contemplation

I feel like my brain has been put into hyperdrive. I’m constantly learning, trying to comprehend new ideas, analyzing works of poetry or rhetoric or the words of those around me. This period of time is requiring my unending attention and devotion more than any chapter of my life before.

But I want to slow down,

I want to watch the sunset or

lay in the grass and look at the stars.

I want to connect more deeply with the hundreds of people I’ve met, but it takes time.

Last week seemed like it would beat me, but I faced it head on and made it out mostly unscathed. Hard work is quite fulfilling; the feeling after finishing a twelve page paper or a tough exam is great.¬†At the same time, I’m trying to focus on working for God and not for others or a grade.

Choir has been such a pleasant experience so far. Everyone I’ve met is welcoming and friendly, and singing in a group gives me such a joy. Now I find myself singing even more than I have before. There’s always a melody playing through my mind. Our first concert is October 26th at 2pm; if you’re in the Nashville area, come check us out! ūüėÄ

Next weekend is Cru Fall Getaway! I’m really excited for what God has in store. The leaders at Cru are very supportive and Gospel-centered. I’ve made many good friends already from Cru as well. This Saturday I went to the Henderson’s house and it was great to get out of the college bubble for a bit. (:

I enjoy hearing from friends and family across the world! It is such a blessing that across the vast distances and between busy schedules we can still stay connected.

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new faces, new places

I’ve officially finished my first week at Vandy. It’s been crazy. Every day brings new events, classes, assignments, people, and choices.
Before I came to college, I knew it would be tough. But actually trying to balance my social, academic, physical, and spiritual life has been quite a ride so far. I’m doing good; no, I’m doing well– I’m an English major now. There are endless possibilities that come with each decision I make. If I sit with this girl at lunch, we may become close friends; if I choose to eat at another dining hall, I may run into someone who becomes a mentor to me. Everyone around me acts like if we don’t make connections now, we’ll be lost. But I don’t think I agree. Every day, every moment God gives, you have the chance to reach out to another person and start a friendship.

 

Venting time. I feel like meeting so many new people you start to label and categorize them just as we’ve always done and will subconsciously continue to do. But I don’t like making judgements of other people. Even more so do I dislike the thought that they also are trying to put me into a category. I know it’s just how people cope, that we can’t possibly grasp the entirety of who a person is at first, or even after years of friendship. Am I expecting too much from everyone, myself included, to try anyways? Maybe.

We’re all people with such unique histories and personalities and families, from small pools of water. We’re suddenly collected into this giant basin of The Commons and expected to fight to get into the current, to keep up with the pace. The fact that I’m going against the current is even more overwhelming.

 

I visited my first church here today, and I have to say, I really enjoyed taking a break from the craziness¬†of my classes and social events. Although I still plan on visiting other churches, I knew that I was in a room of people who like me wish to know the Lord more. God has been reminding me to stand strong in prayer and truth. I’m still figuring out what it means to show love to people here like my hallmates and professors. God is revealing each step to me as it comes though, so I guess I better keep my eyes and ears open to Him.

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travels and transitions

so I haven’t updated this summer as often as I would have liked. I feel like I’ve been in a whirlwind of activity. From family reunions to mission trips and everything in between, this summer has slipped out of my hands faster than I could’ve thought.

in July, I had the privilege of serving at La Vid Baptist Church in Long Island, New York. A group of ladies and I from Huntsville helped them with VBS, almost entirely in Spanish. I definitely improved in listening and speaking Spanish. Most of all, the kids there made an impact on me because of their sweet, loving hearts. I also enjoyed spending time with the other women in the group.

after I got home, I went to Mississippi for a TCK retreat. Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones was amazing. I felt like I could be open and be myself with many people there. I also forced myself to try new things, like ziplining and dancing to two CDs of Just Dance.

In less than a week I’ll be moving into Sutherland House at Vandy. I’m ridiculously excited and equally nervous. I’ll be double majoring in Secondary Ed and English. I can’t wait to just get there already and meet new friends, go to class, and connect to a church. God has a plan for me at Vandy.

I’ll try to keep this updated more often! ūüôā

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making me new

6 years.
That’s 2192 days.
One day in itself seems to have little power. Its effect on a friendship, mentality, or personality is too small to measure.
But 2192 days? That’s influential. Each day’s consequences pile together to mold a person like the waves of the¬†ocean smooth jagged rocks into polished pebbles. The past six years in Shanghai have grown¬†me in ways I never thought imaginable. I know without a doubt that God placed me here for this part of my life to know Him more and become friends with people who have changed me for the better.

This chapter of life in the place which slowly became my home will very soon come to a close.
I’ve grown familiar with change after living in this city. Friends come and go, buildings rise and fall. So now as I leave, I feel like Shanghai has given me the adaptability to change as a parting gift. Wherever I go, whoever I know, that gift¬†will accompany me.

Instead of dragging my feet in the dirt or bemoaning what I leave behind, I look to the future with eager anticipation.
I will always cherish the friends I have made, but also focus on investing in new people.
I will always remember the lessons I’ve learned, but never stop learning new ones.
I will always love the places I have come to know, but never stop exploring  new neighborhoods.

I look to the future to what is new. I know that, just as when I came to Shanghai, God will use my new environment to draw me closer to Him and help me forge lasting friendships. And most of all, I want to lay my life before God that I may live as the new creation I am in Him.

God has told me:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
¬†¬†¬†¬†now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

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of fears and tears

high school graduation.

high school graduation.

As I stare into the nebulous void of my future, I have two simultaneous reactions.

First, I cry as I desperately try to latch onto the present.
Second, I fabricate an unrealistic, depressing future.

Although I have moved many times in my life, I have not left Shanghai for six years now. It’s my home. But right now as I face moving to Nashville for university, many people on that side of the world remark with unintentional callousness, “Isn’t it great to be coming home?”

Still, if I stay here, many of my friends are leaving or have already left, carrying with them pieces of my heart and fragments of memories shared between us. But once I leave, I worry that I won’t find friends or a church or a mentor that could come close to those I am leaving behind.

In this time of emotional sorrow, I have this insatiable desire to spend every second of time with my friends. I’m trying to ignore the fact that I’ll also be leaving my family once I go to college.

I’m afraid of being alone.¬†
I’m afraid of rejection.
I’m afraid of failure.
I’m afraid of laziness, a lack of motivation.
I’m afraid of changing myself for others.

There are so many causes for worry or sadness reverberating inside my head as I try to sleep.

But I have this hope:
My God will never leave me or forsake me.
He is stronger than my fears.
He is a comfort for my sorrows.
God has sent me to Vanderbilt to grow me and so I will know Him more.

Has He not commanded me? 
BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be discouraged.
For the LORD my God will be with me wherever I go.

And in Him, I find my refuge.

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