The Truth About Post-Abroad Life

“If you could live anywhere in the world, money was not a problem and it didn’t matter where your family was, where would you go?”

It was a simple question a friend asked me over dinner tonight. But as my mind began reeling, my answer surprised even myself.

I don’t want a place, I just want the adventure. 

After moving 8 times and planting my feet in 8 different countries over the past several months, you’d think I’d have a better answer to that question. But through all of the madness and transition, I felt so alive and present. I was obsessed not only with my new experiences and unique circumstances, but also with the adrenaline that accompanied them. I thought I had permanently quenched the dryness of life, promising that I would never ever, not once, allow myself to be overtaken by the hum-drum again.

Now that I am back in my routine gelato-less life I like to call school, I find myself asking, “Now What?” Where’s my next adventure? I’m ready, let’s go, God! 

I have been treating the last few weeks like an unimportant stand still. The waiting room for my next big extravagant calling. But the truth is, I’m right where God wants me to be. Life is not intended to be a random stringing of mundane activities with pops of delight. It’s the attitude of my heart that’s making it that way.

Yes, my life in Italy was full of beauty, intrigue and zest, but who’s to say my everyday life can’t be just as joyous? That’s the way our Creator made it to be! Paul’s words in Ephesians 1 make my adrenaline-junkie heart sing.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in his holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

ephesians

Enlightened. Riches. Glorious. Incomparably Great.

Does anything about that sound ordinary? Jesus did not die so we could continue to live trapped within the bounds of our own minds. After I came across these verses, I was challenged to live in a way that actively seeks and expects joy. Because everything was so new in Italy, I automatically expected each day to be incredible. The same should apply to any day the Lord has made.

In my life, seeking that joy looks like putting down burdens I once thought as obligations, and allowing myself to just let bliss sink in. I don’t have to create it, because it has already been created for me; but sometimes I do have to work harder to park my mind in it. Just because I am in a familiar place doesn’t mean I have been in and seen all of the goodness that can happen here. Just today, I delighted in reading a good book on the front porch, lingering over dinner and dessert with a friend, and laughing with my roommates. Oh, and I think I found a new answer to the question- If I could live anywhere, it would be here. 

 

Things I Learned in August

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The past few weeks have been, well, draining. Moving back to school has been accompanied by lots of transition and adjustment, but I so desperately wanted to be writing here instead of writing in the already jam-packed margins of my Lilly planner. I thought a great way to catch up would be to link up with Chatting At The Sky again to share Things I Learned in August!

1. In with the good, out with the bad. I signed myself up for a 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge. No, this is not a diet; rather, it’s just a few meal replacements to help kickstart new healthy eating habits and to cleanse my body from processed foods. It can be so overwhelming to limit the bad while hoping to crave the good. During this challenge, I haven’t made any foods off limits, I’ve just added in more smoothie nutrients. However, I soon realized how much better I feel and my cravings are slowly shifting on their own. Doesn’t this speak to so many other areas of our lives, too?

2. Sometimes hours of indecisive rolling on every mattress in the store is 100% worth it when that little pile of heaven ends up between your bed posts. Enough said. 

3. It is possible to turn stress into a positive adrenaline rush. I thought, “I’m already feeling charged and high strung from all this newness, why not make it fun?!” So I ended up in a hair salon chair and walked out with, a-hem, ombre. And I love it. 

4. Moving never gets easier. Physically, maybe. (Says the girl staring at 5 unpacked boxes. Maybe not.) Emotionally, it doesn’t. I have moved eight times in the past year, and each time, it has been so hard to leave the people I am with. It’s crazy to see how God wires us to love and become attached to others, making a permanent space for them in our hearts. Just when I think my heart can’t become fuller, it expands by a whole new group of incredible people!

Photo Credit Jen
Photo Credit Jen

5. You can never have enough Mason Jars. At least, in the South, that is. Combined, my roommates and I have about probably 60 in our house at the moment. The jars my Papa used to can deliciousness from his garden give me a comforting tinge of Southern charm as I’m drinking those Green Smoothies mentioned above:)

6. Blogging allows you to make friends around the world. I have LOVED reading all of your responses and being a little part of your day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your lasting kindness and meaningful words.

7. Don’t go to the gym with intentions of watching college football. On the one hand, it’s extremely motivating and can provide a heart-pumping workout. On the other, you may end up unable to see because of the Crocs-wearing lady on the treadmill blocking your view. Unless she has invested in those oh-so-festive “team spirit charms” for her shoes of choice, she will not understand your need for College Gameday.

8. Thinking of things I learned during the month keeps me focused and energized! You should try it, too! What did you learn during the month of August?

Anna DeBoy: Kindness Culprit #2

Friend, you are so loved. Immensely cherished. Heavily blanketed in prayer.

How do I know?

Because you have someone like my friend Anna out there intervening for you.

anna

Anna became one of my best friends this summer, and as P31’s graphic design intern, she loves all things creative and artsy. Naturally, she wields a computer mouse like a renowned painter, bringing clarity to passing visions. But her creativity shines best through her relationships. The biggest lesson Anna taught me is creativity doesn’t have to be visual.  She knows how to use her strengths in a way that makes people feel specifically loved and reminds her to celebrate the people in her life. When I first found out about a little project she’d been working on, I was so excited about it and know you will be too.

This summer, Anna started a prayer wall in her room above her bed. Rows and rows of black and white 4 by 4 photos line her walls, serving as a reminder of specific faces revealing struggles and triumphs in each loved one’s life.

“The wall reminds me of all of my blessings and the people in my life I love and adore,” she said. “Creation is something I see God in most, so I wanted to make an art piece that has a deeply significant meaning and purpose to me.”

Anna2

It’s easy for prayer to become mundane. Anna decided to mix things up in a way that spoke to her personally, and her love for photography was the perfect solution. There is no constant formula for prayer. How can you make your prayer experience more personalized? Let her inspire you!

Here are her tips for making your own prayer wall:

  1. Make a list of people on your heart to pray for. It doesn’t have to be just close family and friends, really spend some time on this and see who you are lead to.
  2. Have fun with it! Choose fun pictures that convey each person’s personality and enjoy the process of picking them out!
  3. Be creative. Anna chose a common theme and style for the pictures she chose to match her room. The possibilities are endless!
  4. …And this is my favorite step, let it grow. Don’t limit yourself to your initial list. Imagine what would happen if you told someone you would be praying for them and later sent them an image of their picture on your prayer wall. Allow your prayer life to be transformed as your eyes are opened to the needs of others around you.

The faces will bring to mind conversations, struggles, joys, goals, dreams and relationships to pray for that wouldn’t be clear otherwise.

In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller says,

“Everything you do is connected to who you are as a person and, in turn, creates the person you are becoming. Everything you do affects those you love. All of life is covenant. Imbedded in the idea of prayer is a richly textured view of the world where all of life is organized around invisible bonds or covenants that knit us together. Instead of a fixed world, we live in our Father’s world, a world built for divine relationships between people where, because of the Good News, tragedies become comedies and hope is born.”

What would happen if we laid down mindless busyness in favor of mindful interruption? Dare to tuck away the impersonal, practical prayers you’ve been taught and allow your thirst for the creative, the relational, the radical and the intimate to be quenched with a single phrase,

“Come to Me.”

 

Say What?! The P31 Intern Experience

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Intern has been my biggest “Say What?!” moment to date. In honor of my last days in the office, I’m linking up with Online Bible Studies to celebrate what this summer has meant to me. 

intern

Proverbs 31: Bringing Peace, Perspective and Purpose to Today’s Busy Woman 

I’m pretty positive I saw the phrase “today’s busy woman,” and took it as a personal challenge. As the self-proclaimed Involvement Queen on my college campus and Overeager Young Professional, I made it my mission to be the most unique email in a potential employer’s inbox. “I’m currently living in another country, but I’d REALLY like to intern for you,” I wrote. But when I sent a perky message to P31, they stayed true to their word and exceeded my slightly ridiculous expectations by intersecting my life in the Mediterranean Sea. That’s right, God confirmed my internship plans for the summer when I was somewhere in between Santorini, Greece, and Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was living a life of riding donkeys and eating gelato, but my mind was focused on a ministry several thousand miles away.  Little did I know this “Yes” would just be the beginning of my “Say What?” adventure.

Minutes after I walked into the P31 office, Satan began attacking me with fears and doubt. The stable foundation my testimony was built on was flipped upside down and inside out. He whispered, “What did God do for you? I don’t see any proof of that here.” My peace was gone, my perspective was fogged, and my purpose uncertain. I wish I could have coffee with each of you to describe how much this has changed this summer, but here are a few snapshot moments that will give you a small glimpse:

Peace: I started praying circles. Leah, my supervisor, and I began to go through The Circle Maker together each week, planning to pray for big things and more than we could ask for or imagine. In the beginning, peace was way, way, way, more than I could ask for or imagine. Battling terrifying nightmares and restless days, I truly did not believe it would happen. But God. Each night, I circled and circled and circled prayers with a specific verse, until one night in particular, I had a different dream. In it, the worst possible scenario was happening and my family and friends were gathered around to tell me how awful my imminent death would be. Confidently, I stood up and told them they were all liars, that no matter if I lived or died, Christ loves me and He will wrap His arms around me no matter what. The next morning at work, I skeptically mentioned the details to someone who responded, “Kait, that means you finally fully believe with all your heart, even in your subconscious mind.” What verse had I been circling? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Perspective: Each week, we had a teaching from a woman in the Proverbs office on their topic of choice. This was the best part of the week, and we were fortunate to hear from so many different walks of life. Although each story was different, they each shared a common thread. The story of a young woman, raped two days after her college graduation. Someone raised in a cult who was shunned for leaving the church. The granddaughter of a drug dealer and prostitute, who was known as the popular cheerleader in high school but never as the homeless, broken girl she really was. A speaker whose dreams were shattered when asked to step away and reevaluate her gifts. A woman who was engaged to a man who later took back the proposal twice. As time went by and I heard one story of redemption after another, my faith perspective shifted from one of rules and predictability to grace and expectation. I entered a girl holding onto a pocketful of short glimpses of grace, and am leaving with open hands, confident in what has happened and joyfully expectant in what will happen.

 

Purpose: I came into this internship hoping for experience that would either deter me or spur me on toward a particular field. I didn’t get what I asked for, but I learned I didn’t need what I asked for, either. Through these amazing women, God taught me that I don’t have to have it all together. I learned that radical obedience is better than the most detailed plan. The question is not, “Should I go into ministry?”, it’s “Where is God leading me today?”

Thank you, Proverbs 31 Ministries for providing peace, perspective, and purpose into this busy-turned-quiet-heart and taking part in my most exciting “Say What?” adventure yet. Your encouragement, commitment, and example of trust refreshed my hope and challenged my faith in the best way possible.

I began as an intern wanting to spread encouragement and Good News to women around the world, but it turns out I was the one that needed to hear it the most.

To read about the other fabulous interns this summer, hop on over to their blogs and show them some love: CamrynAnnaLexie

 

Holley Gerth: Kindness Culprit #1

Hey, friends! Welcome back to my kindness series, featuring the first Kindness Culprit, Holley Gerth. 

Holley

There’s nothing like a cute new outfit. You know, one that doesn’t require compliments, although it will attract them, because you know you look good. My favorite people of faith are those that just wear Jesus well. They don’t have to talk about all the effort it took to clothe themselves or fish around for conversation and compliments. Regardless, everyone knows exactly where that outfit came from without even looking at the tag- the shop of pure joy and obedience.

Holley Gerth is one of those people. So much so that you wish you could just bottle her up and give her to your friends for encouragement on a bad day. And you can! As a writer for DaySpring and the co-founder of (in) courage, Holley slips pockets of hope in everyday life and is the perfect example of someone who uses her strengths to spread joy.

You see, Holley is a dream igniter. She doesn’t just believe in your dreams, she reaches into your heart and makes visible the ones you didn’t even know you had. I had the pleasure of meeting Holley at She Speaks (P31’s writer and speaker conference) and in the overwhelming weekend of information and excitement overload, she was a constant calm. She didn’t have to shout or recite memorized scripture; she was just open and present. 

Her presentation on God-Sized Dreams revealed the secrets behind her graceful impact, and they have really stuck with me since.

1.”Go in the strength you have.” (Judges 6:14) Look at your strengths, your skill set, and the people you’re called to serve. The intersection of these is not only where your biggest calling is, but where you will find your greatest joy. Many people do kind things, but you doing something kind for someone may be the first time they get a glimpse of grace.

2. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.”( 1 Thessalonians 4:11) This goes against everything our culture has to say, especially in the social media world. Believe it or not, we don’t have to receive enough “likes” to feel worthy. Kindness is done best when you’re not in it for the praise.

3. “There is no better dream than living a life of love.” (Ephesians 5:2) Instead of approaching your day with, “What task am I supposed to complete?” shift your perspective to, “Who am I equipped to love on today?”

What we can learn from Holley: Holley humbles herself to meet someone right where they are, but she doesn’t stay there with them. She reaches out a hand to brighten their day and actively pushes them towards something greater. Holley encourages others to reach for their God-sized dreams to glorify the Dream Giver. This is truly her strength, and shows that her gift is actually helping others to find their own gift.

For more on Holley, read her books You’re Already Amazing and You’re Made For A God-Sized Dream. For encouragement straight to your inbox, subscribe to her blog “Heart to Heart with Holley.”

A Soul Longing For More

Today I’m taking part in Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study Blog Hop (Sign up and look at all the other awesome blogs!)If you’re a fellow Yes Girl, I’m so excited you’re here! Subscribe so I know you stopped by and I’ll hop on over to your blog! 

P31 OBS Blog Hop

That girl sitting quietly in the corner, mindlessly scrolling through her phone but mindfully scrolling through every thought, every action searching through hope. You’ve been her. So have I.

What got you through your last down season? Odds are, it wasn’t so much a reversed circumstance as much as it was a person, a thought, an idea. In days of darkness, misery holds a choking hand of uncertainty. Gasping for air, we settle for mundane complacency.

In days of cheerfulness, positivity exudes from our inner joy, sometimes held captive in fear of labels of over the top and unrealistic. But we don’t realize the power we have to loosen misery’s grip on another’s daily grind.

Just a simple, “Let me sit with you through this. Tell me what’s going on. Here’s what brings me joy, and maybe it will for you, too,” holds breath-giving abundance. Why do we take captive the joy that’s not ours to keep?

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”-Matthew 12:34

In the high seasons of your life, giving means nothing. In the low seasons, receiving means everything.


I used to be scared to say yes to God because I thought He’d have me do ridiculous things. And He has, but more frequently, He has me do what I love for who I love. God created you with a specific skillset, a specific heart with specific dreams to love on a specific group of people. Evangelism doesn’t just mean standing on the streets. It means standing on the edge of someone’s fears, taking their hand, and saying, “Me, too!,” followed by, “You’re not alone.”

George Saunders spoke at Syracuse University’s convocation on his life experiences, giving advice to graduates. (See the full speech here.) He said,

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”

Who in your life do you remember most warmly? What did they do for you? Go do that for someone today.

This week, I’m featuring a series of kindness. People close to my heart using what they love to love on other people in their own unique way. I’ll bet it will give you some great ideas and starting points to examine your own strengths and apply them to kindness along the way, too. Trust me-they are some pretty amazing people!

Subscribe to read the rest of the series and keep in touch!

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