For the Road

11:27 AM

Today was a reminder that life is beautiful. I don't know why I forget that so very often. I went to Dublin today and went to The Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland. I love art museums; The calming atmosphere, the gentle whispers of admirers. I love how a single painting can bring tears to your eyes in a way you can't explain. I couldn't take pictures of most of the paintings, I only snagged one of a Renoir and I'm not even sure if I was supposed to. Looking at art has a special way of renewing the soul. All the stress and struggle of life just disappear and melt in to the canvas the longer you stare at it.
I saw for the first time today Jack Yeats' paintings. He's one of my new favorites. I might have been particularly inclined to like him since he is the brother of my favourite poet, William Butler Yeats.

I just found myself staring at these paintings for what seemed like ages. These's pictures don't do them justice. In person they were absolutely breath taking. After one insane week of emotional instability a day of art was just what I needed. Walking around Dublin was therapeutic in and of itself. People watching is my favorite activity and my friend Arianne is incredibly good at creating stories and I feel like she wrote a short story about every person we saw on the train and in the street. 

I also wanted to share this photography project by Haley Morris-Cafiero, a Memphis based photographer. She recently completed a project called Wait Watchers in shich she captures the looks she gets from onlookers. She has been aware of people's reactions to her size, but in this project she captures the essence of their sneers, stares, and laughs. It's a thought provoking piece that makes you wonder if you've ever made such an ugly face at another person.
Hope today finds you in as optimistic a mood as I've had.

Hope in Humility

10:09 AM

One of my biggest insecurities growing up was uncertainty of my intelligence. Since elementary school my closest friends have also been those at the top of the class. I was convinced that I was never smart enough and the people I surrounded myself with only confirmed that my intelligence did not measure up to theirs. My obsession with being "smart" also made me very arrogant around people I thought were unintelligent. I projected my disappointment in myself onto them and instead of valuing their other talents and skill, I only ever looked at their grades. This was not a fun way to live life. I was either feeling shamed by other people's arrogance or inflicting my own arrogance on someone else. At some point in high school I decided that there really were more important qualities in people other than their ability to master calculus or successfully analyze poetry. I made friends in other places and became less concerned with academia. Somehow, though, I still measured my own value in the ability of my brain. Every less than stellar grade, every fumbled math equation instilled in me the belief that I was stupid and I would never really amount to much in this life. When I was a senior people loved to tell me how open my future was and how much potential I had; I didn't really feel that potential, I felt a bit hopeless. 

College has changed that. And God has changed that. The friends I have now are very intelligent people, but they never make me feel like I'm unworthy of their friendship or their time. These relationships are founded in love for one another, not for academics. These friends have done a beautiful job of demonstrating humility to me. They don't laugh at my love for musicals or trashy television, in fact many of them share these loves. They probably don't realize how well they are mirroring Christ. Jesus was the Son of God, he literally knew everything. Yet not once in the Bible do you see him flaunting his intelligence. I don't recall him correcting anyone's grammar. He was gentle when he corrected. Jesus taught out of love, not out of personal gratification. 
It gets to a point in life where you have to stop judging everyone just because they're having more fun than you are. I am so much happier now that I'm not stressing about my grades and keeping myself informed about every little thing going on in the world. I still make good grades and can generally hold a conversation about current events, but I know when to let go and have fun. The humility I've seen in the people around me has helped me stop measuring my worth by my GPA. I actually have hope for my future, and that's a lovely feeling. 

Unlikely Combos

11:05 AM

This week I have been listening to a lot of music. A ridiculous amount really. After a four hour lecture, it seems to be the only thing that will keep me sane and prevent me from having to absorb any more information.
My music preference this week had been all over the board. It's had a high country content, which is unusual for me, and there's been quite a bit of Elvis, and a few indie bands that are very much "pacific northwest" feeling. Also, I'm obsessed with the new One Republic album, so that's been in the rotation. It's like I'm caught between the perpetual cold of Ireland and the approaching Texan summer. So here's a playlist that you might like, and if not, I hope it makes you smile because of how ridiculous it is.

Also during these painfully long classes I've been making my summer bucket list. I thought I was going to take an internship in Michigan or Illinois this summer, but I decided that after being gone for so long, I would really like to be home. So beside having to find a job, I also need to find ways to keep myself entertained since most of my friends won't be home. So here are a few of the things I've included on my very long list:

  • Go to the Accordion concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre
  • Dye my hair (again)
  • Memorize a scripture a week
  • Finish reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Master the art of baking bread
  • Find a new coffee shop in Houston
  • Learn to drive a stick
  • Get tan
  • Watch fireworks
  • Thrift shop
  • Run a mile a day
  • Go to an Astros game
  • Trespass (can't say where...)
  • Go to a farmers market
  • Buy a goldfish
  • Watch every Tom Hanks movie
  • Perfect sweet tea making skills
  • Acquire Photoshop 
  • Read lots of books
  • Sew a quilt
There's lots more, but we'd be here all day.

This was a perfect activity on this horrible gloomy day. I hope everyone's week is going well!

Intentional Community

3:02 PM

"Intentional Community" is a phrase that gets thrown around Taylor University at such a frequency that it has become a bit of a joke. The school emphasizes it and the students complain about how we focus on it too much, or too little. But this weekend I have begun to understand what it is that TU has been trying to push for all these years. Don't get me wrong, the Taylor community is great and there are many things that we do well as a community, but for me there has always been something missing from our little bubble of a community. Today it finally clicked for me. 
This weekend I have been on kitchen duty. This means that four other people and myself have been in charge of feeding 30+ people for four meals. We plan and make everything. Frankly, this has been the most wonderful weekend! We're only halfway through the cooking adventure, but it's been so wonderful. 

This morning we made pancakes for lunch. We literally made 200 pancakes. It wasn't really difficult, but it was work and when we were done I just looked at everyone eating and laughing at the table and I felt apart of something. Here we had made this meal for everyone and they were truly thankful for it and the five of us had worked together, helping each other to get everything done on time. 

After we finished washing up, some of us on kitchen duty went on a bike ride together and it was such a lovely afternoon of exploring and laughter. When we got back we set up to make dinner and a few other people in the group came to help us handle the Great Grilling Debacle we got ourselves into. It was just so nice to see people actually coming together to help each other, even if the end goal was food. 
As a group we get along pretty well and I just love how well we fit together in this place we've started to call home. We come from very different places, and yet we have built this little community on the Irish shore and I love it so much. 
Tonight I also found my calling. Biscuit making. I have my grandmother's biscuit recipe and I multiplied it for lunch tomorrow. We made 35 biscuits and I have never been so happy, making something with my hands, sleeves rolled up,using all my strength to roll the dough, Josh Turner blaring out of the iPod speakers, the kitchen filled with people just laughing and dancing... oh it was bliss :) I wish I had taken pictures, but my hands were covered in flour.
Tomorrow we're cooking some more and hopefully going hiking, I can't wait! For now I'm exhausted from everything I've done today, but it's the kind of exhaustion that comes with a sense of accomplishment. 
I hope your weekend is as lovely as mine has been.

You Won't Relent

5:28 AM

I know I'm only twenty, but I feel like these past few months have been solidifying my transition out of childhood. One of the biggest things I've noticed is that growing up does not mean that I suddenly acquire a love of lifetime movies and the need to wear high waisted Levis. In the past year, growing up has meant making colossal mistakes and learning from them. Learning that I can't always go with my gut feeling, learning that there's a time and place to argue, understanding that it's never too late to change and clinging to old opinions and routines only gets in the way of life. Sometimes all you can do is trust that God has everything under control and live life.
Something else God has been teaching me is that He is truly a jealous God and He wants all of me all the time, not just some of me when it's convenient. He's chasing after me even when I put things before Him. This week especially, I've been learning to relinquish control over my life and just let God have His way. While it's hard and uncomfortable, it also feels wonderful to finally let go of those worries. He is faithful and when I think I can't do something, He will give me the strength to carry on. I just have to be humble and let Him take over. 

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