How Ebola Affected My Fall Break

Duck #41

For those of you that don’t go to Appalachian State, you may not have been aware that this past weekend culminated our Fall Break. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that a few days away from school is exactly what we needed. Of course, breaks like this never seem to be long enough, but at least we didn’t have to go to class, right?

On this particular break I had every intention of flying into Dallas, Texas Thursday night. I was going to be picked up by dear family friends and stay with them for the break at their home in McKinney, Texas (about 45 minutes North of Dallas). However, due to unexpected circumstances I ended up spending the majority of my break at home in Garner, North Carolina–the exact place I planned to avoid by going to Texas. And why couldn’t I go to Texas you ask? What kept me from traveling? Well, I will tell you, friends…Ebola.

For those of you that don’t know  Ebola an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus, whose normal host species is unknown. (Thanks Google). The most impactful cases have out broken in Africa, but there have been a few in the United States. One of the most recent outbreaks happened in none other than Dallas, Texas. It was released last Monday that the nurse that was caring for the first man in the US to have the virus was diagnosed. (She was the main nurse that was caring for the man before he passed away.) On Wednesday, another statement was released saying that yet another person in Dallas had been diagnosed with Ebola. In addition, certain schools in the area had been closed for some time and 132 people were being monitored incase they started to show symptoms of the virus.

As you can imagine, this news did not make me excited to travel, especially by plane. (The nurse traveled by plane with a fever shortly before she found out that fever was due to her virus diagnosis). The Lord does not call us to live with a spirit of fear, but he does call us to use wisdom. So, my parents and I decided that the wisest decision would be to postpone my trip, until things die down/ are better managed. I’d rather be safe than sorry, but I was still extremely upset. I had planned for over a month to visit our family friends and get to see some sites in a state that I’ve wanted to visit for the past few years. I had all of these expectations of how my break was going to go. I had all of these ideas in my mind of what my travels would be like. But my expectations were derailed. And what came to mind then? “Expectations crush.” (Shout out to Audrey for that reminder! Check out her blog if you haven’t already.

So, now what? I had crushed expectations, but I had not idea what to do with them.

I was in a bad mood all day. I tried to put a positive spin on the fact that I wasn’t going to Texas, but I couldn’t. Everything that day seemed to have gone awry. I went to my volunteer location only to find out that they didn’t need me that day. I went home to take a nap and overslept. (When I woke up is when I found out that going to Texas wouldn’t be a good idea via a text and phone call from my mom). I went to class when only a handful of people showed up and we barely went over any material. I went to work only to have not a single client come into the center. I was finally able to leave Boone around 9pm and got home a little before midnight (record timing!)

On the drive home I was able to think, pray, jam to music, and think some more. I realized that it was okay to be sad about not going to Texas, but that I couldn’t let my sour attitude dictate my entire break.  I was still upset, but I didn’t want to take my time off from school for granted. It was harder to have this attitude than I expected.

I slept in (story of my life), quickly got dressed and went to the hair salon. I’m sure many of you have seen the picture I posted on instagram/facebook, but I got a pixie cut. I’m really pleased with it, actually 🙂 It was just me and my hair dresser in the salon, so it was nice to chat with her. She’s retired from her other job so she proceeded to tell me what she and her husband have been doing with her newly gained free time–trips galore! She said that once a month they try to go somewhere new, even if it’s just to a local concert. But usually it’s a big trip. They were in Canada about a month or 2 ago.  When I left the hair dresser, I got some food for my mom and I, got ready and then met a friend so we could ride together to the Ben Rector concert. I had wanted to go to the concert ever since I found out he was on tour this fall, but since I wasn’t going to be home, I put that idea out of my head. But y’all…I’m really glad I went because Ben Rector puts on a great live show!

Effect #1: Unexpectedly going to the concert and spending time with one of my dearest friends from high school.

I was supposed to go to work with my dad to see some of my old high school teachers, but they were having a teacher work day filled with workshops, so I chose to stay home. Because I stayed home I was able to go for a quick run around my neighborhood and have a great phone conversation with a friend that’s taking a year off from school. Later, I went to one of my favorite coffee shops in my town, Electric Beanz. I had some delicious coffee, a GIANT cookie, and was able to finish a paper that had me stressin’ the entire week before break. Afterwards, I picked up Chinese from a local restaurant, ate and chatted with my parents before going to see a movie alone. Dinner was great and surprisingly, so was the movie.  Going to see movies alone is actually one of my new favorite things to do. I find myself getting more lost in the story line than I do when I’m with friends. It’s a more encompassing experience, if that makes sense. I came home more emotional than I anticipated, however. (It was a chick flick). Because of this, the post movie conversation I had with my dad resulted in tears. BUT the advice and words that my dad shared with me were enlightening and frustrating. Ultimately, I left thankful that the conversation happened and that I get to call my dad, my dad.

Effect #2: Unexpectedly getting to do things alone that I enjoy.
Effect #3: Unexpectedly having a beautiful breakdown in front my father and allowing him to see a part of my heart that I haven’t shared with him before.

Whenever I’m home I try to make it a point to text my friend Chris. I’ve known him for almost 10 years, and he’s been one of my best friends for about 8 years. Chris is one of those people that I could not talk to for months, yet feel like nothing has changed whenever we do hang out again. I love it. It was a long shot to see if he was free because I wasn’t planning on coming home originally, but I texted him anyway. He wasn’t really free, but he made time for me. We got brunch at IHOP that morning. It was great. We talked, laughed, joked about “real world problems” that will soon be ours as graduation approaches. We reminisced about high school, the way we goofed off, the sports we played, the teachers we had. I loved every second of it. AND…he paid for my meal! Y’all. THAT was a huge deal. Chris never does that. Like…ever.
After brunch, I went back to my house to pack up my things before heading back up the mountain. As I was packing I talked to my mom. That’s always how it goes and always why it takes me longer to pack than it should. But, as I talked, she listened and offered sweet affirming, loving advice. She encouraged me and laughed with me. Later, I said my goodbyes and made the trek back to Boone. I thought, prayed, jammed to music and thought some more. (It’s just how things seem to go). Once I got back, I went to my friend’s soccer game. It was cold, and rainy and I sat alone, but I enjoyed it. It was fun to, like I did at the movies, be encompassed by the experience. Sure, it would have been nice to have sat with a friend, but it was also nice to be alone. It was cool to support such a good friend, that is, until I couldn’t feel my toes. 😛

Effect #4: Unexpectedly catching up with one of my favorite friends.
Effect #5: Unexpectedly having a conversation with my mom that filled my heart to the brim.
Effect #6: Unexpectedly enjoying being in a lit, public area alone and not feeling like a loser.

On the last day of break, I went to church excited to end my break and start my week in that environment. But when I got there, the structure and atmosphere was not what I expected (surprise). For the sake of length (I know this post is long, but I promise it’s for a reason), I’ll cut to the chase. Essentially, this Sunday’s service was somewhat of an open mic morning.  My first thought, “Heck Naw! There’s no way I’m gonna go up there.” Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that on a Sunday morning. So, right before the service started I wrote “God, would you show up” in my journal. As if He wasn’t already in the midsts because the structure of the service was different than what I wanted. WELL. God did show up because He’s gracious, and good, and kind, and wonderful. A woman walked up to the mic and began to share her story.  She’s terminally ill with too many things for me to recall. She’s been battling her sickness for decades. She is not completely healed yet, but the Lord has completely healed her of ovarian cancer and several different types of apneas that the doctors once claimed she had, but now doesn’t. I wish I could do her story justice, but I can’t. It was beautiful. It brought me to tears. And in that moment, after the woman spoke and people began to pray over her, it was like the Lord said, “See, Jayna. You didn’t have to ask me to show up, I’m already here. I’ve been here.” I’ve felt conviction like that, that specific, only a few times in my life. The last time I felt something that strong I felt like I needed to say something, so I did. The same proved to be true on this particular Sunday morning. I don’t remember all of the details of what I said because I really do feel like the Lord chose to speak through me, but I remember repeating what He told me. So often we want God to show up big. We ask Him where He is. We ask Him why we can’t see/feel him. But He’s right there. He’s in the community we share with our friends. He’s in the beautiful paintings we get to see in the fall leaves. He’s in the stories shared by believers. He was unexpectedly all over my break.

After church, I went grocery shopping, cooked lunch, watched Netflix and then headed over to my friends’ apartment. We just chilled, talked, laughed, ate dinner, and worked on homework. It was nice. Truthfully, going over to that apartment is one of the things I’ll miss most about college. This visit was nothing grand, but it was exactly what I needed.

Effect #7: Unexpectedly, having a prayer answered and then feeling compelled to share that answer.
Effect #8: Unexpectedly, seeing the love of Jesus through the community built in eating cookies and laughing on a couch with friends.

My break was not at all what I expected. It was not at all what I wanted. But it was good. Regardless of the reason or lack there of behind why things happened the way they did, I’m so thankful for the beautiful reminder that expectations do crush. I’m so thankful for a God that loves me enough to bless me regardless of my attitude. I’m so thankful for a God that is patiently willing to remind me of His omnipresence.

[Lord, I ask that you would continue to work in the lives of those living with the Ebola virus. It’s serious and scary and fatal and so many other things that we blind ourselves to. But you’re more than that and you’re bigger. Thanks for a great break and for allowing me to see that it really was great. I love You.]
❤ Amen

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