5 states, and a 19 hour car ride makes for an interesting car ride, but put a week's worth of events between both ends of the drives and you get an interesting trip.
Some of you may know that I spent my Spring Break in Bear Branch, Kentucky, or Leslie County, Kentucky, or just Eastern Kentucky depending on how you look at it.
Basically, it was a really small group of small towns in the small corner that is Eastern Kentucky. It's not too small to name the individual towns, but it's small enough that you can't tell the differences between places because the town lines blur between the wooded trees and mountains of Appalachia.
It's funny because they aren't really mountains either. They are more along the lines of really big hills that are covered completely in trees and brush, and trying to hike them is like crawling on your hands and knees at an upward angle of almost 180 degrees. It's not like the rockies people.
During the week we worked alongside Big Creek Staff, a mission group who works in Leslie County, and fellow Christian Student Fellowship members (my campus ministry, also called CSF). Different teams went out into the community each day to provide a variety of volunteer work to the people who need it. Some of the main projects included the construction of a 90 foot wheelchair ramp, fixing up an older man's home. Other groups could volunteer at the retired community, adult day care, or working with high school students.
I spent my first two days at the high school, and I got to hang out with students to talk to them about their interests in college and moving away. Which, just like any other high school, the majority of the students had plans to leave and start over somewhere new. It was interesting to see the similarities between this high school, and the high schools I have experience with back home in Nebraska. It was also just as interesting to hear the differences. For example, my friend Logan was talking to a boy who said (without knowing we were from Nebraska) that if he could go anywhere, he would pick a place with a few rolling hills, some corn fields, and maybe even a few cows. It's crazy to think that our home is someone else's dream location, and put a lot of things in perspective.
The next two days I spent volunteering at their local coffee shop called, The Well, and should you ever find yourself in this part of Eastern Kentucky, I promise you that it's worth a stop. The store is run by all volunteers, and all of the money that they make goes towards the up-keep of their local food pantry. It was really fun to work there and meet a variety of people from the area and hear their stories. I think one of the coolest things I heard from the customers was that, because they had grown up in the mountains their whole life, they felt that if they weren't surrounded by the mountains, they would feel unsafe. It's like the mountains act as some sort of shield from the rest of the world. I had never even considered that symbolism considering we live in such a flat area, but I found it to be a beautiful illustration.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I learned so much about myself, and the people I was with. It really is true that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. It didn't always feel like I was doing much, but without the little bits that each person contributed on the trip, there would have been no progress at all. I would encourage anyone to take a step out of their comfort zone to go and serve someone in need, because it really does change the outlook you have when you come home. Going to college may seem hard at times, or holding down a job, but when you look at the big picture, we are so blessed to have these opportunities because that hard work will pay off to provide further opportunities that not everyone has privilege to. For example, did you know that their closest Walmart is about an hour away. They have to worry about how they are going to get groceries, while I think i have to worry about picking just one grocery store to go to. I am so grateful to CSF for giving me the opportunity to serve, and I'm even more grateful that I was able to go on the trip. God is so good, and I can't wait to go back next year.
Good afternoon all! This post might seem a little ironic, as it's coming to you live from social media, but I've really been doing a lot of thinking this week, and I've come to the conclusion that...
Social media is killing me.
Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but this weekend I really took notice to how much of a distraction it was causing me. It started when I posted an Instagram photo, when I was supposed to be writing a midterm paper. Every paragraph I would allow myself a, what was supposed to be, quick break, in order for me to see the number of likes my picture was getting. That would then turn into me telling myself that it was okay to check Facebook, and then Twitter, then snap chat. I'd have to refocus my energy, and then in the next 15 minutes I was intertwined in the same vicious cycle.
I noticed it again when me and my siblings were sitting in the living room watching a movie. Not only was the tv screen lighting up the room, but so were four other individual screens lighting up each of our faces. All four of us completely engrossed in what was in front of us. Now, would an earth shattering conversation have happened between the four of us that could change the world, had we not had our phones in our hands?
But we might have shared in some quality sibling bonding time, had we actually been paying attention to each other.
When I preparing to write this blog, I thought of the other ways social media has created a distraction in my everyday life, and it turns out it happens a lot more than I realize, not only does it distract me from doing simple tasks like homework, but it also dictates when I wake up, and when I go to bed. How many are guilty of reaching for our cell phones first thing in the morning? An even better question is, how many of us are guilty of sleeping next to our phones? I can assure you, I do both. I check it right when I wake up, and it's usually the last thing I do before falling asleep. If I could get over my addiction, I imagine my mornings would be more productive. I wouldn't have time to lay in bed, and I might actually get up to do that early morning workout I've been trying to do. Or I might not lie awake at night for an extra hour scrolling through endless amounts of feed.
Please don't get me wrong, I am never going to be the person who thinks that social media and technology are the things that are ruining the minds of millions, because they're not. In fact, I wouldn't be who I am today without creative outlets like Twitter and Instagram, but just like anything else, too much of something is always going to be a bad thing.
With that being said, I'm going to offer myself a challenge, and I will extend it to you too my fellow readers.
5 days without social media.
No Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, a full blown detox from the internet realm we so often call our home away from home. (For those of you who just had a minor stroke from the thought of quitting cold turkey, instead try cutting back. Rather than checking your phone right away in the morning, read the paper. If you check twitter more than five times a day, try doing it less than three. See what results come your way.)
I'm not doing this as some sick form of torture, I'm honestly intrigued on what other things I will spend my time on, when I'm not lying in bed watching pointless youtube videos, or scrolling through funny twitter accounts. I'm also doing this as sort of a detox before I spend the next week in Kentucky doing Mission work. I feel like my mind will be much more focused on a servant's heart if I'm able to step away from the "me" attitude that comes from posting my every thought out to the world, and maybe you feel the same way.
I'm not guaranteeing a perfect week on my part, but I am planning on taking a step back for the five day time limit.
So detox away my dear readers, and let me know how it goes.
One of the most prominent feelings that I can remember in high school, was the exact moment that it ended. We swore that we wouldn't make it out alive, and, that those days never had to end.
But then they did.
Now, I am in college, and it seems like I'm never going to get out of here either. I'm never going to graduate, but then that day will come, and I will be just as awe-struck, that again, the world kept turning, and it kept going somewhere, because the world doesn't stop for anyone.
The hardest part with realizing this, becomes the fact that once you finally reach the beginnings you've been waiting for, it's going to eventually come to an end, but it's what you do with the middle that matters.
All of life is just one big middle, and if we spend the whole time waiting and wanting to get to the end, we miss the best part. It's like eating an oreo, and skipping the delicious cream filled center because you know the chocolate covered ends will get eaten eventually.
Lately, I've been struggling with the middle. What do I do with it? How do I enjoy it? Or the better question, what makes today special? It's not always easy to answer these questions, because the every day always seems so mundane. Wake up, get ready, go to class, go to work, do homework, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. It's not like everyday can have a Beyonce concert at the end of it, but sometimes we wish it were that way, huh? But if we really thought about it, if every day was that special, then none of them would be.
Honestly, every single day is that special, because we get to wake up, and do you know how many people would kill to just wake up? Each day we wake up, we get to drink our favorite cup of coffee, and on the way to work or school, we can listen to our favorite song, and at night, we get to be in our favorite place, home.
So many things that happen in the everyday routine of the mundane, are so special, but we don't realize it because we do it every day. Imagine taking ten seconds out of every morning to appreciate your favorite breakfast cereal. It doesn’t take that much work to do, but it has the power to change your whole mindset.
You see, the middle is the best part. We just take it for granted because we get to have the best part of life, which is living, that we get to do everyday. It's so important not to wish we could fast forward to the end, or the part we've been waiting for. All we do then, is miss all the moments that got us to the important moments in the first place. Without the middle, we wouldn't amount to much, so we should stop wasting it away, and try and make something of it anyways, because the middle matters people, just like you do. Your everyday routines matter to everyone else too.
Milestones aren't the only thing that keep us going, because once we reach them we start chasing for something else to live for, and while the milestones are important, we technically have the capability to make everyday a milestone, and that's a really beautiful thing.
So enjoy your middle today.
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.