On Monday afternoon after I ace my algebra final (please, Lord), I am moving all of my things out of Davis room 319 and I am making the trek home to beautiful Cashiers, NC for the summer. I am very much looking forward to doing ministry these next few months, making money, hanging out with my family, playing in the lake, not writing papers, and eating lots of home made food. I would have told you a week ago that I was so ready to go home for the summer, to get the heck out of Cleveland for a few months, and don’t get me wrong, I am. Its just that when I was cleaning out my desk yesterday my heart and mind were flooded by the sweet memories of my freshman year. Leaving might not be as easy as I thought.

My heart is brimming with emotion as my throat tightens thinking about the incredible healing, relationship building, and joy that I have encountered. God took blossoming friendships and established a family for me here in Cleveland.

Dorm life is not by any stretch of the imagination luxurious and at times not really comfortable. Yet, I grew in patience and love when I was forced to figure out how a self proclaimed “outgoing introvert” that I am is supposed to live on a hallway with 40 girls and share a bathroom with three of them. I have to give a shout out to my roommate, Sarah, for putting up with me when I came in hours past the time she went to bed, left piles of clean/dirty clothes on the floor, and let my grape jelly spill in the fridge. Girlfriend, you are a saint. And I cannot forget to thank my suite mates for handling the freaking shower mat when it got wet and disgusting. RIP, shower mat. Thanks, Caroline and Abby! My RA, Jordan, truly made the community on our hall what it is. Love you, Jordan.

With every free pizza event, every U-Church, soccer game, basketball game, movie night, IHop run, and utterance of the college benediction, Lee became a place of belonging. I started saying “we and our” instead of “they and their”.

The day that I stopped striving and searching was when I finally opened my eyes and realized that my “place of belonging” was already all around me. The men and women that God so beautifully wove my story with have helped me strengthen my faith and bear my burdens more than they will ever know. I laughed a lot, I cried a little, but never felt alone.

Slowly but surely God and I worked through some rough and forgotten places in my heart and I grew as a woman of the Lord. I walked through dark valleys and rested beside quiet waters. Through confession and worship and prayer, my eyes were filled with hope and joy and freedom. He restored my soul.  

Life is really cool, and fun, and not meant to be this mediocre experience in which we kill time until we die and go to Heaven. Being at Lee has helped teach me that. Being a Christian is really exciting. I have so many things to be thankful for. This is why I can look back at the last nine months with fondness and say a temporary goodbye to this home away from home. Thanks to everyone who made my freshman year as wonderful as it has been. See you in August!