HEY THERE IT'S BEEN A WHILE LIKE A THOUSAND YEARS WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU GIVE ME A REPORT ON YOUR LIFE BY TOMORROW MORNING I EXPECT IT TO BE ON MY DESK
So I had all sorts of good intentions for the blogging world this summer and as you can see they crashed and burned; actually, they never took off. I have plenty of excuses: I took a semester of World History in 16 days (kill me), I spoke and helped lead a student-led conference at my church, I worked at my actual job, I went on a mission trip to Ireland - but I'm guessing you all don't really care about why I didn't write.
But now I have plenty of photographs and words to satiate your thirst for my blood, so chill.
And of course, we need music - try some Soko. You're welcome.
Remember this post from November? Look, it's Melanie again! At the beginning of the summer, we went on another little adventure and spent most of our time in a cemetery before crashing a pizza joint well past it's closing hour.
I would like to take a moment to celebrate that HOLY COW I think I'm improving as a photographer. While this may sound like a major pat on the back to me, it's what I love and it's one thing that can actually get me excited and so YES I will revel in this for a moment.
Next I hit the beach in Hilton Head with my long loved friend; we both developed an obsession with Walmart floaties. Nothin' beats cheap.
Scattered throughout all the places and things I did where days filled with picnics and bike rides, junk shop digging, smoothie making, doughnut frying, and losing socks. Also many hours sitting in Starbucks sapping on their free wifi while I did my 6 hours of daily homework; but that's a bad memory so we'll throw it out.
And now we hit GOLDRUSH 2015.
GOLDRUSH is an annual youth conference hosted at my church that runs service projects in our community and offers student speakers, the best worship music, creativity, and lots and lots of love for Jesus. The twist? It's completely student-led. That's right, we work our tails off all year to host youth groups from across the nation and offer them opportunities to grow in community and their own relationship with the Lord.
As I summed it up a few weeks ago:
"This week I had the honor of sharing a part of my personal story as well as some things that the Lord has taught me in recent years. The love and encouragement from the Watershed community & visiting churches was overwhelming; though it was completely and utterly draining, it was worth it. There's no one else I would have rather had by my side than my dear friends Matt & Danielle - they are an inspiration to say the least."
Half the reason I love it so much is simply because I get to see all my friends from long ago that I still love oh so dearly this very day.
Then I get to watch my beautiful sisters (one by blood, the other by love) dance wildly and it makes my heart happy.
And now we reach a more current event, one I am still "recovering" from, and that is my mission trip to Ireland. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? I mean, Ireland? Well guess, what it was.
First things first, we stayed in an old manor house that had been re-purposed as school and an orphanage before being made into a Christian camp center. It had lush greenery and a serene pond positioned nearby ("perfect" for an unexpected polar plunge towards the end of the week).
Our "job" was to make friends. That was the reason we went - to show love and have fun with some kids our own age who grow up in a rougher part of town and some hard family situations.
It sounds easy, but I've been classified as an A-1 introvert; making friends, especially quickly, is not my thing. BUT THESE PEOPLE WERE SO WARM AND WELCOMING that it was easy.
Even with pink eye, a cough, no voice, throat swelling, and a sinus issue.
^ Yes, you read that right. Yes, it sucked. ^
Saying goodbye to them was a lot harder than I expected. And I like that, because only things that matter make hard goodbyes.
Goodbye to the countryside meant hello to Dublin.
One last thing I must mention (I promise I'll shut up soon) is that this was the first time I was back across the ocean since I repatriated. I was in Ireland for my one year anniversary of living in the States and I was expecting it to be difficult. Difficult to be so close yet so far to my dearest friends, my other home, my old memories, and all of the things I had struggled with and endured.
Rather than think through it all again, I'll just leave some things here that I posted on Instagram earlier in the week (so basic, I know).
As of yesterday, I've lived back in the States for one year.
I made it.
I wish it didn't sound like something I struggled to survive, but that's the truth so I can't say it any other way. The irony is that I'm actually back across the pond for this anniversary; Dublin has taken me in for the last week and I've fallen back in love with everything I missed about Europe. It's hard to not feel sad on July 24th, but today I was reminded of why I repatriated one year ago.
This is Kristen. She has such a huge heart for Jesus and for others - much larger than mine - and I speak for many as well as myself when I say she's an inspiration. This week I've been so proud watching her dive into new relationships headfirst and be a friend to whoever wanted one; she's been a fireball of energy and love. She's taught us all how to have an enthusiasm for life!
And today I realized that it's for people like Kristen that I returned. I am honored to invest in her and call her friend and sister in Christ.
I have a beautiful family in Christ, and they are why I am alive after one year away from my beloved Europe.
I boarded the plane to Ireland afraid. Afraid of my own emotions, afraid of the memories, good and bad, afraid of my own insecurities in my abilities.
And yes, each of these fears were tested and endured - but only through a reliance on God. He was there. I could tell he was there by the way my own plans were shattered by pink eye and a grab-bag of other discomforts. I could tell by the way I made friends so quickly, a nearly impossible task in the world of Carrie Marie. I could tell by the way that I found purpose only in His presence, only after I had released all my ideas and strategies for being useful.
Oh yes, God was in Ireland with me this week. I could tell by the way he held my hand and led me directly through all the doubts, anger, and confusion that my mind offered generously.
I've decided he's the only hand I need.
ok, I'm really done now. missed you!