I knew heading into my 29th year that it would be marked by change and transition. Leaving Germany, my home for four years, and the friends and students I had come to love, was a difficult process. Re-entering a once familiar life back in the States presented even more challenges as I sought to reconcile old patterns with my current identity.
Reflecting on my season of transition reveals many things I wish to share and I could write pages on the lessons I’m learning and how God is redeeming my struggles. Instead of throwing a book at you in hopes you will drop everything and read, I will pick a certain theme and try to be concise.
These days my thoughts revolve around healing.
Throughout my high school and college years I prided myself in the fact that I hardly cried, ever. I thought I was tough. Now I think guarded is a better word, cautious, and definitely not vulnerable.
This past year has yielded a well of tears and a depth of emotion I’ve never known before. My heart is full, sometimes breaking, revealing pain, grief and uncertainty. There’s more loss than I realized. I feel the gaping wounds left in my heart, holes not easily filled. I long for Germany, small quaint towns nestled in the countryside. I miss the forest trails, misty valleys, and my mountains. What hurts the most is the straining distance I put on precious friendships.
It’s been 7 months since leaving Germany, and God has faithfully been leading me. I got a job a couple months ago and tomorrow I move into a new apartment! The place is beautiful… quaint and cozy with old wood trim and creaky floors. It’s only 2 blocks away from a lake and within easy walking distance of the grocery store, bank, and a zillion cafes. It’s a small taste of my lifestyle in Kandern and I’ll be sharing it with a dear BFA friend who I worked with for 3 years. There’s a cafe/bakery just around the corner from the apartment (just like in Germany). It’s our new favorite spot and we were overjoyed to discover a wall of baskets filled with bread. It felt like home.
Seasons come and fade away, and come again. Relationships happen and unhappen. Chapters end, but new ones can always be written.
So what is God teaching me about healing?
“The testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James
“This is hard!” I cried out to God. “I need my space,” I heard my heart say to him. Glancing around me, I added my thanks for the comfortable room I had been given, but it’s humbling to be at the mercy of friends. I have no job, no house, and it’s a struggle to have a productive day. It hurts to be alone and it’s scary not to have purpose, promise, and drive.
Then God whispered in my ear, “remember my son.” While the Lord Jesus was on earth, he was far away from his Father, from the place who knew him for who he truly was. He didn’t have “space” or even a place to rest his head. He didn’t have an income, house, or spouse while on earth. “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.” How did he respond? He sought the Father and trusted his will. He never once gave into temptation, but always had heavenly peace and confidence in his purpose. Now he calls us to walk in his steps, to bear his cross.
Moving forward is difficult and passivity is ever tempting. Each step towards uncertainty tests the bounds of my trust more and more. But with each faithful footfall, God reveals the depth of his love for me. He will provide in his timing; I see him working in the small things, so I’m choosing daily to surrender the big things too. Continue reading
I always find thunderstorms thrilling. I decided to crack my guest room window open, despite the running AC, to listen to the distant rumblings and allow the fresh rain air to waft into my temporary dwelling. With some cereal, coffee, crackers, and a carefully rationed Milka bar from Germany, it’s looking like a fairly typical Sunday night dinner.
This morning I attended my home church in Minneapolis and could finally say to friends, “yes, I’m here to stay.” Finding a familiar face though was quite a challenge. I arrived early, scanning the sea of faces pouring out of the early service, searching for a flicker of familiarity. I recognized a grand total of five people amidst a growing congregation rapidly approaching 1,500. In many ways, my move back to the Twin Cities has been a homecoming, but the many changes are also staring me in the face, reminding me that time did not cease in my absence. Continue reading
BFA High School retreat
March Feb. 28 – Mar. 2
Reflections during chapel
There’s no place I would rather be
than here in your love
– Set A Fire by Will Reagan
I’ve often said and firmly believe that the best place to be is in God’s will. Whatever he wants me to do, wherever he wants me to go, that’s my plan. I tend to approach it intellectually, as if I’m waiting for a verbal directive from God, or a code to decipher. But I think God’s call for me right now is to rest in his love. I’m not sure what that means exactly. Perhaps his will is to be revealed through my pursuit of him. While a job search is necessary these days, it seems so void and empty. When I spend more time in the word and in prayer, I feel like I’m in the right place. How it will lead me to find work is not clear or rational, but I feel called to seek relationship with God first. Continue reading
If I had to give up one of my senses, it would not be sight. The idea of going blind scares me above the rest because there is comfort and security in knowing where I’m going. I find this is also true in my life; I like to know where I’m heading. However, this is rarely the case as God continually leads me through deep valleys and around bends where I have no choice but to trust and follow.
Such is my lot in life, especially in coming to BFA. Looking back, I can see God’s faithfulness proven time and time again, allowing me to rest assured that he will continue to guide me one step at a time. Moving forward without seeing the destination is never easy, and I find myself contemplating a blank canvass yet again.
White. All white. At an art class for adults, I propped up my canvass and tried to imagine lines and colors and shapes. It was a hazy mess in my mind, tied up in a desire to produce a masterpiece. I chose my brushes naively and guessed at which colors to start mixing. Toning the background was at least a step in the right direction, but gave little clarity to the final composition. I sketched and slopped and mixed and gooped. I’m learning as a go along, with mistakes outweighing the victories by a long shot. But it’s a start, and I’m moving forward, one brush stroke at a time. Continue reading
September through December is always a blur. I was genuinely shocked to see a big 12/1 on my calendar and here we are over a week in already. If I dig my heels into the ground in protest, I’ll simply miss out on life passing by. Best thing at this point is to jump in and enjoy the ride. There will be time to crash and burn later, right?
Right now I’m heading into my last week of classes before Christmas break. I think about my family every day and long to be home, as does everyone else around me. But I know that during this last week life will be hectic and fun and crazy and full, demanding my full attention. Last week was rough, lots of sickness was being passed around like free candy and there has been a profound lack of motivation among staff and students alike. A very problematic combo.
Once Christmas Banquet arrived in all its glory and drama, the atmosphere of attitudes picked up. Decorations emerged around campus and in homes, Christmas parties replaced the usual gatherings and small groups, lifting spirits and holiday cheer. Kandern stretched its starry wreaths across the city streets and Christmas markets opened throughout all of Germany. Although we are lacking snow this season, there has been plenty of cold weather and frosty mornings. My classes play carols exclusively now and the Christmas concert was held this weekend, showcasing the lovely musical talent of our students.
In case you couldn’t tell, I really love Christmas. I want to savor every minute, which is why I feel so frazzled by the busyness that forces time to fly. Another disconcerting thought is that my birthday is rapidly approaching as well, bringing with it the final year of my twenties. Yes, slow down, please.
Although much could be said for the future, I want to pause and appreciate the many blessings around me this holiday season. I realize I have not written a proper update in quite some time, so here are some photos to document the recent happenings of my life.
A Christmas market in Colmar.
Exploring an Abbey in France.
Looking out my window on main street.
My festive apartment.
Sonne dorm where I sub.
Art students hanging out, finishing projects.
BFA Christmas Concert.
BFA Christmas banquet.
My beautiful senior small group girls.