Tis the Season: A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

Today’s Tis the Season post comes from Britta of  It’s a Britta Bottle!


A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

One of my absolute favorite Christmas memories is a relatively recent one, in what some might see as a most unconventional location.

The Setting: A shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand

The Event: Christmas Ice Skating

The Players: A group of Western English teachers

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A visual image of the scenario

Christmas in Thailand! Say what! Continue reading

Emergency Dance Party

As far as weeks go, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having a terrible one.  To begin with, my parents are currently away road tripping to Oregon, leaving me in a big empty house with no one but my brother (who isn’t exactly a chatterbox) and my cat to keep me company.  Then, I made the mistake of wading into the wrong patch of woods on our farm, resulting in poison ivy rashes and blisters all over my legs.  To cap it off, I got sick on Monday night and made a big mess of it, making cleanup gross and difficult.  (Sorry if that’s too much information…) Continue reading

Job Hunting & Tough Choices

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere lately… mostly because life is moving forward faster than expected and, when I finally catch my breath, the last thing I want to do is process things by writing.

Over the past few weeks, I have learned a great deal about job hunting.  When I started this journey, all I wanted was employment.  “Dear magical job fairy,” I prayed, “just give me work!”  I now realize how naive and arrogant that appears.

Yes, scrolling through job forums is boring.  There are so many jobs that just don’t strike me as very interesting.  Sure, I could do well as an administrative assistant and would succeed doing marketing via social media.  But would my heart be in my work?  I’ve learned that I need to identify what I want in a job and be ready to fight for that. Continue reading

The Last Full Day

Tomorrow, I’m getting on a flight to England.

In many ways, preparing for a journey is simple.  Make a list of all the things that need to be done, line up the details, and cross them off one by one.  Pack my bags, print out flight details, and marathon the final season Downton Abbey.  (I can’t go to the UK without knowing how it ends!)

However, there are things you can’t put on a list and cross off… like emotions.

In many ways, I’m really excited to finally be on my way.  For months, I’ve been dreaming, waiting, and hoping for this journey.  It boggles my mind to think that, one week from now, I will be at L’Abri living a completely different life.

But… excitement isn’t all I’m feeling.

I’m also nervous.  Nervous about travel plans, nervous about logistics, nervous about details.  In my head, I know everything will be just fine.  The last time I flew overseas, I missed my flight and they lost my luggage, causing me to hyperventilate in the middle of the Air Canada Customer Service line.  Even if the worst happens, I know I can handle it.  But that doesn’t stop the fluttering in my stomach.

More than anything, I’m sad.  I love my family and home so much.  I’ve loved living here for the past nine months.  I’ve cherished every moment.  There are a thousand of things I’m going to miss: family dinners, sleeping in my own bed, cuddling with my cats, going for walks in the orchard…  As thrilling as change is, it’s also really hard.  Whether I come home in four months as planned or in a year, things will never go back to the way they are now.  This time at home has been, in many ways, a return to childhood.  But I’m twenty three.  I can’t be a child forever.  It’s time to grow up and move on.

I’m thirsty for adventure, but adventure comes at a cost.  Striking out solo, getting on an airplane for the other side of the world, chasing the horizon is thrilling.  But it comes with the pain of being separated from people and places I deeply love.

Ultimately, I need to go.  I feel it deep within my very being.  If I don’t take this chance, I’ll always wonder.

I’ll end this post with a quote from the book Love Does by Bob Goff.

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, ‘Let’s go do that together.'”

This trip is me responding to this invitation.  Whatever happens from here will be bigger and more beautiful than anything I can imagine.

Dear New Year

Dear New Year,

There are so many things I don’t know about you.  But, then again, there are so many things I don’t know about me either.

Up until this point, my life has been predictable.  Go to school, get good grades, go home for breaks, work in the summer, and so on.  I’ve always known what the next year will bring.

When I look at you, New Year, I see a vast unknown.  I see the path beneath my feet stretching into a fog.  All I really see is what is directly before me.  In a way, I see you, but I don’t know what you will bring.

Where will I go?  What will I do?  They seem like such simple questions, but the answers are blank.

I’m excited to see you, New Year.  I’m ready to take the leap into the unknown.  I’ve been waiting and wondering about where I fit into this big, beautiful world.  I’m ready to find out.

I have never been one for resolutions.  I don’t like empty promises.  I avoid concrete vows that never actually happen.  But I’m all for having hopes.

This year, I hope to grow in my relationship with God.

I hope to get closer to figuring out my place in the world.

I hope to know myself better.

I hope to be a good daughter, sister, and friend.

I hope to take care of my health–physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I hope that I will be better at giving of my money, time, and love.

I hope to better at empathizing and seeing things from the perspectives of others.

I hope that, wherever I go, I will make the world a little brighter.

New Year, even though I don’t know what you have in store, I welcome you with open arms.

All my love,

Amelia

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Goodbye, 2015!

Another year has come and gone.

Looking back, 2015 was a year of waiting.  First, I was waiting to graduate.  Then, I was waiting for whatever came next. There were days when I would have given anything for time to move faster.  There were periods of loneliness and periods of frustration.

In other ways, though, it was a wonderful year.  I was able to spend nine months living at home, which, in a way, has been like a return to childhood.  I’ve loved spending time with my family.  I loved working at our strawberry patch and apple orchard.

I’ve learned a lot this year.  I finished my degree.  I spent my summer pulling weeds followed by a fall hauling around apples.  I experienced my first professional job.  I attended the Urbana missions conference.

I’m not sad to see 2015 go.  It’s been good, but better years lie ahead.

Check out some photo highlights from my year:

Tis the Season: Holding On to Memories

Growing up can be a jarring experience.  You move out into the world and, suddenly, everything you’ve ever known is different.  After a while, you get used to it.  Life is fluid.  That’s just the way the world works.

Some things, though, never change.  Like Christmas.

Although we’re not exactly warm and cuddly, my family has always been close.  We push each other’s buttons and drive each other crazy, but have always enjoyed spending time together.

Christmas has definitely been different this year, with Grandpa in the hospital.  But, in many ways, it’s still the same.  As I said in yesterday’s post, no matter what happens, Christmas is still Christmas.

Many years ago, before college, I had a moment one Christmas when I realized that it wouldn’t always be like this.  There will hit a point when we’re all grown up and have families of our own.  We’ll be too far away to come together like we always have.

I’m thankful that this hasn’t happened yet.

But don’t know what the future holds.  I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing a year from now.  I don’t know if I’ll be home for Christmas.  So I’m bound and determined to make the most out of this year’s holiday.  I’m going to soak it all in, from the decorations to the carols to the time spent with family, and make memories that will last.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!  I’m very thankful for each and every one of you.  I wish you joy and blessings this holiday season.

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Tis the Season is a yearly holiday-themed series on Keep Your Feet.  The goal is to bring the blogging community together to celebrate holiday memories and traditions.

Thoughts From a Cold Boulder

My coat wasn’t quite warm enough, but I hardly cared.  Perched on my rock, it was not the bite of the wind that took my breath, but the blue of the water stretching for miles before my feet.

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Panorama of my view from my iPhone.

Duluth, Minnesota is an old industrial town.  Perched on the Westernmost tip of Lake Superior, it’s an important harbor and port for ships bringing goods and services across the Great Lakes.  Before settling to soak in the view, I had the pleasure of watching one of the enormous freight ships slip into the harbor, skirting gracefully under the iconic lift bridge.  Strolling along the boardwalk, old manufacturing warehouses and mills (now hotels, shops, and restaurants) on one side and, on the other, the endless lake.  I’ve been coming to this city since I was a little girl.  The boardwalk, the worn brick buildings, the lake–they’re all part of me.

My nose was beginning to run, but I perched along the shore anyways.  In that moment, soaking in the beauty of the sunlight glistening on the waves, a deep peace settled over my spirit.

The past few weeks have been a torrent of upheaval–from persisting unhappiness to my job to arranging to leave the country in January to terrorist attacks and political strife.

It felt so good to get away, to sleep in a bed twice the size of my own, to eat pizza in front of a hotel TV as my brother gushed about Star Wars.  It felt good to look out my window and see city, not forest or fields.  It felt good o walk along the boardwalk, to sit on the rocks, to watch the ships come into harbor.

It blows me away how crazy this world is.  Things are always changing and I am no exception.  I don’t know what the adventures ahead have in store.  I don’t know how my experiences will shape me and who I will become.  This both terrifying and liberating.

I can’t help but think of the quote from which this blog is named:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Moments like these ones, silently dwelling in the places that have known me for so long, give me the courage to take that leap.  The peace that dwells in my innermost being gives me the strength to see what’s out in the world and discover who I’m going to be next.

I’m Crossing the Pond

I have big news.

I’ve been holding on to this post for a while, unsure when to actually make my plans public. But this morning I woke up and thought, “Screw it. I’m putting it on the blog.”

I’m going back to England in January.

If you had told me a month ago that my next adventure is right around the corner, I don’t think I would have believed you.  It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, watching my dreams solidify into something tangible.

A few weeks ago, I published a particularly depressing post  where I vented about feeling directionless.   I shared it on Facebook and, a few hours later, got a text from my aunt recommending a ministry called L’Abri.

What is L’Abri?  It’s a ministry that integrates intellectual study with everyday life.  Half of the time is spent studying theology and discussing hard questions in Christianity.  The other half is spent contributing to everyday life in the form of everyday, practical tasks.  It’s an open door for anyone wanting to stay.  All you have to do is let them know you’re coming.  There is a cost, but it’s not high.

I did some research and tucked L’Abri in the corner of my mind.  Within the next week, it seemed to crop up everywhere… which made me stop in my tracks and begin to hope.  As I curled up in bed at night, I imagined myself there, living in an old manor house, engaging intellectually with the faith that is the center point of my life.  Once the idea took root, there was no stopping back.

I decided to send an email.  It’s amazing how a single message can change your course.  I inquired about their openings for their Spring term, never expecting them to say yes.

A week and a half later, here I am, L’Abri confirmation letter in one hand and a one-way ticket to Europe in the other.  I’ll be crossing the pond a few days before my program begins to give myself time to recover from jet lag and wander the streets of London, my favorite city in the world.  I’m going to buy my return ticket later, as I hope to do some traveling when my program is done.  I’ve got a friend studying abroad in Berlin that I might visit and I don’t want to pass by an opportunity to visit my Austrian friends.

It’s hard to believe that this is my life.

There is so much to accomplish in the next month and a half, but for the first time in ages, I have direction.  It’s a scary step, uprooting myself and moving across the globe all on my own.  But it feels right. I’m torn between terror and wild excitement and couldn’t be more content.

I’ll end this with a fitting quote from my hero, J.K. Rowling.  

Twenty Three Years and Counting

Twenty three years ago, I entered the world.

I’m torn between feeling very old and very young.  On the one hand, I’m not a student anymore, which means adulthood is here to stay.  On the other, I frequently get mistaken for a high schooler when out in public.  Which is both annoying and flattering.

But hey, twenty three!  Two years past being able to legally drink, two years until I can rent a car.

My brothers were home the other night to celebrate.  We had family dinner, opened gifts, ate cake, and watched Inside Out.  I got a new sweater and scarf, two free passes to my local ski hill, and Howl’s Moving Castle on DVD.

As far as birthdays go, this year isn’t exactly dramatic or exciting.  I mean, last year there was a blizzard.  Two years ago, I was in England.  Today, I’ve got a board meeting and a long slog of office hours.  When work is done, Mom and I are heading to the cities to do something fun, which will keep me going through the bore of work .

I’m excited to not be twenty-two.  It was definitely a tough year, filled with rocky friendship moments, endings, and transitons.  I’m looking forward to a year that is bigger, brighter, and filled with possibilities.

Twenty three years and counting, here I come!