Posts Tagged With: america

Summer Haze-My Inability to Actually Keep up With Anything

It is a proven fact in my life that as soon as school is over I am incapable of actually accomplishing anything, which includes remembering to keep my blog updated, write in my journal, or complete summer work more than a few hours before it’s due.

So, quick recap: After my adventures in Abingdon I spent a few days in Virginia Beach where I went to the boardwalk, and explored the Chrysler Museum. I then took a very long drive up to Albany New York where I wondered and got lost in New York City, boated on the Hudson (where I very nearly got seriously injured in a male pride field boating accident), went to the drive in, and rode horses through beautiful green fields. Then I was off on a two day drive to Cocoa Beach Florida where I spent most of my time lying on the beach working on my tan, reading, and doing homework (If I could go one summer without having to take online classes I think I would die of happiness). Then I stopped in Boone North Carolina where I wondered the streets of cute little towns and explored caves barefoot. After this found myself in Knoxville Tennessee where I went to tea at the a lovely Parisian tea room, and had pie at a tiny pie shop with two of my favorite woman. Then my friend and I traveled up to Indianapolis for my other friend’s bridal shower, and then another two day trip brought me back to Colorado and back to my childhood home for a few weeks.

Phew! That was quite the journey let me tell you. Now I am finally back in my home state for, at this point three more weeks before I’m off on a plane to Europe for a whole new adventure. Now to get back to my five page paper that I haven’t even started.

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Becoming A Star…Maker-Abingdon Virginia 

Since I was fifteen I have been dreaming about performing on The Barter stage. I had dreams of being an actor there, of singing and dancing on main stage. Of acting my heart out on stage two, so when one of my dear friends told me that she was hired to work tech for their production of Mary Poppins, I jumped at the chance to work on a Barter show. My friend’s father is a part-time actor there, and she often works on shows when she’s in town. I had driven up for a visit, and ended up with a two-day job, which was absolutely fine by me.

In my time there I set up lighting in their summer tent, painted a set piece, made stars that lit up the nursery in one of the numbers, and helped adjust some lighting. Over all it made me realize A) how much I miss being involved in theatre full-time, and B) how much I still love The Barter after all these years.

After all the work was done we were able to attend the preview of Mary Poppins, and oh wow was it great. Even at a preview where everything was not completely polished the show was wonderful. It’s bright and beautiful, and fun. The dancing in incredible and the singing is great, and of course the acting is top-notch. If you are anywhere near Abingdon this summer I suggest you buy yourself a ticket and indulge in some childhood Disney Magic.

Later that night we attended the premier of the two person play, Mary’s Wedding, playing on stage two. It is a beautiful play about a WWI solider and the girl he left at home. Portrayed as a dream that Mary is having the night before her wedding, you follow the couple from their first meeting and through their love, as they are separated by family, war, and their own pride. It was a beautiful show that left us all in tears. The two actors who play Mary and Charlie are brilliant, I highly recommend the show.

Now let’s talk food, because we all know that food is a big part of my life. First afternoon there we went to Caprese which is this hole in the wall Greek/Italian joint. I had the garlic knot and the Spanakopita, and both were delicious. It was a bit hot because I don’t think their air conditioning worked, but the man who worked there was incredibly nice and the food was good. The next morning we woke up and went to Zazzy’z for coffee. This place has maybe the best coffee (Although oh my cow their dirty Chai is even more amazing) I’ve ever had and that’s saying a lot because there are some dang good coffee places in JC. If you are ever in Arlington, if you do nothing else get coffee at Zazzy’z. For lunch we went to an oldy but a goody, Pop Ellis’. Pop’s is someplace I’ve been going to since I was fourteen, it is the one place I make sure to stop by when I’m in town. They have a great staff, delicious food, and amazing milkshakes. Definitely a staple in the Arlington community, in my opinion. That night we went to Bonfire for BBQ, and holy guacamole I don’t know if I’ve ever had better pulled pork, and their corn bread was to die for, not to mention they have a BBQ sauce bar so everyone can have what they want. After dinner we went to a place called Anthony’s for desert. I had a cherry cheesecake and it was delicious. I returned here a second time and got some Strawberry Sorbet which was also amazing. There is no shortage of delicious food in Abingdon.

The long and short of it is that Abingdon Virginia is one of those places you could see yourself retiring…or just living there forever. I am very sad to see it in my rear view mirror. But I’ll be back soon.

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The Reason for the Season

The reason for the season is a phrase that we often hear at Christmas time. As in; “Remember the reason for the season!” It’s a way to remind Christians that Christmas is not just about getting presents and watching christmas movies, it’s about the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. Well I would like to propose that this phrase is applicable in all “seasons” so to speak. You see, we are constantly calling the different chapters of our lives seasons. There is a season for everything under the sun. This is a season of singleness, a season of reflection, ect. And I think that is all seasons of our life, Jesus is the reason for the season, which is something I know personally I tend to forget.

As I embark on my nearly eight month journey across land and sea, I find that I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not taking this adventure just to see what I can see. While, of course, along the way I am going to make memories and see amazing things and spend time with great people, the real reason I am going on this journey is because I have been called by God to serve His people over seas. And even now as I travel around the US, I am in a season (there’s that word again) of preparation.

This month and a half is my time to be preparing myself for what lies ahead in Europe. My trip cross-country is a season of prayer, and of quieting my soul to listen to what God is speaking to me. It is a season of wrapping my mind around inconstancy and going with the flow and making due with the things I am presented with. It is a season of solitude in many ways as I travel from house to house alone, and spend a good deal of time alone when my friends have other responsibilities. But I love that God has given me that chance to rest and be quite and alone in Him. As a wise woman once said, loneliness is God’s way of drawing you closer to Him. In fact the verse that I keep close to my heart during this season is Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Most importantly though, I think this trip is a season of getting ready to change. I don’t think that this trip will change me in any drastic ways, but I know my time in Europe will. It will shape me into the person I am going to be going into the end of my college career and the beginning of my life outside of the education system. I’m like a caterpillar making a cocoon. I’m getting ready to change, and it’s terrifying.

Along with recognizing what season we are in, and remembering that at the center of it all is God’s will for our lives, and for the lives of those we come in contact with, I am realizing that God is revealing things to me, things that will become  a part of my tool box so to speak when I am gone. Today I was at my friend’s church in Georgia, and the preacher said a lot of things that I felt were so applicable to my future journey. Like when he spoke on 1 Corinthians 9, when Paul says, I am all things to all people so that by all means possible I might save one. Paul is talking about a respect for the culture of others, about building rapport and trust, and not disrespecting people because they are different from you, but getting down to their level, while still living by The Word, so that by adapting to their situation, you might bring them closer to salvation through Christ. When I go to Europe I have to abide by specific cultural guidelines, both when it comes to the countries I am in, and also to the groups of people I am working with. Whether they be from the Middle East, or Africa, or Asia, or Europe, I have to adapt to each group in order to speak into their lives. I will have to cover my tattoos, and dress certain ways, and be mindful of who I speak to and how. I have to do this so I can build a sense of mutual respect and trust so that God can speak through me and bring His children home to Him.

Another revelation came when the preacher talked about how God meets us where we are. How when we finally choose to acknowledge him, very often we come to Him as broken people. He doesn’t take us broken, extend His grace, and then expect us to wake up the next day completely fixed and on the right path. He sees our brokeness, and our failures, and He comes alongside us to help shoulder the burden, and He guides us back to the path of rightness whatever that means for us, and however long it takes. That is exactly the situation I will be facing in the mission field. If we, as evangelists and advocates of Christ, cannot come alongside those we are reaching out to and help guide them through their struggles to a straight path, then we aren’t being Christ to the world. You can’t simply say here is the grace of God, accept it, and walk away. Christianity is a community, it is a body of believers leading, supporting, and so many times dragging each other through the troubles of this world.

But I think the biggest thing God revealed to me today was about faith. My Bible professor puts the phrase; “Faith is believing that God keeps His promises” in our notes, on one of our exams, and on our final. It is a point he really seems to want to drive home, and it has taken me this long to truly get it. I have been worrying…a lot. I worry about traveling, I worry about money, I worry about school and my friends, I worry about relationships and change and what life is going to be like when I get to Europe, and what it’s going to be when I get back. I work about trivial things, and important things, I just worry. I have been, in my quite times with God, praying for  a release of anxiety, I have turned over a great many things to Him and said I trust You, I release these worries to You. But then I continued to worry about them. Today God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Jeanette, oh ye of little faith, didn’t you turn these things over to Me?” I finally understood that the more I worried about all of these things, the less faith I was having in the plan God has for me. I said I trusted Him, and then showed that I didn’t by stressing over the things He already promised me He would handle! James says faith without works is dead, and I can tell you that works without faith is just going through the motions, and that is not how I want to live my life.

So ultimately what I’m trying to convey is that I never want to lose sight of my reason for this season of life. I will have a lot of fun, and do and see a lot of things, but mostly I will be serving the Kingdom and loving on God’s people, which is really why I’m leaving everything behind for six months in the first place. So live life, have fun, learn a lot, and never lose sight of who you are living for.

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An Accurate Picture of My Life At This Point-Two Days on Top of A Mountain Somewhere in North Carolina

So first of all, when I say on top of a mountain, I mean literally my friend’s house is on top of a mountain in Mars Hill, just outside of Asheville North Carolina. Secondly, this two-day trip has really been a great reflection of who I am as a person right now.

We started our visit by putting on makeup, doing our hair, getting dressed up, and driving down the mountain to the Biltmore, which is this gorgeous mansion and property built by one of the Vanderbilts back in day. The whole grounds are absolutely stunning, and we didn’t get to go tour the house, but even just driving over to the winery was beautiful. We got tot he winery, we walked through the tunnel that leads past the wine tasting, and into the gift shop, where we proceeded to eat as many samples as we could when the workers weren’t looking. Because when you have $3 in your bank account, that’s the only way to live.

After our fancy adventure, we went to Papas and Beer, a delightful little Mexican restaurant in Asheville. They have awesome bean dip, the best rice I’ve ever eaten, and, my friends’ favorite part, a salsa bar. I’m not kidding about that rice though, it was freaking amazing. And the Flautas I got were definitely worth another trip to this little gem. We could only eat half before we had to push away our plates we were so full. I was really looking forward to the leftovers, unfortunately, we both left our boxes at the table. Both of us. Our individual boxes were sitting in front of us, and neither of us grabbed them. I really don’t know what the heck is wrong with us, but I’m also not really surprised.

We decided to stop by the grocery store on the way back to pick up some things, and then proceeded to stand in front of the largest Orange Juice aisle I have ever seen and debate whether it was cheaper to buy 2 small bottles for $3, or one large one…can you tell we’re communications majors? (Spoiler we got the two small ones). On the way out I saw a little cherry pie and I had to buy it. Then I ate it while we were waiting for the cashier to grab something from the back. I’m really classy. I know.

On the way back up the mountain we listened to CDs ranging from Mumford and Sons, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Drake and Nicki Minaj. Are you getting the picture yet?

After watching Netflix until 1am I woke up, dragged myself into clothing, and we drove back down into town to attend a Zumba class. Now, if you have never attended a Zumba class, I would highly recommend it. Yes, it is a great way to work out and have fun with Latin music and hip shaking, but the real reason to go, is the other people who attend these classes.

Now I can’t say for sure, but I assume that at YMCAs all across America there are these types of people swinging their hips in all directions; You have the professionals, the people who show up wearing their Zumba gear with the big logo across it. They are there every week, they know every step, they are in the front, putting all the other middle-aged white ladies to shame.

Then there is that one lady in the corner dancing to her own beat, not even bothering to do the moves the teacher is, just a free spirit who is there to feel the music.

There is one guy who is really into it, and you can tell he wants so badly to be the best, but bless his heart he really has no rhythm, but he always has a smile on his face.

Of course there are the moms who are too busy to work out for more than 45 minutes a day, and have finally found a release for all that mommy stress. These are typically the woman with the most energy, sweating buckets.

And finally there are people like me, who are there to sweat a little, trying to keep up, but mostly just getting distracted by everyone around me. (Also there was the sweetest old Indian man who was shaking with the best of them)

My visit has concluded with a home cook southern meal, complete with Brown Beans and Cornbread, and I couldn’t be happier. Tomorrow I’m up bright and early and off on my six hour car ride to Atlanta Georgia where I will be attending a high school sports banquet…wish me luck.

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“Before I die I want to…”-Asheville North Carolina

Well, it is officially my last day in Johnson City until January 2016, so naturally I decide to go to Asheville. I have never been before, but it is a place my friends swear to me I will love. They were right. I love the energy, and the artsy spirit. I love way people dress and how casual people are just hanging out and playing music or chatting. There is a sense of free spirit in the community of Asheville, and more than a little pot floating around in the air…but I’m from Colorado so, what else is new?

When we got there we were a little lost, trying to find parking, trying to figure out where we wanted to go. So I did what I do best, I phoned a few friends. “Definitely go to the Chocolate Lounge.” They told me, “And for sure hit up Double D’s coffee shop. Oh! and if you have time hit up Miss Malaprop’s Books.” We didn’t get to stay long, but we did get to visit some of the places listed. The friend I was traveling with is someone I have known for years. We laugh together, we cry together, but mostly we eat together, so eating our way through Asheville was never a question, merely an assumption.

We started at The Chocolate Lounge and let me tell you, very worth the recommendation. They had a wide variety of chocolate goodies, coffees, and organic milk. We settled on brownies, I got the coconut Macaroon Brownie, and my friend had the Chocolate Mint Brownie. Both were amazing! Very rich, but totally satisfying. The best thing about The Chocolate Lounge though is that they are all about organic and sustainable products, plus they are a locally owned business which I am always down to support. The staff was really nice and helpful, and I will definitely be going again.

After our chocolate overdose we decided to try to find Double D’s. We weren’t sure what to expect, but I can tell you I definitely wasn’t prepared for what I saw. This coffee shop is a locally owned place set up inside a Double Decker bus. There is seating in the upstairs compartment, and outside on the patio. We had their dirty chai and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. Definitely head there for coffee when you’re in town, although beware that it’s cash only. But it has a nice atmosphere, and ash trays if you want to smoke outside. I will be a repeat costumer here as well.

Like I said we didn’t get to stay long so I didn’t see a lot of Asheville, but probably my favorite part of town is the “Before I die wall”. This is whole wall that is painted with chalk paint, and across it are lines that say, “Before I die I want to…” and lines where people can fill in the blank. There is a chalk bucket hanging on the wall that is looked over by a kind, wheelchair bound, veteran who chimes, “Chalk over here! Find a space to write, or I’ll make one for ya!” He is cheerful and talkative, and carries a coffee ground can to collect spare change. There are a lot of things written on the wall; “…to find love.” “…to travel the world.” “…to be successful.” My friend and I pondered over what we would write, knowing it was only temporary, but for us it would be remembered. We tossed around things like to travel, or get married, or learn anew language. But we realized that these were, like the chalk on this wall, merely temporary things. Finally we grabbed some chalk and went to work. She wrote, “To be happy…whatever that means.” And I chalked, “To love and be loved.” I decided to make this my before I die because I realized that I could travel the world, read every book, eat every food, have every adventure, but if I wasn’t loving those I came in contact with, or accepting love from them, everything I did would be meaningless. You can have everything in the world, but if you don’t have anyone to share it with, what’s the point?

Ultimately I look forward to more Asheville adventures when I return to Tennessee. It’s kind of bittersweet. As excited as I am to travel and see the world, I’m also going to miss my friends at school and work. I’m going to miss going to church and seeing my middle schoolers. I’m going to miss my professors and their words of wisdom. I’m going to miss midnight Cookout runs or Mid-city trips. I’m going to miss lying on dorm room floors and talking about our future, and guys, and procrastinating on that big paper that’s due tomorrow. Most of all I’m going to miss Tennessee. Until you live there, there is just no explaining what it’ll come to mean to you. It’s the place that I call home.

Tomorrow officially begins The Great American Road Trip…or at least The Great Eastern Road Trip. North Carolina, to Georgia, to Virginia, to New York, to Florida, back to Tennessee, Indiana, and finally back to Colorado. It’s going to be one heck of a summer.

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