Monday, June 13, 2011

be here now

I should probably be the first to admit that I'm entirely too reflective. I like to take in every single situation and experience, like really take it in. Over the last few weeks I've learned in a variety of situations that I am a very relational person. I feed off of making other people happy and making sure they're comfortable and content. I'm not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing because I believe with all my heart that you should serve one another as if they were your own family or closest friends.

I had the amazing experience this weekend to go to Bonnaroo with one of my closest friends. If you're not familiar, Bonnaroo is pretty much my music heaven, a festival that brings in some of my favorite artists for one fantastic weekend every summer. I've wanted to go for longer than I can remember and in a crazy and spontaneous sequence of events, ended up there this weekend.
The concert I was most excited about was Ray LaMontagne. Ray captured my heart from the second I first heard one of his songs and this was my first time getting to see him live. As he finished up with one of my favorite songs I had a brief moment of clarity. What if, relationships, while ever important, aren't all God's wanting us to see and reflect on? What if it's this whole thing that I continually talk about (and even got a tattoo for) that we're really supposed to focus on? The moment. The experience. The short story that will never happen again because it's so unique to those few minutes in time. And it made me think of one of my favorite quotes from "Into the Wild":
"But you are wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from the joy of human relationships. God's place is all around us, it is in everything and in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things."

Completely on point, right? If we would only change looking at things from an analytical standpoint and take them in for the perfect, momentary experiences that they are, we would probably all be a lot more content with the way we saw our own lives.

"Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now" -Ray LaMontagne

Monday, March 28, 2011


In case you couldn't tell, I'm doing an excellent job of easing back into the whole blogging thing. However, if the last couple months have taught me anything, it's been the importance of confronting challenges and situations that may not seem too enticing initially.

I left to visit my best friend in London for two weeks in February and two days after I returned, hopped a plane to spend the month of March in New York. If you know me at all, you know how much I love to travel, especially to NYC. I had been looking forward to both of these trips with the greatest of expectations. My goal for London was to have a great time with my best friend which was most definitely accomplished. My goal for New York was to work hard spreading the word about Wine to Water, while also taking some personal time to confront a few things I've been extremely good at avoiding for the last year.

I landed in the city on March 2, a day short of the one year anniversary of losing my dad and this was not at all coincidental. I've become so good at running away from the reality of not having dad around that I've learned to schedule big trips during times that I know will be difficult. Impressive, right? I did, however, for this particular trip, have in my mind that I would confront and conquer this battle, among a few others that I have been so determined to ignore. Along with dealing with the loss of my dad, I also had in my mind that this trip would provide complete restoration and new perspective for me, which I soon found is a lot of pressure to put on one month.

I sat on the floor of the apartment I was staying in one rainy night, reading and listening to music when one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs came on. No song has ever called me out and convicted me in such an obvious and "to-the-point" manner before, it's called "The Weight of Lies." If you don't know it, below are the specific lyrics that might as well have screamed to me that night:

"Disappear from your home town
Go and find the people that you know
Show them all of your good parts
Beat down when the bad ones start to show"

"The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town 'cause
Nothing happens here that doesn't happen there
When you run make sure you run
To something and not away from 'cause
Lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you anywhere"

Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, A. Bros. I realized right then that by picking up and heading away from every person that has been kind enough to get me through the last year, I was actually running even farther from the problems I was trying to hard to resolve, and the distance wasn't going to make them any easier or go away for that matter. Long story short, I ended up coming home a week early. The fact of the matter is that, whether I'm in Boone, New York, London or Cambodia, I'm not going to be able to escape through distance the things that challenge, sadden, hurt or scare me. The greatest part about this lesson learned, is that I was able to run home to something and some people that know, understand and support me through the most difficult times and for some reason, still want to be around me and I know now I wouldn't want to go through these struggles any other way.

While, The Avett Brothers helped me to reach this minor epiphany, this is the song that got me through the month and back home to my family- blood and adopted.

"But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand..."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the perfect space

It's been almost seven months since my last post and the reason for that is pretty simple. I've felt like I've had absolutely nothing to say that would help or inspire anyone. Every week since my last post in June, I've tried to type a new post with no success. The great thing though, is that if I look back on my life since June, it has been an incredible and irreplaceable whirlwind and seeing as it is a new year, here's a quick recap.

June: Went to an incredible concert with two incredible friends, Matt and Aaron to celebrate Aaron's birthday...Celebrated the engagement of Annie and Jessup, two coworkers, and more importantly, two of my closest friends...Watched ESPN for weeks as the USC Gamecocks claimed their very first national championship in baseball, something I'm convinced dad somehow had a hand in. :)

July: One of my favorite months of the year because it invovles a holiday that promotes the use of fireworks! Spent the 4th on the lake with the family and Amanda...Visited Drew and Kathy twice in D.C. to help with Wine to Water events...Celebrated my birthday in NYC with Annie and Julia...

August: Booked my first trip to visit our projects in Cambodia...Helped my best bud, Mary E. pick out her wedding dress...Headed to Myrtle Beach with two guys who I now call my closest friends to see The Avett Brothers for the first time...

September: WENT TO CAMBODIA! More to come on that though...

October: Hopped a plane and went back to NYC with Stacie and Patrick...Went to see AND meet The Avett Brothers with Amanda and Josh...Witnessed the union of two of my favorite people as Annie and Jessup tied the knot in one of the greatest weddings I've ever been to...Went to Charleston for a great weekend with Jill and caught up with old friends...Got a phone call from my little cousin Jordan, telling me that he got engaged!...Took an amazing trip to D.C. with Jack, Josh, Jeff and Teryn to go to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally and to celebrate Halloween with the Northcutts...

November: Wine to Water events in Boone, Winston and Charlotte...Enjoyed Thanksgiving with the fam in Zirconia and watched Auburn beat Alabama with the fam!...

December: Watched Auburn win the SEC championship, otherwise known as their bid to the National Championship...Celebrated National Cupcake Day, obviously...Visited Greensboro a lot...enjoyed Christmas in Charleston and got to see Sarah, Ryan and my beautiful nieces...Celebrated Mary E. and Claude at their first engagement party... Rang in the new year with some of my favorite people. :)

So there we have it. It's most definitely been a year of ups and downs, but having the opportunity to look back on it has made me realize that I've had some incredible experiences with some very amazing people.

"And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become and not the man that I was." -The Avett Brothers

Monday, June 7, 2010

out of africa

Last night I went to see a movie with two of my good friends. On the ride home, I confessed to one of them that I usually select what movies I watch based on where they're filmed. Some of my favorite scenes in movies take place in some of the most incredible places, but what makes them stand out has nothing to do with where they took place, but the story behind them. I feel like too often, we spend too much time and thought comparing the scenes of our life to those of movies and books and we end up missing what is happening in the present.

Over the last year, I feel like my life has been bountiful in illustrious scenes, some amazing and awe inspiring and some heart-wrenching and humbling. I learned what it means to have nothing, but possess everything as I served amazing people in Mexico City. I took some unforgettable trips with close friends and found once again that it's not where you're at, but who you're with that makes life worthwhile. I lost my father far too soon and truly understood for the first time the importance of living life with no regrets. And, I took a job that excites and humbles me on a daily basis through the lives that are impacted by our work.

When I sit back and think about it, how are those experiences any different from scenes in a movie or book? Why do we feel the need to measure the value of our lives against unrealistic stories? After all, movies and books end more often than not in some sort of resolution. Our lives don't take a break to resolve themselves, the scenes keep rolling, and if we don't revel in each of these scenes, we're going to miss the moments that are changing and sculpting us.

No lyrics tonight, just an incredible piece from an amazing movie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

worlds apart

I hit a wall today. I'm exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I am tired of being strong, I'm tired of being the support, I'm tired of being responsible and I am completely heartbroken. I miss my dad so much it hurts. I've picked up my phone twice to call him today to talk baseball and life and each time it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't know how to get past this point now and I feel stuck.

Grief is a funny thing. It's so necessary to have closure, but it's so difficult, that I have actually avoided it with everything in me. I have fought actually having to deal with loss, so that I could pretend like it didn't happen. If you know me really well, you know that the last few months I've kept myself pretty busy, to the point where I haven't been in Boone for a weekend in months. It's fine to keep yourself occupied, I suppose, but not when you do it to avoid something. I know I need to face this, even if I don't want to. I think that need to avoid it comes purely from fear, which becomes overwhelming.

I thought about fear a lot today and how it can affect our approach to relationships, experiences, and life in general. This made me think about one of my favorite verses in 2 Timothy-
"For God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind."
Fear is an awful and powerful thing when it hinders us in so many aspects of life, which made me think. We weren't created to be fearful, at least not of life and opportunities and relationships and even tragedy. As difficult as it is, tragedy is a part of life and we must approach it with courage and a sense of peace, otherwise, we might as well give up the fight now. I hope and pray that I can do this bravely and willingly.

"So steal my heart and take the pain
And wash the feet and cleanse my pride
Take the selfish, take the weak
And all the things I cannot hide..."
-Jars of Clay

Thursday, April 29, 2010

fair fight

I'm having a bit of a dilemma right now. My heart is so incredibly heavy with sadness for something that has happened to a dear friend of mine. So heavy, in fact, that I feel a bit speechless, so I'll try to word this as best I can.

I'm almost at month two of the day we lost dad. It's hard to believe really, because it is still as fresh on my mind as the day it happened. That said, a dear and wonderful friend experienced a similar tragedy at the same time and has since had it happen again. Though I definitely can relate, I can't begin to understand how he is feeling. I do know that when you experience loss, it changes you, maybe a little, or maybe a lot. It's happened to me several times in 24 years and I can pinpoint the ways I've changed each time.

The thing that's made it bearable every single time though, are those that have helped me through it. My family has always been incredible in terms of providing support, but at an age where many of my friends are experiencing their first few years of true adulthood and independence, I have found that my friends who continue to surround me are the ones that are the most uplifting. The friends that realize you don't grieve someone in a couple days or even a couple months are the ones that are truly amazing. I know it is hard to understand certain things until they've happened to you, whether it be disease, loss, heartbreak, addiction, whatever. The amazing thing though, is to have the people around you that possibly don't understand the experience, but just know that it's important to be a friend and supporter. The ones that do this, not just the day and week after, but months and years after are the ones of true character and compassion. They understand that the memory of a loved one or a struggle you've faced never really goes away, no matter how long it's been.

So here's to the friends that God has placed in each of our lives to step in as our family away from home. Here's to the friends that get us, even when we're not ourselves. And here's to the friends that have inspired me to be the type of friend I want to be to others.

"So hold tight, this is not a fair fight..." -The Fray

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

my old friend...

Alright, I've been slacking big time on the blog. I kept making excuses for not writing, like the fact that I had nothing to write about, which may in fact, be true. However, now, I definitely have something to write about after this weekend.

One of my best friends in the entire world got married this weekend. My mom's best friend from high school, Merideth, had a son Drew. Merideth has always been my second mom and Drew has pretty much been the brother I never had. Drew and I grew up together, and when I say grew up together, I mean, we really grew up together. When we were little, Drew, my sister and I were all tossed in the bath tub together and he tattled on me for stuff I didn't do, like a brother would. I remember the day he got his driver's license and asking him to come to my high school homecoming because he was a better dancer than anyone at my school. Drew has meant the world to me my entire life, so when he called and told me he was thinking about proposing to his girlfriend, I jumped into protective mode.

For college, Drew went off to FSU and then moved to DC, so distance prevented me from meeting the girl I'd heard so much about. Then, while I was visiting Atlanta over Christmas two years ago, I finally met Kathy. Wow. I told her the night before their wedding that I could've searched the world over twice and found no one more fitting for Drew than her. The two of them compliment each other as perfectly as a married couple could. They are best friends, share the same values, and they make each other laugh. Did I mention that Kathy also happens to be my second cousin? Long story for another day, but now by marriage, I'm officially related to the guy I've always called my brother.

Drew and Kathy, I love the two of you so much and I couldn't be happier for you. Thank you so much for letting me in to share such a great weekend with you and thank you for sharing your friends! What an incredible and fun group!

"My old friend, I recall
The times we had hanging on my wall
I wouldn't trade them for gold
Cause they laugh and they cry me
Somehow sanctify me
They're woven in the stories I have told
And tell again..." -Tim McGraw