Every year the first cold front rolls in and I cannot wait to throw on my light sweater and tall boots. This season always brings joy to my heart. I spent my freshman year of college in Cleveland, TN.
It was a season that truly shaped me into who I am today. I had just graduated high school from a small town where I spent my entire life. Yes, my family had taken vacations but I was definitely a young unaware teenager about to step into a completely new world. I was accepted into a college ministry program that was about 12 hours from my hometown. I could not wait…I was definitely that kid who jumped at the chance to get away from home and see the world. I packed up all my stuff, and my family and I made the 12-hour trek. I remember walking into the dorm building and seeing these huge glass windows that gave a view of hills covered with beautiful trees. I then proceeded to my dorm room where it looked like I had stepped into the Brady Bunch show. It had orange countertops, funky brown carpet, and oak mismatched furniture! My family and I brought my stuff in and I met my very enthusiastic roommate from Alaska. I love her and still to this day don’t think I could call her anything else but her given name that year…Alaska. 🙂
We took all our classes in one day…8 a.m. to 8 p.m…every Tuesday. The rest of the time, we served the community, did ministry, studied together, and traveled the country in the efforts to learn about God and shows others what His love looked like. When I applied for the program these were things I kind of had an idea to expect but what I didn’t expect was the way it would change my heart. The girls spent evenings hid away in dorm rooms telling stories, doing each other’s hair, making jokes, and pouring out our hearts to each other. Other times we all hung out in the common area playing games that many times ended in injury (ha-ha), singing songs, or just acting like fools. I’ll never forget the night we had a helicopter land in the field in front of the dorm because one of our games turned out to not be the best choice. No permanent damage though! When we had free time, we would go out and explore the mountains and towns around us. Chattanooga was a short drive from where we were and was filled with so many things to see and do. Even though I spent the entire year there, the fall is what sticks with me. The beautiful Smokey Mountains covered in trees full of orange, yellow, brown, green, and red. All you wanted to do was be outside.
I think the fall was so impactful because it was the first time that all we had to depend on was each other. The majority of us were from far away and this was the first time we were dipping our toes into adulthood.
We grew up that year. I learned how to truly pray that year…not follow what I had learned in youth group. We all learned how to serve others without an expectation of something in return. We all realized that the world is a big place and even though we were just a bunch kids, we could make a difference. No season in life is perfect, but the good far out weighed the tough stuff.
Do you have a season, or event that comes around every year and brings up joyful memories? Do you have people that no matter how long you have been apart you pick up right where you left off the minute you see each other? In the world of technology, we “keep up” with each other but are we truly keeping up? I live even further from that beautiful place these days but I have managed to take my husband to see it. It was important to me that he meet some of the people who helped make me who I needed to be to marry him. Every year when this season rolls around, I make sure to soak in all the memories that come flooding back and do all of the silly traditional things that it brings because, honestly, memories and friendships are all we really get to keep in this life. I hope you go out and make some memories with the people you love this season and reconnect with someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while!