#seminarywife in colorado

I started this post back in February, but I’m going to publish it now!

Greg is currently enrolled in Fuller Seminary’s Master of Arts in Global Leadership program, which is a fancy way to say he’s earning a seminary degree primarily online with a cohort of classmates from across the world. Literally. Like on multiple continents. He takes most of his classes online, but he has two in-person two-week stints where he travels, and in January he had his first stint in Colorado! So since we’re terribly sappy newlyweds who can’t be apart for more than five days, I went to visit during the middle weekend.

I’m gonna keep it short and sweet, list style.

Friday:

  • Spent the morning in class with Greg, learning about his classmates and worshipping with them.
  • Spent the afternoon at the Garden of the Gods, enjoying God’s creation!
  • Ate dinner at the Golden Bee, where we ate authentic English food and they threw adorable bee stickers at us.
  • Finished the night off with some ice cream from Josh & John’s Naturally Homemade Ice Cream.

The entrance to the Garden of the Gods

Saturday:

  • Kicked off the day with delicious lunch at Caspian Cafe.
  • Toured Glen Eyrie, a castle built by the founder of Colorado Springs, which now serves at the headquarters for The Navigators, in the gently falling snow.
  • Took a tour of the Olympic Training Center.
  • Ate dinner at Bristol Brewing, a brewery housed in a renovated school with several other local businesses. The Beehive Honey Wheat was perfect.

Greg outside the Glen Eyrie castle

Sunday:

  • Visited the US Air Force Academy campus and took in a contemporary worship service at the gorgeous Cadet Chapel.
  • At some yummy Thai food at Thai Mint.
  • Introduced Greg’s classmates to American football and watching the Super Bowl together.

The US Air Force Academy chapel

Greg enjoying some Thai coffee

All in all, it was a busy, but still relaxing and funny mini-vacation! We’ll see if I visit during the second two-week session next summer (2016) in Pasadena!

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24

I’m on a blogging roll! I think I may be a certifiable binge-blogger… nothing for WEEKS, then BAM! Four posts in five days!

Anyway, last week was my 24th birthday. I figured I needed to blog about it because I blogged about 23 and 22. I really can’t believe I’m 24. I’m officially in my mid-20s. It’s weird that I am anywhere from two to six years older than most college athletes. I am one year away from being a quarter-of-a-century old! But I don’t really feel depressed or old or anything. Part of this might be because I shared my birthday week with my now-28-year-old boyfriend. Nothing like a little perspective to make you feel young and spry! 😉

The Monday of my birthday week my roommates threw together a small surprise part with about 5 of my friends, which was really sweet. Thursday, on my actual birthday, my roommate Megan took me to Chuy’s for apps and happy hour margs. Overall, it was a simple birthday!

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Birthday Tex-Mex with Megan!

But because Greg’s birthday is three days before mine, we celebrated with a sickeningly adorable joint birthday party in San Marcos this weekend.

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Lighting the candles on our shared cake! He lit my pink candles, and I lit his blue candles because everyone knows you can’t light your own birthday candles.

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Happy joint birthday! It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the pink and blue candles spelled out both “24” and “28” because I am super clever.

We had a bunch of friends from Greg’s church over for cake (that recipe pretty much, just minus the cream cheese in the icing), food, games, and then we watched Brave because Greg associates me with blazingly ginger heroines. How sweet!

Greg got me a Texas State T-shirt (Eat ’em up, Bobcats!) and an ADORABLE kitty coin bank from Japan, which is slightly broken now due to some party guests wanting to see if the kitty would take chips and toothpicks as well as spare change… And now Greg’s ordering me a new one, haha.

I got Greg the card game Bang! and five Bill Cosby CDs because he loves Bill Cosby. I also made him a jar with date ideas for our summer in Colorado.

Not my photo, but it’s the same concept. I colored coded the sticks for various types of dates (day trips, things in Estes Park, things on the Y grounds, hikes, etc.)

Overall, it was a really fun birthday that I did not mind sharing at all. Hopefully there will be more shared birthday week events in years to come!

Greg sporting the Mizzou T I mentioned in my spring break post at our party. Doesn't he look great in black and gold?? Go Tigers!

Greg sporting the Mizzou T-shirt I mentioned in my spring break post at our party. Doesn’t he look great in black and gold?? Go Tigers!

We have to go back!

I have an announcement! God- (and Drage-) willing, I will be going back to Colorado LT this coming summer as a GCM staff intern! (If you don’t know what LT is, read about it here. But really you should know about it because I think I’ve mentioned it at least every third blog post since I decided to go the first time in the spring of 2010.)

Now I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I did, too, at first.

But wait, aren’t you graduating from your master’s program in May? Shouldn’t you be looking for a real job?
Ha! That’s the first question I asked myself after I felt the Lord telling me I should consider this internship back in July.

Um, God, you’re telling me I should intern at LT? That sounds like a horrible idea. What will people say when I tell them I’m not looking for a job after graduation, I’m just galavanting off to the mountains and ignoring the “real world” for an extra 12 weeks? And I have, like, loans to repay and stuff.
Yeah, good thing it’s a paid internship!
I’m supposed to graduate and get a real job because that’s what grownups do!
Can’t you job search while you’re in Colorado?
Uh, I guess so… yeah. But employers are going to ask me about this gap between grad school job searching.
Um, what gap? You’ll be working.
But does working at LT really count towards my professional career?
Lindsay. Yes. Duh. You’ll be working with college students and coordinating a summer leadership training program.
Oh yeah… It is pretty much all the things I LOVE about my area of study… discipleship, student groups, leadership, teaching & workshops, event planning… That actually would look pretty good on my resume… hmm…
See. I told you it’s gonna be awesome.
But God, what happens when LT ends and I don’t have a job?
Lindsay, how many times have a carefully and perfectly taken care of all your needs? Oh, that’s right, ALL THE TIMES.
Ok, God. I guess I’ll think about it.
Lindsay, you can say that, but we both know what you’re going to decide…
… shut up, God. (Sometimes I don’t want to admit he’s right even when I know in my heart he is…)

So yeah. I’ve been praying about it and talking to people I trust and respect about what spending this summer in Colorado might mean for me. Obviously all the church staff I’ve talked to are pro-me-going. But I was nervous about what my grad school program coordinator would say if I took the path less traveled and put off my job search a little. Turns out she was supportive of me doing what I felt like was right for me. Something about listening to my inner voice or something (insert Baxter Magolda in-joke for SA-people here). Then I talked to my current supervisor, which I think was possibly the most encouraging conversation ever. This obviously isn’t word for word what he said, but it captures the essence of the conversation.

“Lindsay, if you feel called to go, then you need to go. We all have voices insides our selves that tell us stuff that really might not make sense for other people, but it makes sense for us. You need to listen to that voice. Will your job search look different? Yes. Will you potentially miss out on jobs that will be open in the summer? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find a job. You’re just going to find a different job. Your process is just going to be different from your peers’, and that’s okay as long as you know that and are okay with it. You’re 23 years old. When are you going to have the opportunity to do this stuff for yourself again? You have 30+ years to build up your professional career. You don’t need to start your professional first job the day after graduation.”

Biggest weight off my shoulders.

So yeah. I’m applying to intern, y’all. I’m really excited for what this internship will do for me personally and professionally. Personally, I think a season of semi-rest and refreshment after this crazy year of grad school will be the best thing ever. I need to get out to the mountains and dedicate 12 weeks of my life to serving the Lord and not writing student development theory papers or studying higher education case-law. I need to breathe mountain air and stare at God’s creation for a few months. Professionally, like I mentioned earlier, this internship will give me more experience in a non-conventional-but-still-applicable-student-affairs-y-type job. It will also give me a better understanding of the inner workings of college ministry and what it’s like to work with other GCM staffers. So yeah. Getting pumped for sure.

So does this mean you’re going on staff?!
Ha, no.

Oh, ‘cuz you don’t want to support raise, right?
Well, that is technically true. I don’t really want to support raise my salary, but that is not the reason I’m not going on staff. I’m not going on staff because I don’t feel called to go on staff. I feel called to get a job at a university and volunteer my resources and outside time to campus ministry through GCM. I feel like the Lord has equipped me to serve in this way, and I am super pumped about it.

Oh, so do you have to raise support for this internship?
Yes, so… be on the lookout for a letter asking you for support through prayer or finances in early 2013! I’ll admit I don’t really look forward to support raising again, especially since I will have to raise more than I had to for Italy last year, but I know the Lord will provide. If he’s calling me to Colorado, he will make a way for me to go.

So what happens now?
My application to intern is due December 1, and then if I’m accepted to intern, I’ll go to GCM ministry team development training in January. Then in May, I will graduate, pack out my room at the Den (woah, too soon… too soon…), and head to the mountains. I don’t know for sure what happens after that. I’ll be doing some preliminary job searching in the spring just in case my dream job shows up, but I imagine I’ll be doing the bulk of the work of looking for a real job out in Colorado. As of today, I plan on looking primarily at GCM campuses (Texas A&M, Texas State, UNT, Mizzou, and Pitt), though I will also be looking at the Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas areas. If I leave Colorado without a job, chances are I’ll move back in with the ‘rents until God tells me where to go next. Not gonna lie, that freaks me out. I haven’t been unemployed since high school, but I trust that the Lord knows what he’s doing!

So yeah! I’ll definitely try to update the blog as more happens, but, um, you may have noticed that I have sucked at blogging this semester, so… no guarantees for regular updates… Regardless, be praying for me, please! Excited to share what the Lord does with me and this opportunity over the next 10 months. 🙂

Why I care about the SEC

Truman the Tiger and Reveille chilling at the “Welcome to the SEC” weekend for Mizzou and A&M.

As some of you may know, this Sunday marked Texas A&M and Mizzou’s entrance into the NCAA Southeastern Conference. This is big deal in many ways, from more prestige for both schools, to a more equitable sharing of varsity sports profits, to all sorts of sports/higher education-related politics I don’t even fully understand. But that’s not really why I care about this move.

If you know me, you might know I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world. Yes, I enjoy a good Mavs game, will take you up on a night at the Rangers Stadium (though I would never take time out to watch a baseball game on TV; blech), and will deck myself out in black & gold or maroon & white every Saturday all fall. But in general, I’m not a sports fanatic. I’ll go to sporting events or watch them as a social activity with friends, but I don’t really have a stake in who wins. I don’t follow any professional teams*, and I only really care if the Aggies or Tigers win. Don’t ask me anything about other teams; chances are I don’t know. And honestly, at this point, I’m doing good even to remember the main football players for A&M and Mizzou. I’ve lost all sense of who plays on their basketball teams. National Championship? If it’s not Tigers or Aggies, it’s really not of interest to me. Super Bowl? I’m there for the food, the commercials, the halftime show, and to watch the Brynsvold Twins watch the game. (They’re the real entertainment.) I don’t even care about the BCS vs. a playoff system. Unless A&M/Mizzou gets screwed. Don’t mess with my two teams. Top 25 ranking? No Tigers, no Aggies? I’m not checking it.

So then you might be wondering why Saturday at midnight my Twitter feed exploded with SEC insanity. Well, it’s because this means more to me than sports. This is two of my favorite places in the entire world united together. I love it.

My tweets from June 30/July 1, 2012.

Mizzou and A&M are my homes. I met my best friends there. I grew up there. They are the last 5 years of my life, and those have been some formative years, let me tell you. So the fact that they’re both here together, newbies in the SEC, warms my heart.

It’s like Colorado LT. Colorado has brought so many different groups of my friends and mixed them all up. My sister and a friend from high school met my Mizzou friends. My Mizzou friends made Aggie friends, and then I met them in Texas. And now my Aggie friends are back in Colorado meeting more Mizzou friends. ALL MY WORLDS ARE COLLIDING, AND IT’S AWESOME.

Allie, who I discipled at Mizzou, and Kristina, who I will be living with at A&M in the fall, sharing a milkshake. WORLDS COLLIDE.

My sister and a bunch of my Mizzou friends hiking Eagle Cliff last summer.

So the SEC just seems to be a continuation. My favorite places on earth continuing to exist together and collide. Plus it doesn’t hurt that I don’t have to keep up with two conferences to watch my two favorite teams. And it guarantees a yearly “WHAT COLOR DO I WEAR MY TEAMS ARE PLAYING EACH OTHER AND I’M TORN” moment. And an excuse for my Mizzou friends to come watch a game in Texas or me to follow the Aggies up to Missouri.

My maroon Mizzou T-shirt so I can support both my teams.

So I guess it does kind of have to do with sports. Whatever.

*This is not to say I’m a bandwagonner. If I have to pledge allegiance to sports teams, I’ve picked them: Dallas Mavericks for basketball (leftover from the days when I did actually follow them. I miss Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzski’s bromance.), Texas Rangers for baseball, Dallas Stars for hockey? (I’ve never watched hockey in my life), Team USA for the Olympics (duh), and Italy for other international sports-related endeavors. Because, you know, it’s the only country outside the US I’ve been to. That’s legit, right?

I’m no Merida

I have been told by many people this summer that I am incredibly brave. People are amazed that I would just pick up and move to Oregon without knowing anyone. They’re astounded I just picked up and moved to Missouri for college without knowing anyone. They think I’m this confident, independent woman who just makes friends at the drop of a hat and isn’t afraid of being alone. In some respects, part of that is true. I like to think I’m somewhat confident and independent (though I think that sentence just negated the “confident” part). I do make friends fairly easily, and I enjoy my alone time.

But y’all, if I’m being real, what you don’t know is that I’m homesick right now. I’m sitting here missing Columbia. I haven’t truly been homesick for Columbia in ages! I’m missing Colorado, and LT was two years ago. I’m missing College Station and Texas A&M. I’m missing my beautiful roommates and their daily friendship. I’m missing my homegroup and our crazy antics and shenanigans. I’m missing the dudes at the Dudeplex. I’m missing the people I play worship with on some Sunday mornings. I’m missing people able to play music with others in general. I’m missing people who would get excited and care that Mizzou and A&M are now both members of the SEC. There, I just word vomited all my homesickness out.


And I hate admitting this.
I want to be brave. I want people to think I’m independent and confident. But that’s just my stupid pride. And that actually isn’t so good. So here I am telling you. When it comes down to it, I’m just not that brave.

(I am, however, a fiery redhead with a Scottish background, so in that sense, yes, I am like Merida. The blog post title is mostly a play on the movie’s title.)

Going to Mizzou wasn’t that big of a deal because it was college. Everyone picks up and starts a new life in college. You’re encouraged to break away from your high school friends and meet new people. Even though I knew no one going to Mizzou, I also knew lots of people would know no one at Mizzou. And we could know no one together. Plus there were all sorts of instruments in place to help me meet people at Mizzou: my Summer Welcome group, my residence hall, my FIG. That doesn’t count.

As for Oregon, yes, I moved here not knowing anyone, but I also knew it would only be for nine weeks. You can do anything for nine weeks. I also did a lot of research to ensure I wouldn’t be totally alone here. I friended the two ACUHO-I interns on Facebook before I even got to Oregon after I asked my boss if there would be other interns here. I researched churches before I left so I could start meeting people right away. People saw that as be just being a planner, but it was also me not wanting to be alone.

And even though I’ve met some great people here and really never run out of things to do, I miss my friends. I miss my home(s). I miss CoMO. I miss Colorado. I miss CStat. (I even miss Arlington a little, but actually not all that much. Sorry Mom & Dad and Blair and grandparents! I’m not used to seeing you that much… that’s the only reason why! I promise it’ll make sense by the end of this post.)

Ever since I moved to Mizzou, I have never truly been without friends. I had my Mizzou friends at Mizzou. I stayed in Columbia with friends for two summers. I went to Colorado for a summer, but I went with Mizzou friends, and in fact, it was nearly all my close Mizzou friends that went! I moved to College Station, but I also already had friends there. I went to Italy for two weeks, but that was only for two weeks, and I at least was starting to become friends with most of my teammates.

This summer, this Oregon summer, is the first time I have truly moved somewhere without knowing anyone or having a group of other newbies to cling to. This is the longest I’ve been apart from my CStat friends. (This is not even close to how long I’ve gone without seeing my family, hence not missing them as much. This is somewhat normal for how we function these days.)

This is quite possibly what post-grad-school life is like. And that terrifies me. People say I’m brave and can just move somewhere without knowing anyone, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t want to do that when I graduate.

Searching for a job is like a big scary black unknown for me right now. Thank God it isn’t happening for 10 months. If I had my way, next fall I’d working in College Station, Austin, Memphis, San Marcos, the DFW, Mizzou or Pitt. Where I know people. Or where there are GCM churches. Where I would not be alone. I see these SAAHE second years recent grads who are off starting their lives in totally new places. They are the braves ones.

I dread starting over. I don’t want to have to share my life story with a new set of strangers. I don’t want to have to re-explain who people are when I tell stories from my past. And I realize this will happen even if I stay in CStat or move to another GCM campus church or back to Mizzou or whatever. I’m going to meet new people, and I actually enjoy making new friends. But only if I have some constants. Even moving to CStat was hard in that aspect because even though I had a few close friends there, I still had a support system to rebuild. I remember thinking to myself, “Crap. I have to find my new Amanda Craven (one of my closer female friends, peer discipler, and confidant).”

Anyway, now I’m just letting my fears out all over the page, which is silly because I know God is going to take care of me wherever I go. I will be okay if I stay in College Station. I will be okay if I end up moving to Montana or somewhere equally as random and far away. In fact, I will be better than okay. I will be great because the Lord’s plan for my life is more than my tiny, homesick mind can fathom. And if this post makes me sound miserable, don’t worry, I’m really not. I’m just excited that in five weeks I’ll be back in Texas. I’m going to enjoy my last five weeks here, but I’m also glad it’s only five weeks.

I just wanted to dispel this myth everyone keeps believing. I’m not that brave! I am only able to do this, to have this experience, because I trusted God with my summer. I know I’m supposed to be here, and it’s been really, really good for me. It’s been restful. It’s been professionally helpful. And it’s been revealing, socially and professionally, about what I want in the future. Just think. If I hadn’t come here this summer, this whole new experience might have been at my first job, which hopefully will last more than nine weeks. At least now I won’t be surprised by my homesickness in the future. I’m coming to terms with it. I don’t have to hide it out of my pride. I’m learning to accept my inherent need for true community, unconditional support, and deep friendship. And that’s worth nine weeks of missing.

Travel Tuesday: National Parks

I’m linking up again with Megan‘s Travel Tuesday party! I decided to join this week again because I have a special heart for this week’s prompt: Which is your favorite national park? What are your favorite activities to do in a national park?

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Now, the thing is… I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever been to one national park. But that national park had a huge impact on my life! And that national park is…

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colorado

During the summer of 2010, I moved to Estes Park, Colorado to work at the YMCA of the Rockies through a Christian leadership program called, well, Leadership Training through Great Commission Ministries, aka the ministry my churches at A&M and Mizzou belong to. That summer really changed my life in a lot of ways. I often think of my life as BLT and ALT, “Before LT” and “After LT.” You can read all about how LT affected my life here.

But back to the prompt: the YMCA of the Rockies is actually pretty much nestled in the Rocky Mountain National Park, or RMNP as we call it. I didn’t hike a ton during my time in Colorado, but when I did, it was in the park. I also had a lot of sweet times with Jesus and good friends in those mountains. And the views are absolutely spectacular. I sometimes had a hard time believing the scenery was real. It was just too beautiful. Thanks, God, for the amazing panoramas of nature!

So here are the top four things you should definitely do in the RMNP:

1. Hike
This is the most obvious activity, I would say. RMNP has a great variety of hiking trails ranging in what I would consider a leisurely walk to the tallest “fourteener” in the park, Long’s Peak. There are lots of other great mountain hikes, such as CCY, Mummy Marathon, and some other acronyms I can’t remember because I am not that great at hiking and didn’t do a lot of mountain hikes. Also check out lake hikes! I did Sprague Lake (uh… walk…), and Dream Lake, which takes you past Nymph Lake. That was a nice one for inexperienced but moderately sort-of in-shape people! Plus there are beautiful valley areas, such as Moraine Park.

2. Drive
Trail Ridge Road, which spans the park, is the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. Take a nice drive through the park and see the sights as you drive through the mountains. There are lots of places to get out and explore more. Check out the Hidden Valley, Alluvial Fan, and Bear Lake. Go sledding! Even when the signs tell you not to… uh… Or, better yet, go stargazing. The stars at 12,000 feet are probably better than you’ll ever see in most places in the U.S. (Hint: the park usually doesn’t have attendants after 10 or 11 p.m., so you can stargaze even if you don’t have a park pass! Just be careful driving on the windy roads.)

3. Work
Looking for something to do for a summer? Working in RMNP was great. I mean a lot of it wasn’t fun because I was a housekeeper at a touristy resort, but I really can’t complain about living in the mountains for 12 weeks and getting to explore the park and Estes on my days off. Plus housekeeping had it’s perks (free food, free stuff, nap times…) Pretty great way to spend a summer if I do say so myself!

4. Find God
The best thing I did during my summer in RMNP. Take a hike; take a Bible; take an instrument. Watch the clouds. Sit under a tree. Marvel.

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Travel Tuesday: Domestic Travel

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I am not usually one to do link-up weekly posts, but this week’s Travel Tuesday prompt from my friend Megan really got my thoughts stirring! What was the prompt, you ask?

“Do you think domestic traveling is really traveling?”

YES.

Now, I may be a little bit biased because I’ve never been outside of the United States (soon to change in three weeks!), but regardless, I think I can make a pretty good argument for while travelling domestically is really travelling.

My family vacations were always full of learning and seeing. We are not a sit on the beach family. At some points we have sat on the beach or in a mountain cabin, but there are always at least a few side trips to see a museum or attraction or monument or natural beauty. So I like my travelling busy and educational. That being said, there are a lot of fascinating, educational places in the US! I won’t bore you by telling you how many museums I’ve been to across the US (It’s a lot. Seriously. By my senior year in high school I broke down in grumpy, tired 17-year-old tears because I was tired of looking at “stuffed animals and rocks” everywhere we went… but normally I love that sort of thing! It had just been a lot of museums in a short amount of time… End side story.), but I will try to recap some of my favorite domestic trips over the years. Let’s try going east to west.

1. New York, New York
I went with my immediate family, aunt, uncle and cousins at the beginning on my senior year. I was so glad to finally visit such an iconic American city and see the sights (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, Museum of Natural History…), but I would never want to spend extended time there. Too concrete-y. Too busy. Fun for a visit though! I’d love to go back and catch some art museums and another show or two.

My baby brother looks like an INFANT here with Flat Stanley in the now-closed Tavern on the Green restaurant.

The New York skyline from the ferry to Ellis Island. Or maybe from an architecture cruise? Can't remember.

My first and only Broadway show!

2. Orlando, Florida
This wasn’t really an educational trip at all, but Disney World is one of my favorite places on earth! I’ve had the privilege to go twice: once in 7th grade with my extended paternal family and once in 9th grade on a high school band/orchestra trip. (No photos as these trips were all pre-Facebook/my Macbook. *gasp*)

3. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is my favorite city I’ve ever visited so far. It’s got the culture of New York with more midwestern charm. I’ve been fortunate to visit three times: an 8th grade orchestra trip, during summer before my senior year on a college visit to the University of Chicago and Northwestern, and a weekend trip in college. One of my favorite trips was in high school when my family took the Amtrak train from Ft. Worth, Texas all the way to Chicago. It was such a unique and fun experience eating in the dining car and sleeping in the sleep cars. I felt like Harry Potter!

A trip "the Bean" with my college friends.

The Chicago skyline in shadows from Sear's Tower... which is what it was called all three times I visited! Psh, Willis Tower...

Me in front of the Chicago skyline

4. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis was only two hours away from Columbia, where I did my undergrad, so I took several day trips there throughout my four years in Missouri. St. Louis has excellent free venues in Forest Park, including the science museum, the zoo, and an art museum. Another must-see is the St. Louis City Museum, which really isn’t a museum at all — it’s essentially a giant playground for children of all ages (and college students). And don’t forget to take a trip to the top of the arch, catch a Cards game, and eat some toasted rav on the Mississippi.

My grandma and I on a day trip to the Arch

Hanging out with some Mizzou and U of I friends at the St. Louis City Museum

5. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis wasn’t a vacation, per se, but I did love visiting the city for a week during my senior year of college. I went with my church on a mission trip to work with SOS Ministries in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis. It was so great to see the city from a non-tourist perspective and interact with the residents there as we fixed up houses. We did take a jaunt to Beale Street ne evening, so no worries. I got a few touristy things in. (No photos because I was in ill-fitting sweats covered in paint and feral cat poo for most of the trip. Glamourous, I know!)

6. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans was also not exactly a vacation. I visited last October for the 2011 National Orientation Directors Association national conference for my job. It was a lot of meeting and greeting and networking for this little introvert, but the conference was really great overall, and we got to visit New Orleans and eat several dinners on the university’s tab! Bourbon street and the French Quarter in general were a little too much for me (but the architecture and music and culture was fascinating from a distance!), but I enjoyed trying all the cuisine, including lots of Cajun food and delicious beignets. Plus I got to learn a lot about Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina through the Presbytere.

Visiting the French Quarter

Food!

6. Minnesota (St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Duluth — same trip)
For spring break of my sophomore year in college, I went with a large group of friends to Minnesota. Why the heck would I want to visit Minnesota in March, you ask? Well, I had friends who lived there and would be willing to put me up, and I’d never been to Minnesota! It was a lovely weekend with friends, exploring the frozen lake shores of Duluth and sitting under warm blankets watching Mizzou basketball in the NCAA tournament.

Modeling on the shores of Lake Superior

9. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
This one might not seem like travelling at all considering my hometown is smack between these two cities, but sometimes when we were in high school, our parents would take a day out of spring break to “visit” Dallas or Fort Worth to see the sites. Seeing the World Aquarium or the Dallas Museum of Art or the Fort Worth Stock Show was always a good time.

Hanging out with my Dallas-Mizzou friend Drew at the Nasher Sculpture Center

8. Austin, Texas
See previous post. Mmm. Love.

11. Colorado Springs/Denver/Evergreen, Colorado
My family used to take regularly summer vacations to Colorado where my uncle had a summer home. These were some of our “sit in a mountain cabin for a week” trips (playing horseshoes and darts, collecting rocks, playing in the hot tub), but we also would take day trips out from the cabin in Evergreen to the alpine slides in Golden, Tiny Town in Colorado Springs, or the US Mint in Denver.

Revisiting the alpine slides in Golden with my brothers this summer

10. Estes Park, Colorado
I lived here for a summer. And it was awesome. And I will probably write about it next week because Megan’s prompt is about your favorite National Park. (Rocky Mountain National Park for the win!)

Hiking to Dream Lake with my sibs and dad this past summer

Y'all. I LIVED HERE.

And I went sledding in June.

12. San Diego, California
Another family trip with my paternal extended family! Lovely time visiting the beaches and enjoying the perfect weather between my freshman and sophomore years of college, but we also enjoyed visiting a docked battleship and seeing the Olympic Training Center outside San Diego!

U.S.S. Midway with the sibs (That cardigan gave me an awkward sunburn.)

First time at the Pacific Ocean! (Awkward sunburn seen here)

So that concludes this week’s Travel Tuesday. I don’t necessarily plan on linking up every week, but if Megan keeps posting interesting prompts, I’ll keep writing!

525,600 minutes

Well, I am (unfortunately?) back in Texas. It’s nice to be back with regular access to cell service and computers, but the time away in the mountains had its perks: quiet, relaxation, family, friends, mountains, cool weather, etc.

Going back to the Y was weird. It was really good, but really weird. I haven’t been back there since August 7, 2010 — almost a year ago. Although it was all familiar and comfortable, it was also different. I belonged there, sort of. All the buildings were in the same place, but some of the furniture in the Admin has been rearranged. The mountains looked the same and the air had the same familiar smell, but the people there were different. While there were some familiar faces, there were also a bunch of new ones.

Like when I ate in the Spruce and Katy Welch didn’t greet me at the door. And the guy replacing the food on the line was not Barclay Bell. And the girl at the front desk wasn’t Alexandria Miller. The guy driving around in the B&G truck wasn’t Matt Beach. Allen Rivera wasn’t giving me ice cream at the Rustic, and Blanche Jacobson didn’t check out my stuff at the Craft Center. It was just weird.

Although LT 2010 seems like it just happened, in reality it’s been a year. 12 months. 365 days. And so much has happened in theat amount of time. As I sat in the Admin thinking back on all the conversations with various people I had there, I couldn’t help but think about how far I’ve come since the end of last summer.

This time last year…

  • I didn’t know where I’d be going to grad school.
  • I hadn’t planned a fall retreat. Or made enough food to feed 100 people at a Super Bowl party.
  • I didn’t know Amanda, Ben and Breezy as well as I do now.
  • I didn’t even know Katie, Michelle, Sam, Elaine and Allie existed.
  • I couldn’t tell Jason and Kyle apart.
  • I wasn’t as comfortable with sharing the gospel as I am now (though I’m still working on boldness for sure.)
  • I actually had never flat-out shared the gospel.
  • I hadn’t done canvas group follow-up.
  • In fact, I hadn’t been a canvas group equipper.
  • I had never led worship in canvas group.
  • I hadn’t missed a Mizzou football game.
  • I didn’t have a guitar.
  • I hadn’t admitted several things to myself.
  • I didn’t really think God could speak to me outside of reading the Bible and circumstances that just worked out a certain way.
  • I hadn’t explored the idea or read about spiritual warfare.
  • I didn’t really “get” the Holy Spirit. (Still working on understanding, but He’s making it clearer each day.)
  • No one I was close to was married or had children.
  • I didn’t have a degree in journalism.
  • I thought I’d be going back to LT this summer.
  • I had never seen more than a few inches of snow at once.
  • I had never been to Ohio (in my cognizant memory.)
  • I had never been on a mission trip.
  • I had never been to Tennessee.
  • I had never had a class with Jen Rowe.
  • I had never lived in my own apartment.
  • I had never carved a jack-o-lantern.

And of course those are just some of the random things I thought of at the time. So much more has happened, and all I can say is praise God!

A few weeks ago I was reading back through some old journals from the summer and last fall. There were several fears I was facing at the time, and it is amazing to see how God has worked through those fears and freed me of them!

So despite the fact that last summer seems like only moments ago, God has DONE WORK in the past twelve months. PTL.

And here are some photos. Because God made Colorado amazingly beautiful.

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Dangit, Target.

You know, parts of this summer have been long. For example, the 12 Freshmen and three Transfer New Student Conferences I’ve worked.

I’ve given the same 2-minute parent check-in spiel approximately 1500 times (actually a pretty accurate estimate) this summer.*

I’ve also answered the same questions a bazillion times (imaginative estimate).**

That being said, I don’t mean to complain at all. My job is pretty much the best thing I could have ever asked for. There are just parts of my summer job description that are a little… repetitive (i.e. counting and double T-shirts every day).

So as the summer’s winding down, I’m pretty dang excited to take a few days off and head up to Colorado for a long weekend. In preparation for the trip, I went to Target today with a mission: buy new earbuds.

My 4-year-old iPod’s earbuds have been in sad shape for a while. I bought new ones last spring, only to loose the smaller cushions that actually fit my ears properly before I could change them for the cushions that came on the earbuds. So they were constantly falling out of my ears, but I made do. Until I lost an ear cushion. So then I would listen through one bud. All in all, it was a janky mess. So with a few plane and car rides ahead of my, I decided to finally suck it up and spend the $20 for new earbuds that fit properly.

But of course, you really can’t go into Target and only buy one thing. In the words of my e-migos:

Gwen's not actually an e-migo because we went to Mizzou together, but we've mostly interacted online.

Kate, however, is the paragon of an e-migo.

So yes. I ended up getting much more than earbuds. But you know what? It’s okay because everything I got is either very functional, fills a need I had or is a little treat for me surviving the repetitive parts of the past nine weeks.

my Target spoils

1. a cross-body bag
I adore cross-body bags. I’m not a huge purse-girl, but I do like to have something to stick my keys, wallet and phone in on occasion. I just like to have my hands free, and cross-body bags are perfect for this! I have an adorable teal cross-body bag just big enough for my phone, wallet and keys, but when I have a book (like when I don’t want to play laser tag) (or my Bible and journal for church), my only alternative is a brown Jansport bag. Although it’s the perfect size for stashing books, it’s not very fancy or grown-up looking. It’s pretty much a mini backpack. So when I saw this cross-body bag the minute I walked into Target, I knew I had to have it. It’s the perfect size and look for my new semi-professional life. Love.

2. earbuds
What I came in for, and they fit like a dream!

3. affordable nail polish in the summer’s hottest color.

Catherine is a fellow Mizzou J-School alum and an editorial assistant at Allure Magazine. I trust her beauty knowledge. And although my polish isn't Essie, it's the same color at half the price.

4. a tiny cosmetic bag
I have been pining after a tiny bag for hair accessories when I travel. This one’s the perfect size. Check!

So dangit, Target. You got me this time, but I forgive you. It’s the little things.

And with that, I’m off to Colorado and leaving my laptop behind. I’m pretty excited to be in the mountains, see my sister, hang out with my family, catch up with my friends and spend some time reading for fun!

See you later next week!

*“Howdy! I have a few things for you today. First off, this is a family calendar. It lists important dates such as when classes start, when breaks begin and other important dates like that that you might want to know. Next, I have our conference schedule. If you open up to the inside, we have our Day 1 and Day 2 schedule. Anything with a black dot next to it is mandatory for students. And then here on the back is a check list of some important things you might want to take care of before you leave tomorrow. Next, I have a sign up sheet for our Family Member Listserv. This is a monthly email newsletter, so if you’d like to receive that, you can fill it out and return it to the Help Desk. And then this is a flier for our New Family Welcome Weekend. It’s the weekend of the Baylor football game, so if you’d like to come back and visit your student that weekend, you can read over the flier and register for our social events online or at the Help Desk. If you need tickets to tonight’s Family Dinner or tomorrow’s Howdy Lunch, you can get those in the lines to the right or at the doors of the event. We also have parent name tags by the elevators on the way out. Any questions?”

** The Questions:

  • Where is the Rudder Theater? (Go around the corner to your left. Go up the stairs, and it will be on your left.)
  • Where is the Rudder Auditorium? (On your right.)
  • Where is the help desk? (In the middle of the Zone and also in Rudder.)
  • Where can I buy lunch tickets? (I just told you you could buy them in the lines to your right or at the doors of the events. Ok, I don’t actually say, “I already told you…” I’m polite and cheerful!)
  • Where is 601 Rudder? (Take the elevator to the sixth floor.)
  • Where is the financial aid office? (It’s in the Pavilion, right next to the SCC.)
  • How do I get to the Student Computing Services? (Go out the doors and take a left. Follow the street as it curves to the left and to the right. This building here is a greenhouse. Turn left there and it should be on your right.)
  • How mandatory are these programs exactly? (Well, you will be held responsible for knowing all the information given in the mandatory sessions, so you should go.)

Meanwhile, back in College Station…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of significance about myself personally. So here’s a little catch up of what’s been going on in my life.

Must love dogs
In the past, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of dogs, mostly because my family dog, Molly, ruined all dogs for me. So it’s taken some time, but over the past year or six months, I’ve begun to warm back up to dogs.

This process was significantly sped up by the arrival of my friend Barclay‘s husky, Cobalt. It’s not that Cobalt isn’t somewhat cute, it’s just that Cobalt is the dog of one of my good friends, so I pretty much have to like him. Luckily the obligation part of liking him is slowly giving way to almost near genuine affection.The change in my feelings towards dogs has also been accelerated due to the fact that A&M’s mascot is a fluffy border collie, and I desperately want to meet her and take a photo with her.

Cobaltimore Bartlesby Bell, aka Cobalt

Reveille, the First Lady of Aggieland

*baby voice*
I have recently been surrounded by babies, which has been pretty heavenly. I love babies, so it’s been great to play with Ezra, Eva, Jackson and the babies in my church nursery. This weekend I get to go home and meet another baby, Elliot! (What’s with all the E-names this year? Must be this year’s trend.)

New and improved
I updated my “About Me” page and got a new header! You like? Now I just need to adjust my Twitter background…

Pass it back, Ags!
I met the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell Leaders and took a photo with them. Perks of my job/perks of my boss’s brother being a yell leader.

Thanks and gig 'em!

Awaken your wine
Today my friend and coworker Nick and I went to the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan because he likes wine, I want to learn more about it and he’s leaving Texas to go back to the Midwest in three days. $7 got us a tour of the winery, a sample wine glass and four wine tastings, though our tour guide ended up letting us try six wines since there were only four of us on the tour. The only bad thing about this whole deal was that the tour guide asked Nick and I

  • if we were married
  • if we were engaged
  • if we wanted to get engaged
  • if we wanted a room at the bed & breakfast

It was all in jest (I think), so it was more funny than awkward. I’m not entirely sure if the tour guide ever realized there were no romantic feelings between Nick and I, but despite all that, I still feel like $7 for the evening was a sweet deal. And I found out I like Port. Yum!

It all ends… 7.15
Tomorrow night I’m going to see the last Harry Potter movie. Crazy. We had a Harry Potter movie marathon and watched the first seven moves last week. It was a long 28 hours, but it was really fun.

Harry Potter was such a huge part of my junior high and high school identity. I went to several midnight book and movie releases, dressed up as Ginny Weasley more than socially acceptable, listened to Harry Potter podcasts on a weekly basis, studied for vocabulary tests using Harry-Potter-related sentences (It took me way too long to find that link)… I was a Potter-head if there ever was one.

My high school friends and I at the midnight release of the seventh book four years ago

It’s funny to think about what I did for the last several movies that came out. It’s definitely indicative of what stage of life I was in at the time…

  • Order of the Phoenix: Midnight release with Caleb and Angela
  • Half-Blood Prince: covered the midnight premier for the Columbia Missourian
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1: watched it the Saturday after it came out and immediately left town to visit College Station when it was over
  • Deathly Hallows Part 2: midnight premier with my new A&M friends

Dearly beloved
It seems that I might be reaching the life season of weddings. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two people in my new A&M homegroup, and this weekend I’m heading back to the DFW for my dear friend Angela’s wedding. I wonder who will be next in this season of life! (Probably Thomas & Shelby in January… but after that, who knows!)

Rocky mountain high
In just a little over a week, I will be en route to the Rocky Mountains to visit my sister and all my friends working out at the YMCA of the Rockies: Estes Park Center for Colorado LT 2011. I am beyond pumped to escape the Texas heat, hang out with my favorite (i.e. only) sister and catch up with my dear, dear Mizzou Mark Twain Canvas Group loves!

So in the end, that was still somewhat of a lame post, but at least it wasn’t about the Ambien Walrus. Maybe I’ll write something of spiritual depth and fortitude soon. Until then, this is what’s been up with me!