July 29, 2014

200 Miles from Heartbreak USA to Freedom Town


I once heard someone say "the distance from here to there is never far." Well, one thing is for sure, they must not have been talking about the road from heartbreak to freedom. When you are in Heartbreak, USA {:population one Ben and Jerry's eating, Friends marathon watching, puffy-eyed, haven't gotten out of bed in days, hot mess:} the road to Freedom Town seems endless. When you find yourself in Heartbreak USA it feels as though your best friend just gave you the boot out of the car in the middle of nowhere and you are stranded in your stilettos with a lot of baggage in tow. 

Well, know you're not alone. I have been there {:more times than I am willing to tell you at the moment:}. But since I too have been stranded in my stilettos along that nasty dirt road I thought I would share some practical ways to move on down the road to Freedom Town.

1) Drop the baggage.
Relationships that have ended give you a lot of baggage. Not only are his sweats in your drawer and his picture on your nightstand, but you have a lot of emotional baggage now that is tied to him. If you're going to travel down the road you have to loose the baggage. It's too heavy to keep carrying. Sort through what is worth keeping, but then allow yourself to move on without it.

2) Memory Lane: Warning Dead END!
Oh the slippery slop of the stroll down memory lane. One day you will be able to look back on the good times you had with this guy and smile fondly, but today is not that day. Tomorrow is also not that day, nor is the day after that. When we enter into Heartbreak, USA we only seem to be able to remember the great stuff, even though we were arguing with each other a mere 48 hours earlier. Put away the pictures that are all over your house and put away the beautiful necklace he gave you. You don't have to burn them, but you don't need those reminders to take you down Memory Lane every time you see them either. 

3) It's okay to get lost along the way. It's also okay to ask for directions.
Ever heard people say that the journey is just as fun as the destination? It's true. Though this journey from Heartbreak to Freedom may not be the most fun, I believe one day you'll look back on the road trip and realize how much you grew. With having said that, don't beat yourself up too much when you have a breakdown over your breakup three months after it happened. This stuff happens. It's emotional and it's okay not to have it together all the time. But don't try and go at it alone. Tell a girlfriend; she wants to help get you back on track. Best friends always seem to know what to say, or when to say nothing at all. Chances are, she wants you to get over that guy even more than you want to. 

4) Keep your eyes on the road.
Take time to look at the mile markers in your life. Take time to see how far you have come on this journey of heartbreak to freedom. You might surprise yourself. Take the time to look around at the opportunities you can seize now that you are alone on the road trip. Go out with your girlfriends more. Take that class on cake decorating you have dying to do, but just couldn't fit in your schedule. Do things for you; focus on you and keep going forward.

5) Stay off your phone.
We are all well aware of how dangerous it is to be on your phone while driving. It's just as emotionally important that you stay off your phone on this road trip. You don't need to see when his high school girlfriend posts on his Facebook wall 2.5 seconds after he changes his relationship status, and you don't need to see that he is out with his friends on Friday night while you are watching your 7th Nicholas Sparks movie {:are there even that many Nicholas Sparks movies?:}. You don't have to unfriend him on social media {:although it may not be a bad idea:} but you can change your settings where you don't have to have his feed pop up all the time. And you certainly don't need to be typing his name into the search bar while you are on this road trip. What good would come from this? You see that he has a post about being lonely on a Friday night too? Would that really help? Okay, it would probably totally help, but the chances of that happening are about 1 in 6.8 billion so just slow those search happy fingers down. You also don't need to text him. You will regret it. This I am sure of. If he is texting or calling you, well he had plenty of opportunity to text and call you when you were dating but his window of opportunity is O-V-E-R!

The thing about road trips are often that no two people ever travel exactly the same route. Your road trip to Freedom Town will be full of different pit stops and locals than your other friends and thats okay. This road trip is your. Road trips are long and often exhausting, but when you get to your destination and think about the journey it always makes you smile to know how far you've come and what it took to get you there.

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July 26, 2014

Sloppy Joes, Lollies, and Whippersnippers

I live in a house with 2 Aussies ladies and one Swiss {:also a girl for the record:}. This is a lot of culture meshed together in one house for this small town West Virginia girl, but I am loving it. How often do you get to do this? With this, there definitely comes a cultural divide and a willingness to learn to speak each others languages. Yes, Aussies speak English, but I would definitely say they have their own version.

For instance, take one of my favorite stories since I have been here. This "language barrier" happened between me and my Aussie housemate, Bree. The first few days I was here, it was just Bree and me in the house. Through our conversations I frequently had to stop her and ask her what she was talking about because I was a little lost. With talk of lollies and jumpers and rubbers I realized she was using words in a different context than I was use to. Anyway, one morning I was sitting on my bed playing on the computer in my hoodie and Bree knocks, comes into my room, and jumps on my bed exclaiming "I love your sloppy joe!" I awkwardly laughed, again not having a clue what she was talking about. I just figure this was possibly another weird Aussie saying, but I wasn't sure if she was calling me a slob for wearing a hoodie or what exactly was going on in this moment. My face must have said all of these things because she pointed to my hoodie and said "isn't that what you call those in the states?" She told me in an effort to keep up with the American culture she looked up American slang and this poor website misinformed her as to what we call hoodies.  After explaining to her that a sloppy joe was actually a type of sandwich we both sat on my bed doubled over in laughter.

So to the Australian traveler let me help you a bit with the language barrier:

Lollies: Nope, not a lollipop, but any candy that's not chocolate: skittles, smarties (except smarties aren't the same thing here-they're  chocolate), etc.
Whippersnipper: weed whacker/edger
Boot: The trunk of your car.
Jumper: Sweater
Biscuit: Cracker or a cookie
Rubbers: Eraser (That could be an interesting one used in school hey?)
Muffin: Biscuit
Trolly: Shopping Cart
Duna: Bedspread
Breakie: Breakfast

And yes, they do use the word "mate" quite frequently. Well, I suppose one could say my horizons are just being expanded right?

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July 20, 2014


When you enter the front sliding doors of Hillsong church you see this huge piece of frosted glass with the words "Welcome Home" etched into it. 

Everywhere you turn you hear people telling you welcome home. The other day I was dropping of a job application at a local coffee shop. The gentleman I handed my application to asked if I was a Hillsong College student. When I replied yes, he too, told me "welcome home."

As I was preparing to come here I was mentally trying to prepare myself for what it would be like moving half way across the world from what I consider my true home, West Virginia. Trying to prepare myself for the possible impending homesickness. Moving away from home and all that entailed is the thing that made me emotional 90% of the time before I left.

But today, I attended my second Sunday service here at Hillsong (in Australia Sunday is almost over). From the moment the music started until the final song I just had tears in my eyes because I truly felt like I was at home. Not as in I want to stay forever and I don't miss my family, and my friends, and my church. But home in a way that gave me this indescribable peace of knowing I am in the right place and the right time and because of that I've found home in my heart here.

I knew that this would happen, at least I expected it to. It is what I signed up for. I wanted this to be home for the next few years. What I didn't expect was for it to feel like home so quickly, but by the grace of God He has overwhelmed me yet again on this journey!

Not only did I feel at home in service today, but I have been working hard to make my room feel like home as well. At first, I only wanted to buy the necessities for my room. Then, I realized how much I needed to make my room feel like home. I found out quickly it was too depressing to walk into a room without any personal touches. It fell like my  prison cell than a bedroom I could come home to and decompress and download. I splurged a little and got a few things to make the room feel more inviting. I even put a nightstand together all by myself....I didn't even have to call or text my mom {:It helped that, that wasn't even an option because of the 14 hour time difference:}!

{:I've even added pictures on the wall since this picture was taken:}
Last Wednesday started orientation week for classes and last Friday we had or first chapel. The entire day on Friday I think I sat in disbelief of the teaching and wisdom I get to sit under in the leadership of Hillsong College while I am here. It is pretty much the definition of "mind blown."

Tomorrow is the last day of orientation and Tuesday starts intensives which are a couple hour long lectures broken up with chapel in between. Every student has pretty much told all of us newbies to prepare to be blown away beyond expectation. It's just so, so good.

I just want to take a moment and thank every one of you sweet people who have been thinking about and praying for me. I truly feel your prayers and it means the world to me!

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July 15, 2014

I Didn't Ask You to Draw a Line

Growing up in church, I was always taught to love others. We were instructed in Sunday school through stories modeled with felt characters on a felt board that Jesus loved and loves everyone and we should do the same. Society however, has a different opinion. You love people until it is no longer beneficial to you or until you just don't want to anymore. Because, hey, love is just a feeling right?

Awhile back Gods position and the world's position on love collided in my own life.

I found that when I was at church I was good at loving people. I don't just mean normal people I mean the outcast - the night club worker, the drug attic, the alcoholic, the absent parent. The people that society tends to look down on. I found it easy to love them because their lives weren't all that intertwined with my own. I felt compassion for their situation knowing that there was normally a lot of pain and often a tragic story that had brought them to this place in their life. This wasn't just the case in church, but in general. My heart breaks for the outcast and I find myself saying a quick prayer when I encounter them.

I also was a school teacher. I was a teacher in an area with a good amount of need. I had the students of the night club worker, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the neglectful parent, and the incarcerated parent. Loving them wasn't just hard but down right impossible for me. I lost sight of what brought them to this downward spiral and all I could see was the horribly negative impact it was having on their children. Now their lifestyle was affecting my life. My students were my kids.

The same type of people I had compassion for every other time now had me harboring anger and resentment towards them. I didn't understand how they could do this to their child. I mean, could they not see what it was doing to their family?

I remember being so fed up one night with it all I just asked God with anger and bitterness in my heart "God, where do I draw the line?" I wanted to know where I drew the line of loving them and rightfully being bitter towards them because of what I saw in their kids. I remember as clear as day God whispering into my heart: "I didn't ask you to draw a line."


It hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt justified for my negative feelings towards them because I saw the way it affected others. God doesn't see them as the dead beat dad, prostiturte, or heroine addict. He sees them as Mark, Julie, and Rebecca. The very names that were on Jesus lips as he died on a cross. He loves them dearly, so why don't I?

 I realized regardless what people are going through, regardless the mess they are in or are creating, chances are they already know all that and hear it enough. What they aren't hearing enough is someone who loves them. What they aren't expecting is someone  who promises to love them even if they never change anything about their lives. They need a love like Jesus' and that's the way we are meant to show them love. No string attached.

God never asked us to draw the line.
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July 13, 2014

So the adventure begins....

I'm here! I'm here! And I am so excited to have a moment to catch my breathe and get you all up to speed on this last week. It's been pretty incredible.
On every step of this journey God just continues to blow me kisses and I am so thankful to be on this roller coaster with him as my riding buddy!
So...I left DC Tuesday afternoon and the goodbyes see you laters were tough. A few of my family members were up from Alabama to see me off so that meant the world to me, but saying bye to mom and dad was the hardest. Shockingly, I think we all did pretty well at the airport {:and by pretty well, I mean no one needed a ventilator from crying so hard:}. I waved goodbye to my parents for the last time, with tears rolling down my face as I stepped on the escalator to go down through security. As soon as they were out of sight the first words I whispered to God was "okay God, now it's just you and me." It was all starting to sink in, in line for security. I don't think it was that hot but the thought of what I was about to do added with the normal stress of the awful security line at the airport I was sweating like crazy. To the point I am pretty sure people around me were wounding "what in the world is wrong with this chick?"

Anyway, my flight was delayed because of a late incoming flight by about an hour. We finally loaded the plane and then we were groused for about 2 hours because of a bad storm rolling through the east coast. I was suppose to have a 2 hour layover in LA, but as we landed in LA I ran the two gates to my next flight, only to watch them close the door on about 20 of us needing that connecting flight to Sydney. That's when the fun began. Next, I waited in the customer service line with the happiest of people {:NOT:} for about an hour and a half before they let me know that I wasn't going to be flying out until tomorrow. I wasn't about to try and be all brave and tough it in the airport all night so I caught a shuttle to a nearby hotel. I spent the next morning, unexpectedly in Las Angeles until I caught my flight out.

The 15 hour flight from California to Sydney is PAINFUL! But, hello favor, I got upgraded in the missing flight debacle and was given quite a bit more leg room. But, staring at this for 15 hours, even with more leg room, is no fun. I took a sleeping pill and did my best to sleep the flight away.
When I landed, after going through customs, a driver picked me up and took me to the church. From there it was a full day of opening an Aussie bank accout, getting my phone set up, finding my house, grocery shopping, shopping for linens-all of the tiny things it takes to get established. By that night I was out by 8pm. I had been up since 4am and just couldn't take it anymore. 
{:My home away from home:}
Then, Saturday the school arranged for us to head into the city. It was a blast. I met so many people and we were all unashamedly total tourist oohing and awing {:and taking too many selfies of corse:} as we walked through Sydney Harbor. From Sydney Harbor we took a ferry to Manly Beach. This place is absolutely beautiful! In some pictures I feel like you can't make it look real. There is no phot editing needed when your here. I have talked typed enough....Now lets let the pictures do the talking.

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July 8, 2014

New Beginnings

Today's the day. After months and months of anticipation I'm off to Australia. After a 22 1/2 hour flight I'll be landing in the land down under. This all still feels like a dream. I'm not sure it has truly hit yet or when it will...stay tuned on that. I can't wait to post my first post once I am settled over there and let all my blogging friends in on all the goodness that is waiting over there.

As sad and heart wrenching as all the goodbyes have been I am really getting excited for all that God has waiting for me across the pond.

The next blog will be typed on the other side of the world. YIKES!

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July 2, 2014

Surprises Surprise....My Going Away Party

Where does time go? I leave for the Land of Oz in just one short week. I am mostly packed {:I feel like I may be a packing goddess now and will probably do a post on how to maximize your luggage weight and space:} and the countdown is definitely on here.

This was after Morgan told me to step to late and I stubbed my toe....but it's totally allowed because these are the amazing girls that put the entire party together!
Sunday night some of my best girl friends planned me a girls night. They told me where and when to show up and that was it. When I got there I was blind folded and stuck in a car. They told me we were going to a few of my favorite places. On the way there as we talked, I tried to figure out where we were going, but after awhile the only thing I could think about was how sick I felt being blindfolded on these curvy and mountainous West Virginia roads. Thank goodness we were almost there! {:But they had me in a panic, as i had my face pressed up against an air vent, when they told me the route from point A to point B was much shorter than point B to C:}

I get out to hear the radio, like a cool outdoor cafe. I didn't remember having a favorite outdoor cafe, but from the sounds of it, it should have been a favorite of mine.

Well, I walk in and instead of it being my favorite place its a room filled with some of my favorite people. A surprise going away party. It was so fun being able to spend an evening just talking with friends and of corse getting a lot of pictures.

And of corse I have to show you how cute they decorated...

There were suitcases and pictures everywhere!!

They even had a table with a book on it where everyone wrote encouraging letters for me to read on the lonely days. The party was days ago and my heart is still so full. Thanks girls! I truly have never felt so loved.

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