Friday, May 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home

*Note* Jamie, Daniel, and Bentley were there too! I was just lame and didn't get pictures!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I've been loving life lately. The weather has been gorgeous. I've been in excellent company. I've finished teaching. I'm seeing fabulous things. Home is only a matter of days away.

Home is only a matter of days away.

I think today, for the first time actually, that reality sank in...just a little. I'm going home. In two days. Part of me immediately thought "woohooo! I'm going home!!" while the other part of me thought, "holy (expletive)...I'm going home."

My roommate Rachael leaves for the airport in about 3.5 hours. I feel slightly nauseous.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Thursday, May 20, 2010


This one goes out to all my Washington peeps ;-)

...also, I crack myself up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I can't help it, it makes me feel like summer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

We Did It!

Yesterday we had our certificate cermony and honored those students who had attended class regularly and worked hard all year. It was incredibly satisfying to hand our students certificates and watch as they tried to hide how proud it made them. It was strange to say our goodbyes, some of them met unexpectedly with tears. But we did it! My roommates and I have successfully completed a year of teaching English overseas and we have a pride and sense of accomplishment to match our students. :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

As Morning Breaks

It’s about 4:30 am and St. Petersburg is still quiet with sleep. For some reason I find myself unable to join her people this morning. No matter, I think that like so many others in the past few days, this quiet, unexpected moment is something to be treasured. The sky is light, the air from my open window is cool and I can be alone with my thoughts. It’s good.

Friday night was Arina’s Birthday and so to celebrate, we took her on a canal boat tour. Honestly, it was probably one of my favorite things I’ve done since being in St. Petersburg. The air was warm, the sights were beautiful, and I was surrounded by the people that have shared in and supported me through the ups and downs of this adventure. As we floated down the canals I had an overwhelming sense of peace and satisfaction, and a longing to somehow freeze those moments of seeming perfection.

Yesterday morning I went on a five mile run that Joel had suggested. I had attempted this run before but my terrible sense of direction always got the best of me. But yesterday I was successful. I ran across beautiful bridges, above sparkling blue waters, and past spectacular landmarks like Peter and Paul fortress and the Hermitage, all the while feeling a forgotten sense of joy well up inside of me. As I ran, I thought about how only a few months ago, the sky was gray, the air was cold and the flowing water beside me was frozen solid. I thought about periods in the past nine months when my heart mirrored the season and remained cold, dark, and hardened towards its purpose in Russia and the blessings surrounding me…even amidst hardships. Perhaps I feel some regret over days I wasted here in Russia. I wish that instead of grasping for whatever brought me comfort, I would have embraced the unknown with greater boldness, knowing that it would soon be over. I wish that I had loved others with greater selflessness. I wish that on days when life seemed dark, cold, and gray, I would have done a better job at seeking out the Light. And yet as I ran, God reminded me of a beautiful truth…a truth that brought about a sense of freedom. He reminded me that He has the power to work through me, in spite of me. That, my friends, is incredibly reassuring news.

And so I've been having these moments lately-on a boat, running through my foreign home, sitting on a windowsill- that have almost taken my breath away with their beauty. They are moments I wish I could freeze so I could hold onto them forever. They are moments when life just feels...perfect. I am not so naive as to think life will remain in a state of perfection. Maybe just the opposite in fact. And I think that is what has made these moments so incredibly special. For when I think back on my time in Russia, I will probably remember the hard days. I will certainly remember the cold days. I will remember the days when my soul felt tired and confused and restless. But I will also remember the friendships, the beauty, and the moments of perfection that caused me to stop and ponder the goodness and faithfulness of my God.

From my seat on this windowsill, I think I can see things pretty clearly. Darkness and light, greetings and departings, trials and triumphs, restlessness and roots...these are the things life is made of. And what a beautiful life it is.

Monday, May 10, 2010


“I'm still so remote from God that I don't even sense his presence when I pray. Sometimes when I utter God's name, in fact, I feel like sinking into a void. It isn't a frightening or dizzying sensation, it's nothing at all—and that's far more terrible. But prayer is the only remedy for it, and however many devils scurry around inside me, I shall cling to the rope God has thrown me in Jesus Christ, even if my numb hands can no longer feel it.”
~Sophie Scholl

From my seat in Kazan Cathedral I could see this. I could hear the voices of Orthodox believers, joining together to praise God. I watched as strangers lit candles and kissed icons, presenting their pleas and concerns to God and waiting to hear him speak. I suppose I came to do the same. I came here to find God. To hear him and to feel him and to know that whatever I am going through or feeling He is still with me.

But today my prayers felt less like a conversation and more like an echo; bouncing off the chaos and change of life and returning unanswered. And the harder I tried to pray, the more my words failed me. So I just sat there, quiet and desperate before God. Maybe that is what He wanted from me. Stillness. Emptiness. A heart that is finally tired enough to listen to the echoes.

I’m not afraid of His current silence, I’m just longing for the day of peace and clarity. I’ve given him my sin and fears and failures, so while my heart may feel the sting of abandonment, my mind remembers the faithfulness of my Father. And I'll wait.

It’s ironic though, isn’t it? How silence can deafen a person, stillness can shake the soul and emptiness can be the most important step toward wholeness? I do not understand the workings of God. I probably never fully will. But I know my sleeplessness is not without reason. So tonight I’ll sit here, quiet and emptied before my Savior and wait. God, may the echoes of silence speak.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


When I was young I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Her life just seemed so exciting. Adventures, besties, convertibles…Ned. It all sounded great. Then I wanted to be Anne Shirley (but really, what girl doesn’t?!) I had an “Anne of Green Gables” journal and I remember even trying to write words like, “lovely” and “splendid” in it because I thought that was how Anne might write in her journal. Embarrassing. After that I wanted to be like Audrey Hepburn. That one needs no explanation.

Over the years I have longed to be like others. My idols and role models changed depending on my age, interests, and friends. But there is one that has remained constant through the years. My Mom.

She is strong. When others are weak, she has proven to be trustworthy, constant, and encouraging. When she is weak, she knows in whom she must find her strength. She takes time to listen, to share in sorrow and joy, and offer advice when wisdom presents itself. She is full of surprises, hilarity, and wit that sometimes make you wonder if you heard her correctly. She holds me tightly and lets me go. She begins each day on her knees. She knows fear and concern but she continues on in spite of it. She is beautiful. Truly, truly, beautiful.

It is all of these things and more that make me admire, respect, love, and long to be like her. I love the way she tells me things will be okay, or cries with me when it feels like they won’t be. I love that she leaves me little notes of encouragement or sends me emails just to chat. I love how she’ll laugh with me in dressing rooms until our sides hurt and other customers wonder what on earth is going on. She is my “You’ve Got Mail” buddy, my shopping partner, my coffee date, and my best friend. And truthfully, Nancy Drew, Anne Shirley, and Audrey Hepburn got nothin’ on my Mom. Things change, people change, and life changes, but this will not change.

My blessings are countless and my mom is one of my greatest. The world is a better place because Laura Miles is in it. Period.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Running on Empty

"I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it. Unprepared, given over to childish trivialities, it could be taken by surprise when the great hour comes and find that, for the sake of piffling pleasures, the one great joy has been missed. I am aware of this, but my heart is not. It seems unteachable; it continues its dreaming… always wavering between joy and depression"

~Sophie Scholl

Monday, May 3, 2010

Useless Desires

"Say goodbye to the old street
That never cared much for you anyway
The different-colored doorways
You thought would let you in one day
Goodbye to the old bus stop, frozen and waiting
The weekend edition has this town way overrated

You walk across a baseball field
The grass has turned to straw
A flock of birds tries to fly away from where you are
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
I can't make you stay
I can't spend another ten years
Wishing you would anyway

How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires

Every day I take a bitter pill that gets me on my way
For the little aches and pains
The ones I have from day to day
To help me think a little less about the things I miss
To help me not to wonder how I ended up like this

I walk down to the railroad track and ride a rusty train
With a million other faces I shoot through the city veins
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
You wanted to be free
Somewhere beyond the bitter end is where I want to be

How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires

Say goodbye to the old building
That never tried to know your name
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
You won't be seeing me again
Goodbye to all the windowpanes shining in the sun
Like diamonds on a winter day
Goodbye, goodbye to everyone

How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
Burns the last of the day down
And I'm the last one hangin' around
Waiting on a train track, and the train never comes back
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires"