Thoughts on Being Alone

As I drove home from work one evening this week, I got thinking about the variety of the experiences you can have being alone.  I have a great deal of friends near and far, but I’ve spent a lot of time in my own company over the years–sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance.

For example, as an introvert, I spend a great deal of time in my own company and love times of peace and solitude.  I work a job that is heavy on customer service, so at the end of the day, all I want is to curl up in my room and read my book.  I’ve recently taken up hiking and, when I have the trail to myself, the world gets all quiet in a way that fills up my spirit.  Being alone is restful–a haven away from the loudness of life.

But being alone isn’t always bliss. Continue reading

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:

When You Write Young (Writing 101, Day 17)

Today’s Writing 101 assignment involves digging into your drafts and work with something uncompleted.  My burst of inspiration brought me to the stack of old journals in my closet.  Paging through the woes of my high school self, I couldn’t help but think of a post I had written several months ago.  In Writing 101, we’ve been doing a great deal of writing (go figure!), which has me thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer.  I think that this post lines up well with what I’ve been learning as a writer and blogger.  Since I’m short on time today (I’ll be posting about why later this week), I thought I’d share that post.

Here we go…

It’s amazing to look back and see how you grow as a writer.  But more on that later.  First, a story.

One of the traditions of my high school’s marching band was giving personalized gifts to the graduating seniors at the end of the year indoor concert.  After my final season, one of my good friends bestowed upon me a notebook covered in cats.  He offered the following explanation: “We’re giving you a journal because some things don’t belong on the internet.”

Recently, I hung out with my old high school buddies.  Sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about times that we really don’t miss, the marching band senior gifts came up.  I had completely forgotten the incident.  It was one of my fellow graduates who remembered my gift and the above explanation.  How he recalled such a specific quote, I have no idea.  But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

When you start blogging at the age of fifteen, you make some blunders.  And, often times, those blunders affect people.  Enthralled at the freedom of calling a corner of the internet my own, I was not always wise with what I shared on my blog.  (Mind you, those were back in the Blogger days.)  Although I always tried to be careful not to give names–anonymity is really important when publishing personal information–keeping my drama off the internet sometimes didn’t happen.  What’s worse… keeping that drama away from the eyes of my friends was an impossibility.

Often times, I’d turn to my blog to express myself in times of conflict with friends.  I’d vent a bit, then go on with my life.  But then my friends would find out and that’s when things got messy.

At the time, I didn’t think much of my senior gift.  In fact, I thought so little of it that I didn’t even remember it happening.  But it’s amazing what hindsight can do.  I now see that there was a bit of a barb to the gesture–that my friend was being funny, but also critical.  He didn’t like what I had to say in such a public arena and used the situation as an opportunity to get me to express myself in a more healthy, private place.  (The sad thing is, I didn’t take the hint.)

As much as I hate to admit it, that friend was right.  Four years later, I agree with his statement wholeheartedly.  Some things DON’T belong on the internet.  Self-expression is a wonderful thing, but what one sees as nothing but blowing-off-steam soon blows out of proportion.  What is meant as a personal rant suddenly becomes incredibly public.  There’s a line and, if you’re not careful, you’ll slip across without even noticing.

I’ve grown a great deal as a blogger over the years.  I wish I can say I skipped the rough patches, that all was smooth sailing, and that I never crossed the line (excuse me for all the cliches)… but that’s all a lie.  When you write young, you make mistakes.  Looking back, I regret the hurt I caused my friends.  But what’s done is done.  Anything I do now can’t change what is cemented in the past.

The only thing you can do is grow from your mistakes, watch your words and best of all, learn to love your journal just as much as you love your blog.  And never, ever, stop writing.


This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.  Find my original post here.

So there you go

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot about what God has done in my life over the past year.  It was an incredibly challenging time–I was pushed and stretched in just about every area of my life.

But not many people know about it.

You see, I tend to keep things pretty close to the chest.  I don’t tend to open up to people until they make an effort.  In a way, you have to work to get the Amelia beneath the surface.  It’s not that I’m not friendly–that’s definitely a word I’d use to describe myself.  I’m friendly, cheery, positive, optimistic, the list could go on.  But when people ask, “How was London?  How was your year at school?”  I tell them that it was fantastic.  It’s not a lie–while abroad, I went and did all the crazy things I’ve dreamed of doing my whole life.  But it was challenging.  It was dark.  It was lonely.  For weeks at a time, I’d feel depressed because of the spiritual weight associated with where I lived.  There were times when all I wanted to do was go home.  I missed my friends, I missed my campus ministry.  My friends at home were too busy to Skype me.  I felt like they didn’t care.  When I finally got home, I hoped things, after a brief transition, would fall back into place and return to normal.  And they didn’t.  Nothing was the same.  My friends moved on without me.  Relationships that had once been deep were suddenly shallow.  People I had leaned on were suddenly unavailable.  Almost all semester, I felt like I had no one I could talk to who both understood where I was at and cared enough to reach out.  I was constantly dissatisfied with almost everything around me.  I was unhappy.  I was so eager to get out that, the second my final papers were submitted, I packed up and bolted home.

The whole year, all I wanted to do was do something practical for God.  I wanted to use my hands, I wanted to get down to business, I wanted to plunge into ministry.  I wanted to pour into others.  God has given me some incredible gifts, and I wanted to use them to encourage my brothers and sisters.  I tried and tried and tried in London to get my foot in the door of some kind of ministry or church.  God shut all the doors in my face.  When I got home, again, I tried and tried to do something for the Kingdom.  I lead a Bible study.  I tried stepping back into prayer ministry.  I sought for people to pour into.  But, again, God had other plans.  He told me to be still.  He told me to wait.

So there I sat, exhausted and frustrated, waiting on God.

Sitting and waiting is hard.  But through it all, God showed me incredible things.  I learned about the depth of His faithfulness.  I was alone in Europe, disconnected from any kind of spiritual body, and every single day, when I opened my Bible, God was there.  It says in Lamentations that God’s faithfulness is new every morning–it’s so true.  No matter how dark it got, He continued to shine His light into my life.  He continued to wrap His arms around me, He continued to speak comfort and whisper beautiful promises into my ears.  He protected me from the darkness and gave me hope.  Over the past year, I have learned that God is enough.  Community is important, yes, but when it comes down to it, God is the ultimate sustainer.  His faithfulness is incredible.

After all this, God lead me back to Camp Shamineau, one of my favorite places in the world.  Today was the last day of staff training.  I’m on Program staff this year, and have had the honor of helping pour into the staff as we have trained them for a summer of ministry.  This morning, we had a chapel service where we worshipped and took communion.  While I partook of the elements, I reflected on all God has done.  I thought about the darkness, about the confusion, the loneliness, the frustration. We sang the song “Cornerstone” and in the line about Jesus being our anchor in times of darkness, I just about lost it.  Because, even though I had just gone through one of the toughest years I’ve ever had spiritually, God was still good.  He still loved me enough to use me.  As we sang, I looked around at all the exceptional people around me–my fellow Program staff, the counselors, SMT’s, and support staff.  I realized that, after such a trying year, God had finally brought me to a place where I could do everything I longed to do.  I could pour into others, pray for them, encourage them, step up in leadership, and help spread the Gospel.  Here I was, doing something practical for the Kingdom at last.   And I thanked God.  I praised Him.  For, even though I fail daily, He is so incredibly good.

So there you go.  For more on my spiritual journey during my time in London, stop by my old travel blog!