Europe

I just took a trip through Northern Europe with my dad.  We flew into Copenhagen, rented a car, then drove up through Sweden to Norway, where we spent a couple days outside Oslo.  We walked through the city of Oslo, went to a viking ship museum, then drove down to Kristiansand and went to the zoo.  It was amazing.  We saw capybaras.
We then took several ferries to get down to Germany through Denmark.  We spent a night in Hamburg.  I don’t recommend it.  We drove over to Switzerland where we spent several days in Interlaken with people from all over Europe who are a part of my home church, the Lighthouse.  It was the trip of a lifetime.

Two years ago, I took another trip of a lifetime.  I went to Ireland, where I spent ten days touring and writing to be part of a coffee table book.  That book didn’t end up being what it could have been, but that’s besides the point.  It was there that I really started dreaming about driving through Norway with my dad.  His entire heritage is Norwegian, and it was really cool to see where we came from.  Next time we’ll spend more time just in Norway, and maybe travel up to see the fjords.

But this trip was one that I think we both really needed.  While we were overseas we hit the year mark of my mother’s passing.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year.  We got to see beautiful landscapes that she would have loved.  We rode a gondola up a mountain and hiked across, looking down on houses and lakes and trees.  We drank coffee and ate chocolate.

This was a trip that I’ll always be thankful for.

European Dreams

This post will be short.  I’m about to leave Florence, AL to drive to Atlanta, where I will get on a plane with my dad and fly to Europe.  I have dreamed of this trip for so long, and now it’s here.  For two weeks I will be exploring Norway, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.  I will get to see where I came from.  And maybe I’ll get some insight on where I’m going.  I wish I had time to write more, but I’m already running late!  I’ll try to post while I’m there, but it probably won’t happen.  Sorry that this isn’t that thoughtful, I just found it necessary.

Northern Europe, I’ll see you soon.

For the First Time

I went home last week.  I was there for a week.  I adventured from LA to Mammoth, through Death Valley to Las Vegas, and as I always do when I travel, I didn’t relax at all.  But, this time I brought someone home with me.  My boyfriend and I flew on an airplane, and he went further west than he’s ever gone before.  It was easily one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever been on.

I’ve never taken a boyfriend home before.  I’ve never traveled anywhere with a boyfriend.  And now he’s met almost everyone.  We spent time with at least three of my closest friends, my dad, and my brother.  We went to the top of Mammoth Mountain and took photos.  We ate tri tip.  We drove through Death Valley.  We went from the cold to the heat.

While in Mammoth, we attended the Lighthouse Conference.  Most people know that Lighthouse is the Global Church family that I attended while living there.  There were words given.  There was music played.  There was community and food shared.  It was so good to be home.  It made me miss church.

Not that I haven’t been attending church here in Alabama.  I have.  But I have disengaged.  I hear far too much about the church politics.  I analyze the words without ever hearing them.  I am tired.

I brought a boyfriend home.  Because I’m in love with him.  And I fell in love with life again.  I fell in love with community again.  I fell in love with God again.  I tried something new, and I’m pretty sure I’m okay with it.

Blogging Everyday in July|Social Media

Do you ever log onto Facebook and see someone’s post about something great that happened that day?  Do you log onto Instagram and see photos from some new and exciting adventure?  Do you see tweets on Twitter from all your friends who appear to be hanging out without you?  Can I let you in a secret?  It’s not real.  Not really.

Yes, great things are happening in your friends’ lives, but that’s not all.  Think about what you post on social media.  You only share what you want people to see.  You of course share the good times, the fun times, the spontaneous jam sessions, and midnight adventures.  How often do  you post the dark times, the lonely times, the times you feel left out?  Exactly.  Because when people are negative on social media, they look annoying and pessimistic, unless they find a way to do it in a funny way.

And I’m not saying any of this to point a finger.  We all do it.  I do it.  Go through my feed and you’ll see photos from my adventures and posts about how great my friends are.  I once had a friend from college say that I only take photos in scenic places.  Which is only true because that’s what I share.  I do my best to make my ordinary surroundings look extraordinary.  I go out of my way to find something beautiful.  I push myself.  And I think for a while it became less about the adventure and more about the photo.

When I lived at the camp in Mammoth, 85% of my photos were taken in the same location, but if you didn’t live there, you’d never know it.  I could walk less than 200 feet and get a completely different vantage point.

I took far too many ski lift photos to show how sporty I am.  Except I rarely skied more than three hours at a time, and I usually went up for less time than that.  But that’s only because I had the luxury to do so.  I want my life to be an adventure, so I did my best to show that I really was adventuring.

In reality, I spent a majority of my time at work, and the rest of my free time drinking, sleeping, or wasting time with the boyf on Netflix.  I’d probably ski once every week or two.

I gave the illusion that I travel a lot.  I’d post photos of Costa Rica or Ireland like it was no big deal.  But those trips were life changing, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to do another one.

A lot of times social media can bring depression.  We feel alone or sad or lost, and people post about how their lives are so great.  You’d never know that those same people have struggles too.  If social media is getting you down, maybe you should unplug for a little while.  I know I’m thinking about it.

Because social media isn’t all negative.  It has a way of building community.  I am able to keep in contact with my friends from literally all over the world.

So we have to take the good with the bad.  Step back, look at what you have.  And maybe, the next time you get annoyed at how great someone’s life appears, think about what you’re sharing.  Because you’re probably comparing their positive with your negative, and that’s never a good idea.

In Conclusion

You may be unaware of this, but I have been unintentionally angry with God for quite some time now.  I’m not sure when it started.  It’s kind of like he’s that friend that you want to be mad at, and then he does something wonderful and you’re like, oh right, you’re actually great, I’m just being a beezy.  So I was mad for a lot of college, but after I graduated and moved to Mammoth and got to spend almost a year just listening to his voice, I fell back in love with him.  I remembered what it’s like to have a good relationship with a loving God.
After I came back from Ireland, which might possibly be the highlight of my entire life, I wanted to move right away.  I tend to try to rush God.  And really, it might not have been God at all that kept me from moving in October.  I stayed for the winter.  And really, it was a fantastic winter.  But I pulled away.  I pulled into myself.  I became someone else temporarily.

Being in Florence, I’m learning to find myself again.  I’m learning to listen again.  But all of this is just digression to the story I want to tell today.

Last Monday I flew back to Nashville from Reno via LAX.  I knew that when I landed in Nashville I would have to get an uber or a taxi to get back to my car, because my flight was delayed so much that the shuttle would no longer be running.  I also knew that I had barely any money left to do this.

On my second flight I sat next to this girl who kept catching my eye.  If you follow me at all, you know that I do my best not to talk to strangers unless they first address me, and even then I get awkward.  I’m not good with small talk.  So this girl caught my eye.  Our plane took forever to get clearance to take off, so we kept taxiing around the runway and I realized that she was editing photos on her phone using the same app that I use.  I always edit photos on planes too, because it gives me something to do.  This is not that strange of a thing to have in common though.
Then (I’m such a creeper) she started going through her music on her phone and picking songs to listen to on spotify.  We have the same taste in music.  Again, not that strange of thing to have in common, except that I listen to a lot of folky indie music.  She started working on editing a short film on her computer, mostly just the title sequence, and I was trying so hard not to watch her as she did this, but I couldn’t stop noticing this girl.
Finally, they came around and asked what we wanted to drink, and I almost always order coke on planes.  It kept running through my mind that this girl and I were cut from the same cord, and then she ordered a coke.  And we both got a second bag of pretzels.

As the flight went on I tried to fall asleep, but God kept speaking to me about this girl.  I felt that if I didn’t write her a note that I would regret it.  So I grabbed my notebook and wrote to her, telling her that God was speaking to me, possibly, and that she didn’t have to believe me and I told her how I never do this and that I would understand if she thought I was crazy.  I told her how I had been angry at God, but I needed to write to her anyway.  I told her what God was saying to me.  I said if she ever needed help from a stranger that she could email me, and I gave her my email.  Then I folded it up and put it on her tray, while she had her head in her hands during the turbulence.  I went back to my music, stared out the window, and tried to fall asleep.

About ten minutes later, maybe twenty minutes before the flight landed, she tapped me on the leg.  She said that the note was exactly what she needed to read, and that I had no idea.  She asked me my name and told me her’s was Molly.  We talked about her school, how she’s in her last semester.  We talked about how she grew up in the south, but she wanted to break free from it, and talked about how I was trying to embrace it.  We didn’t really talk about God.
Molly asked me how I was getting back to my car and I told her that I honestly didn’t know.  She said her mom was picking her up and then they offered to give me a ride.  These strangers drove me the 8 minute ride to my car all because God made me a creeper on the plane.

God is all about connection.  Connection to him.  Connection to the people around us.  I think I’ve been so angry because I’ve forgotten that.  I was so stuck in my own reality, in my own social anxiety, that this connection terrified me.  Really, he just wants us to be able to enjoy the life he gave us, and he gives us the tools to do this.  We just like to do it on our own so often.

In conclusion, once again God has taken care of me.  And once again, I will do my best not to forget it.  He’s great.  You’re great.  I’m great.  We’re all great.  Also, I’m tired and losing my train of thought.

Staying Put

(I seem to write a lot of blogs in airports)

I just spent a week in California.  I flew into Reno last Monday and got to spend one day in Mammoth, my home, before venturing onward to Crescent City to be a part of an old friend’s wedding.  Back in Alabama, I was so excited for this trip, and everyone kept telling me to enjoy my vacation.  But I knew it wasn’t a vacation.  I don’t remember how to vacation.  I’ve forgotten how to rest.

My day in Mammoth I tried to run around and see people, but instead was monopolized by someone who cannot have my heart.  I had dinner with my parents.  It’s too hard when your minutes are too few.
My best friend and I drove to her parents’ house near San Jose on Wednesday, and onward to Crescent City, up at the top of the state, on Thursday.  We went to straight into Bachelorette party mode.  We drank and it was loud and I was tired.  Already drained, before anything had even begun.  My heart had been left behind me.
Friday we ran around picking flowers and finding teapots and books for bouquets and center pieces.  It never occurred to me that all of this wouldn’t be done before the day before the wedding.  My heart wasn’t there, I had left it behind me.  I was drained.  But weddings will never be about the bridesmaids, and it was so important that I do everything I can to make the day and all the preparations go smoothly.  I think I had forgotten what I was getting myself into.
The wedding day my dress was too long.  There were bugs and heat, and then sudden coldness, so I wore a sweater to the reception.  The bride was beautiful.  She is so in love, and there is no doubt that Josh is the one for her.  She has wanted this for so long.  But I simultaneously drank too much and not enough.  My heart was not there.  I lost it somewhere.
Yesterday my best friend and I drove 10 hours to be back to Mammoth so I could go to Lighthouse and see the people I hadn’t gotten to see yet.  However, after the whole day, the whole week, I didn’t want to see anyone.  I’m out of money and I haven’t eaten and all I wanted was to sleep, but there were things to be done.
I saw who I could, but left before any real conversations were had.  I got picked up for dinner by the one who has my heart, but was too tired to function.  Waking up with my memory erased.

I don’t regret this trip, but I regret this trip.  I regret coming home too soon.  I need to find my heart and drag it to Alabama with me.  I think it’s time that I stay put.  God keeps saying, “Stay put.”
I want to plan more trips, but I’m never going to be happy and rested in my travels if I keep trying to do everything all the time.  I want my life to be an adventure, but it’s time to learn to adventure where I live first.  Start small.  Embrace your reality.

So I told the one who has my hear to give it back.  I won’t be visiting anymore.  Not until I have someone to visit with.  Not until I’m healthy enough to be who I was, versus who I am.

Because I don’t have a drinking problem, but when I drink, I drink a lot.
I don’t have a drug problem, but if someone’s offering, I’ll accept.
I don’t have a guy problem, but my heart latches onto anyone who will let it.
I don’t have a money problem, but I forgot that moving to a different culture means adjusting to a different budget.
I don’t have an eating disorder, but it’s really hard to eat when your heart beats for someone else.

I keep finding all the ways that I am broken.  But in reality, I am one whole person.  We all have a story.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to share all of mine.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to be completely honest about why my heart is still broken, rather than broken again.  But until then, here’s one piece.  Just one more piece.

I’m breaking up with California.  I’m ready to be freed.