The Last Day

Today is it. My last day in Maine. I did it. I finished.

Tomorrow is the day that I’ve been waiting for. It came so fast, but it seemed like it would never get here.

I’m overflowing with happiness because I know that this time tomorrow I will be on my way to be with my people again. I can’t wait to see their faces and hug their necks.

It’s been a summer full of growing and progressing. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and I’ve learned so much about myself.

As I write this, I can’t seem to say exactly how I feel as I’m soaking up my last few hours here.

It’s going to be strange waking up and not seeing my roommates. After three months of living, working, and adventuring together I’m sure it’s going to be weird being 1,300 miles away from them. Not to mention they live a couple thousand miles from me in the “real world”. So we don’t know when our paths will cross again. It’s scary.

It will be nice to no longer be working 40 hours each week, but I will miss the thick paycheck. I’m not particularly looking forward to growing up and actually having a “real” job full time. I think I’ll stick for working at my university’s outdoor center as long as I can.

I’m going to miss living half a mile from a National Park. Acadia was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever hiked through. I’m determined to see all of the parks eventually.

As I wrap up my time here, I only have one regret: wishing I was home instead of enjoying days. I mean yeah, I did have a lot of fun and do a lot of really incredible things while I’ve been away, but there were also days when I wanted nothing more to be in the humid state of Tennessee. Now that I don’t have any more days here with these people, I wish I would of been less of a baby some days. I wish I would have done more to utilize my time here. But there’s no going back.

I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything. I’m thankful for really cool opportunities like this and I’m thankful I had the courage to leave home for three months completely on my own.

As I head back to Crossville and eventually Chattanooga for school, I’m determined to make the most out of each and every day because this summer I learned that the time is going to pass no matter what, so I might as well enjoy the days while I’m living them.

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Intentional Living

I just finished the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and while I was reading it, I found myself not wanting to put it down. Okay fine, that’s how I am with most the books I read, but something was different about this book. It was genuine; it was raw; and it was touching.

Niequist is, was, a perfectionist, like so many of us try to be. She ran herself ragged chasing after a career that left her feeling empty. As a result, she was neglecting her husband and her children, the people that mattered the most to her in the world.

The book was her story and her journey of saying no to the things and the people that she didn’t hold close to her heart and saying yes to more of the things that brought her joy, saying yes to what was going to benefit the well-being of her soul and her people’s as well.

The few days it took me to read the book I was consciously aware of how unconnected I was to the world around me. And it broke my heart. I don’t want to wake up and simply trudge through the day. I don’t want to go through the motions and never actually truly enjoy anything.

But who’s to blame me for feeling like I live this way? We live in a culture where phone screens lit up at the dinner table are the norm, it’s easier to send an email about a problem than to actually have a face to face conversation, our cars basically drive themselves. No wonder we never have to really feel anything. No wonder people have to go on journeys to find themselves.

But what can we do? Delete all social media? Unrealistic. Go back to hand written letters? Not gonna happen. 

I don’t want to wake up one day and find that I spent more time worrying how many likes my post on Instagram got than I did talking to someone I love after they had a rough day.

My core group leader used the word intentional a lot this past year. At first, I wasn’t real sure what she meant by it. Obviously I know what the word means, but wasn’t sure how you could live intentionally.

Slowly, but surely, I find that living intentionally is a way we can be present instead of stressing to be perfect. I haven’t seemed to master this yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will, but I’m working on it. As am I working on connecting better to the people physically close to me and the people close to my heart.

I can’t wait to go home and be with my people. I can’t wait to hear their stories from the summer and tell them mine. I can’t wait to make new memories and go on more adventures. I can’t wait to watch the sunset at the lake surrounded by all my cousins as we laugh at each other and roast marsh-mellows. But until them I’m being present. I’m done trying to live a “perfect” life – not like I was anyways. 

And as my mom says, “No matter where you go, there you are.”

 

A Little Bit of Growing Up

I’ve been very absent in the blog world lately but I’m sure that only a handful of people have noticed. It seems like every time I try to write, something juts feels off. I’m not sure if it’s because my world has been spun in so many directions these past few months or if I just needed some time to breathe and think without expressing those thoughts. Either way, I feel like I’m well over due a post.

As I accepted this internship and prepared to head out, I’m not sure what my expectations were. I knew I wanted to see more of the country; I wanted to make more friends outside of my circle; and I wanted to learn more about myself. I think that all three of those have pretty much been met. As I flipped back in my journal to the days when I first found out I would be coming up here, I was so excited. It seemed to be all I could talk or write about. I was initially disappointed I wasn’t going to be going to Hawaii or some where tropical, but I also felt like there was a reason I was chosen to come up here instead. I can’t say that there aren’t days that I wish I was laying in the sunshine on an island somewhere, because there definitley are. But I also can’t say I would redo anything if I was given the chance – not that I would be anwyays.

If I would have gotten sent to a different location everything would be different. I would have never met any of the people that I have this summer. I wouldn’t have gotten to experience the beauty of this really weird state. Not only have I learned to live with girls from different states, we’ve learned to rely on each other and be there for each other. Being 1,300 miles away from my support system has been difficult, to say the least. On days when I simply wanted to go to my sister’s room and plop down on her bed to chat, I had to instead go to my roommate’s. On nights when I just wanted my mom to cook me dinner, I had to cook something myself or make a sandwich. To say that I’ve grown up and became more independent is an understatement.

I debated a lot about throwing in the towel and coming home early these last couple of weeks. I had many conversations with my family and friends about what I should do. Do I stick it out? Do I come home and enjoy the last few weeks of summer with my people? Do I say screw my contract? Or do I honor it out and suck it up?

I’ll be honest here, I actually bought a plane ticket. I was gonna board a plane and come back to Nashville with my best friend after her visit. I was gonna do it. I was so excited. But I had a knot in my stomach immediately after I bought it. It didn’t feel right. Quitting isn’t in my blood. My parents hadn’t raised me to bail when things got tough, no matter how much we missed each other. From as early as I can remember my parents have taught me to push through difficult situations and try to make the most of them.

One night, my mom called me and told me how proud she was that I had been up here for so long when I’ve been pretty homesick. She told me that it would be okay if I ended things a little bit early. She told me she would support me no matter what I did and that she wanted me to do what was going to be best for myself. I wanted to go home and hug her so badly. But I knew I would look back and be frustrated with myself. I’d feel like I gave up, like I wasn’t tough enough to finish something that I had started. And the thought of that was greater than my homesickness right then, and that was a lot.

So I refunded my plane ticket; I put my suitcase back in my closet; I decided to suck it up and do what I’d been taught to do. As much as I love traveling and experiencing new things, I’m not sure if being away from my family long term is what’s best for me right now. I still want to see so many places and do so many things. I want to study abroad for a semester; I want to hike the AT through, but I also wanna hang out with my parents on a Friday night, laughing as my dad makes fun of my mom for falling asleep at nine pm.

In a perfect world, I could bring my people with me everywhere that I go. But life is complicated and messy and some of the things that I desire and crave aren’t the desires of the people that I love the most in this world. I guess this summer I’ve learned to be okay with.

I have a couple of weekend trips planned with my roommates to wrap up the summer that I’m really looking forward to, but I’m also looking forward to boarding a plane that flashes Nashville. 

1,300 miles away and I still feel the love and support of my people. I still have a place to call home even if I haven’t seen it in a couple of months. I still have a life waiting for me back in the mountains, even when my time here feels endless. And I’m not sure if things could get any better than that.

A Big Smile

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the best part was that I didn’t have to work. One of my roommates had the day off too, so we decided it was the perfect day to go to Acadia Park and do some exploring. 

We packed some lunches and decided to call a cab to take us to the park entrance we wanted to be at that was about six miles away. 

When we got there, we decided to the do the Beehive Trail. I was excited, but a little nervous because the hike is basically straight up a mountain. The entire climb, my legs were shaky and I felt like I was hanging on to the metal rings for dear life, but the views were so worth it. The sky didn’t have a cloud in it; the water was the prettiest color of blue; the trees seemed to stretch on for miles. The higher we climbed, the prettier everything kept getting. 


It made me remember why I was so excited for this internship: I’m living in on of the prettiest places in the country and I get to explore it everyday. 


After we took a million pictures and finished the hike, we decided to go to Sand Beach, since it was right up the road. We really wanted to swim, but the water was colder than water should be allowed to be. We tried to brave it out and swim, but we only lasted about five minutes before our lower bodies went numb and we imagined our lips turning blue, so we got out. 


We laid around on the beach for about an hour, but the wind was blowing pretty hard and the sand was beginning to cake our skin. It was impossible to keep my eyes open, much less read my book. So we decided to explore some more. 

After we raked an incredible amount of sand from our bodies, we decided to to walk a short mile up the road to Thunder Hole. On the way, we got sidetracked and explored some of the bluffs. We ended up climbing down to the water and taking a million more pictures. The coast is breathtaking, freezing cold, but absolutely breathtaking. 

Don’t worry mom, it was safe and we were careful. 🙂



This place is growing on me slowly, but surely. 

When we finally got to Thunder Hole, I was unimpressed. There were a lot of people there, more people there than I’d yet to see in the park. Leading down to the hike between the two cliffs were manmade stairs, making it an easy twenty step walk from the road. The actual hole was pretty cool though. The space between the cliffs seemed to be naturally hollowed-out and when big waves crashed in and filled the space, it sounded like thunder had cracked in the sky. We stayed there for a while and listened to several big waves and each time we were surprised it sounded exactly like thunder, even though we knew it would. 


​I’m so thankful for days like this; I’m thankful to have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and on such a beautiful planet; I’m thankful for friends who explore with me. I can’t help but stop to appreciate everything I have. I definitely ended the day with a huge grin plastered across my face. 

Find You Here

I grew up a lot during my first year of college, but I’ve already grown so much in the short month I’ve been out of Tennessee. I guess being a thousand miles from my people didn’t really give me a choice. 

I’d be lying to you if I said my relationship with Jesus has improved since I’ve been gone, because it hasn’t. I don’t feel His presence here and I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t really been looking for it.

I had Saturday off work and I was frustrated with how the last couple of days had gone, so I knew that in order to keep my sanity and my positive mindset, I needed to get outside for a while.

So around 10 am, I started walking towards a trail. The day started out relatively warm. The sun wasn’t overbearing, but it was definitely present. The rain in the forecast kept getting pushed later and later in the day, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

As the day went on and I walked farther and farther from civilization, I began to feel better. I was going to be fine. I was going to make it through the next couple of months and make the most out of them. I was going to learn from this and grow through this. I was going to find Jesus in the midst of this chaos.

After walking for a couple of hours, I came upon a picnic area and stopped to eat my sandwich. It was the first place I had service in a couple of hours, so I began scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that one of my favorite authors Annie Downs had posted something, I went to her profile and began going through her posts, which then led me to her podcast, That Sounds Fun. I’d listened to a couple of her episodes before and I really enjoyed them.

 

annie-artwork

 

As I was going through them, I noticed one with Ellie Holcomb, a Christian singer. I’d listened to a couple of her songs before and really liked them so I figured, why not? I was a good distance from being home so I might as well do something to occupy my time.

 

ellieholcomb

 

In the podcast, Ellie talked about her new album Red Sea Road. I immediately began to love her not only as a musician, but as a person. Her love for Christ runs so deep and she’s so sure of her faith.

Annie asked her what her favorite song in the album was and she, without hesitation, said Find You Here. She wrote it when she found out that her dad was diagnosed with cancer, but still kept a smile of his face.

Wow. 

What a slap in the face. 

She found His presence after receiving potentially the worst news of someone’s life. And yet, they still managed to smile and trust Him. Why are we so quick to blame God in our times of sadness and frustration, but so hesitant to praise Him in the times of joy and happiness? 

I’ve always been envious of people that feel Jesus’s presence. I want to feel like the Holy Spirit is always with me.

And then I wondered: Am I even looking?  

Would I even realize if Jesus Himself stopped me? Or would I be too worried about the task I was on my way to do? Would I have my nose too deep in my phone to even look up?

It’s not that the Holy Spirit hasn’t come with me to Maine, it’s that I’m not looking for Him. Because let’s be honest, it’s hard. Sometimes we’d rather fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow than to talk to God for just two minutes or we skip our quite time with Him because we need an extra few minutes in the shower.

God is here, right now. All I have to do is open my eyes and look for Him. He’s right there during my walk to work in the rain. He’s right there as I look at old pictures of my family and realize how much as changed. He’s right with me, every single step of the way.

Before I left for Maine, my nana gave me one of her rings: a beautiful pearl with a gold band. I love it; it hasn’t left my hand and I’m not really a jewelry person. One morning as I stuck it back on after my shower, I felt the need to text her and told her how much I loved it and that I hadn’t taken it off and how much I loved her and missed her. I didn’t think much of it at the time, she was on my heart, so I let her know.

Later that day, my mom told me that my great grandma (my nana’s mom) had taken a nasty fall and was in surgery. I could only imagine how devastated my nana had been all morning.

It was ironic and probably not on accident that had been the morning I told my nana I was thinking about her, after all the morning when I mindlessly slipped her ring on. I can’t help but think that the Holy Spirit plays a role in things like that.

As I continue to move forward, I’m continually reminding myself to look for Jesus. He’s not going to leave you, find Him here. 

When it isn’t Well

I was raised to be a positive person. I’ve been told before that I’ve been annoyingly positive in certain situations. But I’m about to be real honest here – lately, I haven’t been too positive and I’ve caught myself in moments that I haven’t even wanted to be around myself. Ouch. Yikes. 

I’m having more trouble than I thought I would adjusting to life in Maine. Nobody says “y’all” and I can’t seem to stop saying it – not that I’ve really tried or that I really want to. It’s colder here than I’d like for it to be in June or that I’d really like for it to ever be. All my friends are home together and I’m 1300 miles away on an island with limited things to do. Needless to say, I’ve struggled with being homesick these past three weeks.

I mailed a package home to TN when I was still in Utah and it seems to have gotten lost in the mail. It had a lot of important things to me in it and I’m still hoping and praying it gets to TN or to the return address in Maine.

I got an email from an online journal declining a couple of articles I’d submitted. My creative writing teacher had assured me they were polished enough to publish and the editors of this certain journal would love them. False. Rejection isn’t pretty. 

My housing plans for the fall have seemed to fall through and it looks like I won’t be able to live with my best friends. Don’t worry – we’re still best friends, some personal things just  came up. 

So needless to say, it isn’t well with my soul. 

I’m in a slump. We’ve all been there. Probably more than a few times.

It’s okay though, right?

Yes, it’s okay because it has to be. Going through slumps are inevitable. They’re apart of life and they always will be.

The test of faith isn’t in avoiding these slumps, but rather in working through them.

it is well

When I was getting ready yesterday morning the song “It is Well” came on and I immediately started singing along

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

I listened to this song the entire time it took me to walk the mile into work.

Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You

Life isn’t always good, but thankfully, I serve a God that will always be unimaginably good. I don’t have to be strong and positive all the time because Jesus grabbed my hand and promised to take on all the dirty work 2000 years ago as He hung on the cross.

Far be it me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

So when it isn’t well, it’s okay. What isn’t okay, is allowing it to stay that way. Pray it out; go for a walk; write in your journal until your hand cramps up; talk to a friend, just don’t sit in your slump and throw a pity party because that will never work. Celebrate the good things in life because I can almost assure you they are there.