“I Don’t Care About Being Right Anymore” (by Marshall Pickard)


Alright, confession time.

As I recently boarded a plane to Italy, I began reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code…

I know, I know. As a pre-teen evangelical, I promised myself I would never commit the cardinal sin of reading such a blasphemous book. But I mistakenly thought it was set in Rome (not Paris), so I gave it a shot.

Here’s a quote I found quite interesting from the book’s nerdy but awesome (Tom Hanks, ya’ll) protagonist, Robert Langdon:

“[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith—acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.”

Wow. That’s some deep stuff—some philosophy that hits hard against my need to always be right.

My experience with church has been this: I was raised as a PK, so I had to be “on” all the time. Even running in the halls as a kid would result in an intervention from the deacons, and with my every move being so scrutinized, I felt more like a Kardashian than the son of a clergyman.

I’ve always loved the Lord, but I was more than happy to head off to my liberal arts university (albeit, Christian) for some time away from the dry religious season of a rough last semester in high school. Hurt too many times, I needed some distance from the family of God.

But at school, after some space to heal, I got plugged in again at a local church and eventually found myself participating in an accountability group and leading a weekly small group in my dorm. I learned that church was more about “doing life with people” and less about performing the letter of the Law flawlessly.

And yet, there still remained the question of doctrine. At my university, I was challenged to look outside my box and ask big questions about my faith. Often this left me more frustrated than I felt I could stand. With so many interpretative differences inside the church, how could I know what to choose to believe? Eventually, I basically adopted a stance Socrates would have been proud of: admitting I ultimately know nothing.

One thing I do know is this: knowing Jesus is so much more about humility than knowing all the answers.

But still answers are important because in the south, I live in a society soaked in the Christian subculture, and I occasionally find myself at odds with it. I am still frustrated at gender bias in the global church. I think Pentecostals focus too much on prosperity, but I think Calvinists focus too much on suffering. I hate how the Church responded the recent World Vision debacle, and I cringe every time I hear someone equate Phil Robertson’s crude comments from last December with “the Gospel.” I think we all talk about “feeding the poor” too much because none of us actually do it. I hate interdenominational spats and heated theological Twitter battles over unresolvable issues.

And I honestly don’t care whether you went to see God’s Not Dead or Noah at the movies or what you thought about it.

But I’m not actually angry at the Church. I just often find myself out of place—too progressive for the Church and too conservative for the world.

Visiting the Roman Colosseum this week, I thought long and hard about the suffering of Christians slaughtered in this ancient arena.

For them, the Church was their lives. It was definitely not a place where you had to have the right answers or pretend you believed everything you are supposed to believe.

For these early believers, church was a place to meet Jesus—the ultimate truth—often through the community of others who also risked their lives to tell of the goodness of God.

No offense to Rome, but after seeing the grandeur of the Vatican, I began thinking about what Jesus—the man who scolded the religious so often—would think about the production we’ve made church.

I think he would turn the temple tables of our insistence to be right, our theological debates that never get anywhere, our hurtful intolerance for one another, and the false idols we have fabricated and propagated.

Then he would turn the table back over, break out some bread and wine, and invite those who don’t have it all figured out to have a seat. In place of religious dogma, he would teach us the message of Ephesians 4:3—finding peace from all life’s questions by choosing to live in unity with our brothers.

There in his sweet company, the disillusioned Church wouldn’t care so much about being right anymore.

Marshall is currently backpacking all across Europe (the lucky guy), having spent the semester  abroad on the same trip I went on last year. Read more from him on his blog, The Train of His Robe.

The Dark Side of Wanderlust

Wanderlust BlogAs a kid, were you ever asked what country you would love to visit one day? My answer was always a sanguine “All of them!” For as long as I can remember, wanderlust (hereby defined as “the strong desire to travel”) has been my lifelong companion.

I wasn’t born with the strong urge to travel—I don’t think anyone is actually. I just happened to be born into a family of rolling stones. We moved around many times growing up (I always joke that moving is my parent’s favorite hobby) and as a result, I’ve lived in six states by the ripe old age of 22.5. Wanderlust assuaged the usual pangs of losing friends or a sense of security, because unlike the memories of places left behind, wanderlust is never wan. Its siren call beckons to the colorful, volatile world of the future (allowing you to easily ignore the pain of now.)

However, there are many dark, dangerous side effects to wanderlust, such as discontentment and fear of commitment. If not properly maintained, wanderlust is consuming & unquenchable and will most certainly rob you of the joy of now. Unless you know how to properly handle the effects of wanderlust, you’ll probably turn into one of the many dyspeptic discontented who will never know happiness outside of a plane ticket.

I’m 99% sure that the main message of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” has been vastly misinterpreted. I cannot tell you how many tweets I saw from people who saw the movie and gushed all about how they now want to travel to exotic places. (Not going to lie, after I saw it, I totally added Iceland to my list of places to visit.)  But I don’t think travelling to all those places was the point at all though. (SPOILER ALERT) The increasingly plucky Walter Mitty learns that his main mission behind all his travel was a seemingly ordinary picture of him working at his ordinary job in his ordinary home city. The “Quintessence of Life” was found (literally) when Walter Mitty became content with himself.

I hate reading articles or books that glibly state “This is a problem, you’re messed up, blah blah blah” but fail to provide solutions–they leave an acidulous taste in my mouth. I won’t do that to you:

I’ve found that the only way to cure the negative side effects of wanderlust is (wait for it…) by being present.

  • Don’t let laziness or prejudice dictate your sense of wonder. Some of my biggest regrets are not exploring the towns that I lived in to their fullest capacity. When I lived in Dallas, I explored only a few areas of the massive downtown. When I lived in Chattanooga, I barely tried any of the cool outdoorsy activities. Even when I was in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, I didn’t do nearly enough as I would’ve liked. I guess what I’m trying to say is that your town might seem terribly dull, but give it a shot. Be a tourist in your own backyard and you’ll be surprised all the fun you’ll have. Make the most of where you are now or even when you live in super awesome places, you probably won’t make the most of it there either.
  • Be thankful. If you’re discontent, write down a list every night of the little things throughout your day that really blessed you. It could be as simple as wearing an outfit you felt awesome in or having a gorgeous lunch, but focus on filling up a page with things you’re glad happened.  How can God trust you with big things when you aren’t even thankful for the little things in your life?
  • Just Do It.  Don’t just pin it, post it, or tweet about it. Go travel. I’m tired of seeing people live online rather than in the real world. If you want something, work hard and attain it. It’s that easy. If you want to travel, save your money & go. It might take a while, but it’s better to work for a goal than just talk about it.

One final thought, now that we’re on voluble terms: There is a HUGE difference between adventure & wanderlust. Wanderlust is only satisfied with the exotic, while adventure is happy anywhere & anytime. You can have wanderlust but be unadventurous (in fact, I was! Remember how I never explored the cities I lived in? Prime example.) Adventure is the search for excitement, understanding, and self-awareness; wanderlust is the search for the next plane ride. See the difference there? First you must develop a sense of adventure—let it be your compass to fulfill your strong desire to travel & you’ll be amazed where you end up.

The “North,” as told by me


Stray observations:

(Tangential Note: You might be wondering, Why did she just put the location in quotations? Pennsylvania is definitely located the North. Yes. A+ in US Geography for you. I don’t really care about the big “North versus South” culture battle. I’ve lived in the South my entire life, but I don’t identify as “Southern” (minus an occasional affected accent when I want to seem whimsically charming) and I think that’s because I’ve experienced so many unique cultures (read: moved around a lot)–I seriously doubt that a location defines who you are. If a person is solely defined by their zip code, one might be encouraged to get out more. The North is different than the South. The South is different than the North. One is not better than the other.)

  • Everyone is Italian: I’ve never met or seen so many Italian people (and I’ve been to Italy!) Similarly, do you want to eat something not Italian? Nope. Italian, it’s the only thing what’s for dinner (at every restaurant). The Italian chefs have aggrandized a food monopoly here and they are not apologizing about it. People literally fight over which restaurant has the best perogies (which are like dumplings filled with potatoes & cheese?) and wedding soup. Luckily, I love everything Italian.
  • Another mystery: popular food is generally extremely unhealthy (cream based everything), but yet, Pennsylvania is (only) the 16th fattest state. People eat tons of Italian food and yet remain healthy? What’s the secret here?
  • If you’re going out to the store, there is no need to wear something tawdry like pants or blouses. No, just put on your Pittsburgh Steelers black & gold leather jacket and your roomiest Hanes sweatpants & hop out the door! Sports gear 4 lyfe.
  • There is a tacit agreement in the city of Pittsburgh if you do not like sports (I’m talking to you, hockey), you deserve death. And you cannot waver on your favorite teams: if they are not from Pittsburgh, you are hereby banned to Philadelphia.
  • I’ve met a lot of people with monosyllabic names (as if having more than one is just too flashy): Tom, Tim, Dave, Steve, Joe, Bob,  Mike, Sue, Barb. When I’m older, I’ll probably be that diva old person who refuses to call young people by the shortened version of their name. I’d rather be taciturn than call someone ‘Steve’ (and that’s my uncle’s name so, talk about internal struggle.)
  • The SNOW IS INSANE. Everyone who is freaking out over the cold temperatures in the South needs to come live in the Northeast for a week. Here’s a dramatization: You step outside and realize that the 45 layers you have on are not enough, as wind scratches its talons into your very soul, scraping away any trace of human kindness or humanity in your heart. You are suddenly in a bad mood and drive very fast all the time, as you must hurry before MORE snow falls down & will inevitably turn you into a human snowman.
  • Also every time I try spelling “Pennsylvania,” I think I’m doing it wrong. So many consonants.

Those are my main observations thus far. It’s kind of like studying a different culture in some ways. There are different accents, dialects, trends, styles. I don’t really feel like I fit in here, truth be told. It’s not like I have a turgid view of myself, but I honestly feel like I stick out here because of my interests & goals. Maybe I’ll find my niche!

The buzz on alcohol (and other horrible puns) PART II

So, a couple of weeks ago I posted part one of my journey and thoughts regarding drinking. To recap, basically I was an extremely judgmental elitist who wasted a lot of energy on a subject which wasn’t half as big of a deal as I made it out to be.

Everyone was so kind in their comments and responses! I’m glad that my little thoughts were of good use. There’s nothing quite as powerful as hearing someone else say “Me too–I struggled with that also!” to feel community and support. (Looooove it!)

Without further hesitation, here’s part two, or “Get out of your house!”  Continue reading

5 Weird Things that Make Me Miss Europe

It’s been 2 months since my European adventure and boy, do I miss it sometimes. Most days, the trip feels like a foggy dream. Of course, I love the little moments when I can say to people (sometimes earnestly, most of the time consciously pompously), “Oh, I was in England when that happened.” But…lately, the smallest things are big reminders of the incredible 12 weeks I had. Even the not so great parts or places seem better to me (but never Dublin, sorry.)

1. Any and all movies set in the places I’ve been, like this cute Mickey Mouse cartoon “Croissant de Triomphe” set in Paris.

This was really my life when in Paris! Wahhh!

This was really my life when in Paris! Wahhh!

2. British accents sound like home.

3. My favorite pub meal (minus Indian food of course) was a magical dish called Hunter’s Chicken, which is barbecued chicken breast with bacon & English cheddar on top. I keep searching for a similar dish, but to no avail. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. Or just seeing ANY British food anywhere…especially Strongbow Cider. Yum.

My go to British beverage.

MY British beverage. (aka the only thing I liked.)

4. Traveling in general. Going from three months of nonstop travel  in Europe to a lifestyle when I jump at the chance to just go to Cleveland…is pretty depressing. My parents think I’m traveling TOO much (is that really ever possible?)–surprisingly, trying to placate them by quoting Tolkien’s “Not all who wander are lost” phrase is NOT working. (I’ll be back in Dallas next week though!)

"Portlandia" did a best job with this concept.

“Portlandia” did a better job with this concept.

5.  Even just the British flag gets me teary eyed! Good old Union Jack. God bless the Queen, and all that.


Thinking about my time abroad is such a warm, cheerful memory–much like drinking a cup of tea, actually! I know I’ll be back one day–I can’t wait to be an obnoxious tour guide to whomever’s with me and (lovingly) drag them  to all of my favorite places.

Until then, we beat on, like boats against the–wait, wrong angst-filled story. Mine at least has a future happy ending.

Getting Lost in Cambridge

Hands down my favorite avenue in Cambridge.

Hands down my favorite avenue in Cambridge.

Sometimes, you just have to skip class and wander. Tolkien wrote that not all who wander are lost, but given my horrible directional skills, I definitely achieve both simultaneously sometimes.

Armed with my Calvin Klein for Costco rainjacket and a playlist full of Bon Iver, I explored the city center of Cambridge all afternoon, reveling in the beauty of the moment.


#selfie #casualthursday

There’s nothing quite like walking down the narrow cobblestone sidewalks of an ancient city, the raindrops falling on your face a reminder of the fact you are alive.

We need more reminders of the fact we are alive. You might be thinking that’s the stupidest, most obvious thing you’ve ever read—we’re alive, no kidding—but when was the last time you did something that made you wholly cognizant of that fact? We are just walking, breathing bundles of dust, living in a world full of self-medication to numb the pain of life. We crave simple moments of beauty, ones which reflect the presence of greater Good in the world, Jesus Christ. To be honest, before this past week, I was still a member of the walking dead. A change of scenery did nothing but add new methods of distraction.  Exploring the tiny harbor town of Howth, Ireland woke me up again (more details to come.)

So much beauty

So much beauty

So, how should you go about with this resuscitation? Do something non-goal oriented/ time frame based by yourself. Go for a walk, explore something, read on your front porch, paint, hike, whatever.

I think one of the biggest obstacles that twenty-somethings face in this whole weird “finding myself” phase is the fear of being alone. Doing any activity alone scares people to death because as it seems to signify the future presence of a glaring neon sign “Forever Alone.” It’s so healthy to be alone. You learn so much about yourself and become a thousand times stronger with this independence.

So go on. Get lost. It’s good for you.

Travel Blogs Suck

Sometimes, I just hate writing.  “But isn’t that the career you’re kinda trying to pursue?” I know, it’s ironic and horrible

While everyone else on my trip has been updating their blog, I guiltily purposefully neglect mine and instead, look up pictures of overweight cats (the ONLY good kind of cat because they’re just so fat!) and Aziz Ansari standup. All great, great things, but it’s been two weeks since I just set foot in the United Kingdom. It’s time to write.

I mean, come on.

I mean, come on.

Let’s get this out of the way: I will NOT be writing a daily itinerary of what I’ve done. Boring.  Just look at Facebook or something.

Here are 5 truths I’ve learned while here:

  1. Nobody thinks you’re an American…until you talk. Unlike what some people told me before the trip, it IS possible to blend in. On my third day here, someone asked me for directions (luckily for the ONLY road I knew, the one our hotel is off) and just yesterday, a check-out person asked me what country I’m from (which I mean, duh, not like Canada or something).  I’d like to say that I’ve been a lot less garrulous (in attempts to blend), but c’mon, it’s ME.

    Bless them.

    Bless them.

  2. I actually like America. When I went to Europe for the first time a year and a half ago, I came away sort of annoyed that I was from the United States. Granted, I was in Italy without knowing a word of Italian, but I remember wishing I could speak anything BUT English. America felt so lame. Fast forward to now here in the UK, I love it here, but I don’t hate being American. In fact, I feel a little more patriotic. Being surrounded by a culture that is still indelibly marked by the old class system, I can’t help but appreciate the fact that you can rise out of certain situations in the USA and truly pursue any career.  But then again, I still have 11 more weeks here, so…



  3. Experiences > Money. As someone always financially mindful, it’s hard to not be here and think about saving every penny and eating cheaply or skipping out on a university play.  BUT I can always replenish money eventually, but these 14 weeks are literally one in a million. Being present is the easiest thing to do here.

    Sometimes I feel like Queen Elizabeth is judging me when I buy stuff. Look at that smirk.

    Sometimes I feel like Queen Elizabeth is judging me when I buy stuff. Look at that smirk.

  4. And with that in mind…a sense of wonder is a MUST. It’s so easy to get disillusioned by the fact that history is literally around every corner, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been biked down a little street, or sat in a café, or explored Roman Baths and it hits me: I’m in ENGLAND and my life is even better than a movie. So many world changers have been in the same places, walked down the same lane—when in Bath visiting a Fashion Museum, we realized that Jane Austen went to balls in the same building! It’s incredible to see ancient Roman ruins right next to a grocery store. It’s like, is this even real life? I’m still figuring that out.

    Remember this candy? Because I sure do.

    Remember this candy? Because I sure do.

  5. People are the real treasures. Yeah, there’s so much beauty and history, but let me tell you, I’ve met incredible people here.  So much hospitality, warmth, and genuine kindness from everyone, even just store clerks I encounter for 2 seconds.  And I absolutely love the other people on my trip. Not going to lie, I was convinced that 18 girls + 2 guys would prove disastrous but so far, so good. I’m thankful for the dynamics and love how everything has worked out, especially with my roommates. So, naturally, as an extrovert, I’m on cloud nine.

    Two of my roommates and I in Wales!

    Two of my roommates and I in Wales!

5.5. Also, people here love dogs. And I love that. Duh.

That’s all for now, but don’t you worry. I’ll write again. I always come back …

That one time I went to England.

Home. What a transient word it has been in my life. Growing up, we moved a lot and because of this, I’ve always had wanderlust for new environments to call home, even if just temporarily. Will I ever stay in a place long enough to establish roots? Of course! …After I see everything and everywhere to weigh my options. (Just kidding, I want to live in NYC.)

This summer, Dallas, Texas was my home for ten crazy weeks, the longest I had ever been away from home. Four days from now, I’m off to top that record. For the next twelve weeks, home is now a little country (“this precious stone set in the silver sea” according to one William Shakespeare) called the United Kingdom.


Yeah, I’m really, really blessed. This opportunity is beyond compare and I’m humbled to participate.

While it still doesn’t seem real that I’m leaving SO soon (just ask my suitcase…), everyone else is making up for my unapparent excitement with passionate enthusiasm. But the other day, while back at home in Franklin, someone from my parent’s church asked me a question that keeps subliminally pricking my conscious:

“So, Kelsy, are you doing any missions work there?” 

When asked, I was immediately kind of annoyed.

Uh, of course I’m not. Is that mandated for international travel as a Christian? 

And please, everyone knows that my sister is the missionary one in the family (legitimately) and I’m the writer. Duh. 

But then, I started thinking. Alas, how so many problems begin that way.

Sharing the essence (love, life, redemption) of Christ is kind of our jobs…in ALL that we do. We don’t get a “time out” card that we can redeem and be off the clock for representing Christ for a day or two (or in my case, 12 weeks).

And while I’m definitely NOT going to be doing ministry puppet shows, painting houses, or evangel-shouting on street corners (all typical missions activities), I will be studying, building community, and interacting 24/7 with the lovely British people. I’d be a fool to deny “missions” work being done while there, because I’m planting seeds no matter what I say (just like when I’m anywhere, not just a foreign country). My goal: planting seeds of hope, redemption,and acceptance. Little reminders of the essence of Christ

Jesus is there already, I don’t need to pack Him in my carry-on.

“You may all go to hell, but I will go to Texas.”

-Davy Crockett (and all gift mugs & shot glasses in every souvenir shop)

It’s hard to believe that my summer in Texas is coming to a close, with merely 2.5 weeks left. There’s something about the summer that makes time feel so lethargic and docile, while contrarily speeding away haphazardly. I’ve learned so much about life, God, time, and myself. To describe my summer here, there’s only one fitting word: necessary.

I think there’s such an interesting correlation between leaving and learning. If you think about it, the hero of a coming of age movie never stays home. In order to learn some of the world-shattering truths that I have this summer, I couldn’t have been in Tennessee and in my familiar environment or with my friends. I wouldn’t have been been listening. I would have continued to be sedated by the reassuring numbness of my selfish ambitions and fears masked by control. 

I have no idea what the future holds at all. But for the first time, I don’t mind, nor am I making endless lists and schemes to try to predict or control it. I’m okay being unsure because I know that that’s where the adventure truly lies: discomfort.

Some people go halfway across the world to discover who they are, I went to Texas.  

Expectations versus Reality

(As I learned from the high feedback from last week’s post, apparently, I am the only person in the entire world who finds the Olympics boring. Unfortunately, this reveals my big secret:  I’m actually a heartless, Olympics hating robot. It all makes sense now, right?  Glad I got to clear that up.)

 You know that scene in 500 Days of Summer when Tom is invited to Summer’s house for a dinner party (and that great Regina Spektor song “Hero” is playing) and it narrates his expectations versus reality? With less than a month left in Dallas and only a year left of undergrad, this week I’ve been having that sort of sobering, pre-quarter life crisis on both local and global scales.

Epitome of precious.

Expectation: I would find a “spot” here that one day, when my future family & I would return, I could go back to it, reminisce, and say “Look, kids! This was where I went all the time as a super cool intern!” Ideally it would be a charming little park or artsy museum. Continue reading