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. 

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Surviving a Small-Town Summer by Marshall Pickard

Today, Marshall steps in to share secrets to not only survive, but enjoy a summer spent in your small hometown. Check out his tips!

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As someone who earnestly believes that vacationing is the secret to a successful life, it’s no surprise my family almost always spends some of our summer lounging on a beach.

However, after an incredible semester in England, Florida just wasn’t in the budget this year, so I’ve spent much of summer working in my small college town.

At first, the Instagram pictures of my friends at the ocean or the Eifel Tower or the mountains bothered me.  But then I decided to have an amazing summer right where I was, even if it was a little lonely and stripped of an ocean breeze.

So in case you as well are too busy working or studying to vacay this year (and don’t exactly live in Metropolis), here’s what I learned about staying planted for a small-town summer:

Enjoy local treats.  Especially if the community you’re occupying for the summer is your hometown, this tip might seem useless.  However, no matter how familiar you are with a place, there are always local treasures to seek out and discover.  Celebrate what makes your little town unique!  I’ve personally enjoyed rediscovering my city’s Greenway, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and hometown froyo shop.

Invest time in yourself.  There’s no time like the summertime to get some good moments alone.  When your friends are off traveling the world, you can really enjoy some restorative introverted moments (even if you aren’t an introvert).  Take yourself on a date or spend quality time developing yourself by reading or exercising—both of which I’ve gotten to treasure this summer.

Pursue your passion.  In the quietness of this summer, I’ve found so many more opportunities to go after my favorite thing to do—writing.  Whether you love art or music or sports, there’s nothing like actually carving out the time to do things you really enjoy.  Hey, you might even need to declare a staycation one weekend to catch up on your favorite pastime.

Take day trips to the city.  One of the best things about living in a small town is that you don’t have to deal with the busyness of big tourist attractions.  But every once in a while, you need some fast-paced adventure, and more than likely, there’s at least one city remotely near you (hopefully).   By avoiding cost of a hotel room, day-tripping is a decently inexpensive way to see a city.  In the nearest city, you can catch a concert, stroll through the hipster art district, eat at a nice restaurant, or see your favorite regional sports team play ball—and still get to sleep in your own bed that evening.

Enjoy nature.  Just because you can’t go to beach (unless of course, you live near a beach), doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors.  If you live in a small town, there’s bound to be a river, a lake, or a forest nearby for you to take some chill time exploring.  Shoot, the least you can do is take your lunch break in a nearby park.  However nature speaks to you, don’t forget to spend peaceful (and probably cheap) time outdoors.

Practice gratitude.  Humans have this tendency to always be thinking about the “next thing,” so it’s no surprise you’re going to be tempted to ditch the job/schoolwork and hop on a plane to do something more exciting.  But as long as you allow yourself to think this way, you’ll never be content.  What will make you enjoy the rest of your summer is focusing on the good things you have in your life right now.  There are probably a lot more than you realize.

As the summer begins to fade, don’t waste any time daydreaming about distant adventures.  I hate to break it to you, but even travel doesn’t bring complete satisfaction.  You have to find that right where you are.

So dig into your small town, live like a local, and appreciate all the blessings you have to be thankful for right here and right now.

I Don’t Want to Explore Oxford

I wrote this piece last month while traveling through Europe for five weeks.

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I’m in Oxford, UK, and I don’t want to explore. Actually, exploring Oxford is the last thing I want to do right now.

Here’s the deal:
On a family trip to Colorado a few years ago, my mom and two brothers wanted to sit in a coffee shop and relax (I’ve heard it’s called “vacationing”), while my dad and I, ever the adventures, wanted to get out and see some of the beautiful state we were visiting.

So we left the lazy bums behind and headed to Black Canyon, which was covered in snow and SCARY slippery for us flatlanders. We almost died trying to see the view, but in the end we were left with a great memory.

From that moment on I’ve always poked fun at those who go to exotic places and choose to simply sit in a coffee shop or relax in their hotel rather than exploring.

Why would you waste your time doing nothing?

Well today, with one foot in my mouth, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Oxford, UK, where I am simply sitting with no plans of exploring this quaint and historic university town.

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The C.S. Lewis nature reserve in Oxford

Usually I get up with the sun and hit the city, exploring as many streets as me feet can bear to take me down.

But today I can’t. Today, I’m tired. Really, really tired.

I’m tired of being on the go constantly, tired of a strict itinerary and, as much as I hate to say it, tired of sightseeing.

Today I need to rest, and more than that, I need to be okay with giving myself that luxury, even though it’s against every part of my nature.

Two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. I don’t need to see every site, learn every historical fact or take every artsy Instagram picture I can to experience all that a city has to offer.
2. If I want to keep traveling, keep sightseeing and keep up this pace, I need to take a break.

Although my schedule allows me to see amazing sights and experience even more of Europe than I even imagined, it isn’t sustainable. And it’s okay to give myself time to catch up.

IMG_6711And hey, if there’s anywhere I’m going to just sit in a coffee shop, read and write, what better place than Oxford? Some of my favorite authors spent time in this very city doing exactly what I’m doing today.

So, to anyone I’ve ever mocked or looked down upon for relaxing instead of exploring, I’m sorry. While I still don’t think spending an entire trip on your bum is the way to go, I now recognize that rest and rejuvenation are more than necessary to keep going.

And PS, I did end up exploring Oxford once my weary little soul was rested, and I loved it! Definitely a trip highlight that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was still exhausted.

How do you find rest when you’re traveling? Any tips for this newbie? 
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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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Travel Adventures: Greece in Photos

GREECE – the next stop on my five week European adventure! I can’t even begin to describe all of the sites I saw in Greece, so instead I’ll show you.

But for fun, here are a few highlights: I danced with the Greeks, made animal friends, had a view of the Acropolis from my hotel, beached on Santorini Island & Crete, stood where St. Paul stood on Mars Hill and in Ancient Corinth, shopped till I dropped, ate gyros…lots of them, discovered the beauty of GREEK frozen yogurt, let fish eat at my feet, slept on a ferry boat, saw so many ancient ruins I began to wonder why I wasn’t wearing a toga, danced on the port of Crete, hiked to the top of Santorini Island and Ancient Delphi and finally, I said goodbye to my school friends and met up with my sister-in-law and mom to begin the second leg of this wonderful adventure.

Greece, I love you.
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Next stop: Paris!Blog signature

Travel Adventures: Italy in Photos

Hi friends!

I can’t believe I’m already in my fourth week here in Europe, yet at the same time my first week back in Italy feels like months ago. I’ve struggled to find time to write on this trip, but it’s somewhat of a happy struggle because I’ve had such wonderful, full days soaking up every bit of Europe I can.

So for now I thought I’d go way back to my first week in Italy and share some of my favorite photos. Check out snaps from my time in Rome and Florence below and stay tuned for similar photo stories from Greece, Paris, England and Ireland!
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Photo Credit: Haylee Robinson and my trusty iPhone.
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What Are You Doing This Summer? Share Your Adventures With Me!

If you haven’t already, read about my upcoming summer adventures here.

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I’m leaving in just two short days for Europe! I’m so excited, and instead of freaking out about how much I have left to get done in the next few days, I wanted to propose something to you.

This summer is going to be the biggest adventure of my life.

Maybe your summer looks even more exciting than mine, or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, I want these next few months to be an adventure for you, too.

Not every summer can we pack our bags for three months and travel the world. The opportunities came along for me this year, so I took them. But I know there will be summers when life isn’t this exciting.

I’m sure there will be summers when I’ll have to work and stay in one place. But when those summers come, I will do everything I can to make sure they are still an adventure.

And that’s what I want you to do.

I want you, no matter where you are, to make this summer an adventure.

Smoky Mountain ziplining!

Are you working at home this summer? Use your time off to explore your hometown! Discover things around you that you never knew existed, and who knows what you could find.

Are you traveling this summer? Make the most of it. Choose joy even when you’re tired, and cherish every moment.

Lastly, I want you to share your adventures with me. Tell me what you’re doing. I want The College Cosmopolitan to become a community of people, both men and women, who find adventure wherever they are.

Document your adventures this summer. Take pictures, make videos and write about your favorite moments. Then send them to me.

I want nothing more than to have a collection of adventures in my inbox all summer long. Let’s make this corner of the Internet interactive. Let’s start sharing and create a community of cosmopolitans.

People go on crazy journeys all the time and often don’t get the chance to share their stories as fully as they’d like to. I want this blog to be a place where you can exhaust your stories and give them what they deserve.

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Are you in? Email your stories to me with the subject “My Summer Adventure,” or post them onto The College Cosmopolitan Facebook page. Also, how about we start a hashtag? Tag your Insta/Twitter/Facebook photos with #MySummerAdventure {and be sure to tag me!}

Besides that there are no rules. Just find adventure. Whether you are in your hometown or serving in Cambodia, like my roommate, I want to hear about how you are making the most of this summer.

Give your stories what they deserve. Share them with me, and hey, maybe I’ll share them with others here on the blog!

Let’s see what we can get ourselves into this summer.
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This Summer: Want to Come on an Adventure with Me?

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I’ve got a bit of news to share with you today. Really, really exciting news!

This summer is my summer of travel. 

It’ll start with five weeks in Europe. For two weeks I’ll study abroad with my school (and Haylee!) in Italy and Greece, and for three weeks I’ll backpack through the UK with my mom and sister-in-law. Talk about a dream come true!

After I return from Europe I’ll have a few days at home before flying off to Redding, California for a two week long worship training school at Bethel Church. I’m am so beyond excited for this opportunity, and if I’m honest, a little intimidated.

I’ve always wanted legit worship leading training. I led worship for my church in high school because, well, I was the only option and could play keyboard decently well. I loved the experience, so I’m thrilled to have actual training under my belt {with Brian and Jenn Johnson!}, even though I’m nervous.

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circa 2010

After California I’ll have another week home before heading to Guatemala with my church. We’ll be holding an International Leaders School of Ministry for pastors and missionaries on the field. Our heart is to minister to the spiritual leaders of the nation so that they can better pour into the people of Guatemala.

If you’re interested, you can help fund my trip to Guatemala here. I appreciate any and all support!

I’ll return from Guatemala on August 6 and head back to Tennessee for my senior year of college. And that’s my summer! Crazy.

I am aware that I am incredibly blessed to have even one of these incredible opportunities come my way. The fact that all three of them are working out completely floors me.

Thanks to the beauty of scheduled posts, I will still have fresh blogs for you twice a week.

I will also pop in with quick updates from my travels as often as I can, and once I’m back at school I’ll write more about my experiences. But if you want to keep track of me over the summer daily, be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram.

I’m so excited for the adventure that this summer will be, and I want to take The College Cosmopolitan community along the ride with me.

What does your summer look like? How are you finding adventure?
Photo by Haylee Robinson.
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