Tuesday, August 26, 2014

don't Instagram that sunset

This sunset and I had a moment last night. Driving home I had one eye on the road and one eye on this gorgeous sky. Do you ever have a moment when you're completely alone and everything just feels so right? The sounds, smells, even the temperature. I was full of joy and satisfaction last night around 8:04 pm when I snapped some blurry moving pictures of the dipping sun. And pictures this beautiful need to be shared, right? But when it came time to post I just couldn't do it. Ya see, I knew I couldn't communicate just how awesome and beautiful and awe-inspiring this moment in time was. So I kept it for myself. Until now, of course.

But waking up this morning and looking at this picture again caused me to reflect on just why I didn't want to share it. Seriously, I have like a few hundred Instagram followers, what's the big deal? But it goes deeper than that. I've been thinking a lot lately about social media and it's effect on society as a whole. There are those who view it as an awesome networking tool, those who only want to keep up with the grandkids, and those who are borderline paranoid and stay away from it in general.

No matter which group you find yourself in (I'm still figuring that out for myself), I have come to the realization recently that over sharing tends to cheapen. Hear me out on this;
Looking back on my time here in the US with family and friends has been so amazing. I've gone on trips, reconnected with decade old friends, shared meals with distant family members, and revisited places new and old. If I was the scrapbooking type this summer have a major picture-filled book to sit on my shelf.

And in a way, our social media accounts are like scrapbooks, right? But do you bring your scrapbook to a job interview? Or to a Sunday morning church service? Or even to a night out with friends? My favorite pictures I have of this summer are not the ones shared on Instagram, or tagged on Facebook. They're the ones that only I and a few others have ever seen. Taken on nights where the only people who knew it happened were the people there.

Hear me out, I'm not quitting social media or rallying for you to do it either. I guess I'm just saying to cherish those quiet moments that don't need to be shared. The great moments/pictures/stories I decide not to share are the ones most cherished to me. And I feel like if I put them online for everyone to see it almost lessens their value. Is that me being selfish and kind of ridiculous? Maybe. But try it sometime. Spend an amazing night with people you love, and keep it just to you. Some things are too good and beautiful and awesome even for Instagram.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

the truth about middle school

Last night I stumbled upon one of my notebooks from the past year. I tend to write on everything and anything I can find at the moment a thought occurs to me. Whether that means a note in my phone, the back flap of a book, or once I even ended up writing on a paper towel. This notebook I found has been written in sporadically since January. As I flipped through the pages I began to remember some of the struggles I've had in 2014.

On one page I wrote, Being anonymous in a new city has forced me to figure out who I am, and where I fit. On another page I wrote about my identity, and why I sometimes struggle with knowing who I am, or where my place is in the world.

Remember how much middle school sucked? I've never met a person who can actually say they loved and enjoyed middle school. It was the worst! I worked with middle school students at our church before we moved to NZ, and it reminded me all over again how hard that time of life is. Why is that? I think it's because in middle school you've just reached that age where you're trying to figure out who you are, what you're good at, who your real friends are, etc. It's a lot to handle as a 13 year old with braces! So during these months of writing in this journal I felt like I was almost back in middle school again. As weird as that is to admit, it's so true.

But it was so cool, because just a few pages later in this journal I wrote down notes taken at a conference I went to. I didn't know anything about this conference until about 3 days before when some dear family friends of ours encouraged me to go and even paid my way.

On the second day of the conference the speaker's message was all about our identity, and who we are through God. She said when we don't know who we are, we become what we think other people want (hellooooo. Middle school!). This is the kind of rut I found myself in. Every word she said felt like it was aimed right at me.

Our society tries to pin so many labels on your jacket. My labels include, my age, marital status, education, employment, even the fact that I'm the first born in my family. We find our identity in all kinds of things, from the clothes we wear to the books we read. I'm even guilty of taking those crazy online tests to see "What Dawson's Creek character are you?" (Joey, if you were wondering). But what do all of those things really tell me about you? Probably not too much.

We as people really find ourselves when we realize and embrace who God has called us to be. The passions he put inside each of us are unique and vital to our identity.  How do you discover your unique God-given passions? I know mine because they are what keep me up at night. The things that you could talk about for hours. The things that you know deep down in your gut that you want to do one day. The things you didn't have to learn to love, you just naturally do.

At the bottom of the page I wrote down one of my favorite quotes;
If you knew who God has created you to be, you'd never want to be anyone else. -Bill Johnson

Finding this journal and reading what I was dealing with this past year has made me so thankful. Thankful to see the transition and growth that has taken place since January. Sometimes I still struggle with knowing my identity. I'm not always happy with who I am. I wish I was good at sports and small talk and cooking. And to be honest, some days still feel like middle school.

But this is what I've learned; your whole life isn't middle school. It gets so much better! But we have to stop pretending like we have it all together, because nobody really does. Reality is so much better than fake middle school kids all trying to impress each other. Real security comes in realizing you were created totally unique and incredible with not a single mistake. Your passions, those things that keep you up at night, that's what you were made to pursue.

Forget what society wants you to be.
The real you [me]  is enough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New England weekend

Last weekend my mom and I took a road trip to New England. We'd been planning a trip for just the 2 of us while I'm in the states, and this weekend came together sort of perfectly. We logged a lot of miles, but the drive was so worth it. A road trip with someone you love is never a bad idea.

Our first stop was Providence Rhode Island, where my mom had visited just last year and already fallen in love with. We walked the cute old streets, wandered around Brown University's campus and found a great Japanese place for diner. Everyone was so friendly! Providence has a small town feel with the sights of a city. I could easily live there.

Next, we drove north to Boston where we visited the John F. Kennedy museum and library. I'm not going to lie, this was the major driving force behind our trip. I'm a history nerd, especially American history, and have always been fascinated with the Kennedy's. The museum had a great location right on the water. My favorite thing at the museum was JFK's sailboat, which they had on display outside  by the harbor. So cool.

After our morning at the museum we drove south to Plymouth, were neither of us had ever been. I'm so glad we squeezed in this stop on our trip; it was so worth it! Between the Mayflower II (reproduction from the 1950's) and hello, Plymouth ROCK, and the most amazing clam chowder I've ever had in my life, it was a great way to end our short trip.

Thanks for good food, awesome weather, and beautiful sights, New England. We'll definitely be back.