definitely required breaking out the shorts and Rainbows. Nothing can improve a day quite like warmth and sunshine.

Not only did this weekend consist of catching a few rays, but it was filled with adventures with new, but great friends. I’ve been so blessed by the people that I have met since moving here two months ago. The Kroekers have been no exception to this. I’m so thankful for the relationships that are being built with them and the craziness that occurs when we are together. I end up in complete stitches, laughing at goodness only knows what comment someone made. Yesterday was a day with the Kroekers. Crepes, a beautiful farm, and a few 646 pictures later, I was more thankful than ever for these wonderful people.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s adventure. These kids are something else.

IMG_8606

IMG_8630 IMG_8691 IMG_8705 IMG_8779

IMG_8817 IMG_8814 IMG_8813

Photo Cred: Willy Kroeker
Photo Cred: Willy Kroeker

IMG_9064

Photo Cred: Anna Kroeker
Photo Cred: Anna Kroeker

IMG_8943IMG_9142 IMG_9092

IMG_9197 IMG_9205