Saturday, December 31, 2011

Themes of 2011: This Little Light of Mine

Today on Facebook I asked all of my friends, "If you year of 2011 had a theme, what would it be?" So far I've gotten about 11 responses from friends located all around the country. Many were different, some were the same, and some were rather similar. Answers (so far) have ranged from:

  • Drama
  • A Circus
  • Is it over yet?
  • Change
  • Challenges
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Full of Excitement
  • Roller Coaster

Many people couldn't list just one theme.

As I started to think about the responses and about what my own response to would be to my own question, what I found interesting is that while we have all lived a completely different year...Leaving 2011 we all have different stories to tell. Our themes are similar. Our emotions, levels of fear, joy, excitement - for some of us, they again, were similar to one another.

What is my own life theme to 2011? I, like many of you, can't list just one theme. If you've been following my blog or Facebook page you can tell my themes very well vary from one another. When watching a 2 hour movie, even in just two hours of one story, the producers and filmmakers don't usually keep it to one theme either. In a two hour movie you see action. You see drama, humor, and often you see a love story playing out in the mix. The actor's also go through a wide variety of "emotions". They play the part of anger, happiness, joy, sorrow, and fear. All of this is in just a two hour film. Two hours verse a whole year filled with 365 days, 24 hours in each.

Thinking about my own list of 2011 themes, and recalling many memories of the year, I think I would have to say that most of my themes consists of:

  • Trials
  • Change
  • Challenges
  • Family
  • Bonding
  • Sickness, cancer, infections, illness
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Death
  • Hopeless to hopeful
  • Anger, Depression, to Bitterness
  • Strong to Weak
  • Weak to being Stronger
  • Shattered to Fragile
  • Comfort
  • Travel
  • Missions
  • Adventure
  • Following God
  • Operation Mobilization
  • Helping Others
  • Humor

Even in my different list of themes many of them mingle together.

Trials, Challenges, Sickness, Cancer, Infections, Illness, Death...
There were a lot of trials and challenges. There were many (and I mean many) sickness and trips to hospitals as loved ones were in the ER or being admitted. Death took my niece. Death tried to take my dad - three times. Three times in one year. Three times with different illnesses. (To read the summary of my story, check out: My Cardboard Testimony.)

I have a friend who often states that they have never been through am major trial. They've never lost a loved one, been sick, or had an ill family member. In a way that is a blessings for that friend and their family. However, until this year I never actually thought about how unfortunate that would be. I never realized what a blessing trials bring to your life and the perks of going through them. Yes, they are hard. Yes, they take you to the dark places of being lonely, depressed, anger, and bitter. But they also make you stronger. They can make you trust in God more than you had before the trial (this, although, is only if you do so on your own free will. It can make you run closer or father away.) You also realize what is truly important in your life.

The way my mom said it to me one time earlier in the year, "Throughout the last few years the life that you have known has been completely turned up-side-down." For a brief summary just going back only to 2009: Throughout the last few years I finished high school through home schooling. I went away to college in TN. In TN I thought I found where I belonged. I had wanted to attend there to Study missions. While there I did just that as well as making loads of precious treasures of friends. I went from having my own room to having a roommate. Things were different going there. God took me there for a reason and I thought He was guiding me to stay. Instead, after my first year at FWBBC, I turned back around to head back to California. I went from a Bible College filled with friends, encouragement, and love, to my home state where friends my age are very few, back to my own room, and I went to a secular City College. (There is nothing wrong with secular schools at all. They are just extremely different than Bible colleges. The atmosphere and make up is just very different. Both schools have their perks.) 

This year My sister, brother-in-law, and there fury little animals moved into our small little house with us. There was less space in the house, more people, more animals, it became a crowd at times. Within the last few years dad's health has declined. Now I'm preparing to live out of the country for 4-5 months. The life as I know it has been "turned up-side-down". Although, I think my life is meant to have one change after another. It makes life more of an adventure and change isn't always bad. In the last few years change has brought me a precious baby cousin, a brother-in-law I enjoy pestering, golden opportunities, friends I'll always cherish, love, and enjoy, as well as many enjoyable and unforgettable moments. Change can be scary. But some changes can be good.

Anger, Depression, to Bitterness, Fear, and Loneliness
With all the trials and challenges I became angry. I went through my weeks of bitterness and depression. There were many countless sleepless nights filled with enough tears to fill a river. I went through a dark journey, feeling all alone. I had the realistic part my mind telling me, "God is with you! You are never alone! You have those that love you, who are praying for you and your family. Just looking at Facebook you can see a glimpse of just a few who are praying. You're not alone. You're family is also going through all the same things - just through different perspectives and different ways."...Regardless of my realistic mind telling me what I should of listened to, I still went through the dark tunnel of negative feelings and emotions. My emotions took over my usual mellow, calm, and realistic mind. I was overwhelmed with these emotions and with fear. Fear had me asking, "What's going to happen next?"

Strong to Weak, Weak to being Stronger
I thought I was strong. I was wrong. When the waves of life hit I broke. I emotionally shattered. I became weak, and even on this New Year's Eve I still feel weak from this year. I'm still working on getting back on my feet and regaining certain levels of confidence. However, in my weakness I became stronger. I've started to regain some of my levels of confidence. I still live on edge, fearing our year of "2011" isn't over yet. However - in a way I am stronger than when it all began, even in my weakness. I'm stronger in the fact that I know my family can make it through anything together. I'm stronger in my relationship and trust in the Lord. My testimony is stronger, because, while I am weak and it will take time to be able to get back on my feet a little more and gain the ability to fully tell my story, my story has grown. I can now help others that I was never able to help in the past. In the past I couldn't relate to those who lost a baby niece. I wasn't able to reach and help those who went through trial after trial.

Hopeless to Hopeful, Comfort
In my dark moments of depression, anger, fear, sadness, bitterness, and times of feeling completely alone I became hopeless. I literally hit rock bottom. At times I thought, "I don't even remember what it's like to be happy anymore." Then there were thoughts of, "Where are you in all of this, God? Why have you left us?" I never lost my belief in God. Let me just clarify this fact right away. I did, however, question Him. (But if you recall back to Matthew 27:46 you see that even though Jesus still knew God was there and that God had a plan, Jesus questioned why God had forsaken Him - His own Son - as He hung on the cross.) I questioned his plan for our lives. I questioned where He was in this story-line. There were many nights where I thought, "God, the Bible says you can do anything...You have the Almighty power! You could of saved my niece. She could still be alive today. Why didn't you save her?? Why won't you stop these storms?" I was hopeless in my deep dark pit thinking thing wouldn't be the same. Ever. Storm after storm would just keep coming our way.

The storms haven't completely stopped but they have calmed down. Even when the storms kept raging through my life there were times when instead of calming the storm, God calmed me. (Check out the song, "Sometimes He Calms the Storm".) God brought me comfort. Through His comfort I began to feel hopeful once again. I became hopeful for a better future. A future with less trials, sorrow, pain, and traded in with more joy, happiness, and blessings. I became excited for 2012 as it became a symbol of hope of a better year.

Shattered to Fragile
Throughout the time of trials I became emotionally and spiritually broken. Then I would put myself together again, re-breaking at each new trial. Eventually instead of just breaking - I completely shattered. Now as we enter 2012 I am no longer shattered. I'm no longer shattered but I am fragile. I'm tender. I'm still in a process of healing. And the thing about being fragile? That's not always such a bad thing. Becoming shattered and broken has opened my eyes. It's one thing to hear about an event or experience. It's another to go through the experience. When you hear about the experience you can feel sympathetic. You feel emotions for those who have gone through the trial or time of joy. However, once you go through it yourself? You relate. You put yourself in their shoes. The story might be different and you may not know 100% about how they feel or felt, but you understand the general concept of the situation and emotions as a whole. Being fragile and tender isn't always bad. It helps you feel deeper than ever before for something. It keeps you aware to those around you in similar story-lines.

Family and Bonding
My family went though a lot together. What most people go through in a life-time, we went through in a year. Things we went through together can either pull family together or pull them apart. Our family got closer. We bonded more. Our love for one another grew deeper. We spend more and more time together each week. Instead of seeing each other every Sunday at church with the occasional lunch or dinner throughout the week, there are some weeks and months where we easily see each other 2-4 times a week. One of my biggest blessings of 2011 was hearing many people say, "You have the most unique family. You guy are so close. Your family is special." Being in the storms and trials I saw pain and brokenness. Others on the outside saw our reactions. They saw how we responded. They paid attention to what we said and what we did. Other's saw our family stick together through it all pushing through the storms hand-in-hand.

A close friend once told me, "I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you've managed to make it through all of this still standing." There are the obvious reasons how my family and I made it through standing. We have one another, we have friends, prayers coming from around the world, God, and God's comfort. We had hope of a future. At the same time, humor was my cooping mechanism. When dad was in the hospital I would crack as many jokes as I possibly could to keep myself smiling and laughing, but also to keep my mom with a slight smile her face. Nothing feels better during a hard time than laughter . After all, laughter is the best medicine, right??

Travel, Missions, Helping Others, and Adventure
Boy, was my year filled with adventure! I was blessed this year to travel. I've done a bit of traveling in my 20 years, but never this much within a set of 365 days. In January I was able to visit friends in Nashville, TN. In May I started my traveling to Seattle to board a ship going to Canada and Alaska. From there I went back to Nashville to help my sister and brother-in-law move to California. I then had 26 hours at home before heading to Mexico to help build a home for a family living with a dirt floor and a leaking tarp above their heads (read: Carmen's New Home). After two weeks of resting, I went to Japan to help with Disaster Relief Work from the tsunami. I had to return home early, but had about two weeks off again before heading to youth camp to be with our church's girls for a week. Throughout the year I've also been able to go to the coast a couple of times and our family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) took a weekend to go to the lake after my niece died. Traveling is always an adventure. I'm honored that I was able to hear the stories of the Japanese tsunami survivors...What stories they have to tell!! Fact is, I'm honored anytime I get to travel and experience another person's culture and the willingness they have to embrace foreign travelers from another land. While traveling I was able to meet other's of whom I will never forget. They've impacted my life more then they will ever know. I'm thankful for Facebook and email, as they help connect some of us over the miles.

Following God and Operation Mobilization
Throughout the year of 2011 I've been working on going with Operation Mobilization (OM) to Germany and London in 2012. I applied, I was accepted, and I've been working on fundraising. We purchased my ticket to leave for Germany the morning of the 16th of January. I will arrive in London about 10 days later after being at the "GO Conference" that OM holds every year. The trip is right around the corner! I am excited. I am nervous, and I am scared. I'll be gone for several months overseas. This will be an adventure that is sure to be life changing and a growing experience. Often I wonder what God has in store for my time in Europe. Soon I will be finding out!! (As an update, I have about $1,000 more to raise. If interested in learning about my trip, or how to donate, check out the pages listed at the top of this blog!) No matter what He has in store I am doing my best to follow where He has been guiding me. I only pray that I will be willing to be used in any way He can use me in this world. (Why do I do what I do? Because God's guidence and His calling on my life. Read: How Great is Our God (World Edition) for more detail.)


What will 2012 hold? I can't help but wonder. Many themes of the upcoming year are a mystery. While many of the themes will be a mystery, there are a few that I know of in advance:

  • Adventure
  • Travel
  • Following God
  • Change
  • Culture
  • Missions
  • Trusting God more and more Everyday

No matter the themes, I'm going to live my life to the fullest this year and for the years to come. Above I posted a video. Wherever my adventure of 2012 guides I am going to carry my candle with me. It will be one of my theme songs. I'm going to do my best to embrace what comes my way through my adventure with my candle's flames brightly glowing. This little light of mine? I'm going to let it shine!

The thought of 2012 truly does excite me. This is a year my whole family has been looking forward to as we leave 2011 with dreaded remembered memories. It is a year of hope of many blessings, moments of laughter, smiles, and good memories.

What are you looking forward to leaving behind in 2011? What are you looking forward to in 2012? What did you learn this last year and what were your life themes?

The Travelin' Chick,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


In my last blog posting I wrote about my dad going to the hospital.  I wrote about sitting in the ER, him getting sick, and how that is a normal at this point in my life.  It's becoming normal as it has happened many times this year.  My dad has been the ER about 5 times, hospitalized three times.  The illnesses are becoming normal...the doctors, the ER, the hospitalizing...

My dad went to the ER on Thursday but was sent home.  My mom and I went to the coast for the weekend, the whole time both of us concerned for my father.  We were hesitant to go, but he, however, urged us to go as it would be the last get-away chance we would have together before I leave for London.  He would also have my sister and brother-in-law to help him if anything occurred, as they currently live under the same roof.

When we returned home, dad wasn't doing well.  In fact - he seemed worse.  I won't go into detail here on my blog, but it was all quite concerning.  The symptoms and signs were not good.  Seeing my reality in front of my eyes made my mind flashback to March.  I flashed back to his past illnesses when he almost died.  I flash back to when mom had to call the 911 hotline.  It was not a good feeling.  It was almost like living it all over again.

Sunday night, right after mom and I returned from the coast, dad chose to go back to the ER because he wasn't feeling right.  When he got there, they automatically hospitalized him as he came down with double pneumonia.  His oxygen levels were so low his doctor's were amazed he hadn't started turning blue.

Here we are.  Back in the ER, back in the hospital, back to our reality...all to what is becoming our "normal".  I'm still thinking that the hospital needs to buy some VIP recliner seats for each member of our family.

While all that is starting to become "normal", there are things that will never be normal.  The seriousness of some illnesses will never be normal.  Once the seriousness hits, it is a terrible and worrisome feeling.  Having my father almost die?  That will never be normal and it never gets easier.   It's not normal to be able to say, "Yeah, my dad almost died three times this year.  Each time from something different, but each time from a type of infection."  Living a life that inconstant in regards to his health?  Again, not normal.  When dad gets sick again (really bad kind of sick) and I start to have flashbacks and start reliving past experiences?  That may be normal...I'm not sure...But I know it doesn't feel good.  It doesn't feel like it's normal to have to experience any of the experiences and then to also relive them every time an illness occurs.

If you read my last blog entry (Normal to Feel Normal?), you may be asking, "How are you doing now?"  I've been better.  To summarize it...It's been a rough week for our whole household.  It's stressful, worrisome, and tiring.  We thought we were though the worst of the year, hoping and praying things were looking up, and here we are...right back to the starting point of our rough year.  (Maybe it'll end where is started??)

Dad is still in the hospital.  Yesterday my mom said, "He is still in the woods, but the trees are thinning."  Today the trees have "thinned" even more.  The doctors have been running tests and are impressed with his progress.  It feels good to know he is hiking out of the woods and I pray that dad continues to do so.  Thank you for praying with us and for us.  Please keep the prayer coming our way.

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: If you missed my Facebook status update yesterday, I have made decision.  I've decided and realized why my family is in the hospital so much this year.  My theory?  I must be destined to meet and marry a good-lookin', kind, and single doctor.  We just barely keep missing one another in our paths...Not that being a doctor is a must for my future husband...but this theory...It's possible, right?? Although, I think it would just be easier to join a dating site and require only doctor's to respond to my profile.  It would save a lot of heart aches, fear, energy, time, and money.  Ha ha ha...Kidding.  ;-)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Normal to Feel Normal?

This evening my mom called me as she was out and about as she often does.  This time, however, was different then her, "How are you doing?  What did you do for dinner?" type of phone calls.  Instead she broke out of our  usual conversation and told me, "Your dad called me from work.  He told me to come and get him - he is sick."

Before I continue, let me explain something.  My dad is a strong man.  Even when feeling ill, he finds some hidden strength and pushes through.  Only once in my life do I recall him calling in sick for work - and that was within the last month or so.  Never has he called my mom to leave work early after driving himself to the location of his job.  While feeling well or ill...he pushes through and holds on to his responsibilities, even if it requires working double shifts.

By sharing that bit of information you now know that my mother calling with that news was unusual.  After talking to me, she went and got my dad taking him directly to the ER.

The hospital actually got him in rather quickly.  If you were going to have an emergency that requires the ER, tonight was the night.  Once I got to the ER there was at least an hour's time of which I was literally the only body in the waiting room.

Turns out dad has another infection.  The first decision was to hospitalize him.  They don't know the type or location of the infection, but they do know it's a serious one.  (Although from what they can tell, not as serious as one he had in March of this year.)  When I left they were talking about releasing him to go home.  (Which they've done that before but made him come right back a few hours later after getting test results.)

I got to the hospital around 9:45 PM and left around 1:30 AM, getting home around 2:00 AM.  When I left mom was still there and dad was still in the back as they still have yet to determine what they want him to do...Go home, or stay.

While being in the waiting room my mom let me play with her iPad.  Doing what a typical young adult does, I got on the free WiFi of the hospital and got on Facebook.  While on Facebook I chatted with 4 or 5 friends to give me something to do as it was too late to text "my usual people".  I can't remember which friend asked me first, but they asked, "How are you doing??"

That's when it hit me.  How am I doing?  That was a good question and one I didn't quite have a quick answer for.  I hadn't yet thought about how I was doing.  Thinking back to March, I could tell you how I was doing then when 911 was called and dad was taken away from the house in an ambulance.  I was a mess.  Thinking back to March I can recall the emotion of fear flowing through my veins.  Once the ambulance left and mom followed in her car, I remember being home alone taking the whole scene in (before leaving myself), soon to be followed by being doubled over in tears in the middle of our hallway.  There were countless tears I shed that night before heading to see my dad.

How am I doing?  This time around it is different.  At this point it seems almost routine and normal.  I've seen about as many movies in the theater as times my dad has been hospitalized this year - if not less than the times he was hospitalized.  If you look at how many times our family has visited the ER (not cancer diagnoses, surgeries, hospitalizations, or the death of my niece), we have been to the ER at least three times the amount of movies we have seen this year.  We've been there enough times in 2011 alone that I've just about decided they should have V.I.P. recliner seats for each member of my family.

This time when mom called to tell me she was taking dad to the ER, I started to shed a tear or two thinking, "Not again...", but stopped myself to ask my mom, "What do you need?  What do I need to bring you?"  (Granted, my reaction this time may of also been different than in March because in March I saw how bad my dad was, which was worse than tonight.  From what we know right now, the situation in March was a lot more severe as we would of lost him that night had we waited just one more hour to call 911.)

To actually answer the question, "How am I doing?"  I still don't know.  This is routine and normal now.  I'm not sure if I've either numbed this part of my brain and heart for it to hurt less, if it's just that I've become stronger through all that I've been through this year, or if I've not completely taken it in that he's back in the ER.  I'm not sure if my mind is waiting to react until we know more details of the infection (severity, type, etc) or if God is just giving me a peace about the whole situation.  Any of those are possibilities.  In fact, it could be a combination of all of the above, or a mixture of certain ones.  

Is this normal for this to feel normal?  For it to feel as though it's part of our life and routine?  Is it natural to numb myself to the situation?  There are other questions that come to mind but those are to just name a few.   I've had a few unique situations in my life where it's hard to find people who have been in similar situations. (Example: The death of my niece.  It's hard to find people who have experienced the lose of a child from an aunt's perspective.  In the past I've even Googled support groups for the aunt/uncle perspective and there are none that I could find.)  However, while I know there have been unique situations in unique combinations, I do know I must know people who have had a sick father or sick mother in their lives.  It's a more common situation for people to experience and yet I have no idea which of my many friends have gone through a similar situation.  (And although common, it doesn't make it any easier.  Having a sick parent is a tough thing, and I imagine that goes for a child of any age.)  It's amazing what you learn about other people when go through different trials and situations.

Although it feels routine and normal I can't help but ask myself, "When did this become our way of life?  When did ER visits and dad's ill health become so normal to me?  Is this really our life now?"  And although it feels normal and routine, I still do have emotions, fears, and dreams attached to the situation that I've had since being 15-years-old when his bad health started.  I dream my dad will still be here to see me graduate college.  I dream he'll be here to meet the man I fall in love with, that he'll be here to walk me down the aisle as I stand next to him dressed in a beautiful white gown.  I dream he will hold my future children, his grandchildren. At the same time I fear my dreams are truly only that - a dream and not reality. 

I'm not much of an emotional person.  Okay - I take that back.  I'm not an openly emotional person.  If I want to cry, I usually wait until I'm in private and am all alone.  I let myself break when no one else can see me or hear my cries of pain - whether it be physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional pain.  Even when my niece died I was like this with family.  My grandfather, of whom I love dearly, asked me, "How are you doing?"  Instead of telling him the true burdens and pain on my heart I hid from him the honest cries of my emotions telling him, "I am fine."

This is something I am really trying to work on as I realize it's unhealthy.  I know of a few reasons in some situations, but I'm not 100% sure why I hide and ignore what I feel, especially around others.  I'm trying to be more open with my feelings and to be honest with family and friends that I know genuinely care.  (Obviously I'm not going to tell a random stranger how I feel, but when friends or even family ask, I want to be more honest and to not feel ashamed or as though I need to hide the feelings I experience and have.)  For me this blog is a start.  While I don't open up about everything on this blog (as that is not what is for as some situations, emotions, or feelings, are meant to be private), I want to open up some.  

How am I doing??  Ask me tomorrow (which I guess is technically now today).  Ask me once I get some sleep and once my dad's third infection of the year sinks in deeper.  Ask me when we know more to the situation.  My answer may be different than my repeated answer of earlier tonight, "I'm okay.  This almost just seems like it's routine and  normal."  Once sleep is in my system and we know more details, it may not feel as routine and normal.

What is your story?  Please share with me via message, comment bellow, on FB, text, or call me (there is a "Contact Me" page above).  I would love to hear your story and your experience.

Tonight was an eye opener.  Even if my family is currently done with cancers, tumors, and most surgeries, my dad's weak health and ER visits are and more than likely will forever be apart of our life and routine.

Oh, and is he hospitalized or coming home?  I've already posted this blog, so this is an update, but as of Monday, December 12 - He was taken to the ER once again.  This time he has been hospitalized with double pneumonia. 

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: Thank you for the prayers for my dad, me, and my family!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


This is my baby cousin, Rayna (of whom I blogged about in the entry Our Village).  I taught her to say "London" at age 12 months, but here she is at 14-months-old saying the name of the city I'll be living in for four months on my mission trip.  Isn't she precious?

I've already taught her, "Jamba Juice", "London", how to give high-fives, the song "The Wheels on the Bus", who Curious George is, and what Santa says ("Ho Ho Ho")...Next word??  I think I'll try for Germany.  ;-)

The Travelin' Chick,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mixed Feelings

It's official!!  Thanksgiving has come and gone as Christmas quickly approaches within this month.  I keep asking myself, "Is it already the time of the holiday season?  How'd we get back to this season so quickly?"  As they say here in America, "Time flies!" - and it sure does!!

The holidays have started, the cold weather has arrived here in California, and it has hit me.  In LESS than a month and a half, I will be leaving my home state and my country.  I literally leave NEXT month.  I even got my new passport this week. Wow!

I will be leaving my home, family, the life I know, routine, and my usual comfort zone.  Obviously I've known since about March (or was it April?) that I was leaving for London in January of 2012.  In March, the trip, however, was still months away.  (Even now I'm not quite sure it has fully hit me that the trip is so close!)

It's odd to think I'm leaving the country NEXT month.  While I have known it was coming it still slightly feels like it has been sneaking up on me.  Ever since finding out about my acceptance (and even before being accepted) I was in prayer about the trip.  It's been in my mind for months as I have prayed and worked on fundraising.  However, at the same time, I haven't had much time to actually sit back and think about the trip itself in a complete sense and the fact that it is near.  Throughout the year I have been busier than usual and I've had to really focus on family.  I've had to grieve loss and other situations in life, go to classes for college, and have made other travels for other shorter term mission trips.  My mind has been on many things and my focus and energy has been divided among many things.

As I think about the trip with OM to Germany and London I get excited.  I think to myself, "I can't believe where God has been leading me and where I'm about to go."  In all my life, until this year, I honestly never saw God leading me where He is leading me for the upcoming year of 2012.  I never thought that God would open doors and have the ability to take a semester off college to go and serve Him overseas in whatever way possible.  In my mind I always thought of longer termed mission trips being after college once I had a degree.

I'm excited to see what the months overseas hold for my life.  I am excited for the experiences, to meet new people, and to see what God is doing in England.  I'm excited to see how God is going to guide and use me while I am there and to be able to take part in His plan for London.

At the same time of being excited I am also nervous and scared.  For the most part it's a good kind of nervousness and fear.  It's the type of fear and nervousness that comes with the unknown and not knowing what to expect.  It's the type of fear and nervousness of temporarily living in a culture and country I've never even visited.  I've lived in one house all my life, in one state, in one city.  Well, except my one year in a dorm room in Nashville. (And the main culture differences about California and Nashville, Tennessee?  Pretty much greener grass, humidity, more rain, more fried foods, and a southern twang.)  The longest I've ever been overseas was for 10 days or so at a time.

There are a lot of things to fear when traveling.  You can fear getting lost, losing your luggage (or the airport losing the luggage!), adapting to cultures, making friends...etc...etc...But for me, while some of those issues make me slightly nervous, the other part of my fear comes from leaving my family for so long after such a time of craziness (read My Card Board Testimony).  To a degree it terrifies me.  It's taken me a while to stop constantly think, "What's next??" or, "Something else is going to happen.  I just know it."  Once many things happen, one illness and sickness after another, it can leave a girl feeling frazzled and on edge of thinking something else bad is right around the corner.  These feelings and thoughts burned on my brain for months but have finally slowed way down.  I have much less paranoia that danger is lurking around the corner.

All that being said...It's a scary thing to leave family and the ones you love the most for any length of time in general.  I think out of all the things that make me nervous, this is the biggest of them all.  While the feelings of danger being right around the corner have calmed way down and I'm not nearly as paranoid, I have my fears of more possible trials to come my families way while I am away.  In particular, my father's health.

Life is a journey.  Sometimes the journey is easy and sometimes it is hard. We all take different roads and trails and have different stories to tell.  Life is a fascinating thing and mixed emotions and feelings are expected to come for any given part of our life's journey.  There are moments of laughter, sadness, tears, joy, happiness, and excitement.  There will be some friends of whom will come and go, helping you become who you are along the way. The journey I have taken in my last 20 years had definitely been an interesting and unique one to take.  I cannot wait to see what God does with the next 20 years, let alone the next 6 months!  I am glad you are tagging along with me through my blog!

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: As a financial update, I should have only $3,200 left to raise for my mission trip!  I'm more than half way there from the original $7,000!  If you feel led and able to give check out my donations page.  You can donate via PayPal or by mail.  Or if you want to know how to pray, check out my prayer page!  Or, if you're completely in wonder about what I'm doing and where I'm going (or maybe even about who I am!) there are pages for that too here on my blog.  Check them out and be in touch with any questions and/or comments!! :-)