moving forward

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Community is a beautiful thing.

Last night marked the final time that we all would be gathered around that table in that house – a house alive with community and deep friendship. That table was the place that I ate my very first meal in North Carolina over three years ago. Little did I know at that time how significant that house & that table would be in my life. Conversations around that table were ones of encouragement, of happiness, of tears, of growth & understand.

My second trip to North Carolina came the weekend after I left my nursing program. The decision was fresh and the emotions were still raw. My life was moving in a direction that I didn’t understand & next steps were uncertain. All I knew was that something needed to change – and I had not the slightest idea of what that could look like. That weekend, I sat at that round table in that very kitchen and had a conversation with the people who would turn into some of my biggest mentors. Suddenly, I felt more at peace, more understood, more at home. Fall turned to winter and I returned before the end of the year to that place that tucked itself into my heart. I spent almost two weeks falling more in love with these people and this place – and that table.

It was after that trip that I made the decision to work towards moving – after much joking about just that. Somehow things started falling into place. Things starting making more and more sense. And just like that, three months later, this sweet town would be my new home & these people my extended family.

And still we gathered around that table. Dinner parties, holiday parties, after parties, homework parties, porch parties. New friendships, intentional relationships, dear friends, life friends. Good conversations, hard conversations, deep conversations, laugh-until-you-cry conversations, just straight up cry conversations, life-changing conversations. New friends because life friends around that table. Life was lived around that table.

And yet, life continues when we leave that table. Those friendships, those conversations, they go beyond the table. The memories are the people, the relationships, the community. While the memories seem to live in that house, it was the people who made the memories. What made that table so life changing, was the souls that gathered around it each night. We gathered around that table knowing that we would share laughs, tears, and life. We knew that we would be cared for around that table – physically, mentally, and spiritually. And last night, as we sat there for the last time together, we went around and described our best memory there. Through laughs and tears, we all talked about the things that sit near and dear to our heart – but there was one thing that was very evident. The memories were the people. The memories were created in that house, but without the people they would be completely insignificant.

So here we are – in a new season. We all have lives that move in different ways, at different speeds, in different places. But still, we will gather. It may not be around that table, but it will be with those souls.

So here’s to the next season. Here’s to a new table. Here’s to many more years of community and deep friendship in whatever house we find ourselves.

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One last night in Brevard.

The past week has been filled with rubbermaid bins, mixed emotions, runs to Goodwill, Christmas parties, packing, stress, procrastination, and a few emotional breakdowns.

How is it almost the middle of December? How is Christmas in two weeks? How is it that I leave North Carolina tomorrow?

I was able to spend a wonderful last few weeks with my friends and family here. We shared so many laughs and created moments that I won’t soon forget. These friends have stuck by me through the unexpected twists and turns of this past year – through the moves, travels, and times at home, at the end of the day I can count on a vicious game of spades and a little table talk to remind me where home is.

It’s hard thinking about all that will change in the year that I’m gone. I know I won’t be coming back the same person, but it’s just strange to think about where everyone could be this time next year. I can’t wait to sit down for coffee with these people a year from now and talk reminisce about how quickly the year went and all that we accomplished. It’s hard not to linger on the things that I’ll miss, but instead I am trying to look forward to all that God has in store for us throughout the coming year. Who knows where our journey will take us. I just pray that He leads and we willingly follow.

While it’s sad thinking about goodbyes and the final few hugs, I know that this ending season brings forth the opportunity for new things, new adventures, and new relationships. I pray that these relationships not only stay in tact through the next year, but that they are strengthened by coming together in the midst of our different journeys across the globe. North Carolina has changed my life. I wouldn’t be on this next journey without the crazy leap of faith that was moving here. I love these folks with my whole heart.

I’ll miss you sweet North Carolina. As one chapter starts, another closes – let’s keep writing.

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called me higher

Change: a one word description of my life.

From moving to North Carolina, to an internship in Nashville, to a two-and-a-half month trip to Uganda that turned into something very different than I had planned – change and uncertainty have been in the air through all of it. I’ve never known exactly where I’ll land in the next season, but I’ve grown fairly comfortable with the unknown and the excitement that anticipation brings. Now moving to Nashville for three months was one thing, but this next step is bigger and more unexpected than any of the moves up to this point.

Everyone says that “Africa will change you”. While I didn’t discredit this fact, I just waltzed my way over to Uganda in May expecting it to be an adventure, but not wanting to put much pressure on the situation. Of course, I left Uganda a different person than I arrived there just two months before. I don’t think I can put words together to describe that, and probably never will. I’ve always said that I’d love to do short term missions and couldn’t necessarily see myself committing to living full-time halfway around the world. I knew better than to say “never”, but I cuddled up as close to the word as I could without saying it out loud. I should have known what was coming around the corner.

After two months of praying, discussing, and freaking out later, I have committed to (at least) one year with Sole Hope in Uganda. I know, I’m {insert your preferred word here}. I promise that I’ve told myself that same thing. I still think I’m crazy and there are days when I second guess my choice, but God has so deliberately placed this in front of me that I can do nothing but take his hand and trust where he leads. (I even went as far as tattooing this on my arm as a daily reminder.) A day of baby steps and avoided panic attacks now qualifies as “successful”.

At the end of December, I will be packed up and Jinja bound. To be honest, the living there isn’t my worry at this point. It’s not in the jumble of airport connections, or the long flights. My anxiety lies in the next five weeks. I have approximately five weeks to pack up my life in North Carolina, buy the needed supplies for my move, and say goodbye to some of the people that I love the most. I have so many things spinning through my mind that I don’t even know what to start doing first.

I need to breathe. Sometimes I forget. (Ironically enough, I have another tattoo that reads “God is Breath” as a reminder that when I don’t have breath, He will breathe for me.)

I need to make lists.

I need to take a break from the chaos of life and mentally prepare myself for the biggest jump I’ve ever attempted.

While this time of preparation is filled with stress, it is also filled with unmatched anticipation and unbelievable excitement. I cannot wait to get back and hug all of the people I got to know over the summer. I CANNOT wait to be back causing trouble with the Collie kids and holding that not-so-little Eli. I can’t wait for good cappuccinos, boda rides with accompanying soundtracks, and that beautiful fish room that I’ve been dreaming of since I first laid eyes on it. I can’t believe I get to be a part of something I believe in 100%. I know there will be stressful days, but I know the joy in the small moments will melt all of that away.

Change.

Something different. Something challenging. Something rewarding.

Change.

Live for the unexpected. Respond, don’t react. Be present. Be willing.

Love does.

i’ll be home for christmas

Christmas in North Carolina.

Take away the snow, add some people and three Batman masks, and it felt just like home.

No one could ask for a better first Christmas away from “home”.

This year I gained a second “home”. I joined another family. I multiplied my sibling count by about eight. This year has been good for the soul.

I cannot believe that in just four days, it will be a year since my first long visit to North Carolina. It was just about a year ago that this place burrowed a nice little Brevard shaped hole in my heart. It took me just about ten days to realize that this place and these people were special. When I left to head home at the end of that trip, I didn’t even have the slightest thought that moving down here would be a reality. I knew that I did not want to leave that January day, but my brain had never seriously contemplated the reality of permanently moving just four short months later.

North Carolina has truly changed my life. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could in such a short time. I’ve grown more in eight months than I had in the three years prior. I’ve been able to build such genuine relationships that have made of an impact in my life than those individuals will ever know.

Kitchener laid the foundation. Brevard built up from there. I am so thankful for all of the relationships I’ve had over the past twenty-two years. I would not be the person I am today without all the people who have poured into my life.

This Christmas I have come to realize what an amazing support system I have in my life. Thank you family. Thank you friends. Merry Christmas to you all!