Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Frustration of Loneliness

My struggle this week - discovering that I'm lonely.

I just came from a large community with a lot of friends. Like if I wanted to, I could've scheduled coffee dates for the next six months with people in Kandern. I was the one who planned stuff, who liked to travel with my nearest and dearest there, who loved it when my neighbors were some of my closest friends.

Now I find myself in a large city with a lot of people. And the person who was the most social, is now the least social of anyone.

I talked with my former roommate, Justina, on Friday and she told me community was something she was missing, too. It was not like it was in Kandern. Other people who have left BFA previously have told me the same thing and I heard it long before I left. But once you're in the middle of it and experiencing it for yourself, it's not real.

I know it won't ever be like it was in Kandern. The walks to and from friends' houses are over. Walking to the cafe to meet for a coffee date four out of five days of the work week are done. I guess I'd just like a community of girlfriends of some sort to at least meet up with once a week.

Also, this isn't a blog to say that there haven't been people who have reached out to me. That would be a lie. I'm just expressing the desire I have for community again and to feel a part of something once more. And in this stage of loneliness. it only brings me closer to the One who created us for community, which is a sweet reminder that once more He knows my heart better than I know my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Abundantly is a Great Word

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

If you're like me, you've heard that verse a few times in your life, possibly at the benediction during a church service. Or if you're a seminary student, perhaps your professor used it to dismiss class like a few of mine did at Gordon-Conwell. Regardless, many of you have heard it before. Maybe unlike me you've just not really paid much attention to what it says and it's become something you've gotten used to hearing.

Yesterday, I really listened to what these words were talking about. "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us..." I kept repeating that in my head long after the service ended yesterday.

For the last two weeks I've let myself start to worry a bit about money and bills and everything in between. Not only that, I've started to miss teaching. I mean really miss teaching. I like the K-2nd graders I see twice a week, but let's be honest - once you've taught high school and middle school, it's hard to get back into the habit of little kids.

Perhaps I made the mistake of going back and looking at pictures from High School Musical. And a few of my former kiddos have contacted me telling me how much they miss me. So there's that.

And it's been hard to find community here. Don't get me wrong - I love the small group I'm now a part of with John as well as the church - but I miss being able to see friends on a daily basis. I'm not giving myself enough grace and I know it. I've only been in Orlando 2 weeks (on Wednesday) but I think I'm somewhat guilting myself into thinking that it's wrong to have so much free time. That I should be doing more. And in all that, I lose sight of all that God is doing in and around me.

Ok back on track here. So Ephesians 3:20-21. Where does that come in? I'm getting there.

Yesterday after church, I was waiting around for John to finish tearing down and this woman approached me and introduced herself. We got to talking and she asked me what I did - which to be honest, is kind of a hard question to answer right now. I teach. Or I taught. Or I was teaching but now I'm here. So I told her I had been teaching Drama and Choir in Germany for the last 2 1/2 years. Immediately, she gave me the email address of a high school principal at a local private school. Then, she introduced me to another person who is the choir director at another public school in the area. Another friend told me how to go about applying at another private school and by the time John and I left, I had a plethora of information to get me started on applying to other schools here.

This is where Ephesians 3 comes in. He is able to do far more than I could ever dream or imagine. Like really, six years ago when I had to resign my job, I had no idea the journey was just starting for me. And I love that it says "far more abundantly." In definition, what that word really means is "present in great quantity; more than adequate; over sufficient"  . I love that - more than adequate, over sufficient.  

Also, this is not my way of going on and saying "And now because of this verse I will not ever worry about anything ever again." Ha! I'm not sure I'll ever reach that level of excellence.

But it's a good reminder that He cares for me far more than I'll ever know or understand and that his plans for me exceed anything I could have ever planned for myself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

712 Things to Write About

In the midst of transition, my re-entry counselors in Germany stressed that I take time for myself. For someone who is used to being "on-the-go"all the time, I've found this kind of tricky.

Yesterday, I decided to create some space for myself and drove to Barnes and Noble. I had some paperwork to fill out for a substitute position at a school here and figured it would be good to do that in a cafe-ish atmosphere.

It took about 5 minutes to complete the paperwork and so I just kind of sat and observed people around me and then decided to walk around the bookstore. I found myself in the journaling section and picked up a journal entitled 712 Things to Write About. It sparked my interest and I picked it up just to browse through. Two minutes later I found myself at the cash register and then back in the cafe to scour its pages.

The writing prompts range from "List Five Favorite Smells, And What They Remind You Of" to "Write the Interior Monologue of Someone Waiting for a Blind Date to Show Up" and "Write 12 Lines of Dialogue Spoken at the End of a Long Day."

I don't really make New Years Resolutions and let's be honest - it's been 2015 for nearly 2 weeks now. But I am making a point to write in this book once a day throughout the year. Maybe some days I'll have time for an entry or two. Regardless, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and right now in the midst of many days of sitting and pondering and discovering this new city, it's nice to know that I have something to occupy my mind.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyone Speaks English...and Other Observations

So I've officially been back in America over 2 weeks now. I've been asked several times how I like being back. To be honest, right now I'm completely in the honeymoon phase. I'm like a kid in a candy store whenever I see just how much there is right around the corner. The area of Orlando that I'm living in is not far from a Target, Old Navy, LA Fitness (gym), Publix (grocery store), bank, post office, drug store, and most importantly - Starbucks ;)

Yesterday, I ventured out to run some errands. One of the first things I observed was that I was still expecting people to speak in German in public. Walking into the bank yesterday, I found myself going over in my head what to say in German just out of habit! It didn't take long at all to realize - "oh, wait, this is all in English..duh!" I still felt a little shell-shocked making the transaction with the bank teller but he was nice enough and I don't think he could tell that I felt completely out of my element for a bit.

Another observation - people are just really helpful here.....and whether or not they mean to be, I find it.......annoying. I hate to say that and sound rude, but you have to understand that I've just come from a place where you're not really offered tons of help in a store. So yesterday, I decided to spend my Yankee Candle  gift card from my colleagues in the music department at BFA. I walked in and was immediately greeted and surrounded by one of the employees. She told me everything that was on sale, everything that wasn't, the 75% off display, the 50% off display, and so on and so on until I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

"Do you need coffee beans to smell in between the candles?" This was just one of many questions she asked me along with - "Still deciding?" Which then made me feel like I needed to hurry up and I hate being rushed or feeling like I'm being rushed. Again, I know they are just being helpful and nice. Maybe I just went on an off day.

So today I'm venturing out again. Maybe the more I do it, the less overwhelming it will feel. I do have to brag on my boyfriend because he is always asking me how it's going and how I'm doing with all of this. And I really like what I've seen of Orlando -which granted, because it's such a big city, isn't very much ;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in a Nutshell

2014 was definitely a year of changes for many reasons.

At the end of February, we took the high schoolers on their annual High School Retreat. It took place in Nürnberg, which has now become one of my favorite places in Europe. I woke up on that Saturday morning and looked out over the city, telling God that I was ready for whatever he had for me. I was willing to stay in Germany with these kids for as long as he wanted me to stay.

Then, two weeks later, I left for staff retreat in the Alps. But not before checking in on eharmony for (what I figured would be) another eye-roll, oh-my-gosh-is-this-guy-serious-no-wonder-he-doesn't-have-a-girlfriend, profile check. I was introduced to John from Orlando. And then I left to spend a weekend here:

It was easy to get distracted with this view all day that Saturday. But I couldn't stop thinking about John from Orlando. Sure enough, when I got back on Sunday, there was an email from him waiting for me. A few days later we were texting, but not before I left for Prague with this group of awesomenesses:

Well, then we started Facetiming after I got back from Prague. But our time was cut short because I left to go to Tanzania on a mission trip with yet another group of amazing kids:

The Facetimes and texts and phone calls continued. But yet again were interrupted, this time by a four day vacay to Croatia with Lexi:

And so we continued this "relationship" and I was more and more beginning to find myself wondering what in the world God was going to do. And I hadn't even met him in person!
Graduation came and went and I cried lots of tears saying goodbye to my sweet kiddos, who were going onto college:

But then the day came. The day that we went on our first, real date that didn't require technology. A lovely dinner at a riverfront restaurant and a walk around San Marco, thus starting off a really fun summer.
God, for whatever reason He saw fit, used this whole relationship to tell me - "It's time. You've done what I called you to do. Now, come back and see what life holds."

So, I came back to Germany for the four months I committed to completing. I directed one of the most fun musicals I've ever had the experience of directing

I traveled to places I hadn't been before - Scotland, Spain, & Ireland - all with dear friends who've walked through a lot with me in the last 2 1/2 years

And how could I forget that I got to spend most of the semester with an incredible Family Group?

A week ago, it came time for me to leave Germany. And the first thing I thought back to was that trip to Nürnberg where I told God I was basically ready for anything He had for me. I guess you can say he answered it in more ways than one. For now, anyway.

                                                              Happy 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Last Day in Germany

I woke up at 7 and walked to the Rathaus to get a copy of my de-registration form to take with me to Lörrach so that I was able to successfully cancel my cell phone plan.

This is the view from the Rathaus back into town. Walking under the covered bridge brought back so many memories of my first few days in Kandern 2 years ago.

I stopped at the "new cafe" in town to get a latte and then went home only to be picked up by Kim McKell a few minutes later. We drove to Lörrach, I canceled my cell phone plan, and then came back to Kandern to finish last minute packing and cleaning at my house. I walked to the Martins and said a tearful goodbye, then went to Rachel's house for lunch and another goodbye, and once more went back to finish laundry. After my goodbye with the McKells, I walked back to my apartment and was met with the most beautiful sunset on the Hauptstrasse and the path by to my place.

 I did one last walk-through, finished cleaning, and Ellen came over to help me organize my carry-on's, and then we said our goodbye. A last goodbye at the Watsons followed and I snapped the picture below of the fountain in the Marktplatz dressed as an Advent candle on my way.

 Joy Watson took me to the Antrims where I'm staying tonight. The goodbyes were not getting easier and I was sobbing by the time I entered the house. However, a lovely meal of homemade sushi was waiting for me when I arrived.
The last three days have been the hardest of the goodbyes. Yet, I'm so thankful that I was able to do them in this way. I feel ready. I feel prepared. And I can't wait to see John tomorrow.

So long, Germany. I will always refer to you as my other home, my other country, and will smile whenever I hear your language, which I've still yet to become remotely fluent in at all.

Auf Wiedersehen

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My City

"Basel is so expensive!"
"There's more to do in Freiburg."
"Basel is so small compared to Zurich."

All of these statements are quite true.

But I didn't move to Freiburg or Zurich when I came over to Europe 12 years ago.

I still remember the first day I ever stepped foot in Basel. I was with Paula,  my house mom (what we au pairs referred to our bosses as), and the three children I would start looking after later that week. It was a Saturday and I was literally right off the plane just a few days. I remember the feeling I got walking across the Rhein River for the first time. I was mesmerized by this city that not many of my friends had even heard of until I told them where I'd be living.

Basel became my retreat. My getaway for when I needed a break from the small little village I lived in. I would meet up with other au pair friends and eventually would come to find a church to attend as well. On Saturdays, I would drive into the city center, get a Cafe Mocha from Starbucks, and sit on the steps of the Rhein and journal. Several times I'd venture into the English bookshop and scour new titles of books that sounded interesting. Of course I visited Luzern and Bern and Zurich, but there was just something about Basel.

Yesterday, I needed a retreat for myself. In the chaos of packing and getting ready for our upcoming Christmas concert and Actor's Showcase, there had hardly been any time for me to have that coveted "me" time. This time was a little different than most. I knew that this would be the last time I'd spend an entire day in the city for a long, long time. I could've taken the tram from the bus stop into the main part of the city, but I chose to walk across the Rhein and soak in the view of the Münster for a little while.

I took my time walking down each familiar street and going into shops that have become a favorite. I walked into the Rathaus courtyard and stood for a little while, remembering that a picture of it had become my desktop background the summer before I moved to Switzerland.

I call Basel "my city" for many reasons. It was the city that I really first navigated on my own. It was where I learned to be independent. I would get lost in it on purpose just so I was able to find my way around and I'm so glad I did. There are many memories with friends there, some of which I'll probably never see again because of time and distance and losing touch. In essence, it was like saying goodbye to a friend I knew I wouldn't see for a long time.

I leave you with this picture. It's my favorite view, the one of the Münster. I know it's expensive and not as fun as Freiburg or what not, but it's still my favorite city and will always and forever hold my heart.