Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

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Tonight, when I first sat down to write a blog post, I thought I would be writing about the adventures I’m having right now while on holiday. I thought I would tell you guys all about the wonders of being in snow-covered mountains, or about how beautiful today was. But when I sat down at my computer, staring at the blank white document page, all I could think about was home.

You’ve all heard of homesickness before, and I know it’s not the first time I’ve written about it on my blog, but it wasn’t really on that level that I was thinking. Being in a ski resort there is beauty all around me: beautiful mountains, beautiful snow, beautiful shops and buildings. But what I find the most beautiful are the people. See, normally people come to resorts with their closest friends, family etc. so the relationships that you get to see around you are ones built on familiarity – something I can barely remember the taste of.

Today I was walking around some of the streets and I couldn’t help but think about the people I would bring here, were it up to me. Who would be among my crew of miscreants? Who would I be walking these streets with?

Moving away from your country can leave a pretty colossal hole in your heart. While I know there are some people who move and never want to return, that hasn’t been the case for me. In fact, I think it has been the exact opposite experience. Note: This does not mean I hate my life, I’m not having fun or that I want to run away.

Having lived these past six months in France has really taught me a lot about the people in my life, though. I’ve ranted and raved about my friends, before. But I think I’m starting to understand just how lucky I truly am. When I think back over the past six months I can say with certainty that, without these beautiful people, I wouldn’t have made it.

True and honest friendship is not something you encounter every day, although there are many impersonations of it. But, you see, friendship isn’t about the people who smile and ask you how your day was every time you see them. Anyone can ask you questions. It’s about the people who are actually listening when you answer – the people who aren’t looking over your shoulder for the next person to talk to. Friendship is about people caring because actually do, not because they feel like they’re under obligation to. And it took me most of my life to stop settling for the latter version.

But somehow, though the past few years, I seem to have won the lottery when it comes to friends. I have the absolute best support system a girl could ask for, but I’m okay admitting I took it for granted when I was living a phone call away from them.

And now, living a galaxy away, we can’t phone call. Now we have to strategically adjust and stretch our schedules just to talk for a precious hour between time zones. Now we have to sit down and take the time to write letters and then mail them. We have to work for our friendship, and the reality is that it isn’t always convenient.

Which is why I know how lucky I am.

When I first moved to France the biggest fear I had was of being forgotten. I know that sounds kind of weird, but it has been a really real fear throughout his whole process. Would people remember who I was? Would they see me again after a year and see a friend or a stranger? The reality is that either is possible. Some friendships are tested and don’t make it.

But some do.

And to those of you who have sacrificed time, effort, postage and kind words to help me through this wild adventure I’m on, I want to say a sincere “thank you.” I love you guys, and you will probably never know how much these “little” things mean to me.

This crazy thing called my current life would never have been able to be possible without you all! And throughout the shifting, stretching, crazy, awkward, ridiculously miraculous adventure, I finally understand how rich my life truly is. The beauty that is you people is just so much bigger than I ever could have imagined.

And while homesick is a feeling I’m more than a little familiar with, that’s not how I feel right now. I feel blessed. I feel overwhelmed by the people who have worked so hard to support and love me, even from 5000 miles away.

I’m the luckiest girl alive and I don’t think I ever fully realized it before.

Thank you all so much, and enormous hugs! We’re gonna do this thing together: Walk, run or crawl.

Thank you for being there to support me, all the way to the finish line.

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An Hour Of Wolves, And Shattered Shields

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Happy Lent, everyone! For all of you who are observing it, stick in there – it WILL be worth it! For those of you who aren’t, have fun watching us for the next 40 days.

For those of you who aren’t of the Christian persuasion, I guess I should probably tell you about Lent.

“Ok, Google – cheat for me:”

Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday and one of the major liturgical seasons of the Church. A penitential season marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and almsgiving, Lent begins on either Ash Wednesday (for Latin Rite Catholics and those Protestants who observe Lent) or Clean Monday (for Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) and ends on either Holy Thursday or Holy Saturday.

Lent comes in many different forms. Some people give up food as a community, some people fast (or give up) things they feel like they’re placing before their spiritual lives (maybe you’ve seen some people bowing off social media) and others do none of the above. Like me.

To clarify – yes, I am fasting. But this year I felt like I needed to do something a little different.

Enter dramatic pause

So, I’ve decided to do a 40 day negativity fast (#notreallyworthadramaticpause).

Rather than Googling what this “means” I’ll tell you what it means to me.

The Bible has a lot to say about how Christians interact with the world around them. There are verses about loving, about caring, about serving – and then the ones we’re not quite as eager to discuss: The ones about turning the other cheek.

This is not a green light for people to come and punch me in the face, because for the next 40 days I won’t punch you back. I will punch you back.

What I’m talking about is on a spiritual level.

See, I’m a fighter by nature.
When I was little, more than anything, I wanted to be an Amazon woman (thanks for the documentary, PBS). I wanted to fight in battles, and conquer kingdoms and learn epic archery skills (the last of which I did start). I wanted to fight. I’ve always wanted to fight.

And it took me a really long time, as Christian, to realize that’s okay.

I think a common misconception about Christianity is that women are supposed to be these meek and gentle creatures sitting in the corner knitting.

And while I do knit, and I love its cathartic values, that’s not my idea of the life of faith for a woman.

NOTE: Being meek, gentle and sweet are NOT bad things, for those who are naturally that way.

But I’m not.

I’ve always preferred to think of myself as someone who follows more the example of the biblical Deborah. For those of you who don’t know the story, think badass awesome chick who leads armies and generally dominates at life, because men aren’t stepping up to the plate. (Judges 4)

But something to remember, even for us fighters, is that there are times when you need to find peace in the uncomfortable places or times God calls you to. Sometimes, we reach a season of needing to learn trust.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

A great, totally hypothetical, example of this is when you’re, I don’t know – living in a foreign place, and being COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone. Exhibit A: My life.

For me, natural instinct says to kick and scream and punch people (metaphorically) – but God tells me to rest.

So I sit.

I “rest”.

I pout.

I complain.

*For the record, sitting in a corner complaining isn’t finding rest in a situation.

France has been hard, harder than I ever could have imagined. But it’s in this place that God has told me, for now, to rest. And over the past few months I have been doing the very minimal value of that.

More than anything I’ve been complaining, I’ve been self-pitying and I’ve been finding every excuse to sit on my bible, rather than read it. Because, hey – I’ve been through a lot (factual). I deserve to be able to curl up in a ball and listen to angsty music!

But if God wanted me to listen to angsty music for a year, I think he would have given me a time machine back to my high school self, not told me to move 5000 miles away from home.

So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate my Lent period of time to fixing the deep seeded problem that has become my perspective on my life.

Where there is self-pity, I will look to serve others.

Where there is anger, I’m seeking peace and self-reconciliation.

When I want to outwardly project my fears and insecurities, I will take them instead, and leave them at the feet of my Saviour.

Where there is doubt, I’m remembering the promises that brought me to this place.

And where there is winey-ass (sorry mom) me, I will remember that there is purpose to every breath I am given.

Lent started on Wednesday, so I’m only a few days in, but I can already tell you one thing – it IS NOT easy. Human nature wants to complain. Why? Because, to be honest, it feels good. And it’s societally acceptable. Just look at how many social media outlets we’re given to FML our lives.

But my challenge, over the next month is to remember where I came from, and who fought on my behalf to bring me here.

It wasn’t by accident that I landed in Paris for a year – no one accidently lands in Paris for a year. This year was a pretty hefty detour from what I had “planned”, but that doesn’t mean I’m not on the path I’m supposed to be on.

So, join me, will you? Let’s strive to look at our lives and the world around us with a different lens. Let’s begin to uncover and unmask the places in our hearts that have brought us into areas of complaint, instead of action. And most of all – let’s fight a good fight.

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The Holy Trinity

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Church.

Like any given Sunday in the life of moi, this morning I went to church. Being a Christian, and it being Sunday, that fact is a fairly unexciting statistic. But, what made today different, was that “going to church” meant going into a gigantic medieval style stone structure filled marble carved statues (we’re talking 8-10 feet high, including a skeleton reaper which is #hellapunk) in a small French town. Oh, and that it was Catholic. Which I am not.

Now you may think there would be some cultural differences for an American Protestant girl who ducked her way into a party where no one speaks her exact verbal or spiritual language, and you would be right. But overall I felt incredibly refreshed by the experience. The reason I was there in the first place was because it’s the only church within 30 miles of where I live. Not gonna lie – the lack of options is kind of a bummer.

The church service was as traditional and conservative as you could probably find anywhere, complete with a pipe organ and higher than usual pitched singing. It reminded me of church coronations/marriage scenes from Elizabeth or Ever After. But, overall I loved the service. It was pieced together with biblical scriptures and interval hymns (In French, of course, which was amazing) and I loved that it constantly engaged those who were there to worship.

Afterward, I stopped by the flower shop across the street and bought a little purple flower bush to bring some life to my room. It worked. I’m so much happier seeing my little plant ward every time I walk in the door. It really is just the best for someone, like me, who is obsessed with the natural world.

The final excitement for the day happened when I logged in to my favorite websites, Hulu and Netflix, to relax for the evening. Then, to my utter astonishment, from BOTH websites, I was told that they did not work within the country I was operating. As in – there was NO Netflix, Hulu or Pandora in THIS WHOLE COUNTRY. Try to grasp my horror. It was quite severe and really couldn’t have been worse. I’m not ashamed to say it, I adore all of these websites, and being able to relax and watch a movie is essential to bringing together my feeling of home.

I’m starting to realize more than ever that, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make home feels like home. Like Netflix. Or a random little shrub in your room.

I am sorry to sound like a spoiled American brat, but when I first found out I would have no access to Netflix, Hulu or Pandora I was pretty seriously considering booking it out of France…ok, so I wasn’t, but I was pretty upset. I don’t have many of my movies with me here in France, so it’s really important to have these resources. Would I die without them, no. Would I be a lot less happy about life? Yes. LUCKILY, I have amazing friends who let me in on the secret of Chromzising websites and making them work with Hola. I couldn’t be more happy.

Today has been a full and relaxing day, overall. I actually had the guts to tell my host family I didn’t want to go with them, the kids and their grandparents to the park, a decision which needed to be made since it’s my day off and they keep trying to “include me” on these days – which is nice…but I’ll be with the kids this week 7am-7pm every day (school doesn’t start until next week) so I think I’ll have quite enough kid time for the week without going out on my day off. Instead I stayed home and wrote letters to any and everyone I could think of. I ran out of postcards, but I plan on getting more on my next trip outside this petit-chateau.

Also, if you’ve asked me to send you a letter/postcard please please be patient. I’m mailing out the first bunch today, but there are still some people I’ve missed that will have to go out the next time I have the courage to go into the post office and ask for stamps.

Oh, yeah…I have a sauna in my bathroom. As in, the bathroom is only for me and there's a sauna in it. Awesome.
Oh, yeah…I have a sauna in my bathroom. As in, the bathroom is only for me and there’s a sauna in it. Awesome.