great expectations

I don’t think I realized this until a bit ago– the fact that satisfaction comes from the degree to which reality aligns with our own expectations.

We can’t help it. We have all sorts of ideas and plans and aspiration, but the maker of those resides within our own heads. Inside our heads, then, is the blueprint for how it will work out, rather, how it *should* work out.

And then, when reality happens, we refer back to our blueprint. It either fits neatly like a puzzle, or crumbles to cookie dust, leaving us feeling empty and mildly disappointed.

Sometimes, anyway.

Sometimes what happens is such a pleasant surprise outside of all of your existing expectations that you can’t help but accept it and feel satisfied.

And sometimes you go in, completely unsure of what your expectations even are, if you have any at all, and there’s no pressure for anything to be met, exceeded, or fall short.

A kind of interesting limbo.

What’s cool is when something comes along that fits into those two latter situations– when something plops down in front of you and you don’t quite know what to make of it but you know that it’s there, staring you in the face and you have the power to look at how it will fit into your mental picture, or, perhaps the more daunting task, figure out how you’re going to take your mental blueprint to the drawing board.

And isn’t it wonderful when you can do both?

fall, falls, falling

Thanksgiving break to me is always a gamble. Last year I can say that, around this time I did not want to be home. The stark contrast between my independence at school and falling into old grooves at home did not settle well with me. Of course, the feelings would dissipate when I surrounded by family and awesome food; I was overwhelmed with gratitude. But I remember wishing I had only a few days off, less time to be increasingly aware of the stark contrasts between my two homes. 

This year feels completely different. 
Sure, there are moments when all I want is to be elsewhere, back at school, out of  the familiarity that brings along with it a stinging bittersweet pain. But this time around, these moments have been remedied with those of extreme serenity, joy, and peace.
Just this Monday I tried to run for the first time in weeks [I basically used leaving my running shoes at home as my reasoning for not hitting the grind for weeks on end at school. Heh. 😇] and ended up taking a total detour and getting caught in the woods. My phone does this cute thing of late where it will say it has no battery even though I just charged it, dying at 87% on the regular. 
But I was glad to be off the grid, alone in a yellow woods in the crisp air of the morning. I strayed from the blue paint marks on the trees one two many times and found myself atop of  a forested hill where trees had not quite shed their leaves yet, casting this ridiculously yellow glow all around me. It’s emblazoned in my mind, a camera wouldn’t have done it justice anyway. I can’t really convey how truly awesome it is to lose yourself in the colors of fall. It’s my favorite season for this reason.  
When I’d had enough stumbling around, I found my way out [I have a sense of direction that doesn’t involve Google maps?! What?!] and headed home in order to prep for a daytime excursion to Great Falls with a newfangled Josh [ever have those people who just pop into your life in the strangest of wonderful ways…?]. 
We got there, and this was what we found:
Looks like Van Gogh painted this rock.
life on the edge, lol

It’s crazy how just a few hours of moving around in the trees, by the water, over the rocks can absolutely liberate the mind and allow it to aimlessly wander and tidy up. 
I can always tell when I’ve been inside for too long, when I need to get out and go back to a mental state I can relax in. A couple hours, even a few minutes, in the right conditions just flips my worries off, shuts down my ever-buzzing mental “to-do” list, and lets me breathe. 
It’s a wonderful thing. 

November. *squee!*

My goodness.

It is about high time I made an update. Crazy how much can change in a matter of weeks.

[Read/Reading] Room by Emma Donoghue– about a woman who was kidnapped in her teens, held captive in a single room for seven years and gives birth to a child in that room. The room is all the child knows in his first 5 years of life. No spoilers, I’m trying, but it’s rather riveting so far. Haunting, but would recommend.

Image result for room emma donoghue

Since I drafted this post, I’ve finished Room and have started All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and while I’m just in the very beginnings of this book it’s already a really gripping and vibrant depiction of WWII.

Image result for all the light we cannot see


[Writing] essays, papers, a packing list for things to absolutely not forget for Thanksgiving break (-:

[Learning] to be more self-sufficient, better with time management, and overall, more flexible with what is, what I cannot control… and learning to see things through different lenses

[Doing/Working on] THIS POST, getting through a self-prescribed reading list, crafting (my old friend!) hanging with new friends, and trying not to freeze in this rapidly dropping temperatures. OH and watching all of Stranger Things, posting too much, making irresponsible but uncontrollably fulfilling late night decisions…  (-:

[Eating] BETTER! Grapes, milk, yogurt, coffee, tea, eggs,n Subway cookies among other things.

[Drinking] coffee (oops), tea, milk, chai lattes (what am I becoming), water

[Listening] TO THINGS. Check it out:

PS. I know they say music can have profound links to experiences and memories and wow let me just say this music collection that’s been in my ears these past couple weeks have honestly been… such a nice refreshing pool of experiences and moments… falling in love with music to fall in love to? Is that a thing?

[Laughing] in the most genuine way, it feels like, for the first time in a hot minute.

[Thinking] about what to read next, about scheduling classes for next semester, about next year’s living situation, about how it is TOO EARLY TO BE SINGING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. Just wait til the turkey’s off the table, people.

[Trying] to get better about setting daily goals for myself and having a minimal to-do list of meaningful intentions.

[Hoping] to not step on any unnecessary toes this upcoming break. Thanksgiving dinner conversation is always something interesting to behold… I know I should probably prepare my “what I’m now doing with my life,” “how school is going,” “who I’m seeing,” “what my winter break plans are” answers… ha.

[Loving] the sweater weather, getting back into doing things I used to do all of the time, the fact that Thanksgiving is literally so close and my last day of classes before break is on Friday…. I could write a novel (:

[Praying] this prayer has just been echoing in my head this week, as I’m thinking about people in the hospital, family, and friends going through a lot right now:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. 


I went to the woods to live deliberately…. // weekend campus ministry retreat

Just this past weekend I had the opportunity to go on a fall retreat with my campus ministry.

We left Friday evening from campus to a location only about half an hour away… but we live in this part of the state where anything past 15 mins from the university is practically all farm and nowheresville, which, at times is a great thing, as it means it’s relatively easy to escape.

We had rented out an A-frame house in the Brethren Woods, tucked away in the trees that were just passing peak color, maybe a bit more so (much of the vibrant leaves had just fallen, lining the ground with the most vibrant carpet of crunch I think I have ever walked upon).

But I digress.

When we got there, we unpacked briefly and then got to fixing dinner, some super large pizzas to be cooked in the oven and eaten as we did some ice-breaking games. The first one we did was actually hilarious– consisting of a slip of paper for everyone with 5 “W” questions [who, what, when, where, why), you’re supposed to come up with a question for each of those [about anything] and then those papers get shuffled and redistributed, and then people have to answer the questions any way they like. Once that’s done, the papers are re-shuffled and redistributed, this time to be read aloud, but here’s where it gets interesting– one person reads their “who” question, and the person next to them answers it with the answer from their paper, proceeding to ask the next question and get answers from the next person that are completely unrelated to anything. A lot of great moments in that game, and honestly a really good way to beat cabin fever!

We continued playing games while our priest left to go get coffee [someone had forgotten to pack the coffee! *faints*] and practically played ourselves to sleep.

We had a wood stove that was such a great heater, with additional floor heaters in the sections of the house to keep the sleeping areas warm.

The next morning, I awoke with a start–when I opened my eyes, I was faced with a daddy long-legs— I screamed for half a second and woke some people that weren’t awake yet (I had already kinda been woken up by the smell of bacon, but still. It was traumatic).

A hearty breakfast was followed by a bible study session, where we discussed the meaning of servanthood and all that it entails in the scripture and in secular works/opinions etc. That was followed by this really nice ice breaking activity where we just wrote anonymous notes of kindness to each other [it sounds super sappy, but I can assure you it was anything but.]

We then had a couple of hours of free time, which most of us used for homework and whatnot, some of us [yours truly] for procrastination and a fraction of homework, as well as some actual work, with some crafting thrown in:

After that, we embarked on a hike — the goal was to hike to the “crack” houses, where our priest told us semi-seriously that she suspected there were people just living hermit lives and making meth or something in the woods…. something about making their money in broken down shacks that have smoke appearing at the chimneys or something…

Well, we never got to find out because as soon as we got deeper into the hike, we stumbled across these chains wrapped up around trees that prevented us from trespassing towards said “crack houses”. Oh well.

We continued our hike to the more open areas of the site, and stumbled upon a “gaga-ball” corral and tried our hand at the game around dusk. It was very engaging and a bit challenging but honestly, overall, a great game to play.

We had dinner later, and then embarked on a later night hike– this time to the open field where we could see a blanket of stars. It was gorgeous. We also found a covered wagon where we sat and talked and took some pretty interesting pictures.

We ended the night with steaming hot beverages and a small prayer service, similar to our weekly Compline. We played the W’s game again and then found ourselves extremely exhausted soon after.

The next morning we woke up early and packed up, ate breakfast, and prepped for a short Sunday morning service. There’s just something about being in the woods, waking up in a wooden house to the smell of home made breakfast, with awesome people, growing closer with aforementioned awesome people, and then worshiping in the same space, knowing that just outside the front door is this gorgeous scenery, this blessed creation that we got to stay in for a little while.

The service was followed by group pics, and then we shipped out.

It was a completely abnormal weekend, a true retreat from responsibilities [lol] and a wonderful social treat.

During our time there I could not help but think on Henry David Thoreau:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

So often it’s easy to get caught up in the busy schedules, rushing from class to class, seeing people as a formality, scurrying to and from with our headphones in and noses down… This retreat helped me foster some creativity, take a break from all the goings on on campus, and, engage in some meaningful, thoughtful discussion not only about faith, theology, and “god stuff,” but about life in general. Sometimes the retreats are just the thing we need to put things back into perspective when they’ve fallen off the wagon….

a little while on the lake

Just a couple days ago I had the opportunity to journey about 15 minutes from my campus for an extra credit opportunity– one that included hopping in a canoe and cruising around the lake to do various measurements of the lake water.

The weather could not have been more perfect. The trees were pretty much approaching their colorful peak, and the sun, as it got closer to the golden hour, reflected just right off of the water and illuminated the fall foliage further.

It was three people to a canoe; each canoe had two seats and then place in the middle for a person to sit. The person in the middle was the one who collected the data. Everybody in my group wanted to row, I didn’t want to exert physical effort at the moment, so I opted for the middle-data-collecting seat, tasked with being the one to stick a device in the water to measure depth.

Once we had launched off of the shore and into the water, I couldn’t help but feel completely at peace. We were the only ones making a commotion on the surface of the water (save the ducks), so the gentle lapping and rippling of the water against our canoe felt like the loudest thing around us. We took a lap around the lake, pausing briefly on the outsides and in the middle to gather data.

My canoe partners, whom I’d just kind of ended up with (my normal class group admitted a new member so I volunteered to go complete another group), could also feel the serenity.

“This is a pretty romantic experience for just a random bunch of strangers,” the guy in our group said.

I couldn’t help but agree with him.

Apparently, through our university, we can rent canoes and other recreational stuff for free (well, it’s included in our tuition). Knowing this now I told myself I would make an effort to rent as much outdoor materials as I could, because the weather and the temperature and the surroundings were so gorgeous, I thought I must be crazy for not embracing opportunities like this every weekend (while the weather was still good, anyways).

My phone has developed this recent habit of saying it’s up to some percent of battery but then immediately dying shortly afterwards… my phone died in the canoe but I couldn’t help rejoicing in the fact that all I had left was my camera, that I could take a couple hours to not worry about being plugged in and just be, out there on the water.

This is the part of the post where I do the photo dump– enjoy.