Dear summer,

I guess this is goodbye.  Three suitcases, a plastic container and a collection of Trader Joe's bags later, I'm organized enough to say that I'm packed. I left my map and some art on my bedroom walls. I told my sister that I was leaving them because I didn't have room to take them, but the truth is that I don't want to completely erase myself from the room, the house. Moving out seems so serious and final. Somehow I continue to be amazed at how fast time goes by and feel change acutely. I'll be honest, I'm going to miss my family more than I did last year. It's probably because I've gotten a lot closer to them, and that's a good thing, but I don't want to leave them. This semester is coming with so many changes - two jobs, nursing clinical rotations, community service council, new roommates, new friends. I kept my teacher's assistant job and also took a shift as a lab assistant for the experience and future opportunities. 
There seems to be an enormous question waiting to be answered in my mind. I'm not sure what it is but it sounds something like "will the person I became this summer remain as school starts again?" I think the answer is yes and no. By "the person I became" I mean the changes - good and bad - that have occurred over the last few months. I have learned so much about grace and joy and how to live each day with purpose, and I really hope the load of classes and work and duties doesn't minimize that. God promises that I can do all things through His strength, and He will never leave me on my own. So yes, the changes He has been working in me are here to stay. On the other hand, we are constantly becoming different people and growing through experiences, so I am already a different person than I was an hour ago. Change is a friend. 
All things considered, I'm thrilled to be starting a new school year and continuing this journey. [Insert tacky quote about life here.] Let's double-check that packing list:

- Macbook 

- cookies for my roomies
- cardigan
- books I won't have time to read
- favorite mug
- tennis racquets

I think I'm good to go. And so are you.




       I was really moved at church this morning. I've seen countless baptisms before, but today was different. Ten or so people - ages ranging from five to fifty - were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. It brought to mind my baptism, in the neighborhood swimming pool at the  age of 12. Commitment. God changed my life and continues to change it. The people being baptized this morning had so much joy on their faces as they experienced new beginnings. There was an innocence about them as they crossed their arms over their chests and held their noses and were submerged in the water by the pastor. After the baptisms, several people shared their testimonies of God's work in their lives: restored marriages, inner healing, deliverance from sinful lifestyles. Our God is so great and nothing is impossible for Him. He takes wrecked lives and puts them back together. He heals human hearts. He sets captives free. He watches us from above with love and compassion and daily shows us mercy.

t's just incredible how God makes things happen. We think He doesn't hear our prayers, but He hears them and understands them more than we do. You know how you plan things out and hope they go a certain way and then they don't and you freak out? Yeah, me too. Especially as a planner, I like to stay organized and know exactly how things will work out. Change in plans usually equals stress. We're extremely human and don't really know what's good for us. And it's hard to accept that sometimes (lots of times) God's plans are different from ours. We see on such a small scale while He has the big picture, and knows how to make everything fit together perfectly. A few hours ago I was freaking out hardcore about something that "messed up" my plans. But I'm beginning to realize that God is answering my prayers in ways I couldn't even imagine. I'm watching His faithfulness and goodness unfold right before my eyes.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways", declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."- Isaiah 55: 8-9

Last Summer Hike

I'm going back to school in 11 days, and my family had been wanting to take advantage of this wonderful August weather. So on Wednesday morning we donned our fancy backpacks and hiked a mountain!The ascent was beautiful. It was a cool, crisp morning, perfect for outdoor activities, and it was great being with the family. God has blessed me so much. I'm trying not to think about saying goodbye yet. 

Elena and I have new matching Nalgene water bottles because we threw away our old ones, which were not BPA-free. Last year my mom did research on BPAs in plastic and convinced us all that BPAs are harmful and we should avoid them. But no worries, there are plenty of safe water bottles on the market. 

I always used to reply "the beach" when people asked me if I like the ocean or mountains better, but now I'm not so sure. Even though I am drawn to the waves pounding on the shore and lighthouses and gulls, to me the mountains represent everything that is pure and wild and free. They are a place where I am refreshed and feel alive and at peace. 

Given the Stars

There are many different kinds of promises. Promises that others make to us, promises that we make to ourselves, promises that are kept, promises that are broken, promises that are unspoken but exist all the same. Whenever I am full of doubt or fear, I like to look up at the night sky. The stars remind me of promises that have been kept, are being kept, and will be kept. They seem to whisper hope and eternity in a single breath. Just as the Lord told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, we also know that He has promises and plans for us that He will never forget. The stars, for me, are a promise of His everlasting love, of His faithfulness from generation to generation, and when I look at the night sky, my problems suddenly seem very small.