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My Thoughts On You

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February 2018:

This is scary.

Because, so all of a sudden,

It hit me.

Feelings that I didn’t think

That I would be able to feel

Again.

Or at least,

Not for a very long time.

You’ve helped to open

The most hidden away parts

Of myself.

At first

I could not fathom

Sharing my whole life

With a different human.

The thought of

Being someone else’s

Was overwhelming,

To say the least.

To know someone

Takes so much

Time, commitment, and desire.

And yet you know me,

Almost as well

As he did.

And in even less time.

And you have spoken to me,

In my primary love language-

Quality time.

And without me asking for it.

You make

Time for me.

You go out of your way,

For me.

And that is all that I could ever ask for.

Time.

Although, I’m not saying

That I’m ready

To go all in.

But I think

That I am ready to go

Somewhere

With you.

March 2018:

You showed me

More effort,

Care,

And sweetness,

In just a few weeks’ time

Than my last relationship

That lasted for years.

It hasn’t been

Much time

But maybe

During the last year

Of friendship

I have been falling

For you.

Slowly, but steadily.

Until my heart

Was ready

And open enough

To hold you.

And maybe

You are exactly

What I needed

When I didn’t know that

I needed anything at all.

So, I surrender.

To the thought of us,

Being each other’s.

April 2018:

We’re never really ready.

Are we?

We are stubborn

And think that

We know what

Is best

For ourselves.

But sometimes

The best things

Come

When we are least

Wanting.

And I tried

Pushing you

Away.

I pushed the thought

Of you

Away.

I wasn’t “ready.”

But are we ever

Really ready?

And now

You’re more than

What I want.

And you are everything

That I could need.

May 2018:

You are the biggest goofball

That I know.

But sometimes

You take your own life

Too seriously.

I hope that I can help you to learn

How to be easy one yourself.

Because I learned how to

Be easy on myself

The hard way.

I hope that I can always

Be here for you

When life seems overwhelming

And the future seems uncertain.

Because you deserve

A hand to hold.

You deserve all of the support

Encouragement

And love

That this world has to offer.

I hope that I am

The person that you look to.

So I met this boy working at a local café. Our first interaction consisted of him rushing into the kitchen and nearly toppling over all of the food that I was bringing out. I said “Woah slow down there.” with some sass & then probably rolled my eyes. Little did I know that I needed his energy in my life. I needed his charisma and boldness. I needed his persistent spirit. His intense energy balances out with my mellow energy. He’s rubbed off on my quite a bit, luckily. I’ve opened up to him like I have done with only a couple of other people. We worked together for over a year but then left that company & went our separate ways. We stayed in touch but we were both pretty busy. We were both getting over hurt from past relationships. But this guy pursued friendship with me, even when I would hardly give him the time of day. He pursued me. He respected me. And I eventually developed a crush on him. We went to a concert back in February and I almost couldn’t even focus on the concert because of how badly I wanted to hold his hand.

Happy birthday Connor Raiford. Thank you for being my best friend, and the most caring boyfriend in the world. Twenty-three spins around the sun. I would feel so honored & hope to be by your side for the rest of your years to come. Thank you for taking the time to know me. Thank you for all of the many laughs.  Thank you for being patient with me, and encouraging me every single day. I really do not know what I was doing without you all of this time.

Restoration

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Restoration.

It is a new

State of being.

And one to celebrate.

I wake up,

And actually feel

Fully alive.

I feel

Rested.

Nothing feels

As extraordinary

As the peace

That comes with

Waking up.

To wake up in the morning

And to feel

Refreshed.

Not fatigued,

Drowsy,

Or still utterly exhausted.

To feel restored.

And having not felt

This energized

In so long –

I cannot help

But want to do

Everything.

Last year I was experiencing symptoms of fatigue and depression. I was not clinically diagnosed, but I knew what my body was telling me. It was screaming “slow down.” I would sleep for 12 hours per night, and then wake up feeling even more tired than I did before going to sleep. And for a whole year, I have been healing. But for months, it seemed like I was making no progress at all.

But I kept on, taking care of myself. I made sure to cut back on extra stressful activities such as intense exercise. Which was extremely hard for me because running is one of my favorite things to do. I continued to sleep for at least 8-9 hours per night. I made sure that my diet was well balanced and made some macronutrient adjustments. I implemented a regular practice of yoga. I drank herbal teas every night. Lots of lavender essential oil.

Most importantly- I opened my heart. I was so closed for almost a whole year and I hadn’t realized that this was contributing to my fatigue and depression until I had come out of it. I told myself and everyone around me, that I was OK. I pretended like nothing was wrong for so long, until everything that I was suppressing inside became all too heavy to handle.

I was under emotional stress and fatigue just as much as I was under physical stresses. I was confused, and broken-hearted. And I allowed myself to be confused and broken-hearted for almost 8 full months, which makes me sad to think about now. Obviously, I couldn’t sustain that and I eventually had to just let go.  Letting go was my savior but it did not come easily. I had to let go of a physical person and our relationship completely. And I had let go of mental ideals about the way that I thought that I should look. So I let go, but I still told myself that I would not open up to anyone for a long, long time. However, letting go allowed me to open fully.

Looking back on this time, I can still be thankful. When I wake up now – and with so much ease, might I add – I feel so blessed. The human body amazes me. My body truly amazes me. I was beating myself into the ground, and I felt so stuck. As humans we beat ourselves down, down, down- every single day. We tell ourselves that we need to do this, eat that, or act this certain way in order to be accepted. We have the highest expectations for our lives.

Everything is fleeting.

Expectations cage us.

Free yourself.

Let go.

My energy has been restored, and I can do the things that I love with passion again. I have been able to dive into so many amazing projects lately, and they have all presented themselves to me in perfect timing and alignment.

I don’t think that anyone can be immune to the grips of fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Unfortunately, this world’s environment is conducive to these things. These are to be fought against each and every day. But it is our choice to fight. There will be dark times that cannot be prevented, but the brighter times will shine even more so because of those dark times.

Choose energy.

I have learned that when the heart and mind are open, options are limitless. You are limitless. Never let one label, relationship, or assumption keep you trapped. Do not let those things steal your life. Know that you are capable of so much more than you could fathom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Farewell & Welcoming

To 2017:

I felt the need

To say goodbye

To one the hardest year of my life, thus far.

But I cannot say farewell,

Until I have to expressed

How completely thankful that I am, for this year and all of the growth that has occurred  because of it.

I have learned an unimaginable amount of knowledge about my true self.

I have pushed myself to the limit, in everything.

I have never worked harder.

I have also never felt so much. I have felt every feeling to its extreme.

I have felt love, loneliness, depression, anxiety, determination, fatigue, and contentment at their deepest levels.

I felt God

When I felt like

I had, no one else.

I felt him

In the crisp fall air,

In the slightest breeze,

In the rustling of the leaves.

He is Warmth.

I have learned to see and appreciate

The beauty and uniqueness

That every person around me

Has to offer.

I have learned to embrace my introversion and independence.

I have truly learned how to adore the simplest things that life has to offer.

Like the crackling of a fire.

The warmth of a cup of black coffee.

Like a good conversation, with a genuine person.

To 2018:

I would like to welcome 2018, with the most open arms.

I have no clue

What is in store

And it is so exciting.

So many opportunities have already presented themselves.

My only hope is that

I will laugh

So much more.

And that

The only tears

To fall

Will be tears of

Happiness

And not of pain.

I hope to continue, to be true to myself.

To be easier

On myself.

But even if this year

Is just as

Difficult

As the last-

Grateful,

I will remain.

Protect Your Time

It may be the most precious and valuable of all commodities.

It might also be the hardest concept to understand.

But the ways in which we spend it,

Are of the greatest importance.

If you aren’t doing something today that is driving you closer to the person that you want to be or the things that you are passionate to accomplish – then what ARE you doing? I truly believe that each one of us has a specific calling on our lives.

Some of us may not know for certain what that calling or passion is yet, but that’s OK. However, if you know what your passion is, then run with it. Embrace it in every way. Do whatever it takes to reach your fullest potential within that calling. But if you feel like you are in a place that is not right – whether it be a job, school, or relationship – I urge you to take action.

If your job environment is creating excessive amounts of stress to your life, consider getting out of there. If school doesn’t feel like the right path for you to take in order to fulfill your calling, don’t do it. If you have close relationships with people who only promote negativity, walk away.

I recently walked away from a job because it left me feeling more anxious and paranoid than any part time job should. I am blessed to have been given another job opportunity with a great company who is appreciative of my time and efforts.

I have also considered, re-considered, and post-considered – whether-or-not I want to continue my college education. I have questioned whether it is the best use of my time and money in order to fulfill my calling. I have concluded (to my dismay) that a degree is the right thing for me to pursue, and I am confident that I will not regret my time spent earning it.

I am extremely conclusive with the people that I allow into my life. Not because I am above anyone or because I am a snob. Only because I am conscious of my time. I want to surround myself with the most uplifting, positive, and kind people that I can find. I cannot stand to be around complainers, negativity, or rudeness. I have the right to keep these types of people in or out of my life.

It is our right, in every way.

Do not feel guilty for doing what is best for you.

For your health.

You have the right to spend your time as you choose. You do not need to feel obligated to do things that are only for the sake of other people’s pleasure. You do not have to do anything that you do not feel up to doing. Have the self-awareness to know when your time is being spent in all of the wrong places. If you’re are feeling drained, empty, unhappy – you are most likely having a time management issue.

And it is so easy to lose sight of our calling.

We get so wrapped up in pleasing other people.

In making money to survive.

In being “successful.”

Success is not something that we should strive for, it is something that comes automatically when we are fulfilling our true purpose.

Success is already within each of us.

Yes, we should always strive for excellence in everything that we do, but let excellence be the catalyst into success.

And keep in mind that —

Everyone and everything is fighting for your time,

but you should be fighting the hardest.

Time is strange.

Some days, months, and years fly by in an instant.

Some days, months, and years drag by in the worst ways.

Doors will close.

A new one will open.

A better one.

Allow yourself the gift of time.

Time to do the things that you love.

Time to discover your calling.

Time to take care of yourself.

Protect your energy,

You only have so much.

Be selfish

With your time.

Be greedy

With your time.

Protect your time, it is irreplaceable.

 

 

Our Plans, Are Less Than

 

We think that we have got it all figured out, don’t we?

Then something doesn’t go according to our plan, and our whole world seems to come crashing down.

This kind of thing happens all of the time

Everything that we thought should happen, cannot happen anymore.

Our expectations, all too high.

Our thoughts, often overtaken by our selfish nature.

We are human.

Life is just not “fair.”

As humans, we start planning from a young age. We are pushed into a strictly scheduled life with school and extra-curricular activities. Later in life we buy daily planner notebooks and make sure that all of the time slots get filled. We plan where we would like to go to college, what kind of job we think would be the best fit, and even the type of person whom we think that we should spend the rest of our lives with.

We begin to pursue these plans. A lot of times, things are going smoothly at first. Maybe some of these things are truly meant to be. And most of us are super passionate about what we (think that we) want and what we want to do. But passion can only get us so far. And our plans are prone to fail us.

Things do not always work out the way that we plan.

We may fail a class in college. We may not land our dream job right away. We may lose the person who we thought was “the one.”

What do we do now? These things were supposed to go our way, right?

WRONG.

Our plans are less than His.

And that is the only thing that we can trust. His plans, are the only ones that are bullet proof. God has shown this concept to me in such a clear way over the last few months. I felt like one thing after another kept happening, eventually leading to the destruction of my plans.

I thought that I knew my capabilities.

I thought that I knew my limits.

But this year so far has shown me that my plans can fall through in an instant.

I was not prepared. It has been a brutal process. But a very necessary one.

I have learned the truth, and that is that I know NOTHING. I am learning to accept that ultimately, I cannot control my life. And as hard and messy as life can get, practicing gratefulness in all situations has been such a game changer. Gratefulness can create a more positive atmosphere. Gratefulness keeps us grounded. Gratefulness helps the healing along.

Knowledge and wisdom will bloom from these little seeds of gratefulness.

I know without a doubt, that all of these trials and hard times are for a great purpose.

I know that every aspect of life contains lessons to be learned.

Yes, our plans will fall through.

But His will not.

Sometimes these fallen plans may shatter our hearts.

I now know what it feels like to be truly and deeply brokenhearted, but I also know how powerful true and deep healing can feel. Some of us may feel completely crippled by the thought of this concept, at first. However, realizing that we have so little control is essential. The sooner we embrace this concept, the easier the trials will become. 2017 has been the most humbling year of my life (scroll down to see my last post entitled “Seasons”) but I honestly would not have it any other way.

Losing things is not always a loss.

Losing someone is not the end.

A plan not going our way, may be the best way.

Seasons

Is it possible, to be embracing one’s brokenness while being consciously in pursuit of healing – at the same time?

The last few months have been the hardest period that I have experienced in my adult life. Everything built up so quickly. Here I will share some of the brutal honest truths that I have learned from this chapter of my life:

Firstly, my mind has been tormented with self-doubt for quite a while now. I have not liked the way that I look for almost a year now. I have very few pictures of myself from the last year. I was underweight for a short period of time about two years ago and I knew that I needed to gain weight. And so I did. And it has taken a while to adjust and find my healthy weight.

I also don’t make straight A’s. School is really hard for me in general. I love learning, but I don’t learn the same way as everyone else. I also do not do well with testing mainly because I am naturally a very indecisive person.

Meanwhile, my body has been fighting sickness that I have tried to pretend does not exist. I was drained of all energy. I believe that I may have suffered a minor case of adrenal fatigue. This fatigue crippled me in every way. Basically, I pushed my body to its absolute limit by working 50+ hour weeks, while trying to keep up with 14+ hours of classes and the loads of the homework and studying that comes with that. All while being actively involved in multiple organizations on campus. On top of these – no matter how much sleep I would get, I would always drag myself to the gym before the sun came up. I had no time to cook or prepare enough food for myself, so I was going long spans with no food – adding to the stress that was already overwhelming my body. Then of course, I was trying to maintain relationships with the people that I care about so dearly.

I should not have been so anxious. I certainly should not have been depressed. But I have concluded is that it is entirely possible to have both of these conditions simultaneously, even though they seem to be so completely opposite. Anxiety pushes people to do every single thing, all of the time. While depression weighs down on you so that you have absolutely no desire to do anything useful. I would find myself deeply craving sunshine and physical activity, yet lacking all motivation and energy to actually go out and do those things.

I was giving everything that I had, to others. I had nothing left for myself.

I hit a wall. I hit it going full speed. Waking up in the morning became so extremely hard. Going to sleep was equally as hard. I came to the point at which I could not exercise at all because the simplest tasks took up all of my energy. So, for almost 3 months I stopped exercising completely.

My spirit was crushed. Crushed by the weight of my responsibilities. I just turned 20. I spent my birthday writing papers for school. I didn’t have the time or the desire to celebrate this year.

College is supposed to be the best 4 years of my life though, right?

This is a mess.

This is life.

I am a mess.

A beautiful mess.

I have learned this lesson the hard way unfortunately. I have learned that health is so much more than the food that we eat. As a (hopefully) future dietician and nutrition enthusiast – that is a hard one for me to swallow. The food that we consume is fundamentally important, but mental and spiritual health have their prominent roles as well.

These words are not a cry for help, because I know where my help comes from. (Psalm 46:2-5)

I am making this public for a few reasons:

Firstly, I can only keep all of this bottled up to myself for so long. I cannot handle the weight of my feelings on my own anymore. I need to be vulnerable and I need to share. I needed to write. Writing keeps me sane. I have been quiet about these issues for far too long, and I have not felt genuine in keeping these things to myself.

Secondly, I hope that even just one person may read this, and either a) relate to my season and we can create a conversation about it, or b) learn and possibly prevent from making similar mistakes such as overworking to the point of collapse.

Seasons change no matter what. The equilibrium is always swaying. Balance is hard, especially when one is an extremist such as myself. The person that I know that I am is still within me. I am trying to find her again. I am feeling a lot better now that the spring semester is over. I am feeling inspired again, and I now have the sense to realize that what I was doing to myself- was not fair to my body.

Society today praises such work ethic. Working every hour of the day, and staying up all hours of the night is the trendy thing to do.

That is not how life should be lived.

I am making a conscious effort to heal. To heal my mind, my body, and my spirit. I can see that my next season involves a lot of growth and development. It will be a season in which I learn a lot about myself. And in this season I will also make efforts cultivate more healthy relationships in my life.

Because the only thing that can make a challenging season worse – is to have gone through it alone. I did not tell anyone that any of this was going on.

We were not meant to do life alone. It may seem cliché. But for an introverted person like me, it is a simple principle that is easily overlooked.

I know that I have been a difficult person to love, so thank you to everyone who has loved me through this.

I am stubborn. I am indecisive. I am an extremist. I am introverted. I am quiet.

I am also consistent. I am gentle. I am kind. I am passionate. I am adventurous.

I am all of these things. They make up the essence of my being. The good and the bad. The bad attributes may have dominance in some seasons of life, but seasons change.

 

 

 

All of the Sometimes

Many people ask us- how do we do it? The whole long-distance thing.

It is in fact a unique situation. Nothing of the normal. Everything epic. Long-distance relationships take two very special and driven people. I am not ashamed to say that both me and Kenneth fit into this category. When it comes to the important things in life – we know what we want, each other included.

So here is some background to our story:

We met as sophomores in high-school. Our friend groups intersected and I actually became good friends with Kenneth’s sister before really even meeting Kenneth. We would see each other occasionally at social gatherings, but it wasn’t until the first time that I hung out at the Sims’ house that I really noticed him. I distinctly remember seeing him that afternoon cutting the grass in the front yard, wearing a tank top. Kenneth has always been extremely fit, and I am not going lie – that tank top really emphasized his bi- & tri-cep muscles… (insert blushing cheeks and head-shaking here). Lauren (Kenneth’s sister) even mentioned to me later that afternoon, “You and my brother should totally date someday”. The irony. The following weeks we found ourselves texting and hanging out occasionally. We learned that we actually really liked hanging out and that eventually led us to going on our first date. After a few months of “dating” Kenneth decided to ask me to be his girlfriend, and I was so excited to say yes.

I’ll never forget the night he asked me. That night I had run my first 5K and afterwards I went to his soccer game. After the game we went out with the team and he drove me home. He walked me to my door and surprised me with the phrase- “Would you be down with being my girlfriend?” I was so excited to say yes.

Since that night, we have learned and grown with each other. We have gone through the last three plus years as best friends and life partners. Neither of us have ever chosen the easiest route. We have never really had the privileges of most modern day couples. Since the beginning of our relationship, we have attended separate schools and were involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities that prevented us from seeing each other every day. In high-school, we were lucky to see each other more than 3 days a week. We didn’t realize then that those weeks were preparing us for the months that we would have to spend apart.

Now Kenneth attends West Point Military Academy and I attend Louisiana State University. Approximately 1,200 miles apart. We see each other on average 7 times a year. So time is a precious thing to us. This relationship has taught me the true value of time, and I will never take advantage of it again. As hard as this situation is at times, we both can agree that we wouldn’t change it if we had the option.

As mentioned earlier – I can say confidently that both me and Kenneth are very driven individuals. We have a lot that we want to accomplish within our professional lives, so doing well in college is super important to both of us. We both agree that if we attended the same school, we would most likely distract each other from performing our absolute best. Not to say that we don’t have self-control, because we definitely have that. This situation just ensures that our focus is almost completely devoted to our education at this time. Although, we look forward to the day that we will be able to do life together. That is the ultimate goal.

I think it all comes down to knowing who we are and what we want. This relationship wouldn’t work otherwise. Patience is key. Keeping communication creative and regular is also important. Those few texts throughout the day mean everything. If we can afford a short phone call at the end of the day – that always makes things better. The best thing ever is the FaceTime dates on the weekend though.

No relationship is perfect. It is a constant learning of one another. A constant learning how to love one another in the most efficient ways. Showing gratitude for each other always. Embracing each other’s presence deeply when we have the fortune of being together.

So, this post is for you Kenneth. A little documentation of our ever-growing story.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my human.

I hope this blog entry means something to you. It’s the only thing that I could think to do that would touch your soul and warm your heart being so far away.

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I love you.

Sometimes.

All of the sometimes.

Forever.

-Liz Courville

 

 

Dealing with Disappointment

Social media has a tendency of portraying only the positive sides of peoples’ lives. I’m here however to be as completely real with my followers as I can.

& the last few weeks of my fall 2016 were a real struggle for me.

My last post (The Equilibrium) went up way back in September 2016. I mention chemistry terms and such in this post, but I hope that didn’t fool you into thinking that I make A’s on my chemistry exams. Because I definitely don’t. I always strive to do the best that I can in my school work but a lot of times I feel like my hard work is just never enough.

I have always been one of those people that has to study significantly harder than everyone else to just make passing grades. After years of schooling I’ve come to the conclusion that 1) I am naturally an extremely indescisive person & 2) I am an extremely over-analytical person. So with those two things combined- it does not make for the best test-taking skills. Especially when most of the tests I have to take are multiple choice…

For those of you who don’t know- I am a full time student majoring in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics at Louisiana State University. I also basically work full time now as well. I juggle two part- time jobs at Fresh Kitchen & Magpie Cafe (both at small local businesses) here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I also do demos for a lady who has a salad dressing company occasionally.

My fall 2016 semester was supposed to be super easy, since I was only scheduled for 12 hours of school. Although all four of my classes were science based, I wasn’t really worried. But truth be told- chemistry kicked my butt. I attended every single one of my chemistry classes, but ended with a grade that isn’t considered passing in my major. I didn’t necessarily fail, but I will have to repeat the class and make a higher grade in order to graduate. When I found out I felt like such a failure. I felt completely defeated. Everyone was going out and celebrating the end of the semester, but I felt like that was completely inappropriate in my case. I felt like I had absolutely nothing to celebrate. All of the hard work and stress had been for nothing basically. Right?

I fell into a bit of depression but was relatively good at hiding that. I honestly considered taking time off of school. It took me a few days to clear my mind, and I’ve had to consciously remind myself that everything happens for a reason & that I’m not alone. It’s easy to look at everyone else around you, flaunting their perfect 4.0 GPAs. Everyone else seems to be so good at school… why can’t I be one of those people?!

It may be because: I am not like everyone else. I am completely unique.

Life certainly doesn’t always go as planned, but we have to remember that every so called “failure” is simply guidance. Every “mistake” is not a negative, but can be a learned from.

So now I am preparing for my spring 2017 semester. I am so absolutely excited. I will only have to attend classes two days a week which is going to relieve so much stress. I also am excited for the great things that I have on the agenda for my organization that I run at school (Shout-out to my friends who are active in the Plant-Based Society @ LSU). I am also super pumped to be training for my first half-marathon and my first triathlon this semester (Shout-out to my friends in the LSU Triathlon Club).

So early on, I’m kicking some 2017 “goals” off of my list. I’m feeling super motivated and empowered. I am ready for all of the learning and growing that this year will allow me.

I hope you are feeling the same. Big blessings to all of you in 2017. It’s going to be an awesome year!

P.S. Expect a lot of great content coming from this blog. I have exciting posts planned.

-Liz Courville

The Equilibrium

If you have ever taken a Chemistry class, I am sure that you are familiar with the term “equilibrium.” Equilibrium can be defined as:

  • A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
  • Equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.

I am NOT the biggest fan of Chemistry, but I love this term.

I am here to remind everyone that… it is OK to not always be in equilibrium constantly within our own lives.& also… fill your life with things that you are the most passionate about.

One thing that I would highly recommend is to make sure that you are filling your schedule with things that actually matter to you. If you are passionate about what you are doing throughout the day, they won’t feel like as much of an obligation at all. Things that are significantly important to YOU. It’s easy to fall into activities just because you feel obligated to do them. Sometimes you should just say no to those things, and do the best thing for yourself.  You have this one life on earth and you have specific purposes. You are so worthy of living the life that you are called to.

The reality is that most days are not going to run perfectly smooth, or go exactly how we would want them to. If we come to accept that, the negative aspects of the day will seem much less significant. Look for the positivity in everything.

Finding a balance in this high-paced life is difficult and the topic is brought up a lot, especially in the beginning of a new season of life- like a new school year. I started my third semester of college over a month ago, which seems ridiculous. The weeks are already flying by! This semester I decided that I am going to make community a priority in my life again. Last year I felt like I was drowning in school work. It was so overwhelming. I think that is normal for most people going into their freshman year of college. I had to say no to things that I really wanted to say yes to. I felt like I had to spend all of my free time doing school work, studying, or working. Those things should be at the top of the priority list for sure, but they shouldn’t over take my life.

I have pushed the things that I care about most a lot closer to the top of my list and I am feeling so great about it. Those things include: overall health, community, connection, relationships, embracing my athleticism, this blog, my social media platform, and last but not least- Jesus (the sole reason I am capable of doing these great things).

So don’t get discouraged when you are struggling to find that “balance” that everyone is talking about. Balance is important, but it is not the most important thing to focus on. Life will get messy and crazy busy sometimes if you are leading a full life- it is just inevitable. Remembering in those times that you can’t control everything. All that you can do is strive to do everything in excellence and to the best of your ability.

-Liz Courville

Just Another Child?

My latest endeavor was a trip to Romania for missions work. Why Romania? Mathew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ The Romani and gypsy communities in Romania are among some of the most impoverished and discriminated people in the world. For the last two summers I have had the opportunity to reach out to some very special kids that live in a the poorest section of a city called Târnăveni.

Besides actually being with the kids, my absolute favorite part of the trip would have to be the bus rides once we were in the mountainous parts of Romania. It may just be because I am from southern Louisiana where there aren’t even hills, but I am so drawn to mountains. I get so excited. Riding along the countryside always creates the deepest sense of awe and appreciation for creation. Romania and its people are among the most beautiful things that I have ever encountered. The bus rides through the mountains seemed so familiar as this was my second summer taking this trip. Even though it had been a whole year since I traveled those roads, I could still remember certain points along the way and even gas stations we had stopped at the year before. Reconnecting with my friends from Connecticut that I met last summer was so much fun, and working with all of the kids in their youth group was also really cool. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to travel with.

Day 1 of camp and VBS (vacation Bible school) was awesome. We had the same basic schedule everyday with Bible stories, art, music, and games rotating throughout the first half of the day. Then all of the afternoon activities varied each day. This first days’ activities included colorful parachutes and a huge 9 foot wide beach ball. All of which were thoroughly enjoyed by the kids.

Day 2 we had a water games which consisted of hundreds of water balloons and slip n slides. Snack that day was of course watermelon! (Some of the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted to be honest.)

Day 3 was the hike and bonfire. We hiked for a total of an hour and the spot we ended up stopping at had such an incredible view of the Carpathian Mountains. After the hike all of the older guys and myself gathered tons of wood for the bonfire later that night. We even had supplies for the kids to make s’mores, which most of them had never had before!

Day 4 Everyone was excited to show off at the talent show! Kids were told to sign up and practice for this night, and there was indeed some true talent that walked onto the stage. These kids love to sing and dance. They also learned some songs in English throughout week which was so amazing to hear.

The kids looked like they were having tons of fun each and every day. At the end of every day, we as a team had a “debriefing” meeting where we discussed improvement methods for the next day and things like that. It was honestly hard work. We woke up around 7:00 am and, as a chaperone, I didn’t stop working until about 12:00 am. Every single moment we dedicated to those kids, which is of course how it was supposed to be. Every one of the ACF staff member are so passionate about what they are doing with these kids which is such a huge inspiration. The teachers and translators love these kids so much. It is so relieving to see that the kids are exposed to that kind of care. Most of the kids don’t get treatment like this at home. The most important message we wanted the kids to get out of the week was that God is love, and that they can feel His love and presence whether they are at the Point of Hope center or not.

I was happy to be the teams’ designated photographer for this trip. At the end of the week as I walked around capturing the faces covered in tears and all of the hugs that our team was sharing with the Romanian children – I began to sob. If you happen to know me well, you would probably know that I am not a super emotional person. It takes a lot for me to start crying. These moments were some of the most powerfully emotional moments that I have ever experienced. The girl that I sponsor came up to hug me I couldn’t control it. I sobbed- not because I knew this girl very well or just because I would miss her, but because I realized that it was all worth it. Seeing the connections the rest of our team had made in just a few days with these precious kids, is what struck me so hard.

I wasn’t sure if taking this trip was “smart” for me. I just finished my first year of college and I only have a small part time job. Financially it really didn’t make sense for me to go. Something drove me to try though. I felt like God would provide someway if He was in fact leading me to go back this summer. I was blessed by so many people who are close to me and even some people who I hardly know. If you were one of those people- I cannot thank you enough for your donations. You were a big contributor to all of the smiles, laughs, and hugs that those kids received that week. You also helped spread the message of the love of Christ to these children which was the most important aspect of this trip.

This trip was very different for me this year since I was a chaperone helping lead a team of teenagers. I wasn’t able to interact with the kids as much as the rest of our team. But seeing this group of young people run the camp and form real bonds with these kids made me just as content. The money, time, and effort has been so completely worth it. This land and its people are now so close to my heart and I want to continue to support the efforts of Another Child Foundation for the rest of my life.

– Liz Courville

To donate or sponsor a child through Another Child Foundation check out their website: http://www.anotherchild.org/

My GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/elizabethcourville