Well, I am back in Kansas City and it is so good to be here! It was definitely time to come home. So far, I have already baked chocolate chunk cookies, pumpkin custards, snickerdoodle cookies, gingerbread men & women (as well as homemade royal icing to decorate them with), chocolate-peanut butter cookies (the ones with a Hershey’s kiss in the center), banana pudding, oatmeal raisin cookies – and I haven’t even been here for a week yet! Sometimes I seriously consider culinary school…hopefully someday
As much as I enjoy being home, I miss my friends from Nashville terribly! I have talked to all of them almost every day (sometimes more than once or twice) and hearing their voices only makes me miss them even more. If home is where the heart is, then mine is truly torn between KC and Nashville. Last year, I had a pretty hard time leaving to return to Belmont; this year I feel like I will be more ready to go back. I think that it will always be somewhat difficult to say goodbye to family – especially knowing that I won’t see them for a few months – but it’s so much easier to get on the plane knowing that there are loved ones eagerly awaiting my arrival. I can’t imagine being away from both my family and my friends for an entire YEAR! I will have to (somehow) prepare for that since I will be studying in Spain during my junior year.
Thanks to Skype and Gmail’s video chat option, I should be able to keep in touch with loved ones and have it (almost) feel like we’re together. It has definitely made the distance between Dan and I feel much smaller. Being 4,594 miles (that’s approximately how far it is from Nashville to Spain – I looked it up here) away from home will be tough at first, but I feel blessed to have the opportunity to go and I know that it will be one of the best experiences of my life. My friend and roommate, Ateia bought me a tapas cookbook for Christmas since we will both be in Spain together! I have yet to attempt making tapas, but it makes me very excited to think that this time next year I will be enjoying those authentic Spanish appetizers and immersing myself in the culture. My feelings about studying abroad for the year, as of now, are a strange combination of being so eager to leave and, at the same time, so reluctant to be away from the ones that I love for so long. It will truly be another year of transition, but I am ready for it and looking forward to every step of the journey.
This week has been unpredictable, amazing and hopeful.
I finished finals with a blast. The grades turned out better than expected; and for that matter, the hours of studying for senior level exams was quite worth it.
Now I’m going to cut right to the chase:
This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the Opry at the Ryman with the lead singer of Diamond Rio. His name is Mr. Marty — and he is definitely rock-awesome. I am thankful, grateful and so appreciative that the Lord made all of this possible!
Here are my Top 6 moments of the evening:
#1. Driving back and forth to the Opry with Mr. Marty and talking about the Lord, Family, Country Music, Wisconsin, Sonic, Adoption, and Mint-Chocolate Chip ice cream
#2. Standing on the historic stage of the Ryman Auditorium (the mother church of Country Music).
#3. Walking on stage to take the guitar from Mr. Marty when he finished his first song, “Beautiful Mess.”
#4. Being introduced to Carrie Underwood, Nan Kelley (Great American Country host) & new-comer, Julianne Hough.
#5. Witnessing the shining lights reflecting against the thunderous applause of the audience.
#6. Realizing that childhood dreams of one day, moving to Nashville and being a part of the Opry really do come true.
Are you searching for your dreams?
If so — grab a compass, a roadmap, or a journal; and ultimately, realize that you may already be living them.
P.S. Merry Christmas! Make Jesus the Reason this season!
1. Go to Bongo Java–this spot is a local favorite and RIGHT across the street from Belmont! This is by far my favorite place to study AND not to study
2. Go to Waffle House– Late at night there’s nothing that hits the spot like a car full of friends and a chocolate chip waffle!
3. Hang out in your lobby/clubhouse
4. Write songs with friends
5. Write songs alone
6. Go to Cafe Coco or the Curb Cafe for Open Mike Night
7. Go see Twilight
8. Take a trip downtown with friends
9. Get queso at Satco!
10. Play board games or watch a movie with friends
Being in college makes you realize how little you actually know about life. At least, this has been my experience so far. I would venture to say that I have learned more in the last 16 months of being here than I did during middle school and high school combined. I have certainly grown as a person much more than I did during that time frame. Experiencing true independence – and learning to embrace it – has been one of the biggest factors in instigating this change. I was reflecting on all of these things while I was at my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving last week. Of course, I don’t nearly have it all figured out yet…but here are some things about life that I know for sure:
1) Not everything is black-and-white. In fact, I find myself taking a “gray” position on most of the major issues (especially political ones). Being the detail-oriented person that I am, it sometimes frustrates me to not have the answers to life’s toughest questions. What I have learned, though, is how to accept that uncertainty and turn it into faith.
2) The best things always seem to happen when you least expect it. Last year I tried very hard to make certain things happen for myself. First of all, I wanted to establish a good group of friends. At the start of the spring semester last year (while I was still an Education major), I prayed specifically to find a good friend in my Foundations of Education class. I just wanted to find someone who would get me—someone who I could vent to, split muffins from Bongo Java with, exercise with, wander the aisles of Target aimlessly with, eat at Panera every Sunday night with—someone like that. This semester, I found that person. Actually, God has blessed me with several of them. I met my amazing friend, Hope, in Biology (I’m actually on my way to her house in Murfreesboro right now!) this semester. Her friendship has been such an answered prayer; I am so grateful that she decided to ask me to study with her one night. Something else that I tried to make happen for myself was this: I wanted a boyfriend.
Not just any boyfriend, but someone that I could potentially see myself marrying. When Dan pursued a relationship with me six weeks ago, it took be surprise. I would have never seen it coming, but, looking back, it makes complete sense. When you trust in God’s timing, everything just seems to fall into place perfectly.
3) Life is incredibly fragile. On Thanksgiving, my mom always asks my brother and me to list three things that we are thankful for. The first thing that came to my mind this year was the health of my family members. I consistently take it for granted; forgetting how much life can change in the blink of an eye. When I stop and think about it, I am overwhelmed by how blessed we are.
4) Smiling is the easiest way to bridge the distance between two people. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to smile at a stranger and ask how they are, but it often makes a bigger impact than we realize.
5) In the words of Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
“I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love, even more than I usually do.”
On Saturday, December 20 – I’ll be landing on the runway of the Central Wisconsin airport.
It will be such a grand feeling to see my parents, the greatest miracle in my life.
I know I will definitely miss Music City when I board that plane, but cannot wait to go home.
So, this past week was Thanksgiving break and it was pretty awesome. Not only did I get a good amount of homework done, but I also saw so many family members I hadn’t seen in a while, laughed very very hard, and ate great food. Here’s a silly picture with me and 3 out of my 5 siblings acting a fool, but it was loads of fun:
Wow, there are only two weeks left until the end of my first semester at Belmont. Time has really flown by these last couple of months. The transition from high school to college was difficult at times, but definitely worth it. I have had some amazing teachers here. Their courses were very challenging yet I learned a lot from them. I have also been improving on the saxophone and piano while I have been here. My saxophone teacher, Rashaan Barber has truly helped me improve my saxophone technique and tone quality. He is really knowledgeable about the sax and he has pushed me to be the best musician I can possibly be. Daniel Landes, my piano teacher, has helped me to not only improve my piano proficiency, but he has also made me a better musician overall by having me practice phrasing, improvisation, and harmonization.
Another person that has been influential to me has been Dr. Barry Kraus, Belmont’s Wind Ensemble director. He consistently challenges the ensemble by giving us difficult literature and expecting us to perform at the top of our capabilities. Being his first year at Belmont, he is doing a successful job in improving the wind ensemble. One of the reasons I look up to him is because I hope to someday become a college band director. Dr. Kraus has proven to have the qualities of a great director.
Overall, these last couple of weeks of school are going to be really busy. Not only do I have to worry about finals, but I still have projects, papers, and saxophone juries coming up next week. I am also switching my housing arrangements for next semester by moving into Pembroke Hall. There is a lot of stuff that I am going to have to move from my current room to my new dorm, but I know my friends will be willing to help me make this transition. Although I am going to be busy these next several weeks, I am looking forward to having almost a month off for Christmas Break.