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Posts Tagged ‘college’

Hello friends.

Me again. Last night, Animal Planet aired the episode of Monsters Inside Me featuring yours truly. And the timing couldn’t have been stranger.

In the fall of 2010 I was on an emergency flight from my college in South Carolina to my home in Maine, having not left my dorm room for a solid week, with extreme pain, and with a smattering of other bizarre symptoms. I never got to finish my degree at that university and I left South Carolina with much unresolved.

I never thought I’d have the chance to say the goodbye I wanted.

Friendships made there faded. College students have enough trouble keeping up if both parties have the energy to communicate post-school. My sudden absence was a black hole no one could figure out how to cross. I lost myself in a battle to survive.

I survived.

By the grace of God. And sometimes by His stubbornness when I lost the resolve. I survived.

In the spring of 2017 I was contacted by the team from Monsters Inside Me and I used the income from the show to book a ticket back to the state I had left too soon. In the fall of 2017, the same weekend I flew back to South Carolina, the show aired. And it brings a stark contrast to the life I had in 2010 and the life I have in 2017.

I’ll admit to feeling some real anxiety when I was on the plane that would carry me back to South Carolina. As I said, I had a lot of unresolved feelings in regards to friendships and independence. I lost so much of both when I moved back to Maine. And in the years since, I’ve collapsed more than thrived when I attempted to move beyond that little bubble.

The bubble got comfortable.

Routine became my safety net.

But in Maine I found a friend who loved me through my illness, seeing me as anything but ill in days when that was the only way I saw myself. And when friends like that move to states like South Carolina and decide to get married, off to South Carolina I go. Four days in a state I considered my nemesis. I was pretty sure it was a lost cause, but off I went.

And mercy of mercies, I got the goodbye I wanted. Like a kid returning to their childhood home after their family has all moved away, I dealt with so much that needed to be dealt with. Not to mention, along the way, I totally rocked the train-themed Escape Room, ate some delicious cake, drank oodles of coffee, and got lost in Downtown Charleston on a walk that scaled seven miles. And while my body needed a little more rest than the average person’s would have after that walk, I actually survived and slept and laughed and generally thrived, establishing old friendship and new friendship alike.

It wasn’t a perfect trip.

Life isn’t ever perfect. But neither is beauty. Still it was good. Good in ways I didn’t expect.

I’ve been wrestling with Who God really is, never doubting His existence or His goodness or His love, but wondering what those things look like in a world full of a pain and loss that don’t always feel significant.

This weekend I saw that sometimes it takes seven years to find the answers. Seven lean years. But seven years in which God was no less constant or good or true.

Whether you are in the seven fat years or the seven lean years (see Genesis 41), hang in there friends.

Tragedy will have its end.

God is and always will be good.

And that’s enough.

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Sometimes, you just need a change of perspective…

The Eiffel Tower has long been known as grand and romantic, a symbol of France. Back in college, I was astounded to learn that, having been commissioned for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower had never been intended to remain. As seeing this legendary icon had become the top of my bucket list, I feared it could only disappoint. And then there it was. Big and majestic and beautiful and certainly no more than a twenty-minute walk from our current location. Little did we realize just how big the tower truly was. What looked so close was actually a good hour’s walk away.

By the time we reached it, my feet were literally bleeding. One popped blister, two average-joe blisters, and one blood blister completely obliterated my ability to stand up long enough to take the iconic, long-distance photo of my dearly sought-after tower. So instead, as we half-teetered in line for the elevator, I snapped a photo upwards–catching the iron latticework in all of its true glory. And I realized that this was the photo I wanted. Not the photo the rest of the world would care about, perhaps, but the photo that would remind me of the hard, detailed, inspired work and the massive scale of my beloved tower. Then, together with my sister, I piled into two over-crowded elevators to get to the top of one of the world’s greatest structures. The view was breathtaking–whatever the guidebooks say.

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Before leaving for France people said all kinds of things. That the locals were rude, the sights overcrowded, the streets dirty, and the gelato good. I could have expected that France. Instead, I found my own France. Sidewalks with street-musicians. A collection of food trucks where we were the only foreigners. Locals down by the water playing hopscotch and strumming guitars. Streets far cleaner than New York City. Gorgeous architecture. Friendly people. A collection of shops and Starbucks and affordable eateries in my favorite neighborhood. And, yes, the gelato was good, but it was nothing compared to the fresh strawberries we bought on the Rue Cler. Paris became my own.

I could have felt disappointment in missing my long-distance shot of Gustave Eiffel’s greatest feat. I could have felt disappointment in getting only one scoop of gelato. I could have fought for the Paris I had heard about. Instead, I found the Paris that mattered to me.

The understandable tendency, when we miss out, is to feel disappointment, but the last few weeks have given me a different perspective. Of course, there is the part of me that wants to fight for the me that could have been without Lyme’s Disease: a fiddler, a missionary, a gymnast, a businesswoman… Instead, I have decided to revel in the me that is. Just as I chose to celebrate the close-up shot of the Eiffel Tower, I choose to celebrate the path I walk. It may not be the iconic life of our favorite characters on television, but it’s mine and it’s profoundly beautiful. Now, having set aside any kind of modern standard, I am thankful for the strange, yet powerful role I play in this world. As I continue to learn about myself, I have a new appreciation for the way God directed me. The passion developing for writing students, the creativity seeping out in play-dates with my nephews and in my novels, the true friendships now returning from across the globe… It’s all because my life didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Praise God for that.

Sometimes you just need a change of perspective.

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On this quiet morning, with my parents still asleep above me and the furnace warming the house, I find myself with an unfamiliar ache. I woke up missing my Sister Kate (she’s on vacation with her husband. Good for her!) with a furry that actually made me stiff and sore. That I would miss her was no surprise at all. Kate and I have been joined since I entered the world of men. But, being a reflective sort of person, I thought that the pain of her being on vacation was a bit over dramatic. Pretty soon I realized that I might have been misplacing some of the longing for a sister.

When other sister was four years old, she stood up in church and told the congregation what she was going to do with her life. Now, twenty-six years later, she’s in the Middle East to do just that. When we traveled through the ice and snow last weekend to say our goodbyes and join in her farewell service at her home church in New York, I felt very little other than a healthy dose of affection for her. In the first place, she has lived away most of my memory-making years (for college, grad-school, and a year and a half in Southeast Asia). And in the second place, I have been prepped since birth to accept her leaving. So while I was prepared to miss her, I wasn’t prepared to feel this. It is not missing, really. I probably wouldn’t have spoken to her in the last week anyway. No. It is the deep understanding that as she pursues her calling, life will not return to the way it was. Twice-yearly hang-out trips turned shopping and Broadway in New York City are behind us. Teaching a class together, editing a novel, watching Netflix on the couch until we both fall asleep, coffee dates… Those things may or may not ever happen again.

But that ache I woke up with, once understood, could be turn to joy. Because while life will never be the same, that may be the best thing ever. Just imagine, teaching together at a University in the Middle East instead of New York, or sharing a cup of coffee as tourists in Jerusalem, or creating a novel based on the things I witness when I visit her. Yes… Life will never be the same again. And that is perfectly okay.

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After waking up at my sister’s place yesterday morning I thought it would be a good idea to come back to my desk in the attic so that I could focus and get some work done. It started off as a great plan. My own shower; my own coffee; my own cereal. I was ready to get to work. What I had not anticipated was that a horde of ladybugs would have moved in. I spent the whole day interrupting mid-sentence editing to swat at the latest, bravest ladybug. After a while of them falling on my lap and landing on my desk and buzzing in my window, I decided it was war. I am a ladybug killer.

That said, I did get some good work done on my novel before the end of business day. Then I got to attend at Good Friday service at my sister’s church. It helped me get focused on the significance of this weekend.

At church I was talking with a friend who was home from college. We both marveled at how ‘big’ (we searched for a better word to convey our meaning, but there is really no term than can do God justice) our God is. How He takes care of issues we could not have hoped would resolve; how He gives us what we need when we hardly dare to ask. I found more refreshment in those five minutes with my friend than I did in days on my walk-about. Overall, a very good Friday–despite the ladybugs.

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221 to graduation!

A lot of fabulous people have given me some very sage advice in my twenty years of breathing on this earth. Business people, mentors, friends, and family have all taken the time to encourage me with Godly counsel. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got came from my sister, Kate.

I was at college in South Carolina, feeling overwhelmed by book deadlines and being so far from home. On the phone one day she asked me what I was looking forward to next and told me to start a countdown towards whatever it was. I put that countdown by my pillow, where I  could see it both and day night (the street lights brightly shone through my windows at all times). It encouraged me, kept me working hard, and channeled my focus on something hopeful and positive.

This summer has been absolutely crazy, so with my lesson learned, I generated my countdown to graduation. It is amazing how happy that countdown makes me. Every morning I wake up and update it. Seeing my progress in a tangible way; knowing there is an end in sight to college madness; making plans to see friends when I graduate… that countdown has revolutionized my attitude.

Try your own countdown. I dare you.

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The darkness grew through the morning until the heavens let loose a heavy rain and a mountainous thunder.

Barlow Girl filled my ears, the smell of a s-more candle my noise, and memories of a busy day my mind. I stopped to look out the window from the protection of my home as the rain fell and the water of my shower grew warm. I wanted to skip the shower and dance in the rain (as I have done many times before).

The world is washed clean now and only bits of the rain and blackened sky remain.

My thoughts turn back to the week I have had. The busyness, the learning, the relationship changes, but mostly the personal-relationship I have my God and how He reached down and blessed me this week. Ever since I came home from college to the ER in November, I have been serving as best as I can, waiting for the rain to make me new and the sun to come out again. Now the rains seem to be heading away and I have learned much.  There will be another storm again, making me clean and better, but I don’t fear it. Because my God has proven faithful! As Issym might say, “Kiash!”

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It seems like when my posts have been absent I always come back to you and say that I have been sick. And every time, including this one, it has been true. But the expectant fans of Asandra have no need to fear for things are progessing along rapidly for the November release date–largely thanks to the incredible efforts of my mother, manager, assistant, editor and friend, Judy.

Issym is now available for purchase at Borders in Bangor, Maine. Asandra will be there as soon as it is released. The book signing will be November 26–Black Friday–from 9-1(tentative) at Lambs Book and Bible. We are still hoping to hold a book release event sometime that weekend for friends, family and interested members of the local community. Asandra’s cover is almost finished and is looking great. I was very excited to see a draft and am flying back to Maine to meet with the illustrator next weekend.

I was also asked to come in as a guest speaker for a media class that I took as a student last year. This is a thrilling time, indeed! And although everything seems to be going well I am not saying that it has been or is easy. Mixing college and company is not simple. It takes dedication and the ability to say no to a lot of fun stuff. It takes late nights, early mornings, short lunch breaks and no restful Saturdays. It takes persevering through your paper and then your next chapter, while answering an email that you might not want to answer well into the early hours of the morning (I am thankful for an understanding roommate). Be warned! But it is so worthwhile.

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