The first steps…

I signed the paper. Checking that little box that determined where I would spend four months of my life was single-handedly the most difficult decision of my life. But I did it.

Studying abroad has been a dream of mine for a long time. In fact, it was a huge factor in my decision to transfer back to Mansfield University. Somewhere in the process of coming back, getting engaged, and planning my graduation, my dream got filed away.

I’m scared. Leaving everyone I love, everything I know, behind and journeying to a distant land is a terrifying concept. It is an adventure, a journey, and in a sense, a pilgrimage. Originally, I dreamed of studying abroad to see the world, then it was about learning the culture, but as I have gone farther into the process, the words pilgrimage seem etched into my mind.

A planner by nature, the unknown sends me into panic attacks (quite literally sometimes). Boarding a plane and flying off to Iceland is going to be a pilgrimage for me because I will have nothing to cling to but God. I have no family, no friends waiting for me on the gigantic island. There will be no driving home on breaks. It’s me and God. I have no doubt that I will make friends who will supplement for the family not available to me, but not immediately. It will be an adjustment and one I have to make.

After all, I am on a pilgrimage to the holy land of reliance and trust; the journey starts now.

~Paige

Can I have 5 minutes of your time?

Seriously, can I have five minutes of your time?

No? Well, go ahead and X out of this tab.

You’re still here? Good, I was hoping so.

Step away from the family. Take your laptop to a quiet place. Or maybe, if you’re using a desktop computer, pull out those giant headphones you’ve stashed in the desk draw and put them on. Go ahead and block out all the surrounding noise. Put down you’re phone; don’t text for the next few minutes.

Whew, tense isn’t it? This world is so crazy, so hectic and stopping and just sitting, it feels weird, right? Not thinking about switching to the next tab, are we?

All I want is four more minutes of your time. Except, I don’t really want the rest of these minutes to be about me. So, make this video full-size on your screen, sit back and listen.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWRgsXYf8EY

It gave me tears, goosebumps, and a whole lot of awe. What about you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Billows of Change

Once again I have found myself failing to update my blog on a regular basis. My summer began rather dull, but is coming to rushing, thrilling end.

 

Before I write anything else, I must announce my most exciting news: I am now engaged! After nearly two years of dating Zac, I had the honor of accepting a ring from my darling best friend. The love we share is something that I didn’t believe existed; God has, and continues to bless our relationship in ways I never could have imagined.

Of course immediately after our announcement, the inevitable question comes pouring out of the mouth of nearly everyone: when will the wedding be? The truth is, we don’t know. While both of us have no doubts that the other person is “the one”, there are a few things we must wait on. One of those is my study abroad application. I have applied to go to four countries in the spring: New Zealand, Iceland, England, and Scotland. As of now, we have no idea where I will be placed. While some of the programs last only 12 weeks, others span as long as 6 months. With that uncertainty, neither of us are ready to assign a date to our matrimony. Instead, we have decided to put aside that discussion and wait upon my placement, which should arrive mid-October.

There’s so much else to write about, but for now I’ll just add one more topic: school. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was at orientation for Eastern University. My time there was brief, and mostly good, but I was ready to transfer back. Many people warned me that I would regret my decision, that the RA position was a sign I should’ve taken, and I was foolish to walk away. Honestly, while I occasionally see a picture of my fellow LFP members that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, I am overall at ease. I know that this peace could come from no one but God. Mansfield University is where God wants me.

With that being said, I am so excited to start up classes. I enjoy the ease of summer life, but I crave the pressure and fast-paced nature of working and being a student. Call me crazy, but my love of learning is extreme.

Anyway, I’m super exhausted, so I’m going to bring this post to a close. Hopefully I will write another post soon about some other events. We’ll see.. I’m not making any promises :)

 

-Paige

 

 

Love.

It was only a week and a half ago. I didn’t expect God to answer in the way that He did, nor would I have wanted Him to, but He did, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Friday, June 15th, I didn’t want to go to work. It had been a rough week, and I was lacking the normal cheer I exuded while waitressing. And so, as I sat on the sea-themed old couch that used to be my grandmothers, I bowed my head and clasped my hands together. I spoke to God earnestly, asking Him to pour His love into me; I felt my well was dry. I knew I couldn’t make it through the day without the strength of the Spirit, and so I pleaded for God to take me over. I can’t say my prayer was particularly different, or the way I came before the throne was special, because I feel like I had prayed that prayer before. But I was earnest, because I felt (and feel) that without truth in life, there is nothing. 

Shortly after, it all started to happen. My eyes weren’t immediately opened, as some find after a deep commune with God, but He was working in my life. God was revealing to me that love can take on many forms, something so easy for me to forget.

Love is waiting. It is waiting when I don’t want to wait anymore, when I am impatient, anxious, and ready for change. It is waiting because I know that it is not only for my good, for another’s good, or because the Bible says so, but also because it brings glory to His name.

Love is fierce. It can really hurt, a lot. It can be as painful as loneliness and paper cuts when God breaks down the walls you’ve been building, shatters the worldly foundation you’d begun to form. It is relentless, conquering, and worthwhile.

Love is trusting. It is knowing the persecution of oneself is not a reason for revenge, but an opportunity for grace. It is allowing God to have the upper hand, and submitting to His Masterful plan. 

Love is seeing. It is looking at each person as loved by God, one that has an eternal life, somewhere. 

Love isn’t always fun, and often doesn’t come with a box of chocolates, but it is enriching, worthwhile, and our mission.

 

 

Updates &stuff…

God has blessed me richly and abundantly. As I survey my life, I am not only mesmerized by the astounding qualities of God, and the love He allows me to partake in, but also the blessings bestowed upon me on earth. While my failings are many, His grace abounds. Some days, I truly do not understand why He allows a lowly servant like me to be in His favor. I am beyond unworthy. This has been my meditation lately.

~*~

The blessings of God have taken many forms for me. I feel that I’ve done a lot of growing since last summer and I can’t exactly explain how. I guess the best way to put it is that I’ve learned to cherish the unquantifiable things in life. Love, time, knowledge: all these things have so much more attention in my life than ever before. I’ve spent so much of my time focusing on attaining money, or great grades, but those things are so fleeting. Someone can have a flawless GPA and still not get a job; it’s often about connections. You can have all the money in the world, but you cannot buy genuine love. While both good grades and money are important, they do not hold the reins of my life.

This summer has been filled with odds and ends:

I’ve taken to reading classics and digging into their meaning. What has the author addressed through each character, and what does it say to the reader? How has the world view changed? It is good to read a book, but digesting it is equally important.

Mom was away in Denmark for nearly two weeks, a long-time dream of hers. So, my sister and I ran the house while she was gone. It was nice to appreciate Mom in a new light. She’s left us before to visit her parents, but never for so long. Man, I cannot tell you my amazement that she hasn’t exploded on us all for dirtying new dishes when she JUST finished washing the ones from a meal, or not taking our folded laundry out of the bin, or me losing my car keys for the 243983x time. The mother-type is amazing.

Additionally, there’s the new developments in Zac and my relationship. As he pursues another job and finishing his Criminal Justice degree, we look with uncertainty as to what the future might hold. An engagement, for sure, but the logistics are pushed into a closet, to be opened later. He now has his own apartment 20 minutes from my house and we’re a “normal” couple for the first time since October of 2012. I assure you, folks, the emphasis on normality is overrated. That being said, it’s nice to no longer be a LDR (long distance relationship) couple. However…

I’ve applied to study abroad in the Spring of 2015! If I am selected, I will be venturing to either Iceland, Scotland, England, or New Zealand! The possibility excites me, although I’m trying to not get my hopes up; I will not find out the results until late October. The only downside to an acceptance is that Zac and I will once again be LDR, for the third and (hopefully) final time. I would be gone from January to early June, with no trips home. While the prospect of visiting somewhere I’ve dreamed of excites me, I also have extreme anxiety about it. I’m praying that God will grant me peace as He prepares the way in which I am to walk.

Last, I have begun a project that’s been on my mind since I was about 13: a book. Originally, I was going to write a story that I’ve been told has an incredible plot. However, after much deliberation, I decided that I am not quite ready for that much commitment. Instead, I’m working on a compilation of short stories. Hopefully, I will be posting the first one soon.

So, that’s all for now. Sorry for the short, choppy paragraphs. It’s late and I’m rather brain dead. I just figured that since I hadn’t posted in a while, I should update everyone.

Much love,

-Paige

 

Transitions

I remember when my sister went away to college, my mom told her an important piece of advice: “Few times in life do you get the chance to start over. This is one of them; take advantage of it”. Four years flew by, and soon it was my turn to depart. I was beyond eager, and I recalled Mom’s wisdom. I didn’t want to regret my time at Eastern.

Looking back now, I admit there are things that I would do differently if I were to relive the experience, but there are things I am proud of changing. When I left, I made the conscious decision to no longer be ashamed of who I was. Eastern supposedly celebrated individuals, and I was going to embrace that. I decided to stop hiding that I raised pigs for 7 years, and that my family participated in a farmer’s market. I no longer guided conversations around the fact that my boyfriend’s 7 years my senior, and I stopped following peer pressure to fit in. I was me. At times, I admit that I probably should’ve just let it go and blended in, but while there, I learned so much about myself. I learned that I love tunafish, I can make recipes out of just about anything, and I genuinely love learning. However, one of the most important things that I recognized while at Eastern was the skill of prioritization. It’s taken me a long time to figure it out. 

Now, it’s back to Mansfield University: another transition. Although it’s not entirely a fresh start, I like to consider it one.I have made a lot of mistakes, but this summer, I have decided to refocus my life. and apply the prioritization. For the past two years, I’ve worked hours on end, barely having time with my family and friends. Not any more. I started out this summer with two jobs, but due to my exhaustion and the commute, I decided to just stay with one job. Sixty hours a week would be fine, if I didn’t want a social life, but there are somethings more important than money. My sister’s home for a little bit and this is like the last year we’ll ever live together. It’s a weird feeling. I want to cherish my time with her. Life has so many beautiful options, and sometimes, it’s just a matter of deciding what ones you want to take. 

Love your life, people. Do something you enjoy. Be someone you want to be. 

~Paige

Flight 370: What won’t be found at the bottom of the ocean

This blog post is going to be extremely different from my normal writings, but it is a topic I simply cannot get out of my head: the Malaysian airplane. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the news story, I’ll give a brief synopsis before addressing the topic.

On March 8th, 2014, Malaysian Airflight 370 took off from Malaysia headed to Beijing. Shortly after takeoff (approximately an hour), the air traffic control team lost contact with the plane; including crew members, approximately 250 people were onboard. Now, almost two months later, there is no public knowledge of what happened. Reports have indicated that flight was flying at an altitude lower than mandated and could have lost contact due to the low altitude. Additionally, it is believed that the plane was preprogrammed to turn west during the time it began to drop altitude. Searches have been made internationally, but no substantial evidence has appeared. The backgrounds of both crew members and passengers have been and are being extensively analyzed, but no public report of suspicious persons has been declared.  However, there have been a few minor details concerning the investigation that are important to acknowledge.

First of all, the fuel. Upon initial announcement, the news reported that the farthest the plane could’ve flown without refueling was the middle of India. After further consideration, the territory was expanded to the western boarder of India. Finally, they admitted that perhaps the plane could’ve flown further. I will refer back to this later.

Second, the co-pilot’s phone. Authorities have reported that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid’s phone pinged a cellphone tower shortly before the plane disappeared. While this may seem insignificant, it is important to know that there were surely other passengers who left their phones on; no signals were detected from their mobile devices. It is commonly considered that Hamid unsuccessfully tried to make a phone call.

Third, the pings. While I do not believe that this is substantial evidence supporting my theory, it must be noted. In the beginning of April, pings from the flight’s locator were believed to be heard by satellite. When an airplane hits water, the locator emits a high pitched noise to help authorities find the crashed plane. The locator’s battery usually lasts approximately 30 days, so it was no surprise when only a few days later, the pings were no longer heard. Shortly after, officials began to conduct an underwater search using a sonar device. They scanned the ocean floor in a little over 6 mile radius from where the pings were believed to have originated. Their results? Nothing.

Fourth and finally, the video of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Now, this may seem entirely unconnected, but let me explain. On March 29th, a video of the militants appeared on a website for supporting them. While there are many things one could take away from the video, I am concerned with two of them: the absence of one member and the timing. Professional analysts have declared the video to be authentic and approximately a month before its release (around the time of the Malaysian plane’s disappearance, perhaps?). In the video, the terrorist group warns of an upcoming attack that they are planning and also state, “We must eliminate the cross; the Americans are the bearers of the cross”. Now, what this means is uncertain, but it should definitely not be dismissed. Besides the timing, the absence of a certain member of al-Qaeda is exceedingly peculiar: Ibrahim al-Asiri. This militant is the chief-bomb maker of the group, and his location has been uncertain after he unsuccessfully attempted a bombing at Detroit in 2009. Why is he so vital to al-Qaeda? Well, al-Asiri has is able to make bombs that are undetectable on airplanes.

While it is possible that the Malaysian and American authorities have  absolutely no intel on the whereabouts of flight 370, I find it highly unlikely. The world we live in today is moderated that I believe that we, the citizens, do not even know how much we are being watched. There are satellites and live feeds everywhere; drones and radars are more common than we like to believe. It is my theory that the Malaysian plane is not lost at the bottom of the ocean, but landed in a country in the Middle East. Whether this be Yemen, Afghanistan, or somewhere else, I do not know, but I think that evidence supporting my theory is substantial. If al-Asiri is able to create bombs that are undetected by airport security, is it that far out of the realm of possibility that he could sneak on to an airplane and  disable a highly complicated tracking system? Or that he could walk someone else through this endeavor? I do not believe it to be a preposterous assumption. All will be revealed in due time.

 

What are your thoughts on the disappearance of flight 370? Do you think that it lies at the bottom of the Indian Ocean? Could al-Asiri’s absence from the al-Qaeda video be linked to this tragedy? Or do you hold an entirely different theory? Let me know in the comments section below!