Letter #684: Europe Lessons

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Dear Europe,

Four weeks is a long time. A person can learn quite a bit in that span. Being in foreign countries adds even more layers to the lessons.

Being months removed has made me even more thankful for my time visiting you. I honestly don’t know if a day goes by where I don’t look back fondly on my trip, think about a site I visited, laugh at a hilarious moment or reflect on something I learned. I am the greatest advocate for people to save up and go see the world. There are things you will learn that you just can’t by staying here in America. Here’s a quick list in no particular order:

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This is not a green screen, I promise! Go to the Swiss Alps…it will instantly be your favorite spot in the world!
  • Nobody speaks English, what are you going to do?! Trust me, you figure it out. You have to.
  • You have no option to pull out your phone in lull times (unless you want to pay astronomical fees, and we already know I ain’t about that life!). I learned to do other things in moments of waiting. I grew to become more purposeful, but I’m already fighting falling back into this trap on the reg.
  • If something goes wrong, you are completely responsible. There’s no blame-shifting, calling home or getting out of it; you have to own it and figure it out. Decisions must be made in confidence and awareness of your safety at all times is vital. An intangible layer of responsibility is gained here. In other words, you just grow up.
  • Follow the local transportation rules precisely. You’ll pay for it (literally) if you don’t. I left a 50 euro donation fine in Paris! In all seriousness, it’s easier to take a train from Italy to Switzerland than for me to drive from Missouri to Oklahoma.
  • I think I learned the healthiness of a sabbatical at an early age! Time off and getting away is a win. We should enjoy life along the journey. But if we’re honest, it’s hard for us to truly ever shut off completely. A week off, and it takes 3 days to unwind and by day 5 your mind is preparing to get back again. A week of vacation is valuable, but I tasted something I had never experienced before. I was truly able to step away from work. I couldn’t pick up the phone and make a call. I only had Wi-Fi access occasionally. I tasted rest like most Americans never will, and I will do ‘vacation’ in a different way from now on because of it.
  • Clear vision casting to the right people can make dreams come true! This trip started as a pipe dream, but a little over a year ago I crafted an email that captured people’s attention and created buy in in a way that I’m now looking back at photos and telling stories from the trip of a lifetime.
  • Never let fear dictate your decisions. There are a million reasons I shouldn’t have gone. Safety, money, work, responsibility, the unknown. I could have believed them, but if I had I would have missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life. Fear wants to win. Let’s not let it. Life’s way better when I don’t live in fear. I have pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower and in the Swiss Alps to prove it!
  • Stop waiting to live your life. If I’m honest, I waited for years before I made this trip happen. I’ve wanted to go since I was in college, but in the back of my head I knew it would probably be cheaper and for sure safer to do Europe with my spouse…it’s just easier to travel with a male, you assume a different level of risk. I never verbalized this but it was in my subconscious. Well guess what, I’m not married and it’s not on the horizon. So why in the world was I waiting? Not sure, but I’m done waiting to live my life.
Such a fun day! If you go, take a Fat Tire Bike Tour while you’re there! Pretty surreal to see this area on tv now, but may we not live in fear.

Europe, you were good for so many reasons, but these simple and practical lessons were for sure eight of them. I will live life differently because of my choice to visit and travel you. Thanks for a great adventure, the trip of a lifetime. Thanks for all you taught me that I just wouldn’t have learned in America. And in the same way I refuse to operate in fear, I beg you not to either in the aftermath of Paris and the refugee situation. May fear never paralyze us, but rather may fear remind us to face them, to make the right decisions rather than the safe ones and to rely on the One who brings hope despite circumstance.

Until next time Europe,

Lindsay

Letter #682: Life Nuggets

BdayDear life,

Last week, I turned 28. I don’t understand how time goes so quickly, but with each passing year I feel like you get more fun and I gain more perspective. I was reflecting on you in the last week, and I found it fitting to celebrate another year by sharing a few things I’ve learned along the way. Somehow at Kamp ‘throwing nuggets’ has become one of my things. My staff mocks me for it, but it’s become a simple way to share life lessons, tips of advice and biblical wisdom. So in reflection of my 28th year, here are some ‘Rother Nuggets’ in written form in no particular order:

  1. Age ain’t nothin’ but a thing. If you think and say you’re old, then you are. If you simply live life and don’t worry about your age, you’ll never be old.
  2. Life’s way more fun and much easier when you live open-handed with it rather than fists clenched tight.
  3. Enjoy the metabolism of youth! Something changes inside of you between 21 and 26.
  4. Be someone who tries new things. Life’s an adventure; don’t live like it’s boring.
  5. You’re capable of far more than you think. Believe in yourself.
  6. Pick up the phone and call. Better yet, get in your car and go. Texts are fine, but there’s nothing that can replace real conversation and authentic relationships.
  7. I’m 28, living in Branson (the Mecca of the Elderly), single and working a second job at Chick-fil-A. What is my life?! Never in a million years would I have guessed this is where I’d be and what I’d be doing. It’s far better.
  8. Live purposefully. Every day. Every moment.
  9. Refuse to waste your life. There’s nothing more freeing than this. Nothing.
  10. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. I’ve been more humbled through my hot yoga/barre classes and having 20-year-olds giving me direction at Chick-fil-A this year than maybe ever. It’s a really healthy place to live.
  11. You don’t need as much sleep as you think. But remember, being disciplined in the morning starts by being disciplined at night.
  12. You have the ability to make people’s day every time you interact with someone. Choose joy. Choose to encourage. Smile. It’s always worth it.
  13. Bust your rear now to instill financial disciplines. Get out of debt. Live below your means. Don’t buy stupid stuff. Save so you can go on adventures. Give…none of it’s yours anyway.
  14. Whether they have something to offer you or not, people matter. Look every one in the eye, show them dignity and be kind.
  15. Living life with 1000s of people in your life stage isn’t real life. Enjoy college while it lasts, but be ready to fight for community. And know it’s worth fighting for. We weren’t built to go at it alone.
  16. Friends come in all types. Surround yourself with people different than yourself. People who make you better. Forget stereotypes and just do life well with the people God puts in your path. Married, single, younger, older. It doesn’t matter. Don’t let life stage dictate friendship.

    Wiebe birthday
    Birthday celebration with the Wiebe clan…beyond thankful for this crew!
  17. There are few things more attractive than a strong work ethic. Work hard. Do your best.
  18. Feelings change often. Don’t rely on them solely. Anchor yourself in truth.
  19. Opportunity is everywhere. Open your eyes and stop sulking. Make the most of what’s in front of you.
  20. Don’t run from questions. Ask yourself hard ones. Surround yourself with people who push you to wrestle by asking them. Who am I? What am I good at? What are my weaknesses? What do I believe and why? Is what I’m spending my time on worth it?
  21. Show up. Being present matters. Have integrity and be a person of your word.
  22. Laugh. A lot. With others and at yourself.

As I was writing these, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I longed for these not to just be bullet points on a page, but pillars my life is built around. Honestly, praying that my heart would be centered in Jesus and that the overflow of how I live would reflect that. It’s been a good 27 years…looking forward to the 28th and all I will learn!

28 going on…….,

Rother the nugget thrower (hypothetically and now literally!)

Letter #210: Surgery Learning

Dear learning,

At 24, you haven’t stopped happening in my life. I hope you never do. Yesterday, I informed readers of my recent run in with ingrown toenails…I apologize if I grossed anybody out, but from the beginning I promised I would be real on here. Welcome!

That being said, something as significant as receiving anesthetic, spending 40 minutes a day with my feet in salt water to eliminate infection possibilities and being ridiculed in the process, some sort of you had to have occurred. Good news, you did!

The issue with my toes was my nails were growing where they weren’t intended to grow. This picture is a bit disgusting, but it does a great job depicting my lesson learned. My doctor let me keep the pieces of nail he cut out. I had both insides of my big toes operated on, so the nails below are sitting how they were on my feet. If you look closely the inside portions of the nails are what any Joe Schmo would have. Then, the outer parts of the nails are the issue. The left toe was just beginning to be ingrown again, the right toe was infected. It’s gross, but stick with me.

Gross, but seeing these allowed me, and every person who knew about my ingrown toenails that gave me looks of disgust, to understand what was wrong with my feet.

How the heck does a centimeter (if that) chunk of nail cause infection and severe pain? I’ll never understand, but as I was thinking about it I paralleled it to the big picture of life. How many times do I allow my little mistakes to build up and create much bigger issues in my world?

We were created to live in harmony with God. Adam and Eve sinned. Now, we all inherit a sin nature, but God didn’t choose to leave us in our sinful state. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, become our sin on the cross and defeat death, so we may live in harmony with God once again. So, once I accept Christ, I’ll never sin again. Awesome, but absolutely not true. I’m going to fail, sin, mess up, make mistakes. The difference is my sin has been redeemed, and I want to rid myself of the junk in my life that grieves the Lord.

So, how does this blip of theology have anything to do with my feet?! Just like my toenails were growing in places they shouldn’t be, sometimes I let sin fester in my life where it doesn’t need to be. It starts small, and I allow it to grow and remain a stronghold in my life.  I fail to confess my sin, to humble myself and admit I’m wrong. So, it continues to grow where it’s not supposed to be. The longer we allow it to be present, the more painful removing it is…just like my toes. The consequences of our sin are greater the longer we allow it to remain. Our sins are forgiven, but they don’t come without consequence.

As I physically had my ingrown toenails ripped out, I couldn’t help but wonder what sin needs to be ripped out of my life as well.

Finding ways to learn in all aspects of life,

Lifetime learner