Trying to Live Freely

I turned 23 last week.

For the first time in four years, I didn’t have finals (to take or to study for) on my birthday. That was nice. The rest of the day, I was informed, I spent like an 80-year-old lady.

happy 80-year-old lady.

But continually in the back of my mind as of late has been the upcoming anniversary of my graduation.

One Year.

And it’s crazy to think about where I am now and where I thought I would be by now. If you would have asked me then, I would be living and working in DC (or a smattering of other cities that I was interested in). Though now, with the current political climate, I am thrilled that I am not living there.

I was not going to be living at home. I was not going to be living in Goshen.

But here I am. For better or for worse. I made a commitment to myself last fall to begin settling down. I didn’t know where I was going, or if I was going anywhere. But I knew that what I was doing, this aimless living was not “abandoning myself to God.” I needed to trust that living here was a task given to me. And having a sermon series at church and a Sunday school series that felt like God was grabbing me by the shoulders and trying to knock a little sense into me also helped.

We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. Source

So I did. In the beginning of the year, I began volunteering as a small group leader in middle school ministries at my church. And you know what, that itself was a wonderful surprise. I adore the girls I help lead and I have more opportunities on the horizon at church. Like so many points in my life have been, I know that I will look back on this time and see God’s fingerprints.

Like so many points in my life have been, I know that I will look back on this time and see God’s fingerprints.

Nevertheless, I struggle with contentment and feeling certain that this is where I’m meant to be. It’s that always how it seems to go? Or am I alone in this? “O me of little faith.” I still often feel like I’m driving around a roundabout. And it’s frustrating just going around and around. I like directions. I like to know where I’m going.

“We have a lot less control in life than we wanna believe. because no amount of personal control will be ever enough to ensure our safety. No amount of control will ever remove our fears.” –Carl Frost, pastor at Revolution Chuch, Muncie, Indiana speaking at Commonway Church, Muncie, Indiana

Wondering where or why. Just… waiting in place. And part of me is terrified I’ll never leave this place. And part of me is terrified to leave. I yearn for adventure and independence but enjoy the proximity to the known and my family. I see my friends moving on and taking steps in their lives and I still feel… stuck.

Yet as I find myself making more commitments in this place, I wonder if I’m not on a roundabout but on cruise control instead. (Call me a pendulum, swinging between stuck and coasting.) Not in a rut, just… heading to the next exit. And I have to accept that I don’t know when that is or where it will lead me. This is not a dead end. I’m not a fan of uncertainty. Spontenaittey is not my middle name. No matter how much I like to pretend I can just go with the flow. My friends can attest to that.

“I can only fly freely when I know there is a catcher to catch me. If we are to take risks, to be free, in the air, in life, we have to know there is a catcher. We have to know that when we come down from it all, we’re going to be caught, we’re going to be safe. The great hero is the least visible. Trust the catcher. – Henri Nouwen

May I learn to live freely here. Like a child tossed in the air by her father, may I learn to always trust the catcher.

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New Job + New Thoughts

Hi.

A lot’s happened. And the last few weeks have been kind of a blur.

I got a job working from home for a company called Foxio. I cut off a lot of my hair. The weather decided to remember it’s December in Indiana. So now it’s cold + snowy.

It’s a transition working remotely, but I do enjoy what I’m doing. It’s a small company, but it’s what I want to pursue with my career: front-end web development + design.

I accepted the position right before Thanksgiving. Not to be corny… but talk about something for which to be thankful. I began December 5th with a week on-location for job training. It was overwhelming. I still have a lot to learn, but my coworkers are great. While there, I was able to stay with a friend and meet others for dinner. Those friendly faces helped a lot.

So I’m remaining in my hometown for now. And it’s not a bad place. There’s some really good tacos, excellent bakeries, a wonderful downtown, and one of my favorite coffee shops. I’m proud of where I come from.

But still inside me there seems to be a feeling of discontent. I’m still itching to get out on my own. And I’m trying to to work with that. Having a remote job as a first position is a bit unusual, and I can’t help but feel like God has some sort of a plan in mind.

So until then, I’m trying to find how I belong here, where I am. I’ve lived through the summer and autumn with a one-foot-in-one-foot-out mentality. Though I’ve been trying to settle in, now that I know I’m staying for the time being I suppose I feel a little more committed.

I’ve found a small church/Sunday school in which I’m beginning to feel at home. I’ve helped out with an event at church… and been informed that I will be asked back. I’m making plans months ahead. Maybe I’ll start taking a yoga class…

I suppose I’m nestling for now.

In Which I Meet My Pen Pal.

Hey-o.

In case you didn’t know, I have a pen pal that lives in London, Ontario. We were matched up through Ali over at aliinbloom.com through something she called Bloggers Offline. Marlee, my pen pal, blogs over at marleeandyou.blogspot.com.

Well, Marlee got married in the beginning of August and I was extremely honored to have been invited. Yeah, this post is long overdue. But anyways, here’s my recap of my trip to our northern neighbors. It’s long. I’m kind of sorry. But I need to write it down for myself. (And if Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, I’m pretty sure Canada is the friendliest) And shout out to all of those cashiers that helped me with Canadian coins… all so shiny… all so similar in size…

Day One: First Things First
My friend Olivia drove up from Cincinnati to come along and be my plus-one-road trip-buddy (there was no way I was going up there alone) and the trip North was pretty uneventful… until we were stuck in line to cross the toll bridge. It was 90* outside, very slow bumper to bumper traffic. And I look down and my engine nearly overheating. I mean, what do I know about these things?! But after a frantic call to my father and making it very clear that we could, in no way, pull off to the side of the road… we turned everything off and opened the windows. Yes, I’ve been told that having my air conditioning on was stupid… no I didn’t realize that. Anyways, we made it across the bridge finally and through customs with no issue. Changing my mindset from miles to kilometers was hard, but despite a missed exit, we made it to the house where we were staying with no big issues.

After dinner, the Murrays pulled out a large map (yes, map) of London circled some streets and places with a yellow highlighter and Olivia and I set out to explore. We took a stroll down Dundas street before heading home, catching some of opening ceremony for the Olympics and crashing into bed.

Day Two: Wedding Day (What a Day)
I woke up with some serious wedding jitters… not like I was getting married or anything. No, I was nervous about going and meeting Marlee! What if she didn’t actually want me to come? How awkward was this thing going to be? We left in plenty of time to pick up an iced cap from Tim Hortons (we were given strict instructions to try one) and some Timbits before heading to the wedding. We were complemented on our outfits as we left Time Hortons, reaffirming that Canadians are the nicest people ever.

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We got to the wedding way too early, but I hear from a window above where we are waiting, “Oh my gosh! It’s Kelly!” I turned and looked up too see Marlee + bridesmaids at the upstairs window. We exchanged little waves and my wedding jitters went wayyyyy down.

The ceremony was so sweet. And her dress!!!! SO CUTE. It was her mother’s wedding gown that she had altered… and added pockets, of course. She was beautiful! In-between the ceremony and the reception, we made some new friends with two sisters and enjoyed hanging out with them the rest of the afternoon.

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And after the bridal party + family were done taking photos, Marlee brought the photographer over to where we were chatting under a tree… and we finally got to meet each other!!!! 

meet-and-greet

“You’re really here!” and “You’re really little!” were two things I remember she exclaimed as she gave me a big hug. It was a very happy moment. I think we’d have fun together if we lived closer together… and you know, in the same country. Then we headed into the reception. I’ll skip the play by play for the rest of the wedding and give you some highlights:

  1. Marlee made all of the cupcakes and they were AMAZING.
  2. There was a candy bar and we learned that:
    • American Smarties = Canadian Rockets
    • Canadian Hershey Kisses are 1000x better than American
  3. After the toasts, Cory and Marlee said a few words… and I was thoroughly embarrassed when I was pointed out. (Thanks, Marlee.) So much for staying in the background! 😉
  4. I met Marlee’s friend (and bridesmaid!) Daniella!
    img_2721I heard a lot about her from Marlee’s letters so I was excited to meet her! I also set her up as a pen pal with my friend Morgen. And she told me where to find nice stationary while I was in the area. True friends. Daniella blogs hereMorgen blogs here.
  5. I really enjoy dancing at weddings.
  6. Marlee and Cory are just the cutest. 

Olivia and I both felt a little like we had just ran a marathon… well maybe a 10k. We met a lot of people in very little time and decided to head out. I knew that my neighbor back home (we were staying with his parents) told me to make sure I had poutine and his favorite place was in a mall near the wedding location… and so was the bookstore Daniella had recommended for stationary shopping.

So we wandered around the mall. Ate some poutine (french fries + gravy + mozzarella cheese curds). I took a photo, but it’s not really very photogenic. And got a much needed cuppa at David’s Tea. Seriously so friendly… and so, like the American millennials we are… we took a selfie with them.

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Next was Indigo… it was like Barnes and Noble… but with more stationary. We both gasped with happiness when the employee that led us to that wonderful area… she asked if we could do it again, because that was fun! We browsed for a looong time.

Then we headed back, shared stories with the Murrays, and headed out one more time to pick something up from Marlee’s house mom’s house (and no, I didn’t need the address, I’ve got that baby memorized by now). It was the sweetest bag (no pun intended) of maple syrup related items! (That was very Canadian of you 😉 ) I also got to chat with her mom a little bit more 🙂 But sleep was very welcome that night, although I didn’t want to go to bed and end such a wonderful day!

Day Three: Take Toronto by Storm
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We decided to explore Toronto on Sunday. We drove the the westernmost metro station and parked (free parking on Sunday! woo!) and for $12 we were both able to get day passes for the metro. More on that later.

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We started out by exploring the Distillery district. It was full of neat boutiques, galleries, cobblestone streets, and some cute cafes. We walked, shopped, talked to a milliner, and grabbed lunch + coffee. The rest of the day is kind of a blur. A blur of way too much walking, accidentally finding a mall, and extremely painful feet. The thing is… we were in the mindset of walking and stopping to see things… and also forgot we had metro passes. We walked 10 miles that day. Seriously.

Food highlights included: macarons (also the first time we were able to sit down in a very long time.), savory crepes for dinner, and a 30 minute wait for ice cream (which, while very Instagram-able was ultimately a bit of a let down).

food

We took the metro back to where we parked our car and headed back to London. I had to stop once to get coffee at (where else?) Tim Hortons on the way back. It was also there I discovered the Coffee News isn’t just in the USA.

Day Four: There’s No Place Like Home

We packed up, bid farewell to our kind hosts, and headed out. But before we left London we had to make two stops. One, to the grocery store to pick up some candy. Actually we went to get Hershey’s Kisses, but we picked up a few other things we didn’t recognize. Then, we made one last stop at Tim Hortons. I got an Iced Coffee, and I think that was my favorite drink that I tried. And a few more Timbits…so many kinds, so little time. We need some more Tim Hortons in the states. See: closer to me.

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Mr. Murray had given us a token to get us across the bridge, so we breezed through that pretty quickly, but the border took a little bit longer. When it was finally our turn, we figured out why…

What my neighbor had told me was very, very, true. The border is much friendlier when you are entering Canada… the Americans are really brusque on your way back in. But we made it back home despite having to go around Detroit because we missed the first I69 exit off of I94. But we made it. Safe and sound. And if you made it to the end of this post… I hope you are still safe and sound.

I had a blast in Canada. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet my pen pal and blessed to have such wonderful people with whom to stay. Like seriously, I asked them later if they accept grandchildren applications.

Happy Thoughts

daisy

I’ve almost made it halfway through the semester, which is both relieving and terrifying as I realize what lies beyond this school year. So, I need to remind myself to think of and do happy things! Here are some things that make me happy, what makes you happy?

  1. Listening to beautiful music.
  2. Baking something yummy.
  3. Fairy lights.
  4. Ice cream.
  5. Tea.
  6. Apple Juice.
  7. Cinnamon Toast
  8. Wrapping up in a blanket like a burrito.
  9. Watching my favorite movies.
  10. Reading a “fluff” book.
  11. Painting my nails.
  12. Practicing calligraphy.
  13. Playing Piano.
  14. Talking to my friends.
  15. Spending time with my mom and sister.
  16. Riding my bike.
  17. Feeling the sunshine on my face.
  18. The smell of a fresh cup of coffee (and drinking it too!).
  19. Playing ukulele.
  20. Pineapples.
  21. Fresh flowers.

What are some of your happy things?

Happy October

Anne Shirley said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

I love Anne, but I’m not gonna lie, I find autumn a bit depressing. I’m more of a spring girl: the cold is ending and the sun is coming out of hibernation. Autumn means an end of summer, waking up to a dark sky, and the impending doom of winter. We were enjoying nice warm weather into the end of the September and then that full moon (Eclipse and a Supermoon!) on Sunday brought in a serious cold front. Ew. I’m wearing a sweatshirt, sweats, and socks and I’m still cold. As I’m typing this, I can hear the wind whipping around outside of my window.

So, to try and hype myself up about this season I decided to put together things that I’m looking forward to in this fall season. *so many things*

1. Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate by Well Plated

I drink hot tea and coffee year round, but I can’t quite bring myself to drink hot chocolate when it’s not cold outside (not that I haven’t) I’m looking to try the recipe above as well as Red Wine Hot Chocolate and  Mint White Hot Chocolate.

2. SCARVES

scarf

DIY Blanket Scarves by Mom Advice

Now, some scarves do lend themselves to summer weather, but my favorites scarves tend to be the winter scarves (see: pashmina). I made myself a blanket scarf the other weekend and I can’t wait to try it out.

3. Soup! 

soup

Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Soup by Center Cut Cook

Ok, my diet feels like it’s 70% yogurt and 30% bread. (fruits and vegetables aside) I don’t like eating hot soup in the summer so I’m hoping that maybe soup will help me out in the meal world.

4. … Just kidding. That’s really all I’ve got. I do not like the cold. And you know it’s a proven fact (or not) that 40 degrees in the spring is warmer than 40 degrees in the autumn.

So tell me what do you like about autumn? What am I missing?

Happy October! (Rabbit rabbit)

 

Friday Favorites #10

ohellos

This past Thursday Miss Morgen and I went on an adventure in Indianapolis.

We started our day off shopping at the Keystone Mall. It’s a high budget place for two college girls but we enjoyed seeing the fancy stores. David’s Tea was a wonderful store and I made my first M.A.C. purchase. After roaming around that mall, we made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s and the Castleton Mall before heading downtown for dinner at Nine Brother’s Irish Pub. If you’re in the area, I recommend the fish and chips.

THEN came the highlight of the evening. The Oh Hellos concert at the Old National Theatre. I would drive a very long distance to see them live again because they were amazing. LOTS of dancing on stage. It was crazy. 10 people!!! 4 guitarists, 2 drummers, 1 violinist, 1 banjo player, two singers. Tyler Heath, the male vocalist played guitar also and one of the drum players also played accordion. Morgen and I got there 30 minutes before the doors open because I am short and I was not going to be standing in the back! And we didn’t. We were front and center. And it was fabulous.

During the last song, the banjo player came to the edge of the stage and told me and the guy beside me that they were going to bring some of the drums down at the end and where we were standing so we needed to help get people out of the way. So that was cool. Once they were down though, the drummer and the banjo player, their crazy dancing almost got me hit!!! *sigh* I want to go again.

The opening act was also great. It was two pieces of the band The Bikewalk, a local Indianapolis band.

Both bands are on Spotify, so go have a listen! What bands have you been listening to lately?