Monday, November 8, 2010

fall '10.

Ben, Dad and I at the Titans game in October.
Some of the girls I live with at Benton Lake in September.
Ryan blowing out birthday candles on his 21st birthday.

I have a healthy obsession with black kids. It's healthy because I love them. And I really want to adopt one (or eight) after I get married. I think my obsession with black children, or any color child for that matter...but specifically black, was born after my first trip to Africa. Then it only continued to manifest and grow: after my second trip, after my trip to inner city New York...and now my working with kids in low socio-economic environments here in Cleveland/Chattanooga.
Plus, it doesn't help that my "boss" Jason has adopted a little boy from Ethiopia. I was seriously within an inch of putting the latest picture of Matty on my desktop as my wallpaper. But I refrained. That'd be creepy.

I have three pictures on my desk. One is of me and Sarah on the last day of my time in Malawi. I miss her. I miss that little girl singing Blessed Be The Name while we play in the dirt and her deaf sister sits next to me and touches my hair. I miss living in a hut made out of mud with a thatched roof that has no electricity. I miss showering underneath thousands upon thousands of stars while singing Veggie Tales at the top of my lungs with my sisters from other misters. I miss the lizard in Maddie's hut and the tuna casserole cooked over an open flame and sunrise worship by the river. I miss the simplicity and the closeness of His love.

Another picture is of me and the girls from the second trip to Malawi. In this picture are some of my sisters. We don't share earthly parents, but we share a Heavenly Father. We share abundant laughter and tears and hugs. We share the longing in our heart that we
feel to travel and serve and love unconditionally. We share our love for NSYNC and Christmas songs year round. We share our obsession with black kids and our intense love for anything chocolate. We share Jesus with each other, and with each life that we come into contact with. I miss these girls terribly. They are as much my family as my mom, dad, and brother are.

The third picture on my desk is of Chad. The man who has blessed me in astounding ways in the last 9 and a half months of my life. The man who has taught me so much about the Lord, music, how to almost lock yourself out of the house, how to love the unloveable, how to keep everything in perspective, how to not take myself too seriously, and how to love unconditionally. I just smile every time I see this picture of him and I from back in August. We've changed a lot. Physically (thank you, P90x!) and mentally and spiritually and relationally. But through it all, he's been there. And the Lord brought him to me in the most unconventional of ways. But that's how Dad works sometimes. His ways and His thoughts are higher than mine. And He's in control. And I'm just so insanely blessed. Golly.

It's November. I'm out of school in a month. I'm half way done with my sophomore year in a month. CRAZY. I've been insanely busy, cried lots, eaten a lot of chocolate, stayed up way too late too many times, been to Walmart too much, laughed until I cried, quit habits and picked up new ones, written many many many papers, studied many many hours, danced and laughed and taught kids just about every day, been loved, and loved. As hard as some points in this semester have been, I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Being around kindergarteners a lot is interesting. The little guys change day to day. The growth seen from August to the next May is astounding. If you ever doubt learning and education, hang out with a kindergarten class. The learning that goes on there is exponential. But I kind of feel like a kindergartner. I'm just 20 now and in college. Last year, I changed a whole bunch. This year, I've changed a whole bunch. It's almost day to day. One day is unlike the one before it or the one after it. I am on a continual journey to the King, and to His desire and will for my life.

At this point in the semester, I am RESTLESS. Yes, in all capital letters. I want to go. I want to do. I want to love and travel and adventure. I want to do just about anything other than have my nose in a book for one more moment or take one more test. I just want to get OUT of school and DO LIFE. But I am trying my very hardest not to wish my life away. Because I am in this season, this place called Lee University, for a reason. The Lord has me here to teach me and nurture me and grow me into the young woman He wants me to be, and the young woman that I need to be to do what He wants me to do. So I listen and I wait and I keep on studying and staying up late and loving on the people here and praying without ceasing.

I am clay in the Father's hands, and in Him I live and move and breathe.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

buzzwords for a new school year.

Since I am now back into the swing of being a busy college kid, here are some buzzwords for the past few weeks of my life.

Lee University
new friendships
old friendships
more moving
pub lab
Student Media Family
toilet paper fairy
the best boy in the world. :)
Simmons Sisters
love. lots and lots of love.

NYC pictures soon. I haven't forgotten.

Monday, August 2, 2010

ramblin' all the way to ramblin' town.

2. I need to learn patience. But I'm afraid of praying for it. That's a dangerous prayer to pray.
3. It's been awhile.
4. Dad is doing MUCH better!
5. Pictures of NYC will be posted later.
6. This is going to be an extremely ADD post...
7. in which I talk about my summer, NYC, my heart, Chad, Lee, family, the flood, and assorted other things.

Let's start at the beginning.

After summer class, which ended June 4th, I ventured home. Home was still very much under construction, but was coming along slowly but surely.

I jumped right into my summer activities with leading a kindergarten class at Vacation Bible School...where I caught laryngitis.

I was then recruited (thankfully!) to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with the youth group. For the first part of the week I was a middle school g
irl's leader, and the second part of the week I would be in charge of freshman girls. The first part of my week was SPECTACULAR. I didn't get a sunburn, made some really fantastic friendships, and got to baptize one of the girls in my small group. It was just a really great experience.

Until I came down with laryngitis. Thank you, weakened immune system from lack of sleep.

Spent a week resting. Got back in the saddle. Worked on Mondays at TPC with the staff kids and doing odd jobs around church. Fell in love with my two favorite kiddos, Seth and Canaan. They are three. They chop me up with fake lightsabers. Sometimes they even drop eraser bombs on me and claim that they've erased me into oblivion (don't ask how a three year old knows that word). But they always bring me something magical (they're recent favorite is magical blueberry pancakes made of Play Doh) that heal me and/or bring me back to life. Why yes, I love my job.

The house was finished in this floors, new walls, new paint, new cabinets in the kitchen, new appliances in the kitchen, new doors, new knobs, new...everything. Which is kinda weird, because it all still looks the same. Well, not the kitchen. But I'm glad that got upgraded. :)

I was able to go to Atlanta for July 4th weekend to see Chad. :) Extreme happiness all around. We made pizza, and cinnamon rolls, and Oreo truffles. We gained about 486 pounds in Chinese food that we ordered. We watched movies and spent time just hanging out. We got closer. I learned that I am just so thankful for him. :) Like I said. Extreme happiness all around. I could write all day about him...but that's kinda heart language for the two of us. I am just thankful, thankful, oh so very thankful, for him. :)

I was also able to see Ryan. He was at Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta. He has made lots of progress. When I walked in, he teared up...which made me tear up. We (correction, I) talked for about an hour or so. I had lots to tell him. He remembered everything prior to the wreck, but had some trouble remembering things from a few days prior to the day that I talked to him. I filled him in on everyone that I could, but soon had to be on my way to go home. Ry's at home until the end of this week letting his bones (and spirit, in my opinion!) heal some more. I've talked to him via the phone a few times, and he seems to be better each and every time we talk! God is so good.

I went to NYC two weeks ago. If you've been around me within these two weeks, I'm either talking about Chad, the TPC kids, or the New York Kids. The love I have for each one of these things just fills my heart to overflowing and I can't help but to just smile. :)

New York was everything I thought it would be and more. It was beautiful, it was smelly, it was inspiring, it was challenging, it was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life.

I went to the top of the Empire State Building. I saw Mary Poppins on Broadway. I had a shopping experience for the storybooks in Times Square. I went to a Yankees game. I gazed at the constellations on the ceiling of Grand Central Station. I took many pictures. I rode the subway all day long. I bartered in Chinatown, and ate Italian in Little Italy. I became a "regular" at Jamba Juice. I fell in love with Soho, I waved my hellos to Lady Liberty. I constantly stood in awe of the mass of humanity coming at me from all sides. I fell in love day after day after day...for a million different reasons.

I also taught in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a week. I traipsed through a park, talking to the Lord in my mind about how beautiful the trees and His creation were. And then, I looked at my surroundings. And I realized there were hundreds of homeless around me, asleep on park benches or the ground or in flower beds. I also witnessed a mother scratch off a Lotto card while her two children wistfully watched my students eat their lunch and laugh with their friends.

And it hit me: I'm in another world. Amberly is no longer in Franklin, Tennessee. And she didn't want to click her heels three times and go back home to Auntie Em and Toto. She wanted to strap on a helmet, open her heart as wide as it would possibly go, and love the kids of Lower East Side into oblivion. Because they were so hungry for it. For truth, for love, for honesty, for hope.

In the mornings, I taught mat chants at Upward cheerleading camp. I am in no way, shape, or form a cheerleader. I was in marching band in high school. But, I got through it! And really loved on some girls while teaching them "U-P-W-A-R-D! Upward! (clap, clap) Upward!" cheers over and over.

In the afternoons, I taught an art class. I TAUGHT an art class. A full fledged, bought my own supplies, I am the teacher you are my students, I am responsible for entertaining you/teaching you for the next hour, art class. I spent the month before I left mapping out lesson plans, buying supplies, doing more lesson plans, and doing lots of praying. I also spent the month before my trip freaking out about teaching inner city kids.

But I loved each and every minute of it. Even on Tuesday night, when I was in my room with THE BEST ROOMMATES EVER, (shameless shoutout) when we were complaining that it was "ONLY TUESDAY!!!!" and about how bad our feet hurt, and how tired we were and how badly we wanted macaroni and cheese and sweet tea.

My kiddos learned basic (and I mean BASIC) techniques their first day, did printmaking on styrofoam plates with acrylic paint the second day, painted with watercolor the third day, did self portraits the fourth day, and on the fifth day they worked with chipboard to make their first initial, and did acrylic collages.

I surprisingly learned everyone's names within a day. Considering I had names like Keyshala, Ahava, Ariel, Tameka, and Janiah, this was a task in and of itself! I learned names and likes/dislikes, who got a long with who, who could and couldn't sit next to each other...the ins and outs of my little classroom. I had 4 classes of approximately 10.

The third day, we watercolor painted. Xianne accidentally got paint on Ambree's paper. Ambree pitched a fit and sat in her chair with her arms crossed and refused to lift a brush. I approached her, learned about the situation, and told her politely that if she tried to paint over the paint, she would discover that her new paint would go over the old paint. She vehemently told me that, "No, it would show through, Miss Amberly." I once again told her to try it, she would be surprised. And she once again informed me that it wouldn't work. My gloves came off and I said, in a tone that would be described as nothing short of stern, "Ambree. Are you arguing with the teacher? Who goes to school to LEARN how to teach her students about art? Who probbaly knows more about art than you do? So hows about you pick up your brush and prove me wrong. You have two choices, Ambree. Sit there and pout, or put your big girl panties on, pick up your paintbrush, and paint."

And I walked off.

And you know what she did? She shook off that little attitude of hers, picked up her brush...and had a great attitude (I kid you not) for the rest of the week.

When I walked off, I noticed the other missionaries from Franklin standing agog at my encounter with Ambree. I smiled and couldn't help but laugh a little.

We had a blast. My third "period" was my favorite. But they were the most rowdy. It was a class of 10 very dominant personalities, all vying for my attention.

The girls knew about Chad. They had asked me if I had a boyfriend at cheer camp. And I had some of the same girls in my art class. So on day three, Faith asked me if she could ask me a personal question. I told her that she could go ahead and ask, and I would determine if I was going to answer it. She asked what Chad looked like. I told her. Seth replied with, "HUNKA HUNKA!....No homo, no homo." To which I busted out laughing. And this sparked a 15 minute long discussion about my relationship with Chad...and lots of laughter.

Alliyah: Miss Amberly, does Mr. Chad make you wanna go..... *jumps out of her chair, throwing her arms into the air* "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" ???*sits back down*
Me: (laughter) Yes Allyiah, he does!
Alliyah: KEEP HIM!
Faith: Yeah Miss Amberly! He's a keeper. And bring him next summer when you come back to teach us more art!
Me: Alright girls, get back to work.
Faith: Miss Amberly?
Me: Yes Faith?
Faith: Does Mr. Chad support you? Like, bring you snacks and help you with your homework?
Me: (more laughter) Yes, Faith. Mr. Chad is a great supporter, and he always encourages me.
Faith: Good. I like him, Miss Amberly.
Me: Me too Faith, me too.

This conversation ended with me telling the ladies in my class to see, and take note, about how I feel with Chad. And the questions they were asking me about him. I instructed the girls to remember this day...and to not settle for anything less. Then I told the boys that they better treat every young lady they come across like the princess that she is.

Which evoked a "AWWWW YEAH YOU GO GIRL! YOU TELL THEM, MISS AMBERLY!" from the ladies in the peanut gallery. And obedient nods from the boys.

This is why. This is why I love them. The kids of Lower East Side had a way of exhausting me in every essence of the word. But they also had a way of planting themselves in the very depth of my heart, and digging their roots all the way to my toes, showing no signs of leaving. But I'm okay with that. Because I'm hoping to visit them again.

I have a million stories, spanning from straight up shouting at a girl during cheerleading to bartering with a little Chinese lady in Chinatown. And if you see me, you'll have to ask me about my stories. Because some of them are just too good to be told on here. Some of my stories come with faces and hand motions and lots of jumping. All of my stories are told with love.

Three words to sum up New York: exhilarating. incredible. challenging.
Three words to sum up what I learned in New York: faith. hope. love.

in all

Friday, May 14, 2010

Floods, Summer School, the ICU, and Dad's Heart Attack

It was just about a month ago that I wrote my last blog post.
It was just about 3 weeks ago that I finished my freshman year of college.
It was just about 2 weeks ago that my house flooded.
It was just about 7 days ago when my best friend, Ryan N., was hit by an 18 wheeler on his way home from helping me move into my apartment.
It was just about 6 days ago when my dad had a heart attack.
It was just about an hour ago that I learned that Ryan might be waking up today.
And through all this, my Savior has been near and FAITHFUL.

Some say hellacious. I sure did. But now, I stand amazed at the goodness of the Lord. Now, I know that I am to sing blessed be the name of the Lord at ALL times of my life.

My last few weeks of college went even faster than my first few weeks of college. Between exams, projects, packing, goodbyes, a new's a blur! But it was so fun. And I truly loved my freshman year. I can't wait for my sophomore year.

On April 30th, I went home to Franklin for the weekend, and to take a load of my junk home, because there was absolutely no way it could all fit into my car in one trip. So I went home. It began to rain Friday night. And all day Saturday. My home backs up to a flood plain, and beyond that is the Harpeth River. Saturday afternoon, the river began to rise. Saturday evening, the river was in my backyard, and had become more of a lake. Saturday night, the river/lake was licking at both my back door and my front door.

Sunday morning, the water had receded. But my front yard looked like the picture above. And the water only began to rise. Sunday afternoon at about 1, the water began to come into my house. At about 2 oclock, we had 3 inches in our downstairs, and my dad made the call to evacuate. We had moved everything upstairs on Saturday, so most of our stuff was saved from the flood waters.
Lucy looks out the window at the flood waters rising.
The neighbor's backyard at about 1 oclock on Sunday afternoon. Also pictured is part of my backyard.

We left the house out of our dining room window. The water in our front yard was up to my thighs, and at its deepest point it was past my waist. We swam around the corner and down the street. We were picked up by firemen in a life raft. The dog was with us, in my dad's arms. She was terrified, so she was put in the life raft, along with my brother and our backpacks and duffle bags. We waded to the end of the street where we were picked up and taken to the Clubhouse in my neighborhood. From there were were bused to The People's Church (hooray for my home church being a Red Cross Shelter!). Since Lucy (my beagle/cocker spaniel mix) was with us, we weren't going to stay at TPC. The fantastic Baldwin Family came and picked my family and I up and housed us for the night.

Monday morning, we woke up and went to check out our house. We had 13 inches of water in the downstairs, and had to gut the drywall (up to 4 feet) and flooring out, along with the whole kitchen. My mom's excited about that...she gets a new kitchen!

But throughout the week after the flood, (the first week of May) my family was consistently reminded of the Lord's goodness and His providing hand. COUNTLESS stories can be told. My dad needing a mechanic, and one showing up at the house literally 5 minutes later (without a phone call or anything!), people bringing us food (we had enough food to last us a good long while!), and all the volunteers. My family started having to turn volunteers away we had so much help. It was absolutely amazing. God is so good! The dry wallers/ rebuilders are at my house this week putting us back together. :)

So this past Monday, I came back to Lee for summer school. It's just three weeks, and one physical science class. It's 4 hours long and rather dull, but at least I get it out of the way in 3 weeks!

Monday night as Anna (one of the Simmons Sisters, and my female best friend here at Lee) and I were unpacking and moving into our apartment, we called Ryan N. over to help us move a couch out of storage and into our apartment. He had a truck, that's why we called him. Anna and I both drive cute little cars...that are in no way suitable for hauling couches across town.

Ryan came up from Dalton, Georgia to help us move heavy boxes and the couch. We weren't able to get the couch out of storage, we didn't have a key to get into the unit. So we went to Target instead, to pick up "essentials." Which included soap that smells like mangos, a trash can large enough for me to live in, air freshener, and Saran Wrap.

After our Target run, we ordered a pizza. We ate it on the floor of mine and Anna's apartment, since we were severely lacking furniture. It was fun to catch up and laugh. At about 8:20, Ryan left to go home to Dalton.

At 9:30, Ryan T. (a very good mutual friend of Ryan N. and I) called me and told me there had been an accident. He said that Ryan N. was involved in a wreck on Dalton Pike, and that he had, at most, a broken leg. Ryan T. also told me that the Man Clan (that's what Anna and I have dubbed them. They are the three boys that Ryan N hangs out with remind me a lot of the Man Clan back in Franklin!) were already at the hospital in Cleveland, and that Anna and I were more than welcome to come too. So we loaded up and headed down the road.

Once at SkyRidge, we met up with the guys...and heard that an ambulance with Ryan N. hadn't been by. Anna and I went into the ER to check if Ryan N had been checked into the system. The man at the desk told us that he hadn't. So we went back outside and hung out until we had more information.

Then the phone call came.

Ryan N. was being airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. The lot of us loaded up in Ryan T's Explorer and booked it into Chattanooga. We made it in 15 minutes, but it felt like an eternity to get to the hospital. Once there, we made our way to the emergency room and asked for the Narramores. The lady at the desk told us that Mama and Papa Narramore were in the Family Waiting Room. We went in and sat with them and asked what the latest news was.

Papa Narramore told us that Ryan had been hit by a semi and was in surgery. He said that Ry had a ruptured spleen, a bleeding liver, a swelling brain, a broken leg, and two broken arms. He also informed us that the doctors had given my best friend a 50/50 chance of survival.

I felt like I had been sucker punched. I felt like I was simultaneously going to throw up, faint, and cry at the same time. I left the room and called my mom. And the tears started. This boy, who has seen me through such a hard season of my life, was standing at death's door, according to the doctor. Ryan, my best friend. Ryan, the one who makes me laugh and sings country songs loudly and wears boots and holds the door open for little old ladies and gives 5 dollar bills to the homeless man by the interstate exit, had a 50/50 chance of survival. I might not have ever see him again. I might not have ever been able to punch him in the arm when he called me a tard. I might not have ever been able to hear his advice again. My world, and the world of his closest friends, came to a screeching halt.

People that were important to Ryan began to arrive in the ER as the word spread. Pastors from Grove Level, Ryan T's mom, the Douglases, friends from Lee, faculty from Lee. We all prayed and waited for an answer from the doctors.

In about three hours, the doctors came out and told us that Ryan had survived surgery, but he had lost about 30-40 units of blood and his brain was still swelling. They also told us that it wasn't a day by day fight for Ryan, but an hour by hour battle. The doctors left, and more texts were sent. More family and friends came.

At 3:30, Anna and I had to come back to Lee for our class that started on Tuesday morning. We came home and crashed.

At 7:45, I woke up and called my mom. She asked how Ryan was, and I told her that the doctors were going to put pins and casts on his arms and legs, along with a gauge to measure brain activity that day (Tuesday).

Mom then told me that she had something to tell me. My stomach instantly plummeted, and I knew that my dad had had a heart attack. When she told me that's what happened, I began to cry. My house was only half liveable, my best friend was in critical condition, and now my dad was in the hospital from a heart attack. My life was quickly becoming chaotic.

Mom assured me that my dad was okay, and that he was stable. She said that his heart attack was minor, and that he was going to be okay. I couldn't help but be fearful. What if it happened again? What if my dad died from this? He wouldn't be able to see me graduate college or walk me down the aisle on my wedding day or hold his grandbabies. I'm very very very close to my dad, and these thoughts broke my heart. But mom assured me that dad was alright.

I went to class, and through my day, all in constant communication with my family and friends about dad's condition and Ryan's condition. Prayers were being prayed all over the world for both these men that mean so much to me.

Dad and I at my Senior Prom

Ryan teaching V how to shoot a rifle.

Tuesday night, Anna, the Man Clan, and I, all went to the hospital. We were hoping to see Ryan, but we were not able to. His brain was still very sensitive to swelling, and it was under stress when a lot of people were in the room. So we just hung out in the waiting room, trying to keep everything positive and uplifting. The boys did a great job of making us laugh, and we had a great time getting to know one another even more.

I found out how Ryan's wreck happened that night. He was on Dalton Pike going home, and was trying to pass multiple cars in his lane. This road is a two lane, straight shot, highway. He pulled into the left lane and there was a semi truck coming at him from a long distance off. The semi saw Ryan in his lane, and pulled off the road as far as he could. But Ryan couldn't clear it, and clipped the side of the semi.

It's a miracle that he lived through the wreck. God has SO got big plans for this boy!

We also heard that he was in rough condition in the ICU. Carly, his girlfriend, told us that there were lots of tubes and machines, but that he looked just like Ryan always has. No facial swelling, no scratches or bruises.

That night was rough. I came home and cried. I didn't know what was going to happen. I hit my knees and prayed hard. Anna, the superwoman that she is, cooked spaghetti for dinner. We ate it and watched Glee together, which put me in a better mood.

Wednesday, good news came. Ryan had a surgery to revist his liver (they had removed part of it, along with taking out his ruptured spleen) to check for continued bleeding. But- miracle!- there was NO MORE INTERNAL BLEEDING. And!!!!---- HIS BRAIN HAD STARTED DRAINING ON IT'S OWN. He was pumping blood on his own, and his brain swelling was going down. We were so happy. We cried happy tears, and danced around and sang praises to the King. Ryan's a fighter, and the Lord is merciful and mighty!

(I didn't go to the hospital on Wednesday, instead I was able to have date night with Chad. It was MARVELOUS to see him and get a hug and a kiss. He is really really amazing. I am so incredibly thankful for him. The ways he has impacted and blessed my life are beyond measure. :) )

Wednesday night, Ryan tried breathing on his own. HE WAS BREATHING ON HIS OWN. God is SO AWESOME. The doctors didn't want Ryan using his energy, so they gave him a paralytic to help him save his energy. But what a big step!

Thursday was a quiet day on the Ryan front. Dad was discharged from the hospital, and sent home in good spirits. I was able to go to the hospital yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, with hopes of seeing Ryan. But I wasn't able to. I hung out with his family, and updated them on my house and my dad's condition. We laughed and shared sweet stories of Ryan. I also spent lots of time with Carly, Ryan's girlfriend.

Today, more great news came. Color is coming back to Ryan's lips and cheeks. His brain pressure is the best it has been, and the doctors are going to attempt to take Ryan off his sedation to see if his body can handle being awake. If not, they will try again later.

All in all, it has been a crazy few weeks. It really is true that with Christ, all things are possible. It really is true that whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger (thank you, Kanye West, for that great piece of advice). It really is true that I have grown up a little more in the past 14 days. It really is true that God is still in the business of miracles, and that He hears my prayers and the prayers of so many around this globe. It really is true that He is King of Kings, and His name is greatly to be praised, come high waters, heart attacks, or serious car crashes. Because He cares, He loves, and He is in CONTROL.

Summer has started. Not really with the bang that I wanted it to, but it's okay. I've learned more and loved more and listened more. I am thankful for what God is doing and what He has planned for my future.

All the glory belongs to Him. I am just the messenger.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Time Has Come...

...For me to blog again.

I'm just a mess. I've got so many thoughts bouncing around in my head. All I want to do is:
A) paint.
B) sleep.
C) go home and crawl into my bed and have soup and just recover from this semester.
D) go back to Atlanta and goof off with the boy.

I love Lee. Don't get me wrong. But today (and the past few days for that matter) has just been a little season of missing home. I miss Nashville, I miss Franklin. I miss swimming holes and Fusion and (gasp!) FHS. I guess I'm just burnt out on school and such. But I miss home. Miranda Lambert has this song out called "The House That Built Me." It makes me bawl everytime I hear it because I've grown up in the same house for 15 years, and because Franklin "
built" me. People laugh at how much I talk about Nashville. But I truly do miss it. And love it. It is my hometown.

<< Me in the first few weeks of college.

>>Me and Court (I'm on the right) today.

I am almost done with my first year of college. This freaks the tar outta me. For multiple reasons. I've grown soooo much! But it's just weird. Because I guess it really hasn't set in that I'm in COLLEGE. I'm almost a SOPHOMORE in COLLEGE. In THREE YEARS I will have my own classroom. Wooooa.

I'm almost done with my first year of college. That's so strange. No longer am I going to be a freshman, but a sophomore. It doesn't seem like that big a difference, but at the same time, it seems like a WORLD of difference. It's really really strange. I guess it's so strange because I am making decisions everyday that affect the rest of my life. Freaky.

I've changed SO much in the past 9 months. It's really kinda strange and sometimes makes me nervous that I'm not being true to myself, or that I'm going to let someone down by changing. But I feel like it's change for the better. I feel like I am growing, even though sometimes I have to take steps backward first, in order to take giant leaps forward.

Top Ten Things I've Learned During My Freshman Year (so far):
1. I am a clean person. (My parents thought I was kidding when I said this. But I'm not. I'm an extremely clean person now that I'm living on my own.)
2. It's never too late for a Steak and Shake run....
3. ....or a Krispy Kreme run...
4. ....or a Taco Bell run.
5. a 4.0 IS possible.
6. Time management is KEY.
7. Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Visit that place everyday.
8. Professors do care.
9. Adventuring, by yourself or with others, is a really fun Sunday afternoon activity.
10. You can never ever ever visit WalMart too many times in one week. (I think my record is 4 times in one week.)

Of course, there are serious things that I've learned as well. There have been ups, and there have been downs. There have been insanely frustrating moments, and there have been moments when I want to leap for joy. It can get really really tiring, all these ups and downs. But it's such a rush. It's such a thrill, getting to experience college and life on my "own."

All in all, I am thankful. All in all, I wouldn't trade college life, and this past year, for anything in the world. The Lord has been FAITHFUL and GOOD. He has seen me through rough times and great times. And it is by His strength and love that I live from day to day.

I can't wait for the summer. I'm not just saying that because I'm ready for school to be out, but I know that the Lord has big plans for this summer. :) And I can't wait for Him to reveal those plans!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh, Life.


His loving kindness and overflowing mercy astound me.
He is so good!

I'm back at Lee for my second semester of freshman year. I feel so much older. More mature. Stronger. It's strange.

But I did go through that phase this past week of feeling "lost." I realized I hadn't picked up a brush in months, or read just for the fun of it, or baked, or gone out shooting for photography, or taken a walk, or anything like that. And I missed it.

But now, I'm in Franklin for the weekend. I've only been here a few hours, and I already feel filled. My Franklin tank was getting low. It's full now. I'm laying in my bed, listening to Andy McKee, eating Cheeto Puffs, and blogging.

My idea of a fantastic Friday night.

Something nags at my heart, however. Plays its strings, and calls out from a deep place. I'm in my literal home. My parents are down the hallway, and I'm laying in my bed in my room surrounded by memories of my life before college...but I know deep down inside, in my heart of hearts...

I'm not home.

Because home is a place on the other side of this planet. Home is a little mud hut, surrounded by other little mud huts, surrounded by the Father's love and the Father's presence. Home is a one-roomed church/school house filled with hundreds of little bodies singing praises to the King.

Home is where the heart is.
And my heart isn't here.
It's in Africa.

So now, I embark on this interesting journey. Well, more like continue on it. But with a different flavor. Because after I got back from Malawi in the summer of 2009, I knew that I wouldn't be going back.

Or so I thought.

But tonight, something drew me to those pictures. And something twisted my heart. And something called me home.

I fall on my knees. And pray. Hard. Because if the Lord IS calling me back, there have to be a lot of things that happen in a very short period of time. Money has to come in, schedules have to open up, and a spot on the team has to open up.

But if it's His will, He will make a way. Because HE WORKS EVERYTHING OUT FOR MY GOOD.

Lately, I've been praying for Dad's will to be done in different aspects of my life. With my new boyfriend, with my Sophomore year at Lee, with my summer...

But then, something dawned on me. I have given the Lord a coloring sheet and a crayon and kindly said, "Please color this section, this section, and this section in your will. But stay in those sections.

Now I am giving Him a canvas and a paintbrush and asking Him to paint the CANVAS OF MY LIFE in a beautiful rainbow of colors. Because I don't want to compartmentalize. I want Him to be moving, living, breathing, flowing into every nook and cranny of my crazy life. I want to overflow with His love...and give Him all the glory for everything He does.

I wait. I pray. I journal. I cry. I laugh. I dance. I sing. I hope. I love. And I dream.
I am clay in the Father's hands, destined for greatness.
Let His will be done.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shameless Plug

Graduated with this guy.
Now he's at SAIC, totally rocking face.

Here's the link to his blog.