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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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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Local Adventures: A Night at the Drive-In

drive inNestled between Georgia mountains and resting under the big starry sky is a beautiful place: The Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater.

Marshall and I went there at the beginning of this summer, and it was perfect. For $7 a piece we could park under the stars and cozy in for two feature films still in theaters.

Not only was it romantic, but talk about a cheap date! We left after the first film (The Amazing Spider Man 2) because of the long drive back to Tennessee, but we both felt like we got more than our money’s worth.

Whether or not you’re with a significant other, going to a drive-in movie is an awesome experience. There’s nothing like laying in a truck bed or on the hood of your car, being surrounded by beautiful scenery and feeling like you’ve stepped back into the 1950s. It’s perfect for summer.

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Wherever you are, I highly recommend that you find the closest drive-in theater and make the trip.

Outdoor theater’s are typically only open during warmer months, so grab some friends and take advantage of thisf local adventure this summer! I promise it’ll be an evening for the photo albums.

Have you ever been to a drive-in? Tell me about it in the comments!
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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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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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