Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Dear Husband, happy birthday.
I can’t believe that the goofy, shaggy haired, football playing, history geek that I fell in love with at 16 is now 21. You’re finally legally allowed to do everything (ha).
Your silly smile this morning when I told you “happy birthday” was the best part of my day. Birthday’s never got you too excited, but you’ve been talking about this one for a while.
You are so young still, but you have taken on a lot of responsibility. You took on the responsibility of being a husband, the responsibility of a future commitment to your country, the responsibility of school and work and bills and life. You chose to grow up perhaps a lot faster than most.
You have become an incredible man.
I am endlessly thankful for you. This marks the fifth birthday that I have celebrated with you, and each year I am reminded that your life has been a gift to me.
So, while none of your gifts managed to make it here on time (and you have class absolutely all day today), I hope that your birthday is everything you want it to be.
I love you, handsome man.
Monday, October 20th, 2014
As I write this, I’m sitting in a beautiful lobby, in a beautiful building, on a beautiful campus. Yet, somehow, I feel less than beautiful at the moment. I don’t really want to be at school right now; in fact, I’d much rather be at home, where I was a mere four hours ago, snuggled on the couch, basking in the sunlight, reading for pleasure, and enjoying the comforts of home. Alas, fall break is over, and tonight I was welcomed back to Grove City with a marvelous sunset. It is always so funny to me, how such beauty exists in such a place of struggle.
From day one, college has been a challenge for me. I was challenged academically, as I learned how to study for tests and prepare for classes. I was challenged socially, living as an introvert in a hall full of extroverted girls. But most of all, I was challenged emotionally. I missed my family and the sweet simplicity of life back home, where things like GPAs and midterms and papers didn’t seem to carry as much weight. I’ve cried more tears in the past eight weeks than I have in a long time. At the same time, I’ve been richly blessed in a multitude of ways. The people here are kind and loving and have come alongside me while I am feeling lost. My parents, although lacking in physical proximity, are a mere phone call away. They love me in the midst of my pain.
It’s funny how beauty exists in the midst of such intense struggle. I feel lonely right now. I would love a hug from my mom. But instead, God has placed me here. I am here to learn. I am here to love. And I find, most often, that when we lean in to him, the gritty fray of life doesn’t necessarily go away, or even get any easier, but the little things, the small moments of joy, are illuminated. They shine bright in a sea of relentless studying and reading and writing. And tears. They even manage to shine through tears.
God is so intentional. He loves us in the midst of our failures and insecurities. He is acutely aware of our pain and wants us to be aware of his love. I find that on nights like these, when I miss home, and the tears just don’t seem to stop, that when I put down my work and focus on him, his peace washes over me in an amazing way. On nights like those, all we can do is rest in his unfailing love and grace and mercy. We must rest in the fact that he is God, and we are not. And in time, he will make all things good.
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
So, New Mexico has the Taos River Gorge and it is amazing. We stopped by on our way to Eagle’s Nest, and took in the view. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery on my big girl camera, so I only had the iPhone. We definitely plan on going back-and not forgetting to charge the camera!
This bus hung out in the Gorge parking area and sold snacks.
Not the Gorge. But close to the Gorge. Fun story: That little cage looking thing is actually a trolly. It runs along a cable from one side of the river to the other. Nathan surmised that it is probably used mostly by rangers. But very brave rangers ‘cuz it looked straight up terrifying and rickety (so says me).
Monday, October 6th, 2014
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” -2 Timothy 4:17
*Editor’s note – the following essay is devoid of any specific details in order to protect the privacy of those involved. It is not my news to share and they deserve to not have their intimate affairs splashed all over the internet. That being said, if you feel so moved, say a pray for a family out there that is hurting right now.
Two Sundays ago, I received a phone call from my mother informing me of some devastating news from back home. As soon as she spoke the words, I wept. Big, fat, heavy tears flowed down my cheeks. The cuff of my sleeve was damp in no time. I’m not sure why the incident affected me so much. I had heard of situations like it in the past, and although they troubled me, I never felt as emotionally torn apart as I did, sitting on my bed on that Sunday morning, mourning with and for a family that I barely knew. Perhaps it was because they are from my hometown. They live a mere five minutes away from my house. Perhaps it was because the gravity of the situation was absolutely incomprehensible. Perhaps it was because I am here, and they are there. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to hug each member of my family tightly and thank God for what I am blessed so abundantly with.
I realized as I began to come to terms with this terrible tragedy that we, as humans, are so hesitant to be open with one another. We put on a smile and offer a vague, but nevertheless satisfactory answer when someone asks us how we are doing. I pass my peers in the hallway each and every day without giving even a second thought to what they might be going through or the feelings that may be tearing at their heart this very minute. Why, in my school, in our society, in your neighborhood, in our country, are we so afraid to tell the truth? Why do we shrink at the idea of feelings? Why do we try to cover up bad days and rush to close doors when things get hard?
I can’t say for certain that this particular situation would not have occurred had people chosen to pay more attention or not felt ashamed to share their feelings. It is certainly not as simple as spilling your guts to stranger on the sidewalk. But God does call us to community, and I believe wholeheartedly that living and being in community requires that we, as Christians, make a conscious effort to be open with one another. We must strive to embrace the messy, disorganized, terrible, even, perhaps, tragic, moments of our lives and turn first to God, and then to one another for support and love.
Our Savior has so graciously blessed us with people wherever we look. And we are relational people. That means going out and inserting ourselves into people’s unclean, imperfect lives and loving them despite their mistakes. It means welcoming people with open arms. It means the kind of love that doesn’t speak, but instead, offers an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on. Our world would be a vastly different place if we chose to share our joys and our sorrows and our successes and our frustrations when they happened. Let’s choose to draw close and wrap our arms around one another in the good and the bad.
Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
The lodge that we stayed at in Eagle’s Nest was such a wonderful surprise. I won’t lie-I was a little skeptical. Sometimes small town motels can be a little sketchy, but we really lucked out. They have normal hotel rooms, an entire house you can rent, and little cabins. We stayed in one of the little cabins, and it was darling. The grounds also had picnic tables and grills. Down the street was the hotel’s saloon and restaurant.
The trip was so relaxing and so needed. The weather was beautiful, the cabin had cable TV (something that we don’t have-it was AWESOME), and we found a bar with a dog hanging out under our table to have dinner at. Being able to spend some time alone with Nathan without the distractions of being home was pretty much the best way to spend a weekend. I am so thankful to him for getting online and finding Eagle’s Nest and then finding the cabin and then convincing me that hopping in the car the next morning was a good decision.