Roots & Resolutions: 2018

Grow

  • Be renewed by frequent time in the Word.
  • Journal daily; process, reflect, and pray.
  • Travel. (London, England: May 2018)

Nurture

  • Exercise at least 2x a week (go to the rink, attend yoga class, etc).
  • Make reading for enjoyment a constant priority.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Blog more consistently, aiming for a new post every weekend or so.

Prune

  • Spend less time on social media.
  • Consume less sweet treats — only on weekends or special occasions.
  • Save the earth and forgo being a carnivore on Meatless Mondays.

Foggy Thoughts

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
-Fog, Carl Sandburg

 

Muffled, the fog creeps in — relentless, stifling, enveloping all in its path. Time seems to halt, perhaps in reverence or perhaps in fear. Suddenly, you realize you have not breathed in days. Since the fog came. Lampposts appear in the grey mist as if faraway stars, yet they do not twinkle and burn. Still, they seem too distant, too otherworldly to touch. Buildings grow unfamiliar, hulking in the ever-dusk. The cold comes, or maybe it never left. You are no longer sure.

Disjointed hands. Friction. Heat. A flicker of life, and repeat.

The words freeze on your tongue. A lone train wails, unseen.

Shivering, speculating, succumbing.

You can no longer remember what it was like

before the fog came.

• [A poetic experiment in the correlation between the prevailing weather conditions and one’s mirrored mental state, inspired by Carl Sandburg and Ethan Frome.] •

 

Little Things

With needle and thread, with pen and paper, with a typewriter’s clacking keys, I attempt to string together the little things — the hiccups and heartbeats — so that no infinitesimal moment escapes me. However, capricious memory slips like lackluster sand through the gaping space between my grasping fingers, and so I languish.

I hold on as best I can; I learn to content myself with letting go.

A single dollar abandoned on the concrete. Just for me? I like to think so. A man in the grocery store complimenting my smile, asking if it is always there. A mother, with her arms laden with piles of books for her children, directs a tender smile at me and wishes me a wonderful day after I simply pause to open a door. An impromptu bouquet of flowers in my hand, clandestinely plucked. An essay — ripe in its utter completeness.

He speaks to me in ways so grandiosely minute; I try to listen.

Home?

Today, it dawned on me at last: I am a college student.

I was sitting peacefully in SAGA when it happened, strategically placed in a quieter corner of the cafeteria near a sunny window overlooking the verdant softball field below. There was a cheery mug of Earl Grey tea tenderly cupped in my palm (to which I had added honey and a dash of soy milk with great expertise) that was softly radiating warmth, and I was intently hunched over, studying the pages of The Oresteia in all its beauty and horror and intricacy, furiously highlighting, underlining, and starring countless phrases out of pure excitement and enjoyment of the gripping ancient text. And then I suddenly halted — awestruck. I was still alive after over a month of independence; I was successfully navigating Wheaton College. On my way to the crowded cafeteria, and even amidst the harried process of finding an unoccupied table, I was able to spot numerous kind, familiar faces in the sea of ravenous humans. To my left, a girl from my French class that very morning who has mastered quite an impressive accent. (C’est magnifique!) To my right, a compassionate girl from my residence hall floor that had once generously transported my car-less freshman self to a nearby Target without hesitation. These people that I am now beginning to distinguish among the masses have names and stories, strengths and weaknesses, moments of great vulnerability and triumphs; I am finally beginning to realize that truth. We are all undeniably interconnected, even in the most seemingly insignificant of ways.

So, I continued on, feeling just a bit lighter and as if the world was somehow reborn anew as a noticeably friendlier place. I successfully checked my CPO box, no longer helplessly fumbling with the clumsy lock or struggling to recall the digits of my combination; I paused to admire blooming flowers along the concrete path that I trod as I thoughtfully weighed the benefits of various studying locations in my mind — fully oriented with no need of a campus map or spoken direction.

As apprehension ebbs into a form of assuaging familiarity, I ponder: could this be home?

France Trip Itinerary

I have been oddly reluctant to blog about my recent exciting adventure across the Atlantic, and I believe I have at long last figured out why: I don’t want to admit it’s over. My trip to Paris was breathtakingly beautiful in every sense, full of heavenly pastries, priceless masterpieces aplenty, and memorable encounters with some truly lovely locals. Paris, France exceeded all of my expectations. Every fresh morning brought with it the dreamlike feeling that one was within a charming classic film from the 1950s. I nearly expected to stumble upon Audrey Hepburn singing and exploring the sights, as she did in Funny Face. Though this was indubitably mere wishful thinking, it cannot be denied that the sprawling city has an inimitable, magnetic atmosphere; it seems as if absolutely anything can happen in Paris.

Before you travel abroad, I strongly recommend planning far in advance: research the varying costs of flights and which airports you may be traveling through (while remembering to consider respective layovers), learn key phrases in the primary language of the place you will be visiting (if it differs from English), investigate whether the sights you long to see are free or charge admission fees, exchange any cash currency you may be carrying with you for currency you can freely spend while abroad, etc. I began planning AT LEAST six months in advance, and that was far too short a time to construct the optimal, affordable trip. With the need for careful planning and organization now stated, I must also add that there is a dire need for flexibility as well. For example, my family found it extraordinarily helpful to ask kind locals daily which coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants they recommended, and they never led us astray, constantly steering us towards the most delicious boulangeries, patisseries, brasseries, bistros, cafés… I really need to stop now. My mouth is watering.

After tedious planning, as well as some last-minute unexpected alterations due to weather and transportation, this is the splendid itinerary that was finally assembled — well-suited for the sort of trip my family desired to have. This itinerary may not perfectly fit your own preferences, and that is absolutely okay! Please do not fret! I am simply sharing this here to aid those who may be planning a similar trip and wish for some inspiration and/or guidance as well as those who might have been curious about what else I did in Paris besides consume an unfathomable amount of carbs.

France Trip Itinerary (6/2/2017 – 6/10/2017)

6/2/2017  {Friday}

  • Flight from Nashville to Boston
  • Flight from Boston to Amsterdam leaves

6/3/2017 {Saturday}

  • Flight from Boston to Amsterdam arrives
  • Flight from Amsterdam to Paris
  • Check into our apartment (“Le Grand en Isle” from cobblestoneparis.com)
  • Explore the Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité
  • Walk to Notre-Dame

6/4/2017 {Sunday}

  • Peruse the bouquinistes (stalls selling antiques, souvenirs, and books) by the Seine
  • Visit the Shakespeare & Company bookstore (and sip tea at its adjoining café)
  • See major Parisian landmarks on a Big Bus tour

6/5/2017 {Monday}

  • Train ride to Giverny
  • Visit Monet’s grave
  • Wander Monet’s home, studio, and extensive gardens
  • Train ride back to Paris

6/6/2017 {Tuesday}

  • Tour Victor Hugo’s home in Place des Vosges
  • Travel to the site where the Bastille once stood
  • Explore the Petit Palais (Note: the nearby Grand Palais is sadly closed on Tuesdays)
  • View the Monet collection at the Musée Marmottan

6/7/2017 {Wednesday}

  • Move to our second apartment (“La Charme du Marais” from cobblestoneparis.com)
  • Revel in the opulence of the Palais Garnier (and obviously recreate iconic moments from The Phantom of the Opera)
  • See the Saint-James & Albany Hotel (where the Fitzgeralds were once thrown out for their misbehavior)
  • Wander through the Jardin des Tuileries
  • Gawk at the beauty of Monet’s famed “waterlilies” paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Meander through the many exhibits of the Musée d’Orsay (and take dramatic pictures in front of the iconic clock face — a remnant of the old train station)
  • Eat at Café Campana
  • Stumble upon the Musée Rodin and enjoy its fragrant rose garden
  • Eat chocolates at the base of the majestic Eiffel Tower

6/8/2017 {Thursday}

  • Train ride to Versailles
  • Tour the impressive chateau and its gardens
  • Purchase macaroons at Laduree
  • Train ride back to Paris

6/9/2017 {Friday}

  • Get fresh juice at Italian Trattoria
  • Tour Sainte-Chapelle
  • Walk through the Paris Flower Market
  • Tour Notre-Dame
  • See the famous “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries at the Musée de Cluny
  • Explore the Pantheon (and the crypt beneath, housing many famous Parisians)
  • Marvel at Sainte-Genevieve Library
  • Eat lunch at an outdoor café in Luxembourg Garden and watch the toy boats race
  • Try (and fail) to experience the Louvre in its entirety

6/10/2017 {Saturday}

  • Flight from Paris to Amsterdam
  • Flight from Amsterdam to Boston
  • Flight from Boston to Chicago
  • Flight from Chicago to Nashville

Harbour Island + Paradise Island

It is such a joy to reflect on this trip, which was truly one of the highlights of my senior year as a whole. Our memories made in the Bahamas shall last a lifetime.

The Cocoa Coffee House is the gem of Harbour Island, offering some invigorating Starbucks-esque coffee options alongside fresh smoothies and açaí bowls as well! The upstairs patio area offered a lovely view of the marina and the vividly bright nearby mural, which you can view below!

Do you recall that oft-quoted adage about doing as the Romans do when in Rome? Well, on Harbour Island, the primary mode of transportation is via golf cart! Hopping aboard the tiny but mighty vehicles, our group embraced the locals’ way and explored the island, especially reveling in its acclaimed “pink sand” beaches. There are quotations placed there for a reason, dear readers. The sand was, to put it lightly, underwhelmingly rosy, but the beaches were absolutely beautiful nonetheless!

Sampling yummy (virgin!) Miami Vice daiquiris and encountering the mystical concept of island time firsthand as we waited roughly an hour for our lunchtime meal at Queen Conch, we vivaciously experienced all that Harbour Island had to offer — an area very reminiscent of quaint Seaside, Florida without the hustle and bustle of its busy summertime season. Overall, I believe that we, as a group, left our mark on this spectacular place. We at least left a shoe there… and there was also a certain incident regarding a golf cart collision…

On our final day, we ventured out to Paradise Island to experience the aquatic thrills of Atlantis. Urged to unplug from technology and savor our final hours of fellowship and frolicking in the sun, I have no pictures to chronicle our time spent there. All I can say is that I strongly recommend prioritizing the exhilarating waterslide that travels through shark-infested waters, The Serpent, and befriending the stray cats that roam free.

Eleuthera

My classmates and I spent most of our time on the island of Eleuthera — a place I had been pleasantly acquainted with twice before. Its scenery and landscape? Breathtakingly picturesque. The locals? Friendly beyond measure. My memories? Utterly priceless.

  • Queen’s Bath/Glass Window Bridge

When I initially visited the remarkable landmark known as Queen’s Bath, the ocean was at low tide and I had the privilege of leisurely swimming in beautiful emerald-tinted natural pools. However, my second visit at high tide was quite another experience altogether. The pools were entirely hidden by the powerful, cascading surf, crashing upon jagged rocks and roaring mightily. I was rendered speechless by this display of the strength and majesty of the ocean. This feature, a hidden gem truly fit for royalty, is my absolute favorite part of Eleuthera and is pleasurable to gaze upon regardless of differences in tide level.

Glass Window Bridge is another sight that provokes in one an undeniable feeling of reverence; this natural wonder is (quite understandably) on the “bucket list” of many. Picture, if you are willing and able, the brooding Atlantic Ocean and sparkling Caribbean Sea nearly converging, separated only by a strip of rocky cliffs that support a precariously narrow bridge. The stark contrast between these two bodies of water is truly extraordinary to witness, and fascinating wildlife can occasionally be spotted from the bridge’s high vantage point.

  • Ocean Hole/Banyan Tree Grove

The Ocean Hole is quite an interesting find; this natural limestone formation contains brackish water and appears ominously bottomless. Vibrant tropical fish quickly emerge from the depths upon your arrival, seeking morsels of food. (We supplied them with a meal of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, and they seemed to find it quite satisfactory.)

Various banyan trees are scattered throughout the island of Eleuthera, but I was able to visit an especially impressive banyan grove and marvel at the incredible span and complexity of the vegetation. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, the branches are very welcoming and sturdy enough to support practically any spry visitor. Try it. I dare you. Climb a banyan tree and descend a humbled individual with a new appreciation for nature’s intricacies.

  • Spider Cave

Surprisingly, I saw no arachnids whatsoever during my time in the misleadingly-named Spider Cave. However, there were many bats fluttering to and fro. I greatly appreciated the company as I explored the plethora of nooks and crannies that the winding cave had to offer. There is no need to bring a flashlight to this cave as a rather astonishing amount of natural light is provided. Also, a helpful wooden ladder makes entering and exiting the cave a breeze. During the brief hike to the cave, I spotted an intriguing message on a nearby tree; some passerby had carved “LIVE” into its tender bark. Others passed by without even acknowledging the simple word’s presence, but, to me, this encounter served as an unmistakable reminder to truly live and thrive instead of merely existing or surviving day-to-day without zeal. It’s very easy for me to get overwhelmed by my whirling thoughts and future plans and many responsibilities instead of breathing deeply and choosing to enthusiastically conquer life one adventure at a time. That pivotal moment, and the entire trip in a sense, reminded me to be intentional about lifting my eyes from menial everyday tasks and seeking God’s captivating path above all else. His Way is not created to bore the one following it; His Way is anything but mediocre. The Lord lovingly ordained every spectacular and awe-inspiring thing that there is to experience in this life. He does not intend for those wonders to be unappreciated, unseen, unloved.

Senior Trip to the Bahamas

After spending a duration of eight days in the Bahamas, I feel refreshed in every possible way. This trip indubitably confirmed my love of travel and adventure, leaving me desperately longing for further exploration and increased interaction with cultures differing from my own. I also gained a tremendous amount of clarity as I faced a week without any internet usage whatsoever. My mind was greatly decluttered, and I truly encountered an overwhelming feeling of peace and belonging amidst God’s splendid creation. He is faithful, regardless of geographic location. Latitude and longitude mean nothing in the span of His mighty grace.

 1/12/17 – Journal Entry

Last night, the Lord clearly whispered to me, “I love you.” In this place of disconnection, I am still intricately linked to the Father. Ridding myself of distractions makes me more perceptive regarding His voice. He looks over my shoulder, pointing out His wonders. Laughter and youth in the midst of broken glass. Stars, pinpricks of light in an ebony sky, above. Trees rushing past bus windows, memories and years flashing by… and the people who truly matter, constant and steady throughout it all. The Father is the Giver of Life, and He is good.

My journey cannot be concisely summarized in one blog post; it’s impossible. I had far too many intriguing experiences and snapped far too many pictures for that. Instead, I will proceed island by island, explaining the wonders of each one.

Passion 2017

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

I had the incredible privilege of beginning this year in Atlanta, gathered in The Georgia Dome alongside 55,000 other young people to exalt the name of Jesus above all else. Words cannot even describe the overwhelming feeling of wholehearted worship I encountered, hearing the echoes of a multitude of other voices mingle with my own in song. I have complete confidence that God was active in those few days of astonishing clarity, masterfully crafting His plan in the lives of every single attendee. My breath is stolen simply thinking about it. Truthfully, I am humbled that I could be even a very minute part of such a beautiful movement.

Amongst many others, Christine Caine greatly inspired me at Passion Conference as she strode boldly across the stage, gesturing to her listeners with urgency and meaning, and even dropped to the ground suddenly to perform an impressive number of pushups. I scribbled down copious notes, some of which I will share with you below, dear reader.

  • Let us run our race with endurance. {Hebrews 12}
  • endurance -> hypomone (“to remain underneath”)
  • Do not throw away your confidence; you will have your victory.
  • [In the midst of today’s chaos] He is still upon His throne, and the government is still upon His shoulders.
  • A destiny is for you that is far greater than your past.
  • Do not despise small beginnings.
  • If you’re not faithful here, you won’t be fruitful there.
  • Do not insult God with your small imagination.
  • Not my own will… but the will of Him who sent me.
  • When you are enamored with Jesus, nothing else matters.