Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Where's HOME for you?

Today marks the 3 month-a-versary of starting my new Brethren Volunteer Service position in Elgin, IL!  It is difficult for me to believe that I’ve already been here for 3 months.  I felt the same way when I was at my first BVS project for this long (or short, however you look at it).  Something that I noticed as soon as I arrived in Elgin was that everyone was asking me the same question:  “Where’s home for you?”  This caught me off guard a little because most of the time people just ask you where you’re from.  But ever since coming to Elgin the question has been re-worded to where I call home instead. 

I didn’t even know how to answer.  I call so many places my home.  Of course my initial reaction is to say, “Bridgewater, Virginia!”  Yes, Bridgewater was my home for nearly 15 years but I technically don’t live there anymore…so does that make it not my home anymore?  Last year I lived in Sullivan County, New York.  I called that my home for nearly one year…but I don’t live there anymore, so does that make it not my home anymore?  Now, I live in Elgin…so do I call this my home?
These are challenging questions for BVSers.  Where do we call home?  We leave the safety of our original home to go and live somewhere else for a year or two or maybe even six or seven!  Our year might take us to a new home, a new town, a new community.  Then after that, do go back to our first home?  Do we move on to another new home?  And after all this traveling, where are we supposed to “call home”? 

Here is my answer to where home is for me:

·          Bridgewater, VA at my parents’ house with my two cats and our stunning mountain views.
·         Wherever there is a campfire.
·         Liberty, NY with my amazing Youth Economic Group members and Methodist church community.
·         Wherever my friends are.
·         Elgin, IL with my 5 housemates and a new Brethren church community.
·         Wherever I sleep at night wearing my sweatpants and a watching a movie on my laptop.
·         Camp Ithiel, where I had my orientation for BVS.
·         Bridgewater College, in my room with my best friend, Katie Smith.

There are so many more!  I realized that the “Where’s home for you?” question is a broad one.  I am at home whenever I am happy. This might seem silly to others but it makes perfect sense to me.   Although, I do think everyone can relate to the fact that wherever there is familiarity and comfort there is a sense of homey-ness.
I feel completely blessed when I think of ‘home’.  I have been traveling a lot recently and in my travels I have found so many places that I can call home.  

So whomever is reading this, I challenge you to pause and think about what the word home means to you.  Maybe you start with where you live or one moment in your life when you were most happy.  Would you call that home?  Maybe home isn't an actual physical place but a state of mind.  If you’re a faithful type, send a Thank you up to God.  I also challenge you that anytime during your day or week that you feel at home, recognize the feeling and give thanks.  In a world with riots, suffering, and natural disasters, take a breath of thanksgiving for the happy things in life.




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Old and The New

Sometimes is seems that there isn't much that can be new anymore. I'm not getting any taller, I've had the same haircut for more than a year (and don't plan to change it anytime soon), I'm at my third project and in my fourth BVS year. "Coasting along" would be a pretty accurate description of how I feel many days.

Despite the familiarity of it, springtime is never quite a coast-along time, though. The first of our garden seeds - kale, I think - sprouted on Saturday, followed by the quick-germinating alyssum that had been planted indoors just a few days earlier.

They're tiny lil' suckers, alright. Part of the excitement with these is due to it being the first success story of an effort begun by Kristen and me last fall. We'd been collecting seeds whenever we happened to think of it and saving them away "for such a time as this" (sound familiar to anybody?). These seeds came from LeAnn's house which she's currently renting to Don. As exciting as sprouting seeds can be (but seriously, I love it), it's even better when there are stories of friends and travel intertwined with them. Still yet to come (hopefully): Cosmos and Zinnias from Kristen's parents; Marigolds from Taste of the Himalayas at Chelsea's farewell meal; Moon Flowers from the Mid-Atlantic District youth advisor's house (which I remember seeing when I was there as a youth for meetings); some more seeds from the Spring Street house; and Columbine and Chinese Hibiscus gathered during a walk at fall orientation in New Windsor.

In other news, I joined the smart phone world. As much as I'd resisted it, I had to acknowledge that there are some benefits to access to this sort of technology. Considering how much I traveled this past year, it would've been pretty nice to have a map readily available that 1.) didn't need to be printed and 2.) was smaller than my U.S. road atlas. I'm also able to keep up with (read: learn how to use) Instagram and potentially Twitter. This Snapchat thing has happened, too. Apparently I snap current and former female housemates quite a bit. This was me learning how to take a screenshot, FYI.

Another first happened this past weekend. Theresa (whom I've taken to calling Tessa without really realizing it) and I spent the entire weekend with the house to ourselves. To preserve the sanctity of housemate relations and bonds of trust, I will not go into any further details regarding movies watched and amounts of ice cream consumed. Suffice it to say we enjoyed ourselves.

Maybe it's not as old and boring as I'd initially thought. To be fair, ice cream always helps. Until next time...


Monday, April 13, 2015

We're all here! Here's a great shot of everyone in the house, plus our friend Kelley, at the house for Spiritual Direction.
This was a novel photo, as we only had about four days during the last two or three months where we were all together. Crazy, huh?

Here are a few more photographs from the past weeks including mid-year retreat, my time pet-sitting, fun remembering and celebrating Easter with good friends and dying eggs, a birthday story in pictures, and gardening!

Our fantastic mid-year retreat group at Camp Dickson Valley:

 No. Way.
 Yeah, that's right, Jessie! We DID make all of these! :D

Easter sunset in Kansas

To round it out, here's a look at our gardening and planning thus far.


These beautiful flowers, "Siberian Squill", can be found ALL OVER ELGIN. It's crazy!!! It is not uncommon to see a front lawn covered in hundreds of these little things, making a wonderful sea of blue beauty. Gorgeous.

Happy spring, everyone! From our house to yours, have a peaceful and fresh start to the spring season!