I’ve Moved!

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Hey friends! Long time no talk, right? That’s because I moved to TheCollegeCosmopolitan.com! I made the move a few months ago and thought I set everything up to transfer my followers over, but lately I’ve noticed that this site still gets some traffic! So I’m officially popping in to redirect you all to my much newer and prettier site. 🙂 Lots of exciting things are happening over there, so I’d love it if you joined me!

Why I’m Not in Guatemala

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Remember when I first wrote about my Summer of Travel and announced that this summer I’ll visit Europe, California and Guatemala?

Well, change of plans: my trip to Guatemala is cancelled.

For many reasons, mostly due to bad timing, the church rescheduled the trip for November, which I won’t go on because I’ll be in school.

When I found out I had two very different reactions. My first reaction, as much as I hate to admit it, was relief.

After five weeks of non-stop travel in Europe, only six days of rest and then another two weeks in California, my body, soul and mind are just done.

I knew that another trip would leave me even more exhausted and not at all ready for the quickly approaching fall semester.

And I know this is my favorite topic lately, but I need time to process all that has happened this summer. My head is still spinning from events that took place in May! I need time to ponder, evaluate and unpack all that all that I’ve learned.

How did this experience change me? What does that change mean, and what does it practically look like to incorporate it into my daily life?

We have to process through experiences and feelings in order to make them more than mere sightseeing excursions. 

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Traveling is about more than seeing pretty places. It’s a beautiful way to learn and widen our view of the world, and when we aren’t treating it like an edifying journey, we cheapen our experience and waste frequent flyer miles.

When we give ourselves time to process everything we’ve seen and learnt, we can discover new truths about our beliefs and ourselves. Then, we can pack those truths into a metaphorical daypack (go with me) to carry around on the rest of our journey.

Our journey, whether it looks like traveling to distant lands or navigating daily life, can become connected. We don’t have to leave our incredible experiences in the past; longing for the day we can hop on another plane and set off on another incredible adventure.

You can continue your adventure right where you are by processing the experience and applying what you learned.

Don’t leave truths in the exotic places where you discovered them. Take them with you, and then, instead of constantly reminiscing and longing for your past adventures, you can live a thankful, present-minded life.

So friends, give yourself time to process your adventures. Look for lessons and find the hidden truths.

As much as I was looking forward to my trip to Guatemala, I’m thankful for the time to process and write through the most incredible summer of my life.

How do you process? What truths have you learned through your travels?

On Thursday I’ll talk about my second reaction to the cancelled trip: what to do when you lose an adventure. 

Photo Credit: Guatemalan volcanos from Anna Eaton; Florence, Italy by Haylee Robinson. 

What I’m Reading on the Web

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Hey friends!

I just got home from two weeks in Redding, CA at Bethel Church’s worship school. It was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to write about, but first…rest.

My mind  and body both need a little breather before I dive in, so in the mean time I’ve been catching up with blogs and articles circling the web this week.

Here’s are my three favorite articles that I’m reading on this day (ok, two days) of rest.

1. Networking for Introverts by Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Why I like it: I get lectured about networking all the time during the school year, and this piece was a great way to sharpen up those skills even though school is out. It’s also great for newbies like me who may be a little intimidated by this whole networking thing.
Favorite line: “If the connection is real, it won’t require a calendar reminder.”

2. What I Instagram vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie by Olivia Muenter
Why I like it: This lighthearted and sarcastic piece reveals a truth that most selfie-lovers are afraid to admit: we stage our Instagram posts to make our lives look prettier. This piece will make you laugh and think twice before you post your next gym selfie.
Favorite line:  “I start my day with green tea and fresh fruit everyday, at the crack of dawn. I like to check my emails as the sunrises, right before I head to yoga.”

3. Love and Lynchburg by Lexie Daché
Why I like it: I met Lexie and the Living Room Writers Weekend back in May, and I’ve loved following her blog ever since. Her writing is authentic and captivating, and I love the way she wrestles with life and always offers hope in the end. Her latest post, “Love and Lynchburg,” is definitely my new favorite.
Favorite line: “Physical surroundings and dream jobs and cool people are no comparison for God’s presence.”

Bonus: Fairytales are Real: These 12 Photos Will Change the Way You Look At the World by World of Wanderlust
Just because I felt like throwing a little pixie dust into the mix. Sometimes, when you’re as worn out as I am, it’s just nice to look at pretty things and dream.

Enjoy! I’ll be back soon with brand new adventures and stories to share with you.

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My 5 Favorite College Cosmopolitans

Today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite people. There are friends who one way or another, embody what it means to be a college cosmopolitan. If you haven’t already, read about what The College Cosmopolitan is all about here.

Caroline K

Caroline KI’ve lived with Caroline for my entire college career. Little did I know when we were randomly assigned as roommates that I’d gain a same-named best friend. More than that, she’s my confidant, biggest cheerleader and the girl I can question life with.

She also embodies a cosmopolitan lifestyle because of her beautifully simplistic, yet full, way of life.
She also doesn’t ask for much, but yet she is open and vulnerable when she needs to be.

She makes her own way and grapples with questions until she’s found her own satisfying answers. In the past three years, she’s gained the ability to accept everyone no matter their lifestyle, and that’s a trait that I think could take her all over the world.

JennaJenna

My friend Jenna is the queen of pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.

She spent a summer studying in Oxford, England in high school before moving thousands of miles away from her hometown in Texas to Malibu, California for college.

After a year in Malibu, she dove head first into a year long study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Talk about a citizen of the world!

I love catching up with Jenna when we’re both home in Texas and hearing stories from her travels. With each new adventure there is an evident change that takes place inside of her. She grows, transforms and becomes more herself each time she explores another piece of the world.

ZACHZach

My younger brother Zach is making West Texas laugh a little harder, one stand-up comedy routine at a time.

He moved away from our suburban paradise of a hometown last year to the crux of small town Texas: Lubbock. And he loves it!

He’s truly made a home for himself in his college town, and even though he’s only a freshman he’s pioneered several new comedy initiatives at his school. He definitely isn’t afraid to put himself out there. He also lived in the Middle East for three months. No big deal.

MarshMarshall

This ever-so-handsome guy that I’m dating is a great example of a cosmopolitan.

He spent three months studying abroad in the UK this past semester, and even though his time was limited, he still got involved in a church and experienced life as a local when he went on a weekend retreat with the college group.

Along with pretty pictures of historic places and souvenirs, he returned to the US with new friends and a broader understanding of the people that make up our world.

DebDeborah

Deborah inspires me as a college cosmopolitan not because she moved out of state for college, or even that she spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria (although that is pretty dang awesome), but because after high school she chose to take a year off and stay home, and she rocked it.

She had plenty of options after graduation, but she chose the one that would prepare her best for her future, and after a year of nannying she was able to pay for her entire first year of college.

What I love most about her story is that in that year, even though she wasn’t in a new place, she grew. She met new people and experienced things for the first time in her own hometown.

She embodied what it means to grow where you’re planted. She didn’t need anything but time and a little space to look inside of her and figure out who she is.

Who are the cosmopolitans in your life? Tell me about them! 

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I’m in Redding! …or, What To Do When You Have No Clue How You Got Here

So….Europe. Wow, Europe.

I touched ground in America just six short days ago, but right now I’m not writing to you from home, where I would normally be resting, cuddling with puppies and spending time with my family. Instead I’m sitting on a grey love seat in a house I’ve rented with five roommates in Redding, California for the next two weeks.

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How did I get here? And why so fast?
The honest answer is this: I don’t know.

I know that I’ve wanted to come to Bethel Church’s Worship U for awhile now, but I still couldn’t quite tell you why. I lead worship for years growing up, but then I went to college and church got hard (you can read my church story here), so I’m not currently on a worship team.

But still, when the opportunity came up to attend the two week school this summer, I knew I had to take it. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever just known  you’re suppose to be somewhere, do something or act in someway?

I know I need to be here.

So even though I’m exhausted, and I’ve barely been able to process the incredible and overwhelming past five weeks, I’m here. And I’m so excited.

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I’m excited to learn about songwriting, playing keys in a worship band and leading others into the presence of God. I’m excited to share the next two weeks with my five wonderful roommates and figure out what we are all doing here together. I’m excited to find rest in the midst of a hectic schedule. I’m excited to let the Lord revive my heart for worship.

I’m so excited for this season, even if I’m barely keeping up with the pace.

Friends, if you don’t know how you got to be where you are, get excited about it anyway. Realize that there is a reason you’re there, and you never know how or when your life can change.

“If you have no mystery in your life you are reducing your God to the same level of understanding as you.” -Bill Johnson

Let God surprise you, and enjoy the crazy, messy, confusing and mysterious ride.

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A Formula for the Perfect Weekend

Here’s a question for you: what makes the perfect weekend?

This past school year was a hectic one for me, and there were definitely weeks when I was living for the weekend. I couldn’t wait to get off work (read: internship) on Friday and brush off the stressful week with a perfect weekend.

So, what makes this perfect weekend? I came up with a formula for what I think creates a beautiful, refreshing and fun three day break.

Here it is:

Perfect weekend

Let’s break this down.

Urban:

Everyone needs to get dressed up and go out for a night on the town when they get the chance. Whether you’re going to your favorite restaurant, seeing a play, shopping or just talking a walk downtown, urban city experiences are a great way to forget about your stressful week and have some fun.

Nature:

Another great way to leave your stress behind is to get out in nature and take a break from the world. Take a hike, hit the lake, go fishing or just take a minute to sit outside and observe the beauty. An experience in nature will also give you time and space to notice the beauty all around you and become more thankful in the process.

Maybe you feel rested after you’ve challenged yourself physically. If that’s the case, make your hike a more strenuous one, go for an outdoor run or jump in a kayak.

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Retreat:

Take yourself even further away and give yourself some time to relax. Take a few deep breaths, and do something that brings you peace. Worship, read a book, paint a picture, write, exercise or maybe just catch up on some sleep. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, everyone needs alone time to recharge and gear up for what’s ahead.

Use this time to process your week, prepare for the next one and just enjoy being with yourself.


The great thing about this formula is that you can make it your own. It could look like hitting the town on Friday night, paddle boarding on the lake on Saturday morning and reading a new novel on Sunday afternoon. Or it could be camping on Friday night, having a chill movie night on Saturday and shopping on Sunday.

Each activity could be a day long event or just a small moment tucked in between your work schedule and homework. Whatever you do just make sure you find fun, beauty and rest.

Happy weekending!

How do you spend your weekend? What ways do you find fun, beauty and rest? 
Photo of Chilhowee Mountain by Haylee Robinson.
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What Does it Mean to Feel Alive?

Warning: I’m a wee bit more spiritual with this piece that usual. Whatever your background, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post with an open mind.

Last month on a plane taking me from Texas to Tennessee, I read an article in Marie Claire about actress Shailene Woodley, and at the end of the article she told journalist Gaby Wood:

“I feel very alive right now. More alive than I’ve ever felt.”

And I wonder, what does it mean to feel alive? And how do we feel more alive in some seasons of life than others?

Were we dead before? Or not living fully?

For Shailene, feeling alive came after she took a break from working. Do we feel more alive when we are striving less?

From a Christian perspective, this is my conclusion:

I think it has to do with joy.

When we feel joy.
When we have joy.
When we know joy.
That’s when we feel alive.

For some context, you can read about my take on joy and why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life here.

Joy, when we let it, can be like a loyal friend that we travel through life with. The friendship isn’t based on circumstances, success or even “having it all together.” Joy, once we learn to value it, will always stick around.

And when we have joy, we come alive. We come alive not because our work, social or spiritual life is flourishing. We come alive because in whatever we do, we have joy.

Having joy looks different for different people, and in different situations. Sometimes it’s simple: you love where you are and who you are, so you are naturally joyful.

Other times it isn’t so easy. You are less than passionate about your current situation, so instead of it coming naturally, you have to find joy. You have to pursue it.

If this is you, I challenge you to do one thing: pursue joy. Choose to find it and keep it.

For a Christian, pursuing joy means pursuing the Lord, the giver of our hope and joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

There was a time in my life that happiness wasn’t present. I was lost and didn’t know who I was, but because the Lord was still with me, holding onto me even in my desperation, there was joy.

Happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. Joy is an eternal journey.

Keeping joy, once you’ve found it, is easier than you’d think. It’s like maintaining a relationship with your closest friend: it’s natural and almost second nature. You must simply choose it.

Wherever you are, find joy. You may love your current city, job, friend group and self right now, or you may not. Pursue joy anyway, and you will feel alive.

You will be thankful, passionate and loving with joy by your side.

With joy, you can rest. You can strive less and let go of perfectionism. And I think that’s what Shailene Woodley found. Her spiritual life is different from mine, and I don’t know if she pursued the Lord to find her rest, but it was still rest that made her feel more alive than she’s ever felt.

For Christians, finding rest happens when we let the down our walls, let go of the need to perform and let the Lord love us fully. That’s where true joy lies. That’s where we are completely alive.
Photo credit: Fashion Scans Remastered. 
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You’re Never Too Old for an Adventure with Your Dad

Father’s Day just passed, but unfortunately I couldn’t be with my dad to celebrate because I’m in Europe (being in Europe is not unfortunate, but I still miss my dad).

Even though we weren’t together, throughout the day I thought about the adventures that my dad and I have been on, and I was once again thankful for the thrill-seeking, adventurous spirit that he passed on to me.

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Colorado, 2012

My dad loves discovering new things, going to new places and challenging himself. I like to think that most of my thirst for memory-making experiences comes from him.

Over the last few years we’ve travelled the country together from behind the steering wheel of my truck. We’ve explored Texas hill country together, road tripped to Colorado (where we almost died at the Black Canyon) and spent close to 100 hours on I-10 driving from Texas to Tennessee and back, talking about life and listening to Elvis Presley.

As I was thinking about my dad yesterday I realized that most of my solo adventures with him happened after I went to college.

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The family, missing two brothers, one sister-in-law, one dog and two cats.

Sure, we had tons of great times before then, but it wasn’t until I moved 900 miles away that I realized how much I appreciate these adventures with my dad. Each new experience lets me get to know him better and simply spend some much needed time with him.

You’re never too old for an adventure with your dad.

At least I never will be. The man rode my first roller coaster with me, taught me how to drive, instilled me with faith and sings “Sweet Caroline” to me every chance he gets. I will always seek out adventures with my dad, and I can bet that he’ll always be on board.

It may be the day after Father’s Day, but there’s no time like the present to go on an adventure with your good ole dad. How do you make memories with your dad? 
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Why I’m Passionate About Finding Adventure in Everyday Life

I wrote this piece in May at my writer’s weekend with Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel. 

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This weekend I’m at the Living Room Writer’s Weekend in Atlanta, hosted by The Lipstick Gospel. Stephanie invited women bloggers in all stages of blogging life to join her for a weekend of authenticity, fellowship and blog talk (and lots of starburst).

I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks for blogging success, but most of all I’ve learned that my story matters, and it deserves to be shared. This blog typically focuses on guides for living adventurously, but today I want to tell you why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life in the first place.

Here goes:

For me, finding adventure in everyday life is all about joy.

There was a time in my life when everything sucked. I was 16, and like plenty of other dramatic 16-year-olds, I had no clue who I was. I abandoned all of my friends for my absolute-gonna-have-a-double-wedding-and-live-in-a-nursing-home-together best friend, and for many reasons, that friendship didn’t last.

When our friendship “broke up,” I was devastated and had no clue where or who to turn to.

The year before I gave up on my lifelong dream of becoming a professional ballerina and left the pre-professional dance company that I had given my life too.

circa 2009. Obviously I wasn’t the only one in the family going through an identity crisis.

So at 16, friendless and lacking all passion, I had no clue who I was.

There was no happiness in my life. Just bitter and pitiful loneliness.That’s when Joy (yes, with a capital J) stepped in. The Lord took me by surprise that year and gave me a boundless sense of joy that, even when everything in my life was going to hell, let me see the bright side of every situation.

Simply put: I started delighting in the Lord despite the crap in my life, and he filled me with joy.

I found myself smiling without reason, loving myself more and even dreaming about the future, something I had given up on. By the time I turned 17 nothing could stop me.

Having no friends just gave me an opportunity to make new ones, and having no passions meant I could try anything I wanted.

{I quickly found out that basketball isn’t for me, but I did find a new passion when I picked up the guitar!}

Even though pains from the past were still there, I had an insatiable sense of joy.

Now I honestly believe that joy can be found in any situation. What I went through is definitely not the most heartbreaking or desperate situation anyone has ever walked through, but the Lord still promised me joy, and He hasn’t let me down.

There is always joy in the Lord, and where there is joy, there is adventure.

I really do believe that when you’re looking through the lens of joy, adventure can be found anywhere. That’s what The College Cosmopolitan is about.

The College Cosmopolitan is not about trying to make your life more exciting or your Instagram pictures more envy-eliciting. It’s about joy.

Do you relate to my story? How do you find joy?

Photo Credit: Haylee Robinson and Opal Massey
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Local Adventures: Hometown Summer Bucket List

DSC_0022So you’re staying in town this summer. Maybe you’re working, in summer school or want to spend time with your family. Whatever your reason, this summer can still be a great adventure.

Remember, adventure is everywhere. Sometimes you just have to find it.

Here’s a hometown summer bucket list to get you started:

  1. Go to a drive-in movie
  2. Paddle board, kayak or canoe on your closet body of water
  3. Jump your heart out at a trampoline park
  4. Have a picnic at your favorite hometown park (and if there’s a swing set, you better be on it)
  5. Go on a sunrise hike
  6. Host a cook-out
  7. Initiate a family night
  8. Be a tourist – find something new in your hometown that you never knew existed
  9. Be a thrill seeker – spend a day at your closest amusement/water park
  10. Shop locally – farmers markets and locally owned boutiques and restaurants are a great source of hometown pride
  11. See a local band play/go to a house concert
  12. Have a bonfire (with s’mores!)
  13. Plan a reunion with high school friends
  14. Road trip to your college friend’s hometown
  15. Bike or walk through your hometown one day instead of driving
  16. Discover a new local nonprofit and volunteer
  17. Take an outdoor yoga class
  18. Sidewalk chalk. You’re not too old.
  19. Visit your grandparents
  20. Write down your adventures, and send them to me!

Use this list and find an unexpected adventure in your own hometown. What’s unique to your town? Take advantage of it this summer. And then tell me all about it! {seriously, I really want to know}
Photo by Haylee Robinson

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