Filled with both stress and sentiment, these last couple of weeks of undergrad have been bittersweet.
It seems the last four years have flown by, but it also feels like memories from another life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I reflect on the professors, friends, and mentors that have shaped and grown me the past four years. The past two years especially feel like I finally got my footing right in the balance of what is all about to come to an end. When I first moved to Montgomery, AL, I was not thrilled. Though excited about starting college, the thought of Alabama being my new home turned my stomach. But now? I love my city --the community, the history, the places. Here are a few places that provided the backdrop to moments where I fell in love with the present.
4. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
I have found that too many times in my life has the Lord met me at the foot of a masterfully done works of art. In Rome, Florence, Amsterdam, and London all had me in tears as I trotted between pieces of exquisite art. Parables played out in marble, stories painted in bright colors, spoke to me the Word of the Lord, teaching me lessons and bringing me peace. In the same way, I am often brought close in the safe arms of my local art museum. I go in alone, sometimes accompanied by earbuds blasting my favorite album, I walk a inches at a time, taking in something new with each visit.
3. Prevail Union
Overlooking the history-rich streets of the Civil Rights movement in downtown, there's something hopeful about the light-filled cafe. Prevail is my favorite coffeehouse, like not just in Montgomery, but maybe like in the world (a large statement, I know, I'll tack on a "so far"). They have award winning coffee, a super hip atmosphere, and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Moreover, some of my cherished friendships sparked in their big window. O, the words I've written, the laughter I've released, the prayers I've prayed, the hundreds of dollars in coffee I've sipped (sorry, mom) in that window!
2. The Upper Room at Landmark Church of Christ
If you do anything for yourself, get connected in a church family. The Lord created us for community, for friendship, for family. My church is all of that and more. I can't even describe the wisdom and teaching that is taught from the pulpit on Sundays and shared over meals and brownies in the homes of our minister, elders, and deacons. I've cried so many times in this building, always met with the sweetest of hugs and prayers. This campus ministry, this church, as provided opportunity to serve and learn in missions, children's ministry, and ministering to my peers. I would not be the person I hope to be without this body of Christ-followers.
1. My Apartment at Faulkner University
My roommates are both girls with which I studied abroad last year. One of them was my roommate in Italy, and one of my closest friends. In addition to being a multi-talented artist, actress, and singer, she exhibits the love and acceptance of Christ in all things. She's been there for many mental breakdowns and I for her as we've prayed through disappointments and life changing decisions. She puts up with my disorganization and I with her need to jump out at me for her own entertainment too often. My other roommate and I shared a mutual distaste for one another last spring and were not pleased when we were placed together in the apartments this past fall. But by the grace of God, she is a cherished friend. So often I hear, "Jesus says I have to love everyone but I don't have to like everyone." This only creates bitterness between people, but when you take the time to look for Jesus in brothers and sisters you don't yet like, you will find it. I found generosity, compassion, and zeal for life.
Beyond my roommates, my apartment has become the hub for my friend group. Close friends who double as neighbors in campus housing come over for late night chicken nuggets or study sessions. I wrote in a paper recently how thankful I am that living in a Christian community on a college campus resembles the beginnings of the Jerusalem church after Pentecost. The community of believers that surround me each day are such a gift, one I hate to be losing so soon.
Thank you to those reading who have been a part in this amazing experience at Faulkner University and at the Landmark Church. My heart will forever sing when I think of you.