Nomad

July 7, 2014

I always joke about being a nomad because I have never stayed in one place for an extended amount of time. I moved around a lot while growing up and I know that the “nomadic” tendencies of my childhood have carried over into my adult life. I remember learning about nomads in elementary school and I was fascinated by them because I could actually relate to their lifestyle.

Until recently, I embraced the idea of being my own sort of “eternal nomad”. I loved the idea of being on the move-constantly finding my next big adventure. I had never had a true “home base” and I wasn’t ever going to be interested in having one (or so I thought). If you were to ask me now if I would choose the nomadic life, my answer would be ‘no’. I learned that I was so comfortable with moving around frequently because I didn’t think I would ever find somewhere that feels like home. I didn’t even have a clue what “home” meant to me. I was watching Once Upon A Time this spring and Neal described what home meant to him:

“It’s how you know you really got a home. When you leave it, there’s a feeling you can’t shake. You just miss it.” (Neal, S3:22)

When I moved to Topeka, I did not imagine that I would develop a foundation or a connection here. I thought that this was just another stop on my ongoing adventure. I was surprised to find myself feeling sad when I even began making plans to move on. For me, Topeka is home. I know I probably won’t stay in Topeka for forever, but I am content being here now.

 

If you could live like a nomad, would you? Where would you go? What would life be like without a home base?

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October 11, 2012

There have been times I have wanted to delete this blog and start over from scratch. I would look back on previous post and be reminded of the many lessons I have learned the hard way over the last several years. I always seem to ‘forget’ that I was far from healthy at that time and it was amazing that I was doing as well as I was. When I have had friends confide in me about their struggles it has been easy for me to show them Grace, but as soon as it was me who was struggling or making mistakes there was no way that same Christ-given Grace could apply to me. I never truly felt worthy.

I have always felt a strong draw towards the sacrament of Holy Communion and having the opportunity to serve Communion throughout my life as a United Methodist gave me another perspective of it. When I was little, I experience a wide variety of traditions. Several times I had to “sit out” because I did not meet certain qualifications, was not a member of the denomination, was too young, etc. Even as an elementary schooler there was something magical and beautiful about Communion and I longed to be able to participate, sometimes even trying to recreate it at home or with my friends. Maybe others thought I was strange, but it was an experience that part of me craved (and not just because I thought bread and grape juice went well together).

Recently, I embarked on a journey to figure out who I am and what brings me peace. I found a church home that reminded me where I thrive. Last Sunday, I joined Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church on no other Sunday but World Communion Sunday. I could have chosen a different day, but this was an opportunity I could not pass up! I took it as an opportunity to examine what made the Last Supper so appealing to me. I thought about my experiences growing up and the times I got to serve Communion and what feelings I had at those times. I used to think that I was fond of Communion because of the experience I had with others, being able to share that symbol of the Grace of God. I tossed those thoughts back and forth inside my head and the feelings in my heart and as I was sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, eagerly waiting to join my new church home- it hit me. It was more personal than that.

Going back to the beginning of this post, I wrote about the pain I felt while looking back on the not so great parts of my history. I knew that God loved me no matter what, but I did not believe that His Grace could ever apply to me. At least, I did not let myself know that I believed it could. Last Sunday, I realized that every Communion experience I have ever had has reminded me of the hope we have in God and through His son, Jesus. To me, Communion is a reminder of God’s Grace and the sacrifice he made by giving us Jesus to save us from our sins, our flaws, our humanness. It does not matter what I have done in the past, the lessons I learned much later than most, the relationships I damaged. None of it matters. What matters is that through the beautiful, amazing, breathtaking Grace, we are being made new.

This is such an exciting thing to remember as I am going along this terrifying journey into adulthood. The changes that have occurred in my life in the last two-ish years are proof that I am being made new and my experiences are proof that God has had an overwhelming hand in my life.

We must remember that we are all being made new.

Roaring Thunder

February 18, 2012

Imagine hearing a full tabernacle of young adults and their leaders praying. The first thing that I would picture/hear in my head is everyone saying the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s put a twist on it: everyone is saying something different. I know what you might be thinking… “What could they possibly be saying?” Everyone is saying their own personal prayers at the same time. When I heard the explanation of what we were going to do and I immediately said “this is going to be complete chaos”. What resulted was absolutely mesmerizing. The soundscape that was created was breathtaking. For a few moments everyone had become vulnerable, putting all of their spiritual needs and wants out there for everyone to hear. I couldn’t help it… I stopped praying and just listened. I heard joys, hurts, concerns, pleas, and rejoicing. It was truly amazing.

Prayer intimidates me, public prayer scares me. I never know what to say. So much goes through my brain. My palms sweat and my pulse races. It is one thing for me to sound like a babling idiot in my head, but to misspeak is mortifying. I have a fear of saying the wrong thing and turning someone off of Christianity. I keep forgetting that I need to let the Spirit move me and be mindful.

This weekend had a rough start. After a 7-8 hour drive, I really wasn’t up for worship. I heard one thing that struck me odd and stopped listening. Looking back, I think I might have missed the point of the message. Tonight’s worship was awesome and I am so glad I came back with an open heart and mind.

All in all, this retreat has been great. I cannot wait to go home tomorrow though and relax with my family!

Grace and peace.

Doing Different

February 14, 2011

Lately, I have become somewhat of an insomniac. This has been slightly problematic. I stay up all night and sleep all day. This has taken a toll on a lot of things in my life… like school, social interaction, and my mood. The trick is returning to normal and doing different.

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, you are challenged to do different to find a balance between your emotional mind and your reasonable mind to achieve a state of wise mind which takes the two minds and finds a middle ground. This is often difficult because doing different is very challenging. It challenges us to take our willfulness and turn it into willingness. Now, I do not know about you, but I am stubborn and also am a creature of habit, so it is very hard to do different.

For me, waking up in the morning is something that often seems impossible. I often find myself waking up to my alarms and turning them off only to find myself under my covers and asleep five minutes later. I am usually pretty willful and it causes me to sleep well into the day. In an attempt to different, I try to lay in bed for a few minutes while my alarm is going off and then I force myself to get out of bed to turn it off. Now, usually this does not work no matter how hard I try. I let my willfulness get in the way and give into my desire to sleep for a few extra hours which sometimes leads to sleeping the day away and feeds the vicious cycle of staying up all night and sleeping all day. Doing this affects my performance in class because I often miss my classes. It affects my social interaction because I end up isolating myself the whole day, staying in my bed. This affects my mood because if you isolate when you experience depression, it feeds that sense of loneliness.

The challenge within this is to get out of bed (doing different). Before you can do different, you have to identify what leads to your willfulness by doing a chain analysis, which is taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Even if you do not participate in this therapy, it is something that is extremely useful. To do this, you first have to start with identifying the problem behavior, in my case it is not getting up in the morning. Then, you have to take your problem behavior and figure out what leads to that behavior. For me, this is usually letting stressful events overwhelm me and avoiding these events. After determining what leads to your behavior, you have to identify the immediate and eventual consequences and make a plan to do different.

For me, accountability has been something that has been pretty effective. I usually get annoyed when someone calls me out and tells me what they see me doing. My annoyed feeling motivates me to do different. When this does not work, which is sometimes the case, I take that annoyed feeling and find a way to do that behavior in spite of that person, which is pretty willful.

Now, my challenge to myself, as well as to others, is to find a problem behavior and find a way to do different. Obviously, doing different this morning will be a hefty challenge because it is 3:40 AM and I am still awake. Let the games begin.

Refreshed

June 24, 2010

So, I have one thing to say: this summer has been refreshing. I have to admit it has been refreshing in a few odd ways, but nonetheless, it has still been great. Here’s why:

2010 United Methodist Student Forum: This year was my first year at forum, which was held in Virginia at Shenandoah University. I loved every part of it! Although we did not have legislation to vote on this year, we had plenty of fun and educational experiences. I say educational because we had workshops based on topics that, for the most part, had to do with social justice and mine was exciting! Worship was phenominal and it was especially helpful when I took notes. It was also nice seeing people I met at Exploration 2009 in November. There was also plenty of exploring, like there was in Dallas, which included walking around Winchester at night and driving to Walmart, seeing a truck of people standing outside of their vehicle at a Taco Bell drive-thru, going to the U.S. National Cemetary, as well as many other adventures.

Kansas East UMC Annual Conference: This year was the first year that AC was held at the Church of the Ressurection in Leawood, KS. It was previously held at Baker University, which is where I go to school. It was nice to experience something new and worship, again, was AMAZING. While the first plenary speaker did not deliver the kind of message I am interested in, the second one (Rudy Rasmus) made AC great. I also managed to meet about half of the people I did not already know, which is to be expected because I know no stranger.  And because I was networking, I was asked to preach at a few churches and even came across a possible church internship. It was nice to have an opportunity to meet so many awesome people of faith and refresh my faith.

Summer School:  Now, this is where the refreshing part gets confusing. A normal person would not think of summer school as refreshing, especially when they are college classes like Basic Chemistry. I think it is safe to say there is a reason why I am a HISTORY and RELIGION major. At first, I was horrified by the course and felt that there was no way I was going to be able to pass it, but it has taught me a few lessons beyond the subject matter. I have learned that it is possible to focus, even if you feel defeated. I have learned that life is easier when you do not let things pile up. And I have also learned that even if something seems impossible, anything can happen as long as you ask for help along the way.

Seeing as there is a little over a month left of summer, there will probably be more things going on and more lessons learned. I’m excited.

How is it With Your Soul?

November 16, 2009

DSCN1254

my contribution to the wall

This weekend, I had the awesome privilege of attending Exploration 2009. This event was designed for high schoolers and young adults who have felt the call to ministry. The purpose of this event was to help us discern and respond to God’s call in our lives.

There are several things that really made this weekend special for me. First: my awesome small group, number 23! Second: the fellowship… which may or may not include unofficial workshops off site. Third: meeting with representatives from the 13 United Methodist seminaries. And fourth: the prayer room.

My Small Group really defined the event for me. I grew close to this group and I really felt like we all were put into each other’s lives for a reason. I can’t wait to see what God does in these young people’s lives!

Fellowship was a big thing for me. This, to me, included the mini-trip a group of us participants unofficially took to SMU-Perkins. We enjoyed a lot of laughs, stories, and not to mention the several times we got hushed in the library.

Representatives from the 13 United Methodist seminaries were there to answer our questions and help us learn more about what seminary is all about. I can’t believe I’m even starting to think about this, but here are my top three: 1. Boston University School of Theology, 2. Saint Paul School of Theology, and 3. SMU- Perkins. I am so excited to see where God calls me to!

The prayer room offered everyone an awesome place to pray, meditate, and explore their faith through scriptures and other ways. One thing that really stood out to me in particular was the wall of paper set up for participants to write “how it is with their soul.” I took a picture of mine and its the teal writing in the above picture that has different colored “souls.”

This event really helped solidify that I am heading in the right direction to start off with in order to respond to my call. I challenge you guys to think of how God is calling you in your life, and no, it does not even have to have to do with the church at all!

So, I haven’t really written about college lately.

There is one thing I have definitely learned about college: you definitely get more than you bargained for. I have experienced a wide variety of things since I have been in college. Joining a sorority, late night trips to Walmart to get hair dye, mass quantities of time spent on Facebook and pointless searches on Google and YouTube are some of these experiences that I have had so far. In addition to these fun things, there have also been the hard and sometimes crappy things that life throws at you: overwhelming amounts of stress and work, mistakes that have been made, learning things the hard way, and the list could probably go on and on. With both groups of these things, I know that the good and sometimes ridiculously pointless should be what we think of most.

One of the greatest experiences I’ve had this year has been the process of going Greek. I came to Baker with a very determined mind. I was going to pledge to one sorority and one sorority only. I had my heart set on a particular one and there was nothing that anyone could do or say to make me change my mind. I went into formal recruitment with a mind that was already made up. The first night, three out of the four houses on campus dropped me from recruitment. The only house left was the one I personally dropped. I got so upset that not only did I get dropped from the house of my dreams, but that I got dropped by the other ones that I thought were ideal at the time. That night I refused to go to the house that asked me back and I hung out in my dorm or somewhere similar. A few weeks later I decided to give this other house a shot and it turns out that pledging to Phi Mu was the greatest decision that I could have made. I have been surrounded by a great group of girls, who like other girls, have their drama, but love everyone at the end of the day. Plus, who doesn’t like having t-shirts with their letters stitched onto them? I AM A COMPULSIVE LETTER SHOPPER… Do they have a support group for that?

I think that is what I need to focus on the most when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I have such a great support system, not only with my sorority sisters, but with a good majority of the people in my life.

Peace, Love, and Long Live the Random Google Searches…

I Don’t Understand

October 10, 2009

I have discovered something lately: I don’t understand.

I don’t understand a lot of things.

I don’t understand why some people claim that they are going to be there after not being there for most of your life decide that they aren’t going to be there after all. I’m not talking about typical friend drama that comes with being a teenager. I’m talking about how a parent who only makes cameo appearances in your life “attempts to reach out” and then shuts you down. Really? Is that really any way to go about things? Is that really what you do to someone you supposedly care about?

I don’t understand why some people act like they are your friends to your face and then they go around talking about you behind your back. This is the typical drama, that until now, I had managed to escape all through high school! Sometimes I wish people would grow up and realize that there are better things to do than tear someone down.

I don’t understand why we let unimportant things consume our minds with worry. I am guilty of this sometimes, but sometimes I really can’t stand when people complain about lines or about traffic when some people can’t even afford to keep the lights on and the electricity running in their household, let alone have food to eat.

What I do understand is that this stuff does suck, but all of this is so small compared to how much God really does provide us and comfort us and love us. I understand that he is there through all of this.

I am mostly speaking to myself with this post, but I think it is important for us all to remember: No matter what crap life throws at us, God is there to let us know that we are not alone.

Differences

October 3, 2009

There are a few things that I love about college that are completely different than high school. Number one, which happens to be the biggest, you have a large amount of freedom. Number two, you are responsible for yourself and you can’t depend on anyone to clean up after you. And number three, you have control. With all of these things, there comes great responsibility and sometimes we forget this.

Freedom. Who doesn’t like being able to do whatever they want when they want? In college, you can make your own decisions, stay out as late as you want, do what you want, drink and party if you want, date whoever you want…etc. You have the freedom to do as you please. If you aren’t careful, the things you do can come back to haunt you, your reputation can be ruined, and eventually you might begin to dislike the person you’ve become. When freedom goes to your head, things can get pretty hairy.

Responsibility. Whatever decisions you make out of freedom, you are responsible for the outcome. You are also responsible for getting yourself to class, putting food in your stomach, paying your bills, working, doing homework, and the list goes on. You slowing begin to transition in the “real world,” and for some people it can feel like they are catapulted into it. Responsibility can also make you feel like you are in charge of your life, which is a nice feeling sometimes.

Control. This is where some people get in trouble. We can get so caught up in things that we forget that we need to exercise self control. Whether it comes to drinking, dancing, relationships, taking over the world… you name it, keeping ourselves in check is something to remember.

I know this post sounds like I am complaining about college. At times, these things really really suck. But, no matter what crap comes along with these aspects, there are plenty to be happy about. My challenge to everyone (including myself) is to look for the silver lining in all of the not so great situations you go through.

Words to Build a Life On

September 16, 2009

When thinking about the advancement of the gospel, I think about how Paul claims that the words and truths that he speaks are not his own, but those of God. I think this is a fairly common claim among the apostles and other people who spread the gospel. This claim is something that we all should remember. As we try to spread the gospel, we need to remember that these are not our words or ideas, but God working through us for his glory, not ours.

In addition to remembering whose words they actually are, it is also important to build our lives on these words and truths. We should take what God tells us and apply it to our own lives.

I think there is a lot of power in the words of God. God has a way of touching a variety of people through what he tells us, and it touches people at all stages of life. Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings wrote a song called “Words to Build a Life On.” It talks about how these words that are not our own are the words that we should build our lives on and how they are words that are always true no matter what you experience in your life. Whether you’ve been put down or if you have been hurt by the ones you love or if you’ve become a broken person, these words are the foundation for a life that has meaning even through the tough stuff.

Something that I have noticed from Paul, is that he talks a lot about the persecution he faced because he was trying to advance the gospel. This songs refers to this point too. It says:

“Blessed when you’re put down
Because of me you’re dissed
Because of me you’re kicked out
They take you off their list.”

Isn’t this what Paul is talking about?

This also talks about how you have to go through “pain”… you have to grow hungry and thirsty for something more, something more substantial than the things that we try to fill our lives with and its when you are hungry and thirsty that “you will eat of the bread that matters most.”

This song really has a special place in my heart and I hope you all get to experience it. Every time I listen to it, I feel more connected and more things start making sense.

Here is a link to the lyrics : http://troyhochstetler.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/mike-crawford-words-to-build-a-life-on/

Here is a link to Mike Crawford’s myspace page, which has the song on it: http://www.myspace.com/mikecrawfordmusic