On this, the Monday-est of all Mondays

Today had me feeling some type of way… some type of melancholy. The Monday-est of all Mondays.

Tonight I crawled into bed with a glass of wine and some Faulkner, but I ended up with my laptop out, looking through photos of Scotland – of the place I called home for only half a year – and missing it something fierce. (May or may not have squeezed my eyes shut reaaaaally tight, in hopes that when I opened them I would be in my itty bitty icky flat, and I could throw on my rain coat and run down the hill to my favorite cafe for a flat white, or to ‘Spoons for a pint. It didn’t work.)

I think it hit me so hard because instead of looking through my best photos – the ones that are edited and perfectly posed – I ended up flipping through ALL of them. The bloopers made me miss it more.

Ah, what a time that was. How the sheep ran to me, embracing me in love and fluffy kisses. (Not what happened.) How the Scottish security guards LOVED seeing me climbing on the wall of Edinburgh Castle, trying to get that perfect gram even though the drop on the other side was 30-50 feet. “Tourists will be tourists,” they said good-naturedly. One may have even offered to take the photo for me. (Not what happened.) Oh how that handsome young bagpiping soldier offered to let me try to play his quaint lil instrument. (Ok fine, he’s not, strictly speaking, “alive,” so that’s not what happened either.)

Ahem.

Anyway.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Awkward selfies with my Canadian bestie, pics of many a meal of “fancy ramen” in my little plastic purple bowls, photos of wild drunken Scots messing about in the quad outside my bedroom window, playing in the 1/4 inch of snow that decided to bless Glasgow that winter.

Rain-soaked bridge running photos. Rain-soaked castle hill climbing photos. Rain soaked runs back from the grocery store photos. (It rains a lot in Glasgow, ok?)

Seriously, so much rain. But look at those smiles. Aw. What a time we had.

Every happy memory comes rushing back so easily, in the blink of an eye. I don’t remember how I felt in the nights lying in my twin sized bed with the crappiest mattress, wishing I was home, wishing the noise outside my window at 2 am was my family rather than another drunken college student celebrating a rugby victory or just celebrating your average Wednesday night. I don’t spend time dwelling on the days when I legitimately thought I was going to fail my Arthurian Legends class because the professor was a… word I’m not going to write here.

Instead I remember last minute train rides to new cities and running to the pub with new friends. I spend days thinking about flat whites and empire biscuits. Or just biscuits in general (an under-appreciated food here in America. And no I’m not talking about the biscuits you douse in gravy).

It’s so easy to pine after the good things about a place, an experience, a memory, a person… anything you lose, really. It’s so easy to forget the things you didn’t like.

One thing I do remember is how afraid I was of coming home. I knew I didn’t have a lot to come back to. I wanted to see my family. I wanted to drive my car. I had a couple close friends I knew would still be there for me. But I also knew that when I stepped off the plane in Philadelphia, I would be stepping away from some friendships and relationships that had been integral parts of my life before I stepped onto another plane in Philadelphia just half a year before.

I had no idea if I would find new relationships to step into.

But here I am, 1 year and a couple months out, and I have never felt more at home in a place than I do in Lancaster, right now. 22 years old – most of those years spent right here, in good ole Lanc. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this feels like home. I shouldn’t feel surprised that these people are home. I shouldn’t feel surprised at it all.

But I do.

Because before I left, this wasn’t home. It was just the place I was from.

I came home not knowing what I was coming back to, or why. And then my purpose found me. I found people to pour into, and people stepped in to pour into me.

Maybe it’s just chance. Or maybe someone is pulling the strings.

I’m reminded again tonight that God knows what He’s doing. That He’s most in control when I’ve given up my petty little excuse for power. That sounds simple enough, and maybe it is, but I need to keep reminding myself.

I’m reminded that when I tell Him daily my talents are His for the using, He will use them. I’m reminded that He’s ALWAYS speaking. When I can’t hear Him it’s not because He’s gone silent, but because I’ve stop listening. (Or because I’ve let my Bible sit idle by my bedside for too long.)

I’m reminded tonight that when I give Him my heart, it might get a little dented and it might be pulled in different directions, but it will not be destroyed beyond repair. I’m reminded that He cares about my desires more than I ever could. That He’s already given me the desires of my heart, and that He will continue to.

I’m reminded that every single time I’ve let anxiety and fear and doubt overcome me, He’s proven Himself – He’s come through, again, and again, and again. He didn’t have to. But He did. Because He knows my heart. He knows my heart desires Him above every other desire, but He also knows I’m easily distracted. He knows what I, specifically, need.

I’m reminded that He is good. That He helps us to gradually move on from things we need to move on from (even if they were really good things, in their season). Even when we want to hold on.

And I’m reminded that when memories come back like a whisper, sewing little seeds of discontent, of self-doubt, sewing little seeds of you’re not enough, you’re not doing big things like you used to… Why are you doing this when you could be doing that?

His voice rings out in the darkness :

I am enough.

I am more than enough, so you don’t have to be. 

Friendly reminder to look around at your life. Find the good. The Father has you where you are for a reason. If you don’t think that’s true, start asking Him for revelation. Don’t stop asking.

Let me just quote the great Ferris Bueller before I hit publish: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Love ya’ll. Thanks for reading.

XOXO,

Carrie

 

A Weekend Spent at Home

A few days ago, my dear Canadian friend Robin messaged me, “I’m going to New York this weekend. Can you come see me?”

Over the next few days we messaged about our favorite places in NYC, and where I’d want to go if I came to see her, and The Phantom of the Opera. (Which she is going to see on Broadway tomorrow. The jealousy is real.)

Everything inside me screamed “Yes!” But my responsible, finishing-up-the-semester, only-has-a-part-time-job, going-on-lots-of-weekend-trips-soon self had to say “No.”

A year ago, I was saying yes to trips like this all. the. time. And some of my favorites were with Robin. From our famous Welsh castle-hopping, backpacking, too-much-American-diner-food-eating, canal boating weekend…

To a weekend in London that included sleeping in hostel rooms with triple bunk beds and 18 strangers. Pretty sure one of us may have started that weekend with literally -7 Great British Pounds in her bank account. I won’t mention any names.

I do miss those days. Study Abroad weekends were the most frivolous of times. Almost every single weekend included at least a day trip or two. I remember the feeling of being so spontaneous, weightless, able to go wherever, whenever, and I miss it. Once you’ve traveled or lived abroad, it is difficult to stay in one place for long. You always feel like there’s some new place you could be seeing, or some adventure you should be having.

Today, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve done over the past few days that have made me happy. This weekend hasn’t been glamorous or overly-adventurous, but it has included plenty of happiness. Most of it has just gone unnoticed because I haven’t taken the time to be grateful.

A couple days ago, I baked this delicious bittersweet chocolate cake with lime cream. Holy goodness. And gluten free!

I also baked some whole wheat cinnamon rolls (for you gluten lovers). Baking is something I really missed while living abroad, because I did not have the kitchen utensils, the beautiful, open kitchen, or the ingredients I have here. Baking is also my go-to way to de-stress. The closer it gets to finals week and the end of the semester, the more I bake. (It’s one of my similarities to Dr. Izzie Stevens.)

roll2

On Saturday, I babysat my nephew for a few hours. We went to the park, watched the big kids skateboard, had ice cream, and saw (part of) Zootopia. I also read to him, and of course his book of choice (that we read no less than 4 times), was a book about Tommy taking a train to New York City. Cool. Awesome choice, Desmond.

Last night I hung out with friends and played cards at Prince Street Cafe. Today I was able to worship at my church, where I have to admit my attendance has been sporadic over the past few weeks. It was really good to be back. After church I went out for lunch with several friends and Living Room co-leaders.

Earlier this week, my cousin Warren and his wife Lorna were here to visit. I had so much fun taking them around Lancaster with Warren’s sister, Wanita, and my brother, Clifford. We cafe-hopped and saw a bit of Amish country. Showing other people my home alway reminds me of all the things I love about it!

Today is a beautiful day. I’m not sure why spring is having such an impact on me this year. Have I always been the person that brings up the weather in every conversation, or is this new? It’s been 2 years since I’ve experienced a Lancaster County spring, and I was unprepared for the beauty. Spring comes slowly, with scattered warm days, rain, and even occasional snowy days in April. Then, one day you walk outside and all the trees at your house seem to have budded overnight, and your soul soars. Spring is my favorite season because it’s a season of growth and new life. My apologies to the allergy-prone.

This afternoon I’m ignoring my schoolwork for a few moments more, lying in the sun, reading the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge. I feel like most “good Christian girls” read this book in youth group, but somehow I missed that particular rite of passage, so I’m actually reading it for the first time, for a Bible Study I’m in now. One thing that stuck out to me in the first chapter is that the passivity I see in a lot of people of my generation (especially guys-but maybe it’s just easier for me to pick it out in them) is not a new problem. Adam’s fatal flaw was passivity. So I guess you can say it’s an issue that has been around for a long time. I’m excited to see what the next chapter says about Eve, although maybe that’ll be a bit more of a slap in the face to me?

This weekend hasn’t been glamorous, but it has been filled with some of my favorite “home” things. I love a relaxing weekend spent at home almost as much as I love a fast-paced weekend of adventure and travel and will-we-catch-our-train(?!) moments. Much of the time, I’m too busy to appreciate the little things. When I think back to Scotland, it’s hard to remember how much I longed for “home” things, like my family, bad-for-you cereal, my bed, driving my car, and my mom’s kitchen + the ability to bake anything. Though I do love a good train journey with nothing but a backpack to my name, I’m pretty content with a weekend spent right here.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” -Terry Pratchett

How was your weekend? Did you get carried away, or stay right where you are?

xoxo,

Carrie