Over a month and a half in the big 501!
I cannot believe it. 6 going on 7 weeks. You mean I haven’t been here for years?
I had the absolute JOY of being able to go home last weekend! One of my Bama friends from college, Molly Gammon, rode with me and we kept each other company for that killer 6 hour drive. She lives in Birmingham so she got to spend the weekend with her family and friends like me!
Friday night I made it home (finally!) and was greeted by little Minnie who was a big ball of excitement and eventually ended up standing in a big puddle of pee! Haha she couldn’t stop for the life of her! I’d never been happier cleaning up her mess in my life :)
I hugged and kissed, talked to my parents for a little bit, ate a couple sausage balls :), and left to go see my WONDERFUL best girl friend in the world Savannah. It was her birthday weekend and she had a ton of our friends over and I had to see everyone! I walked (ok maybe I ran) into her kitchen and squeezed the life out of the birthday girl first…then it was on to everyone else! After that we talked about how college is and how different life has become! Some of the girls told me about their horror stories, struggles, and the positives, of going to Bama. I loved catching up with everyone. I just couldn’t get over how different it felt. I didn’t feel like I did in high school when we would all talk. I felt older. Like we all had experience now. We all had tasted what life on our own is like. What this world is like.
There was no better feeling than being around people that I love, and that I know love me. Being able to talk to someone for the first time in 5 weeks to someone that knows me. Having a conversation with people that don’t ask me what there is to do for fun where I’m from, and what clubs I’m looking at. They already know. We know how each other work. There isn’t any need for getting-to-know-you questions. We know.
I’ve realized how much I’ve taken the blessing of acquaintance for granted; because I’m thirsting for it here.
Saturday I got up and went with my Dad and Mags to Best Buy and FINALLY got a new phone! (If you know me at all, you know this was LONG overdue!) My contract was up for an upgrade, and needless to say I was a happy girl! That afternoon I went with Alex to the Alabama/Arkansas game. I got to stop by the infamous Big Bad Wolves stand and see my wonderful friends! Not gonna lie, it made me sad to be in the place where I worked for so long, seeing everything as it’s always been continue on without me, but the barbeque nachos soon comforted me ;)
That night my mom and dad cooked a DELICIOUS dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, and salad. It was so good to be at the dinner table again. In my spot. In my house.
The next morning I woke up, packed the car for my trip home, and left for church.
The whole time at church I just couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing familiar faces and giving hug after hug telling and re-telling and telling again how much I love Harding.
If I’ve learned one thing from being at home two weekends ago, I realized how much I really do miss it. And how blessed I’ve been my entire life. And still am.
Ever since I’ve been back I can’t stop thinking about home. I miss it.
I miss my friends, my room, and my pre-college life.
Coming to Harding has been one of the most important decisions of my life.
And not only important, but the greatest decision I’ve made (in terms of my future-wise) up to this point.
It’s everything I hoped it would be. And more. And less.
Friends have already come in and gone out, club anxieties have begun, and the homesickness has started to set in.
Nothing is going wrong here, but at the same time I feel like not a whole lot is going right. Life feels different, school feels different, my friendships feel different, my church feels different.
Life feels different.
I miss my family.
I miss my dog.
I miss my best friend.
I miss familiarity.
But if I’ve learned one thing from college these past two weeks, I realized how dwelling on it will literally make a person depressed. And the way to fight this homesickness and nostalgic attitude is to do the very thing I want to do last. And that’s to leave my room and embrace this “different” that’s now my reality. And thank God for it. Even though it seems like a season of pruning and having to start again from the ground up.
I HAVE to grow up into who I need to be.
Every day brings changes, changes, and changes.
But one thing has stayed constant my entire time here: I am growing.
I am changing. I am improving. I am learning.
I’m learning how to be who I want to be, and learning the biggest lesson that I think I may ever learn in my life: that in order to be who I want to be, means being lonely sometimes.
Which I have been.
Not everyone sees things in the same light as me even here at Harding. Friendship here seems to not mean what it did between me and my friends in T-town. And that’s expected! I can’t expect friendships like I had back home when I’ve only known people here for 2 months. And that’s ok. Well, I’m trying to teach myself that it is. It’s ok if I feel like I’m the only one. It’s establishing me. It’s strengthening me.
I am becoming more independent.
I’m ok spending some time in-between classes in my room. The silence is good. The solitude is something to treasure. I think the lesson I’m learning right now, the lesson on reliance and learning a quiet spirit, is what I’ve needed most. More than covalent and ionic bonding in Chemistry. More than how to communicate more effectively in Speech. The humbling process of learning a quiet and compassionate spirit, hurts.
Because it means being quiet. And alone.
Not to get gushy here, but I have to give credit and thankfulness to my best friend. He’s responsible for a majority of the reason I’ve realized all of this and has helped me recognize that this is the kind of outlook I have to have to get over this bump in the road. He went through it himself his freshman year of college, and has spent many nights in conversation over it with me. He’s shown me how to look at it positively, comforted me, gotten my mind off of it when I need a break, and made me smile when I’m mid-sniffle as the tears pour down.
He’s been a gift from God to me the past year and a half, but especially in this last month. I am comforted by the Word. I am comforted in learning about the promises and faithfulness of God in Bible class. But there’s something about the tangibility of a friend. The kind of comfort that comes from a voice I can hear and a face I can see.
And I think the Lord has been using Alex to be His audible voice that God Himself has wanted to be for me. He’s been the Father’s voice in my worst nights.
(By no means am I comparing him to God of course. What I mean is that the Lord has used him to talk to me, and to give me the type of comfort I’ve needed.)
My beautiful and wonderful friend and mentor, Lindsey Thrasher, wrote on her blog a few days ago about the importance and refereshment that come with gratitude.
(You can find her full post about it here.)
Here’s what she says about it:
“Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts has truly been a God-send in my life. I feel like she let me in on a big secret...
"Gratitude always precedes the miracles."
"Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large."
“Ungratefulness is what caused the fall of man... and a heart of true gratitude is what returns us to God Himself.”
In the pages of this book, Ann beautifully describes a life that I long for…one that sees. That notices. That takes each moment and finds the beauty in it. To accept whatever God gives, because God is good no matter our circumstances. She deals with the ugly of life and wrestles with how to accept that all truly is grace.
She was given a challenge to write down 1000 things that she loves. And this challenge awakened her hurt, bruised, anxious self to the beauty and worship and confidence and healing each new day brings. That's what I want. I don't want to live another day in a blur. I want to see. To appreciate. To worship with my life."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
SO, to combat all of the bogging down on my spirit the Devil has been doing, to worship with my life, to see beauty in all things even in the blurry times, and to do what the Lord has put in His will for me to do, I’m going to create my own list. Not of 1,000 but of 100 things.
100 things that I can say I am truly thankful for.
2.) the smell of my mother.
3.) hugs from my Dad.
4.) wobbly babies learning to walk.
7.) Savannah Hunt.
8.) youth group inside jokes and adventures.
9.) taking pictures.
10.) surprise flowers.
11.) Alex Aldridge and his faith.
12.) when someone keeps a promise even when I had forgotten about it.
13.) Min Min :)
14.) letters in the mail, even when the person could have just sent me a text.
15.) acoustic guitars.
17.) Impact 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
18.) Taco Casa :)
19.) summer love.
21.) Lindsey Thrasher.
23.) warm clothes just out of the dryer.
24.) Rob Cain.
26.) baby feet.
27.) checking off the last thing on a to-do list.
29.) the sound of a beating heart.
30.) Diet Mountain Dew.
31.) cooking out.
32.) the warmth of a campfire.
34.) home videos.
35.) baby hands running through my hair.
36.) lazy days.
37.) John Mayer.
38.) sun hats.
39.) homemade Chex Mix.
40.) Amber Norris.
41.) listening to life stories from older generations.
42.) cowboy boots.
43.) the cool breeze that comes right before Fall begins.
44.) the sound of rain.
47.) love notes :)
48.) surprise dates.
49.) clean baby smell.
50.) kisses on the forehead.
51.) pearl earrings.
52.) the tears that come after a good laugh.
53.) riding in the car with the windows down.
54.) Lauren Gross.
55.) Tara Northington.
56.) cold sheets.
57.) one shoulder dresses.
58.) pinky promises.
59.) sunrises and sunsets.
60.) when I find a verse that feels as if it were written for me.
61.) 3 up, 3 down :)
62.) Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake cookies
63.) cassette tapes of Disney movies, reminding me of my childhood.
64.) being asked for advice.
65.) baby yawns.
66.) s’more cookouts.
67.) curly hair.
68.) big sweatshirts.
69.) Cameron Hamner.
70.) beach breeze.
71.) memories from softball State tournaments.
72.) deep conversations.
74.) Katie Hooper and her laugh that could brighten anyone’s day.
75.) the hope that comes with the morning.
76.) the purity of a child.
77.) the feeling of being reunited with someone you miss.
79.) Leeland/Kari Jobe/DCB/JesusCulture.
80.) fireplace fires in winter.
81.) silly pictures.
82.) the smell of sunscreen.
82.) the smell of sunscreen.
85.) thrift store shopping.
86.) white sun dresses.
87.) when Mags asks me for a hug.
88.) Christmas dinner with the whole family.
89.) new beginnings.
91.) a good nap.
92.) meaningful prayer.
93.) the warmth of Spring after a brutal winter.
94.) seeing once insecure girls find their confidence.
95.) listening to different languages.
96.) the feeling my heart has after its rung out from worship.
97.) giving a baby a bottle.
98.) hot dog parties at Sazy’s.
98.) hot dog parties at Sazy’s.
99.) the smells around my house at Christmas time.
100.) the forgiving, ageless, unchangeable love of God.
Yes, I miss my family. Yes, I miss my friends. But why spend my time and waste the minutes of my day thinking about what’s wrong when there are hundreds and even thousands of things to be thankful for? The very fact alone that God decided to extend the world’s existence just one more day and chooses to romance me throughout the day should keep me joyful and my attitude full of praise. He sings to me through the birds and He touches me through the breeze that I feel on my way to class.
Starting today I choose to be thankful.
And when I feel wrung dry, I will be thankful.
And when I find the circle of people that share the same hopes and dreams that I’ve been wanting to find so badly, I will be thankful.