Things I have been Reading and Listening to Recently

Hey guys,

I thought I would do a short, informal blog post about some books I have been reading recently and some Podcasts I have been listening to. I often find myself in “reading ruts,” as I like to call them, where I am bored of every single book I own and I cannot decide what to read next. Usually when that happens I scrounge blogs, GoodReads, or book reviews to see what everyone else in the world is reading. Sometimes that can help point me in a new direction or spark my interest in some way. So here is my list!

BOOKS:

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders: This is a book that I have read, re-read, highlighted, underlined, and thought about for hours…all within the last three days (I only bought it on Tuesday). It is a non-fiction book chronicling the journey of Cait Flanders as she institutes a “shopping ban” into her life for an entire year. Basically, she only shops for others and buys things like groceries and toiletries. She also allowed herself to replace things, but only if she discarded the original item and truly needed to replace it (her example, a new pair of jeans after her previous pair ripped). Not only does this book talk about her Shopping Ban,  but her journey of repaying $28,000 of debt and recovering as an alcoholic. Most importantly, it talks about the lessons that these things have taught her and the way it has changed her mindset about life as a whole. It is conversationally written, intimate, and enjoyable to read. I felt like I was curled up on Cait’s couch with a cup of coffee, just listening to her tell her story. It has given me a lot to think about, which will probably result in another blog post about mindfulness and my personal convictions soon.the-year-of-less-squamish.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scale

 

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum: I have loved Erynn’s books since I was about fourteen years old. I try to read her entire body of work once a year, and I always start with this series. There are five books in this series (Miss Match, Rematch, Match Point, Match Made, and Bake me a Match), but the first one is my favorite. These are what I call “fluff books,” meaning they are not difficult to read and they feel like old friends. Her books make me laugh, cry, and crave allll the coffee and chocolate. Written with strong Christian themes and undertones, they chronicle the life of Lauren Holbrook and her misadventures in love, friendship, and match-making. (Wow I really went into full book-reviewer mode in that last sentence). Her books make me feel so warm, happy, and safe. I highly recommend. After I finish this series, I will be going on to the Maya Davis series, which is also fabulous. I never tire of these books, even if I can quote them verbatim.

Image result for Miss Match series Erynn Mangum

 

Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer M.D.: Have any of you watched the NBC show “New Amsterdam”? If so, this is the book that the show is based on! Based in New York City and written by the Medical Director of one of the oldest public hospitals in the country, Bellevue, it chronicles the true stories of twelve patients who have left a lasting impression on Dr. Manheimer. This was such an eye-opening book. Because of the insanely diverse and metropolitan location, New York City, this hospital sees people from countries that I have never even heard of and from life situations that I cannot even imagine. Dr. Manheimer talks explicitly about the horrors that these patients have faced and how that both effects their physical ailments and the way that the hospital can treat them. Though sometimes the organization is a bit difficult to follow, Dr. Manheimer does a great job of combining ethos, pathos, and logos with every patient he describes. He speaks openly about the personal struggle concerning how to treat a Rikers inmate with the same ethical and unbiased treatment as you would an innocent child. He gives raw and emotional accounts of patient’s stories, stories that no human being should have ever lived, and he does it all in a healthily detached way that gives reader’s the full truth and allows them to receive the information as they will. I highly recommend this, just be ready for some stories that can make you sob in bed at three in the morning (not that I personally did that…) Image result for twelve patients life and death at bellevue hospital

 

PODCASTS:

The SHE Podcast by Jordan Lee Dooley: I have followed Jordan and her various projects for years, and her fairly-new podcast is amazing. It deals with topics such as faith, relationships, marriage, entrepreneurship, and how to adult. They are usually between twenty-five and forty-five minutes, so the perfect length for a commute home or walk.  One of my favorite aspects of her podcast is all the guest stars she has on the show. I have been led to soooo many other encouraging books and resources through her show, and it always leads to interesting discussions. I especially love her episodes on marriage, they are always Biblically sound, encouraging, and inspiring.  Image result for the she podcast

 

Medical School for the Public by UCSF: This is a compilation of medical lectures from classes, conferences, and specials produced by the University of California. They’re pretty dense and lengthy, but I have a little notebook that I take notes in as I listen, just as if it was a lecture in a class. They also have videos where you can watch them online, and this is great! You can see the lecturers PowerPoint, visuals, and formulas. I usually listen to part of it and if it sparks my interest, I go online and watch the video. Because I am a researcher, this usually leads me down the rabbit hole of medical research. I find it insanely interesting, like watching a live ankle replacement? Heck yes.

Image result for medical school for the public

Girls Night by Stephanie May Wilson: This is one that I discovered through SHE, and the two have a lot of similarities. This podcast has longer episodes, between forty-five and ninety minutes, but the topics are about the same. It feels like the title, like you are having a girls night with some of your closest friends. These episodes have gotten me through many road trips this summer. Everything is from a Christian perspective, and I always laugh a lot and leave feeling very encouraged. Image result for girls night by stephanie may wilson

 

So there you have it! A few things that I have been reading and listening to lately. Do you have any recommendations for me? I am always looking for something new. One thing I love about reading and listening to podcasts is that I usually feel like I have learned something. It may not be about anything earth-shattering or life-changing, but I always finish feeling a little bit fuller than before.

 

Thanks for stopping by! “All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.” ~George Whitman

Quick Update

There are so many things that I want to write about, but I want ya’ll to understand where I’m coming from. In order for that to happen, you need a little life update! So here we go…

Last summer (June-July 2018), I traveled abroad to study at Oxford University in Oxford, England. Before I began my summer term there, I traveled to Ireland, France, and around England. It was the summer of a lifetime. I sipped espresso under the Eiffel Tower, met my family in Ireland, and ate breakfast at 221B Baker Street. Once we arrived at Oxford, it took about .2 seconds for me to fall in love with that ancient city. It was simply amazing. I sobbed the entire way home!

Last fall semester (August-December 2018) was rough. I broke my ankle August 29th, and it took a giant toll on my body, mentally and physically. But thanks to my amazing friends and professors, I still had a great semester. It was especially sweet on September 18th, when I met the love of my life at a Waffle House on Murfreesboro Pike at 11:30pm (unsafe, do not do this, but it worked for us). Life has been so amazing with B by my side.

Spring Semester (Jan-May 2019) was INSANE. I had 21 senior-level English Literature courses, plus a part-time job, plus my senior recitation, plus tumultuous housing issues, plus the stress of graduating! It was so much, and caused a lot of panic attacks. But I made it, I graduated, and I am stronger because of it. I slept for about a week after graduation.

May 19th deserves it’s own little section. I was visiting B in Nashville, so we got all dressed up for church and then we went to lunch. Totally normal, right? Then we decided to walk around my favorite place in the city: Centennial Park. We walked to the center of the park and when I turned around, B was down on one knee. I was SHOCKED and of course, said yes. Then I kissed him. Repeatedly.

The rest of the summer (June-August), brought lots of weekend trips, adventures, bridal showers, and wedding planning. B and I road-tripped over 5,000 miles. We went to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and probably a few other states that I am forgetting. I picked out my dream wedding gown, we planned our perfect wedding (for 11/23!), and I was able to visit and hang out with all of my favorite people. It was such an amazing summer.

This fall (August-now!) brought lotssssss of changes and hard times. I moved B down to his school in Alabama and sobbed the entire 6 hours home. Long distance is no joke. The middle of August is when it kind of hits you that you have graduated and aren’t moving away again. It can be a weird adjustment. I began job-hunting, and before I knew it I had four jobs. Now my days consist of working, biding time until November 23rd, and trying to enjoy my last few months in my hometown. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment, and I struggle every day, but I am trusting that the time will pass and these days are precious.

So yeah, that has been my life the past year! What a wild ride it has been. On to the next adventure.

“For everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Hello, Again.

It’s been over  year. I know, I know. I’ve struggled with this little corner of the world. I go back and forth between wanting to delete it and start fresh and wanting to preserve every stage of life. For now, I am keeping things as is. There have been many life changes in the past year, more than any other year of my life…and it is only September! There will be posts about all of that later, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts tha that have been rolling around in this college-educate brain of mine. Here we go…

Everyone knows that life moves in phases. Time marches on, and every second is continually transitioning us into a slightly altered reality even from the second before. We don’t realize it until it is too late. We don’t realize all the tiny cogs that have been moving in every aspect of our existence until we turn around and don’t fully recognize the reality we are walking through. And it’s hard. Sometimes the discomfort, unfamiliarity, and discombobulation is something that we can adjust to in a few minutes or days. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it takes longer; months, maybe. Years, possibly. Just as soon as we feel adjusted, we realize that we are trapped on the perpetual carousal of life, always spinning AND going up and down. It can be enjoyable, or it can make you puke a funnel cake all down the carnival worker who already looks dead inside.

I wonder if we will ever discover a way to regulate our reactions to this. Yes, we are able to control our responses to a situation, our mindset concerning the situation, and our following actions. But sometimes, when we enter a new phase of life, we discover that our consciousness doesn’t actually catch up with us for a while. We go through the motions; we shower, eat, probably smile and cry, but then that moment hits. The moment where you feel as if you took a step back and can view your life from a completely subjective viewpoint. You stand there, dumbstruck, and think “Holy crap, this is where I am. This is who I am. What?” That punch in the gut can affect us in a million different ways. Whether we decide that our current reality is a happy one or not, there will always be that moment of realization. A lot of times this is referred to as a “mid-life crisis.” You wake up one day and realize that you are living a life. You exist, honest to God. You think, “This is me. This is my life. This is actually what’s happening right now.” How does that make you feel? How does one respond to that blatant truth?

The more I open up about this type of awakening, the more that I read, research, and observe, I have disocvered that you don’t have to be mid-life to have these moments. First of all, that’s stupid becuase no one knows when the middle of their life is. Second of all, these moments can be great. They are hard, yes. HECK yes. But they can awaken us to something within ourselves, they can show us something we have buried or forgotten, and they can even play a part in showing us what our next phase should be or who we should become. In our life, there is going to be that moment, probably multiple moments, of sudden realization that can knock us off our feet. It is a side-effect of life that is pretty much unavoidable. So what do you do when you have that moment, that punch in the gut, the sudden awakening that this is MY life. Do you laugh? Do you cry? Do you shave your head, Britney Spears style?

I don’t know, join me as I figure it out.

 

“Real isn’t how you are made… It’s a thing that happens to you.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes… [but] when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up? Or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once… You become. It takes a long time.” ~Margery Williams Blenco, from The Velveteen Rabbit

A New Year of…?

Alright, everyone, it is time for the ultra-cliche, overwritten, and mildly annoying New Year’s post that about 329983 other people will be writing within the next few days. But what kind of millennial blogger would I be if I didn’t include a post like this in my little corner of the world? So here we go: “A New Year of…?

Honestly, New Years is my second favourite holiday. I love the idea of so many new beginnings, fresh starts, and endless possibilities. The only thing I don’t like is having to fix the date every time I write the year because let’s be honest, I never do it correctly until October. But aside from that, the New Year brings another year to celebrate birthdays, holidays, heartaches, tears, pain, and all the other feelings that make us human.

There’s a new fad going around where you pick one word or phrase to be your motto for the new year. I did this last year (2017) and I chose the words: “Be Brave.” Those two words are written on my laptop stickers, a notecard hanging above my desk, and the slate of my mind. So what did my “Year of Brave” look like? Well, I am so glad you asked! (Eye rolls for the cheesiness of that last sentence are not only accepted but encouraged.)

At the beginning of last year, I HATED change. I am also a very sentimental person, doesn’t that just sound like a recipe for disaster? I went into the spring semester of 2017 at my first college knowing it that it would be a semester of lasts. I was excited; I had a new job that I adored, classes with one of my best friends and my favourite teachers, and it was amazing. I learned so much, and through my BritLit class, I realized that I wanted to concentrate my literary studies in English Literature (specifically Victorian Literature). That decision has brought me so much contentment and joy. Spring was great; I turned 18, I went to Nashville for a Phi Theta Kappa conference, I won a few academic awards, I graduated with high honours, and I made lasting friendships along the way. Graduation week is definitely in the top five best memories of 2017. I felt so loved and so joyful.

Summer was fun, I spent it with some amazing people and I travelled to Italy, France, Spain, Croatia, and Montenegro. That trip was so crazy and I am SO blessed because I got to experience it with my family. Summer also held heartbreak: I broke up with someone I deeply cared about, I was unable to use my right arm for over eight weeks, and I dealt with a lot of anger about a lot of things. But mostly, I learned.

Fall took me to Nashville and I have experienced so much joy in this new season of my life. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, but if I am being honest, more often than not, it was. God blessed me so much this past fall, and I am so thankful for the amazing new friends I have made.

Winter has been cold. I dislike the cold. But other than that, it has held stress, joy, tears of laughter as well as sadness, and a whole lot of growth. I finished my first semester at my University, I wrote like crazy with some awesome ladies by my side, and I made it back to Illinois in one piece. On arriving home, a dear member of our family by love (not by blood), went to spend Christmas with Jesus. Watching my sister walk through the nightmare of burying her best friend has shown me how fragile life is and how amazing it is to feel something so painful. Because we are able to love, we are able to hurt. Remember to love on your friends, your family, and yourself. Our time with each other is so, so short.

As can be seen by my camera roll, this year has been amazing. I have pictures of myself walking across a stage in front of thousands of people (in heels, may I add), receiving my first college diploma, strolling down the streets of Venice, swimming under a waterfall in Croatia, sobbing my heart out, wearing a stupid cast, packing my car, driving in Nashville, exploring with friends, worshipping my Savior, writing my 87297475 papers, and eating lots of yummy food. But there is a lot behind those pictures.

I have grown A LOT as a person this past year (thankfully not in height, I’m tall enough for goodness sakes). I will fully admit that I started 2017 scared: scared of change, scared of failure, scared of letting my people down, scared of losing connections, scared of not being enough. But I am proud to say that now, on December 30th, 2017, I am not nearly as paralyzed by fear. I truly believe that I have found my voice this year. I’ve been influenced by some pretty dang strong women, and I have had situations where I had to choose whether or not I was brave enough to stand up for what was right, both for myself and for others. There were sometimes that I didn’t, and I regret every single one of those instances. But there were also times that I did. There were times that I was able to stand up for myself and for others, and every little moment of courage helped me to become a braver, stronger, and more confident woman. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am proud of who I am.

2017 has made me realize some little things about myself: I don’t love chunky jewellery anymore, I prefer gold or silver dainty necklaces, bracelets, and rings. I love coconut milk in my coffee. Doughnuts are just good for my soul. Figure Skating makes my heart so incredibly happy and my waistline likes it too. Charles Dickens is my new favourite author. I thoroughly enjoy spending time alone and I truly need it. And maybe, most importantly, I have discovered a pure love for English Breakfast Tea.

2017 has made me realize a few big things about myself too: I cannot stand idly by when I see someone being hurt/mistreated. I can proudly call myself a feminist. I do not have to be afraid to be smart. I do not have to feel guilty or hide the fact that I love school and I do well in all my studies. I do not have to justify my actions or my beliefs to anyone but my Lord. I do not have to look or act perfect all the time. I do not have to earn God’s love. And I do not have to conform to what those around me want me to be. I am allowed to make my own way in the world.  I am allowed to be human. I am allowed to question authority. I have a voice: it is valuable and it is my duty to use it. I am no longer terrified of change, I am beginning to welcome it. I have realized that just because things change doesn’t mean that the change is bad.

Remember how I said that 2017 was my “Year of Brave”? I think that I was pretty brave this year. I think it takes a lot of courage to grow, and even more courage to accept and encourage that growth within yourself. I jumped out to God in faith and He has held me up high. God has worked in my heart to make me a braver, stronger, and bolder person for His glory and I sincerely pray He will use the fire within me to help others. I hope you, dear readers, have also had a year that has challenged you to grow and become an even better version of yourself. Maybe your 2017 absolutely sucked and you just want it to be over. Either way, this year is almost gone. New beginnings are just around the corner. Make the most of every single one of them.

I don’t know what my phrase for next year will be yet. I don’t know what it will hold. I’m hoping it holds laughter, friendships, adventures, and lots of coffee. But, you never really know. So here is to remembering the lessons of 2017 and welcoming whatever 2018 offers.

Happy New Year.

“So long to last year, it’s all becoming so clear: there’s no use living in regret. Let’s fight the good fight, train our eyes to find the light, and make this year the best one yet. Starting right here, Happy New Year” ~JJ Heller, “This Year”

Peace, Be Still.

Hey Y’all,

I know, I know; long time no write. See, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, but only about various literary critiques or Victorian England. But hey, if anyone wants to discuss Friedrich Nietzsche or Oscar Wilde, hit me up.

Tonight I just want to write about a few things that have been on my heart lately and a few random things that have been circling in my crazy and scattered mind.

Let’s begin.

Once upon a time…

Just kidding. But hey, now I have your attention because every good story starts with “Once upon a time”.

A few years ago a dear woman who has become my mentor and second mother listened to me vent about various stressors in my life. I have had a rough few years when it comes to handling stress, and so I have since etched the words she said to me on my heart: “You are so kind to every other person Torri, but don’t forget that you are a person too. Be kind to yourself.”  

Granted, it’s taken me a good three years to be able to fully commit to those words, but whatever.

As I was walking back to my apartment from a campus event (I stayed a full thirty minutes. I am proud of myself. #IntrovertProbs) I was just feeling tired. Not sleepy-tired, but soul-tired. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went and sat in one of my favourite quiet and hidden places on campus. I was sitting there still and quiet, but my mind started to think about all the homework I had to do the next day. That’s when I realized something: I have been reading. A LOT. And I have been writing. A LOT. These are the two activities that make me feel more alive than anything else in the world. Reading and writing are basically all my days have consisted of, so why am I feeling so tired and unsatisfied?

It was because I was reading and writing for other people.

I have to write my papers for my English professor and either poetry or editorials for my writing professor. It’s been months since I have picked up my favourite book just to escape reality and my personal notebook has barely gotten a page full of thoughts since starting school. I’ve been pretty careful about taking care of myself in the obvious ways: I always get enough sleep, I wash my face every day, and I cook quite a bit. I go to an amazing church every Sunday, Chapel at least twice a week at school, and I have a small group every other Thursday. My physical needs are perfectly satisfied, my Spiritual needs are being gracefully met, but I’ve neglected a very important part of my existence: the needs of my soul.

In this epiphany moment (angels were singing, heaven opened, it was a whole thing), the above quote came back into my memory. Sometimes, you just need to be kind to yourself. Everyone knows the cliches about taking care of yourself, but I really want to encourage y’all to identify what makes you feel most alive. Maybe it’s reading or writing, maybe it’s dancing, maybe it’s lion taming, maybe it’s running marathons; I don’t care what it is (unless it’s the marathon one, because that could be dangerous ;)), just make sure that you know and that you can recognize the moments when you need fulfilling.

I’m not saying this is the secret of happiness or the magic trick that saves you from having a panic attack, I’m just gently suggesting that you figure out what makes you feel more alive than anything else. Identity what gives you a joy beyond explanation. Recognize what makes you feel most like yourself. Then do it. Just take some time and do it. I truly believe in the importance of this kind of meditation, practice, or whatever you want to call it.

Life demands a lot from us, and being a college student sometimes feels like you have fallen down on a trampoline and can’t get up because everyone else is still jumping. But to all my fellow students: take some time for you. To everyone in the world: remember how valuable you are and treat yourself to some joy.

You are so kind to every other person, treat yourself like a person too.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some Josh Groban to listen to, Jane Austen to read, and hot tea to drink.

“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Fall Break 2017

Hey all! I thought I would give y’all an update on my second month at TNU and fall break!

I am still loving every second of my time in Nashville, and I’ve made a conscious effort to get out and explore my city a little bit. I have found some amazing little coffee shops that are perfect for studying and/or writing, I’ve made my way through some pretty delicious vegan restaurants, and most importantly: I’ve found a vegan doughnut shop that’s to die for. Traffic and I are getting to know one another, and we’ve come to a pretty nice agreement, I just try to get wherever I’m going without dying and/or killing anyone else. This has been a successful endeavour thus far. I enjoy the sunset behind the skyline every evening and I am loving everything about living in a city.

Life on campus is just as amazing as everything else. I’ve made a great little circle of friends and I have never felt lonely; there is always someone there to hang out with, study with, or binge watch an entire season of FRIENDS in one day. My classes are hard but so enjoyable. I leave class every day with such a joy in my heart. I just can’t believe I get to study my passion in such a challenging and in-depth way. I adore all of my professors, especially my English professors! Which is good, since I will be studying with them for a few more years. But seriously, they are so caring and sweet, and they form such a strong support system for their students. I’ve been taking with my major advisor about some different career opportunities and I am just so excited about the doors God is opening and the places He is leading me.

So, that’s a little update on how University is going. On to my Fall Break!

I was able to make it home on Friday, and so I woke up 4:00am to go to Aldersgate FMC for a Bible Quizzing meet! I was able to quizmaster some pretty awesome kids, and the best part of the day is when two little girls I had quizmastered last year came up to me with hugs and sweet greetings. What a privilege to watch these kids grow! My best friend drove 20 miles after she got off work on Saturday (and Monday) just to see me and my heart was filled with joy at being with her again. On Sunday I got to see my church family, on Monday I went to see one of my favorite people in the world, my doctor, and got an amazing report. Today I was able to run some errands in Olney, visit my sister, see an old friend, and talk to some of my favourite OCC people. I head back to my second home tomorrow and even though I’ve loved my break, I’m ready to be back in Tennessee.

Okay, that’s the boring stuff. Here are some slightly more interesting things I have discovered:

  1. As an adult who lives on her own, you can eat cookies for breakfast. Seriously. There is no one policing this.
  2. I swear I am at least 83 years old; one of my favourite things to do is go grocery shopping in my favourite health foods store and read every single label.
  3. Being on my own means I have no bedtimes. Which means I can go to bed at 8:05pm and no one will judge me (except my roommates).
  4. Speaking of roommates, they’re pretty great. It’s like a sleepover with your best friends every night but they also help with dishes and let you have some of their teabags. Win!
  5. Getting mail is seriously one of my most favourite things ever.
  6. Fruit tea. Fruit. Tea.
  7. It’s not unusual to see Sadie Robertson, Natalie Grant, or Meredith Andrews at church/on campus/around.
  8. You can walk around a college campus in pyjamas or in a business suit; both are perfectly acceptable!
  9. Coming home and visiting people is so fun, it’s like a mini-party.
  10. The Frothy Monkey has a drink that is made of apple, caramel, and espresso. Yes, please.

As I hope you can tell, I am loving every second of University life. Thank you so very much for all the prayers and support! I hope to blog within the next few weeks about some things that are a little deeper and of more substance than these little updates, but hey; you get what you get 😉

Thanks for reading,

Blessings to you all!

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” ~Abraham Lincoln.

Monthly Update

Hey guys!

I know it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged, but hey; uprooting one’s life and replanting it four hours south takes it out of a girl! So, here is just a quick little update on my newest adventure!

I’ve been at Trevecca around four weeks, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I’ve only had one ugly episode of homesickness, and by week two I felt thoroughly at home here. Loneliness creeps in sometimes, but TNU really emphasizes community and everyone has been SO welcoming. The English program here is very strong, but very small; consequently, the majors are a pretty close-knit little community. It’s wonderful to be around so many like-minded people, I love it. Not only that, but the Professors are AMAZING and have made my overall transition so much easier. From staying with me after class and showing me how to use various databases, to inviting me to their office just to talk about how I’m doing, my the English Professors have gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome here. Outside of the classroom and English building, I go home every day to two amazing roommates who have quickly become some of my closest friends. I always have a group of friends to sit with in Chapel and I’m still church shopping, but have never felt unwelcome or unloved. Overall, things are better than I could have ever imagined. To further illustrate this, here is a a short and mildly entertaining pro/con list:

PRO’S TO TNU LIFE:

  • I have learned SO MUCH already
  • There are not one, but two coffee shops on campus
  • They have really great french fries, rice, and broccoli here
  • THE LIBRARY IS HUGE
  • The wifi actually works (this isn’t a dig at OCC… oh wait, yes it is ;))
  • There’s a tiny grocery store on campus that has 12 Oreos for $1.39.
  • I live within ten minutes of anything I could ever want/need
  • I have my own kitchen in our adorable apartment
  • Campus is just beautiful
  • We have Netflix on our TV
  • They actually have adequate parking
  • DID I MENTION THE LIBRARY
  • All of my my teachers are amazing
  • All of my classes are in 2 buildings that are right across the quad from each other
  • The chapel services are amazing, and there are lots of ministry opportunities.
  • It’s like a sleepover with your best friends every night
  • Fruit tea. Fruit tea. Fruit tea. Fruit tea.

CONS TO TNU LIFE:

  • I live at the base of the biggest hill on campus
  • SO. MUCH. FORCED. EXERCISE.
  • Traffic…
  • Living this close to anything and everything is bad for my budget
  • I have to do all my own laundry
  • I have to clean my own kitchen
  • The shoe closet stinks

 

I would like to thank everyone for all of the prayers and support I have received as I follow God’s dreams for me. Please know that it means the world to me, and I wouldn’t be here without y’alls support. I promise I’ll make ya’ll proud. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do!

 

“I’m just like my country; I’m young, scrappy, and hungry and I am not throwing away my shot!” ~Linn Manuel Miranda

Time to G(r)o(w)

In 10 days, I leave for college. In 10 days, I move from my hometown of 300 people to a city of 684,410. In 10 days, I will pack my car, drive 248 miles, and unpack it at my dream school. Am I excited? You betcha! Am I scared? Out of my mind.

This really is an exciting time of life, and I really am loving every second of it. Like, I am adult enough to sign legal papers alone, but still kid enough to make my mother schedule my doctors appointments. It’s a pretty cool place to be, honestly. But I know I will have to grow up a lot  in the next couple weeks, and so I decided to make a list of ways I want to grow, ways I want to mature, and things I don’t want to forget. There are a few very important things not listed here, but all in due time. So, for now, here are eight of many things I want to remember and be as I start this next chapter of my life.

  1. I want to be brave and bold. 

 This has been a theme in my life the past few months. See, I like safety, I like rules, and I like comfort zones. Little things like trying new foods and cutting my hair off have never made me nervous, but things like walking to my car alone when it’s dark and giving my honest opinion scare the crap out of me. But starting now, I want to focus on being braver and bolder. I want to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends, new connections, and new relationships. I want to ask my professors hard questions, stand my ground when I am disagreed with, and speak my mind concerning things I am passionate about. There are too many people in this world who do not speak up for what is really important. I can’t be one of those people; my fear is not a good enough excuse not to do what needs to be done. So I vow to be brave when fighting for what is right, putting myself out there, and facing Nashville traffic. I vow to be bold as I go to interviews, debate with others, and follow my dreams. Wish me luck.

2.   I want to remember who I am.

I know that I will be surrounded by lots of different people, and I know that sometimes I have a tendency to let others influence me. But I want to remember who I am. The big stuff is easy for me to remember; I am a Christian, I was raised by a great family, I love to learn… those are things that are easy to remember and hold on to. But I want to remember and hold onto the little things that make me who I am. Things like: I like salt and vinegar flavored anything, canned coconut milk in my coffee, and cucumbers in my water. I love yoga but I hate cardio. I would rather dress like a businesswoman than a college student. I like people but I love my own space. When I get overwhelmed the best therapy for me is to drive around, cry, blast some music, and then get back to work. I pinch my skin when I’m nervous/scared and pick at my fingernails when I’m bored. I cry at everything but I laugh just as easily. I underestimate myself and overestimate others. I hate the way bare feet feel on concrete. I love mangoes but not when they are overripe. I love doing random things to make people smile.  These are the types of things that I have noticed I tend to fluctuate on depending upon whose company I am in, and these are all stupid little things that make me who I am. Therefore, they are vitally important.

3.    I want to be more self-assertive and self-confident. 

Most people think I am a confident person, but really I’m just a good actress. See, I am confident in who I am, but I am not confident in my abilities. When I was named one of fifty, and Illinois’ only, Phi Theta Kappa Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, I was sure it was a mistake and waited a few hours for the next email to come saying “Oh, sorry, we sent that to the wrong person!” I didn’t believe it until I texted my advisors and they confirmed it (with lots of exclamation points and hugs). If someone disagrees with me, I usually let them have their way to avoid confrontation. I don’t think I am a good writer, and I’m not even sure I am a good enough student to be transferring to Trevecca as a junior at age eighteen. But as I walk through these next few months and years, I want to focus on standing up for myself, not apologizing for what I believe/say, and believing that I am smarter than I feel.

4.   I want to remember that food is just food. 

This may seem stupid to some people, but as someone who is gluten free and vegan because of health problems, I have to remind myself of this daily. I want to remember that having some pizza is not worth spending the next four hours laying on the bathroom floor trying to force myself to vomit, and root beer is not worth looking eight months pregnant. Food is just food; it is good, but it is not more important than my overall well being and comfort.

5.   I want to have fun. 

I’m someone who will not let herself have fun until all the work is done. I know what an asset this can be, but it can also be a detriment to my overall well-being. Sometimes, you just need to relax and have fun. Take a few hours off studying and go get a cup of coffee with a friend or partake in a little retail therapy. I want to remember that I am at school to study, but I am also at school to become a more well rounded person. I don’t want to look back on my years in Nashville and only be able to remember what the library, classrooms, and my apartment looks like. I want to see the city, explore the little hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and just enjoy my time there. Fun is important too.

6.    I want to remember to take time for me and do what makes me happy. 

My nutritionist and close friend once suggested that I take some times of the day just to do something that makes me happy. That is a really hard concept for me. After all, what if someone else needs me? There are things to be done! I have a planner that is crazy full! I can’t just waste a single second! But once I started putting this into practice, I realized how vital it is to my happiness. Especially during the school year, I would go crazy if I didn’t take at least thirty minutes to do what I want to do. Sometimes I will read, sometimes I bake goodies to share, sometimes I will take a nap, and sometimes I will just scroll through Pinterest. It is vital for my sanity. I know how hard it will be for me to uphold this, and so I want to remember how important it is.

7.    I NEED to remember that it is okay to fail.

Those who know me know how I hate to fail. I have a legitimate fear of failing. In my mind, failing means letting people down, and I HATE disappointing people. But I don’t want to kill myself if I don’t get the grade, the internship, or the connection that I want. I have really big aspirations and they are laced with opportunities to fail and turn back. But you know what? Maybe it would be okay to fail. Maybe I would still wake up the next morning. Maybe it would redirect me to something better. I don’t want to limit the ways God can speak to me because of my inability to listen; maybe failure will be His way of showing me the best option. I resolve to stop fearing failure and start taking risks in order to achieve my dreams.

8.    I want to learn. 

This may sound like a “duh” one, but I want to really learn! There are SO MANY things out there to learn, and it simultaneously saddens and comforts me that I will never be able to learn everything about everything. I want to learn more about my passions, more about the things I hate, and more about humanity. I want to learn who I am now, and who I am meant to be. I want to learn about my new friends and my new professors. I want to learn how to write well and how to read well. I want to learn all I can in the two years I will be at Trevecca. There is so much I want to know! There is so much I want to learn! I want to make the most of every moment, and always be on the lookout for learning opportunities. I am never too old or too experienced to broaden my mind.

So there you have it, eight things I want to remember as I move away and begin the next chapter of my life. This is, of course, an insanely condensed version of the list, but you get the idea. Like I said, I am scared. I am terrified. But I am so, so excited and ready to go. I know I will cry, a lot, and I know I will be homesick sometimes; but it is my duty to go out into the world and change it. Wish me luck, it’s time to g(r)o(w).

Quick Update on the Goodness of God

Hey all,

Sorry for the month-long hiatus, I’ve had a few setbacks with my arm as well as my computer itself (read more about that below), but nevertheless; I am back! Nothing life-altering or overly exciting has happened since my last post (Thanks for all the love on that one, by the way!), so here’s just a quick little post about God’s goodness…

Let me begin this story by reminding you how great God is and how uptight I can be. You see, God is always faithful and sovereign, but I freak out if once tiny piece of my life is misplaced. I realize what a character flaw this can be, and God and I are working on it. Anyway, last week I opened by laptop and realized my wifi wouldn’t turn on. Now, the wifi at our house is horrible so I thought that maybe it had something to do with that. I just shut my MacBook off and decided to deal with it later, but later came and it still wasn’t working. I did some resets I read about online, but nothing worked; so to the apple store it must go! So my amazing mother and I drove three hours to the nearest apple store last week, and they ran some extensive tests and found out that it was not going to be an easy fix. Not only was the wifi card bad, but there were also several hardware problems. As they are telling me this, these are the things running through my brain: “I start college in two weeks. I can’t NOT have a laptop!” “I do not have enough money to pay for this!!!” “THIS IS GOING TO COST ME NEARLY $500?!?!” “I cannot deal with this right now!!!” You get the gist, it wasn’t pretty. But nevertheless, I let the nice man at the Apple store take my baby away and send it into the Apple doctors for a tune up. I worried about it the entire way home, but then God reminded me of something. I had received an $1,100 grant through a TRIO program at my school that I wasn’t expecting. Meaning, I hadn’t budgeted it for my tuition yet. Meaning, I could use it to pay for this and it not even affect my bottom line. THEN, a few days later, the Apple people came back and said the total cost would be half of what they quoted. THEN, they said they would ship it to my door for free, saving me a three hour drive and lots of gas. How great is our God?! He knew how worried I was about the cost and the timeframe, and so He enabled the cost to be cut in half, reminded me that I could use my grant for this, and wrapped up the entire ordeal in five days. How amazing is that?! I am in awe of His love and care for me. Good one, God. And yes, I will try and trust You more next time. You really know what You’re doing.

So yeah, that happened. Our God is so sovereign and caring, and nothing is too little for His attention. I am so thankful for a Savior like our Lord.

Anyway, that’s just a little update. I have another post in the works that talks about some visitors we’ve had recently and how much I love my family, so stay tuned for that!

Thanks for reading!

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow…!” ~Matthew 6:33-34

Choosing God.

Hey guys.

So, I would be lying if I said the past few days were just easy and happy summer days. They have been neither easy nor happy; I’ve had some major heartbreak lately, and it sort of feels like my world has been spinning out of control. And did I mention I get motion sick? So yeah, this whole world-spinning heartbreak I’ve been walking through has not agreed with me. My world is slowly beginning to right itself a bit, at least to where I can take a breath, and so I felt called to share some truths that God has shared with me. So, I present: Choosing God.

Have any of you ever heard of the First5 devotional app? If you have, yay! You may be to able to connect with this post in a more intimate way. If you haven’t, do yourselves a favor and download it. I’m not kidding. The lovely First5 community is currently doing a study of Ruth, Esther, and Song of Songs; the study has been affectionally named “Covenant.” I jumped in in the middle of Esther, but have since caught up on what I missed. Today, I want to share a few of my thoughts on the book of Ruth.  A lot of people view the story of Ruth as a sweet love story between Ruth and Boaz, a picture of God’s provincial timing and leading, or an example of what happens when we are faithful to our Savior. All of those views are correct, but I have come to view this small book in a totally different light…

I like step-by-step instructions, and the book of Ruth has come to serve as my four-step plan to surviving this whole life thing…

Step 1: We must consciously choose to stay with God.

So, this chick named Naomi was (probably) happily married to a dude named Elimelech, and they were blessed with two sons. The sons grew up to marry a girl named Orpah and a girl named Ruth. Now Naomi’s family was from Bethlehem, but Ruth and Orpah were native to Moab. What does this matter, you ask? In Bethlehem they worshiped the One True God, but in Moab they worshiped idols. Remember that, it’s important. One day, Naomi’s husband died. It was horrible, but she still had her sons and daughter-in-laws. But then, about ten years later, both of her sons were killed. This left only Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth; all as widows, which were treated horribly in those days. These three women were left alone, scared, and helpless. They decide to head back to Judah, but then Naomi realized that she was leading her daughters into uncertainty, and they may have a better chance at life if they returned home. So, she tells Orpah and Ruth to go back to Moab and return to their families. Orpah is heartbroken, but decides to go back to Moab. However, Ruth says: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” {Ruth 1:16}. Orpah went back to Moab; therefore, back to a place where idol worship was practiced. But Ruth stays with Naomi, and in doing so, stays with God. She’s walking into a world of uncertainty, but she is sticking with the woman who will lead her to the exact place God needs her to be.

Sticking with God is a conscious choice we must make everyday. Everyday has little storms, and somedays there are storms that knock us down and then hit us with a bolt of lightning, just for good measure. Trust me, I know. Whatever your storm may be, recognize that it has placed you at a fork in the road. Are you going to return to Moab, back to the land of pagan worship and a false sense of security? Or, are you going to head towards Bethlehem, towards God? Ruth chose to stay with God, even though Bethlehem offered no hope of security or assurance of comfort. She chose to stay with God. Step 1: Stay. 

Step 2: Let God Lead You to Your Field of Hope. 

Once Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi let her grief and bitterness overcome her. She even asked the villagers to call her Mara, which means bitterness or tragedy. Ruth realized that they would need some food/livelihood, and so she got to work. She asked Naomi, er, Mara, if she could go gleaning in the fields. It was hot, rough, and even dangerous work for a woman, but Naomi knew they needed provisions and so she sent Ruth out. Ruth just happened to stumble upon a field belonging to Boaz (Yeah right, you can’t even attempt to believe that was coincidental) and starts to glean the leftover grains. Boaz notices how hard she works, and asks about her. Once he finds out she is related to Naomi, he realized that she is his relative. Ruth doesn’t know this until she returns home that evening, but she is so thankful for Boaz’s kindness as he enables her to get as much grain as she can. Now, her and Naomi could eat. They could probably sell some. They could live another day. What’s more, Boaz invited Ruth to come back for the rest of the harvest! This field she just happened to stumble upon became a field of hope for her and Naomi.

When you are looking around at the life you knew in shattered pieces on the floor, things can feel pretty hopeless. How can God work through this? How can any of this work for the good? What if I made a mistake? How will I make it through? It’s rough, I know. But in those moments, if we choose to stay with God, he lovingly leads us to our own field of hope. Think about it, Ruth didn’t ask Naomi which field to go to, she just went and allowed God to lead her. If we can just stay with God and let Him lead us, He will happily act as a guide, leading us to the field of Hope where we are supposed to be. Maybe that is Him leading us to a friend, a pastor, or even back to Himself. Wherever He leads you is exactly where you need to be. Step 2: Let God Lead You to Your Field of Hope.

Step 3: Wait for God in the Long Now.

Because of the laws back then, a widow needed to marry a relation of her deceased husband in order to regain stability and hope. For Ruth, Boaz was the man she needed to marry. Not only for her, but for Naomi as well. Naomi realizes this, and so she tells Ruth how to go about letting Boaz know her intentions. The instructions are weird to us, but they were perfectly normal in the good ole days. Ruth did exactly what Naomi told her, but Boaz tells her that he needs to take care of a few things before he can marry her. Ruth was expecting to come out of this interaction with an engagement. Instead, she is coming home with nothing but some Barley. But here Naomi says some very, very important words: “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens” {Ruth 3:18}

Okay, I am not a patient person. At all. Like, not even a little bit. If there is a conflict, I want it resolved as soon as possible. If there is a problem, I will stay up days on end in order to figure it out. But you know what? Sometimes storms don’t calm that quickly. Sometimes, God chooses to teach us patience rather than just saying the word to fix everything. I fell in love with the term “The Long Now” as soon as I read in my First5 devotion. Grammatically, it isn’t quite correct, but it holds so much truth. A Long Now is that pesky period of time where you aren’t where you used to be, but you definitely aren’t where you want to be. It is never comfortable. It is never fun. It is never easy. I am in one right now, and I can attest that it is none of those things. Whatever your long now may be, take Naomi’s words to heart while you wait. Be patient. Take a breath. And wait. You can be confident that God is still working, even in this sucky time of life. If you stay with God and let Him lead you to your Field of Hope, you can trust that He will lead you safely through the torment of step 3; waiting for God in the Long Now. 

Step 4: Let God Write the End of Your Story.

Ruth was faithful to God during her long now, and guess what? God worked it all out!! *and the crowd goes wild* See, there was a problem because Boaz wasn’t the only heir, and Boaz had to make sure the older heir didn’t want to claim the responsibility of taking on his deceased relatives wife and property. Once that was taken care of, Boaz was able to marry Ruth, have a son named Obed (I know, poor kid) with her, and live happily ever after. That in and of itself sounds like a pretty great ending, right? I’m sure after all of her waiting she was more than happy to close the storybook right there. But God had even bigger plans. I had never really taken notice of this before (and I have the entire genealogy of Jesus memorized), but….: “…Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed. Obed was the Jesse. Jesse was the father of David” {Ruth 4:21-22}. Jesus came to save the world through the lineage of David. Think about it, there were A LOT of times where Ruth could have turned her back on God. She could have gone back to Moab with Orpah, or she could have let her heart be bitter like Naomi and refuse to go out and gather wheat when they arrived in Bethlehem. Once she found the field, she could have whined to everyone about her situation instead of being perseverant and, in doing so, catch the eye of Boaz. What about that time where she was so close to marrying her family redeemer, but then she had to wait and just hope Boaz could work things out? Yeah, she definitely could have turned her back on God then. But she didn’t. Ruth keep trusting that God would be faithful to her, and so she was faithful to Him. Because of this, she was able to play her part in the ancestry of Jesus. Without her, things may have been totally different. But even when her life felt shattered, she chose to stay with Jesus; she chose to let Him lead her to her Field of Hope; she chose to Wait for Him in her Long Now; and finally, Ruth let God write the ending to her story.

God brought about a pretty amazing legacy through Ruth (*cough cough* Jesus. *cough cough*). When those pesky life storms rip the solid ground out from underneath your feet… you have to take a moment to catch your breath before you can make a game plan. You probably have an idea how you want things to turn out… but what would happen if you laid down the pen and let God write the rest of your story? What if you stopped trying to plan things according to the ending you have in mind, and let God get out his hot glue gun and craft an even better ending? Sure, it is hard. Sure, it take faith. But I’m betting God could create a pretty amazing ending out of your story if you would let him. I mean hey, look how it turned out for Ruth.

Step 1: Choose to stay with God 

Step 2: Let Him guide you to your Field of Hope 

Step 3: Trust Him in the Long Now 

Step 4: Let Him write the ending of your story

 

There you have it, my jumbled thoughts on the book of Ruth. That is my attempt to put the hope I have found during this troubled time into words. If you have seriously read all of this post, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have been encouraged, or at least kept mildly engaged. As always, I welcome comments and critiques with an open mind and heart. But if you really have a problem with this post, talk to God. He spoke the words, I just typed them up. Blessings.

“I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word” ~Psalms 130:5