Reflections

Feeling thankful to be sad is such a strange combination of emotions. Right now, I’m so sad. My amazing two months as an intern at Show Hope have come to an end. I have moved back from Tennessee, and I had to say goodbye to so many people who became very dear to me.

Yet, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that I’m sad to leave and that my heart is so full. These past two months flew by too fast, but I can’t help but look back with a huge smile. God was extremely good to me and taught me so much about his provision and his presence, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

During a staff devotional at Show Hope, the leader talked about “microwave brains” and “crockpot brains.” People with microwave brains process their experiences and feelings very quickly, while people with crockpot brains have to let things sit for a while until they can fully process them. I’m definitely a crockpot brain. It took me months to really process everything God taught me during my trip to Europe in January, and I’m sure it will take just as long to fully understand the bigger picture of my summer.

For now, I’m mainly processing everything I’m going to miss the most about my time in Tennessee. Here are the three things that have been at the forefront of my mind lately.

1) The places. I absolutely fell in love with the Nashville area. There is a lake right outside of Nashville called Radnor Lake, and it provides such a beautiful, calm contrast to the busyness of the city. The city of Franklin—which is where I lived and worked—is so charming. Nashville itself is full of a contagious, creative energy. From movies in the park to free live music, there is always something fun to do.

2) The people. I was so blessed by the people God put in my life this summer. I had people cook for me, pray for me, and open up their homes to me. I experienced true Southern hospitality and saw Jesus in the words and actions of the people I came into contact with. The people I worked with were so kind, talented, and passionate about their jobs.

I made awesome new friends who helped me step out of my box and drove me to the airport at 2 a.m. so I wouldn’t have to take public transportation. I had tears in my eyes during almost all of my goodbyes.

3) The purpose. On my first day at Show Hope, my assignment was to read through the organization’s blog to get a feel for the voice and style I would be writing in.

I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn about adoption and the orphan crisis. There are more than 140 million orphans in the world and every 18 seconds another child becomes an orphan.

The wall next to my desk and the ceilings throughout the office are covered in pictures of children at Show Hope’s Care Centers who have been brought home to families. Every day I would come into work and be reminded of the reason we were all there.

In the last two months, God placed a burden on my heart for the millions of children who are waiting for the hope of a family.

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of the movement to care for orphans. I can’t wait until the day when I can grow my own family through adoption and help lower the staggering statistics one precious child at a time.

Until then, I’m so excited to share about the things I learned and to find ways to continue to be a part of the movement.

Precious Time

THREE WEEKS?!?! How has it been three whole weeks since my last post!? Time is flying and I feel like I’m barely holding on.

These last 21 days have been packed full of fun adventures. First, I made a quick trip home for my cousin’s wedding and had a great time catching up with friends and family.

While I was home, I made the decision that I will come home from Tennessee sooner than I planned. I haven’t been able to get a job here for just the summer, and I’m not making any money but spending a lot. That’s obviously not good on my bank account, so I’m coming home three weeks earlier. I am so sad that I’ll have three less weeks to enjoy this beautiful state, but there are some silver linings, like being able to be a counselor at one of my favorite camps!

That being said, my remaining time here in Tennessee has become very precious. I’m trying to live every minute to the fullest. Here are some of the ways I’ve been doing just that:

During the last weekend in June, Kristen and I headed into Nashville. On Saturday morning, we explored the Nashville Flea Market. It was HUGE! We only made it through a fraction of the booths and buildings before we were sweating buckets and decided to head out to find food. There were so many treasures that caught my eye. I wish I would’ve had a house to fill with all these things (and money to buy them). I ended up buying a few pieces of cheap jewelry, a set of old Disneyland postcards, and an awesome vintage travel poster.

After the flea market, we headed further downtown to the Nashville Farmer’s Market. Here, we grabbed some delicious food, like grilled chicken crepes, fresh Georgia peaches, and Jeni’s Ice Cream.

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Sunday, Kristen and I drove back into downtown Nashville for a photo shoot (pictures to come)! We walked down Broadway street, visited the Union Station hotel, and spent some time at Sevier Park. We also grabbed some burgers at Burger Up. BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE (and also most expensive burger I’ve had in my life).

 

This past weekend, Kristen and I ventured out of the Nashville area. On Saturday, we drove about an hour and a half east to Burgess Falls State Park.

On the way, we drove past a CASTLE. THERE IS A CASTLE IN TENNESSEE AND YES I FREAKED OUT! We looked it up more and found out this is Castle Gwynn, an authentic castle a man started building in 1980 and now lives in. It hosts the Tennessee Renaissance Festival in May (HOW DID I MISS THIS) and was Taylor Swift’s castle in her music video for Love Story! So cool, right!? I’m still trying to find out if there’s a way I can tour it. I might just have to make a trip back here next May!

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We made it to Burgess Falls State Park and spent some time hiking past the beautiful waterfalls. The sound of water rushing over rocks is one of my favorites. I could’ve sat by the river with a good book all afternoon. It was nice to get out of the busy city and spend some quality time with nature.

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Sunday presented another fun adventure. We headed an hour north to Springfield to attend a Fourth of July celebration, featuring a concert by for KING & COUNTRY, one of my absolute favorite groups! The concert was awesome and Joel came and sang just a few feet in front of us! It was a struggle to stay composed. I’ve now seen them in concert three times and I can’t wait for the fourth! Eventually I will meet them!! There was a beautiful fireworks show following the concert. Sadly, we didn’t watch any fireworks on the actual fourth of July since it rained the whole evening.

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Like I said, these past few weeks have been packed full. It’s crazy to think that I have less than three weeks left.

Thanks for keeping up with my adventures, and stay tuned for a post about how I spend the last of my precious time in Tennessee in addition to some reflections about what God has taught me and how He’s moved during my 9 weeks here.

No Opportunity Wasted

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time in Tennessee so far, it’s that opportunities should not be wasted. Nashville is a city full of opportunities, from meeting celebrities to enjoying nature.

This past week, Kristen and I embraced every opportunity that came our way. It was my favorite week of the summer so far!

Here’s some of the exciting things we did (with pictures)!

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On Monday of last week, I saw a tweet from Sadie Robertson about a book signing at the local LifeWay bookstore. I love Duck Dynasty and loved watching Sadie on Dancing with the Stars–it wasn’t even a question of whether we should go! So on Wednesday, I had my first “celebrity encounter” of the summer. Sadie was so sweet and I was so awkward (what else is new)! Overall, it was a fun experience!

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Later Wednesday evening, Kristen and I went on a hike at Radnor Lake before our weekly Bible study. Radnor Lake is absolutely beautiful! It is a state natural area, so we saw lots of wildlife during our trip around the lake, including deer, turtles, and wild turkeys.

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On Thursday, Kristen and I, along with two of our intern friends, ventured into Nashville for the evening to watch a movie in the park. The screen was set up at one end of Elmington Park and food trucks were circled around the other end. There were so many good food options, and I ended up going with the popular grilled cheese truck. BEST. GRILLED CHEESE. EVER. Buttermilk cheddar, carmelized onions, and bacon…my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Right before the movie started, we braved the long line to get sno cones at the Retro Sno truck, and once again I was not disappointed. The only bad thing about the night was that the movie was Finding Nemo. My very serious (and very irrational) fear of sharks did not appreciate that.

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Our next big adventure came on Sunday. I went to the CMA Fest. My anti-country-music self went to a festival all about country music. We went to see Crowder, which I loved, but then Kristen made me listen to some other random country singer, which I didn’t love. Still, it was a fun, hot, and exciting morning. Crowder was awesome and now I can officially say I’ve been to the CMA Fest.

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After we left the CMA Fest, we made a quick stop in the 12 South neighborhood to take a picture with the famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural.

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Finally, after a much-needed bite to eat at Chipotle, we ran across a poster about a Shawn Johnson meet-and-greet nearby. Again, we did not waste the opportunity and joined a crowd of young gymnasts to listen to Shawn speak about her new book. And of course we didn’t pass up the photo op afterward!

 

What a week! I had so much fun embracing every adventure that came my way. What adventures are you embracing this summer? When opportunities come your way, don’t waste them!

In with the New

I have a love/hate relationship with change.

Change rips the blanket off of me right when I get cozy. It turns my world upside down and makes me question everything I know.

And sometimes change brings me to a place better than I could have dreamed of. It surprises me and makes me excited about the future.

Whether it’s good or bad, change usually brings about something new. A new job, a new house, a new situation in life, etc. This requires adjustment, and adjusting can be hard and rewarding all at the same time.

For the past 20 days, I have been adjusting to one new thing after another. Nothing bad, just every thing new.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve been adjusting to during my first few weeks in Tennessee:

Interning

The ultimate reason I’m here this summer is because I have this awesome opportunity to learn and develop my skills while working for a great cause. Show Hope has been incredible. At first, I was pretty nervous about my internship. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t know if my abilities would be good enough. But the people are so kind and they all truly care about their work. The atmosphere in the office is fun and relaxed, and I love coming into work every day. I work four days a week for about five hours each day. During that time, I write blog posts (check out my first one here) and work on projects for the communications team. I’m learning about communications from a non-profit standpoint and gaining insight on orphan care and the orphan crisis.

Living in the city

Technically I’m living in the suburbs. Franklin, Tennessee, is about 20 miles south of Nashville and is the cutest town ever. It has a population of almost 70,000, so even though it has a small-town charm, there are LOTS of people here. Especially for a girl coming from a town of less than 3,000. Lots of people means lots of restaurants and stores. There are so many coffee shops and cafes I want to try out, and it’s hard to refrain from spending money ALL OF THE TIME (I’m working on getting a job so that’s less of an issue). So far, Kristen and I have checked out a few of the highly-recommended coffee and ice cream shops around the area, including Frothy Monkey, The Well, The Good Cup, Kilwins, and Sweet CeCe’s.

Staying with a host family

Kristen and I are both staying with host families this summer, which has been a new experience for us both. Kristen’s family is so much fun; they have adorable 4-year-old triplets who are incredibly energetic. I love spending time with their family and playing with the triplets. They help me not miss my sweet cousins back home quite as much! My host family situation has been quite the journey. I initially moved into a house with a woman who lived about a 30-minute drive away from Franklin. We agreed that I’d keep looking for a closer place, and I found one for the month of July. I still needed somewhere for June, though, so I sent another message to a woman Kristen and I met during our spring break trip to Nashville. Renee and her husband have welcomed me into their home for the month of June and have been such a blessing to me already. Their house is less than five minutes away from Kristen’s, and less than ten minutes from Show Hope. They have cable and a huge selection of movies, so Kristen and I spent the weekend catching up on some old favorite shows (Girl Meets World and The Dude Perfect Show) and binge-watching some new favorites (Call the Midwife–thanks Renee!) Renee has also been introducing me to some good books. All of my free time these next few weeks will likely be spent reading at the pool, and I’m totally fine with that!

Being social

I’m an introvert to the core. I recharge off of time alone and prefer small groups of people I know. So making friends and being social has definitely been one of the most challenging adjustments for me. Kristen and I have attended a few Bible studies and have gotten to know some of the other summer interns at Show Hope. On Tuesday of last week, we went to the young adult group at CrossPoint church in Franklin and I had to step out of my comfort zone a little. The group was definitely full of extroverts! Then on Wednesday, we went to a young adult women’s Bible study at Forest Hills Baptist Church, which is where we’ve been going most Sunday mornings. In this group, we’ll be working through the new She Reads Truth study on Acts, and I’m really excited to dive deeper in the study! Who knows, by the end of the summer I might turn into an extrovert. Or not. Most likely not.

 

Thanks for reading about the adjustments going on in my life right now! I appreciate your messages and prayers! Kristen and I have some fun things planned for this week, so check back next week to read about how I continue to be social and for more updates about the adventures we go on!

 

A Summer Worthwhile

What am I doing here?

The questions and doubts stormed my mind as I tried to fall asleep on one of my first nights in Tennessee. I’m not a good enough writer. I don’t dress “cool” enough. I’m too introverted. What am I doing here?

It’s been about one week since I packed up and moved to the Nashville area to be the summer communications intern at Show Hope. It’s been one week of laughter, tears, frustration, and growth. One week of learning, adventuring, building confidence in myself, and relying on God in new ways.

But let’s back up to the beginning. This whole crazy journey began back in February. My roommate, Kristen, applied for an internship with Show Hope, a movement for orphan care located in Franklin, Tennessee. Read about Kristen’s story here.

Over spring break, Kristen and I made a road trip to Nashville to attend the world premiere of Karen Kingsbury’s “The Bridge Part 2.” (BEST. DAY. EVER. I met Karen Kingsbury!!!)

During the trip, Kristen found out she got the internship at Show Hope. I remember thinking about how boring my summer would be in comparison. I thought I’d most likely end up in Hillsboro all summer once again, and I became a little bitter about that.

But God had other plans. I was able to join Kristen on her tour of the Show Hope offices, and while there, one of the employees suggested I apply for a communications internship with the organization.

The idea that I could spend my summer working in an awesome city for an awesome organization prompted me to apply as soon as I could.

Long story short, after weeks of waiting in anticipation, I found out I got the internship.

And now here I am, a week into a summer I didn’t think would happen.

God has been teaching me a lot lately. During my trip to Europe in January, he taught me about letting go of fear and embracing adventure (I will write a blog post about that sometime soon).

Now I am standing face-to-face with a God-sized adventure. The last time I left to live away from home, I came running right back. Since then, I’ve been scared to leave. Last year, I even turned down a summer at DISNEY WORLD!

I’m not scared anymore though. Sure, there have been times during the past week that all I wanted to do was jump in my car and drive straight back home. But I refuse to let fear win. I refuse to let it overshadow the adventure in front of me.

So back to my first question. What am I doing here?

God has me here for a reason. As I continue down this road called life, I think this summer will be a huge road sign about what’s to come after I graduate college next year.

The chorus of Francesca Battistelli’s song “Write Your Story” has been on my heart lately. “Author of my hope / Maker of the stars / Let me be Your work of art / Won’t You write Your story on my heart.”

I can’t wait to share with you the story God writes on my heart, the lessons I learn, and the adventures I go on while in Tennessee this summer. Follow my blog and keep checking back for updates, along with some book reviews and other fun posts!