Thursday, June 30, 2016

I have never been a fan of summer...

Don't get me wrong, I have always loved what has taken place in summer-camp, no school, travel, sleep, berries, fresh tomatoes, lightened hair, freckles on faces, endless nights, etc. But this summer is teaching me to love the season as a whole.

I have been living in Boring, OR for a few months now, but I feel I am finally coming alive here. The clear, sunny days followed by sleepy rainy days followed by cold windy days is probably my favorite weather. Guess what? That is summer here. The mornings are so cold and the evenings tepid. There is enough gloominess that the buoyancy of the afternoon heat doesn't get a gal down.

Today, while tackling a patch of overgrown brush (with hand tools) in the June heat, I felt a rich thankfulness rise up in me. I can only describe the feeling as a smooth surety.

The past year has held a lot of unanswered questions for me. After graduating, I moved three times before traveling across the country. I had three different jobs. I got engaged, endured more long distance, said my goodbyes, moved to Oregon, watched my most loved person/fiance´of all time grieve loss, answered two calls having to do with said person in a car accident, spent my birthday on an uncomfortable faux leather chair in the trauma ward, commuted so long to go to a job that was draining (at best), and all the while, my prayers began and ended in questions. I finally quit my job without knowing what was next the beginning of this past month. Fortunately, I was hired as a nanny/farmhand for a small family in a neighboring town the day after my last day.

The question "what do I want to be doing right now?" was answered.

The farm is small, but the large property is wildly overgrown with beautiful, pesky green things. The girls I usually watch have been at camp this week, so I have been slowly helping tasks get crossed off the list. I have used my hands to nurture life, hack down weeds, enjoy farm fresh veggies for lunch, harvested wild herbs to (hopefully) make my own medicine, and gotten more sunburnt than I remember getting in the last five years. After my work was done for the day, I stood barefoot in the terrace garden. Earth was all around me and I felt capable, loved, and fulfilled. I am re-learning who I am and who I want to be. To be honest, I am thrilled at what is being revealed.

All my questions may not be answered, but the Lord is so good. He blesses richly and His coming is as sure as the dawn. What more do I need than this and Oregon sunshine?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today is coffee day

...and I'm getting a little sentimental.

I am currently sipping on an excessively frothy cinnamon latte. There is not one way that I don't like coffee. Strong and black during the chilly mornings at a campsite or milky and sweet on cool autumn afternoons. Coffee retains its perfection. Never failing and always full of hope. Coffee is much like love.

I don't know how you drink your coffee, but I would encourage you to explore the many facets of the most lovely and bold beverage this earth has to offer.

Here's to you, coffee.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A sappy post about trees.

I have been living in Chattanooga for almost a month now. I am working long hours, budgeting my time, pretending to budget my money, and the purple dye that graced my hair during the bliss of summer has almost completely faded. It is so strange to be a functioning adult who is worried about car troubles, insurance, and following plans. People all around me are studying at school and making lofty statements about the adventures they're going to have after they graduate and I'm like "Oh yeah, I remember that." I can hear younger me saying "I'm never going to move back home" or "I'm not looking to ever go back to Chattanooga."

When I was a teenager, I would hang my hammock up at the Riverpark almost everyday. While listening to the water move, I would stare up at the tall pines and wish to be like them. I thought that success and beauty looked like those trees: tall, strong, and evergreen. Imagine my dismay when I did not ever grow taller than 5'2", stopped exercising, and faced some particularly sad times.

Humans are not pine trees. They are fruit trees. They grow however tall they need to be, they face seasons, and some of their branches break under the pressure of living. What is supremely lovely about this? Sometimes the branches of a healthy fruit tree are so laden with blooms and sweet things that they hang low-so low to the ground that they can see their beginning.

The reality is, I'm here in Chattanooga and I'm living at my parent's house. I am "getting back to my roots," as they say. However, through running familiar trails, driving old roads, and seeing those friendly mountains, I have been brought tremendous joy. My fruits and blooms have brought me to this place again. I get to spend a prosperous and lush season here, all the while resting in the hope of future growth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

what week is it?

Week one of camp was so crazy and exhausting that it kind of felt like week five. Week two was so high energy and refreshing that it felt like week one. By the middle of week three,  I was feeling rested. I'm now halfway through all nations camp (it's already July!) and I'm so confused.

Anyway, the real week one of resident camp was an incredibly large week. We had a record number of campers and half the staff lost their voice by Wednesday. I lost mine mostly because I had to yell so loudly to get someone pass food from one end of the table to the other. Regardless, my campers were so enthusiastic about camp and really well behaved. They meshed well and there was little to no drama. I could not have had a better group to dress up like robots and learn how to do headstands with. Todd and I taught a super cool activity (1Peter1 club) that was all about encouraging words and acts of kindness. We ended the week out by giving Dirk (the camp dog) a bath. A good time was had by all. There are so many other stories I could tell, but those will have to wait for another day.

Week two was so challenging. My cabin was full of interesting twelve year old girls with layered lives and an unhealthy obsession with farts. I'm serious. Our whole skit on thursday was camp songs with new, flatulent lyrics. I had so much fun this week. The girls were really receptive to what was being shared with them.  I also taught "Wild Women" this week. Anna and I teamed up and shared wilderness and self-defense skills in this class. We built fires, punched the boy counselors, and made something out of wood. It was one of my favorite activities I've taught all summer. The week ended with hard rain and one of the sweetest talks with my camper in the warm, dusty woodshop.

I expected week three to be crazy. I had thirteen thirteen year old campers with Hannah in the new cabin...which just so happens to be on the boy's side of camp. Honestly, I was predicting drama, sleep deprivation, and purpling issues. Instead, the girls were all friends, I  napped often, and they all seemed pretty aware of the fact that boys are gross (especially at age thirteen). The week included some of the deepest cabin devotions and most open porch talks yet. I can honestly say that this past week is one of my favorites I've worked at Cedar Lake. I saw some incredible spiritual growth and experienced the peace that only Jesus can supply.

Rain, rest, and too much coffee can pretty much sum up all nations camp so far. It's been needed and nice.

Sorry for the excessive amount of information. I'll try to not let three weeks go by next time!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Begin again

Between a crowded dining hall and monsoon-like rain, the last couple weeks have been unique. I will do my best to describe them concisely:

The week I spent in Beaufort was probably one of the most joyful weeks of my relationship with David. The beach was beautiful and many smiles (and macarons) were had. We walked the southern gothic streets of Savannah, people-watched at Hilton Head, and ate delicious food by the river. So many sweet conversations happened. Honestly, it was just fun to really spend time with my best friend. Driving away was the hardest because this is summer number three of long distance for us.

I pulled up to Cedar Lake Camp feeling jittery. The stars were perfect, the evening air was chilled, and some of the best people were gathered around a fire. I realized then that this summer would be a new experience. Police Camp had an incredible amount of campers and I spent more time in the camp kitchen than ever. The loud, stressful days gave me pause and when I drove towards Chattanooga friday night, I really wasn't sure if being at camp was a good choice for me.

Last saturday, I helped my brother film a vietnamese wedding. The couple was beautiful and I hope that they are enjoying being newlyweds...However, Jonathan and I couldn't understand what was going on the majority of the day. We also ate some crazy stuff.

When I returned to camp on sunday, I was exhausted. I could not have been less ready for other staff to get there. A semi-quiet afternoon with Hannah at Common Grounds helped calm my spirit. The week was restful and buzzed with anticipation. Early morning runs with Hannah, quiet talks with friends, getting to edit a semester's worth of poetry, and a few days of cold rain created a stillness in me that I have craved since last year. I received a package from David on the day of his surgery and fell a little bit more in love with him as I ate pretty purple macarons he made himself. The training week concluded with prayer, worship, and more prayer on the porch.

I get my first cabin of the summer tomorrow and I'm staying in the first cabin I ever stayed in (five years ago). In spite of the symmetry of being in Big Elk and having 11-12 year old girls, this summer is feeling like a new start.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

December 2014-May 2015: a synopsis

This site has been comatose since last fall and there are so many reasons for that, but I am too hungry right now to list them. I figure I should recap this year because in a couple weeks, this page will be my main communication with the outside world:

December began with the most involved art show and ended with the weirdest celebration of New Year's Eve. I graduated and did not feel that much more accomplished as I walked across a little stage in a robe plagued with static cling. I celebrated Christmas at home and moved out of my trusty little basement apartment. Somedays, I still miss The Den. Three camp friends and I counted down to what we thought was midnight in the car after having a drink and appetizers at a random pizza place in Hixson (of all places). We crossed into a different time zone halfway up the mountain, so when we looked at our cell phones, they said 11:00.

January started with a trip to Cedar Lake Camp and ended with me in Nashville almost half-adjusted to my new life. I packed my car with my things and drove to the house of the parents of someone I hadn't seen in nearly two years. Needless to say, I was nervous and awkward during my first days in the Hanson house.  I was also nervous and awkward during my first day of interning with Humanities Tennessee, but I don't think anyone noticed. I got lost a lot this month.

By February, I had gotten a job working as a barista at Atmalogy and kind of knew what I was doing at my internship. "Icemaggedon" happened during this month too, so lots of days were spent doing yoga with Lauren and her black cat fella. I celebrated most of my birthday at work, but mama Sue and Lauren threw me a taco party when I got home. Age twenty-two was well-honored with margaritas and the Bachelor. Lots of driving happened in February, because David and I met halfway in little towns and sat up all night in a Waffle House.

March had a rocky start. David got hurt and I ran a half marathon alone. In spite of ruined plans, tears, and crutches, He and I were able to celebrate our two-year date-iversary in Asheville. By this time, I had started visiting coffee shops around Nashville and documenting them with little sketches (these will be shared and written about in due time). The end of March brought sunshine and friends with it. David visited and the Big Hero 6 crew was established. I don't know how I ended up being Aunt Cass, but it fits.

April was poetry month, so I decided to write a poem everyday (I almost succeeded). David and I went to the Frist on his birthday and so David crutched around saying "pip-pip." I met Robert Morgan, Rodney Jones, and Jane Hirshfield in one weekend and spent the rest of the week thinking of smart things I could have said to them. Before I knew it, I had my last day at Atmalogy and at Humanities Tennessee. Margaret Renkl (the editor at Chapter16) presented me with a gift on my last morning with her. Her inscription in the book is as inspiring as the book itself. I'm still so amazed at how great it was to work with her and the exceptional people at Humanities Tennessee.

May is blurring by quickly. So far, I've packed, moved, unpacked, organized, separated, and repacked. Adventures ahead include: Nashville, visiting David, and settling down for the summer at Cedar Lake Camp. I currently don't know anything for sure past August, but that's just fine with me.

There you have it, the last five months in six hundred words.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I'm already running late for my class, so I'll make this quick.
It is sometimes unsettling how ironic life can be. With all the stress of my show (that is a whole separate story) and not getting sleep, I completely ignored the most thoughtful day of the year.
Usually, on the first weekend or so of November, I take a day to pray and thank God for my life. I tend to write something on that day as well. I guess this is my belated thoughtful day. 

I have grappled with death for most of my young life. The comfort of it allures me and the endless pressure of being alive exhausts me. A few years ago, near the first weekend of November, I was ready. I was selfish and wanting to be done. But I was stopped. Not by a fire, not by a storm, not by a wind or an earthquake. I was stopped by a gentle whisper. He whispered "Live" and breathed His peace into me.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of putting up an installation centering around the idea of abundance and human reaction to overgrowth. It explored how too much of something and living life trying to be in control often leads to extinguishing joy.  In hindsight, it makes so much sense that would be on my "life-iversary." I tried to control my life and it almost led me straight to death.

I want to encourage you to live with open hands. Receive the love, blessings, and peace that come from knowing Jesus. Life will not be easy to live. However, you will have a hope to hold on to.
And that will make all the difference.