The Freedom Trail

For all of the times that I needed reassurance that he is where he is needed and that every hard moment this summer has given me because of my circumstances was worth it-I received it times ten today. 
I believe in answered prayers, in detailed and intricate plans and in blue bows. 

In one week, I will be reunited with my roommate, my friends and my Idaho family.
In a little over a week, the last missing piece of the puzzle will finally fall into it's place again.
And everything will be okay for a little while.



turn down the tv, Jake!

thank you, creepy Native American chanting for keeping me up way past my bed time. i actually have to get up tomorrow morning!



And the artist uses brown to create the ground first,
before the magentas and the cyans to paint the flowers.



"You gotta put it in at an angle" he says as he picks up the screw that dropped from my hand and holds it in the proper position as I align my electric drill and push it through the wood in one smooth motion. Demonstration understood, I proceed with my handful of screws and new found talent of using a tool more powerful than a hammer and continue to seal up the Upper Staff Cabins while the sun filters through the trees and the cicada's hum in the distance. We haven't had a hurricane in New England for about 20 years, as long as you don't count Earl, and that was a pitiful excuse of a rainstorm. This one though; this one is a tiny bit more intimidating and after screwing shut the last window shutter, I make my way to the small group of people huddled in the middle of the gravel path.

"Are you guys all set? Did Jimmy leave you a generator?" Ed asks as I load up my tools in the cubby of the golf cart.

"Yes, he bought me a small one to run the sump pump if we lose power. It will tie us over until he gets home. Are you all ready?" Mom asks, leaning against a tree trunk.

"Yeah, I installed the switch for our generator last night."

And I sit there, listening to them talk about plans and reassuring all of us that everything will be okay and I think about how grateful I am to be a part of the ward family and to be able to lean on others and allow them to lean on me. I think about how safe I am, even though the storm is starting to pick up and the wind will be howling soon, because of the people who surround me here. And I think about New Hampshire and how much I love being a New Englander: bred to meet every kind of weather head on without blinking twice. Nothing phases us here-we just prepare and hunker down and say our prayers.

So tonight, in true New England form, we will prepare and hunker down and say our prayers and ride out the storm. The sun will come out after. It always does.

Wish us luck. See you all on the other side.


Hurricanes and Beach Week

"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you strong is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine!" -The Count of Monte Cristo

I have a lot I want to write about and update about from the last week; including beach week, my trip to boston and the earthquake. butttt, Hurricane Irene is supposed to hit New England in about a day and we're kinda in a panic up here because not only do we need to get our home ready for the storm, but Zion's Camp ready as well...

So, I'll write someday soon, I hope.

Okay Irene, bring it on.


But I know you will be back tomorrow.


 "It was a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now."

C.S. Lewis


You are twenty

I woke up this morning with the single thought of "It's your birthday" bouncing around in my head.
And as I lay in bed, listening to the combination of the ocean waves and the cars driving by on route 1-A, I tried hard to keep the hole in my chest closed and together.
You said it best in March:
"I know how hard it is to have a special day without your other half."

Happy Birthday, my very best friend.
I am so proud of you. So. Proud.

and through a telescope lens,
when all you want is friends.

I'll see you soon.


this morning

I woke up with the single thought that my life is anything but ordinary.
and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If people were rain, many live as a drizzle.
I choose to live like a hurricane.


leggings and flashbacks

I loved being able to walk into your apartment after a long day of work without knocking, and being greeted by whoever was sitting in the living room like it was no big deal. I would always just chuck my backpack on the couch or on the table and hang my peacoat on the back of the lone kitchen chair. Usually you would come out from the back by then because you heard me come in and as you kissed me hello, I would announce: "IT'S LEGGINGS TIME!" Those five minutes: the feeling of safety as soon as I saw you, the light, loving kiss hello, how warm you felt as I curled up into your right side, and the way you put your arm around me and held me close while we talked about our day and planned for our night; those first five minutes were so regular to us. They happened every day for four months, and they felt so natural, like we had been doing it for years and would continue to follow our routine for years so come. 

I've made it through six months without those five minutes. I'm doing really well, despite our crazy circumstances. I've really learned to trust God and I've seen so many blessings through my obedience and dedication to the rules we were given. And, I'm planning some big things for myself, like school and China and writing. I'm happy here; I'm happy here at home and I'm learning a lot. But I put my leggings on tonight and I so badly wanted to be curled up into your right side with your arm around my shoulders and my head in the crook of your neck and for five minutes, just for five minutes, to talk about our day.

I am so proud of you. And as much as I miss you, I know how happy you are and that makes everything worth it to me.



As many of you know (because I blog about it every time), one of my family's favorite games to play is Telestrations-a witty combination of pictionary and telephone. (read more about how it's played here or here) Tonight was the first time all summer that we had time to sit down and play a few rounds! Here are a few of my favorite rounds (and laughs) from the night. 

Dad had this word to start off:
and he drew this:

Jake's friend, Greg, who joined us for the evening, guessed this:

And Jake came up with this masterpiece, because he thought "kiln" instead of "kennel"

So my mother guessed this while sniggering into her white board:

And Katie, baffled, drew this, handed it to me and said: "good luck."

Originally I wrote: "Cat in a fireplace" but on second glance, I realized that the animal was IN the flames:

and so Dad's "Pig Pen" ended up with this drawing from Ashley:

Katie got "mink coat" in this round

Of course, I had to draw it. Obviously, I didn't do it well:

Ashley guessed:

And so Dad, utterly confused, drew:

Greg guessed:

and Jake drew this:

and Mom guessed:

This probably is my favorite, though. Ashley started off with "Booth"

So she drew this "voting booth"

Dad guessed:

Greg drew this:

And Jake guessed this:

And my mother, bless her heart, drew this.

and somehow, someway, Katie guessed this:

So I drew this:

And thus, Ashley's "Booth" turned into:

...a nativity scene.

I love spending time with my family. I love laughing so hard my stomach cramps up for hours after. I love getting along with everyone and appreciating the individuals each member of my family have become. I love being part of them and am grateful that they are a part of me.


Snapshot on Saturday

Only love is all maroon

Lapping lakes like leary loons

Leaving rope burns --

Reddish ruse

Flume: Bon Iver
Great Pond, Maine
Photograph Taken by Chelsie Whitney

Rainbow in a Bottle

"Did you know," she says "that when you see a double rainbow, the colors mirror each other?"

"Really?" I say with genuine interest, because no, I didn't know.

"Yes," she says as we both peer out the windshield at the blackening sky stretching before us, squinting as the sun burns into the side mirrors of the car. "I learned that in my weather class."

I drive on, both hands gripping the unfamiliar steering wheel and her feet curled up underneath her in the worn leather of the passenger seat that knows her well. Mist kicks up from the tires and for a moment, I concentrate on my speed and the way the tires feel beneath me; making sure I have control.

"Look!" she gasps and points ahead of us at the sudden apparition of two brilliant arches of mirrored color stretching across the pavement ahead of us; a welcoming gate into a perfect storm. The sun flares behind us as we climb a hill and we both stare in silence at the bold colors that seem to be breathing in the sky. It's one of those moments, I realize, that we'll never adequately be able to capture in film or even explain in a story. It's a moment that is taken in the most extreme raw format, corked up in some hazy blue-stained bottle and saved for a winter day when all is white and cold. And I think about all those bottles I have stashed away just for me, the glass stained with different colors of the seasons and the corks worn from being unstopped often; and I wonder if I'll ever be able to find a way to document my collection of priceless moments. Maybe they will be buried with me when my time comes, and as she wrote some time ago, whispered into the dirt and back into the atmosphere to become part of someone else's collection. I like that thought, I think. It is a little morbid, but it's something to hold on to when the despair hits as I realize I'll never be able to find the words or music or any concrete, tangible way to share those ten minutes we were hit by the most glorious rainbow I've ever seen. But maybe those thoughts will seep into the rocks and roots someday and be breathed back into the air, for after all, I am just a small part of something so much bigger. I am insignificant but count for something anyway. It is all part of the plan. I have a part in the plan. And my rainbow in a bottle is part of my plan.


I'm off to Maine for the next couple of days

so I'm gonna leave you a little food for thought:

"cherish the solitude. take trains by yourself to places you have never been. sleep out alone under the stars. learn how to drive a stick shift. go so far away that you stop being afraid of coming back. say no when you don't want to do something. say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone arounds you disagrees. decide whether you want to be liked or admired. decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you're doing here. believe in kissing." -even ensler


I wanted to write

I wanted to write.

I wanted to write things that had the ability to move people. I wanted to create sentences that transported them to places that were beyond their imaginations. I wanted to use my words to paint pictures of the most vivid colors and textures and sounds-things so tangible and palpable that you would want to reach your hand out and test out the reality for yourself. I wanted to put a voice behind emotions that seemed too raw to have a description. I wanted to pen out every deep thought and idea that crossed my mind on paper and and create a solace that documents every beautiful and damaged thing I came across. I wanted to write.

I considered myself a writer in some respects. I wrote a lot. I wrote frequently. I told stories and molded my world around black print and letters. I tried, and hey, that's a heck of a lot better then doing nothing at all, or so they say. But sometimes, I stumbled across someone who wrote their emotions so brilliantly that by the end of the story I felt like they were my own and I thought: I want to write. I want to write like that.

and so, I kept writing. But between the lines and the dotted i's and the crossed t's and overused phrases and cliches, I realized that I'm not writing for anyone but me. These are my emotions and my thoughts and no one elses and that by putting them down in a concrete way, I'm becoming the writer I wanted to be all along. And that is good enough for me.


On being alive

Today, Katie and I spent the morning buzzing around camp on the ATV, unlocking doors to the cabins, opening up waterfront and checking campsites. Then, Mom assigned us the task of visiting each latrine and making sure that they had lime buckets ("if you tinkle, use a sprinkle. if you poop, use a scoop") and cleaning check-lists. The sun was shining and the air was muggy and heavy with a lingering morning haze. I let Kate drive for a bit while I scribbled notes on the clipboard in an inky red pen. We were down at the amphitheater when all of a sudden, out of absolutely nowhere, the skies opened up and literally dumped buckets upon us. It was my turn to drive and Katie was laughing in the back as I gunned the throttle and shot up the hill towards the office; the rain drops hitting my face like a million tiny cold stings that imprinted into my skin. I could feel the water run down my knees and seep into my socks. I could feel it rolling across my checks and into the crevices of my ears as we raced through the wind. My hair was plastered in flat clumps to my forehead and my hands were turning numb in as I gripped the handles in an azure haze of oncoming water. I was laughing uncontrollably as I felt my mascara drip down in bold black lines and as Katie urged me onward in the most perfect summer rainstorm, I felt more alive then I have in months. And it was so beautiful.


four days

I got a phone call on Saturday from my best friend Juli. It went like this:
"I have a proposition. I think I'm going to change my flight and fly in on Thursday instead of Saturday. Can you pick me up at the airport? Then we can drive up to Maine and spend the rest of the week/weekend with my family at the cabin they are renting."
me: "I love that proposition. I would love that more than anything else."

So, Juli is coming home earlier then originally planned, I get to go to Maine and go camping for the weekend, and then I get to go on adventures to the beach, Boston and maybe up north over the next two weeks with my best friend, whom I haven't seen since April! I'M SO EXCITED!

Also. Primary went really well today. I teach a class of seven and eight year olds and on average have four kids a week. Two of them struggle with Autism, so it can be extremely challenging at times. It's been a hugeeee learning experience, but a wonderful one. I learn so much from my kids and am so impressed and moved by their willingness to learn and their love for Christ. It's going to be hard to leave them in a few weeks. Today, Betsy looked at me and said: "Please don't leave us and go back to college!" and then gave me a huge hug. UGH! I didn't have the heart to tell her that I booked my flight yesterday! (BTW, I BOOKED MY FLIGHT YESTERDAY!)

My knee is feeling great these days and yesterday at camp I did A LOT of trucking around with my dad during check outs and I didn't even think about my knee. This is a huge HUGE thing for me because whenever I'm walking for long periods of time, the only thing I become aware of is my knee and how much it hurts and how to step over logs and so on and so on. Yesterday it didn't even cross my mind. I am so blessed-this knee has been one of the biggest miracles in my life and is changing my life every day.

My mom is laughing hysterically at some show on Animal Planet and trying to talk in a southern accent about "Bein' downah in tha buy-yous." I'm going to go join the party.


Geography Lessons

On the way home tonight, we drove past a dead skunk. My mother said: "Something stinks in Denmark!" (apparently that is an old saying?) The following conversation ensued:

Dad: Do you know where Denmark is?
Mom: It's by Norway and that other guy up there!
Katie: "Germany?"
Mom: "No, up there!"
Me: "I think she means Finland!"

Dad: "Do you know where Morocco is?"
Mom: "Isn't that where people use those shaker things?"
Me: "No, Mom. No."
Mom: "Yeah Huh! Macarenias!"
Dad: "Maracas are used in Mexico..."

Mom: "Holland is in the Netherlands."
Dad: "No."
Mom: "Yeah, it is! Holland! Wooden Shoes."
Ashley: "I thought the Netherlands were islands!"
Dad: "Holland to the Netherlands is like America is to the USA."
Mom: "Right! Holland is the Netherlands!"
Katie: "Where is Denmark?"

I really love my fambly. They make me laugh.



I am not perfect. I have bad habits. And I'm so sick of finally getting close to kicking them and then doing something that makes me slip back into them. I am so done with bad habits; and I'm so over mine. SO OVER THEM! so, I'm just stopping them. No more bad habits. No more biting my nails, no more chewing on pen caps, no more, period! OKAY! GO!

I will need all the luck I can get on this.


quiet nights

I love having time to myself and being introverted; curling up with a cup of tea on an absolutely perfect summer night and being alone. It's during these rare moments that I find myself staring out my window and watching a tiny city of lights blink against the crow's black wing of night and allow myself to be whisked away to another time and place. I go over lists and goals I have, or examine the finer details of what makes me who I am. I think about where I want to go or what I want to do with my life and I travel down the various potential paths to test the waters with barefooted toes of determination. I dream. I make plans. I listen to the rumbles of crickets hidden in the grass and the wind breathing through the woods and I realize that this is my life, and I can do whatever I want with it. When I think of it that way, it's almost intimidating. I can do anything, I can be anything, I can go anywhere; so much power, so much potential. My life is what I make of it. It's empowering. I am filled with desire to improve, to change, to become, to do my best, to make my second chance at being alive worth something so that at the end of the day someone can say: "Yes, I'm glad we gave her a second shot."
Morbid? Maybe a little. I just want to make someone proud. I want to be deserving of my life. 
So, on these quiet nights when it's jut me and a warm mug of chamomile sitting in between my cupped hands; my eyes glossed over as I stare out into the blanket of black, I fill up with gratitude. And then I make my lists and I set my goals and I go to bed ready to wake up and prepared to do my best.

In this crazy world where there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, it becomes very easy to lose track of one's self. Getting caught up with the day in and day out routine slowly erases the finer lines of a soul; blends them into unclear images that eventually get lost in that grey area. So it's important to me to set aside a quiet night here or there to take care of myself and to refocus and recommit to my goals. It's taken me a long time to learn how to invest that kind of time into myself; but let me tell you, it has made all the difference.

No matter what happens, life will continue to be beautiful. 


in numbers

13 until Juli comes home
20 until Beach Week 2011
32 until Labor Day Weekend Campout
36 until I"M BACK IN IDAHO

I love August. The insane heat usually tends to calm down here and I spend a lot of time outside in the sunshine and on the lake, in the pool or at the beach. I am a water baby! I'm reading really awesome books and I'm hopefully booking my flight back to school tomorrow and I'm so excited to go back to school. ALSO! My paperwork for China is all in. officially. YES!

August Status:

Current guilty pleasure: McDonald's McCafe's Strawberry Banana Smoothies
Current color: Black
Current playlist:
safetysuit and parachute 

Current read:  picture of dorian gray. 
Current drink: strawberry banana smoothies. 
Current food: Zucchini and Summer Squash Medley. 
Current favorite show: Criminal Minds
Current wish list: Tires for Cazz
Current needs: Air Conditioner
Current triumphs: Mile Hike through Lost River Gorge without tripping or falling
Current bane of my existence: Bursitis
Current celebrity crush: Shemar Moore
Current indulgence: Pretzel M&M's
Current blessing:  President Wilkey
Current outfit: Black v-neck with pink DC logo and shorts.
Current excitement: VEDA
Current mood: Tired
Current link: in love with this song

Oscar Wilde

"People are very fond of giving away what the need most themselves."
the picture of dorian gray