Where am I?

Wow … ok … so first of all …

I blogged five times, guys. I was in Europe for 3 months, and I blogged FIVE TIMES. All within the first month. I apologize for those of you who honestly wanted to read about my adventures. Life was happening and I was completely sucked in.

I’m sitting in the same big, leather chair that I wrote to you in right before I left for Prague.

Did Prague even happen?

It feels like a dream. Literally, just like a dream. April 13th, I traveled for 24 hours and was greeted in that big, familiar, American Charlotte airport by my lovely parents and one of my dear friends. I fell into their arms and realized … It’s all over.

I’ve been home for 2 months now and life is CRAZY. When I first got home, I was greeted by loved ones who approached me with open arms and always asked, “How was Prague?!”, and every single time, they were left with silence because I honestly have no idea what to tell them. There is no way for them to possibly grasp my experience. So I say “It was the most amazing experience of my life”, and move on. Because it’s true. Friends, Prague was a miracle.

I went to Raleigh two days after getting home to surprise a lot of my long, lost friends that I missed with all of my heart. It was the best, seeing them in person. It’s amazing how different relationships are when you’re physically removed from people. To be in front of them, hugging them, hearing their voices, seeing their faces. It makes all the difference. I never realized how important that is to me. That is what I need. To be with the people I love.

My heart and soul will be forever grateful for Prague and my precious time there. I learned more in 3 months of my life than I ever thought possible. God is good. And as He moves me in this life, He follows me, every step of the way.

Which brings me to my next adventure. I just finished my second week of work at Grace Church in Greenville, SC. I’m interning with them on their Communications and Videography team. A new adventure.

I walked in the first day and was immediately filled with peace and reassurance from the Lord that this summer … I am exactly where He wants me. In two weeks I’ve seen a church operate in extremely biblical and healthy ways. I have seen leaders humble themselves like never before, and who aren’t afraid to push each other closer to the Lord, even if it means some blunt honesty that might sting for a little while. There is love in correction. And a lot of healing. They have already been loving us so well. I’m learning about the gospel in ways that I have never been taught. I’m seeing new things about the Lord. Learning His word. And seeing my sin, while striving to repent of it. It’s what I need right now. It is where I need to be.

The other interns have been great. They welcomed this random, Charlotte chick right in with open arms and community. And my host family … They blow my mind. They took me in without knowing a thing about me and have given me a home where I can learn and live life for 2 months. They have provided in ways that I cannot wrap my mind around. I see God in them. They have a passion for sharing all they have with others. They have shared stories and struggles and wisdom with me. I feel at home with two people that I just met who love the Lord and desperately want me to grow in Him. It’s amazing, really.

He is showing up big. 

Beyond thrilled to be reunited with America and all of my loves that are here. I’m home, friends. I’ll be bouncing around to whatever place He calls me to next. Let the adventure continue …

ONE MONTH.

In one month … 

I haven’t watched tv.

Or listened to the radio.

I’ve only had ice in my drink once.

I haven’t driven.

Or called or texted anyone without wifi.

Chipotle is no where to be found.

I haven’t done laundry with a machine.

I’ve only seen the sun a hand full of times.

I haven’t been warm.

I’ve missed family and friends.

I haven’t successfully read any street signs or advertisements.

I’ve over heard four conversation in public that I could understand.

I haven’t plugged anything electric into an outlet without an adaptor. 

I haven’t blow-dried or straightened my hair. Only curled it once.

I had my wallet stolen.

 

In one month …

I have found a church that welcomes me in and offers community.

I have connected with my roommate in ways that blow my mind.

And prayed with friends, with each other, for each other.

I have been able to say that I enjoy school for the first time in my life. 

And re-awakened my love for photography.

I have seen Prague and amazing things whose beauty leaves me astounded and marveling.

I have adapted to a new culture.

I have adventured … a lot.

I’ve made new friends and shared life with them.

I’ve connected with old friends and shared burdens through this adjustment.

I have had hard conversations that leave me grateful and at peace.

I’ve tasted new foods.

I have been legally allowed to drink alcohol.

I have cut 3 people’s hair.

I’ve seen 3 castles.

I have pet a bee.

I saw an opera.

And taste several types of honey.

I have booked my spring break to Paris and Barcelona, and a weekend trip to Berlin.

I’ve seen others step outside of themselves to love me.

I have seen God.

 

Today marks 1 month. I cannot believe it. Reflecting today on my time here and the amazing experience it has already been! So grateful for these months. Loving Prague!

 

Here are a few photos from Karlovy Vary last Friday!

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That James Bond Hotel though ….

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I’ve Been Answered.

My wallet is gone.

Yesterday, after studio, Sammie and I made our way to the bank to withdraw some Czech crowns. I stepped up to the ATM, popped open my purse, stuck my hand in, and found … nothing.

A moment of panic set it in.

“I’m just missing it … it HAS to be here somewhere ….”

No it didn’t. It was gone. No where to be found. I frantically emptied every section of my purse, while Sammie stood there confused, not knowing how to help.

Friends, I lost my wallet yesterday. I am in Europe, with not a dollar in my possession. No cards, no license, no student ID, no cash.

I analyzed my night and morning over and over again to see when it could have happened. I had been so careful about the metro, my surroundings, how I held my purse. Then I realized …

After dinner, me and a friend had gone to McDonalds (yes, they exist here too, unfortunately) to grab some coffee. I didn’t buy anything. My wallet never left my purse. We grabbed a booth, and I sat along the isle, placing my things in the booth between myself and the wall. A woman sat in the booth behind me and took her jacket off, throwing it over my side, hitting me on the shoulder. I glanced back at her and checked my stuff to make sure everything was fine. And everything did seem fine. Unfortunately though, I’m pretty sure she covered just enough of my things to slide my purse through the booth slit where the seat meets the back board. She took my wallet out of my purse, and slid my purse back with my book bag and coat, like nothing had happened.

It’s crazy here. I had no idea that when I went for coffee with a friend, and my stuff was right beside me that I would have to be conscious about someone sliding it between booths. This makes me sad. If that woman needed money that badly, I would have walked to an ATM and given her even more. Apparently the Czech Republic is one of the highest ranked countries in the world for pickpocketing. I will definitely be paying way more attention, everywhere I go. And even more so, I will be praying for this country and for that woman. I have never known a desperation like that.

You know what’s crazy, though?

I asked for this.

Before I came here and since I’ve been here, I’ve been asking God to humble me and to make me completely dependent on Him. And apparently losing my wallet was what it took.

We got on the metro to head back to the place we stay to check my room in our last, desperate attempt to find my wallet. I defeatedly stepped on, and had some convo with God. “Lord … you’re teaching me. Do what you need to in order to teach me, but be with me. Give me peace.”

And so … here we are. I’m in Prague with no money. None. And I have seen Him in all of it. I have been given so much peace, and it is ridiculous how many people have come beside me and offered their resources. People I don’t even know, offering money and condolences. Such a picture of the Lord and how no matter where I go, He always takes care of me in ridiculous ways.

He is breaking me down.

I don’t like asking people for their things, or even accepting help, really. I want to be strong and independent. And so here I am … with no money.

It’s time to break down the pride.

Even through this, I see a lot of God’s grace. It could have been WAY worse. They didn’t get my passport or my travel pass. And I only had 100 crowns of cash on me ($5.00). I lost basically nothing. They even tried to use my debit card and ended up being locked out, shutting down any possibility of accessing my bank account. God is good. And my amazing parents are handling everything for me. They blow my mind. Always blessed by them.

Just an interesting thought about yet another way I’m seeing the Lord. No worries, friends, He has provided all I need. I am totally good and am seeing Him in everything.

But just so you know, He will give you what you ask for. So with that, ask away … because the frustration is worth the growth.

Here Comes the Sun.

Friends … what a week.

I know I say this in every post, but seriously … it’s been 3 weeks and God has blown my mind. 

It was another week of class where I got to bake strudel, read Czech literature, study photographers, take some pictures, and learn about bees.

Actually, this week was a particularly special one because it was one of my best friend’s birthdays. Sammie Song. How crazy is it that I got to celebrate her 21st with her in flipping Europe!?! It was great. We had super delicious Indian food, some wine, espresso and blueberry cake and apple strudel. It was perfect. Her life means so much to me. So blessed to be with her and celebrate all that she is. I love that chick a lot.

On Friday we went to the Bee institute here in Prague. We got up early, walked to the train station, took a little boat across the lake, and arrived at the snow-covered land of bees. We saw it all. The houses and hives, the delicate bees wax pressed into perfect, hexagonal shapes. The honey that nature miraculously produces. The bees, working together for the sake of their hive. I actually pet a bee. Pretty neat.  We were then taken to taste some Honey Mead (no thank you, little too much for me) and different types of honey, and were given a nice Czech lunch of goulash and potato cakes. It was an interesting trip. Bees are extremely fascinating to me. They are ridiculously intelligent and instinctive just from birth. They just know. And they give their lives to work with their hive-mates to keep their hive safe and alive. They are a sacrificial species. I like them.

Saturday morning, me and some friends joined two friends from the church that we have been going to for the past 3 weeks. Abby and Susanne gave us an adventure around some of their favorite spots in Prague. We went to a little cafe called Cukrkavalimonada (Sugar, Coffee, Lemonade). Probably my favorite little coffee shop I’ve been to yet. It was so precious. I enjoyed a slice of the best lemon merengue pie I’ve ever had. We then ventured on to a little antique shop called Bric a Brac. LOVED IT. We talked to the precious old man, who loved his trinkets, and was not afraid to share his stories. I’ll probably be going back there to get some presents before I come home. We then enjoyed some delicious thai, and went to check out a market full of fresh veggies and fruits. This is a very rare thing in Prague. If it’s not beer, potatoes, or meat, its hard to find extremely fresh foods. Then we parted ways and headed back to take a nap and to top off a great Saturday with roommate pizza and wine, which has become a tradition that I love so much.

Every night I sit on my bed joining in conversation with my precious roommate who I’ve only known for three weeks. We talk about struggles, fears, joys and triumphs. We see God. He is blowing Prague up for us. Last night, we were joined by a dear friend in our room where we prayed over each other. For each other. With each other. My friends, that is so rare. And I know that. And I cry praises to my Lord because He is here with me in amazing ways, breaking me down, teaching me, restoring me. How beautiful it is to ask something from your Lord and see Him give it to you, to humble you, to better you, to make you more like Him. I’m seeing that everyday. It took getting me to Prague to realize some things about myself and things about others that the Lord needed to deal with. It’s amazing when you step away from the noise and lock your eyes on the Lord what you can see.

It is still cold here, but I’m getting used to it. Every morning we check the weather, and if it is in the 30’s, we celebrate the “warm day” ahead of us. We have also been seeing a lot more sun. It took us 2.5 weeks to see the sun at all. I miss the sun. But it seems to be making an appearance more regularly now, so I am excited!

Friends, I am missing you. A common topic of discussion has been returning home, where we daydream about seeing specific individuals after being gone for so long. And we are SO EXCITED to come home and be reunited with the ones we love and are missing everyday. But, we are praying to be here in every way, in Prague, everyday, soaking in every moment, seeing all that we are blessed to see. But I am missing you, friends and family. Please know that.

That is week 3 from Prague. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time brings. I’ll write again in a week!

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BIRTHDAY GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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It’s Way Too Cold.

What a week.

This past week was our first full week of school. Classes are great! My lit class is full of tales and myths, bees and beekeeping is super interesting, studio is still making me swoon, and my culinary class is perfect. We showed up to Culinary on Tuesday and our precious Czech teacher explained to us her passion for cooking. We started off sampling Czech cheeses and wafers, then moved on to chopping and mixing ingredients for onion soup. We cut some fresh bread, and sat down for a meal like a big family. Our final exam is a party … everyone makes something and brings it our last day. All I could think was, “Wait, I get class credit for this? Where am I?”

So, ya. This place is pretty magical. I feel like I’m living in a fairytale. This week was also our fist week of snow. A thin layer of white fluff coated everything in sight. Tops of red buildings peeking through the white, castles and statues shivering in the cold. This is a beauty I’ve never experienced. But along with the beauty comes the cold … some days are days where the snow is delightful, and you can walk outside without wanting to immediately bail on all the plans you had for the day so you can just stay inside and be warm. On the other hand, there are days like today. When trying to catch snowflakes on your tongue, giant snowflakes just hit you in the face, leaving you numb, red and cursing all that is snow.

Guys … IT’S FLIPPING COLD HERE.

Today we woke up and 9 degrees greeted us outside our door. What. This is crazy.

On a happy note, this weekend was our fist excursion! Friday morning we left to head for Česky Krumlov. We made a stop to tour the Budweiser brewery (yes, my school took me to a brewery, weird I know) and then another stop to tour a castle. Castle Hluboká was amazing. Giant walls that have lived through centuries stood before us as the snow fell and coated the castle. It was magical. We took a tour of the inside and found that there were some pretty shady things that went down there, but nonetheless, it was beautiful.

Then we made our way to our hostel. We dropped our stuff, and headed out to the main square where we enjoyed the best meal I have had yet. We were brought to a little Czech pub where wooden tables and chairs were decorated with wax candles and flowers. Tiny platters of fine cheese, olives, spreads and bread were waiting for us. We were joined by the director of the institute, Daniel. He is amazing. He told us stories of his adventurous life. We all shared lamb, tuna, steak and veal. Accompanied by baked potatoes, potato pancakes and beer. Then for dessert we dined on Honey Cake, or Medovik, with espresso. The food and company made for such a special night. Dinner led to wandering around and exploring the city with sweet friends. Then back to the hostel to hang out.

Our next day was a free day, so we got up, got some banana honey waffles, and headed out to explore. We went to another castle that had the most amazing view. Then a lot of coffee shop bumming around happened and we snagged some food before we loaded up the bus to head back.

It was a great weekend. Česky Krumlov amazed me.

Today we slept in and relaxed. We are gearing up to face the cold. Church is tonight, which I’m super pumped about. That community has been such a blessing already. I tried a small group with them last Wednesday. We wandered around and after getting lost, we ended up at the right apartment. We were welcomed in with loving arms. They made us dinner. They asked us about our lives and how we are doing. We had community. Beautiful, precious community. We studied the Bible together, and prayed for and with each other. It was such a glimpse of heaven for me. People from America, the Czech Republic, and even other places, coming together to grow in the Lord. During prayer, a lovely woman whose name was actually Anna prayed to our Lord in Czech. I had no idea what she was saying. But I didn’t need to. It was beautiful. Because she was talking to our Lord in the language He gave her, and that is beautiful. Wednesday nights will be a beautiful thing for me, I’m sure. They were so nice and willing to help us in any way.

Today I had coffee with a kind woman from Logos Learning Center. Logos is a place where Czechs can partner with an English speaker to meet for coffee once a week and have conversation about life in order to better their English. I am so excited about this. I start next week, and will probably be paired with two Czech girls that are good friends. Guys … I cannot wait. The program is Christian based, and I am so pumped to share life with Czechs and to learn from them and their lives.

Tomorrow marks two weeks of living here. I feel like I flew in yesterday, but in another weird, inexplicable way, I feel like I have lived here for months already. I’m loving Prague more everyday. These months are going to fly by. So excited! I’ll keep you posted!

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GROUP

Perspective.

I’m in Prague.

I still kind of can’t believe it. Is this real? Every morning I wake up and question if I am really in the Czech Republic or if it was some cruel dream where I’ll wake up to find I never left Charlotte.

What an adventure this has already been. 

My flights were great! Beside the obnoxious length of them, everything was smooth. All baggage made its way to Prague, I had friends with me on every flight, and we made it. Safe and sound. We arrived at the Prague airport and we were greater by a tall, large Czech man that spoke no English. We piled into his van, and Led Zeppelin and Nickleback filled the silence as our driver with his long, black ponytail directed us to the mysterious place that would be our home for the next 3 months.

We arrived, got our rooms, dropped our stuff, and headed out to explore. What a day. I left Charlotte and 24 hours later I’m in the city of Prague gazing at castles and cobblestone streets in the night.

Everything has honestly been great. Orientation brought us a tour of our institute and a walking tour of the cities that surrounded us. So beautiful. So different from America. So full of new adventure. The school is beautiful. We have gone to the Charles Bridge twice to see locals, take pictures, and just to be amazed by the beauty of Prague. People have been kind to us, for the most part. We find ourselves saying, “Dang, we are so American” when we are so oblivious as to what to do in certain situations. We just have to let it happen and learn the hard way sometimes. It is so crazy to be somewhere that I cannot understand the language. I love people. I want to speak to these people and understand them, but connecting with them in any way is difficult. I’m working on some basic Czech phrases. We’ll see how far I get. I never realized how much I read, either. The constant signs and advertisements pass me by as I have given up on trying to understand any of them. I am living in a visual world over here. It’s kind of nice. A lot of the junky noise is eliminated, and life is just left to live. I can’t text anyone, so my time with technology has taken a hit, which has also been nice in a way. I’m left in a place that I don’t understand, forcing me to go out and explore and to learn.

I am missing people a lot. This is a shootout to all of my NC State friends. State is like home to me, and I left a lot of special people there this semester. And my fantastic parents and brother and sister of course! But communication is possible, which I am so grateful for. Missing people will be a struggle for me while I’m here, but it’s ok. It will just make coming home eventually super exciting.

We had our first day of classes on Thursday. I only have my photography studio on Thursdays. It was so great. We walked in to our teacher playing a 20 minute classical music piece for us, and then continued on to hear him apologize for his English about 5 times and ask us if we needed a break about 6 times. I am soooo not used to this kindness. Studios in America have gone a little differently for me. But anyways … he went through the syllabus and it got me so excited! This is the first time I can ever remember being excited for school. I am studying something I love in a beautiful place with intelligent professors that genuinely want to help. What could be better?

I was thinking about why I love photography so much. I can’t help it. I love seeing things. Photography changes the way you see. You look at things differently. You catch moments of beauty, struggle, pain, and joy that most others miss, because you’re looking for it. Seeing has to be intentional sometimes. Photography makes me be intentional about truly seeing. And in a place likes this, I especially want to see things. The people. Their emotions. The architecture. The weather. The food. The light. Everything.

Our professor was explaining the basics of photography for everyone and he said, “everything comes back to light.” It’s true. Photography is all about light. It’s literally taking light, reflecting it with mirrors, and imprinting it. How crazy is that? Light is the source of photography. We try to figure out ways to use it, bend it, distort it, and record it. Without light, we couldn’t have pictures. There would be no recording of sweet memories or expressions of artistic passion. Just darkness. Nothingness.

During our lecture, our professor finally grasped a word he’d searched so hard to find: perspective! “It’s funny, ‘perspective’ is the same in English as it is in Czech. There is no difference.” So, perspective. No matter where I am in the world, perspective is something I must have. Because no matter where I am, my Lord is with me. The same perspective. Because I have the same Lord here as I do in America. Which I am so thankful for.

I’ve already seen Him.

I was at a coffee shop with my friend, and as we got up to leave, a couple behind me tapped my arm …

“Excuse me ma’am, sorry to pry, but we heard you speaking English!”

“Yes, I am American.”

“We thought you must be a tourists from America.”

We kept talking and I told them that I was studying here for a while. They were so interested. Their English was fantastic. They were so beyond kind.

“Why are you all here?”

“We are missionaries from Ukraine. We lived in New York for a while.”

“Are you serious?! I love Jesus!”

My exclamation might have been a little much. But smiles and joy filled their faces as they furthered our conversation.

“Are you serious?! That is so great! There are not many here who love the Lord. This is a dark place.”

It’s true. This is a dark place. But our Lord is so faithful. What are the chances that I would be sitting beside two missionaries in one of the hundreds of coffee shops in all of Prague? Almost as crazy that I attended an English church tonight that people from Charlotte, NC planted. I walked in to the Prague train station where I found a little room in the back full of different kinds of people that were all speaking English. We worshiped together. Took communion together. Heard a message. All for the same God that we all love. It’s crazy, really, so many different people from different backgrounds and areas all uniting for the same God. It was such a haven. Such a blessing. He is already showing up and taking care of me. What a relief. Just makes me so excited for these 4 months. I have no idea what is coming my way. There is light here. And I’m keeping perspective. Perfect.

Friends, I am loving Prague. It has only been 6 days, and it’s already been crazy awesome. Can’t wait to see what is to come! I’ll try to write as much as possible. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers! You all are amazing.

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This is my beautiful, flipping fantastic roommate!

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PEACE, AMERICA.

Today is my last day in America …

WHAT.

I write to you from my big, leather chair in my living room. Tomorrow is my last day in America for 4 months. Crazy. The only thing that makes it seem real is the past month of intense errands and details that I have been attending to. And all the goodbyes I’ve said. I had no idea I was so bad at goodbyes. I love people a lot. And I am hardcore sad about leaving people and leaving NC State. ITS ONLY 4 MONTHS, ANNA. FOUR MEASLY MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE. Anyways … All month I have felt so unprepared. It’s been constant lists: things to buy, issues to handle, things to know and people to say goodbye to. I’M SO OVER IT. But then … I ate dinner at my precious friends’ house …

 

I stood in the doorway with lights shinning through the glass door and out into the overwhelming darkness of the night that lead me to yet another goodbye. Multiple, actually. To a family that I love and adore. They have seen me grow up and flourish and find the Lord.

 

“Hey guys, come here. We’re going to pray for Anna.”

 

That was all it took for our mighty Lord. They laid hands on me and prayed over me and I stepped into their driveway and I felt prepared. I could feel the Lord hardening my heart in the way it needed. And so since then, goodbyes have gotten easier and packing has been productive.

 

I’m ready. Let’s go …

 

Friends, my heart is so excited for this. This will be so much more than studying abroad for me. This is a gift. Months of complete adventure with Him there with me, every second. I’m gonna see His people that I’ve never seen before. I’m going to see His world and ridiculous creations of beauty and wonder that He spoke into being. I’m going to see Him. In everything. And I’m going to live in constant prayer. And I’m going to sing prayers of thanks for this because I know this is so rare and He has given me this time to pray and seek and find Him. This is a break for me. To spend some time with my Jesus. I’m going to come back filled up and ready. And nothing excites me more …

 

Actually, Prague is the darkest city in Europe. There are practically no churches or religion. Yet, by some miracle, there is a church in Prague that people at NC State have a hook up with! I’m going to see the true meaning of the church. God’s people from all over the world, coming together to worship and seek the same God worthy of all adoration. That gives me chills just thinking about it.

 

Lovely people, I will miss many of you more than you’ll ever know. But I am so ready for this 4 month adventure. Email and Facebook are always open to talk! Thanks for the overwhelming love and support I have going into this … I’m leaving feeling prepared and well prayed for.

 

I’ll try to update this blog as often as possible with stories of adventure and lessons I’m learning while there. My hands, mind and heart are all open. See you soon, America!

 

Entertaining Angels

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.” Hebrews 13:2

I think I may have entertained an angel a couple of days ago.

I know. It sounds crazy. And how would I actually know, right?

I had a rough night. An anticipated evening out had turned into an anxious attempt to get to my dorm and go to bed. I felt awful. I was annoyed. And I was over the night that I had looked forward to all week. Anna needed to be away from people. ASAP.

I pulled into my dorm parking lot, my roommate in the passenger seat beside me, driving around the building desperately searching for an open parking spot so that I wouldn’t get a ticket in the morning. I shot up a prayer of desperation … “Lord, please. PLEASE. All I want is a parking spot. I feel terrible. I’m in the worst mood. I just want to go to bed. PLEASE.”

And so, there was still nothing open.

In frustration, I floored it out of the parking lot across campus to park my car in the designated permit section.

About halfway to my destination, I glanced at a street lamp. There sat a middle-aged man, reading. Now, I live in downtown Raleigh. There is no short supply of homeless people. On my walk to my dorm I usually encounter at least 3, but in this particular spot, I had never encountered any. For some reason, I paid special attention to this man as my car whizzed by him. What was he reading? His Bible?

I blew it off. I forgot about him.

I parked, sighed, complained and began the journey back that felt like I was hiking Mount Everest (maybe a tad dramatic). Me and my roommate were strolling along, recapping what a terrible night it had been and how frustrated we were with people. I looked up and noticed the man who had once caught my attention. We were approaching him on our way back to the homestead. We got closer, and with every step I was pondering his placement and reading activity.

Finally, our paths crossed.

I looked down at him and he raised his head to lock eyes with me. “Excuse me, ladies, is there any chance you would have an ink pen that I could buy from you?”

For some reason, when he asked us, he closed what he was reading, losing his place completely. He sat the book down beside him on the brick bench, completely shifting his focus to my eyes. But my eyes followed the book that read “Holy Bible” on the front.

Insert shameful, conflicted decision-making. I did not have a pen. Amanda said she didn’t have a pen. We said we were sorry. And we moved on.

I love homeless people. Raleigh has taught me a lot about them. There have been many times when I have engaged with them, taking them to buy them lunch or dinner. Talking to them about who they are and where they came from. I have resources to help them. So I try to. But more times than not, I fail to see God in them. I fail to remember that He cherishes that soul so much and died for that one human standing right in front of me. Sometimes I blow them off because Anna is super prideful and selfish and doesn’t want to help right now. I know … It’s so dumb.

So … yes. We left. We walked away. We took maybe 20 steps and then … we felt it.

“Amanda, why didn’t we talk to that man? He was reading his Bible.”

“I don’t even know. We need to.”

So, with this, we turned around. Amanda violently dug through her purse as to try to find some magical pen that the Lord would make appear for this specific situation. She dug out a busted pen that was still usable. Sweet victory.

“Excuse me sir, I think we found a pen you can use!” I exclaimed nervously as we approached this stranger for a second time.

“Oh, thank you.” He dug in his pocket to get some change to pay us for our “gift”.

“Oh no, please just take it. It’s busted, but it is still usable. We want you to have it.”

“Are you sure? … Thank you, ladies.”

It was pounding on my heart. In my brain. In my soul. So I just said it. I just threw it out there.

“Were you reading the Bible? Do you know Jesus?”

“Yes, I was. I do know Jesus.”

“We do too. We love Jesus. So much.”

“Yes, that’s good. That’s very good.”

“Ya, well, we hope the pen works for you! Sorry it is busted … have a great night!”

“You too. Thank you. Thank you for the pen.”

We were off. We took about 10 steps this time and he called out to us … “Hey, ladies! …”

“Jesus, He loves YOU.”

He pointed directly at us, as if casting a spell, and held our gazes for a good 5 seconds with a smile that seemed as if Jesus Himself had just whispered words into his ear and told him to call after us. It was like Jesus had taken over this man to tell us He loved us. Specifically. There was something different about this man … I can’t explain it … He was simple … but the way he used his words, the way his face looked as if He really KNEW Jesus … in a different way … I don’t even know …

We walked away and immediately Hebrews 13:2 rushed into my mind. “Manda … I think that man was an angel.”

I turned to meet the white, astounded face of my precious roommate. She simply replied, “I think you’re right.”

The rest of the walk home was filled with silence. Amanda was shaking. My mind was racing. We couldn’t handle conversation. Our thoughts were too consuming. We thought we had just met an angel. One who dwells with the most high. One who sings and rejoices with the Lord over his earthly children. We had just maybe … maybe … entertained an angel. With a busted ink pen. What?!

We got back to the room, opened the door, and burst into an analysis of what had just happened.

A night of complaining and despair was flipped by a glimpse of supernatural love from our Lord.

Man, I’m so glad there wasn’t a parking spot.

Please just remember … you never know who you’ll meet today.

Say What!?

“Anna, I want you to work in an office of 30 women all summer long.”

SAY WHAT, GOD.

I’m super excited to be blog hopping with the beloved Proverbs 31 Ministries because my “SAY WHAT” actually has to do with them.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

3 Months ago, I found myself sitting in my little dorm room, tired and run down. I was exhausted. My desperate attempt to knock out every last design project for the month left me drained. I sat on my bed, decided to check my email one more time before I went to work all night, and found an email that would change my summer … actually my whole life, really.

A friend … well really an acquaintance … had emailed me. I had no idea this girl knew anything about me. We had never conversed in person, just one conversation over the phone to get some information about the NC State College of Design before I was accepted. I had never met her. She was just a really sweet, generous girl who had helped a scared little freshman understand my new world a little better.

She kindly told me that she had interned with a girl who now works for Proverbs 31, and they were in need of a graphic design student to intern for the summer. She gave me the link and simply said: “You should do this.”

Should I?

I’m a very “in the now” type of person. I am terrible at planning and usually just take life as it comes. I’m not very picky. I’m terrible with decisions. This can be a good thing, but many times it can lead to procrastination and missed opportunities. While most of my friends were interviewing and planning out summers, I was hanging out, trying to make sure I had made plans for dinner …

It was as if God had taken this rare opportunity for this internship and just dropped it in my lap.

For those of you who don’t know me too well, I’m kind of a bro. I’m not too into shopping or makeup. I’d much rather hang with the bros and just laugh and have fun than get caught up in the tons and tons of drama that women can produce. I don’t really handle drama very well. I can’t stand it.

So … 30 women.

It was SO obvious God was saying “Anna … you should do this.”

Reluctantly, I said yes (after a few “SAY WHAT”s) and applied and accepted the internship with Proverbs 31 Ministries.

I had no idea what was coming.

I’m writing to you now 3 months later on my second to last day as a P31 intern. I was in that office every day, 8:30-5 with these women of God that have changed the world.

How selfish of me … to expect such a low standard of women who have dedicated themselves to the Lord.

I showed up on that first day thinking “Well, here we go, Lord. A drama-filled summer.” And tomorrow I leave the office as a retired P31 intern that has seen the Lord’s hand on these women and all they do and how they love each other and constantly strive hard after furthering His kingdom.

I’ve sat with women as they open up and share their hearts and stories that have so deeply scared them but that they gave to the Lord and watched Him blossom beautiful things from their dirt. They gave Him control. They conquered the unconquerable. They’ve done things no one thought that they could.  They are always listening for His voice, and when they hear it, they chase with radical obedience.

I’ve formed bonds with the 3 interns (whose links are below) that I didn’t think were possible. A mixture of NC State, USC, and Liberty sisters all coming from extremely different places, but uniting in the thing we all deeply shared and adored. We went on adventures together. Figured out things we’d never done before. Sat in an office all day every day creating laughs and entertainment. We prayed with each other, anytime one of us needed it. We shed tears. We shared hard spots. We overcame.

I’ve designed a lot (including this blog hop button!). I saw things that I slaved over on my computer for 2 months come to life and create an environment for women who appreciated it more than I ever thought possible. I learned business and how the graphic world really works. I saw hard work pay off. I saw beauty increase. I saw systems be improved. I acquired new skills. I learned.

I’ve been loved on like never before. This group of great women opened up their office to squeeze in 4 girls they didn’t know for the whole summer and made it a priority to love on us, grow and develop us, and to show us the Lord. They anointed our hands to serve. They prayed over us and our dreams. They showed us our strengths and weaknesses. They encouraged us to live big for the Lord.

I’m pretty sure I had the best internship ever.

So what if I had said no …

Sweet friends, even in your moments of “SAY WHAT, GOD?!”, there is nothing better than saying Yes to Him. What He calls you to … He’ll never let you do alone.

My heart beams when I think of how the Lord has blessed me this summer. I have learned so much in every aspect of life. They have loved me, equipped me, and now it’s time for me to go out and carry all I’ve learned to those who haven’t learned yet.

Thank you, Proverbs 31 women … you have blessed me more than you will ever know and I adore every last one of you.

To see how saying YES to God has affected their summer, check out the other Proverbs 31 interns.

• Kaitlin • Camryn • Lexie 

The Ultimate Designer

There is something about the beach that eases my soul.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I feel like God meets me on my yearly beach trips in an obvious, extraordinary way.

Maybe it is because I am a creator.

I’m a designer. I love creation. When I am presented with a project, my brain sort of freaks out and goes in a million different directions. I almost don’t know where to start. I feel overwhelmed, but in an excited way (if that makes any sense). When I finish, I feel accomplished. There is a sense that I contributed something to the world around me. I made something that hopefully someone will understand, appreciate and enjoy.

So when I look at the beach, I see creation. Maybe it’s the way when you step into the sand. You fall into it, but you’re cushioned. You’re literally falling into the earth, but it is so pleasant. It’s like walking on pillows that give you a pedicure at the same time. Plus, have you ever though about how many tiny grains of sand exists?! It’s ridiculous. Millions upon millions of tiny specs mold together to line the shore and seem to melt into the constant moving water that pulls itself toward it but almost isn’t strong enough to make it all the way.

And the wind. It cools you as the sun beats down on your skin. It seems to handle every wave individually, cradling and folding it over to crash back into the body it came from. It makes the environment move and feel alive. It ruffles the sand and mixes that unmistakable ocean mist around for all to breathe.

The water. Chilly to the touch, but refreshing after the sun has beat down on you. It’s not always clear, so you can’t see where you’re stepping. You have to feel it out, taking little steps of faith. The current creates a rhythm that sways your body. The salt is a natural restorative,  refreshing your skin. The waves keeping you on your toes, or knocks you off of them. It rolls over the sandy shore and retreats, leaving the sand smooth as slate to reflect His colorful creation in the skies. When you walk along the shore, your feet covered in sand, you wish for another little wave to sweep over, leaving them clean and spotless.

The sun. This ball of light that is 92,960,000 miles from us (I might have googled that) is constantly beating down on you. Even with this crazy distance, it can radiate enough to actually change the aesthetic of your body in a matter of minutes. It colors us, heats us up, makes us sweat, and keeps us alive. There is no other place that you experience the sun like the beach. It feels as if it is directly above you. Like you could stretch your arm up into the sky and latch on with your measly fingers.

The sky. It is as if God creates daily, unique paintings over the water. One second it can be bright blue, full of fluffy clouds, and by sunset there are raging oranges and purple that engulf the sun as it seeks its hiding place for the night. It can also be black, showing a raging storm full of chaos approaching. Or light blue, when the day begins, making it impossible to distinguish the sky from the still water.

The sounds. Each wave taking its time to cease its plunge forward. Each one crashes, and then you find yourself waiting for the next to do the same. It’s a constant cycle, but you enjoy it. The squawking birds that wander around have made sun-bathing humans a normal part of life. The conversations. The laughter. The silence that seems to tie it all together. It’s like a silent humming that mutes everything else around you.

The action. It seems to capture you and suck you into the now. The past and the future (apart from the planned putt-putt and divine dinners planned for the week) evaporate from your mind. You seem to forget all your stresses. Your problems. Your worries. Your thoughts are refreshed. You see people experience the same freedom from life and you join together in relaxation and restoration. There is an understood peace.

It’s like another world.

If I tried to make a grain of sand, my mind would explode because I can’t. I can’t control the waves. I can’t make the wind carry this sweet ocean scent to the ones I love for them to breathe in. No matter how creative I could get or how badly I wanted it to happen, I couldn’t.

This post isn’t very purposeful except to just remind you that our Lord is the ultimate Creator. I find myself in awe of the creations that He has given us to see His power. Moments of love from the Lord where I find myself at peace and full of love and wonder. What an artists. What a lover. What a love that He gives in these details that heal our souls. So thankful for this place and this design.

“Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
    or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
    and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
    its features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light,
    and their upraised arm is broken.”

Job 38: 8-15

( Job 38  is a crazy display of God’s design. Take a peek! )

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